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immediately after the favourable acceptance of his proposition by the Archbishop; and it appears that, among other things, he paid him 501. for a complete copy of the Codex Rescriptus of Ephraem Syrus*, mentioned in his letter. He obtained four ancient manuscripts from the Chapter Library at Durham. He purchased every volume which he could hear of for sale on the Continent which was of undoubted antiquity; and, finally, acquired an apparatus criticus of an extent which would have taken away the very breath of the Elzevir editors. Independently of the four manuscripts (A, B, C, D), there are collations of eighteen Greek codices collected in one volume in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, averaging more than a thousand years each, and forming only a portion of the collection made by Walker.
But it was not reserved for Bentley to complete the plan which he had sketched out. His unhappy dispute with the Fellows of his own college is well known, and from the time it commenced his whole life became a prey to personal animosities of the bitterest kind. His enemies endeavoured as much as possible to discredit his qualifications for the task he had undertaken, and his own unpopular manners and unamiable disposition aided their efforts with those who knew little or nothing of the merits of the case, but hated the domineering spirit and the withering contempt habitually displayed by the English Aristarchus. These qualities had subjected him to the censures of the university, whose jurisdiction he had insulted; and public decency was scandalised by the spectacle of the most illustrious scholar of the age, and Regius Professor of Divinity, stript of his degrees, and appearing in the garb of an undergraduate in the college of which he was master. He quarrelled with the Bishop of Rochester about the election of Westminster scholars to fellowships of Trinity College, and with the Archbishop of Canterbury (Wake) respecting the right of the latter to appoint a librarian. The wits all hated him for the castigation he had inflicted upon the Honourable Mr. Boyle in the controversy respecting Phalaris. Pope put him into the Dunciad as
Slashing Bentley ;' and it was represented that the sacred writings were likely to sustain the same treatment at his hands as some heathen authors. In his letter to Mill he had shown
* Ever since the time of Wetstein, the most important MSS. of the New Testament have been distinguished in critical editions by the following symbols :- A, the Codex Alexandrinus; B, the Codex Vaticanus; C, the Codex Rescriptus Ephraemi Syri; D, the Codex Bezæ Cantabrigiensis.
New Collations since Bentley's Time.
the existence of an interpolation in the Epistle to the Galatians, and in the Prælection which he composed when elected to the Regius Professorship, had proved the utter baselessness of the Vulgate reading in the celebrated verse, 1 John, v. 7.: and his enemies were not ashamed to take advantage of the prejudice which this was calculated to excite in the breasts of the ignorant. It must be confessed, that in the sequel Bentley himself took exactly the course most likely to confirm the erroneous judgment of him entertained by the world at large. His conjectural emendations of the Paradise Lost, which can scarcely bave been meant as more than a practical jest on his part, were regarded generally as an insult on the common sense of mankind, and pointed to as a fair specimen of the critical pretensions of their author. Indeed, long before this it was obvious that his intended edition would never appear, and his enemies even went the length of asserting, that his original proposals were only made for the purpose of ingratiating himself with the Archbishop, and thereby strengthening his case against the Fellows of his College. That this was a mere calumny is quite certain. He himself, probably, never relinquished the scheme to the day of his death ; but the last indication of his actively prosecuting it appears in a letter of the year 1729, from which it seems that the corrections and interlinear glosses made by a later hand in the Vatican Codex had appeared to him of sufficient importance to induce him to procure a collation of them from the Abbé Rulotta, who had succeeded to the place formerly filled by Mico at Rome.
Since the time of Bentley many additions (of very various value) have been made to the authorities upon which the sacred text is based. For the Gospels alone (or for considerable portions of them) there are now available ten or twelve Greek MSS., of which the most recent is above a thousand years old, with, perhaps, double the number of fragments of the same antiquity. Of books of more modern date (i. e. from the eleventh to the sixteenth century) there cannot be less than five hundred. Besides these there are some forty or fifty Evangelistaria (volumes containing extracts from the Gospels for reading in the public services of the Church), written in ancient letters, and three times the number in the cursive or modern character. Independently of this matériel, the verbal critic has most important resources in many manuscripts containing early versions, and, more than all, especially for the purpose of testing the value of the above, he has the quotations which are sprinkled throughout the writings of the early Fathers. It will be obvious that here no scarcity of documentary evidence has to
importand, more above, he bof the
be complained of, and that the real difficulty consists in the proper appreciation of the testimony when the witnesses contradict each other. It is a remarkable circumstance, and one which, without the least wish to exaggerate, we cannot abstain from viewing as a manifest interposition of the hand of Providence, that this complicated problem, important as it is as a literary question, is entirely devoid of interest as a theological one. As a divine book, -as constituting the special aliment of our spiritual life, -as serving, like the Scriptures of the Old Covenant, for instruction, reproof, correction, and education in righteousness, -the New Testament remains of the same value, after all the changes which the principles of sound philology require to be made in the Elzevir Text. The Sixth Article of the Church of England requires no modification, whether we adopt the most interpolated or the purest of all existing MSS. Every portion of the Creeds admits of the same scriptural proof of which it was susceptible when the codices used by Stephens were supposed to be the best in existence. The private Christian, therefore, who has no call to examine into the matter, has neither any occasion whatever for disquietude. He may safely continue to regard the version he has been in the habit of using as a safe guide in all points which in the least degree concern himself. But the case is very different with those who are entrusted with the maintenance of the bulwarks of our religion. They are bound not to refuse investigations such as this subject suggests, whenever the occasion appears to demand them; and they are guilty of an act of treason to the God of Truth if they allow themselves to be alarmed by a fear that the cause of truth can be endangered by the most searching inquiry. It is a lesson which ought never to be forgotten, that by far the most perplexing of all the real difficulties which are found in the Sacred Text at the present day arise (as we shall presently explain) from an over-anxious timidity, which led to the masking of difficulties, which were merely apparent ones, many ages ago.
In the very outset of the question how to marshal the mass of evidence we possess, it is easy to see one point, viz., that, cæteris paribus, the testimony of the more modern MSS. must be very far less weighty than that of the most ancient. Independently of any particular circumstances affecting the question, no one would dream of attaching the same authority to a codex written in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, that he would to one which dated from the fifth or sixth. Whatever risk of alteration is inherent in the task of transcription, of course increases rapidly with the number of times which that task is repeated. If (as continually happens with all ancient authors) 1851.
Corruptions early detected.
one or more words have been placed in the margin as an explanatory gloss, and by the next transcriber taken into the text, from the impression that they were intended to supply an accidental omission in the former copy, it is plain that the chances of such a mistake are multiplied with every transcript. Now, if we suppose another case (which likewise continually occurs), Damely, the comparison of one codex thus interpolated with another which has similarly suffered, but suffered in different places, the impression produced on the mind of the comparer (o artisarlav) will often be, that both his own copy, and that with which he is comparing it, have suffered by accidental omissions, and accordingly in a new transcript he will incorporate the additions which he finds both in the one and the other. Here then we have one obvious cause of error in multiplied transcription, independently of the constantly existing one arising from the inaccurate eye, hand, or temper of the copyist.
Besides this, however, there is another analogous corruption, arising from a somewhat different cause. From the time of Origen to that of Gregory the Great, considerable care seems to have been taken in the comparison of manuscripts with one another, whenever a transcript was made. This was rendered necessary by the corruptions of still earlier times*, which providentially forced a thorough investigation of the subject upon the most learned Fathers of the Church before the evil arrived at a pitch to baffle attempts at cure. When two manuscripts of equal apparent value were found to differ, the variation was noted in the margin of the transcript, and sometimes even more than one such was so placed, when more than one copy had been collated. It sometimes happened that on a second transcript being subsequently made, the whole of these were considered as a portion of the sacred context which had been omitted, and were accordingly moved from the margin and placed in immediate juxtaposition with the doubtful reading of which they were intended as alternatives.
One or two illustrations will make this part of the subject clear to the lay reader.
In Revelations, xxii. 11., the weight of the existing MSS. authority is in favour of the reading • ådıxov ådıknoátw šti, kai ο ρυπαρός ρυπαρευθήτω έτι, και ο δίκαιος δικαιοσύνην ποιησάτω
ŠTi, kai ó árylos áyiao Ontw ŠTI. It will be observed here that there is a sort of double antithesis as regards the sense. This effect will also be produced even as regards the grammatical form, if the variations ο ρυπών ρυπωσάτω and ο δίκαιος δικαιωOntw (which some MSS. and Versions followed by the Textus Receptus sanction) be substituted for the corresponding expressions. But in the Letter of the Vienne and Lyons Martyrs, (§. 15.), a document of the second century, we find the passage quoted with a far more important variation; ο άνομος ανομησάτω ŠTi, kal ó Sikalos OikaiwÔÞtw ŠTI. Moreover in some other MSS., among which is the Alexandrine Codex, the clause ο ρυπαρός ρυπαρευθήτω έτι is entirely omitted, thus destroying the double antithesis. Now as in all cases of variation there can be but one real original, and the problem to be solved is to account from known causes for the rise of all existing differences, let us see how this principle may be applied in the present instance. First, there is a presumption in favour of the quotation in the letter on account of its antiquity, no MS. reaching anything like so far back. Secondly, the verbal antithesis is in it very far from being so striking as in the form which the MSS. furnish. Thirdly, the expression åvouos is somewhat vague, and the words άδικών and ρυπαρός are explanations of it in its two phases, in its bearing on the Law of Justice, and the Law of Purity. There was therefore a reason for their finding a place (probably one after the other) in the margin as explanatory glosses. The variation Sikatoúvnu troinoátw might likewise obtain a similar position as an explanation of the ambiguous dikawóýtw (justificetur). But if the next transcriber took these marginal notes not for glosses, but in their aggregate for an alternative reading, he would be struck by the defect of the antithesis in the sentence as it stood, ó ảdikov ảdirnoátw šti, kai ο ρυπαρός ρυπαρευθήτω έτι, και ο δικαιος δικαιοσύνην ποιησάτω šti, and would add, (likewise probably in the margin) the words wanting, to exactly complete the rounded phrase, kai ó ärios αγιασθήτω έτι· As our object is not to do more than point out to readers unaccustomed to these subjects, the kind of phenomena which the criticism of the sacred text presents, we shall pass over the discussion of the more minute variations.
The passage Matthew, xxi. 28-31. exhibits a very curious instance of variation from the causes above mentioned. The greater number of the MSS. represent the master of the vineyard as applying first to the son who refused to obey his order to work, but afterwards “repented and went.' Some, however, (including the Vatican Codex and the Syrian and Coptic versions) invert the narrative, and make the son first ordered to