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be procured, but those which we have are notoriously corrupted from the Latin. There are many Latin versions of the New Testament, some of which are of great antiquity, and some are full of barbarisms. By order of pope Benedict XIV. A. D. 1749, a magnificent edition of four of these versions was published at Rome in four folio volumes. These are sometimes called the Italic versions, to distinguish them from the Vulgate. The Latin Vulgate version was made by Jerome in the fourth century, by order of pope Damasus. Jerome was well qualified for the office by his abilities, learning, and industry: he performed it with great care, and completed his undertaking A. D. 384. This translation was very generally received and read in the Latin churches. The Council of Trent pronounced it to be authentic, and ordered it to be used wherever the Bible was publicly read, and in all disputations, sermons, and expositions. In pursuance of an order of this council a pompous edition of the Vulgate was printed at Louvain A. D. 1573. Sixtus W. published a new edition A. D. 1590, which he declared to be the authentic Vulgate, and that it was to continue for ever: notwithstanding which his successor Clement VIII. pub. lished another edition very different from and in some passages contradictory to that of Sixtus: this he asserted to be the only authentic copy:—a difference of judgement which exposed the pretensions of the popes to infallibility to the sarcastic animadversions of the protestant writers. The protestant divines of the sixteenth century underrated the value of the Vulgate version, from opposition to the papists who were too blindly attached to it. The truth is, that the Vulgate is found in its most important various readings to agree with the most approved manuscripts, and with the ancient versions of the best authority: so that the character of this version has risen greatly in the estimation of modern critics”. 3. The Received Text is corrected by comparing it with quotations from the New Testament which occur in the works of the ancient ecclesiastical writers. These quotations are very numerous in the writings of the Fathers from the second century downwards, and are of the greatest use in rectifying the text of the New Testament. It ought, however, to be remembered that these writers sometimes quoted from memory, and sometimes merely by way of accommodation; in which cases they often quote loosely and inaccurately, and their citations are of little use. These citations therefore are of the greatest value when they profess to quote from manuscripts which lie before them, and especially if they criticize or comment upon the text itself. And in disputed passages this is sometimes the only criterion by which we can judge how the text was read
* See Michaelis on N. T. with Marsh's Notes, vol. ii. c. vii.
by the author who cites it. For the editors of the works of the Fathers have sometimes taken the liberty to alter the reading of the author whose works they publish, to make it correspond with the Received Text. Thus, in the works of Gregory Nyssen, the printed text reads 1 Tim. iii. 16. “God manifest in the flesh:” whereas it is evident from his comment, that the word God was not in his copy; nor is it found in any ecclesiastical writer till the sixth century”. With these limitations, quotations from the New Testament which occur in the works of ancient ecclesiastical writers are of the highest value and authority: for they quoted from manuscripts of more remote antiquity than any which are now extant: so that their authority in favour of a various reading is sometimes paramount to every other. The ecclesiastical writers sometimes cite as scripture, texts which are not to be found in any manuscript or version now extant. On the other hand, their silence with respect to some disputed texts is a demonstration that such texts were not in their copies. That 1 Tim. iii. 16. “God manifest in the flesh,” and 1 John v. 7. “There are three that bear record in heaven,” &c. were never cited by any ecclesiastical writer before the fifth or the sixth century, notwithstanding the vehemence with which the Arian coutroversy was conducted, is a full proof that these texts were not to be found in any manuscripts then existing, and therefore that they are certainly spurious. The works of those writers who are called heretics, such as Valentinian, Marcion, and others, are as useful in ascertaining the value of a reading as those of the fathers who are entitled orthodox: for the heretics were often more learned and acute, and equally honest. Citations from scripture even in the works of the ancient enemies of christianity, such as Celsus and Porphyry, also have their use. They show what was the common reading in their time +. 4. Attempts have been made to correct the Received Text by Critical Conjecture. This is a remedy which ought never to be applied but with the utmost caution, especially as we are furnished with so many helps for correcting the text from manuscripts, versions, and ecclesiastical writers. This caution is doubly necessary where the proposed emendation affects a text which is of great importance in theological controversy; as the judgement of the critic will naturally be biassed in favour of his own opinions. It ought perhaps to be laid down as a general rule, that the Received Text is in no case to be altered by critical, or at least by theological conjecture, how ingenious and plausible soever. Nevertheless there is no reason why critical conjecture should be entirely excluded from the New Testament, any more than from the works of any other ancient author; and some very plausible conjectures, of no inconsi
* Dr. Clarke on the Trinity, p. 76, + Michaclis, ibid. ch. ix.
derable importance, have been suggested by men of great learning and sagacity, which, to say the least, merit very attentive consideration. See particularly John i. 1; vi. 4; and Romans ix. 5. *
Critical Editions of the Greek Testament.—Mill, Kuster, Bengel, Wetstein, Matthai, Alter, Birch, Griesbach. AFTER the publication of the beautiful Elzevir edition of the New Testament in 1624, the learned world appeared to remain satisfied with the Received Text, as if it were absolutely perfect and incapable of improvement, till the commencement of the eighteenth century, when the text of the New Testament again became the object of diligent and accurate revision. 1. The first thing which roused the attention of the learned to this interesting inquiry was the appearance of the celebrated edition of Dr. John Mill, which was published at Oxford, A. D. 1707. It was the fruit of thirty years’ laborious o and the author survived the publication but fourteen days. He was encouraged and assisted in the work by Dr. John Fell, bishop of Gosford. He took as his text the third edition of Stephens; and from ancient manuscripts, versions, and quotations, he has collected about thirty thousand various readings, which he has printed under the text. His collations are made with great diligence, sagacity, and fidelity. In his Prolegomena he introduces a description of the Canon of the New Testament, a history of the text, and an account of his own undertaking. He was the first writer who gave an accurate and clear account of the manuscripts and other authorities which he used. He made no alteration in the text; but his opinion on particular readings is contained in his Notes and Prolegomena. Michaelis says, that with Mill's edition commences the manhood of criticism, with respect to the New Testament; and that this work is absolutely necessary to every critic #. 2. Ludolphus Kuster, A. D. 1710, published at Rotterdam a new and correct edition of Mill's Greek Testament, enriched with various readings from twelve manuscripts not collated by Mill, some of which were of considerable antiquity and value f. 3. John Albert Bengel published a critical edition of the Greek Testament at Tubingen, A. D. 1734. He was a man of great ability and learning, and of high character for integrity and piety. He made considerable improvements in the Received Text; but, that he might not be charged with arbitrary innovation, he made it a rule to introduce no alteration which had not been sanctioned by some printed edition, excepting in the Apocalypse. Select various readings he placed at the bottom of the page, distin
* Marsh's Michaelis, ibid. ch. x.
guishing their various gradations of authority by the five first letters of the Greek alphabet-(a) expressing that the reading was, in his estimation, genuine, (B) probable, (y) uncertain, (8) improbable, and (2) certainly spurious, though by some critics approved. The excellence of Bengel's character, and the orthodoxy of his sentiments, brought biblical criticism into repute among the German theologians. Bengel's various readings are chiefly taken from Mill, with the addition, however, of some valuable ones of his own collected from manuscripts and other authorities. His “ Introductio in Crisin” contains a clear, concise and correct account of manuscripts and editions, together with some excellent critical rules *.
4. The celebrated edition of John James Wetstein was published at Amsterdam in two volumes folio, A. D. 1751, 1752. Of this edition Michaelis says, that " it is of all editions of the Greek Testament the most important, and the most necessary for those who are engaged in sacred criticism.” And his learned and acute translator and annotator, Dr. Herbert Marsh, speaks of it as a kind of standard in sacred criticism +.” It was the original inten. tion of Wetstein to have prioted his text from the Alexandrine manuscript; þut the high estimation in which he at first held this manuscript being abated, he abandoned this design. He afterwards proposed to have published a new and improved text ; but being dissuaded by his friends, lest it should excite the clamour of bigots, he at last determined to adhere to the Received Text, that is, to the Elzevir edition of 1624.
Immediately below his text he has placed those readings which he regards as genuine, and which in his judgement ought to be introduced into the text. Below these are arranged his collection of various readings with their respective authorities. In this respect, it is allowed that he has done more than all his predecessors together. He has collected most of the readings which had been published before, and has corrected many of the errors of Mill. To these he has added a great number of original read. ings from manuscripts and versions collated either by himself or by his friends. He was the first who collated the Philoxenian Syriac version from the manuscript at Oxford, and he examined with the most persevering assiduity the Ephrem manuscript in the Imperial Library at Paris. He has also introduced into his various readings the critical conjectures of others, but has added none of his own. Some inaccuracies have been de. tected in these collations, which in a work of such great cxtent it was impos. sible to avoid. But upon the whole Wetstein is entitled to the character of a laborious, sagacious, and faithful critic. A. D. 1763, an edition of the Greek Testament in quarto was published in London by Bowyer, the learned
* Bengelii Apparatus Criticus. Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. c. xii. sect, 1. p. 464.
printer, in which those alterations are introduced into the text which were proposed by Wetstein as the true readings.
Underneath the various readings in Wetstein's edition are printed his notes. These are numerous and invaluable. They are philological, critical, and explanatory. They contain a great number of parallel passages from the classics, and of quotations from the Talmudists, which tend to elucidate the idioms of the language or the customs of the Jews. They are accompanied with many judicious observations, and supply an inexhaustible fund of theological and critical information. It is computed that the quotations in Wetstein's volumes amount to upwards of a million.
The Prolegomena are prefixed to the first volume. They are learned, copious, and judicious; but they are deficient in urbanity, and discover too much of an angry and contemptuous spirit towards his opponents. He first gives an interesting account of ancient manuscripts in general, and of the condition in which they are commonly found. After which he proceeds to describe briefly, but correctly, the manuscripts which have been collated to correct the text of the New Testament, distinguishing those which are written in uncial or capital letters, by the great letters of the alphabet, viz. A. for the Alexandrine, B. for the Vatican manuscript, &c. and marking the manuscripts which are in small letters by numeral characters. He then gives some account of ancient versions, and of the ecclesiastical writers of whose quotations from the New Testament critics have availed themselves. After which follows a detailed description of former editions of the New Testament; and the whole concludes with an account of his own undertaking, and a defence of his character. These Prolegomena have been republished by Dr. Semler in an octavo volume, augmented with Notes by the learned editor.
5. Between A. D. 1782 and A. D. 1788, Christian Frederic Matthäi, formerly professor in Moscow, and afterwards in Wittenburg in Saxony, published an edition of the Greek Testament in twelve volumes octavo, with various readings from Moscow manuscripts, which had not been before col. lated: to which he has added critical remarks, and a copy of the Vulgate from a Demidovian manuscript. Some of these manuscripts are of considerable antiquity; they have been collated with great care, and contain some curious and important various readings *.
6. A. D. 1786-1787, Professor Alter of Vieuna published a critical edi. tion of the Greek Testament in two volumes octavo. The text of this edition is the Vienna manuscript, which is preserved in the Imperial Library : it contains the whole of the Old and New Testament, and is a manuscript of considerable reputation, though it is suspected of having been altered from the Latin copies. Where the text of this manuscript is evidently erroneous,
* Marsh's Michaelis, ibid. p. 493.