The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels
by John Burgon
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'Tenet ecclesia nostra, tenuitque semper firmam illam et immotam Tertulliani regulam "Id verius quod prius, id prius quod ab initio." Quo propius ad veritatis fontem accedimus, eo purior decurrit Catholicae doctrinae rivus.'

Cave's Proleg. p. xliv.

'Interrogate de semitis antiquis quae sit via bona, et ambulate in ea.'—Jerem. vi. 16.

'In summa, si constat id verius quod prius, id prius quod ab initio, id ab initio quod ab Apostolis; pariter utique constabit, id esse ab Apostolis traditum, quod apud Ecclesias Apostolorum fuerit sacrosanctum.'—Tertull. adv. Marc. l. iv. c. 5.


The reception given by the learned world to the First Volume of this work, as expressed hitherto in smaller reviews and notices, has on the whole been decidedly far from discouraging. All have had some word of encomium on our efforts. Many have accorded praise and signified their agreement, sometimes with unquestionable ability. Some have pronounced adverse opinions with considerable candour and courtesy. Others in opposing have employed arguments so weak and even irrelevant to the real question at issue, as to suggest that there is not after all so much as I anticipated to advance against our case. Longer examinations of this important matter are doubtless impending, with all the interest attaching to them and the judgements involved: but I beg now to offer my acknowledgements for all the words of encouragement that have been uttered.

Something however must be said in reply to an attack made in the Guardian newspaper on May 20, because it represents in the main the position occupied by some members of an existing School. I do not linger over an offhand stricture upon my 'adhesion to the extravagant claim of a second-century origin for the Peshitto,' because I am content with the companionship of some of the very first Syriac scholars, and with the teaching given in an unanswered article in the Church Quarterly Review for April, 1895. Nor except in passing do I remark upon a fanciful censure of my account of the use of papyrus in MSS. before the tenth century—as to which the reviewer is evidently not versed in information recently collected, and described for example in Sir E. Maunde Thompson's Greek and Latin Palaeography, or in Mr. F. G. Kenyon's Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, and in an article in the just mentioned Review which appeared in October, 1894. These observations and a large number of inaccuracies shew that he was at the least not posted up to date. But what will be thought, when attention is drawn to the fact that in a question whether a singular set of quotations from the early Fathers refer to a passage in St. Matthew or the parallel one in St. Luke, the peculiar characteristic of St. Matthew—'them that persecute you'—is put out of sight, and both passages (taking the lengthened reading of St. Matthew) are represented as having equally only four clauses? And again, when quotations going on to the succeeding verse in St. Matthew (v. 45) are stated dogmatically to have been wrongly referred by me to that Evangelist? But as to the details of this point in dispute, I beg to refer our readers to pp. 144-153 of the present volume. The reviewer appears also to be entirely unacquainted with the history of the phrase [Greek: monogenes Theos] in St. John i. 18, which, as may be read on pp. 215-218, was introduced by heretics and harmonized with Arian tenets, and was rejected on the other side. That some orthodox churchmen fell into the trap, and like those who in these days are not aware of the pedigree and use of the phrase, employed it even for good purposes, is only an instance of a strange phenomenon. We must not be led only by first impressions as to what is to be taken for the genuine words of the Gospels. Even if phrases or passages make for orthodoxy, to accept them if condemned by evidence and history is to alight upon the quicksands of conjecture.

A curious instance of a fate like this has been supplied by a critic in the Athenaeum, who, when contrasting Dean Burgon's style of writing with mine to my discredit, quotes a passage of some length as the Dean's which was really written by me. Surely the principle upheld by our opponents, that much more importance than we allow should be attributed to the 'Internal evidence of Readings and Documents,' might have saved him from error upon a piece of composition which characteristically proclaimed its own origin. At all events, after this undesigned support, I am the less inclined to retire from our vantage ground.

But it is gratifying on all accounts to say now, that such interpolations as in the companion volume I was obliged frequently to supply in order to fill up gaps in the several MSS. and in integral portions of the treatise, which through their very frequency would have there made square brackets unpleasant to our readers, are not required so often in this part of the work. Accordingly, except in instances of pure editing or in simple bringing up to date, my own additions or insertions have been so marked off. It will doubtless afford great satisfaction to others as well as the admirers of the Dean to know what was really his own writing: and though some of the MSS., especially towards the end of the volume, were not left as he would have prepared them for the press if his life had been prolonged, yet much of the book will afford, on what he regarded as the chief study of his life, excellent examples of his style, so vigorously fresh and so happy in idiomatic and lucid expression.

But the Introduction, and Appendix II on 'Conflation' and the 'Neutral Text,' have been necessarily contributed by me. I am anxious to invite attention particularly to the latter essay, because it has been composed upon request, and also because—unless it contains some extraordinary mistake—it exhibits to a degree which has amazed me the baselessness of Dr. Hort's theory.

The manner in which the Dean prepared piecemeal for his book, and the large number of fragments in which he left his materials, as has been detailed in the Preface to the former volume, have necessarily produced an amount of repetition which I deplore. To have avoided it entirely, some of the MSS. must have been rewritten. But in one instance I discovered when it was too late that after searching for, and finding with difficulty and treating, an example which had not been supplied, I had forestalled a subsequent examination of the same passage from his abler hand. However I hope that in nearly all, if not all cases, each treatment involves some new contribution to the question discussed; and that our readers will kindly make allowance for the perplexity which such an assemblage of separate papers could not but entail.

My thanks are again due to the Rev. G. H. Gwilliam, B.D., Fellow of Hertford College, for much advice and suggestion, which he is so capable of giving, and for his valuable care in looking through all the first proofs of this volume; to 'M. W.,' Dean Burgon's indefatigable secretary, who in a pure labour of love copied out the text of the MSS. before and after his death; also to the zealous printers at the Clarendon Press, for help in unravelling intricacies still remaining in them.

This treatise is now commended to the fair and candid consideration of readers and reviewers. The latter body of men should remember that there was perhaps never a time when reviewers were themselves reviewed by many intelligent readers more than they are at present. I cannot hope that all that we have advanced will be finally adopted, though my opinion is unfaltering as resting in my belief upon the Rock; still less do I imagine that errors may not be discovered in our work. But I trust that under Divine Blessing some not unimportant contribution has been made towards the establishment upon sound principles of the reverent criticism of the Text of the New Testament. And I am sure that, as to the Dean's part in it, this trust will be ultimately justified.


9 Bradmore Road, Oxford:

Sept. 2, 1896.



The Traditional Text—established by evidence—especially before St. Chrysostom—corruption—early rise of it—Galilee of the Gentiles—Syrio-Low-Latin source—various causes and forms of corruption. pp. 1-9


General Corruption.

Sec. 1. Modern re-editing—difference between the New Testament and other books—immense number of copies—ordinary causes of error—Doctrinal causes. Sec. 2. Elimination of weakly attested readings—nature of inquiry. Sec. 3. Smaller blemishes in MSS. unimportant except when constant. Sec. 4. Most mistakes arose from inadvertency: many from unfortunate design. pp. 10-23


Accidental Causes of Corruption. I. Pure Accident.

Sec. 1. St. John x. 29. Sec. 2. Smaller instances, and Acts xx. 24. Sec. 3. St. Luke ii. 14. Sec. 4. St. Mark xv. 6; vii. 4; vi. 22. Sec. 5. St. Mark viii. 1; vii. 14—St. John xiii. 37. pp. 24-35


Accidental Causes of Corruption. II. Homoeoteleuton.

St. Luke ii. 15—St. John vi. 11; vi. 55—St. Matt. xxiii. 14; xix. 9—St. Luke xvi. 21. pp. 36-41


Accidental Causes of Corruption. III. From Writing in Uncials.

Sec. 1. St. John iv. 35-36. Sec. 2. St. Luke xv. 17—St. John v. 44. Sec. 3. Acts xxvii. 14—St. John iv. 15—St. Luke xvii. 37—St. Matt. xxii. 23—and other passages. Sec. 4. St. John v. 4—St. Luke xxiii. 11—St. Matt. iv. 23. Sec. 5. 2 St. Peter i. 31—Heb. vii. 1. Sec. 6. St. Matt. xxvii. 17. pp. 42-55


Accidental Causes of Corruption. IV. Itacism.

Sec. 1. Various passages—St. John xii. 1, 2; 41. Sec. 2. Rev. i. 5—Other passages—St. Mark vii. 19. Sec. 3. St. Mark iv. 8. Sec. 4. Titus ii. 5. pp. 56-66


Accidental Causes of Corruption. V. Liturgical Influence.

Sec. 1. Lectionaries of the Church—Liturgical influence—Antiquity of the Lectionary System. Sec. 2. St. John xiv. 1—Acts iii. 1—Last Twelve Verses of St. Mark. Sec. 3. St. Luke vii. 31; ix. 1—Other passages. Sec. 4. St. Mark xv. 28. Sec. 5. Acts iii. 1—St. Matt. xiii. 44; xvii. 23. Sec. 6. St. Matt vi. 13 (doxology in the Lord's Prayer). pp. 67-88


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. I. Harmonistic Influence.

Sec. 1. St. Mark xvi. 9. Sec. 2. St. Luke xxiv. 1—other examples. Sec. 3. Chiefly intentional—Diatessarons—St. Matt. xvii. 25, 26—Harmonized narratives—Other examples. pp. 89-99


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. II. Assimilation.

Sec. 1. Transfer from one Gospel to another. Sec. 2. Not entirely intentional—Various passages. Sec. 3. St. John xvi. 16. Sec. 4. St. John xiii. 21-25. Sec. 5. St. Mark i. 1, 2—Other examples—St. Matt. xii. 10 (St. Luke xiv. 3)—and others. Sec. 6. St. Mark vi. 11. Sec. 7. St. Mark xiv. 70. pp. 100-122


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. III. Attraction.

Sec. 1. St. John vi. 71 and xiii. 26. Sec. 2. Acts xx. 24—2 Cor. iii. 3. pp. 123-127


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. IV. Omission.

Sec. 1. Omissions a class of their own—Exemplified from the Last Twelve Verses of St. Mark—Omission the besetting fault of transcribers. Sec. 2. The onus probandi rests upon omitters. Sec. 3. St Luke vi. 1; and other omissions. Sec. 4. St. Matt. xxi. 44. Sec. 5. St. Matt. xv. 8. Sec. 6. St. Matt. v. 44—Reply to the Reviewer in the Guardian. Sec. 7. Shorter Omissions. pp. 128-156


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. V. Transposition.

Sec. 1. St. Mark i. 5; ii. 3—Other instances. Sec. 2. St. Luke xiii. 9; xxiv. 7. Sec. 3. Other examples—St. John v. 27—Transpositions often petty, but frequent.

VI. Substitution.

Sec. 4. If taken with Modifications, a large class—Various instances. pp. 164-165

VII. Addition.

Sec. 5. The smallest of the four—St. Luke vi. 4—St. Matt. xx. 28. Sec. 6. St. Matt. viii. 13; xxiv. 36—St. Mark iii. 16—Other examples. pp. 166-171


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. VIII. Glosses.

Sec. 1. Not so numerous as has been supposed—St. Matt. xiii. 36—St. Mark vii. 3. Sec. 2. St. Luke ix. 23. Sec. 3. St. John vi. 15; xiii. 24; xx. 18—St. Matt. xxiv. 31. Sec. 4. St. John xviii. 14—St. Mark vi. 11. Sec. 5. St. Mark xiv. 41—St. John ix. 22. Sec. 6. St. John xii. 7. Sec. 7. St. John xvii. 4. Sec. 8. St. Luke i. 66. Sec. 9. St. Luke v. 7—Acts xx. 4. pp. 172-190


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. IX. Corruption by Heretics.

Sec. 1. This class very evident—Began in the earliest times—Appeal to what is earlier still—Condemned in all ages and countries. Sec. 2. The earliest depravers of the Text—Tatian's Diatessaron. Sec. 3. Gnostics—St. John i. 3-4. Sec. 4. St. John x. 14, 15. Sec. 5. Doctrinal—Matrimony—St. Matt i. 19. pp. 191-210


Causes of Corruption Chiefly Intentional. X. Corruption by the Orthodox.

Sec. 1. St. Luke xix. 41; ii. 40. Sec. 2. St. John viii. 40; and i. 18. Sec. 3. 1 Cor. xv. 47. Sec. 4. St. John iii. 13. Sec. 5. St. Luke ix. 54-56. pp. 211-231


Pericope de Adultera. pp. 233-265


Dr. Hort's Theory of Conflation and the Neutral Text. pp. 266-286

Index of Subjects. pp. 287-288

Index of Passages of the New Testament Discussed. pp. 289-290



In the companion volume to this, the Traditional Text, that is, the Text of the Gospels which is the resultant of all the evidence faithfully and exhaustively presented and estimated according to the best procedure of the courts of law, has been traced back to the earliest ages in the existence of those sacred writings. We have shewn, that on the one hand, amidst the unprecedented advantages afforded by modern conditions of life for collecting all the evidence bearing upon the subject, the Traditional Text must be found, not in a mere transcript, but in a laborious revision of the Received Text; and that on the other hand it must, as far as we can judge, differ but slightly from the Text now generally in vogue, which has been generally received during the last two and a half centuries.

The strength of the position of the Traditional Text lies in its being logically deducible and to be deduced from all the varied evidence which the case supplies, when it has been sifted, proved, passed, weighed, compared, compounded, and contrasted with dissentient testimony. The contrast is indeed great in almost all instances upon which controversy has gathered. On one side the vast mass of authorities is assembled: on the other stands a small group. Not inconsiderable is the advantage possessed by that group, as regards numerous students who do not look beneath the surface, in the general witness in their favour borne by the two oldest MSS. of the Gospels in existence. That advantage however shrinks into nothing under the light of rigid examination. The claim for the Text in them made at the Semiarian period was rejected when Semiarianism in all its phases fell into permanent disfavour. And the argument advanced by Dr. Hort that the Traditional Text was a new Text formed by successive recensions has been refuted upon examination of the verdict of the Fathers in the first four centuries, and of the early Syriac and Latin Versions. Besides all this, those two manuscripts have been traced to a local source in the library of Caesarea. And on the other hand a Catholic origin of the Traditional Text found on later vellum manuscripts has been discovered in the manuscripts of papyrus which existed all over the Roman Empire, unless it was in Asia, and were to some degree in use even as late as the ninth century; before and during the employment of vellum in the Caesarean school, and in localities where it was used in imitation of the mode of writing books which was brought well-nigh to perfection in that city.

It is evident that the turning-point of the controversy between ourselves and the Neologian school must lie in the centuries before St. Chrysostom. If, as Dr. Hort maintains, the Traditional Text not only gained supremacy at that era but did not exist in the early ages, then our contention is vain. That Text can be Traditional only if it goes back without break or intermission to the original autographs, because if through break or intermission it ceased or failed to exist, it loses the essential feature of genuine tradition. On the other hand, if it is proved to reach back in unbroken line to the time of the Evangelists, or to a period as near to them as surviving testimony can prove, then Dr. Hort's theory of a 'Syrian' text formed by recension or otherwise just as evidently falls to the ground. Following mainly upon the lines drawn by Dean Burgon, though in a divergence of my own devising, I claim to have proved Dr. Hort to have been conspicuously wrong, and our maintenance of the Traditional Text in unbroken succession to be eminently right. The school opposed to us must disprove our arguments, not by discrediting the testimony of the Fathers to whom all Textual Critics have appealed including Dr. Hort, but by demonstrating if they can that the Traditional Text is not recognized by them, or they must yield eventually to us[1].

In this volume, the other half of the subject will be discussed. Instead of exploring the genuine Text, we shall treat of the corruptions of it, and shall track error in its ten thousand forms to a few sources or heads. The origination of the pure Text in the inspired writings of the Evangelists will thus be vindicated anew by the evident paternity of deflections from it discoverable in the natural defects or iniquities of men. Corruption will the more shew itself in true colours:—

Quinquaginta atris immanis hiatibus hydra[2]:

and it will not so readily be mistaken for genuineness, when the real history is unfolded, and the mistakes are accounted for. It seems clear that corruption arose in the very earliest age. As soon as the Gospel was preached, the incapacity of human nature for preserving accuracy until long years of intimate acquaintance have bred familiarity must have asserted itself in constant distortion more or less of the sacred stories, as they were told and retold amongst Christians one to another whether in writing or in oral transmission. Mistakes would inevitably arise from the universal tendency to mix error with truth which Virgil has so powerfully depicted in his description of 'Fame':—

Tam ficti pravique tenax, quam nuntia veri[3].

And as soon as inaccuracy had done its baleful work, a spirit of infidelity and of hostility either to the essentials or the details of the new religion must have impelled such as were either imperfect Christians, or no Christians at all, to corrupt the sacred stories.

Thus it appears that errors crept in at the very first commencement of the life of the Church. This is a matter so interesting and so important in the history of corruption, that I must venture to place it again before our readers.

Why was Galilee chosen before Judea and Jerusalem as the chief scene of our Lord's Life and Ministry, at least as regards the time spent there? Partly, no doubt, because the Galileans were more likely than the other inhabitants of Palestine to receive Him. But there was as I venture to think also another very special reason.

'Galilee of the nations' or 'the Gentiles,' not only had a mixed population[4] and a provincial dialect[5], but lay contiguous to the rest of Palestine on the one side, and on others to two districts in which Greek was largely spoken, namely, Decapolis and the parts of Tyre and Sidon, and also to the large country of Syria. Our Lord laid foundations for a natural growth in these parts of the Christian religion after His death almost independent as it seems of the centre of the Church at Jerusalem. Hence His crossings of the lake, His miracles on the other side, His retirement in that little understood episode in His life when He shrank from persecution[6], and remained secretly in the parts of Tyre and Sidon, about the coasts of Decapolis, on the shores of the lake, and in the towns of Caesarea Philippi, where the traces of His footsteps are even now indicated by tradition[7]. His success amongst these outlying populations is proved by the unique assemblage of the crowds of 5000 and 4000 men besides women and children. What wonder then if the Church sprang up at Damascus, and suddenly as if without notice displayed such strength as to draw persecution upon it! In the same way the Words of life appear to have passed throughout Syria over congenial soil, and Antioch became the haven whence the first great missionaries went out for the conversion of the world. Such were not only St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Barnabas, but also as is not unreasonable to infer many of that assemblage of Christians at Rome whom St. Paul enumerates to our surprise in the last chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Many no doubt were friends whom the Apostle of the Gentiles had met in Greece and elsewhere: but there are reasons to shew that some at least of them, such as Andronicus and Junias or Junia[8] and Herodion, may probably have passed along the stream of commerce that flowed between Antioch and Rome[9], and that this interconnexion between the queen city of the empire and the emporium of the East may in great measure account for the number of names well known to the apostle, and for the then flourishing condition of the Church which they adorned.

It has been shewn in our first volume that, as is well known to all students of Textual Criticism, the chief amount of corruption is to be found in what is termed the Western Text; and that the corruption of the West is so closely akin to the corruption which is found in Syriac remains, that practically they are included under one head of classification. What is the reason of this phenomenon? It is evidently derived from the close commercial alliance which subsisted between Syria and Italy. That is to say, the corruption produced in Syria made its way over into Italy, and there in many instances gathered fresh contributions. For there is reason to suppose, that it first arose in Syria.

We have seen how the Church grew of itself there without regular teaching from Jerusalem in the first beginnings, or any regular supervision exercised by the Apostles. In fact, as far as the Syrian believers in Christ at first consisted of Gentiles, they must perforce have been regarded as being outside of the covenant of promise. Yet there must have been many who revered the stories told about our Lord, and felt extreme interest and delight in them. The story of King Abgar illustrates the history: but amongst those who actually heard our Lord preach there must have been very many, probably a majority, who were uneducated. They would easily learn from the Jews, because the Aramaic dialects spoken by Hebrews and Syrians did not greatly differ the one from the other. What difference there was, would not so much hinder the spread of the stories, as tend to introduce alien forms of speech and synonymous words, and so to hinder absolute accuracy from being maintained. Much time must necessarily have elapsed, before such familiarity with the genuine accounts of our Lord's sayings and doings grew up, as would prevent mistakes being made and disseminated in telling or in writing.

The Gospels were certainly not written till some thirty years after the Ascension. More careful examination seems to place them later rather than earlier. For myself, I should suggest that the three first were not published long before the year 70 A.D. at the earliest; and that St. Matthew's Gospel was written at Pella during the siege of Jerusalem amidst Greek surroundings, and in face of the necessity caused by new conditions of life that Greek should become the ecclesiastical language. The Gospels would thus be the authorized versions in their entirety of the stories constituting the Life of our Lord; and corruption must have come into existence, before the antidote was found in complete documents accepted and commissioned by the authorities in the Church.

I must again remark with much emphasis that the foregoing suggestions are offered to account for what may now be regarded as a fact, viz., the connexion between the Western Text, as it is called, and Syriac remains in regard to corruption in the text of the Gospels and of the Acts of the Apostles. If that corruption arose at the very first spread of Christianity, before the record of our Lord's Life had assumed permanent shape in the Four Gospels, all is easy. Such corruption, inasmuch as it beset the oral and written stories which were afterwards incorporated in the Gospels, would creep into the authorized narrations, and would vitiate them till it was ultimately cast out towards the end of the fourth and in the succeeding centuries. Starting from the very beginning, and gaining additions in the several ways described in this volume by Dean Burgon, it would possess such vigour as to impress itself on Low-Latin manuscripts and even on parts of the better Latin ones, perhaps on Tatian's Diatessaron, on the Curetonian and Lewis manuscripts of the fifth century, on the Codex Bezae of the sixth; also on the Vatican and the Sinaitic of the fourth, on the Dublin Palimpsest of St. Matthew of the sixth, on the Codex Regius or L of the eighth, on the St. Gall MS. of the ninth in St. Mark, on the Codex Zacynthius of the eighth in St. Luke, and a few others. We on our side admit that the corruption is old even though the manuscripts enshrining it do not date very far back, and cannot always prove their ancestry. And it is in this admission that I venture to think there is an opening for a meeting of opinions which have been hitherto opposed.

In the following treatise, the causes of corruption are divided into (I) such as proceeded from Accident, and (II) those which were Intentional. Under the former class we find (1) those which were involved in pure Accident, or (2) in what is termed Homoeoteleuton where lines or sentences ended with the same word or the same syllable, or (3) such as arose in writing from Uncial letters, or (4) in the confusion of vowels and diphthongs which is called Itacism, or (5) in Liturgical Influence. The remaining instances may be conveniently classed as Intentional, not because in all cases there was a settled determination to alter the text, for such if any was often of the faintest character, but because some sort of design was to a greater or less degree embedded in most of them. Such causes were (1) Harmonistic Influence, (2) Assimilation, (3) Attraction; such instances too in their main character were (4) Omissions, (5) Transpositions, (6) Substitutions, (7) Additions, (8) Glosses, (9) Corruption by Heretics, (10) Corruption by Orthodox.

This dissection of the mass of corruption, or as perhaps it may be better termed, this classification made by Dean Burgon of the numerous causes which are found to have been at work from time to time, appears to me to be most interesting to the inquirer into the hidden history of the Text of the Gospels, because by revealing the influences which have been at work it sheds light upon the entire controversy, and often enables the student to see clearly how and why certain passages around which dispute has gathered are really corrupt. Indeed, the vast and mysterious ogre called corruption assumes shape and form under the acute penetration and the deft handling of the Dean, whose great knowledge of the subject and orderly treatment of puzzling details is still more commended by his interesting style of writing. As far as has been possible, I have let him in the sequel, except for such clerical corrections as were required from time to time and have been much fewer than his facile pen would have made, speak entirely for himself.


[1] It must be always borne in mind, that it is not enough for the purpose of the other side to shew that the Traditional Text was in a minority as regards attestation. They must prove that it was nowhere in the earliest ages, if they are to establish their position that it was made in the third and fourth centuries. Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, p. 95.

[2] 'A hydra in her direful shape, With fifty darkling throats agape.'—

Altered from Conington's version, Aen. vi. 576.

[3] 'How oft soe'er the truth she tell, What's false and wrong she loves too well.'—

Altered from Conington, Aen. iv. 188.

[4] Strabo, xvi, enumerates amongst its inhabitants Egyptians, Arabians, and Phoenicians.

[5] Studia Biblica, i. 50-55. Dr. Neubauer, On the Dialects spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ.

[6] Isaac Williams, On the Study of the Gospels, 341-352.

[7] My devoted Syrian friend, Miss Helanie Baroody, told me during her stay in England that a village is pointed out as having been traversed by our Lord on His way from Caesarea Philippi to Mount Hermon.

[8] It is hardly improbable that these two eminent Christians were some of those whom St Paul found at Antioch when St. Barnabas brought him there, and thus came to know intimately as fellow-workers ([Greek: episemoi en tois apostolois, oi kai pro emou gegonasin en Christo]). Most of the names in Rom. xvi are either Greek or Hebrew.

[9] 'Jam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes Et linguam et mores ... vexit.'

—Juv. Sat. iii. 62-3.



Sec. 1.

We hear sometimes scholars complain, and with a certain show of reason, that it is discreditable to us as a Church not to have long since put forth by authority a revised Greek Text of the New Testament. The chief writers of antiquity, say they, have been of late years re-edited by the aid of the best Manuscripts. Why should not the Scriptures enjoy the same advantage? Men who so speak evidently misunderstand the question. They assume that the case of the Scriptures and that of other ancient writings are similar.

Such remonstrances are commonly followed up by statements like the following:—That the received Text is that of Erasmus:—that it was constructed in haste, and without skill:—that it is based on a very few, and those bad Manuscripts:—that it belongs to an age when scarcely any of our present critical helps were available, and when the Science of Textual Criticism was unknown. To listen to these advocates for Revision, you would almost suppose that it fared with the Gospel at this instant as it had fared with the original Copy of the Law for many years until the days of King Josiah[10].

Yielding to no one in my desire to see the Greek of the New Testament judiciously revised, I freely avow that recent events have convinced me, and I suppose they have convinced the public also, that we have not among us the men to conduct such an undertaking. Better a thousand times in my judgement to leave things as they are, than to risk having the stamp of authority set upon such an unfortunate production as that which appeared on the 17th May, 1881, and which claims at this instant to represent the combined learning of the Church, the chief Sects, and the Socinian[11] body.

Now if the meaning of those who desire to see the commonly received text of the New Testament made absolutely faultless, were something of this kind:—That they are impatient for the collation of the copies which have become known to us within the last two centuries, and which amount already in all to upwards of three thousand: that they are bent on procuring that the ancient Versions shall be re-edited;—and would hail with delight the announcement that a band of scholars had combined to index every place of Scripture quoted by any of the Fathers:—if this were meant, we should all be entirely at one; especially if we could further gather from the programme that a fixed intention was cherished of abiding by the result of such an appeal to ancient evidence. But unfortunately something entirely different is in contemplation.

Now I am bent on calling attention to certain features of the problem which have very generally escaped attention. It does not seem to be understood that the Scriptures of the New Testament stand on an entirely different footing from every other ancient writing which can be named. A few plain remarks ought to bring this fact, for a fact it is, home to every thoughtful person. And the result will be that men will approach the subject with more caution,—with doubts and misgivings,—with a fixed determination to be on their guard against any form of plausible influence. Their prejudices they will scatter to the winds. At every step they will insist on proof.

In the first place, then, let it be observed that the New Testament Scriptures are wholly without a parallel in respect of their having been so frequently multiplied from the very first. They are by consequence contained at this day in an extravagantly large number of copies [probably, if reckoned under the six classes of Gospels, Acts and Catholic Epistles, Pauline Epistles, Apocalypse, Evangelistaries, and Apostolos, exceeding the number of four thousand]. There is nothing like this, or at all approaching to it, in the case of any profane writing that can be named[12].

And the very necessity for multiplying copies,—a necessity which has made itself felt in every age and in every clime,—has perforce resulted in an immense number of variants. Words have been inevitably dropped,—vowels have been inadvertently confounded by copyists more or less competent:—and the meaning of Scripture in countless places has suffered to a surprising degree in consequence. This first.

But then further, the Scriptures for the very reason because they were known to be the Word of God became a mark for the shafts of Satan from the beginning. They were by consequence as eagerly solicited by heretical teachers on the one hand, as they were hotly defended by the orthodox on the other. Alike from friends and from foes therefore, they are known to have experienced injury, and that in the earliest age of all. Nothing of the kind can be predicated of any other ancient writings. This consideration alone should suggest a severe exercise of judicial impartiality, in the handling of ancient evidence of whatever sort.

For I request it may be observed that I have not said—and I certainly do not mean—that the Scriptures themselves have been permanently corrupted either by friend or foe. Error was fitful and uncertain, and was contradicted by other error: besides that it sank eventually before a manifold witness to the truth. Nevertheless, certain manuscripts belonging to a few small groups—particular copies of a Version—individual Fathers or Doctors of the Church,—these do, to the present hour, bear traces incontestably of ancient mischief.

But what goes before is not nearly all. The fourfold structure of the Gospel has lent itself to a certain kind of licentious handling—of which in other ancient writings we have no experience. One critical owner of a Codex considered himself at liberty to assimilate the narratives: another to correct them in order to bring them into (what seemed to himself) greater harmony. Brevity is found to have been a paramount object with some, and Transposition to have amounted to a passion with others. Conjectural Criticism was evidently practised largely: and almost with as little felicity as when Bentley held the pen. Lastly, there can be no question that there was a certain school of Critics who considered themselves competent to improve the style of the Holy Ghost throughout. [And before the members of the Church had gained a familiar acquaintance with the words of the New Testament, blunders continually crept into the text of more or less heinous importance.] All this, which was chiefly done during the second and third centuries, introduces an element of difficulty in the handling of ancient evidence which can never be safely neglected: and will make a thoughtful man suspicious of every various reading which comes in his way, especially if it is attended with but slender attestation. [It has been already shewn in the companion volume] that the names of the Codexes chiefly vitiated in this sort prove to be B[Symbol: Aleph]CDL; of the Versions,—the two Coptic, the Curetonian, and certain specimens of the Old Latin; of the Fathers,—Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and to some extent Eusebius.

Add to all that goes before the peculiar subject-matter of the New Testament Scriptures, and it will become abundantly plain why they should have been liable to a series of assaults which make it reasonable that they should now at last be approached by ourselves as no other ancient writings are, or can be. The nature of God,—His Being and Attributes:—the history of Man's Redemption:—the soul's eternal destiny:—the mysteries of the unseen world:—concerning these and every other similar high doctrinal subject, the sacred writings alone speak with a voice of absolute authority. And surely by this time enough has been said to explain why these Scriptures should have been made a battle-field during some centuries, and especially in the fourth; and having thus been made the subject of strenuous contention, that copies of them should exhibit to this hour traces of those many adverse influences. I say it for the last time,—of all such causes of depravation the Greek Poets, Tragedians, Philosophers, Historians, neither knew nor could know anything. And it thus plainly appears that the Textual Criticism of the New Testament is to be handled by ourselves in an entirely different spirit from that of any other book.

Sec. 2.

I wish now to investigate the causes of the corruption of the Text of the New Testament. I do not entitle the present a discussion of 'Various Readings,' because I consider that expression to be incorrect and misleading[13]. Freely allowing that the term 'variae lectiones,' for lack of a better, may be allowed to stand on the Critic's page, I yet think it necessary even a second time to call attention to the impropriety which attends its use. Thus Codex B differs from the commonly received Text of Scripture in the Gospels alone in 7578 places; of which no less than 2877 are instances of omission. In fact omissions constitute by far the larger number of what are commonly called 'Various Readings.' How then can those be called 'various readings' which are really not readings at all? How, for example, can that be said to be a 'various reading' of St. Mark xvi. 9-20, which consists in the circumstance that the last 12 verses are left out by two MSS.? Again,—How can it be called a 'various reading' of St. John xxi. 25, to bring the Gospel abruptly to a close, as Tischendorf does, at v. 24? These are really nothing else but indications either of a mutilated or else an interpolated text. And the question to be resolved is,—On which side does the corruption lie? and, How did it originate?

Waiving this however, the term is objectionable on other grounds. It is to beg the whole question to assume that every irregularity in the text of Scripture is a 'various reading.' The very expression carries with it an assertion of importance; at least it implies a claim to consideration. Even might it be thought that, because it is termed a 'various reading,' therefore a critic is entitled to call in question the commonly received text. Whereas, nine divergences out of ten are of no manner of significance and are entitled to no manner of consideration, as every one must see at a glance who will attend to the matter ever so little. 'Various readings' in fact is a term which belongs of right to the criticism of the text of profane authors: and, like many other notions which have been imported from the same region into this department of inquiry, it only tends to confuse and perplex the judgement.

No variety in the Text of Scripture can properly be called a 'various reading,' of which it may be safely declared that it never has been, and never will be, read. In the case of profane authors, where the MSS. are for the most part exceedingly few, almost every plausible substitution of one word for another, if really entitled to alteration, is looked upon as a various reading of the text. But in the Gospels, of which the copies are so numerous as has been said, the case is far otherwise. We are there able to convince ourselves in a moment that the supposed 'various reading' is nothing else but an instance of licentiousness or inattention on the part of a previous scribe or scribes, and we can afford to neglect it accordingly[14]. It follows therefore,—and this is the point to which I desire to bring the reader and to urge upon his consideration,—that the number of 'various readings' in the New Testament properly so called has been greatly exaggerated. They are, in reality, exceedingly few in number; and it is to be expected that, as sound (sacred) Criticism advances, and principles are established, and conclusions recognized, instead of becoming multiplied they will become fewer and fewer, and at last will entirely disappear. We cannot afford to go on disputing for ever; and what is declared by common consent to be untenable ought to be no longer reckoned. That only in short, as I venture to think, deserves the name of a Various Reading which comes to us so respectably recommended as to be entitled to our sincere consideration and respect; or, better still, which is of such a kind as to inspire some degree of reasonable suspicion that after all it may prove to be the true way of exhibiting the text.

The inquiry therefore on which we are about to engage, grows naturally out of the considerations which have been already offered. We propose to ascertain, as far as is practicable at the end of so many hundred years, in what way these many strange corruptions of the text have arisen. Very often we shall only have to inquire how it has come to pass that the text exhibits signs of perturbation at a certain place. Such disquisitions as those which follow, let it never be forgotten, have no place in reviewing any other text than that of the New Testament, because a few plain principles would suffice to solve every difficulty. The less usual word mistaken for the word of more frequent occurrence;—clerical carelessness;—a gloss finding its way from the margin into the text;—- such explanations as these would probably in other cases suffice to account for every ascertained corruption of the text. But it is far otherwise here, as I propose to make fully apparent by and by. Various disturbing influences have been at work for a great many years, of which secular productions know absolutely nothing, nor indeed can know.

The importance of such an inquiry will become apparent as we proceed; but it may be convenient that I should call attention to the matter briefly at the outset. It frequently happens that the one remaining plea of many critics for adopting readings of a certain kind, is the inexplicable nature of the phenomena which these readings exhibit. 'How will you possibly account for such a reading as the present,' (say they,) 'if it be not authentic?' Or they say nothing, but leave it to be inferred that the reading they adopt,—in spite of its intrinsic improbability, in spite also of the slender amount of evidence on which it rests,—must needs be accepted as true. They lose sight of the correlative difficulty:—How comes it to pass that the rest of the copies read the place otherwise? On all such occasions it is impossible to overestimate the importance of detecting the particular cause which has brought about, or which at least will fully account for, this depravation. When this has been done, it is hardly too much to say that a case presents itself like as when a pasteboard mask has been torn away, and the ghost is discovered with a broad grin on his face behind it.

The discussion on which I now enter is then on the Causes of the various Corruptions of the Text. [The reader shall be shewn with illustrations to what particular source they are to be severally ascribed. When representative passages have been thus labelled, and the causes are seen in operation, he will be able to pierce the mystery, and all the better to winnow the evil from among the good.]

Sec. 3.

When I take into my hands an ancient copy of the Gospels, I expect that it will exhibit sundry inaccuracies and imperfections: and I am never disappointed in my expectation. The discovery however creates no uneasiness, so long as the phenomena evolved are of a certain kind and range within easily definable limits. Thus:—

1. Whatever belongs to peculiarities of spelling or fashions of writing, I can afford to disregard. For example, it is clearly consistent with perfect good faith, that a scribe should spell [Greek: krabatton][15] in several different ways: that he should write [Greek: outo] for [Greek: outos], or the contrary: that he should add or omit what grammarians call the [Greek: n ephelkystikon]. The questions really touched by irregularities such as these concern the date and country where the MS. was produced; not by any means the honesty or animus of the copyist. The man fell into the method which was natural to him, or which he found prevailing around him; and that was all. 'Itacisms' therefore, as they are called, of whatever kind,—by which is meant the interchange of such vowels and diphthongs as [Greek: i-ei, ai-e, e-i, e-oi-u, o-o, e-ei],—need excite no uneasiness. It is true that these variations may occasionally result in very considerable inconvenience: for it will sometimes happen that a different reading is the consequence. But the copyist may have done his work in perfect good faith for all that. It is not he who is responsible for the perplexity he occasions me, but the language and the imperfect customs amidst which he wrote.

2. In like manner the reduplication of syllables, words, clauses, sentences, is consistent with entire sincerity of purpose on the part of the copyist. This inaccuracy is often to be deplored; inasmuch as a reduplicated syllable often really affects the sense. But for the most part nothing worse ensues than that the page is disfigured with errata.

3. So, on the other hand,—the occasional omission of words, whether few or many,—especially that passing from one line to the corresponding place in a subsequent line, which generally results from the proximity of a similar ending,—is a purely venial offence. It is an evidence of carelessness, but it proves nothing worse.

4. Then further,—slight inversions, especially of ordinary words; or the adoption of some more obvious and familiar collocation of particles in a sentence; or again, the occasional substitution of one common word for another, as [Greek: eipe] for [Greek: elege], [Greek: phonesan] for [Greek: kraxan], and the like;—need not provoke resentment. It is an indication, we are willing to hope, of nothing worse than slovenliness on the part of the writer or the group or succession of writers.

5. I will add that besides the substitution of one word for another, cases frequently occur, where even the introduction into the text of one or more words which cannot be thought to have stood in the original autograph of the Evangelist, need create no offence. It is often possible to account for their presence in a strictly legitimate way.

But it is high time to point out, that irregularities which fall under these last heads are only tolerable within narrow limits, and always require careful watching; for they may easily become excessive or even betray an animus; and in either case they pass at once into quite a different category. From cases of excusable oscitancy they degenerate, either into instances of inexcusable licentiousness, or else into cases of downright fraud.

6. Thus, if it be observed in the case of a Codex (a) that entire sentences or significant clauses are habitually omitted:—(b) that again and again in the course of the same page the phraseology of the Evangelist has upon clear evidence been seriously tampered with: and (c) that interpolations here and there occur which will not admit of loyal interpretation:—we cannot but learn to regard with habitual distrust the Codex in which all these notes are found combined. It is as when a witness, whom we suspected of nothing worse than a bad memory or a random tongue or a lively imagination, has been at last convicted of deliberate suppression of parts of his evidence, misrepresentation of facts,—in fact, deliberate falsehood.

7. But now suppose the case of a MS. in which words or clauses are clearly omitted with design; where expressions are withheld which are confessedly harsh or critically difficult,—whole sentences or parts of them which have a known controversial bearing;—Suppose further that the same MS. abounds in worthless paraphrase, and contains apocryphal additions throughout:—What are we to think of our guide then? There can be but one opinion on the subject. From habitually trusting, we shall entertain inveterate distrust. We have ascertained his character. We thought he was a faithful witness, but we now find from experience of his transgressions that we have fallen into bad company. His witness may be false no less than true: confidence is at an end.

Sec. 4.

It may be regarded as certain that most of the aberrations discoverable in Codexes of the Sacred Text have arisen in the first instance from the merest inadvertency of the scribes. That such was the case in a vast number of cases is in fact demonstrable. [Inaccuracy in the apprehension of the Divine Word, which in the earliest ages was imperfectly understood, and ignorance of Greek in primitive Latin translators, were prolific sources of error. The influence of Lectionaries, in which Holy Scripture was cut up into separate Lections either with or without an introduction, remained with habitual hearers, and led them off in copying to paths which had become familiar. Acquaintance with 'Harmonies' or Diatessarons caused copyists insensibly to assimilate one Gospel to another. And doctrinal predilections, as in the case of those who belonged to the Origenistic school, were the source of lapsing into expressions which were not the verba ipsissima of Holy Writ. In such cases, when the inadvertency was genuine and was unmingled with any overt design, it is much to be noted that the error seldom propagated itself extensively.]

But next, well-meant endeavours must have been made at a very early period 'to rectify' ([Greek: diorthoun]) the text thus unintentionally corrupted; and so, what began in inadvertence is sometimes found in the end to exhibit traces of design, and often becomes in a high degree perplexing. Thus, to cite a favourite example, it is clear to me that in the earliest age of all (A.D. 100?) some copyist of St. Luke ii. 14 (call him X) inadvertently omitted the second [Greek: en] in the Angelic Hymn. Now if the persons (call them Y and Z) whose business it became in turn to reproduce the early copy thus inadvertently depraved, had but been content both of them to transcribe exactly what they saw before them, the error of their immediate predecessor (X) must infallibly have speedily been detected, remedied, and forgotten,—simply because, as every one must have seen as well as Y and Z, it was impossible to translate the sentence which results,—[Greek: epi ges eirene anthropois eudokia]. Reference would have been made to any other copy of the third Gospel, and together with the omitted preposition ([Greek: en]) sense would have been restored to the passage. But unhappily one of the two supposed Copyists being a learned grammarian who had no other copy at hand to refer to, undertook, good man that he was, proprio Marte to force a meaning into the manifestly corrupted text of the copy before him: and he did it by affixing to [Greek: eudokia] the sign of the genitive case ([Greek: s]). Unhappy effort of misplaced skill! That copy [or those copies] became the immediate progenitor [or progenitors] of a large family,—from which all the Latin copies are descended; whereby it comes to pass that Latin Christendom sings the Hymn 'Gloria in excelsis' incorrectly to the present hour, and may possibly sing it incorrectly to the end of time. The error committed by that same venerable Copyist survives in the four oldest copies of the passage extant, B* and [Symbol: Aleph]*, A and D,—though happily in no others,—in the Old Latin, Vulgate, and Gothic, alone of Versions; in Irenaeus and Origen (who contradict themselves), and in the Latin Fathers. All the Greek authorities, with the few exceptions just recorded, of which A and D are the only consistent witnesses, unite in condemning the evident blunder[16].

I once hoped that it might be possible to refer all the Corruptions of the Text of Scripture to ordinary causes: as, careless transcription,— divers accidents,—misplaced critical assiduity,—doctrinal animus,—small acts of unpardonable licence.

But increased attention and enlarged acquaintance with the subject, have convinced me that by far the larger number of the omissions of such Codexes as [Symbol: Aleph]BLD must needs be due to quite a different cause. These MSS. omit so many words, phrases, sentences, verses of Scripture,—that it is altogether incredible that the proximity of like endings can have much to do with the matter. Inadvertency may be made to bear the blame of some omissions: it cannot bear the blame of shrewd and significant omissions of clauses, which invariably leave the sense complete. A systematic and perpetual mutilation of the inspired Text must needs be the result of design, not of accident[17].

[It will be seen therefore that the causes of the Corruptions of the Text class themselves under two main heads, viz. (I.) Those which arose from Inadvertency, and (II.) Those which took their origin in Design.]


[10] 2 Kings xxii. 8 = 2 Chron. xxxiv. 15.

[11] [This name is used for want of a better. Churchmen are Unitarians as well as Trinitarians. The two names in combination express our Faith. We dare not alienate either of them.]

[12] See The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels (Burgon and Miller), p. 21, note 1.

[13] See Traditional Text, chapter ii, Sec. 6, p. 33.

[14] [Perhaps this point may be cleared by dividing readings into two classes, viz. (1) such as really have strong evidence for their support, and require examination before we can be certain that they are corrupt; and (2) those which afford no doubt as to their being destitute of foundation, and are only interesting as specimens of the modes in which error was sometimes introduced. Evidently, the latter class are not 'various' at all.]

[15] [I.e. generally [Greek: krabatton], or else [Greek: krabaton], or even [Greek: krabakton]; seldom found as [Greek: krabbatton], or spelt in the corrupt form [Greek: krabbaton].]

[16] I am inclined to believe that in the age immediately succeeding that of the Apostles, some person or persons of great influence and authority executed a Revision of the N.T. and gave the world the result of such labours in a 'corrected Text.' The guiding principle seems to have been to seek to abridge the Text, to lop off whatever seemed redundant, or which might in any way be spared, and to eliminate from one Gospel whatever expressions occurred elsewhere in another Gospel. Clauses which slightly obscured the speaker's meaning; or which seemed to hang loose at the end of a sentence; or which introduced a consideration of difficulty:—words which interfered with the easy flow of a sentence:—every thing of this kind such a personage seems to have held himself free to discard. But what is more serious, passages which occasioned some difficulty, as the pericope de adultera; physical perplexity, as the troubling of the water; spiritual revulsion, as the agony in the garden:—all these the reviser or revisers seem to have judged it safest simply to eliminate. It is difficult to understand how any persons in their senses could have so acted by the sacred deposit; but it does not seem improbable that at some very remote period there were found some who did act in some such way. Let it be observed, however, that unlike some critics I do not base my real argument upon what appears to me to be a not unlikely supposition.

[17] [Unless it be referred to the two converging streams of corruption, as described in The Traditional Text.]



I. Pure Accident.

[It often happens that more causes than one are combined in the origin of the corruption in any one passage. In the following history of a blunder and of the fatal consequences that ensued upon it, only the first step was accidental. But much instruction may be derived from the initial blunder, and though the later stages in the history come under another head, they nevertheless illustrate the effects of early accident, besides throwing light upon parts of the discussion which are yet to come.]

Sec. 1.

We are sometimes able to trace the origin and progress of accidental depravations of the text: and the study is as instructive as it is interesting. Let me invite attention to what is found in St. John x. 29; where,—instead of, 'My Father, who hath given them [viz. My sheep] to Me, is greater than all,'—Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, are for reading, 'That thing which My (or the) Father hath given to Me is greater (i.e. is a greater thing) than all.' A vastly different proposition, truly; and, whatever it may mean, wholly inadmissible here, as the context proves. It has been the result of sheer accident moreover,—as I proceed to explain.

St. John certainly wrote the familiar words,—[Greek: ho pater mou] [Greek: os dedoke moi, meizon panton esti]. But, with the licentiousness [or inaccuracy] which prevailed in the earliest age, some remote copyist is found to have substituted for [Greek: hos dedoke], its grammatical equivalent [Greek: ho dedokos]. And this proved fatal; for it was only necessary that another scribe should substitute [Greek: meizon] for [Greek: meizon] (after the example of such places as St. Matt. xii. 6, 41, 42, &c.), and thus the door had been opened to at least four distinct deflections from the evangelical verity,—which straightway found their way into manuscripts:—(1) [Greek: o dedokos ... meizon]—of which reading at this day D is the sole representative: (2) [Greek: os dedoke ... meizon]—which survives only in AX: (3) [Greek: o dedoke ... meizon]—which is only found in [Symbol: Aleph]L: (4) [Greek: o dedoke ... meizon]—which is the peculiar property of B. The 1st and 2nd of these sufficiently represent the Evangelist's meaning, though neither of them is what he actually wrote; but the 3rd is untranslatable: while the 4th is nothing else but a desperate attempt to force a meaning into the 3rd, by writing [Greek: meizon] for [Greek: meizon]; treating [Greek: o] not as the article but as the neuter of the relative [Greek: os].

This last exhibition of the text, which in fact scarcely yields an intelligible meaning and rests upon the minimum of manuscript evidence, would long since have been forgotten, but that, calamitously for the Western Church, its Version of the New Testament Scriptures was executed from MSS. of the same vicious type as Cod. B[18]. Accordingly, all the Latin copies, and therefore all the Latin Fathers[19], translate,— 'Pater [meus] quod dedit mihi, majus omnibus est[20].' The Westerns resolutely extracted a meaning from whatever they presumed to be genuine Scripture: and one can but admire the piety which insists on finding sound Divinity in what proves after all to be nothing else but a sorry blunder. What, asks Augustine, was 'the thing, greater than all,' which the Father gave to the Son? To be the Word of the Father (he answers), His only-begotten Son and the brightness of His glory[21]. The Greeks knew better. Basil[22], Chrysostom[23], Cyril on nine occasions[24], Theodoret[25]—as many as quote the place—invariably exhibit the textus receptus [Greek: os ... meizon], which is obviously the true reading and may on no account suffer molestation.

'But,'—I shall perhaps be asked,—'although Patristic and manuscript evidence are wanting for the reading [Greek: o dedoke moi ... meizon],—is it not a significant circumstance that three translations of such high antiquity as the Latin, the Bohairic, and the Gothic, should concur in supporting it? and does it not inspire extraordinary confidence in B to find that B alone of MSS. agrees with them?' To which I answer,—It makes me, on the contrary, more and more distrustful of the Latin, the Bohairic and the Gothic versions to find them exclusively siding with Cod. B on such an occasion as the present. It is obviously not more 'significant' that the Latin, the Bohairic, and the Gothic, should here conspire with—than that the Syriac, the Sahidic, and the Ethiopic, should here combine against B. On the other hand, how utterly insignificant is the testimony of B when opposed to all the uncials, all the cursives, and all the Greek fathers who quote the place. So far from inspiring me with confidence in B, the present indication of the fatal sympathy of that Codex with the corrupt copies from which confessedly many of the Old Latin were executed, confirms me in my habitual distrust of it. About the true reading of St. John x. 29, there really exists no manner of doubt. As for the 'old uncials' they are (as usual) hopelessly at variance on the subject. In an easy sentence of only 9 words,—which however Tischendorf exhibits in conformity with no known Codex, while Tregelles and Alford blindly follow Cod. B,—they have contrived to invent five 'various readings,' as may be seen at foot[26]. Shall we wonder more at the badness of the Codexes to which we are just now invited to pin our faith; or at the infatuation of our guides?

Sec. 2.

I do not find that sufficient attention has been paid to grave disturbances of the Text which have resulted from a slight clerical error. While we are enumerating the various causes of Textual depravity, we may not fail to specify this. Once trace a serious Textual disturbance back to (what for convenience may be called) a 'clerical error,' and you are supplied with an effectual answer to a form of inquiry which else is sometimes very perplexing: viz. If the true meaning of this passage be what you suppose, for what conceivable reason should the scribe have misrepresented it in this strange way,—made nonsense, in short, of the place?... I will further remark, that it is always interesting, sometimes instructive, after detecting the remote origin of an ancient blunder, to note what has been its subsequent history and progress.

Some specimens of the thing referred to I have already given in another place. The reader is invited to acquaint himself with the strange process by which the '276 souls' who suffered shipwreck with St. Paul (Acts xxvii. 37), have since dwindled down to 'about 76[27].'—He is further requested to note how 'a certain man' who in the time of St. Paul bore the name of 'Justus' (Acts xviii. 7), has been since transformed into 'Titus,' 'Titus Justus,' and even 'Titius Justus[28].'—But for a far sadder travestie of sacred words, the reader is referred to what has happened in St. Matt. xi. 23 and St. Luke x. 15,—where our Saviour is made to ask an unmeaning question—instead of being permitted to announce a solemn fact—concerning Capernaum[29].—The newly-discovered ancient name of the Island of Malta, Melitene[30], (for which geographers are indebted to the adventurous spirit of Westcott and Hort), may also be profitably considered in connexion with what is to be the subject of the present chapter. And now to break up fresh ground.

Attention is therefore invited to a case of attraction in Acts xx. 24. It is but the change of a single letter ([Greek: logoU] for [Greek: logoN]), yet has that minute deflection from the truth led to a complete mangling of the most affecting perhaps of St. Paul's utterances. I refer to the famous words [Greek: all' oudenos logon poioumai, oude echo ten psuchen mou timian emauto, hos teleiosai ton dromon mou meta charas]: excellently, because idiomatically, rendered by our Translators of 1611,—'But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.'

For [Greek: oudenos loGON], (the accusative after [Greek: poioumai]), some one having substituted [Greek: oudenos loGOU],—a reading which survives to this hour in B and C[31],—it became necessary to find something else for the verb to govern. [Greek: Ten psychen] was at hand, but [Greek: oude echo] stood in the way. [Greek: Oude echo] must therefore go[32]; and go it did,—as B, C, and [Symbol: Aleph] remain to attest. [Greek: Timian] should have gone also, if the sentence was to be made translatable; but [Greek: timian] was left behind[33]. The authors of ancient embroilments of the text were sad bunglers. In the meantime, Cod. [Symbol: Aleph] inadvertently retained St. Luke's word, [Greek: LOGON]; and because [Symbol: Aleph] here follows B in every other respect, it exhibits a text which is simply unintelligible[34].

Now the second clause of the sentence, viz. the words [Greek: oude echo ten psychen mou timian emauto], may on no account be surrendered. It is indeed beyond the reach of suspicion, being found in Codd. A, D, E, H, L, P, 13, 31,—in fact in every known copy of the Acts, except the discordant [Symbol: Aleph]BC. The clause in question is further witnessed to by the Vulgate[35],—by the Harkleian[36],—by Basil[37],—by Chrysostom[38],—by Cyril[39],—by Euthalius[40],—and by the interpolator of Ignatius[41]. What are we to think of our guides (Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers) who have nevertheless surrendered the Traditional Text and presented us instead with what Dr. Field,—who is indeed a Master in Israel,—describes as the impossible [Greek: all' oudenos logou poioumai ten psychen timian emauto][42]?

The words of the last-named eminent scholar on the reading just cited are so valuable in themselves, and are observed to be so often in point, that they shall find place here:—'Modern Critics,' he says, 'in deference to the authority of the older MSS., and to certain critical canons which prescribe that preference should be given to the shorter and more difficult reading over the longer and easier one, have decided that the T.R. in this passage is to be replaced by that which is contained in those older MSS.

'In regard to the difficulty of this reading, that term seems hardly applicable to the present case. A difficult reading is one which presents something apparently incongruous in the sense, or anomalous in the construction, which an ignorant or half-learned copyist would endeavour, by the use of such critical faculty as he possessed, to remove; but which a true critic is able, by probable explanation, and a comparison of similar cases, to defend against all such fancied improvements. In the reading before us, [Greek: all' oudenos logou poioumai ten psychen timian emauto], it is the construction, and not the sense, which is in question; and this is not simply difficult, but impossible. There is really no way of getting over it; it baffles novices and experts alike[43].' When will men believe that a reading vouched for by only B[Symbol: Aleph]C is safe to be a fabrication[44]? But at least when Copies and Fathers combine, as here they do, against those three copies, what can justify critics in upholding a text which carries on its face its own condemnation?

Sec. 3.

We now come to the inattention of those long-since-forgotten Ist or IInd century scribes who, beguiled by the similarity of the letters [Greek: EN] and [Greek: AN] (in the expression [Greek: ENANthropois eudokia], St. Luke ii. 14), left out the preposition. An unintelligible clause was the consequence, as has been explained above (p. 21): which some one next sought to remedy by adding to [Greek: eudokia] the sign of the genitive ([Greek: S]). Thus the Old Latin translations were made.

That this is the true history of a blunder which the latest Editors of the New Testament have mistaken for genuine Gospel, is I submit certain[45]. Most Latin copies (except 14[46]) exhibit 'pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,' as well as many Latin Fathers[47]. On the other hand, the preposition [Greek: EN] is retained in every known Greek copy of St. Luke without exception, while the reading [Greek: eudokias] is absolutely limited to the four uncials AB[Symbol: Aleph]D. The witness of antiquity on this head is thus overwhelming and decisive.

Sec. 4.

In other cases the source, the very progress of a blunder,—is discoverable. Thus whereas St. Mark (in xv. 6) certainly wrote [Greek: hena desmion], [Greek: ONPER etounto], the scribe of [Symbol: Delta], who evidently derived his text from an earlier copy in uncial letters is found to have divided the Evangelist's syllables wrongly, and to exhibit in this place [Greek: ON.PERETOUNTO]. The consequence might have been predicted. [Symbol: Aleph]AB transform this into [Greek: ON PARETOUNTO]: which accordingly is the reading adopted by Tischendorf and by Westcott and Hort.

Whenever in fact the final syllable of one word can possibly be mistaken for the first syllable of the next, or vice versa, it is safe sooner or later to have misled somebody. Thus, we are not at all surprised to find St. Mark's [Greek: ha parelabon] (vii. 4) transformed into [Greek: haper elabon], but only by B.

[Another startling instance of the same phenomenon is supplied by the substitution in St. Mark vi. 22 of [Greek: tes thygatros autou Herodiados] for [Greek: tes thygatros autes tes Herodiados]. Here a first copyist left out [Greek: tes] as being a repetition of the last syllable of [Greek: autes], and afterwards a second attempted to improve the Greek by putting the masculine pronoun for the feminine ([Greek: AUTOU] for [Greek: AUTES]). The consequence was hardly to have been foreseen.]

Strange to say it results in the following monstrous figment:—that the fruit of Herod's incestuous connexion with Herodias had been a daughter, who was also named Herodias; and that she,—the King's own daughter,—was the immodest one[48] who came in and danced before him, 'his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee,' as they sat at the birthday banquet. Probability, natural feeling, the obvious requirements of the narrative, History itself—, for Josephus expressly informs us that 'Salome,' not 'Herodias,' was the name of Herodias' daughter[49],—all reclaim loudly against such a perversion of the truth. But what ought to be in itself conclusive, what in fact settles the question, is the testimony of the MSS.,—of which only seven ([Symbol: Aleph]BDL[Symbol: Delta] with two cursive copies) can be found to exhibit this strange mistake. Accordingly the reading [Greek: AUTOU] is rejected by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf and Alford. It has nevertheless found favour with Dr. Hort; and it has even been thrust into the margin of the revised Text of our Authorized Version, as a reading having some probability.

This is indeed an instructive instance of the effect of accidental errors—another proof that [Symbol: Aleph]BDL cannot be trusted.

Sufficiently obvious are the steps whereby the present erroneous reading was brought to perfection. The immediate proximity in MSS. of the selfsame combination of letters is observed invariably to result in a various reading. [Greek: AUTESTES] was safe to part with its second [Greek: TES] on the first opportunity, and the definitive article ([Greek: tes]) once lost, the substitution of [Greek: AUTOU] for [Greek: AUTES] is just such a mistake as a copyist with ill-directed intelligence would be sure to fall into if he were bestowing sufficient attention on the subject to be aware that the person spoken of in verses 20 and 21 is Herod the King.

[This recurrence of identical or similar syllables near together was a frequent source of error. Copying has always a tendency to become mechanical: and when the mind of the copyist sank to sleep in his monotonous toil, as well as if it became too active, the sacred Text suffered more or less, and so even a trifling mistake might be the seed of serious depravation.]

Sec. 5.

Another interesting and instructive instance of error originating in sheer accident, is supplied by the reading in certain MSS. of St. Mark viii. 1. That the Evangelist wrote [Greek: pampollou ochlou] 'the multitude being very great,' is certain. This is the reading of all the uncials but eight, of all the cursives but fifteen. But instead of this, it has been proposed that we should read, 'when there was again a great multitude,' the plain fact being that some ancient scribe mistook, as he easily might, the less usual compound word for what was to himself a far more familiar expression: i.e. he mistook [Greek: PAMPOLLOU] for [Greek: PALIN POLLOU].

This blunder must date from the second century, for 'iterum' is met with in the Old Latin as well as in the Vulgate, the Gothic, the Bohairic, and some other versions. On the other hand, it is against 'every true principle of Textual Criticism' (as Dr. Tregelles would say), that the more difficult expression should be abandoned for the easier, when forty-nine out of every fifty MSS. are observed to uphold it; when the oldest version of all, the Syriac, is on the same side; when the source of the mistake is patent; and when the rarer word is observed to be in St. Mark's peculiar manner. There could be in fact no hesitation on this subject, if the opposition had not been headed by those notorious false witnesses [Symbol: Aleph]BDL, which it is just now the fashion to uphold at all hazards. They happen to be supported on this occasion by GMN[Symbol: Delta] and fifteen cursives: while two other cursives look both ways and exhibit [Greek: palin pampollou].

In St Mark vii. 14, [Greek: palin] was similarly misread by some copyists for [Greek: panta], and has been preserved by [Symbol: Aleph]BDL[Symbol: Delta] ([Greek: PALIN] for [Greek: PANTA]) against thirteen uncials, all the cursives, the Peshitto and Armenian.

So again in St. John xiii. 37. A reads [Greek: dynasai moi] by an evident slip of the pen for [Greek: dynamai soi]. And in xix. 31 [Greek: megalE E Emera] has become [Greek: megale hemera] in [Symbol: Aleph]AE[Symbol: Gamma] and some cursive copies.


[18] See the passages quoted in Scrivener's Introduction, II. 270-2, 4th ed.

[19] Tertull. (Prax. c. 22): Ambr. (ii. 576, 607, 689 bis): Hilary (930 bis, 1089): Jerome (v. 208): Augustin (iii^2. 615): Maximinus, an Arian bishop (ap. Aug. viii. 651).

[20] Pater (or Pater meus) quod dedit mihi (or mihi dedit), majus omnibus est (or majus est omnibus: or omnibus majus est).

[21] iii^2. 615. He begins, 'Quid dedit Filio Pater majus omnibus? Ut ipsi ille esset unigenitus Filius.'

[22] i. 236.

[23] viii. 363 bis.

[24] i. 188: ii. 567: iii. 792: iv. 666 (ed. Pusey): v^1. 326, 577, 578: ap. Mai ii. 13: iii. 336.

[25] v. 1065 (=Dial^{Maced} ap. Athanas. ii. 555).

[26] Viz. + [Greek: mou] ABD: [Greek: mou] [Symbol: Aleph] [Greek: os] A: [Greek: o] B[Symbol: Aleph]D [Greek: dedoken] B[Symbol: Aleph]A: [Greek: dedokos] [Greek: meizon] [Symbol: Aleph]D: [Greek: meizon] AB [Greek: meiz. panton estin] A: [Greek: panton meiz. estin] B[Symbol: Aleph]D.

[27] The Revision Revised, p. 51-3.

[28] The Revision Revised, p. 53-4.

[29] Ibid. p. 51-6.

[30] Ibid. p. 177-8.

[31] Also in Ammonius the presbyter, A.D. 458—see Cramer's Cat. p. 334-5, last line. [Greek: Logou] is read besides in the cursives Act. 36, 96, 105.

[32] I look for an approving word from learned Dr. Field, who wrote in 1875—'The real obstacle to our acquiescing in the reading of the T.R. is, that if the words [Greek: oude echo] had once formed a part of the original text, there is no possibility of accounting for the subsequent omission of them.' The same remark, but considerably toned down, is found in his delightful Otium Norvicense, P. iii, p. 84.

[33] B and C read—[Greek: all' oudenos logou poioumai ten psychen emauto]: which is exactly what Lucifer Calarit. represents,—'sed pro nihilo aestimo animam meam caram esse mihi' (Galland. vi. 241).

[34] [Symbol: Aleph] reads—[Greek: all' oudenos logon poioumai ten psychen timian emauto hos teleioso ton dromon mou].

[35] 'Sed nihil horum ([Greek: touton] is found in many Greek Codd.) vereor, nee facio animam meam pretiosiorem quam me.' So, the Cod. Amiat. It is evident then that when Ambrose (ii. 1040) writes 'nec facio animam meam cariorem mihi,' he is quoting the latter of these two clauses. Augustine (iii^{1}. 516), when he cites the place thus, 'Non enim facto animam meam preliosiorem quam me'; and elsewhere (iv. 268) 'pretiosam mihi'; also Origen (interp. iv. 628 c), 'sed ego non facto cariorem animam meam mihi'; and even the Coptic, 'sed anima mea, dico, non est pretiosa mihi in aliquo verbo':—these evidently summarize the place, by making a sentence out of what survives of the second clause. The Latin of D exhibits 'Sed nihil horum cura est mihi: neque habeo ipsam animam caram mihi.'

[36] Dr. Field says that it may be thus Graecized—[Greek: all' oudena logon poioumai, oude lelogistai moi psyche ti timion].

[37] ii. 296 e,—exactly as the T.R.

[38] Exactly as the T.R., except that he writes [Greek: ten psychen] without [Greek: mou] (ix. 332). So again, further on (334 b), [Greek: ouk echo timian ten emautou psychen]. This latter place is quoted in Cramer's Cat. 334.

[39] Ap. Mai ii. 336 [Greek: edei kai tes zoes kataphronein hyper tou teleiosai ton dromon, oude ten psychen ephe poieiosai timian heauto.]

[40] [Greek: logon echo, oude poioumai ten psychen timian emauto, oste k.t.l.] (ap. Galland. x. 222).

[41] [Greek: all' oudenos logon poioumai ton deinon, oude echo ten psychen timian emauto]. Epist. ad Tars. c. 1 (Dressel, p. 255).

[42] The whole of Dr. Field's learned annotation deserves to be carefully read and pondered. I speak of it especially in the shape in which it originally appeared, viz. in 1875.

[43] Ibid. p. 2 and 3.

[44] Surprising it is how largely the text of this place has suffered at the hands of Copyists and Translators. In A and D, the words [Greek: poioumai] and [Greek: echo] have been made to change places. The latter Codex introduces [Greek: moi] after [Greek: echo],—for [Greek: emauto] writes [Greek: emautou],—and exhibits [Greek: tou teleiosai] without [Greek: hos]. C writes [Greek: hos to teleiosai]. [Symbol: Aleph]B alone of Codexes present us with [Greek: teleioso] for [Greek: teleiosai], and are followed by Westcott and Hort alone of Editors. The Peshitto ('sed mihi nihili aestimatur anima mea'), the Sahidic ('sed non facto animam meam in ulla re'), and the Aethiopic ('sed non reputo animam meam nihil quidquam'), get rid of [Greek: timian] as well as of [Greek: oude echo]. So much diversity of text, and in such primitive witnesses, while it points to a remote period as the date of the blunder to which attention is called in the text, testifies eloquently to the utter perplexity which that blunder occasioned from the first.

[45] Another example of the same phenomenon, (viz. the absorption of [Greek: EN] by the first syllable of [Greek: ANthropois]) is to be seen in Acts iv. 12,—where however the error has led to no mischievous results.

[46] For those which insert in (14), and those which reject it (25), see Wordsworth's edition of the Vulgate on this passage.

[47] Of Fathers:—Ambrose i. 1298—Hieronymus i. 448^{2}, 693, 876: ii. 213: iv. 34, 92: v. 147: vi. 638: vii. 241, 251, 283,—Augustine 34 times,—Optatus (Galland. v. 472, 457),—Gaudentius Brix. (ap. Sabat.),—Chromatius Ag. (Gall. viii. 337),—Orosius (ib. ix. 134), Marius M. (ib. viii. 672), Maximus Taur. (ib. ix. 355),—Sedulius (ib. 575),—Leo M. (ap. Sabat.),—Mamertus Claudianus (Gall. x. 431),—Vigilius Taps. (ap. Sabat.),—Zacchaeus (Gall. ix. 241),—Caesarius Arel. (ib. xi. 11),—ps.-Ambros. ii. 394, 396,—Hormisdas P. (Conc. iv. 1494, 1496),—52 Bps. at 8th Council of Toledo (Conc. vi. 395), &c., &c.

[48] See Wetstein on this place.

[49] Antiqq. i. 99, xviii. 5. 4.



II. Homoeoteleuton.

No one who finds the syllable [Greek: OI] recurring six times over in about as many words,—e.g. [Greek: kai egeneto, hos apelthon ... OI angelOI, kai OI anthropOI OI pOImenes eipon],—is surprised to learn that MSS. of a certain type exhibit serious perturbation in that place. Accordingly, BL[Symbol: Xi] leave out the words [Greek: kai hoi anthropoi]; and in that mutilated form the modern critical editors are contented to exhibit St. Luke ii. 15. One would have supposed that Tischendorf's eyes would have been opened when he noticed that in his own Codex ([Symbol: Aleph]) one word more ([Greek: hoi]) is dropped,—whereby nonsense is made of the passage (viz. [Greek: hoi angeloi poimenes]). Self-evident it is that a line with a 'like ending' has been omitted by the copyist of some very early codex of St. Luke's Gospel; which either read,—

[Greek: OI ANGELOI] } {[Greek: OI ANGELOI] [[Greek: KAI OI A[=NO]I OI]] } or else {[[Greek: KAI OI A[=NO]I]] [Greek: POIMENES] } {[Greek: OI POIMENES]

Another such place is found in St. John vi. 11. The Evangelist certainly described the act of our Saviour on a famous occasion in the well-known words,—[Greek: kai eucharistesas]

[Greek: diedoke tois [mathetais, oi de mathetai tois] anakeimenois.]

The one sufficient proof that St. John did so write, being the testimony of the MSS. Moreover, we are expressly assured by St. Matthew (xiv. 19), St. Mark (vi. 41), and St. Luke (ix. 16), that our Saviour's act was performed in this way. It is clear however that some scribe has suffered his eye to wander from [Greek: tois] in l. 2 to [Greek: tois] in l. 4,—whereby St. John is made to say that our Saviour himself distributed to the 5000. The blunder is a very ancient one; for it has crept into the Syriac, Bohairic, and Gothic versions, besides many copies of the Old Latin; and has established itself in the Vulgate. Moreover some good Fathers (beginning with Origen) so quote the place. But such evidence is unavailing to support [Symbol: Aleph]ABL[Symbol: Pi], the early reading of [Symbol: Aleph] being also contradicted by the fourth hand in the seventh century against the great cloud of witnesses,—beginning with D and including twelve other uncials, beside the body of the cursives, the Ethiopic and two copies of the Old Latin, as well as Cyril Alex.

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