THE GREEK TEXT OF WESTCOTT AND HORT.
THE CASE OF THE CONSERVATIVES.
I HAVE been requested to state briefly and in as popular a form as the subject will admit, the case of the Conservatives against the Greek Text of the New Testament put forth by Professors Westcott and Hort, the case for them having been already presented in this journal. That we have sufficient ground for complaint, is clear from the following list of omissions. These editors shut up within double brackets (as forming no part of the original Gospel) the last twelve verses of St. Mark, a considerable portion of St. Luke’s account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (xxii. 19, 20), the record of our Lord’s agony in the garden (vers. 43, 44), His prayer for His murderers (xxiii. 34), His showing the disciples His hands and feet after the resurrection (xxiv. 40), St. Luke’s account of His ascension (xxiv. 51), and of the worship which followed it (ver. 52), and a number of other fragments, which, when taken together, amount to a very considerable loss. Other familiar phrases are altered in such a way as to destroy their force. ” One thing is needful ” becomes ” Few things are needful, or one.” If it were clearly established that the passages omitted form no part of genuine Scripture, or if the alterations were required by overwhelming evidence, we should find it hard to account for the influence these interpolations have exercised throughout all ages, side by side with the very Word of God. The text of Westcott and Hort presents us with two kinds of Scripture. We have (1) that which is the undoubted work of the sacred writers ; and (2) that which pious hands have interpolated into the sacred text. If I accept this edition of the Greek Testament, I am at a loss to know what authority I am to attach to these bracketed passages, which are neither genuine nor spurious. They are not the work of the apostles and their contemporaries. Whose they are we know not. But we are to receive them, as being— equally with other Scriptures—the Word of God.
I do not desire to dwell upon this difficulty. But those who accept the text of Westcott and Hort may be called upon at any time to face it, if asked to explain by what authority they accept or employ these interpolated words. They are not like the statement regarding the three heavenly witnesses in 1 John v. 7, 8, of which but little use has been made in the Church. We cannot thus deal with the record of our Lord’s agony, His prayer for His murderers, and the only two narratives of His ascension contained in the four Gospels (St. Mark xvi. 19, and St. Luke xxiv. 51—” He was carried up into heaven”), both of which are marked as ” interpolations” in the Greek Text of Westcott and Hort.
It is not for any lack of testimony that we are asked to give up or bracket these precious portions of the Gospel. The MSS. which omit them are sometimes only one or two, and never more than some four or five out of hundreds. The great multitude of copies, ancient Versions, and Fathers retain them. We are asked to sanction their omission in deference to a theory first propounded by Griesbach, and now elaborated by Dr. Hort, which is called the theory of “Genealogy.” Its effect upon the evidence in the hands of Dr. Hort is remarkable. If twenty MSS. support a particular reading, but these MSS. exhibit the same general characteristics, they must perforce have drawn their testimony from the same common (i.e., single) source. They must no longer be reckoned as twenty witnesses, but as one. Only those copies which differ conspicuously can be regarded as independent. Agreement must be taken as collusion.
The “types” of text current in the MSS., versions, and patristic citations of the New Testament are by Westcott and Hort reduced to four—the ” Alexandrian,” ” Western,” and ” Neutral ” (which are all called Pre-Syrian) on the one side, and the ” Syrian ” on the other. The Egyptian versions and certain citations in Origen form the ” Alexandrian ” group. The MS. called D, and the Latin versions are the principal members of the ” Western.” The Neutral MSS. are the Vatican (B) and the Sinaitic (ֽֽ̇א), (with L, which is almost a copy of B). The “Syrian” group includes A (the Alexandrian MS.), and most of the other uncials, with the great body of cursives, and the text supported by Chrysostom, and by all the Greek Fathers of the fourth century, and generally accepted from that time. These “Syrian” authorities vastly outnumber all the others put together. There is no kind of numerical equality between them. But this Syrian text was the parent of the Received Text of the New Testament, and recent critical editors, from Lachmann downwards, have steadily thrown their weight into the scale against it. Why they have done so is not always clear. It is not simply that the Received Text was drawn from a few MSS., and that many more have been discovered since. And the ground taken by the conservative party in this matter has often been misrepresented or misunderstood. Neither the Quarterly Review, nor any of the rest of us are fighting for the Received Text pure and simple. What we contend for is not the printed text of the sixteenth century, but the text received by the whole of Christendom after the Churches rested from persecution, when there was time to exchange thought and knowledge, and men were not forced to conceal the sacred books. The text which has the widest, the most authoritative, and the most varied attestation is what we ask for. That this happens to be also the dominant text of the fourth century A.D., and that it is identical to a very considerable extent with the Textus Receptus, Dr. Hort himself asserts. And when the Received Text is employed as a standard of comparison, it is simply for the sake of convenience. Those who misunderstood the article in the Quarterly of October, 1881, in this matter, may easily correct their error if they will consult the still more able and conclusive article in the Quarterly for April, 1882.
But this text—Syrian or Received —is consigned by Westcott and Hort to the lowest of all places. It has been reserved for Dr. Hort, among recent critics, to state the rationale of its rejection, and to describe the process by which nine out of ten witnesses may be sum marily dismissed because they happen to agree. ” In the multitude of counsellors there is safety ” according to Solomon. In the multitude of witnesses there is falsehood, according to Dr. Hort.
Unhappily, the subject-matter of the question at issue, the whole evidence for the text of the Greek Testament, is so vast as to be beyond the reach of most of us. Its nature, and the mode of its collection and presentation, are matters of special study. And it is a kind of study which very few indeed, even among the learned, care to pursue. For most scholars, the apparatus criticus of Tischendorf’s Greek Testament is more than sufficient. To understand the meaning of his symbols, and acquire some notion of the kind of authority which attaches to each, and to verify a few of the quotations from the Fathers, is quite an exceptional degree of learning. To collate a fresh MS., or add anything to Tischendorf’s evidence, is work which very few men in England have proved themselves competent to do. No one who has not been taken into the confidence of a collator could form the slightest idea of the mass of matter which is briefly and inadequately represented at the foot of the pages of a critical edition of the Greek Testament. The citations from the Fathers alone, if properly verified and indexed, would fill a large shelf in a library. And the careful tabulation of the readings of the various MSS., Uncial and Cursive, and the curious combinations which they severally present—all needing verification, if they are to be really understood, besides the study of the versions and of ancient harmonies, not to mention the Church Lectionaries—all this is the work of a lifetime, and all is absolutely necessary to the preparation of a trustworthy text.
Nothing is more to be regretted by all true scholars, than the notion to which Westcott and Hort’s book has given a kind of currency, that any man may grasp the real merits of textual questions by the use of a common apparatus criticus ; that, as Dr. Westcott put it to Dr. Lumby, you may “analyse a few chapters for yourself and see.”
Were it not that these learned doctors do not themselves profess to be original collators, I should not venture to take the field against them. But, seeing that the two men who have actually surveyed the largest parts of the vast field of textual criticism are diametrically opposed to them—I mean Dean Burgon* and Dr. Scrivener—men who possess the largest store of knowledge on the subject that is at present accumulated anywhere in the world,—I venture to take the part of an advocate, and endeavour to state the case. To these famous names I must add that of Canon Cook, the learned editor of the ” Speaker’s Commentary,” who in his work on ” The Revised Version of the First Three Gospels,” has put the question so clearly, temperately, and intelligibly, that I doubt whether any refutation of his argument is possible. For my own part, I must confess that the study of this controversy since my attention was more especially directed to it a year ago, has not only convinced me that Dr. Hort’s theory is untenable, but has utterly shaken my faith in the supremacy of the five old Uncial MSS, A, B, א, C, D (the modern critics’ alphabet), and in the Greek text of Lachmann, Tregelles, and Tischendorf.
* It was openly asserted, and the report has never been contradicted, that the Dean of Chichester was the author of the three famous articles in the Quarterly, which appeared in October, 1881, and January and April, 1882. The last of the three is specially devoted to the examination of the theory of Westcott and Hort.
But to examine the theory. It is alleged that the Syrian text, which is practically identical with the Textus Receptus, is “the result of a recension, performed deliberately by editors and not merely by scribes “ (p. 133). “It was probably initiated by the distracting and inconvenient currency of at least three distinctive texts in the same region.” The passage in which Dr. Hort describes its character should be care fully noted.
Entirely blameless on either literary or religious grounds as regards vulgarised or unworthy diction, yet showing no marks of either critical or spiritual insight, it presents the New Testament in a form smooth and attractive, but appreciably impoverished in sense and force ; more fitted for cursory perusal or recitation than for repeated and diligent study.
Yet this is the Testament which the Church has received for fourteen centuries! In place of this we are presented with a text which is practically identical with that of the Vatican MS., except in certain omissions, in which it follows Codex D. The comparative purity and originality of this text is asserted on the following grounds :—
1st, It is Pre-Syrian ; and the defects of the Syrian text have been described above.
2nd, Being Pre-Syrian, it is free from the blemishes which deface the “Alexandrian” and “Western” types of text ; and may, therefore, be termed “Neutral.”
3rd, Per contra, the Syrian text is evidently an editorial recension completed between 250 and 350 a.d. ; and is conflate from the previous texts.
In reply to all this I would urge the following points. I say the case is not proven, although it demands the most cogent and unquestionable proofs. And in particular, I say that the word “genealogy” as applied to the text of the Greek Testament is inappropriate and misleading. Further, that the text of B (the Vatican MS.) and of א (the Sinaitic) is not ” Neutral,” but rather ” Egyptian” or ” Alexandrian” in character. And Dr. Hort’s mysterious omissions are purely and simply ” Western.” The ” Syrian ” recension which he maintains, is, for any evidence that has been produced, a pure invention. But if the so-called “Syrian” text were the result of a recension, that recension would be of such transcendent authority, as wholly to outweigh the contemporary and opposing testimony of the two MSS. B and n, which Westcott and Hort uphold. The internal evidence alleged for the recension—the ” conflation ” of the ” Syrian ” text from two pre-Syrian types of MSS.—is not clear. And as the Pre-Syrian types of text are three, ” Alexandrian,” ” Western,” and ” Neutral,” and the ” conflation,” in every instance, is from two, the *’ Western ” and the ” Neutral ” alone, there is evidently some slight confusion at this stage of the argument. Further, if the ” Neutral ” type of text is original, it must be shown to be the parent of the other member of the conflation, and indeed, of both the ” Alexandrian ” and ” Western ” varieties. This again is not proved. Upon the whole, therefore, the theory fails for lack of evidence. The collusion between the witnesses is not proved. Their agreement remains an unquestioned fact. But if the vast majority of independent witnesses are against the text of Westcott and Hort, our verdict must be adverse to their theory.
I now proceed briefly to indicate the evidence for each of the statements I have made. (1.) The word “genealogy” as applied to MSS. of the Greek Testament, is, at present, delusive and misleading. If we could group all known MSS. together in such a way as to show clearly their connection one with another, we should have gained a step of incalculable importance towards the discovery of the original text. But, in fact, no known MS. is identified as a copy of another. There is, I believe, a Latin MS. of which the Greek original is known, but that is all. Every MS. has its own individuality. The points of identity and relation are therefore confined to a portion only of the MSS. extant. Obviously therefore the placing of any two MSS. in the same class must depend on the proportion of that part in which they are identical to that part in which they disagree. This proportion has hardly been tabulated in any case. We have only general information, frequently only impressions. The maxim that knowledge of documents must precede final judgments upon readings is excellent in itself. But then we must have the knowledge of documents first, and the value attached to the document in respect of its character must be uniform. It is absurd to reject the authority of the Codex Bezae (D), for additions and accept it for omissions, or to attach a high value to L, R, or Δ, when they agree with B, and reject them when they differ from it.
The maxim that identity of reading means identity of origin is another proposition with which we hardly know how to deal, until we see what use will be made of it. If it means that the sentence which is identical in all MSS., was copied from the same original, it is clearly false ; for all MSS. are not copies of the same original, If it means that identical peculiarities have a common origin, it may very possibly be true. But will that justify us in treating the testimony of ten MSS. which agree in a few particulars (comparatively), and are not copies of each other, as though it were the testimony of one? When we find that more than 120 independent cursives omit “raise the dead ” from St. Matt. x. 8, and yet nearly all the uncials retain it, what fact of genealogy can be proved thereby ? [A little thought will convince any one that the clause in that place cannot possibly be genuine.] Our chief authorities, Dean Burgon and Dr. Scrivener, refuse to admit that the so-called Western and Alexandrian groups of MSS. have any such distinct existence as would justify us in tracing a genealogy. Certain general resemblances between particular MSS. and versions they allow. Anything further than this still remains to be proved. For a fuller description of this theory I can only refer to Dr. Scrivener’s Introduction, of which a new edition, dealing with the whole question in its most recent aspect, is shortly to appear.
(2.) Adopting (but not accepting) the terminology of Westcott and Hort, I would next observe that the text of B is ” Alexandrian,” not ” Neutral.” Griesbach, the father of the genealogical theory, always held it to be so. Dr. Hort asserts the neutrality of B repeatedly. He says, ” We found א and B to stand alone in their almost complete immunity from distinctive ‘ Syrian ‘ readings, . . . and B to stand far above א in its apparent freedom from either Western or Alexandrian readings.” But ho does not tell us where ” we found it.” The assertion appears at p. 150 and p. 210 in varied language. But no evidence is given in either place.
Canon Cook says of the Egyptian versions, which are of course ” Alexandrian,” the Memphitic or Coptic, and the Sahidic or Thebaic— ” I have compared the readings of both with א, B, and A. As a general rule, both of them agree closely with B, an agreement conspicuous in minute points of grammar, the use of tenses and the definite article, and in readings which often strike us as singular, if not startling. They agree indeed so closely as to force upon us the impression that they not only belong to the same school, but that they follow the same recension.” It must not be forgotten, while discussing this theory of groups of MSS. representing distinct types of text, that there is such a large element of what Dr. Hort calls ” mixture ” in all, that ” no one has been able to detect that broad and characteristic difference between the readings of the two classes (Alexandrian or Egyptian, and Western families of MSS.), which is indispensable to the existence of the scheme.” So wrote Dr. Scrivener in 1853. I have yet to learn that he has altered his opinion. And even Dr. Hort is compelled to admit ” the casual eclecticism of miscellaneous mixture, which tends to disguise the simplicity of the primitive relations of text under a superficial complexity of existing attestation.” The admission contained in that most amazing sentence, is well worth preserving. But if ” mixture ‘ is so extensive as to endanger the very existence of the principal groups of MSS., and B for example is as much ” Alexandrian ” as Neutral, we have seriously shaken one of the premisses of the main argument. And despite the ” neutrality ” and purity of the Vatican MS., Westcott and Hort have omitted several passages from St. Luke’s Gospel, on the sole authority of D and some Latin MSS. against the authority of the “Neutral” text. (St. Luke xxil 19, 20 ; xxiv. 36 ; and xxiv. 12. See Canon Cook, p. 137.)
(3.) We have next to deal with the alleged ” Syrian ” recension. And here I cannot do better than cite the words of Canon Cook, p. 199 :—
The recension of which Dr. Hort speaks, had it been executed at all in the manner which he intimates, would be a historical fact of signal, I may say unparalleled, importance in the development of textual criticism. … A transaction of such transcendent importance must have left some traces, some record, more or less distinct, of its proceedings. Were we dealing with some very early period, it might have been plausibly assumed that such a transaction might have escaped notice, or have been passed over as of slight historical importance. . . . But the age and portion of Christendom in question is especially remarkable for the fulness and minuteness of information supplied in voluminous writings touching every point which could interest the minds of Churchmen. . . . We have before us every kind of writing by which we can ascertain the feelings of the Fathers of that century touching the text of the New Testament. Now, I say deliberately, with a full sense of the hazardous character of a sweeping negative assertion, that neither the great Cappadocian, nor the Alexandrian, nor the Syrian, nor the Palestinian divines evince any consciousness that a change had passed over the great documents to which they appealed.
In a note he adds the following suggestion from a learned prelate : —
We cannot but contrast the absolute silence with which the Church must have received this hypothetical recension of the Greek text with the clamour raised for and against the recension of the Latin version by St. Jerome. This recension, of infinitely less importance, made an enormous sensation; was praised, blamed, talked of, written of, attacked, defended throughout all Christendom. We are to believe that in the preceding century, at a period of intense excitement, when earnest attention was given to questions touching the faith of Christians, especially a question which touched the very foundations on which all faith rests, a work to which Jerome’s was as nothing in fundamental moment, was undertaken and accomplished without a syllable being said. The supposition is a manifest absurdity.
But if the recension really took place, as Dr. Hort says, between A.D. 250 and a.d. 350, we have another alternative, which has been presented in telling language by the Quarterly Review :—” His own fundamental hypothesis of a ‘ Syrian text ‘ —the solemn expression of the collective wisdom and deliberate judgment of the Fathers of the Nicene age—is the best answer which could be invented to his own pages,— the one sufficient and conclusive refutation of his own text. According to Dr. Hort, on two distinct occasions between A.D. 250 and 350, the whole Eastern Church, meeting by representation in her palmiest days, deliberately put forth that traditional text of the New Testament with which we at this day are chiefly familiar.” For ” the fundamental text of late extant Greek MSS. generally (Dr. Hort says) is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian Graeco-Syrian text of the second half of the fourth century. The community of text implies a community of parentage” (Introduction, p. 92). ” It follows,” continues the Quarterly, ” that the text of such codices as B and n was deliberately condemned by the assembled piety, learning, and judgment of the four great Patriarchates of Eastern Christendom.” That is, at the very time when these two ancient codices came into existence, the whole Eastern Church unanimously rejected the text which they repre sent, and which Westcott and Hort uphold. ” Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, Basil and Didymus, Epiphanius and Chrysostom, Cyril and Theodoret, all show themselves strangers to the text of B and n- How, then, stands the case ? On that side is seen congre gated all the wisdom, and all the piety, and all the learning of primitive Christendom. On this side sits Dr. Hort!” Canon Cook points out (p. 159) that “the term Syrian recension, if admissible at all, is applicable to the copies written under the superintendence of Lucian of Antioch,”—a recension which would have produced something very different from Westcott and Hort’s ” Syrian ” text.
But though this ” Syrian ” recension has left no trace in history, yet Westcott and Hort attempt to prove by internal evidence, that it must have taken place. The Syrian text, they say, is an evident ” conflation ” from two (or three ?) earlier types of text. Eight examples of conflation are given on pp. 95-104 of their Introduction. We are requested to believe that the relations there established between the readings of the several groups of MSS. are never reversed. The word ” conflation ” is obviously suggestive of forgery. Two short bars of iron welded together become by the ” conflation ” one longer bar. In each of the cases before us, a ” Western ” and ” Neutral ” reading becomes by conflation a ” Syrian ” reading. But the ” Neutral ” is asserted to be also the original reading, or the nearest attainable approximation to it. Therefore it is necessary to prove, not only that the ” conflate reading ” is a combination of two previous readings, but also that the second of these two earlier readings is derived from the first. The ” Neutral ” reading brought forth the ” Western.” Then the two married, and begat the ” Syrian.” If that part of Dr. Hort’s reasoning be examined which is directed to prove the derivation of the ” Western ” from the ” Neutral ” text in his eight instances, it will be found very precarious.
All these readings have been examined both by the Quarterly and Canon Cook. We have only space for one example. ”
Every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt,” is said to be ” conflate ” from its first clause, which is ” Neutral,” and its second, which is ” Western.” But how did the second clause arise out of the first ? It is, we are told, a reminiscence of Lev. vii. 13 [which, by the way, is a misprint for ii. 13]. But how does the extraordinary saying that every one should be “salted with fire,” suggest as a variation the saying that “every sacrifice shall be salted with salt?”
No argument is stronger than its weakest premise. Even if we could allow that the longer readings are ” conflate ” from the two shorter, still neither of the two shorter members can be proved to be original, unless the other member is shown to have been derived from it. On the contrary, there is no difficulty whatever in supposing that the longer read ing, which is beyond all comparison the best supported in all these cases, has been abbreviated by different MSS. in different ways.
The Alexandrine MS. (א) generally supports the longer reading. The ” Neutral ” variant, per contra, is nearly always to be found in B. It so happens that in the Old Testament part of the same MS., we find B constantly, and sometimes considerably abbreviating the Greek version, where A gives it at length. If B constantly omits clauses from the historical portions of the Old Testament, where we can test it by the original, is it not probable that apparently superfluous clauses may have been omitted from the Gospels too ? If we are to judge by evidence, this is what we find.
The contempt with which the researches of the Dean of Chichester and Dr. Scrivener have been treated by some writers, is very extra ordinary. Between them, these two learned men (one of them a Fellow of Oriel), have verified and indexed every quotation of the New Testament in all the Fathers, and have collated MSS. in half the libraries in Europe, and then we are told that one of them does not understand the method of genealogy! But how is it conceivable, that after all this investigation, tabulation, and verification of readings, any sane man could be ignorant of the groups into which they fall ? The mere faculty of comparison which exists in the most ordinary mind would at once discover the general classification of the several authorities, if they really formed distinct groups. In nine cases out of ten, the mere fact that a particular MS. has a particular reading will not tell you how the reading came to be there. But a careful examination of the way in which that reading is introduced may make all the difference in the world. Still more is this the case in readings which are found in particular Fathers. The mere fact tells but little either way. But it makes all the difference in the world to know how the Father understood the passage, and why he cited it in that particular way—which words in the citation were of importance to his argument, and so on. A very good example of this is given by Canon Cook in relation to the last twelve verses of St. Mark. Dr. Hort, in his note on that passage (which he brands as spurious), lays great stress on the fact that Cyril of Jerusalem, in his fourteenth lecture on the Creed, when dwelling on the session of Christ at the right hand of the Father, abstains from all reference to the last twelve verses of St. Mark. But Dean Burgon, in his famous work on the “Last twelve verses,” p. 195, quotes the passage at length, and shows that Cyril again and again reminds his auditory that he had preached on that subject the day before. The last verses of St Mark were the lesson for that day. ” From this ” (says Dean Burgon) ” it becomes plain why Cyril nowhere quotes St. Mark xvi. 19 ; or St. Luke xxiv. 51 ; or Acts i. 9 (in that lecture). He must needs have enlarged upon those three inevitable places of Scripture the day before.”
I do not think anything in all Dr. Hort’s work is likely to be more damaging to his reputation than the manner in which he treats the evidence respecting the last twelve verses of St. Mark. He seems to lay no stress upon the fact that a quotation by Irenaeus, A.D. 180, to say nothing of Justin Martyr, far outweighs the omission by B and א. The testimony of Eusebius, in so far as it affords any presumption against them, was just as well known to the Fathers as it is to us. Jerome, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine, Nestorius, Cyril of Alexandria, Victor of Antioch, Hesychius of Jerusalem,—all accepted these verses as part of the Gospel. They are found in every known manuscript except B, א, and one hand of L, in the longer and shorter Syriac, as well as in the Vulgate, Gothic, and Memphitic and Thebaic versions. What possible theory of genealogy or anything else can outweigh the mass of evidence in their favour?
One argument of Dr. Hort’s, which has been taken up by Professor Lumby, and rather more clearly stated in the Clergyman’s Magazine for March 1882, deserves, in my opinion, a short notice. The 8th verse of St. Mark xvi. ends, as every one is aware, with ” for they were afraid,”ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ. ” It is incredible,” says Dr. Hort (p. 46, Notes on Select Readings) ” that the evangelist deliberately concluded a para graph with ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ.” The meaning of this insinuation is not at first sight obvious. But Dr. Lumby makes it quite plain. ” In the original,” he says, “verse 8 ends with an enclitic (!) word, γάρ, which could never have been allowed to end either a book or a sentence.” I wonder when γάρ became an enclitic, and, if it is an enclitic, why Dr. Lumby has it printed with an accent in that place. The argument is, that the words ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ, form part of an unfinished sentence. But there is no reason why this should be so in the Greek any more than in the English. Many thousands of readers must have read St. Mark xvi. 8, 9, in both languages, without ever supposing the 8th verse to be an unfinished sentence. Nor does the connection between the two verses depend on the insertion of the name ” Jesus” in verse 9. It would read just as connectedly if written thus—” They went out quickly and fled from the sepulchre ; for they trembled and were amazed : neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid. But when He was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. She went and told it to them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.” The connection between ” neither said they anything,” and ” she went and told it,” is obvious at once.
But there is no difficulty whatever in placing γάρ at the end of a sentence, as may be seen by the following examples : —” Ye call me Master and Lord ; and ye say well ; for I am”—εἰμὶ γάρ. The next verse begins a fresh sentence. The 3rd verse of Genesis xlv. in the LXX. ends in like manner with the words εταραχθησαν γαρ. ” For they were troubled at his presence” is the English text. But the Septuagint leaves out the last three words. Nor is it any answer to this argument to point out a various reading. The question is, whether γάρ can stand at the end of a sentence. The admission of that reading by a scribe proves that in the estimation of Greek writers it can. A word is not called enclitic because it cannot stand last in a sentence, but because it leans on the previous word, and therefore cannot stand first. Another argument against the genuineness of the last verses of this Gospel is the appearance of το τελος, ” the end,” after verse 8 in a cursive MS. Dean Burgon has proved by the most abundant evidence, collected in personal inspection of cursive MSS., that ” the end ” marks the end of a lesson, not of a Gospel. Dr. Scrivener in his Introduction accepted this evidence as conclusive (p. 509, note). And yet the argument is brought up again and again, as if nothing had ever been said or discovered upon the matter.
It is somewhat startling to observe the extreme confidence in their own judgment exhibited by the members of the modern critical school. The ” ring of genuineness ” which a phrase or a word has or lacks to their ears is sufficient, in their view, to outweigh the judgment of all the Churches of the fourth century, when Greek was a living language, and when the multitude of ancient MSS. must have far outnumbered those which have come down to us. One extraordinary example of this exercise of judgment is the deliberate preference for περιελοντες instead of περιελθοντες in Acts xxviii. 1 3. Westcott and Hort would translate it they weighed anchor and came to Rhegium, on the ground that τας αγκυρας περιελοντες (literally “having cast off the anchors,”) occurs in chap, xxvii. 40. On that occasion, however, they cast them off and let them go into the sea. The word is there used with an accusative. There is no proof that it could be used in this sense absolutely. If it were, it would imply that the anchors were always cut away—in which case a voyage must have been rather expensive in those times. Yet this extraordinary reading περιελοντες is actually adopted without any comment or variation in Acts xxviii. 13, and remarked upon elsewhere as a proof of originality in the MSS. which contain it, namely, B and the second hand of א. Dr. Scrivener calls it a ” vile error of transcription,” “evidently borrowed from chap, xxvii. 40.”
But I have more than exhausted the space allotted to me. To those who wish to make themselves acquainted with the kind of evidence by which this question must be determined, I would recommend first of all a careful perusal of Canon Cook’s work on the ” Revised Version of the First Three Gospels.” This portion of the New Testament has suffered most severely from the preference shown by Westcott and Hort for two or three MSS. (B and א for alterations, and D for omissions), in spite of the vast preponderance of authority on the other side. Next to this work I would recommend the article in the Quarterly for April, 1882. And if the style of that article should happen to excite prejudice, I would remind the reader that the facts constitute the evidence,—not the style. After this I would turn to Dr. Scrivener. His introductions to the “Collation of Twenty Cursive MSS. of the Gospels, and to the Codex Augiensis” contain valuable information as to the theories of textual criticism advocated by Griesbach and other critics previous to Westcott and Hort. The fresh edition of his “Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament ” will doubtless be exceedingly valuable. It will be still better if every one who desires really to understand the nature of this question, and happens to be within reach of a good library, will take some short passage of the Gospels where Tischendorf֚’s Greek Testament shows the existence of a good deal of diversity in the text, and draw out and verify the evidence adduced for the variations in a single verse. Some notion will then be formed of the real nature of the points at issue, and of the labour required in order to form a judgment upon them. Then there will be less disposition to trust the verdict of a rapid survey of tabulated results.*
* The ” Last Twelve Verses of St. Mark “—a book published by Dean Burgon more than ten years ago—is also full of interest, and forms a very good introduction, by way of example, to the science of textual criticism. It has never been answered. Dr. Scrivener allows the greatest possible weight to its arguments.
I cannot conclude this paper without expressing the most profound regret that the name of Dr. Westcott—honoured and endeared as it is to all who know him—should ever have been associated with that edition of the Greek Testament which I have briefly attempted to review. Had Dr. Hort’s theory rested solely on its own merits, I cannot bring myself to believe that it would have received the attention which it has awakened. Now that the attention of the Church at large has been directed to the importance of textual criticism, we may hope that the Science will not be so widely neglected as it has been, and that men’s minds will not be suffered to slumber until the Church is thoroughly informed and satisfied as to the real bearing of the evidence which remains to us concerning the Greek text.
by Rev. Charles Henry Waller
The following works are mentioned in this book:
Books by Burgon: