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Examples of detected Corruptions.
reply, 'I go, Sir,' and to fall from his purpose. It is very obvious, that the reply to the question. Whether of them twain * did the will of his father?' (in verse 31.), must be “the first' or 'the second,' according as the one or the other order in the narrative is observed. But, singularly enough, some of the MSS. and VSS. which relate the story so as to require the ΣΩswer ο πρώτος, really give και ύστερος (or its equivalents in sense ó deúnepos, žoyatos, or 'novissimus.') Now that this puzzle existed in the time of Jerome, is plain from his commentary on the passage, Sciendum est in veris exemplaribus non
haberi “ novissimum ” sed “primum.” Si autem “ novis1 * simum”, voluerimus legere, manifesta est interpretatio ut * dicamus intelligere quidem veritatem Judæos sed tergiversari.' If we go to Origen's commentary to help us out of the difficulty, we find no clue to indicate of which of the two readings spoken of by Jerome he had possession. On the contrary, there is no allusion to either the one or the other. And here, perhaps, is the key to the mystery. Did Origen find our Lord's words spoken continuously ?* Whether of the twain did the will of his Father? • Verily, I say unto you,' &c. &c. This is certainly the impression his commentary produces : and if it was the case, nothing is easier than to account for the strange variations. The eye of a transcriber who had just written the words ó SÈ årrorpidels site, fell upon the very same words two lines below, and instead of writing où déw totepov dè ustauendeis añadev, he continued èyè kúple. kaì oùk å ndev, before discovering his error. As, however, the appearance of his copy would have been spoilt by obliterating the words, and the sense was not (as the text then stood) affected by the change of order, he continued his task by simply attributing to the second son the words which in his copy he had found given to the first, and vice versa. Accordingly, the writers of the subsequent marginal glosses would write Néyovolvo ó mpôtos • or Néyovo w ó ïotepos. (SEÚTepos or zozatos ) just as the copies on which they commented were derived from one or the other source, the further addition lényel auros ó 'Incows being equally applicable to both. But on the collation of a fresh copy, especially if the transcript were made by an uneducated persont, the marginal gloss would readily be
test they obliterating the ppearance of his setore discovering
• See Matt. xvi. 9–11., compared with Mark, viii. 18–21.
† This was often the case where the new copy was intended for public service, and therefore of a sumptuous and splendid appearance, calligraphic skill being here an important qualification in the copyist. Soch copies are full of false spelling, and the like blunders of ignorance; and this occasioned the cynical remark of Jerome upon thern: 'Onera magis quam codices.' (Præf. in Job.) This expression,
transferred bodily to a text to which it was inapplicable without an appropriate change.
In all cases where the variations arise out of such causes as we have been describing, it is possible to decide upon the merits of the case (where any positive decision can be come to), without any special regard to the general character of the individual MSS. But this does not hold with another class of variations, which are of much older standing, and present much greater difficulty. Jerome, in his Preface to the new translation of the Gospels, which forms the basis of the modern Vulgate, speaks of this cause of error in very strong terms. The Evangelists in relating the same event had, as was to be expected, varied in minute details, one sometimes omitting a feature in the narrative which had been preserved by another, or giving a phrase as expressed by Our Lord which another had not recorded. The more carefully the sacred volume was studied, the more would these differences strike the reader. The first step would probably be to place the variations in the margin in the form of notes; a second to make a kind of Diatessaron by taking some one of the Evangelists as a basis, and interweaving into the web of his account the parallel narratives found in the other three. This indeed was the actual proceeding of Ammonius, a Christian philosopher of Alexandria, in the first half of the third century. He had, at the cost of much pains, drawn up such a scheme, of which the gospel of St. Matthew formed the framework, interpolating, in what appeared to be their appropriate places, the several portions of the other three ;-so that (says Eusebius *) • he made one gospel out of four.' It is obvious that, as regards the three inserted accounts, the thread of the narrative must have been entirely sacrificed by this proceeding: and accordingly Eusebius himself devised a scheme for securing whatever advantages such an arrangement might possess, without sacrificing the integrity of the three interpolated authorities. He composed the celebrated · Canons' which have since gone by his name. They are ten in number. The first is a table, in parallel columns, of those portions of the sacred narrative which are common to all four of the Evangelists. The second, of those which are common only to the three, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The third, of those which are common to the three, Matthew, Luke, and John. The fourth, of those which are common to the three, Matthew, Mark, and John. The fifth, of
which merely amounts to saying Correctness before Beauty,' has been absurdly perverted to imply a disparagement of uncial MSS.
in lipad ('nrpianum.
Comparison of the Evangelists causes Corruptions.
those which are common only to the two, Matthew and Luke.
The sixth, of those common to Matthew and Mark. The seventh, of those to Matthew and John. The eighth, to Luke and Mark. The ninth, to Luke and John. The tenth contains a register of all the passages which are found only in one of the four. The mode of using these tables was a very simple one. Each Gospel was divided, by numbers written in the margin, into the portions of which it consisted, which in the case of St. Matthew, who had the most, amounted to 355; in that of St. Mark, who had the fewest, to 233. These numbers were written in black ink, and to each was added in red ink, the number of that table in which it was to be found. Thus, for instance, a reader of the account of the resurrection in St. Mark's gospel, would find appended to the paragraph contained in chap. xvi. 2-5. the number 231, and the class-mark 1. By the latter he would know that the passage was common to all four of the Evangelists, and turning to the table in which the register of such passages was found, he would see the numbers indicating the parallel paragraphs in Matthew, Luke, and John, viz. 352 (= chap. xxviii. 1-4.), 336 (= chap. xxiv. 1—4.), and 211 (= chap. xx. 11, 12.).
The advantage of this method above that of Ammonius is plain. It was adopted by Jerome in his new version, and the presence or absence of the Eusebian Canons and marginal numbers is a very valuable criterion at the present day, towards ascertaining whether Latin versions existing in ancient manuscripts have or have not been corrected from the Vulgate.
But the careful comparison of the several Evangelists which led to this ingenious arrangement had indirectly produced a serious evil. In every age, men of ordinary minds are prone to be dissatisfied with a substantial unity, and desire to strain it into an outward uniformity; and this spirit found scope for its exercise in a most unfortunate tendency to tamper with the sacred narrative in those portions which are diversely given by the different Evangelists. It seems to have been in operation for a considerable time. Jerome speaks of it as an inveterate practice, (especially, it would seem, in the Latin MSS. or in the Greek MSS. which were found in Italy) * to interpolate one
• His words are, Magnus siquidem in nostris codicibus error inolevit, dum quod in eâdem' re alius evangelista plus dixit, in alio, quia minus putaverint, addiderunt; vel dum eundem sensum alius aliter expressit, ille qui unum e quattuor primum legerat, ad ejus exemplum cæteros quoque æstimaverit emendandos.'—Ep. ad Damasum.
gospel from another in the parallel narratives in order to produce a more patent and literal agreement. That these efforts produced no effect upon the text of the Gospels, as regards their doctrinal or historical importance, we may be quite confident.
The Christians had been, from the earliest period at which the necessity of appealing to written documents made itself felt, far too suspiciously watched by their enemies to allow of such a step. Celsus had made such a charge against them, and Origen was able to assert in contradiction of it that no others but Valentinus and Marcion, and their followers, were open to it. Origen himself, however, was quite aware of the alterations which such injudicious copyists as we are speaking of had introduced ; as fully appears from the passage we have quoted above. The more learned Fathers, indeed, never display the least desire to blink the fact of variations existing in the copies of the sacred volume. Irenæus, in discussing the text (Rev. xiii. 18.), appeals in support of bis views to the oldest and best
copies;' and Jerome, in a letter to Augustine, displays no little irritation at the morbid apprehensions of the latter, lest the minds of the people should be unsettled by a correction which he had made of a false translation of a passage in the book of Jonah.* It is therefore as certain as any historical fact can be, that down to the time of Jerome no corruption of DOCTRINAL importance was introduced into the writings of the New Testament. The vigilance of the enemies of Christianity, and that of the more enlightened of its champions, equally contributed, under the guidance of Divine Providence, to secure this primary and necessary end. But it is no less certain that the blind zeal of the ignorant and narrow-minded produced a state of things which throws a great, perhaps an insuperable, obstacle in the way of a perfect solution of the literary problem, to determine
the exact condition of the sacred writings at the time they proceeded from the pen of their respective authors.'
The same feeling which had produced the mischief of which Jerome complains, necessarily operated in preventing him from remedying the evil so thoroughly as he otherwise would have
* Augustin. Epp. lxxv. Jerome had substituted the word "hedera' for 'cucurbita,' the original word denoting a plant which is neither the one nor the other. Augustine says, that one of his bishops adopted the change, and the people made such an outcry, that it became necessary to appeal to the Jews. They gave it for the 'cucurbita,' and the bishop, to avoid losing his flock, was obliged to declare the change was by mistake. Jerome tells Augustine, that if the Jews were not ignorant of Hebrew, they were only making game of the 'cucurbitarii.'
Jerome's Reformation of the Text how qualified.
done. In his letter to Damasus, which is prefixed as a preface to the corrected translation, he professes himself to be quite aware of the invidious nature of the task he had undertaken at the bishop's request; he expects the learned and the unlearned to join in branding him with the name of a sacrilegious falsifier, when they find anything altered from the form which they had imbibed from their earliest years. However, he asks, if Latin authorities are to rule, which of them are to do so ? for the authorities are nearly as numerous as the copies, (tot sunt enim exemplaria pene quot codices). Common sense requires that under such circumstances the original Greek should be made the standard. Accordingly he proposes to revise the Latin by collating it with Greek manuscripts, but those ancient ones; and to a certain extent to qualify this corrected edition, by abstaining from altering the existing version, except where alteration Fas necessary for the purpose of conveying a correct sense ; (quæ ne multum a lectionis Latinæ consuetudine discreparent, ita calamo temperavimus, ut his tantum quæ sensum videbantur mutare correctis, reliqua manere pateremur ut fuerant).
Such was the principle upon which a work was conducted, which the sagacity of Bentley intuitively recognised as furnishing the first safe step by wbich criticism could ascend to the primitive form of the sacred text. The genuine Vulgate represents (if faithfully reproduced) the reading of Greek manuscripts, considered at the end of the fourth century as ancient ones by the greatest scholar of the Latin Church, only so far modified as a practical regard for the consuetudo Latine lectionis could be indulged without injury to the sense. It is a text constituted not on a rigidly scientific method, but on one of which the rigidly scientific character is affected by only a single influence, and that within fairly appreciable limits.
But here the question naturally arises, what was the probable quarter from which those 6 ancient Greek MSS.' were derived, of which Jerome made use ? This, it cannot be doubted, was Alexandria. Not only was that city the focus of Christian erudition, but the well-known admiration of Jerome for the labours of Origen, whose commentaries formed in many cases the source from which he drew his own, and the fact of the remarkable agreement between those MSS. existing at this day which have an Alexandrine origin, and the readings of the genuine Vulgate, put the matter out of all question. Scholz, in his edition of the New Testament, bas attempted, and entirely failed in his attempt, to depreciate this family of manuscripts (which includes the most ancient in existence in favour of the more modern codices (chiefly written in cursive characters),