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ART. I.1. Novum Testamentum Græcè et Latinè. CAROLUS LACHMANNUS recensuit, PHILIPPUS BUTTMANNUS, Ph. F. Græcæ Lectionis auctoritates apposuit. Tomus prior. Berolini: 1842.
2. Novum Testamentum Græcè. Ad antiquos testes recensuit apparatum criticum multis modis auctum et correctum apposuit, commentationem isagogicam præmisit CONSTANTINUS TISCHENDORF, Theol. Dr. et Prof. Lipsia: 1849.
3. The Greek Testament: with a critically revised Text, a Digest of various Readings; Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usages; Prolegomena; and a Critical and Exegetical Commentary. For the Use of Theological Students and Ministers. By HENRY ALFORD, M. A., Vicar of Wymeswould, Leicestershire, and late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. containing the Gospels. London: Rivingtons, 1849. (Pp. 88. and 664.)
Of the works at the head of this article, the first is but little known in this country, although, as our readers will see by the date of its publication, it has already been several years in circulation. The second is from the hand of a scholar who, about ten years back, published a text of the New Testament, which, from its cheapness, portability, and typographical distinctness, acquired some degree of popularity in university lecture rooms, although it neither claimed nor possessed any merit as a critical effort. The present edition, which may be regarded as entirely recast, has lost the neat and attractive
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aspect of its predecessor. It is printed in the sharp upright type to which the publications of Didot, at Paris, have familiarised, but not reconciled, the eyes of men; the character is small; and the abbreviations in the notes are carried to such a pitch, that even after an acquaintance of considerable standing with the book, its perusal remains a very painful task. The third publication, that of Mr. Alford, may fairly be expected to acquire a greater degree of popularity than either of the others; but we somewhat question whether it will have full justice done it by the unprofessional public. It exhibits considerable diligence and reading, a sincere and earnest religious faith, and above all, a courageous love of truth which is deserving of the highest approbation. But, on the other hand, it is too extensive in its design to permit of an uniformly satisfactory execution. It is the first attempt, we believe, in this country, to discuss in a single volume all (or almost all) the important problems which philological investigations bring to light respecting the authenticity, the genuineness, the authority, and the specific character of the writings of the New Testament; and as these momentous topics are discussed in the vernacular language, it is obvious that they will be brought before the attention of multitudes who are little, if at all, qualified to consider them, and who will perhaps, in some instances, remain unsatisfied with the explanation of difficulties of which they had previously never dreamed. We freely confess, that with every disposition to give Mr. Alford credit for those qualities which a scholar and a divine ought to possess, we almost regret that practical discretion did not sufficiently operate with him to induce him to clothe his remarks in a Latin garb. Every one competent to enter into his arguments would be also competent to do it, if they had been presented in that dress which transfers debate from the pages of the weekly newspaper to the matured treatise of the sober theologian. It is no doubt a vital principle of Protestantism that the title deeds of religion should never be closed from investigation; that we should always be prepared, if necessary, to show the connexion between the primitive church and our own, and to demonstrate that we are not following cunningly devised fables,' but maintaining a belief identical with that of the first preachers of the Gospel. And we are very far from sharing the suspicion and dislike with which the searching processes of criticism are regarded by some modern religious schools, who seem entirely to forget that the language they use can only be consistently employed by such as consider the Reformation an act of schism. All that we stipulate for in philological investigations bearing upon the
1851. Philological Inquiry founded on a Critical Text.
sacred writings (supposing them conducted in an earnest spirit), is that they shall be addressed to genuine scholars, not prematurely popularised to suit the taste of the crowd of sciolists.
It is obvious that of the various topics which are touched upon by Mr. Alford in his volume, the most important—because that upon which all the others depend - must be the one which stands first in his title-page; that is, the critical revision of the Text. It is manifestly premature to enter upon a minute analysis of style until we have first accurately ascertained the structural condition of the writings in question in their primitive form. Still less can we, until this is done, argue with any degree of certainty, from internal evidence, as to the country of the author, the date of the composition, and the special object he had in view. Let us suppose, by way of illustration, that we knew nothing of Wiclif or his labours, except what might be gathered from the existence of manuscripts of his translation of the Bible. It is well known that the orthography of these varies considerably, according to the part of England in which the copy happened to be made, the transcribers of that period (as the Greeks always) often writing as they spoke. The first inference, therefore, of a person who fell in with a Northumbrian copy of the work would be to presume the author a native of the north. But from the very same principles another, into whose hands a copy written in the west of England might fall, would assign him to that locality, on equally plausible and equally insufficient grounds. Again, let us take the opening sentence of Milton's Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical 'Causes,' and observe how a slight transposition of words affects the whole colour of the style. He writes, "I have prepared, Supreme Council, against the much-expected time of your sitting, this treatise; which though to all Christian magistrates equally belonging, and therefore to have been written in the common language of Christendom, natural duty and 'affection hath confined and dedicated first to my own nation.' Every English scholar will instantly perceive, from the arrangement of the clauses of this sentence, that the work from which it is taken belongs to the seventeenth century. But if we make a slight change in the arrangement, by reading, I have 'prepared this treatise against the much-expected time of your sitting; which, though equally belonging to all Christian magis'trates,' &c., we transform it at once into the style of the latter half of the eighteenth. Now, variations analogous to the above, as well as others of a more considerable character, abound in
* It was first printed in 1659.