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We have before spoken of the evidence of the Providence of God in bringing about a state of peace in the civilized world, preceding the advent of Christ. It is also attributable to this benign Providence that one universal tongue was the medium of thought in this vast extent of the habitable globe. When, therefore, the Apostles entered upon the execution of the mandate of Christ to teach all nations, they adopted the Greek language which was the great medium of thought among the nations.

After the Macedonians had subjugated the whole of Greece, and extended their dominion into Asia and Africa, the refined and elegant Attic began to decline; and all the dialects being by degrees mixed together, there arose a certain peculiar language, called the Common, and also the Hellenic; but more especially, since the empire of the Macedonians was the chief cause of its introduction into the general use from the time of Alexander onwards, it was called the (later) Macedonic. This dialect was composed from almost all the dialects of Greece, together with very many foreign words borrowed from the Persians, Syrians, Hebrews, and other nations who became connected with the Macedonian people after the age of Alexander. Now, of this Macedonian dialect, the dialect of Alexandria (which was the language of all the inhabitants of that city, as well of the learned as of the Jews,) was a degenerate progeny far more corrupt than the common Macedonian dialect. This last mentioned common dialect, being the current Greek spoken throughout Western Asia, was made use of by the writers of the Greek Testament.

The materials on which writing has been impressed at different periods and stages of civilization are the following: Leaves, bark, especially of the lime (liber), linen, clay and pottery, wall-spaces, metals, lead, bronze, wood, waxen and other tablets, papyrus, skins, parchment and vellum, and from an early date amongst the Chinese, and in the West after the capture of Samarcand by the Arabs in A.D. 704, paper manufactured from fibrous substances. The most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament now existing are composed of vellum or parchment (membrana), the term vellum being strictly applied to the delicate skins of very young calves, and parchment to the integuments of sheep and goats, though the terms are as a rule employed convertibly. The word parchment seems to be a corruption of charta pergamena, a name first given to skins prepared by some improved process for Eumenes, king of Pergamum, about B. C. 150. In judging of the date of a manuscript on skins, attention must be paid to the quality of the material, the oldest being almost invariably written on the thinnest and whitest vellum that could be procured; while manuscripts of later ages, being usually composed of parchment, are thick, discolored, and coarsely grained. Thus the Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century is made of the finest skins of antelopes, the leaves being so large, that a single animal would furnish only two (Tischendorf, Cod. Frid. August. Prol.) Paper made of cotton (charta bombycina, called also charta Damascena from its place of manufacture) may have been fabricated in the ninth or tenth century, and linen paper (charta proper) as early as 1242 A.D.; but they were seldom used for Biblical manuscripts sooner than the thirteenth, and had not entirely displaced parchment at the era of the invention of printing, about A.D. 1450.

All manuscripts, the most ancient not excepted, have erasures and corrections; which, however, were not always effected so dexterously, but that the original writing may sometimes be seen. Where these alterations have been made by the copyist of the manuscript, (a prima manu, as it is termed,) they are preferable to those made by later hands, or a secunda manu. These erasures were sometimes made by drawing a line through the word, or what is tenfold worse, by the penknife. But, besides these modes of obliteration, the copyist frequently blotted out the old writing with a sponge, and wrote other words in lieu of it; nor was this practice confined to a single letter or word, as may be seen in the Codex Bezæ. Authentic instances are on record in which whole books have been thus obliterated, and other writing has been substituted in place of the manuscript so blotted out; but where the writing was already faded through age, they preserved their transcriptions without further erasure.

These manuscripts are termed Codices Palimpsesti or Rescripti. Before the invention of paper, the great scarcity of parchment in different places induced many persons to obliterate the works of ancient writers, in order to transcribe their own, or those of some other favorite author in their place; hence, doubtless, the works of many eminent writers have perished, and particularly those of the greatest antiquity; for such as were comparatively recent were transcribed to satisfy the immediate demand, while those which were already dim with age were erased.

In general, a Codex Rescriptus is easily known, as it rarely happens that the former writing is so completely erased, as not to exhibit some traces; in a few instances, both writings are legible. The indefatigable researches of Cardinal Angelo Mai (for some time the principal keeper of the Vatican Library at Rome) have discovered several valuable remains of biblical and classical literature in the Ambrosian Library at Milan.

The Scriptures were not formerly as now divided into chapters and verses. The mode of designating particular passages was by specifying the theme. Thus Jesus Christ designates to the Sadducees the passage from Exodus treating of the resurrection of the dead, Mark 12:26: And as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush, God spoke to him saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? This method presupposed those to whom the discourse was directed to be much versed in the Scriptures. The first attempt at fixed divisions of Scripture seems to have been made by Ammonius of Alexandria, the contemporary of Origen. The first attempts were rude and imperfect.

Ammonius (A. D. 220), selected as his standard the Gospel of Matthew, and arranged in parallel columns by its side passages from the other Gospels; thus of necessity dividing the text into sections which have been called the Ammonian sections. Eusebius was perhaps influenced by the labors of Ammonius in dividing the Gospel text into sections which have been called the Eusebian Canons.

In the thirteenth century Cardinal Hugh of S. Carus, the inventor of the Concordances of Scripture, is believed to have been the first to divide the Scriptures into chapters. Some, however, attribute this work to Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, of the same century. This mode of division passed from the Vulgate to the primal texts, and later even the Hebrew text was thus divided. The subdivisions of the chapters were in this system marked by the letters of the alphabet. The distinction and enumeration of the verses is due to Robert Etienne, the celebrated printer of Paris, who first thus divided the Holy Scriptures in his edition of the Vulgate in 1548. This system was also soon applied to all the texts of Scripture. The division of the Scriptures into chapters and verses is the pure work of man, and subject to critical analysis, and may be altered if good data warrant a different division. In fact, in many cases it is expedient to change the divisions of Robert Etienne, as also the chapter divisions.

The Scriptures were also in the beginning written without any elements of punctuation or accentuation. By this mode of writing the page presented one compact mass of characters, and their division and construction into words were left to the readers judgment. See plate on page 647.

This mode of writing remained in vogue till about the ninth century of the Christian Era. As by different groupings, and combinations of characters, different meanings resulted from the text this was a fertile cause cf error, and many of the variantia are traceable to this cause.

A system of accentuation had been invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium in the second century before Christ, which was employed by the Greek grammarians in the works of profane argument. Its application to the Sacred Codices was rare. St. Epiphanius testifies that certain ones have thus written copies of the Alexandrine Codex of the Old Testament, but Tischendorf affirms that no Codex anterior to the eighth century is written with accents. It is only after the tenth century that accentuation becomes general. This was also a source of variantia, as the different positions of the accents oft induced a different meaning. In some of the old codices, as for instance the Codex Sinaiticus the spiritus lenis and gravis are indicated, but this is judged by Tischendorf to be the work of a later hand. More ancient than the use of either accents or signs of punctuation is the use of the lineola,—, to designate the abbreviation of certain words of more frequent occurrence. Thus: ΘC for Θεός, ΚC for κύριος, ΠΝΑ for πνεῦμα. The iota subscript is never found in the old Codices of Holy Writ, hence another cause of error. How these different factors effected many divergencies in the Sacred text may be inferred from the following examples.

The group of letters αυτη became αὕτη or αὐτῇ or αὐτή; every one of different import by modifications which can only be based upon the fallible, varying, judgments of men. The opening verses of St. Johns Gospel form a good specimen of the difference in interpretation which may result from different insertion of the sign of punctuation.

The Vulgate and its dependent versions insert the period after γέγονεν. Without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life. etc. St. Irenæus, St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Athanasius, and others close the period after οὐδὲ έν; whence would result: Without him was made nothing. What was made was life in him.

To remove this cause of error Origen in his Hexapla divided the text into στίχοι, and this mode of writing was termed στιχομετρία. In this stichometric arrangement of the text, every complete phrase occupied a separate line.

St. Jerome wrote in this manner his version of the prophetical books of the Old Testament. In the middle of the fifth century Euthalius, a deacon of Alexandria, employed this mode of writing in his successive editions of the Pauline Epistles, of the Catholic Epistles and the Acts, and of the Gospels. As this served well the convenience of the reader it became quite general in those early codices, although but few thus written are extant to-day. Principal among those that remain are the Codex Bezæ of Cambridge (D) of the Gospels and Acts; the Codex of Clermont (D) of the Pauline Epistles; the Codex of St. Germain (E) of the Pauline Epistles; and the Codex Coislinianus (H) of the Pauline Epistles.

This mode of writing, though very convenient to the reader, required much material upon which to be written, as large portions of the superficies remained blank.

We reproduce on the following page a specimen of stichometry from the Codex of Beza; Math. 24:51–25:6, with English translation in same form of writing.

















Hence, it was modified so that the στίχοι were separated by points. From the seventh century the custom began to prevail to indicate the greater or less textual division by different location of the point. The κόμμα or briefest division was indicated by locating the (.) punctum at the base of the line; the κῶλον (•) or middle division, by interposing it midway between the base and top; while the full period was terminated by the punctum (•) at the top of the line. Although this was the most ordinary mode in those times, sometimes the point at the base designated the full period, and vice versa. Our modern mode of punctuation did not come into use till after the invention of printing in the fifteenth century.

The autographs of the New Testament perished in the first centuries of the Christian era. There is almost a complete silence in tradition concerning any such original writings. Some adduce a passage from Tertullian to prove that the autographs were preserved in his day.

Percurre Ecclesias Apostolicas, apud quas ipsæ adhuc Cathedræ Apostolorum suis locis præsident, apud quas ipsæ Authenticæ Literæ eorum recitantur, sonantes vocem, et repræsentantes faciem uniuscujusque. Proximè est tibi Achaia, habes Corinthum. Si non longè es a Macedoniâ, habes Philippos, habes Thessalonicenses. Si potes in Asiam tendere, habes Ephesum. Si autem Italiæ adjaces, habes Romam. (De Præscriptione Hæreticorum, c. 36.)

Attempts have been made, indeed, and that by very eminent writers, to reduce the term Authenticæ Literæ to mean nothing more than genuine, unadulterated Epistles, or even the authentic Greek as opposed to the Latin translation.

Others defend that he evidently speaks of the autographs. But the weight of evidence is clearly in favor of the former opinion. Tertullian was not ignorant that the sacred writers did not commit their thoughts to writing with their own hands; and, therefore, faithful copies of the original documents, if faithfully executed, would be as authentic as the first documents. And for this cause also, greater care was not bestowed on the autographs, for the faithful copies were held in equal veneration.

The dissemination of the writings of the Apostles began immediately, by means of manuscript copies, and a great number of these was soon spread abroad through the churches. Owing to various causes, errors crept into the copied texts. Hence Origen complains: Even now, through the inattention of certain transcribers, and the rash temerity of those who would amend the Scriptures, and the arbitrary additions and suppressions of others, a great diversity has come into our Scriptures. As time went on the evil grew. In fact, those early Christians, attending mainly to the sense, were not deterred by an excessive reverence from slight textual changes, which affected not the sense. By comparative criticism, many of these variants have been brought to light. The English critic Mill estimated that the discovered different readings of the New Testament in his day amounted to thirty thousand; they probably to-day are four times that number. But the great mass of these variants leave intact the substantial correctness of the sacred text, so that the remark of Bentley is just:

The real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any MS or edition, but is dispersed in them all. Tis competently exact indeed in the worst MS now extant; nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost in them; choose as awkwardly as you will, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings. Or again: Make your 30,000 [variations] as many more, if numbers of copies can ever reach that sum: all the better to a knowing and serious reader, who is thereby more richly furnished to select what he sees genuine. But even put them into the hands of a knave or a fool, and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any one chapter, nor so disguise Christianity, but that every feature of it will still be the same. Thus Gods Providence preserved pure the substance of His written word.

Perhaps the gravest variants in the New Testament are in regard to Mark 16:9–16, and John 7:53, 8:11.

Various causes have conspired to bring the various readings into the text of holy Scripture.

Sometimes spurious additions have been made in accordance with the copyists dogmatic prepossession.

Passages are interpolated from one writer into another to bring the text into a fancied agreement.

Marginal notes have been incorporated into the text. The interpolation of the Lords Prayer as found in King James Version is an example of this.

Genuine clauses are lost by homœoteleuton (ὁμοιοτέλευτον), when two clauses end in the same word or words. The transcribers eye wanders from one clause to the other, and omits one, since its ending is identical with what immediately preceded.

Such minor changes as a change in the order of the words are often found.

One word is taken for another from the fact that it is similar, or one letter is mistaken for another, thereby changing the sense of words.

Sometimes the copyist has written at anothers dictation, and has mistaken the others pronunciation. This is rare in the better MSS.

Sometimes the copyists have changed the New Testament quotations from the Old Testament to bring them into closer conformity with the original.

Synonyms are sometimes employed.

Readings have been altered to avoid dogmatic difficulty: others have been omitted for the same reason.

The copyist may be tempted to forsake his proper function for that of a reviser, or critical collector. He may simply omit what he does not understand (e.g. τὸ μαρτύριον 1 Tim. 2:6.), or may attempt to get over a difficulty by inversions and other changes. Thus the μυστήριον spoken of by St. Paul 1 Cor. 15:51, which rightly stands in the best codices πάντες μὲν οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, πάνες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα was easily varied into πάντες κοιμηθησόμεθα, οὐ πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα, as if in mere perplexity.

It is very possible that some scattered readings cannot be reduced to any of the above-named classes, but enough has been said to afford the student some general notion of the nature and extent of the subject.

As early as the third century attempts were made to restore the text to its original purity. It was thought that by critical collation of the best manuscripts and by selecting the best readings, a correct exemplar might be had as a fount for correct copies. Hesychius, an Egyptian bishop, martryed under Diocletian, wrought a recension of the Greek text of both Testaments. The text was adopted in the churches of Egypt, and became the basis of the Alexandrine family of codices. About the same time, Lucian, a priest of Antioch, martyred in the same persecution, executed a recension of the text of both Testaments, which was received in all the Eastern churches, from Constantinople to Antioch. Of the nature of the labors of Hesychius and Lucian we can form no secure judgment. Jerome accuses them of adding to the Scriptures (Ad. Dam. Præf. in Evang.), and Gelasius, in the decree, De recip. et non recip. libris, rejects the Gospels which Hesychius and Lucian falsified.

Hug believes that Origen made a recension of the New Testament, but proof is lacking to support the statement.

Though fragments of Greek Scriptures had been printed by Aldus Manutius at Venice in 1497 and again in 1504 the first complete New Testament printed in Greek was that of the complutensian Polyglot the munificent work of Ximenes (1437–1517) Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo. The New Testament was published in 1514. The Old Testament was finished about six years later. The work is estimated to have cost £23,000. The protocanonical books are printed in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, the deuterocanonical books and the New Testament in Greek and Latin.

While Ximenes was laboring on his great work, Erasmus, that scholarly vagabond, hastened an edition of the New Testament for John Froben a publisher of Basle. Frobens object was to forestall the Spanish work, and the character of Erasmus work may be judged from his declaration that the volume precipitatum fuit verius quam editum. He employed no valuable MSS, and sometimes translated portions from the Latin into Greek to supply lacunæ.

Thus in Acts 9:5, 6, the words from σκληρόν to πρὸς αὐτόν are interpolated from the Vulgate, partly by the help of Acts 26.

The result is that the text of Erasmus Greek Testament has no critical worth. And yet so strong is prejudice that this corrupt text was received by the protestants as the received text instead of the far better text of the Complutensian Polyglot. This fact is regretted by Mill who declares (Proleg. p. 111. Oxford 1707) that it would have been far better for all if the Complutensian were with some few corrections accepted as the received text. Delitzsch (Handschr. Funde I. p. 5.) also declares:

Es wære in der Glück gewesen, wenn nicht der erasmische Text, sondern der complutensische die Grundlage des spætern textus receptus geworden wære.

In 1518 appeared the Grœca Biblia at Venice, from the celebrated press of Aldus, which professes to be grounded on a collation of the most ancient copies.

The editions of Robert Etienne, mainly by reason of their exquisite beauty, have exercised more influence than those of Erasmus; and Etiennes third or folio edition of 1550 is by many regarded as the received or standard text.

In the folio or third edition of 1550 the various readings of the Codices, obscurely referred to in the preface to that of 1546, are entered in the margin. This fine volume derives much importance from its being the earliest ever published with critical apparatus.

Robert Etienne in these editions first divided the New Testament into verses.

The brothers Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir set up a printing press at Leyden which maintained its reputation for elegance and correctness throughout the greater part of the seventeenth century.

Their undeservedly popular Greek New Testament of 1642 was considered the received text on the Continent. It is based on Erasmus corrupt text. Robert Etienne also took Erasmus text for the standard. His edition was the received text in England.

In 1657 Brian Walton published his great Polyglot, in 6 vols. sometimes called the London Polyglot.

In the Old Testament it contains the Hebrew text, the Samaritan text, the Chaldean Paraphrase, the Septuagint, the Syriac, the Arabic, and the Latin Vulgate. The fifth of his huge folios is devoted to the New Testament in six languages, viz. Etiennes Greek text of 1550, the Peshitto-Syriac, the Latin Vulgate, the Ethiopic, Arabic, and (in the Gospels only) the Persian. None of Waltons texts are of special critical worth.

It is evident from what has been written, that the Greek text has not been preserved to us in all its pristine integrity, as it came from the inspired writers hands. But neither has corruption so invaded it that it should be considered an unreliable fount of Scripture. The Hebrew, Greek, and Vulgate Latin, remain three authentic founts. At times, one is more correct than another, and the collation of all three is useful to the understanding of any one. But it must always be considered that in far greater part the fulness and richness of the sense can only be received from a perusal of the original texts.

In the last century arose what may properly be called the science of TEXTUAL CRITICISM, which may be defined as A METHOD OF STUDY WHEREBY WE SEEK TO DETERMINE THE CHARACTER, VALUE, AND MUTUAL RELATION OF THE AUTHORITIES UPON WHICH THE TEXT OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES IS BASED. The mode of procedure is to examine first the age of the documents, the circumstances of their origin, the causes that may have produced certain readings and the accord of one document with another.

Robert Etienne was the first to collect and collate MSS with the purpose of emending the N. T. Brian Walton (1600–61) in his great Polyglot employed the edition of N. T. prepared by Etienne in 1550, and added an apparatus criticus collected by Ussher. The first really great work of textual criticism is that of Dr. John Mill of Oxford which appeared in 1707. Mill labored through thirty years on his critical edition of the New Testament, and died a fortnight after it appeared. Mills contribution to the science of Biblical Criticism places him in the first rank.

Bentley (†1742) believing that the oldest MSS of the Greek original agreed almost exactly with Jeromes Latin version, contemplated a critical text wherein the Greek of the fourth century and Jeromes version should be critically compared. Bentley was diverted to other work, and died without accomplishing his Scriptural design.

Bengel (1687–1752) published a critical edition of the New Testament in 1734, He collated sixteen codices, but so negligently that most of them have needed examination from those who followed him. He deserves credit for having first contemplated the grouping of the codices into families or recensions a theory which was subsequently skilfully developed by Griesbach.

Bengel divided all codices into two families: the Asiatic written chiefly at Constantinople, which he inclined to disparage, and the African, fewer in number, but better in character.

The next step in advance was made by Wetstein (1693–1754) who published a critical edition of the New Testament with a Prolegomena prefixed. He was the first to cite the MSS under the notation by which they are generally known. The character of the man is revealed in his Prolegomena. He was an assiduous student, audacious, rebellious, full of contempt and hate for others; a man tinged with Socinian errors, arrogantly intolerant of all men, while demanding full liberty of thought for himself. The product of his impetuous labors forms a chaos where men may find much that is good amid the mass of conjectures.

Matthæi (1744–1811) is more valuable as a collector than as a collator. While professor at Moscow he found many Greek MSS both patristic and Biblical brought thither from Mt. Athos. The manner in which he examined these has been severely criticised. The justice of the severity of the criticism which Matthæi encountered may be judged from the fact that he assigned to the Uncial Codex 50 of a Greek Lectionary a value above all the codices which were known in Europe in his day.

Hence it results that Matthæis text, which of course he moulded on his own views, must be held in slight esteem: his services as a collator comprehend his whole claim (and that no trifling one) to our thankful regard. To him solely we are indebted for Evan. V. 237–259; Act. 98–107; Paul. 113–124; Apoc. 47–50; Evst. 47–57; Acts Apost. 13–20: nearly all at Moscow: the whole seventy, together with the citations of Scripture in thirty-four manuscripts of Chrysostom, being so fully and accurately collated, that the reader need not be at a loss whether any particular copy supports or opposes the reading in the common text.

Matthæi annexed the Latin Vulgate to his Greek text, as this was the only version which he valued.

Francis Karl Alter (1749–1804) a Jesuit, professor at Vienna published in 1786–87 a critical text of the New Testament. He accepted as his standard good MSS of the Imperial library at Vienna, (Evan. 218, Acts 65, Paul 57, Apoc. 83) and collated with these twenty-one other MSS of the same library together with readings from the Old Latin, Coptic, and Slavonic versions. The labors of Alter were of a very high order, but religious prejudice has prevented him from the recognition which is his due.

Birch, Moldenhawer, and Tychsen were sent into various countries in 1783–4 by Christian VII. of Denmark to examine MSS. Moldenhawer and Tychsen visited Spain, while Birch traveled in Germany. The first result of their combined labors was an edition of the Four Gospels published in 1788.

As much of this edition and the rest of the New Testament prepared by the collators were destroyed by fire in 1795. Birch later collected and published the fragments.

Moldenhawer and Tychsen were so filled with hatred of Spain and its religion and so puffed up by a vain arrogance that the Prolegomena contributed under the name of Moldenhawer are worthless. Birch was more temperate, but his examination of many authorities was superficial.

John James Griesbach (1745–1812) is the next name in the history of Biblical textual criticism. He was intensely hated by Matthæi who declares that though he had never ut credibile est, collated a MS even of the tenth century, he yet presumes to sit in judgment on those who have collated seventy.

Though Griesbach did some original collating of MSS, his great work was to select readings from the great mass collected by those who had gone before him.

He is famous for his theory of families or recensions of codices. At the outset he was disposed to group all extant materials in five or six families. He afterwards limited these to three, the Alexandrian, the Western, and the Byzantine. He assigned to the Alexandrian family the pre-eminence. Of course Griesbachs theory would simplify the science, for then one would not need examine the great mass of codices, but only some worthy representatives of the different families. But for the lack of evidence to support this theory it is now quite generally abandoned.

John Leonard Hug (1765–1846) merits a place among the Biblical textual critics on account of his De Antiquitate Cod. Vat. Commentatio published at Freiburg in 1810.

Hug was a Catholic, a professor of Scripture at Freiburg. He published in 1808 an Einleitung in Die Schriften Des Neuen Testaments which has great critical value.

It was Hug who first placed the date of origin of Codex B in the fourth century, a judgment which has been generally accepted, although Tischendorf declares that he holds it non propter Hugium sed cum Hugio.

John Martin Augustine Scholz (†1852) was a pupil of Hug, and afterwards professor at Bonn. He was a Roman Catholic. The labors of Scholz in the cause of the Greek text of the New Testament were stupendous. The results of his great labors were embodied in an edition of the Greek New Testament.

This work, which forms two volumes in quarto, has been published at Leipsic. The first volume, containing the four Gospels, made its appearance in 1830, and the second, containing the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of St. Paul, the Catholic Epistles, and the Apocalypse, in 1836. The prolegomena prefixed to the work consists of one hundred and seventy-two pages. In it the learned editor gives ample information respecting the codices, versions, Fathers, and councils, which he used as authorities, together with a history of the text, and an exposition or defence of his peculiar system of classification of MSS. Scholz spent twelve years in preparing the materials for his work. He visited the libraries of the principal cities of Europe, and in addition to these, the libraries of the Greek monasteries of Jerusalem, of St. Saba, and the Isle of Patmos. He collated, either entirely or in part, six hundred and six manuscripts not previously collated by any editor of the New Testament. Scholz refers all the MSS to two recensions or families—the Alexandrian or African, and the Asiatic or Constantinopolitan—in other words, the Occidental (same as African), and Oriental.

In 1831 Karl Lachmann (1793–1851) published his Novum Testamentum Græce at Berlin. In this work Lachmann enters on a new road in textual criticism. His predecessors had taken as a point de depart the textus receptus of the Greek testament. Lachmann recognized the well-nigh critically worthless character of this text, and therefore directed his labors to restore the ancient text from MSS and the works of the Fathers. Lachmann founded his system upon the principles of St. Jerome and those of Richard Bentley, who acknowledged St. Jerome as a leader. In fact, Bentley had projected a work entitled Proposals for Printing a New Edition of the Greek Testament and St. Heiroms Latin Version. The Anglican theologians opposed Bentleys work on account of the just place it accorded St. Jerome, and this opposition prevented the execution of Bentleys purpose. Lachmann entertained the same estimate of Jerome. He declares that the excellent and very reasonable principles of St. Jerome should always be the rule which one should follow in determining the reading of the New Testament.

In 1842 Lachmann published the first volume of his Novum Testamentum Græce et Latine at Berlin: in 1850 the second volume appeared at Berlin. Lachmanns apparatus criticus is unfortunately restricted.

The Vatican Codex, Codex of St. Ephrem, the Codex Claromontanus, the Amiatinus of the Vulgate, and of course the Sinaitic were not available to him. He had the true principles and the true temper of mind of a critic. His work is sound and just as far as it goes. He was the first to establish the principle that an array of codices is not an array of authority. He rejected en masse a great number of codices, and any unbiased competent judge who will examine these must admit that in this he has done the world a service. The Vulgate and the Fathers he rightly considers as primary authorities. He was a true scholar both in spirit and in execution.

He restored the Latin versions to their rightful place and established the principle that to ascertain a true reading one must consider, not the number of codices but the character of codices.

The next great name in the science of Biblical textual criticism is that of Tischendorf (1815–1874). This scholar declares that when he set out on his first literary journey he could not pay for his coat.

His first labors were editions of the New Testament, for booksellers, of no great value. He traveled extensively in the interest of scholarship. He visited Italy twice, England four times, and went four times into the East, where on Mt. Sinai he discovered the great Codex of which an account will be given later. In fact the fame of Tischendorf rests not so much on his critical editions of the New Testament, as on the uncial codices which he has published. His eighth and last edition of the Greek testament is the most complete edition existing. His death prevented him from adding the Prolegomena to this edition. Speaking of his predecessors Tischendorf declares that instead of deriving a history of the text from documents, they had created a history of the text in their own minds. (Tischendorf N. T. Græce, ed. 7.) It is amazing what Tischendorf accomplished during thirty years of unremitting toil.

In 1843 was published the New Testament; in 1845 the Old Testament portion of Codex Ephræmi Syri rescriptus (Cod. C), 2 vols. 4 to, in uncial type, with elaborate Prolegomena, notes, and facsimiles. In 1846 appeared Monumenta sacra inedita, 4to, containing transcripts of Codd. FLNWYΘ of the Gospels, and B of the Apocalypse; the plan and apparatus of this volume and of nearly all that follow are the same as in the Codex Ephræmi. In 1846 he also published the Codex Frederic-Augustanus in lithographed facsimile throughout, containing the results of his first discovery at Mount Sinai: in 1847 the Evangelium Palatinum ineditum of the Old Latin; in 1850 and again in 1854 less splendid but good and useful editions of the Codex Amiatinus of the Latin Vulgate. His edition of Codex Claromontanus (D of St. Paul), 1852, was of precisely the same nature as his editions of Cod. Ephraemi, &c., but his book entitled Anecdota sacra et profana, 1855 (second and enlarged edition in 1861), exhibits a more miscellaneous character, comprising (together with other matter) transcripts of O of the Gospels, M of St. Paul; a collation of Cod. 61 of the Acts being the only cursive copy he seems to have examined; notices and facsimiles of Codd. ΙΓΛ tisch. or Evan. 478 of the Gospels, and of the lectionaries tisch. (Evst. 190) and tisch. (Apost. 71). Next was commenced a new series of Monumenta sacra inedita (projected to consist of nine volumes), on the same plan as the book of 1846. Much of this series is devoted to codices of the Septuagint version, to which Tischendorf paid great attention, and whereof he published four editions (the latest in 1869) hardly worthy of him. Vol. I. (1855) contains transcripts of Codd. I, ven. (Evst. 175); Vol. II. (1857) of Codd. NRΘ; Vol. III. (1860) of Codd. QW, all of the Gospels; Vol. IV. (1869) was given up to the Septuagint, as Vol. VII. would have been to the Wolfenbüttel manuscript of Chrysostom, of the sixth century; but Cod. P of the Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse comprises a portion of Vols. V. (1865) and of VI. (1869); while Vol. VIII. was to have been devoted to palimpsest fragments of both Testaments, such as we have described amongst the uncials: the Appendix or Vol. IX. (1870) contains Cod. E of the Acts, etc. An improved edition of his system of Gospel Harmony (Synopsis Evangelica, 1864) appeared in 1864, with some fresh critical matter, a better one in 1871, and the fifth in 1884. His achievements in regard to Codd. א and B we shall speak of in their proper places. He published his Notitia Cod. Sinaitici in 1860, his great edition of that manuscript in 1862, with full notes and Prolegomena; smaller editions of the New Testament only in 1863 and 1865; an Appendix Codd. celeberrimorum Sinaitici, Vaticani, Alexandrini with facsimiles in 1867. His marvellous yet unsatisfactory edition of Cod. Vaticanus, prepared under certain unavoidable disadvantages, appeared in 1867; its Appendix (including Cod. B of the Apocalypse) in 1869; his unhappy Responsa ad calumnias Romanas in 1870. To this long and varied catalogue must yet be added exact collations of Codd. EGHKMUX Gospels, EGHL Acts, FHL of St. Paul, all made for his editions of the New Testament.

He reduces all the codices to four great families. 1.—The Alexandrian, used by the Jewish Christians. 2.—The Latin family, used by the Latin race, who, in those days, used Greek in liturgy. 3.—The Asiatic family, used by the Greeks, both in Asia and their own country. 4.—The Byzantine family, used by the Churches of the Byzantine realm. He states that there is great affinity between the Alexandrian and Latin on one side, and between the Asiatic and Byzantine on the other. He cautions all not to put too much trust in the systems of recensions.

It is an evident fact that the Scriptural codices of the world bear such relation to one another that they have in them foundation for grouping them into certain families. The very mode of their origin demonstrates this. But the actual assigning of the codices to their different families, and the determining of the number of the recensions, is an extremely difficult work, one that has not been accomplished. Tischendorf groups the codices in two pairs of recensions: the Alexandrian and Latin forming one pair, and the Asiatic and Byzantine forming the other pair. But he wisely cautions that the theory of these recensions is but a theory, and that it would be rash to make it the supreme norm in criticism.

Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813–1875) merits a place with the foremost critics. He traveled in Europe collecting materials for several years.

In 1857 appeared, for the use of subscribers only, the Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark, as the first part of his Greek New Testament (pp. 1–216); early in 1861 the second part, containing SS. Luke and John (pp. 217–488), with but a few pages of Introductory Notice in each. In that year, paralysis, mercurialium pestis virorum, for a while suspended Tregelles too assiduous labors: but he recovered health sufficient to publish the Acts and Catholic Epistles in 1865, the Epistles of St. Paul down to Second Thess. in 1869. Early in 1870, while in the act of revising the concluding chapters of the Apocalypse, he was visited by a second and very severe stroke of his fell disease. The remaining portion of the Pauline Epistles was sent out in 1870 as he had himself prepared it; the Apocalypse without the Prolegomena in 1872, as well as the state of Tregelles papers would enable his friends S. J. B. Bloxsidge and B. W. Newton to perform their office. The stricken author could contribute nothing save a message to his subscribers, full of devout thankfulness and calm reliance on the Divine wisdom. The text of the Apocalypse differs from that which he arranged in 1844 in about 229 places.

Except Codd. ΟΞ, which were published in 1861 (see under those MSS), this critic has not edited in full the text of any document, but his renewed collations of manuscripts are very extensive: viz. Codd. EGHKMNRUXZΓΛ 1, 33, 69 of the Gospels; HL 13, 31, 61 of the Acts; DFL 1, 17, 37 of St. Paul, 1, 14 of the Apocalypse, Am. of the Vulgate.

Tregelles is a most accurate collator; he followed the excellent principles of Lachmann, and his opinions are sound and useful. He gave no importance to the received text, neither to the great mass of the cursive MSS. He acted on the principle that only the ancient authorities have a voice in determining the text. In 1879 Dr. Hort published an appendix to Tregelles New Testament in which he collected the Prolegomena left by Tregelles.

In 1881 Westcott and Hort published The New Testament in the original Greek at Cambridge and London. In the same year Hort published an Introduction and Appendix to the same. The Greek Testament of Westcott and Hort was the result of twenty-five years labor. They depart more from the textus receptus than any previous editor had done, and the best authority is adduced to justify most of their different readings. As they had the labors of all those who preceded to draw from, their Testament is the most correct Greek Testament yet published. The excellence of the Revised Edition of Oxford is due to the fact that the revisers followed the same principles.

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