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

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



§ 1.

GLOSSES,' properly so called, though they enjoy a conspicuous place in every enumeration like the present, are probably by no means so numerous as is commonly supposed. For certainly every unauthorized accretion to the text of Scripture is not a gloss': but only those explanatory words or clauses which have surreptitiously insinuated themselves into the text, and of which no more reasonable account can be rendered than that they were probably in the first instance proposed by some ancient Critic in the way of useful comment, or necessary explanation, or lawful expansion, or reasonable limitation of the actual utterance of the Spirit. Thus I do not call the clause nekrou`s egei'rete in St. Matt. x.8 a gloss.' It is a gratuitous and unwarrantable interpolation, -- nothing else but a clumsy encumbrance of the text .

[Glosses, or scholia, or comments, or interpretations, are of various kinds, but are generally confined to Additions or Substitutions, since of course we do not omit in order to explain, and transposition of words already placed in lucid order, such as the sacred Text may be reasonably supposed to have observed, would confuse rather than illustrate the meaning. A clause, added in Hebrew fashion , which may perhaps appear to modern taste to be hardly wanted, must not therefore be taken to be a gloss.]

Sometimes a various reading' is nothing else but a gratuitous gloss; -- the unauthorized substitution of a common for an uncommon word. This phenomenon is of frequent occurrence, but only in Codexes of a remarkable type like B'CD. A few instances follow: --

1. The disciples on a certain occasion (St. Matt. xiii.36), requested our LORD to explain' to them (PhRACON hemin, they said') the parable of the tares. So every known copy, except two: so, all the Fathers who quote the place, -- viz. Origen, five times , -- Basil , -- J. Damascene . And so all the Versions . But because B-', instead of phrason, exhibit DIACAPhECON (make clear to us'), -- which is also once the reading of Origen , who was but too well acquainted with Codexes of the same depraved character as the archetype of B and ', -- Lachmann, Tregelles (not Tischendorf), Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers of 1881, assume that diasapheson (a palpable gloss) stood in the inspired autograph of the Evangelist. They therefore thrust out phrason and thrust in diasapheson. I am wholly unable to discern any connexion between the premisses of these critics and their conclusions .

2. Take another instance. Pugme, -- the obscure expression (D leaves it out) which St. Mark employs in vii.3 to denote the strenuous frequency of the Pharisees' ceremonial washings, -- is exchanged by Cod. ', but by no other known copy of the Gospels, for pukna, which last word is of course nothing else but a sorry gloss. Yet Tischendorf degrades pugme and promotes pukna to honour, -- happily standing alone in his infatuation. Strange, that the most industrious of modern accumulators of evidence should not have been aware that by such extravagances he marred his pretension to critical discernment! Origen and Epiphanius -- the only Fathers who quote the place -- both read pugme. It ought to be universally admitted that it is a mere waste of time that we should argue out a point like this .

§ 2.

A gloss little suspected, which -- not without a pang of regret -- I proceed to submit to hostile scrutiny, is the expression daily' (kath' eme'ran) in St. Luke ix.23. Found in the Peshitto and in Cureton's Syriac, -- but only in some Copies of the Harkleian version : found in most Copies of the Vulgate, -- but largely disallowed by copies of the Old Latin : found also in Ephraem Syrus , -- but clearly not recognized by Origen : found again in 'AB and six other uncials, -- but not found in CDE and ten others: the expression referred to cannot, at all events, plead for its own retention in the text higher antiquity than can be pleaded for its exclusion. Cyril, (if in such a matter the Syriac translation of his Commentary on St. Luke may be trusted,) is clearly an authority for reading kath' eme'ran in St. Luke ix.23 ; but then he elsewhere twice quotes St. Luke ix.23 in Greek without it . Timotheus of Antioch, of the fifth century, omits the phrase . Jerome again, although he suffered quotidie' to stand in the Vulgate, yet, when for his own purposes he quotes the place in St. Luke , -- ignores the word. All this is calculated to inspire grave distrust. On the other hand, kath' eme'ran enjoys the support of the two Egyptian Versions, -- of the Gothic, -- of the Armenian, -- of the Ethiopic. And this, in the present state of our knowledge, must be allowed to be a weighty piece of evidence in its favour.

But the case assumes an entirely different aspect the instant it is discovered that out of the cursive copies only eight are found to contain kath' eme'ran in St. Luke ix.23 . How is it to be explained that nine manuscripts out of every ten in existence should have forgotten how to transmit such a remarkable message, had it ever been really so committed to writing by the Evangelist? The omission (says Tischendorf) is explained by the parallel places . Utterly incredible, I reply; as no one ought to have known better than Tischendorf himself. We now scrutinize the problem more closely; and discover that the very locus of the phrase is a matter of uncertainty. Cyril once makes it part of St. Matt. x.38 . Chrysostom twice connects it with St. Matt. xvi.24 . Jerome, evidently regarding the phrase as a curiosity, informs us that juxta antiqua exemplaria' it was met with in St. Luke xiv.27 . All this is in a high degree unsatisfactory. We suspect that we ourselves enjoy some slight familiarity with the antiqua exemplaria' referred to by the Critic; and we freely avow that we have learned to reckon them among the least reputable of our acquaintance. Are they not represented by those Evangelia, of which several copies are extant, that profess to have been transcribed from, and collated with, ancient copies at Jerusalem'? These uniformly exhibit kath' eme'ran in St. Luke ix.23 . But then, if the phrase be a gloss, -- it is obvious to inquire, -- how is its existence in so many quarters to be accounted for?

Its origin is not far to seek. Chrysostom, in a certain place, after quoting our Lord's saying about taking up the cross and following Him, remarks that the words do not mean that we are actually to bear the wood upon our shoulders, but to keep the prospect of death steadily before us, and like St. Paul to |die daily| .' The same Father, in the two other places already quoted from his writings, is observed similarly to connect the Saviour's mention of bearing the Cross' with the Apostle's announcement -- I die daily.' Add, that Ephraem Syrus , and Jerome quoted already, -- persistently connect the same two places together; the last named Father even citing them in immediate succession; -- and the inference is unavoidable. The phrase in St. Luke ix.23 must needs be a very ancient as well as very interesting expository gloss, imported into the Gospel from 1 Cor. xv.31, -- as Mill and Matthaei long since suggested.

Sincerely regretting the necessity of parting with an expression with which one has been so long familiar, we cannot suffer the sentimental plea to weigh with us when the Truth of the Gospel is at stake. Certain it is that but for Erasmus, we should never have known the regret: for it was he that introduced kath' eme'ran into the Received Text. The MS. from which he printed is without the expression: which is also not found in the Complutensian. It is certainly a spurious accretion to the inspired Text.

[The attention of the reader is particularly invited to this last paragraph. The learned Dean has been sneered at for a supposed sentimental and effeminate attachment to the Textus Receptus. He was always ready to reject words and phrases, which have not adequate support; but he denied the validity of the evidence brought against many texts by the school of Westcott and Hort, and therefore he refused to follow them in their surrender of the passages.]

§ 3.

Indeed, a great many various readings,' so called, are nothing else but very ancient interpretations, -- fabricated readings therefore, -- of which the value may be estimated by the fact that almost every trace of them has long since disappeared. Such is the substitution of pheugei for anecho'resen in St. John vi.15; -- which, by the way, Tischendorf thrusts into his text on the sole authority of ', some Latin copies including the Vulgate, and Cureton's Syriac : though Tregelles ignores its very existence. That our Lord's withdrawal' to the mountain on that occasion was of the nature of flight,' or retreat' is obvious. Hence Chrysostom and Cyril remark that He fled to the mountain.' And yet both Fathers (like Origen and Epiphanius before them) are found to have read anecho'resen.

Almost as reasonably in the beginning of the same verse might Tischendorf (with ') have substituted anadeiknunai for i'na poie'sosin auto`n, on the plea that Cyril says, zetein auton anadeixai kai basile'a. We may on no account suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by such shallow pretences for tampering with the text of Scripture: or the deposit will never be safe. A patent gloss, -- rather an interpretation, -- acquires no claim to be regarded as the genuine utterance of the Holy Spirit by being merely found in two or three ancient documents. It is the little handful of documents which loses in reputation, -- not the reading which gains in authority on such occasions.

In this way we are sometimes presented with what in effect are new incidents. These are not unfrequently discovered to be introduced in defiance of the reason of the case; as where (St. John xiii.24) Simon Peter is represented (in the Vulgate) as actually saying to St. John, Who is it concerning whom He speaks?' Other copies of the Latin exhibit, Ask Him who it is,' &c.: while 'BC (for on such occasions we are treated to any amount of apocryphal matter) would persuade us that St. Peter only required that the information should be furnished him by St. John -- Say who it is of whom He speaks.' Sometimes a very little licence is sufficient to convert the oratio obliqua into the recta. Thus, by the change of a single letter (in 'BX) Mary Magdalene is made to say to the disciples I have seen the Lord' (St. John xx.18). But then, as might have been anticipated, the new does not altogether agree with the old. Accordingly D and others paraphrase the remainder of the sentence thus, -- and she signified to them what He had said unto her.' How obvious is it to foresee that on such occasions the spirit of officiousness never know when to stop! In the Vulgate and Sahidic versions the sentence proceeds, and He told these things unto me.'

Take another example. The Hebraism meta` sa'lpingos phones mega'les (St. Matt. xxiv.31) presents an uncongenial ambiguity to Western readers, as our own incorrect A.V. sufficiently shows. Two methods of escape from the difficulty suggested themselves to the ancients: -- (a) Since a trumpet of great sound' means nothing else but a loud trumpet,' and since this can be as well expressed by sa'lpingos mega'les, the scribes at a very remote period are found to have omitted the word phones. The Peshitto and Lewis (interpreting rather than translating) so deal with the text. Accordingly, phones is not found in 'LD and five cursives. Eusebius , Cyril Jerus. , Chrysostom , Theodoret , and even Cyprian are also without the word. (b) A less violent expedient was to interpolate kai before phones. This is accordingly the reading of the best Italic copies, of the Vulgate, and of D. So Hilary and Jerome , Severianus , Asterius , ps.-Caesarius , Damascene and at least eleven cursive copies, so read the place. -- There can be no doubt at all that the commonly received text is right. It is found in thirteen uncials with B at their head: in Cosmas , Hesychius , Theophylact . But the decisive consideration is that the great body of the cursives have faithfully retained the uncongenial Hebraism, and accordingly imply the transmission of it all down the ages: a phenomenon which will not escape the unprejudiced reader. Neither will he overlook the fact that the three old uncials' (for A and C are not available here) advocate as many different readings: the two wrong readings being respectively countenanced by our two most ancient authorities, viz. the Peshitto version and the Italic. It only remains to point out that Tischendorf blinded by his partiality for ' contends here for the mutilated text, and Westcott and Hort are disposed to do the same.

§ 4.

Recent Editors are agreed that we are henceforth to read in St. John xviii.14 apo4anein instead of apole'sthai: -- Now Caiaphas was he who counselled the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die' (instead of perish') for the people.' There is certainly a considerable amount of ancient testimony in favour of this reading: for besides 'BC, it is found in the Old Latin copies, the Egyptian, and Peshitto versions, besides the Lewis MS., the Chronicon, Cyril, Nonnus, Chrysostom. Yet may it be regarded as certain that St. John wrote apolesthai in this place. The proper proof of the statement is the consentient voice of all the copies, -- except about nineteen of loose character: -- we know their vagaries but too well, and decline to let them impose upon us. In real fact, nothing else is apothanein but a critical assimilation of St. John xviii.14 to xi.50, -- somewhat as die' in our A.V. has been retained by King James' translators, though they certainly had lesthai before them.

Many of these glosses are rank, patent, palpable. Such is the substitution (St. Mark vi.11) of o`s a`n to'pos me` de'xetai umas by 'BLD for o`soi a`n me` de'xontai umas, -- which latter is the reading of the Old Latin and Peshitto, as well as of the whole body of uncials and cursives alike. Some Critic evidently considered that the words which follow, when you go out thence,' imply that place, not persons, should have gone before. Accordingly, he substituted whatsoever place' for whosoever ': another has bequeathed to us in four uncial MSS. a lasting record of his rashness and incompetency. Since however he left behind the words mede` akou'sosin umon, which immediately follow, who sees not that the fabricator has betrayed himself? I am astonished that so patent a fraud should have imposed upon Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and Lachmann, and Alford, and Westcott and Hort. But in fact it does not stand alone. From the same copies 'BLD (with two others, CD) we find the woe denounced in the same verse on the unbelieving city erased (ame`n le'go umi?n, anektoteron e'stai Sodo'mois e' Gomo'rrois en heme'ra kri'seos, e' te po'lei ekei'ne). Quite idle is it to pretend (with Tischendorf) that these words are an importation from the parallel place in St. Matthew. A memorable note of diversity has been set on the two places, which in all the copies is religiously maintained, viz. Sodo'mois e' Gomo'rrois, in St. Mark: ge Sodo'mon kai Gomo'rron, in St. Matt. It is simply incredible that this could have been done if the received text in this place had been of spurious origin.

§ 5.

The word apechei in St. Mark xiv.41 has proved a stumbling-block. The most obvious explanation is probably the truest. After a brief pause , during which the Saviour has been content to survey in silence His sleeping disciples; -- or perhaps, after telling them that they will have time and opportunity enough for sleep and rest when He shall have been taken from them; -- He announces the arrival of the hour,' by exclaiming, Apechei, -- It is enough;' or, It is sufficient;' i.e. The season for repose is over.

But the Revisers' of the second century did not perceive that apechei is here used impersonally . They understood the word to mean is fully come'; and supplied the supposed nominative, viz. to telos . Other critics who rightly understood apechei to signify sufficit,' still subjoined finis.' The Old Latin and the Syriac versions must have been executed from Greek copies which exhibited, -- apechei to telos. This is abundantly proved by the renderings adest finis (f), -- consummatus est finis (a); from which the change to apechei to telos KAI he hora (the reading of D) was obvious: sufficit finis et hora (d q); adest enim consummatio; et (ff^2 venit) hora (c); or, (as the Peshitto more fully gives it), appropinquavit finis, et venit hora . Jerome put this matter straight by simply writing sufficit. But it is a suggestive circumstance, and an interesting proof how largely the reading apechei to telos must once have prevailed, that it is frequently met with in cursive copies of the Gospels to this hour . Happily it is an old reading' which finds no favour at the present day. It need not therefore occupy us any longer.

As another instance of ancient Glosses introduced to help out the sense, the reading of St. John ix.22 is confessedly i'na ea'n tis auto`n omologe'se Christo'n. So all the MSS. but one, and so the Old Latin. So indeed all the ancient versions except the Egyptian. Cod. D alone adds einai: but einai must once have been a familiar gloss: for Jerome retains it in the Vulgate: and indeed Cyril, whenever he quotes the place , exhibits ton Christon einai. Not so however Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa .

§ 6.

There is scarcely to be found, amid the incidents immediately preceding our Saviour's Passion, one more affecting or more exquisite than the anointing of His feet at Bethany by Mary the sister of Lazarus, which received its unexpected interpretation from the lips of Christ Himself. Let her alone. Against the day of My embalming hath she kept it.' (St. John xii.7.) He assigns to her act a mysterious meaning of which the holy woman little dreamt. She had treasured up that precious unguent against the day, -- (with the presentiment of true Love, she knew that it could not be very far distant), -- when His dead limbs would require embalming. But lo, she beholds Him reclining at supper in her sister's house: and yielding to a Divine impulse she brings forth her reserved costly offering and bestows it on Him at once. Ah, she little knew, -- she could not in fact have known, -- that it was the only anointing those sacred feet were destined ever to enjoy! . . . . In the meantime through a desire, as I suspect, to bring this incident into an impossible harmony with what is recorded in St. Mark xvi.1, with which obviously it has no manner of connexion, a scribe is found at some exceedingly remote period to have improved our Lord's expression into this: -- Let her alone in order that against the day of My embalming she may keep it.' Such an exhibition of the Sacred Text is its own sufficient condemnation. What that critic exactly meant, I fail to discover: but I am sure he has spoilt what he did not understand: and though it is quite true that 'BD with five other Uncial MSS. and Nonnus, besides the Latin and Bohairic, Jerusalem, Armenian, and Ethiopic versions, besides four errant cursives so exhibit the place, this instead of commending the reading to our favour, only proves damaging to the witnesses by which it is upheld. We learn that no reliance is to be placed even in such a combination of authorities. This is one of the places which the Fathers pass by almost in silence. Chrysostom however, and evidently Cyril Alex. , as well as Ammonius convey though roughly a better sense by quoting the verse with epoiese for tetereken. Antiochus is express. [A and eleven other uncials, and the cursives (with the petty exception already noted), together with the Peshitto, Harkleian (which only notes the other reading in the margin), Lewis, Sahidic, and Gothic versions, form a body of authority against the palpable emasculation of the passage, which for number, variety, weight, and internal evidence is greatly superior to the opposing body. Also, with reference to continuity and antiquity it preponderates plainly, if not so decisively; and the context of D is full of blunders, besides that it omits the next verse, and B and ' are also inaccurate hereabouts . So that the Traditional text enjoys in this passage the support of all the Notes of Truth.]

In accordance with what has been said above, for Aphes aute'n; eis te`n eme'ran tou entaphiasmou mou tetere'ken auto' (St. John xii.7), the copies which it has recently become the fashion to adore, read aphes aute'n i'na . . . tere'se auto'. This startling innovation, -- which destroys the sense of our Saviour's words, and furnishes a sorry substitute which no one is able to explain , -- is accepted by recent Editors and some Critics: yet is it clearly nothing else but a stupid correction of the text, -- introduced by some one who did not understand the intention of the Divine Speaker. Our Saviour is here discovering to us an exquisite circumstance, -- revealing what until now had been a profound and tender secret: viz. that Mary, convinced by many a sad token that the Day of His departure could not be very far distant, had some time before provided herself with this costly ointment, and kept it' by her, -- intending to reserve it against the dark day when it would be needed for the embalming' of the lifeless body of her Lord. And now it wants only a week to Easter. She beholds Him (with Lazarus at His side) reclining in her sister's house at supper, amid circumstances of mystery which fill her soul with awful anticipation. She divines, with love's true instinct, that this may prove her only opportunity. Accordingly, she anticipates to anoint' (proe'labe muri'sai, St. Mark xiv.8) His Body: and, yielding -- to-an overwhelming impulse, bestows upon Him all her costly offering at once! . . . How does it happen that some professed critics have overlooked all this? Any one who has really studied the subject ought to know, from a mere survey of the evidence, on which side the truth in respect of the text of this passage must needs lie.

§ 7.

Our Lord, in His great Eucharistic address to the eternal Father, thus speaks: -- I have glorified Thee on the earth. I have perfected the work which Thou gavest Me to do' (St. John xvii.4). Two things are stated: first, that the result of His Ministry had been the exhibition upon earth of the Father's glory ': next, that the work which the Father had given the Son to do was at last finished . And that this is what St. John actually wrote is certain: not only because it is found in all the copies, except twelve of suspicious character (headed by 'ABCL); but because it is vouched for by the Peshitto and the Latin, the Gothic and the Armenian versions : besides a whole chorus of Fathers; viz. Hippolytus , Didymus , Eusebius , Athanasius , Basil , Chrysostom , Cyril , ps.-Polycarp , the interpolator of Ignatius , and the authors of the Apostolic Constitutions : together with the following among the Latins: -- Cyprian , Ambrose , Hilary , Zeno , Cassian , Novatian , certain Arians , Augustine .

But the asyndeton (so characteristic of the fourth Gospel) proving uncongenial to certain of old time, D inserted kai. A more popular device was to substitute the participle (teleiosas) for eteleiosa: whereby our Lord is made to say that He had glorified His Father's Name by perfecting' or completing' -- in that He had finished' -- the work which the Father had given Him to do; which damages the sense by limiting it, and indeed introduces a new idea. A more patent gloss it would be hard to find. Yet has it been adopted as the genuine text by all the Editors and all the Critics. So general is the delusion in favour of any reading supported by the combined evidence of 'ABCL, that the Revisers here translate -- I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished (teleiosas) the work which Thou hast given Me to do:' without so much as vouchsafing a hint to the English reader that they have altered the text.

When some came with the message Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master further?' the Evangelist relates that Jesus as soon as He heard (eutheos akousas) what was being spoken, said to the ruler of the synagogue, Fear not: only believe.' (St. Mark v.36.) For this, 'BLD substitute disregarding (parakousas) what was being spoken': which is nothing else but a sorry gloss, disowned by every other copy, including ACD, and all the versions. Yet does parakousas find favour with Tischendorf, Tregelles, and others.

§ 8.

In this way it happened that in the earliest age the construction of St. Luke i.66 became misapprehended. Some Western scribe evidently imagined that the popular saying concerning John Baptist, -- ti' a'ra to` paidi'on touto e'stai, extended further, and comprised the Evangelist's record,: -- kai` chei`r Kuri'ou en met' autou. To support this strange view, kai' was altered into kai` ga`r, and esti was substituted for en. It is thus that the place stands in the Verona copy of the Old Latin (b). In other quarters the verb was omitted altogether: and that is how D, Evan.59 with the Vercelli (a) and two other copies of the Old Latin exhibit the place. Augustine is found to have read indifferently -- manus enim Domini cum illo,' and cum illo est': but he insists that the combined clauses represent the popular utterance concerning the Baptist . Unhappily, there survives a notable trace of the same misapprehension in '-BCL which, alone of MSS., read kai` ga`r . . . en . The consequence might have been anticipated. All recent Editors adopt this reading, which however is clearly inadmissible. The received text, witnessed to by the Peshitto, Harkleian, and Armenian versions, is obviously correct. Accordingly, A and all the uncials not already named, together with the whole body of the cursives, so read the place. With fatal infelicity the Revisers exhibit For indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.' They clearly are to blame: for indeed the MS. evidence admits of no uncertainty. It is much to be regretted that not a single very ancient Greek Father (so far as I can discover) quotes the place.

§ 9.

It seems to have been anciently felt, in connexion with the first miraculous draught of fishes, that St. Luke's statement (v.7) that the ships were so full that they were sinking' (o'ste buthi'zesthai auta') requires some qualification. Accordingly C inserts ede (were just' sinking); and D, para ti (within a little'): while the Peshitto the Lewis and the Vulgate, as well as many copies of the Old Latin, exhibit ita ut pene.' These attempts to improve upon Scripture, and these paraphrases, indicate laudable zeal for the truthfulness of the Evangelist; but they betray an utterly mistaken view of the critic's office. The truth is, buthi'zesthai, as the Bohairic translators perceived and as most of us are aware, means were beginning to sink.' There is no need of further qualifying the expression by the insertion with Eusebius of any additional word.

I strongly suspect that the introduction of the name of Pyrrhus into Acts xx.4 as the patronymic of Sopater of Beraea,' is to be accounted for in this way. A very early gloss it certainly is, for it appears in the Old Latin: yet, the Peshitto knows nothing of it, and the Harkleian rejects it from the text, though not from the margin. Origen and the Bohairic recognize it, but not Chrysostom nor the Ethiopic. I suspect that some foolish critic of the primitive age invented Purou (or Purrou) out of Beroiaios (or Berroiaios) which follows. The Latin form of this was Pyrus ,' Pyrrhus,' or Pirrus .' In the Sahidic version he is called the son of Berus' (huios Berou), -- which confirms me in my conjecture. But indeed, if it was with some Beracan that the gloss originated, -- and what more likely? -- it becomes an interesting circumstance that the inhabitants of that part of Macedonia are known to have confused the p and b sounds . . . . This entire matter is unimportant in itself, but the letter of Scripture cannot be too carefully guarded: and let me invite the reader to consider, -- If St. Luke actually wrote Sopatros Purrou Beroiaios, why at the present day should five copies out of six record nothing of that second word?

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