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THE EARLY FATHERS APPEALED TO, AND OBSERVED TO BEAR FAVOURABLE WITNESS.
Patristic evidence sometimes .the most important of any (p. 20).—The importance of such evidence explained (p. 21).—Nineteen Patristic witnesses to these Verses, produced (p. 23).—Summary (p. 30).
THE present inquiry must be conducted solely on grounds of Evidence, external and internal. For the full consideration of the former, seven Chapters will be necessary2727 Chap. III.-VIII., also Chap. X.: for a discussion of the latter, one seventh of that space will suffice2828 Chap. IX.. We have first to ascertain whether the external testimony concerning S. Mark xvi. 9-20 is of such a nature as to constrain us to admit that it is highly probable that those twelve verses are a spurious appendix to S. Mark’s Gospel.
1. It is well known that for determining the Text of the New Testament, we are dependent on three chief sources of information: viz. (1.) on Manuscripts,—(2.) on Versions,—(3.) on Fathers. And it is even self-evident that the most ancient MSS.,—the earliest Versions,—the oldest of the Fathers, will probably be in every instance the most trustworthy witnesses.
2. Further, it is obvious that a really ancient Codex of the Gospels must needs supply more valuable critical help in establishing the precise Text of Scripture than can possibly be rendered by any Translation, however faithful: while Patristic citations are on the whole a less decisive authority, even than Versions. The reasons are chiefly these:—(a.) Fathers often quote Scripture loosely, if not licentiously; and sometimes allude only when they seem to quote. (b.) They appear to have too often depended on their memory, and sometimes are demonstrably loose and inaccurate 20in their citations; the same Father being observed to quote the same place in different ways. (c.) Copyists and Editors may not be altogether depended upon for the exact form of such supposed quotations. Thus the evidence of Fathers must always be to some extent precarious.
3. On the other hand, it cannot be too plainly pointed out that when,—instead of certifying ourselves of the actual words employed by an Evangelist, their precise form and exact sequence,—our object is only to ascertain whether a considerable passage of Scripture is genuine or not; is to be rejected or retained; was known or was not known in the earliest) ages of the Church; then, instead of supplying the least important evidence, Fathers become by far the most valuable witnesses of all. This entire subject may be conveniently illustrated by an appeal to the problem before us.
4. Of course, if we possessed copies of the Gospels coeval with their authors, nothing could compete with such evidence. But then unhappily nothing of the kind is the case. The facts admit of being stated within the compass of a few lines. We have one Codex (the Vatican, B) which is thought to belong to the first half of the ivth century; and another, the newly discovered Codex Sinaiticus, (at St. Petersburg, א) which is certainly not quite so old,—perhaps by 50 years. Next come two famous codices; the Alexandrine (in the British Museum, A) and the Codex Ephraemi (in the Paris Library, C), which are probably from 50 to 100 years more recent still. The Codex Bezae (at Cambridge, D) is considered by competent judges to be the depository of a recension of the text as ancient as any of the others. Notwithstanding its strangely depraved condition therefore,—the many “monstra potius quam variae lectiones” which it contains,—it may be reckoned with the preceding four, though it must be 50 or 100 years later than the latest of them. After this, we drop down, (as far as S. Mark is concerned,) to 2 uncial MSS. of the viiith century,—7 of the ixth,—4 of the ixth or xth2929 Viz. E, L, [viii]: K, M, V, Γ, Δ, Λ (quære), Π (Tisch. ed. 8va.) [ix]: G, X, S, U [ix, x]. The following uncials are defective here,—F (ver. 9-19), H (ver. 9-14), I, N, O, P, R, T, W, Y, Z., while cursives of the xith and xiith 21centuries are very numerous indeed,—the copies increasing in number in a rapid ratio as we descend the stream of Time. Our primitive manuscript witnesses, therefore, are but five in number at the utmost. And of these it has never been pretended that the oldest is to be referred to an earlier date than the beginning of the ivth century, while it is thought by competent judges that the last named may very possibly have been written quite late in the vith.
5. Are we then reduced to this fourfold, (or at most fivefold,) evidence concerning the text of the Gospels,—on evidence of not quite certain date, and yet (as we all believe) not reaching further back than to the ivth century of our æra? Certainly not. Here, Fathers come to our aid. There are perhaps as many as an hundred Ecclesiastical Writers older than the oldest extant Codex of the N.T.: while between A.D. 300 and A.D. 600, (within which limits our five oldest MSS. may be considered certainly to fall,) there exist about two hundred Fathers more. True, that many of these have left wondrous little behind them; and that the quotations from Holy Scripture of the greater part may justly be described as rare and unsatisfactory. But what then? From the three hundred, make a liberal reduction; and an hundred writers will remain who frequently quote the New Testament, and who, when they do quote it, are probably as trustworthy witnesses to the Truth of Scripture as either Cod. א or Cod. B. We have indeed heard a great deal too much of the precariousness of this class of evidence: not nearly enough of the gross inaccuracies which disfigure the text of those two Codices. Quite surprising is it to discover to what an extent Patristic quotations from the New Testament have evidently retained their exact original form. What we chiefly desiderata at this time is a more careful revision of the text of the Fathers, and more skilfully elaborated indices of the works of each: not one of them having been hitherto satisfactorily indexed. It would be easy to demonstrate the importance of bestowing far more attention on this subject than it seems to have hitherto enjoyed: but I shall content myself with citing a single instance; and for this, (in order not to distract the reader’s 22attention), I shall refer him to the Appendix3030 See Appendix (A), on the true reading of S. Luke ii. 14.. What is at least beyond the limits of controversy, whenever the genuineness of a considerable passage of Scripture is the point in dispute, the testimony of Fathers who undoubtedly recognise that passage, is beyond comparison the most valuable testimony we can enjoy.
6. For let it be only considered what is implied by a Patristic appeal to the Gospel. It amounts to this:—that a conspicuous personage, probably a Bishop of the Church,—one, therefore, whose history, date, place, are all more or less matter of notoriety,—gives us his written assurance that the passage in question was found in that copy of the Gospels which he was accustomed himself to employ; the uncial codex, (it has long since perished) which belonged to himself, or to the Church which he served. It is evident, in short, that any objection to quotations from Scripture in the writings of the ancient Fathers can only apply to the form of those quotations; not to their substance. It is just as certain that a verse of Scripture was actually read by the Father who unmistakedly refers to it, as if we had read it with him; even though the gravest doubts may be entertained as to the ‘ipsissima verba’ which were found in his own particular copy. He may have trusted to his memory: or copyists may have taken liberties with his writings: or editors may have misrepresented what they found in the written copies. The form of the quoted verse, I repeat, may have suffered almost to any extent. The substance, on the contrary, inasmuch as it lay wholly beyond their province, may be looked upon as an indisputable fact.
7. Some such preliminary remarks, (never out of place when quotations from the Fathers are to be considered,) cannot well be withheld when the most venerable Ecclesiastical writings are appealed to. The earliest of the Fathers are observed to quote with singular licence,—to allude rather than to quote. Strange to relate, those ancient men seem scarcely to have been aware of the grave responsibility they incurred when they substituted expressions of their own for the utterances of the Spirit. It is evidently not so much 23that their memory is in fault, as their judgment,—in that they evidently hold themselves at liberty to paraphrase, to recast, to reconstruct3131 Consider bow Ignatius (ad Smyrn., c. 3) quotes S. Luke xxiv. 39; and how he refers to S. John xii. 3 in his Ep. ad Ephes. c. 17..
I. Thus, it is impossible to resist the inference that Papias refers to S. Mark xvi. 18 when he records a marvellous tradition concerning “Justus surnamed Barsabas,” “how that after drinking noxious poison, through the Lord’s grace he experienced no evil consequence3232 Ἱστορεῖ [sc. Παπίας] ἕτερον παράδοξον περὶ Ἰοῦστον τὸν ἐπικληθέντα Βαρσαβᾶν γεγονὸς,—evidently a slip of the pen for Βαρσαβᾶν τὸν ἐπικληθέντα Ἰοῦστον (see Acts i. 23, quoted by Eusebius immediately afterwards,)—ὡς δηλητήριον φάρμακον ἐμριόντος καὶ μηδὲν ἀηδὲς διὰ τὴν τοῦ Κυρίου χάριν ὑπομείναντος. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. iii. 39..” He does not give the words of the Evangelist. It is even surprising how completely he passes them by; and yet the allusion to the place just cited is manifest. Now, Papias is a writer who lived so near the time of the Apostles that he made it his delight to collect their traditional sayings. His date (according to Clinton) is A.D. 100.
II. Justin Martyr, the date of whose first Apology is A.D. 151, is observed to say concerning the Apostles that, after our Lord’s Ascension,—ἐξελθόντες πανταχοῦ ἐκήρυξαν3333 Apol. I. c. 45.—The supposed quotations in c. 9 from the Fragment De Resurrectione (Westcott and others) are clearly references to S. Luke xxiv.,—not to S. Mark xvi.: which is nothing else but a quotation from the last verse of S. Mark’s Gospel,—ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ. And thus it is found that the conclusion of S. Mark’s Gospel was familiarly known within fifty years of the death of the last of the Evangelists.
III. When Irenæus, in his third Book against Heresies, deliberately quotes and remarks upon the 19th verse of the last chapter of S. Mark’s Gospel3434 lib. iii. c. x. ad fin. (ed. Stieren, p. 462). “In fine autem Evangelii ait Marcus, et quidem Dominus Jesus, postquam locutus est eis, receptus est in caelos, et sedet ad dexteram Dei.” Accordingly, against S. Mark xvi. 19 in Harl. MS. 5647 (= Evan. 72) occurs the following marginal scholium, which Cramer has already published:—Εἰρηναῖος ὁ τῶν Ἀποστόλων πλησίον, ἐν τῷ πρὸς τὰς αἱρέσεις γʹ λόγῳ τοῦτο ἀνήνεγκεν τὸ ῥητὸν ὡς Μάρκῳ εἰρημένον., we are put in possession of 24the certain fact that the entire passage now under consideration was extant in a copy of the Gospels which was used by the Bishop of the Church of Lyons sometime about the year A.D. 180, and which therefore cannot possibly have been written much more than a hundred years after the date of the Evangelist himself: while it may have been written by a contemporary of S. Mark, and probably was written by one who lived immediately after his time.—Who sees not that this single piece of evidence is in itself sufficient to outweigh the testimony of any codex extant? It is in fact a mere trifling with words to distinguish between “Manuscript” and “Patristic” testimony in a case like this: for (as I have already explained) the passage quoted from S. Mark’s Gospel by Irenæus is to all intents and purposes a fragment from a dated manuscript; and that MS., demonstrably older by at least one hundred and fifty years than the oldest copy of the Gospels which has come down to our times.
IV. Take another proof that these concluding verses of S. Mark
were in the second century accounted an integral part of his Gospel.
Bishop of Portus near Rome (190-227), a contemporary of Irenæus, quotes the 17th
and 18th verses in his fragment Περὶ
Χαρισμάτων3535 First published as his by Fabricius (vol. i. 245.) Its authorship
has never been disputed. In the enumeration of the works of Hippolytus (inscribed
on the chair of his marble effigy in the Lateran Museum at Rome) is
read,—ΠΕΡΙ ΧΑΡΙΣΜΑΤΩΝ; and by that name the fragment in question is actually designated in
the third chapter of the (so called) “Apostolical Constitutions,” (τὰ μὲν οδν πρῶτα τοῦ λόγου ἐξεθέμεθα περὶ τῶν
Χαρισμάτων. κ.τ.λ.),—in which singular monument of Antiquity the fragment itself is also
found. It is in fact nothing else but the first two chapters of the “Apostolical
Constitutions;” of which the ivth chapter is also claimed for Hippolytus, (though
with evidently far less reason,) and as such appears in the last edition of the
Father’s collected works, (Hippolyti Romani qua ferentur omnia Græce, ed.
Lagarde, 1858,)—p. 74.
The work thus assigned to Hippolytus, (evidently on the strength of the heading,—Διατάξεις τῶν αὐτῶν ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων περὶ χειροτονιῶν, διὰ Ἱππολύτου,) is part of the “Octateuchus Clementines,” concerning which Lagarde has several remarks in the preface to his Reliquiæ Juris Ecclesiastici Antiquissimæ, 1856. The composition in question extends from p. 5 to p. 18 of the last-named publication. The exact correspondence between the “Octateuchus Clementinus” and the Pseudo-Apostolical Constitutions will be found to extend no further than the single chapter (the ivth) specified in the text. In the meantime the fragment περὶ χαρισμάτων (containing S. Mark xvi. 17, 18,) is identical throughout. It forms the first article in Lagarde’s Reliquiæ, extending from p. 1 to p. 4, and is there headed Διδασκαλία τῶν ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων περὶ χαρισμάτων.. 25Also in his Homily on the heresy of Noetus3636 Ad fin. See Routh’s Opuscula, i. p. 80., Hippolytus has a plain reference to this section of S. Mark’s Gospel. To an inattentive reader, the passage alluded to might seem to be only the fragment of a Creed; but this is not the case. In the Creeds, Christ is invariably spoken of as ἀνελθόντα: in the Scriptures, invariably as ἀναληφθέντα3737 For which reason I cordially subscribe to Tischendorf’s remark (ed. 8va. p. 407), “Quod idem [Justinus] Christum ἀνεληλυθόαα εἰς τοὺς οὐράνους dicit, [Apol. I. c. 50?] minus valet.”. So that when Hippolytus says of Him, ἀναλαμβάνεται εἰς οὐρανοὺς καὶ ἐκ δεξιῶν Πατρὸς καθίζεται, the reference must needs be to S. Mark xvi. 19.
V. At the Seventh Council of Carthage held under Cyprian, A.D. 256, (on the baptizing of Heretics,) Vincentius, Bishop of Thibari, (a place not far from Carthage,) in the presence of the eighty-seven assembled African bishops, quoted two of the verses under consideration3838 “In nomine meo manum imponite, daemonia expellite,” (Cyprian Opp. p. 237 [Reliqq. Sacr. p. 124,] quoting S. Mark xvi. 17, 18,)—“In nomine meo daemonia ejicient . . . . super egrotos manus imponent et bene habebunt.”; and Augustine, about a century and a half later, in his reply, recited the words afresh3939 Responsa ad Episcopos, c. 44, (Reliqq. v. 248.).
VI. The Apocryphal Acta Pilati (sometimes called the “Gospel of Nicodemus”) Tischendorf assigns without hesitation to the iiird century; whether rightly or wrongly I have no means of ascertaining. It is at all events a very ancient forgery, and it contains the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th verses of this chapter4040 Evangelia Apocrypha, ed. Tischendorf, 1853, pp. 243 and 351: also Proleg. p. lvi..
VII. This is probably the right place to mention that ver. 15 is clearly alluded to in two places of the (so-called) “Apostolical Constitutions4141 In l. vii. c. 7 (ad fin.),—λαβόντες ἐντολὴν παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ κηρύξαι τὸ εὑαγγέλιον εἰς ὅλον τὸν κόσμον: and in l. viii. c. 1,—ἡμῖν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις μέλλουσι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον καταγγέλλειν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει. Observe, this immediately follows the quotation of verses 17, 18.;” and that verse 16 is quoted (with 26no variety of reading from the Textus receptus4242 Lib. vi. c. 15.—The quotation (at the beginning of lib. viii.) of the 17th and 18th verses, has been already noticed in its proper place. Supra, p. 24.) in an earlier part of the same ancient work. The “Constitutions” are assigned to the iiird or the ivth century4343 Scrivener’s Introduction, p. 421..
VIII and IX. It will be shown in Chapter V. that Eusebius, the Ecclesiastical Historian, was profoundly well acquainted with these verses. He discusses them largely, and (as I shall prove in the chapter referred to) was by no means disposed to question their genuineness. His Church History was published A.D. 325.
Marinus also, (whoever that individual may have been,) a contemporary of Eusebius,—inasmuch as he is introduced to our notice by Eusebius himself as asking a question concerning the last twelve verses of S. Mark’s Gospel without a trace of misgiving as to the genuineness of that about which he inquires,—is a competent witness in their favor who has hitherto been overlooked in this discussion.
X. Tischendorf and his followers state that Jacobus Nisibenus quotes these verses. For “Jacobus Nisibenus” read “Aphraates the Persian Sage,” and the statement will be correct. The history of the mistake is curious.
Jerome, in his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical writers, makes no mention of Jacob of Nisibis,—a famous Syrian Bishop who was present at the Council of Nicæa, A.D. 325. Gennadius of Marseille, (who carried on Jerome’s list to the year 495) asserts that the reason of this omission was Jerome’s ignorance of the Syriac language; and explains that Jacob was the author of twenty-two Syriac Homilies4444 Apud Hieron. Opp. ed. Vallars., ii. 951-4.. Of these, there exists a very ancient Armenian translation; which was accordingly edited as the work of Jacobus Nisi-bonus with a Latin version, at Rome, in 1756. Gallandius reprinted both the Armenian and the Latin; and to Gallandius (vol. v.) we are referred whenever “Jacobus Nisibenus” is quoted.27
But the proposed attribution of the Homilies in question,—though it has been acquiesced in for nearly 1400 years,—is incorrect. Quite lately the Syriac originals have come to light, and they prove to be the work of Aphraates, “the Persian Sage,”—a Bishop, and the earliest known Father of the Syrian Church. In the first Homily, (which bears date A.D. 337), verses 16, 17, 18 of S. Mark xvi. are quoted4545 See Dr. Wright’s ed. of “Aphraates,” (4te. 1869,) p. 21. I am entirely indebted to the learned Editor’s Preface for the information in the text.,—yet not from the version known as the Curetonian Syriac, nor yet from the Peshito exactly4646 From Dr. Wright, and my brother Archdeacon Rose..—Here, then, is another wholly independent witness to the last twelve verses of S. Mark, coeval certainly with the two oldest copies of the Gospel extant,—B and א.
XI. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan. (A.D. 374-397) freely quotes this portion of the Gospel,—citing ver. 15 four times: verses 16, 17 and 18, each three times: ver. 20, once4747 Vol. i. 796 E and vol. ii. 461 D quote ver. 15: 1429 B quotes ver. 15 and 16: vol. ii. 663 B, C quotes ver. 15 to 18. Vol. i. 127 A quotes ver. 16 to 18. Vol. i. 639 E and vol. ii. 400 A quote ver. 17, 18. Vol. i. 716 A quotes ver. 20..
XII. The testimony of Chrysostom (A.D. 400) has been all but overlooked. In part of a Homily claimed for him by his Benedictine Editors, he points out that S. Luke alone of the Evangelists describes the Ascension: S. Matthew and S. John not speaking of it,—S. Mark recording the event only. Then he quotes verses 19, 20. “This” (he adds) “is the end of the Gospel. Mark makes no extended mention of the Ascension4848 Opp. iii. 765 A, B..” Elsewhere he has an unmistakable reference to S. Mark xvi. 94949 Καὶ μὴν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοὐναντίον λέγει, ὅτι τῇ Μαρίᾳ πρώτῃ [ὤφθη]. Chrys. Opp. x. 355 B..
XIII. Jerome, on a point like this, is entitled to more attention than any other Father of the Church. Living at a very early period, (for he was born in 331 and died in 420,)—endowed with extraordinary Biblical learning,—a man of excellent judgment,—and a professed Editor of 28the New Testament, for the execution of which task he enjoyed extraordinary facilities,—his testimony is most weighty. Not unaware am I that Jerome is commonly supposed to be a witness on the opposite side: concerning which mistake I shall have to speak largely in Chapter V. But it ought to be enough to point out that we should not have met with these last twelve verses in the Vulgate, had Jerome held them to be spurious5050 “Cogis” (he says to Pope Damasus) “ut post exemplaria Scripturarum toto orbs dispersa quasi quidam arbiter sedeam; et quia inter se variant, quae sint illa quae cum Graecâ consentiant veritate decernam.—Haec praesens praefatiuncula pollicetur quatuor Evangelia . . . . codicum Graecorum emendata conlatione, sed et veterum.”. He familiarly quotes the 9th verse in one place of his writings5151 Vol. i. p. 827 C (ed. Vallars.); in another place he makes the extraordinary statement that in certain of the copies, (especially the Greek,) was found after ver. 14 the reply of the eleven Apostles, when our Saviour “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen5252 Contra Pelagianos, II. 15, (Opp. ii. 744-5):—“In quibusdam exemplaribus et maxime in Graecis codicibus, juxta Marcum in fine Evangelii scribitur: Postea quum accubuissent undecim, apparuit eis Jesus, et exprobravit incredulitatem et duritiam cordis eorum, quia his qui viderant eum resurgentem, non crediderunt. Et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: Sæculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia est, quae non sinit per immundos spiritus veram Dei apprehendi virtutem: idcirco jam nunc revela justitiam tuam.”.” To discuss so weak and worthless a forgery,—no trace of which is found in any MS. in existence, and of which nothing whatever is known except what Jerome here tells us,—would be to waste our time indeed. The fact remains, however, that Jerome, besides giving these last twelve verses a place in the Vulgate, quotes S. Mark xvi. 14, as well as ver. 9, in the course of his writings.
XIV. It was to have been expected that Augustine would quote these verses: but he more than quotes them. He brings them forward again and again5353 e.g. ver. 12 in vol. ii. 515 C (Ep. 149); Vol. v. 988 C.—Verses 15, 16, in vol. v. 391 E, 985 A: vol. x. 22 F.,—discusses them as the work of S. Mark,—remarks that “in diebus Paschalibus,” S. Mark’s narrative of the Resurrection was publicly 29read in the Church5454 Vol. v. 997 F, 998 B, C.. All this is noteworthy. Augustine flourished A.D. 395-430.
XV. and XVI. Another very important testimony to the genuineness of the concluding part of S. Mark’s Gospel is furnished by the unhesitating manner in which Nestorius, the heresiarch, quotes ver. 20; and Cyril of Alexandria. accepts his quotation, adding a few words of his own5555 ἐξελθόντες γάρ, φησι, διεκήρυσσον τὸν λόγον πανταχοῦ. τοῦ Κυρὶου συνεργοῦντος, καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος, διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθησάντων σημείων. Nestorius c. Orthodoxos: (Cyril. Alexand. adv. Nestorian. Opp. vol. vi. 46 B.) To which, Cyril replies,—τῇ παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ δυναστείᾳ χρώμενοι, διεκηρύττοντο καὶ εἰργάζοντο τὰς θεοσημείας οἱ θεσπέσιοι μαθηταί (Ibid. D.) This quotation was first noticed by Matthaei (Enthym. Zig. i. 161.). Let it be borne in mind that this is tantamount to the discovery of two dated codices containing the last twelve verses of S. Mark,—and that date anterior (it is impossible to say by how many years) to A.D. 430.
Victor of Antioch, (concerning whom I shall have to speak very largely in Chapter V.,) flourished about A.D. 425. The critical testimony which he bears to the genuineness of these verses is more emphatic than is to be met with in the pages of any other ancient Father. It may be characterized as the most conclusive testimony which it was in his power to render.
Hesychius of Jerusalem, by a singular oversight, has been reckoned among the impugners of these verses. He is on the contrary their eager advocate and champion. It seems to have escaped observation that towards the close of his “Homily on the Resurrection,” (published in the works of Gregory of Nyasa, and erroneously ascribed to that Father,) Hesychius appeals to the 19th verse, and quotes it as S. Mark’s at length5656 ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ τὸ παρὰ τῷ Μάρκφ γεγραμμένον· Ὁ μὲν οὖν Κύριος—ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Θ9εοῦ. Greg.Nyss. Opp. iii. 415.. The date of Hesychius is uncertain; but he may, I suppose, be considered to belong to the vith century. His evidence is discussed in Chapter V.
XIX. This list shall be brought to a
close with a reference to the Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae,—an ancient work
30ascribed to Athanasius5757 Athanasii Opp. vol. ii. p.181 F, 182 A. See the Præfat.,
pp. vii., viii., but probably not the production of that Father. It
is at all events of much older date than any of the later uncials; and it rehearses
in detail the contents of S. Mark xvi. 9-205858 In dismissing this enumeration, let me be allowed to point out
that there must exist many more Patristic citations which I have overlooked.
The necessity one is under, on occasions like the present, of depending to a great
extent on “Indices,” is fatal; so scandalously inaccurate is almost every Index
of Texts that can be named. To judge from the Index in Oehler’s edition of Tertullian,
that Father quotes these twelve verses not less than eight times. According to the
Benedictine Index, Ambrose does not quote them so much as once. Ambrose, nevertheless,
quotes five of these verses no less than fourteen times; while Tertullian, as far
as I am able to discover, does not quote S. Mark xvi. 9-20 at all.
Again. One hoped that the Index of Texts in Dindorf’s new Oxford ed. of Clemens Alex. was going to remedy the sadly defective Index in Potter’s ed. But we are still exactly where we were. S. John i. 3 (or 4), so remarkably quoted in vol. iii. 433, l. 8: S. John i. 18, 50, memorably represented in vol. iii. 412, l. 26: S. Mark i. 13, interestingly referred to in vol. iii. 455, lines 6, 6, 7:—are nowhere noticed in the Index. The Voice from Heaven at our Saviour’s Baptism,—a famous misquotation (vol. i. 145, l. 14),—does not appear in the Index of quotations from S. Matthew (iii. 17), S. Mark (i. 11), or S. Luke (iii. 22.).
It would be easy to prolong this enumeration of Patristic authorities; as, by appealing to Gregentius in the vith century, and to Gregory the Great, and. Modestus, patriarch of Constantinople in the viith;—to Ven. Bede and John Damascene in the viiith;—to Theophylact in the xith;—to Euthymius in the xiith5959 Gregentius apud Galland. xi. 653 E.—Greg. Mag. (Hom. xxix. in Evang.)—Modestus apud Photium cod. 275.—Johannis Damasceni Opp. (ed. 1712) vol. i. 608 E.—Bede, and Theophylact (who quotes all the verses) and Euthymius in loc.: but I forbear. It would add no strength to my argument that I should by such evidence support it; as the reader will admit when he has read my Xth chapter.
It will be observed then that three competent Patristic witnesses of the iind century,—four of the iiird,—six of the ivth,—four of the vth,—and two (of uncertain date, but probably) of the vith,—have admitted their familiarity with these “last Twelve Verses.” Yet do they not belong to one particular age, school, or country. They come, on the contrary, from every part of the ancient Church: Antioch and 31Constantinople,—Hierapolis, Cæsarea and Edessa,—Carthage, Alexandria and Hippo,—Rome and Portus. And thus, upwards of nineteen early mama have been to all intents and purposes inspected for us in various lands by unprejudiced witnesses,—seven of them at least of more ancient date than the oldest copy of the Gospels extant.
I propose to recur to this subject for an instant when the reader has been made acquainted with the decisive testimony which ancient Versions supply. But the Versions deserve a short Chapter to themselves.32
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