The Genuineness of 1 John 5.7 by David Martin 2.7

Chris Thomas Comma Johanneum, Confessional Textual View, David Martin Leave a Comment


Of the Manuscript of Berlin.

‘Tis here no longer that same Mr. Emlyn, who has been silent with regard to the Manuscripts mention’d in the Preface to the Louvain doctors, and that which F. Amelette affirm’d he saw at Rome; ’tis quite another thing when we come to the Manuscript of Berlin. Mr. Emlyn has here outdone himself; he is in ecstasies and triumph. Yet it costs him somewhat dear; an acknowledgment that he advanced and maintain’d that the Text of St. John was not in the lines of the Manuscript but in the Margin; he knew this, he said, from a good hand; and yet this passage was found to be in the body of the Text; I have prov’d it from the attestation of one of the King’s Librarians, and it can no longer be questioned, since Mr. la Croze, another Librarian, has said it in the letter which Mr. Emlyn has very emphatically produc’d in the first Chapter of his Reply. Let us see that Letter, and clear up the fact.
I had said in my Dissertation that there was also a Greek Manuscript at Berlin, which was believ’d to be five hundred years old, which had the Text of the 7th verse, there are three in heaven, &c. Mr. Emlyn found means by some of his friends to know certainly ‘the case. To this end application was made to a learned man in Saxony, who having wrote to Mr. la Croze, receiv’d this answer,

Vir Amplissime, —Miror, Codicem nostrum, librum nullius authoritatis, asserendæ dubiæ lectioni idoneum videri, cum jam ego compluribus viris eruditis, ipsique Reverendo Martino, manifestum secerim eum codicem, qui falsarii cujudam fraude pro antiquo venditus est, & vendicatur, manu recenti ex Editione Polygotta Complutensi fuisse descriptum; id statim vidi, cum anno 17161 Bibliothecam Regiam, peregrinorum more, non enim tunc me moras Berolini facturum putabam, perlustrarem, dixique palam Hendreichio τω μαχριτη idque, ex quo Bibliotheca mihi credita est, candide apud omnes professus sum, neque id ignorat Cl. &c Reverendus Martinus, cui idem meo, “nomine significatum est.”
That is, —It seems very strange to me, that ever our Manuscript, a Book of no Authority at all, should be alledgd in confirmation of a dubious Reading, since I have already discovered it to very many learned Men, and even to the Reverend Mr. Martin himself, that this Manuscripts tho’ much boasted of, and sold by a cunning Cheat for an ancient Book, is but a late transcript from the Polyglot of the Complutensian Edition; this I presently discerned, when as a Stranger only I view’d the King’s Library, before I had any thoughts of settling at Berlin, and I then declared the same openly to Hendreichius now deceased: and ever since this Library has been committed to my Care, I have freely own’d it upon all Occasions without reserve; and the Reverend Mr. Martin knows it very well, who by my means has been informed of it.

I don’t blame Mr. la Croze for having wrote to his Friend in Germany what he thought concerning this Manuscript, since it was demanded of him; but as that Friend did not, nor could naturally ask him concerning me, what knowledge I had or had not concerning this Manuscript; Mr. la Croze, I think, might have forbore to speak of me without wronging his conscience in the least. However he has done it; as if he had design’d to draw a particular attention to it: he repeats it twice together in this Letter, I had made it evident to several learned Men, and to Mr. Martin himself,—and some lines after, Mr. Martin is not ignorant of this; since it has been declar’d to him from me.
These small reflexions, which without any necessity have fallen from the pen of Mr. la Croze, do not favour the candour I profess, and give an idea of me as of a man who affects to be ignorant of what he knows very well; that by means of this affected ignorance, he may more easily compass his design. I am not capable of such dissimulation, and himself shall clear me from it by the very Letter upon which he grounds what he says of me, in that which has been just produced by Mr. Emlyn.
One of our common Friends, who came from Berlin to study Divinity here, and who is now a Minister, being return’d to Berlin, gave Mr. la Croze an account of a Work I was then engag’d in, and which has since been printed under the title of a Discourse Concerning Revealed Religion; amongst other things he spoke to him of the passage of St. John, which I maintain’d to be authentick , and as he desir’d to know the opinion of this learn’d man concerning that disputed passage, in order to communicate it to me, Mr. la Croze would give it him in writing, that it might be sent so me: his Letter will acquaint us with it.

S I R,
I Read yesterday Dr. Mills’ Dissertation upon the passage of St.John, and I found there almost all that I had thought upon the same subjecl: I shall be very glad if Mr. Martin confirms the authority of this testimony by new proofs; but betwixt you and me the matter appears to me Very difficult. I am almost persuaded that ’tis a gloss form’d upon the explication of St. Cyprian, which crept from the margin into the ‘text. All the ancient Greek and Latin Manuscripts in reckoning up the three witnesses mention only the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, There is no account to be made of our Greek Manuscript of the New Testament; ’tis a Work, which, tho’ it has deceiv’d many, I never thought above eighty years old. In the year 1696. upon coming to Berlin, I went to see the Library, in here they shewed me this Manuscript as being a thousand years old: After having examin’d it a moments I maintain’d that it was modern, and copied from the Edition of the Bible of Cardinal Ximenes. I convinc’d the late Mr. Spanheim, and the then Librarian by comparing of passages, the resemblance of the characters, and other sensible proofs: the passage of the three witnesses is there word for word, as in the Bible of Alcala, and it could not be there otherwise The ancient Fathers have never made use of so remarkable a passage The Lectionary entitled Apostolos, in my opinion is of nο great authority in this case; I don’t doubt of its antiquity; but these ecclesiastick Books are more subject to alteration than others I have written all this it performance of the promise I gave you; for I am persuaded that I have proposed no difficulty which has not been weigh’d by Mr.Martin, &c.

Here is word for word what is most essential in that letter as to what regards me, and particularly all that concerns the Manuscript.
Two things are here evidently seen: The First, that this Manuscript which was bought for the Elector of Brandenburg, and sold for two hundred six Dollars, was thought to be very ancient, and even a thousand years old, that the then Librarian, Mr. Hendreichius, who, I have been told was a very learned man, had shewn it to Mr. la Croze, as thinking it to be a very valuable Manuscript; that the famous Mr. Spanheim, so well vers’d in the study of ancient Medals and Inscriptions, had also believed this Manuscript to be genuine; and at the same time I saw that Mr. la Croze said he discern’d it to be counterfeit in a moments and convine’d these Gentlemen of it, and several others in like manner; this I own appear’d to me almost a paradox; for in truth, if seeing was enough to discern in a moment this Manuscript to be forg’d, since the calx or chalk of the parchment is yet fresh upon it, as Mr. la Croze describes it to his Friend in Saxony, I cannot comprehend how the eyes of the Spanheim’s, the Hendreichiuses, and so many other men of letters, who had seen this Manuscript, and some of whom had doubtless been employ’d to examine it, before the Elector bought it as a treasure to enrich his Library, as an extraordinary Book brought out of the East; I say, I cannot conceive how their eyes were blinded to such a degree, as not to see what in one moment only Mr. la Croze had perceiv’d. I have read withal in a letter of Tollius to the late Mr. Gravius, the famous Professor in this Town, wrote in 1687, that Mr. Hendreichius shewing him at Berlin the curiosities in the celebrated Library of the Elector, presented to him this Manuscript, which I believe he would, not have done, if the cheat had been so evident, as to be perceiv’d in a moment: Tollius not being a man so easily to be impos’d upon, tho’ the Librarian himself had been so imprudent as not to stick at the account of drawing him into a mistake.
Besides this, I saw that a Librarian when consulted by a person of eminent note in the Court of Berlin, whether the passage was in the body of the Text, or in the margin only, and whether this Manuscript was five hundred years old, as I said it was reputed, or if it was only three hundred old, as Mr. Emlyn affirm’d, answer’d by a note wrote with his own hand, and printed in my Examination, that the passage was in the body of the Text, but as to the antiquity of the Manuscript, they could assert nothing certain about it, de antiquitate vero nil certi affirmari potest. Was so much requir’d to be oppos’d to the opinion of Mr. la Croze, and to make me follow that of so many learned men, as sufficient grounds for quoting this Manuscript in the plain manner I have done, without relying upon it as an indisputable foundation? Mr. Jablonski, who is so well skill’d in the Oriental languages, having been before all this consulted about this Manuscript by Dr. Ketner, had hinted to him nothing of its being counterfeit, which Mr. la Croze says is so plainly to be seen; and he himself tells us in his Letter to his friend in Saxony, that even at present several persons cry it up as ancient; for that is the meaning of the word venditatur; which he has made use of.
The second thing which is so evidently seen in Mr. la Croze’s letter, which was sent to me, is that there is nothing more than a bare account of his opinion, and the argument upon which it was founded; but can this be call’d the having clearly showed me that this Manuscript was forg’d? That in shewing the Manuscript it self to the persons who desir’d to see it, he had evidently laid before ’em the marks of its being counterfeit, I have nothing to say to that; but that by one and the same expression he should confound me with these persons, as if the impression which their eyes and hands had made in their mind should have likewise passed into mine; by the bare account he has given, equity does not allow ’em to think me oblig’d to have the same sentiment. Mr. la Croze should not therefore have said, jam ego compluribus viris eurditis, ipfique R. Martino manifestum fecerim, &c., nor repeat again, neque id ignorat R. Martinus. For what was I not ignorant of? That the Manuscript was counterfeit? By no means. But what I was not ignorant of is that Croze believ’d it counterfeit whilst other learned men, who had seen it, believ’d it genuine. I have done nothing therefore in quoting it that can cast the least reflexion upon my integrity; I am even apt to flatter my self that this was not Mr. la Croze’s intention.
Add to this, that his prejudice against the authority of the passage of St. John appeared to to me so very great, that I might well suspect that he had suffer’d himself to fall into an opinion against a Manuscript which so many others believ’d authentic. As I know he has read my Dissertation upon the passage of St. John, and the Examination I made last year of Mr. Emlyn’s Answer, he might have been convinc’d that this Text is not a Scholion, as he had suggested in his letter, and that it is not true that no ancient Author has quoted it, except what is related in Victor and Fulgentius. He might have seen also that the Lectionary call’d Apostolos, is of greater authority than he has imagin’d, and he may see it yet more in the sequel of this Discourse.
Lastly, no one can speak with more circumspection of the Manuscript of Berlin than I have done. I have but barely quoted it in my Dissertation, pag. 116. They say there is also a Manuscript at Berlin, said I, in the King’s Library which they believe to be five hundred years old; F. le Long reports it upon the testimony of Saubertus and Tollius.
Mr. Emlyn has form’d upon this an accusation against me, as if I had ascrib’d to Saubertus and Tollius the having said that this Manuscript was five hundred years old. But he should have considered that the expression they believe, to which I refer the five hundred years, being a vague term, which expresses no person in particular, cannot be appropriated to Saubertus and Tollius. If he did not comprehend it, it was at least very easy for him to understand it, by seeing after what manner I have spoke of it in the Examination I made of his first Tract against me: I contented my self, said I pag. 103. with marking the antiquity of this Manuscript upon the testimony of Saubertus and Tollius, quoted by F. le Long in his Bibliotheca sacra: where indeed this Copy is call’d pervetustum, i.e. very ancient. They see neither there nor elsewhere that I have spoke of five hundred years, as from those two learned men: and in pag. 164. I quoted, said I, Saubertus and Tollius in relation to the Manuscript it self, and Ketner with regard to the passage of St. John: Mr. Emlyn might have done me more justice.

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