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N.T. CRITICISM]
885
BIBLE


struck by the fact that neither the Western can be shown to be derived from the Neutral, nor the Neutral from the Western. He therefore conceived the idea that perhaps both texts were Lucan, and represented two recensions by the original writer, and he reconstructed the history as follows. Luke wrote the first edition of the Gospel for Theophilus from Caesarea; this is the Neutral text of the Gospel. Afterwards he went to Rome and there revised the text of the Gospel and reissued it for the Church in that city; this is the Western (or, as Blass calls it, Roman) text of the Gospel. At the same time he continued his narrative for the benefit of the Roman Church, and published the Western text of the Acts. Finally he revised the Acts and sent a copy to Theophilus; this is the Neutral text of the Acts. This ingenious theory met with considerable approval when it was first advanced, but it has gradually been seen that “Western” text does not possess the unity which Blass’s theory requires it to have. Still, Blass’s textual notes are very important, and there is a mass of material in his books.

Bousset and Schmidtke.—These two scholars have done much work in trying to identify smaller groups of MSS. with local texts. Bousset has argued that the readings in the Pauline epistles found in אc H and a few minuscules represent the text used by Pamphilus, and on the whole this view seems to be highly probable. Another group which Bousset has tried to identify is that headed by B, which he connects with the recension of Hesychius, but this theory, though widely accepted in Germany, does not seem to rest on a very solid basis. To some extent influenced by and using Bousset’s results, Schmidtke has tried to show that certain small lines in the margin of B point to a connexion between that MS. and a Gospel harmony, which, by assuming that the text of B is Hesychian, he identifies with that of Ammonius. If true, this is exceedingly important. Nestle, however, and other scholars think that the lines in B are merely indications of a division of the text into sense-paragraphs and have nothing to do with any harmony.

Rendel Harris and Chase.—Two investigations, which attracted much notice when they were published, tried to explain the phenomena of the Western text as due to retranslation from early versions into Greek. Rendel Harris argued for the influence of Latin, and Chase for that of Syriac. While both threw valuable light on obscure points, it seems probable that they exaggerated the extent to which retranslation can be traced; that they ranked Codex Bezae somewhat too highly as the best witness to the “Western” text; and that some of their work was rendered defective by their failure to recognize quite clearly that the “Western” text is not a unity. At the same time, however little of Rendel Harris’s results may ultimately be accepted by the textual critics of the future, his work will always remain historically of the first importance as having done more than anything else to stimulate thought and open new lines of research in textual criticism in the last decade of the 19th century.

The time has not yet come when any final attempt can be made to bring all these separate studies together and estimate exactly how far they necessitate serious modification of the views of Westcott and Hort; but a tentative and provisional judgment would probably have to be on somewhat the following lines. The work of WH may be summed up into two theorems:—(1) The text preserved in the later MSS. is not primitive, but built up out of earlier texts;. (2) these earlier texts may be classified as Western, Alexandrian and Neutral, of which the Neutral is the primitive form. The former of these theorems has been generally accepted and may be taken as proved, but the second has been closely criticized and probably must be modified. It has been approached from two sides, according as critics have considered the Western or the Neutral and Alexandrian texts.

The Western Text.—This was regarded by WH as a definite text, found in D, the Old Latin and the Old Syriac; and it is an essential part of their theory that in the main these three witnesses represent one text. On the evidence which they had WH were undoubtedly justified, but discoveries and investigation have gone far to make it impossible to hold this view any longer. We now know more about the Old Latin, and, thanks to Mrs Lewis’ discovery, much more about the Old Syriac. The result is that the authorities on which WH relied for their Western text are seen to bear witness to two texts, not to one. The Old Latin, if we take the African form as the oldest, as compared with the Neutral text has a series of interpolations and a series of omissions. The Old Syriac, if we take the Sinaitic MS. as the purest form, compared in the same way, has a similar double series of interpolations and omissions, but neither the omissions nor the interpolations are the same in the Old Latin as in the Old Syriac. Such a line of research suggests that instead of being able, as WH thought, to set the Western against the Neutral text (the Alexandrian being merely a development of the latter), we must consider the problem as the comparison of at least three texts, a Western (geographically), an Eastern and the Neutral. This makes the matter much more difficult; and an answer is demanded to the problem afforded by the agreement of two of these texts against the third. The obvious solution would be to say that where two agree their reading is probably correct, but the followers of WH maintain that the agreement of the Western and Eastern is often an agreement in error. It is difficult to see how texts, geographically so wide apart as the Old Latin and Old Syriac would seem to be, are likely to agree in error, but it is certainly true that some readings found in both texts seem to have little probability. Sanday, followed by Chase and a few other English scholars, has suggested that the Old Latin may have been made originally in Antioch, but this paradoxical view has met with little support. A more probable suggestion is Burkitt’s, who thinks that many readings in our present Old Syriac MSS. are due to the Diatessaron, which was a geographically Western text. It may be that this suggestion will solve the difficulty, but at present it is impossible to say.

The Neutral and Alexandrian Texts.—WH made it plain that the Alexandrian text was a literary development of the Neutral, but they always maintained that the latter text was not confined to, though chiefly used in Alexandria. More recent investigations have confirmed their view as to the relation of the Alexandrian to the Neutral text, but have thrown doubt on the age and wide-spread use of the latter. Whatever view be taken of the provenance of Codex Vaticanus it is plain that its archetype had the Pauline epistles in a peculiar order which is only found in Egypt, and so far no one has been able to discover any non-Alexandrian writer who used the Neutral text. Moreover, Barnard’s researches into the Biblical text of Clement of Alexandria show that there is reason to doubt whether even in Alexandria the Neutral text was used in the earliest times. We have no evidence earlier than Clement, and the text of the New Testament which he quotes has more in common with the Old Latin or “geographically Western” text than with the Neutral, though it definitely agrees with no known type preserved in MSS. or versions. This discovery has put the Neutral text in a different light. It would seem as though we could roughly divide the history of the text in Alexandria into three periods. The earliest is that which is represented by the quotations in Clement, and must have been in use in Alexandria at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century. It is unfortunately not found in any extant MS. The second stage is that found in the quotations of Origen which is fairly well represented in א B, though Origen seems at times to have used MSS. of the earlier type. The third stage is WH’s Alexandrian, found in the quotations of Cyril of Alexandria and a few MSS. (esp. CL Ξ Δ Ψ). It is clearly a revision of the second stage, as WH saw, but we can now add that it was not merely a literary revision but was influenced by the tendency to revive readings which are found in the first stage but rejected in the second.

It thus seems probable that WH’s theory must be modified, both as regards the “Western” text, which is seen not to be a single text at all, and as regards the “Neutral” text, which seems to be nothing more than the second stage of the development of the text in Alexandria. But the importance of these modifications is something more than the doubt which they have thrown on WH’s theories: they have really shifted the centre of gravity of the textual problem.

Formerly the Greek uncials, which go back to the 4th century, were regarded as the most important source of evidence, and were supposed to have the decisive vote; but now it is becoming plain that still more important, though unfortunately much less complete, is the evidence of the versions and of quotations by early writers. Both of these point to the existence in the 3rd and even 2nd century of types of text which differ in very many points from anything preserved in Greek MSS. Yet there is no doubt that both of them ultimately represent Greek MSS. which are no longer extant. The question, therefore, is whether we ought not to base our text on the versions and ecclesiastical quotations rather than on the extant Greek MSS. Two positions are possible: (1) We may defend a text based on the best existing Greek MSS. by the argument that these represent the text which was approved by competent judges in the 4th century, and would be found to exist in earlier MSS. if we possessed them. The weak point of this argument is the lack of evidence in support of the second part. The only possible sources of evidence, apart from the discovery of fresh MSS., are the versions, and they do not point to existence in the 2nd or 3rd century of texts agreeing with the great uncials. It is also possible to argue, as WH did, on the same side, that the purest form of text was preserved in Alexandria, from which the oldest uncials are directly or indirectly derived, but this argument has been weakened if not finally disposed of by the evidence of Clement of Alexandria. It is, of course, conceivable that Clement merely used bad MSS., and that there were other MSS. which he might have used, agreeing with the great uncials, but there is no evidence for this view. (2) If we reject this position we must accept the evidence as giving the great uncials much the same secondary importance as Westcott and Hort gave to the later MSS., and make an attempt to reconstruct a text on the basis of versions and Fathers. The adoption of this view sets textual critics a peculiarly difficult task. The first stage in their work must be the establishment of the earliest form of each version, and the collection and examination of the quotations in all the early writers. This has not yet been done, but enough has been accomplished to point to the probability that the result will be the establishment of at least three main types of texts, represented by the Old Syriac, the Old Latin and Clement’s quotations, while it is doubtful how far Tatian’s Diatessaron, the quotations in Justin and a few other sources may be used to reconstruct the type of Greek text used in Rome in the 2nd century when Rome was still