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N.T. CRITICISM]
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BIBLE


which suggest that the native church and native literature had their strength at first chiefly in the southern parts of the country. It must be noted that Westcott and Hort called the Bohairic Memphitic, and the Sahidic Thebaic, and Tischendorf called the Bohairic Coptic.

[See G. Horner’s The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect (Oxford); Scrivener’s Introduction (ed. Miller), vol. ii. pp. 91-144; and especially an article on “Egyptian Versions” in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i. by Forbes Robinson.]

(β) Among the secondary versions the only one of real importance is the Armenian.

The Armenian Version.—The early history of this version is obscure, but it seems probable that there were two translations made in the 4th century: (1) by Mesrop with the help of Hrofanos (Rufinus?) based on a Greek text; (2) by Armenian. Sahak, based on Syriac. After the council of Ephesus (A.D. 430) Mesrop and Sahak compared and revised their work with the help of MSS. from Constantinople. The general character of the version is late, but there are many places in which the Old Syriac basis can be recognized, and in the Acts and Epistles, where the Old Syriac is no longer extant, this is sometimes very valuable evidence.

[See Scrivener (ed. Miller) vol. ii. pp. 148-154; Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, article on “The Armenian Versions of the New Testament,” by F. C. Conybeare; J. A. Robinson, “Euthaliana” (Texts and Studies, iii. 3), cap. 5; on the supposed connexion of Mark xvi. 8 ff. with Aristion mentioned in this version, see esp. Swete’s The Gospel according to St Mark (London, 1902), p. cxi.]

Other secondary versions which are sometimes quoted are the Gothic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Arabic, Anglo-Saxon, Frankish and Persic. None has any real critical importance; details are given in Gregory’s Prolegomena and in Scrivener’s Introduction.

(C) Quotations in Patristic Writings.—The value of this source of evidence lies in the power which it gives us to date and localize texts. Its limitations are found in the inaccuracy of quotation of the writers, and often in the corrupt condition of their text. This latter point especially affects quotations which later scribes frequently forced into accord with the text they preferred.

All writers earlier than the 5th century are valuable, but particularly important are the following groups:—(1) Greek writers in the West, especially Justin Martyr, Tatian, Marcion, Irenaeus and Hippolytus; (2) Latin writers in Italy, especially Novatian, the author of the de Rebaptismate and Ambrosiaster; (3) Latin writers in Africa, especially Tertullian and Cyprian; (4) Greek writers in Alexandria, especially Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius and Cyril; (5) Greek writers in the East, especially Methodius of Lycia and Eusebius of Caesarea; (6) Syriac writers, especially Aphraates and Ephraem; it is doubtful whether the Diatessaron of Tatian ought to be reckoned in this group or in (1). None of these groups bears witness to quite the same text, nor can all of them be identified with the texts found in existing MSS. or versions, but it may be said with some truth that group 2 used the European Latin version, group 3 the African Latin, and group 6 the Diatessaron in the gospels and the Old Syriac elsewhere, while group I has much in common with cod. Bezae, though the difference is here somewhat greater. In group 4 the situation is more complex; Clement used a text which has most in common with cod. Bezae, but is clearly far from identical; Origen in the main has the text of א B; Athanasius a somewhat later variety of the same type, while Cyril has the so-called Alexandrian text found especially in L. Group 4 has a peculiar text which cannot be identified with any definite group of MSS. For further treatment of the importance of this evidence see the section Textual Criticism below.

[There is as yet but little satisfactory literature on this subject. Outstanding work is P. M. Barnard’s “Clement of Alexandria’s Biblical Text” (Texts and Studies, v. 5), 1899; Harnack’s “Eine Schrift Novatians,” in Texte und Untersuchungen, xiii. 4; Souter’s “Ambrosiaster” in Texts and Studies, vii. 4; the Society of Historical Theology’s New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers; an article by Kostschau, “Bibelcitate bei Origenes,” in the Zeitschrift f. wissenschaftliche Theologie (1900), pp. 321-378; and on the general subject especially Nestle’s Einführung in das griechische Neue Testament (Göttingen, 1909), pp. 159-167.]  (K. L.) 

3. Textual Criticism.

The problem which faces the textual critic of the New Testament is to reconstruct the original text from the materials supplied by the MSS., versions, and quotations in early writers, which have been described in the preceding section on the apparatus criticus. His object, therefore, is to discover and remove the various corruptions which have crept into the text, by the usual methods of the textual critic—the collection of material, the grouping of MSS. and other authorities, the reconstruction of archetypes, and the consideration of transcriptional and intrinsic probability. No book, however, presents such a complicated problem or such a wealth of material for the textual critic.

In a certain wide sense the textual criticism of the New Testament began as soon as men consciously made recensions and versions, and in this sense Origen, Jerome, Augustine and many other ecclesiastical writers might be regarded as textual critics. But in practice it is general, and certainly convenient, to regard their work rather as material for criticism, and to begin the history of textual criticism with the earliest printed editions which sought to establish a standard Greek Text. It is, of course, impossible here to give an account of all these, but the following may fairly be regarded as the epoch-making books from the beginning to the present time.

The Complutensian.—The first printed text of the Greek Testament is known as the Complutensian, because it was made under the direction of Cardinal Ximenes of Alcalá (Lat. Complutum). It was printed in 1514, and is thus the first printed text, but is not the first published, as it was not issued until 1522. It is not known what MSS. Ximenes used, but it is plain from the character of the text that they were not of great value. His text was reprinted in 1569 by Chr. Plantin at Antwerp.

Erasmus.—The first published text was that of Erasmus. It was undertaken at the request of Joannes Froben (Frobenius), the printer of Basel, who had heard of Cardinal Ximenes’ project and wished to forestall it. In this he was successful, as it was issued in 1516. It was based chiefly on MSS. at Basel, of which the only really good one (cod. Evan. 1) was seldom followed. Erasmus issued new editions in 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535, and the Aldine Greek Testament, printed at Venice in 1518, is a reproduction of the first edition.

Stephanus.—Perhaps the most important of all early editions were those of Robert Étienne, or Stephanus, of Paris and afterwards of Geneva. His two first editions (1546, 1549) were based on Erasmus, the Complutensian, and collations of fifteen Greek MSS. These are 16mo volumes, but the third and most important edition (1550) was a folio with a revised text. It is this edition which is usually referred to as the text of Stephanus. A fourth edition (in 16mo) published at Geneva in 1551 is remarkable for giving the division of the text into verses which has since been generally adopted.

Beza.—Stephanus’ work was continued by Theodore Beza, who published ten editions between 1565 and 1611. They did not greatly differ from the 1550 edition of Stephanus, but historically are important for the great part they played in spreading a knowledge of the Greek text, and as supplying the text which the Elzevirs made the standard on the continent.

Elzevir.—The two brothers, Bonaventura and Abraham Elzevir, published two editions at Leiden in 1624 and 1633, based chiefly on Beza’s text. In the preface to the second edition the first is referred to as “textum... nunc ab omnibus receptum,” and this is the origin of the name “Textus Receptus” (or T.R.) often given to the ordinary Greek Text. The Elzevir text has formed the basis of all non-critical editions on the continent, but in England the 1550 edition of Stephanus has been more generally followed. The importance of both the Stephanus and Elzevir editions is that they formed a definite text for the purposes of comparison, and so prepared the way for the next stage, in which scholars busied themselves with the investigation and collation of other MSS.

Walton’s Polyglot.—The first to begin this work was Brian Walton, bishop of Chester, who published in 1657 in the 5th and 6th volumes of his “polyglot” Bible the text of Stephanus (1550) with the readings of fifteen new MSS. besides those employed by Stephanus himself. The collations were made for him by Archbishop Ussher.

John Fell.—In 1675 John Fell, dean of Christ Church, published the Elzevir text with an enlarged apparatus, but even more important was the help and advice which he gave to the next important editor—Mill.

John Mill, of Queen’s College, Oxford, influenced by the advice, and supported by the purse of John Fell until the latter’s death, published in 1707 a critical edition of the New Testament which has still a considerable value for the scholar. It gives the text of Stephanus (1550) with collations of 78 MSS., besides those of Stephanus, the readings of the Old Latin, so far as was then known, the Vulgate and Peshito, together with full and valuable prolegomena.

Bentley.—A little later Richard Bentley conceived the idea that it would be possible to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament by a comparison of the earliest Greek and Latin sources; he began to collect material for this purpose, and issued a scheme entitled “Proposals for Printing” in 1720, but though he amassed many notes nothing was ever printed.

W. Mace.—Fairness forbids us to omit the name of William (or Daniel?) Mace, a Presbyterian minister who published The New Testament in Greek and English, in 2 vols. in 1729, and really anticipated many of the verdicts of later critics. He was, however, not in a position to obtain recognition, and his work has been generally overlooked.