Short History of the Text of the New Testament

STEM Publishing



There was once a large family — a very large family — of several generations, all descended from one common father. He was very great, and he had enormous possessions, which he had bequeathed to various branches of the family.

Some years since — though the various descendants were in possession of and enjoying their several estates — a strong desire arose to possess a more correct copy of their father’s will. Communications were made with different branches of the family in various places, inquiring into the subject.

They discovered that the original writing was lost, but various copies existed. These were collected together, and compared, but the family were surprised to find that no two copies exactly agreed. At a cursory glance they were found to agree in the main. The estates of A were not given to B; nor the estates of B to C, etc. And some of the family thought that as the copies agreed in the main, there should be no further search.

Others thought it best to say nothing about the various differences. It might unsettle the minds of some of the younger members of the family, who were happily ignorant of their existence. If they heard of these differences they might doubt of the execution of the original altogether.

Others were startled at the discovery, and asked, Do we hold our estates only on a tenure that will not bear investigation? Pray let us endeavor to get at the real truth. If these differences exist, let us know the full extent of them. Although the few copies we have may not differ in the main, further search may bring to light greater differences. We are building for the future upon the supposed stability of our titles; we must know whether these titles are good. Nothing now will satisfy us but a thorough and searching inquiry.

Others took another line. They did not doubt of the stability of the titles to their estates; but they desired to read the heart of their great father. He had not only given them estates, but he had expressed his interest and affection for them. They desired to get at his very words — to enter into his affection for them, and to understand his thoughts of love concerning them.

Others also greatly desired to read his very words that they might better understand his wisdom. He had given them the benefit of his great insight into the character of men and things, with cheering encouragement on the one hand, and solemn warnings on the other. They feared lest anything should be lost, even what might appear to some to be the least.

Others knew that their great father had spoken to them a good deal about himself, and they were convinced that they should endeavor to obtain every word he had said.

Thus for these and other reasons it was judged to be highly desirable that a very extensive search should be made for copies of the will; that those found should be carefully compared, and all the alterations noted. They should endeavor to account for the alterations; and above and beyond all they should endeavor to ascertain what was the exact wording of the will.

With these objects, one here and another there set diligently to work at their task. The task was indeed laborious: they obtained many copies and proceeded to compare them carefully and note all the differences.

But they were soon struck with the fact that some copies were much older than others, and the older they were, the nearer they were to the original, and so were of course the more valuable.

But of some it was no easy matter to judge the age. It was known that at a certain period the style of writing had been decidedly changed. This fact led to the division of the copies into two distinct classes; but as to which was the oldest in each class was not so easy. The material on which the document was written was scrutinized, and every little variation in the writing noted that would in any way throw light upon its age.

There were also other branches of the inquiry. One was this. It was ascertained that in certain documents, written by some of the family, they had given extracts from the will: and some of these turned out to be of an early date. These were of great value, because they proved what was in their copy of the will at the time the quotation was made.

Further, it was ascertained that some of the family had journeyed into foreign parts, and had settled there, and for their benefit the original will had been translated into foreign languages. On inquiry, it was ascertained that some of these translations had been made very early. These were of great use, as they showed what was in the translator’s copy when the translation was made.

With all these and other materials the labor became immense. All had to be compared, and the variations carefully noted; the documents being separated and valued according to their various ages.

The next step was to endeavor to ascertain the cause of the variations. In many places it was, purely accidental. The writers had in some places mistaken one word for another. In others, words were accidentally omitted; and in others, words were added. In other places the alterations appeared to be done purposely. Apparently the copier had thought he could improve the wording, without perhaps thinking of the importance that would be attached to the identical [original?] words of this famous will.

Now the ascertaining of the cause of the variations was at once the means of removing a great many of them as variations. They were ascertained to have been accidental alterations, and were dismissed accordingly. But this would not clear up all. In some the preponderance of the evidence was overwhelming for one reading over another so as to settle indisputably which was correct, and this decided many questions. Still, a few remained in which it was difficult to decide which was the word actually used in the original.

On the whole, the result was highly satisfactory. The investigation has stamped an absolute certainty upon the will. Not a single point of importance is left in doubt or is surrounded by difficulty, and there remain only a few places where the actual words cannot be ascertained.

The family have great cause for thankfulness. Their estates are sure to them: they can read the heart and learn the intentions of their great father to them in his own words: they can profit by his wisdom, by his instruction, and by his warnings. And all this not simply in generalities, but in his own words. As if he was now speaking to them, they listen, and they hear his accents of love, and they learn himself. Thus are they happy and are blessed.

This will is the word of God. This family is the saints of God.

All scripture was given by inspiration of God, and it was written; but the original has been lost. There are many copies in existence; but they all more or less differ.

There have been and are men who have spent the best part of their lives in comparing the various copies: they have duly considered the value of each, and have carefully sought to discover the true text as it stood in the original.

The above is in no sense an exaggerated account of the history of the text of the New Testament. For many years the question lay entirely dormant. It was not until the year 1514 that the printing of the first Greek Testament — the Complutensian Text— was finished; but before it could be printed, the question had to be considered, “What copy shall be taken?” And although it was known that the manuscripts differed, yet, the fact that there were in existence a great many Greek copies was not known, and the nature and the extent of the variations had not then been fully ascertained. What copies were actually used for that edition is not now known, but they must have been comparatively few.

Other printed editions followed in rapid succession, by various editors, each one referring, as he had opportunity, to an increased number of manuscripts, with the various other sources of evidence. By degrees all evidence began to be valued, and to be used for deciding on the true text of that which God had caused to be written.

But, as we have intimated above, this caused alarm in the minds of some Christians, and they felt it their duty to protest against the making public the variations in the Greek manuscripts, judging that it was unsettling scripture, and, as John Owen called it, an attempt “to correct the word of God.” Dr. Whitby was another who felt alarmed at that which was being brought to light. We can give them and others credit for their zeal for God’s word, but they were certainly mistaken, as we hope to make plain as we proceed with our inquiry.

No need for Alarm.

We have seen how important it is that we should endeavor to get at the true text of “Our Father’s Will,” or, in other words, of “the word of God,” though our present inquiry will only embrace the New Testament, and we have briefly glanced at the difficulties which have stood in the way.

Many have supposed that to procure a Greek Testament was to procure a copy of the true text as God caused it to be written; but, of course, a printed copy must have been made from some other copy; and it may have been copied from some one manuscript, or it may be a copy of what some editor (who has compared many manuscripts) judges to be the true text. Thus we are led back to the manuscript copies, and, as we have said, there are many of these, and no two of them are exactly alike.

This at first sight may seem to be a great calamity, throwing a doubt upon the blessed word of God, but on a closer investigation this will be seen not to be so. Of course, God could have preserved for us a faultless manuscript, but He has allowed it to be otherwise; the New Testament has gone through the various perils that any other old writing has been subject to, though with this difference, that it has been watched over by its living Author.* God, of course, could by a continued miracle have preserved to us the very copies that were written by the inspired penmen; but He has not done so. Who could have held them, and what would other Christians have done without them? As it is, all, scattered over the known world, had copies of the original from the first.

{* It has been estimated that in the writings of Terence, a book not nearly so large as the New Testament, if existing copies were examined with care equal to that bestowed upon the New Testament, at least 50,000 variations would be discovered.}

Besides, the New Testament has now the indisputable stamp of antiquity upon it. It is known, apart from the manuscripts of the New Testament, that, say, in the fourth century Greek was written in a particular manner, and it is known that various changes gradually took place in writing that language, (points, accents, and breathings being introduced,) until the same passage written in the fourth century, and written in the tenth century, do not look like the same language. Well, we have portions of the Greek New Testament, believed to have been written in the fourth century, and then each century after, with those very changes introduced as they are known to have been made. To those who value external evidences, there cannot be a stronger proof that the New Testament was written soon after the time of our Lord; indeed, the evidence is so strong, that we are not aware that it has ever been called in question, even by the most sceptical.

And, further, as one has said, “It is a good providence and a great blessing that so many manuscripts of the New Testament are still amongst us; some procured from Egypt, others from Asia, others from the Western churches. For the very distance of places, as well as numbers of the books, demonstrate that there could be no collusion, no altering, nor interpolating one copy by another, nor all by any of them.”

It is important, too, to see that the variations in the manuscripts affect none of the great doctrines of Christianity. The divinity of Christ, His spotless life, His atoning death, His resurrection and ascension, all remain untouched. The fall of man, the glad tidings of salvation, the eternal security of the believer, and the eternal punishment of the unbeliever, all remain intact. The descent of the Holy Spirit, and the second advent of our Lord, remain unshaken. Indeed, as the same writer has said, “even put them [the various manuscripts] into the hands of a knave or a fool, and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any one chapter, nor so disguise Christianity, but that every feature of it will still be the same.” (Bentley.)

Yet there is the fact (and it must be remembered that by speaking of it we do not create it — it is the same, whether we know it or not) that there are hundreds of Greek copies, and no two of them are exactly alike. Any one complete copy would give us all we need for salvation; but, as we have said, because the New Testament is from God, we want to know every word. All He does, He does perfectly. He caused the book to be written, and the right words to be used; and surely it is a laudable desire for us to seek to have the very words He caused to be written.

Such is our desire, and such was the desire of certain zealous men who have spent many a long year in poring over old manuscripts, using various means to bring to light what, in many cases, had become invisible to ordinary eyesight. They are called editors. Let due honour be given to those who have devoted the best part of their lifetime to these arduous duties.

We cannot do what they have done; and if we had all the materials at hand, not one in a thousand is qualified to duly weigh all the evidence for and against a reading, giving to each its proper weight. But God bestowed gifts suited for such a work on one here, and another there; and they have laboured diligently, and have told us what they believe are the words which God caused to be written.

The Various Forms of Evidence.

Of course, age is that which gives value, in a general way, to any evidence. Then the evidence is divided principally into four divisions.

1. The existing Greek Manuscripts.

The earliest copies date in the fourth century, and then run down to the time of printing, in the fifteenth century; so that, from the time each of the books of the New Testament was written, till the fourth century, there is a blank, as far as Greek manuscripts are concerned, but which period is in a measure bridged over by other evidence.

For fifteen centuries the word of God was handed down by the use of the pen; and although there were such persons as writers who were paid for copying manuscripts, there can be no doubt that many hundreds of copies of the New Testament were made by the monks in their cells, after the monastic order came into existence. Whatever abuses were connected with that order — and they grew to be many and serious — this good was done by them. Amid changes and revolutions, they preserved the sacred writings, and perseveringly increased their numbers by the use of the pen.

It has been thought by some that the monks introduced the decoration of manuscripts; but this is not correct, it came early in vogue. Jerome, in the fourth century, complained that too much space was occupied with the ornaments. It began with ornamental initial letters, which were increased in size, until they became very large; then they had long ornamental pendants, and some made to trail along the bottom of the page also, thus occupying three sides of the page. Some of these ornaments were elaborate works of art, interspersed with rich colors and gold.

Strange as it may seem, it is yet true, that the ornaments to the early manuscripts form strong evidence as to the corruption of the Romish church. In the decorations to the early manuscripts by the monks there is no trace of the worship of the Virgin, the invocation of saints, purgatory, etc.; but when we come to the eleventh century and onwards, these and other corruptions are all interwoven with the ornaments executed by the monks. Thus, though good work was done in the cloisters, as the monks came to be corrupt, they left their “dirty fingermarks” upon the copies they made.

Some manuscripts were written entirely with letters in gold and silver. One of the Gothic versions of the New Testament is written in silver, with the initial letters in gold. It was executed about the fifth century, and is now preserved in the royal library of Upsal. It is known as the “Codex Argenteus,” the silver copy.

2. The Versions; that is, the early translations of the New Testament into other languages.

These in a measure bridge over the period between the writing of the books of the New Testament and the Greek manuscript. While the earliest Greek manuscript is of the fourth century, the earliest version is of the second century, the Syriac being the oldest. The Thebaic dates in the third century, and others in the fourth.

The use of these Versions is great, not to tell us the meaning the various translators attached to certain Greek words (though they are also useful for this at times, but), because they tell us what was in the Greek copy at the date the translation was made. For instance, each early Syriac version lets us know what was in his copy in the second century, and of course his copy must have dated still earlier; so that we get by this means within, perhaps, a hundred years of the date when some of the Epistles were written.

That the Versions have come down to us more ancient than any Greek manuscript is perhaps owing to the violent persecution commenced by the Roman emperor Diocletian, who made a special point of demanding every copy of the sacred scriptures, on pain of death. All that were obtained were burned.* This persecution extended A.D. 303-312, and it has been seen that our earliest Greek copies date in the fourth century, so that it seems doubtful if we have any that escaped that fiery persecution. When peace was restored to the church, the copies would have been rapidly increased.

{*Those who gave up their copies were called traditores, “deliverers up.” This is doubtless the origin of our word, traitor.}

3. The Fathers; that is, the early writers in the church, who quoted scripture in their writings.

It may be thought that these are open to suspicion, on account of the early heresies that crept into the church; but it must be remembered that, as we have seen, the New Testament was translated very early into other tongues, and was thus widely circulated, so that if a man had quoted scripture falsely, he would surely have been detected, and put to shame. We are not aware that any were charged with doing this; they rather sought to explain it away in some manner. It is true that in some cases the Fathers may have quoted scripture, as we often do, from memory, but this may be often detected and guarded against by a careful comparison.

In the Fathers we get to a date yet earlier than any version. We reach up to some who are believed to have been instructed by the apostles personally, and who came into contact with many who had seen our Lord. The few who are accredited to have lived in the time of the apostles, called Apostolic Fathers, and who are referred, to as quoting scripture, are,
1, Clement, supposed to be the one named in Philippians 4:3
(now called Clement of Rome, to distinguish him from Clement of Alexandria).
2, Polycarp, martyred A.D. 169.
3, Barnabas, first or second century.
4, Ignatius, martyred A.D. 107.

Thus we see that we have the gaps, in a measure, filled up. The Fathers go back to the first and second centuries; the Versions to the second and third centuries; and the Greek Manuscripts to the fourth century.

4. The Lectionaries; that is, the manuscript service-books used in the church, which consist of portions of scripture. Some contained portions from the Gospels only; and others, from the Acts and Epistles.

Of the Lectionaries alone there are some hundreds, and they have as yet received comparatively little attention. The other three branches of evidence have been used freely. And though, as we should naturally think, the Greek manuscripts have the greatest weight, yet the Versions, and the quotations from the Fathers, must by no means be neglected, some of these, as we have seen, being older than any Greek manuscript that is spared to us. None of the Lectionaries are older than the eighth or ninth century, and carry, of course, less weight.

The Material of the Greek Manuscripts.

The first thing is the material on which the copies were written. In the word itself we read (2 John 12) of “paper and ink.” This alludes most probably to the papyrus of Egypt. This was known to have been used before the time of Christ; but being frail and brittle, it did not endure the ravages of time. The specimens now in existence owe their preservation to being buried in tombs or ruins of cities.

The rolls found in the tombs had been placed under the arms or between the legs of the deceased, and sometimes on the stomach. There seems to be no doubt that these rolls were considered somewhat like passports to bliss. In the collection of Trinity College, Dublin, there is a papyrus which contains a rubric to this effect, as interpreted by Dr. Hincks: “If this book be recited on the earth, and this chapter be put in writing upon a person’s coffin, he shall be manifested in the light with all the honours due to him: when he goes to his house he shall not be turned back; there shall be given to him bread, liquors, and the choicest meats on the altar of Osiris; and he shall go to the fields of Aalon.” From this we learn that the delusions of Satan not only embraced the quieting of the conscience for time but extended to a hope of eternal bliss. How blessed to be delivered from his delusions!

There was a good trade done in the funeral papyri. Many are preserved which prove that they were prepared beforehand, and a blank left for the person’s name, which in some cases has been filled up evidently by a different hand from the body of the writing, while in some cases the name was not inserted from some cause, and the blanks remain to this day.

This papyrus was made from an Egyptian plant. Underneath the coarse exterior rind of the plant lie a number of successive thin layers of the inner cuticle, about twenty in number. These were separated from each other, and two of them pasted together transversely, then pressed, dried, and polished. By joining the leaves together they were made into a long roll.*

{*The “paper reeds” in Isaiah 19:7 is not now considered to be the best translation. It is rendered “The ‘meadows’ by the brook,” etc.}

There are no manuscripts of the Greek Testament now in existence on the papyrus, (except a few leaves containing a portion of 1 Cor. 6, 7.) nor in the form of rolls; but this particular form explains the “book” referred to in Revelation 5. It will be noticed that this is said to be “written within and on the back side.” It was usual to write only on one side of the roll, which was placed on two rollers. One was held in each hand, and by gradually unrolling with one hand, and rolling up with the other, the entire manuscript could be read. It was the duty of the librarian to re-roll them ready for the next reader, as of course they could only be read one way. But it occasionally happened that the whole writing could not be got in on one side, and in that case a portion was written on the back. The roll in the Revelation, being written within and on the back, pointed out the full revelation God was going to make of His future actings.

Another point of interest is that the book had seven seals, and the breaking of each seal was followed by a further revelation. This is easily explained by the above roll. As we may say, a portion was written, rolled up, and sealed; another portion written, rolled up and sealed, and so on to the seven. By opening one seal a portion of the roll was able to be read, containing the first revelation: then another seal presented itself, which had to be broken open before the second portion could be read, and so on. It was God’s seven-sealed roll, containing seven revelations.

Further, in 2 Timothy 4:13, we read of the “books” and the “parchments.” The oldest copies of the Greek Testament now in existence are written on vellum or parchment, and the three oldest of them are remarkable for the beauty of the vellum on which they are written, later copies being on that which is thicker and coarser. The Codex Sinaiticus is believed to be written on vellum from the finest skins of the antelope or ass, and the pages are so large, that it is estimated the skin of an animal would not furnish more than two leaves. This will give some idea of the value of sufficient parchment to form a New Testament. The name “parchment” is supposed to have been derived from Pergamos, where it was first made.

Paper made of cotton is believed to have been invented about the ninth century A.D. There is a Lectionary in existence, written on vellum, of about that date, but in which two leaves are inserted on paper made of cotton, and which appear to have been written on by the same hand as the vellum. About the twelfth century a much finer paper was made of linen: when highly finished it much resembled vellum.

The supply of papyrus was abundant from the Egyptian market during the early part of the Roman empire, but on the complete division of the empire this supply was in a measure stopped, the intercourse with the East being both difficult and irregular. This led to a revival of the practice of rubbing out from the parchment anything that was not valued by the owner in order to put thereon what he desired to commit to writing, or it might have been done simply as a matter of trade, clean parchment being always saleable.

Unfortunately, as we say, some portions of the New Testament have been served in this way. The word of God has been rubbed out, and something comparatively worthless written in its place. In some instances a third writing has been placed on the same parchment. In 1476 one of the early editions of the Clementine Constitutions was actually printed on a parchment from which the writing had been erased.

But fortunately this erasing has not been thoroughly effected, so that the parchment still shows in faint outlines the original writing, which often, by great labor, and sometimes by chemical means, has been deciphered.

To comprehend the process of restoration it must be understood that there were two methods employed by the ancients in effacing the original writing — the wet and the dry. The first consisted in moistening the surface of the parchment, washing it with a sponge, and rubbing it with pumice stone. Of the dry there were different forms: either the entire line was scraped away with a broad tool or blade, or the operator followed the course of each separate letter and obliterated each in succession with the point of the tool. The ink again was of three kinds metallic (which was that commonly used), vegetable, and mineral. And as the action of the ink, whatever may be its composition, was not entirely confined to the surface, it is found that even after the superficial trace of color has been partially or entirely removed, its unobserved presence may still be detected by careful scientific treatment.

The method frequently adopted by Mai was simply to wash the page with an infusion of galls, and expose it to the action of light and air. This was in many cases successful; in other cases however it blackened the parchment so that neither the first nor the second writing could be read.

The more recent mode is to carefully wash the parchment with water, then dip it in diluted Hydrochloric acid, and finally in Potassium ferrocyanide. This in many cases has proved entirely successful. (Encyclopedia Britannica.)

There is at Paris a famous manuscript of this description, which contains large portions of both the Old and New Testaments, over which have been written some works by St. Ephraem the Syrian. It is called the Codex Ephraem.

Such manuscripts are called rescripts, “written again,” or palimpsests, “scratched or scraped again.”

We give a specimen of one of these rescripts. It will be seen that in this case the leaf had been folded in half, and the second writing placed transversely. In other cases the two writings run in the same direction. Here only a portion of the original is covered by the second writing; but in other places and in other rescripts the entire original is covered. This, however, will show how difficult it is to read the first where it is covered by a second writing, and in some places the original is much more indistinct than in our copy, being read in places only with great difficulty. The most difficult to read are those re-written line upon line, where the characters blend and run into one another.

Facsimile of a rescript from the Codex Nitriensis showing part of Luke 20:9, 10.

Our specimen is from the Codex Nitriensis. It was brought from a Nitrian monastery in Egypt, and is now in the British Museum. It contains large portions of Luke’s Gospel, which are judged to have been written in the sixth century. These have been written over in Syriac by Severus of Antioch, against Grammaticus in the ninth or tenth century. The specimen contains a portion of Luke 20:9, 10, and in the common Greek type reads thus: αμπελώνα, και εξέδοτο αύτόν γεωργεις, και απεδημησε χρύνους ίκανούς. και εν καιρώ (a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and left the country for a long time. And in [the] season).

The ink that was used for the earliest of the manuscripts has not stood its color during the lapse of ages. It has often turned brown, or a sort of red, or become very pale. On parchment the ink does not sink into the material so much as on paper, and in some places it seems to have peeled off altogether; yet even there the text can sometimes be made out by the indentation left in the vellum, the writing having been made apparently by a metal pen (called a stylus, used for writing on tablets covered with wax). The coloured inks have maintained their colours better than the black. The ruled lines by some sharp instrument are also still visible in some places. These ruled lines and columns enabled the copies to be written very regularly, some having almost the uniformity of a printed copy, and which has led some to suppose the letters must have been stamped instead of written.

In the papyrus scrolls the lines were very short, so as to be the more easily read as they were unrolled; but, when books instead of scrolls began to be made, the writing gradually took the form of longer lines. The Codex Sinaiticus is the nearest in appearance to the papyrus copies, having four columns on a page; the Codex Vaticanus has three; and the Alexandrinus has two. This however cannot be taken as a sure criterion of age, as manuscripts with three columns have been discovered as late as the eighth and ninth centuries. We believe the Codex Sinaiticus stands alone in having four columns. The length of the lines may be seen in our specimen on page 28. Four columns made a good size quarto page, which was the usual form for the earlier copies, a few being in folio, and some in octavo. The sheets were folded into small sections of a few leaves, each section being numbered on the first or last page.

The Style of Writing.

For about the first ten centuries the copies were written all in capital letters, called Uncials, and afterwards in the small letters called Cursives. The word ‘uncial’ is supposed to be from uncia, an inch, not that the letters were really an inch in size (though in some copies the initial letters are over half an inch); ‘cursive’ is from cursus, a running, because the letters run together as in common writing. These two styles of writing divide the Greek manuscripts into two great classes; but of course it was desirable to fix the date of each copy as nearly as could be in its class. Though we have no cursive Greek manuscript earlier than the tenth century, yet that style was used for common purposes long before. It is even found in the Herculanean rolls in places where apparently rapidity was sought rather that elegance.

Greater attention has been given to the uncial copies with the view of fixing the date of each. “By studying the style and shape of the letters on Greek inscriptions, Montfaucon was led to conclude that the more simple, upright, and regular the form of uncial letters; the less flourish or ornament they exhibit; the nearer their breadth is equal to their height; so much the more ancient they ought to be considered. These results have been signally confirmed by the subsequent discovery of Greek papyri in Egyptian tombs, which vary in age from the third century before the Christian era to the third century after that epoch, and yet further from the numerous fragments of Philodemus, of Epicurus, and other philosophers, which were burned [buried?] in the ruins of Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The evidence of these papyri indeed is even more weighty than that of inscriptions, inasmuch as workers in stone were often compelled to prefer straight lines as better adapted to the hardness of their material, where writings on papyrus or vellum would naturally flow with curves.” (Scrivener.)

The Rosetta stone, now in the British Museum, and supposed to have been executed in the second century before the Christian era, contains, besides the hieroglyphics, the record in Greek uncials, which gives a good specimen of the style of writing at that period, as it was done on stone. Its letters differ little from the specimen we are about to give from a Greek manuscript, except in the formation of three or four of the alphabet. The Rosetta stone does not divide the words, and has no breathings, accents, or marks of punctuation.

Further, the upright letters are more ancient than those written leaning, and the absence of any larger initial letters shows high antiquity. in nearly all the copies letters are huddled up together at the end of the lines in smaller characters, or the words contracted, in order apparently to get in each line as much as was in the copy used. This can also be seen in the specimen we give.

We will now show the reader some of the difficulties that presented themselves in attempting to decipher the early Greek manuscripts. These will be more easily perceived by a facsimile of one of the manuscripts. This is copied from the Codex Sinaiticus. It is John 6:14, 15.

Facsimile of John 6:14, 15 from the Codex Sinaiticus

Being written all in capitals would not have created any difficulty, but the practice of running the words on together without any spaces between them certainly did. And besides this, the words were often divided at the end of the line without any regard to syllables, and without any mark to shew that the word was divided.

We give the passage in modern Greek cursive characters divided into words, shewing also where the words have been divided at the ends of the lines

ησεν σημειον έλε-
γον’ ‘ουτός εστιν
αληθως ‘ο προφή-
της ‘ο εις τον κόσμω
‘Ις ουν γνους ‘οτι
μέλλούσιν έρχε-
σθαι καί άρπάζειν
αύτόν καί άναδι-
κνύναι βασιλέα
φεύγει πάλιν είς το
όρος μόνος αύτός.

As nearly as it can be put into English, it would stand thus (disregarding for the present the corrections by a later hand). The reader will see how difficult it would be to read a book printed in this style.


Now it is easy to see that, when copies were made, mistakes might occur by dividing some part wrongly into words. This may be well illustrated by an anecdote, which though well known will bear repeating. An infidel, lying on a bed of sickness, to sustain himself in his infidelity, wrote on a piece of paper


His child coming into the room, her father asked her if she could read what he had written on the paper. She began to spell the words: G, O, D, GOD — I, S, IS — N, O, W, NOW — H, E, R, E, HERE — God is now here. It was used to her father’s conversion, through the grace of God. It well illustrates the fact how that by dividing a word in a different place the sense may be entirely altered.

And where the meaning is not entirely changed it may be altered by the division of the letters differently. To take an instance that has occurred we may quote Acts 17:25. Along with the different division of letters, a letter was sometimes added or omitted to endeavor to make good sense.

The letters stand thus KAITAΠANTA, which have been divided thus:
ΚΑΙ ΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ and all things
ΚΑΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ in respect of all things.
There can be no doubt the first is the correct reading.

Sometimes one letter was also changed for another, or perhaps it could not be well deciphered. Thus in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 are the letters ΑΠΑΡΧΗΣ. These have been divided thus:
ΑΠ’ ΑΡΧΗΣ from [the] beginning
ΑΠΑΡΧΗΣ [the] first fruits.
There can be no doubt that the first is the correct reading.

Added to this was another difficulty, namely, the habit of contracting the words. For instance, instead of writing JESUS in full, they would at times write the first and last letters, with a line over the top to shew it was a contraction: thus JS; or in Greek ΙΣ (as it is in the fifth line of our specimen). But it might be in some cases that the line drawn over the letters was not so thick as were the letters, so that with the age of the manuscripts the line would become invisible, though the letters remained visible. In that case, these letters would naturally be taken to be a part of either the word that went before or the word that came after, or a word in itself, the copyist making the best sense he could.

In other cases they judged differently as to what the word was which was contracted. Thus in Romans 12:11, there stands in the Codex Sinaiticus ΚΩ, which some have judged to be ΚΑΙΡΩ, season, “serving in season;” and others have judged it to be intended for ΚΥΡΙΩ, Lord, “serving the Lord.” Without doubt the latter is right.

Another difficulty was occasioned by single letters being omitted and a line drawn over the top to shew the omission (as at the end of the fourth line of our specimen); but the letters might be visible yet not the line, and the omission be thus overlooked.

In some cases, the letter Θ, because of the line in the center becoming invisible, was taken for Ο.

Perhaps the most important and trying question brought about by this means is in 1 Timothy 3:16: “God was manifest in the flesh.” Here the word for ‘God,’ contracted, is ΘΣ, but in two of the principal manuscripts (A and C) it cannot be told with certainty whether they were originally as above, or ΟΣ, ‘who’ — ‘who was manifest in flesh.’ It will be at once seen that the variation may have been brought about by the two short lines becoming invisible. א reads ΟΣ, but has been altered by a later hand to ΘΣ; P has ΘΣ.

In other cases the similarity of letters caused variations when age made them indistinct. Thus Α, Λ, Δ; Ϲ (the ancient form of Σ) Ο; Є, ϴ, etc.

Another point that added to the difficulty was that there were in the oldest copies few if any points. There are three in our specimen, but in other places they are entirely omitted. This also was a cause of passages being read differently, especially when the letters were not divided into words.

Another difficulty, and which has caused great labor, is that most, if not all, the older manuscripts have been altered from time to time by various correctors, and as age gives value to the writing, it is of importance to ascertain when these corrections were made. The style of the letters has to be carefully studied, and the colour of the ink, and which one is over another. By these means these correctors are classified into first hand, second hand, etc., often called by ‘primâ manu,’ ‘secundâ manu,’ etc., or, in short, p.m., s.m. Thus A would stand for the original of a manuscript. A1, or Ap.m. would be the first corrector; A2, or As.m. would be the second corrector, and so on. The corrections of the first hand may be sometimes as ancient as the original, and by the same hand.

To give an idea of the labour caused by these correctors, we may state that Tischendorf after careful study, considers that in the Codex Sinaiticus there are not fewer than ten different hands. All these had to be studied, and a relative value set on each, and, above all, to endeavor to find out the original readings.

By referring again to our specimen the reader will see two of these corrections. In the ninth and tenth lines the words και αναδικνύναι (and to proclaim) have dots over them, and in the margin the words ‘ινα ποιησωσιν (that they may make) written to replace them. Again in line 11 the word αυεχωρησεν (withdrew) is intended to take the place of φεύγει (escapes). Both these corrections are judged by Tischendorf to have been made by the corrector whom he calls Ca (about the seventh century), who may be said to be the seventh who went through the manuscript to correct it after it was written. This corrector often altered the manuscript in a way that made it agree with the common text we now have. Both the above corrections did so.

There is one thing peculiar in the first of the above corrections, namely, that the writer in adding the word INA in the margin only wrote the last two letters, and used the last letter of the line as it stood for his I, drawing a line through the Δ that preceded it. Such a thing as this had, of course, to be carefully noted, for if the word originally written had made sense without the Ι it might be thought to have been added by the corrector: in this instance the dots over the Ι prevented any mistake.

It is supposed that each manuscript had a comparer, sometimes the original scribe, who compared the manuscript with the copy after it had been written, and a corrector who revised the manuscript, perhaps by a second copy. This was useful and necessary labor to ensure accuracy. Some copies have a note at the end saying by whom and where it was revised. After this of course the manuscript might fall into other persons’ hands who might have the opportunity of comparing it with a third copy, and so on, until a copy had passed through perhaps a dozen correctors, which, as we have seen, gives great labour to distinguish the various hands, and assign a date to each as near as may be.

Now though all these difficulties may appear to be disadvantages, on the other hand they are, as we have already seen, an unanswerable proof of the antiquity of the New Testament. Suppose, for an instant, that the oldest copy we have at present had no such marks of antiquity, the sceptic would say that it was a modern invention, there was not a single proof of its early existence, such as they had for the writings of Homer and others. But this he cannot say. The oldest copies shew undoubted proofs of antiquity. In the old papyrus Greek manuscripts the letters are all capitals, not divided into words, with no points, no accents, no breathings. Well, we have copies of the New Testament with all these and many other marks of antiquity, written too on a material only used of such quality and texture in very early ages. God has caused that such copies should be preserved down to this our day, which no one has or could call in question as being the genuine monuments of antiquity.

Causes of Variations.

Besides the dangers that existed of mistakes being made in copying the ancient manuscripts, because of the way in which they were written, we must point out how other mistakes arose where the copy was not indistinct.

A large body of variations come under the head of what are called Itacisms [a name probably from the interchange of eta (η) for iota (ι)]; that is, a change of vowels; as ει for ι, and aι fοr ε. This may have been caused by a different pronunciation coming into use; or from some copies being written from dictation; or from mere preference of spelling a word in a different manner. Thus a great many of these variations may be dismissed as of no consequence, and indeed they cannot be called various, (or different) readings, being only a different mode of spelling a word; in a similar way to which some prefer to write honor for honour, color fοr colour; or, as another class of words, wroth for wrath; spake for spoke, etc.

This however does not account for and dispose of all the cases where only a single letter has been changed. When we remember that the inflexions of nouns and verbs are effected in Greek (as other languages) by a change of some part of the word itself, the alteration of a single letter may materially alter the sense of the passage.

Take for instance Matthew 23:32, different copies read
πληρώσατε aorist imperative active, 6 ‘fill ye up.’
πληρώσετε future indicative active, ‘ye will fill up.’
By one letter the sense is materially altered. Without a doubt the first is the right word.

In Matthew 10:19 different copies read,
λαλήσετε future indicative active, ‘ye shall speak.’
λαλήσητε aorist subjunctive active, ‘ye should speak.’

In Romans 5:1, a serious difference occurs by the alteration of a single letter:
‘εχομεν present indicative, ‘we have.’
‘εχωμεν present subjunctive, ‘we should have, or ‘let us have.’

A similar alteration occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:49: ‘we shall bear’ or ‘let us bear.’

Also in Hebrews 12:28: ‘we have grace,’ or ‘let us have grace.’

Sometimes the sense is altered by such variations and sometimes it is not.

There are also many variations where two or three letters are different, some of little consequence and some more material.

There are also mistakes from two or three letters being added or omitted at the ends of words, which may seem to us singular mistakes, but which were easily made when there were no spaces between the words: thus in Luke 7:21,
έχαρίσατο βλεπειν, ‘he granted to see.’
εχαρίσατο τό βλεπειν
The first line would stand thus in the old copies: ΕΧΑΡΙΑΤΟΒΛΕΠΕΙΝ, which has been copied as above, and divided into three words, where there were but two. The sense is not altered.

In Matthew 16:18 there are the words
και πύλαι, ‘and gates.’
και αι πύλαι, ‘and the gates.’
The latter is incorrect, being merely an error of the copyist.

In Revelation 14:8,
παντα έθνη, ‘all nations.’
παντα τα έθνη, ‘all the nations.’
Here the latter is correct, the article being omitted by mistake.

Some such errors occur only in two or three copies, leaving no doubt as to which is the true reading.

Other variations have been caused by the similar appearance of words, especially when they were written in capitals. Thus in Mark 5:14 we have ΑΝΗΓΓΕΙΛΑΝ, ‘announced,’ for ΑΠΗΓΓΕΙΛΑΝ ‘told;’ and in Luke 16:20 ΗΛΚΩΜΕΝΟΣ for ΕΙΛΚΩΜΕΝΟΣ, both ‘being afflicted with sores.’

Many variations occur by the transposition of words, but which in most cases do not affect the sense. The words Jesus Christ are often changed for Christ Jesus. Doubtless most of these are through carelessness and with the thought that it was of no consequence so long as both words were inserted, indeed some might have thought it an improvement if they read of ‘Jesus Christ’ in one verse to make it ‘Jesus Christ’ in another to make it uniform. But surely God does not make a difference without a reason. Without doubt there is a reason why Jesus is put before Christ in some places and after it in others. It is for us to discover why it is; certainly not to alter what God had caused to be written.

Another class of mistakes has been caused by omissions. Whole words or sentences have been omitted. These mistakes have been caused sometimes by what has been called Homoearkton, or similar beginnings, which may be illustrated thus:

Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.

Suppose a person was copying the above and he had read off the first two lines, when he had written them in looking to the copy again his eye might catch the third ‘blessed’ instead of the second, and he would write the third clause, and omit the second altogether. Thus in Hebrews 2:13 there are two clauses commencing with και παλιν, ‘and again,’ two copies in existence omit the part after the first καί παλιν, the eye having gone to the second by mistake.

Another class of mistakes are called Homoeoteleuton, similar endings; that is, where two lines end with the same word, or there are two words of which the end letters are the same, the eye in returning to the copy catches the second word instead of the first, and omits the piece in between. Omissions from similar endings are much more frequent than from similar beginnings.

An instance of this is in 1 John 2:23, which stands in our Testament with the last half of the verse in italics as not being in the Greek; but it is in many Greek copies (except the word ‘but’) and is undoubtedly genuine. Its omission is believed tο have occurred because both clauses end with the words τoν πατέρα έχει, ‘has the Father.’

Another class of variations are generally believed to have been caused in this way. Some one reading his Greek Testament made a remark in the margin, intending it only as a note (a practice which is common with some people). But when a copy was made from that Greek Testament the copyist, supposing the note in the margin to be a part of the text which had been left out by mistake, would forthwith insert it as a part of the scripture. This is perhaps the explanation of the clause added in 1 John 5:7, 8. It has often been a difficulty to understand how additions could be made to scripture: omissions might occur, as we have seen; but who would think of adding to the word of God? Well, additions may have been made in the manner above suggested. It is certain that comments were made in the margins, and it is quite possible they found their way into the text by mistake.

1 John 5:7, 8, would stand thus if read without the words in brackets: “For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth], the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”

This may also account for single words being added. Such, for instance, as the word “unworthily” in 1 Corinthians 11:29, which some believe to be an addition; the word being supposed to be an ‘explanation’ placed in the margin, and from thence copied into the text. Some of the oddest MSS omit the word.

Another source of various readings has been caused by dividing the gospels into portions to be read in the churches. If a portion commenced by “And he said,” they would alter this into “And Jesus said,” so as to make it apparent who was speaking. This accounts for the addition of the words “And the Lord said” at the commencement of Luke 7:31. Instead of commencing “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation,” they made it begin, “And the Lord said, Whereunto,” etc.

In those days there was perhaps no copy of the scriptures in an assembly but that which was publicly read; and from a good motive these alterations were made to render the sense more intelligible to the hearers. Still they are alterations, and have to be corrected in order to be exact.

Another source of many vexatious variations is the attempt to make the Gospels harmonize, as it is called. Thus, if a scribe in copying one of the Gospels had noticed a particular passage, and in copying a second Gospel he noticed a passage similar, but different, he would perhaps think that they ought to be both alike and so would alter the second. Some persons may have compared the Gospels one with another in a more systematic manner and made alterations; and some of the alterations may originally have been marginal notes. In some way or another many such alterations have been made in the Gospels. Of course they are only in some of the Greek copies; and we have other Greek copies by which to correct them. We need point out only one or two of such alterations that have crept into the Authorized version.

The last two words of Matthew 9:13, “to repentance,” have been added, probably from Luke 5:32. The words, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots,” have been added to Matthew 27:35, doubtless copied from John 19:24.

Thus the harmonizers have done a great deal of mischief. For the most part they did it innocently, for but few have seen that the differences in the gospels were of God; but it was doing mischief; for God caused the gospels to be written as it pleased Him, and with a wise purpose. It is for us to ask for wisdom to discover what the purpose is, and not to alter them as we please.

Another mistake made was to alter the quotations from the Old Testament in the New, generally by adding to them.

Thus in Luke 4:18 the words “to heal the broken in heart” is an addition of this sort. And in Romans 13:9 the words “Thou shalt not bear false witness” are also an addition. Some doubtless thought that the quotations would be better if made fuller, and so to rectify what they judged to be omissions they added the pieces named.

These many causes of variations will give the reader some idea of the actual state of the manuscripts still in existence. Thus having many manuscripts is a great blessing; because they correct one another. A variation may be in a few copies only; and there may be abundant evidence to prove that it is not the correct reading. Everything is very earnestly to be avoided that in any way unsettles the word of God; but carefully and prayerfully attending to the variations is not to unsettle the word of God, but to settle it. It is surely not the work of every one nor of many; but it is the work of those whom God has gifted and called to the work. We enter into their labours and reap the fruit. Still it is important to know that everything respecting the word of God will bear the fullest investigation, when set about in a right and reverent spirit. Nothing has to be avoided; nothing to be hidden. The word of God has come to us through the various vicissitudes attending ancient books in general; each manuscript has its mistakes, which are corrected in a similar manner as in other books, by comparing copy with copy. But, as we have seen, its Author lives and has watched over and preserved His book from the beginning.

List of Greek Copies.

The Codex Sinaiticus. As this is the last-discovered Greek manuscript of great value, we give its history. The finding of it is remarkable. Professor Tischendorf was travelling in 1844, under the patronage of the king of Saxony, in search of manuscripts. At the convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai, he espied in a waste paper basket some odd leaves of vellum, which turned out to be a part of the Old Testament in Greek. The style, etc., convinced him that they were of very early date, and so were of great value, and yet here they were placed in a basket of waste paper, destined to light the fire in the stove. These were readily given to Tischendorf, and consisted of forty-three leaves. He learnt that there were more of these leaves but, on his telling the monks that probably they dated back as far as the fourth century, they were immediately taken away, and he was only allowed to copy one leaf more than he had already.

He carried away the forty-three leaves, and published them in 1846, under the name of the “Codex Frederico-Augustanus,” in honour of his sovereign’s name, Frederick Augustus, of Saxony

In 1853 he again visited St. Catherine, but could not obtain any tidings of the leaves he had previously seen, and so concluded that some one else had been more fortunate than himself, and had carried them off. In 1855 he published the two leaves he had copied. These were also a part of the Old Testament — indeed, he did not know at that time that there was any but the Old.

In 1859 he again visited the East, and again tarried at St. Catherine. He had been there five days, and was thinking of leaving, when, on taking a walk with the steward, the conversation turned on the Greek Old Testament, and on their return to the convent, the steward brought from his cell a bundle of leaves, wrapped in a red cloth, such as is used for that purpose in the East, and shewed them to Tischendorf. The scholar now saw that there was not only some more of the Old Testament, but the entire New Testament. This was a great deal more than he expected, or had hoped for. He had to be exceedingly cautious not to let his joy be seen, lest the precious pages should again be taken from him. For very joy he could not sleep all night, and copied out during the night the Epistle of St. Barnabas, which was added at the end of the New Testament.

Nothing would satisfy Tischendorf but to copy the whole, and he at length obtained permission to do this. The manuscript was carried to Cairo, and there he was allowed a few leaves at a time, and had two to help him to copy. But this was uncertain and unsatisfactory work, and Tischendorf began to think how he could best contrive to get possession of the manuscript. He told the monks that it would be a fit and valued present to the Emperor of Russia, who was now his patron and theirs. This they concurred in, but just then the See of Sinai was vacant, and until a successor was appointed, the gift could not be completed. However, after some opposition, he procured the loan of the manuscript for the purpose of having it correctly copied.

He carried it to St. Petersburg, and the Emperor of Russia, at a great expense, had an elegant edition printed, in commemoration of the thousandth anniversary of his kingdom. Cheaper editions were also published, that none might be debarred the privilege of knowing its contents. It proved to be one of the oldest, and so one of the most valuable, of all our Greek Testaments. It is called Sinaiticus, because it was found in the convent at Mount Sinai.

This manuscript contains all the marks of extreme age: namely, the fineness of the vellum, the four columns in a page (in imitation of the papyrus copies), the absence of larger initial letters, the absence of accents and breathings by the first hand, few points, etc.

To add to the interest of this volume it may be named that after it had been introduced to the public, a man named Constantine Simonides came forward and declared that it was not an ancient manuscript at all, but that he himself had written it comparatively lately; that it was with no object to deceive, but being a good penman he had made the copy at the request of his uncle. His tale was so plausible that he found some who gave it credit, and the savants were not a little laughed at that they could have been so easily deceived in judging of the age of a manuscript. But the savants declared that they were not deceived. Every fresh examination of the relic convinced them that it was what they believed it to be. There was the fineness of the vellum, the various hands that had corrected it, the difference in the colours of the inks, etc. Besides, from what could it have been copied? for it agreed in every particular with no other copy in existence. All this was confirmatory evidence. The rebutting evidence as given by Simonides as to when and where it was written, etc., also would not bear investigation. Dates did not agree; persons declared they never knew such a man, etc. Scholars could come but to one conclusion, that the man was false and the copy was a true relic of antiquity. It was supposed that he made the declaration out of spite to Tischendorf, because he had exposed an attempt Simonides had made to pass off a spurious manuscript.

Dr. Scrivener tells the following anecdote of this same Simonides, which also well illustrates the fact that some who are used to examine old manuscripts seem intuitively to know an old copy from the best imitation. Simonides went with manuscripts to Mr. H. O. Coxe, librarian at the Bodleian. “He produced two or three, unquestionably genuine, but not at all remarkable for age . . . . he then proceeded to unroll, with much show of anxiety and care, some fragments of vellum, redolent of high antiquity and covered with uncial writing of the most venerable form. Our wary critic narrowly inspected the crumbling leaves, smelt them, if haply they might have been subjected to some chemical process; then quietly handed them back to their vendor, with the simple comment that these he thought might date from about the middle of the nineteenth century.” Simonides made his exit from Oxford, but succeeded in deceiving one less wary.

Codex Alexandrinus (A). This important manuscript was given by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I. of England. It was placed in the British Museum in 1753, where it is now exhibited, in a glass case, in the Manuscript room. This manuscript also contains the Old Testament. The New Testament is complete, except Matthew 1:1 to 25:6; John 6:50 to 8:52 (two leaves); 2 Corinthians 4:13 to 12:6 (3 leaves). It is in quarto, about 13 inches by 10, having two columns on a page. This differs from א and B in having larger initial letters, and it has, the Ammonian Sections and the Eusebian Canons, complete.* Scholars are pretty well agreed in fixing its date in the fifth century. Because of its importance it has been published in full.

{*These will be explained as we proceed.}

Codex Vaticanus (B). This valuable manuscript is in the Vatican Library at Rome (whence its name). It is mentioned in the earliest existing catalogue (1475), but how much sooner it was in the library, or what is its previous history, no one knows. As to age and value, it stands about on a par with Codex Sinaiticus, some giving the Vatican copy the preference, and some the Sinaitic. It is a quarto volume of 146 leaves, ten and a half inches by ten. It has three columns on a page. Its total want of larger initial letters, the fineness of the vellum, and the absence of the Ammonian Sections, point out its antiquity. A later hand (judged to be about the eighth century), has retraced nearly the whole of the manuscript, who, made alterations, adding initial letters, breathings, accents, and points.

The manuscript has been kept with great care too great a care, for those who would have collated it well were not allowed. In 1810 the manuscript was found at Paris, and could have been collated by Hug, but he let the opportunity slip. It had been collated by others, but by no one thoroughly, at least the collations did not agree. Tregelles, in 1845, attempted a new collation, going armed with a letter from Cardinal Wiseman. But he says, “They would not let me open it without searching my pocket, and depriving me of pen, ink, and paper;” and the two attendants (clergymen) kept up a loud conversation and laughter to distract him, and if they thought he looked at a passage too long, they snatched the book out of his hand. Tischendorf was more successful. Cardinal Mai had published an edition, but very inaccurate, and in 1866 Tischendorf succeeded in convincing the pope of this fact, and obtained leave to examine the manuscript for fourteen days, of three hours each. He published an edition, presumedly more correct than any previous. The pope has since also published an edition. The manuscript contains the Old Testament as well as the New. The New is complete down to Hebrews 9:14, but contains the Catholic Epistles, which were placed after the Acts.

Codex Beza (D). This contains the Gospels and Acts only, and those imperfect in places. This manuscript is in the New Library at Cambridge. It was presented to the University by Theodore Beza, whence its name. It is both a Greek and Latin copy, each filling the page, the Latin being on the right hand. The copy is remarkable in having readings which do not agree with any of the other ancient uncials, and the Latin has less agreement with the Vulgate than any other. Of the curious readings may be named the following, which occurs after Luke 6:4: “On the same day he beheld a certain man working on the sabbath, and said unto him, Man, blessed art thou if thou knowest what thou doest; but if thou knowest not, thou art cursed, and a transgressor of the law.” Its date is assigned to the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century. It has been published in full. It is a quarto volume, 10 inches by 8. It has only one column on the page.

Codex Claromontanus (D of Paul’s Epistles). This bears a resemblance to Codex Bezae, and gives both Latin and Greek (the Greek being on the left hand page). It contains the whole of Paul’s Epistles, except a few leaves. Its letters are square and regular, with initial letters but slightly larger than the others. The breathings and accents now in the copy were certainly added by a later hand. Though resembling Codex Bezae in appearance, it is considered a far purer copy and worthy to follow the four great uncials. Its date is fixed at the sixth century. It was edited by Tischendorf in 1852, who judged that it had been corrected by nine different hands. It is a small quarto, and has only one column on the page.

Codex Ephraemi (C). This is a palimpsest, and is in the National Library of Paris, on account of which it is often called the Paris Rescript. Over the writing of the New Testament had been written some Greek works by St. Ephraem, the Syrian Father, of A.D. 299-378. The chemical agents applied to the vellum have turned some of it dark brown and black, rendering the deciphering very difficult. It is in a single column on a page, has initials of increased size, and its letters are a little smaller than A or B. Its date is assigned to the fifth century. It being odd leaves only of the original manuscript, it contains but portions both of the Old and New Testament; the parts preserved of the New extend from Matthew to Revelation. This has been published in facsimile.

It would be out of place to give a detailed account of all the various uncial manuscripts. We have described the few great authorities (Aleph A B D), and also C, which is equally valuable, but of which we have only fragments. There are other fragments of great value. We add a list of the principal manuscripts for reference, giving the portions of the New Testament contained in each, where the copy now is, and the century to which its date is referred. Some of those named are merely fragments — in some cases a few leaves only; and in other cases, where more complete, it must be remembered that leaves are missing here and there, so that in no case can a manuscript not named for a reading be taken necessarily against the same, as the part in which the variation occurs may be wanting.

It must also be noticed, that, on account of the quantity of parts of the New Testament, the same letter is given to two or three different copies; thus E in the Gospels refers to one copy, in the Acts to another, in Paul’s Epistles to a third. So that it must be remembered what part of the New Testament is under consideration before it can be ascertained to what copy E refers. The importance of this will be at once seen by referring to B. In the Revelation B refers to a copy dated the eighth century; but in any other part of the New Testament it refers to one of the earliest copies we have.

Another disadvantage is that different editors give different names to the same manuscript. Sometimes one is named after the place where the copy is, and sometimes by the name of the person to whom it once belonged, or who introduced it to the public. Thus A is called by Tischendorf Codex Oxoniensis because it is now at Oxford, but by English editors it is called Tischendorf III.

It must also be observed that some few of the manuscripts are now referred to by different letters from what they once were. See Codex Angelica Bibliothecae under the letters G and L in the following list.

List of Uncial Manuscripts.

א Sinaiticus. Whole of New Testament. (St. Petersburg.) Century iv.

A Alexandrinus. The whole. (British Museum.) Century iv. or v.

B Vaticanus. Matthew to Hebrews, including Catholic Epistles. (Rome.) Century iv. or v.

Vaticanus 2066 (or Basilianus). The Revelation complete. (Rome.) Century viii.

C Ephraemi, a palimpsest (often called Paris Rescript). Portions of the whole. (Paris.) Century v.

D Bezae (Greek and Latin) . Gospels and Acts. (Cambridge.) Century v. or vi.

Claromontanus (Greek and Latin). Paul’s Epistles. (Paris.) Century vi. or vii.

E Basiliensis. Gospels. (Basle.) Century viii. or ix.

Laudianus (Greek and Latin). The Acts. (Oxford.) Century vi. or vii.

Sangermanensis (or Petropolitanus). Paul’s Epistles in Greek and Latin. (St. Petersburg.) Century xi. Judged to be a copy of Claromontanus (D).

F Boreeli. Gospels. (Utrecht.) Century ix. or x.

Augiensis. Paul’s Epistles. Latin and Greek, (Cambridge.) Century ix.

Fa Coislinianus. Fragments of New Testament. (Paris.) Century vii.

G Seidelii Harleianus, or Wolfii A. Gospels. (British Museum.) Century x.

Angelicae Bibliothecae, or Passionei. G in Acts and Catholic Epistles, and J in Paul’s Epistles. (Rome.) Century ix. (Now called L.)

G. Fragments of the Acts. Century vii.

Boernerianus. Paul’s Epistles, in Greek and Latin interlinear. (Dresden.) Century ix.

H Wolfii or Seidelii. Fragments of the Gospels. (Hamburg.) Century ix.

Mutinensis. Acts. (Modena.) Century ix.

Coislinianus. Fragments of Paul’s Epistles. (Paris and St. Petersburg.) Century vi.

Tischendorf II, a palimpsest. Fragments of the New Testament. (St. Petersburg.) Century vi.

Ib Same as Nb.

K Cyprius. The Gospels complete. (Paris.) Century ix.

Mosquensis. Catholic Epistles and Paul’s Epist1es (known from Matthaei’s collation). Century ix.

L Regius. The Gospels. (Paris.) Century viii. or ix.

Biblioth. Angelica A. Acts, Catholic and Paul’s Epistles. (Rome.) Century ix. (See G.)

M Campianus. The Gospels complete. (Paris.) Century ix.

Ruber (also called Uffenbachianus). Fragments of 1 Corinthians and Hebrews. (Hamburg, etc.) Century ix. (Named Ruber from its red ink.)

N Purpureus, or Vindebonensis. Fragments of Gospels (in various places). Century vi.

Petropolitana. Fragments of Galatians and Hebrews. Century ix.

Nb Musei Britannici, a palimpsest, two Syriac works being written over the Greek. Portions of John. Century iv. or v.

O Fragments of Gospels (some at Moscow). Century ix.

O and Ob. Fragments of 2 Corinthians and Ephesians.

P Guelpherbytanus A, a palimpsest. Portions of Gοspels (Wolfenbuettel.) Century vi.

Porphyrianus, a palimpsest. The Acts, all the Epistles, and Apocalypse. (St. Petersburg.) Century ix.

Q Guelpherbytanus B, a palimpsest. Portions of Luke and John. (Wolfenbuettel.) Century v. or vi.

Papyrus. Parts of 1 Corinthians 6, 7, on papyrus, the only fragments remaining on this material. Century v.

R* Nitriensis, a palimpsest. Fragments of Luke. (British Museum.) Century vi.

{* This is not the R of Griesbach and Scholz, nor the R of Tischendorf, 1849, but what is now referred to as R.}

S Vaticanus 354. The Gospels complete. (Rome.) Century x. This is the earliest dated manuscript, being written A.D. 949.

T Borgianus I. Fragments of Luke and John. (Rome.) Century iv. or v.

Twoi (From Woide). Fragments of Luke and John. (Supposed to be a portion of the same manuscript as Τ.)

Tb, Te, Td. Fragments of Gospels. Century vi. and vii.

U Nanianus I. The Gospels complete. (Venice.) Century x.

V Mosquensis. The Gospels to John 7:39. (Moscow.) Century viii. or ix.

Wa, Wb, Wc, Wd, We. Separate Fragments of the Gospels.

X Monacensis. The Gospels. (Munich.) Century ix., x.

Y Barberini 225. John 16:3 — 19:41. (Rome.) Century viii.

Z Dublin Rescript. Portions of Matthew. (Dublin.) Century vi.

Γ Tischendorf IV. The Gospels. (Oxford and Petersburg.) Century ix.

Δ Sangallensis. The Gospels complete, except John 19:17-35. (St. Gall.) Century ix. This copy has an interlinear translation in Latin, not the old Latin, but Jerome’s, altered, and is of no independent value. Judged by some to be a portion of Codex Boernerianus, G of Paul’s Epistles.

θa, θb, θc, θd, θe Fragments of the Gospels.

Λ Tischendorf III. Luke and John. (Oxford.) Century viii or ix.

Ξ Zacynthius a palimpsest. Portions of Luke. (Bible Society, London.) Century viii.

Π Petropolitanus. The Gospels. (Russia.) Century ix.

Cursive Manuscripts.

As has been already explained, the uncial manuscripts may be said to date from the fourth century to the tenth, though some are actually later than this; so also the cursive manuscripts, in the common running hand, date from the tenth to the sixteenth century, the two branches overlapping each other somewhat.

The cursive copies, complete and in parts, are so numerous that it would be useless, in such a work as this, to give even a list of them. They number in all about 1600 copies, though perhaps not more than twenty-five contain the whole New Testament.

They are referred to by the various editors by the figures 1, 2, 3, etc., as well as by the small letters, a, b, c, etc., which at once distinguishes them from the uncial copies for which the capital letters are always used, as may be seen in the foregoing list. Those referred to by a, b, c, etc., are mostly those collated by Dr. Scrivener, and are sometimes referred to thus Scr. a, Scr. b, etc. He collated many cursive manuscripts, and where all, or nearly all of those available for any part of the New Testament agree in a reading, editors sometimes express this by Scr.’s Mss. The manuscripts referred to by figures are those collated by Scholz and others. As with the uncials, so with the cursives the same figure does not always refer to the same manuscript. Thus one manuscript is called 35 in the gospels, 14 in the Acts, 18 in Paul’s epistles, and 17 in the Revelation; so that it must be always remembered what part of the New Testament is under consideration before it can be known with certainty what Greek copies are referred to.

When we come to consider the families of manuscript, it will be seen that a cursive copy may be of great value. The great mass of them may be but duplicates of other manuscripts, while some are found to be far from this. On a few of the cursives special value has been set, and this not because of their date, but because they are believed to contain a more ancient text than that of the great mass. Thus, Tregelles who seeks to form a text from ancient evidence alone, quotes in the Gospels cursive manuscripts 1 (tenth century), 33 (eleventh century), and 69 (fourteenth century). In his list of authorities he places these before several of the later uncial manuscripts, though of earlier date than the above cursives.

A short notice of two or three of the cursive manuscripts will not be without interest. The first is

No. 33. This has been called “the queen of the cursives,” because of containing, as is supposed, many of the most ancient readings where the manuscripts differ. Its name is Colbertinus, and it is now in the National library at Paris. Though it is number 33 in the Gospels, it is number 17 in Paul’s Epistle, and number 13 in the Acts and Catholic Epistles. It has not the Revelation. It is on vellum, in folio size, and is judged to belong to the eleventh century. It had been shamefully neglected, so that the damp caused some of the leaves to stick together; and on separating them the ink from one page adhered to the opposite one, and can only now be read by the set off on the wrong page. In some places portions of a leaf have decayed away entirely, yet what was on these Places can sometimes be read by this set off.

No. 38. This is a copy of the Apocalypse, and is supposed also to contain many ancient readings. It is on cotton paper, and of the thirteenth century. It is valuable because of the comparative scarcity of manuscripts of the Revelation.

No. 1. This is a manuscript at Basle. It contains all the New Testament except the Apocalypse. It is supposed to be of the tenth century, but is judged by some tο be of a mixed character; and that while its gospels are of great value, all the rest is not equally so.

No. 69, called the Codex Leicestrensis because of belonging to the city of Leicester. This contains the whole of the New Testament, with numerous parts missing. This is written in folio, both on parchment and paper, having two of the former then three of the latter alternately. It is attributed to the fourteenth century, but is remarkable for containing many variations from the common Greek text, and thus not being a mere copy of the mass of manuscripts has had the more attention. Though it is 69 in the Gospels, it is 31 in the Acts and Catholic Epistles; 37 in Paul’s Epistles; and 14 in the Apocalypse.

No. 61. This is called Montfortianus, because it once belonged to Dr. Montfort, of Cambridge: it is now at Dublin. It contains the whole of the New Testament, but is judged by some to have been originally different manuscripts and not all of the same date. It has acquired interest by containing the famous passage in 1 John 5:7, known as the Heavenly Witnesses,* and is believed to have been the identical copy which caused the passage to be inserted by Erasmus in his Greek Testament, and thence into the authorized version. It is written on paper, and is judged to be as late as the sixteenth century. It is 61 in the Gospels; 34 in the Acts and Catholic Epistles; 40 in Paul’s Epistles; and 92 in the Revelation.

{* See chapter ‘Causes of Variations’}.

This must suffice for the cursive manuscripts. As we have said, they are 1600 in number, and all are more or less valuable: many of them have not been thoroughly examined, and thus their intrinsic value is in a great measure unknown. Of course, as a class, they rank below the uncial copies, but in some places they add material evidence for or against a reading.


These resemble the lessons read in the synagogues from the Old Testament. As early as the fifth century, Euthalius divided the Acts and Epistles into lessons to be read on various festivals, to which the Gospels were afterwards added. Shorter divisions were subsequently adopted by the Greek church. To make these divisions easily accessible the copies of the New Testament were marked in red ink where the lessons begun, where they ended, and what portions were to be omitted.

This led to manuscripts being written especially for this purpose, which were called Lectionaries to distinguish them. These would contain some passages more than once, and be arranged according as the festivals fell; other parts would be omitted altogether. Some contained the Gospels only, and were called Evangelistaria; others had the Acts and Epistles; and others Paul’s Epistles only.

Though these books were introduced among the Latins as early as the fifth century, it is believed they were not adopted among the Greeks until the eighth. Some are extant in uncial characters, though it is believed lectionaries were continued to be written in this style after the cursive writing came into use.

One copy is described as containing lessons for every day in the year, with services for “the holy week,” the great festivals, and saints’ days, with gospels set apart for special occasions.

To make the ordinary manuscripts available for use, a list of lessons was added to some copies. These were called Synaxaria and Menologia. Scholz published copies of such lists in his Greek Testament, taken from some Paris manuscripts.

As has been already intimated, the commencement of the lessons were often altered to make them more intelligent to the hearers (such as substituting “Jesus said” for “He said”) yet some of the Lectionaries are of considerable value.

Of Codex z, Dr. Scrivener says, “Besides the gospels in full, several portions of which are always written more than once in an Evangelistarium, this copy is remarkable for containing among the services for the holy week, four passages from the Septuagint version (Isaiah 3:9-13; 52:13 — 54:1; Jer. 11:18 — 12:15; Zech. 11:10-14;) and four from the Pauline Epistles (Rom. 5:6-10; Gal. 6:14-18; 1 Tim. 6:11-16; Heb. 10:19-31.) . . . . Few copies of the Gospels contain more numerous and interesting, yet minute variations from the printed text than Codex z but in many places it stands almost, often quite alone. Thus the patient student will find it a document of singular importance, well meriting his best attention.” The portions named above will give the reader some idea of what were selected as “Lessons” in those early days.

The Lectionaries are generally classed with the cursives, and referred to by small letters (Scrivener’s x, y, and z; for instance, are lectionaries, though x is an uncial), or by figures: Lec. x., or Lec. 1, being quite sufficient to distinguish them from anything else.

The Lectionaries are also interesting as shewing that at that early date the reading of the scripture in public was a constant thing. According to the Apostolic Constitutions two lessons out of the Old Testament and two out of the New were read every Sunday. And if a sermon followed it was nothing else but the exposition, says Cave, in his Primitive Christianity, “of some part of the scriptures which had been read before, and exhortations to the people to obey the doctrines contained in them, and commonly were upon the lesson which was last read, because of that being freshest in the people’s memory.”

The Fathers.

The evidence to be gathered from the Fathers is of great value. Doubtless they at times were satisfied with giving the sense of a passage as is often done now, but it is beyond dispute that they often made direct quotations from their copies of the scripture, which is surely good and weighty evidence as to what was in the copies from which they quoted. This too increases in weight when we remember that the Fathers date back to the second century — some being undoubtedly associates of the apostles, being about two centuries earlier than any Greek copy now remaining to us.

Further, some of the early Fathers are known to have had their attention called to variations even then existing in the manuscripts. Thus Irenaeus argues that the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18 should be χξς (666) and not χις (616) as it was in some copies. He attributes the difference to an error in the copyist, and adds, “To those who have done this simply and without evil intention, we suppose pardon to be granted by God.” This proves that he was not indifferent to the true readings of scripture in the second century.

Origen also (in the third century) writes, “It is now manifest that the diversity of the copies has become great, whether from the carelessness of certain scribes, or from the rashness of some who make corrupt emendations, or also from those who in emendation add or take away what they think fit.”

Marcion, to serve his own evil purposes, attempted to make a new gospel out of the Gospel by Luke. He altered and cut out what he pleased. This caused the Fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Ephiphanius to compare carefully Marcion’s gospel with that by Luke and point out the alterations.

These things naturally caused the Fathers to exercise the greater care and watchfulness over the text of the word of God, and would have caused them to be the more cautious in making their quotations. Some of them may have fallen into errors themselves, but they wished to pass off as orthodox, and did not attempt to alter the word of God as Marcion had done.

It will be manifest from the above quotation from Origen that the state of the various manuscripts shewed similar variations to those we now have, yet we may fain hope that as then the copies were nearer to the originals and had thus been copied much fewer times, the variations were much fewer in number. Care is needed, as has been stated, to ascertain whether the Fathers quoted the exact words in their copies, or gave the general sense only. Where a quotation is the former, and where it is supported by good Greek copies of the New Testament now available to us, and perhaps by early versions, it undoubtedly has great weight.

For reference, we give a list of the principal Fathers, the date when they died when not otherwise stated, and the contractions under which they are generally referred to. The names in italic are Latin Fathers.

{*From Scrivener’s Introduction.}

Ambrose Bishop of Milan, A.D. 397 (Ambr.)
Ambrosiaster, the false Ambrose, perhaps Hilary the Deacon of the third century, (Ambrst.)
Ammonius of Alexandria, 220 (Ammon.)
Andreas of Crete, 7th century (probably not the same person as)
Andreas Bishop of Caesarea, 6th century? (And.)
Arethas Bishop of Caesarea Capp. 10th century? (Areth.)
Arnobius of Africa, 306 (Arnob.)
Athanasius Bishop of Alexandria, 373 (Ath.)
Athenagoras of Athens, 177 (Athen.)
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 430 (Aug.)
Barnabas, 1st or 2nd century? (Barn.)
Basil Bishop of Caesarea, 379 (Bas.)
Basil of Seleucia, fl. 440 (Bas. Sel.)
Bede the Venerable, d. 735 (Bede.)
Caesarius of Constantinople, 368 (Caes.)
Canons Apostolic, 3rd century (Canon.)
Cassiodorus, 575 (Cassiod.)
Chromatius Bishop of Aquileia, 402 (Chrom.)
Chrysostom Bishop of Constantinople, 407 (Chrys.)
Clement Bishop of Alexandria, fl. 194 (Clem.)
Clement Bishop of Rome, fl. 90 (Clem. Rom.)
Constitutiones Apostolice, 3rd century (Constit.)
Cosmas Indicopleustes, 535 (Cosm.)
Cyprian Bishop of Carthage, 258 (Cypr.)
Cyril Bishop of Alexandria, 444 (Cyr.)
Cyril Bishop of Jerusalem, 386 (Cyr. Jer.)
Damascenus John, 730 (Dam.)
Didymus of Alexandria, 370 (Did.)
Dionysius Bishop of Alexandria, 265 (Dion.)
Dionysius (Pseudo-) Areopagita, 5th century (Dion Areop.)
Ephraem the Syrian, 378 (Ephr.)
Epiphanius Bishop of Cyprus, 403 (Epiph.)
Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea, 340 (Eus.)
Euthalius Bishop of Sulci? 458 (Euthal.)
Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116 (Euthym.)
Evagrius of Pontus, 380 (Evagr.)
Fulgentius, 5th century (Fulg.)
Gaudentius, 4th century (Gaud.)
Gregory of Nazianzus, the Divine, Bishop of Constantinople, 389 (Naz.)
Gregory Bishop of Nyssa, 396 (Nyss.)
Gregory Thaumaturgus Bishop of Neocaesarea, 243 (Thauma.)
Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 605 (Greg.)
Hieronymus (Jerome), 430 (Hier.) or (Jer.)
Hilary Bishop of Poictiers, fl. 354 (Hil.)
Hippolytus Bishop of Portus, fl. 220 (Hip.)
Ignatius Bishop of Antioch, 107 (Ign.)
Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons, 178; chiefly extant in an old Latin version (Iren.)
Isidore of Pelusium, 412 (Isid.)
Justin Martyr, 164 (Just.)
Juvencus, 330 (Juv.)
Lactantius, 306 (Lact.)
Lucifer Bishop of Cagliari, 367 (Luc.)
Marcion the heretic, 130? (Mcion), cited by Epiphanius (Mcion-e), and Tertullian (Mcion-t.)
Maximus Taurinensis, 466 (Max. Taur.)
Maximus the Confessor, 662 (Max. Conf.)
Methodius, fl. 311 (Meth.)
Nonnus, fl. 400 (Nonn.)
Novatianus, fl. 300? (Novat.)
Oecumenius Bishop of Tricca, 10th century? (Oecu.)
Origen, b. 185, d. 254 (Or.)
Pamphilus the Martyr, 308 (Pamph.)
Peter Bishop of Alexandria, 311 (Petr.)
Photius Bishop of Constantinople, 891 (Phot.)
Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna, 166 (Polyc.)
Primasius Bishop of Adrumetum, fl. 550 (Prim.)
Prudentius 406 (Prud.)
Rufinus of Aquileia, 397 (Ruf.)
Severianus, a Syrian Bishop, 409 (Sevrn.)
Socrates, Church Historian, fl. 440 (Soc.)
Sozomen, Church Historian, 450 (Soz.)
Suidas the lexicographer, 980? (Suid.)
Tatian of Antioch, 172 (Tat.)
Tertullian of Africa, fl. 200 (Tert.)
Theodore Bishop of Mopsuestia, 428 (Thdor. Mops.)
Theodoret Bishop of Cyrus or Cyrrhus in Comagene, 458 (Thdrt.)
Theophilus Bishop of Antioch, 182 (Thph. Ant.)
Theophylact Archbishop of Bulgaria, 1071 (Theophyl.)
Tichonius? the Donatist, fl. 390 (Tich.)
Titus Bp. of Bostra, fl. 370 (Tit. Bost.)
Victor of Antioch, 430 (Vict. Ant.)
Victor Bp. of Tunis, 565 (Vict. Tun.)
Victorinus Bp. of Pettau, 360 (Victorin.)
Vigilius of Thapsus, 484 (Vigil.)

The Versions.

By The Versions are meant the early translations of the New Testament from the Greek into other languages. These are valuable, inasmuch as they let us know what was in the copies used by the various translators. Being translations they are not available, as may readily be understood, for every minute variation. In places where there are only shades of meaning they may not avail; but where the sense is materially altered, or where important words are inserted or omitted, they are of great weight. They go back too to the second century, thus in a measure bridging over the gap formed by the distance of our present Greek copies from the time when they were written.

Another disadvantage is that some of the early versions can be read even now only by comparatively few others being obliged to be content with Latin translations of the same. The Syriac, Egyptian and Aethiopic have but few readers. In minute points this naturally increases the difficulty.

We cannot suppose that such a book as the New Testament would be translated in those early times by anyone who did not value its contents, and therefore we may conclude that according to the light a translator had he faithfully performed his work.

We may start with the Latin copies, and these, as with the Greek, gradually shewed many variations, which went on increasing until the time of Jerome, who set to work thoroughly to revise the Latin translation. This naturally divides the Latin copies into distinct parts, namely, those before Jerome’s revision and those after he had completed his work.

Latin Copies before Jerome.

These have been at times referred to under the names of the Old Latin and Italic. The latter name was given to those ancient documents because they were naturally supposed to have had their origin from Italy. But this has now been proved to be a mistake. Mr. Westcott says, “As far as we can learn, the mass of the poorer population [of Rome] — everywhere the great bulk of the early Christians — was Greek either in descent or speech. . . . When Paul wrote to the Roman church he wrote in Greek; and in the long list of salutations to its members with which the Epistle is concluded, only four Latin names occur. Shortly afterwards Clement wrote to the Corinthians in Greek, in the name of the church of Rome. . . . Justin, Hermas, and Tatian published their Greek treaties at Rome. The Apologies to the Roman emperors were in Greek. . . . Even farther West Greek was the common language of Christians. . . . The first sermons which were preached at Rome were in Greek: and it has been conjectured with good reason that Greek was at first the liturgical language of the church of Rome.”

Those who have examined minutely the language used in the Old Latin copies declare that they must have originated in North Africa. But inasmuch as the old copies do not agree, the question has arisen whether when in Italy they began to use Latin copies, did they make a new translation (or were indeed several made) or did they adopt the one already made in Africa? Those able to decide such a question have come to the conclusion that new translations were not made, and that all the variations found were rather alterations made to the original African version. Of course copies may have been compared with Greek manuscripts differing from those from which the original was made, and alterations made accordingly, or some one understanding both Greek and Latin might have thought in places the Greek was but defectively represented, and attempted to improve the same. Certainly many alterations were made, until they made a formidable array in the time of Jerome in the fourth century. The term Italic is now given to only a portion of the Old Latin.

The following is a list of the Old Latin copies. It will be seen that some of them are not separate copies, but refer to the Latin that accompanies some of the Greek copies. These, or some of them at least, are not considered to be the Old Latin version, already spoken of, but are simply old in age. Italic letters serve to point out the Old Latin copies. We give their names also, as single copies are often referred to by their names. Of course from their great age all are more or less defective.

a. Codex Vercellensis. Contains the Gospels, and dates in the fourth century. It is considered to be one of the most valuable of these copies. It is preserved in Vercelli, and has been published by Bianchini.

b. Codex Veronensis. Contains the Gospels, and perhaps dates a little later than a. This is also a good specimen of the Old Latin. It has been published by Bianchini.

c. Codex Colbertinus. This contains the whole of the New Testament, but only the Gospels are the Old Latin, the other parts being a copy of Jerome’s version. Although it dates the eleventh century, it is considered to be one of the best copies of the Old Latin. It was published by Sabatier.

d. Codex Bezae. This is the Latin which accompanies the Greek copy D, and is considered of comparatively little value. In some places however it does not agree with its Greek companion, and in these places it is of some value. It contains the Gospels and the Acts, and is of the sixth or seventh century.

d. Codex Claromontanus. This is the Latin text of the Greek copy D of Paul’s Epistles. It ranks higher than the Latin of Codex Bezae. It is of the sixth or seventh century.

e. Codex Palatinus. Contains the Gospels, but with many parts deficient. It is of the fourth or fifth century. It contains a mixed text: in some places having the old version, and in others Italian revisions.

e. Codex Sangermanensis. This contains Paul’s Epistles. It is the Latin text of the Greek copy E, but is considered to be but a copy of Codex Claromontanus, and not an independent witness.

f. Codex Brixianus. This contains the Gospels, and is of about the sixth century. Augustine had spoken of an Italian text, and this would seem to be a good specimen of that to which that Father refers, though it actually dates after him. It thus shews the revised and altered text rather than the original version. It was published by Bianchini.

ff. Codex Corbeiensis. Contains the Epistle of James.

ff1 and ff2. Codices Corbeienses 1 and 2. These contain portions of the Gospels, and consist of a sort of mixed text. They have been published by Bianchini.

g. Codex Beornerianus. This is the interlined Latin text to the Greek copy of Paul’s Epistles G. Tregelles describes it as “barbarous in the extreme,” and only occasionally of any critical value.

g1 and g2. Codices Sangermanenses. These contain the Gospels. Both have been collated by Sabatier. They both contain a mixed text. “Very ancient.”

gue. Codex Guelferbytanus. Fragments of Romans. Sixth century.

h. Codex Claromontanus. It contains the Gospels, but the Gospel of Matthew alone is the Old Latin, and that in a measure mixed, the rest being Jerome’s. It is of the fourth or fifth century.

i. Codex Vindobonensis. Contains fragments of Luke and Mark of about the fifth century. It is said to be a good specimen of the Old Latin, unaltered.

j. Codex Sarzannensis. This contains portions of John’s Gospel and is of the fifth century. Its text is peculiar.

k. Codex Bobbiensis. Contains portions of Matthew and Mark, of about the fifth century. It contains many ancient readings, but in other places has been altered.

k Codex Bobbiensis. This consists of only a few leaves, containing fragments of the Acts and Catholic Epistles.

1. Codex Rhedigerianus. Portions of the Gospels of the seventh century. Its text is mixed.

m. From a “speculum.” This is a remarkable work for the age (the sixth or seventh century). It contains a large number of christian doctrines as heads, under which are arranged quotations from the Old and New Testaments without any note or comment. The quotations are generally African as distinguished from Italic. It is remarkable also in containing twice the disputed passage of 1 John 5:7, known as “the heavenly witnesses.”

n. Codex Sangallensis. The Gospels; of the fourth or fifth century.

o. St. Gall. Fragments of the Gospels; of about the seventh century.

p. St. Gall. Fragments of the Gospels; seventh or eighth century.

q. Codex Monacensis. The Gospels; of the sixth century. An important copy.

r. Codex Frisingensis. Paul’s Epistles; of the fifth or sixth century.

s. Codex Mediolan. Fragments of Luke.

s. Codex Bobbiensis. Fragments of the Acts, James, and 1 Peter, of about the fifth century.

δ. The interlinear Latin of Cod. Δ.

The Latin of Jerome. — The Vulgate.

This revision came about by the solicitation of Damascus, Bishop of Rome (A.D. 366-384). We have seen that revisers had been busy at work before this, and it was not an unholy desire to obtain a more correct translation, and one that should carry weight with it, and stay farther revisions.

Jerome procured the best ancient Greek copies he could, and doubtless had the pure African Latin text as well as that now called Italic. In A.D. 384 he had finished the Gospels; and the rest of the New Testament followed. Many years after he was still engaged on the Old Testament.

Jerome did not do his revision very uniformly, making alterations more freely in some parts than in others. In his Commentaries he speaks of some emendations which he preferred, but which, for some reason, he did not put into his text.

The effort to make a new translation of the scriptures was even in those early days not without its dangers. Jerome’s New Testament was a revision; but his Old Testament was a translation from the Hebrew, the Old Latin of the Old Testament having been made from the Septuagint. This Augustine advised him not to do, fearing the change would have a bad effect on the mass of the people; and related to him the following instance “A certain brother bishop of ours, when he introduced the reading of thy version in the church over which he presides, something attracted notice on the prophet Jonah, which thou hadst rendered in a manner very different from that which was habitually familiar to the minds and memories of all, and which was consecrated by use through such a succession of ages. Such a tumult arose among the people, especially from the contention of the Greeks, and from their vociferating a charge of falsification, that the bishop was compelled (it occurred in a city) to require the testimony of the Jews. But, whether from ignorance or malice, they replied that in the Hebrew copies there was found the same that the Greeks and Latins had, and used. What next? Why the poor man was forced, after much danger, to be willing to correct this as though it had been false in order not to remain without the people.*

{* Tregelles, in Horne’s Introduction.}

The reader will no doubt be curious to know what could have caused such a commotion. It would appear that one word especially attracted the attention of the audience. The passage being read was that referring to the “gourd.” From this the Old Latin (made from the LXX) was cucurbita ‘gourd,’ which Jerome (he translated from the Hebrew) replaced by hedera, ‘ivy.’

But to resume: As might be expected, when Jerome’s version began to be copied variations appeared, until there were again many differences. From time to time some attempted to restore the original text of Jerome, but it was the copy of the scriptures (except what scholars might have had here and there) available in Western Europe during the middle ages — say for a thousand years — and becomes thus of great interest. In course of time some attempted (as Erasmus) to form new translations to take its place. Robert Stephens made an endeavour to restore Jerome’s text, and in 1528 printed an edition, which was followed by even better editions; but as then the Greek text began to come into prominence, a mere translation began to lose its value.

The Roman authorities however sought to have an authorized edition of the Vulgate, and under Sixtus V. an edition was published in 1590, and all printed Latin Bibles after that were implicitly to follow this version. But, as one has well said, there is no royal or papal road to Biblical criticism, and so it turned out that this guide to all others had to be corrected with the pen in some places, and in others a piece of paper was pasted over, containing a correction or a totally different reading, and even this was done so incorrectly that one copy did not agree with another. The edition had to be recalled.

In the meantime Sixtus V. had passed away, and, in two years after, another edition was published under Clement VIII. In several hundred places this differs from that of Sixtus V., though to this day, in order to save the credit of the papacy, the title page bears the names both of Sixtus V. and Clement VIII. The Catholic edition is often called the Latin Vulgate: Jerome’s revision has also the same title; they must not however be confounded, for they are not one and the same.

It is commonly thought that the Roman Catholics have grossly corrupted the word of God; but this is not borne out by unprejudiced examinations as far as the Vulgate is concerned. Bentley says that though those who revised this edition were unequal to the task, and not able to judge correctly as to the age and value of manuscripts, he did not discover anything ‘dolo malo,’ by evil artifice. It is declared to be substantially the version of Jerome; but still with many alterations, the changes being always for the worse!

There are a few good copies of Jerome’s version in manuscript.

Codex Amiatinus (am). This copy contains both the Old and New Testaments, in one volume, is in very good condition, and with but few defects. It was written about the year A.D. 541. The New Testament is printed in full with Tregelles’ Greek Testament, and is judged to be the best manuscript of Jerome’s version.

Codex Fuldensis (fuld or fu). This is also counted to be of the sixth century. It contains the whole of the New Testament. Lachmann gives the variations of this manuscript in the Latin appended to his Greek Testament.

Codex Forojuliensis (for). This is a very good copy of the Gospels of the sixth century. It is stated that Mark’s Gospel was removed from this copy and taken to Venice and there passed off as the actual copy of Mark’s Gospel. written by himself! Of course it only imposed upon those who did not know that Mark wrote his gospel in Greek instead of Latin.

Codex Augiensis (aug). This is the Latin portion of the Greek copy F of Paul’s Epistles. The Hebrews is in Latin only. It is a good copy of Jerome’s version, modified in places.

Codex Toletanus (tol). Contains both Testaments in Gothic characters. It is judged to be of the eighth century.

Codex Harleian. (harl). Contains the Gospels. It dates about the seventh century. An important manuscript.

There are other copies, but they are only fragmentary.

Syriac Versions.

The Syriac is mentioned as a distinct language in 2 Kings 18:26, though it is supposed to be alluded to as early as Genesis 31:47, where the heap of stones was called by Laban, ‘Jegar-Saha- dutha,’ and by Jacob ‘Galeed,’ the former being Aramaean or Chaldaean (the same family of tongues as the Syriac) and the latter being Hebrew: both mean “heaps of witness.” The language is still preserved as their sacred tongue in several Eastern churches.

It is pretty generally admitted that the New Testament was translated into Syriac as early as the second century. Eusebius says that Hegesippus speaks of quotations from ‘the Syriac;’ and Ephraem the Syrian in the fourth century speaks of ‘our version,’ which had evidently been then long in use.

1. This version is called the Peshito, which is interpreted to mean simple, but which some take to mean “faithful.” It has been called “the queen of versions,” as being the oldest and best, and is declared to be a most excellent translation. It was long since translated into Latin for the use of those who could not read Syriac. It has since been translated into English. The pure Peshito wanted 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and the Apocalypse.

The Curetonian Syriac. This copy was discovered in the British Museum by Canon Cureton. It contains the following fragments of four gospels: Matthew 1:1-8:22; 10:32-23:25. Mark 16:17-20. John 1:1-42; 3:6-7:37; 14:10-12; 16-18; 19-23; 26-29. Luke 2:48 – 3:16; 7:33 – 15:21; 17:24 – 24:44. It is found not only to be a different translation from the Peshito (though others judge them to have had a common origin) but also to have been made from a different text. It is judged to be of the fifth century. It has been published by Dr. Cureton with an English translation.

The Philoxenian Syriac. This is stated to have been made by Polycarp, and was revised by Thomas of Harkel in the year A.D. 508 (and is sometimes quoted as the Harclean version). The translation is very literal, to the destruction of Syriac idiom. This version has received considerable attention from some one, being marked with asterisks and obeli. It is supposed that when an addition was thought to be needed an asterisk was put, and when a part was to be omitted an obelus was placed; the corrections being placed in the margin. It is a matter of question whether these various corrections were made by comparing this version with the older Peshito, or with various Greek copies; they may indeed have been made from both sources. It is necessary in quoting this version to distinguish between the version itself and its marginal corrections. This version contains all the New Testament except the Revelation.

The Karkaphensian Syriac. It is not known from what this Codex took its name, and it is supposed to be the same as Syr. Vatican 153. It is dated A.D. 980, but may have been copied from an earlier translation. It contains the same as the Peshito, but in the following order: Acts, James, 1 Peter, 1 John, Paul’s fourteen Epistles, and then the Gospels. The translation closely resembles the Peshito, but is not simply a copy of that recension.

Besides the above, there are copies of a later Syriac version containing the parts missing in the Peshito.

There is also a Lectionary of the Gospels, in Syriac, called the Jerusalem Syriac, because of its peculiar dialect. It bears the date of A.D. 1030, but is supposed to have been copied from a translation of the fifth or sixth century. It differs from all of the above, and abounds in barbarisms.

Egyptian Versions.

Various names have been given to the Egyptian versions. At first only one version was known, and then it was called the Coptic; but when other copies were discovered, and one was traced to Lower Egypt, the term Coptic did not apply, seeing that name is from Coptos, a city in Upper Egypt. Sahidic was another name applied to the version of Upper Egypt; but now other terms are used for both Upper and Lower, the version of Upper Egypt being called Thebaic (or Sahidic), and that of Lower Egypt Memphitic (or Bahiric).

As Christianity spread, the desire for the scriptures in the vernacular tongue naturally arose, and there is good reason for believing that certainly not later than the fourth century the New Τestament was translated into Egyptian dialects.

1. The Thebaic Version. This is considered to be the more ancient of the two, and has been set down by some as belonging to the second century. It abounds in Greek words, and is set down as an unpolished dialect, the language of the common people, but it is thus all the more valuable in some respects. There are several manuscript fragments in this dialect.

2. The Memphitic Version. This is the dialect of Lower Egypt, and is judged to have been made when the language became more refined, and that it eventually superseded the Thebaic version in ecclesiastical uses. There are many manuscripts containing portions of this version.

3. The Bashmuric Version. This is in another dialect from either of the above, and is an independent translation.

The Gothic Version.

This was made by Ulphilas, bishop of the Goths, in the fourth century. He was an Arian, but it has not been ascertained that this caused him to corrupt the scripture in his translation (except perhaps in Phil. 2:6). The scriptures were too widely spread for this, and any such dereliction would be sure to have been discovered; the Arians rather contented themselves with interpreting the scriptures in a way that would seem to support their error.

One famous copy of the Gospels is called the Codex Argenteus, because is was written in silver with some parts in gold. It has many defects, but some of these have been supplied from other manuscripts. Other copies also supply Paul’s Epistles (with defects) except Hebrews. The Acts, the Catholic Epistles and the Revelation are also missing.

The Armenian Version.

An attempt was made to make a translation of the New Testament in the Armenian language from the Syriac; but in A.D. 431 a copy of the Bible in Greek was obtained from Ephesus where the Council was held; and with this the work was recommenced; but the translators found that their knowledge of the Greek language was too imperfect to accomplish such an important work, and therefore three of them repaired to Alexandria to acquire the language. On their return they commenced their third translation. It dates therefore the fifth century.

The question naturally arises as to how far this translation has reached us unadulterated. Certain Armenian editions have been printed, but in 1668 an edition was published which contained the disputed passage of 1 John 1:7, which raised a suspicion that the original translation had been corrupted. Dr. Rieu, of the British Museum, endeavoured to clear the text of its alterations putting the various readings in the margin. Dr. Rieu says that out of eighteen manuscripts used by Zohrab, a former editor, only one (written in A.D. 1656) had the above disputed passage.

The Aethiopic Version.

A Text of this was published in Walton’s Polyglot with a Latin translation. An edition was also issued by Mr. Platt for the British and Foreign Bible Society, for use by the Abyssinian church. In doing this Mr. Platt consulted such manuscripts as were available to him. Mr. Prevost of the British Museum has compared this edition with the one in Walton’s Polyglot and noted the variations, which compilation forms the materials available for Biblical purposes.

Later Versions.

The versions besides those above named are of comparatively recent date and of much less critical value. Still as they are sometimes referred to by Editors, they may be named.

1. Arabic Versions. It has been a disputed point whether these have been taken from the Greek or the Latin; one version is supposed to have been made from the Egyptian. Nothing certain is known of the dates.

2. The Slavonic Version. The oldest known manuscript is A.D. 1056, though printed editions may have referred to earlier ones.

3. The Persian Gospels. These are of recent date (one is A.D. 1341) and are of no critical value.

4. The Gregorian Version. This was published at Moscow in 1743, and is considered of little weight.

5. The Anglo-Saxon Gospels. These are more interesting than useful for textual criticism. They were made from the Latin in one or other of its forms.

6. The Frankish Version of St. Matthew.

The Age and Families of Manuscripts.

We have stated that a manuscript is naturally of more or less value according to its age. This needs a little further consideration. We can easily understand that the more ancient a copy is, the fewer hands it has passed through, and the nearer it is to the original. We will try and illustrate this by a diagram.*


{*It may perhaps be necessary to caution the reader that in this diagram the letters A, B, C, are used merely to shew that from one original manuscript there may have issued three separate and independent streams or families. The above letters in no way refer to the particular manuscripts generally referred to as A, B, and C.}

Suppose that Μ represents the copy of Mark’s Gospel that he wrote. This was copied by A, who in copying made a certain number of mistakes. A was copied by A1 and A2, each of whom copied those mistakes of A (where they had no means of correcting them) and made more mistakes of their own. Then if A2 was copied by two others, each following the mistakes in his copy and making more mistakes of his own, we can understand that the farther a copy was from the original the more mistakes we might expect to find, and the less weight would be attached to it. But mistakes did not multiply in the same ratio as the copies were removed from the original; because the errors began to be found out, and were corrected by different hands before further copies were made. Thus, as we have seen, the Codex Sinaiticus (though classed among the earliest of our manuscripts) had passed through the hands of nine or ten correctors. So that we do not find the later copies so incorrect as otherwise we should do.

Another question arises as to how far each copy can be treated as an independent witness. This will be understood by looking again at the diagram. Mark’s gospel was copied by A who made some mistakes, but it was also copied by B, who also made mistakes, but not the same mistakes that A made. Now we can easily understand that all the copies made from A might be free from the mistakes B made, and all the copies made from B, might be free from the mistakes that A made. And if we suppose that A was carried into one country, and B into another, the readings of the one would be the less mixed up with the readings of the other. This will illustrate what is called time theory of recensions or “families” of manuscripts. All that were copied from Α are of one family and all that were copied from B are another family. The importance of this is that A1, A2, up to A7 are not independent witnesses as to the mistakes A made. They copied his mistakes without knowing it. And therefore to say I have seven witnesses to prove that B is wrong would not have the weight of seven independent witnesses, for they are merely copies of one witness (A).

Thus to correct A we want B or its family; and to correct B we want A or its family. And when copies are found to be members of a family they do not form separate and independent witnesses, except as to mistakes made by each individual; but must be sometimes treated as one witness and not as many.

Then, later on, one person might have a copy of the A family and also a copy of B family, and correct one by the other, and thus would be produced copies that were not strictly A nor B, but had some peculiarities of both. This is what is actually found in the Greek manuscripts; and indeed this exists to such an extent that some have doubted the existence of separate and distinct families altogether.

On the other hand, some have thought that there were several different families; but they are now mostly confined to two, called “Alexandrian” (or Eastern, from the city of Alexandria), and Constantinopolitan (or Western, from the city of Constantinople). Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus would be the former, and Codex Alexandrinus the latter in the Gospels (notwithstanding its name); though it is said to belong to the other family in the Epistles.

As has been said, there is a break in the classification of manuscripts about the tenth century. From the first to the tenth the uncial copies (those written all in capitals) were in use; after that the cursives (those written in the ordinary Greek, not in capitals) came into use: and it has been a serious question as to how far attention should be paid to the cursives as evidence. Some pay no attention to them, considering that it is best to pay attention to the uncials only; and indeed some almost discard the later of these, attempting to obtain a true text from the older uncials only.

Now without questioning that the older a copy is the more valuable it is as a witness, it is important to see that some of the later copies may be right and of great value where the older copies differ. For instance, by referring back to the diagram, we have spoken of Mark’s gospel being copied by A and B; but suppose it was also copied by C; and although C has been lost, yet we have some that have descended from that copy, but in cursives only. Now suppose that A and B differed in a reading (as the two families named often do), the reading of C, though only a cursive, may be of great value in determining which is right; especially if it was found not to belong strictly to either of the above-named families. Thus a person who confines himself to the earliest Greek copies will miss this class of evidence, because he pays no attention to the later uncials and the cursives.

It may be compared to a trial in a court. It almost always happens that some witnesses are much more valuable than others, but a wise counsel calls all he has; the evidence of all being needed to make his case complete. On the contrary side all are also called. But it often happens that some little thing from one of the non-important witnesses, as some might have been supposed, gives the key to a right judgment, or adds material weight in coming to a conclusion.

So it would seem in judging of a reading, it is not right to judge by a few witnesses only, and shut out a great many. It may be that one of those shut out gives the key to the true reading, being confirmed by one or more of the uncials, by ancient Versions and Fathers.

Before leaving the subject of “Families” of manuscripts it must be noted that each Family has been sought to be discovered not simply by mistakes, but by peculiarities in spelling, grammar, etc., of which the Editors make out lists, but some of which at least have had to be abandoned after having been made. It is sufficient for our purpose to state how the principal manuscripts are now generally arranged. The following has been drawn up by Tregelles: to which we add א.

א Β Ζ
C L 1 33
X Δ 69.

Constantinopolitan (or Western)

The manuscripts are placed in the above order as a sort of genealogy of each Family; but anything like scientific accuracy is not claimed for the above. D stands alone. The Latin is classed with the Western.

The Editor at Work.

Those persons are called Editors who, with whatever evidence is at their disposal, study to ascertain, wherever the Greek manuscripts differ, what the text was originally.

The reader will have seen that such a work was necessary, and this not simply for important alterations, but for those more minute. To make this more obvious we will examine in detail the small portion copied from the Codex Sinaiticus given in our specimen in the chapter ‘Style of Writing’.

1. It omits ο ‘Ιησους, reading, ‘he had done,’ instead of ‘Jesus had done,’ as in the common text. Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford also omit ‘Jesus.’

2. It omits óτι, ‘that,’ ‘they said, That this is,’ etc. This word is often omitted in the translation, but generally found in the Greek. The Editors retain the word.

3. It reads είς τον κóσμον ερχόμενος, ‘into the world is coming.’ The common text, confirmed by the Editors, places the words, ερχόμενος είς τον κóσμον. The sense is not affected.

4. It reads καί αναδιχνυναι βασιλεα, ‘and to proclaim [him] king.’ The common text reads

ίνα ποιησωσιν αυτόν βασιλεa, ‘that they may make him king.’ The Editors adopt the common text, except that they leave out aυτον, ‘him.’

5. It reads φεύγει, ‘escapes.’ The common text has ανεχώρησεν, ‘withdrew,’ which is adopted by the Editors, except Tischendorf, who prefers ‘escapes.’

6. It reads μόνος αυτός ‘alone himself.’ The common text, confirmed by the Editors, transposes the words. The sense is the same.

Thus in this short piece there are six variations from the common text; in five of which we may say the Editors judge the Codex Sinaiticus to be incorrect and the common text to give the true reading. And this is so notwithstanding that this Codex is one of the oldest manuscripts we have; indeed it is declared to abound with mistakes, which of course have to be corrected by other manuscripts, as already explained.

To judge therefore of the true text in every detail is no easy task; the reader will have had a glimpse of the immense amount of evidence that is now available for an Editor of the Greek Testament. As we have seen, it is not everyone’s province to attempt such work; and it is only those who have a special gift for such labour should approach it.

To most persons such a mass of evidence would be bewildering in the extreme; and in some cases, instead of all the witnesses being either for or against a reading, some may give a third reading, and some a fourth. To give each particle of evidence its own proper weight, and no more; to see which are independent witnesses, and which are only repetitions; to see how the age and family of each affects a question — are some of the points that have to be decided, and borne in mind all through.

The Editors have made for themselves, or adopted from others, certain rules for their guidance, which rules they call canons. We give a few of them, as they are given by various Editors.

1. No conjecture, without manuscript authority, is ever on any consideration to be entertained.

2. Though Versions and Fathers are of little authority when they differ from the Greek manuscripts, yet when the Greek copies of equal weight differ from each other, those have the greatest weight with which the Versions and Fathers agree.

3. The mere number of witnesses does not decide, but their age must be considered, and also whether they are independent witnesses, or merely copies of one another.

4. Where two readings have equal weight, the most difficult is the correct one; for we can easily conceive of a difficult passage being altered into an easier one; but it is presumed no one would alter an easy one into a difficult one.

5. Of two readings a shorter one is mostly preferable to a larger one; the tendency being in difficult cases to attempt to explain the meaning by enlarging the sentence.

6. In difficult readings, that one is generally preferable which will account for the others, or from which the others can have been taken.

7. In judging of a reading, attention must be paid to the style of the writer; it being judged that each writer had a style more or less peculiar to himself.

Other rules have been laid down by various editors, but perhaps it is not too much to say that not one has kept strictly to his rules. Every variation had to be tried upon its own merits, scarcely any two being exactly alike.

Perhaps the most difficult part of an Editor’s work is touching internal evidence. Where there is a great preponderance of external evidence for a reading, internal evidence would not be allowed a voice; but where the evidence for and against a reading is very nicely balanced, it becomes a serious question how far internal evidence may be called into question, and also what may be called internal evidence. For instance, Dr. Scrivener, in describing such cases of difficulty, says, “By internal evidence we mean that exercise of the reason upon the matter submitted to it, which will often prompt us, almost by instinct, to reject one alternative and to embrace another.”* In other places he speaks of “common sense” as greatly helping to decide such questions. With all deference to the indefatigable doctor we cannot help thinking this very dangerous ground. We cannot find any such thing set up as a guide in the New Testament.

{* Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament.}

On the other hand, we doubt not a person in such difficulties should duly weigh the context, and see if any light could be thrown upon it therefrom. Here, of course spirituality would be of the greatest value. He who can enter best into the spirit of the passage will have an immense advantage over one who cannot.

But there is also this difficulty in deciding by internal evidence, that there is nothing to shew for it. The reasons that may operate in one mind may have no weight with another. We may expect that if the Holy Spirit leads one intelligently to a decision, it will commend itself to other Christians who also have the Holy Spirit as their teacher and guide; still there are degrees of spiritual intelligence, and what may be quite clear to one may be beyond another.

But the majority of variations have to be considered by external evidence; internal evidence only having a voice when the external is more or less nicely balanced.

Perhaps the reader will get a better idea of the work that has been done for him by looking at a few passages, and seeing the evidence for and against the readings.

Review of a Few Passages.

1. Mark 1:2. This variation will illustrate the fact that mere numbers of Greek copies (even if uncial) will not always outweigh a smaller number of greater weight.

The common Greek text reads “in the prophets;” and the variation gives “in Esaias the prophet.”

For ‘in the prophets,’ there are A E F H K M P S U V Γ Π (twelve Greek uncials).

For ‘in Esaias the prophet,’ there are א B D L Δ (only five).

Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford and Wordsworth all adopt the latter reading. It will be seen by turning back to the Families of Manuscripts (a previous chapter) that nearly all in favour of the common text are Constantinopolitan, and the four others (omitting D as neither) are all Alexandrian; to which may be added the two important cursives 1 and 33, also of the same family.

Besides the above, there are for the common text the Philox. Syriac and the Aethiopic versions, and Fathers Chrysostom and Photius.

For ‘Esaias the prophet’ there are the Latin copies, the Peshito and Jerusalem Syriac; the Coptic, Gothic, and Armenian versions; and Fathers Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Basil, Titus of Bostra, Victor of Antioch, Severianus, Jerome and Augustine.

In this case we doubt not that the three great uncials א, B, and D have decided the question with the Editors, the reading being supported by the Latin and Peshito versions, and so many of the Fathers.

2. Mark 16:9-20. The question involved here touches the importance of retaining or rejecting a long sentence of eleven verses. Some copies close the gospel with the words “for they were not afraid” (ver. 8), an ending which would strike every person, one would think, as very strange and undignified. Still of course such questions must be decided by the evidence.

What makes this instance a little more embarrassing is that some copies have another ending differing also from the common text, and one copy at least has both endings. Thus, L gives, at the end of verse 8, “And this also is somewhere extant: ‘And they briefly announced all that was bidden them to Peter and his company. And after this also Jesus Himself from the east even to the west sent forth through them the holy and incorruptible proclamation of eternal salvation.’ And this also is extant after ‘for they were afraid,’ and then follow verses 9 to 20 as in the common text.

There can be no doubt that the shorter ending given above may be dismissed as without authority; though it is found in a few copies of minor weight; the only real question is, are verses 9 to 20 to be retained or rejected?

The evidence for the passage is A C D* (three of the great uncials) E F G K M S U V Χ Γ Δ; all the cursives; the Cureton, Peshito, Jerusalem, and Philoxenian Syriac; the Memphitic, some copies of the Old Latin and the Vulgate, with later versions. The passage was known to Irenaeus in the second century; to Hippolytus in the third; and to Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom in the fourth.

{* D contains only a portion of the passage, being defective from verse 15.}

Against the passage are א B (two of the great uncials). In B after verse 8 there is a large blank left (which is quite unusual in this manuscript), as if the passage was in the copy from which B was taken, but was left for further consideration as to whether or not it should be inserted; the passage being marked with an asterisk in some copies. So that B is sometimes claimed for the passage rather than against it. Why was the blank left, if there was nothing to fill it in the copy from which Β was taken? L has already been mentioned as containing two endings. The Old Latin k gives a loose translation of the note in L, which note is also found in some of the versions.

With so much for and so little against, one might well wonder why any one could advocate its expulsion. One reason is that it was doubted by some of the Fathers. The earliest one is Eusebius, who in forming his canons for harmonizing the Gospels (hereafter to be considered) found a difficulty in reconciling the resurrection as given in Matthew 28:1 with that in Mark 16:9. Eusebius says some copies end the gospel at the words “they were not afraid.” “At this point, in nearly all the copies of St. Mark’s Gospel, the end is circumscribed. What follows, being met with rarely in some, but not in all, would be superfluous, especially if it contained a contradiction to the testimony of the other evangelists. This [any] one would say if he deprecated and would entirely get rid of a superfluous question.”

Others of the Fathers have also written disparagingly of the passage, but their testimony is most probably but an echo of what Eusebius had stated.

Strangely enough, some of the Editors who have not ventured to cut out the passage take a sort of middle path, and admit the passage as scripture, but hold it to be a subsequent addition and not by St. Mark, alleging that the style is not that of the evangelist. But mere style of composition is very uncertain ground on which to judge of the genuineness of a passage, especially in so short a portion.

The passage is omitted by Tischendorf, and marked as doubtful by Alford, upon what, we must think, is most shallow evidence. The passage is unquestionably genuine.

3. Luke 14:5. This is a variation in which the evidence is nearly equally divided. The common text reads, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit?” The variation reads ‘son’ for ‘ass.’ This reading of ‘son’ is startling, and seems so strange an association that Dr. Scrivener says “common sense” forbids even a moment’s hesitation as to which to choose. Let us look however as to how the evidence stands.

For “ass:”
א (one of the four great uncials) K L Χ Π Greek uncials,
A host of Greek cursives,
The Memphitic and Jerusalem Syriac,
Three of the best copies of Old Latin (a, b, c) and two others,
The Vulgate, Armenian, Aethiopic versions.

For “son:”
A B (two of the four great uncials) E G Η M S U V Γ Δ Greek uncials,
A host of Greek cursives,
The Peshito, Cureton, and Philoxenian Syriac,
The Thebaic and Persic versions,
Three of the Old Latin (e, f, g),
Some Slavonic manuscripts,
Titus of Bostra, and Clement of Alexandria of the Fathers.

C is defective here, and other copies and versions read differently from either of the above; one (D) having ‘sheep or ox,’ and one ‘son or ox or ass.’ There can be no question that the evidence for ‘son’ is very strong. A and B belong to two families, and where they agree in a reading it is mostly judged to be the true one. And further, the Canon No. 4 would apply here. Unquestionably ‘son’ is the more difficult reading: we can the better suppose that ‘son’ has been altered to ‘ass’ because of the difficulty of the former, than that any would alter ‘ass’ into ‘son.’ Of course it may have been a mistake in a copyist; but in the old copies it stands thus: ONOC for ‘ass,’ and YIOC for ‘son,’ two words which are not very much alike. Of modern editors Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and Wordsworth choose ‘son;’ Griesbach chose ‘ass,’ but marked ‘son’ as probable.

If ‘son’ is adopted, it would be in the sense of ‘if a son fell into a pit, or even an ox;’ but there is no word for ‘even;’ it is simply ‘a son or an ox.’ Tregelles refers to Deuteronomy 5:14, where the sabbath is binding on two classes persons, headed by ‘son,’ and animals, headed by ‘ox.’ Our Lord takes the two heads, and says if either fall into a pit on the sabbath it would be rescued.

It is perhaps best to consider the reading as doubtful, though the five Editors named above give ‘son’ without any such limitation.

4. John 5:3, 4. This is a question of admitting or rejecting the moving of the waters by the angel, commencing with the words “waiting for the moving of the water” (verse 3) and the whole of verse 4.

The evidence is not exactly the same for the whole passage; some copies which omit the words in verse 3, retain verse 4.

For the words in verse 3 there are A2 D; for verse 4 A; for both portions, C3 F G E I K L M U V Γ Δ; the mass of the cursives; the Latin, Peshito and Jerusalem Syriac, Armenian, and Aethiopic versions; Tertullian, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Cyril, and Augustine of the Fathers.

Against the portion in verse 3, A1 L; against verse 4, D; against both portions, א B C1; a few cursives; the Cureton Syriac, the Memphitic, Thebaic, and some of the Old Latin versions.

Two theories have been started. One, that the passage is a gloss, or a series of glosses, written by persons in the margins of their Testaments, from which they have found their way into the texts, some taking one, and some another, and some all. It is supposed the glosses were added because of something being needed to explain why the people waited in the porches, and in what way the waters were troubled.

On the other hand, it has been supposed that the passage was originally in the text, but was omitted by some as too strange an occurrence to be true.

The passage is omitted by Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford, but we think without sufficient authority. It is found in some of the earliest of the versions, and is in the great majority of manuscripts. If it had been an invention we cannot but think that the inventor would have accounted for the troubling of the water in some other way than by the descending of an angel. To insert marginal notes to try and explain doctrines is a very different thing from inventing a story of such a supernatural visitation.

5. John 7:8. In the passage “I go not up yet,” some omit the word ‘yet.’

For the word are B (of the great uncials) E F G H L S T U V X Δ Λ; the mass of cursives; the Peshito, Jerusalem, and Philoxenian Syriac, the Thebaic, a few Old Latin, and some of the Vulgate.

Against the word are א D (of the great uncials) K M Π; four cursives; (Jureton’s Syriac, the Memphitic, the best of the Old Latin (a, b, c, e, etc.), the Vulgate, Armenian and Aethiopic versions; Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and Cyril of the Fathers.

A and C are both defective here.

This is one of the passages on which the infidel Porphyry attacked the truth, alleging that our Lord said He would not go, and yet went. Jerome answered the objection; but it is evident that in the copies they had, there was no word ‘yet,’ or it would have been referred to.

Both readings have very respectable external support. It is hardly a variation that could have occurred accidentally, because it is ούπω ‘not yet,’ or ούκ ‘not,’ and not simply the omission of a word. Here Canon No. 4 would come to our assistance. Unquestionably the ‘not’ is the more difficult reading, and while preferring to mark it as doubtful, we fear the ‘not yet’ has been substituted to remove the difficulty.

6. John 7:53 — 8:11. This is the well-known record of the woman taken in adultery, and is another instance where a whole passage of several verses has been called in question.

Here it must be conceded at once that the preponderance of external evidence is against the passage; but it is just one of those instances where mere weight of evidence may give way to the many witnesses.

As we have already seen, many copies were used for reading in the congregation, besides the Lectionaries which were specially written for that purpose, and it has been suggested that this passage might have been judged to be a tolerance of immorality, and be omitted on that account. In the Lectionaries it is placed to be read on the days set apart to penitent women. In some Greek copies the passage is put at the end of the Gospel, and in others it is put at the end of Luke 21.

This shifting of the passage into various places is, we think, evidence rather in its favour. Where did the passage come from originally if not written by John? And if he did not write it, why was it not at once expunged? Instead of this, in some copies where it stands in its right place it has marks apparently to point it out as doubtful, while in others it is banished to other places by men who, though rash, were not wicked enough to take it from the word of God.

The actual evidence for the passage is D (one of the great uncials), E F G H M K S U Γ Λ also uncials, being marked as doubtful in E M S Λ. Over 300 cursives, in some being marked as doubtful, and in about ten being put in a different place. Some of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, Arabic, Persian, Jerusalem Syriac, Aethiopic, and many copies of the Memphitic versions. Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, of the Fathers, and the Apostolic Constitutions.

Against the passage are quoted א A B C (of the great uncials) L T Χ Δ. Of these A C are defective here, but by a careful calculation of the space the passage would occupy they are quoted as not containing it. In L and Δ there are spaces left after 7:53, and in Δ the copyist had begun to write 8:12 but drew a line through the words he had written. About fifty cursive copies omit the passage. Some of the Old Latin, the Cureton, Peshito and Harclean Syriac, and the Armenian versions omit it. The early Fathers are silent on the passage. Against the passage must also be named that in the manuscripts which contain it there are many variations, D having a sort of abridged form of the narrative.

That the passage was expunged because it was thought to give a licence to sin, is not what is thought now simply. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) and Nicon (century x.) both give this as the reason why the narrative was excluded. But to go further back we find that Tertullian (died A.D. 200) was very strong on the question of adultery, and devoted many pages to prove that if committed after baptism, it admitted of no pardon. The bishop of Rome had issued an edict that the sin of adultery and fornication were to be remitted on the guilty one’s repentance. This drew forth a sharp rejoinder from Tertullian. “Where,” said he, “shall this liberality be posted up? On the very spot, I suppose, on the very gates of the sensual appetites, beneath the very titles of the sensual appetites. . . . Far, far from Christ’s betrothed be such a proclamation? She, the true, the modest, the saintly, shall be free from stain even of her ears. She has none to whom to make such a promise; and if she have had, she does not make it; since even the earthly temple of God can sooner have been called by the Lord a ‘den of robbers’ than of adulterers and fornicators. . . . Whatever authority, whatever consideration, restores the peace of the church to the adulterer and the fornicator ought to come to the relief of those who repent of murder or idolatry.” The reader will surely see how such a passage as the one in John’s Gospel would stand in the way of one of such unbending sternness.

On the whole we think good reasons can be assigned for the passage not being found in many copies: the quotation from Tertullian clearly evinces how hard a lesson it is to learn what grace is. His treatise is quoted to prove that the passage was not in his copy of the Testament, or he would have referred to it when speaking on the subject. Perhaps so; but it also shews for what reason the passage may have been expunged: for we must believe either that it was added or expunged by some one. We have seen why it may have been the latter, but we know of no motives that could have induced any to add the passage. It may also be noted that in one copy (Codex Veron.) some one was so anxious to get rid of the passage that he tore out the leaves which contained it, though in doing this he had to destroy what preceded and what followed it.

Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford all omit the narrative; Griesbach marks it as doubtful, and Wordsworth inserts it in his Greek Testament, but does not believe it to be canonical, a mode of action which strikes us as singularly inconsistent.

One thing which seems to have weighed with the critics is, that the style of the Greek in this portion is judged to be different from John’s writings generally. But, as we have remarked. on the passage in Mark 16, this is very unsafe ground for rejecting a passage.

We believe the passage to be genuine, and to have a divine stamp upon it which has never been found in any human production. Who could have discovered such a way out of the apparent dilemma in which our Lord was placed? Grace triumphed in a marvelous way.

7. Acts 8:37, “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

This verse is omitted by most modern Editors. Of the five oldest Greek copies, it is omitted from four (A B C א), and the other (D) is defective here. Η L P and many cursives also omit it. Most of the ancient versions also omit the verse.

On the other hand, E inserts the verse, with many cursives, some of the Latin copies, one of the Syriac, the Armenian, and the Arabic versions. It is quoted by Irenaeus in the second century, by Cyprian in the third, and by Jerome and Augustine in the fourth.

As we have said, the verse is omitted by most modern Editors (Wordsworth retains it). Alford accounts for its insertion thus: “The insertion appears to have been made to suit the formularies of the baptismal liturgies, it being considered strange that the eunuch should have been baptized without some such confession.” On the other hand, it has been argued that because of infant baptism this verse was sought to be got rid of by those who had loose ideas of the inspiration of the scriptures. The preponderance of evidence is decidedly against the passage.

8. Acts 13:19, 20. The common text reads, “By lot. And after that he gave [to them] judges, about the space of four hundred and fifty years.” Some copies read, “By lot about the space of four hundred and fifty years. And after that he gave judges.” It will be seen, by comparing the two readings, that it is but a transposition of the words; yet one that alters the sense materially. The one passage says they had judges for four hundred and fifty years; and the other that the judges were given after the four hundred and fifty years. The question of the judges existing for this period has always been a difficulty with those who have studied the chronology of the Old Testament; indeed one may say that volumes have been written on this point; but the variation removes at once the difficulty: yet the question is, was the variation made to remove the difficulty, or was it there originally?

For the common text there are D2 E H L P; the Aethiopic version.

For the variation there are א A B C; the Vulgate, Memphitic, Thebaic, and Armenian versions.

D1 does not transpose the words, but, though otherwise like the common text, it omits the words ‘after that,’ so that it is claimed as a witness rather for the variation than the common text.

Here the Canon must not be forgotten that the more difficult text is often the correct one; still this must not be pressed too far. If the variation were an alteration made in the original, it would scarcely have found its way into four of the great uncials, embracing both the Alexandrian and Constantinopolitan families. This reading is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Wordsworth, and we think it is most probably the correct reading.

9. Acts 16:7. The common text reads “the Spirit suffered them not.” Another reading is, “the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.”

For the common text there are H L P, many cursives, one copy of the Vulgate, and the Thebaic versions; Chrysostom and Theophylact of the Fathers.

For the words “of Jesus” there are א A Β C2 D E; nine or ten cursives; the Vulgate, Aethiopic, some of the Armenian, the Syriac and Memphitic versions.

The latter reading is adopted by nearly all modern Editors, and we believe rightly. All the great uncials are in its favour; and we think the words “of Jesus” are a great deal more likely to have been omitted (because of the seeming strangeness of the expression in this connection) than that they have been added.

10. Acts 20:28. The common text reads, “To feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.” At first sight the readings here are very embarrassing. Some copies read the church of the Lord; others ‘of Christ;’ others ‘the Lord Christ;’ and others ‘the Lord and God,’ etc. But all may be dismissed as without any weight except the readings ‘of God,’ ‘the Lord,’ and ‘the Lord and God.’

For ‘God’ we have א B; about 14 cursives; the Vulgate and Philoxenian (text) versions.

For ‘Lord’ there are A C1 D E (the Latin versions of the last two agreeing with the Greek), about 16 cursives; the Memphitic, Thebaeic, Philoxenian (margin) and Armenian versions.

For ‘Lord and God’ are C3 H L P, more than a hundred cursives; the Slavonic version.

What makes this variation of importance is the latter part of the sentence, “which he hath purchased with his own blood.” The question is, does this refer to God, or the Lord, or the Lord and God? At first sight the word ‘Lord’ would seem to be more appropriate, because of the thought of ‘the blood of God;’ but this may be the key to the variation. If the early Christians staggered at such an expression, they might have attempted to soften it by altering ‘God’ into ‘Lord.’ And others, finding some copies read one way and some the other, combined the two into ‘the Lord and God.’ The external evidence is very nearly of equal weight for ‘God’ and for ‘Lord,’ as will be seen above; but unquestionably ‘God’ is the more difficult reading; we can see no reason why this should be substituted for ‘Lord,’ whereas the converse is probable.

The Fathers come in here to help the solution. Both Tertullian and Ignatius use the expression “the blood of God,” which they would scarcely have done had they not had this apparent sanction from scripture. Basil the Great and Epiphanius also use the word ‘God.’ Others of the Fathers differ.

We believe the common text to be correct; though it has been judged that the harshness of the expression may be softened in the translation; and instead of “which he hath purchased with his own blood,” it may be rendered “which he hath purchased with the blood of his own.”

11. 1 Corinthians 3:14. This will illustrate the intricate questions an Editor is called upon to decide. The common text reads “If of anyone the work abides;” which a variation alters to “If of anyone the work shall abide.” It will at once be seen that there is here only a shade of difference in the meaning, yet it has to be decided as to which is the best reading. This is an intricate question, inasmuch as the first is μένει, and for the second μενεί; and seeing that all the great uncial copies have no accents except those supplied by later hands, none can be called as witnesses. And though Versions and Fathers may give definitely one or other of the tenses, yet whence did they get what they give, seeing that the uncial copies, from which all must have emanated, decided nothing?

Still Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, and Wordsworth all decide for “shall abide.”

12. 1 Corinthians 11:24. “This is my body which is broken for you.” Here the question is whether the word ‘broken’ should be retained or omitted.

For the word ‘broken’ א3 C3 D2 E F G K L P; 37, 47, and nearly all cursives; Peshito and Harclean Syriac, one Armenian and Gothic versions; Βasil, Damasc. Oecum. and Chrysos. of the Fathers. D1 may be also claimed for the word ‘broken,’ though it gives a different Greek word (θρυπτόμενον).

For the omission of the word are א1 A Β C1; 17; one Armenian; Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Fulgentius of the Fathers.

Though the four great uncials omit the word by the first hands, and form thereby a strong evidence against the word, it is on the other hand supported by later hands of א, C, and D; and the Peshito version. The Liturgies of the fourth century also retain the word.

The passage has evidently been tampered with: while the four uncials give no other word in the place of ‘broken,’ D’, as we have seen, supplies another Greek word; the Vulgate, with Cyprian and Ambrose, gives ‘delivered’ (tradetur); while the Coptic and Armenian have ‘given.’

The word may have been left out or altered because it was thought to clash with John 19:36 “A bone of him shall not be broken;” but we cannot see that it clashes with this: in some of the sacrifices the bodies were divided, but a bone was not broken; in the Psalms too we have strong expressions; such as “all my bones are out of joint:” the broken bread too prefigures the broken body. Christ took bread, broke it, and said, “This is my body.” On the whole, we should prefer to mark the reading as doubtful.

Various Readings in the Revelation.

The book of the Revelation in the common Greek text — from which was made in the main the English Authorized Version — having been edited from very few manuscripts, more various readings have been introduced by the Editors into this book than elsewhere. This has been occasioned by the discovery of further evidence. We give therefore a list of the principal of these various readings, and the authorities for and against them. It will be seen that in some places the weight of evidence is overwhelming for the amended readings; indeed in some instances we have been obliged to say “? any manuscripts,” because no Greek copies are known to exist for such readings.

It must be remembered that of the Revelation the uncial manuscripts are even now comparatively few in number; still we have א A C of the great uncials, and B of the seventh century (which must not be confounded with B of the Gospels), and P of the ninth century. There are nearly a hundred cursives, varying from the tenth century. No. 38 is esteemed more valuable than many. The Syriac of the Revelation is about the sixth century (the Peshito and the Cureton Syriac not having the Revelation). C, it must be remembered, contains only portions of the book, namely, Revelation 1:1 to 3:19; 5:14 to 7:14; 7:17 to 8:5; 9:16 to 10:10; 11:3 to 16:13; 18:2 to 19:5.

The authorities for each reading will easily be understood by referring to the foregoing pages. The order is 1, Uncials; 2, Cursives; 3, Versions; , Fathers. Vulg.-ed. refers to the printed Vulgate of Clement viii.; Vulg.-am. to the Amiatinus manuscript.

Chapter 1:5. “Loved,” P; many cursives; the Vulg. Memph. Arm. and Aeth. versions; Andreas, Arethas of the Fathers. “Loves,” א A C B; many cursives; the Syriac.
“Washed,” B P; some cursives: Vulg. Memph. Aeth.; Arethas. “Freed,” א A C; some cursives; Syr.

Verse 6. “Kings and priests,” P; some cursives. “A kingdom, priests,” א A C; some cursives; Vulg. Syr. Merph; Areth. Victorinus. B has “a palace, priests.”

Verse 8. “Beginning and ending,” א 1; some cursives; Vulg. Memph. Omit, א2 A C B P; many cursives; Syr. Arm. Aeth.; Areth. Ambr. Primas.
“The Lord,” one or two cursives. “[The] Lord God,” א A C B P; most cursives, and versions and fathers generally.

Verse 9. “Of Jesus Christ,” some cursives. “In Christ Jesus,” B; nearly fifty cursives; some of the Vulg. Syr. Arm.; Areth. Primas. “In Christ,” A and one cursive. “In Jesus,” א C P; one cursive; some of the Vulg. Memph.; Orig.
“Testimony of Jesus Christ,” א3 B; some cursives; Memph. Arm. Syr.; Areth. Primas. Omit Christ, א1 A C P; some cursives; Vulg. Aeth.; Dion.

Verse 11. “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,” P; some cursives; Arm. Omit, א 1 A C B; some cursives; versions generally; Areth. Primas.
“Which are in Asia,” ? any manuscripts; Memph. Omit, א A C B P; cursives generally; Vulg. Aeth. Syr.; Andr. Areth. Primas.

Verse 18. “Amen,” א 3; most cursives; Syr. Areth. Omit א1 A C P; a few cursives; Vulg. Memph. Aeth.; Iren. Orig.

Chapter 2:5. “Quickly,” B; most cursives; Syr.; Andr. Areth. Prirnas. Omit, א A C P; Vulg. Memph. Aeth. Aug. Jer. Vict.

Verse 9. “Works and,” א B; most cursives; Syr. Arm. Areth. Omit, A C P; some cursives; Vulg. Memph. Aeth.; Primas.

Verse 13. “Thy works and,” B; most cursives; Syr.; Arm. Andr. Areth. Omit, א A C P; one or two cursives; Vulg. Memph. Aeth; Jer. Primas.

Verse 15. “Which thing I hate,” P; a few cursives; Arm. “In like manner,” א A B C; many cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Areth. (P has both readings.)

Verse 20. “A few things,” one or two cursives; Vulg. Omit, A C B P: many cursives, and versions generally. א reads “much.”
“That woman,” א C P; many cursives; versions generally. “Thy wife,” A B; many cursives; Syr.; Andr. Areth. Cypr. Primas.

Verse 22. “Their deeds,” A; some cursives; Arm. Memph. Aeth.; Cypr. Primas. “Her deeds,” א C B P; many cursives; Syr. Areth. Tert.

Verse 24. “And to the rest,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg. Omit “and,” א A C B P; cursives and versions generally.

Chapter 3:2. “God,” one or two cursives; Arm. “My God,” A C B P; cursives and versions generally.

Chapter 4:11. “O Lord,” one or two cursives. “O Lord and our God,” A B; many cursives; Syr. “O Lord our God,” P; some cursives, and versions generally. “O Lord, the Lord and our God,” א

Chapter 5:4. “And to read,” some cursives; Arm. Omit, א B P; many cursives, and versions generally.

Verse 8, “Harps,” many cursives; Vulg.; Cyp. Primas. “A harp,” א A B P; many cursives, and versions generally.

Verse 9. “Redeemed us,” א B 2; many cursives; Vulg. Memph. Arm. Syr.; Hipp. Cyp. Omit “us,” A; Aeth. one or two cursives.

Verse 10. “Made us,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed.; Areth. Made them,” א AB; many cursives, Syr. Arm. Memph. Aeth.
“Kings,” B; cursives generally; Syr. Arm. Aeth.; Andr. Areth. “A kingdom,” א A; Vulg. Memph.; Cyp. Primas. Fulg.
“We shall reign,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed.; Primas. “They shall reign,” א P; some cursives; Vulg.-am. Memph. “They reign,” A B; some cursives; Syr. Andr.

Verse 14. “Four and twenty,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg. ed.; Primas. Omit, א A B P; many cursives; versions generally; Andr. Areth.
“Him that liveth for ever and ever,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed.; Primas. Omit, א A C B P; cursives and versions generally; Andr. Areth.

Chapter 6:1, 3, 5, 7. “And see,” א B (B omits in verse 3); and omitted by A C P, with other authorities for and against in each place.

Verse 17. “His wrath,” A B P; most cursives; Memph. Arm. Aeth.; Andr. Areth. Primas. “Their wrath,” א C; one or two cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Fulg.

Chapter 8:7. “Angel,” some cursives; Vul. Memph. Arm. Aeth.; Andr. Primas. Omit, א A B P; many cursives; Syr.; Areth.
“Earth,” a few cursives; Memph. Add “and the third part of the earth was burnt up,” A B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Aeth. Arm.; Andr. Areth.

Verse 13. “Angel,” P; some cursives; Arm.; Vict. “Eagle,” א A B; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Aeth.; Areth.

Chapter 9:4. “Only,” a few cursives. Omit, א A B P; many cursives; Syr. Memph. Arm. Aeth.; Andr. Areth.

Verse 13. “Four,” B P; most cursives; Vu1g.-ed.; Andr. Areth. Cypr. Omit א 3 A; Vulg.-am. Syr. Memph. Aeth. א1 reads “a voice from the golden altar.”

Verse 18. “Three,” two or three cursives. Add “plagues,” manuscripts and versions generally.

Chapter 10:1. “A rainbow,” א3, P; some cursives. “The rainbow,” א 1 A C B; many cursives; Areth.

Verse 5. “His hand,” A; a few cursives; Vulg. “His right hand,” א C B P; many cursives; Syr. Memph. Aeth. Arm.: Andr. Areth. Primas.

Verse 7. “Should be finished,” B; some cursives. “Was finished,” א A C P; many cursives; Memph.

Chapter 11:1. “And the angel stood,” א 3 B; many cursives; Syr. Arm.; Vict. Omit, א1 A P; many cursives; Vulg. Aeth. Memph.; Areth.

Verse 2. “Within,” א; a few cursives; Vict. “Outside,” A B P; many cursives; Vulg. Memph. Arm. Aeth. Syr.; Andr. Areth. Primas. Ticho.

Verse 4. “God,” a few cursives; Arm. “Lord,” א A C B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph.; Hippol. Areth. Vict. Primas.

Verse 8. “Our Lord,” one or two cursives. “Their Lord,” א3 A C B P; most cursives; versions generally; Orig. Andr. Areth. Primas. א 1 reads “the Lord.”

Verse 17. “And art to come,” a few cursives; Vulg-ed. Memph. Arm. Omit, א A C B P; many cursives; Vulg. am. Syr.; Areth. Cyp. Primas.

Chapter 12:12. “The inhabiters of,” a few cursives. Omit, manuscripts and versions generally.

Verse 17. “Christ”? any manuscripts; Vulg-ed.; Primas. Omit, manuscripts and versions generally.
“I stood,” B P, most cursives; Memph.; Andr. Areth. “It stood,” א A C; a few cursives; Vulg. Syr. Aeth. Arm.; Vict. Tichio.

Chapter 13:7. “Tribe,” a few cursives; Memph. Arm. Add “and people,” א A C B P; most cursives; Vulg. Aeth. Syr.; Andr. Areth. Iren. Primas.

Verse 17. “Or the name,” a few cursives; Vu1g.-ed; Omit “or,” A B P; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Memph. Arm. Aeth. Syr.; Hippol. Andr. C reads “the mark of the name;” א “the mark of the beast, or his name.”

Chapter 14:1. “A Lamb,” P; some cursives; Arm. Andr. “The Lamb,” א A C B; many cursives; Memph. Syr.; Orig, Meth. Areth.
“Having,” P; one or two cursives. Add “his name and,” א A C B; cursives and versions generally.

Verse 3 “As it were,” A C; a few cursives; Vulg. Omit, א B P; many cursives; Syr. Memph. Arm. Aeth. Syr.; Orig. Meth. Areth. Primas.

Verse 5. “Before the throne of God,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. Omit, manuscripts and versions generally.

Verse 13. “And their,” B; many cursives; Andr. Areth. “For their,” א A C P; a few cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Primas.

Chapter 15:2. “Over his mark [and],” a few cursives; Andr. Areth. Omit, א A. C B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Arm. Aeth.

Verse 3. “Saints,” ? any manuscripts. “Nations,” א 3 A B P; many cursives; Memph. Aeth.; Andr. Areth. Cyp. “Of [the] ages, א 1 C; a few cursives; Vulg. Syr.

Verse 6. “In . . . . linen,” (א) (B) P; many cursives; Vulg.-ed. Arm. Syr. With a . . . . stone,” A C; two or three cursives; Vulg.-am.

Chapter 16:1. “Vials,” P; a few cursives; Μemρh. Aeth. “Seven Vials,” א A C B; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Arm.; Andr. Areth. Primas.

Verse 3. “Angel,” B; many cursives; versions generally. Omit, א 3 A C P; a few cursives; Vulg.-am. Aeth.

Verse 4. “Angel,” a few cursives; Syr. Μemρh. Arm. Omit, א A C B P; many cursives; Vulg. Aeth.

Verse 5. “O Lord,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. Aeth. Omit א A C B P; the cursives; Vulg.-arn. Syr. Memph. Arm.

Verse 7. “Heard another out of the altar,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. “Heard the altar,” א A C P; cursives and versions generally.

Verse 8. “Angel,” א; some cursives; Vulg.-ed. Arm. Memph.; Andr. Primas. Omit, A C B P; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. th.; Areth.

Verses 10 and 12. “Angel,” some cursives; Memph. Omit, manuscripts and versions generally.

Verse 14. “Of the earth and,” one or two cursives. Omit, א A B; cursives and versions generally.

Verse 17. “Angel,” א 3; some cursives; Vulg.-ed. Omit, א1 A B; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr.
“Of heaven,” B; many cursives; Arm.; Andr. Areth. Omit, A; few cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph.; Primas. “Of God,” א.

Chapter 17:8. “And yet is,” ? any manuscripts. “And shall be present,” A B P; cursives generally; Arm.; Hipp. Andr. Areth. Primas. א 1 has “And shall again be present.”

Verse 16. “Upon the beast,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.ed. And the beast,” א A B P; the cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Memph. Aeth.; Hipp. Primas.

Chapter 18:2. “Is fallen, is fallen,” A; some cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Hipp. “Is fallen,” א B; many cursives; Memph. Aeth.; Primas. Areth. Ρ reads “Is fallen” three times.

Verse 3. “Have drunk of,” P; many cursives. “Have fallen by,” א A C B; some cursives; Memph. Aeth.
“The wine of,” א B (P); many cursives; Syr. Memph. Vulg.-ed. Arm.; Hipp. Areth. Ticho. Primas. Omit, A C; Vulg.-am.

Verse 6. “You,” some cursives; Vulg.-ed. Omit, א A C B P; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Aeth. Memph.; Hipp. Cyp.
“Unto her,” P; some cursives; Syr. Memph. Aeth. Omit, א A C B; many cursives; Vulg.; Hipp.

Verse 13. “Cinnamon,” א3 B, many cursives; Vulg.-ed. Memph. Arm.; Primas. Add “and amomum,”* א1 A C 2; some cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Aeth.; Hipp.
{*”A precious ointment made from an Asiatic shrub, and used for the hair.” — Alford.}

Verse 14. “Goodly are departed,” one or two cursives. “Goodly are destroyed,” א A C B P; most cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Aeth.; Hipp. Primas.

Verse 20. “Holy apostles,” C; a few cursives; Vulg.-ed. Arm. “Saints and apostles,” א A B P; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Memph. Aeth.; Hipp. Areth. Tich. Primas.

Chapter 19:1. “And honour,” a few cursives; Memph.; Areth. Omit, א A C B P, many cursives; Syr. Vulg. Arm.

Verse 6. “God,” A: a few cursives; Memph. Arm. Aeth. “Our God,” א3 B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Areth. Ticho. “God our Lord,” א1

Verse 17. “Supper of the great God,” a few cursives; Arm. Aeth.; Andr. The great supper of God,” א A B P; most cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph.; Ticho. Primas.

Chapter 20:9. “From God,” א3 B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Arm. Omit, A; a few cursives; Primas.

Verse 12. “God,” one or two cursives; Andr. “The throne,” א A B P; most cursives; versions generally.

Verse 14. “Second death,” some cursives; Vulg.-ed. Arm. Memph.; Primas. Add “The lake of fire,” א A B P; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Aeth.

Chapter 21:2. “John,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. Omit, א A B P; cursives and versions generally.

Verse 3. “Heaven,” B P; most cursives, and versions generally; Andr. Areth. “The throne,” א A; one or two cursives; Vulg.; Iren. Aug. Ambr.
“[And be] their God,” A P: some cursives; Vulg. Syr.; Iren. Ambr. Omit, א B; many cursives; Memph. Arm.; Areth.

Verse 7. “All things,” one or two cursives. “These things,” א A B P; most cursives; versions generally.

Verse 10. “That great city, the holy,” some cursives. “The holy city,” א A B P; many cursives; versions and fathers generally.

Verse 24. “And honour,” B; many cursives; versions generally. Omit, א A P; some cursives.

Chapter 22:1. “Pure,” some cursives; Arm.; Andr. Areth. Omit, א A B P; some cursives; versions generally; Hil. Ambr. Ticho. Primas.

Verse 6. “Holy prophets,” a few cursives; Arm. “Spirits of the prophets,” א A B P; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph.; Primas. Areth.

Verse 11. “Let him be righteous,” two or three cursives; Vulg.-ed. Arm. Aeth. “Let him practise righteousness,” א A B; many cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Memph.

Verse 12. “Shall be,” B; many cursives; Andr. Areth. “Is,” א A; a few cursives; Syr.

Verse 14. “Do his commandments,” B; many cursives; Syr. Memph. Arm.; Cyp. Tert. Ticho. “Wash their robes,” א A; a few cursives; Vulg. Aeth.; Ath. Fulg. Primas.

Verse 19. “Out of the book,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. Amb. Primas. “From the tree,” א A B; most cursives; Vulg.-am. Syr. Aeth. Arm.; Andr. Ticho.

Verse 20. “Even so,” many cursives. Omit, א A B; some cursives; versions generally.

Verse 21. “Our Lord,” a few cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Arm. “The Lord,” א A B; many cursives.
“Christ,” B; many cursives; Vulg. Syr. Memph. Arm. Aeth. Omit, א A; one or two cursives.
“You all,” ? any manuscripts; Vulg.-ed. “All,” A; Vulg.-am. “The saints,” א “All the saints,” B; many cursives; Memph. Syr. Arm.; Andr. Areth.

Printed Greek Testaments.

We have seen that there are many Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, which all differ more or less from each other. We have also glanced at the sort of work an Editor had to do in judging as to the true text where the manuscripts differ. We have now to look at the principal editions that have been published.

1. The Complutensian Edition. This was the earliest printed Greek Testament. It was edited by Cardinal Ximenes, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, in connection with his university at Alcala (Complutum). The printing of the New Testament was finished January 10, 1514, but the rest of the work (it embraced the Old Testament as well as the New) was not completed till 1517. The Cardinal died soon after this, and the work was not published till about 1522, though Leo X. authorized its publication in 1520. It is not now known what Greek manuscripts were used for this edition.

The Complutensian was printed in a remarkable style. Not only was the text given in double columns in Greek and Latin, but the words which corresponded in both languages were marked with the same letter, to assist those who understood either of the languages. The Greek had no breathings and the accents were according to a unique and fanciful system. The Latin had many contractions and was the modified Vulgate then in use.

We give a specimen in modern type.

βιβλος b γενεσεως c Ιησου Liber b gnatiois c iesu d christi
d χριστου e υιου f δαυιδ g υιου e filii f dauid g filii h abraá.
h αβρααμ. i αβρααμ k εγεννησεν i Abraá k genuit l ysaac. m Isaac
τον l ισαακ m ισαακ n δε n at o genuit p iacob. q Jacob
o εγεννησε τον p ιακωβ. q ιακωβ r δε r aut s genuit t iudam: u et x fratres
s εγεννησε τον t ιουδαν u και y eius. z Judas a autem
τους x αδελφους y αυτου. z ιουδας b genuit c phares d et e zaram
a δε b εγεννησε τον c φαρες f de g thamar.
d και τον e ζαρα f εκ της g θαμαρ. Matt. 1:1-3.

2. The Editions of Erasmus. Between the printing and the publishing of the Complutensian Edition Erasmus was solicited by Froben, a printer of Basle, to edit for him a Greek Testament. The request was made April, 1515, when Erasmus was in England, and the whole work was finished by February, 1516. He did it in reckless haste, as he says himself, to meet the views of Froben in order to publish it before the Complutensian Edition. He had none of the best Greek uncial copies, but used various cursives that were at Basle. One of these, embracing the Gospels (now called No. 1) was a valuable copy, but which he was afraid to follow where it differed from his other copies.

Erasmus inserted Acts 8:37, though it was only in the margin of one of his copies; and stranger still he inserted in Acts 9:5, 6 σκληρον σοι προς κεντρα λακτιζειν. τρεμων τε και θαμβων ειπεν κυριε τι με θελεις ποιησαι και ο κυριος προς αυτον, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] to him.” Erasmus apparently added this from the Latin Vulgate alone, for it has not yet been found in any Greek manuscript. Yet, strange to say, it has been retained, and is in our Authorized Version. The Greek manuscripts, instead of the above passage, have merely the word αλλά, ‘but,’ reading, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; but arise,” etc. On the other hand Erasmus omitted the passage in 1 John 5:7, known as “the heavenly witnesses,” because it was not in any of his Greek copies, though it was in the Latin. This brought a great storm of indignation upon him, and he promised that if the passage could be found in any Greek manuscript, he would insert it in future editions. It was found in a Greek copy, and Erasmus inserted the passage in his third edition in 1522, though now considered by almost all Editors as spurious. Erasmus published fine editions, making more or less alterations in each. To shew how badly off he was for Greek manuscripts compared to what Editors are now, it may be named that he had only one manuscript of the Revelation, which wanted the last six verses. These he had to re-translate from the Latin into Greek. As may be supposed, he used certain Greek words which are not in the best Greek manuscripts, if in any at all, and yet these have been retained and have influenced our Authorized Version.

3. The Editions of Stephens. Stephens was a printer at Paris. His first edition appeared in 1546. He says it was based on manuscripts found in the Royal Library, but it is evident that he followed the Complutensian and the last edition of Erasmus more than his manuscripts, copying his predecessors in some places where, as far as is now known, all his manuscripts were against him. In only about 37 places he departed from both the Complutensian and Erasmus’s editions. Stephens’s third Edition (1550) was his principal one, in which he gives in his margin various readings from fifteen different manuscripts. Still in this edition in places he alters from his former editions, and against all his manuscripts, to more uniformity with Erasmus. This is the edition that has been usually printed in England — the Greek text in common use. Stephens’s fourth edition (1551) was the first that was divided into verses.

4. The Editions of Beza. His first edition was in 1565, but his third edition (1582) was his principal, though he had later editions. They were mostly a copy of Stephens’s edition of 1550, being altered in places without apparently always good authority.

5. The Elzevir Editions. These editions were published in 1624 and 1633. They are mostly copied from Stephens’s editions of 1550, corrected in places from Beza’s editions. In the second edition they profess to give the text received by all, which is often referred to as the “textus receptus.” This is the text commonly reprinted on the continent, though, as we have seen, the edition of Stephens 1550 is the common text in England.*

{*Some say that Mill’s edition is the common text of England. But Mill copied Stephens, without any intentional alteration, though in a few places he seems to have adopted the variations of the Elzevirs without intending it.}

At this point there was a pause. Additional manuscripts came to light and some began diligently to collate the various differences. The common text had obtained a sort of standard, so that some were content to collect the material by which to correct the text; others became bolder and used the material in altering the text.

6. Mill’s Edition, 1707. Mill gave the text of Stephens, but was remarkable for the material he gathered together, which shewed where the text might be corrected. He laboured for thirty years on his work, and died soon after its completion.

7. Bentley. This great scholar lamented that the text of Stephens should stand uncorrected as it did. He began to collect material for a critical edition and issued a prospectus, in which he aspired to great things, but died before he could accomplish his object, if indeed he had not found before he died that the difficulties were greater than he had expected.

8. Bengel. The pious Bengel, as he is often called, took great interest in the exact words of the New Testament, and collected as many of the variations of the manuscripts as he could. In 1734 he published his Greek Testament. It was mainly the common text, for he did not insert (except in the Revelation) any reading that was not to be found in some printed edition. The various readings he gave in the margin, and the authorities for and against, at the end of the book. Persons had become so accustomed to the common text that even the marginal readings exposed him to the bitterest attacks; and one of his opponents, curiously enough, requested him to admit that the various readings were given by inspiration, in order to meet the necessities of various readers! Bengel was the first to form the Greek manuscripts into “families.”

9. Wetstein. Wetstein had been employed by Bentley to collect material for his proposed edition; but on his death Wetstein continued the work on his own account. He greatly increased the amount of material. His Testament was published in 1751-2. It was still the common text, with his proposed alterations at the foot, but which were not many. His principal work was to collect the material; but he shrank from or did not know how to use it when gathered.

10. Griesbach. After Bengel, Griesbach was the first to arrange the evidences systematically, and then seek to make a good use of them. His principal edition (his second) was published in 1796-1806, with a statement of the authorities; and a manual edition in 1805. He adopted the bold plan of altering the text from that commonly received, wherever he thought the evidence in hand warranted him in doing so.

He elaborated the system of families, arranging the manuscripts into three divisions, and then sought to deal with each division as one witness. The families were the Alexandrian, the Western, and the Byzantine. The text as given by Origen he took as the basis of the Alexandrian, and placed here the ancient copies A B C, L of the Gospels, the Egyptian and some other versions. The Western family was represented by D of the Gospels and Acts, and here he placed those which contained a Latin as well as Greek text; the Old Latin and Vulgate; and quotations in the Latin Fathers. The Byzantine embraced the great mass of other manuscripts, the Versions, and the Greek Fathers. This last family had less value with Griesbach than the other two.

Where two of the families agreed in a reading that decided its reception. Though laying aside the common text, he seems to have had a leaning towards it in cases of difficulty. His work was elaborately done, for he was not content with simply receiving or rejecting readings, but also inserted others, marking them as ‘very probable,’ and others as ‘probable.’

By referring back to the chapter on Families it will be seen that more recent Editors do not class the ancient copies A and B in the same family, and now restrict themselves to two families instead of three.

11. Scholz. He published his Greek Testament in 1830-36. He is thought to have adopted a plan the very reverse of Griesbach, judging the Byzantine family to have the greatest weight; but he abandoned his principle before he died. His principal work however was to collect material, and it has been judged that he had nearly double the quantity that was possessed by Griesbach; but he did his work so badly that his readings, unless confirmed by other collators, cannot be relied on.

12. Lachmann. His principal edition was published in 1842-50. He was perhaps the first to set wholly aside the common text as of any weight, and to edit a text independent of that generally received. He endeavoured to confine himself as much as he could to evidence not later than the fourth century (not that he strictly kept to this date), which was to shut out a great deal of valuable evidence. Yet in many places he adopted readings which have since (with further material) been judged by other editors as the true ones. Scrivener describes him as “earnest, single-hearted, and a true scholar both in spirit and accomplishments.”

13. Tischendorf. This scholar laboured for more than thirty years in collecting material and editing works bearing on the scriptures. His seventh edition (1856-9) is preferred by some to his eighth edition (1865-72), as he is thought to have made a sort of pet of the Codex Sinaiticus because he discovered it, and let it bias his mind against the best readings in some places. His Greek Testament gives the most elaborate collection of all available evidence, both for the readings he adopts and for those of the common text. Though some may differ from him in judgment as to the true readings in some places, most accord to him the first place as a biblical critic. He lived to finish his eighth edition, except the prolegomena.

14. Tregelles. For about thirty years this Editor laboured in collecting material and editing his Testament. The Gospels appeared in 1857 and the Revelation in 1872. He confined his attention almost exclusively to ancient copies. Illness prevented him quite finishing his last part, and he died soon after its issue.

15. Alford. In his commentary he publishes a Greek text, not remarkable for anything peculiar. In the majority of readings he goes with Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles.

16. Wordsworth. This Editor’s Greek Testament is principally remarkable for its conservatism. He believes that God overruled the common Greek text (which has stood for three hundred years) and that it ought not to be departed from unless on good and sufficient authority. He therefore retains many readings which Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford agree in rejecting.

There have been many other editions of the Greek Testament, but these are the principal. And there is one by Doctors Westcott and Hort in preparation.

We hope, in considering the Authorised Version, to be able to give some practical hints in the use to be made of these Editors in determining the text.

The Order of the Books.

We now turn to a few subjects of interest connected with the arrangement of the books, with their various divisions, etc.

It becomes a natural and an interesting question as to how far, and in what way, importance is to be placed in the order of the various books of the New Testament.

As each book was written separately, of course the writers had no hand in placing the several books in one volume. As to their being placed at all comes under the head of the “Canon of the New Testament;” we are now merely considering the order in which they stand in our Testaments.

Some, considering the order of the books to be of God, have endeavoured to draw certain lessons from the way in which the contents of one book follow another as to their agreement, or their contrast, the gradual development of truth, etc. It becomes important, therefore, to see what light the history of the text throws upon the subject, and to ascertain the order of the books in the early copies of the New Testament.

In general, we may say that the early manuscripts do not place the books as we now have them, but generally in this order:—
The Gospels.
The Acts of the Apostles.
The Catholic Epistles (so-called).
The Epistles of Paul.
The Revelation.

We say “generally,” for there are deviations from this order, and as many copies are only portions of the New Testament, we cannot gather from them the order of the whole. Codex Sinaiticus (א), with three or four others, places the Epistles of Paul before the Acts.

It is not easy to ascertain how the books became arranged as in our present order. If we refer back to the original copies of the common printed Greek text, we find our present order both in Stephens (1550) and the Elzevir (1624). But if we go farther back to the first printed Greek Testament (the Complutensian), we find the above order, namely, the Catholic Epistles placed before those by Paul. But inasmuch as this latter was not published until after the edition by Erasmus (this scholar having the honor of editing the first Greek Testament given to the church), the order of Erasmus — which is the same as in our Testaments — was afterwards followed, rather than that of the Complutensian.

If we come to details, we find that the old Latin copies generally put the Gospels in the order of Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. In the Codex Βeza (Greek and Latin) they are also in this order. In Greek copies generally they are in the order we have them. In the Syriac of Cureton they stand Matthew, Mark, John, Luke. Jerome, in revising the old Latin for his version, transposed the Gospels into the order of the Greek, in which we may say they have become fixed. In one manuscript the Apocalypse comes after the Gospel by John; and in two or three others the Gospels come at the end. But these are isolated cases.

We give a list of the books as they stand in the four oldest manuscripts, that our readers may have the earliest evidence before them.

By these lists the reader will see how the four oldest Greek copies differ in the order of the books. Not one has the same order that we have now. Those who first printed the New Testament, if they had had these copies, would have been perplexed as to which to follow, but they did not then possess them, and, as we have seen, how they determined the order is not now known. By examining these lists it will be seen that the principal transposition is by placing the Catholic Epistles before the Epistles of Paul, instead of after them; in transposing the Acts; and in putting the Hebrews before Timothy, instead of after Philemon. The four copies agree in this last with some of the cursives.


Sinaiticus (א).

Alexandrinus (A).

Matthew Matthew
Mark Mark
Luke Luke
John John
Romans Acts
1 Corinthians James
2 Corinthians 1 Peter
Galatians 2 Peter
Ephesians 1 John
Philippians 2 John
Colossians 3 John
1 Thessalonians Jude
2 Thessalonians Romans
Hebrews 1 Corinthians
1 Timothy 2 Corinthians
2 Timothy Galatians
Titus Ephesians
Philemon Philippians
Acts Colossians
James 1 Thessalonians
1 Peter 2 Thessalonians
2 Peter Hebrews
1 John 1 Timothy
2 John 2 Timothy
3 John Titus
Jude Philemon
Apocalypse Apocalypse

Codex Vaticanus (B) agrees with A as far as Hebrews, after which all is lost.

Codex Ephraem (C) may also be said to agree with A; 2 John and 2 Thessalonians are lost.

Since the time of the first edition of Erasmus (1516), there can be no doubt that the order we now have has been very generally received and followed. How far this was overruled by God, doing so for the purpose of instruction (had we wisdom to discover it) is for the reader to judge; we are simply giving a sketch of its history. The Acts seems to follow more appropriately the Gospels than in any other place; and in the above lists we miss the Hebrews falling along with James and Peter; the former written to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” and the latter to “the strangers scattered,” etc. (the “dispersion”), which are brought together in our present order.

Divisions of the New Testament.

We are all familiar with the ordinary chapters and verses in our Bible, but these are comparatively a recent addition. When Paul wrote an Epistle, he would naturally write it without divisions of any sort, except, perhaps, breaking it up into paragraphs. The Gospels were doubtless written in the same style.

But though our modern chapters and verses are not found in the oldest manuscripts, yet they possess other divisions which we have not now. There were at first divisions marked in the margin, breaking a book into portions. But in these divisions the manuscripts do not agree. For instance, in the Codex Vaticanus, Matthew is divided into 170 parts, Mark 62, Luke 152, John 80, etc. It will be seen that these portions are much shorter than our chapters. By whom they are made is not known.

In the Codex Alexandrinus, and others, Matthew is marked for 68 divisions, Mark 48, Luke 83, and John 18. These are supposed to have been done by Titian, a disciple of Justin Martyr. These were called τίτλοι, titles, probably because each division had a title to it. Other portions were called κεφάλαια, divisions or chapters. It is supposed that these divisions embraced the first attempt at a “harmony” of the Gospels, that is, a system by which one continuous history could be read by taking a piece from each of the Gospels that appeared to relate to the same event or the same discourse, and reading them together; or simply for reference.

But these attempts gave place to a fuller system, by Ammonius of Alexandria, who, taking Matthew as his standard, drew up a table to form a “harmony,” marking portions of the other three Gospels alongside each portion of Matthew, which he judged to refer to the same part of our Lord’s life. These are commonly known as the Ammonian Sections.

This system was again attempted to be improved upon by Eusebius, whose plan is known under the title of Eusebius’s Canons. It would appear that he used the divisions of Ammonius, and worked them out into a yet more elaborate system. He arranged the divisions into ten classes: thus,
I., those portions contained in the four Gospels.
II., those contained in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
III., those in Matthew, Luke, and John.
IV., those in Matthew, Mark, and John.
V., those in Matthew and Luke.
VI., those in Matthew and Mark.
VII., those in Matthew and John.
VIII., those in Mark and Luke.
IX., those in Luke and John.
X., those in one Gospel only.

The canon was arranged thus, which meant that the portion marked in Matthew 8 corresponded to the portion marked 2 in Mark, and to 7 in Luke, and to 10 in John. The passages, as marked, stand thus:—





8 2 7 10
11 4 10 6
Matthew 3:3 Mark 1:3 Luke 3:3-6 John 1:23
Matthew 3:11 Mark 1:7 Luke 3:16 John 1:15

On referring to the Testament, the reader will see that the first line speaks in each of the Gospels of the saying by Esaias, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord;” and in the second line to John’s saying that one mightier than he was coming. These references, therefore, correspond, as nearly as may be, to the references in the margins of our Testaments. Thus, at this early date — the fourth century — did the readers of the Gospels have this advantage of reference from one Gospel to another; and though such a system is generally called the harmony of the Gospels, it is useful in pointing out the characteristic differences of the Gospels, always remembering that those who formed these lists (whether ancient or modern) were liable to mistake, and to place two passages together which have no real connection.

These Canons are useful to us for another purpose, namely, to determine the age of the manuscript. As Eusebius did not draw up his canons until the fourth century, no manuscript containing them can be earlier than that date, unless, of course, they have been added by a later hand, but which can nearly always be detected.

If the reader will turn back to the printed specimen of the Codex Sinaiticus (chapter ‘Style of Writing’), he will see in the margin these letters, NA, with a Δ underneath them. The Δ points to IV. of the Canon of Eusebius, which (as will be seen above) stands for passages contained in “Matthew, Mark, and John;” and NA stand for the Ammonian section 51. It stands in the Canon thus:—
John 51; Matthew 150; Mark 67;
which points out Matthew 14:23b-27; Mark 6:47-50; and John 6:16-21. Tischendorf believes that these marks have been added to the Codex Sinaiticus by a later hand, though, for other reasons, the manuscript is dated the fourth century.

Most of the Greek manuscripts have these sections and canons, though some have only the Ammonian Sections, and in some they are left incomplete. They are inserted in coloured ink. Eusebius says vermilion, but they are sometimes blue or green. They have been copied into the modern printed editions of the Greek Testament of Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Wordsworth; and the last-named gives the Canon of Eusebius in full in his first volume.

The Acts and the Epistles were also divided into portions, but they appear to have been done at a later period. By the printed copies, it does not appear that the Codex Sinaiticus has divisions of any sort, except in the Gospels. The Codex Vaticanus has divisions marked throughout, but which are not found in the Codex Alexandrinus, nor Codex Ephraemi, of the fifth century.

Divisions were made in the fifth century to the Acts and Epistles, by Euthalius, deacon of Alexandria, but it is supposed that he adopted them from copies already so divided. The Apocalypse was divided still later.

Thus the copies remained, marked in different manners, or not at all, until about A.D. 1248, when an index of words was attempted for the whole Bible, by Cardinal Hugo, and then the books were divided into the chapters which we now have; and these again were subdivided (or rather marked in the margin) with the letters A, B, C, etc. These chapters were adopted in the Latin Vulgate, and became afterwards common in Greek manuscripts and printed copies.

Still there were no verses. Long before this there had been stichoi, στίχοι (called νersus in Latin manuscripts); but they appear to have been rather lines than verses, when an attempt was made to arrange the manuscripts into a sort of poetry, yet without measure or rhyme. Thus, at the end of 2 Thessalonians, the Codex Sinaiticus has στιχoν ρπ, “180 stichoi, or verses” (the manuscript has really 291 lines), none of these are marked in the margin, and it is not easy to see to what the 180 refers; other manuscripts put the number at 106.

It was Robert Stephens, the celebrated printer and editor of the Greek Testament, who, feeling with others, that for reference shorter divisions than those of Cardinal Hugo were needed, set to work to divide the chapters into short verses. This he did on a journey from Paris to Lyons — it is supposed at the various places at which he rested. Our present verses are the result of his labours. They were first published in Stephens’s Greek Testament, 1551, and from thence copied almost universally.

There is still one other branch of the subject demanding a word, namely the divisions into paragraphs. We suppose we must say that the ancient Greek manuscripts have no paragraphs; not that they have no breaks which might have the appearance of paragraphs, but they have not this significance. Take, again, the specimen of the Codex Sinaiticus (chapter ‘Style of Writing’), it will be seen that the sixth line stands out a little into the margin. Letters standing out thus occur very frequently, and often follow a short line, which has every appearance of marking a paragraph. But here it is at verse 15 (of John 6), where, we suppose, no one makes a paragraph. On the other hand, the common Greek text has a paragraph at verse 16, where Codex Siimaiticus has none. It has also one at verse 22, where Codex Sinaiticus has none. Codex Sinaiticus, however, has an apparent break at verse 23, where no one makes a paragraph.

Now this is not only interesting to us as students of scripture, but it has this importance, that we learn that none of the divisions of the New Testament have any authority. The divisions into chapters, paragraphs, and verses have all been made by man; God may have overruled it in the main, but it is believed that in some places better divisions might have been made, because the present ones destroy the connection. For instance, the last verse of Revelation 11 belongs to chapter 12. It would be better for chapter 11 to end with verse 18. Again the verses of Romans 8:33-35 would have been better divided thus: “It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? | It is Christ that died . . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

The arrangement of the chapters and verses is not now attempted to be altered, on account of its use for reference, but each editor of the Greek Testament has to make paragraphs as he thinks best.

A paragraph Testament is best for common use as we are all too apt to read by verses or chapters, instead of the Gospels by sections, and the Epistles as letters. But the reader must understand that even in paragraph Bibles the paragraphs have no authority: the editors are not at all agreed as to where they should be placed. A spiritual-minded reader will be the best judge in such a question.

Headings and Subscriptions to the Books.

As nothing connected with the New Testament is without its importance, we devote a short chapter to the above subject.

As in other things, so in even the headings to the books, do the various manuscripts differ. As a rule, the more ancient the copy, the shorter the heading, the tendency being evidently to enlarge. Perhaps we shall better arrive at a true judgment by giving the headings of a few of the older manuscripts. It must be remembered that א A B C D are the oldest copies, and E F G, etc., more recent, but all we name are uncials.*

{*See ‘List of Uncial Manuscripts’ for these.}

Matthew. According to Matthew א B; Gospel according to Matthew C E K M S U V. Subscription. According to Matthew B; Gospel according to Matthew A D E H K U V; D adding “ended.”

Mark. According to Mark א B F; Gospel according to Mark A D E H K L M S U. Sub. Gospel according to Mark א A C D E H K L U; D adding “ended;” According to Mark B (after 16:8, omitting the rest of the chapter).

Luke. According to Luke א B F; Gospel according to Luke A C D E K L M S U X. Sub. According to Luke B; Gospel according to Luke א A2 C D K L S U; D adding “ended.”

John. According to John א B; Gospel according to John A C D E F G H K L M U Χ. Sub. According to John B; Gospel according to John א A C D E G H S; D H adding “end,” or “ended.”

Acts. Acts א; Acts of Apostles B D. Sub. Acts of Apostles א B; Acts of the holy Apostles A E H L.

Romans. To [the] Romans א A B C; Epistle of the all-holy Paul the Apostle to [the] Romans P; Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Paul to [the] Romans L. Sub. To [the] Romans א A B C D G P; G adding “ended;” P adding “Epistle of Paul.” Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Paul to [the] Romans, written from Corinth, by Phebe the deaconess L; B2 D3 P add “written from Corinth.”

1 Corinthians. I to [the] Corinthians א A B C D F G P; P adding “Epistle of Paul;” F G adding “begun” (άρχεται); First Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians L. Sub. I to [the] Corinthians א A B C D F G P; D adding “ended” (επληρωθη); F G adding “ended” (ετελέσθη); I to the Corinthians, written from Philippi, by Stephanus and Fortunatus and Achaicus and Timotheus K L; B2 P add “written from Ephesus;” D2, “written from Philippi Macedon.”

2 Corinthians. ΙΙ to [the] Corinthians א A B D F G K; D F G adding “begun.” II Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Corinthians L. Sub. II to [the] Corinthians א A B D F P; D F adding “ended;” B2 P adding “written from Philippi;” Second Epistle to [the] Corinthians, written from Philippi of Macedonia, by Titus and Luke K; L omitting “of Macedonia.”

Galatians. To [the] Galatians א A B D F G K P; P adding “Epistle of Paul;” D F G adding “begun;” Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Paul to [the] Galatians L. Sub. To [the] Galatians א A B1 C D; D adding “ended;” Epistle to [the] Galatians ended F G; To [the] Galatians, written from Rome B2 K P; End of the Epistle to [the] Galatians, written from Rome L.

Ephesians. To [the] Ephesians א A B D F G K P; P adding “of Paul;” D F G adding “begun;” Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Ephesians L. Sub. To [the] Ephesians א A B D K L P; B2 P adding “written from Rome;” K L adding “written from Rome by Tychicus;” Epistle to [the] Ephesians ended F G.

Philippians. To [the] Philippians א A B K; so D F G, adding “begun.” Epistle of the holy (P “all-holy”) Apostle Paul to the Philippians L P. Sub. To [the] Philippians א A B K; so D F G, each adding “ended” (as in 1 Cor.); Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to the Philippians L; K L adding “written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.”

Colossians. To [the] Colossians א A B K P; so D F G adding “began;” P adding “Epistle of Paul;” Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Colossians L. Sub. To [the] Colossians A B1 C K P; so D F G each adding “ended” (as in 1 Cor.); A adding “from Rome;” B2 P adds “written from Rome;” Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Colossians L; K L adding “written from Rome, by Tychicus and Onesimus.”

1. Thessalonians. I to [the] Thessalonians א A B K; so D F G adding “begun;” I Epistle of Paul to [the] Thessalonians P; First Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians L. Sub. I To [the] Thessalonians א A B1 K; so D F G, each adding “ended” (as in 1 Cor.); I Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Thessalonians L; A B2 K L adding “written from Athens.”

2 Thessalonians. II To [the] Thessalonians א A B K; so D F G, adding “began;” II Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Thessalonians L. Sub. II To [the] Thessalonians א A B K P; so D F G, each adding “ended” (as in 1 Cor.); Second Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to [the] Thessalonians L; A B2 K L P add “written from Athens.”

1 Timothy. I To Timothy א A K; so D F G, adding “begun;” I Epistle of Paul to Timothy P; First Epistle of Paul to Timothy L. Sub. I To Timothy א A D P; A adding “written from Laodicea;” P “written from Nicopolis;” D adds “ended;” I Epistle to Timothy, ended F G; First (L adds “Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul”) to Timothy, written from Laodicea, which is the chief city of Phrygia of Kapatiana (not Pacatiana, as Authorised Version) K L.

2 Timothy. II To Timothy א A D F G K P; D F G adding “began;” P adding “Epistle of Paul;” II Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to Timothy L. Sub. II To Timothy א A C P; so D F G, adding “ended;” A adds “written from Laodicea;” P, “written from Rome;” Second (L adds “of the holy Apostle Paul”) to Timothy, ordained first bishop of the church of the Ephesians: written from Rome when Paul was brought a second time before Nero Caesar of Rome, K L.

Titus. To Titus א A K; so D F G, adding “begun;” Epistle to Titus P; so H, adding “of the Apostle Paul;” The Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to Titus L. Sub. To Titus א A C D F G K P; D adding “ended;” F G adding “Epistle ended;” A adding “written from Nicopolis;” P, “written from . . . .; “Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Titus H; so L, putting “holy Apostle;” H K L add, after “Titus,” “ordained first bishop of the church of the Cretans, written from Nicopolis of Macedonia.”

Philemon. To Philemon א A; so D F G, adding “begun;” Epistle of Paul to Philemon K L P; L adding “holy Apostle.” Sub. To Philemon א C D K P; D adding “ended;” P’ adding “written from Rome;” K adding “written from Rome, by Onesimus a servant;” Epistle of [the] holy Apostle Paul to Philemon and Apphian, master of Onesimus, and to Archippus, the deacon of the Colossian church: written from Rome, by Onesimus a servant L.

Hebrews. To [the] Hebrews א A B K; Epistle of Paul to [the] Hebrews P; written from Italy, by Timotheus: the Epistle to [the] Hebrews M; Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Paul to [the] Hebrews L. Sub. To [the] Hebrews א A C K P; K adding “written from Italy by Timotheus;” A adding “written from Rome;” P adding “written from Italy.”

James. Epistle of James B K; Catholic Epistle of the holy Apostle James L. Sub. Of James B; Epistle of James א A; End [of the] Catholic Epistle of the holy Apostle James L.

1 Peter. I of Peter B; I Epistle of Peter א A C K; I Catholic Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle Peter L. Sub. I of Peter א A B; I Catholic Epistle of the holy Apostle Peter L.

2 Peter. II of Peter א A B; II Epistle of Peter C K; Second Catholic Epistle of the holy Apostle Peter L. Sub. II of Peter א A B; catholic of Peter C; Second Epistle of the holy Apostle Peter L.

1 John. I of John A B; I Epistle of John א K; Catholic Epistle of the holy Apostle John L. Sub. I of John א A B; I Catholic Epistle of the holy and all-praiseworthy Apostle and Divine John L.

2 John. II of John א B; II Catholic Epistle of John K; Second Epistle of the holy Apostle John the Divine L. Sub. II of John א A B; II Epistle of John L.

3 John. III of John א B; III Epistle of John C; Third Epistle of the holy Apostle John L. Sub. III of John א A B; III Epistle of John C; III Epistle of the holy Apostle John L.

Jude. Of Jude א B; Epistle of Jude A C K; Epistle of the holy Apostle Jude L. Sub. Of Jude א B; Epistle of Jude A; Catholic Epistle of Jude C K; Epistle of the holy Apostle Jude L.

Revelation. Revelation of John. א C; Revelation of the Apostle and Evangelist John P. Title of A has perished, and these are all we have of the ancient uncials of the Revelation. Some of the cursives read, “Revelation of the holy Apostle John;” others add “the Divine.” Sub. Revelation of John א A.

From the above it will be seen that the word “Catholic,” to what are known as the Catholic Epistles, is not to be found in the oldest manuscripts. Also the copies differ as to where certain of the Epistles were written, and, of course, some cannot be correct. Paley says that six of the subscriptions in the Authorized Version are false or improbable — 1 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Titus. In some copies at the end of an Epistle, along with the subscription, was added the heading of the next Epistle. This prevented anything being intercepted between the two.

The Canon of Scripture.

Having said that everything connected with scripture will bear the fullest investigation, we must not conceal the fact that with some of the earliest copies of the New Testament there were placed other writings or epistles besides those now contained in our New Testament. And a very natural question is, if we take chiefly the old Greek copies for our guide as to the true text, how is it that we do not also take them for a guide as what is called the “Canon* of scripture;” that is, what books should be deemed to be scripture, and what should be excluded?

{*’Canon,’ in the Greek and Latin, signifies ‘a rule or standard by which other things are tried.’ (Paul uses it in this sense in Gal. 6:16, and Phil. 3:16.) We commonly apply it to what we believe to be the true and complete list of inspired books. If our list is true and complete, it tries and condemns all others. We say our books are canonical and others are spurious or apocryphal.}

In the first place we must look at what books were placed with the early copies of the New Testament. They are as follows

א Codex Sinaiticus. With this copy were placed the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas; only a portion of the latter remains.

A. Codex Alexandrinus. With this were placed the Epistles of Clement of Rome. At present only the first Epistle is remaining, and a small portion of the second. The first Epistle is supposed to be a genuine work of Clement, but great doubt is entertained as to the second.

Codex Vaticanus. The latter portion of this manuscript is lost; therefore we cannot tell what was or was not appended to it.

Codex Ephraemi. Only portions of this manuscript remain, and will not help us.

Codex Bezae. This also consists only of fragments of the New Testament.

D. Codex Claromontanus. (D. in Paul’s Epistle, not in the Gospels) contains Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, and the Apocalypse of Peter.

Now it will be seen from the above that of the early Greek copies which are complete all contain additional books, though of those which have other writings appended to them, no two copies agree in selecting the same books. Neither do those few here named comprise nearly the whole of the rejected books. There are about a score of different “Gospels,” a dozen “Acts,” a dozen “Epistles,” and four or five “Revelations.” Of the mass of these we suppose there can be no doubt among sober Christians as to their being uncanonical though most of them profess to have been written by one or other of the Apostles or their immediate successors.

Of course Barnabas may have written a letter or epistle, without in any way intending it as an “inspired” epistle. Indeed it seems to bear internal evidence of this; for he twice says that he had written ‘to the best of his ability,’ which is not in any way the language of one professing to be inspired.

Clement of Rome too may have written letters without dreaming of their ever being thought to be a part of scripture and being bound up with the New Testament.

The use others have made of these letters is another thing, but for that the writers may be in no way to blame.

Still the question arises why do we reject them, and how has the canon of scripture been formed? To this the common answer will be that the church determined the canon. But we must say that we do not consider this a sufficient answer, and it gives rise to the questions: When did the church settle it? Was it the church that settled it? and was the church in a fit state to settle such a question?

The church of Rome says that we cannot know what is scripture and what is not, except as that church tells us. After it has decided we can know but not before.

But if this were so, we should be obliged to receive the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, for the church of Rome has declared that to be canonical. This we cannot do.

And if we turn from the church of Rome, whence are we to turn for the church to decide such a question? If we go back before the church of Rome set up its claims, all is uncertain and in confusion.

We have seen that other epistles were placed along with the scripture; but besides this there is proof from the early fathers that Clement’s epistles were read in most of the churches on the Lord’s day, and that they were universally received. And also that the Shepherd of Hermas was read in many churches.

But the question becomes more serious if we appeal to the early church; for it is no longer a question of a few epistles, which we hope to prove to be spurious, but as to whether some of the real epistles are scripture or not: for while some received the spurious, they refused some parts of what we hold and maintain to be inspired.

We are not sure that any of our received books were omitted from any of the Greek copies, because many of them are only in fragments; but the early Syriac (the Peshito) did not contain 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. And it is the judgment of some of the best writers that the Old Latin copies did not contain all the books now received.

The following give some of the early fathers, and two of the Councils, who have given lists of the books of the New Testament.

Origen, A.D. 210. Is doubtful of James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John.

Eusebius, A.D. 315. His catalogue agrees with our Testament, but he says the Epistles of James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation, were doubted of by some.

Athanasius, A.D. 315. The same as ours.

Cyril, A.D. 340. Omits the Revelation.

Council of Laodicea, A.D. 364. Omits the Revelation.

Epiphanius, A.D. 370. The same as ours.

Gregory Naz., A.D. 375. Omits the Revelation.

Philastrius, A.D. 380. Omits the Hebrews and the Revelation.

Augustine, A.D. 305. The same as ours.

Jerome, A.D. 382. Speaks doubtingly of the Hebrews, but admits it.

Council of Carthage, about 400. The same as ours.

It will be seen that the majority give the list the same as we now have it in our Testament; but it appears a poor and unsatisfactory thing if we have nothing more substantial than this to rest our faith upon, as to what is scripture and what is not.

And if we come to the great Reformers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we are not much better off. Erasmus denied the apostolic origin of the Hebrews, 2 Peter, and the Revelation, but left their canonical authority unquestioned. It is doubtful what Erasmus would mean by this, for he might have meant by “canonical” that which was ordered by the ‘canons’ of the church; for he was very anxious not to break away from the church of Rome. It would have been better if he and others had referred to God, and said distinctly whether they believed that the books were from God or not.

Luther spoke disrespectfully of the Hebrews, Jude, James, and the Revelation, and set them aside at the end of his version. Melanchthon is believed to have sided pretty much with Luther. Carlstadt also had his list of doubtful books. Calvin doubted the authenticity of 2 Peter, James, and Jude. We will quote his words as to Jude, as a specimen of how this good man treated some parts of scripture: “Though there was a dispute among the ancients respecting this epistle, yet as the reading of it is useful, and as it contains nothing inconsistent with the purity of apostolic doctrine, and was received as authentic by some of the best, I willingly add it to the rest.” As to whether it was of God or not, seems never to have entered the Reformer’s mind.

Now, though we cannot refer back and say that the church, or those who seemed to be pillars in the church, have always counted our present list of books to be authentic, yet we can say that very early the list was completed as we now have it, and was believed to contain all the New Testament scripture, and nothing but the scripture; and, further, we doubt not that this has been the judgment and conviction of the great mass of Christians for centuries, altogether apart from any order of council that it should be so, and altogether beyond the doubts that any might attempt to throw upon any one of its books.

We doubt not this conviction has been of God. How very few could enter into the questions that have been raised as to the canon of scripture, but they are in no wise troubled about it and rightly so; they believe that God caused the book to be written, and they call it — all of it — the word of God, rest their faith upon what it says, and lay open their consciences to what it enjoins.

The question indeed is simple if we start with God. He caused a volume to be written. Can we suppose that He would be more indifferent than any human author would be as to whether any that He wrote was missing? or, on the other hand, whether anything should be palmed off as His which was not His? Surely not. No human author would allow this, and sure we are that God has not allowed this; but that He has in His wisdom caused all that He has had written to be collected together, and all that was not inspired to be rejected.

Faith then — faith in God — makes us certain, as to the canon of the New Testament, and we need no external evidence to prove it.

Here we might well let the matter rest, but in order to complete our sketch we would ask our christian readers to take a view of the beautiful symmetry of the New Testament. The four portraits of our Lord in the four Gospels — Son of David, Servant, Son of man, Son of God; the giving of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; and the founding of the church in the Acts; Epistles on doctrine, the standing of the Christian, practical ordering of the church, the hope of the individual Christian in expecting his Lord, and his practical walk in the meanwhile: some addressed to various churches, and some to the Jewish converts who had peculiar difficulties to overcome, but containing principles necessary for all. Pastoral epistles for individual guidance when failure had begun to set in; and lastly, a prophecy of coming events, carried on to the end of time.

Is there any one of the books we could spare without leaving a deep chasm? Not one. Is there anything we need to be added? Nothing. There is no place to put it. Its symmetry is perfect. It cannot be added to; it must not be tken from. It is of God. Let us receive it with thankful confidence, and bow to its authority.

We may also profitably compare it with the Old Testament, and this all the more convinces us that but one mind runs through the whole; that one Person is the author of it all. And this is the more to be admired, when we remember that in some cases the writers were entirely unknown to each other, and many hundreds of years elapsed between the parts being written; yet there is no clashing, no variance, but a beautiful harmony running through it all. True it is that we need anointed eyes to see its beauties; but this should in no way discourage us, but rather urge us on to seek that anointing, that we may be able to see, and seeing to admire, that which is surely and emphatically the handywork of God.

We will, however, let our readers glance at two or three of the epistles which were bound up with the New Testament and read in the churches; and. we confidently believe that they will instinctively perceive that they are not a part of scripture.

The Epistle of Barnabas.

This is supposed to have been written by the companion of Paul, and is quoted by Clemens, Alexandrinus, and by Origen, apparently as scripture. Eusebius and Jerome also judged the epistle to be genuine, but not a part of scripture. It is now, however, much called in question whether it was written by that Barnabas.

We quote Barnabas as to the scape-goat: “How, then, ran the commandment? Give your attention. Take two goats of goodly aspect, and similar to each other, and offer them. And let the priest take one as a burnt-offering for sins [the Cod. Sin. reads 'one as a burnt-offering and one for sins']. And what shall they do with the other? ‘Accursed,’ says he, ‘is the one.’ Mark how the type of Jesus now comes out. ‘And all of you spit upon it, and pierce it, and encircle its head with scarlet wool, and thus let it be driven into the wilderness.’ And when all this has been done, he who bears the goat brings it into the desert, and takes the wool off from it and places that upon a shrub which is called Rachia. . . . Why, then again, is this? Give good heed — ‘One upon the altar, and the other accursed;’ and why the one that is accursed crowned? Because they shall see Him then in that day, having a scarlet robe about His body down to His feet; and they shall say, Is not this He whom we once despised, and pierced, and mocked, and crucified? . . . . But why is it that they place the wool among thorns? It is a type of Jesus set before the view of the church: that any one who wishes to bear it away, may find it necessary to suffer much, because the thorn is formidable, and thus obtain it only as the result of suffering.” (Chap. vii.)

Now it may be, as to the scarlet wool on the goat, that Barnabas only followed the Jewish traditions, but he does not quote it as that (for he writes against the Jews), and he says “How ran the commandment?” Then he is quite wrong in saying one goat was for a burnt-offering, or a burnt-offering for sins. Both goats were a sin-offering, and had nothing to do with the burnt-offering. These things and the fanciful interpretation of the wool on the thorn stamp it emphatically as not being inspired, and not a part of scripture.

Barnabas writes concerning circumcision:— “Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For it saith, ‘And Abraham circumcised ten and eight, and three hundred men of his household.’ The ten and the eight are thus denoted — Ten by I, and eight by H. You have Jesus [that is the first two letters in the Greek for Jesus, 'ΙΗΣΟΥΣ]. And because the cross was to express grace by the letter T, he said also ‘Three hundred ‘ [that is, in Greek, T stands for 300, I for 10, H for 8 — in all, 318]. He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters and the cross by one. He knows thus who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy.” (Chap. ix.)

Surely this is trifling with scripture. And taking the last sentence of the quotation as true, we may dismiss Barnabas as not to be named along with scripture, wondering the more how it could have been placed in the same book with the word of God and how it could have been read in the churches.

The Epistle of Clement.

The first Epistle of Clement was written to the Corinthians, apparently on their consulting him amid great dissension in the church: he writes thus severely:

“It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most steadfast and ancient church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumor has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.” (Chap. xlvii.)

A great deal is said about repentance, love, and good works; but sacrifices to be offered at Jerusalem by the high priest are strangely interwoven with the exhortations. In chapters xl. and xli., under the heading of “Let us preserve in the church the order appointed by God,” is the following:

“These things, therefore, being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in order. He has enjoined offerings, and service to be performed, and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours . . . . Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve upon the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen . . . . Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered . . . . but in Jerusalem only . . . . that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished by death. Ye see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.”

As we have said, this is placed under a heading as to the order appointed by God in the church. And Clement writes the above to the Gentiles at Corinth. One has only to compare it with the Epistle to the Galatians to see how entirely unscriptural it is.

When speaking of the “ministers in the church” he speaks of bishops (or overseers), and deacons, being appointed and says, “Nor was this any new thing, since, indeed, many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the scripture, in a certain place, ‘I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.’” (Chap. xlii.)

This is doubtless intended for a quotation from Isaiah 60:17 from the LXX, but altered by Clement to suit his purpose: for the LXX reads, “I will make thy princes peaceable, and thine overseers righteous.” The absurdity of quoting this passage to prove that bishops and deacons were not a new thing, must be obvious to all our readers.

As an emblem of the resurrection, Clement relates the heathen fable of the phoenix living five hundred years, and then rising again as a fresh bird from its own ashes. And then says that God “even by a bird shows up the mightiness of His power to fulfill His promise.” (Chaps. xxv., xxvi.)

Surely these extracts are sufficient to prove that the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is not inspired, and forms no part of the word of God.

The Shepherd of Hermas.

This is divided into Visions, Commands, and Similitudes. We give the substance of one of the Similitudes, that our readers may perceive how entirely different it is from scripture.

“Seest thou this vine and this elm? ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I see them.’ This vine, saith he, is fruitful, but the elm is a tree without fruit. Nevertheless this vine, unless it were set by this elm, and supported by it, would not bear much fruit, but lying alone upon the ground, would bear but ill fruit, because it did not hang upon the elm: whereas, now, being supported upon the elm, it bears fruit both for itself and for that. See, therefore, how the elm gives no less, but rather more fruit, than the vine . . . . This Similitude, therefore, is set forth to the servants of God; and it represents the rich and poor man.

“I answered, ‘Sir, make this manifest unto me.’ Hear, said he, the rich man has wealth; howbeit, towards the Lord he is poor: for he is taken up about his riches, and prays but little to the Lord; and the prayers which he makes are lazy and without force. When, therefore, the rich man reaches out to the poor those things which he wants, the poor man prays unto the Lord for the rich; and God grants unto the rich man all good things, because the poor man is rich in prayer, and his requests have great power with the Lord . . . . They are, therefore, both made partakers of each other’s good works. Whosoever, therefore, shall do these things, he shall not be forsaken by the Lord, but shall be written in the book of life. Happy they who are rich and perceive themselves to be increased: for he that is sensible of this will be able to minister somewhat to others.”

Of this writer Origen says, “I fancy that that Hermas [mentioned in Romans 16:14] is the author of the tract which is called The Shepherd, a writing which seems to me very useful, and is, as I fancy, divinely inspired [!]“

In dealing with the spurious books of New Testament times, it is well to remember the introduction of Luke’s Gospel, which seems to imply that there were false accounts even then in existence: “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which, from the beginning, were eye witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.” There being many (and they must be spurious because many, for God had caused only three others to be written, and John’s is very generally believed to have been written later), he would write one, by which Theophilus might be certain of the things he had been taught.

Another reference in scripture to spurious writings is in 2 Thessalonians 2:2: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Here the apostle intimates that they may have been troubled by some message or letter purporting to come from him which he had not sent, and warns them not to be troubled by any such things.

In the end of the same epistle Paul says, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.” (Chap. 3:17.)

It was the custom of Paul to employ an amanuensis to write his epistles, see Romans 16:22 (the Galatians he wrote himself: Gal. 6:11), but at the end he wrote a few words with his own hand, or, we suppose, signed his name, that it might be a token to them of its genuineness. (See 1 Cor. 16:21; Philemon 19.)

Of the other pretended epistles besides these we have named, there is not one but is manifestly not of God.

Some mention events that happened a long while after the pretended author’s death. Thus for instance, in the “Constitutions of the Apostles,” there is reference to the controversy about the re-baptism of heretics, which did not arise till the third century.

Some mention persons that did not live until long after the pretended author’s death. Thus the book under the name of Hegesippus (who lived in the second century), mentions Constantine and Constantinople which could not be before the fourth century.

The Questions and Answers under the name of Justin Martyr, mention Irenaeus and Origen, who both lived after his time.

There are, however, still one or two points to be cleared up touching the canon of the New Testament. The first is in Colossians 4:16, we read, “When this epistle is read amongst you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

This last sentence, “read the Epistle from Laodicea,” has given rise to the thought that Paul had written another Epistle to Laodicea which was to be passed on to the Colossians after being read at Laodicea, in the same way that the Epistle to Colosse was to be passed on to Laodicea. And if so, what has become of that Epistle? and is the canon of scripture complete without it?

In the first place it must be noticed that the word does not speak of an Epistle to Laodicea, but “the epistle from (εκ) Laodicea;” and may refer to
1. The Epistle to the Ephesians, which, perhaps, was being circulated from one to another, and was coming to Colosse, from Laodicea.
2. It may refer to a letter written from Laodicea to Paul, stating things of general interest, a copy of which Paul sent on to Colosse for them to read; or it might be a letter evincing a certain state of things at Laodicea which Paul judged would be well met by his letter to Colosse being read there also; and so Paul not only requested them to send on his Epistle to Laodicea, but also thus shewed them in fellowship the reason for his so doing.
3. It may have been an epistle written by Paul to Laodicea, and which was coming from thence to Colosse, a letter of general interest, but not inspired, and which was not intended to form a part of scripture. There is no reason for believing that we have all the letters that Paul wrote, or that all he wrote were inspired.

In none of these cases would the canon of scripture be touched, which is the point under consideration; and here we might be content to leave the matter but that there is in existence the copy of a letter entitled “The Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans,” which some have contended ought to form a part of scripture.

We give a copy of this epistle, from an old manuscript at Padua in Venice, that the reader may judge whether such an epistle is at all likely to have been written by Paul; not that the wording is not generally correct and scriptural, but that on the whole there seems no special point or object in it; indeed, it is supposed to be merely a compilation of portions of the epistles by Paul gathered together and made into a separate letter. By the side of the epistle we give the places from which the extracts may have been taken.

The Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans.

1. Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, to the brethren which are at Laodicea.
[Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ," etc. (Gal. 1:1.)]

2. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
[Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:3.)]

3. I thank Christ in every prayer of mine, that ye continue and persevere in good works, looking for that which is promised in the day of judgment.
["I thank my God upon every remembrance of you . . . for your fellowship in the gospel, from the first day until now," etc. (Phil. 1:3, 5.)]

4. Let not the vain speeches of any trouble you, who pervert the truth, that they may draw you aside from the truth of the gospel which I have preached.
["There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ," etc. (Gal. 1:7.)]

5. And now may God grant that my converts may attain to a perfect knowledge of the truth of the gospel, be beneficent, and doing good works which accompany salvation.

6. And now my bonds, which I suffer in Christ, are manifest, in which I rejoice and am glad.
[My bonds in Christ are manifest." (Phil. 1:13.)]

7. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation for ever, which shall be through your prayer, and the supply of the Holy Spirit.
["For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:19.)]

8. Whether I live or die; [for] to me to live shall be a life to Christ; to die will be joy.
["Whether it be by life or by death, for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:20, 21.)]

9. And our Lord will grant us His mercy, that ye may have the same love, and be like-minded.
["That ye be like-minded, having the same love." (Phil. 2:2.)]

10. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have heard of the coming of the Lord, so think and act in fear, and it shall be to you life eternal:
["Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, .... work out your own salvation with fear." (Phil. 2:12.)]

11. For it is God who worketh in you.
["For it is God who worketh in you." (Phil. 2:13.)]

12. And do all things without sin.
["Do all things without murmuring, etc., v. 15, that ye may be blameless." (Phil. 2:14.)]

13. And what is best, my beloved, rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, and avoid all filthy lucre.
["Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. (Phil. 3:1.)]

14. Let all your requests be made known to God, and be steady in the doctrine of Christ.
["Let your requests be made known unto God. (Phil. 4:6.)]

15. And whatsoever things are sound, and true, and of good report, and chaste, and just, and lovely, these things do.
["Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report," etc. (Phil. 4:8.)]

16. Those things which ye have heard, and received, think on these things, and peace shall be with you.
["Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen — do, and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil. 4:9.)]

17. All the saints salute you.
["All the saints salute you." (Phil. 4:22.)]

18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
["The grace of our Lord Jesus be with your spirit. Amen." (Gal. 6:18.)]

19. Cause this Epistle to be read to the Colossians, and the Epistle of the Colossians to be read among you.*
["And when this Epistle is read amongst you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea." (Col. 4:16.)]

{*From Jones, On the Canon of the New Testament.}

The reader will see by the above how very improbable it is that Paul ever wrote such an epistle as this professing to be from him to the Laodiceans.

Another passage that has been thought by some to allude to a lost epistle is 1 Corinthians 5:9 “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators.” The first word is έγραψα, the aorist indicative, ‘I wrote,’ but some translate it ‘I have written’ — ‘I wrote unto you in the epistle (εν τη επιστολη) not to mix with fornicators.’

The first question is what epistle is referred to? Does the passage refer to some part of this First Epistle, or does it point to an epistle sent before this First Epistle? Some refer to verses 2 and 7 of this same chapter as being the parts alluded to but they do not seem to be sufficiently to the point to justify the language “I wrote to you not to mix with fornicators.” It is to be noticed that in verse 11 we have the same word for ‘wrote’ with the addition of ‘now.’ “But now I wrote to you,” or “now I have written to you.” Others think that verse 9 refers to a former epistle, and verse 11 to the present one; and they would translate the former ‘I wrote,’ and the latter ‘I write,’ ‘now I write’ (though the two words are precisely the same: the aorist). Others refer both verses to a former epistle, taking the word ‘now’ in the sense of ‘this is my meaning.’ And others refer both verses to the present epistle.

It should be observed that in the Second Epistle (2 Cor. 7:8), there are the same three words as in our verse 9: εν τη επιστολη, ‘in the epistle,’ and these, by the context, clearly refer to the First Epistle: why, therefore, may not the same words in the First Epistle refer to one still earlier? Supposing this were so, let us see what would be involved.

The conclusion might hastily be formed that an epistle was lost, and the canon of scripture not complete. But let it be noticed that the same Greek word is sometimes used for a ‘letter’ as is used for an ‘epistle’ (see Acts 9:2; 2 Cor. 3:1), so that the references in 1 Corinthians 5 may refer to some letter which Paul wrote to the Corinthians, but which was not inspired and is not preserved as a part of scripture. As we have seen before, there is no reason to suppose that all the letters the apostles wrote have been preserved to us. All they wrote to form a part of “the word of God” are preserved, but they may have written much more than what was intended to form a part of scripture (see 1 Cor. 16:3), as, in a similar way, our Lord did many things which are not preserved to us in the Gospels. (John 21:25.) To this we need only add that there is in existence another Epistle to the Corinthians, said to be by Paul. It was not apparently known to the early Fathers. One thing is certain, it cannot be the letter above referred to; for in it there is no caution not to associate with fornicators — the subject is not touched upon. It is further proved to be a forgery by this sentence, “I, from the beginning, did teach you the very same thing which I received from the former apostles, who had constant conversation with the Lord.” This is directly the opposite of what Paul said of his ministry. See 1 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:2, 3.

This is all we need say on the canon of scripture. In taking up the writings of the Fathers, one is struck with the strong contrast there is between “the word of God,” and the writings of even the immediate successors of the apostles. While one grieves at what appears such a declension, on the other hand it is well that there should be a deep line of separation between that which is “the word of God,” and that which is the writings of men.

It is indeed surprising to find human writings attached to the scriptures, and that they were read in the churches. The formation of the canon of scripture was doubtless a work of time, and great respect was naturally shewn to those who had been companions of the apostles; but it must not be forgotten that long after that canon was settled, passages from apocryphal books were read in churches, as indeed in the Established Church of England — read, as the Prayer Book says, “for example of life and instruction of manners,” but not “to establish any doctrine.” And this, after so many years, is more surprising than that it should have been done before the canon was settled.

To revert again for a moment as to the settlement of the canon. It may suffice most to say that all Christians, all over the world, receive the canon as we now have it. Or a Christian can base it on faith, and say, “I believe that God caused the book to be written, and that He has preserved it to us intact. He has told us that it must not be added to nor taken from.” (Rev. 22:18, 19.) And, as one has well said, “this method of faith — the simplest and the shortest for establishing the certainty of the canon — is also unquestionably the most beneficial and the surest;” (Gaussen) and, we add, it is the only method that is suited for the simple and unlettered Christian, while we believe it is the only solid ground for the learned.

The Authorised Version of 1611.

We now turn to our venerable Authorised Version, with a view to ascertain, as far as we can, from what Greek text it was taken, and also to see what light all that has come before us throws upon the question of its integrity. We will first glance at the original preface.

The translators feared that their work would be evilly spoken of, for no one had ever sought to do any good for the people, but had been maligned: “Whosoever attempteth any thing,” said they, “for the publicke (specially if it pertains to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himselfe vpon a stage to be glouted vpon by euery euil eye, yea, he casteth himselfe headlong vpon pikes, to be gored by euery sharpe tongue.”

But this did not daunt them: they well asked, “What pietie without trueth? What trueth (what sauing trueth) without the word of God? What word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the scripture?”

They had profound reverence for the scripture “The originall thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the author being God, not man; the enditer the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the apostles or prophets . . . the form, God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, etc. . . . happy is the man that delighteth in the scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth on it day and night.”

But how could men meditate upon what they could not understand because of being in an unknown tongue? “Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain that we may look into the most holy place.”

But then the question was raised, Was there any need of a new translation, seeing the Bible was already in the English tongue? “Hath the church been deceived, say they, all this while? Hath her sweet bread been mingled with leaven, her silver with dross, her wine with water, her milk with lime?” On the other hand, others said, “Why do they now mend it? Was it not good?” The translators explain that they had no desire to find fault with any of their predecessors, but thought it good to go over the same work again to seek to make it more perfect. As secular books had been gone over again and again, “What ought we not to bestow upon the vine, the fruit whereof maketh glad the conscience of man, and the stem thereof abideth for ever?” They did not seek to make a good translation out of a bad one, but “to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against.”

They tell us that they translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew, and the New from the Greek; but do not tell us what Greek text they used. This we can only arrive at by comparing it with the Greek texts then in existence.

Of other matters they then speak. The first point is in favour of marginal readings in points of difficulty, rather than giving one sole interpretation.

The next point is that the translators refuse to be bound in any way to translate the same Greek word by the same English word, even when the sense is precisely the same. They defended their diversity very curiously: “For as it has been written of a certain great philosopher, that he should say that those logs were happy that were made images to be worshipped: for their fellows, as good as they, lay for blocks behind the fire! so if we should say, as it were, unto certain words, Stand up higher, have a place in the Bible always; and to others of like quality, Get ye hence, be banished for ever, we might be taxed peradventure, with St. James’s words, namely, To be partial in ourselves, and judges of evil thoughts . . . . niceness in words was always counted the next step to trifling.”

They commend the reader to God and to the Spirit of His grace, which was able to build them up further than the translators could tell or think; and thus warn their readers: “If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light; if food, if clothing be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves.”

From other sources we ascertain that the following were among the rules laid down for the guidance of the translators:

“1. The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit.

“2. The names of the prophets and the holy writers with the other names in the text, to be retained as near as may be, according as they are vulgarly used.

“3. The old ecclesiastical words to be used: as the word church not to be translated congregation, etc.

“4. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most ancient Fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of faith.

“5. The divisions of the chapters to be altered either not at all, or as little as may be, if necessity so require.

“6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.

“7. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down as shall serve for the fit reference of one scripture to another.

[Then follow rules as to how the work was to be apportioned out to different translators and finally revised.]

“14. These translations to be used, when they agree better with the text than the Bishops’ Bible viz., 1, Tyndale’s; 2, Matthew’s; 3, Coverdale’s; 4, Whitchurche’s (i.e., Cranmer’s); 5, The Geneva.”*

{* Anderson’s “Annals of the English Bible.”}

It will be seen that the above rules do not give any intimations to the translators as to what Greek text should be taken. And indeed there was the less need for any such instructions, seeing that the Greek texts then in vogue differed little from one another; and anything beyond them was but little known at that time. Still variations were known to exist, and it is a little surprising that no mention was made as to what text should be used.

As to date, the Authorised Version came in between the editions of Beza and those of Elzevir, but it is clear that the translators did not keep strictly to any one text then in existence; for whereas their version mostly agrees with the edition of Stephens 1550, in some places they chose Beza’s text in preference.

It will have been seen from the above that the Authorised Version was rather a revision of the Bishops’ Bible, than an entirely new translation. Now the Bishops’ Bible was made by Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by some fifteen known scholars, and published in 1568, about thirty years before the last edition of Beza’s Greek Testament; so that there can be no doubt that the translators of the Authorised Version referred to the editions of Beza; but as to why they chose his readings in some places in preference to those of Stephens 1550, we are quite in the dark; and it may be that in other places they simply followed the Bishops’ Bible.

That they did not adopt Beza’s text to the exclusion of Stephens’s is also evident, for where the two texts differ they adopted about a score of Stephens’s readings; and, strange to say, in some places they agree with neither Stephens nor Beza.

We will refer to these places with an endeavour to ascertain what could have guided the translators.

Matthew 2:11. A.V., “they saw,” with Complutensian and the Bishops’ Bible. Stephens and Beza have “they found.” Stephens had “they saw” in his margin, and this reading has been fully confirmed by the researches of modern editors. The Vulgate has invenerunt, “they found.”

Matthew 9:18. A.V., “a certain ruler,” with Comp. and Vulgate. St. and Beza omit “certain.” Modern editors are divided as to its insertion.

Matthew 10:10. A.V., “staves,” with Complutensian. St. and Beza, “staff.” Stephens had “staves” in his margin, but this reading has not been conclusively established by further evidence.

Mark 4:18. St. and Beza have (a second) “these are” before “such as hear the word.” Comp. omits the words; but the translators may have thought the sense complete without their repetition.

Mark 5:38. A.V., “and them that wept,” with Erasmus and Vulgate. St. and Beza omit ‘and,’ but all modern Editors add it.

Mark 9:42. A.V., had “these little ones,” (with Comp. and Vulgate), but modern editions have ‘these little ones.’ St. and Beza omit ‘these.’ Modern Editors are divided as to its reception.

Mark 15:3. A.V., “but he answered nothing,” with Comp., Stephens 1546, 1549, and Bishops’. But St. 1550, Beza, and modern Editors omit the words.

Luke 3:31. A.V. had “Menam” (with Erasmus and Bishops’), but modern editions have ‘Menan’ St. and Beza have Μαϊνάν, some Editors Μεννά.

Verse 35. A.V., “Heber,” with Erasmus and. Bishops’. St. and Beza have ‘Eber.’ Editors are divided. It is only the difference of breathing in the Greek Ε.

Luke 12:56. A.V., “of the sky and of the earth,” with Comp., Vulgate, and Bishops’. St. and Beza “of the earth and of the sky” with all modern Editors.

Luke 20:31. A.V., “the seven also, and they left,” with Erasmus and Bishops’. St. Beza omit ‘and’ (reading ‘the seven also left’) confirmed by all modern Editors.

John 8:6. A.V. (with Comp., Stephens 1546, 1549, and Bishops’) had “as though he heard them not,” in common type (put in italics in 1769). St. 1550 and Beza and all modern Editors omit.

Acts 7:16. A.V. had ‘Emor,’ with Erasmus and Bishops’; but now it is printed ‘Emmor.’ St. and Beza have ‘Εμμoρ, but most modern Editors Έμμωρ.

Acts 8:13. A.V., “Miracles and signs,” with Erasmus and Bishops’. St. and Beza, with best modern Editors, “signs and miracles.”

Acts 27:29. A.V., “we should have fallen,” with Comp., Vulg., and Bishops’. St. and Beza, “they should have fallen.” Stephens had the reading of A.V. in his margin, and it has been fully confirmed by modern editors.

Ephesians 6:24. A.V. omitted “Amen” (with Vulgate), but it is added in later editions. St. and Beza, with most modern Editors, omit the word.

2 Timothy 1:18. A.V., “he ministered unto me,” with Vulgate and Bishops’. St. and Beza, with all Editors, omit ‘unto me.’

Philemon 7. A.V., “joy,” with Comp., Vulgate, and Bishops’. St. and Beza, ‘return thanks’ instead of ‘have joy,’ the word for ‘return’ or ‘have’ remaining unchanged; but ‘joy’ is confirmed by all subsequent Editors.

Hebrews 12:24. A.V., το ‘Αβελ, “than that of Abel,” with Erasmus. St. and Beza τον ‘Αβελ, reading “than Abel.”

2 Peter 1:1. A.V., “Simon (Σίμων) Peter,” with Comp. and Vulgate. St. and Beza, “Symeon (Συμεoν) Peter,” with all modern Editors.

1 John 3:16. A.V., “love of God,” (with Comp. and Vulgate); but afterwards printed “love of God.” St. and Beza, with all Editors,. omit ‘of God.’

Jude 12. A. V., “feast with you,” with Comp. and Bishops’. St. and Beza, with all Editors, omit ‘with you.’

Revelation 11:4. A.V., “the two candlesticks,” with Comp. St. and Beza omit ‘the;’ but all modern Editors add the word.

Revelation 17:4. A.V., “was arrayed,” with Comp., Vulg., and Bishops’. St. and Beza omit ‘was;’ but niodern Editors add the word.

Revelation 18:1. A.V., “another angel,” with Comp., Erasmus and Bishops’. St. and Beza omit ‘another;’ but modern Editors add the word.

Verse 5. A.V., “have reached,” with Comp., but St. and Beza have “followed.” All modern Editors agree with the reading of A.V.

Revelation 19:18. A.V., “both free and bond” (with Comp.), but later editions “both free and bond.” St. and Beza omit ‘both;’ but modern Editors add the word.

Revelation 21:13. A.V., “and on the west,” with Comp., Vulg., and Bishops’. St. and Beza omit ‘and,’ but modern Editors add it.

It will be seen that the translators in two of the places named may have followed the margin of Stephens, and in the others, the Complutensian, the Vulgate, or the Bishops.

In the main, however, the translators followed Stephens and Beza; but Beza had copied Stephens for the most part, and Stephens had copied Erasmus. This latter fact is striking in a few places. For Stephens in his edition of 1550 in some places abandoned his former text and all his manuscripts, in favor of readings given by Erasmus, and these were mostly retained in our Authorized Version.

Mill quotes the following instances of this going back, not to manuscripts, but to the printed edition of Erasmus:

Matthew 2:11: ‘they found,’ instead of the correct reading, they saw:’ already alluded to, as not being following by the Authorized Version.

Matthew 3:8: ‘fruits,’ wrongly, instead of ‘fruit.’

Mark 6:33: ‘the people saw,’ instead of ‘they saw,’ the correct reading.

Mark 16:8: ‘they went out quickly;’ ‘quickly’ should be omitted.

Luke 7:31: ‘And the Lord said,’ omit the four words.

John 14:30: ‘the prince of this world,’ instead of the true reading, ‘the prince of the world.’

Acts 5:23: ‘the keepers standing without,’ omit ‘without.’

James 5:9: ‘lest ye be condemned,’ instead of the true reading, ‘lest ye be judged.’

In all the above cases more recent researches have proved that Stephens made a mistake in leaving his manuscripts: they were right, and Erasmus wrong.

It might naturally have been supposed that as Beza had additional manuscripts, his text would have been purer than that of Stephens; but this is certainly not the case in all places. Romans 7:6 is a remarkable instance of a false reading in Beza, and which found its way into the Authorised Version, although right in Stephens 1550. Beza gave αποθανόντος which makes the passage read that the law was dead; αποθανόντες is the right reading, and this makes the persons to have died: the difference is doctrinally of great importance. The false reading, though supported by no Greek manuscript and by no version, was copied into the Elzevir text.

This will help us in the consideration as to whether the Authorized Version needs revision. There are two things that must never be confounded. First, what are the true Greek words that ought to be translated? and, secondly, how are they to be translated? Our question is concerning the former only, and not the latter. While all speak highly of the Authorized Version as a translation, most admit that in this it may be improved in some places. The grave difficulties are, who are to make the alterations, and how much is to be altered, so that the work shall commend itself to Christians generally?

But our subject is the text to be translated. The above passage in Romans 7:6 ought to convince any person that in some places a purer text ought to be taken. If our readers will also turn back to the variations in the Revelation, they will see that some of the readings in the Authorized Version have, as far as we have any means of knowing, absolutely no manuscript authority whatever. Surely such passages ought to be altered. But in many places the sense may not be affected; and if the text is to be altered, the grave question is, who is to do it, and do it in such a way that it shall, as in the translation, commend itself to all Christians? This is a much more difficult question than the translation of the text after that is fixed on. The translation may perhaps be amended to commend itself to most; but as to the text, only few are at all able to judge as to where the text needs altering, and will naturally cling to their time-honored New Testament. If portions were left out, and others added, we can easily see how many good Christians would look upon the work with the greatest abhorrence, if not designate it as the work of Satan!

While this is being written, as is well known, there is a Committee of learned men revising the Authorized Version of the scriptures. Of course, they will have to consider both of the above questions; but we fear that of the two, their choice of text will be that which may give the least satisfaction, as it is undoubtedly the most difficult. Whether this revised translation will ever become the Authorized Version of this country remains to be seen.

But our readers will naturally expect that we should give them some sort of finger-post to guide them through the apparent labyrinth of the various readings shown forth in uncials, cursives, versions, and fathers. First, let us repeat what we said at the commencement, that though there are thousands of various readings, they do not touch one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. All these remain intact; still, as we need and desire to know the very words of our God, we should value every help that would lead us to a more correct text. To attain this we know of no better plan for the general reader than to be guided by the united judgment of the various editors. There have been men who have laboured diligently and faithfully in the task of discovering what was the text of the New Testament as God caused it to be written at the first. These laid down certain rules for themselves — one taking this path, and another that; but in many cases they all arrived at the same conclusion. Where this is so, we consider that the student of scripture will be safe in taking their united judgment as decisive for a reading.

As to the editors to be taken we should not advise going further back than Griesbach, and even since his day a great mass of evidence has came to light. Scholz may be omitted, for, as we have seen, he rejected his own plan of action before he died. We should say, take Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Green, and Wordsworth; and Westcott and Hort when published.*

{* The reader will find the readings of most of these editors in both Greek and English in the “Englishman’s Greek New Testament” (Bagster).}

Of course we should recommend this for private study, and not for public use. We see no difficulty in the Authorized Version being used in public, as the Septuagint was used by our Lord and His apostles even where it is not an exact translation of the Hebrew — and only corrected where absolutely necessary. By this means we shall preserve the familiar and forcible language of the Authorized Version, and still be furnished by the above, together with some good new translation, which may also confirm the text to be used, with all we may need to arrive at a true text, and the translation of the same.

Verbal Inspiration.

We have still to consider the subject as to how far the variations of the manuscripts touch the verbal inspiration of the New Testament.

Many Christians fully believe that the very words of scripture are inspired; that is, that not simply the sense of scripture was directly from God, leaving the various writers to choose very much their own words, but that God also caused the writers to use His own words.

Without entering at any length into the question of inspiration, it may be well just to quote two or three passages that bear upon the verbal inspiration of scripture.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 13:31.) “The words I speak unto you, they are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63.) “He that is of God heareth the words of God.” (John 8:47.) “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:18.) These passages may suffice, when taken with the passages usually quoted for the inspiration of the whole of scripture.

But those who disbelieve in the inspiration of the words of scripture, say, “Of what use is your belief in verbal inspiration, when we are not sure that we have the very words God caused to be written? The hundreds and thousands of variations in the manuscripts destroy your theory, or render it useless.”

Now, in the first place, we must insist upon it that there are two separate and distinct questions to be considered — questions which should not be allowed to interfere with one another.

The first question is — Did God so control the writers of the scriptures that they wrote His words? We say, Yes. We have quoted some passages that speak of “words;” and we must hold this truth firmly. To give it up is to allow the thin end of the wedge of skepticism to come in between us and God as to His word. What distinct thought can we have, in speaking of a jot or tittle of the law not failing, if it is sufficient to consider its general sense? And how are we to arrive at the sense of scripture except through the words used? We consider that a Christian must hold with “verbal” inspiration, or he virtually gives up inspiration altogether at least in a way that is at all worthy of God, in giving us an infallible guide amid the surrounding darkness and error.

Now, if this point is once settled, it greatly simplifies the other, namely, “Have we a correct copy of that which God caused to be written?” Suppose for a moment I am obliged to say, “No, we have not a correct copy;” that in no way touches the other point, namely, that there were correct copies once. And if I believe that there were such, I naturally say, “I wish I had a correct copy.” But, on the other hand, I have nothing to wish for if I deny that there ever were copies of “the words of God.” If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, gave only the sense of what God intended them to write, I have that in almost any Greek copy: why search any more? Why spend years of labor, and thousands of pounds, to get at that which never existed, namely, “the words of God?” I may labor diligently to get accurately what Paul wrote; but of what use is it, if, when I have arrived at it, I have Paul, and not God, except as to the general sense? This I have already in the common Greek text, and in the Authorized Version.

Thus we see that by believing in the verbal inspiration of the scripture is given the impetus to search after a correct text; but it surely is not worth the time and labor, if I have nothing to gain but the words of those who were merely the instruments. It is because God caused the writers to use His words that gives us the earnest desire to have a correct copy of these very words.

Now, with this desire before us, we must candidly admit that we may not have every word God caused to be written; that is what we desire and labor for. But if we have not every one, we have nearly all; there are places where we have not yet been able to say with certainty that we have the exact words. In some places the weight of evidence for two or more readings is so nearly balanced, that it is not for any one dogmatically to say what it was in the original.

As we have seen, the various readings do not touch one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. These all stand out in their full luster, as they came from the finger of God. But because it is the word of God, we want to know the words He used in every place. We do know them in the main; in thousands of passages there are no variations worth speaking of, nothing to disturb the commonly received version which has been in use in the church for so long. With the exceptions that have been named, we have the “words of God” as given in the New Testament. On these we hang our souls’ salvation, and in these is the hope set before us, of soon seeing our blessed Lord, and being with Him, and like Him, for ever.

This is “Our Father’s Will:” let us receive it devoutly; believe every word of it; and seek to obey it in all things.