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exercise a mutual action, regulated by a knowledge of their respective circumstances and character.
The practical results of this principle will be mainly these. Alexandrine evidence must suffer some abatement wherever the complexion of a rival reading, or other sufficient considerations, indicate officious tampering; here careful regard must be had to that which is offered by the other class. But, with this exception, profound attention is due to Alexandrine testimony, as of prime importance in mere virtue of the antiquity of its documents, which will, from time to time, claim a consideration that cannot reasonably be refused. Again, the Byzantine class of documents, by its later range of date, must, as a whole, have suffered in a greater degree those corruptions in particular, which are the inevitable effect of mere lapse of time, so long as transcription is carried on. It is in vain to put forward a bare array of a majority of copies as countervailing or remedying this undeniable circumstance; the process must be of a different kind—a process grounded on the important consideration, that the existence of such blemishes involves no impeachment of the quality of the substratum, the text to which they have attached themselves, and consisting in an effort to discern that basis, by an exercise of the watchful eye and discriminative faculty of the true critic. The issue will be the procurement of an independent witness, whose presence will sometimes render necessary a decision upon opposing evidence, but will not unfrequently tend to the assurance which is furnished by concurring deponents.
The corruptions which must be fostered by a prolonged multiplication of copies, may be thus classed; first, accretions of marginal and interlineary matter, chiefly glossarial; secondly, usurpations by the same matter of the place of the genuine words of the text; and, thirdly, assimilations. These last were probably not intentional, but, like the others, had their origin in the margin. As might be expected, they occur chiefly on the Gospels, but'they are also discernible elsewhere. From the nature of the thing it is clear that, with individual exceptions, the older copies will, in this respect, have an advantage over the more recent; but the most ancient that we possess cannot be untainted with these evils, the incipient existence of which may be traced in the second century. The possibility also of an occasional impress of liturgical and controversial influences, in their time, must not be forgotten.
But, after all, notwithstanding the adoption of a scheme, however sound, and of critical rules, however well framed, there will still be a constant call for the independent work of a clear head and a cool judgment. We have said nothing of the mischief arising from the mere blunders of copyists, nor of those general methods of procedure which, with the exception of conjecture, are common to the criticism of the New Testament, and of other ancient writings.
The recognition of classes is quite a distinct thing from the once prevalent belief in recensions, formally executed at different times and places; an idea for which there is not evidence sufficient to authorize its reception as an element of criticism. Equally unsupported by sufficient proof is the kindred notion, that different forms of the text were specially upheld as authentic in different regions of the Church.
The plan of dividing MSS. into ancient and recent, without the recognition of classes, is tempting by its simplicity, and would, if admissible, simplify the work of the critic. The case assumed is that of a single stream proceeding from an inaccessible souree, in which case we must simply endeavour to ascend as high as we can. But there may be several derived streams; and it is further possible that one which allows a nearer approach to the head than its neighbour, may, from the accidents of its previous course, afford a less pure draught than its rival.
We return to Dr. Davidson. The next portion of the volume consists of an elaborate account of all the ancient versions of the New Testament, their history, their value, and their critical treatment in the hands of modern editors; more especially of the two which are most important, the Latin in its various phases, and the old Syriac or Peshito. This department is interesting independently of its connexion with textual criticism; and the English reader who is desirous of full and satisfactory information on this point, may at once turn to that which is here supplied; and the same may be said of the corresponding part of the first volume. The author ultimately observes that, as Bentley saw, those which are really important for the criticism of the text, are only five—the Latin, Peshito, Egyptian, Ethiopic, and Gothic; adding a warning, that in no case is the text yet in a state to be used with perfect confidence. This is especially the case with the Syriac, which is awaiting the application of our recently acquired store of materials to the production of a purer text.
There then follows an account of all the MSS. in the uncial character, including the history, condition, probable age, and family features of each, and also of the principal cursive ones. The following passage is extracted from the description of the Codex Vaticanus (B):—
'The antiquity of the MS. is very great. For determining it a number of points must be brought together, such as the near affinity of the character to that in the Herculaneum rolls; the twofold retouching of the letters; the continuous sequence of words without any separation or interpunction; the accents added by a later hand with other ink; the form of the MS. approaching to the more ancient rolls, and the number of columns adapted to it; the height, breadth, and intervals of those columns resembling very much the rolls of Herculaneum. These particulars carry up the codex to an age beyond any other biblical MS. known to exist. Other indications of its antiquity are found in the additions to the subscriptions put by a second baud, which were still prior to those of Euthalius; the absence of the Ammohian sections, which came into general use at the close of the fourth century; the twofold division into sections in the Acts and catholic epistles, the second itself differing from that of Euthalius; the singular distribution of the Pauline epistles into sections, as if they were but one book; the position of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which had been shifted from its place after the Galatiau epistle quite recently, and put after the Thessalonian epistles, where it usually was in the time of Athanasius; and the emission of the words iv 'kcpiaio from the text at the commencement of the Epistle to the Ephesians, though there are subjoined a prima mana in the margin, agreeably to the assertion of Basil, that those words were wanting in ancient MSS. Relying upon such marks, Hug assigns the MS. to the first half of the fourth century—an opinion in which Teschendorf coincides. Blanchini had formerly referred it to the fifth century, and Montfaucon to the fifth or sixth.'
In the next place, there are given a Hat of Greek ecclesiastical writers down to the fourteenth century, with statements of their value in criticism, and an alphabetical catalogue of the Latins. Of their usefulness on the whole for this particular purpose, a moderate estimate is made. Indeed, before the writings of an author can be safely applied in this way, it must be shown that his method of citation was habitually exact; whereas the contrary is the case with many, even with a literal expounder like Chrysostom. There are not a few cases, however, where the real ancient testimony is the patristic.
Both volumes close with a chapter exhibiting a critical examination of selected passages, the respective lists being:— Ps. xxv. cxlv. xvi. 10; 1 Sam. xvii. 12—31, and 55—58; vi. 19; Ps. xxii. 17; Judg. xviii. 30; 2 Chron. xxii. 2; Gen. i. ii.; Zech. xii. 10; Gen. iv. 8; Josh. xxi. 35; Lam. ii. 16, 17; iii. 46—48; iv. 16, 17; 2 Sam. xv. 7; Prov. xviii. 22; Isa. lviii. 10; Exod. xv. 2—17, and Deut. v. 6—21; Ps. xxviii. 8; Isa. liii. 8; xix. 18, and 1 Tim. iii. 16; I John v. 7; Matt . vi. 13; xix. 17; xxi. 28—31; xxvii. 35, 36; Luke xxii. 43, 44; Acts viii. 37; xx. 28. From the latter list the following passages are excluded, because the writer has fully discussed them in his 'Introduction:' Mark xvi. 9—20; John v. 3, 4; vii. 53; viii. 11. The two following specimens have been selected simply because their brevity admitted of extraction:—
'Judges xviii. 30.
'This verse stands thus in the English version: "And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land." The proper name Manasseh stands thus in the common Masoretic text rw£p, with a marginal note calling attention to nun suspended. Another reading drops the nun, and has simply mfto, Moses. The inquiry then is, which of the two is the right reading?
* In favour of mpo are 744 of De Rossi at first, as also two others, a prima manu. Jerome has it, and therefore the present Vulgate. It would also appear that some copies of the Greek version formerly read Motes. Four in Paris, one in the Vatican, and an octateuch belonging to University College, Oxford, have it. All other MSS. and versions have the received reading, the only difference in the MSS. being that 27, 9 a prima manu, and thirty-three editions have the letter nun inserted in its place; 16, and one a prima manu, present it in a little larger size than the other letters of the word; while the greater number of manuscript copies have it suspended. The weight of authority immensely preponderates in favour of Manasteh.
'Yet, notwithstanding the external evidence for Manasseh, it is likely that the other is the right reading. It is related in the Talmud that this Gershom was the sou of Moses: but that, on account of his son Jonathan's idolatrous conduct, he is called the son of Manasseh by inserting nun. Rabbi Tanchum attests the same thing, saying that the name was written with nun suspended, because Jonathan's conduct was unsuited to the dignity of Moses and consonant to that of Manasseh. In like manner Rabbi Solomon 'Ben Melek, quoted by Norzi, says, that the nun is redundant, because he was the son of Moses. Thus this tradition of the Jews is ancient and uniform. And it is likely to be true, because it is a testimony against themselves. They confess honestly that a letter was added, and they give the reason of it. It was the honour of Moses which led them to make Jonathan, the first priest of idolatry, not a grandson of the great lawgiver, but a grandson of Manasseh. The nun must have been written very early with the name, as it is in all the most ancient versions.'
'Matthew x\ri\. 35, 36. Tlvo nXnpaOv To pi/fle* wo Toc jrpo<pi;Tov iuptpiaavro To Ipa'rta pov iavroh, Ka\ M r&v iparto-por pov ?/3oXo» &'rlPov.] Kal jca6V«">« HpovV
*"' The" words enclosed in brackets are omitted in many authorities.
'1 They are wanting in all the uncial MSS. except A, such as A. B. D. E F'g H K. L. M. S. U. V. and a great many cursive ones enumerated by Scholz.' They are also wanting in a number of evangelUtaria.
- 2 They are not in the old Syriac, at least in the MSS. of it, and in some editions also; and hence a note in the margin of the later Syriac states that they are not in the old Syriac nor in two [or three] Greek copies. Neither are they found in the Arabic of the Polyglott, the Persic ofTheloc, the MemphitSc, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Sclavonic. They are also wanting in many MSS. of the Vulgate, as well as the S.xtine edition; and in many MSS. of the old Latin, among winch is the cod. Bnxianus.
< 3 Chrysostom, Titus of Bostra, Euthymius, Theophylact, Ongen Hilary, Augustine, Juvenius omit them. On the strength of this ancient ev dence, the passage is rightly expunged from the editions of Gnesbach, Scholz Lachmannrtnd Tischendorf. The testimony in favour of the passes quite unimportant, consisting of A and a great number of cursive MSS some MSS.of the old Latin and Vulgate, Philoxenian, Syriac, the Jerusalem-Syriac, the Arabic of the Roman edUion, the Persian of the Polvclott and Armenian versions. Thus external evidence is decisive TSt the oassaee It seems to have been at first a marginal annotation borrowed from Jg0hn xix. 24, and afterwards taken into the text. Scholz, however, calls attention to the fact, that no other evangelist except Matthew uses the formula "iva jr\r)pa6fj rb piBiv, and that 8k1 for in6, which the Latin version appears to have had in the original whence it was taken, is conformable to Matthew's usual manner.'
This is a case of assimilative accretion, infecting a large proportion of the later MSS. It serves also to illustrate an advan* tage arising from the existence of distinguishable families in tie assurance afforded by the concurrent testimony of two witnesses, which, in the present instance, unite by the voice of their older documents.
It is presumed that an unwillingness to extend the work too far, set a limit to this portion of it; otherwise, a similar treatment of every passage where the sense is materially affected by various readings, would have been serviceable, and might still form a supplement; since, to use the author's own words, 'when one is put in possession of all the evidence, he will be • able to judge himself of those portions, without the uncer'tainty of having to rely on the reports of others.'
The criticism of the text is, perhaps, for a single individual, a sufficient field of labour, though the general commentator must include it in his field of knowledge. Dr. Davidson suggests a further division of labour, when he says, 'We should rather see the collator and the editor of the text dissociated.' There is some truth in this, and for this particular reason. One who has been scanning every feature of a few ancient documents, or dimly tracing the shadowy forms of venerable uncials beneath a homily of Ephrem or Augustine, may become somewhat spell-bound by these his familiars. Again, another who has made inroads into the less trodden realm of more recent and numerous cursives, may catch a spirit of championship for * region of neglect. However, 'this travail hath God given to the sons of man.' If the thought arises why it should be so, while we would be mistrustful of meeting the entire question with others of its kind, we may venture on a partial answer, that it tends to maintain that activity of mind which, if duly chastened, is as wholesome in sacred matters as profane.
Haud facilem esse viam voluit,
curis acuens mortalia corda,
Nee torpere gravi passus sua regna veterno.'