Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
878
[N.T. TEXTS
BIBLE

received its impulse from Athanasius, the power by which it was carried through and established was largely that of his powerful ally, the Church of Rome.

The final victory was no doubt a little delayed. Asia Minor and Syria were for most of the 4th century divided between the following of Eusebius (Cyril of Jerusalem in A.D. 348, Gregory of Nazianzus, the list of Apost. Can. 85, that attached to Can. 59 of the Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 363) and the school of Antioch. The leading members of that school adopted 3 Epp. Cath. (James, 1 Peter, 1 John), Theod. Mops. omitting this group altogether, and the whole school omitting Apoc. Amphilochius of Iconium (c. 380) gives the two lists, Eusebian and Antiochene, as alternatives. The Eusebian list only wanted the complete admission of the Apocalypse to be identical with the Athanasian; and Athanasius had one stalwart supporter in Epiphanius (ob. 403).

The original Syriac list, as we have seen, had neither Epp. Cath. nor Apoc. The Peshito version, in regard to which Professor Burkitt’s view is now pretty generally accepted, that it was the work of Rabbula, bishop of Edessa, 411-433, added the 3 Epp. Cath. The remaining 4 Epp. Cath. and Apoc. were supplied in the Philoxenian version of 508, and retained in the Harklean revision of 616. But both these were Monophysite and of limited use, and the Nestorians still went on using the Peshito.

Meantime, in the West, an important Synod was held by Damasus at Rome in 382 which, under the dominant influence of Jerome and the Athanasian tradition, drew up a list corresponding to the present Canon. This was ratified by Pope Gelasius (492-496), and independently confirmed for the province of Africa by a series of Synods held at Hippo Regius in 393, and at Carthage in 397 and 419, under the lead of Augustine. The formal completion of the whole process in East and West was reserved for the Quinisextine Council (Council in Trullo) of 692. But even after that date irregularities occur from time to time, especially in the East.

In the fixing of the Canon, as in the fixing of doctrine, the decisive influence proceeded from the bishops and the theologians of the period 325-450. But behind these was the practice of the greater churches; and behind that again was not only the lead of a few distinguished individuals, but the instinctive judgment of the main body of the faithful. It was really this instinct that told in the end more than any process of quasi-scientific criticism. And it was well that it should be so, because the methods of criticism are apt to be, and certainly would have been when the Canon was formed, both faulty and inadequate, whereas instinct brings into play the religious sense as a whole; with spirit speaking to spirit rests the last word. Even this is not infallible; and it cannot be claimed that the Canon of the Christian Sacred Books is infallible. But experience has shown that the mistakes, so far as there have been mistakes, are unimportant; and in practice even these are rectified by the natural gravitation of the mind of man to that which it finds most nourishing and most elevating.

Bibliography.—The separate articles on the various books of the New Testament may be consulted for detailed bibliographies. The object of the above sketch has been to embrace in constructive outline the ground usually covered analytically and on a far larger scale by Introductions to the New Testament, and by Histories of the New Testament Canon. In English there is a standard work of the latter class in Westcott’s General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (first published in 1855, important revision and additions in 4th ed. 1874, 7th ed. 1896), with valuable appendix of documents at the end. There was also a useful collection of texts by Prof. Charteris of Edinburgh, Canonicity (1880), based on Kirchhofer, Quellensammlung (1844), but with improvements. The leading documents are to be had in the handy and reliable Kleine Texte (ed. Lietzmann, from 1902). On Introduction the ablest older English work was Salmon, Historical Introduction to the Study of N.T. (1st ed. 1885, 5th ed. 1891); but, although still possessing value as argument, this has been more distinctly left behind by the progress of recent years. England has made many weighty contributions both to Introduction and Canon, especially Lightfoot, Essays on Supernatural Religion (collected in 1889); editions of Books of the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers; Westcott, editions; Hort, especially Romans and Ephesians (posthumous, 1895); Swete, editions; Knowling and others. The Oxford Society of Historical Theology put out a useful New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers in 1905, and Prof. Stanton of Cambridge, The Gospels as Historical Documents (part i. in 1903). Prof. Burkitt’s Gospel History and its Transmission appeared in 1906. For introductory matter the student will do well to consult the Dictionary of the Bible (ed. Hastings, 5 vols., 1898-1904) and Encyclopaedia Biblica (ed. Cheyne and Black, 4 vols., 1899-1903). Dr Hastings and his contributors belong more to the right wing of criticism, and Dr Cheyne and his to the left. The systematic Introduction is a characteristic production of Germany and has done excellent service in its day, though there are signs that the analytic method hitherto mainly practised is beginning to give place to something more synthetic or constructive. The pioneer work in this latter direction is Weizsäcker’s skilful and artistic Apostolisches Zeitalter (1st ed. 1886, 3rd ed. 1901; Eng. trans. 1894-1895); somewhat similar on a smaller scale is von Soden, History of Early Christian Literature (trans., 1906). Special mention should be made of Wellhausen on the Synoptic Gospels (1903-1905), and Harnack, Beiträge z. Einleitung in d. N.T. (part i. 1906, part ii. 1907). The most important recent works on Introduction and Canon have been those of H. J. Holtzmann (1st ed. 1885, 3rd ed. 1902), B. Weiss (1st ed. 1886, 3rd ed. 1897); a series of works by Th. Zahn, almost colossal in scale and exhaustive in detail, embracing Gesch. d. neut. Kanöns (2 vols., 1888-1892, third to follow), Forschungen z. Gesch. d. neut. Kan. (7 parts, 1881-1907), Einleitung (2 vols., 1897-1899), Grundriss d. Gesch. d. neut. Kan. (1st ed. 1901, 2nd ed. 1904); A. Jülicher, Einleitung (1st and 2nd ed. 1894, 5th and 6th ed. 1906; Eng. trans. by Miss Janet Ward, 1904). Zahn and Jülicher may be said to supplement and correct each other, as they write from very different points of view, and on Jülicher’s side there is no lack of criticism of his great opponent. Zahn’s series is monumental in its way, and his Grundriss is very handy and full of closely packed and (in statements of facts) trustworthy matter. Jülicher’s work is also highly practical, very complete and well proportioned in scale, and up to a certain point its matter is also excellent. The History of the Canon, by the Egyptologist Joh. Leipoldt (Leipzig, 1907), may also be warmly recommended; it is clear and methodical, and does not make the common mistake of assigning too much to secondary causes; the author does not forget that he is dealing with a sacred book, and that he has to show why it was held sacred.

 (W. Sa.) 


2. Texts and Versions.

The apparatus criticus of the New Testament consists, from one point of view, entirely of MSS.; but these MSS. may be divided into three groups: (A) Greek MSS., which in practice are known “The MSS,” (B) MSS. of versions in other languages representing translations from the Greek, (C) MSS. of other writings whether in Greek or other languages which contain quotations from the New Testament.

(A) Greek MSS.—These may be divided into classes according to style of writing, material, or contents. The first method distinguishes between uncial or majuscule, and cursive or minuscule; the second between papyrus, vellum or parchment, and paper (for further details see Manuscript and Palaeography); and the third distinguishes mainly between Gospels, Acts and Epistles (with or without the Apocalypse), New Testaments (the word in this connexion being somewhat broadly interpreted), lectionaries and commentaries.

Quite accurate statistics on this subject are scarcely attainable. Von Soden’s analysis of numbers, contents and date may be tabulated as follows, but it must be remembered that it reckons many small fragments as separate MSS., especially in the earlier centuries. It is also necessary to add that there is one small scrap of papyrus of the 3rd century containing a few verses of the 4th Gospel.


Century     IV.     V.     VI.     VII.      VIII.     IX.     X.     XI.     XII.     XIII.     XIV.     XV.     XVIf.     Total.  
  New Testaments
  Gospels
  Act and Epistles
  Acts and Catholic Epp.  
  Pauline Epp.
  Apocalypse
2
3
1
··
··
··
2
10
1
··
4
··
1
26
··
1
7
··
··
10
1
4
1
··
1
19
1
··
··
··
2
26
4
··
5
··
2
82
19
··
4
1
16
188
55
··
··
2
24
282
49
2
1
3
44
260
52
··
··
5
47
218
56
3
4
5
19
107
31
2
3
21
7
46
8
5
3
6
167
1277
278
25
32
43