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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
This phrase is employee in two senses. Some take it to signify not only the restoration of the text of Scripture to its original state, but the principles of interpretation. This is an extensive and improper application. The science is strictly occupied with the text of the Bible. It is limited to those principles and operations which enable the reader to detect and remove corruptions, to decide upon the genuineness of disputed readings, and to obtain as nearly as possible the original words of inspiration.
I. There are only three or four sources of material for the work of Biblical criticism, both in detecting the changes made upon the original text, and in restoring genuine readings:
1. MSS. or written copies of the Bible.
2. Ancient translations into various languages.
3. The writings and remains of those early ecclesiastical writers who have quoted the Scriptures. 4. Critical conjecture; but this must be used with extreme caution.
Criticism employs the ample materials furnished by these sources. To attain its end, it must work upon them with skill and discrimination. They afford wide scope for acuteness, sobriety, and learning; and long experience is necessary in order that they may be used with efficiency and success. (See Jour. Sac. Lit., Jan. 1864; Heinfetter, The True Text of the [Heb.] Scriptures, 2d ed. Lond. 1861.) (See MANUSCRIPTS); (See VERSIONS).
CANONS OF BIBLICAL CRITICISM.
(1.) EXTERNAL OR OBJECTIVE.
1. Readings found in the most ancient and more carsefulty written MSS. should be preferred. Hence "uncial" copies are in general more weighty than "ursive." Yet great unanimity in the latter may overbalance fluctuation in the former.
2. Independent witnesses must chiefly be regarded. Hence the necessity of classifying authorities, and of reckoning all that can be traced to a common origin or edition as but one, since no copy can rise higher in value than its source, and each transcription is an additional opportunity for error. On this account the critical materials of the O.T. are meager, as all existing Hebrews MSS. are of the Masoretic recension; and but for the evidence (both historical and internal) of great competency, care, and scrupulousness on the part of these editors, their work would be of much less utility than it now is. In the N. T, too, this rule greatly reduces the testimony of the earliest extant MSS., inasmuch as they all seem to belong to the Alexandrian type, and for this reason their provincialisms in orthography ought especially to be rejected.
3. Readings found in the original text are not to be lightly set aside through deference to versions or citations. This not only follows as a corollary from the preceding rule, but its importance is enhanced by the ignorance, prejudices, special objects, and laxity of translators and writers quoting (sometimes from memory). In doubtful cases only (either from conflict, failure, or improbability in the original readings), therefore, can these be safely resorted to. Hence is evident equally the absurdity of exalting the Septuagint as a whole above the Hebrew, and the Vulgate above the Greek Testament. When not liable to suspicion from the above causes, however, and where sufficiently exact to be verbally appreciable, translations and quotations, like direct and explicit historical statements as to particular readings, are entitled to consideration in proportion to their antiquity and excellence of opportunity.
(II.) INTERNAL OR SUBJECTIVE.
N. B. — This whole kind of evidence is only to be used, and that but sparingly, when the foregoing rules fall short, or are opposed by some palpable inconsistency in point of exegesis or philology in the text.
1. Purely conjectural emendation may sometimes be cautiously employed in such cases, because it is possible that some clerical errors may have existed in the original autographs themselves, and others probably crept in at the earliest date in copying; these would therefore be liable to corrupt all later testimony. On the other hand, arbitrary corrections must never be made except where they are absolutely demanded, and where they can also be shown to have been naturally displaced by the errata; nor yet unless they are such as would be likely to have eluded the diligence of earlier collators.
2. Among several various readings, which are otherwise nearly equally supported, that one is to be selected from which the others can most readily be derived. On this principle is based the famous law of critics in general, that "the most difficult reading is to be preferred," which is but partially true, however, since the harshest readings may have been the result of inadvertence in copying, and on this principle they could never be eliminated; whereas the design of criticism is the common-sense one of lessening rather than increasing the incongruities of the text. It is only meant that we should choose that reading, rather than another, which, if originally in the text, would be most obnoxious to copyists; yet the rule must not be so construed as to come into collision with the foregoing canon.
3. When the evidences in favor of the omission or insertion of a passage, clause, or highly significant word are nearly equally divided, it is safer to reject it (if it be not already contained in the received text), or (if it be retained for the sake of convenience) to mark it as probably spurious; for the disposition of the Church, from quite an early to a comparatively recent period, has leaned towards the admission of more and more matter (whether marginal glosses or apocryphal additions) into the sacred canon, and copyists as well as editors have felt the influence of that reverent familiarity which renders it ever increasingly difficult to expunge any thing once included in Scripture. But in judging of the genuineness in such instances, little stress can be laid upon considerations drawn from doctrinal propriety or concinnity with the context, because these are greatly affected by the individual sentiments and conventional opinions of each critic.
II. The remainder of this article (which relates to the so-called "lower criticism") will contain a brief historical sketch of Biblical criticism, or a history of the texts of the Old and New Testaments; the condition in which they have been at different periods; the evidences on which our knowledge of their purity or corruption rests, and the chief attempts that have been made to rectify or amend them. A history of criticism must describe the various stages and forms through which the texts have passed. It will be convenient to reserve an enumeration of the causes which gave rise to various readings for a future article, (See VARIOUS READINGS), and in this place to detail the phases which the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments have presented both in their unprinted and printed state, in connection with the labors of scholars upon them.
A. THE OLD TESTAMENT. — There are four marked periods in the history of the Hebrew text.
1. That Period in the History of the Unprinted Text which preceded the closing of the Canon. — Of this we know nothing except what is contained in Scripture itself. The Jews bestowed much care on their sacred books. They were accustomed to hold them in great veneration even in the darkest times of national apostasy from Jehovah. How often the separate books were transcribed, or with what degree of correctness, it is impossible to tell. Many German critics suppose that the Hebrew text met with very unfavorable treatment; that it was early subjected to the carelessness of transcribers and officious critics. Differences, however, between parallel sections show rather the genuineness and integrity of the books in which they occur. Had such paragraphs exactly harmonized, we might have suspected design or collusion; but their variations discover the artlessness of the writers. We disagree with Eichhorn, Bauer, Gesenius, De Wette, and others, who have given lists of parallel passages in some books in order to show that the text was early exposed to extensive alterations.
The most important particular in this part of the history is the Samaritan recension of the Pentateuch. (See PENTATEUCH). This edition (if so it may be called) of the Pentateuch is indeed uncritical in its character. While we freely acquit the Jews of tampering with the text of the Mosaic books, the Samaritans cannot be so readily exonerated from the imputation. Additions, alterations, and transpositions are quite apparent in their copy of the Pentateuch. A close alliance between the text which lies at the basis of the Septuagint version and that of the Samaritan Pentateuch has been always noticed. Hence some think that they flowed from a common recension. One thing is certain, that the Seventy agree with the Samaritan in about 2000 places in opposition to the Jewish text. In other books, too, of the Old Testament, besides the five books of Moses, the Seventy follow a recension of the text considerably different from the Jewish. Thus in Jeremiah and Daniel we find a different arrangement of sections, as well as a diversity in single passages. The books of Job and Proverbs present a similar disarrangement and alteration, which must be put down to the account of the Alexandrian Jews and, Greek translators. Far different was the conduct of the Palestinian Jews in the treatment of the sacred books. They were very scrupulous in guarding the text from innovation, although it is impossible that they could have preserved it from all corruption. But whatever errors or mistakes had crept into different copies were rendered apparent at the time when the canon was formed. We believe with Havernick (Einleitung in das Alte Testament, p. 49) that "Ezra, in unison with other distinguished men of his time, completed the collection of the sacred writings." He revised the various books, corrected inaccuracies that had crept into them, and rendered the Old-Testament text perfectly free from error. Thus a correct and genuine copy was furnished under the sanction of Heaven. Ezra, Nehemiah, and those with whom he was associated, were infallibly guided in the work of completing the canon. (See CANON).
2. From the Establishment of the Canon to the Completion of the Talmud, i.e. the commencement of the sixth century after Christ. — The Targumists Onkelos and Jonathan closely agree with the Masoretic text. The Greek translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, belonging to the second century, deviate from the form of the text afterwards called the Masoretic much less than the Seventy. The Hebrew column of Origen's Hexapla presents a text allied to the Masoretic recension. Jerome's Latin version, made in the fourth century, is conformed to the same Hebrew original. In the two Gemaras, viz. the Jerusalem and the Babylonian, belonging to the fourth and sixth centuries respectively, we discern many traces of critical skill applied to the preservation of a pure text. Different readings in MSS. are mentioned, precepts are given respecting Biblical calligraphy, and true readings are restored. By far the most important fact which they present is the adducement of classes of critical corrections made at an earlier period, and which Morinus (Exercitationes Biblioce, p. 408) justly calls the fragments or vestiges of recensions. These are —
(1) עַטּוּר סוֹפְרַים, Retrenchment of scribes.
(2) תַּקּוּן סוֹפְרַים, Correction of scribes.
(3) Extraordinary punctuation.
(4) קְרַי וְלּאֹ כְתַיב, "Keri ve-lo kethib," read but not written.
(5) כְּתַיב וְלאֹ קְרַי, "Kethib ve-lo keri," written but not read.
The writings of Jerome afford evidence that, in the fourth century, the Hebrew text was without the vowel-points, or even the diacritical signs.
3. From the sixth Century, in which the Talmud was completed, to the Invention of Printing. — The learned Jews, especially those at Tiberias, where there was a famous school till the eleventh century, continued to occupy themselves with the Hebrew language and the criticism of the Old Testament. The observations of preceding Rabbis were enlarged, new remarks were made, and the vowel-system was invented, the ‘ origin' of which can hardly be placed earlier than the sixth century. The name Masora has usually been applied to that grammatico-historical tradition which, having been handed down orally for some centuries, became afterwards so extensive as to demand its committal to writing. Much of what is contained in the Masora exists also in the Talmud. Part of it, however, is older than the Talmud, though not reduced to its present form till a much later period. The various observations comprised in the Masora were at first written in separate books, of which there are MSS. extant. Afterwards they were put into the margin of the Bible MSS.
When we speak of the Masoretic recension of the text, it is not meant that the Masoretes gave a certain form to the text itself, or that they undertook and executed a new revision. They made the textus receptus of that day the basis of their remarks, and gave their sentiments concerning it. Had the text been altered in every case where they recommend; had it been made conformable to their ideas of what it should be, it would have been appropriate to have called it the Masoretic recension. The designation, however, though not applicable in strictness, is customary.
The most important part of the Masora (q.v.) consists of the marginal readings or Keris, which the Masoretes always preferred to the textual, and which the later Jews have adopted. The Keris are critical, grammatical, orthographical, explanatory, and euphemistic. It has been a subject of dispute among scholars from what source the Masoretes derived the Keris. It is highly probable that they were generally taken from MSS. and tradition, though they may have been in part the offspring of conjecture. It is but reasonable to suppose that these scholars sometimes gave the result of their own judgment. In addition to the Keris the Masora contains an enlargement of critical remarks found in the Talmud. Besides, the verses, words, and consonants of the different books of the Bible are counted, a task unparalleled in point of minute labor, though comparatively unprofitable. The application of the Masora in the criticism of the Old Testament is difficult, because its text has fallen into great disorder. It was printed for the first time in the first Rabbinical Bible of Bomberg, superintended by Felix Pratensis. In the second Rabbinical Bible of Bomberg, R. Jacob ben- Chayim bestowed considerable care upon the printing of the Masora. At the end of this second Rabbinical Bible there is a collection of Oriental and Western readings, or, in other words, Babylonian and Palestinian, communicated by the editor, and the result of an ancient revision of the text. The number is about 216. Of the sources from which the collection was drawn we are entirely ignorant. Judging by the contents, it must be older than many observations made by the Masoretes. It should probably be referred to a period anterior to the introduction of the vowel system, as it contains no allusion to the vowels. It is certainly of considerable value, and proves that the Oriental no less than the Western Jews had always attended to the state of the sacred text. In addition to this list, we meet with another in the Rabbinical Bibles of Bomberg and Buxtorf, and in the sixth volume of the London Polyglot, belonging to the eleventh century. It owes its origin to the labors of Ben-Asher and Ben-Naphtali, the respective presidents of academies in Palestine and Babylon. These readings, with a single exception, refer to the vowels and accents. The vowel system had therefore been completed when this collection was made.
Here the history of the unprinted text may be said to close. The old unvowelled copies perished. New ones furnished with points and accents came into use. But, although the ancient copies are now irrecoverably lost, there is no reason for supposing that their preservation to the present time would have had any essential influence in altering the form of the text. The text appears to have been established and settled when the punctuation system was completed. The labors of the Masoretic doctors have been of substantial benefit in maintaining its integrity.
4. From the Invention of Printing to the present Time. — There are three early editions from which all others have been taken.
1. That published at Soncino (A.D. 1488), which was the first entire copy of the Hebrew Scriptures ever printed. The text is furnished with the points and accents, but, we are ignorant of the MSS. employed by the editor.
2. The second great edition was that in the Complutensian Polyglot (1514 -17) taken from seven MSS. 3. The third was the second Rabbinical Bible of Bomberg, superintended by R. Jacob ben-Chayim (Venice, 1525, 6 vols. fol.). The text is formed chiefly after the Masora, but Spanish MSS. were used. Almost all modern printed copies have been taken from it. The Antwerp Polyglot has a text compounded of those in the second and third recensions just mentioned.
Among the editions furnished with a critical apparatus, that of Buxtorf, published at Basle 1619, occupies a high place. It contains the commentaries of the Jewish Rabbis Jarchi, Aben-ezra, Kimchi, Levi ben- Gerson, and Saadias Haggaon. The appendix is occupied with the Jerusalem Targum, the great Masora corrected and amended, with the various readings of Ben-Asher and Ben-Naphtali.
The other principal editions with various readings are those of Seb. Mü nster, Jablonski, Van der Hooght, J. H. Michaelis, C. F. Houbigant, and Benjamin Kennicott.
(1.) Mü nster's edition appeared at Basle in 1536, 2 vols. 4to. The text is supposed to be founded upon that of Brescia, 1494, 4to, which resolves itself into the Soncino edition of 1488.
(2.) Jablonski's edition was published at Berlin in 1699, 8vo, and again at the same place in 1712, 12mo. It is founded upon the best preceding editions, but chiefly the second edition of Leusden (1667). The editor also collated various MSS. The text is remarkably accurate.
(3.) Van der Hooght's edition appeared at Amsterdam 1705. The text is taken from Athias's (1661 and 1667). The Masoretic readings are given in the margin; and at the end are collected the various readings of the editions of Bomberg, Plantin, Athias, and others.
(4.) The edition published by J. H. Michaelis in 1720 is accompanied with the readings of twenty-four editions which the editor examined, besides those of five MSS. in the library at Erfurdt. There is a want of accuracy in his collations.
(5.) In 1753, C. F. Houbigant published a new edition in folio. The text is that of Van der Hooght, without the points. In the margin of the Pentateuch the Samaritan readings are added. For it he collated, but hastily, twelve MSS. He has justly been blamed for his rash indulgence in conjectural emendation.
(6.) Dr. Kennicott's edition, which is the most important hitherto published, appeared at Oxford, in folio — the first volume in 1776, the second in 1780. The number of MSS. collated by himself and his associates, the chief of whom was Professor Bruns of Helmstadt, amounted to 694. In addition to his collation of MSS. and printed editions, he followed the example of various editors of the Greek Testament in having recourse to Rabbinical writings, especially the Talmud. The immense mass of various readings here collected is unimportant. It serves, however, to show that, under the influence of the Masora, the Hebrew text has attained a considerable degree of uniformity in all existing MSS.
(7.) In 1784-88, John Bernard de Rossi published at Parma, in 4 vols. 4to, an important supplement to Kennicott's collection. These various readings were taken from 88 MSS. used by Kennicott and collated anew by De Rossi, from 479 in his own possession and 110 in other hands, from many editions and Samaritan MSS., and also from ancient versions.
(8.) In 1793, Doderlein and Meisner published at Leipzig an edition intended in some measure to supply the want of the extensive collations of Kennicott and De Rossi. It contains the most important readings. The edition of Jahn, published at Vienna in 1806, is very valuable and convenient.
(9.) The most accurate editions of the Masoretic text are those of Van der Hooght, as lately edited by Hahn and by Theile, at Leipzig, and stereotyped. The text of Van der Hooght may now be reckoned as the textus receptus. (For full lists of the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible, the reader is referred to Le Long's Bibliotheca, edited by Masch, and to Rosenmü ller ‘ s Handbuchfur die Literatur der biblischen Kritik und Exegese, 1:189-277. See also Darling's Cyclopaedia Bibliographica , vol. on the "Holy Scriptures," col. 45 sq.)
Notwithstanding all these editions, something is still wanted. In the best of them there are passages requiring emendation. It is curious to observe how contradictions are allowed to remain on the face of the Old-Testament history. It may be that the Masora has produced so great a uniformity that extant MSS. do not sanction any departure from the present text, but, where passages are manifestly corrupt, it is proper that they should be rectified. The criticism of the Hebrew Bible is still behind that of the Greek Testament. The latter was earlier begun, and has been more vigorously prosecuted. We remain nearly in the same state with regard to the Old- Testament text as that in which Kennicott and De Rossi left us, and it is time that some advance should be made in this department. The only important recent work in this direction is Dr. S. Davidson's Revision of the Hebrews Text of the O.T. (London, 1855, 8vo). (See SCRIPTURES, HOLY).
B. We shall now give a brief history of THE NEW TESTAMENT text in its unprinted and printed form. The criticism of the New Testament is rich in materials, especially in ancient MSS. But, although the history of New- Testament criticism records the industrious collection of a large amount of materials, it is not equally abundant in well-accredited facts, such as might be of essential benefit in enabling us to judge of the changes made in the text. History is silent respecting the period when the two parts of the New Testament, viz., the εὐαγγέλιον and ἀπόστολος, or, in other words, the four Gospels, and the Pauline and remaining epistles, were.put together, so as to form one whole. About the beginning of the third century, it is certain that all the books of the New Testament which we now possess were acknowledged to be divine and regarded as canonical. (See CANON).
1. In the middle of the same century Hesychius and Lucian undertook to amend the MSS. of the New Testament. Of their critical labors Jerome seems not to have entertained a high opinion. The MSS. they revised did not meet with general approval, and pope Gelasius issued a decree against them. It is highly probable that they were not the authors of recensions which were widely circulated or generally adopted. Origen did not revise the text of the New Testament.
At a comparatively recent period certain internal marks were observed to belong to documents containing the same text. A similarity in characteristic readings was noticed. Bengel appears to have been the first to whom the idea suggested itself of dividing the materials according to the peculiarities which he faintly perceived. It was afterwards taken up by Semler, and highly elaborated by Griesbach. Later editors and critics have endeavored to improve upon Griesbach's system. The different forms of text observed by Semler and Griesbach they called recensions, although the appellation of family is more appropriate. The subject of recensions, though frequently discussed, is not settled. In the history of the unprinted text it is the chief topic which comes before the inquirer. Reserving it for future notice, (See RECENSIONS), We pass to the history of the printed text, and the efforts made to emend it. 2. The whole of the New Testament was first printed
(1.) in the Complutensian Polyglot, 1514, fol. (vol. v), though not published till 1517. The first published was
(2.) that of Erasmus, at Basle, in 1516, 2 vols. in 1, fol. Both were issued independently of one another, and constitute the basis of the received text. Yet the best materials were not employed in preparing them, and on both the Vulgate was allowed to exert an undue influence. Even critical conjecture was resorted to by Erasmus. No less than five impressions were published by Erasmus, into the third of which 1 John 5:7, was first put. In the last two he made great use of the Complutensian Polyglot.
(3.) The third place among the early editors of the Greek Testament has been assigned to Robert Stephens, whose first edition was printed at Paris (1546, 12mo), chiefly taken from the Complutensian, and generally styled the Mirifica edition, from the commencement of the preface. His second edition was published in 1549; the third in 1550, in folio. In this last he followed the fifth of Erasmus, with which he compared fifteen MSS., and the Complutensian Polyglot. In 1551 appeared another edition, accompanied by the Vulgate and the translation of Erasmus. It is remarkable for being the first into which the division of verses was introduced.
(4.) The next person that contributed to the criticism of the Greek Testament was Theodore Beza. The text of his first edition (1565, folio) was the same as that of the third of Stephens, altered in about fifty places, accompanied with the Vulgate, a Latin version of his own, and exegetical remarks. In his second edition (1582) he had the benefit of the Syriac version and two ancient codices. A third impression appeared in 1589, and a fourth in 1598. The Elzevir editions exhibit partly the text of the third of Stephens, and partly that of Beza. The first appeared at Leyden in 1624. The second edition of 1633 proclaims its text to be the textus receptus, which it afterwards became. Subsequently three other editions issued from the same press. The editor does not appear to have consulted any Greek MSS. All his readings are either in Beza or Stephens. The Elzevir editions are all in 12mo.
(5.) Brian Walton, the learned editor of the London Polyglot, gave a more copious collection of various readings in the sixth volume of that work than had before appeared, which was further enlarged by Dr. Fell, in his edition, published at Oxford in 1675, and reprinted by Gregory in 1703, folio. (See POLYGLOTS).
(6.) Dr. John Mill, encouraged and supported by Fell, gave to the world a new edition in 1707, folio. The text is that of Stephens's third edition. In it the editor exhibited, from Gregory's MSS., a much greater number of readings than is to be found in any former edition. He revised and increased the extracts formerly made from ancient versions. Nor did he neglect quotations from the fathers. It is said that the work contains thirty thousand various readings. This important edition, so far superior to every preceding one, cost the laborious editor the toilsome study of thirty years, and excited the prejudices of many who were unable to appreciate its excellence. It constituted a new era in the criticism of the New Testament. Ludolph Kuster reprinted Mill's Greek Testament at Amsterdam in 1710, enriching it with the readings of twelve additional MSS. The first attempt to emend the textus receptus was made by John Albert Bengel, abbot of Alpirspach. His edition appeared at Tubingen (quarto, 1734), to which was prefixed his "Introductio in crisin Novi Testamenti." Subjoined is an apparatus criticus, containing his collection of various reading, chiefly taken from Mill, but with important additions.
(7.) Dr. John James Wetstein contributed, in no small degree, to the advancement of sacred criticism, by his large edition of the Greek Testament, published at Amsterdam in 1751-2, 2 vols. folio. In 1730 he had published prolegomena. It was his desire to give a new and corrected text, but he was compelled by circumstances to exhibit the textus receptus. Yet he noted, partly in the text itself, partly in the inner margin, such readings as he preferred. His collection of various readings, with their respective authorities, far exceeds all former works of the same kind in copiousness and value. He collated anew many important MSS. that had been superficially examined, gave extracts from many for the first time, and made use of the Harclean (improperly called the Philoxenian) version, hitherto uncollated. For convenience he marked the uncial MSS. with the letters of the alphabet, and the cursive with numerical letters. His exegetical notes are chiefly extracts from Greek, Latin, and Jewish writers. The edition of the Greek Testament under consideration is indispensable to every critic, and will always be reckoned a marvellous monument of indomitable energy and unwearied diligence. The Prolegomena contain a treasure of sacred learning that will always be prized by the scholar. They were republished, with valuable notes, by Semler (1774, 8vo).
(8.) The scholar who is pre-eminently distinguished in the history of New- Testament criticism is Dr. John James Griesbach. He enriched the materials collected by Wetstein with new and important additions, by collating MSS., versions, and early ecclesiastical writers, particularly Origen, with great labor. The idea of recensions, recommended by Bengel and Semler, he adopted; and carried out with much acuteness and sagacity. His first edition appeared at Halle (2 vols. 8vo, 1774-5). The first three gospels were synoptically arranged, but in 1777 he published them in their natural order. The text is founded on a comparison of the copious materials which he possessed. Nothing was adopted from conjecture, and nothing received which had not the sanction of codices as well as versions. A select number of readings is placed beneath the text. In his Symboloe Criticae he gave an account of his critical labors, and of the collations of new authorities he had made. Such was the commencement of Griesbach's literary labors.
(9.) Between the years 1782-88, C. F. Matthaei published a new edition of the Greek Testament at Riga, in 12 vols. 8vo. His text was founded on a collation of more than 100 Moscow MSS., which he first examined. It is accompanied with the Vulgate, scholia, and excursus. He avowed himself an enemy to the idea of recensions, despised the ancient MSS. (especially cod. Bezae) and the quotations of the fathers, while he unduly exalted his Moscow MSS. His chief merit lies in the careful collation he made of a number of MSS. hitterto unknown.
(10.) Before the completion of Matthaei's edition appeared that of Alter (Vindob. 1786-7, 2 vols. 8vo). The text is that of the Vienna MS., with which he collated 22 others in the Imperial library. To these he added readings from the Coptic, Slavonian, and Latin versions.
(11.) In 1788, Professor Birch, of Copenhagen, enlarged the province of sacred criticism by his splendid edition of the four Gospels in folio and quarto. The text is a reprint of Stephens's third, but the materials appended to it are highly valuable. They consist of extracts taken by himself and Moldenhauer, in their travels, from many MSS. not examined by Wetstein, and of Alter's selections from the Jerusalem-Syriac version discovered in the Vatican. Birch was the first who carefully collated the Codex Vaticanus. The publication of the second volume was prevented by a fire that destroyed many of the materials. In 1798 he published his various readings on the remainder of the New Testament, except the Apocalypse. In 1800 he published those relating to this book also.
(12.) In 1796 appeared the first volume of a new and greatly-improved edition of Griesbach's New Testament. For it he made extracts from the Armenian, Slavonic, Latin, Sahidic, Coptic, and other versions, besides incorporating into his collection the results of the labors of Matthaei, Alter, and Birch. The second volume appeared in 1806, both published at Halle, in 8vo. At the end of the second volume is a dissertation on 1 John 5:7. The work was reprinted at Leipzig, 1803-7, in four splendid 4to vols.; also at London in 1809, and again in 1818, 2 vols. 8vo. The prolegomena are exceedingly valuable. This edition cannot be too highly rated. It is indispensable to every critic and intelligent theologian.
(13.) In 1827, many new materials having been procured since the date of Griesbach's last edition, it was thought necessary to publish a third. It appeared accordingly, under the superintendence of Dr. Schulz, at Berlin, in 8vo. The first volume contains the prolegomena and the Gospels. It exhibits various readings from about 20 new sources, many corrections of Griesbach's references and citations, besides considerable improvements in other respects. The second volume has not been published.
The editions of Knapp, Schott, Tittmann, Vater, Nabe, and Gö schen are chiefly founded upon that of Griesbach. Of these the most esteemed is that of Knapp, which has passed through five editions, and is characterized by sound judgment, especially in the punctuation and accents.
(14.) In 1830 appeared the first volume of a large critical edition, superintended by Dr. J. Martin Augustus Scholz, professor at Bonn, containing the Gospels. The second volume, in 1836, completed the work. Both are in quarto. The editor spent twelve years of incessant labor in collecting materials for the work, and traveled into many countries for the purpose of collating MSS. The prolegomena prefixed to the first volume occupy 172 pages, and contain ample information respecting all the codices, versions, fathers, acts of councils, etc., etc., which are used as authorities, together with a history of the text, and an exposition of his classification system. In the inner margin are given the general readings characteristic of the three great families. The total number of MSS. which he has added to those previously collated is 606. Little reliance, however, can be placed on the accuracy of the extracts which he has given for the first time. His researches have tended to raise the textus receptus higher than Griesbach placed it. In consequence of his preferring the Constantinopolitan family, his text comes nearer the Elzevir edition anthan that of Griesbach. The merits of this laborious editor are considerable. He has greatly enlarged our critical apparatus. Yet in acuteness, sagacity, and scholarship he is far inferior to Griesbach. His collations appear to have been superficial. They are not to be depended on. Hence the text can not command the confidence of Protestant critics. We can not believe, with the editor, that the Byzantine family is equal in value or authority to the Alexandrine, which is confessedly more ancient, nor can we put his junior codices on a level with the very valuable documents of the Oriental recension. His text is, on the whole, inferior to that of Griesbach. In a few important passages only it is superior.
(15.) The edition of Lachmann, though small in compass, deserves to be especially mentioned. It was published at Berlin in 1831, 12mo. The editor says that he has nowhere followed his own judgment, but the usage of the Oriental churches. The text of Laohmann has been well received in Germany, and much importance has been attached to it. From the authority it has obtained, it would appear that the Constantinopolitan text of Scholz is not very favorably regarded.
De Wette, in his Introduction to the Bible, shows a leaning towards the views of Lachmann. Rinck coincides, on the whole, with the same. The last-named scholar has enlarged the critical apparatus of the New Testament by collating and describing several MSS. (Lucubratio Critica in Acta Apost. epp. Cath. et Paulin., etc., etc., Basel, 1830, 8vo). There is also a large edition by Lachmann (Novum Testamentum, Graece et Latine. Carolus Lachsinnnus recensuit. Phillppus Butt. mannus Ph. F. Graecce Lectionis auctoritates opposuit. Tomus prior, Berolini. 1842, 8vo; tomus alter, ib. 1850).
The editions by this critic are by far the most important that have appeared since the days of Griesbach, and must produce results highly favorable to the advancement of New Testament criticism. The principles on which Lachmann proceeds were expounded in the Theolog. Studien. und Kritiken for 1830, p. 817-845, and again in 1835, p. 570 sq. The path which he first pursued in his smaller edition was indicated by Bentley, who purposed to publish the Greek Testament on similar principles. In order to discover his Oriental text (a text which is substantially the same as the Alexandrian), Lachmann makes use of the following authorities: 1. A, B, C, D, as also P, Q, T, Z, in the Gospels, and in the Pauline epistles, H in addition. 2. Latin interpretations, viz. in the Gospels the Vercellian, Veronian, Colbertine, Cambridge; in the Acts the Cambridge and Laudian; in the Pauline epistles the Clermont, St. Germains, Boernerian; in the Apocalypse the Primasian. In addition to these, the Vulgate, as edited by Jerome, is everywhere employed. Of the fathers, he consults Irenneus, Ori en, Cyprian, Hilary, and Lucifer. The immense mass of later MSS. and fathers is entirely overlooked as useless. The authorities for the Greek readings are given below the text; and, when it is considered how few materials are employed, it will readily be supposed that the various readings noted are not numerous. They are however, most valuable and important. In addition to the Greek text and critical apparatus, the Hieronymian Vulgate is given, in the same form, as nearly as possible, in which it proceeded from Jerome, with important readings extracted from the Fuldensian Codex, from the same corrected by Victor, bishop of Capua, and from the Laurentian Codex. The great aim of the editor has been to exhibit a text in which the most ancient authorities are entirely agreed. Wherever this cannot be done with certainty, his critical apparatus shows the degree of probability attached to the text as given by him. To the volume is prefixed a preface of 55 pages (a few of them from Buttmann), in which the learned editor expounds his mode of procedure, and the authorities consulted. Respecting the opponents of his system, he does not speak in the most courteous or becoming language, nor is his Latinity the purest. Yet the preface is instructive withal, and must be studied by him who uses Lachmann's text. Were we disposed to follow the text of any one editor absolutely, we should follow Lachmann's. But it may be doubted whether he has not confined himself to a range of authorities too circumscribed. By keeping within the fourth century he has occasionally been compelled to rest upon one or two testimonies. We should therefore like to see more authorities consulted. We are persuaded, however, that this author has entered upon a right path of investigation, which will lead to results both permanently useful and unusually successful. The correctness of these principles, in the main, has been vindicated by the fact that later eminent critics have pursued essentially the same path.
(16.) Since the appearance of Lachmann's first edition, another has been published in Germany by Dr. Tischendorf (Leipzig, 1841, 8vo), which requires notice. It exhibits a corrected text, taken from the most ancient and best MSS., with the principal various readings, together with the readings of the Elzevir, Knapp, Scholz, and Lachmann editions. Great pains have manifestly been bestowed on the text and the critical apparatus subjoined to it. The prolegomena, consisting of 85 pages, are exceedingly valuable. They treat of recensions, with an especial reference to Scholz's system; enumerate the readings peculiar to the third edition of Stephens and that of Mill, to the editions of Matthaei and Griesbach; and specify the critical materials employed in the elaboration of a pure text. A careful perusal of the editor's able preface, and a collation of his text and critical apparatus beneath it, have convinced us of the great candor, minute diligence, extreme accuracy, and admirable skill by which this edition of the Greek Testament is characterized.
In 1859, Tischendorf published the seventh edition of his Greek Testament (Lpz. 8vo), greatly enlarged and improved, from the materials which he had brought to light in the interim. A notable addition to the latter is the famous Sinaitic MS. (q.v.) discovered by him, and lately published, the results of the examination of which, together with those of the Codex Vaticanus recently given by cardinal Mai to the public, are embraced, with other fresh materials, in Tischendorf's eighth edition now in course of publication (Lpz. 1864, sq. 8vo).
(17.) A new and critical edition of the Greek Testament, accompanied by the old Latin version, has been begun by Dr. Tregelles, and issued in fasciculi, of which the Gospels have appeared (London, 4to). The editor aims at great accuracy in his authorities. His text, however, shows defective judgment, and relies too exclusively on a few ancient MSS. It will be a valuable contribution, however, to sacred criticism.
(18.) Alford's Greek Testament (London, 1853-61, 5 vols. 8vo) contains a revised text and a copious critical apparatus, mostly compiled, however, from Tischendorf, and marked by too great a leaning to subjective or internal evidence.
(19.) Mr. Scrivener's critical labors on the Greek Testament deserve mention in this connection for their accurate research. An account of them may be found in his Introduction (Cambr. 1861, 8vo).
III. The operations of sacred criticism have established the genuineness of the Old and New-Testament texts in every matter of importance. All the doctrines and duties remain unaffected by its investigations. It has proved that there is no material corruption in the inspired records. It has shown that during the lapse of many centuries the Holy Scriptures have been preserved in a surprising degree of purity. The text is substantially in the same condition as that in which it was found seventeen hundred years ago. Let the plain reader take comfort to himself when he reflects that the received text which he is accustomed to read is substantially the same as that which men of the greatest learning and the most unwearied diligence have elicited from an immense heap of documents.
For a copious account of the various editions of the Greek Testament the reader is referred to Le Long's Bibliotheca, edited by Masch; or to Rosenmü ller's Handbuch ftr die Literatur der biblischen Kritik und Exegese, 1, p. 278-422; or to Tregelles's Account of the printed Text of the Gr. New Test. (Lond. 1854). A pretty full list may be found in Dalling's Cyclopoedia Bibliog. col. 51 sq. See also an article on the "Manuscripts and Editions of the New Testament," by Moses Stuart, in Robinson's Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 2, May, 1843; Davidson's Lectures on Biblical Criticism (2 vols. 8vo, Edinb. and Bost. 1852). (See BIBLE).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Criticism, Biblical'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/c/criticism-biblical.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27