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ACCIDENTAL CAUSES OF CORRUPTION.
V. LITURGICAL INFLUENCE.
THERE is one distinct class of evidence provided by Almighty God for the conservation of the deposit in its integrity144144 [I have retained this passage notwithstanding the objections made in some quarters against similar passages in the companion volume, because I think them neither valid, nor creditable to high intelligence, or to due reverence.] which calls for special notice in this place. The Lectionaries of the ancient Church have not yet nearly enjoyed the attention they deserve, or the laborious study which in order to render them practically available they absolutely require. Scarcely any persons, in fact, except professed critics, are at all acquainted with the contents of the very curious documents alluded to: while collations of any of them which have been hitherto effected are few indeed. I speak chiefly of the Books called Evangelistaria (or Evangeliaria), in other words, the proper lessons collected out of the Gospels, and transcribed into a separate volume. Let me freely admit that I subjoin a few observations on this subject with unfeigned diffidence; having had to teach myself throughout the little I know;—and discovering in the end how very insufficient for my purpose that little is. Properly handled, an adequate study of the Lectionaries of the ancient Church would become the labour 68of a life. We require exact collations of at least too of them. From such a practical acquaintance with about a tenth of the extant copies some very interesting results would infallibly be obtained145145 [Textual student will remember that besides the Lectionaries of the Gospels mentioned here, of which about 1000 are known, there are some 300 more of the Acts and Epistles, called by the name Apostolos.].
As for the external appearance of these documents, it may be enough to say that they range, like the mass of uncial and cursive copies, over a space of about 700 years,—the oldest extant being of about the eighth century, and the latest dating in the fifteenth. Rarely are any so old as the former date,—or so recent as the last named. When they began to be executed is not known; but much older copies than any which at present exist must have perished through constant use: [for they are in perfect order when we first become acquainted with them, and as a whole they are remarkably consistent with one another]. They are almost invariably written in double columns, and not unfrequently are splendidly executed. The use of Uncial letters is observed to have been retained in documents of this class to a later period than in the case of the Evangelia, viz. down to the eleventh century. For the most part they are furnished with a kind of musical notation executed in vermilion; evidently intended to guide the reader in that peculiar recitative which is still customary in the oriental Church.
In these books the Gospels always stand in the following order: St. John: St. Matthew: St. Luke: St. Mark. The lessons are brief,—resembling the Epistles and Gospels in our Book of Common Prayer.
They seem to me to fall into two classes: (a) Those which contain a lesson for every day in the year: (b) Those which only contain [lessons for fixed Festivals and] the Saturday-Sunday lessons (σαββατοκυριακαί). We are reminded 69by this peculiarity that it was not till a very late period in her history that the Eastern Church was able to shake herself clear of the shadow of the old Jewish Sabbath146146 [‘It seems also a singular note of antiquity that the Sabbath and the Sunday succeeding it do as it were cohere, and bear one appellation; so that the week takes its name—not from the Sunday with which it commences, but—from the Saturday-and-Sunday with which it concludes.’ Twelve Verses, p. 194, where more particulars are given.]. [To these Lectionaries Tables of the Lessons were often added, of a similar character to those which we have in our Prayer-books. The Table of daily Lessons went under the title of Synaxarion (or Eclogadion); and the Table of the Lessons of immovable Festivals and Saints’ days was styled Menologion147147 [For the contents of these Tables, see Scrivener’s Plain Introduction, 4th edition, vol. i. pp. 80-89.].]
Liturgical use has proved a fruitful source of textual perturbation. Nothing less was to have been expected,—as every one must admit who has examined ancient Evangelia with any degree of attention. For a period before the custom arose of writing out the Ecclesiastical Lections in the ‘Evangelistaries,’ and ‘Apostolos,’ it may be regarded as certain that the practice generally prevailed of accommodating an ordinary copy, whether of the Gospels or of the Epistles, to the requirements of the Church. This continued to the last to be a favourite method with the ancients148148 See Scrivener’s Plain Introduction, 4th edition, vol. i. pp. 56-65.. Not only was it the invariable liturgical practice to introduce an ecclesiastical lection with an ever-varying formula,—by which means the holy Name is often found in MSS. where it has no proper place,—but notes of time, &c., [‘like the unique and indubitably genuine word δευτεροπρώτῳ149149 Twelve Verses, p. 220. The MS. stops in the middle of a sentence.,’ are omitted as carrying no moral lesson, as well as longer passages like the case of the two verses recounting the ministering Angel with the Agony and the Bloody Sweat150150 St. Luke xxii. 43, 44..70
That Lessons from the New Testament were probably read in the assemblies of the faithful according to a definite scheme, and on an established system, at least as early as the fourth century, has been shewn to follow from plain historical fact in the tenth chapter of the Twelve Last Verses of St. Mark’s Gospel, to which the reader is referred for more detailed information. Cyril, at Jerusalem,—and by implication, his namesake at Alexandria,—Chrysostom, at Antioch and at Constantinople,—Augustine, in Africa,—all four expressly witness to the circumstance. In other words, there is found to have been at least at that time fully established throughout the Churches of Christendom a Lectionary, which seems to have been essentially one and the same in the West and in the East. That it must have been of even Apostolic antiquity may be inferred from several considerations151151 In the absence of materials supplied by the Dean upon what was his own special subject, I have thought best to extract the above sentences from the Twelve Last Verses, p. 207. The next illustration is his own, though in my words.. For example, Marcion, in A. D. 140, would hardly have constructed an Evangelistarium and Apostolicon of his own, as we learn from Epiphanius152152 i. 311., if he had not been induced by the Lectionary System prevailing around him to form a counterplan of teaching upon the same model.]
Indeed, the high antiquity of the Church’s Lectionary System is inferred with certainty from many a textual phenomenon with which students of Textual Science are familiar.
It may be helpful to a beginner if I introduce to his notice the class of readings to be discussed in the present chapter, by inviting his attention to the first words of the Gospel for St. Philip and St. James’ Day in our own English Book of Common Prayer,—‘And Jesus said unto His 71disciples.’ Those words he sees at a glance are undeniably nothing else but an Ecclesiastical accretion to the Gospel,—words which breed offence in no quarter, and occasion error to none. They have nevertheless stood prefixed to St. John xiv. 1 from an exceedingly remote period; for, besides establishing themselves in every Lectionary of the ancient Church153153 εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· μὴ ταρασσέσθω., they are found in Cod. D154154 και ειπεν τοις μαθηταις αυτου. The same Codex (D) also prefixes to St. Luke xvi. 19 the Ecclesiastical formula—ειπεν δε και ετεραν παραβολην.,—in copies of the Old Latin155155 ‘Et ait discipulis suis, non turbetur.’ as the Vercellensis, Corbeiensis, Aureus, Bezae,— and in copies of the Vulgate. They may be of the second or third, they must be as old as the fourth century. It is evident that it wants but a very little for those words to have established their claim to a permanent place in the Text. Readings just as slenderly supported have been actually adopted before now156156 E.g. the words καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν have been omitted by Tisch. and rejected by W. Hort from St. Luke xxiv. 36 on the sole authority of D and five copies of the Old Latin. Again, on the same sorry evidence, the words προσκυνήσαντες αὐτόν abr.& have been omitted or rejected by the same critics from St. Luke xxiv. 52. In both instances the expressions are also branded with doubt in the R. V..
I proceed to cite another instance; and here the success of an ordinary case of Lectionary licence will be perceived to have been complete: for besides recommending itself to Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort, the blunder in question has established itself in the pages of the Revised Version. Reference is made to an alteration of the Text occurring in certain copies of Acts iii. 1, which will be further discussed below157157 Pp. 78-80.. When it has been stated that these copies are אABCG,—the Vulgate,—the two Egyptian versions,—besides the Armenian,—and the Ethiopic,—it will be admitted that the Ecclesiastical practice which has resulted in so widespread a reading, must be primitive indeed. To some persons such a formidable 72array of evidence may seem conclusive in favour of any reading: but it can only seem so to those who do not realize the weight of counter-testimony.
But by far the most considerable injury which has resulted to the Gospel from this cause is the suspicion which has alighted in certain quarters on the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to St. Mark. [Those verses made up by themselves a complete Lection. The preceding Lection, which was used on the Second Sunday after Easter, was closed with the Liturgical note ‘The End,’ or ΤΟ ΤΕΛΟC, occurring after the eighth verse. What more probable, nay, more certain result could there be, than that some scribe should mistake the end of the Lection for the end of St. Mark’s Gospel, if the last leaf should chance to have been torn off, and should then transcribe no more158158 See Traditional Text, Appendix VII.? How natural that St. Mark should express himself in a more condensed and abrupt style than usual. This of course is only put forward as an explanation, which leaves the notion of another writer and a later date unnecessary. If it can be improved upon, so much the better. Candid critics ought to study Dean Burgon’s elaborate chapter already referred to before rejecting it.]
And there probably does not exist, in the whole compass of the Gospel, a more interesting instance of this than is furnished by the words εἶπε δὲ ὁ Κύριος, in St. Luke vii. 31. This is certainly derived from the Lectionaries; being nothing else but the formula with which it was customary to introduce the lection that begins at this place. Accordingly, only one out of forty copies which have been consulted for the purpose contains them. But the circumstance of interest remains to be stated. When these four 73unauthorized words have been thus got rid of, the important discovery is made that the two preceding verses (verses 28 and 29) must needs form a part of our Lord’s discourse,—which it is perceived flows on unbroken from v. 24 to v. 35. This has been seen already by some159159 Bp. C. Wordsworth. But Alford, Wcstcott and Mort, doubt it., though denied by others. But the fact does not admit of rational doubt; though it is certainly not as yet generally known. It is not generally known, I mean, that the Church has recovered a piece of knowledge with which she was once familiar160160 Thus Codex V. actually interpolates at this place the words—οὐκέτι ἐκείνοις ἐλέγετο, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μαθηταῖς. Tisch. ad loc., but which for many centuries she has forgotten, viz. that thirty-two words which she supposed to be those of the Evangelist are in reality those of her Lord.
Indeed, when the expressions are considered, it is perceived that this account of them must needs be the true one. Thus, we learn from the 24th verse that our Saviour was at this time addressing the ‘crowds’ or ‘multitudes.’ But the four classes specified in verses 29, 30, cannot reasonably be thought to be the Evangelist’s analysis of those crowds. In fact what is said of the Pharisees and Lawyers’ in ver. 30 is clearly not a remark made by the Evangelist on the reception which our Saviour’s words were receiving at the hands of his auditory; but our Saviour’s own statement of the reception which His Forerunner’s preaching had met with at the hands of the common people and the publicans on the one hand,—the Pharisees and the Scribes on the other. Hence the inferential particle οὖν in the 31st verse; and the use in ver. 35 of the same verb (ἐδικαιώθη) which the Divine Speaker had employed in ver. 29: whereby He takes up His previous statement while He applies and enforces it.
Another specimen of unauthorized accretion originating in the same way is found a little farther on. In St. Luke ix. 1 74(‘And having called together His twelve Disciples’), the words μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ are confessedly spurious: being condemned by nearly every known cursive and uncial. Their presence in the meantime is fully accounted for by the adjacent rubrical direction how the lesson is to be introduced: viz. At that time Jesus having called together His twelve Disciples.’ Accordingly we are not surprised to find the words ὁ Ἰησοῦς also thrust into a few of the MSS.: though we are hardly prepared to discover that the words of the Peshitto, besides the Latin and Cureton’s Syriac, are disfigured in the same way. The admirers of the ‘old uncials’ will learn with interest that, instead of μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, אC with LXAΞ and a choice assortment of cursives exhibit ἀποστόλους,—being supported in this manifestly spurious reading by the best copies of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, Gothic, Harkleian, Bohairic, and a few other translations.
Indeed, it is surprising what a fertile source of corruption Liturgical usage has proved. Every careful student of the Gospels remembers that St. Matthew describes our Lord’s first and second missionary journey in very nearly the same words. The former place (iv. 23) ending καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ used to conclude the lesson for the second Sunday after Pentecost,—the latter (ix. 35) ending καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν occupies the same position in the Gospel for the seventh Sunday. It will not seem strange to any one who considers the matter, that ἐν τῷ λαῷ has in consequence not only found its way into ix. 35, but has established itself there very firmly: and that from a very early time. The spurious words are first met with in the Codex Sinaiticus161161 Cyril Alex. (four times) and the Verona Codex (b), besides L and a few other copies, even append the same familiar words to καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν in St. Matt. x. 1..
But sometimes corruptions of this class are really perplexing. Thus א testifies to the existence of a short additional clause (καὶ πολλοὶ ἡκολούθησαν αὐτῷ) at the end, 75as some critics say, of the same 35th verse. Are we not rather to regard the words as the beginning of ver. 36, and as being nothing else but the liturgical introduction to the lection for the Twelve Apostles, which follows (ix. 36–x. 8), and whose Festival falls on the 30th June? Whatever its origin, this confessedly spurious accretion to the Text, which exists besides only in L and six cursive copies, must needs be of extraordinary antiquity, being found in the two oldest copies of the Old Latin:—a sufficient indication, by the way, of the utter insufficiency of such an amount of evidence for the genuineness of any reading.
This is the reason why, in certain of the oldest documents accessible, such a strange amount of discrepancy is discoverable in the text of the first words of St. Luke x. 25 (καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη, ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν, καὶ λέγων). Many of the Latin copies preface this with et haec eo dicente. Now, the established formula of the lectionaries here is,—νομικός τις προσῆλθεν τῷ Ἰ. which explains why the Curetonian, the Lewis, with 33, ‘the queen of the cursives,’ as their usual leader in aberrant readings is absurdly styled. so read the place: while D, with one copy of the Old Latin, stands alone in exhibiting,—ἀνέστη δέ τις νομικός. Four Codexes (אBLΞ) with the Curetonian omit the second καὶ which is illegible in the Lewis. To read this place in its purity you have to take up any ordinary cursive copy.
Take another instance. St. Mark xv. 28 has been hitherto read in all Churches as follows And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”’ In these last days however the discovery is announced that every word of this is an unauthorized addition to the inspired text. Griesbach indeed only marks the verse as probably spurious; while Tregelles is content to enclose it in brackets. But Alford, Tischendorf, 76Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers eject the words καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα, καὶ μετὰ ἀνόμων ἐλογίσθη from the text altogether. What can be the reason for so extraordinary a proceeding?
Let us not be told by Schulz (Griesbach’s latest editor) that ‘the quotation is not in Mark’s manner; that the formula which introduces it is John’s: and that it seems to be a gloss taken from Luke xxii. 37.’ This is not criticism but dictation,—imagination, not argument. Men who so write forget that they are assuming the very point which they are called upon to prove.
Now it happens that all the Uncials but six and an immense majority of the Cursive copies contain the words before us:—that besides these, the Old Latin, the Syriac, the Vulgate, the Gothic and the Bohairic versions, all concur in exhibiting them:—that the same words are expressly recognized by the Sectional System of Eusebius;—having a section (σις/η i.e. 216/8) to themselves—which is the weightiest sanction that Father had it in his power to give to words of Scripture. So are they also recognized by the Syriac sectional system (260/8), which is diverse from that of Eusebius and independent of it. What then is to be set against such a weight of ancient evidence? The fact that the following six Codexes are without this 28th verse, אABCDX, together with the Sahidic and Lewis. The notorious Codex k (Bobiensis) is the only other ancient testimony producible; to which Tischendorf adds ‘about forty-five cursive copies.’ Will it be seriously pretended that this evidence for omitting ver. 28 from St. Mark’s Gospel can compete with the evidence for retaining it?
Let it not be once more insinuated that we set numbers before antiquity. Codex D is of the sixth century; Cod. X not older than the ninth: and not one of the four Codexes which remain is so old, within perhaps two centuries, as 77either the Old Latin or the Peshitto versions. We have Eusebius and Jerome’s Vulgate as witnesses on the same side, besides the Gothic version, which represents a Codex probably as old as either. To these witnesses must be added Victor of Antioch, who commented on St. Mark’s Gospel before either A or C were written162162 Investigate Possinus, 345, 346, 348..
It will be not unreasonably asked by those who have learned to regard whatever is found in B or א as oracular,— ‘But is it credible that on a point like this such authorities as אABCD should all be in error?’
It is not only credible, I answer, but a circumstance of which we meet with so many undeniable examples that it ceases to be even a matter of surprise. On the other hand, what is to be thought of the credibility that on a point like this all the ancient versions (except the Sahidic) should have conspired to mislead mankind? And further, on what intelligible principle is the consent of all the other uncials, and the whole mass of cursives, to be explained, if this verse of Scripture be indeed spurious?
I know that the rejoinder will be as follows:—‘Yes, but if the ten words in dispute really are part of the inspired verity, how is their absence from the earliest Codexes to be accounted for?’ Now it happens that for once I am able to assign the reason. But I do so under protest, for I insist that to point out the source of the mistakes in our oldest Codexes is no part of a critic’s business. It would not only prove an endless, but also a hopeless task. This time, however, I am able to explain.
If the reader will take the trouble to inquire at the Bibliotheque at Paris for a Greek Codex numbered ‘71,’ an Evangelium will be put into his hands which differs from any that I ever met with in giving singularly minute and full rubrical directions. At the end of St. Mark xv. 27, he will read as follows:—‘When thou readest the sixth Gospel 78of the Passion,—also when thou readest the second Gospel of the Vigil of Good Friday,—stop here: skip verse 28: then go on at verse 29.’ The inference from this is so obvious, that it would be to abuse the reader’s patience if I were to enlarge upon it, or even to draw it out in detail. Very ancient indeed must the Lectionary practice in this particular have been that it should leave so fatal a trace of its operation in our four oldest Codexes: but it has left it163163 It is surprising to find so great an expert as Griesbach in the last year of his life so entirely misunderstanding this subject. See his Comment. Crit. Part ii. p. 190. ‘Nec ulla . . . debuerint.’. The explanation is evident, the verse is plainly genuine, and the Codexes which leave it out are corrupt.
One word about the evidence of the cursive copies on this occasion. Tischendorf says that ‘about forty-five’ of them are without this precious verse of Scripture. I venture to say that the learned critic would be puzzled to produce forty-five copies of the Gospels in which this verse has no place. But in fact his very next statement (viz. that about half of these are Lectionaries),—satisfactorily explains the matter. Just so. From every Lectionary in the world, for the reason already assigned, these words are away; as well as in every MS. which, like B and א, has been depraved by the influence of the Lectionary practice.
And now I venture to ask,—What is to be thought of that Revision of our Authorized Version which omits ver. 28 altogether; with a marginal intimation that many ancient authorities insert it’? Would it not have been the course of ordinary reverence,—I was going to say of truth and fairness,—to leave the text unmolested: with a marginal memorandum that just ‘a very few ancient authorities leave it out’?
A gross depravation of the Text resulting from this cause, which nevertheless has imposed on several critics, 79as has been already said, is furnished by the first words of Acts iii. The most ancient witness accessible, namely the Peshitto, confirms the usual reading of the place, which is also the text of the cursives: viz. Ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό δὲ Πέτρος καὶ Ἰωάννης κ.τ.λ.So the Harkleian and Bede. So Codex E.
The four oldest of the six available uncials conspire however in representing the words which immediately precede in the following unintelligible fashion:—ὁ δὲ Κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σωζομένους καθ᾽ ἡμέραν πὶ τὸ αὐτό. Πέτρος δὲ κ.τ.λ. How is it to be thought that this strange and vapid presentment of the passage had its beginning? It results, I answer, from the ecclesiastical practice of beginning a fresh lection at the name of ‘Peter,’ prefaced by the usual formula ‘In those days.’ It is accordingly usual to find the liturgical word ἀρχή—indicative of the beginning of a lection,—thrust in between ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ δέ and Πέτρος. At a yet earlier period I suppose some more effectual severance of the text was made in that place, which unhappily misled some early scribe164164 τοὺς σωζομένους καθημέραν ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ. ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ δὲ [ΤΗ ς ΤΗC διακινΗCιμου] Πέτρος καὶ Ἰωάννης, κ.τ.λ. Addit. 16,184, fol. 152 b.. And so it came to pass that in the first instance the place stood thus: ὁ δὲ Κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σωζομένους καθ᾽ ἡμέραν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό,—which was plainly intolerable.
What I am saying will commend itself to any unprejudiced reader when it has been stated that Cod. D in this place actually reads as follows:—καθημέραν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ. Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις Πέτρος κ.τ.λ.: the scribe with simplicity both giving us the liturgical formula with which it was usual to introduce the Gospel for the Friday after Easter, and permitting us to witness the perplexity with which the evident surplusage of τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό occasioned him. He inverts those two expressions and thrusts in a preposition. How obvious it now was to solve the difficulty by getting rid of τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ.80
It does not help the adverse case to shew that the Vulgate as well as the copy of Cyril of Alexandria are disfigured with the same corrupt reading as אABC. It does but prove how early and how widespread is this depravation of the Text. But the indirect proof thus afforded that the actual Lectionary System must needs date from a period long anterior to our oldest Codexes is a far more important as well as a more interesting inference. In the meantime I suspect that it was in Western Christendom that this corruption of the text had its beginning: for proof is not wanting that the expression ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό seemed hard to the Latins165165 Bede, Retr. 111. D (add. of ἐν τ. ἐκκλ.). Brit. Mus. Addit. 16, 184. fol. 152 b. Vulgate..
Hence too the omission of παλιν from אBD (St. Matt. xiii. 43). A glance at the place in an actual Codex166166 So the place stands in Evan. 64. The liturgical notes are printed in a smaller type, for distinction. will explain the matter to a novice better than a whole page of writing:—
παλιν. αρχη. ειπεν ο Κυριος την παρβολην ταυτην.
Ομοια εστιν κ.τ.λ.
The word παλιν, because it stands between the end (τελος) of the lesson for the sixth Thursday and the beginning (αρχη) of the first Friday after Pentecost, got left out [though every one acquainted with Gospel MSS. knows that ἀρχή and τέλος were often inserted in the text]. The second of these two lessons begins with ὁμοία [because πάλιν, at the beginning of a lesson is not wanted]. Here then is a singular token of the antiquity of the Lectionary System in the Churches of the East: as well as a proof of the untrustworthy character of Codd. אBD. The discovery that they are supported this time by copies of the Old Latin (a c e ff1.2 g1.2 k l), Vulgate, Curetonian, Bohairic, Ethiopic, does but further shew that such an amount of 81evidence in and by itself is wholly insufficient to determine the text of Scripture.
When therefore I see Tischendorf, in the immediately preceding verse (xiii. 43) on the sole authority of אB and a few Latin copies, omitting the word ἀκούειν,—and again in the present verse on very similar authority (viz. אD, Old Latin, Vulgate, Peshitto, Curetonian, Lewis, Bohairic, together with five cursives of aberrant character) transposing the order of the words πάντα ὅσα ἔχει πώλει,—I can but reflect on the utterly insecure basis on which the Revisers and the school which they follow would remodel the inspired Text.
It is precisely in this way and for the selfsame reason, that the clause ἐλυπήθησαν σφόδρα (St. Matt. xvii. 23) comes to be omitted in K and several other copies. The previous lesson ends at ἐγερθήσεται,—the next lesson begins at προσῆλθον.
Indeed, the Ancient Liturgy of the Church has frequently exercised a corrupting influence on the text of Scripture. Having elsewhere considered St. Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer167167 The Revision Revised, 34-6., I will in this place discuss the genuineness of the doxology with which the Lord’s Prayer concludes in St. Matt. vi. 13168168 See The Traditional Text, p. 104.,—ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. ἀμήν.—words which for 360 years have been rejected by critical writers as spurious, notwithstanding St. Paul’s unmistakable recognition of them in 2 Tim. iv. 18,—which alone, one would have thought, should have sufficed to preserve them from molestation.
The essential note of primitive antiquity at all events these fifteen words enjoy in perfection, being met with in all copies of the Peshitto:—and this is a far weightier consideration than the fact that they are absent from most of the Latin copies. Even of these however four (k f gl q) 82recognize the doxology, which is also found in Cureton’s Syriac and the Sahidic version; the Gothic, the Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic, Harkleian, Palestinian, Erpenius’ Arabic, and the Persian of Tawos; as well as in the Διδαχή (with variations); Apostolical Constitutions (iii. 18–vii. 25 with variations); in St. Ambrose (De Sacr. vi. 5. 24), Caesarius (Dial. i. 29). Chrysostom comments on the words without suspicion, and often quotes them (In Orat. Dom., also see Horn. in Matt. xiv. 13): as does Isidore of Pelusium (Ep. iv. 24). See also Opus Imperfectum (Hom. in Matt. xiv), Theophylact on this place, and Euthymius Zigabenus (in Matt. vi. 13 and C. Massal. Anath. 7). And yet their true claim to be accepted as inspired is of course based on the consideration that they are found in ninety-nine out of a hundred of the Greek copies, including Φ and Σ of the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth centuries. What then is the nature of the adverse evidence with which they have to contend and which is supposed to be fatal to their claims?
Four uncial MSS. (אBDZ), supported by five cursives of bad character (I, 17 which gives ἀμήν, 118, 130, 209), and, as we have seen, all the Latin copies but four, omit these words; which, it is accordingly assumed, must have found their way surreptitiously into the text of all the other copies in existence. But let me ask,—Is it at all likely, or rather is it any way credible, that in a matter like this, all the MSS. in the world but nine should have become corrupted? No hypothesis is needed to account for one more instance of omission in copies which exhibit a mutilated text in every page. But how will men pretend to explain an interpolation universal as the present; which may be traced as far back as the second century; which has established itself without appreciable variety of reading in all the MSS.; which has therefore found its way from the earliest time into every part of Christendom; is met with 83in all the Lectionaries, and in all the Greek Liturgies; and has so effectually won the Church’s confidence that to this hour it forms part of the public and private devotions of the faithful all over the world?
One and the same reply has been rendered to this inquiry ever since the days of Erasmus. A note in the Complutensian Polyglott (1514) expresses it with sufficient accuracy. ‘In the Greek copies, after And deliver us from evil, follows For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. But it is to be noted that in the Greek liturgy, after the choir has said And deliver us from evil, it is the Priest who responds as above: and those words, according to the Greeks, the priest alone may pronounce. This makes it probable that the words in question are no integral part of the Lord’s Prayer: but that certain copyists inserted them in error, supposing, from their use in the liturgy, that they formed part of the text.’ In other words, they represent that men’s ears had grown so fatally familiar with this formula from its habitual use in the liturgy, that at last they assumed it to be part and parcel of the Lord’s Prayer. The same statement has been repeated ad nauseam by ten generations of critics for 360 years. The words with which our Saviour closed His pattern prayer are accordingly rejected as an interpolation resulting from the liturgical practice of the primitive Church. And this slipshod account of the matter is universally acquiesced in by learned and unlearned readers alike at the present day.
From an examination of above fifty ancient oriental liturgies, it is found then that though the utmost variety prevails among them, yet that not one of them exhibits the evangelical formula as it stands in St. Matt. vi. 13; while in some instances the divergences of expression are even extraordinary. Subjoined is what may perhaps be regarded as the typical eucharistic formula, derived from the liturgy which 84passes as Chrysostom’s. Precisely the same form recurs in the office which is called after the name of Basil: and it is essentially reproduced by Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Jerusalem, and pseudo-Caesarius; while something very like it is found to have been in use in more of the Churches of the East.
‘For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.’
But as every one sees at a glance, such a formula as the foregoing,—with its ever-varying terminology of praise,—its constant reference to the blessed Trinity,—its habitual νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ,—and its invariable εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, (which must needs be of very high antiquity, for it is mentioned by Irenaeus,169169 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τῆς Εὐχαριστίας λέγοντας, `εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων,´ κ.τ.λ. Contra Haer. lib. i. c. 3. and may be as old as 2 Tim. iv. 18 itself;)—the doxology, I say, which formed part of the Church’s liturgy, though transcribed 10,000 times, could never by possibility have resulted in the unvarying doxology found in MSS. of St. Matt. vi. 13,—‘For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.’
On the other hand, the inference from a careful survey of so many Oriental liturgies is inevitable. The universal prevalence of a doxology of some sort at the end of the Lord’s Prayer; the general prefix ‘for thine’; the prevailing mention therein of ‘the kingdom and the power and the glory’; the invariable reference to Eternity:—all this constitutes a weighty corroboration of the genuineness of the form in St. Matthew. Eked out with a confession of faith in the Trinity, and otherwise amplified as piety or zeal for doctrinal purity suggested, every liturgical formula of the kind is clearly derivable from the form of words in St. Matt. vi. 13. In no conceivable way, on the other hand, could that briefer formula have resulted from the 85practice of the ancient Church. The thing, I repeat, is simply impossible.
What need to point out in conclusion that the Church’s peculiar method of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the public liturgy does notwithstanding supply the obvious and sufficient explanation of all the adverse phenomena of the case? It was the invariable practice from the earliest time for the Choir to break off at the words ‘But deliver us from evil.’ They never pronounced the doxology. The doxology must for that reason have been omitted by the critical owner of the archetypal copy of St. Matthew from which nine extant Evangelia, Origen, and the Old Latin version originally derived their text. This is the sum of the matter. There can be no simpler solution of the alleged difficulty. That Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose recognize no more of the Lord’s Prayer than they found in their Latin copies, cannot create surprise. The wonder would have been if they did.
Much stress has been laid on the silence of certain of the Greek Fathers concerning the doxology although they wrote expressly on the Lord’s Prayer; as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa170170 But the words of Gregory of Nyssa are doubtful. See Scrivener, Introduction, ii. p. 325, note 1., Cyril of Jerusalem, Maximus. Those who have attended most to such subjects will however bear me most ready witness, that it is never safe to draw inferences of the kind proposed from the silence of the ancients. What if they regarded a doxology, wherever found, as hardly a fitting subject for exegetical comment? But however their silence is to be explained, it is at least quite certain that the reason of it is not because their copies of St. Matthew were unfurnished with the doxology. Does any one seriously imagine that in A. D. 650, when Maximus wrote, Evangelia were, in this respect, in a different state from what they are at present?86
The sum of what has been offered may be thus briefly stated:—The textual perturbation observable at St. Matt. vi. 13 is indeed due to a liturgical cause, as the critics suppose. But then it is found that not the great bulk of the Evangelia, but only Codd. אBDZ 1, 17, 118, 130, 209, have been victims of the corrupting influence. As usual, I say, it is the few, not the many copies, which have been led astray. Let the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer be therefore allowed to retain its place in the text without further molestation. Let no profane hands be any more laid on these fifteen precious words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There yet remains something to be said on the same subject for the edification of studious readers; to whom the succeeding words are specially commended. They are requested to keep their attention sustained, until they have read what immediately follows.
The history of the rejection of these words is in a high degree instructive. It dates from 1514, when the Complutensian editors, whilst admitting that the words were found in their Greek copies, banished them from the text solely in deference to the Latin version. In a marginal annotation they started the hypothesis that the doxology is a liturgical interpolation. But how is that possible, seeing that the doxology is commented on by Chrysostom? ‘We presume,’ they say, ‘that this corruption of the original text must date from an antecedent period.’ The same adverse sentence, supported by the same hypothesis, was reaffirmed by Erasmus, and on the same grounds; but in his edition of the N.T. he suffered the doxology to stand. As the years have rolled out, and Codexes DBZא have successively come to light, critics have waxed bolder and bolder in giving their verdict. First, Grotius, Hammond, Walton; then Mill and Grabe; next Bengel, Wetstein, Griesbach; lastly Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, 87Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers have denounced the precious words as spurious.
But how does it appear that tract of time has strengthened the case against the doxology? Since 1514, scholars have become acquainted with the Peshitto version; which by its emphatic verdict, effectually disposes of the evidence borne by all but three of the Old Latin copies. The Litbaxi of the first or second century, the Sahidic version of the third century, the Apostolic Constitutions (2), follow on the same side. Next, in the fourth century come Chrysostom, Ambrose, ps.-Caesarius, the Gothic version. After that Isidore, the Ethiopic, Cureton’s Syriac. The Harkleian, Armenian, Georgian, and other versions, with Chrysostom (2), the Opus Imperfectum, Theophylact, and Euthymius (2), bring up the rear171171 See my Textual Guide, Appendix V. pp. 131-3 (G. Bell & Sons). I have increased the Dean’s list with a few additional authorities.. Does any one really suppose that two Codexes of the fourth century (Bא), which are even notorious for their many omissions and general accuracy, are any adequate set-off against such an amount of ancient evidence? L and 33, generally the firm allies of BD and the Vulgate, forsake them at St. Matt. vi. 13: and dispose effectually of the adverse testimony of D and Z, which are also balanced by Φ and Σ. But at this juncture the case for rejecting the doxology breaks down: and when it is discovered that every other uncial and every other cursive in existence may be appealed to in its support, and that the story of its liturgical origin proves to be a myth,— what must be the verdict of an impartial mind on a survey of the entire evidence?
The whole matter may be conveniently restated thus:—Liturgical use has indeed been the cause of a depravation of the text at St. Matt. vi. 13; but it proves on inquiry to be the very few MSS.,—not the very many,—which have been depraved.88
Nor is any one at liberty to appeal to a yet earlier period than is attainable by existing liturgical evidence; and to suggest that then the doxology used by the priest may have been the same with that which is found in the ordinary text of St. Matthew’s Gospel. This may have been the case or it may not. Meanwhile, the hypothesis, which fell to the ground when the statement on which it rested was disproved, is not now to be built up again on a mere conjecture. But if the fact could be ascertained,—and I am not at all concerned to deny that such a thing is possible,—I should regard it only as confirmatory of the genuineness of the doxology. For why should the liturgical employment of the last fifteen words of the Lord’s Prayer be thought to cast discredit on their genuineness? In the meantime, the undoubted fact, that for an indefinitely remote period the Lord’s Prayer was not publicly recited by the people further than ‘But deliver us from evil,’— a doxology of some sort being invariably added, but pronounced by the priest alone,—this clearly ascertained fact is fully sufficient to account for a phenomenon so ordinary [found indeed so commonly throughout St. Matthew, to say nothing of occurrences in the other Gospels] as really not to require particular explanation, viz. the omission of the last half of St. Matthew vi. 13 from Codexes אBDZ.89
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