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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : ADDRESS III. HEBREW AND GREEK TEXT.

Addresses On The Revised Version Of Holy Scripture by C. J. Ellicott

ADDRESS III. HEBREW AND GREEK TEXT.

We now pass from what may be called the outward history of the Revision to the inward nature and character of the work of the Revisers, and may naturally divide that work into two portions -- their labours as regards the original text, and their labours in regard of rendering and translation.

I. First, then, as regards the original text of the Old Testament.

Here the work of the Old Testament Company was very slight as compared with that of the New Testament Company. The latter Company had, almost in every other verse, to settle upon a text -- often involving much that was doubtful and debatable -- before they proceeded to the further work of translating. The Old Testament Company, on the contrary, had ready to hand a textus receptus which really deserved the title, and on which, in their preface, they write as follows: |The received, or, as it is commonly called, the Massoretic text of the Old Testament Scriptures has come down to us in manuscripts which are of no very great antiquity, and which all belong to the same family or recension. That other recensions were at one time in existence is probable from the variations in the Ancient Versions, the oldest of which, namely, the Greek or Septuagint, was made, at least in part, some two centuries before the Christian era. But as the date of knowledge on the subject is not at present such as to justify any attempt at an entire reconstruction of the text on the authority of the Versions, the Revisers have thought it most prudent to adopt the Massoretic text as the basis of their work, and to depart from it, as the Authorised Translators had done, only in exceptional cases.|

That in this decision the Revisers had exercised the sound judgement which marks every part of their work cannot possibly be doubted by any competent reader. The Massoretic text has a long and interesting history. Its name is derived from a word, Massora (tradition), that reminds us of the accumulated traditions and criticisms relating to numerous passages of the text, and of the manner in which it was to be read, all which were finally committed to writing, and the ultimate result of which is the text of which we have been speaking. That the formation of the written Massora was a work of time seems a probable and reasonable supposition. A very competent writer {50} tells us that this formation may have extended from the sixth or seventh to the tenth or eleventh century. From the end of this Massoretic period onward the same writer tells us that the Massora became the great authority by which the text given in all the Jewish manuscripts was settled. All our manuscripts, in a word, are Massoretic. Any that were not so were not used, and allowed to perish, or, as it has been thought, were destroyed as not being in strict accordance with the recognized standards. Whether we have sustained any real critical loss by the disappearance of the rejected manuscripts it is impossible to say. The fact only remains that we have no manuscript of any portion of the Old Testament certainly known to be of a date prior to A.D.916. The Massora, it may be mentioned, appears in two forms -- the Massora parva and the Massora magna. The former contains the really valuable portion of the great work, viz., the variation technically named K'ri (read), and placed in the margin of the Hebrew Bibles. This was to be substituted for the corresponding portion in the text technically named C'thib (written), and was regarded by the Massoretes themselves as the true reading. The Massora magna contained the above, and other matter deemed to be of importance in reference to the interpretation of the text.

The Revisers inform us that they have generally, though not uniformly, rendered the C'thib in the text, and left the K'ri in the margin, with the introductory note, |Or, according to another reading,| or, |Another reading is.| When they adopted the K'ri in the text of their rendering, they placed the C'thib in the margin if it represented a variation of importance.

These things, and others specified in the preface, should be carefully attended to by the reader as enabling him to distinguish between the different characters of the alternative renderings as specified in the margin. Those due to the Massoretes, or, in other words, the K'ris, will naturally deserve attention from their antiquity. They are not, however, when estimated with reference to the whole of the sacred volume, very numerous. In the earliest printed bible they were 1,171 in number, but this is generally considered erroneous in excess, 900 being probably much nearer the true estimate.

We cannot leave the subject of the Hebrew text without some reference to the emendation of it suggested by the Ancient Versions. But little, I believe, of a systematic character has, as yet, been accomplished. The Revisers mention that they have been obliged, in some few cases of extreme difficulty, to depart from the Massoretic text and adopt a reading from the Ancient Versions. I regret to observe that it is stated by one of those connected with the forthcoming American revision of the Old Testament version that in nearly one hundred cases the marginal references to the Ancient Versions will be omitted. Reasons are given, but these could hardly have escaped the knowledge and observation of the learned men by whom the references were inserted. The Revisers also mention that where the Versions appeared to supply a very probable, though not so absolutely necessary, correction as displacement of the Massoretic text, they have still felt it proper to place the reading in the margin.

This recognition of the critical importance of the Ancient Versions by the Revisers, though obviously in only a limited number of cases, seems to indicate the great good that may be expected from a more complete and systematic use of these ancient authorities in reference to the current text of the Old Testament. At present the texts implied in them have, I believe, never yet been so closely analysed as to enable us to form any just estimate of their real critical value. They have been used by editors, as in the case of Houbigant, but only in a limited and partial manner. Lists, I believe, are accessible of all the more important readings suggested or implied by the Versions; but what is needed is far more than this. In the first place we require much more trustworthy texts of the Versions themselves than are at present at our disposal. In the case of the Septuagint we may very shortly look forward to a thoroughly revised text; and a similar remark may probably be made in reference to the Vulgate, but I am not aware that much has been done in the case of the Syriac {53}, and of other versions to which reference would have to be made in any great critical attempt, such as a revision of the textus receptus of the Old Testament.

If, however, a first need is trustworthy editions of the Versions, a second need appears to be a fuller knowledge of the Hebrew material, late in regard of antiquity though it may be, than was, at any rate, available till very recently. The new edition of the text of the Hebrew Bible by Dr. Ginsburg, with its learned and voluminous introduction, may, and probably does, supply this fuller knowledge; but as in regard of these matters I can speak only as a novice, I can only reproduce the statement commonly made by those who have a right to speak on such subjects, that the collation of the Hebrew manuscripts that we already possess has been far from complete. There appears to have been the feeling that they all lead up to the Massoretic text, and that any particular variations from it need not be treated over-seriously; and yet surely we must regard it as possible that some of these negligible variations might concur with, and by their concurrence add weight to, readings already rendered probable by the suggestive testimony of the Ancient Versions. It may be right for me to add that the whole question was raised in 1886 by Dr. Green and Dr. Schaff in a circular letter addressed to distinguished Hebrews in Germany and elsewhere. The answers are returned in German {55}, and are translated. They are most of them interesting, though not very encouraging. The best of them seems to be the answer of Professor Strack, of Berlin.

But here I must pause. The use made by the Revisers of these ancient documents has called out the foregoing comments, and has awakened the hope, which I now venture to express, that the critical use of the Versions may be expanded, and form a part of that systematic revision of the text of the Old Testament which will not improbably form part of the critical labours of the present century.

II. We may now turn to the New Testament, and to the revision of the textus receptus of the New Testament which our rules necessitated, and which formed a very important and, it may be added, a very anxious part of our revision.

And here, at the very outset, one general observation is absolutely necessary.

It is very commonly said, and I fear believed by many to be true, that the text adopted by the Revisers and afterwards published (in different forms) by the two University Presses, hardly differs at all from the afterwards published text of the two distinguished scholars and critics, one of whom was called from us a few years ago, and the other of whom has, to our great sorrow, only recently left us. I allude, of course, to the Greek Testament, now of world-wide reputation, of Westcott and Hort. What has been often asserted, and is still repeated, is this, that the text had been in print for some time before it was finally published, and was in the hands of the Revisers almost, if not quite, from the very first. It was this, so the statement runs, that they really worked upon, and this that they assimilated.

Now this I unhesitatingly declare, as I shall subsequently be able to prove, is contrary to the facts of the case. It is perfectly true that our two eminent colleagues gave, I believe, to each one of us, from time to time, little booklets of their text as it then stood in print, but which we were always warned were not considered by the editors themselves as final. These portions of their text were given to us, not to win us over to adopt it, but to enable us to see each proposed reading in its continuity. How these booklets were used by the members of the Company generally, I know not. I can only speak for myself; but I cannot suppress the conviction that I was acting unconsciously in the same manner as the great majority of the Company. I only used the booklets for occasional reference. In preparing the portion of the sacred volume on which we were to be engaged in the next session of the Company, I took due note of the readings as well as of the renderings, but I formed my judgement independently on the evidence supplied to me by the notes of the critical edition, whether that of Tischendorf or Tregelles, which I then was in the habit of using. This evidence was always fully stated to the Company, nearly always by Dr. Scrivener, and it was upon the discussion of this evidence, and not on the reading of any particular editor, on which the decision of the Company was ultimately formed. We paid in all cases great attention to the arguments of our two eminent colleagues and our experienced colleague, Dr. Scrivener; but each question of reading, as it arose, was settled by the votes of the Company. The resulting text, as afterwards published by the Oxford University Press, and edited by Archdeacon Palmer, was thus the direct work of the Company, and may be rightly designated, as it will be in these pages, as the Revisers' text.

It is of considerable importance that this should be borne in mind; for, in the angry vituperation which was directed against the Revisers' text, it was tacitly assumed that this text was practically identical with that of Westcott and Hort, and that the difficulties which are to be found in this latter text (and some there certainly are) are all to be found in the text of the Revisers. How very far such an assumption is from the true state of the case can easily be shown by a simple comparison of one text with the other. Let us take an example. I suppose there are very few who can entertain the slightest doubt that in Acts xii.35, St. Luke tells us that Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem after their mission was over, and took with them (from Jerusalem) St. Mark. Now what is the reading of Westcott and Hort? -- |to Jerusalem| with the Vatican Manuscript, and a fair amount of external support. We then turn at once to the Revisers' text and find that from ([Greek text]) is maintained, in spite of the clever arguments which, in this case, can be urged for an intrinsically improbable reading, and, most likely, were urged at the time, as I observe that the Revisers have allowed the |to| to appear in a margin.

I regret that I have never gone through the somewhat laborious process of minutely comparing the Revisers' text with the text of Westcott and Hort, but I cannot help thinking that the example I have chosen is a typical one, and does show the sort of relations between the two texts, when what a recent and competent writer (Dr. Salmon, of Trinity College, Dublin) considers to be the difficulties and anomalies and apparent perversities in the text of Westcott and Hort are compared with the decisions of the Revisers {59}. There are, I believe, only sixty-four passages in the whole revision, in which the text of the Revisers, when agreeing with the text of Westcott and Hort, has not also the support of Lachmann, or Tischendorf, or Tregelles.

I observe that the above-named writer expresses his satisfaction that the Revised Version has not superseded the Authorised Version in our Churches {60a}, and that things which were read at Rome in the second century may still be read in our own Churches in the nineteenth century. This, perhaps, is a strong way of expressing his aversion to the text of Westcott and Hort, but it is not perfectly clear that the Revisers' text has |so closely| followed the authority of these two eminent critics as to be open, on Dr. Salmon's part, to the same measure of aversion. Until more accurate evidence is forthcoming that the Revisers have shown in their text the same sort of studied disregard of Western variations as is plainly to be recognized in the text of Westcott and Hort, I can only fall back on my persuasion, as one who has put to the vote these critical questions very many times, that systematic neglect of Western authority cannot fairly be brought home to the Revisers. It is much to be regretted then, that in the very opening chapter of his interesting volume, Dr. Salmon roundly states that Westcott and Hort exercised a |predominating influence| on their colleagues in the revision on the question of various readings {60b}, and that |more than half of their brother members of the Committee had given no special attention to the subject.| Now, assuming that the word |Committee| has been here accidentally used for the more usual term Company, I am forced to say that both statements are really incorrect. I was permitted by God's mercy to be present at every meeting of the Company except two, and I can distinctly say that I never observed any indication of this predominating influence. We knew well that our two eminent colleagues had devoted many years of their lives to the great work on which they were engaged; and we paid full deference to what they urged on each reading as it came before us, but in the end we decided for ourselves. For it must not be forgotten that we had an eminent colleague (absent only eight times from our 407 meetings) who took a very different view of the critical evidence to that of Westcott and Hort, and never failed very fully, and often very persuasively, to express it. I am of course alluding to my old friend Dr. Scrivener. It was often a kind of critical duel between Dr. Hort and Dr. Scrivener, in which everything that could be urged on either side was placed before the Company, and the Company enabled to decide on a full knowledge of the critical facts and reasonings in reference to the reading under consideration.

Now it is also not correct to say of the Company that finally decided the question, that more than half |had given no special attention to the subject.| If this refers to the matter subsequently put forward by Dr. Hort in the introductory volume to Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament, to the clever and instructive genealogical method, and to the numberless applications of it that have given their Greek Testament the pre-eminence it deservedly holds -- if this be the meaning of the Provost's estimate of the critical knowledge of the Company, I should not have taken any exception to the words. But if |the subject| refers to the general critical knowledge at the time when the Company came together, then I must gently protest against an estimate of the general critical capabilities of the Company that is, really and truly, incorrect. All but three or four are now resting with God, and among these twenty they were not few who had a good and full knowledge of the New Testament textual criticism of the generation that had just passed away. Among them were not only the three experts whom I have mentioned, but editors of portions of the New Testament such as Bishop Lightfoot and others, principals of large educational colleges both in England and Scotland, and scholars like Dean Scott, who were known to take great interest in questions of textual criticism. A few of these might almost be considered as definitely experts, but all taken together certainly made a very competent body to whose independent judgement the settlement of difficult critical questions could be safely committed.

And, as I venture to think, the text which has been constructed from their decisions, their resultant text as it might be called, will show that the Revisers' text is an independent text on which great reliance can be placed. It is the text which I always use myself in my general reading of the New Testament, and I deliberately regard it as one of the two best texts of the New Testament at present extant; the other being the cheap and convenient edition of Professor Nestle, bearing the title |Novum Testamentum Graece, cum apparatu critico ex editionibus et libris manu scriptis collecto. Stuttgart, 1898.| This edition is issued by the Wurtemberg Bible Society, and will, as I hear, not improbably be adopted by our own Bible Society as their Greek Testament of the future.

The reason why I prefer these two texts for the general reading of the sacred volume is this, that they both have much in common with the text of Westcott and Hort, but are free from those peculiarities and, I fear I must add, perversities, which do here and there mark the text of that justly celebrated edition. To Doctors Westcott and Hort all faithful students of the New Testament owe a debt of lasting gratitude which it is impossible to overestimate. Still, in the introductory volume by Dr. Hort, assumptions have been made, and principles laid down, which in several places have plainly affected the text, and led to the maintenance of readings which, to many minds, it will seem really impossible to accept. An instance has been given above on page 58, and this is by no means a solitary instance.

Having now shown fairly, I hope, and clearly the thoroughly independent character of the text which I have called the Revisers' text, I will pass onward, and show the careful manner in which it was constructed, and the circumstances under which we have it in the continuous form in which it has been published by the Press of the University of Oxford.

To do this, it will be necessary to refer to the rule under which we were directed to carry out this portion of our responsible work. We had two things to do -- to revise the Authorised Version, and also to revise under certain specified limitations the Greek text from which the Authorised Version was made; or, in other words, the fifth edition of Beza's Greek Testament, published in the year 1698. The rule under which this second portion of our work was to be performed was as follows: |That the text to be adopted be that for which the evidence is decidedly preponderating; and [let this be noted] that when the text so adopted differs from that from which the Authorised Version was made, the alteration be indicated in the margin.| Such was the rule in regard of the text, and such was the instruction as to the mode of notifying any alterations that it might have been found necessary to make.

Let us deal first with the direction as to notifying the alterations. Now as it was soon found practically impossible to place all the alterations in a margin which would certainly be needed for alternative renderings, and for such matters as usually appear in a margin, we left the University Presses to publish, in such manner as they might think most convenient, the deviations from the Greek text presumed to underlie the Authorised Version. The Cambridge University Press entrusted to Dr. Scrivener the publication of the Received Text with the alterations of the Revisers placed at the foot of the page. The Oxford University Press adopted the more convenient method of letting the alterations form part of the continuous text (the readings they displaced being at the foot of the page), and entrusted the editing of the volume to Archdeacon Palmer (one of our Company) who, as we know, performed the duty with great care and accuracy. Hence the existence of what I term throughout this address as the Revisers' text.

We can now turn to the first part of the rule and describe in general terms the mode of our procedure. It differs very slightly from the mode described in the preface of the Revisers of the Old Testament. The verse on which we were engaged was read by the Chairman. The first question asked was, whether there was any difference of reading in the Greek text which required our consideration. If there was none, we proceeded with the second part of our work, the consideration of the rendering. If there was a reading in the Greek text that demanded our consideration it was at once discussed, and commonly in the following manner. Dr. Scrivener stated briefly the authorities, whether manuscripts, ancient versions, or patristic citations, of which details most of us were already aware. If the alteration was one for which the evidence was patently and decidedly preponderating, it was at once adopted, and the work went onward. If, however, it was a case where it was doubtful whether the evidence for the alteration was thus decidedly preponderating, then a discussion, often long, interesting, and instructive, followed. Dr. Hort, if present (and he was seldom absent; only forty-five times out of the 407 meetings) always took part, and finally the vote was taken, and the suggested alteration either adopted or rejected. If adopted, due note was taken by the secretary, and, if it was thought a case for a margin, the competing reading was therein specified. If there was a plain difficulty at coming to a decision, and the passage was one of real importance, the decision was not uncommonly postponed to a subsequent meeting, and notice duly given to all the members of the Company. And so the great work went on to the end of the first revision; the members of the Company acquiring more and more knowledge and experience, and their decisions becoming more and more judicial and trustworthy.

Few, I think, on reading this simple and truthful description, could fail to place some confidence in results thus patiently and laboriously arrived at. Few, I think, could forbear a smile when they call to mind the passionate vituperation which at first was lavished on the critical efforts of the Revisers of the text that bears the scarcely correct name of the textus ab omnibus receptus.

But what I have specified was only the first part of our responsible work. By the memoranda of agreement between the English Companies and the American Committee, it had to be communicated to the American Company of the Revisers of the Authorised Version of the New Testament, among whom were some whose names were well and honorably known in connexion with textual criticism. Our work, with the American criticisms and suggestions, had then to undergo the second revision. The greater part of the decisions relating to the text that were arrived at in the first revision were accepted as final; but many were reopened at the second revision, and the critical experience of the Company, necessarily improved as it had been by the first revision, finally tested by the two-thirds majority the reopened decisions which at the first revision had been carried by simple majorities. The results of this second revision were then, in accordance with the agreement, communicated to the American Company; but, in the sequel, as will be seen in the lists of the final differences between ourselves and the American Company, the critical differences were but few, and, so far as I can remember, of no serious importance.

The critical labours of the Revisers did not however terminate with the second revision. The cases were many where the evidence for the readings either adopted or retained in the text was only slightly stronger than that of readings which were in competition with it. Of this it was obviously necessary that some final intimation should be given to the reader, as the subsequent discovery of additional evidence might be held by a competent critic to invalidate the right of the adopted reading to hold its place in the text. This intimation could only be given by a final marginal note, for which, as we know, by the arrangement of the University Presses (see p.66), our page was now available.

These notes were objected to by one of our critics as quite unprecedented additions; but it will be remembered that there are such notes in the margin of the Authorised Version, though of course few in number (thirty-five, according to Dr. Scrivener), textual criticism in 1611 being only in its infancy.

The necessity for the insertion of such notes was clearly shown in a pamphlet that appeared shortly after the publication of the Revised Version, and was written by two members of the Company. The three cases in which these notes appeared certainly to be required were thus stated by the two writers: |First, when the text which seemed to underlie the Authorised Version was condemned by a decided preponderance of evidence, but yet was ancient in its character, and belonged to an early line of transmission. Secondly, when there were such clear tokens of corruption in the reading on which the Authorised Version was based, or such a consent of authority against it, that no one could seriously argue for its retention, but it was not equally clear which of the other competing readings had the best claim to occupy the vacant place. In such a case there was not, in truth, decidedly preponderant evidence, except against the text of Beza, and some notice of this fact seemed to be required by critical equity. The third and last case was when the text which, as represented in the Authorised Version, was retained because the competing reading had not decidedly preponderant evidence (though the balance of evidence was in its favour), and so could not under the rule be admitted. In such a case again critical equity required a notice of the facts in the margin.|

This quotation, I may remark in passing, is not only useful in explaining when and where marginal notes were demonstrably needed, but also in showing how carefully such questions were considered, and how conscientiously the rules were observed under which our work was to be carried out.

Such were the textual labours of the Company. They were based on, and were the results of, the critical knowledge that had been slowly acquired during the 115 years that separated the early suggestions of Bentley from the pioneer text of Lachmann in 1831; and, in another generation, had become expanded and matured in the later texts of Tischendorf, and still more so in the trustworthy and consistent text of our countryman Tregelles. The labours of these three editors were well known to the greater part of the Revisers and generally known to all; and it was on these labours, and on the critical methods adopted by these great editors, that our own text was principally formed. We of course owed much to the long labours of our two eminent colleagues, Dr. Westcott and Dr. Hort. Some of us know generally the principles on which they had based their yet unpublished text, and were to some extent aware of the manner in which they had grouped their critical authorities, and of the genealogical method, which, under their expansion of it, has secured for their text the widespread acceptance it has met with both at home and abroad.

Of these things some of us had a competent knowledge, but the majority had no special knowledge of the genealogical method. They did know the facts on which it was based -- the ascertained trustworthiness of the ancient authorities as compared with the later uncial, and the cursive manuscripts, the general characteristics of these ancient authorities, the alliances that were to be traced between some of them, and the countries with which they were particularly connected. This the majority knew generally as a part of the largely increased knowledge which the preceding forty or fifty years, and the labours of Lachmann, Tischendorf, and (so far as he had then published) Tregelles, had placed at the disposal of students of the Greek Testament. It was on this general knowledge, and not on any portions of a partly printed text, that the decisions of the Company were based; these decisions, however, by the very nature of the case and the use of common authorities, were constantly in accordance with the texts of Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, and so with the subsequently printed text of Westcott and Hort.

Such a text, thus independently formed, and yet thus in harmony with the results of the most tested critical researches of our times, has surely great claims on our unreserved acceptance, and does justify us in strongly pleading that a version of such a text, if faithfully executed, should, for the very truth's sake, be publicly read in our Churches.

That the Revised Version has been faithfully executed, will I hope be shown fully and clearly in the succeeding chapter. For the present my care has been to show that the text of which it is a version, and which I have called the Revisers' Text because it underlies their revision, and, as such, has been published by the Oxford University Press, is in my judgement the best balanced text that has appeared in this country. I have mentioned with it (p.63) the closely similar text of the well-known Professor Nestle, but as I have not gone through the laborious task of comparing the text, verse by verse, with that of the Revisers, I speak only in reference to our own country. I have compared the two texts in several crucial and important passages -- such for example as St. John i.18 -- and have found them identical. Bishop Westcott, I know, a short time before his lamented death, expressed to the Committee of the Bible Society his distinct approval of their adopting for future copies of the Society's Greek Testament Professor Nestle's text, as published by the Wurtemberg Bible Society.

I have now, I trust, fairly shown the independence of the Revisers' Text, and have, not without reason, complained of my friend Provost Salmon's estimate of its dependence on the text and earnestly exerted influence of Dr. Hort and Dr. Westcott. Of course, as I have shown, there is, and must be, much that is identical in the two texts; but, to fall back on statistics, there are, I believe, more than two hundred places in which the two texts differ, and in nearly all of them -- if I may venture to express my own personal opinion -- the reading of the Revisers' Text is critically to be preferred. Most of these two hundred places seem to be precisely places in which the principles adopted by Westcott and Hort need some corrective modifications. Greatly as I reverence the unwearied patience, the exhaustive research, and the critical sagacity of these two eminent, and now lamented, members of our former Company, I yet cannot resist the conviction that Dr. Salmon in his interesting Criticism of the Text of the New Testament has successfully indicated three or more particulars which must cause some arrest in our final judgement on the text of Westcott and Hort.

In the first case it cannot be denied that, in the introductory volume, Dr. Hort has shown too distinct a tendency to elevate probable hypotheses into the realm of established facts. Dr. Salmon specifies one, and that a very far-reaching instance, in which, in the debatable question whether there really was an authoritative revision of the so-called Syrian text at about A.D.350, Dr. Hort speaks of this Syrian revision as a vera causa, as opposed to a hypothetical possibility. This tendency in a subject so complicated as that of textual criticism must be taken note of by the student, and must introduce some element of hesitation in the acceptance of confidently expressed decisions when the subject-matter may still be very plainly debatable.

In the second place, in the really important matter of the nomenclature of the ancient types of text which, since the days of Griesbach, and to some extent before him, have been recognized by all critical scholars, it does not seem possible to accept the titles of the fourfold division of these families of manuscripts which have been adopted by Westcott and Hort. Griesbach, as is well known, adopted the terms Western, Alexandrian, and Constantinopolitan, for which there is much to be said. Westcott and Hort recognize four groups. To the first and considerably the largest they give the title of Syrian, answering to some extent to the Constantinopolitan of Griesbach; to the second they continue the title of Western; to the third they give the title of Alexandrian, though of a numerically more restricted character than the Alexandrian of Griesbach; to the fourth, an exceedingly small group, apparently consisting of practically not more than two members, they give the title of Neutral, as being free alike from Syrian, Western, and Alexandrian characteristics. On this Neutral family or group Westcott and Hort lay the greatest critical stress, and in it they place the greatest reliance. Such is their distribution, and such the names they give to the families into which manuscripts are to be divided and grouped.

The objections to this arrangement and to this nomenclature are, as Dr. Salmon very clearly shows, both reasonable and serious. In the first place, the title Syrian, though Dr. Salmon allows it to pass, is very misleading, especially to the student. It is liable to be confounded with the term Syriac, with which it has not and is not intended to have any special connexion, and it fails to convey the amplitude of the family it designates. If it is to be retained at all, it must be with the prefix suggested by Dr. Schaff -- the group being styled as the Graeco-Syrian. But this is of slight moment when compared with the serious objections to the term Neutral, as this term certainly tends in practice to give to two manuscripts or even, in some cases, to one of them (the Codex Vaticanus), a preponderating supremacy which cannot be properly conceded when authorities of a high character are found to be ranged on the other side. There are also other grave objections which are convincingly put forward by Dr. Salmon in the chapter he has devoted to the subject of the nomenclature of the two editors.

We shall be wise therefore if we cancel the term Neutral and use the term Older Alexandrian, as distinguished from the later Alexandrian, and so fall back on the threefold division of Alexandrian (earlier and later), Graeco-Syrian, and Western, though for this last-mentioned term a more expressive designation may perhaps hereafter be found.

The third drawback to the unqualified acceptance of the text of Westcott and Hort is their continuous and studied disregard of Western authorities; and this, notwithstanding that among these authorities are included the singular and not unfrequently suggestive Codex Bezae -- of which Dr. Blass has lately made so remarkable a use -- the Old Latin Version, the Graeco-Latin manuscripts, and, to some extent, the Old Syriac Version, all of them authorities to which the designation of Western is commonly applied. To this grave drawback Dr. Salmon has devoted a chapter to which the attention of the student may very profitably be directed. Here I cannot enter into details, but of this I am persuaded, that if there should be any fresh discovery of textual authorities, it is by no means unlikely that they may be of a Western character, and if so, that many decisions in the text of Westcott and Hort will have to be modified by some editor of the future. At any rate, taking the critical evidence as now we find it, we cannot but feel that Dr. Salmon has made out his case, and that in the edition of which now we are speaking there has been an undue, and even a contemptuous, disregard of Western authorities.

Here I must close this address, yet not without expressing the hope that I may have induced some of you, my Reverend Brethren, to look into these things for yourselves. Do not be deterred by the thought that to do so you must read widely and consult many authorities. This is really not necessary for the acquiring of an intelligent interest in the text of the Greek Testament. With a good edition (with appended critical authorities), whether that of Tischendorf or of Tregelles, and with guidance such as that which you will find in the compendious Companion to the Greek Testament of Dr. Schaff, you will be able to begin, and when you have seriously begun, you will not be, I am persuaded, very likely to leave off.

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