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The great strength of Dr. Griesbach's system lies evidently in the coincidence of the Alexandrine and Western texts taken as antient and separate witnesses, and in the weight of authority by which this coincidence is supported, in the quotations of the early ecclesiastical writers. It is no more than a reasonable pre sumption, that if two remote and antient Churches, like the Western and Alexandrine, agree in readings, which differ from the text of a comparatively modern Church, like the Byzantine; the former Churches must retain the genuine readings, while in the lapse of time the copies of the latter Church have been corrupted. But we cannot see how this presumption will stand, against the objections of Mr. Nolan. If the conclusion be unavoidable, that the former texts are neither antient nor separate; that the Latins, as unacquainted with Greek, had no use for Greek MSS. before the fourth century; that at that period the communication between the Alexandrine and Western Churches was direct; that Eusebius Vercelleusis then corrected the Western version by the Egyptian text; and that Cassiodorus, at a subsequent period, further corrected the Latin copies by the Greek manuscripts: the proof deduced from the testimony of these witnesses directly falls to the ground. All that Dr. Griesbach can claim, is the merit of having recovered a text, which is unquestionably antient; and, in one sense, more antient than the vulgar text, and this Mr. Nolan does not deny. But how far this text is identical with the original edition published by the inspired writers, is still a point to be proved.
The great strength of Mr. Nolan's system on the other hand, lies in the concurring testimony of the Italic and Syriac versions taken as antient and separate witnesses to the integrity of the Byzantine edition; and in the evidence of the primitive fathers, who in all important points support the Byzantine text against the Egyptian and Palestine. Here the presumption of Dr. Griesbach, relative to the adequacy of the testimony of antient and separate witnesses, fully applies in support of Mr. Nolan's system. If the Latin and Syriac versions, to which our author appeals, could not have been corrupted at a late period; as, the Latins during the time when the Italic version was in use, from the want of a knowledge of Greek, were unequal to the task of correcting their versions; and, as the religious differences which have distracted the Syriac Church from the earliest period reduce the notion of the systematic corruption of their received text to an absurdity: the conclusion must follow that they are separate witnesses: they are not only more antient than any to which they can be opposed, but must be in all appearances referred to the third century. When the text of the Byzantine Greek is supported by those witnesses, we can see no mode of accounting for the agreement, than by supposing that they preserve a com.
on resemblance to the original from whence they descended. But that this original text could not have differed much from the primitive edition may be likewise inferred from the antiquity of these witnesses. The Italic and Syriac versions were made, at least in part, before the sacred text had undergone the revisal of Eusebius; they were made before it had undergone any material corruption, if respect be due to the declarations of Origen, on whose quotations Dr. Griesbach's theory is founded.
A further point in which these systems admit of comparison lies in the offensive operations, independent of the defensive, by which their respective authors have maintained their hypothesis. Dr. Griesbach, in sustaining the authority of the Alexandrine text, asserts the corruption of the Byzantine; and Mr. Nolan, in sustaining the authority of the Byzantine text, asserts the corruption of the Egyptian and Palestine. And here there appears little room for hesitation in deciding between their respective pretensions. Dr. Griesbach, after pledging himself to give a history of the corruption of the vulgar text, confessed his inability to accomplish what he had undertaken; though he referred the corruption of that text to a period when it could not have escaped observation, had it really taken place. This concession Mr. Nolan interprets into a proof of the purity of the Byzantine text; as the mode of its corruption would be easily pointed out, if it had more than an imaginary existence. On the other hand, he undertakes to point out the manner in which the Egyptian and Palestine texts have been formed, by a corruption of the Vulgar or Byzantine edition; on which subject we need not enlarge here, as we have already laid it before the reader.
But as general observations are little intelligible, until they are made perspicuous in examples, we shall select an instance which has been chosen by Mr. N. to illustrate the comparative stability of his system. One of the first and most remarkable passages, in which the Byzantine and Palestine texts differ, is the following, which we subjoin as read in the vulgar edition.
MATT. XX. 22, 23.
Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον, ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν, καὶ τὸ βάπλισμα ὃ ἔγω βαπλίζομαι, βαπλισθῆναι; Λέγεσιν αὐτῷ· δυνάμεθα. Καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· τὸ μὲν ποτήριόν με πίεσθε, καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἔγω βαπλίσζομαι, βαπλισθήσεσθε. τὸ δὲ καθίσαι-Vulg.
The following clause of this passage is rejected by Dr. Griesbach, on the authority of the Alexandrian and Western editions; but is supported by Mr. Nolan, page 381, on the annexed au thorities of the primitive Italic and Syriac;
In support of the corrected reading Dr. Griesbach, not. in h. 1., refers to Origen, Comm. in Matt. vol. iii. p. 717. In support of the vulgar reading Mr. Nolan refers, p. 498. n., to the higher testimony of St. Irenæus, adv. Hær. lib. I. cap. xxi. §. 2. p. 94. The latter father having declared, that the Marcionites cited the disputed passage, to support their notion of a second baptism, in order to wash away the pollution contracted after the first; Mr. N. thence infers, that the testimony of St. Irenæus and the Marcionites supports the Byzantine reading, and clearly points out the source of the error in the Egyptian and Palestine edition: the disputed passage having been removed, as favoring the error of the Marcionites. On this supposition the varieties in the passage are adequately accounted for; but on that of Dr. Griesbach, it is wholly inexplicable that the orthodox should have inserted a passage in their copies which favored the errors of the heretics, at the early period in which it must have made its way into the text, as it is found in the primitive Italic and Syriac Versions.
The following account which is given by Mr. N. of the method in which the Egyptian and Palestine texts have been corrupted in the foregoing passage, will further exemplify his theory, and shew the stability of the principles on which it is rested.
"Origen, in expounding the passage before us, was thoroughly aware of the use to which it had been applied by the hereticks; he consequently obviates the conclusion which might be deduced from it, by expounding it so as to shut out the notion of a second baptism. In one of the two places where he has referred to it, he supplies the present ivw, for the future μλλw river, contrary to the text of St. Matthew; Orig. Exhort. ad Martyr. Tom. I. p. 291. b. ἥνικα γὰς μείζονος ὠρέγοντο τιμῆς οἱ θέλοντες ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ ἐξ εὐωνύμων καθεσθῆ. ναι τῷ Ἰησῦ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ αὐτῷ, φησὶ πρὸς αὐτὲς ὁ Κύριος· 6 δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω ; ποτήριον λέγων τὸ μαρτύριον· St. Matthew however reads δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν· In the other, he corrects himself, fully acknowledging the vulgar reading to be genuine, while he qualifies it by referring to St. Mark, who had written wvw for μin Tiv; Id. Comm. in Mat. Tom. III. p. 717. *· ἀποκριθεὶς [ὁ Ιησές] εἶπε μετά τό 6 δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον, ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πινιῶν; ἢ ὡς ὁ Μάρκος ἀνέγραψε ο δύνασθε τὸ ποτήριον πιεῖν ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα, ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι, βαπλισθῆναι.” The difference
between St. Matthew and St. Mark consequently lay, not in the one having omitted, and the other retained, τὸ βάπισμα ὁ ἐγὼ βαπλίζομαι βαπλισθῆναι; but in the one having read ἐγὼ πίνω, the other ἐγὼ μέλλο IVELY. But this distinction having been overlooked by the reviser of the Egyptian text, the former notion was adopted, and the passage accordingly cancelled, apparently with Origen's sanction, who was thus completely misrepresented."-" Having been suppressed in the Egyptian text on Origen's authority misunderstood, it was consequently omitted, on the strength of the same authority in the Palestine edition. After the example of the former text, it was omitted of course in the Sahidick and revised Italick versions; and after that of the latter, in the Latin Vulgate, Coptick, Ethiopick, and Persick. And as St. Epiphanius and Jerome followed the Palestine text, and St. Hilary, Ambrose, and Juvencus, used the revised Italick translation, it is of course omitted in their writings." P. 498.
Admitting the above observations to be just, we have here as plain a proof of the instability of the principles on which Dr. Griesbach's theory rests; as of the stability of those on which Mr. Nolan's system is founded. For we here clearly see, from the testimony of St. Irenæus, and the state of the Marcionite controversy, that the concurrence of the primitive Italic and Syriac is adequate evidence of the purity of the Byzantine edition. We here likewise observe, the possibility of the Egyptian and Palestine texts having been corrupted, through the influence which the Marcionite heresies have had on the writings of Origen. From hence also we must collect, that the concurrence of the Western and Alexandrine texts, though supported by the train of Fathers and Versions cited by Griesbach, contains no certain proof of the purity of the text; as their concurrence may be merely an agreement in error, and consequently that his system has no real stability.
But a further point in which these systems differ, and which proves the necessity of acquiescing in Mr. Nolan's scheme, is the effect which Dr. Griesbach's system has in shaking the foundation on which the sacred canon is rested. He not only builds his hypothesis, independent of the traditionary testimony of the Church; but his principles lead to consequences which, when taken as true, demonstrate the faithlessness of her testimony, from the earliest ages. It is obvious, that if his corrected edition contain the genuine text, the three classes of text out of which it is formed, must be corrupted; as his text and these classes differ very considerably from each other, and where the one is correct, the others of course must be corrupted. Now granting this corruption to exist, it must have existed from the primitive ages, to which he refers his principal classes; and this
in fact is asserted by Dr. Griesbach, who declares that the Western and Alexandrine texts emanated in the earliest ages from editions, which have been interpolated in every part of them. If we must admit this assumption, we must conclude with Mr. N. that it is a vain undertaking to attempt the recovery of the original text, which has been thus corrupted from time immemorial. It is needless to repeat, that from these objections Mr. Nolan's system is apparently free; as it is rested on the ecclesiastical tradition, on which it has been our object to shew, it is adequately supported.
We have thus entered into the views of Mr. Nolan, perhaps, scarcely at the length which they deserve, and with the impres sion fresh upon our minds of what he has accomplished, we cannot refrain from again taking credit to ourselves for having been instrumental, however subordinately, in bringing forward the discussion, nor from expressing with more confidence than at the outset of our Review, the no little pride which we feel that out of our own pages has arisen so goodly a structure. In passing this commendation, we would not be understood as wishing to suppress, what will not escape the notice of those who study the INQUIRY with the attention which it deserves, that it bears marks of the almost incredible expedition, with which its materials have been collected and arranged, and that its author would have produced a much more perfect work had he allowed himself longer time in preparing it for the press.
In mitigation, however, of the censures which may be passed upon him for premature publication, it is but justice to state, that the Socinians were triumphing in what they were pleased to call the improved Text of Scripture which, by the aid of criticism, was now produced. They were casting scorn upon our received translation, as containing many passages now "exploded." The text of the heavenly witnesses they were branding as " a forgery, which critics of all parties were ashamed to hold to any longer," and with respect to which "the only thing left to men of learning and candour, was to procure its erasure from the text of Scripture, as a passage which no man of information would hereafter quote, and no man of integrity read in his Bible without disapprobation." Nay, they were going beyond this, and setting it forth as "a presumption in favour of Unitarianism being the truth of the Gospel, that the course of Biblical learning, since the revival of letters, had tended to lessen the objections to it on Scripture grounds; insomuch that while Unitarians had by criticism lost no text on which they built an argument; Trinitarians had lost the texts on which they builded chiefly," and they were sarcastically" lamenting the situation of such Christian scholars as are tied up by a narrow Ecclesiastical