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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : CHAPTER XI (continued). CAUSES OF CORRUPTION CHIEFLY INTENTIONAL.

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



§ 5.

[THE smallest of the four Classes, which upon a pure survey of the outward form divide among themselves the surface of the entire field of Corruption, is that of Additions . And the reason of their smallness of number is discoverable at once. Whilst it is but too easy for scribes or those who have a love of criticism to omit words and passages under all circumstances, or even to vary the order, or to use another word or form instead of the right one, to insert anything into the sacred Text which does not proclaim too glaringly its own unfitness -- in a word, to invent happily -- is plainly a matter of much greater difficulty. Therefore to increase the Class of Insertions or Additions or Interpolations, so that it should exceed the Class of Omissions, is to go counter to the natural action of human forces. There is no difficulty in leaving out large numbers of the Sacred Words: but there is much difficulty in placing in the midst of them human words, possessed of such a character and clothed in such an uniform, as not to betray to keen observation their earthly origin.

A few examples will set this truth in clearer light. It is remarkable that efforts at interpolation occur most copiously amongst the books of those who are least fitted to make them. We naturally look amongst the representatives of the Western school where Greek was less understood than in the East where Greek acumen was imperfectly represented by Latin activity, and where translation into Latin and retranslation into Greek was a prolific cause of corruption. Take then the following passage from the Codex D (St. Luke vi.4): --

On the same day He beheld a certain man working on the sabbath, and said to him, |Man, blessed art thou if thou knowest what thou doest; but if thou knowest not, thou art cursed and a transgressor of the law.|'

And another from the Curetonian Syriac (St. Matt. xx.28), which occurs under a worse form in D.

But seek ye from little to become greater, and not from greater to become less. When ye are invited to supper in a house, sit not down in the best place, lest some one come who is more honourable than thou, and the lord of the supper say to thee, |Go down below,| and thou be ashamed in the presence of them that have sat down. But if thou sit down in the lower place, and one who is inferior to thee come in, the lord also of the supper will say to thee, |Come near, and come up, and sit down,| and thou shalt have greater honour in the presence of them that have sat down.'

Who does not see that there is in these two passages no real ring of genuineness'?

Take next some instances of lesser insertions.]

§ 6.

Conspicuous beyond all things in the Centurion of Capernaum (St. Matt. viii.13) was his faith. It occasioned wonder even in the Son of Man. Do we not, in the significant statement, that when they who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant whole that had been sick ,' recognize by implication the assurance that the Centurion, because he needed no such confirmation of his belief, went not with them; but enjoyed the twofold blessedness of remaining with Christ, and of believing without seeing? I think so. Be this however as it may, 'CEMUX besides about fifty cursives, append to St. Matt. viii.13 the clearly apocryphal statement, And the Centurion returning to his house in that same hour found the servant whole.' It does not improve the matter to find that Eusebius , besides the Harkleian and the Ethiopic versions, recognize the same appendix. We are thankful, that no one yet has been found to advocate the adoption of this patent accretion to the inspired text. Its origin is not far to seek. I presume it was inserted in order to give a kind of finish to the story .

[Another and that a most remarkable Addition may be found in St. Matt. xxiv.36, into which the words oude` o Uio's, neither the Son' have been transferred from St. Mark xiii.32 in compliance with a wholly insufficient body of authorities . Lachmann was the leader in this proceeding, and he has been followed by Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers. The latter body add in their margin, Many authorities, some ancient, omit neither the Son.' How inadequate to the facts of the case this description is, will be seen when the authorities are enumerated. But first of those who have been regarded by the majority of the Revisers as the disposers of their decision, according to the information supplied by Tischendorf.

They are (a) of Uncials ' (in the first reading and as re-corrected in the seventh century) BD; (b) five Cursives (for a present of 346 may be freely made to Tischendorf); (c) ten Old Latin copies also the Aureus (Words.), some of the Vulgate (four according to Wordsworth), the Palestinian, Ethiopic, Armenian; (d) Origen (Lat. iii.874), Hilary (733^a), Cyril Alex. (Mai Nova Pp. Bibliotheca, 481), Ambrose (i. I47^8f). But Irenaeus (Lat. i.386), Cyril (Zach.800), Chrysostom (ad locum) seem to quote from St. Mark. So too, as Tischendorf admits, Amphilochius.

On the other hand we have, (a) the chief corrector of ' (c^a) PhS with thirteen other Uncials and the Greek MSS. of Adamantius and Pierius mentioned by Jerome ; (b) all the Cursives, as far as is known (except the aforenamed); (c) the Vulgate, with the Peshitto, Harkleian, Lewis, Bohairic, and the Sahidic; (d) Jerome (in the place just now quoted), St. Basil who contrasts the text of St. Matthew with that of St. Mark, Didymus, who is also express in declaring that the three words in dispute are not found in St. Matthew (Trip., 195), St. John Damascene (ii.346), Apollonius Philosophus (Galland. ix.247), Euthymius Zigabenus (in loc.), Paulinus (iii.12), St. Ambrose (ii.656^a), and Anastasius Sinaita (Migne, lxxxix.941).

Theophylact (i.133), Hesychius Presb. (Migne, lxiii.142) Eusebius (Galland. ix.580), Facundus Herm. (Galland. xi.782), Athanasius (ii.660), quote the words as from the Gospel without reference, and may therefore refer to St. Mark. Phoebadius (Galland. v.251), though quoted against the Addition by Tischendorf, is doubtful.

On which side the balance of evidence inclines, our readers will judge. But at least they cannot surely justify the assertion made by the majority of the Revisers, that the Addition is opposed only by many authorities, some ancient,' or at any rate that this is a fair and adequate description of the evidence opposed to their decision.

An instance occurs in St. Mark iii.16 which illustrates the carelessness and tastelessness of the handful of authorities to which it pleases many critics to attribute ruling authority. In the fourteenth verse, it had been already stated that our Lord ordained twelve,' kai` epoi'ese do'deka; but because 'BA and C (which was corrected in the ninth century with a MS. of the Ethiopic) reiterate these words two verses further on, Tischendorf with Westcott and Hort assume that it is necessary to repeat what has been so recently told. Meanwhile eighteen other uncials (including APhS and the third hand of C); nearly all the Cursives; the Old Latin, Vulgate, Peshitto, Lewis, Harkleian, Gothic, Armenian, and the other MSS. of the Ethiopic omit them. It is plainly unnecessary to strengthen such an opposition by researches in the pages of the Fathers.

Explanation has been already given, how the introductions to Lections, and other Liturgical formulae, have been added by insertion to. the Text in various places. Thus ho Iesous has often been inserted, and in some places remains wrongly (in the opinion of Dean Burgon) in the pages of the Received Text. The three most important additions to the Received Text occur, as Dean Burgon thought, in St. Matt. vi.18, where en to phanero has crept in from v.6 against the testimony of a large majority both of Uncial and of Cursive MSS.: in St. Matt. xxv.13, where the clause en he o uio`s tou anthro'oou e'rchetai seemed to him to be condemned by a superior weight of authority: and in St. Matt. xxvii.35, where the quotation ( i'na plerothe . . . e`balon kleron) must be taken for similar reasons to have been originally a gloss.]

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