Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the professor has corrected it from Stephens's edition of 1546. And four chasms in the Book of Revelations he has supplied from another manuscript. He has collated this with others in the Imperial Library, and has noted their various readings, together with those of the Coptic, Slavonian, and Latin versions *. 7. A.D. 1788, Professor Birch of Copenhagen published a splendid edition of the four Gospels, in Greek, in folio and quarto. The text of this edition is taken from the third of R. Stephens, A. D. 1550, and the various readings were collected from a considerable number of manuscripts in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, by Professors Birch, Adler, and Moldenhawer, who travelled for this purpose at the expense of the king of Denmark. It is a truly magnificent work, and of the highest importance to Scripture criticism. Its chief value consists in the copious extracts which it contains from the celebrated Vatican manuscript, which had never before been thoroughly examined, but which was now completely and very carefully collated by Professor Birch himself. Its value is likewise enhanced by many extracts from an ancient version discovered by Professor Adler in the Vatican Library, to which he gives the name of the Jerusalem-Syriac, and the readings of which remarkably coincide with those of the Cambridge manuscript. The Vatican copy of this versionis dated in the eleventh century, but the version itself is computed to have been made not earlier than the fourth, nor later than the sixth century. The second volume of this princely edition, which was expected to appear soon after the publication of the first, was prevented by a dreadful fire at Copenhagen +, which put a stop to the work. But in the year 1798 Professor Birch published his collection of various readings in a separate volume without the text f. 8. The first edition of the Greek Testament by Dr. John.James Griesbach, in two volumes octavo, was published A. D. 1775 and 1777. The second edition, very much enlarged and improved, appeared A. D. 1796 and 1806. This is an edition of unrivalled excellence and importance, the publication of which will constitute a memorable ara in the history of Scripture criticism. In the construction of this admirable work the learned editor had two objects in view. The first was to exhibit to the public a text of the Greek Testament as correct, and as nearly approximating to its original purity, as it could be made by the assistance of that immense quantity of critical materials which had been accumulating during the last century. And, secondly, to compress a great mass of critical information into as narrow a

* Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. not. p. 871. + Verum ingenti illo incendio Havniensi, doctissimo etiam Birchio funesto, impeditus fuit vir optimus, ne opus affectum perficeret. Griesbach, vol. 2. Praef. The Professor probably alludes to the burning down of the royal palace of Copenhagen, A. D. 1794, : Marsh's Michaelis, ibid, not. p. 873, and Griesbach's Praefat, ubi supra, b 2

compass as possible, in order to bring it within the reach of those who could not afford either the time, the labour, or the expense, which would be necessary to collect it from those numerous and expensive volumes in which it was diffused. As the basis of his own edition, Dr. Griesbach has selected the Elzevir text, 1624, every, the most minute, variation from which he carefully notes. No alteration is admitted which is not fully warranted by the established laws of just and rational criticism. All conjectural emendations are excluded from the Text, though a few, by way of specimen, are admitted into the Notes. If any of the words of the Received Text are omitted or changed, these words are inserted in a large type, in what he calls his inner margin, which in the printed page is immediately below the text; and the authorities for every alteration are inserted in the collection of various readings at the bottom of the page. Where new words are introduced into the text, they are printed in a smaller type: and to some passages which are not expunged from the text he has prefixed marks expressive of their doubtful authenticity. Many various readings which, though probable in themselves, the learned author has not thought fit to introduce into the text, he has inserted in his inner margin, with signs prefixed to denote their greater or less degrees of probability. And he has noted with asterisks those passages in the text in which a variation in the punctuation produces a considerable change in the sense. After all, he does not presume to affirm that he has exhibited a perfect text; he only professes to have made the best use in his power of the materials in his possession, for correcting and improving the Received Text, fairly stating the grounds of his own decisions, and leaving others to form their own opinion. . The various readings, and the authorities by which they are supported, are placed below the inner margin. They are collected from nearly four hundred manuscripts, besides ancient versions and ecclesiastical writers. In the selection of these readings Dr. Griesbach has made use of the collections of all his learned predecessors, to which he has added a very considerable number extracted by himself from many of the most ancient manuscripts and versions, and from the early ecclesiastical writers, and particularly from the works of Origen. In his second edition he has greatly enlarged and improved his collection of readings and authorities from the valuable publications of Alter and Matthäi, but especially from the splendid edition of Birch. The learned editor does not form his judgeinent of the probability of a reading, solely from the number, or even from the antiquity of manuscripts by which it is supported; but he also takes into consideration the edition or family to which a manuscript belongs, a circumstance which is of indispensable necessity to a right decision of the question. The readings exhibited by Griesbach are avowedly a selection of those only which are of the greatest importance. But he has omitted none which could be of use either to ascertain the true reading, or to illustrate the sense or the phraseology of the sacred writer, or to settle the affinity of the manuscript. He adopts Wetstein's plan of distinguishing uncial manuscripts by great letters, and the rest by numeral characters; and to save room, where a reading is supported by a great number of copies, he specifies particularly only a few of the principal, to which he annexes the total number of the remaining authorities. By these methods he has contrived to compress within the limits of two octavo volumes as much critical information as is often contained in as many folios. Griesbach's edition, however, though it contains in a narrow compass a vast body of useful instruction, does not entirely supersede the labours of former editors, and particularly of Wetstein, whose learned and incomparable Notes still retain all their original value. To the first volume are prefixed the Prolegomena, in which the learned editor gives a clear and succinct history of the origin of the Received Text, and ably justifies the exertions of himself and others to correct and improve it; justly alleging, that neither the Complutensian editors, nor Erasmus, nor Robert Stephens, nor Theodore Beza, nor the unknown editor of the Elzewir edition, made any pretensions to inspiration or infallibility, and that modern editors enjoy advantages for correcting the text far beyond the reach of the original publishers. He then states at large the design which he had in view in his edition of the Greek Testament: viz. to exhibit an improved text accompanied with a copious selection of various readings, condensed. into as narrow a compass as could be done consistently with perspicuity, in order to furnish a manual for critical students of the sacred writings. He next lays down the rules to which critics by long experience have learned to adhere, in forming a judgement concerning the probability or improbability of a various reading; and here he introduces a brief, but perspicuous and curious account of the distinction of ancient manuscripts into different editions, classes, and families, according to their affinity with the copies which were in use at Alexandria, at Constantinople, or in the West of Europe; a careful attention to which distinction is an essential qualification in a Scripture critic. The learned Professor then proceeds to describe the method which he has pursued in compiling his edition of the Greek Testament, to which he adds the particulars in which the second edition differs from, and excels the first, which was published twenty years before ; and that not merely by an improved arrangement, but chiefly by a very considerable addition of important various readings from the celebrated Vatican, Vienna, and Moscow manuscripts, the Sahidic, the Jerusalem-Syriac, the Coptic, the Slavonic, and the old Latin versions, and likewise from the works of the Fathers, and particularly of Origen, for which he is indebted to the learned labours of Alter, Matthäi, Birch, Adler, Sabatier, Blanchini, Dobrowski, and athers, together with his own renewed and indefatigable attention to the subject. In consequence of which, he has been enabled to correct the errors of the former edition, to amend the text, and to enrich the notes. He concludes with a distinct enumeration of manuscripts and versions, accompanied with brief remarks. In his preface the learned editor expresses his gratitude to his Grace the Duke of Grafton for his liberal patronage of the work. This is one of the numerous obligations under which sacred literature has been laid to the munificence of that illustrious nobleman, and for which he is entitled to the cordial acknowledgments of every lover of truth and enlightened friend of the Christian Religion.

SECTION VII.

Great Number of Parious Readings.—Inferences.—Propriety of editing a Correct Tert.—Griesbach.-Newcome.—The present Persion.—Conclusion. The number of various readings collected by Dr. Mill is computed at thirty thousand. And it is reasonable to believe that since the publication of his celebrated edition, a hundred thousand at least have been added to the list, by the indefatigable industry of those learned critics who have succeeded to his labours, and by the great extension of the field of their operations in consequence of the additional number of manuscripts and versions which have been since discovered and collated. These various readings, though very numerous, do not in any degree affect the general credit and integrity of the text: the general uniformity of which, in so many copies, scattered through almost all countries in the known world, and in so great a variety of languages, is truly astonishing, and demonstrates both the veneration in which the Scriptures were held, and the great care which was taken in transcribing them. Of the hundred and fifty thousand various readings which have been discovered by the sagacity and diligence of collators, not one tenth, nor one hundredth part, make any perceptible, or at least any material variation in the sense. This will appear credible if we consider that every, the minutest deviation, from the Received Text has been carefully noted, so that the insertion or omission of an article, the substitution of a word for its equivalent, the transposition of a word or two in a sentence, and even variations in orthography, have been added to the catalogue of various readings. In those variations, which in some measure affect the sense, the true reading often shines forth with a lustre of evidence which is perfectly satisfactory to the judicious inquirer. In other cases, where the true reading cannot be exactly ascertained, it is of little or no consequence which of the readings is adopted, v. g. whether we read Paul the servant, or Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ, Philem. ver, 1. Also, where the various readings are of considerable importance, consisting, for example, in the omission or addition of sentences or paragraphs, the authenticity of the rest of the book remains wholly unaffected, whatever decision may be passed upon the passages in question. Thus the genuineness of the gospel of John continues unimpeached, whatever may become of the account of the pool of Bethesda, or, of the narrative of the woman taken in adultery.. The various readings which affect the doctrines of christianity are very few : yet some of these are of great importance; viz. Acts xx. 28; 1 Tim. iii. 16; 1 John v. 7. Of those passages which can be justly regarded as wilful interpolations, the number is very small indeed : and of these the lastmentioned text, 1 John v. 7. is by far the most notorious, and most universally acknowledged, and reprobated. Upon the whole we may remark, that the number and antiquity of the manuscripts which contain the whole or different parts of the New Testament, the variety of ancient versions, and the multitude of quotations from these sacred books in the early christian writers from the second century downwards, constitute a body of evidence in favour of the genuineness and authenticity of the Christian Scriptures far beyond that of any other book of equal antiquity. Nevertheless, the immense number of various readings in the text of the New Testament, many of which cannot be satisfactorily settled by the most unwearied assiduity or the acutest sagacity of critical investigation, demonstrates that no superstitious regard is due to the mere language of the Received Text, which, like the works of other ancient authors, is open to rational and liberal criticism. Ignorant and injudicious persons are some. times apprehensive that men's regard to the christian religion will be impaired, and their veneration for the Scriptures diminished, if the infallibi. lity of the Received Text is called in question. But intelligent and well. informed readers are apprised, that the great practical truths of the christian religion do not rest upon verbal niceties, but consist in obvious conclusions from notorious and well-established facts. The apostolic summary of the christian faith is, “that God will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” This doctrine beams forth with unclouded splendour from every page of the New Testament, whatever becomes of the correctness and accuracy of the Received Text. And whether greater respect be shewn to the writers of the Christian Scriptures and to their works by adopting as infallible the imperfect editions of Erasmus and Stephens, of Beza and Elzevir, than by endeavouring to approximate as nearly as possible to the apostolic originals by a sober and judicious use of the ample materials which the labours of the learned have supplied for the purpose of rational criticism, let candour and good sense determine. In some few instances the alteration of the Received Text is indispensably requisite, in order to correct the erroneous impression conveyed by a false reading: and in all cases a change is desirable where the proposed alteration is sup

« FöregåendeFortsätt »