THERE results inevitably from the fourfold structure of the Gospel,. -- from the very fact that the story of Redemption is set forth in four narratives, three of which often ran parallel, -- this practical inconvenience: namely, that sometimes the expressions of one Evangelist get improperly transferred to another. This is a large and important subject which calls for great attention, and requires to be separately handled. The phenomena alluded to, which are similar to some of those which have been treated in the last chapter, may be comprised under the special head of Assimilation.
It will I think promote clearness in the ensuing discussion if we determine to consider separately those instances of Assimilation which may rather be regarded as deliberate attempts to reconcile one Gospel with another: indications of a fixed determination to establish harmony between place and place. I am saying that between ordinary cases of Assimilation such as occur in every page, and extraordinary instances where per fas et nefas an enforced Harmony has been established, -- which abound indeed, but are by no means common, -- I am disposed to draw a line.
This whole province is beset with difficulties: and the matter is in itself wondrously obscure. I do not suppose, in the absence of any evidence direct or indirect on the subject, -- at all events I am not aware -- that at any time has there been one definite authoritative attempt made by the Universal Church in her corporate capacity to remodel or revise the Text of the Gospels. An attentive study of the phenomena leads me, on the contrary, to believe that the several corruptions of the text were effected at different times, and took their beginning in widely different ways. I suspect that Accident was the parent of many; and well meant critical assiduity of more. Zeal for the Truth is accountable for not a few depravations: and the Church's Liturgical and Lectionary practice must insensibly have produced others. Systematic villainy I am persuaded has had no part or lot in the matter. The decrees of such an one as Origen, if there ever was another like him, will account for a strange number of aberrations from the Truth: and if the Diatessaron of Tatian could be recovered , I suspect that we should behold there the germs at least of as many more. But, I repeat my conviction that, however they may have originated, the causes [are not to be found in bad principle, but either in infirmities or influences which actuated scribes unconsciously, or in a want of understanding as to what is the Church's duty in the transmission from generation to generation of the sacred deposit committed to her enlightened care.]
1. When we speak of Assimilation, we do not mean that a writer while engaged in transcribing one Gospel was so completely beguiled and overmastered by his recollections of the parallel place in another Gospel, -- that, forsaking the expressions proper to the passage before him, he unconsciously adopted the language which properly belongs to a different Evangelist. That to a very limited extent this may have occasionally taken place, I am not concerned to deny: but it would argue incredible inattention to what he was professing to copy, on the one hand, -- astonishing familiarity with what he was not professing to copy, on the other, -- that a scribe should have been capable of offending largely in this way. But in fact a moderate acquaintance with the subject is enough to convince any thoughtful person that the corruptions in MSS. which have resulted from accidental Assimilation must needs be inconsiderable in bulk, as well as few in number. At all events, the phenomenon referred to, when we speak of Assimilation,' is not to be so accounted for: it must needs be explained in some entirely different way. Let me make my meaning plain:
(a) We shall probably be agreed that when the scribe of Cod. ', in place of basani'sai emas (in St. Matt. viii.29), writes hemas apolesai, -- it may have been his memory which misled him. He may have been merely thinking of St. Mark i.24, or of St. Luke iv.34.
(b) Again, when in Codd. 'B we find tassomenos thrust without warrant into St. Matt. viii.9, we see that the word has lost its way from St. Luke vii.8; and we are prone to suspect that only by accident has it crept into the parallel narrative of the earlier Evangelist.
(c) In the same way I make no doubt that potamo (St. Matt. iii.6) is indebted for its place in 'BC, &c., to the influence of the parallel place in St. Mark's Gospel (i.5); and I am only astonished that critics should have been beguiled into adopting so clear a corruption of the text as part of the genuine Gospel.
(d) To be brief: -- the insertion by ' of adelphe (in St. Matt. vii.4) is confessedly the result of the parallel passage in St. Luke vi.42. The same scribe may be thought to have written to anemo instead of tois anemois in St. Matt. viii.26, only because he was so familiar with to anemo in St. Luke viii.24 and in St. Mark iv.39. -- The author of the prototype of 'BD (with whom by the way are some of the Latin versions) may have written echete in St. Matt. xvi.8, only because he was thinking of the parallel place in St. Mark viii.17. -- Erxanto aganaktein (St. Matt. xx.24) can only have been introduced into ' from the parallel place in St. Mark x.41, and may have been supplied memoriter. -- St. Luke xix.21 is clearly not parallel to St. Matt. xxv.24; yet it evidently furnished the scribe of ' with the epithet austeros; in place of skleros. -- The substitution by ' of o`n paretounto in St. Matt. xxvii.15 for o`n e'thelon may seem to be the result of inconvenient familiarity with the parallel place in St. Mark xv.6; where, as has been shewn , instead of onper etounto, 'AB viciously exhibit o`n paretounto, which Tischendorf besides Westcott and Hort mistake for the genuine Gospel. Who will hesitate to admit that, when 'L exhibit in St. Matt. xix.16, -- instead of the words poie'so i'na echo zoe`n aio'nion, -- the formula which is found in the parallel place of St. Luke xviii.18, viz. poie'sas zoe`n aio'nion kleronome'so, -- those unauthorized words must have been derived from this latter place? Every ordinary reader will be further prone to assume that the scribe who first inserted them into St. Matthew's Gospel did so because, for whatever reason, he was more familiar with the latter formula than with the former.
(e) But I should have been willing to go further. I might have been disposed to admit that when 'DL introduce into St. Matt. x.12 the clause legontes, eire'ne to oi'ko tou'to (which last four words confessedly belong exclusively to St. Luke x.5), the author of the depraved original from which 'DL were derived may have been only yielding to the suggestions of an inconveniently good memory: -- may have succeeded in convincing himself from what follows in verse 13 that St. Matthew must have written, Peace be to this house;' though he found no such words in St. Matthew's text. And so, with the best intentions, he may most probably have inserted them.
(f) Again. When ' and Evan.61 thrust into St. Matt. ix.24 (from the parallel place in St. Luke viii.53) the clause eido'tes o'ti ape'thanen, it is of course conceivable that the authors of those copies were merely the victims of excessive familiarity with the third Gospel. But then, -- although we are ready to make every allowance that we possibly can for memories so singularly constituted, and to imagine a set of inattentive scribes open to inducements to recollect or imagine instead of copying, and possessed of an inconvenient familiarity with one particular Gospel, -- it is clear that our complaisance must stop somewhere. Instances of this kind of licence at last breed suspicion. Systematic assimilation' cannot be the effect of accident. Considerable interpolations must of course be intentional. The discovery that Cod. D, for example, introduces at the end of St. Luke v.14 thirty-two words from St. Mark's Gospel (i.45-ii.1, o de` exeltho'n down to Kapharnaou'm), opens our eyes. This wholesale importation suggests the inquiry, -- How did it come about? We look further, and we find that Cod. D abounds in instances of Assimilation' so unmistakably intentional, that this speedily becomes the only question, How may all these depravations of the sacred text be most satisfactorily accounted for? [And the answer is evidently found in the existence of extreme licentiousness in the scribe or scribes responsible for Codex D, being the product of ignorance and carelessness combined with such looseness of principle, as permitted the exercise of direct attempts to improve the sacred Text by the introduction of passages from the three remaining Gospels and by other alterations.]
Sometimes indeed the true Text bears witness to itself, as may be seen in the next example.
The little handful of well-known authorities ('BDL, with a few copies of the Old Latin, and one of the Egyptian Versions ), conspire in omitting from St. John xvi.16 the clause o'ti ego` upa'go pro`s to`n Pate'ra: for which reason Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort omit those six words, and Lachmann puts them into brackets. And yet, let the context be considered. Our Saviour had said (ver.16), -- A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father; It follows (ver.17), -- Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father?' -- Now, the context here, -- the general sequence of words and ideas -- in and by itself, creates a high degree of probability that the clause is genuine. It must at all events be permitted to retain its place in the Gospel, unless there is found to exist an overwhelming amount of authority for its exclusion. What then are the facts? All the other uncials, headed by A and I^b (both of the fourth century), -- every known Cursive -- all the Versions, (Latin, Syriac, Gothic, Coptic, &c.) -- are for retaining the clause. Add, that Nonnus (A.D.400) recognizes it: that the texts of Chrysostom and of Cyril do the same; and that both those Fathers (to say nothing of Euthymius and Theophylact) in their Commentaries expressly bear witness to its genuineness: -- and, With what shew of reason can it any longer be pretended that some Critics, including the Revisers, are warranted in leaving out the words? . . . It were to trifle with the reader to pursue this subject further. But how did the words ever come to be omitted? Some early critic, I answer, who was unable to see the exquisite proprieties of the entire passage, thought it desirable to bring ver.16 into conformity with ver.19, where our Lord seems at first sight to resyllable the matter. That is all !
Let it be observed -- and then I will dismiss the matter -- that the selfsame thing has happened in the next verse but one (ver.18), as Tischendorf candidly acknowledges. The touto ti' estin of the Evangelist has been tastelessly assimilated by BDLY to the ti' estin touto, which went immediately before.
Were I invited to point to a beautifully described incident in the Gospel, I should find it difficult to lay my finger on anything more apt for my purpose than the transaction described in St. John xiii.21-25. It belongs to the closing scene of our Saviour's Ministry. Verily, verily, I say unto you,' (the words were spoken at the Last Supper), one of you will betray Me. The disciples therefore looked one at another, wondering of whom He spake. Now there was reclining in the bosom of Jesus (en de anakeimenos en to kolpo tou I..) one of His disciples whom Jesus loved. To him therefore Simon Peter motioneth to inquire who it may be concerning whom He speaketh. He then, just sinking on the breast of Jesus (epipeson de ekeinos ou'tos epi` to` stethos tou I.) [i. e. otherwise keeping his position, see above, p.6o], saith unto Him, Lord, who is it?'
The Greek is exquisite. At first, St. John has been simply reclining (anakeimenos) in the bosom' of his Divine Master: that is, his place at the Supper is the next adjoining His, -- for the phrase really means little more. But the proximity is of course excessive, as the sequel shews. Understanding from St. Peter's gesture what is required of him, St. John merely sinks back, and having thus let his head fall (epipeson) on (or close to) His Master's chest (epi` to` stethos), he says softly, -- Lord, who is it?' . . . The moment is perhaps the most memorable in the Evangelist's life: the position, one of unutterable privilege. Time, place, posture, action, -- all settle so deep into his soul, that when, in his old age, he would identify himself, he describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved; who also at the Supper' (that memorable Supper !) lay (anepesen ) on Jesus' breast,' (literally, upon His chest,' -- epi` to` stethos autou;), and said, Lord, who is it that is to betray Thee?' (ch. xxi.20). . . . Yes, and the Church was not slow to take the beautiful hint. His language so kindled her imagination that the early Fathers learned to speak of St. John the Divine, as ho epistethios, -- the (recliner) on the chest .'
Now, every delicate discriminating touch in this sublime picture is faithfully retained throughout by the cursive copies in the proportion of about eighty to one. The great bulk of the MSS., as usual, uncial and cursive alike, establish the undoubted text of the Evangelist, which is here the Received Text. Thus, a vast majority of the MSS., with 'AD at their head, read epipeson in St. John xiii.25. Chrysostom and probably Cyril confirm the same reading. So also Nonnus . Not so B and C with four other uncials and about twenty cursives (the vicious Evan.33 being at their head), besides Origen in two places and apparently Theodorus of Mopsuestia . These by mischievously assimilating the place in ch. xiii to the later place in ch. xxi in which such affecting reference is made to it, hopelessly obscure the Evangelist's meaning. For they substitute anapeson oun ekeinos k.t.l. It is exactly as when children, by way of improving the sketch of a great Master, go over his matchless outlines with a clumsy pencil of their own.
That this is the true history of the substitution of anapeson in St. John xiii.25 for the less obvious epipeson is certain. Origen, who was probably the author of all the mischief, twice sets the two places side by side and elaborately compares them; in the course of which operation, by the way, he betrays the viciousness of the text which he himself employed. But what further helps to explain how easily anapeson might usurp the place of epipeson , is the discovery just noticed, that the ancients from the earliest period were in the habit of identifying St. John, as St. John had identified himself, by calling him the one that lay (ho anapeson) upon the Lord's chest.' The expression, derived from St. John xxi.20, is employed by Irenaeus (A.D.178) and by Polycrates (Bp. of Ephesus A.D.196); by Origen and by Ephraim Syrus : by Epiphanius and by Palladius : by Gregory of Nazianzus and by his namesake of Nyssa : by pseudo-Eusebius , by pseudo-Caesarius , and by pseudo-Chrysostom . The only wonder is, that in spite of such influences all the MSS. in the world except about twenty-six have retained the true reading.
Instructive in the meantime it is to note the fate which this word has experienced at the hands of some Critics. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, have all in turn bowed to the authority of Cod. B and Origen. Bishop Lightfoot mistranslates and contends on the same side. Alford informs us that epipeson has surreptitiously crept in from St. Luke xv.20': (why should it? how could it?) anapeson not seeming appropriate.' Whereas, on the contrary, anapeson is the invariable and obvious expression, -- epipeson the unusual, and, till it has been explained, the unintelligible word. Tischendorf, -- who had read epipeson in 1848 and anapeson in 1859, -- in 1869 reverts to his first opinion advocating with parental partiality what he had since met with in Cod. '. Is then the truth of Scripture aptly represented by that fitful beacon-light somewhere on the French coast, -- now visible, now eclipsed, now visible again, -- which benighted travellers amuse themselves by watching from the deck of the Calais packet?
It would be time to pass on. But because in this department of study men are observed never to abandon a position until they are fairly shelled out and left without a pretext for remaining, I proceed to shew that anapeson (for epipeson) is only one corrupt reading out of many others hereabouts. The proof of this statement follows. Might it not have been expected that the old uncials' ('ABCD) would exhibit the entire context of such a passage as the present with tolerable accuracy? The reader is invited to attend to the results of collation: --
xiii.21. -- o 'B: umin lego tr. B.
22. -- oun BC: + oi Ioudaioi ': aporountei D.
23. -- de B: + ek 'ABCD: -- o B: + kai D.
24. (for puthesthai tis an eie + outos D) kai legei auto, eipe tis estin BC: (for legei) elegen ': + kai legei auto eipe tis estin peri ou legei '.
25. (for epipeson) anapeson BC: -- de BC: (for de) oun 'D: -- outos 'AD.26. + oun BC: + auto D: -- o B: + kai legei 'BD: + an D: (for bapsas) embapsas AD: bapso . . . kai doso auto BC: + psomou (after psomion) C: (for embapsas) bapsas D: (for kai embapsas) bapsas oun 'BC: -- to B: + lambanei kai BC: Iskariotou 'BC: apo Karuotou D.
27. -- tote ': -- meta to psomion tote D: (for legei oun kai lenei D: -- o B.
In these seven verses therefore, (which present no special difficulty to a transcriber,) the Codexes in question are found to exhibit at least thirty-five varieties, -- for twenty-eight of which (jointly or singly) B is responsible: ' for twenty-two: C for twenty-one: D for nineteen: A for three. It is found that twenty-three words have been added to the text: fifteen substituted: fourteen taken away; and the construction has been four times changed. One case there has been of senseless transposition. Simon, the father of Judas, (not Judas the traitor), is declared by 'BCD to have been called Iscariot.' Even this is not all. What St. John relates concerning himself is hopelessly obscured; and a speech is put into St. Peter's mouth which he certainly never uttered. It is not too much to say that every delicate lineament has vanished from the picture. What are we to think of guides like 'BCD, which are proved to be utterly untrustworthy?
The first two verses of St. Mark's Gospel have fared badly. Easy of transcription and presenting no special difficulty, they ought to have come down to us undisfigured by any serious variety of reading. On the contrary. Owing to entirely different causes, either verse has experienced calamitous treatment. I have elsewhere proved that the clause huiou tou Theou; in verse 1 is beyond suspicion. Its removal from certain copies of the Gospel was originally due to heretical influence. But because Origen gave currency to the text so mutilated, it re-appears mechanically in several Fathers who are intent only on reproducing a certain argument of Origen's against the Manichees in which the mutilated text occurs. The same Origen is responsible to, some extent, and in the same way, for the frequent introduction of Isaiah's' name into verse 21 -- whereas in the prophets' is what St. Mark certainly wrote; but the appearance of Isaiah' there in the first instance was due to quite a different cause. In the meantime, it is witnessed to by the Latin, Syriac , Gothic, and Egyptian versions, as well as by 'BDLA, and (according to Tischendorf) by nearly twenty-five cursives; besides the following ancient writers: Irenaeus, Origen, Porphyry, Titus, Basil, Serapion, Epiphanius, Severianus, Victor, Eusebius, Victorinus, Jerome, Augustine. I proceed to shew that this imposing array of authorities for reading en to Esaia to prophe'te instead of en tois prophe'tais in St. Mark i.2, which has certainly imposed upon every recent editor and critic , -- has been either overestimated or else misunderstood.
1. The testimony of the oldest versions, when attention is paid to their contents, is discovered to be of inferior moment in minuter matters of this nature. Thus, copies of the Old Latin version thrust Isaiah's name into St. Matt. i.22, and Zechariah's name into xxi.4: as well as thrust out Jeremiah's name from xxvii.9: -- the first, with Curetonian, Lewis, Harkleian, Palestinian, and D, -- the second, with Chrysostom and Hilary, -- the third, with the Peshitto. The Latin and the Syriac further substitute tou prophetou for ton propheton in St. Matt. ii.23, -- through misapprehension of the Evangelist's meaning. What is to be thought of Cod. ' for introducing the name of Isaiah' into St. Matt. xiii.35, -- where it clearly cannot stand, the quotation being confessedly from Ps. lxxviii.2; but where nevertheless Porphyry , Eusebius , and pseudo-Jerome certainly found it in many ancient copies?
2. Next, for the testimony of the Uncial Codexes 'BDLD: -- If any one will be at the pains to tabulate the 900 new readings' adopted by Tischendorf in editing St. Mark's Gospel, he will discover that for 450, or just half of them, -- all the 450, as I believe, being corruptions of the text, -- 'BL are responsible: and further, that their responsibility is shared on about 200 occasions by D: on about 265 by C: on about 350 by D . some very remote period therefore there must have grown up a vicious general reading of this Gospel which remains in the few bad copies: but of which the largest traces (and very discreditable traces they are) at present survive in 'BCDLA. After this discovery the avowal will not be thought extraordinary that I regard with unmingled suspicion readings which are exclusively vouched for by five of the same Codexes: e. g. by 'BDLD.
3. The cursive copies which exhibit Isaiah' in place of the prophet,' reckoned by Tischendorf at nearly twenty-five,' are probably less than fifteen , and those, almost all of suspicious character. High time it is that the inevitable consequence of an appeal to such evidence were better understood.
4. From Tischendorf's list of thirteen Fathers, serious deductions have to be made. Irenaeus and Victor of Antioch are clearly with the Textus Receptus. Serapion, Titus, Basil do but borrow from Origen; and, with his argument, reproduce his corrupt text of St. Mark i.2. The last-named Father however saves his reputation by leaving out the quotation from Malachi; so, passing directly from the mention of Isaiah to the actual words of that prophet. Epiphanius (and Jerome too on one occasion ) does the same thing. Victorinus and Augustine, being Latin writers, merely quote the Latin version (sicut scriptum est in Isaiâ propheta'), which is without variety of reading. There remain Origen (the faulty character of whose Codexes has been remarked upon already), Porphyry the heretic (who wrote a book to convict the Evangelists of mis-statements , and who is therefore scarcely a trustworthy witness), Eusebius, Jerome and Severianus. Of these, Eusebius and Jerome deliver it as their opinion that the name of Isaiah' had obtained admission into the text through the inadvertency of copyists. Is it reasonable, on the slender residuum of evidence, to insist that St. Mark has ascribed to Isaiah words confessedly written by Malachi? The fact,' writes a recent editor in the true spirit of modern criticism, will not fail to be observed by the careful and honest student of the Gospels.' But what if the fact' should prove to be a fiction' only? And (I venture to ask) would not carefulness' be better employed in scrutinizing the adverse testimony? honesty' in admitting that on grounds precarious as the present no indictment against an Evangelist can be seriously maintained? This proposal to revive a blunder which the Church in her corporate capacity has from the first refused to sanction (for the Evangelistaria know nothing of it) carries in fact on its front its own sufficient condemnation. Why, in the face of all the copies in the world (except a little handful of suspicious character), will men insist on imputing to an inspired writer a foolish mis-statement, instead of frankly admitting that the text must needs have been corrupted in that little handful of copies through the officiousness of incompetent criticism?
And do any inquire, -- How then did this perversion of the truth arise? In the easiest way possible, I answer. Refer to the Eusebian tables, and note that the foremost of his sectional parallels is as follows: --
St. Matt. St. Mark. St. Luke. St. John. e (i. e.3). b (i. e.3). z (i. e. iii.3-6). i (i. e.23) .
Now, since the name of Isaiah occurs in the first, the third and the fourth of these places in connexion with the quotation from Is. xl.3, what more obvious than that some critic with harmonistic proclivities should have insisted on supplying the second also, i. e. the parallel place in St. Mark's Gospel, with the name of the evangelical prophet, elsewhere so familiarly connected with the passage quoted? This is nothing else in short but an ordinary instance of Assimilation, so unskilfully effected however as to betray itself. It might have been passed by with fewer words, for the fraud is indeed transparent, but that it has so largely imposed upon learned men, and established itself so firmly in books. Let me hope that we shall not hear it advocated any more.
Regarded as an instrument of criticism, Assimilation requires to be very delicately as well as very skilfully handled. If it is to be applied to determining the text of Scripture, it must be employed, I take leave to say, in a very different spirit from what is met with in Dr. Tischendorf's notes, or it will only mislead. Is a word -- a clause -- a sentence -- omitted by his favourite authorities 'BDL? It is enough if that learned critic finds nearly the same word, -- a very similar clause, -- a sentence of the same general import, -- in an account of the same occurrence by another Evangelist, for him straightway to insist that the sentence, the clause, the word, has been imported into the commonly received Text from such parallel place; and to reject it accordingly.
But, as the thoughtful reader must see, this is not allowable, except under peculiar circumstances. For first, whatever a priori improbability might be supposed to attach to the existence of identical expressions in two Evangelical records of the same transaction, is effectually disposed of by the discovery that very often identity of expression actually does occur. And (2), the only condition which could warrant the belief that there has been assimilation, is observed to be invariably away from Dr. Tischendorf's instances, -- viz. a sufficient number of respectable attesting witnesses: it being a fundamental principle in the law of Evidence, that the very few are rather to be suspected than the many. But further (3), if there be some marked diversity of expression discoverable in the two parallel places; and if that diversity has been carefully maintained all down the ages in either place; -- then it may be regarded as certain, on the contrary, that there has not been assimilation; but that this is only one more instance of two Evangelists saying similar things or the same thing in slightly different language. Take for example the following case: -- Whereas St. Matt. (xxiv.15) speaks of the abomination of desolation to` rethe`n DIA Danie`l tou prophe'tou, standing (estos) in the holy place'; St. Mark (xiii.14) speaks of it as to` rethe`n UPO Danie`l tou prophe'tou. standing (estos) where it ought not.' Now, because 'BDL with copies of the Italic, the Vulgate, and the Egyptian versions omit from St. Mark's Gospel the six words written above in Greek, Tischendorf and his school are for expunging those six words from St. Mark's text, on the plea that they are probably an importation from St. Matthew. But the little note of variety which the Holy Spirit has set on the place in the second Gospel (indicated above in capital letters) suggests that these learned men are mistaken. Accordingly, the other fourteen uncials and all the cursives, -- besides the Peshitto, Harkleian, and copies of the Old Latin -- a much more weighty body of evidence -- are certainly right in retaining the words in St. Mark xiii.14.
Take two more instances of misuse in criticism of Assimilation.
St. Matthew (xii.10), and St. Luke in the parallel place of his Gospel (xiv.3), describe our Lord as asking, -- Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?' Tischendorf finding that his favourite authorities in this latter place continue the sentence with the words or not?' assumes that those two words must have fallen out of the great bulk of the copies of St. Luke, which, according to him, have here assimilated their phraseology to that of St. Matthew. But the hypothesis is clearly inadmissible, -- though it is admitted by most modern critics. Do not these learned persons see that the supposition is just as lawful, and the probability infinitely greater, that it is on the contrary the few copies which have here undergone the process of assimilation; and that the type to which they have been conformed, is to be found in St. Matt. xxii.17; St. Mark xii.14; St. Luke xx.22?
It is in fact surprising how often a familiar place of Scripture has exerted this kind of assimilating influence over a little handful of copies. Thus, some critics are happily agreed in rejecting the proposal of 'BDLR, (backed scantily by their usual retinue of evidence) to substitute for gemi'sai te`n koili'an autou apo, in St. Luke xv.16, the words chortasthenai ek. But editors have omitted to point out that the words epethu'mei chortasthenai, introduced in defiance of the best authorities into the parable of Lazarus (xvi.20), have simply been transplanted thither out of the parable of the prodigal son.
The reader has now been presented with several examples of Assimilation. Tischendorf, who habitually overlooks the phenomenon where it seems to be sufficiently conspicuous, is observed constantly to discover cases of Assimilation where none exist. This is in fact his habitual way of accounting for not a few of the omissions in Cod. '. And because he has deservedly enjoyed a great reputation, it becomes the more necessary to set the reader on his guard against receiving such statements without a thorough examination of the evidence on which they rest.
The value -- may I not say, the use? -- of these delicate differences of detail becomes apparent whenever the genuineness of the text is called in question. Take an example. The following fifteen words are deliberately excluded from St. Mark's Gospel (vi.11) by some critics on the authority of 'BCDLD, -- a most suspicious company, and three cursives; besides a few copies of the Old Latin, including the Vulgate: -- ame`n le'go umin, anektoteron e'stai Sodo'mois e Gomo'rrois en heme'ra kri'seos, e te po'lei ekei'ne. It is pretended that this is nothing else but an importation from the parallel place of St. Matthew's Gospel (x.15). But that is impossible: for, as the reader sees at a glance, a delicate but decisive note of discrimination has been set on the two places. St. Mark writes, Sodo'mOIS E Gomo'rrOIS: St. Matthew, GE? Sodo'mON KAI Gomo'rrON. And this threefold, or rather fourfold, diversity of expression has existed from the beginning; for it has been faithfully retained all down the ages: it exists to this hour in every known copy of the Gospel, -- except of course those nine which omit the sentence altogether. There can be therefore no doubt about its genuineness. The critics of the modern school (Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort) seek in vain to put upon us a mutilated text by omitting those fifteen words. The two places are clearly independent of each other.
It does but remain to point out that the exclusion of these fifteen words from the text of St. Mark, has merely resulted from the influence of the parallel place in St. Luke's Gospel (ix.5), -- where nothing whatever is found corresponding with St. Matt. x.5 -- St. Mark vi.11. The process of Assimilation therefore has been actively at work here, although not in the way which some critics suppose. It has resulted, not in the insertion of the words in dispute in the case of the very many copies; but on the contrary in their omission from the very few. And thus, one more brand is set on 'BCDLA and their Latin allies, -- which will be found never to conspire together exclusively except to mislead.
Because a certain clause (e.g. kai` e lalia' sou omoia'zei in St. Mark xiv.70) is absent from Codd. 'BCDL, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort entirely eject these five precious words from St. Mark's Gospel, Griesbach having already voted them probably spurious.' When it has been added that many copies of the Old Latin also, together with the Vulgate and the Egyptian versions, besides Eusebius, ignore their existence, the present writer scarcely expects to be listened to if he insists that the words are perfectly genuine notwithstanding. The thing is certain however, and the Revisers are to blame for having surrendered five precious words of genuine Scripture, as I am going to shew.
1. Now, even if the whole of the case were already before the reader, although to some there might seem to exist a prima facie probability that the clause is spurious, yet even so, -- it would not be difficult to convince a thoughtful man that the reverse must be nearer the truth. For let the parallel places in the first two Gospels be set down side by side: --
St. Matt. xxvi.73. St. Mark xiv.70. (1) Alethos kai` su` (1) Alethos
(2) ex auton ei; (2) ex auto?n ei; (3) kai` ga`r
(3) kai` ga`r Galilai?os ei,
(4) e lalia' sou delo'n se poiei.
(4) kai` e lalia' sou omoia'zei
What more clear than that the later Evangelist is explaining what his predecessor meant by thy speech bewrayeth thee' [or else is giving an independent account of the same transaction derived from the common source]? To St. Matthew, -- a Jew addressing Jews, -- it seemed superfluous to state that it was the peculiar accent of Galilee which betrayed Simon Peter. To St. Mark, -- or rather to the readers whom St. Mark specially addressed, -- the point was by, no means so obvious. Accordingly, he paraphrases, -- for thou art a Galilean and thy speech correspondeth.' Let me be shewn that all down the ages, in ninety-nine copies out of every hundred, this peculiar diversity of expression has been faithfully retained, and instead of assenting to the proposal to suppress St. Mark's (fourth) explanatory clause with its unique verb omoia'zei, I straightway betake myself to the far more pertinent inquiry, -- What is the state of the text hereabouts? What, in fact, the context? This at least is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact.
1. And first, I discover that Cod. D, in concert with several copies of the Old Latin (a b c ff^2 h q, &c.), only removes clause (4) from its proper place in St. Mark's Gospel, in order to thrust it into the parallel place in St. Matthew, -- where it supplants the e lalia' sou delo'n se poiei of the earlier Evangelist; and where it clearly has no business to be.
Indeed the object of D is found to have been to assimilate St. Matthew's Gospel to St. Mark, -- for D also omits kai` su in clause (1).
2. The Ethiopic version, on the contrary, is for assimilating St. Mark to St. Matthew, for it transfers the same clause (4) as it stands in St. Matthew's Gospel (kai e lalia' sou delo'n se poiei) to St. Mark.
3. Evan.33 (which, because it exhibits an ancient text of a type like B, has been styled [with grim irony] the Queen of the Cursives') is more brilliant here than usual; exhibiting St. Mark's clause (4) thus, -- kai gar e lalia' sou delo'n se homoiazei.
4. In C (and the Harkleian) the process of Assimilation is as conspicuous as in D, for St. Mark's third clause (3) is imported bodily into St. Matthew's Gospel. C further omits from St. Mark clause (4).
5. In the Vercelli Codex (a) however, the converse process is conspicuous. St. Mark's Gospel has been assimilated to St. Matthew's by the unauthorized insertion into clause (1) of kai` su, (which by the way is also found in M), and (in concert with the Gothic and Evann.73, 131, 142*) by the entire suppression of clause (3).
6. Cod. L goes beyond all. [True to the craze of omission], it further obliterates as well from St. Matthew's Gospel as from St. Mark's all trace of clause (4).
7. ' and B alone of Codexes, though in agreement with the Vulgate and the Egyptian version, do but eliminate the final clause (4) of St. Mark's Gospel. But note, lastly, that --
8. Cod. A, together with the Syriac versions, the Gothic, and the whole body of the cursives, recognizes none of these irregularities: but exhibits the commonly received text with entire fidelity.
On a survey of the premisses, will any candid person seriously contend that kai` e lalia' sou omoia'zei is no part of the genuine text of St. Mark xiv.70? The words are found in what are virtually the most ancient authorities extant: the Syriac versions (besides the Gothic and Cod. A), the Old Latin (besides Cod. D) -- retain them; -- those in their usual place, -- these, in their unusual. Idle it clearly is in the face of such evidence to pretend that St. Mark cannot have written the words in question . It is too late to insist that a man cannot have lost his watch when his watch is proved to have been in his own pocket at eight in the morning, and is found in another man's pocket at nine. As for C and L, their handling of the Text hereabouts clearly disqualifies them from being cited in evidence. They are condemned under the note of Context. Adverse testimony is borne by B and ': and by them only. They omit the words in dispute, -- the ordinary habit of theirs, and most easily accounted for. But how is the punctual insertion of the words in every other known copy to be explained? In the meantime, it remains to be stated, -- and with this I shall take leave of the discussion, -- that hereabouts we have a set of passages which bear clear marks of wilful and critical correction, thoroughly carried out in Cod. ', and only partially in Cod. B and some of its compeers; the object being so far to assimilate the narrative of Peter's denials with those of the other Evangelists, as to suppress the fact, vouched for by St. Mark only, that the cock crowed twice .' That incident shall be treated of separately. Can those principles stand, which in the face of the foregoing statement, and the evidence which preceded it, justify the disturbance of the text in St. Mark xiv.70?
[We now pass on to a kindred cause of adulteration of the text of the New Testament.]