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Article III. Westcott And Hort's New Textual Theory.

In the determination of disputed readings, these Critics avail themselves of so small a portion of existing materials, or allow so little weight to others, that the Student who follows them has positively less ground for his convictions than former Scholars had at any period in the history of modern Criticism.Canon Cook, p. 16.

We have no right, doubtless, to assume that our Principles are infallible: but we have a right to claim that any one who rejects them ... should confute the Arguments and rebut the Evidence on which the opposite conclusion has been founded. Strong expressions of Individual Opinion are not Arguments.Bp. Ellicott's Pamphlet, (1882,) p. 40.

Our method involves vast research, unwearied patience.... It will therefore find but little favour with those who adopt the easy method ... of using some favourite Manuscript, or some supposed power of divining the Original Text.Bp. Ellicott, Ibid. p. 19.

Non enim sumus sicut plurimi, adulterantes (καπηλεύοντες) verbum Dei.2 Cor. ii. 17.


Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?Job xxxviii. 2.

Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?S. Luke vi. 39.

Proposing to ourselves (May 17th, 1881) to enquire into the merits of the recent Revision of the Authorized Version of the New Testament Scriptures, we speedily became aware that an entirely different problem awaited us and demanded preliminary investigation. We made the distressing discovery, that the underlying Greek Text had been completely refashioned throughout. It was accordingly not so much a Revised English Version as a New Greek Text, which was challenging public acceptance. Premature therefore,—not to say preposterous,—would have been any enquiry into the degree of ability with which the original Greek had been rendered into English by our Revisionists, until we had first satisfied ourselves that it was still the original Greek with which we had to deal: or whether it had been the supreme infelicity of a body of Scholars claiming to act by the authority of the sacred Synod of Canterbury, to put themselves into the hands of some ingenious theory-monger, and to become the dupes of any of the strange delusions which 236 are found unhappily still to prevail in certain quarters, on the subject of Textual Criticism.

The correction of known Textual errors of course we eagerly expected: and on every occasion when the Traditional Text was altered, we as confidently depended on finding a record of the circumstance inserted with religious fidelity into the margin,—as agreed upon by the Revisionists at the outset. In both of these expectations however we found ourselves sadly disappointed. The Revisionists have not corrected the known Textual errors. On the other hand, besides silently adopting most of those wretched fabrications which are just now in favour with the German school, they have encumbered their margin with those other Readings which, after due examination, they had themselves deliberately rejected. For why? Because, in their collective judgment, for the present, it would not be safe to accept one Reading to the absolute exclusion of others.705705Preface, p. xiv. A fatal admission truly! What are found in the margin are therefore alternative Readings,—in the opinion of these self-constituted representatives of the Church and of the Sects.

It becomes evident that, by this ill-advised proceeding, our Revisionists would convert every Englishman's copy of the New Testament into a one-sided Introduction to the Critical difficulties of the Greek Text; a labyrinth, out of which they have not been at the pains to supply him with a single hint as to how he may find his way. On the contrary. By candidly avowing that they find themselves enveloped in the same Stygian darkness with the ordinary English Reader, they give him to understand that 237 there is absolutely no escape from the difficulty. What else must be the result of all this but general uncertainty, confusion, distress? A hazy mistrust of all Scripture has been insinuated into the hearts and minds of countless millions, who in this way have been forced to become doubters,—yes, doubters in the Truth of Revelation itself. One recals sorrowfully the terrible woe denounced by the Author of Scripture on those who minister occasions of falling to others:—It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

For ourselves, shocked and offended at the unfaithfulness which could so deal with the sacred Deposit, we made it our business to expose, somewhat in detail, what had been the method of our Revisionists. In our October number706706Quarterly Review, No. 304. we demonstrated, (as far as was possible within such narrow limits,) the utterly untrustworthy character of not a few of the results at which, after ten years of careful study, these distinguished Scholars proclaim to the civilized world that they have deliberately arrived. In our January number707707Quarterly Review, No. 305. also, we found it impossible to avoid extending our enumeration of Textual errors and multiplying our proofs, while we were making it our business to show that, even had their Text been faultless, their Translation must needs be rejected as intolerable, on grounds of defective Scholarship and egregious bad Taste. The popular verdict has in the meantime been pronounced unmistakably. It is already admitted on all hands that the Revision has been a prodigious blunder. How it came about that, with such a first-rate textual Critic among them as Prebendary Scrivener,708708At the head of the present Article, as it originally appeared, will be found enumerated Dr. Scrivener's principal works. It shall but be said of them, that they are wholly unrivalled, or rather unapproached, in their particular department. Himself an exact and elegant Scholar,—a most patient and accurate observer of Textual phenomena, as well as an interesting and judicious expositor of their significance and value;—guarded in his statements, temperate in his language, fair and impartial (even kind) to all who come in his way:—Dr. Scrivener is the very best teacher and guide to whom a beginner can resort, who desires to be led by the hand, as it were, through the intricate mazes of Textual Criticism. His Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament for the use of Biblical Students, (of which a third edition is now in the press,) is perforce the most generally useful, because the most comprehensive, of his works; but we strenuously recommend the three prefatory chapters of his Full and Exact Collation of about twenty Greek Manuscripts of the Gospels [pp. lxxiv. and 178,—1853], and the two prefatory chapters of his Exact Transcript of the Codex Augiensis, &c., to which is added a full Collation of Fifty Manuscripts, [pp. lxxx. and 563,—1859,] to the attention of students. His Collation of Codex Bezæ (d) is perhaps the greatest of his works: but whatever he has done, he has done best. It is instructive to compare his collation of Cod. א with Tischendorf's. No reader of the Greek Testament can afford to be without his reprint of Stephens' ed. of 1550: and English readers are reminded that Dr. Scrivener's is the only classical edition of the English Bible,—The Cambridge Paragraph Bible, &c., 1870-3. His Preface or Introduction (pp. ix.-cxx.) passes praise. Ordinary English readers should enquire for his Six Lectures on the Text of the N. T., &c., 1875,—which is in fact an attempt to popularize the Plain Introduction. The reader is referred to note 1 at the foot of page 243. the Revisers of 1881 238 should have deliberately gone back to those vile fabrications from which the good Providence of God preserved Erasmus and Stunica,—Stephens and Beza and the Elzevirs,—three centuries ago:—how it happened that, with so many splendid Scholars sitting round their table, they should have produced a Translation which, for the most part, reads like a first-rate school-boy's crib,—tasteless, unlovely, harsh, unidiomatic;—servile without being really faithful,—pedantic without being really learned;—an unreadable Translation, in short; the result of a vast amount of labour indeed, but of wondrous little skill:—how all this has come about, it were utterly useless at this time of day to enquire.


Unable to disprove the correctness of our Criticism on the Revised Greek Text, even in a single instance, certain partizans of the Revision,—singular to relate,—have been ever since industriously promulgating the notion, that the Reviewer's great misfortune and fatal disadvantage all along has been, that he wrote his first Article before the publication of Drs. Westcott and Hort's Critical Introduction. Had he but been so happy as to have been made aware by those eminent Scholars of the critical principles which have guided them in the construction of their Text, how differently must he have expressed himself throughout, and to what widely different conclusions must he have inevitably arrived! This is what has been once and again either openly declared, or else privately intimated, in many quarters. Some, in the warmth of their partizanship, have been so ill-advised as to insinuate that it argues either a deficiency of moral courage, or else of intellectual perception, in the Reviewer, that he has not long since grappled definitely with the Theory of Drs. Westcott and Hort,—and either published an Answer to it, or else frankly admitted that he finds it unanswerable.

(a) All of which strikes us as queer in a high degree. First, because as a matter of fact we were careful to make it plain that the Introduction in question had duly reached us before the first sheet of our earlier Article had left our hands. To be brief,—we made it our business to procure a copy and read it through, the instant we heard of its publication: and on our fourteenth page (see above, pp. 26-8) we endeavoured to compress into a long foot-note some account of a Theory which (we take leave to say) can appear formidable only to one who either lacks the patience to study it, or else the knowledge requisite to understand it. We found that, from a diligent perusal of the Preface prefixed to the limited and private issue of 1870, we had formed a perfectly correct 240 estimate of the contents of the Introduction; and had already characterized it with entire accuracy at pp. 24 to 29 of our first Article. Drs. Westcott and Hort's New Testament in the original Greek was discovered to partake inconveniently of the nature of a work of the Imagination,—as we had anticipated. We became easily convinced that those accomplished Scholars had succeeded in producing a Text vastly more remote from the inspired autographs of the Evangelists and Apostles of our Lord, than any which has appeared since the invention of Printing.

(b) But the queerest circumstance is behind. How is it supposed that any amount of study of the last new Theory of Textual Revision can seriously affect a Reviewer's estimate of the evidential value of the historical facts on which he relies for his proof that a certain exhibition of the Greek Text is untrustworthy? The onus probandi rests clearly not with him, but with those who call those proofs of his in question. More of this, however, by and by. We are impatient to get on.

(c) And then, lastly,—What have we to do with the Theory of Drs. Westcott and Hort? or indeed with the Theory of any other person who can be named? We have been examining the new Greek Text of the Revisionists. We have condemned, after furnishing detailed proof, the results at which—by whatever means—that distinguished body of Scholars has arrived. Surely it is competent to us to upset their conclusion, without being constrained also to investigate in detail the illicit logical processes by which two of their number in a separate publication have arrived at far graver results, and often even stand hopelessly apart, the one from the other! We say it in no boastful spirit, but we have an undoubted right to assume, that unless the Revisionists are able by a 241 stronger array of authorities to set aside the evidence we have already brought forward, the calamitous destiny of their Revision, so far as the New Testament is concerned, is simply a thing inevitable.

Let it not be imagined, however, from what goes before, that we desire to shirk the proposed encounter with the advocates of this last new Text, or that we entertain the slightest intention of doing so. We willingly accept the assurance, that it is only because Drs. Westcott and Hort are virtually responsible for the Revisers' Greek Text, that it is so imperiously demanded by the Revisers and their partizans, that the Theory of the two Cambridge Professors may be critically examined. We can sympathize also with the secret distress of certain of the body, who now, when it is all too late to remedy the mischief, begin to suspect that they have been led away by the hardihood of self-assertion;—overpowered by the facundia præceps of one who is at least a thorough believer in his own self-evolved opinions;—imposed upon by the seemingly consentient pages of Tischendorf and Tregelles, Westcott and Hort.—Without further preface we begin.

It is presumed that we shall be rendering acceptable service in certain quarters if,—before investigating the particular Theory which has been proposed for consideration,—we endeavour to give the unlearned English Reader some general notion, (it must perforce be a very imperfect one,) of the nature of the controversy to which the Theory now to be considered belongs, and out of which it has sprung. Claiming to be an attempt to determine the Truth of Scripture on scientific principles, the work before us may be regarded as the latest outcome of that violent recoil from the Traditional Greek Text,—that strange impatience of its authority, or 242 rather denial that it possesses any authority at all,—which began with Lachmann just 50 years ago (viz. in 1831), and has prevailed ever since; its most conspicuous promoters being Tregelles (1857-72) and Tischendorf (1865-72).

The true nature of the Principles which respectively animate the two parties in this controversy is at this time as much as ever,—perhaps more than ever,—popularly misunderstood. The common view of the contention in which they are engaged, is certainly the reverse of complimentary to the school of which Dr. Scrivener is the most accomplished living exponent. We hear it confidently asserted that the contention is nothing else but an irrational endeavour on the one part to set up the many modern against the few ancient Witnesses;—the later cursive copies against the old Uncials;—inveterate traditional Error against undoubted primitive Truth. The disciples of the new popular school, on the contrary, are represented as relying exclusively on Antiquity. We respectfully assure as many as require the assurance, that the actual contention is of an entirely different nature. But, before we offer a single word in the way of explanation, let the position of our assailants at least be correctly ascertained and clearly established. We have already been constrained to some extent to go over this ground: but we will not repeat ourselves. The Reader is referred back, in the meantime, to pp. 21-24.

Lachmann's ruling principle then, was exclusive reliance on a very few ancient authorities—because they are ancient. He constructed his Text on three or four,—not unfrequently on one or two,—Greek codices. Of the Greek Fathers, he relied on Origen. Of the oldest Versions, he cared only for the Latin. To the Syriac (concerning which, see above, p. 9), he paid no attention. We venture to think his method 243 irrational. But this is really a point on which the thoughtful reader is competent to judge for himself. He is invited to read the note at foot of the page.709709Agmen ducit Carolus Lachmannus (N. T. Berolini 1842-50), ingenii viribus et elegantiâ doctrinæ haud pluribus impar; editor N. T. audacior quam limatior: cujus textum, a recepto longè decedentem, tantopere judicibus quibusdam subtilioribus placuisse jamdudum miramur: quippe qui, abjectâ tot cæterorum codicum Græcorum ope, perpaucis antiquissimis (nec iis integris, nec per eum satis accuratè collatis) innixus, libros sacros ad sæculi post Christum quarti normam restituisse sibi videatur; versionum porrò (cujuslibet codicis ætatem facilè superantium) Syriacæ atque Ægyptiacarum contemptor, neutrius linguæ peritus; Latinarum contrà nimius fautor, præ Bentleio ipso Bentleianus.—Scrivener's Preface to Nov. Test, textûs Stephanici, &c. See above, p. 238, note.

Tregelles adopted the same strange method. He resorted to a very few out of the entire mass of ancient Authorities for the construction of his Text. His proceeding is exactly that of a man, who—in order that he may the better explore a comparatively unknown region—begins by putting out both his eyes; and resolutely refuses the help of the natives to show him the way. Why he rejected the testimony of every Father of the IVth century, except Eusebius,—it were unprofitable to enquire.

Tischendorf, the last and by far the ablest Critic of the three, knew better than to reject eighty-nine ninetieths of the extant witnesses. He had recourse to the ingenious expedient of adducing all the available evidence, but adopting just as little of it as he chose: and he chose to adopt those readings only, which are vouched for by the same little band of authorities whose partial testimony had already proved fatal to the decrees of Lachmann and Tregelles. Happy in having discovered (in 1859) an uncial codex (א) second in antiquity only to the oldest before known (b), and strongly 244 resembling that famous IVth-century codex in the character of its contents, he suffered his judgment to be overpowered by the circumstance. He at once (1865-72) remodelled his 7th edition (1856-9) in 3505 places,—to the scandal of the science of Comparative Criticism, as well as to his own grave discredit for discernment and consistency.710710Scrivener's Introduction, p. 429. And yet he knew concerning Cod. א, that at least ten different Revisers from the Vth century downwards had laboured to remedy the scandalously corrupt condition of a text which, as it proceeded from the first scribe, even Tregelles describes as very rough.711711N. T. Part II. p. 2. But in fact the infatuation which prevails to this hour in this department of sacred Science can only be spoken of as incredible. Enough has been said to show—(the only point we are bent on establishing)—that the one distinctive tenet of the three most famous Critics since 1831 has been a superstitious reverence for whatever is found in the same little handful of early,—but not the earliest,—nor yet of necessity the purest,—documents.

Against this arbitrary method of theirs we solemnly, stiffly remonstrate. Strange, we venture to exclaim, (addressing the living representatives of the school of Lachmann, and Tregelles, and Tischendorf):—Strange, that you should not perceive that you are the dupes of a fallacy which is even transparent. You talk of Antiquity. But you must know very well that you actually mean something different. You fasten upon three, or perhaps four,—on two, or perhaps three,—on one, or perhaps two,—documents of the IVth or Vth century. But then, confessedly, these are one, two, three, or four specimens only of Antiquity,—not Antiquity itself. And what if they should even prove to be unfair samples of Antiquity? Thus, you are observed always to 245 quote cod. b or at least cod. א. Pray, why may not the Truth reside instead with a, or c, or d?—You quote the old Latin or the Coptic. Why may not the Peschito or the Sahidic be right rather?—You quote either Origen or else Eusebius,—but why not Didymus and Athanasius, Epiphanius and Basil, Chrysostom and Theodoret, the Gregories and the Cyrils?... It will appear therefore that we are every bit as strongly convinced as you can be of the paramount claims of Antiquity: but that, eschewing prejudice and partiality, we differ from you only in this, viz. that we absolutely refuse to bow down before the particular specimens of Antiquity which you have arbitrarily selected as the objects of your superstition. You are illogical enough to propose to include within your list of ancient Authorities, codd. 1, 33 and 69,—which are severally MSS. of the Xth, XIth, and XIVth centuries. And why? Only because the Text of those 3 copies is observed to bear a sinister resemblance to that of codex b. But then why, in the name of common sense, do you not show corresponding favour to the remaining 997 cursive Copies of the N. T.,—seeing that these are observed to bear the same general resemblance to codex a?... You are for ever talking about old Readings. Have you not yet discovered that all Readings are old?

The last contribution to this department of sacred Science is a critical edition of the New Testament by Drs. Westcott and Hort. About this, we proceed to offer a few remarks.

I. The first thing here which unfavourably arrests attention is the circumstance that this proves to be the only Critical Edition of the New Testament since the days of Mill, which does not even pretend to contribute something to our previous critical knowledge of the subject. Mill it was (1707) who gave us the great bulk of our various Readings; 246 which Bengel (1734) slightly, and Wetstein (1751-2) very considerably, enlarged.—The accurate Matthæi (1782-8) acquainted us with the contents of about 100 codices more; and was followed by Griesbach (1796-1806) with important additional materials.—Birch had in the meantime (1788) culled from the principal libraries of Europe a large assortment of new Readings: while truly marvellous was the accession of evidence which Scholz brought to light in 1830.—And though Lachmann (1842-50) did wondrous little in this department, he yet furnished the critical authority (such as it is) for his own unsatisfactory Text.—Tregelles (1857-72), by his exact collations of MSS. and examination of the earliest Fathers, has laid the Church under an abiding obligation: and what is to be said of Tischendorf (1856-72), who has contributed more to our knowledge than any other editor of the N. T. since the days of Mill?—Dr. Scrivener, though he has not independently edited the original Text, is clearly to be reckoned among those who have, by reason of his large, important, and accurate contributions to our knowledge of ancient documents. Transfer his collections of various Readings to the foot of the page of a copy of the commonly Received Text,—and Scrivener's New Testament712712No one who attends ever so little to the subject can require to be assured that The New Testament in the Original Greek, according to the text followed in the Authorized Version, together with the variations adopted in the Revised Version, edited by Dr. Scrivener for the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1881, does not by any means represent his own views. The learned Prebendary merely edited the decisions of the two-thirds majority of the Revisionists,—which were not his own. might stand between the editions of Mill and of Wetstein. Let the truth be told. C. F. Matthæi and he are the only two Scholars who have collated any considerable number of sacred Codices with the needful amount of accuracy.713713Those who have never tried the experiment, can have no idea of the strain on the attention which such works as those enumerated in p. 238 (note) occasion. At the same time, it cannot be too clearly understood that it is chiefly by the multiplication of exact collations of MSS. that an abiding foundation will some day be laid on which to build up the Science of Textual Criticism. We may safely keep our Theories back till we have collated our MSS.,—re-edited our Versions,—indexed our Fathers. They will be abundantly in time then.


Now, we trust we shall be forgiven if, at the close of the preceding enumeration, we confess to something like displeasure at the oracular tone assumed by Drs. Westcott and Hort in dealing with the Text of Scripture, though they admit (page 90) that they rely for documentary evidence on the stores accumulated by their predecessors. Confident as those distinguished Professors may reasonably feel of their ability to dispense with the ordinary appliances of Textual Criticism; and proud (as they must naturally be) of a verifying faculty which (although they are able to give no account of it) yet enables them infallibly to discriminate between the false and the true, as well as to assign a local habitation and a name to every word,—inspired or uninspired,—which purports to belong to the N. T.:—they must not be offended with us if we freely assure them at the outset that we shall decline to accept a single argumentative assertion of theirs for which they fail to offer sufficient proof. Their wholly unsupported decrees, at the risk of being thought uncivil, we shall unceremoniously reject, as soon as we have allowed them a hearing.

This resolve bodes ill, we freely admit, to harmonious progress. But it is inevitable. For, to speak plainly, we never before met with such a singular tissue of magisterial statements, unsupported by a particle of rational evidence, as we meet with here. The abstruse gravity, the long-winded earnestness of the writer's manner, contrast whimsically with the utterly inconsequential character of his antecedents 248 and his consequents throughout. Professor Hort—(for the writing of the volume and the other accompaniments of the Text devolved on him,714714Introduction, p. 18.)—Dr. Hort seems to mistake his Opinions for facts,—his Assertions for arguments,—and a Reiteration of either for an accession of evidence. There is throughout the volume, apparently, a dread of Facts which is even extraordinary. An actual illustration of the learned Author's meaning,—a concrete case,—seems as if it were never forthcoming. At last it comes: but the phenomenon is straightway discovered to admit of at least two interpretations, and therefore never to prove the thing intended. In a person of high education,—in one accustomed to exact reasoning,—we should have supposed all this impossible.... But it is high time to unfold the Introduction at the first page, and to begin to read.

II. It opens (p. 1-11) with some unsatisfactory Remarks on Transmission by Writing; vague and inaccurate,—unsupported by one single Textual reference,—and labouring under the grave defect of leaving the most instructive phenomena of the problem wholly untouched. For, inasmuch as Transmission by writing involves two distinct classes of errors, (1st) Those which are the result of Accident,—and (2ndly) Those which are the result of Design,—it is to use a Reader badly not to take the earliest opportunity of explaining to him that what makes codd. b א d such utterly untrustworthy guides, (except when supported by a large amount of extraneous evidence,) is the circumstance that Design had evidently so much to do with a vast proportion of the peculiar errors in which they severally abound. In other words, each of those codices clearly exhibits a fabricated Text,—is the result of arbitrary and reckless Recension.


Now, this is not a matter of opinion, but of fact. In S. Luke's Gospel alone (collated with the traditional Text) the transpositions in codex b amount to 228,—affecting 654 words: in codex d, to 464,—affecting 1401 words. Proceeding with our examination of the same Gospel according to S. Luke, we find that the words omitted in b are 757,—in d, 1552. The words substituted in b amount to 309,—in d, to 1006. The readings peculiar to b are 138, and affect 215 words;—those peculiar to d, are 1731, and affect 4090 words. Wondrous few of these can have been due to accidental causes. The Text of one or of both codices must needs be depraved. (As for א, it is so frequently found in accord with b, that out of consideration for our Readers, we omit the corresponding figures.)

We turn to codd. a and c—(executed, suppose, a hundred years after b, and a hundred years before d)—and the figures are found to be as follows:—

In a. In c.
The transpositions are 75 67
affecting 199 words 197
The words omitted are 208 175
The words substituted 111 115
The peculiar readings 90 87
affecting 131 words 127

Now, (as we had occasion to explain in a previous page,715715See lower part of page 17. Also note at p. 75 and middle of p. 262.) it is entirely to misunderstand the question, to object that the preceding Collation has been made with the Text of Stephanus open before us. Robert Etienne in the XVIth century was not the cause why cod. b in the IVth, and cod. d in the VIth, are so widely discordant from one another; a and c, so utterly at variance with both. The simplest 250 explanation of the phenomena is the truest; namely, that b and d exhibit grossly depraved Texts;—a circumstance of which it is impossible that the ordinary Reader should be too soon or too often reminded. But to proceed.

III. Some remarks follow, on what is strangely styled Transmission by printed Editions: in the course of which Dr. Hort informs us that Lachmann's Text of 1831 was the first founded on documentary authority.716716P. 13, cf. p. viii.... On what then, pray, does the learned Professor imagine that the Texts of Erasmus (1516) and of Stunica (1522) were founded? His statement is incorrect. The actual difference between Lachmann's Text and those of the earlier Editors is, that his documentary authority is partial, narrow, self-contradictory; and is proved to be untrustworthy by a free appeal to Antiquity. Their documentary authority, derived from independent sources,—though partial and narrow as that on which Lachmann relied,—exhibits (under the good Providence of God,) a Traditional Text, the general purity of which is demonstrated by all the evidence which 350 years of subsequent research have succeeded in accumulating; and which is confessedly the Text of a.d. 375.

IV. We are favoured, in the third place, with the History of this Edition: in which the point that chiefly arrests attention is the explanation afforded of the many and serious occasions on which Dr. Westcott (W.) and Dr. Hort (H.), finding it impossible to agree, have set down their respective notions separately and subscribed them with their respective initial. We are reminded of what was wittily said concerning Richard Baxter: viz. that even if no one but himself existed in the Church, Richard would still be found to 251 disagree with Baxter,—and Baxter with Richard.... We read with uneasiness that

no individual mind can ever act with perfect uniformity, or free itself completely from its own Idiosyncrasies; and that the danger of unconscious Caprice is inseparable from personal judgment.—(p. 17.)

All this reminds us painfully of certain statements made by the same Editors in 1870:—

We are obliged to come to the individual mind at last; and Canons of Criticism are useful only as warnings against natural illusions, and aids to circumspect consideration, not as absolute rules to prescribe the final decision.—(pp. xviii., xix.)

May we be permitted without offence to point out (not for the first time) that idiosyncrasies and unconscious caprice, and the fancies of the individual mind, can be allowed no place whatever in a problem of such gravity and importance as the present? Once admit such elements, and we are safe to find ourselves in cloud-land to-morrow. A weaker foundation on which to build, is not to be named. And when we find that the learned Professors venture to hope that the present Text has escaped some risks of this kind by being the production of two Editors of different habits of mind, working independently and to a great extent on different plans,—we can but avow our conviction that the safeguard is altogether inadequate. When two men, devoted to the same pursuit, are in daily confidential intercourse on such a subject, the natural illusions of either have a marvellous tendency to communicate themselves. Their Reader's only protection is rigidly to insist on the production of Proof for everything which these authors say.

V. The dissertation on Intrinsic and Transcriptional Probability which follows (pp. 20-30),—being unsupported by one single instance or illustration,—we pass by. It ignores 252 throughout the fact, that the most serious corruptions of MSS. are due, not to Scribes or Copyists, (of whom, by the way, we find perpetual mention every time we open the page;) but to the persons who employed them. So far from thinking with Dr. Hort that the value of the evidence obtained from Transcriptional Probability is incontestable,—for that, without its aid, Textual Criticism could rarely obtain a high degree of security, (p. 24,)—we venture to declare that inasmuch as one expert's notions of what is transcriptionally probable prove to be the diametrical reverse of another expert's notions, the supposed evidence to be derived from this source may, with advantage, be neglected altogether. Let the study of Documentary Evidence be allowed to take its place. Notions of Probability are the very pest of those departments of Science which admit of an appeal to Fact.

VI. A signal proof of the justice of our last remark is furnished by the plea which is straightway put in (pp. 30-1) for the superior necessity of attending to the relative antecedent credibility of Witnesses. In other words, The comparative trustworthiness of documentary Authorities is proposed as a far weightier consideration than Intrinsic and Transcriptional Probability. Accordingly we are assured (in capital letters) that Knowledge of Documents should precede final judgment upon readings (p. 31).

Knowledge! Yes, but how acquired? Suppose two rival documents,—cod. a and cod. b. May we be informed how you would proceed with respect to them?

Where one of the documents is found habitually to contain morally certain, or at least strongly preferred, Readings,—and the other habitually to contain their rejected rivals,—we [i.e. Dr. Hort] can have no doubt that the Text of the first has been 253 transmitted in comparative purity; and that the Text of the second has suffered comparatively large corruption.—(p. 32.)

But can such words have been written seriously? Is it gravely pretended that Readings become morally certain, because they are strongly preferred? Are we (in other words) seriously invited to admit that the strong preference of the individual mind is to be the ultimate standard of appeal? If so, though you (Dr. Hort) may have no doubt as to which is the purer manuscript,—see you not plainly that a man of different idiosyncrasy from yourself, may just as reasonably claim to have no doubtthat you are mistaken?... One is reminded of a passage in p. 61: viz.—

If we find in any group of documents a succession of Readings exhibiting an exceptional purity of text, that is,—Readings which the fullest consideration of Internal Evidence pronounces to be right, in opposition to formidable arrays of Documentary Evidence; the cause must be that, as far at least as these Readings are concerned, some one exceptionally pure MS. was the common ancestor of all the members of the group.

But how does that appear? The cause may be the erroneous judgment of the Critic,—may it not?... Dr. Hort is for setting up what his own inner consciousness pronounces to be right, against Documentary Evidence, however multitudinous. He claims that his own verifying faculty shall be supreme,—shall settle every question. Can he be in earnest?

VII. We are next introduced to the subject of Genealogical Evidence (p. 39); and are made attentive: for we speedily find ourselves challenged to admit that a total change in the bearing of the evidence is made by the introduction of the factor of Genealogy (p. 43). Presuming that the meaning of the learned Writer must rather be that if we did but know the genealogy of MSS., we should be in a position to reason more confidently concerning their Texts,—we 254 read on: and speedily come to a second axiom (which is again printed in capital letters), viz. that All trustworthy restoration of corrupted Texts is founded on the study of their History (p. 40). We really read and wonder. Are we then engaged in the restoration of corrupted Texts? If so,—which be they? We require—(1) To be shown the corrupted Texts referred to: and then—(2) To be convinced that the study of their History—(as distinguished from an examination of the evidence for or against their Readings)—is a thing feasible.

A simple instance (says Dr. Hort) will show at once the practical bearing of the principle here laid down.—(p. 40.)

But (as usual) Dr. Hort produces no instance. He merely proceeds to suppose a case (§ 50), which he confesses (§ 53) does not exist. So that we are moving in a land of shadows. And this, he straightway follows up by the assertion that

it would be difficult to insist too strongly on the transformation of the superficial aspects of numerical authority effected by recognition of Genealogy.—(p. 43.)

Presently, he assures us that

a few documents are not, by reason of their mere paucity, appreciably less likely to be right than a multitude opposed to them. (p. 45.)

On this head, we take leave to entertain a somewhat different opinion. Apart from the character of the Witnesses, when 5 men say one thing, and 995 say the exact contradictory, we are apt to regard it even as axiomatic that, by reason of their mere paucity, the few are appreciably far less likely to be right than the multitude opposed to them. Dr. Hort seems to share our opinion; for he remarks,—

A presumption indeed remains that a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documents, than vice versâ.


Exactly so! We meant, and we mean that, and no other thing. But then, we venture to point out, that the learned Professor considerably understates the case: seeing that the vice versâ presumption is absolutely non-existent. On the other hand, apart from Proof to the contrary, we are disposed to maintain that a majority of extant documents in the proportion of 995 to 5,—and sometimes of 1999 to 1,—creates more than a presumption. It amounts to Proof of a majority of ancestral documents.

Not so thinks Dr. Hort. This presumption, (he seems to have persuaded himself,) may be disposed of by his mere assertion that it is too minute to weigh against the smallest tangible evidence of other kinds (Ibid.). As usual, however, he furnishes us with no evidence at all,—tangible or intangible. Can he wonder if we smile at his unsupported dictum, and pass on?... The argumentative import of his twenty weary pages on Genealogical Evidence (pp. 39-59), appears to be resolvable into the following barren truism: viz. That if, out of 10 copies of Scripture, 9 could be proved to have been executed from one and the same common original (p. 41), those 9 would cease to be regarded as 9 independent witnesses. But does the learned Critic really require to be told that we want no diagram of an imaginary case (p. 54) to convince us of that?

The one thing here which moves our astonishment, is, that Dr. Hort does not seem to reflect that therefore (indeed by his own showing) codices b and א, having been demonstrably executed from one and the same common original, are not to be reckoned as two independent witnesses to the Text of the New Testament, but as little more than one. (See p. 257.)

High time however is it to declare that, in strictness, all this talk about Genealogical evidence, when applied to 256 Manuscripts, is—moonshine. The expression is metaphorical, and assumes that it has fared with MSS. as it fares with the successive generations of a family; and so, to a remarkable extent, no doubt, it has. But then, it happens, unfortunately, that we are unacquainted with one single instance of a known MS. copied from another known MS. And perforce all talk about Genealogical evidence, where no single step in the descent can be produced,—in other words, where no Genealogical evidence exists,—is absurd. The living inhabitants of a village, congregated in the churchyard where the bodies of their forgotten progenitors for 1000 years repose without memorials of any kind,—is a faint image of the relation which subsists between extant copies of the Gospels and the sources from which they were derived. That, in either case, there has been repeated mixture, is undeniable; but since the Parish-register is lost, and not a vestige of Tradition survives, it is idle to pretend to argue on that part of the subject. It may be reasonably assumed however that those 50 yeomen, bearing as many Saxon surnames, indicate as many remote ancestors of some sort. That they represent as many families, is at least a fact. Further we cannot go.

But the illustration is misleading, because inadequate. Assemble rather an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scot; a Frenchman, a German, a Spaniard; a Russian, a Pole, an Hungarian; an Italian, a Greek, a Turk. From Noah these 12 are all confessedly descended; but if they are silent, and you know nothing whatever about their antecedents,—your remarks about their respective genealogies must needs prove as barren—as Dr. Hort's about the genealogies of copies of Scripture. The factor of Genealogy, in short, in this discussion, represents a mere phantom of the brain: is the name of an imagination—not of a fact.


The nearest approximation to the phenomenon about which Dr. Hort writes so glibly, is supplied—(1) by Codd. f and g of S. Paul, which are found to be independent transcripts of the same venerable lost original:—(2) by Codd. 13, 69, 124 and 346, which were confessedly derived from one and the same queer archetype: and especially—(3) by Codd. b and א. These two famous manuscripts, because they are disfigured exclusively by the self-same mistakes, are convicted of being descended (and not very remotely) from the self-same very corrupt original. By consequence, the combined evidence of f and g is but that of a single codex. Evan. 13, 69, 124, 346, when they agree, would be conveniently designated by a symbol, or a single capital letter. Codd. b and א, as already hinted (p. 255), are not to be reckoned as two witnesses. Certainly, they have not nearly the Textual significancy and importance of B in conjunction with a, or of a in conjunction with c. At best, they do but equal 1-½ copies. Nothing of this kind however is what Drs. Westcott and Hort intend to convey,—or indeed seem to understand.

VIII. It is not until we reach p. 94, that these learned men favour us with a single actual appeal to Scripture. At p. 90, Dr. Hort,—who has hitherto been skirmishing over the ground, and leaving us to wonder what in the world it can be that he is driving at,—announces a chapter on the Results of Genealogical evidence proper; and proposes to determine the Genealogical relations of the chief ancient Texts. Impatient for argument, (at page 92,) we read as follows:—

The fundamental Text of late extant Greek MSS. generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian Text of the second half of the fourth century.

We request, in passing, that the foregoing statement may be carefully noted. The Traditional Greek Text of the New 258 Testament,—the Textus Receptus, in short,—is, according to Dr. Hort, beyond all question the Text of the second half of the fourth century. We shall gratefully avail ourselves of his candid admission, by and by.

Having thus assumed a dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian text of the second half of the IVth century, Dr. H. attempts, by an analysis of what he is pleased to call conflate Readings, to prove the posteriority of Syrian to Western and other Neutral readings.... Strange method of procedure! seeing that, of those second and third classes of readings, we have not as yet so much as heard the names. Let us however without more delay be shown those specimens of Conflation which, in Dr. Hort's judgment, supply the clearest evidence (p. 94) that Syrian are posterior alike to Western and to Neutral readings. Of these, after 30 years of laborious research, Dr. Westcott and he flatter themselves that they have succeeded in detecting eight.

IX. Now because, on the one hand, it would be unreasonable to fill up the space at our disposal with details which none but professed students will care to read;—and because, on the other, we cannot afford to pass by anything in these pages which pretends to be of the nature of proof;—we have consigned our account of Dr. Hort's 8 instances of Conflation (which prove to be less than 7) to the foot of the page.717717   They are as follows:—
    [1st] S. Mark (vi. 33) relates that on a certain occasion the multitude, when they beheld our Saviour and His Disciples departing in order to cross over unto the other side of the lake, ran on foot thither,—(α) and outwent them—(β) and came together unto Him (i.e. on His stepping out of the boat: not, as Dr. Hort strangely imagines [p. 99], on His emerging from the scene of His retirement in some sequestered nook).

    Now here, a substitutes συνέδραμον [sic] for συνῆλθον.—א b with the Coptic and the Vulg. omit clause (β).—d omits clause (α), but substitutes there (αὐτοῦ) for unto Him in clause (β),—exhibits therefore a fabricated text.—The Syriac condenses the two clauses thus:—got there before Him.l, Δ, 69, and 4 or 5 of the old Latin copies, read diversely from all the rest and from one another. The present is, in fact, one of those many places in S. Mark's Gospel where all is contradiction in those depraved witnesses which Lachmann made it his business to bring into fashion. Of Confusion there is plenty. Conflation—as the Reader sees—there is none.

    [2nd] In S. Mark viii. 26, our Saviour (after restoring sight to the blind man of Bethsaida) is related to have said,—(α) Neither enter into the village—(β) nor tell it to any one—(γ) in the village. (And let it be noted that the trustworthiness of this way of exhibiting the text is vouched for by a c n Δ and 12 other uncials: by the whole body of the cursives: by the Peschito and Harklensian, the Gothic, Armenian, and Æthiopic Versions: and by the only Father who quotes the place—Victor of Antioch. [Cramer's Cat. p. 345, lines 3 and 8.])

    But it is found that the two false witnessesb) omit clauses (β) and (γ), retaining only clause (α). One of these two however (א), aware that under such circumstances μηδέ is intolerable, [Dr. Hort, on the contrary, (only because he finds it in b,) considers μηδέ simple and vigorous as well as unique and peculiar (p. 100).] substitutes μή. As for d and the Vulg., they substitute and paraphrase, importing from Matt. ix. 6 (or Mk. ii. 11), Depart unto thine house. d proceeds,—and tell it to no one [μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, from Matth. viii. 4,] in the village. Six copies of the old Latin (b f ff-2 g-1-2 l), with the Vulgate, exhibit the following paraphrase of the entire place:—Depart unto thine house, and if thou enterest into the village, tell it to no one. The same reading exactly is found in Evan. 13-69-346: 28, 61, 473, and i, (except that 28, 61, 346 exhibit say nothing [from Mk. i. 44] to no one.) All six however add at the end,—not even in the village. Evan. 124 and a stand alone in exhibiting,—Depart unto thine house; and enter not into the village; neither tell it to any one,—to which 124 [not a] adds,—in the village.... Why all this contradiction and confusion is now to be called Conflation,—and what clear evidence is to be elicited therefrom that Syrian are posterior alike to Western and to neutral readings,—passes our powers of comprehension.

    We shall be content to hasten forward when we have further informed our Readers that while Lachmann and Tregelles abide by the Received Text in this place; Tischendorf, alone of Editors, adopts the reading of א (μη εις την κωμην εισελθης): while Westcott and Hort, alone of Editors, adopt the reading of b (μηδε εις την κωμην εισελθης),—so ending the sentence. What else however but calamitous is it to find that Westcott and Hort have persuaded their fellow Revisers to adopt the same mutilated exhibition of the Sacred Text? The consequence is, that henceforth,—instead of Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town,—we are invited to read, Do not even enter into the village.

    [3rd] In S. Mk. ix. 38,—S. John, speaking of one who cast out devils in Christ's Name, says—(α) who followeth not us, and we forbad him—(β) because he followeth not us.

    Here, א b c l Δ the Syriac, Coptic, and Æthiopic, omit clause (α), retaining (β). d with the old Latin and the Vulg. omit clause (β), but retain (α).—Both clauses are found in a n with 11 other uncials and the whole body of the cursives, besides the Gothic, and the only Father who quotes the place,—Basil [ii. 252].—Why should the pretence be set up that there has been Conflation here? Two Omissions do not make one Conflation.

    [4th] In Mk. ix. 49,—our Saviour says,—For (α) every one shall be salted with fireand (β) every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

    Here, clause (α) is omitted by d and a few copies of the old Latin; clause (β) by א b L Δ.

    But such an ordinary circumstance as the omission of half-a-dozen words by Cod. d is so nearly without textual significancy, as scarcely to merit commemoration. And do Drs. Westcott and Hort really propose to build their huge and unwieldy hypothesis on so flimsy a circumstance as the concurrence in error of א b l Δ,—especially in S. Mark's Gospel, which those codices exhibit more unfaithfully than any other codices that can be named? Against them, are to be set on the present occasion a c d n with 12 other uncials and the whole body of the cursives: the Ital. and Vulgate; both Syriac; the Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, and Æthiopic Versions; besides the only Father who quotes the place,—Victor of Antioch. [Also Anon. p. 206: and see Cramer's Cat. p. 368.]

    [5th] S. Luke (ix. 10) relates how, on a certain occasion, our Saviour withdrew to a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida: which S. Luke expresses in six words: viz. [1] εἰς [2] τόπον [3] ἔρημον [4] πόλεως [5] καλουμένης [6] Βηθσαϊδά: of which six words,—

    (a)—א and Syrcu retain but three,—1, 2, 3.

    (b)—The Peschito retains but four,—1, 2, 3, 6.

    (c)—b l x Ξ d and the 2 Egyptian versions retain other four,—1, 4, 5, 6: but for πόλεως καλουμένης d exhibits κώμην λεγομένην.

    (d)—The old Latin and Vulg. retain five,—1, 2, 3, 5, 6: but for qui (or quod) vocabatur, the Vulg. b and c exhibit qui (or quod) est.

    (e)—3 cursives retain other five, viz. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6: while,

    (f)—a c Δ e, with 9 more uncials and the great bulk of the cursives,—the Harklensian, Gothic, Armenian, and Æthiopic Versions,—retain all the six words.

    In view of which facts, it probably never occurred to any one before to suggest that the best attested reading of all is the result of conflation, i.e. of spurious mixture. Note, that א and d have, this time, changed sides.

    [6th] S. Luke (xi. 54) speaks of the Scribes and Pharisees as (α) lying in wait for Him, (β) seeking (γ) to catch something out of His mouth (δ) that they might accuse Him. This is the reading of 14 uncials headed by a c, and of the whole body of the cursives: the reading of the Vulgate also and of the Syriac. What is to be said against it?

    It is found that א b l with the Coptic and Æthiopic Versions omit clauses (β) and (δ), but retain clauses (α) and (γ).—Cod. d, in conjunction with Cureton's Syriac and the old Latin, retains clause (β), and paraphrases all the rest of the sentence. How then can it be pretended that there has been any Conflation here?

    In the meantime, how unreasonable is the excision from the Revised Text of clauses (β) and (δ)—(ζητοῦντες ... ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτόν)—which are attested by a c d and 12 other uncials, together with the whole body of the cursives; by all the Syriac and by all the Latin copies!... Are we then to understand that א b, and the Coptic Version, outweigh every other authority which can be named?

    [7th] The rich fool in the parable (S. Lu. xii. 18), speaks of (α) πάντα τὰ γενήματά μου, καὶ (β) τὰ ἀγαθά μου. (So a q and 13 other uncials, besides the whole body of the cursives; the Vulgate, Basil, and Cyril.)

    But א d (with the old Latin and Cureton's Syriac [which however drops the πάντα]), retaining clause (α), omit clause (β).—On the other hand, b t, (with the Egyptian Versions, the Syriac, the Armenian, and Æthiopic,) retaining clause (β), substitute τὸν σῖτον (a gloss) for τὰ γενήματα in clause (α). Lachmann, Tisch., and Alford, accordingly retain the traditional text in this place. So does Tregelles, and so do Westcott and Hort,—only substituting τὸν σῖτον for τὰ γενήματα. Confessedly therefore there has been no Syrian conflation here: for all that has happened has been the substitution by b of τὸν σῖτον for τὰ γενήματα; and the omission of 4 words by א d. This instance must therefore have been an oversight.—Only once more.

    [8th] S. Luke's Gospel ends (xxiv. 53) with the record that the Apostles were continually in the Temple, (α) praising and (β) blessing God. Such is the reading of 13 uncials headed by A and every known cursive: a few copies of the old Lat., the Vulg., Syraic, Philox., Æthiopic, and Armenian Versions. But it is found that א b c omit clause (α): while d and seven copies of the old Latin omit clause (β).

    And this completes the evidence for Conflation. We have displayed it thus minutely, lest we should be suspected of unfairness towards the esteemed writers on the only occasion which they have attempted argumentative proof. Their theory has at last forced them to make an appeal to Scripture, and to produce some actual specimens of their meaning. After ransacking the Gospels for 30 years, they have at last fastened upon eight: of which (as we have seen), several have really no business to be cited,—as not fulfilling the necessary conditions of the problem. To prevent cavil however, let all but one, the [7th], pass unchallenged.


And, after an attentive survey of the Textual phenomena connected with these 7 specimens, we are constrained to 260 assert that the interpretation put upon them by Drs. Westcott and Hort, is purely arbitrary: a baseless imagination,—a 261 dream and nothing more. Something has been attempted analogous to the familiar fallacy, in Divinity, of building a 262 false and hitherto unheard-of doctrine on a few isolated places of Scripture, divorced from their context. The actual facts of the case shall be submitted to the judgement of learned and unlearned Readers alike: and we promise beforehand to abide by the unprejudiced verdict of either:—

(a) S. Mark's Gospel is found to contain in all 11,646 words: of which (collated with the Traditional Text) a omits 138: b, 762: א, 870: d, 900.—S. Luke contains 19,941 words: of which a omits 208: b, 757; א, 816: d, no less than 1552. (Let us not be told that the traditional Text is itself not altogether trustworthy. That is a matter entirely beside the question just now before the Reader,—as we have already, over and over again, had occasion to explain.718718The Reader is referred to pp. 17, 75, 249. Codices must needs all alike be compared with something,—must perforce all alike be referred to some one common standard: and we, for our part, are content to employ (as every Critic has been content before us) the traditional Text, as the most convenient standard that can be named. So employed, (viz. as a standard of comparison, not of excellence,) the commonly Received Text, more conveniently than any other, reveals—certainly does not occasion—different degrees of discrepancy. And now, to proceed.)


(b) Dr. Hort has detected four instances in S. Mark's Gospel, only three in S. Luke's—seven in all—where Codices b א and d happen to concur in making an omission at the same place, but not of the same words. We shall probably be best understood if we produce an instance of the thing spoken of: and no fairer example can be imagined than the last of the eight, of which Dr. Hort says,—This simple instance needs no explanation (p. 104). Instead of αἰνοῦντες καὶ εὐλογοῦντες,—(which is the reading of every known copy of the Gospels except five,)—א b c l exhibit only εὐλογοῦντες: d, only αἰνοῦντες. (To speak quite accurately, א b c l omit αἰνοῦντες καί and are followed by Westcott and Hort: d omits καὶ εὐλογοῦντες, and is followed by Tischendorf. Lachmann declines to follow either. Tregelles doubts.)

(c) Now, upon this (and the six other instances, which however prove to be a vast deal less apt for their purpose than the present), these learned men have gratuitously built up the following extravagant and astonishing theory:—

(d) They assume,—(they do not attempt to prove: in fact they never prove anything:)—(1) That αἰνοῦντες καί—and καὶ εὐλογοῦντες—are respectively fragments of two independent Primitive Texts, which they arbitrarily designate as Western and Neutral, respectively:—(2) That the latter of the two, [only however because it is vouched for by b and א,] must needs exhibit what the Evangelist actually wrote: [though why it must, these learned men forget to explain:]—(3) That in the middle of the IIIrd and of the IVth century the two Texts referred to were with design and by authority welded together, and became (what the same irresponsible Critics are pleased to call) the Syrian text.—(4) That αἰνοῦντες καὶ εὐλογοῦντες, being thus shown [?] to be a Syrian Conflation, may be rejected at once. (Notes, p. 73.)


X. But we demur to this weak imagination, (which only by courtesy can be called a Theory,) on every ground, and are constrained to remonstrate with our would-be Guides at every step. They assume everything. They prove nothing. And the facts of the case lend them no favour at all. For first,—We only find εὐλογοῦντες standing alone, in two documents of the IVth century, in two of the Vth, and in one of the VIIIth: while, for αἰνοῦντες standing alone, the only Greek voucher producible is a notoriously corrupt copy of the VIth century. True, that here a few copies of the old Latin side with d: but then a few copies also side with the traditional Text: and Jerome is found to have adjudicated between their rival claims in favour of the latter. The probabilities of the case are in fact simply overwhelming; for, since d omits 1552 words out of 19,941 (i.e. about one word in 13), why may not καὶ εὐλογοῦντες be two of the words it omits,—in which case there has been no Conflation?

Nay, look into the matter a little more closely:—(for surely, before we put up with this queer illusion, it is our duty to look it very steadily in the face:)—and note, that in this last chapter of S. Luke's Gospel, which consists of 837 words, no less than 121 are omitted by cod. d. To state the case differently,—d is observed to leave out one word in seven in the very chapter of S. Luke which supplies the instance of Conflation under review. What possible significance therefore can be supposed to attach to its omission of the clause καὶ εὐλογοῦντες? And since, mutatis mutandis, the same remarks apply to the 6 remaining cases,—(for one, viz. the [7th], is clearly an oversight,)—will any Reader of ordinary fairness and intelligence be surprised to hear that we reject the assumed Conflation unconditionally, as a silly dream? It is founded entirely upon the omission of 21 (or at most 42) words out of a total of 31,587 from Codd. b א d. And 265 yet it is demonstrable that out of that total, b omits 1519: א, 1686: d, 2452. The occasional coincidence in Omission of b + א and d, was in a manner inevitable, and is undeserving of notice. If,—(which is as likely as not,)—on six occasions, b + א and d have but omitted different words in the same sentence, then there has been no Conflation; and the (so-called) Theory, which was to have revolutionized the Text of the N. T., is discovered to rest absolutely upon nothing. It bursts, like a very thin bubble: floats away like a film of gossamer, and disappears from sight.

But further, as a matter of fact, at least five out of the eight instances cited,—viz. the [1st], [2nd], [5th], [6th], [7th],—fail to exhibit the alleged phenomena: conspicuously ought never to have been adduced. For, in the [1st], d merely abridges the sentence: in the [2nd], it paraphrases 11 words by 11; and in the [6th], it paraphrases 12 words by 9. In the [5th], b d merely abridge. The utmost residuum of fact which survives, is therefore as follows:—

[3rd]. In a sentence of 11 words, b א omit 4: d other 4.

[4th]. " " 9 words, b א omit 5: d other 5.

[8th]. " " 5 words, b א omit 2: d other 2.

But if this be the clearest Evidence (p. 94) producible for the Theory of Conflation,—then, the less said about the Theory, the better for the credit of its distinguished Inventors. How any rational Textual Theory is to be constructed out of the foregoing Omissions, we fail to divine. But indeed the whole matter is demonstrably a weak imagination,—a dream, and nothing more.

XI. In the meantime, Drs. Westcott and Hort, instead of realizing the insecurity of the ground under their feet, proceed gravely to build upon it, and to treat their hypothetical 266 assumptions as well-ascertained facts. They imagine that they have already been led by independent Evidence to regard the longer readings as conflate each from the two earlier readings:—whereas, up to p. 105 (where the statement occurs), they have really failed to produce a single particle of evidence, direct or indirect, for their opinion. We have found reason to believe the Readings of א b l, (say they,) to be the original Readings.—But why, if this is the case, have they kept their finding so entirely to themselves?—No reason whatever have they assigned for their belief. The Reader is presently assured (p. 106) that it is certain that the Readings exhibited by the traditional Text in the eight supposed cases of Conflation are all posterior in date to the fragmentary readings exhibited by b and d. But, once more, What is the ground of this certainty?—Presently (viz. in p. 107), the Reader meets with the further assurance that

the proved actual use of [shorter] documents in the conflate Readings renders their use elsewhere a vera causa in the Newtonian sense.

But, once more,—Where and what is the proof referred to? May a plain man, sincerely in search of Truth,—after wasting many precious hours over these barren pages—be permitted to declare that he resents such solemn trifling? (He craves to be forgiven if he avows that Pickwickian—not Newtonian—was the epithet which solicited him, when he had to transcribe for the Printer the passage which immediately precedes.)

XII. Next come 8 pages (pp. 107-15) headed—Posteriority of Syrian to Western and other (neutral and Alexandrian) Readings, shown by Ante-Nicene Patristic evidence.

In which however we are really shown nothing of the sort. Bold Assertions abound, (as usual with this respected 267 writer,) but Proof he never attempts any. Not a particle of Evidence is adduced.—Next come 5 pages headed,—Posteriority of Syrian to Western, Alexandrian, and other (neutral) Readings, shown by Internal evidence of Syrian readings (p. 115).

But again we are shown absolutely nothing: although we are treated to the assurance that we have been shown many wonders. Thus, the Syrian conflate Readings have shown the Syrian text to be posterior to at least two ancient forms still extant (p. 115): which is the very thing they have signally failed to do. Next,

Patristic evidence has shown that these two ancient Texts, and also a third, must have already existed early in the third century, and suggested very strong grounds for believing that in the middle of the century the Syrian Text had not yet been formed.

Whereas no single appeal has been made to the evidence supplied by one single ancient Father!—

Another step is gained by a close examination of all Readings distinctively Syrian.—(Ibid.)

And yet we are never told which the Readings distinctively Syrian are,—although they are henceforth referred to in every page. Neither are we instructed how to recognize them when we see them; which is unfortunate, since it follows,—(though we entirely fail to see from what,)—that all distinctively Syrian Readings may be set aside at once as certainly originating after the middle of the third century. (p. 117) ... Let us hear a little more on the subject:—

The same Facts—(though Dr. Hort has not hitherto favoured us with any)—lead to another conclusion of equal or even greater importance respecting non-distinctive Syrian Readings ... Since the Syrian Text is only a modified eclectic combination of earlier Texts independently attested,

(for it is in this confident style that these eminent Scholars 268 handle the problem they undertook to solve, but as yet have failed even to touch),—

existing documents descended from it can attest nothing but itself.—(p. 118.)

Presently, we are informed that it follows from what has been said above,—(though how it follows, we fail to see,)—that all Readings in which the Pre-Syrian texts concur, must be accepted at once as the Apostolic Readings: and that all distinctively Syrian Readings must be at once rejected.—(p. 119.)

Trenchant decrees of this kind at last arrest attention. It becomes apparent that we have to do with a Writer who has discovered a summary way of dealing with the Text of Scripture, and who is prepared to impart his secret to any who care to accept—without questioning—his views. We look back to see where this accession of confidence began, and are reminded that at p. 108 Dr. Hort announced that for convenience he should henceforth speak of certain groups of documents, by the conventional names WesternPre-SyrianAlexandrian—and so forth. Accordingly, ever since, (sometimes eight or ten times in the course of a single page,719719E.g. pp. 115, 116, 117, 118, &c.) we have encountered this arbitrary terminology: have been required to accept it as the expression of ascertained facts in Textual Science. Not till we find ourselves floundering in the deep mire, do we become fully aware of the absurdity of our position. Then at last, (and high time too!), we insist on knowing what on earth our Guide is about, and whither he is proposing to lead us?... More considerate to our Readers than he has been to us, we propose before going any further, (instead of mystifying the subject as Dr. Hort has done,) to state in a few plain words what 269 the present Theory, divested of pedantry and circumlocution, proves to be; and what is Dr. Hort's actual contention.

XIII. The one great Fact, which especially troubles him and his joint Editor,720720Referred to below, p. 296.—(as well it may)—is The Traditional Greek Text of the New Testament Scriptures. Call this Text Erasmian or Complutensian,—the Text of Stephens, or of Beza, or of the Elzevirs,—call it the Received, or the Traditional Greek Text, or whatever other name you please;—the fact remains, that a Text has come down to us which is attested by a general consensus of ancient Copies, ancient Fathers, ancient Versions. This, at all events, is a point on which, (happily,) there exists entire conformity of opinion between Dr. Hort and ourselves. Our Readers cannot have yet forgotten his virtual admission that,—Beyond all question the Textus Receptus is the dominant Græco-Syrian Text of a.d. 350 to a.d. 400.721721See above, pages 257 (bottom) and 258 (top).

Obtained from a variety of sources, this Text proves to be essentially the same in all. That it requires Revision in respect of many of its lesser details, is undeniable: but it is at least as certain that it is an excellent Text as it stands, and that the use of it will never lead critical students of Scripture seriously astray,—which is what no one will venture to predicate concerning any single Critical Edition of the N. T. which has been published since the days of Griesbach, by the disciples of Griesbach's school.

XIV. In marked contrast to the Text we speak of,—(which is identical with the Text of every extant Lectionary of the Greek Church, and may therefore reasonably claim to be spoken of as the Traditional Text,)—is that contained in a 270 little handful of documents of which the most famous are codices b א, and the Coptic Version (as far as it is known), on the one hand,—cod. d and the old Latin copies, on the other. To magnify the merits of these, as helps and guides, and to ignore their many patent and scandalous defects and blemishes:—per fas et nefas to vindicate their paramount authority wherever it is in any way possible to do so; and when that is clearly impossible, then to treat their errors as the ancient Egyptians treated their cats, dogs, monkeys, and other vermin,—namely, to embalm them, and pay them Divine honours:—such for the last 50 years has been the practice of the dominant school of Textual Criticism among ourselves. The natural and even necessary correlative of this, has been the disparagement of the merits of the commonly Received Text: which has come to be spoken of, (we know not why,) as contemptuously, almost as bitterly, as if it had been at last ascertained to be untrustworthy in every respect: a thing undeserving alike of a place and of a name among the monuments of the Past. Even to have used the Received Text as a basis for correction (p. 184) is stigmatized by Dr. Hort as one great cause why Griesbach went astray.

XV. Drs. Westcott and Hort have in fact outstripped their predecessors in this singular race. Their absolute contempt for the Traditional Text,—their superstitious veneration for a few ancient documents; (which documents however they freely confess are not more ancient than the Traditional Text which they despise;)—knows no bounds. But the thing just now to be attended to is the argumentative process whereby they seek to justify their preference.—Lachmann avowedly took his stand on a very few of the oldest known documents: and though Tregelles slightly enlarged the area of his predecessor's observations, his method was practically identical with that of Lachmann.—Tischendorf, appealing to every 271 known authority, invariably shows himself regardless of the evidence he has himself accumulated. Where certain of the uncials are,—there his verdict is sure also to be.... Anything more unscientific, more unphilosophical, more transparently foolish than such a method, can scarcely be conceived: but it has prevailed for 50 years, and is now at last more hotly than ever advocated by Drs. Westcott and Hort. Only, (to their credit be it recorded,) they have had the sense to perceive that it must needs be recommended by Arguments of some sort, or else it will inevitably fall to pieces the first fine day any one is found to charge it, with the necessary knowledge of the subject, and with sufficient resoluteness of purpose, to make him a formidable foe.

XVI. Their expedient has been as follows.—Aware that the Received or Traditional Greek Text (to quote their own words,) is virtually identical with that used by Chrysostom and other Antiochian Fathers in the latter part of the IVth century: and fully alive to the fact that it must therefore have been represented by Manuscripts as old as any which are now surviving (Text, p. 547),—they have invented an extraordinary Hypothesis in order to account for its existence:—

They assume that the writings of Origen establish the prior existence of at least three types of Text:—the most clearly marked of which, they call the Western:—another, less prominent, they designate as Alexandrian:—the third holds (they say) a middle or Neutral position. (That all this is mere moonshine,—a day-dream and no more,—we shall insist, until some proofs have been produced that the respected Authors are moving amid material forms,—not discoursing with the creations of their own brain.) The priority of two at least of these three Texts just noticed to the Syrian Text, they are confident has been established by the eight conflate 272 Syrian Readings which they flatter themselves they have already resolved into their Western and Neutral elements (Text, p. 547). This, however, is a part of the subject on which we venture to hope that our Readers by this time have formed a tolerably clear opinion for themselves. The ground has been cleared of the flimsy superstructure which these Critics have been 30 years in raising, ever since we blew away (pp. 258-65) the airy foundation on which it rested.

At the end of some confident yet singularly hazy statements concerning the characteristics of Western (pp. 120-6), of Neutral (126-30), and of Alexandrian Readings (130-2), Dr. Hort favours us with the assurance that—

The Syrian Text, to which the order of time now brings us, is the chief monument of a new period of textual history.—(p. 132.)

Now, the three great lines were brought together, and made to contribute to the formation of a new Text different from all.—(p. 133.)

Let it only be carefully remembered that it is of something virtually identical with the Textus Receptus that we are just now reading an imaginary history, and it is presumed that the most careless will be made attentive.

The Syrian Text must in fact be the result of a Recension, ... performed deliberately by Editors, and not merely by Scribes.—(Ibid.)

But why must it? Instead of must in fact, we are disposed to read may—in fiction. The learned Critic can but mean that, on comparing the Text of Fathers of the IVth century with the Text of cod. b, it becomes to himself self-evident that one of the two has been fabricated. Granted. Then,—Why should not the solitary Codex be the offending party? For what imaginable reason should cod. b,—which comes to us without a character, and which, when tried by 273 the test of primitive Antiquity, stands convicted of universa vitiositas, (to use Tischendorf's expression);—why (we ask) should codex b be upheld contra mundum?... Dr. Hort proceeds—(still speaking of the [imaginary] Syrian Text),—

It was probably initiated by the distracting and inconvenient currency of at least three conflicting Texts in the same region.—(p. 133.)

Well but,—Would it not have been more methodical if the currency of at least three conflicting Texts in the same region, had been first demonstrated? or, at least, shown to be a thing probable? Till this distracting phenomenon has been to some extent proved to have any existence in fact, what possible probability can be claimed for the history of a Recension,—which very Recension, up to this point, has not been proved to have ever taken place at all?

Each Text may perhaps have found a Patron in some leading personage or see, and thus have seemed to call for a conciliation of rival claims.—(p. 134.)

Why yes, to be sure,—each Text [if it existed] may perhaps [or perhaps may not] have found a Patron in some leading personage [as Dr. Hort or Dr. Scrivener in our own days]: but then, be it remembered, this will only have been possible,—(a) If the Recension ever took place: and—(b) If it was conducted after the extraordinary fashion which prevailed in the Jerusalem Chamber from 1870 to 1881: for which we have the unimpeachable testimony of an eye-witness;722722See above, pp. 37 to 38. confirmed by the Chairman of the Revisionist body,—by whom in fact it was deliberately invented.723723Ibid. p. 39.

But then, since not a shadow of proof is forthcoming that any such Recension as Dr. Hort imagines ever took place at all,—what else but a purely gratuitous exercise of 274 the imaginative faculty is it, that Dr. Hort should proceed further to invent the method which might, or could, or would, or should have been pursued, if it had taken place?

Having however in this way (1) Assumed a Syrian Recension,—(2) Invented the cause of it,—and (3) Dreamed the process by which it was carried into execution,—the Critic hastens, more suo, to characterize the historical result in the following terms:—

The qualities which the Authors of the Syrian text seem to have most desired to impress on it are lucidity and completeness. They were evidently anxious to remove all stumbling-blocks out of the way of the ordinary reader, so far as this could be done without recourse to violent measures. They were apparently equally desirous that he should have the benefit of instructive matter contained in all the existing Texts, provided it did not confuse the context or introduce seeming contradictions. New Omissions accordingly are rare, and where they occur are usually found to contribute to apparent simplicity. New Interpolations, on the other hand, are abundant, most of them being due to harmonistic or other assimilation, fortunately capricious and incomplete. Both in matter and in diction the Syrian Text is conspicuously a full Text. It delights in Pronouns, Conjunctions, and Expletives and supplied links of all kinds, as well as in more considerable Additions. As distinguished from the bold vigour of the Western scribes, and the refined scholarship of the Alexandrians, the spirit of its own corrections is at once sensible and feeble. Entirely blameless, on either literary or religious grounds, as regards vulgarized or unworthy diction, yet shewing no marks of either Critical or Spiritual insight, it presents the New Testament in a form smooth and attractive, but appreciably impoverished in sense and force; more fitted for cursory perusal or recitation than for repeated and diligent study.—(pp. 134-5.)

XVII. We forbear to offer any remarks on this. We should be thought uncivil were we to declare our own candid estimate of the critical and spiritual perception of the man who could permit himself so to write. We prefer to proceed 275 with our sketch of the Theory, (of the Dream rather,) which is intended to account for the existence of the Traditional Text of the N. T.: only venturing again to submit that surely it would have been high time to discuss the characteristics which the Authors of the Syrian Text impressed upon their work, when it had been first established—or at least rendered probable—that the supposed Operators and that the assumed Operation have any existence except in the fertile brain of this distinguished and highly imaginative writer.

XVIII. Now, the first consideration which strikes us as fatal to Dr. Hort's unsupported conjecture concerning the date of the Text he calls Syrian or Antiochian, is the fact that what he so designates bears a most inconvenient resemblance to the Peschito or ancient Syriac Version; which, like the old Latin, is (by consent of the Critics) generally assigned to the second century of our era. It is at any rate no stretch of imagination, (according to Bp. Ellicott,) to suppose that portions of it might have been in the hands of S. John. [p. 26.] Accordingly, these Editors assure us that—

the only way of explaining the whole body of facts is to suppose that the Syriac, like the Latin Version, underwent Revision long after its origin; and that our ordinary Syriac MSS. represent not the primitive but the altered Syriac Text.—(p. 136.)

A Revision of the old Syriac Version appears to have taken place in the IVth century, or sooner; and doubtless in some connexion with the Syrian Revision of the Greek Text, the readings being to a very great extent coincident.—(Text, 552.)

Till recently, the Peschito has been known only in the form which it finally received by an evidently authoritative Revision,a Syriac Vulgate answering to the Latin Vulgate.—(p. 84.)

Historical antecedents render it tolerably certain that the locality of such an authoritative Revision—(which Revision however, be it observed, still rests wholly on unsupported conjecture)—would be either Edessa or Nisibis.—(p. 136.)


In the meantime, the abominably corrupt document known as Cureton's Syriac, is, by another bold hypothesis, assumed to be the only surviving specimen of the unrevised Version, and is henceforth invariably designated by these authors as the old Syriac; and referred to, as syr. vt.,—(in imitation of the Latin vetus): the venerable Peschito being referred to as the Vulgate Syriac,syr. vg.

When therefore we find large and peculiar coincidences between the revised Syriac Text and the Text of the Antiochian Fathers of the latter part of the IVth century,—[of which coincidences, (be it remarked in passing,) the obvious explanation is, that the Texts referred to are faithful traditional representations of the inspired autographs;]—and strong indications that the Revision was deliberate and in some way authoritative in both cases,—it becomes natural to suppose that the two operations had some historical connexion.—(pp. 136-7.)

XIX. But how does it happen—(let the question be asked without offence)—that a man of good abilities, bred in a University which is supposed to cultivate especially the Science of exact reasoning, should habitually allow himself in such slipshod writing as this? The very fact of a Revision of the Syriac has all to be proved; and until it has been demonstrated, cannot of course be reasoned upon as a fact. Instead of demonstration, we find ourselves invited (1)—To suppose that such a Revision took place: and (2)—To suppose that all our existing Manuscripts represent it. But (as we have said) not a shadow of reason is produced why we should be so complaisant as to suppose either the one thing or the other. In the meantime, the accomplished Critic hastens to assure us that there exist strong indications—(why are we not shown them?)—that the Revision he speaks of was deliberate, and in some way authoritative.

Out of this grows a natural supposition that two [purely imaginary] operations, had some historical connexion. 277 Already therefore has the shadow thickened into a substance. The Revised Syriac Text has by this time come to be spoken of as an admitted fact. The process whereby it came into being is even assumed to have been deliberate and authoritative. These Editors henceforth style the Peschito the Syriac Vulgate,—as confidently as Jerome's Revision of the old Latin is styled the Latin Vulgate. They even assure us that Cureton's Syriac renders the comparatively late and revised character of the Syriac Vulgate a matter of certainty (p. 84). The very city in which the latter underwent Revision, can, it seems, be fixed with tolerable certainty (p. 136).... Can Dr. Hort be serious?

At the end of a series of conjectures, (the foundation of which is the hypothesis of an Antiochian Recension of the Greek,) the learned writer announces that—The textual elements of each principle document having being thus ascertained, it now becomes possible to determine the Genealogy of a much larger number of individual readings than before (Text, p. 552).—We read and marvel.

So then, in brief, the Theory of Drs. Westcott and Hort is this:—that, somewhere between a.d. 250 and a.d. 350,

(1) The growing diversity and confusion of Greek Texts led to an authoritative Revision at Antioch:—which (2) was then taken as standard for a similar authoritative Revision of the Syriac text:—and (3) was itself at a later time subjected to a second authoritative Revision—this final process having been apparently completed by [a.d.] 350 or thereabouts.—(p. 137.)

XX. Now, instead of insisting that this entire Theory is made up of a series of purely gratuitous assumptions,—destitute alike of attestation and of probability: and that, as a mere effort of the Imagination, it is entitled to no manner of consideration or respect at our hands:—instead of dealing thus with what precedes, we propose to be most kind and 278 accommodating to Dr. Hort. We proceed to accept his Theory in its entirety. We will, with the Reader's permission, assume that all he tells us is historically true: is an authentic narrative of what actually did take place. We shall in the end invite the same Reader to recognize the inevitable consequences of our admission: to which we shall inexorably pin the learned Editors—bind them hand and foot;—of course reserving to ourselves the right of disallowing for ourselves as much of the matter as we please.

Somewhere between a.d. 250 and 350 therefore,—(it is impossible to say with confidence [p. 137] what was the actual date, but these Editors evidently incline to the latter half of the IIIrd century, i.e. circa a.d. 275);—we are to believe that the Ecclesiastical heads of the four great Patriarchates of Eastern Christendom,—Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople,—had become so troubled at witnessing the prevalence of depraved copies of Holy Scripture in their respective churches, that they resolved by common consent on achieving an authoritative Revision which should henceforth become the standard Text of all the Patriarchates of the East. The same sentiment of distress—(by the hypothesis) penetrated into Syria proper; and the Bishops of Edessa or Nisibis, (great centres of life and culture to the Churches whose language was Syriac, [p. 136,]) lent themselves so effectually to the project, that a single fragmentary document is, at the present day, the only vestige remaining of the Text which before had been universally prevalent in the Syriac-speaking Churches of antiquity. The almost total extinction of Old Syriac MSS., contrasted with the great number of extant Vulgate Syriac MSS.,—(for it is thus that Dr. Hort habitually exhibits evidence!),—is to be attributed, it seems, to the power and influence of the Authors of the imaginary Syriac Revision. [ibid.] Bp. Ellicott, by 279 the way (an unexceptionable witness), characterizes Cureton's Syriac as singular and sometimes rather wild. The text, of a very composite nature; sometimes inclining to the shortness and simplicity of the Vatican manuscript, but more commonly presenting the same paraphrastic character of text as the Codex Bezæ. [p. 42.] (It is, in fact, an utterly depraved and fabricated document.)

We venture to remark in passing that Textual matters must have everywhere reached a very alarming pass indeed to render intelligible the resort to so extraordinary a step as a representative Conference of the leading Personages or Sees (p. 134) of Eastern Christendom. The inference is at least inevitable, that men in high place at that time deemed themselves competent to grapple with the problem. Enough was familiarly known about the character and the sources of these corrupt Texts to make it certain that they would be recognizable when produced; and that, when condemned by authority, they would no longer be propagated, and in the end would cease to molest the Church. Thus much, at all events, is legitimately to be inferred from the hypothesis.

XXI. Behold then from every principal Diocese of ancient Christendom, and in the Church's palmiest days, the most famous of the ante-Nicene Fathers repair to Antioch. They go up by authority, and are attended by skilled Ecclesiastics of the highest theological attainment. Bearers are they perforce of a vast number of Copies of the Scriptures: and (by the hypothesis) the latest possible dates of any of these Copies must range between a.d. 250 and 350. But the Delegates of so many ancient Sees will have been supremely careful, before starting on so important and solemn an errand, to make diligent search for the oldest Copies anywhere discoverable: and when they reach the scene of their deliberations, we may be certain that they are able to appeal 280 to not a few codices written within a hundred years of the date of the inspired Autographs themselves. Copies of the Scriptures authenticated as having belonged to the most famous of their predecessors,—and held by them in high repute for the presumed purity of their Texts—will have been freely produced: while, in select receptacles, will have been stowed away—for purposes of comparison and avoidance—specimens of those dreaded Texts whose existence has been the sole cause why (by the hypothesis) this extraordinary concourse of learned Ecclesiastics has taken place.

After solemnly invoking the Divine blessing, these men address themselves assiduously to their task; and (by the hypothesis) they proceed to condemn every codex which exhibits a strictly Western, or a strictly Alexandrian, or a strictly Neutral type. In plain English, if codices b, א, and d had been before them, they would have unceremoniously rejected all three; but then, (by the hypothesis) neither of the two first-named had yet come into being: while 200 years at least must roll out before Cod. d would see the light. In the meantime, the immediate ancestors of b א and d will perforce have come under judicial scrutiny; and, (by the hypothesis,) they will have been scornfully rejected by the general consent of the Judges.

XXII. Pass an interval—(are we to suppose of fifty years?)—and the work referred to is subjected to a second authoritative Revision. Again, therefore, behold the piety and learning of the four great Patriarchates of the East, formally represented at Antioch! The Church is now in her palmiest days. Some of her greatest men belong to the period of which we are speaking. Eusebius (a.d. 308-340) is in his glory. One whole generation has come and gone since the last Textual Conference was held, at Antioch. 281 Yet is no inclination manifested to reverse the decrees of the earlier Conference. This second Recension of the Text of Scripture does but carry out more completely the purposes of the first; and the final process was apparently completed by a.d. 350 (p. 137).—So far the Cambridge Professor.

XXIII. But the one important fact implied by this august deliberation concerning the Text of Scripture has been conveniently passed over by Dr. Hort in profound silence. We take leave to repair his omission by inviting the Reader's particular attention to it.

We request him to note that, by the hypothesis, there will have been submitted to the scrutiny of these many ancient Ecclesiastics not a few codices of exactly the same type as codices b and א: especially as codex b. We are able even to specify with precision certain features which the codices in question will have all concurred in exhibiting. Thus,—

(1) From S. Mark's Gospel, those depraved copies will have omitted the last Twelve Verses (xvi. 9-20).

(2) From S. Luke's Gospel the same corrupt copies will have omitted our Saviour's Agony in the Garden (xxii. 43, 44).

(3) His Prayer on behalf of His murderers (xxiii. 34), will have also been away.

(4) The Inscription on the Cross, in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (xxiii. 38), will have been partly, misrepresented,—partly, away.

(5) And there will have been no account discoverable of S. Peter's Visit to the Sepulchre (xxiv. 12).

(6) Absent will have been also the record of our Lord's Ascension into Heaven (ibid. 51).

(7) Also, from S. John's Gospel, the codices in question 282 will have omitted the incident of the troubling of the pool of Bethesda (v. 3, 4).

Now, we request that it may be clearly noted that, according to Dr. Hort, against every copy of the Gospels so maimed and mutilated, (i.e. against every copy of the Gospels of the same type as codices b and א,)—the many illustrious Bishops who, (still according to Dr. Hort,) assembled at Antioch, first in a.d. 250 and then in a.d. 350,—by common consent set a mark of condemnation. We are assured that those famous men,—those Fathers of the Church,—were emphatic in their sanction, instead, of codices of the type of Cod. a,—in which all these seven omitted passages (and many hundreds besides) are duly found in their proper places.

When, therefore, at the end of a thousand and half a thousand years, Dr. Hort (guided by his inner consciousness, and depending on an intellectual illumination of which he is able to give no intelligible account) proposes to reverse the deliberate sentence of Antiquity,—his position strikes us as bordering on the ludicrous. Concerning the seven places above referred to, which the assembled Fathers pronounce to be genuine Scripture, and declare to be worthy of all acceptation,—Dr. Hort expresses himself in terms which—could they have been heard at Antioch—must, it is thought, have brought down upon his head tokens of displeasure which might have even proved inconvenient. But let the respected gentleman by all means be allowed to speak for himself:—

(1) The last Twelve Verses of S. Mark (he would have been heard to say) are a very early interpolation. Its authorship and precise date must remain unknown. It manifestly cannot claim any Apostolic authority. It is 283 doubtless founded on some tradition of the Apostolic age.—(Notes, pp. 46 and 51.)

(2) The Agony in the Garden (he would have told them) is an early Western interpolation, and can only be a fragment from traditions, written or oral,rescued from oblivion by the scribes of the second century.—(pp. 66-7.)

(3) The Prayer of our Lord for His Murderers (Dr. Hort would have said),—I cannot doubt comes from an extraneous source. It is a Western interpolation.—(p.68.)

(4) To the Inscription on the Cross, in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew [S. Luke xxiii. 38], he would not have allowed so much as a hearing.

(5) The spuriousness of the narrative of S. Peter's Visit to the Sepulchre [S. Luke xxiv. 12] (the same Ante-Nicene Fathers would have learned) he regards as a moral certainty. He would have assured them that it is a Western non-interpolation.—(p. 71.)

(6) They would have learned that, in the account of the same Critic, S. Luke xxiv. 51 is another spurious addition to the inspired Text: another Western non-interpolation. Dr. Hort would have tried to persuade them that our Lord's Ascension into Heaven was evidently inserted from an assumption that a separation from the disciples at the close of a Gospel must be the Ascension, (Notes, p. 73).... (What the Ante-Nicene Fathers would have thought of their teacher we forbear to conjecture.)—(p. 71.)

(7) The Troubling of the pool of Bethesda [S. John v. 3, 4] is not even allowed a bracketed place in Dr. Hort's Text. How the accomplished Critic would have set about persuading the Ante-Nicene Fathers that they were in error for holding it to be genuine Scripture, it is hard to imagine.

XXIV. It is plain therefore that Dr. Hort is in direct antagonism with the collective mind of Patristic Antiquity. 284 Why, when it suits him, he should appeal to the same Ancients for support,—we fail to understand. If Baal be God, then follow him! Dr. Hort has his codex b and his codex א to guide him. He informs us (p. 276) that the fullest consideration does but increase the conviction that the pre-eminent relative purity of those two codices is approximately absolute,—a true approximate reproduction of the Text of the Autographs. On the other hand, he has discovered that the Received Text is virtually the production of the Fathers of the Nicene Age (a.d. 250-a.d. 350),—exhibits a Text fabricated throughout by the united efforts of those well-intentioned but thoroughly misguided men. What is it to him, henceforth, how Athanasius, or Didymus, or Cyril exhibits a place?

Yes, we repeat it,—Dr. Hort is in direct antagonism with the Fathers of the IIIrd and the IVth Century. His own fantastic hypothesis of a Syrian Text,—the solemn expression of the collective wisdom and deliberate judgment of the Fathers of the Nicene Age (a.d. 250-a.d. 350),—is the best answer which can by possibility be invented to his own pages,—is, in our account, the one sufficient and conclusive refutation of his own Text.

Thus, his prolix and perverse discussion of S. Mark xvi. 9-20 (viz. from p. 28 to p. 51 of his Notes),—which, carefully analysed, is found merely to amount to Thank you for showing us our mistake; but we mean to stick to our Mumpsimus!:—those many inferences as well from what the Fathers do not say, as from what they do;—are all effectually disposed of by his own theory of a Syrian text. A mighty array of forgotten Bishops, Fathers, Doctors of the Nicene period, come back and calmly assure the accomplished Professor that the evidence on which he relies is but an insignificant 285 fraction of the evidence which was before themselves when they delivered their judgment. Had you known but the thousandth part of what we knew familiarly, say they, you would have spared yourself this exposure. You seem to have forgotten that Eusebius was one of the chief persons in our assembly; that Cyril of Jerusalem and Athanasius, Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus, as well as his namesake of Nyssa,—were all living when we held our Textual Conference, and some of them, though young men, were even parties to our decree.... Now, as an argumentum ad hominem, this, be it observed, is decisive and admits of no rejoinder.

XXV. How then about those Syrian Conflations concerning which a few pages back we heard so much, and for which Dr. Hort considers the august tribunal of which we are now speaking to be responsible? He is convinced that the (so-called) Syrian Text (which he regards as the product of their deliberations), is an eclectic text combining Readings from the three principal Texts (p. 145): which Readings in consequence he calls conflate. How then is it to be supposed that these Conflations arose? The answer is obvious. As Conflations, they have no existence,—save in the fertile brain of Dr. Hort. Could the ante-Nicene fathers who never met at Antioch have been interrogated by him concerning this matter,—(let the Hibernian supposition be allowed for argument sake!)—they would perforce have made answer,—You quite mistake the purpose for which we came together, learned sir! You are evidently thinking of your Jerusalem Chamber and of the unheard-of method devised by your Bishop [see pp. 37 to 39: also p. 273] for ascertaining the Truth of Scripture. Well may the resuscitation of so many forgotten blunders have occupied you and your colleagues for as long a period as was expended on the Siege of Troy! 286 Our business was not to invent readings whether by Conflation or otherwise, but only to distinguish between spurious Texts and genuine,—families of fabricated MSS., and those which we knew to be trustworthy,—mutilated and unmutilated Copies. Every one of what you are pleased to call Conflate Readings, learned sir, we found—just as you find them—in 99 out of 100 of our copies: and we gave them our deliberate approval, and left them standing in the Text in consequence. We believed them to be,—we are confident that they are,—the very words of the Evangelists and Apostles of the Lord: the ipsissima verba of the Spirit: the true sayings of the Holy Ghost. [See p. 38, note 2.]

All this however by the way. The essential thing to be borne in mind is that, according to Dr. Hort,—on two distinct occasions between a.d. 250 and 350—the whole Eastern Church, meeting by representation in her palmiest days, deliberately put forth that Traditional Text of the N. T. with which we at this day are chiefly familiar. That this is indeed his view of the matter, there can at least be no doubt. He says:—

An authoritative Revision at Antioch ... was itself subjected to a second authoritative Revision carrying out more completely the purposes of the first. At what date between a.d. 250 and 350 the first process took place, it is impossible to say with confidence. The final process was apparently completed by a.d. 350 or thereabouts.—(p. 137.)

The fundamental text of late extant Greek MSS. generally is beyond all question identical with the dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian text of the second half of the IVth century.—(p. 92.)

Be it so. It follows that the Text exhibited by such codices as b and א was deliberately condemned by the assembled piety, learning, and judgment of the four great Patriarchates of Eastern Christendom. At a period when there existed nothing more modern than Codices b and א,—nothing so modern as a and c,—all specimens of the former class were 287 rejected: while such codices as bore a general resemblance to a were by common consent pointed out as deserving of confidence and recommended for repeated Transcription.

XXVI. Pass fifteen hundred years, and the Reader is invited to note attentively what has come to pass. Time has made a clean sweep, it may be, of every Greek codex belonging to either of the two dates above indicated. Every tradition belonging to the period has also long since utterly perished. When lo, in a.d. 1831, under the auspices of Dr. Lachmann, a new departure is made. Up springs what may be called the new German school of Textual Criticism,—of which the fundamental principle is a superstitious deference to the decrees of cod. b. The heresy prevails for fifty years (1831-81) and obtains many adherents. The practical result is, that its chief promoters make it their business to throw discredit on the result of the two great Antiochian Revisions already spoken of! The (so-called) Syrian Text—although assumed by Drs. Westcott and Hort to be the product of the combined wisdom, piety, and learning of the great Patriarchates of the East from a.d. 250 to a.d. 350; a Recension in the proper sense of the word; a work of attempted Criticism, performed deliberately by Editors and not merely by Scribes (p. 133):—this Syrian Text, Doctors Westcott and Hort denounce as showing no marks of either critical or spiritual insight:

It presents (say they) the New Testament in a form smooth and attractive, but appreciably impoverished in sense and force; more fitted for cursory perusal or recitation than for repeated and diligent study.—(p. 135.)

XXVII. We are content to leave this matter to the Reader's judgment. For ourselves, we make no secret of the grotesqueness of the contrast thus, for the second time, presented to the imagination. On that side, by the hypothesis, 288 sit the greatest Doctors of primitive Christendom, assembled in solemn conclave. Every most illustrious name is there. By ingeniously drawing a purely arbitrary hard-and-fast line at the year a.d. 350, and so anticipating many a floruit by something between five and five-and-twenty years, Dr. Hort's intention is plain: but the expedient will not serve his turn. Quite content are we with the names secured to us within the proposed limits of time. On that side then, we behold congregated choice representatives of the wisdom, the piety, the learning of the Eastern Church, from a.d. 250 to a.d. 350.—On this side sits—Dr. Hort! ... An interval of 1532 years separates these two parties.

XXVIII. And first,—How may the former assemblage be supposed to have been occupying themselves? The object with which those distinguished personages came together was the loftiest, the purest, the holiest imaginable: viz. to purge out from the sacred Text the many corruptions by which, in their judgments, it had become depraved during the 250 (or at the utmost 300) years which have elapsed since it first came into existence; to detect the counterfeit and to eliminate the spurious. Not unaware by any means are they of the carelessness of Scribes, nor yet of the corruptions which have been brought in through the officiousness of critical Correctors of the Text. To what has resulted from the misdirected piety of the Orthodox, they are every bit as fully alive as to what has crept in through the malignity of Heretical Teachers. Moreover, while the memory survives in all its freshness of the depravations which the inspired Text has experienced from these and other similar corrupting influences, the means abound and are at hand of testing every suspected place of Scripture. Well, and next,—How have these holy men prospered in their holy enterprise?


XXIX. According to Dr. Hort, by a strange fatality,—a most unaccountable and truly disastrous proclivity to error,—these illustrious Fathers of the Church have been at every instant substituting the spurious for the genuine,—a fabricated Text in place of the Evangelical Verity. Miserable men! In the Gospels alone they have interpolated about 3100 words: have omitted about 700: have substituted about 1000; have transposed about 2200: have altered (in respect of number, case, mood, tense, person, &c.) about 1200.724724To speak with entire accuracy, Drs. Westcott and Hort require us to believe that the Authors of the [imaginary] Syrian Revisions of a.d. 250 and a.d. 350, interpolated the genuine Text of the Gospels, with between 2877 (b) and 3455 (א) spurious words; mutilated the genuine Text in respect of between 536 (b) and 839 (א) words:—substituted for as many genuine words, between 935 (b) and 1114 (א) uninspired words:—licentiously transposed between 2098 (b) and 2299 (א):—and in respect of number, case, mood, tense, person, &c., altered without authority between 1132 (B) and 1265 (א) words. This done, they have amused themselves with the give-and-take process of mutual accommodation which we are taught to call Conflation: in plain terms, they have been manufacturing Scripture. The Text, as it comes forth from their hands,—

(a) Shews no marks of either critical or spiritual insight:

(b) Presents the New Testament in a form smooth and attractive, but appreciably impoverished in sense and force:

(c) Is more fitted for cursory perusal or recitation, than for repeated and diligent study.

Moreover, the mischief has proved infectious,—has spread. In Syria also, at Edessa or Nisibis,—(for it is as well to be circumstantial in such matters,)—the self-same iniquity is about to be perpetrated; of which the Peschito will be the abiding monument: one solitary witness only to the pure Text being suffered to escape. Cureton's fragmentary Syriac will 290 alone remain to exhibit to mankind the outlines of primitive Truth. (The reader is reminded of the character already given of the document in question at the summit of page 279. Its extravagance can only be fully appreciated by one who will be at the pains to read it steadily through.)

XXX. And pray, (we ask,)—Who says all this? Who is it who gravely puts forth all this egregious nonsense?... It is Dr. Hort, (we answer,) at pp. 134-5 of the volume now under review. In fact, according to him, those primitive Fathers have been the great falsifiers of Scripture; have proved the worst enemies of the pure Word of God; have shamefully betrayed their sacred trust; have done the diametrical reverse of what (by the hypothesis) they came together for the sole purpose of doing. They have depraved and corrupted that sacred Text which it was their aim, their duty, and their professed object to purge from its errors. And (by the hypothesis) Dr. Hort, at the end of 1532 years,—aided by codex b and his own self-evolved powers of divination,—has found them out, and now holds them up to the contempt and scorn of the British public.

XXXI. In the meantime the illustrious Professor invites us to believe that the mistaken textual judgment pronounced at Antioch in a.d. 350 had an immediate effect on the Text of Scripture throughout the world. We are requested to suppose that it resulted in the instantaneous extinction of codices the like of b א, wherever found; and caused codices of the a type to spring up like mushrooms in their place, and that, in every library of ancient Christendom. We are further required to assume that this extraordinary substitution of new evidence for old—the false for the true—fully explains why Irenæus and Hippolytus, Athanasius and Didymus, Gregory of 291 Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, Basil and Ephraem, Epiphanius and Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Isidore of Pelusium, Nilus and Nonnus, Proclus and Severianus, the two Cyrils and Theodoret—one and all—show themselves strangers to the text of b and א.... We read and marvel.

XXXII. For, (it is time to enquire,)—Does not the learned Professor see that, by thus getting rid of the testimony of the whole body of the Fathers, he leaves the Science which he is so good as to patronize in a most destitute condition,—besides placing himself in a most inconvenient state of isolation? If clear and consentient Patristic testimony to the Text of Scripture is not to be deemed forcible witness to its Truth,—whither shall a man betake himself for constraining Evidence? Dr. Hort has already set aside the Traditional Text as a thing of no manner of importance. The venerable Syriac Version he has also insisted on reducing very nearly to the level of the despised cursives. As for the copies of the old Latin, they had confessedly become so untrustworthy, at the time of which he speaks, that a modest Revision of the Text they embody, (the Vulgate namely,) became at last a measure of necessity. What remains to him therefore? Can he seriously suppose that the world will put up with the idiosyncrasy of a living Doctor—his personal instincts (p. xi.)—his personal discernment (p. 65),—his instinctive processes of Criticism (p. 66),—his individual mind,—in preference to articulate voices coming to us across the gulf of Time from every part of ancient Christendom? How—with the faintest chance of success—does Dr. Hort propose to remedy the absence of External Testimony? If mankind can afford to do without either consent of Copies or of Fathers, why does mankind any longer adhere to the ancient methods of proof? Why do Critics of every school still accumulate references to 292 MSS., explore the ancient Versions, and ransack the Patristic writings in search of neglected citations of Scripture? That the ancients were indifferent Textual Critics, is true enough. The mischief done by Origen in this department,—through his fondness for a branch of Learning in which his remarks show that he was all unskilled,—is not to be told. But then, these men lived within a very few hundred years of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ: and when they witness to the reading of their own copies, their testimony on the point, to say the least, is worthy of our most respectful attention. Dated codices, in fact are they, to all intents and purposes, as often as they bear clear witness to the Text of Scripture:—a fact, (we take leave to throw out the remark in passing,) which has not yet nearly attracted the degree of attention which it deserves.

XXXIII. For ourselves, having said so much on this subject, it is fair that we should add,—We devoutly wish that Dr. Hort's hypothesis of an authoritative and deliberate Recension of the Text of the New Testament achieved at Antioch first, about A.D. 250, and next, about a.d. 350, were indeed an historical fact. We desire no firmer basis on which to rest our confidence in the Traditional Text of Scripture than the deliberate verdict of Antiquity,—the ascertained sanction of the collective Church, in the Nicene age. The Latin Vulgate [a.d. 385] is the work of a single man—Jerome. The Syriac Vulgate [a.d. 616] was also the work of a single man—Thomas of Harkel. But this Greek Vulgate was (by the hypothesis) the product of the Church Catholic, [a.d. 250-a.d. 350,] in her corporate capacity. Not only should we hail such a monument of the collective piety and learning of the Church in her best days with unmingled reverence and joy, were it introduced to our notice; but we should insist that no important deviation from such a Textus Receptus as that 293 would deserve to be listened to. In other words, if Dr. Hort's theory about the origin of the Textus Receptus have any foundation at all in fact, it is all up with Dr. Hort. He is absolutely nowhere. He has most ingeniously placed himself on the horns of a fatal dilemma.

For,—(let it be carefully noted,)—the entire discussion becomes, in this way, brought (so to speak) within the compass of a nutshell. To state the case briefly,—We are invited to make our election between the Fathers of the Church, a.d. 250 and a.d. 350,—and Dr. Hort, a.d. 1881. The issue is really reduced to that. The general question of the Text of Scripture being the matter at stake; (not any particular passage, remember, but the Text of Scripture as a whole;)—and the conflicting parties being but two;—Which are we to believe? the consentient Voice of Antiquity,—or the solitary modern Professor? Shall we accept the august Testimony of the whole body of the Fathers? or shall we prefer to be guided by the self-evolved imaginations of one who confessedly has nothing to offer but conjecture? The question before us is reduced to that single issue. But in fact the alternative admits of being yet more concisely stated. We are invited to make our election between fact and—fiction.... All this, of course, on the supposition that there is any truth at all in Dr. Hort's New Textual Theory.

XXXIV. Apart however from the gross intrinsic improbability of the supposed Recension,—the utter absence of one particle of evidence, traditional or otherwise, that it ever did take place, must be held to be fatal to the hypothesis that it did. It is simply incredible that an incident of such magnitude and interest would leave no trace of itself in history. As a conjecture—(and it only professes to be a conjecture)—Dr. Hort's notion of how the Text of the Fathers of 294 the IIIrd, IVth, and Vth centuries,—which, as he truly remarks, is in the main identical with our own Received Text,—came into being, must be unconditionally abandoned. In the words of a learned living Prelate,—the supposition on which Drs. Westcott and Hort have staked their critical reputation, is a manifest absurdity.725725Quoted by Canon Cook, Revised Version Considered,—p. 202.

XXXV. We have been so full on the subject of this imaginary Antiochian or Syrian text, not (the reader may be sure) without sufficient reason. Scant satisfaction truly is there in scattering to the winds an airy tissue which its ingenious authors have been industriously weaving for 30 years. But it is clear that with this hypothesis of a Syrian text,—the immediate source and actual prototype of the commonly received Text of the N. T.,—stands or falls their entire Textual theory. Reject it, and the entire fabric is observed to collapse, and subside into a shapeless ruin. And with it, of necessity, goes the New Greek Text,—and therefore the New English Version of our Revisionists, which in the main has been founded on it.

XXXVI. In the meantime the phenomena upon which this phantom has been based, remain unchanged; and fairly interpreted, will be found to conduct us to the diametrically opposite result to that which has been arrived at by Drs. Westcott and Hort. With perfect truth has the latter remarked on the practical identity of the Text, more especially in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles, in all the known cursive MSS., except a few (p. 143). We fully admit the truth of his statement that—

Before the close of the IVth century, a Greek Text not materially differing from the almost universal Text of the IXth,—[and 295 why not of the VIth? of the VIIth? of the VIIIth? or again of the Xth? of the XIth? of the XIIth?]—century, was dominant at Antioch.—(p. 142.)

And why not throughout the whole of Eastern Christendom? Why this continual mention of Antioch—this perpetual introduction of the epithet Syrian? Neither designation applies to Irenæus or to Hippolytus,—to Athanasius or to Didymus,—to Gregory of Nazianzus or to his namesake of Nyssa,—to Basil or to Epiphanius,—to Nonnus or to Macarius,—to Proclus or to Theodoras Mops.,—to the earlier or to the later Cyril.—In brief,

The fundamental text of the late extant Greek MSS. generally is, beyond all question, identical with [what Dr. Hort chooses to call] the dominant Antiochian or Græco-Syrian text of the second half of the IVth century.... The Antiochian [and other] Fathers, and the bulk of extant MSS. written from about three or four, to ten or eleven centuries later, must have had, in the greater number of extant variations, a common original either contemporary with, or older than, our oldest extant MSS.—(p. 92.)

XXXVII. So far then, happily, we are entirely agreed. The only question is,—How is this resemblance to be accounted for? Not, we answer,—not, certainly, by putting forward so violent and improbable—so irrational a conjecture as that, first, about a.d. 250,—and then again about a.d. 350,—an authoritative standard Text was fabricated at Antioch; of which all other known MSS. (except a very little handful) are nothing else but transcripts:—but rather, by loyally recognizing, in the practical identity of the Text exhibited by 99 out of 100 of our extant MSS., the probable general fidelity of those many transcripts to the inspired exemplars themselves from which remotely they are confessedly descended. And surely, if it be allowable to assume (with Dr. Hort) that for 1532 years, (viz. from a.d. 350 to a.d. 1882) the 296 Antiochian standard has been faithfully retained and transmitted,—it will be impossible to assign any valid reason why the inspired Original itself, the Apostolic standard, should not have been as faithfully transmitted and retained from the Apostolic age to the Antiochian,726726i.e. say from a.d. 90 to a.d. 250-350.i.e. throughout an interval of less than 250 years, or one-sixth of the period.

XXXVIII. Here, it will obviously occur to enquire,—But what has been Drs. Westcott and Hort's motive for inventing such an improbable hypothesis? and why is Dr. Hort so strenuous in maintaining it?... We reply by reminding the Reader of certain remarks which we made at the outset.727727See above, p. 269. The Traditional Text of the N. T. is a phenomenon which sorely exercises Critics of the new school. To depreciate it, is easy: to deny its critical authority, is easier still: to cast ridicule on the circumstances under which Erasmus produced his first (very faulty) edition of it (1516), is easiest of all. But to ignore the Traditional Text, is impossible. Equally impossible is it to overlook its practical identity with the Text of Chrysostom, who lived and taught at Antioch till a.d. 398, when he became Abp. of Constantinople. Now this is a very awkward circumstance, and must in some way be got over; for it transports us, at a bound, from the stifling atmosphere of Basle and Alcala,—from Erasmus and Stunica, Stephens and Beza and the Elzevirs,—to Antioch and Constantinople in the latter part of the IVth century. What is to be done?

XXXIX. Drs. Westcott and Hort assume that this Antiochian text—found in the later cursives and the Fathers of the latter half of the IVth century—must be an artificial, an arbitrarily invented standard; a text fabricated between 297 a.d. 250 and a.d. 350. And if they may but be so fortunate as to persuade the world to adopt their hypothesis, then all will be easy; for they will have reduced the supposed consent of Fathers to the reproduction of one and the same single primary documentary witness:728728If, says Dr. Hort, an editor were for any purpose to make it his aim to restore as completely as possible the New Testament of Antioch in a.d. 350, he could not help taking the approximate consent of the cursives as equivalent to a primary documentary witness. And he would not be the less justified in so doing for being unable to say precisely by what historical agencies the one Antiochian original—[note the fallacy!]—was multiplied into the cursive hosts of the later ages.—Pp. 143-4.—and it is hardly necessary to point out the total change in the bearing of the evidence by the introduction of the factor of Genealogy (p. 43) at this particular juncture. Upset the hypothesis on the other hand, and all is reversed in a moment. Every attesting Father is perceived to be a dated MS. and an independent authority; and the combined evidence of several of these becomes simply unmanageable. In like manner, the approximate consent of the cursives (see the foot-note), is perceived to be equivalent not to A primary documentary witness,not to ONE Antiochian original,—but to be tantamount to the articulate speech of many witnesses of high character, coming to us from every quarter of primitive Christendom.

XL. But—(the further enquiry is sure to be made)—In favour of which document, or set of documents, have all these fantastic efforts been made to disparage the commonly received standards of excellence? The ordinary English Reader may require to be reminded that, prior to the IVth century, our Textual helps are few, fragmentary, and—to speak plainly—insufficient. As for sacred Codices of that date, we possess not one. Of our two primitive Versions, 298 the Syriac and the old Latin, the second is grossly corrupt; owing (says Dr. Hort) to a perilous confusion between transcription and reproduction; the preservation of a record and its supposed improvement (p. 121). Further acquaintance with it only increases our distrust (ibid.). In plainer English, the earliest readings which can be fixed chronologically (p. 120) belong to a Version which is licentious and corrupt to an incredible extent. And though there is no reason to doubt that the Peschito [or ancient Syriac] is at least as old as the Latin Version (p. 84), yet (according to Dr. Hort) it is impossible—(he is nowhere so good as to explain to us wherein this supposed impossibility consists),—to regard the present form of the Version as a true representation of the original Syriac text. The date of it (according to him) may be as late as a.d. 350. Anyhow, we are assured (but only by Dr. Hort) that important evidence for the Greek text is hardly to be looked for from this source (p. 85).—The Fathers of the IIIrd century who have left behind them considerable remains in Greek are but two,—Clemens Alex. and Origen: and there are considerations attending the citations of either, which greatly detract from their value.

XLI. The question therefore recurs with redoubled emphasis,—In favour of which document, or set of documents, does Dr. Hort disparage the more considerable portion of that early evidence,—so much of it, namely, as belongs to the IVth century,—on which the Church has been hitherto accustomed confidently to rely? He asserts that,—

Almost all Greek Fathers after Eusebius have texts so deeply affected by mixture that they cannot at most count for more than so many secondary Greek uncial MSS., inferior in most cases to the better sort of secondary uncial MSS. now existing.—(p. 202.)


And thus, at a stroke, behold, almost all Greek Fathers after Eusebius—(who died a.d. 340)—are disposed of! washed overboard! put clean out of sight! Athanasius and Didymus—the 2 Basils and the 2 Gregories—the 2 Cyrils and the 2 Theodores—Epiphanius and Macarius and Ephraem—Chrysostom and Severianus and Proclus—Nilus and Nonnus—Isidore of Pelusium and Theodoret: not to mention at least as many more who have left scanty, yet most precious, remains behind them:—all these are pronounced inferior in authority to as many IXth- or Xth-century copies!... We commend, in passing, the foregoing dictum of these accomplished Editors to the critical judgment of all candid and intelligent Readers. Not as dated manuscripts, therefore, at least equal in Antiquity to the oldest which we now possess:—not as the authentic utterances of famous Doctors and Fathers of the Church, (instead of being the work of unknown and irresponsible Scribes):—not as sure witnesses of what was accounted Scripture in a known region, by a famous personage, at a well-ascertained period, (instead of coming to us, as our codices universally do, without a history and without a character):—in no such light are we henceforth to regard Patristic citations of Scripture:—but only as so many secondary MSS., inferior to the better sort of secondary uncials now existing.

XLII. That the Testimony of the Fathers, in the lump, must perforce in some such way either be ignored or else flouted, if the Text of Drs. Westcott and Hort is to stand,—we were perfectly well aware. It is simply fatal to them: and they know it. But we were hardly prepared for such a demonstration as this. Let it all pass however. The question we propose is only the following,—If the Text used by great Antiochian theologians not long after the middle of the 300 IVth century (p. 146) is undeserving of our confidence:—if we are to believe that a systematic depravation of Scripture was universally going on till about the end of the IIIrd century; and if at that time, an authoritative and deliberate recension of it—conducted on utterly erroneous principles—took place at Antioch, and resulted in the vicious traditional Constantinopolitan (p. 143), or (as Dr. Hort prefers to call it) the eclectic Syrian Text:What remains to us? Are we henceforth to rely on our own inner consciousness for illumination? Or is it seriously expected that for the restoration of the inspired Verity we shall be content to surrender ourselves blindfold to the ipse dixit of an unknown and irresponsible nineteenth-century guide? If neither of these courses is expected of us, will these Editors be so good as to give us the names of the documents on which, in their judgment, we may rely?

XLIII. We are not suffered to remain long in a state of suspense. The assurance awaits us (at p. 150), that the Vatican codex,

b—is found to hold a unique position. Its text is throughout Pre-Syrian, perhaps purely Pre-Syrian.... From distinctively Western readings it seems to be all but entirely free.... We have not been able to recognize as Alexandrian any readings of b in any book of the New Testament.... So that ... neither of the early streams of innovation has touched it to any appreciable extent.—(p. 150.)

The text of the Sinaitic codex (א) also seems to be entirely, or all but entirely, Pre-Syrian. A very large part of the text is in like manner free from Western or Alexandrian elements.—(p. 151.)

Every other known Greek manuscript has either a mixed or a Syrian text.—(p. 151.)

Thus then, at last, at the end of exactly 150 weary pages, the secret comes out! The one point which the respected 301 Editors are found to have been all along driving at:—the one aim of those many hazy disquisitions of theirs about Intrinsic and Transcriptional Probability,Genealogical evidence, simple and divergent,—and the study of Groups:—the one reason of all their vague terminology,—and of their baseless theory of Conflation,—and their disparagement of the Fathers:—the one raison d'être of their fiction of a Syrian and a Pre-Syrian and a Neutral text:—the secret of it all comes out at last! A delightful, a truly Newtonian simplicity characterizes the final announcement. All is summed up in the curt formula—Codex b!

Behold then the altar at which Copies, Fathers, Versions, are all to be ruthlessly sacrificed:—the tribunal from which there shall be absolutely no appeal:—the Oracle which is to silence every doubt, resolve every riddle, smooth away every difficulty. All has been stated, where the name has been pronounced of—codex b. One is reminded of an enegmatical epitaph on the floor of the Chapel of S. John's College, Verbum non amplius—Fisher! To codex b all the Greek Fathers after Eusebius must give way. Even Patristic evidence of the ante-Nicene period requires critical sifting (p. 202),—must be distrusted, may be denied (pp. 202-5),—if it shall be found to contradict Cod. b! b very far exceeds all other documents in neutrality of Text.—(p. 171.)

XLIV. At a long interval after B, but hardly a less interval before all other MSS., stands א (p. 171).—Such is the sum of the matter!... A coarser,—a clumsier,—a more unscientific,—a more stupid expedient for settling the true Text of Scripture was surely never invented! But for the many foggy, or rather unreadable disquisitions with which the Introduction is encumbered, Textual Criticism made easy, might well have been the title of the little 302 volume now under Review; of which at last it is discovered that the general Infallibility of Codex b is the fundamental principle. Let us however hear these learned men out.

XLV. They begin by offering us a chapter on the General relations of b and א to other documents: wherein we are assured that,—

Two striking facts successively come out with especial clearness. Every group containing both א and b, is found ... to have an apparently more original Text than every opposed group containing neither; and every group containing b ... is found in a large preponderance of cases ... to have an apparently more original Text than every opposed group containing א.—(p. 210.)

Is found! but pray,—By whom? And apparently! but pray,—To whom? and On what grounds of Evidence? For unless it be on certain grounds of Evidence, how can it be pretended that we have before us two striking facts?

Again, with what show of reason can it possibly be asserted that these two striking facts come out with especial clearness? so long as their very existence remains in nubibus,—has never been established, and is in fact emphatically denied? Expressions like the foregoing then only begin to be tolerable when it has been made plain that the Teacher has some solid foundation on which to build. Else, he occasions nothing but impatience and displeasure. Readers at first are simply annoyed at being trifled with: presently they grow restive: at last they become clamorous for demonstration, and will accept of nothing less. Let us go on however. We are still at p. 210:—

We found א and b to stand alone in their almost complete immunity from distinctive Syriac readings ... and b to stand far above א in its apparent freedom from either Western or Alexandrian readings.—(p. 210.)


But pray, gentlemen,—Where and when did we find either of these two things? We have found nothing of the sort hitherto. The Reviewer is disposed to reproduce the Duke of Wellington's courteous reply to the Prince Regent, when the latter claimed the arrangements which resulted in the victory of Waterloo:—I have heard your Royal Highness say so.... At the end of a few pages,

Having found א b the constant element in groups of every size, distinguished by internal excellence of readings, we found no less excellence in the readings in which they concur without other attestations of Greek MSS., or even of Versions or Fathers.—(p. 219.)

What! again? Why, we have found nothing as yet but Reiteration. Up to this point we have not been favoured with one particle of Evidence!... In the meantime, the convictions of these accomplished Critics,—(but not, unfortunately, those of their Readers,)—are observed to strengthen as they proceed. On reaching p. 224, we are assured that,

The independence [of b and א] can be carried back so far,—(not a hint is given how,)—that their concordant testimony may be treated as equivalent to that of a MS. older than א and b themselves by at least two centuries,—probably by a generation or two more.

How that independence was established, and how this probability has been arrived at, we cannot even imagine. The point to be attended to however, is, that by the process indicated, some such early epoch as a.d. 100 has been reached. So that now we are not surprised to hear that,

The respective ancestries of א and b must have diverged from a common parent extremely near the Apostolic autographs.—(p. 220. See top of p. 221.)

Or that,—The close approach to the time of the autographs raises the presumption of purity to an unusual strength.—(p. 224.)


And lo, before we turn the leaf, this presumption is found to have ripened into certainty:—

This general immunity from substantive error ... in the common original of א b, in conjunction with its very high antiquity, provides in a multitude of cases a safe criterion of genuineness, not to be distrusted except on very clear internal evidence. Accordingly ... it is our belief, (1) That Readings of א b should be accepted as the true Readings until strong internal evidence is found to the contrary; and (2), That no Readings of א b can be safely rejected absolutely.—(p. 225.)

XLVI. And thus, by an unscrupulous use of the process of Reiteration, accompanied by a boundless exercise of the Imaginative faculty, we have reached the goal to which all that went before has been steadily tending: viz. the absolute supremacy of codices b and א above all other codices,—and, when they differ, then of codex b.

And yet, the immunity from substantive error of a lost Codex of imaginary date and unknown history, cannot but be a pure imagination,—(a mistaken one, as we shall presently show,)—of these respected Critics: while their proposed practical inference from it,—(viz. to regard two remote and confessedly depraved Copies of that original, as a safe criterion of genuineness,)—this, at all events, is the reverse of logical. In the meantime, the presumed proximity of the Text of א and b to the Apostolic age is henceforth discoursed of as if it were no longer matter of conjecture:—

The ancestries of both MSS. having started from a common source not much later than the Autographs, &c.—(p. 247.)

And again:—

Near as the divergence of the respective ancestries of b and א must have been to the Autographs, &c.—(p. 273.)


Until at last, we find it announced as a moral certainty:

It is morally certain that the ancestries of b and א diverged from a point near the Autographs, and never came into contact subsequently.—(Text, p. 556.)

After which, of course, we have no right to complain if we are assured that:—

The fullest comparison does but increase the conviction that their pre-eminent relative purity is approximately absolute,—a true approximate reproduction of the Text of the Autographs—(p. 296.)

XLVII. But how does it happen—(we must needs repeat the enquiry, which however we make with unfeigned astonishment,)—How does it come to pass that a man of practised intellect, addressing persons as cultivated and perhaps as acute as himself, can handle a confessedly obscure problem like the present after this strangely incoherent, this foolish and wholly inconclusive fashion? One would have supposed that Dr. Hort's mathematical training would have made him an exact reasoner. But he writes as if he had no idea at all of the nature of demonstration, and of the process necessary in order to carry conviction home to a Reader's mind. Surely, (one tells oneself,) a minimum of pass Logic would have effectually protected so accomplished a gentleman from making such a damaging exhibition of himself! For surely he must be aware that, as yet, he has produced not one particle of evidence that his opinion concerning b and א is well founded. And yet, how can he possibly overlook the circumstance that, unless he is able to demonstrate that those two codices, and especially the former of them, has preserved not only a very ancient Text, but a very pure line of ancient Text also (p. 251), his entire work, (inasmuch as it reposes on that one assumption,) on being critically handled, crumbles to its base; or rather melts into thin air before the 306 first puff of wind? He cannot, surely, require telling that those who look for Demonstration will refuse to put up with Rhetoric:—that, with no thoughtful person will Assertion pass for Argument:—nor mere Reiteration, however long persevered in, ever be mistaken for accumulated Proof.

When I am taking a ride with Rouser,—(quietly remarked Professor Saville to Bodley Coxe,)—I observe that, if I ever demur to any of his views, Rouser's practice always is, to repeat the same thing over again in the same words,—only in a louder tone of voice ... The delicate rhetorical device thus indicated proves to be not peculiar to Professors of the University of Oxford; but to be familiarly recognized as an instrument of conviction by the learned men who dwell on the banks of the Cam. To be serious however.—Dr. Hort has evidently failed to see that nothing short of a careful induction of particular instances,—a system of laborious footnotes, or an Appendix bristling with impregnable facts,—could sustain the portentous weight of his fundamental position, viz. that Codex b is so exceptionally pure a document as to deserve to be taken as a chief guide in determining the Truth of Scripture.

It is related of the illustrious architect, Sir Gilbert Scott,—when he had to rebuild the massive central tower of a southern Cathedral, and to rear up thereon a lofty spire of stone,—that he made preparations for the work which astonished the Dean and Chapter of the day. He caused the entire area to be excavated to what seemed a most unnecessary depth, and proceeded to lay a bed of concrete of fabulous solidity. The wise master-builder was determined that his work should last for ever. Not so Drs. Westcott and Hort. They are either troubled with no similar anxieties, or else too clear-sighted to cherish any similar hope. They are evidently of opinion that a cloud or a quagmire will serve 307 their turn every bit as well as granite or Portland-stone. Dr. Hort (as we have seen already, namely in p. 252,) considers that his individual strong preference of one set of Readings above another, is sufficient to determine whether the Manuscript which contains those Readings is pure or the contrary. Formidable arrays of [hostile] Documentary evidence, he disregards and sets at defiance, when once his own fullest consideration of Internal Evidence has pronounced certain Readings to be right [p. 61].

The only indication we anywhere meet with of the actual ground of Dr. Hort's certainty, and reason of his preference, is contained in his claim that,—

Every binary group [of MSS.] containing b is found to offer a large proportion of Readings, which, on the closest scrutiny, have the ring of genuineness: while it is difficult to find any Readings so attested which look suspicious after full consideration.—(p. 227. Also vol. i. 557—where the dictum is repeated.)

XLVIII. And thus we have, at last, an honest confession of the ultimate principle which has determined the Text of the present edition of the N. T. The ring of genuineness! This it must be which was referred to when instinctive processes of Criticism were vaunted; and the candid avowal made that the experience which is their foundation needs perpetual correction and recorrection.729729Preface to the limited and private issue of 1870, p. xviii.: reprinted in the Introduction (1881), p. 66.

We are obliged (say these accomplished writers) to come to the individual mind at last.730730Ibid.

And thus, behold, at last we have reached the goal!... Individual idiosyncrasy,—not external Evidence:—Readings strongly preferred,not Readings strongly attested:—personal discernment (self! still self!) conscientiously exercising 308 itself upon Codex b;—this is a true account of the Critical method pursued by these accomplished Scholars. They deliberately claim personal discernment as the surest ground for confidence.731731P. 65 (§ 84). In the Table of Contents (p. xi.), Personal instincts are substituted for Personal discernment. Accordingly, they judge of Readings by their looks and by their sound. When, in their opinion, words look suspicious, words are to be rejected. If a word has the ring of genuineness,—(i.e. if it seems to them to have it,)—they claim that the word shall pass unchallenged.

XLIX. But it must be obvious that such a method is wholly inadmissible. It practically dispenses with Critical aids altogether; substituting individual caprice for external guidance. It can lead to no tangible result: for Readings which look suspicious to one expert, may easily not look so to another. A man's inner consciousness cannot possibly furnish trustworthy guidance in this subject matter. Justly does Bp. Ellicott ridicule the easy method of ... using a favourite Manuscript, combined with some supposed power of divining the Original Text;732732The Revisers and the Greek Text,—p. 19.—unconscious apparently that he is thereby aiming a cruel blow at certain of his friends.

As for the proposed test of Truth,—(the enquiry, namely, whether or no a reading has the ring of genuineness)—it is founded on a transparent mistake. The coarse operation alluded to may be described as a rough and ready expedient practised by receivers of money in the way of self-defence, and only for their own protection, lest base metal should be palmed off upon them unawares. But Dr. Hort is proposing an analogous test for the exclusive satisfaction of him who utters the suspected article. We therefore disallow the proposal entirely: not, of course, because we suppose that so excellent and honourable a man as Dr. Hort 309 would attempt to pass off as genuine what he suspects to be fabricated; but because we are fully convinced—(for reasons plenty as blackberries)—that through some natural defect, or constitutional inaptitude, he is not a competent judge. The man who finds no marks of either Critical or Spiritual insight (p. 135) in the only Greek Text which was known to scholars till a.d. 1831,—(although he confesses that the text of Chrysostom and other Syrian Fathers of the IVth century is substantially identical with it733733Introduction,—p. xiii.); and vaunts in preference the bold vigour and refined scholarship which is exclusively met with in certain depraved uncials of the same or later date:—the man who thinks it not unlikely that the incident of the piercing of our Saviour's side (ἄλλος δὲ λαβῶν λόγχην κ.τ.λ.) was actually found in the genuine Text of S. Matt. xxvii. 49, as well as in S. John xix. 34:734734Notes, p. 22.—the man who is of opinion that the incident of the Woman taken in Adultery (filling 12 verses), presents serious differences from the diction of S. John's Gospel,—treats it as an insertion in a comparatively late Western text735735Notes, p. 88. and declines to retain it even within brackets, on the ground that it would fatally interrupt the course of the narrative if suffered to stand:—the man who can deliberately separate off from the end of S. Mark's Gospel, and print separately, S. Mark's last 12 verses, (on the plea that they manifestly cannot claim any apostolic authority; but are doubtless founded on some tradition of the Apostolic age;736736Notes,—p. 51.)—yet who straightway proceeds to annex, as an alternative Conclusion (ἄλλως), the wretched supplement derived from codex l:737737Scrivener's Plain Introduction,—pp. 507-8.—the man (lastly) who, in defiance of solid reason and pure taste, finds music in the utterly marred rhythmical arrangement of the Angels' Hymn on the night of the 310 Nativity:738738Scrivener's Introduction, pp. 513-4.—such an one is not entitled to a hearing when he talks about the ring of genuineness. He has already effectually put himself out of Court. He has convicted himself of a natural infirmity of judgment,—has given proof that he labours under a peculiar Critical inaptitude for this department of enquiry,—which renders his decrees nugatory, and his opinions worthless.

L. But apart from all this, the Reader's attention is invited to a little circumstance which Dr. Hort has unaccountably overlooked: but which, the instant it has been stated, is observed to cause his picturesque theory to melt away—like a snow-wreath in the sunshine.

On reflexion, it will be perceived that the most signal deformities of codices b א d l are instances of Omission. In the Gospels alone, b omits 2877 words.

How,—(we beg to enquire,)—How will you apply your proposed test to a Non-entity? How will you ascertain whether something which does not exist in the Text has the ring of genuineness or not? There can be no ring of genuineness, clearly, where there is nothing to ring with! Will any one pretend that the omission of the incident of the troubling of the pool has in it any ring of genuineness?—or dare to assert that the ring of genuineness is imparted to the history of our Saviour's Passion, by the omission of His Agony in the Garden?—or that the narrative of His Crucifixion becomes more musical, when our Lord's Prayer for His murderers has been omitted?—or that ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ (for they were afraid), has the ring of genuineness as the conclusion of the last chapter of the Gospel according to S. Mark?

But the strangest circumstance is behind. It is notorious 311 that, on the contrary, Dr. Hort is frequently constrained to admit that the omitted words actually have the ring of genuineness. The words which he insists on thrusting out of the Text are often conspicuous for the very quality which (by the hypothesis) was the warrant for their exclusion. Of this, the Reader may convince himself by referring to the note at foot of the present page.739739   In S. Matth. i. 25,—the omission of her first-born:—in vi. 13, the omission of the Doxology:—in xii. 47, the omission of the whole verse:—in xvi. 2, 3, the omission of our Lord's memorable words concerning the signs of the weather:—in xvii. 21, the omission of the mysterious statement, But this kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting:—in xviii. 11, the omission of the precious words For the Son of man came to save that which was lost.
    In S. Mark xvi. 9-20, the omission of the last Twelve Verses,—(the contents of which are not such as could have been invented by any scribe or editor of the Gospel,—W. and H. p. 57). All admit that ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ is an impossible ending.

    In S. Luke vi. 1, the suppression of the unique δευτεροπρώτῳ; (the very obscurity of the expression attesting strongly to its genuineness,—Scrivener, p. 516, and so W. and H. p. 58):—ix. 54-56, the omitted rebuke to the disciples James and John:—in x. 41, 42, the omitted words concerning Martha and Mary:—in xxii. 43, 44, the omission of the Agony in the Garden,—(which nevertheless, it would be impossible to regard as a product of the inventiveness of scribes,—W. and H. p. 67):—in xxiii. 17, a memorable clause omitted:—in xxiii. 34, the omission of our Lord's prayer for His murderers,—(concerning which Westcott and Hort remark that few verses of the Gospels bear in themselves a surer witness to the truth of what they record than this—p. 68):—in xxiii. 38, the statement that the Inscription on the Cross was in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew:—in xxiv. 12, the visit of S. Peter to the Sepulchre. Bishop Lightfoot remarks concerning S. Luke ix. 56: xxii. 43, 44: and xxiii. 34,—It seems impossible to believe that these incidents are other than authentic,—(p. 28.)

    In S. John iii. 13, the solemn clause which is in heaven:—in v. 3, 4, the omitted incident of the troubling of the pool:—in vii. 53 to viii. 11, the narrative concerning the woman taken in adultery omitted,—concerning which Drs. W. and H. remark that the argument which has always told most in its favour in modern times is its own internal character. The story itself has justly seemed to vouch for its own substantial truth, and the words in which it is clothed to harmonize with those of other Gospel narratives—(p. 87). Bishop Lightfoot remarks that the narrative bears on its face the highest credentials of authentic history—(p. 28).
In the meantime, the 312 matter discoursed of may be conveniently illustrated by a short apologue:—

Somewhere in the fens of Ely diocese, stood a crazy old church (dedicated to S. Bee, of course,) the bells of which—according to a learned Cambridge Doctor—were the most musical in the world. I have listened to those bells, (he was accustomed to say,) for 30 years. All other bells are cracked, harsh, out of tune. Commend me, for music, to the bells of S. Bee's! They alone have the ring of genuineness. ... Accordingly, he published a treatise on Campanology, founding his theory on the musical properties of the bells of S. Bee's.—At this juncture, provokingly enough, some one directed attention to the singular fact that S. Bee's is one of the few churches in that district without bells: a discovery which, it is needless to add, pressed inconveniently on the learned Doctor's theory.

LI. But enough of this. We really have at last, (be it observed,) reached the end of our enquiry. Nothing comes after Dr. Hort's extravagant and unsupported estimate of Codices b and א. On the contrary. Those two documents are caused to cast their sombre shadows a long way ahead, and to darken all our future. Dr. Hort takes leave of the subject with the announcement that, whatever uncertainty may attach to the evidence for particular readings,

The general course of future Criticism must be shaped by the happy circumstance that the fourth century has bequeathed to us two MSS. [b and א], of which even the less incorrupt [א] must have been of exceptional purity among its contemporaries: and which rise into greater pre-eminence of character the better the early history of the Text becomes known.—(p. 287.)


In other words, our guide assures us that in a dutiful submission to codices b and א,—(which, he naïvely remarks, happen likewise to be the oldest extant Greek MSS. of the New Testament [p. 212],)—lies all our hope of future progress. (Just as if we should ever have heard of these two codices, had their contents come down to us written in the ordinary cursive character,—in a dated MS. (suppose) of the XVth century!)... Moreover, Dr. Hort must not hesitate to express his own robust conviction,

That no trustworthy improvement can be effected, except in accordance with the leading Principles of method which we have endeavoured to explain.—(p. 285.)

LII. And this is the end of the matter. Behold our fate therefore:—(1) Codices b and א, with—(2) Drs. Westcott and Hort's Introduction and Notes on Select Readings in vindication of their contents! It is proposed to shut us up within those limits!... An uneasy suspicion however secretly suggests itself that perhaps, as the years roll out, something may come to light which will effectually dispel every dream of the new School, and reduce even prejudice itself to silence. So Dr. Hort hastens to frown it down:—

It would be an illusion to anticipate important changes of Text [i.e. of the Text advocated by Drs. Westcott and Hort] from any acquisition of new Evidence.—(p. 285.)

And yet, why the anticipation of important help from the acquisition of fresh documentary Evidence would be an illusion,—does not appear. That the recovery of certain of the exegetical works of Origen,—better still, of Tatian's Diatessaron,—best of all, of a couple of MSS. of the date of Codices b and א; but not, (like those two corrupt documents) derived from one and the same depraved archetype;—That any such windfall, (and it will come, some of these days,) would infallibly disturb Drs. Westcott and Hort's 314 equanimity, as well as scatter to the winds not a few of their most confident conclusions,—we are well aware. So indeed are they. Hence, what those Critics earnestly deprecate, we as earnestly desire. We are therefore by no means inclined to admit, that

Greater possibilities of improvement lie in a more exact study of the relations between the documents that we already possess;—(Ibid.)

knowing well that the documents referred to are chiefly, (if not solely,) Codices b and א: knowing also, that it is further meant, that in estimating other evidence, of whatever kind, the only thing to be enquired after is whether or no the attesting document is generally in agreement with codex b.

For, according to these writers,—tide what tide,—codex b is to be the standard: itself not absolutely requiring confirmation from any extraneous quarter. Dr. Hort asserts, (but it is, as usual, mere assertion,) that,

Even when b stands quite alone, its readings must never be lightly rejected.—(p. 557.)

And yet,—Why a reading found only in codex b should experience greater indulgence than another reading found only in codex a, we entirely fail to see.

On the other hand, an unique criterion is supplied by the concord of the independent attestation of b and א.—(Notes, p. 46.)

But pray, how does that appear? Since b and א are derived from one and the same original—Why should not the concord spoken of be rather an unique criterion of the utter depravity of the archetype?

LIII. To conclude. We have already listened to Dr. Hort long enough. And now, since confessedly, a chain is no 315 stronger than it is at its weakest link; nor an edifice more secure than the basis whereon it stands;—we must be allowed to point out that we have been dealing throughout with a dream, pure and simple; from which it is high time that we should wake up, now that we have been plainly shown on what an unsubstantial foundation these Editors have been all along building. A child's house, several stories high, constructed out of playing-cards,—is no unapt image of the frail erection before us. We began by carefully lifting off the topmost story; and then, the next: but we might as well have saved ourselves the trouble. The basement-story has to be removed bodily, which must bring the whole edifice down with a rush. In reply to the fantastic tissue of unproved assertions which go before, we assert as follows:—

(1) The impurity of the Texts exhibited by Codices b and א is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact.740740   To some extent, even the unlearned Reader may easily convince himself of this, by examining the rejected alternative Readings in the margin of the Revised Version. The Many and the Some ancient authorities, there spoken of, almost invariably include—sometimes denote—codd. b א, one or both of them. These constitute the merest fraction of the entire amount of corrupt readings exhibited by b א; but they will give English readers some notion of the problem just now under consideration.
    Besides the details already supplied [see above, pages 16 and 17:—30 and 31:—46 and 47:—75:—249:—262:—289:—316 to 319] concerning b and א,—(the result of laborious collation,)—some particulars shall now be added. The piercing of our Saviour's side, thrust in after Matt. xxvii. 49:—the eclipse of the sun when the moon was full, in Lu. xxiii. 45:—the monstrous figment concerning Herod's daughter, thrust into Mk. vi. 22:—the precious clauses omitted in Matt. i. 25 and xviii. 11:—in Lu. ix. 54-6, and in Jo. iii. 13:—the wretched glosses in Lu. vi. 48: x. 42: xv. 21: Jo. x. 14 and Mk. vi. 20:—the substitution of οινον (for οξος) in Matt. xxvii. 34,—of Θεος (for υιος) in Jo. i. 18,—of ανθρωπου (for Θεου) in ix. 35,—of οὑ (for ῷ) in Rom. iv. 8:—the geographical blunder in Mk. vii. 31: in Lu. iv. 44:—the omission in Matt. xii. 47,—and of two important verses in Matt. xvi. 2, 3:—of ιδια in Acts i. 19:—of εγειραι και in iii. 6;—and of δευτεροπρωτω in Lu. vi. 1:—the two spurious clauses in Mk. iii. 14, 16:—the obvious blunders in Jo. ix. 4 and 11:—in Acts xii. 25—besides the impossible reading in 1 Cor. xiii. 3,—make up a heavy indictment against b and א jointly—which are here found in company with just a very few disreputable allies. Add, the plain error at Lu. ii. 14:—the gloss at Mk. v. 36:—the mere fabrication at Matt. xix. 17:—the omissions at Matt. vi. 13: Jo. v. 3, 4.

    b (in company with others, but apart from א) by exhibiting βαπτισαντες in Matt. xxviii. 19:—ὡδε των in Mk. ix. 1:—seventy-two, in Lu. x. 1:—the blunder in Lu. xvi. 12:—and the grievous omissions in Lu. xxii. 43, 44 (Christ's Agony in the Garden),—and xxiii. 34 (His prayer for His murderers),—enjoys unenviable distinction.—b, singly, is remarkable for an obvious blunder in Matt. xxi. 31:—Lu. xxi. 24:—Jo. xviii. 5:—Acts x. 19—and xvii. 28:—xxvii. 37:—not to mention the insertion of δεδομενον in Jo. vii. 39.

    א (in company with others, but apart from b) is conspicuous for its sorry interpolation of Matt. viii. 13:—its substitution of εστιν (for ην) in S. John i. 4:—its geographical blunder in S. Luke xxiv. 13:—its textual blunder at 1 Pet. i. 23.—א, singly, is remarkable for its sorry paraphrase in Jo. ii. 3:—its addition to i. 34:—its omissions in Matt. xxiii. 35:—Mk. i. 1:—Jo. ix. 38:—its insertion of Ησαιου in Matt. xiii. 35:—its geographical blunders in Mk. i. 28:—Lu. i. 26:—Acts viii. 5:—besides the blunders in Jo. vi. 51—and xiii. 10:—1 Tim. iii. 16:—Acts xxv. 13:—and the clearly fabricated narrative of Jo. xiii. 24. Add the fabricated text at Mk. xiv. 30, 68, 72; of which the object was so far to assimilate the narrative of Peter's denials with those of the other Evangelists, as to suppress the fact, vouched for by S. Mark only, that the cock crowed twice.
These are 316 two of the least trustworthy documents in existence. So far from allowing Dr. Hort's position that—A Text formed by taking Codex b as the sole authority, would be incomparably nearer the Truth than a Text similarly taken from any other Greek or other single document (p. 251),—we venture to assert that it would be, on the contrary, by far the foulest Text that had ever seen the light: worse, that is to say, even than the Text of Drs. Westcott and Hort. And that is saying a great deal. In the brave and faithful words 317 of Prebendary Scrivener (Introduction, p. 453),—words which deserve to become famous,—

It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed: that Irenæus [a.d. 150], and the African Fathers, and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syrian Church, used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica, or Erasmus, or Stephens thirteen centuries later, when moulding the Textus Receptus.

And Codices b and א are, demonstrably, nothing else but specimens of the depraved class thus characterized.

Next—(2), We assert that, so manifest are the disfigurements jointly and exclusively exhibited by codices b and א,741741   Characteristic, and fatal beyond anything that can be named are, (1) The exclusive omission by b and א of Mark xvi. 9-20:—(2) The omission of εν Εφεσῳ, from Ephes. i. 1:—(3) The blunder, αποσκιασματος, in James i. 17:—(4) The nonsensical συστρεφομενων in Matt. xvii. 22:—(5) That vile error, (as Scrivener calls it,) περιελοντες, in Acts xxviii. 13:—(6) The impossible order of words in Lu. xxiii. 32; and (7) The extraordinary order in Acts i. 5:—(8) The omission of the last clause of the Lord's prayer, in Lu. xi. 4; and (9) Of that solemn verse, Matt. xvii. 21; and (10) Of ισχυρον in Matt. xiv. 30:—(11) The substitution of εργων (for τεκνων) in Matt. xi. 29:—(12) Of ελιγμα (for μιγμα) in Jo. xix. 39,—and (13) of ην τεθειμενος (for ετεθη) in John xix. 41. Then, (14) The thrusting of Χριστος into Matt. xvi. 21,—and (15) Of ὁ Θεος into vi. 8:—besides (16) So minute a peculiarity as Βεεζεβουλ in Matt. x. 35: xii. 24, 27: Lu. xi. 15, 18, 19. (17) Add, the gloss at Matt. xvii. 20, and (18) The omissions at Matt. v. 22: xvii. 21.—It must be admitted that such peculiar blemishes, taken collectively, constitute a proof of affinity of origin,—community of descent from one and the same disreputable ancestor. But space fails us.
    The Reader will be interested to learn that although, in the Gospels, b combines exclusively with a, but 11 times; and with c, but 38 times: with d, it combines exclusively 141 times, and with א, 239 times: (viz. in Matt. 121,—in Mk. 26,—in Lu. 51,—in Jo. 41 times).

    Contrast it with a:—which combines exclusively with d, 21 times: with א 13 times: with b, 11 times: with c, 4 times.
318 that instead of accepting these codices as two independent Witnesses to the inspired Original, we are constrained to regard them as little more than a single reproduction of one and the same scandalously corrupt and (comparatively) late Copy. By consequence, we consider their joint and exclusive attestation of any particular reading, an unique criterion of its worthlessness; a sufficient reason—not for adopting, but—for unceremoniously rejecting it.

Then—(3), As for the origin of these two curiosities, it can perforce only be divined from their contents. That they exhibit fabricated Texts is demonstrable. No amount of honest copying,—persevered in for any number of centuries,—could by possibility have resulted in two such documents. Separated from one another in actual date by 50, perhaps by 100 years,742742   The Reviewer speaks from actual inspection of both documents. They are essentially dissimilar. The learned Ceriani assured the Reviewer (in 1872) that whereas the Vatican Codex must certainly have been written in Italy,—the birthplace of the Sinaitic was [not Egypt, but] either Palestine or Syria. Thus, considerations of time and place effectually dispose of Tischendorf's preposterous notion that the Scribe of Codex b wrote six leaves of א: an imagination which solely resulted from the anxiety of the Critic to secure for his own cod. א the same antiquity which is claimed for the vaunted cod. b.
    This opinion of Dr. Tischendorf's rests on the same fanciful basis as his notion that the last verse of S. John's Gospel in א was not written by the same hand which wrote the rest of the Gospel. There is no manner of difference: though of course it is possible that the scribe took a new pen, preliminary to writing that last verse, and executing the curious and delicate ornament which follows. Concerning S. Jo. xxi. 25, see above, pp. 23-4.
they must needs have branched off from a common corrupt ancestor, and straightway become exposed continuously to fresh depraving influences. The result is, that codex א, (which evidently has gone through more adventures and fallen into worse company than his rival,) has been corrupted to a far graver extent than codex b, and is 319 even more untrustworthy. Thus, whereas (in the Gospels alone) b has 589 Readings quite peculiar to itself, affecting 858 words,—א has 1460 such Readings, affecting 2640 words.

One solid fact like the preceding, (let it be pointed out in passing,) is more helpful by far to one who would form a correct estimate of the value of a Codex, than any number of such reckless and unverified assertions, not to say peremptory and baseless decrees, as abound in the highly imaginative pages of Drs. Westcott and Hort.

(4) Lastly,—We suspect that these two Manuscripts are indebted for their preservation, solely to their ascertained evil character; which has occasioned that the one eventually found its way, four centuries ago, to a forgotten shelf in the Vatican library: while the other, after exercising the ingenuity of several generations of critical Correctors, eventually (viz. in a.d. 1844743743Tischendorf's narrative of the discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript (When were our Gospels written?), [1866,] p. 23.) got deposited in the waste-paper basket of the Convent at the foot of Mount Sinai. Had b and א been copies of average purity, they must long since have shared the inevitable fate of books which are freely used and highly prized; namely, they would have fallen into decadence and disappeared from sight. But in the meantime, behold, their very Antiquity has come to be reckoned to their advantage; and (strange to relate) is even considered to constitute a sufficient reason why they should enjoy not merely extraordinary consideration, but the actual surrender of the critical judgment. Since 1831, Editors have vied with one another in the fulsomeness of the homage they have paid to these two false Witnesses,—for such b and א are, as the concurrent testimony of Copies, Fathers and Versions abundantly proves. Even superstitious reverence has been claimed 320 for these two codices: and Drs. Westcott and Hort are so far in advance of their predecessors in the servility of their blind adulation, that they must be allowed to have easily won the race.

LIV. With this,—so far as the Greek Text under review is concerned,—we might, were we so minded, reasonably make an end. We undertook to show that Drs. Westcott and Hort, in the volumes before us, have built up an utterly worthless Textual fabric; and we consider that we have already sufficiently shown it. The Theory,—the Hypothesis rather, on which their Text is founded, we have demonstrated to be simply absurd. Remove that hypothesis, and a heap of unsightly ruins is all that is left behind,—except indeed astonishment (not unmingled with concern) at the simplicity of its accomplished Authors.

Here then, we might leave off. But we are unwilling so to leave the matter. Large consideration is due to ordinary English Readers; who must perforce look on with utter perplexity—not to say distress—at the strange spectacle presented by that Text (which is in the main the Text of the Revised English Version) on the one hand,—and this Review of it, on the other:—

(1) And pray, which of you am I to believe?—will inevitably be, in homely English, the exclamation with which not a few will lay down the present number of the Quarterly. I pretend to no learning. I am not prepared to argue the question with you. But surely, the oldest Manuscript must be the purest! It even stands to reason: does it not?—Then further, I admit that you seem to have the best of the argument so far; yet, since the three most famous Editors of modern times are against you,—Lachmann, 321 Tregelles, Tischendorf,—excuse me if I suspect that you must be in the wrong, after all.

LV. With unfeigned humility, the Reviewer [Q. R.] proceeds to explain the matter to his supposed Objector [S. O.], in briefest outline, as follows:—

Q. R. You are perfectly right. The oldest Manuscript must exhibit the purest text: must be the most trustworthy. But then, unfortunately, it happens that we do not possess it. The oldest Manuscript is lost. You speak, of course, of the inspired Autographs. These, I say, have long since disappeared.

(2) S. O. No, I meant to say that the oldest Manuscript we possess, if it be but a very ancient one, must needs be the purest.

Q. R. O, but that is an entirely different proposition. Well, apart from experience, the probability that the oldest copy extant will prove the purest is, if you please, considerable. Reflection will convince you however that it is but a probability, at the utmost: a probability based upon more than one false assumption,—with which nevertheless you shall not be troubled. But in fact it clearly does not by any means follow that, because a MS. is very ancient, therefore the Text, which it exhibits will be very pure. That you may be thoroughly convinced of this,—(and it is really impossible for your mind to be too effectually disabused of a prepossession which has fatally misled so many,)—you are invited to enquire for a recent contribution to the learned French publication indicated at the foot of this page,744744Papyrus Inédit de la Bibliothèque de M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot. Nouveaux fragments d'Euripide et d'autres Poètes Grecs, publiés par M. Henri Weil. (Extrait des Monumens Grecs publiés par l'Association pour l'encouragement des Etudes Grecques en France. Année 1879.) Pp. 36. in which is 322 exhibited a fac-simile of 8 lines of the Medea of Euripides (ver. 5-12), written about b.c. 200 in small uncials (at Alexandria probably,) on papyrus. Collated with any printed copy, the verses, you will find, have been penned with scandalous, with incredible inaccuracy. But on this head let the learned Editor of the document in question be listened to, rather than the present Reviewer:—

On voit que le texte du papyrus est hérissé des fautes les plus graves. Le plus récent et le plus mauvais de nos manuscrits d'Euripide vaut infiniment mieux que cette copie,—faite, il y a deux mille ans, dans le pays où florissaient l'érudition hellénique et la Critique des textes.745745   The rest of the passage may not be without interest to classical readers:—Ce n'est pas à dire qu'elle soit tout à fait sans intérêt, sans importance: pour la constitution du texte. Elle nous apprend que, au vers 5, ἀρίστων, pour ἀριστέων (correction de Wakefield) était déjà l'ancienne vulgate; et que les vers 11 et 12, s'ils sont altérés, comme l'assurent quelques éditeurs d'Euripide, l'étaient déjà dans l'antiquité.
    L'homme ... était aussi ignorant que négligent. Je le prends pour un Egyptien n'ayant qu'une connoissance très imparfaite de la langue grecque, et ne possédant aucune notion ni sur l'orthographe, ni sur les règles les plus élémentaires du trimètre iambique. Le plus singulier est qu'il commence sa copie au milieu d'un vers et qu'il la finisse de même. Il oublie des lettres nécessaires, il en ajoute de parasites, il les met les unes pour les autres, il tronque les mots ou il les altère, au point de détruire quelquefois la suite de la construction et le sens du passage. A faithful copy of the verses in minuscule characters is subjoined for the gratification of Scholars. We have but divided the words and inserted capital letters:—

    ανδρων αριστων οι δε πανχρυσον δερος
Πελεια μετηλθον ου γαρ τον δεσπονα εμην
Μηδια πυργους γης επλευσε Ειολκιας
ερωτι θυμωδ εγπλαγις Ιανοσονος
οτ αν κτανει πισας Πελειαδας κουρας
πατερα κατοικη τηνδε γην Κορινθιαν
συν ανδρι και τεκνοισιν ανδανοισα μεν
φυγη πολιτων ων αφηκετο χθονος.

    An excellent scholar (R. C. P.) remarks,—The fragment must have been written from dictation (of small parts, as it seems to me); and by an illiterate scribe. It is just such a result as one might expect from a half-educated reader enunciating Milton for a half-educated writer.
—(p. 17.)


Why, the author of the foregoing remarks might have been writing concerning Codex b!

(3) S. O. Yes: but I want Christian evidence. The author of that scrap of papyrus may have been an illiterate slave. What if it should be a school-boy's exercise which has come down to us? The thing is not impossible.

Q. R. Not impossible certainly: but surely highly improbable. However, let it drop. You insist on Christian evidence. You shall have it. What think you then of the following statement of a very ancient Father (Caius746746See p. 324 note 1.—Photius [cod. 48] says that Gaius was a presbyter of Rome, and ἐθνῶν ἐπίσκοπος. See Routh's Reliqq. ii. 125.) writing against the heresy of Theodotus and others who denied the Divinity of Christ? He is bearing his testimony to the liberties which had been freely taken with the Text of the New Testament in his own time, viz. about a.d. 175-200:—

The Divine Scriptures, he says, these heretics have audaciously corrupted: ... laying violent hands upon them under pretence of correcting them. That I bring no false accusation, any one who is disposed may easily convince himself. He has but to collect the copies belonging to these persons severally; then, to compare one with another; and he will discover that their discrepancy is extraordinary. Those of Asclepiades, at all events, will be found discordant from those of Theodotus. Now, plenty of specimens of either sort are obtainable, inasmuch as these men's disciples have industriously multiplied the (so-called) corrected copies of their respective teachers, which are in reality nothing else but corrupted copies. With the foregoing copies again, those of Hermophilus will be found entirely at variance. As for the copies of Apollonides, they even contradict one another. Nay, let any one compare the fabricated text which these persons put forth in the first instance, with that which exhibits their latest perversions of the Truth, and he will discover that the disagreement between them is even excessive.


Of the enormity of the offence of which these men have been guilty, they must needs themselves be fully aware. Either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures are the utterance of the Holy Ghost,—in which case they are to be regarded as unbelievers: or else, they account themselves wiser than the Holy Ghost,—and what is that, but to have the faith of devils? As for their denying their guilt, the thing is impossible, seeing that the copies under discussion are their own actual handywork; and they know full well that not such as these are the Scriptures which they received at the hands of their catechetical teachers. Else, let them produce the originals from which they made their transcripts. Certain of them indeed have not even condescended to falsify Scripture, but entirely reject Law and Prophets alike.747747Eusebius, Hist. Ecol. v. 28 (ap. Routh's Reliqq. ii. 132-4).

Now, the foregoing statement is in a high decree suggestive. For here is an orthodox Father of the IInd century inviting attention to four well-known families of falsified manuscripts of the Sacred Writings;—complaining of the hopeless divergences which they exhibit (being not only inconsistent with one another, but with themselves);—and insisting that such corrected, are nothing else but shamefully corrupted copies. He speaks of the phenomenon as being in his day notorious: and appeals to Recensions, the very names of whose authors—Theodotus, Asclepiades, Hermophilus, Apollonides—have (all but the first) long since died out of the Church's memory. You will allow therefore, (will you not?), that by this time the claim of the oldest existing copies of Scripture to be the purest, has been effectually disposed of. For since there once prevailed such a multitude of corrupted copies, we have no security whatever that the oldest of our extant MSS. are not derived—remotely if not directly—from some of them.

(4) S. O. But at all events the chances are even. Are they not?


Q. R. By no means. A copy like codex b, once recognized as belonging to a corrupt family,—once known to contain a depraved exhibition of the Sacred Text,—was more likely by far to remain unused, and so to escape destruction, than a copy highly prized and in daily use.—As for Codex א, it carries on its face its own effectual condemnation; aptly illustrating the precept fiat experimentum in corpore vili. It exhibits the efforts of many generations of men to restore its Text,—(which, as proceeding from the first scribe, is admitted by one of its chief admirers to be very rough,748748Tregelles, Part ii. p. 2.)—to something like purity. At least ten different Revisers, from the IVth to the XIIth century, are found to have tried their hands upon it.749749Scrivener's prefatory Introduction,—p. xix.—Codex c, after having had at least three correctors very busily at work upon it750750Ibid. p. iii. (in the VIth and IXth centuries), finally (in the XIIth) was fairly obliterated,—literally scraped out,—to make room for the writings of a Syrian Father.—I am therefore led by à priori considerations to augur ill of the contents of b א c. But when I find them hopelessly at variance among themselves: above all, when I find (1) all other Manuscripts of whatever date,—(2) the most ancient Versions,—and (3), the whole body of the primitive Fathers, decidedly opposed to them,—I am (to speak plainly) at a loss to understand how any man of sound understanding, acquainted with all the facts of the case and accustomed to exact reasoning, can hesitate to regard the unsupported (or the slenderly supported) testimony of one or other of them as simply worthless. The craven homage which the foremost of the three habitually receives at the hands of Drs. Westcott and Hort, I can only describe as a weak superstition. It is something more than unreasonable. It becomes even ridiculous.—Tischendorf's preference (in his last edition) for the bêtises of his own codex א, 326 can only be defended on the plea of parental partiality. But it is not on that account the less foolish. His exaggerated preference for the single manuscript which he had the good fortune to discover, has betrayed him—(in the opinion of Bishop Ellicott)—into an almost child-like infirmity of critical judgment751751On Revision,—p. 47.

(5) O. S. Well but,—be all that as it may,—Caius, remember, is speaking of heretical writers. When I said I want Christian evidence, I meant orthodox evidence, of course. You would not assert (would you?) that b and א exhibit traces of heretical depravation?

Q. R. Reserving my opinion on that last head, good Sir, and determined to enjoy the pleasure of your company on any reasonable terms,—(for convince you, I both can and will, though you prolong the present discussion till tomorrow morning,)—I have to ask a little favour of you: viz. that you will bear me company in an imaginary expedition.

I request that the clock of history may be put back seventeen hundred years. This is a.d. 183, if you please: and—(indulge me in the supposition!)—you and I are walking in Alexandria. We have reached the house of one Clemens,—a learned Athenian, who has long been a resident here. Let us step into his library,—he is from home. What a queer place! See, he has been reading his Bible, which is open at S. Mark x. Is it not a well-used copy? It must be at least 50 or 60 years old. Well, but suppose only 30 or 40. It was executed therefore within fifty years of the death of S. John the Evangelist. Come, let us transcribe two of the 327 columns752752Singular to relate, S. Mark x. 17 to 31 exactly fills two columns of cod. א. (See Tischendorf's reprint, 4to, p. 24*.) (σελίδες) as faithfully as we possibly can, and be off.... We are back in England again, and the clock has been put right. Now let us sit down and examine our curiosity at leisure.753753Clemens Al. (ed. Potter),—pp. 937-8.... Note, how Clemens begins § v. (p. 938, line 30). This will be found noticed below, viz. at p. 336, note 3.... It proves on inspection to be a transcript of the 15 verses (ver. 17 to ver. 31) which relate to the coming of the rich young Ruler to our Lord.

We make a surprising discovery. There are but 297 words in those 15 verses,—according to the traditional Text: of which, in the copy which belonged to Clemens Alexandrinus, 39 prove to have been left out: 11 words are added: 22, substituted: 27, transposed: 13, varied; and the phrase has been altered at least 8 times. Now, 112 words out of a total of 297, is 38 per cent. What do you think of that?

(6) S. O. Think? O but, I disallow your entire proceeding! You have no business to collate with a text of late and degenerate type, such as is the Received Text of the New Testament. When this is taken as a standard, any document belonging to a purer stage of the Text must by the nature of the case have the appearance of being guilty of omissions: and the nearer the document stands to the autograph, the more numerous must be the omissions laid to its charge. I learnt that from Westcott and Hort. See page 235 of their luminous Introduction.

Q. R. Be it so! Collate the passage then for yourself with the Text of Drs. Westcott and Hort: which, (remember!) aspires to reproduce the autographs themselves with the utmost exactness which the evidence permits 328 (pp. 288 and 289).754754This Text (say the Editors) is an attempt to reproduce at once the autograph Text.—Introduction, p. xxviii. You will find that this time the words omitted amount to 44. The words added are 13: the words substituted, 23: the words transposed, 34: the words varied 16. And the phrase has been altered 9 times at least. But, 130 on a total of 297, is 44 per cent. You will also bear in mind that Clement of Alexandria is one of our principal authorities for the Text of the Ante-Nicene period.755755Westcott and Hort's Introduction, pp. 112-3.

And thus, I venture to presume, the imagination has been at last effectually disposed of, that because Codices b and א are the two oldest Greek copies in existence, the Text exhibited by either must therefore be the purest Text which is anywhere to be met with. It is impossible to produce a fouler exhibition of S. Mark x. 17-31 than is contained in a document full two centuries older than either b or א,—itself the property of one of the most famous of the ante-Nicene Fathers.

LVI.—(7) At this stage of the argument, the Reviewer finds himself taken aside by a friendly Critic [F. C.], and privately remonstrated with somewhat as follows:—

F. C. Do you consider, Sir, what it is you are about? Surely, you have been proving a vast deal too much! If the foregoing be a fair sample of the Text of the N. T. with which Clemens Alex. was best acquainted, it is plain that the testimony to the Truth of Scripture borne by one of the most ancient and most famous of the Fathers, is absolutely worthless. Is that your own deliberate conviction or not?

Q. R. Finish what you have to say, Sir. After that, you shall have a full reply.


(8) F. C. Well then. Pray understand, I nothing doubt that in your main contention you are right; but I yet cannot help thinking that this bringing in of a famous ancient Father—obiter—is a very damaging proceeding. What else is such an elaborate exposure of the badness of the Text which Clemens (a.d. 150) employed, but the hopeless perplexing of a question which was already sufficiently thorny and difficult? You have, as it seems to me, imported into these 15 verses an entirely fresh crop of Various Readings. Do you seriously propose them as a contribution towards ascertaining the ipsissima verba of the Evangelist,—the true text of S. Mark x. 17-31?

Q. R. Come back, if you please, Sir, to the company. Fully appreciating the friendly spirit in which you just now drew me aside, I yet insist on so making my reply that all the world shall hear it. Forgive my plainness: but you are evidently profoundly unacquainted with the problem before you,—in which however you do not by any means enjoy the distinction of standing alone.

The foulness of a Text which must have been penned within 70 or 80 years of the death of the last of the Evangelists, is a matter of fact—which must be loyally accepted, and made the best of. The phenomenon is surprising certainly; and may well be a warning to all who (like Dr. Tregelles) regard as oracular the solitary unsupported dicta of a Writer,—provided only he can claim to have lived in the IInd or IIIrd century. To myself it occasions no sort of inconvenience. You are to be told that the exorbitances of a single Father,—as Clemens; a single Version,—as the Egyptian: a single Copy,—as cod. b, are of no manner of significancy or use, except as warnings: are of no manner of interest, except as illustrating the depravation which systematically assailed the written Word in the age which immediately succeeded the Apostolic: are, in fact, of no 330 importance whatever. To make them the basis of an induction is preposterous. It is not allowable to infer the universal from the particular. If the bones of Goliath were to be discovered to-morrow, would you propose as an induction therefrom that it was the fashion to wear four-and-twenty fingers and toes on one's hands and feet in the days of the giant of Gath? All the wild readings of the lost Codex before us may be unceremoniously dismissed. The critical importance and value of this stray leaf from a long-since-vanished Copy is entirely different, and remains to be explained.

You are to remember then,—perhaps you have yet to learn,—that there are but 25 occasions in the course of these 15 verses, on which either Lachmann (L.), or Tischendorf (T.), or Tregelles (Tr.), or Westcott and Hort (W. H.), or our Revisionists (R. T.), advocate a departure from the Traditional Text. To those 25 places therefore our attention is now to be directed,—on them, our eyes are to be riveted,—exclusively. And the first thing which strikes us as worthy of notice is, that the 5 authorities above specified fall into no fewer than twelve distinct combinations in their advocacy of certain of those 25 readings: holding all 5 together only 4 times.756756Besides,—All but L. conspire 5 times. All but T. 3 times. All but Tr. 1 time. Then,—T. Tr. WH. combine 2 times T. WH. RT. 1 time Tr. WH. RT. 1 time L. Tr. WH. 1 time Then,—L. T. stand by themselves 1 time L. Tr. 1 time T. WH. 1 time Lastly,—L. stands alone 4 times. Total: 21. The one question of interest therefore which arises, 331 is this,—What amount of sanction do any of them experience at the hands of Clemens Alexandrinus?

I answer,—Only on 3 occasions does he agree with any of them.757757Twice he agrees with all 5: viz. omitting ἄρας τὸν σταυρόν in ver. 21; and in omitting ῆ γυναῖκα (in ver. 29):—Once he agrees with only Lachmann: viz. in transposing ταῦτα πάντα (in ver. 20). The result of a careful analysis shows further that he sides with the Traditional Text 17 times:—witnessing against Lachmann, 9 times: against Tischendorf, 10 times: against Tregelles, 11 times: against Westcott and Hort, 12 times.758758On the remaining 5 occasions (17 + 3 + 5 = 25), Clemens exhibits peculiar readings of his own,—sides with no one.

So far therefore from admitting that the Testimony of Clemens Al.—one of the most ancient and most famous of the Fathers—is absolutely worthless,—I have proved it to be of very great value. Instead of hopelessly perplexing the question, his Evidence is found to have simplified matters considerably. So far from importing into these 15 verses a fresh crop of Various Readings, he has helped us to get rid of no less than 17 of the existing ones.... Damaging his evidence has certainly proved: but only to Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort and our ill-starred Revisionists. And yet it remains undeniably true, that it is impossible to produce a fouler exhibition of S. Mark x. 17-31 than is met with in a document full two centuries older than either b or א,—the property of one of the most famous of the Fathers.759759Q. R. p. 360. ... Have you anything further to ask?

(9) F. C. I should certainly like, in conclusion, to be informed whether we are to infer that the nearer we approach to the date of the sacred Autographs, the more corrupt we 332 shall find the copies. For, if so, pray—Where and when did purity of Text begin?

Q. R. You are not at liberty, logically, to draw any such inference from the premisses. The purest documents of all existed perforce in the first century: must have then existed. The spring is perforce purest at its source. My whole contention has been, and is,—That there is nothing at all unreasonable in the supposition that two stray copies of the IVth century,—coming down to our own times without a history and without a character,—may exhibit a thoroughly depraved text. More than this does not follow lawfully from the premisses. At the outset, remember, you delivered it as your opinion that the oldest Manuscript we possess, if it be but a very ancient one, must needs be the purest. I asserted, in reply, that it does not by any means follow, because a manuscript is very ancient, that therefore its text will be very pure (p. 321); and all that I have been since saying, has but had for its object to prove the truth of my assertion. Facts have been incidentally elicited, I admit, calculated to inspire distrust, rather than confidence, in very ancient documents generally. But I am neither responsible for these facts; nor for the inferences suggested by them.

At all events, I have to request that you will not carry away so entirely erroneous a notion as that I am the advocate for Recent, in preference to Ancient, Evidence concerning the Text of Scripture. Be so obliging as not to say concerning me that I count instead of weighing my witnesses. If you have attended to the foregoing pages, and have understood them, you must by this time be aware that in every instance it is to Antiquity that I persistently make my appeal. I abide by its sentence, and I require that you shall do the same.


You and your friends, on the contrary, reject the Testimony of Antiquity. You set up, instead, some idol of your own. Thus, Tregelles worshipped codex b. But codex b is not Antiquity!—Tischendorf assigned the place of honour to codex א. But once more, codex א is not Antiquity!—You rejoice in the decrees of the VIth-century-codex d,—and of the VIIIth-century-codex l,—and of the Xth, XIth, and XIVth century codices, 1, 33, 69. But will you venture to tell me that any of these are Antiquity? Samples of Antiquity, at best, are any of these. No more! But then, it is demonstrable that they are unfair samples. Why are you regardless of all other Copies?—So, with respect to Versions, and Fathers. You single out one or two,—the one or two which suit your purpose; and you are for rejecting all the rest. But, once more,—The Coptic version is not Antiquity,—neither is Origen Antiquity. The Syriac Version is a full set-off against the former,—Irenæus more than counterbalances the latter. Whatever is found in one of these ancient authorities must confessedly be an ancient Reading: but it does not therefore follow that it is the ancient Reading of the place. Now, it is the ancient Reading, of which we are always in search. And he who sincerely desires to ascertain what actually is the Witness of Antiquity,—(i.e., what is the prevailing testimony of all the oldest documents,)—will begin by casting his prejudices and his predilections to the winds, and will devote himself conscientiously to an impartial survey of the whole field of Evidence.

F. C. Well but,—you have once and again admitted that the phenomena before us are extraordinary. Are you able to explain how it comes to pass that such an one as Clemens Alexandrinus employed such a scandalously corrupt copy of the Gospels as we have been considering?


Q. R. You are quite at liberty to ask me any question you choose. And I, for my own part, am willing to return you the best answer I am able. You will please to remember however, that the phenomena will remain,—however infelicitous my attempts to explain them may seem to yourself. My view of the matter then—(think what you will about it!)—is as follows:—

LVII. Vanquished by the word Incarnate, Satan next directed his subtle malice against the Word written. Hence, as I think,—hence the extraordinary fate which befel certain early transcripts of the Gospel. First, heretical assailants of Christianity,—then, orthodox defenders of the Truth,—lastly and above all, self-constituted Critics, who (like Dr. Hort) imagined themselves at liberty to resort to instinctive processes of Criticism; and who, at first as well as at last, freely made their appeal to the individual mind:such were the corrupting influences which were actively at work throughout the first hundred and fifty years after the death of S. John the Divine. Profane literature has never known anything approaching to it,—can show nothing at all like it. Satan's arts were defeated indeed through the Church's faithfulness, because,—(the good Providence of God had so willed it,)—the perpetual multiplication, in every quarter, of copies required for Ecclesiastical use,—not to say the solicitude of faithful men in diverse regions of ancient Christendom to retain for themselves unadulterated specimens of the inspired Text,—proved a sufficient safeguard against the grosser forms of corruption. But this was not all.

The Church, remember, hath been from the beginning the Witness and Keeper of Holy Writ.760760Article xx. § 1. Did not her Divine Author pour out upon her, in largest measure, the 335 Spirit of Truth; and pledge Himself that it should be that Spirit's special function to guide her children into all the Truth761761Εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν.—S. John xvi. 13.?... That by a perpetual miracle, Sacred Manuscripts would be protected all down the ages against depraving influences of whatever sort,—was not to have been expected; certainly, was never promised. But the Church, in her collective capacity, hath nevertheless—as a matter of fact—been perpetually purging herself of those shamefully depraved copies which once everywhere abounded within her pale: retaining only such an amount of discrepancy in her Text as might serve to remind her children that they carry their treasure in earthen vessels,—as well as to stimulate them to perpetual watchfulness and solicitude for the purity and integrity of the Deposit. Never, however, up to the present hour, hath there been any complete eradication of all traces of the attempted mischief,—any absolute getting rid of every depraved copy extant. These are found to have lingered on anciently in many quarters. A few such copies linger on to the present day. The wounds were healed, but the scars remained,—nay, the scars are discernible still.

What, in the meantime, is to be thought of those blind guides—those deluded ones—who would now, if they could, persuade us to go back to those same codices of which the Church hath already purged herself? to go back in quest of those very Readings which, 15 or 1600 years ago, the Church in all lands is found to have rejected with loathing? Verily, it is happening unto them according to the true proverb—which S. Peter sets down in his 2nd Epistle,—chapter ii. verse 22. To proceed however.

As for Clemens,—he lived at the very time and in the very country where the mischief referred to was most rife. For full two centuries after his era, heretical works were so 336 industriously multiplied, that in a diocese consisting of 800 parishes (viz. Cyrus in Syria), the Bishop (viz. Theodoret, who was appointed in a.d. 423,) complains that he found no less than 200 copies of the Diatessaron of Tatian the heretic,—(Tatian's date being a.d. 173,)—honourably preserved in the Churches of his (Theodoret's) diocese, and mistaken by the orthodox for an authentic performance.762762Theodoret, Opp. iv. 208.—Comp. Clinton, F. R. ii. Appendix, p. 473. Clemens moreover would seem to have been a trifle too familiar with the works of Basilides, Marcion, Valentinus, Heracleon, and the rest of the Gnostic crew. He habitually mistakes apocryphal writings for inspired Scripture:763763The reader is invited to enquire for Bp. Kaye (of Lincoln)'s Account of the writings of Clement of Alexandria,—and to read the vith and viiith chapters. and—with corrupted copies always at hand and before him—he is just the man to present us with a quotation like the present, and straightway to volunteer the assurance that he found it so written in the Gospel according to S. Mark.764764Ταῦτα μὲν ἐν τῷ κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίῳ γέγραπται. (§ v.),—p. 938. The archetype of Codices b and א,—especially the archetype from which Cod. d was copied,—is discovered to have experienced adulteration largely from the same pestilential source which must have corrupted the copies with which Clement (and his pupil Origen after him) were most familiar.—And thus you have explained to you the reason of the disgust and indignation with which I behold in these last days a resolute attempt made to revive and to palm off upon an unlearned generation the old exploded errors, under the pretence that they are the inspired Verity itself,—providentially recovered from a neglected shelf in the Vatican,—rescued from destruction by a chance visitor to Mount Sinai.

F. C. Will you then, in conclusion, tell us how you would have us proceed in order to ascertain the Truth of Scripture?


Q. R. To answer that question fully would require a considerable Treatise. I will not, however, withhold a slight outline of what I conceive to be the only safe method of procedure. I could but fill up that outline, and illustrate that method, even if I had 500 pages at my disposal.

LVIII. On first seriously applying ourselves to these studies, many years ago, we found it wondrous difficult to divest ourselves of prepossessions very like your own. Turn which way we would, we were encountered by the same confident terminology:—the best documents,primary manuscripts,first-rate authorities,primitive evidence,ancient readings,—and so forth: and we found that thereby cod. a. or b,—cod. c or d—were invariably and exclusively meant. It was not until we had laboriously collated these documents (including א) for ourselves, that we became aware of their true character. Long before coming to the end of our task (and it occupied us, off and on, for eight years) we had become convinced that the supposed best documents and first-rate authorities are in reality among the worst:—that these Copies deserve to be called primary, only because in any enumeration of manuscripts, they stand foremost;—and that their Evidence, whether primitive or not, is contradictory throughout.—All Readings, lastly, we discovered are ancient.

A diligent inspection of a vast number of later Copies scattered throughout the principal libraries of Europe, and the exact Collation of a few, further convinced us that the deference generally claimed for b, א, c, d is nothing else but a weak superstition and a vulgar error:—that the date of a MS. is not of its essence, but is a mere accident of the problem:—and that later Copies, so far from crumbling down salient points, softening irregularities, conforming 338 differences,765765Alford's N. T. vol. i. proleg. p. 92. and so forth,—on countless occasions, and as a rule,—preserve those delicate lineaments and minute refinements which the old uncials are constantly observed to obliterate. And so, rising to a systematic survey of the entire field of Evidence, we found reason to suspect more and more the soundness of the conclusions at which Lachmann, Tregelles, and Tischendorf had arrived: while we seemed led, as if by the hand, to discern plain indications of the existence for ourselves of a far more excellent way.

LIX. For, let the ample and highly complex provision which Divine Wisdom hath made for the effectual conservation of that crowning master-piece of His own creative skill,—The Written Word,—be duly considered; and surely a recoil is inevitable from the strange perversity which in these last days would shut us up within the limits of a very few documents to the neglect of all the rest,—as though a revelation from Heaven had proclaimed that the Truth is to be found exclusively in them. The good Providence of the Author of Scripture is discovered to have furnished His household, the Church, with (speaking roughly) 1000 copies of the Gospels:—with twenty Versions—two of which go back to the beginning of Christianity: and with the writings of a host of ancient Fathers. Why out of those 1000 MSS. two should be singled out by Drs. Westcott and Hort for special favour,—to the practical disregard of all the rest: why Versions and Fathers should by them be similarly dealt with,—should be practically set aside in fact in the lump,—we fail to discover. Certainly the pleas urged by the learned Editors766766See p. 197 (§ 269): and p. 201 (§ 275-9):—and p. 205 (§ 280). can appear satisfactory to no one but to themselves.

LX. For our method then,—It is the direct contradictory to that adopted by the two Cambridge Professors. Moreover, 339 it conducts us throughout to directly opposite results. We hold it to be even axiomatic that a Reading which is supported by only one document,—out of the 1100 (more or less) already specified,—whether that solitary unit be a Father, a Version, or a Copy,—stands self-condemned; may be dismissed at once, without concern or enquiry.

Nor is the case materially altered if (as generally happens) a few colleagues of bad character are observed to side with the else solitary document. Associated with the corrupt b, is often found the more corrupt א. Nay, six leaves of א are confidently declared by Tischendorf to have been written by the scribe of b. The sympathy between these two, and the Version of Lower Egypt, is even notorious. That Origen should sometimes join the conspiracy,—and that the same Reading should find allies in certain copies of the unrevised Latin, or perhaps in Cureton's Syriac:—all this we deem the reverse of encouraging. The attesting witnesses are, in our account, of so suspicious a character, that the Reading cannot be allowed. On such occasions, we are reminded that there is truth in Dr. Hort's dictum concerning the importance of noting the tendency of certain documents to fall into groups: though his assertion that it cannot be too often repeated that the study of grouping is the foundation of all enduring Criticism,767767Preface (1870), p. xv. we hold to be as absurd as it is untrue.

LXI. So far negatively.—A safer, the only trustworthy method, in fact, of ascertaining the Truth of Scripture, we hold to be the method which,—without prejudice or partiality,—simply ascertains which form of the text enjoys the earliest, the fullest, the widest, the most respectable, and—above all things—the most varied attestation. That a Reading should be freely recognized alike by the earliest 340 and by the latest available evidence,—we hold to be a prime circumstance in its favour. That Copies, Versions, and Fathers, should all three concur in sanctioning it,—we hold to be even more conclusive. If several Fathers, living in different parts of ancient Christendom, are all observed to recognize the words, or to quote them in the same way,—we have met with all the additional confirmation we ordinarily require. Let it only be further discoverable how or why the rival Reading came into existence, and our confidence becomes absolute.

LXII. An instance which we furnished in detail in a former article,768768See above, pp. 79 to 85. may be conveniently appealed to in illustration of what goes before. Our Lord's Agony and bloody sweat,—first mentioned by Justin Martyr (a.d. 150), is found set down in every MS. in the world except four. It is duly exhibited by every known Version. It is recognized by upwards of forty famous Fathers writing without concert in remote parts of ancient Christendom. Whether therefore Antiquity,—Variety of testimony,—Respectability of witnesses,—or Number,—is considered, the evidence in favour of S. Luke xxii. 43, 44 is simply overwhelming. And yet out of superstitious deference to two Copies of bad character, Drs. Westcott and Hort (followed by the Revisionists) set the brand of spuriousness on those 26 precious words; professing themselves morally certain that this is nothing else but a Western Interpolation: whereas, mistaken zeal for the honour of Incarnate Jehovah alone occasioned the suppression of these two verses in a few early manuscripts. This has been explained already,—namely, in the middle of page 82.

LXIII. Only one other instance shall be cited. The traditional reading of S. Luke ii. 14 is vouched for by every 341 known copy of the Gospels but four—3 of which are of extremely bad character, viz. א b d. The Versions are divided: but not the Fathers: of whom more than forty-seven from every part of ancient Christendom,—(Syria, Palestine, Alexandria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete, Gaul,)—come back to attest that the traditional reading (as usual) is the true one. Yet such is the infatuation of the new school, that Drs. Westcott and Hort are content to make nonsense of the Angelic Hymn on the night of the Nativity, rather than admit the possibility of complicity in error in א b d: error in respect of a single letter!... The Reader is invited to refer to what has already been offered on this subject, from p. 41 to p. 47.

LXIV. It will be perceived therefore that the method we plead for consists merely in a loyal recognition of the whole of the Evidence: setting off one authority against another, laboriously and impartially; and adjudicating fairly between them all. Even so hopelessly corrupt a document as Clement of Alexandria's copy of the Gospels proves to have been—(described at pp. 326-31)—is by no means without critical value. Servilely followed, it would confessedly land us in hopeless error: but, judiciously employed, as a set-off against other evidence; regarded rather as a check upon the exorbitances of other foul documents, (e.g. b א c and especially d); resorted to as a protection against the prejudice and caprice of modern Critics;—that venerable document, with all its faults, proves invaluable. Thus, in spite of its own aberrations, it witnesses to the truth of the Traditional Text of S. Mark x. 17-31—(the place of Scripture above referred to769769Pp. 359-60.)—in several important particulars; siding with it against Lachmann, 9 times;—against Tischendorf, 10 times;—against Tregelles, 11 times;—against Westcott and Hort, 12 times.


We deem this laborious method the only true method, in our present state of imperfect knowledge: the method, namely, of adopting that Reading which has the fullest, the widest, and the most varied attestation. Antiquity, and Respectability of Witnesses, are thus secured. How men can persuade themselves that 19 Copies out of every 20 may be safely disregarded, if they be but written in minuscule characters,—we fail to understand. To ourselves it seems simply an irrational proceeding. But indeed we hold this to be no seeming truth. The fact is absolutely demonstrable. As for building up a Text, (as Drs. Westcott and Hort have done,) with special superstitious deference to a single codex,—we deem it about as reasonable as would be the attempt to build up a pyramid from its apex; in the expectation that it would stand firm on its extremity, and remain horizontal for ever.

And thus much in reply to our supposed Questioner. We have now reached the end of a prolonged discussion, which began at page 320; more immediately, at page 337.

LXV. In the meantime, a pyramid balanced on its apex proves to be no unapt image of the Textual theory of Drs. Westcott and Hort. When we reach the end of their Introduction we find we have reached the point to which all that went before has been evidently converging: but we make the further awkward discovery that it is the point on which all that went before absolutely depends also. Apart from codex b, the present theory could have no existence. But for codex b, it would never have been excogitated. On codex b, it entirely rests. Out of codex b, it has entirely sprung.

Take away this one codex, and Dr. Hort's volume becomes absolutely without coherence, purpose, meaning. One-fifth 343 of it770770P. 210 to p. 287. See the Contents, pp. xxiii.-xxviii. is devoted to remarks on b and א. The fable of the Syrian text is invented solely for the glorification of b and א,—which are claimed, of course, to be Pre-Syrian. This fills 40 pages more.771771Pp. 91-119 and pp. 133-146. And thus it would appear that the Truth of Scripture has run a very narrow risk of being lost for ever to mankind. Dr. Hort contends that it more than half lay perdu on a forgotten shelf in the Vatican Library;—Dr. Tischendorf, that it had been deposited in a waste-paper basket772772I perceived a large and wide basket full of old parchments; and the librarian told me that two heaps like this had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers, &c.—(Narrative of the discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript, p. 23.) in the convent of S. Catharine at the foot of Mount Sinai,—from which he rescued it on the 4th February, 1859:—neither, we venture to think, a very likely circumstance. We incline to believe that the Author of Scripture hath not by any means shown Himself so unmindful of the safety of the Deposit, as these distinguished gentlemen imagine.

Are we asked for the ground of our opinion? We point without hesitation to the 998 Copies which remain: to the many ancient Versions: to the many venerable Fathers,—any one of whom we hold to be a more trustworthy authority for the Text of Scripture, when he speaks out plainly, than either Codex b or Codex א,—aye, or than both of them put together. Behold, (we say,) the abundant provision which the All-wise One hath made for the safety of the Deposit: the threefold cord which is not quickly broken! We hope to be forgiven if we add, (not without a little warmth,) that we altogether wonder at the perversity, the infatuation, the blindness,—which is prepared to make light of all these precious helps, in order to magnify two of the most corrupt 344 codices in existence; and that, for no other reason but because, (as Dr. Hort expresses it,) they happen likewise to be the oldest extant Greek MSS. of the New Testament. (p. 212.)

LXVI. And yet, had what precedes been the sum of the matter, we should for our own parts have been perfectly well content to pass it by without a syllable of comment. So long as nothing more is endangered than the personal reputation of a couple of Scholars—at home or abroad—we can afford to look on with indifference. Their private ventures are their private concern. What excites our indignation is the spectacle of the Church of England becoming to some extent involved in their discomfiture, because implicated in their mistakes: dragged through the mire, to speak plainly, at the chariot-wheels of these two infelicitous Doctors, and exposed with them to the ridicule of educated Christendom. Our Church has boasted till now of learned sons in abundance within her pale, ready at a moment's notice to do her right: to expose shallow sciolism, and to vindicate that precious thing which hath been committed to her trust.773773τὴν παρακαταθήκην.—1 Tim. vi. 20. Where are the men now? What has come to her, that, on the contrary, certain of her own Bishops and Doctors have not scrupled to enter into an irregular alliance with Sectarians,—yes, have even taken into partnership with themselves one who openly denies the eternal Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ,—in order, as it would seem, to give proof to the world of the low ebb to which Taste, Scholarship, and Sacred Learning have sunk among us?

LXVII. Worse yet. We are so distressed, because the true sufferers after all by this ill-advised proceeding, are the 90 millions of English-speaking Christian folk scattered over 345 the surface of the globe. These have had the title-deeds by which they hold their priceless birthright, shamefully tampered with. Who will venture to predict the amount of mischief which must follow, if the New Greek Text which has been put forth by the men who were appointed to revise the English Authorized Version, should become used in our Schools and in our Colleges,—should impose largely on the Clergy of the Church of England?... But to return from this, which however will scarcely be called a digression.

A pyramid poised on its apex then, we hold to be a fair emblem of the Theory just now under review. Only, unfortunately, its apex is found to be constructed of brick without straw: say rather of straw—without brick.

LXVIII. Why such partiality has been evinced latterly for Cod. b, none of the Critics have yet been so good as to explain; nor is it to be expected that, satisfactorily, any of them ever will. Why again Tischendorf should have suddenly transferred his allegiance from Cod. b to Cod. א,—unless, to be sure, he was the sport of parental partiality,—must also remain a riddle. If one of the old uncials must needs be taken as a guide,—(though we see no sufficient reason why one should be appointed to lord it over the rest,)—we should rather have expected that Cod. a would have been selected,774774[While this sheet is passing through the press, I find among my papers a note (written in 1876) by the learned, loved, and lamented Editor of Cyril,—Philip E. Pusey,—with whom I used to be in constant communication:—It is not obvious to me, looking at the subject from outside, why b c l, constituting a class of MSS. allied to each other, and therefore nearly = 1-½ MSS., are to be held to be superior to a. It is still less obvious to me why —— showing up (as he does) very many grave faults of b, should yet consider b superior in character to a.]—the text of which Stands in broad contrast to those of either b or א, though the interval of years [between it and them] is probably small. 346 (p. 152.) By a curious and apparently unnoticed coincidence, (proceeds Dr. Hort,) its Text in several books agrees with the Latin Vulgate in so many peculiar readings devoid of old Latin attestation, as to leave little doubt that a Greek MS. largely employed by Jerome—[and why not the Greek copies employed by Jerome?]—in his Revision of the Latin version must have had to a great extent a common original with a. (Ibid.)

Behold a further claim of this copy on the respectful consideration of the Critics! What would be thought of the Alexandrian Codex, if some attestation were discoverable in its pages that it actually had belonged to the learned Palestinian father? According to Dr. Hort,

Apart from this individual affinity, a—both in the Gospels and elsewhere—may serve as a fair example of the Manuscripts that, to judge by Patristic quotations, were commonest in the IVth century.—(p. 152.)

O but, the evidence in favour of Codex a thickens apace! Suppose then,—(for, after this admission, the supposition is at least allowable,)—suppose the discovery were made tomorrow of half-a-score of codices of the same date as Cod. b, but exhibiting the same Text as Cod. a. What a complete revolution would be thereby effected in men's minds on Textual matters! How impossible would it be, henceforth, for b and its henchman א, to obtain so much as a hearing! Such an eleven would safely defy the world! And yet, according to Dr. Hort, the supposition may any day become a fact; for he informs us,—(and we are glad to be able for once to declare that what he says is perfectly correct,)—that such manuscripts once abounded or rather prevailed;were commonest in the IVth century, when codices b and א were written. We presume that then, as now, such codices prevailed universally, in the proportion of 99 to 1.

LXIX. But—what need to say it?—we entirely disallow any such narrowing of the platform which Divine Wisdom 347 hath willed should be at once very varied and very ample. Cod. a is sometimes in error: sometimes even conspires in error exclusively with Cod. b. An instance occurs in 1 S. John v. 18,—a difficult passage, which we the more willingly proceed to remark upon, because the fact has transpired that it is one of the few places in which entire unanimity prevailed among the Revisionists,—who yet (as we shall show) have been, one and all, mistaken in substituting him (αὐτόν) for himself (ἑαυτόν).... We venture to bespeak the Reader's attention while we produce the passage in question, and briefly examine it. He is assured that it exhibits a fair average specimen of what has been the Revisionists' fatal method in every page:—

LXX. S. John in his first Epistle (v. 18) is distinguishing between the mere recipient of the new birth (ὁ ΓΕΝΝΗΘΕῚΣ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ),—and the man who retains the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit which he received when he became regenerate (ὁ ΓΕΓΕΝΝΗΜΈΝΟΣ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ). The latter (he says) sinneth not: the former, (he says,) keepeth himself, and the Evil One toucheth him not. So far, all is intelligible. The nominative is the same in both cases. Substitute however keepeth him (αὐτόν), for keepeth himself (ἑαυτόν), and (as Dr. Scrivener admits775775Introduction, p. 567.), ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ can be none other than the Only Begotten Son of God. And yet our Lord is nowhere in the New Testament designated as ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ.776776Let the following places be considered: S. Jo. i. 13; iii. 3, 5, 6, 7, 8; 1 Jo. ii. 29; iii. 9 bis, iv. 7; v. 1 bis, 4, 18 bis. Why is it to be supposed that on this last occasion the Eternal Son should be intended? Alford accordingly prefers to make nonsense of the place; which he translates,—he that hath been begotten of God, it keepeth him.


LXXI. Now, on every occasion like the present,—(instead of tampering with the text, as Dr. Hort and our Revisionists have done without explanation or apology,)—our safety will be found to consist in enquiring,—But (1) What have the Copies to say to this? (2) What have the Versions? and (3) What, the Fathers?... The answer proves to be—(1) All the copies except three,777777a*, b, 105. read himself.—(2) So do the Syriac and the Latin;778778The paraphrase is interesting. The Vulgate, Jerome [ii. 321, 691], Cassian [p. 409],—Sed generatio Dei conservat eum: Chromatius [Gall. viii. 347], and Vigilius Taps. [ap. Athanas. ii. 646],—Quia (quoniam) nativitas Dei custodit (servat) illum. In a letter of 5 Bishops to Innocentius I. (a.d. 410) [Galland. viii. 598 b], it is,—Nativitas quæ ex Deo est. Such a rendering (viz. his having been born of God) amounts to an interpretation of the place.—so do the Coptic, Sahidic, Georgian, Armenian, and Æthiopic versions.779779From the Rev. S. C. Malan, D.D.—(3) So, Origen clearly thrice,780780iv. 326 b c.—Didymus clearly 4 times,781781Gall. viii. 347,—of which the Greek is to be seen in Cramer's Cat. pp. 143-4. Many portions of the lost Text of this Father, (the present passage included [p. 231]) are to be found in the Scholia published by C. F. Matthæi [N. T. xi. 181 to 245-7].—Ephraem Syrus clearly twice,782782i. 94, 97.—Severus also twice,783783In Cat. p. 124, repeated p. 144.—Theophylact expressly,784784iii. 433 c.—and Œcumenius.785785ii. 601 d.—So, indeed, Cod. a; for the original Scribe is found to have corrected himself.786786By putting a small uncial Ε above the Α. The sum of the adverse attestation therefore which prevailed with the Revisionists, is found to have been—Codex b and a single cursive copy at Moscow.

This does not certainly seem to the Reviewer, (as it seemed to the Revisionists,) decidedly preponderating evidence. In his account, plain and clear error dwells with their Revision. But this may be because,—(to quote words recently addressed by the President of the Revising body to the Clergy 349 and Laity of the Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol,)—the Quarterly Reviewer is innocently ignorant of the now established principles of Textual Criticism.787787Diocesan Progress, Jan. 1882.—[pp. 20] p. 19.

LXXII. It is easy,—(says the learned Prelate, speaking on his own behalf and that of his co-Revisionists,)—to put forth to the world a sweeping condemnation of many of our changes of reading; and yet all the while to be innocently ignorant of the now established principles of Textual Criticism.

May we venture to point out, that it is easier still to denounce adverse Criticism in the lump, instead of trying to refute it in any one particular:—to refer vaguely to established principles of Textual Criticism, instead of stating which they be:—to sneer contemptuously at endeavours, (which, even if unsuccessful, one is apt to suppose are entitled to sympathy at the hands of a successor of the Apostles,) instead of showing wherein such efforts are reprehensible? We are content to put the following question to any fair-minded man:—Whether of these two is the more facile and culpable proceeding;—(1) Lightly to blot out an inspired word from the Book of Life, and to impose a wrong sense on Scripture, as in this place the Bishop and his colleagues are found to have done:—or, (2) To fetch the same word industriously back: to establish its meaning by diligent and laborious enquiry: to restore both to their rightful honours: and to set them on a basis of (hitherto unobserved) evidence, from which (faxit DEUS!) it will be found impossible henceforth to dislodge them?

This only will the Reviewer add,—That if it be indeed one of the now established principles of Textual Criticism, 350 that the evidence of two manuscripts and-a-half outweighs the evidence of (1) All the remaining 997-½,—(2) The whole body of the Versions,—(3) Every Father who quotes the place, from a.d. 210 to a.d. 1070,—and (4) The strongest possible internal Evidence:—if all this indeed be so,—he devoutly trusts that he may be permitted to retain his Innocence to the last; and in his Ignorance, when the days of his warfare are ended, to close his eyes in death.—And now to proceed.

LXXIII. The Nemesis of Superstition and Idolatry is ever the same. Phantoms of the imagination henceforth usurp the place of substantial forms. Interminable doubt,—wretched misbelief,—childish credulity,—judicial blindness,—are the inevitable sequel and penalty. The mind that has long allowed itself in a systematic trifling with Evidence, is observed to fall the easiest prey to Imposture. It has doubted what is demonstrably true: has rejected what is indubitably Divine. Henceforth, it is observed to mistake its own fantastic creations for historical facts: to believe things which rest on insufficient evidence, or on no evidence at all. Thus, these learned Professors,—who condemn the last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark; which have been accounted veritable Scripture by the Church Universal for more than 1800 years;—nevertheless accept as the genuine Diatessaron of Tatian [a.d. 170], a production which was discovered yesterday, and which does not even claim to be the work of that primitive writer.788788Introduction, p. 283. Notes, pp. 3, 22, and passim.

Yes, the Nemesis of Superstition and Idolatry is ever the same. General mistrust of all evidence is the sure result. In 1870, Drs. Westcott and Hort solemnly assured their 351 brother-Revisionists that the prevalent assumption that throughout the N. T. the true Text is to be found somewhere among recorded Readings, does not stand the test of experience. They are evidently still haunted by the same spectral suspicion. They invent a ghost to be exorcised in every dark corner. Accordingly, Dr. Hort favours us with a chapter on the Art of removing Corruptions of the sacred Text antecedent to extant documents (p. 71). We are not surprised (though we are a little amused) to hear that,—

The Art of Conjectural Emendation depends for its success so much on personal endowments, fertility of resource in the first instance, and even more an appreciation of language too delicate to acquiesce in merely plausible corrections, that it is easy to forget its true character as a critical operation founded on knowledge and method.—(p. 71.)

LXXIV. Very easy, certainly. One sample of Dr. Hort's skill in this department, (it occurs at page 135 of his Notes on Select Readings,) shall be cited in illustration. We venture to commend it to the attention of our Readers:—

(a) S. Paul [2 Tim. i. 13] exhorts Timothy, (whom he had set as Bp. over the Church of Ephesus,) to hold fast a certain form or pattern (ὑποτύπωσιν) of sound words, which (said he) thou hast heard of me. The flexibility and delicate precision of the Greek language enables the Apostle to indicate exactly what was the prime object of his solicitude. It proves to have been the safety of the very words which he had syllabled, (ὑγιαινόντων λόγων ὯΝ παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἤκουσασ). As learned Bp. Beveridge well points out,—which words, not which form, thou hast heard of me. So that it is not so much the form, as the words themselves, which the Apostle would have him to hold fast.789789Sermons, vol. i. 132,—(A form of sound words to be used by Ministers.)


All this however proves abhorrent to Dr. Hort. This sense (says the learned Professor) cannot be obtained from the text except by treating ὧν as put in the genitive by an unusual and inexplicable attraction. It seems more probable that ὧν is a primitive corruption of ὅν after πάντων.

Now, this is quite impossible, since neither ὅν nor πάντων occurs anywhere in the neighbourhood. And as for the supposed unusual and inexplicable attraction, it happens to be one of even common occurrence,—as every attentive reader of the New Testament is aware. Examples of it may be seen at 2 Cor. i. 4 and Ephes. iv. 1,—also (in Dr. Hort's text of) Ephes. i. 6 (ἧς in all 3 places). Again, in S. Luke v. 9 (whether ᾗ or ὧν is read): and vi. 38 (ῷ):—in S. Jo. xv. 20 (οὗ):—and xvii. 11 (ᾧ): in Acts ii. 22 (οἷς): vii. 17 (ἧς) and 45 (ὧν): in xxii. 15 (ὧν),&c.... But why entertain the question? There is absolutely no room for such Criticism in respect of a reading which is found in every known MS.,—in every known Version,—in every Father who quotes the place: a reading which Divines, and Scholars who were not Divines,—Critics of the Text, and grammarians who were without prepossessions concerning Scripture,—Editors of the Greek and Translators of the Greek into other languages,—all alike have acquiesced in, from the beginning until now.

We venture to assert that it is absolutely unlawful, in the entire absence of evidence, to call such a reading as the present in question. There is absolutely no safeguard for Scripture—no limit to Controversy—if a place like this may be solicited at the mere suggestion of individual caprice. (For it is worth observing that on this, and similar occasions, Dr. Hort is forsaken by Dr. Westcott. Such notes are enclosed in brackets, and subscribed H.) In the meantime, who can forbear smiling at the self-complacency of a Critic who 353 puts forth remarks like those which precede; and yet congratulates himself on personal endowments, fertility of resource, and a too delicate appreciation of language?

(b) Another specimen of conjectural extravagance occurs at S. John vi. 4, where Dr. Hort labours to throw suspicion on the Passover (τὸ πάσχα),—in defiance of every known Manuscript,—every known Version,—and every Father who quotes or recognizes the place.790790Quoted by ps.-Ephraem Evan. Conc. p. 135 l. 2:—Nonnus:—Chrys. viii. 248:—Cyril iv. 269 e, 270 a, 273:—Cramer's Cat. p. 242 l. 25 (which is not from Chrys.):—Chron. Paschale 217 a (diserte).—Recognized by Melito (a.d. 170):—Irenæus (a.d. 177):—Hippolytus (a.d. 190):—Origen:—Eusebius:—Apollinarius Laod., &c. We find nine columns devoted to his vindication of this weak imagination; although so partial are his Notes, that countless various Readings of great interest and importance are left wholly undiscussed. Nay, sometimes entire Epistles are dismissed with a single weak annotation (e.g. 1 and 2 Thessalonians),—or with none, as in the case of the Epistle to the Philippians.

(c) We charitably presume that it is in order to make amends for having conjecturally thrust out τὸ πάσχα from S. John vi. 4,—that Dr. Hort is for conjecturally thrusting into Acts xx. 28, Υἱοῦ (after τοῦ ἰδίου),—an imagination to which he devotes a column and-a-half, but for which he is not able to produce a particle of evidence. It would result in our reading, to feed the Church of God, which He purchased—(not with His own blood, but)—with the blood of His own Son: which has evidently been suggested by nothing so much as by the supposed necessity of getting rid of a text which unequivocally asserts that Christ is God.791791This is the true reason of the eagerness which has been displayed in certain quarters to find ὅς, (not Θεός) in 1 Tim. iii. 16:—just as nothing else but a determination that Christ shall not be spoken of as ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων Θεός, has occasioned the supposed doubt as to the construction of Rom. ix. 5,—in which we rejoice to find that Dr. Westcott refuses to concur with Dr. Hort.


LXXV. Some will be chiefly struck by the conceit and presumption of such suggestions as the foregoing. A yet larger number, as we believe, will be astonished by their essential foolishness. For ourselves, what surprises us most is the fatal misapprehension they evince of the true office of Textual Criticism as applied to the New Testament. It never is to invent new Readings, but only to adjudicate between existing and conflicting ones. He who seeks to thrust out the Passover from S. John vi. 4, (where it may on no account be dispensed with792792See Dr. W. H. Mill's University Sermons (1845),—pp. 301-2 and 305:—a volume which should be found in every clergyman's library.); and to thrust the Son into Acts xx. 28, (where His Name cannot stand without evacuating a grand Theological statement);—will do well to consider whether he does not bring himself directly under the awful malediction with which the beloved Disciple concludes and seals up the Canon of Scripture:—I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book,—If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy City, and from the things which are written in this Book.793793Rev. xxii. 18, 19.

May we be allowed to assure Dr. Hort that Conjectural Emendation can be allowed no place whatever in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament? He will no doubt disregard our counsel. May Dr. Scrivener then 355 [p. 433] be permitted to remind him that it is now agreed among competent judges that Conjectural emendation must never be resorted to,—even in passages of acknowledged difficulty?

There is in fact no need for it,—nor can be: so very ample, as well as so very varied, is the evidence for the words of the New Testament.

LXXVI. Here however we regret to find we have both Editors against us. They propose the definite question,

Are there, as a matter of fact, places in which we are constrained by overwhelming evidence to recognize the existence of Textual error in all extant documents? To this question we have no hesitation in replying in the affirmative.—(p. 279.)

Behold then the deliberate sentence of Drs. Westcott and Hort. They flatter themselves that they are able to produce overwhelming evidence in proof that there are places where every extant document is in error. The instance on which they both rely, is S. Peter's prophetic announcement (2 Pet. iii. 10), that in the day of the Lord, the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (κατακαήσεται).

This statement is found to have been glossed or paraphrased in an age when men knew no better. Thus, Cod. c substitutes—shall vanish away:794794ἀφανισθήσονται. the Syriac and one Egyptian version,—shall not be found, (apparently in imitation of Rev. xvi. 20). But, either because the not was accidentally omitted795795This happens not unfrequently in codices of the type of א and b. A famous instance occurs at Col. ii. 18, (ἂ μὴ ἑώρακεν ἐμβατεύων,—prying into the things he hath not seen); where א* a b d* and a little handful of suspicious documents leave out the not. Our Editors, rather than recognize this blunder (so obvious and ordinary!), are for conjecturing Α ΕΟΡΑΚΕΝ ΕΜΒΑΤΕΥΩΝ into ΑΕΡΑ ΚΕΝΕΜΒΑΤΕΥΩΝ; which (if it means anything at all) may as well mean,—proceeding on an airy foundation to offer an empty conjecture. Dismissing that conjecture as worthless, we have to set off the whole mass of the copies—against some 6 or 7:—Irenæus (i. 847), Theodoras Mops, (in loc.), Chrys. (xi. 372), Theodoret (iii. 489, 490), John Damascene (ii. 211)—against no Fathers at all (for Origen once has μή [iv. 665]; once, has it not [iii. 63]; and once is doubtful [i. 583]). Jerome and Augustine both take notice of the diversity of reading, but only to reject it.—The Syriac versions, the Vulgate, Gothic, Georgian, Sclavonic, Æthiopic, Arabic and Armenian—(we owe the information, as usual, to Dr. Malan)—are to be set against the suspicious Coptic. All these then are with the Traditional Text: which cannot seriously be suspected of error. in some very ancient exemplar;—or 356 else because it was deemed a superfluity by some Occidental critic who in his simplicity supposed that εὑρεθήσεται might well represent the Latin urerentur,—(somewhat as Mrs. Quickly warranted hang hog to be Latin for bacon,)—codices א and b (with four others of later date) exhibit shall be found,796796εὑρεθήσεται.—which obviously makes utter nonsense of the place. (Εὑρεθήσεται appears, nevertheless, in Dr. Hort's text: in consequence of which, the margin of our Revised Version is disfigured with the statement that The most ancient manuscripts read discovered.) But what is there in all this to make one distrust the Traditional reading?—supported as it is by the whole mass of Copies: by the Latin,797797Augustin, vii. 595.—the Coptic,—the Harkleian,—and the Æthiopic Versions:—besides the only Fathers who quote the place; viz. Cyril seven times,798798ii. 467: iii. 865:—ii. 707: iii. 800:—ii. 901. In Luc. pp. 428, 654. and John Damascene799799ii. 347. once?... As for pretending, at the end of the foregoing enquiry, that we are constrained by overwhelming evidence to recognize the existence of textual error in all extant documents,—it is evidently a mistake. Nothing else is it but a misstatement of facts.


LXXVII. And thus, in the entire absence of proof, Dr. Hort's view of the existence of corruptions of the Text antecedent to all existing authority,800800Preface to Provisional issue, p. xxi.—falls to the ground. His confident prediction, that such corruptions will sooner or later have to be acknowledged, may be dismissed with a smile. So indifferent an interpreter of the Past may not presume to forecast the Future.

The one matter of fact, which at every step more and more impresses an attentive student of the Text of Scripture, is,—(1st), The utterly depraved character of Codices b and א: and (2nd), The singular infatuation of Drs. Westcott and Hort in insisting that those 2 Codices stand alone in their almost complete immunity from error:801801Introduction, p. 210.—that the fullest comparison does but increase the conviction that their pre-eminent relative purity is approximately absolute.802802Ibid. p. 276.

LXXVIII. Whence is it,—(we have often asked ourselves the question, while studying these laborious pages,)—How does it happen that a scholar like Dr. Hort, evidently accomplished and able, should habitually mistake the creations of his own brain for material forms? the echoes of his own voice while holding colloquy with himself, for oracular responses? We have not hitherto expressed our astonishment,—but must do so now before we make an end,—that a writer who desires to convince, can suppose that his own arbitrary use of such expressions as Pre-Syrian and Neutral,Western and Alexandrian,Non-Western and Non-Alexandrian,Non-Alexandrian Pre-Syrian and Pre-Syrian Non-Western,—will produce any (except an irritating) effect on the mind of an intelligent reader.

The delusion of supposing that by the free use of such a vocabulary a Critic may dispense with the ordinary processes 358 of logical proof, might possibly have its beginning in the retirement of the cloister, where there are few to listen and none to contradict: but it can only prove abiding if there has been no free ventilation of the individual fancy. Greatly is it to be regretted that instead of keeping his Text a profound secret for 30 years, Dr. Hort did not freely impart it to the public, and solicit the favour of candid criticism.

Has no friend ever reminded him that assertions concerning the presence or absence of a Syrian or a Pre-Syrian, a Western or a Non-Western element, are but wind,—the merest chaff and draff,—apart from proof? Repeated ad nauseam, and employed with as much peremptory precision as if they were recognized terms connoting distinct classes of Readings,—(whereas they are absolutely without significancy, except, let us charitably hope, to him who employs them);—such expressions would only be allowable on the part of the Critic, if he had first been at the pains to index every principal Father,—and to reduce Texts to families by a laborious process of Induction. Else, they are worse than foolish. More than an impertinence are they. They bewilder, and mislead, and for a while encumber and block the way.

LXXIX. This is not all however. Even when these Editors notice hostile evidence, they do so after a fashion which can satisfy no one but themselves. Take for example their note on the word εἰκῆ (without a cause) in S. Matthew v. 22 (But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause). The Reader's attention is specially invited to the treatment which this place has experienced at the hands of Drs. Westcott and Hort:—

(a) They unceremoniously eject the word from S. Matthew's Gospel with their oracular sentence, Western and Syrian.—Aware that εἰκῆ is recognized by Iren. lat-3; Eus. D. E. Cyp., they yet claim for omitting it the authority of 359 Just. Ptolem. (? Iren. 242 fin.), Tert.; and certainly (they proceed) Orig. on Eph. iv. 31, noticing both readings, and similarly Hier. loc., who probably follows Origen: also Ath. Pasch. Syr. 11: Ps.-Ath. Cast. ii. 4; and others.... Such is their Note on S. Matthew v. 22. It is found at p. 8 of their volume. In consequence, εἰκῆ (without a cause) disappears from their Text entirely.

(b) But these learned men are respectfully informed that neither Justin Martyr, nor Ptolemæus the Gnostic, nor Irenæus, no, nor Tertullian either,—that not one of these four writers,—supplies the wished-for evidence. As for Origen,—they are assured that henot probably but certainly—is the cause of all the trouble. They are reminded that Athanasius803803Apud Mai, vi. 105. quotes (not S. Matt. v. 22, but) 1 Jo. iii. 15. They are shown that what they call ps.-Ath. Cast. is nothing else but a paraphrastic translation (by Græculus quidam) of John Cassian's Institutes,—ii. 4 in the Greek representing viii. 20 in the Latin.... And now, how much of the adverse Evidence remains?

(c) Only this:—Jerome's three books of Commentary on the Ephesians, are, in the main, a translation of Origen's lost 3 books on the same Epistle.804804Opp. vii. 543. Comp. 369. Commenting on iv. 31, Origen says that εἰκῆ has been improperly added to the Text,805805Ap. Cramer, Cat. vi. 187.which shows that in Origen's copy εἰκῆ was found there. A few ancient writers in consequence (but only in consequence) of what Jerome (or rather Origen) thus delivers, are observed to omit εἰκῆ.806806So, Nilus, i. 270. That is all!

(d) May we however respectfully ask these learned Editors why, besides Irenæus,807807Interp. 595: 607.—Eusebius,808808Dem. Evan. p. 444.—and Cyprian,809809P. 306.—they 360 do not mention that εἰκῆ is also the reading of Justin Martyr,810810Epist. ad Zen. iii. 1. 78. Note, that our learned Cave considered this to be a genuine work of Justin M. (a.d. 150).—of Origen himself,811811Cantic. (an early work) interp. iii. 39,—though elsewhere (i. 112, 181 [?]: ii. 305 int. [but not ii. 419]) he is for leaving out εἰκῆ.—of the Constitutiones App.,812812Gall. iii. 72 and 161.—of Basil three times,813813ii. 89 b and e (partly quoted in the Cat. of Nicetas) expressly: 265.—of Gregory of Nyssa,814814i. 818 expressly.—of Epiphanius,815815ii. 312 (preserved in Jerome's Latin translation, i. 240).—of Ephraem Syrus twice,816816i. 132; iii. 442.—of Isidorus twice,817817472, 634.—of Theodore of Mops.,—of Chrysostom 18 times,—of the Opus imp. twice,818818Ap. Chrys.—of Cyril819819iii. 768: apud Mai, ii. 6 and iii. 268.—and of Theodoret820820i. 48, 664; iv. 946.—(each in 3 places). It was also the reading of Severus, Abp. of Antioch:821821Cramer's Cat. viii. 12, line 14.—as well as of Hilary,822822128, 625.—Lucifer,823823Gall. vi. 181.—Salvian,824824Gall. x. 14.—Philastrius,825825Gall. vii. 509.—Augustine, and—Jerome,826826i. 27, written when he was 42; and ii. 733, 739, written when he was 84.—(although, when translating from Origen, he pronounces against εἰκῆ827827vii. 26,—Radendum est ergo sine causâ. And so, at p. 636.):—not to mention Antiochus mon.,8288281064.—J. Damascene,829829ii. 261.—Maximus,830830ii. 592.—Photius,831831Amphilochia, (Athens, 1858,)—p. 317. Also in Cat.—Euthymius,—Theophylact,—and others?832832Apophthegm. PP. [ap. Cotel. Eccl. Gr. Mon. i. 622].... We have adduced no less than thirty ancient witnesses.

(e) Our present contention however is but this,—that a Reading which is attested by every uncial Copy of the Gospels except b and א; by a whole torrent of Fathers; by every known copy of the old Latin,—by all the Syriac, (for the Peschito inserts [not translates] the word εἰκῆ,)—by the 361 Coptic,—as well as by the Gothic—and Armenian versions;—that such a reading is not to be set aside by the stupid dictum, Western and Syrian. By no such methods will the study of Textual Criticism be promoted, or any progress ever be made in determining the Truth of Scripture. There really can be no doubt whatever,—(that is to say, if we are to be guided by ancient Evidence,)—that εἰκῆ (without a cause) was our Saviour's actual word; and that our Revisers have been here, as in so many hundred other places, led astray by Dr. Hort. So true is that saying of the ancient poet,—Evil company doth corrupt good manners. And if the blind lead the blind,—(a greater than Menander hath said it,)—both shall fall into the ditch.833833S. Matth. xv. 14.

(f) In the meantime, we have exhibited somewhat in detail, Drs. Westcott and Hort's Annotation on εἰκῆ, [S. Matth. v. 22,] in order to furnish our Readers with at least one definite specimen of the Editorial skill and Critical ability of these two accomplished Professors. Their general practice, as exhibited in the case of 1 Jo. v. 18, [see above, pp. 347-9,] is to tamper with the sacred Text, without assigning their authority,—indeed, without offering apology of any kind.

(g) The sum of the matter proves to be as follows: Codd. b and א (the two false Witnesses),—b and א, alone of MSS.—omit εἰκῆ. On the strength of this, Dr. Hort persuaded his fellow Revisers to omit without a cause from their Revised Version: and it is proposed, in consequence, that every Englishman's copy of S. Matthew v. 22 shall be mutilated in the same way for ever.... Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.

(h) But the question arises—Will the Church of England submit to have her immemorial heritage thus filched from 362 her? We shall be astonished indeed if she proves so regardless of her birthright.

LXXX. Lastly, the intellectual habits of these Editors have led them so to handle evidence, that the sense of proportion seems to have forsaken them. He who has long pondered over a train of Reasoning,—(remarks the elder Critic,)—becomes unable to detect its weak points.834834Gospel of the Resurrection,—p. vii. Yes, the idols of the den exercise at last a terrible ascendency over the Critical judgment. It argues an utter want of mental perspective, when we find the Man working on the Sabbath, put on the same footing with the Woman taken in Adultery, and conjectured to have come from the same source:—the incident of the Angel troubling the pool of Bethesda dismissed, as having no claim to any kind of association with the true Text:835835Introduction, pp. 300-2.—and the two Supplements to S. Mark's Gospel declared to stand on equal terms as independent attempts to fill up a gap; and allowed to be possibly of equal antiquity.836836Ibid. p. 299. How can we wonder, after this, to find anything omitted,—anything inserted,—anything branded with suspicion? And the brand is very freely applied by Drs. Westcott and Hort. Their notion of the Text of the New Testament, is certainly the most extraordinary ever ventilated. It has at least the merit of entire originality. While they eagerly insist that many a passage is but a Western interpolation after all; is but an Evangelic Tradition, rescued from oblivion by the Scribes of the second century;—they yet incorporate those passages with the Gospel. Careful enough to clap them into fetters first, they then, (to use their own queer phrase,)—provisionally associate them with the Text.


LXXXI. We submit, on the contrary, that Editors who cannot doubt that a certain verse comes from an extraneous source,do not believe that it belonged originally to the Book in which it is now included,—are unreasonable if they proceed to assign to it any actual place there at all. When men have once thoroughly convinced themselves that two Verses of S. Luke's Gospel are not Scripture, but only a fragment from the Traditions, written or oral, which were for a while locally current;837837Appendix, p. 66.—what else is it but the merest trifling with sacred Truth, to promote those two verses to a place in the inspired context? Is it not to be feared, that the conscious introduction of human Tradition into God's written Word will in the end destroy the soul's confidence in Scripture itself? opening the door for perplexity, and doubt, and presently for Unbelief itself to enter.

LXXXII. And let us not be told that the Verses stand there provisionally only; and for that reason are enclosed within double brackets. Suspected felons are provisionally locked up, it is true: but after trial, they are either convicted and removed out of sight; or else they are acquitted and suffered to come abroad like other men. Drs. Westcott and Hort have no right at the end of thirty years of investigation, still to encumber the Evangelists with provisional fetters. Those fetters either signify that the Judge is afraid to carry out his own righteous sentence: or else, that he entertains a secret suspicion that he has made a terrible mistake after all,—has condemned the innocent. Let these esteemed Scholars at least have the courage of their own convictions, and be throughout as consistent as, in two famous instances (viz. at pages 113 and 241), they have been. Else, in God's Name, let them have the manliness to avow themselves in 364 error: abjure their πρῶτον ψεῦδος; and cast the fantastic Theory, which they have so industriously reared upon it, unreservedly, to the winds!

LXXXIII. To conclude.—It will be the abiding distinction of the Revised Version (thanks to Dr. Hort,) that it brought to the front a question which has slept for about 100 years; but which may not be suffered now to rest undisturbed any longer. It might have slumbered on for another half-century,—a subject of deep interest to a very little band of Divines and Scholars; of perplexity and distrust to all the World besides;—but for the incident which will make the 17th of May, 1881, for ever memorable in the Annals of the Church of England.

LXXXIV. The Publication on that day of the Revised English Version of the New Testament instantly concentrated public attention on the neglected problem: for men saw at a glance that the Traditional Text of 1530 years' standing,—(the exact number is Dr. Hort's, not ours,)—had been unceremoniously set aside in favour of an entirely different Recension. The true Authors of the mischief were not far to seek. Just five days before,—under the editorship of Drs. Westcott and Hort, (Revisionists themselves,)—had appeared the most extravagant Text which has seen the light since the invention of Printing. No secret was made of the fact that, under pledges of strictest secrecy,838838See Scrivener's Introduction, p. 432. a copy of this wild performance (marked Confidential) had been entrusted to every member of the Revising body: and it has since transpired that Dr. Hort advocated his own peculiar views in the Jerusalem Chamber with so much volubility, eagerness, pertinacity, and plausibility, that in the end—notwithstanding 365 the warnings, remonstrances, entreaties of Dr. Scrivener,—his counsels prevailed; and—the utter shipwreck of the Revised Version has been, (as might have been confidently predicted,) the disastrous consequence. Dr. Hort is calculated to have talked for three years out of the ten.

But in the meantime there has arisen this good out of the calamity,—namely, that men will at last require that the Textual problem shall be fairly threshed out. They will insist on having it proved to their satisfaction,—(1) That Codices b and א are indeed the oracular documents which their admirers pretend; and—(2) That a narrow selection of ancient documents is a secure foundation on which to build the Text of Scripture. Failing this,—(and the onus probandi rests wholly with those who are for setting aside the Traditional Text in favour of another, entirely dissimilar in character,)—failing this, we say, it is reasonable to hope that the counsels of the Quarterly Review will be suffered to prevail. In the meantime, we repeat that this question has now to be fought out: for to ignore it any longer is impossible. Compromise of any sort between the two conflicting parties, is impossible also; for they simply contradict one another. Codd. b and א are either among the purest of manuscripts,—or else they are among the very foulest. The Text of Drs. Westcott and Hort is either the very best which has ever appeared,—or else it is the very worst; the nearest to the sacred Autographs,—or the furthest from them. There is no room for both opinions; and there cannot exist any middle view.

The question will have to be fought out; and it must be fought out fairly. It may not be magisterially settled; but must be advocated, on either side, by the old logical method. If Continental Scholars join in the fray, England,—which 366 in the last century took the lead in these studies,—will, it is to be hoped, maintain her ancient reputation and again occupy the front rank. The combatants may be sure that, in consequence of all that has happened, the public will be no longer indifferent spectators of the fray; for the issue concerns the inner life of the whole community,—touches men's very heart of hearts. Certain it is that—God defend the Right! will be the one aspiration of every faithful spirit among us. The Truth,—(we avow it on behalf of Drs. Westcott and Hort as eagerly as on our own behalf,)—God's Truth will be, as it has been throughout, the one object of all our striving. Αἴλινον αἴλινον εἰπέ, τὸ δ᾽ εὖ νικάτω.


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