It is true that the first three centuries of copying New Testament Greek manuscripts were “free,” in that scribes often took liberties with the manuscript they were copying from, chaotic copying of the texts, a period of copying that was in a state of flux by scribes who did not value what they were copying? Herein lies the truth.
The more difficult or awkward reading is often preferable. The reading at first will seem to be more difficult or awkward to understand, but after further investigation, it will be discovered that a scribe deliberately or mistakenly changed the text to an easier reading.
Was the original reading for Matthew 5:47b “Do not even the Gentiles do the same” or was it “Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
If we have the original words, we, in essence, have the original and; therefore, do not need the original documents.
The Masoretic Text has the reading “behind him” (אַחַר, ’akhar) in verse 13 of chapter 22. On the other hand, a number of Hebrew MSS, the Septuagint (LXX), Syriac (SYR), and Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) have “one” (Heb. אֶחָד, ’ekhad; Gr. εἷς, heis) in verse 13 of chapter 22.
The shorter reading is generally preferred if the change is intended. This is a reflection of scribal tendency, as a scribe is far more likely in his efforts at clarification, willfully to make an addition to a text. Very rarely will a scribe intentionally add to his text by mistake.