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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : CHAPTER IX. CAUSES OF CORRUPTION CHIEFLY INTENTIONAL.

The Causes Of The Corruption Of The Traditional Text by John William Burgon



§ 1.

THERE exist not a few corrupt Readings, -- and they have imposed largely on many critics, -- which, strange to relate, have arisen from nothing else but the proneness of words standing side by side in a sentence to be attracted into a likeness of ending, -- whether in respect of grammatical form or of sound; whereby sometimes the sense is made to suffer grievously, -- sometimes entirely to disappear. Let this be called the error of Attraction. The phenomena of Assimilation' are entirely distinct. A somewhat gross instance, which however has imposed on learned critics, is furnished by the Revised Text and Version of St. John vi.71 and xiii.26.

Judas Iscariot' is a combination of appellatives with which every Christian ear is even awfully familiar. The expression Iou'das Iskario'tes is found in St. Matt. x.4 and xxvi.14: in St. Mark iii.19 and xiv.10: in St. Luke vi.16, and in xxii.31 with the express statement added that Judas was so surnamed.' So far happily we are all agreed. St. John's invariable practice is to designate the traitor, whom he names four times, as Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon;' -- jealous doubtless for the honour of his brother Apostle, Jude (Ioudas) the brother of James ': and resolved that there shall be no mistake about the traitor's identity. Who does not at once recall the Evangelist's striking parenthesis in St. John xiv.22, -- Judas (not Iscariot)'? Accordingly, in St. John xiii.2 the Revisers present us with Judas Iscariot, Simon's son': and even in St. John xii.4 they are content to read Judas Iscariot.'

But in the two places of St. John's Gospel which remain to be noticed, viz. vi.71 and xiii.26, instead of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon,' the Revisers require us henceforth to read, Judas the son of Simon Iscariot.' And why? Only, I answer, because -- in place of Iou'dan Si'monos Iskario'TEN (in vi.71) and Iou'da Si'monos Iskario'TE (in xiii.26) -- a little handful of copies substitute on both occasions Iskario'TOU. Need I go on? Nothing else has evidently happened but that, through the oscitancy of some very early scribe, the Iskario'TEN, Iskario'TE, have been attracted into concord with the immediately preceding genitive SImoNOC . . . So transparent a blunder would have scarcely deserved a passing remark at our hands had it been suffered to remain, -- where such bêtises are the rule and not the exception, -- viz. in the columns of Codexes B and '. But strange to say, not only have the Revisers adopted this corrupt reading in the two passages already mentioned, but they have not let so much as a hint fall that any alteration whatsoever has been made by them in the inspired Text.

§ 2.

Another and a far graver case of Attraction' is found in Acts xx.24. St. Paul, in his address to the elders of Ephesus, refers to the discouragements he has had to encounter. But none of these things move me,' he grandly exclaims, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.' The Greek for this begins all' oudeno`s lo'gon poioumai where some second or third century copyist (misled by the preceding genitive) in place of lo'goN writes lo'goU with what calamitous consequence, has been found largely explained elsewhere . Happily, the error survives only in Codd. B and C: and their character is already known by the readers of this book and the Companion Volume. So much has been elsewhere offered on this subject that I shall say no more about it here: but proceed to present my reader with another and more famous instance of attraction.

St. Paul in a certain place (2 Cor. iii.3) tells the Corinthians, in allusion to the language of Exodus xxxi.12, xxxiv.1, that they are an epistle not written on stony tables (en plaxi` lithi'nais),' but on fleshy tables of the heart (en plaxi`n kardi'as sarki'nais).' The one proper proof that this is what St. Paul actually wrote, is not only (1) That the Copies largely preponderate in favour of so exhibiting the place: but (2) That the Versions, with the single exception of that abject slave of manuscripts the Philoxenian [or Harkleian] Syriac,' are all on the same side: and lastly (3) That the Fathers are as nearly as possible unanimous. Let the evidence for kardi'as (unknown to Tischendorf and the rest) be produced in detail: --

In the second century, Irenaeus , -- the Old Latin, -- the Peshitto.

In the third century, Orison seven times , -- the Coptic version.

In the fourth century, the Dialogus , -- Didymus , -- Basil , -- Gregory Nyss. , -- Marcus the Monk , -- Chrysostom in two places , -- Nilus , -- the Vulgate, -- and the Gothic versions.

In the fifth century, Cyril , -- Isidorus , -- Theodoret , -- the Armenian -- and the Ethiopic versions.

In the seventh century, Victor, Bp. of Carthage addressing Theodorus P.

In the eighth century, J. Damascene . . . Besides, of the Latins, Hilary , -- Ambrose , -- Optatus , -- Jerome , -- Tichonius , -- Augustine thirteen times , -- Fulgentius , and others . . . If this be not overwhelming evidence, may I be told what is ?

But then it so happens that -- attracted by the two datives between which kardias stands, and tempted by the consequent jingle, a surprising number of copies are found to exhibit the perfectly absurd' and wholly unnatural reading ,' plaxi`n kardi'AIC sarki'nAIC. And because (as might have been expected from their character) A B'CD are all five of the number, -- Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, one and all adopt and advocate the awkward blunder . Kardi'ais is also adopted by the Revisers of 1881 without so much as a hint let fall in the margin that the evidence is overwhelmingly against themselves and in favour of the traditional Text of the Authorized Version .

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