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ACCIDENTAL CAUSES OF CORRUPTION.
I. PURE ACCIDENT.
[IT often happens that more causes than one are combined in the origin of the corruption in any one passage. In the following history of a blunder and of the fatal consequences that ensued upon it, only the first step was accidental. But much instruction may be derived from the initial blunder, and though the later stages in the history come under another head, they nevertheless illustrate the effects of early accident, besides throwing light upon parts of the discussion which are yet to come.]
We are sometimes able to trace the origin and progress of accidental depravations of the text: and the study is as instructive as it is interesting. Let me invite attention to what is found in St. John x. 29; where,—instead of, ‘My Father, who hath given them [viz. My sheep] to Me, is greater than all,’—Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, are for reading, ‘That thing which My (or the) Father hath given to Me is greater (i.e. is a greater thing) than all.’ A vastly different proposition, truly; and, whatever it may mean, wholly inadmissible here, as the context proves. It has been the result of sheer accident moreover,—as I proceed to explain.
St. John certainly wrote the familiar words,—ὁ πατήρ μου 25ὃς δέδωκέ μοι, μείζων ἐστί. But, with the licentiousness [or inaccuracy] which prevailed in the earliest age, some remote copyist is found to have substituted for ὃς δέδωκε, its grammatical equivalent ὁς δεδωκώς. And this proved fatal; for it was only necessary that another scribe should substitute μεῖζον for μείζων (after the example of such places as St. Matt. xii. 6, 41, 42, &c.), and thus the door had been opened to at least four distinct deflections from the evangelical verity, — which straightway found their way into manuscripts:—(1) ο δεδωκως . . . μειζων—of which reading at this day D is the sole representative: (2) ος δεδωκε . . . . μειζον—which survives only in AX: (3) ο δεδωκε . . . . μειζων—which is only found in אL: (4) ο δεδωκε . . . . μειζον—which is the peculiar property of B. The 1st and 2nd of these sufficiently represent the Evangelist’s meaning, though neither of them is what he actually wrote; but the 3rd is untranslatable: while the 4th is nothing else but a desperate attempt to force a meaning into the 3rd, by writing μειζον for μειζων; treating ο not as the article but as the neuter of the relative ὅς.
This last exhibition of the text, which in fact scarcely yields an intelligible meaning and rests upon the minimum of manuscript evidence, would long since have been forgotten, but that, calamitously for the Western Church, its Version of the New Testament Scriptures was executed from MSS. of the same vicious type as Cod. B1717 See the passages quoted in Scrivener’s Introduction, II. 270-2, 4th ed.. Accordingly, all the Latin copies, and therefore all the Latin Fathers1818 Tertull. (Prax. c. 22): Ambr. (ii. 576, 607, 689 bis): Hilary (930 bis, 1089): Jerome (v. 208): Augustin (iii2. 615): Maximinus, an Arian bishop (ap. Aug. viii. 651)., translate,—‘Pater [meus] quod dedit mihi, majus omnibus est1919 Pater (or Pater meus) quod dedit mihi (or mihi dedit), majus omnibus est (or majus est omnibus: or omnibus majus est)..’ The Westerns resolutely extracted a meaning from whatever they presumed to be genuine Scripture: 26and one can but admire the piety which insists on finding sound Divinity in what proves after all to be nothing else but a sorry blunder. What, asks Augustine, ‘was the thing, greater than all,’ which the Father gave to the Son? To be the Word of the Father (he answers), His only-begotten Son and the brightness of His glory2020 iii2. 615. He begins, ‘Quid dedit Filio Pater majus omnibus? Ut ipsi ille esset unigenitus Filius.’. The Greeks knew better. Basil2121 i. 236., Chrysostom2222 viii. 363 bis., Cyril on nine occasions2323 i. 188: ii. 567: iii. 792: iv. 666 (ed. Pusey): v1. 326, 577, 578: ap. Mai ii. 13: iii. 336., Theodoret2424 v. 1065 (= Dial Maced ap. Athanas. 555).—as many as quote the place—invariably exhibit the textus receptus ὃς . . . μείζων, which is obviously the true reading and may on no account suffer molestation.
‘But,’—I shall perhaps be asked,—‘although Patristic and manuscript evidence are wanting for the reading ὃ δεδωκέ μοι. . . μείζων,—is it not a significant circumstance that three translations of such high antiquity as the Latin, the Bohairic, and the Gothic, should concur in supporting it? and does it not inspire extraordinary confidence in B to find that B alone of MSS. agrees with them?’ To which I answer,—It makes me, on the contrary, more and more distrustful of the Latin, the Bohairic and the Gothic versions to find them exclusively siding with Cod. B on such an occasion as the present. It is obviously not more ‘significant’ that the Latin, the Bohairic, and the Gothic, should here conspire with—than that the Syriac, the Sahidic, and the Ethiopic, should here combine against B. On the other hand, how utterly insignificant is the testimony of B when opposed to all the uncials, all the cursives, and all the Greek fathers who quote the place. So far from inspiring me with confidence in B, the present indication of the fatal sympathy of that Codex with the corrupt copies from which confessedly many of the Old Latin were executed, confirms 27me in my habitual distrust of it. About the true reading of St. John x. 29, there really exists no manner of doubt. As for the old uncials’ they are (as usual) hopelessly at variance on the subject. In an easy sentence of only 9 words,—which however Tischendorf exhibits in conformity with no known Codex, while Tregelles and Alford blindly follow Cod. B,—they have contrived to invent five ‘various readings,’ as may be seen at foot2525 Viz. + μου ABD: — μου א | ος A: ο BאD | δεδωκεν BאA: δεδωκως | μειζων אD: μειζον AB | μειζ. παντων εστιν Α: παντων μειζ. εστιν BאD.. Shall we wonder more at the badness of the Codexes to which we are just now invited to pin our faith; or at the infatuation of our guides?
I do not find that sufficient attention has been paid to grave disturbances of the Text which have resulted from a slight clerical error. While we are enumerating the various causes of Textual depravity, we may not fail to specify this. Once trace a serious Textual disturbance back to (what for convenience may be called) a ‘clerical error,’ and you are supplied with an effectual answer to a form of inquiry which else is sometimes very perplexing: viz. If the true meaning of this passage be what you suppose, for what conceivable reason should the scribe have misrepresented it in this strange way,—made nonsense, in short, of the place? . . . I will further remark, that it is always interesting, sometimes instructive, after detecting the remote origin of an ancient blunder, to note what has been its subsequent history and progress.
Some specimens of the thing referred to I have already given in another place. The reader is invited to acquaint himself with the strange process by which the 276 souls’ who suffered shipwreck with St. Paul (Acts xxvii. 37), have since dwindled down to ‘about 762626 The Revision Revised, p. 51-3..’—He is further 28requested to note how a ‘certain man’ who in the time of St. Paul bore the name of ‘Justus’ (Acts xviii. 7), has been since transformed into ‘Titus,’ ‘Titus Justus,’ and even “Titius Justus2727 The Revision Revised, p. 53-4..’—But for a far sadder travestie of sacred words, the reader is referred to what has happened in St. Matt. xi. 23 and St. Luke x. 15,—where our Saviour is made to ask an unmeaning question—instead of being permitted to announce a solemn fact—concerning Capernaum2828 Ibid. p. 51-6..—The newly-discovered ancient name of the Island of Malta, Melitene2929 Ibid. p. 177-8., (for which geographers are indebted to the adventurous spirit of Westcott and Hort), may also be profitably considered in connexion with what is to be the subject of the present chapter. And now to break up fresh ground.
Attention is therefore invited to a case of attraction in Acts xx. 24. It is but the change of a single letter (λόγοΥ for λόγοΝ), yet has that minute deflection from the truth led to a complete mangling of the most affecting perhaps of St. Paul’s utterances. I refer to the famous words ἀλλ᾽ οὐδενὸς λόγον ποιοῦμαι, οὐδὲ ἔχω τὴν ψυχήν μου τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ, ὡς τελειῶσαι τὸν δρόμον μου μετὰ χαρᾶς: excellently, because idiomatically, rendered by our Translators of 1611,—‘But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.’
For οὐδενὸς λοΓΟΝ, (the accusative after ποιοῦμαι), some one having substituted οὐδενὸς λοΓΟΥ,—a reading which survives to this hour in B and C3030 Also in Ammonius the presbyter, A.D. 458—see Cramer’s Cat. p. 334-5, last line. Λόγου is read besides in the cursives Act. 36, 96, 105.,—it became necessary to find something else for the verb to govern. Τὴν ψυχήν was at hand, but οὐδὲ ἔχω stood in the way. Οὐδὲ ἔχω must therefore go3131 I look for an approving word from learned Dr. Field, who wrote in 1875—‘The real obstacle to our acquiescing in the reading of the T. R. is, that if the words οὐδὲ ἔχω had once formed apart of the original text, there is no possibility of accounting for the subsequent omission of them.’ The same remark, but considerably toned down, is found in his delightful Otium Norvicense, P. iii, p. 84.; and go it did,—as B, C, and א remain to 29attest. Τιμίαν should have gone also, if the sentence was to be made translatable but τιμίαν was left behind3232 B and C read—ἀλλʼ οὐδενὸς λόγον ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῳ̂: which is exactly what Lucifer Calarit. represents,—‘sed pro nihilo aestimo animam meam carom esse mihi’ (Galland. vi. 241).. The authors of ancient embroilments of the text were sad bunglers. In the meantime, Cod. א inadvertently retained St. Luke’s word, ΛΟΓΟΝ; and because א here follows B in every other respect, it exhibits a text which is simply unintelligible3333 א reads—ἀλλ᾽ οὐδενὸς λόγον ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ ὡς τελειῶσαι τὸν δρόμον μου..
Now the second clause of the sentence, viz. the words οὐδὲ ἔχω τὴν ψυχήν μου τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ, may on no account be surrendered. It is indeed beyond the reach of suspicion, being found in Codd. A, D, E, H, L, 13, 31,—in fact in every known copy of the Acts, except the discordant אBC. The clause in question is further witnessed to by the Vulgate3434 ‘Sed nihil horum [τούτων, is found in many Greek Codd.] vereor, nec facio animam meam pretiosiorem quam me.’ So, the Cod. Amiat. It is evident then that when Ambrose (ii. 1040) writes ‘nec facio animam meam cariorem mihi,’ he is quoting the latter of these two clauses. Augustine (iii1. 516), when he cites the place thus, ‘Non enim facio animam meam pretiosiorem quam me’; and elsewhere (iv. 268) ‘pretiosam mihi’; also Origen (interp. iv. 628 c), ‘sed ego non facio cariorem animam meam mihi’; and even the Coptic, ‘sed anima mea, dico, non est pretiosa mihi in aliquo verbo’:—these evidently summarize the place, by making a sentence out of what survives of the second clause. The Latin of D exhibits ‘Sed nihil horum cura est mihi: neque habeo ipsam animam caram mihi.’,—by the Harkleian3535 Dr. Field says that it may be thus Graecized—ἀλλ᾽ οὐδένα λόγον ποιοῦμαι, οὐδὲ λελόγισταί μοι ψυχή μού τι τίμιον.,—by Basil3636 ii. 296 e,—exactly as the T. R.,—by Chrysostom3737 Exactly as the T. R., except that he writes τὴν ψυχήν, without μου (ix. 332). So again, further on (334 b), οὐκ ἔχω τιμίαν τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ ψυχήν. This latter place is quoted in Cramer’s Cat. 334.,—by Cyril3838 Ap. Mai ii. 336 ἔδει καὶ τῆς ζωῆς καταφρονεῖν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τελειῶσαι τὸν δρόμον, οὐδὲ τὴν ψυχὴν ἔφη ποιεῖσθαι τιμίαν ἑαυτῷ.,—by Euthalius3939 λόγον ἔχω, οὐδὲ ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ, ὥστε κ.τ.λ. (ap. Galland. x. 222).,—and by the interpolator 30of Ignatius4040 ἀλλ᾽ οὐδενὸς λόγου ποιοῦμαι τῶν δεινῶν, οὐδὲ ἔχω τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ. Epist. ad Tars. c. 1 (Dressel, p. 255).. What are we to think of our guides (Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers) who have nevertheless surrendered the Traditional Text and presented us instead with what Dr. Field,—who is indeed a Master in Israel,—describes as the impossible ἀλλ᾽ οὐδενὸς λόγου ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ4141 The whole of Dr. Field’s learned annotation deserves to be carefully read and pondered. I speak of it especially in the shape in which it originally appeared, viz. in 1875.?
The words of the last-named eminent scholar on the reading just cited are so valuable in themselves, and are observed to be so often in point, that they shall find place here:—‘Modern Critics,’ he says, in deference to the authority of the older MSS., and to certain critical canons which prescribe that preference should be given to the shorter and more difficult reading over the longer and easier one, have decided that the T. R. in this passage is to be replaced by that which is contained in those older MSS.
‘In regard to the difficulty of this reading, that term seems hardly applicable to the present case. A difficult reading is one which presents something apparently incongruous in the sense, or anomalous in the construction, which an ignorant or half-learned copyist would endeavour, by the use of such critical faculty as he possessed, to remove; but which a true critic is able, by probable explanation, and a comparison of similar cases, to defend against all such fancied improvements. In the reading before us, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδενὸς λόγου ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν ἐμαυτῷ, it is the construction, and not the sense, which is in question; and this is not simply difficult, but impossible. There is really no way of getting over it; it baffles novices and experts alike4242 Ibid. p. 2 and 3.: When will men believe that a reading vouched for by only 31BאC is safe to be a fabrication4343 Surprising it is how largely the text of this place has suffered at the hands of Copyists and Translators. In A and D, the words ποιοῦμαι and ἔχω have been made to change places. The latter Codex introduces μοι after ἔχω,—for ἐμαυτῷ, writes ἐμαυτοῦ,—and exhibits τοῦ τελειῶσαι without ὡς. C writes ὡς τὸ τελειῶσαι. אB alone of Codexes present us with τελειώσω for τελειῶσαι, and are followed by Westcott and Hort alone of Editors. The Peshitto (‘sed mihi nihili aestimatur anima mea’), the Sahidic (‘sed non facio animam meam in ullâ re’), and the Aethiopic (‘sed non reputo animam means nihil quidquam’), get rid of τιμίαν as well as of οὐδὲ ἔχω. So much diversity of text, and in such primitive witnesses, while it points to a remote period as the date of the blunder to which attention is called in the text, testifies eloquently to the utter perplexity which that blunder occasioned from the first.? But at least when Copies and Fathers combine, as here they do, against those three copies, what can justify critics in upholding a text which carries on its face its own condemnation?
We now come to the inattention of those long-since-forgotten Ist or IInd century scribes who, beguiled by the similarity of the letters ΕΝ and ΑΝ (in the expression ΕΝ ΑΝ-θρωποις ευδοκια, St. Luke ii. 14), left out the preposition. An unintelligible clause was the consequence, as has been explained above (p. 21): which some one next sought to remedy by adding to εὐδοκία the sign of the genitive (C). Thus the Old Latin translations were made.
That this is the true history of a blunder which the latest Editors of the New Testament have mistaken for genuine Gospel, is I submit certain4444 Another example of the same phenomenon, (viz. the absorption of ΕΝ by the first syllable of ΑΝθρωποις) is to be seen in Acts iv. 12,—where however the error has led to no mischievous results.. Most Latin copies (except 144545 For those which insert in (14), and those which reject it (25), see Wordsworth’s edition of the Vulgate on this passage.) exhibit ‘pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,’ as well as many Latin Fathers4646 Of Fathers:—Ambrose i. 1298—Hieronymus i. 4482, 693, 876: ii. 213: iv. 34, 92: v. 147: vi. 638: vii. 241, 281, 283,—Augustine 34 times,—Optatus (Galland. v. 472, 487),—Gaudentius Brix. (ap. Sabat.),—Chromatius Ag. (Gall. viii. 337),—Orosius (ib. ix. 134), Marius M. (ib. viii. 672), Maximus Taus. (ib. ix. 355),—Sedulius (ib. 575),—Leo M. (ap. Sabat.),—Mamertus Claudianus (Gall. x. 430,—Vigilius Taps. (ap. Sabat.),—Zacchaeus (Gall. ix. 241,—Caesarius Arel. (ib. xi. 11),—ps.-Ambros. ii. 394, 396,—Hormisdas P. (Conc. iv. 1494, 1496),—52 Bps. at 8th Council of Toledo (Conc. 395), &c., &c.. On the other hand, the preposition ΕΝ is 32retained in every known Greek copy of St. Luke without exception, while the reading εὐδοκίας is absolutely limited to the four uncials ABאD. The witness of antiquity on this head is thus overwhelming and decisive.
In other cases the source, the very progress of a blunder,—is discoverable. Thus whereas St. Mark (in xv. 6) certainly wrote ἕνα δέσμιον, ΟΝΠΕΡ ᾐτοῦντο, the scribe of Δ who evidently derived his text from an earlier copy in uncial letters is found to have divided the Evangelist’s syllables wrongly, and to exhibit in this place ΟΝ . ΠΕΡΗΤΟUΝΤΟ. The consequence might have been predicted. אAB transform this into ΟΝ . ΠΑΡΗΤΟΥΝΤΟ: which accordingly is the reading adopted by Tischendorf and by Westcott and Hort.
Whenever in fact the final syllable of one word can possibly be mistaken for the first syllable of the next, or vice versa, it is safe sooner or later to have misled somebody. Thus, we are not at all surprised to find St. Mark’s ἃ παρέλαβον (vii. 4) transformed into ἅπερ ἔλαβον, but only by B.
[Another startling instance of the same phenomenon is supplied by the substitution in St. Mark vi. 22 of τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρωδιάδος. for τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρωδιάδος. Here a first copyist left out τῆς as being a repetition of the last syllable of αὐτῆς, and afterwards a second attempted to improve the Greek by putting the masculine pronoun for the feminine (ΑΥΤΟΥ for ΑΥΤΗC). The consequence was hardly to have been foreseen.]
Strange to say it results in the following monstrous figment:—that the fruit of Herod’s incestuous connexion with Herodias had been a daughter, who was also named 33Herodias; and that she,—the King’s own daughter,—was the immodest one4747 See Wetstein on this place. who came in and danced before him, ‘his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee,’ as they sat at the birthday banquet. Probability, natural feeling, the obvious requirements of the narrative, History itself—, for Josephus expressly informs us that ‘Salome,’ not Herodias,’ was the name of ‘Herodias’ daughter4848 Antiqq. i. 99, xviii. 5. 4.,—all reclaim loudly against such a perversion of the truth. But what ought to be in itself conclusive, what in fact settles the question, is the testimony of the MSS.,—of which only seven (אBDLΔ with two cursive copies) can be found to exhibit this strange mistake. Accordingly the reading ΑΥΤΟΥ is rejected by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf and Alford. It has nevertheless found favour with Dr. Hort; and it has even been thrust into the margin of the revised Text of our Authorized Version, as a reading having some probability.
This is indeed an instructive instance of the effect of accidental errors—another proof that אBDL cannot be trusted.
Sufficiently obvious are the steps whereby the present erroneous reading was brought to perfection. The immediate proximity in MSS. of the selfsame combination of letters is observed invariably to result in a various reading. ΑΥΤΗCΤΗC was safe to part with its second ΤΗC on the first opportunity, and the definitive article (τῆς) once lost, the substitution of ΑΥΤΟΥ for ΑΥΤΗC is just such a mistake as a copyist with ill-directed intelligence would be sure to fall into if he were bestowing sufficient attention on the subject to be aware that the person spoken of in verses 20 and 21 is Herod the King.
[This recurrence of identical or similar syllables near together was a frequent source of error. Copying has 34always a tendency to become mechanical: and when the mind of the copyist sank to sleep in his monotonous toil, as well as if it became too active, the sacred Text suffered more or less, and so even a trifling mistake might be the seed of serious depravation.]
Another interesting and instructive instance of error originating in sheer accident, is supplied by the reading in certain MSS. of St. Mark viii. 1. That the Evangelist wrote παμπόλλου ὄχλου ‘the multitude being very great,’ is certain. This is the reading of all the uncials but eight, of all the cursives but fifteen. But instead of this, it has been proposed that we should read, ‘when there was again a great multitude,’ the plain fact being that some ancient scribe mistook, as he easily might, the less usual compound word for what was to himself a far more familiar expression: i.e. he mistook ΠΑΜΡΠΟΛΛΟΥ for ΠΑΛΙΝ ΠΟΛΛΟΥ.
This blunder must date from the second century, for ‘iterum’ is met with in the Old Latin as well as in the Vulgate, the Gothic, the Bohairic, and some other versions. On the other hand, it is against ‘every true principle of Textual Criticism’ (as Dr. Tregelles would say), that the more difficult expression should be abandoned for the easier, when forty-nine out of every fifty MSS. are observed to uphold it; when the oldest version of all, the Syriac, is on the same side; when the source of the mistake is patent; and when the rarer word is observed to be in St. Mark’s peculiar manner. There could be in fact no hesitation on this subject, if the opposition had not been headed by those notorious false witnesses אBDL, which it is just now the fashion to uphold at all hazards. They happen to be supported on this occasion by GMNΔ and 35fifteen cursives: while two other cursives look both ways and exhibit πάλιν παμπόλλου.
In St. Mark vii. 14, πάλιν irciaLv was similarly misread by some copyists for πάντα, and has been preserved by אBDLΔ (ΠΑΛΙΝ for ΠΑΝΤΑ) against thirteen uncials, all the cursives, the Peshitto and Armenian.36
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