A Defence of the Manuscripts of Robert Stephens against certain Manuscripts produced from the Library of the King of France, which are pretended to be the same that Stephens used in his Editions.
THE proof which all those who have wrote before me upon this subject have drawn from the Editions of Robert Stephens, and which I have us’d after ’em, for the authentickness of the Text of the three witnesses in heaven, must not be look’d on as a matter of small importance upon the occasion. This Text, ’tis true, is several other ways prov’d to be genuine, as is seen in this Treatise, and in the two others of which this is but the sequel, but yet to take from it the testimony of Robert Stephens, or rather of the ancient Manuscripts from which he made his Greek Editions of the New Testament, would be to deprive it of one of its principal supports.
Those who have wrote against the authentickness of this Text have demanded where these Manuscripts of Stephens are, that we may be satisfied with our own eyes whether this passage is in them or no. The Library of the King of France, which abounds in Manuscripts, and from whence Stephens had several, was the proper place to seek for them; but I have not yet seen any thing positive produced from thence. Mr. l’ Abbe Roger, Dean of the Metropolitical See of Bourges, who printed in 1713, a Latin Dissertation to prove this passage genuine, received several informations with relation to these Manuscripts. Fa. le Long, Priest of the Oratory, a learned Man, and very industrious in these sort of enquiries, has endeavoured to give the finishing stroke to this, and to inform the Publick by a Letter which was inserted in the Journal des Savans, the last June, and which was addressed to me, as if it had actually been written to me. It is dated the 12th of April, but I did not see it till the end of the month of July. My Book was in the press, and the impression already got very near as far as the matters which respect Robert Stephens’ Manuscripts. Thus this Chapter, in which I am about to examine F. le Long’s Letter, must be looked on an addition to this Work, which had been finished some months before.
F. le Long’s Letter is written in a very genteel manner with regard to my particular subject. He there declares from the beginning that he does not enter upon the genuineness of the passage of St. John, and that what he proposes to clear up is only a point of Criticism. He pretends they are much deceived, who believe this passage was in Robert Stephens’ Manuscripts, and his reasoning and proof amounts to this.
Robert Stephens, says he, had borrowed from Henry II’s Library the eight Manuscripts he has spoke of in the Preface of the Edition of 1550. He restored them again to the King’s Library, and ’tis there they are found with the ordinary mark of the Manuscripts of that Prince, which is a Crown with an H crown’d above, and each with the Greek numeral Letter by which Stephens had mark’d his Manuscripts. Of the eight which were lent him out of the King’s Library, there were seven which contain’d the Canonical Epistles, and these seven, says he, are precisely the same with those which are mark’d in the margin of the 7th Verse of the vth Chapter of the first Epistle of Sr. ‘John: This Text is wanting entire in these Manuscripts, from whence it follows, says F. le Long, that the obelus which by an error of the press ends at ουρανω, should have been placεd after the words of εν τη γη, which in the ordinary Editions are read in the middle of the 8th Verse, so that there should only have been in Stephens’ Text these words, For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, and these three agree in one. F. le Long has seen these Manuscripts several times, and having had, he says, the foresight to compare several places of the inward margins of the Edition of 1550. with some of the Manuscripts which are there denoted by their Greek Letters, he has found they were the same. All this, asserted and related by a man of probity whom we have no cause to mistrust, surprizes the mind, and is capable of staggering it. F. le Long was first dazzled, and others may well be so after him, and from his example; but with a little attention to the reflexions I am about to make upon all these matters, the surprize will soon be over, and the former persuasion take its place, as well with regard to the genuineness of the Text it self of the 7th verse, as the Manuscripts from which Stephens inserted it into his Editions.
There is indeed a very great mistake in all this. First, the Manuscripts we are upon were not borrow’d from Henry II’s Library; it was from the Library of Francis I. since the first Edition made from these Manuscripts came abroad whilst this Prince was living in 1546. Now how much time must be spent by a man so constantly employ’d as Stephens was in examining so many Manuscripts collecting from each the different readings, then comparing ’em together with one another, and thus forming by so difficult, so long, so laborious a collection, the result from which arose that famous Edition of the year 1550. Those only who know all the difficulties attending works of this kind can tell us how much it must have cost Stephens, and consequently how long he must have had these Manuscripts in his hands.
2. I see from the account of F. le Long that Robert Stephens says in his Discourse to the Divines of Parish that he had return’d to the King’s Library the Manuscripts he had borrow’d thence, which were only to the number of eight; the seven others were borrow’d elsewhere, and from divers places, as Stephens says in his Preface. Yet F. le Long finds in the King’s Library all the fifteen which Stephens has quoted, and he gives us ’em all, one after another, quoted by the same numeral letters. This, I own, appear’d to me very suspicious, and rais’d the thought that somebody had formerly taken upon ’em to set the same letters upon these Manuscripts, in order to advance their credit by the famed name of Stephens. For lastly, ’tis not natural to believe that a man of reputation for honour and probity, such as Stephens was, should not have restored such valuable Manuscripts as these were, to the persons who had been so kind as to lend ’em him. I should require very good warrants to believe this upon; and none are brought.
I was withal more and more confirm’d in the thought that these Greek letters set upon the Manuscripts F. le Long speaks of were a fraud, when I came to examin narrowly into these Manuscripts: then the forgery appear’d so evident, and presented it self to me in so many different views, that there no longer remain’d any cause to doubt of it.
In short, I saw that in the Catalogue of F. le Long, where there is the same number of Manuscripts, as are set down in Robert Stephen’s Edition, there is only the Complutensian Bible which has the New Testament intire; so that none of the rest has the apocalypse; and I see on the other hand that Stephens takes notice of three Manuscripts , besides the Complutensian Bible, in his Edition of this Book; he marks ’em in that of 1550. by their numeral letters, ια, that is, the eleventh; ιε, which is the fifteenth; and ις, the sixteenth. How can this agree with the Manuscripts of the King’s Library; where I find indeed the same numbers, or Greek letters, tho’ I no where find the Book of the Revelation under the mark or the same letters? ‘Tis surprizing that F. le Long did not perceive so great a difference.
This observation leads us to another, which is, that there are not so many Manuscripts of a Book, if we follow F. le Long’s Catalogue, as are set down by Robert Stephens. For instance, the Gospel of St.Matthew has one Manuscript less in F. le Long’s Catalogue, than in the list of those of Stephens.
The Gospel of St. Luke has also one less in the Manuscripts of the King’s Library, than in the Edition of Stephens. In the Gospel of St. John, the Catalogue of F. le Long comprehends but twelve Manuscripts, if we take in the Complutensian; the Edition of Stephens sets down fourteen with the Bible of Complutum.
In F. le Long’s Catalogue there is found but eight Copies of the Book of the Acts, with the Complutensian; the margins of Stephens’s New Testament set down ten comprehending the Edition of Complutum.
In Stephens’s Edition there is one Manuscript more of the Epistle to the Romans, than in the Catalogue of Manuscripts which F. le Long has given us.
So in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, there is one Manuscript more than in the said Catalogue.
There is also one more in Stephen’s of the second Epistle to the Corinthians.
The second Epistle of St. Peter has nine Manuscripts specified in Stephens’s; F. le Long owns but eight in his Catalogue.
All the Manuscripts of the Catalogue having the same numeral letters with those of Stephens’s, and there not being a greater number mention’d in Stephens, than in the Catalogue, these differences can have arose only from this, that such Manuscripts which in the King’s Library contain only such or such Books of the New Testament, contain more under the same numeral letter in Robert Stephens’s Edition; from whence it follow?, that though they have set the same marks upon these Manuscripts of the King’s Library, as Robert Stephens had set upon his, yet they are most assuredly not the same: they are counterfeit.
Among the Manuscripts of Stephens, there were eight which were borrow’d from the Library of Francis I. he names ’em in his Preface, the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th, the 6th, the 7th, the 8th, the 10th, the 15th, and to these numbers the Greek, numeral letters answer, which are set down in the margins, γ, δ, ε, ς, ζ, η, ι, & ιε. In F. le Long’s list, I see the same Greek letters set upon eight Manuscripts, but he says only seven of these eight belong to the King’s Library, namely, γ, δ, ε, ζ, η, ι, & ιε there wants the Manuscript ς,. and yet we see one in this new list that has the same mark; now whence could this come, since that belong’d to one of the King’s Manuscripts, and this is not one of ’em? This shews that they have put upon the Manuscripts, which F. le Long has given us an account of, such marks as they have thought fit. We mall see withal from the observations upon each in particular, that the Manuscripts where they have put ’em, ‘do not at all square with those of Stephens, which had these marks.
The Manuscript mark’d β in those of F. le Long contains only the four Gospels, and the Book of the Acts; that which Stephens had mark’d β contains also the Epistle to the Romans, for he quotes it upon the 10th Verse of the iiid Chapter.
The Manuscript mark’d ζ in the King’s Library has not the Book of the Acts; that which Stephens has specified by the same letter ζ has this Book: ’tis cited at Verse vth of the xviith Chapter; the mark therefore of the King’s, is counterfeit.
I observe the same thing concerning the Manuscripts where they have put the letter η in imitation of one of those of Stephens; but the fraud is here more gross; for this Manuscript has only the four Gospels, whereas that of Stephens contained also the Book of the Acts; it is quoted in two places; at Chap. xxiv. verse 7. and Chap. xxv. verse 14.
Another of these Manuscripts which is falsely pretended to be Robert Stephens, is that which they have mark’d with the letter ι which contains only the Acts and the Epistles: but that which in Stephens’s Edition is denoted by this letter of the Greek alphabet, had also the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John; a various reading of this Manuscript is seen Luke Chap. v. verse 19 and another upon St. John, Chap. ii. verse 17.
The artifice of the forgery has succeeded no better in some other Manuscripts. That which they have mark’d with these two letters together ια has only the Acts and the Epistles; the Manuscript of Stephens contain’d beside this the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Gospel of St. John, and the Revelation, as may be seen in St. Matthew, Chap. x. verse 8, and 10. in St. John, Chap. ii. verse 17. in the Revelation, Chap. xiii. verse 4.
Next to this Manuscript comes according to the order of the alphabetical letters the Manuscript β. That which is seen in the King’s Library has only the four Gospels; the Manuscript of Stephens had also the Epistle to the Corinthians, since there is a various reading in Chap xv. verse 44.
One of Stephens’ Manuscripts was mark’d with these two letters ιγ. They have counterfeited one with the same mark, but they have taken no care to counterfeit one that has more than the Acts and Epistles, whereas that of Stephens had also the Gospel of St. John; for he gives us a reading thence on the 17th Verse of the iid Chapter. To go on; there now remains but three Manuscripts to be considered.
The first of these three is that which is mark’d ιδ amongst those of the King’s Library: it has only the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John, but I find it also produc’d by Stephens upon the second Epistle of St. Peter, Chap. i. verse 4. I had alledg’d it in my Dissertation; F. le Long maintains that ’tis a fault, and should have been ιγ instead of ιδ, his reason is, because the Manuscript ιδ contains only the Gospels; a very weak reason after all the instances we have seen, and which are yet about to be confirmed by the following. For if they cannot extricate themselves in all the others the numbers of which are so remarkable, but by saying, ’tis an error of the press, I do not see how they can securely say so here; since they can do it in neither case without supposing the point in question, and which I shew to be false, namely, that these Manuscripts produced from the King’s Library are expressly the same with those which Robert Stephens had.
After the Manuscript ιδ which is the fourteenth, comes the fifteenth, which was mark’d by these Greek numeral letters ιε. That of the King’s Library, on which they have set the same letters, begins with the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and contains only six other Epistles of the same Apostle; but beside these Epistles the Manuscript ιε of Robert Stephens contain’d the apocalypse; it is seen there in every page.
To conclude, the last Manuscript quoted by Stephens in the margin with the foregoing was the sixteenth, the Greek numeral letters of which are ις. In order to fill up the same number, and thus compleat the fraud, it was requisite to mark one of the King’s Manuscripts with the same letters; but here again they have done it with so little reflexion and discretion, that they have put these two letters upon the back of a Manuscript, which, says F. le Long, has only the two Evangelists, St. Luke and St. John. I have not been able to perceive in all the Gospel of St. John one single passage, where the Manuscript ις. is quoted by Robert Stephens; but what is here decisive is that the Manuscript which bore this mark among those of Stephens, contain’d the second Epistle to the Corinthians, for it is quoted at the 11th Verse of the xiith Chapter; and the Revelation, where its quotations are very frequent.
Are these then the same Manuscripts of Stephens’? Can we oppose ’em to his Editions, and say with confidence, the Text of the three witnesses in heaven in St. John’s Epistle was in no Manuscript of Stephens’; because it is in none of those of the King’s Library? No certainly, the falsehood it too apparent. It was proper to examin exactly into all these matters: the disquisition is tiresome, but the labour of it must be supported in regard of the advantage which thence accrues to the truth.
To set the same truth in a yet stronger light, and to carry its conviction to the highest degree of evidence, let us here bring Robert Stephens himself upon the stage. No person could better inform us than he concerning the Manuscripts which he had, and the obelus he has inserted in his Edition of 1550. in order to decide the grand question, whether this obelus should continue still at the end of the word ουρανω, or be carry’d beyond the words εν τη γη of the 8th Verse; this way is the most secure, and altogether the most short and easy.
Stephens tells us in the Preface to the Edition of 1550, in which he uses the obelus, that this was the third time he printed the Greek New Testament after having compar’d it with the same Manuscripts, from which he had made his two foregoing Editions; without any other difference, save that, not having set down in those the different readings of the Manuscripts because of their small margins, he gave ’em a place in this, which being in a large form could well contain these various readings in the inner margins.
By this advertisement the discreet Printer and learned Critick informs us of two things; the one, that the Greek Text of this third Edition is the same as in the foregoing, and the other, that he had revis’d it a third time by the Manuscripts borrow’d from the King’s Library, and from divers other places. As then in the Editions of 1546, and 1549. the Texts of the six witnesses which are mention’d in St. John’s Epistle, three in heaven, and three in earth were inserted, and we find them again in this third Edition, compar’d with the same Manuscripts: It follows from hence, First, that the obelus of the 7th verse was not inserted therein in order to suppress the three witnesses which are nam’d there; and Secondly, That Stephens had found in his Manuscripts the three witnesses in heaven, and the three witnesses on earth. Though he should tell us so in so many words, we could not be more sure of it than we are from his Preface, and his Editions.
Thus by joining the Preface of 1550, to the Editions of 1546, and 1549. ’tis clearly seen upon what the obelus of the 7th Verse can turn: It cannot be upon the three witnesses which are nam’d in this Verse, so as to take them away, as if they had been inserted there against the authority of the Manuscripts. Nothing would be more senseless and absurd, than to have put ’em into the two following Editions, without their having been in any Manuscript, and to replace ’em again in a third, in order to take ’em away at the same time by an obelus which would utterly exclude them. But by leaving the obelus where it is plac’d, all wilt be even, and there will remain no shadow of difficulty: the six witnesses will continue in the Edition where the obelus is, as they were before in the Editions of 1546, and 1549. only we shall learn from the last of the three, that the words εν τω ουρανω, were wanting in seven Manuscripts, which like the rest had the Text of the three first witnesses, except these words. The obelus stops there, there ’tis fix’d, and so is reason too; and Robert Stephens is security for both.
He confirms us withal in this opinion by a fourth Edition, which he published the year after, i.e. in 1551. The 7th and 8th Verses were inserted there in the same manner as they had been in the two first; and can it be believ’d; if the obelus had been put, but the year before, in the folio Edition, with design to shew that the 7th verse was not found in any Manuscript, that Stephens after such a declaration, would have had the imprudence, the rashness, the dishonesty, to give it a place in this last. They will tell me perhaps that he had inserted the words εν τω ουρανω, in his first Editions, and that he had also replac’d ’em in his last, tho’ they were wanting in seven Manuscripts. ‘Tis true; but the case is very different: these words were in the other Manuscripts, in the Complutensian, and in the Edition of Erasmus.,which shew’d that it was only a mere omission in the seven Manuscripts in which it was wanting. Now Stephens was not oblig’d to comply with an omission to the prejudice of the other Manuscripts, and contrary to the reason he otherwise had for placing these words in the Text: Nothing like this can be alledged to justify Stephens for having replac’d a whole Text in the Edition 1551. which he had mark’d by an obelus in the edition of 1550. as that ought to be taken away.
Here is withal another manner of knowing certainly his opinion in relation to all this. After having set the obelus in the middle of the verse, and mark’d in the margin the Manuscripts which had given occasion for it, he gives upon these other words of the same verse, και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισι, these three are one, a various lection, or different reading, taken from the Com* plutenstan Bible, in which instead of ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισι, these three are one, we read, οι τρεις εις το εν εισι, these three agree in one. Here again Stephens must not have known what he hid, and his head must have been turn’d, to give, as he has done, a different reading in these words of the 7th verse with the Manuscripts, from which he had made his Editions, if these words were not in his Manuscripts. I cannot believe that those, who have embraced the opinion concerning the obelus which I oppose, have ever attended to this variation in the Complutensian Bible in the view I have just considered it; indeed ’tis impossible not be struck with it, and to resist the evidence of the truth it so plainly teaches.
Lastly, if we were to judge of Robert Stephen’s Manuscripts from those which are now in the Library of the King of France, the words εν τη γη, which Stephens had inserted in the 8th verse in four following Editions, would not have been in the Manuscripts which he had borrow’d from the Library of Francis I. since they are at present in none of those of the King’s Library; and in this case, he should have put there an obelus, as over the words εν τω ουρανω, of the 7th verse, but it is certain that they were in the Manuscripts of Stephens, such as we find ’em in his Editions. Beza had all these Manuscripts in his hands, and made use of ’em in writing his annotations upon the New Testament he says it in an hundred places, and Robert Stephens himself has declar’d it in the advertisement, which he put at the end the Edition of that work of Beza, in the year 1556. I have quoted it in the Examination I made last year of Mr. Emlyn’s Answer. Now Beza has made an express note upon these words of the 8th verse εν τη γη, which is decisive. These words are not, says he, in the Syriac Version, nor in several very ancient Greek Copies; but they are in OUR GREEK MANUSCRIPTS and in the Latin Version. What he calls our Greek Manuscripts were those of Stephens, his intimate Friend; nothing is more common in his Notes than this manner of expressing these Manuscripts. As then those of the King’s Library at present, and those of several other Libraries, have not the words εν τη γη, they cannot be the Manuscripts of Robert Stephens. This was all the question betwixt F. le Long and me, and it is determin’d to my advantage; unless they destroy all the proofs I have urg’d against the Manuscripts produc’d by F. le Long to shew them to be countefeit: but tho’ one alone should remain, that one would suffice to disconcert the whole machine.