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The Last Twelve Verses Of The Gospel According To S Mark by John William Burgon


On the importance of attending to Patristic Citations of Scripture. -- The correct Text of S. Luke ii.14, established.

(Referred to at p.22.)

IN Chapter III. the importance of attending to Patristic citations of Scripture has been largely insisted upon. The controverted reading of S. Luke ii.14 supplies an apt illustration of the position there maintained, viz. that this subject has not hitherto engaged nearly as much attention as it deserves.

I. Instead of en anthropois eudokia, (which is the reading of the |Textus receptus,|) Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford present us with en anthropois eudokias. Their authority for this reading is the consentient testimony of the four oldest MSS. which contain S. Luke ii.14 (viz. B, ', A, D): The Latin Versions generally (|in hominibus bonae voluntatis|); and the Gothic. Against those are to be set, Cod. A (in the Hymn at the end of the Psalms); all the other uncials; together with every known cursive MS.; and every other ancient Version in existence.

So far, the evidence of mere Antiquity may be supposed to preponderate in favour of eudokias: though no judicious Critic, it is thought, should hesitate in deciding in favour of eudokia, even upon the evidence already adduced. The advocates of the popular Theory ask, -- But why should the four oldest MSS., together with the Latin and the Gothic Versions, conspire in reading eudokias, if eudokia be right? That question shall be resolved by-and-by. Let them in the mean time tell us, if they can, -- How is it credible that, in such a matter as this, every other MS. and every other Version in the world should read eudokia, if eudokia be wrong? But the evidence of Antiquity has not yet been nearly cited. I proceed to set it forth in detail.

It is found then, that whereas eudokias is read by none, eudokia is read by all the following Fathers: --

(1) Origen, in three places of his writings, [i.374 D: ii.714 B: iv.15 B, -- A.D.240.]

(2) The Apostolical Constitutions, twice, [vii.47: viii.12 ad fin., -- III^rd cent.]

(3) Methodius, [Galland. iii.809 B, -- A.D.290.]

(4) Eusebius, twice, [Dem. Ev.163 c: 342 B, -- A.D.320.]

(5) Aphraates the Persian, (for whose name [suprà, pp.26-7] that of Jacobus of Nisibis' has been erroneously substituted), twice, [i.180 and 385, -- A.D.337.]

(6) Titus of Bostra, twice, [in loc., but especially in S. Luc. xix.29 (Cramer, ii.141, line 20), -- A.D.350.]

(7) Gregory of Nazianzus, [i.845 C, -- A.D.360.]

(8) Cyril of Jerusalem, [A.D.370], as will be found explained below.

(9) Epiphanius, [i.154 D, -- A.D.375.]

(10) Chrysostom, four times, [vii.311 B: 674 C: viii.85 C: xi.374 B expressly, -- A.D.400.]

(11) Cyril of Alexandria, in three places, [Comm. on S. Luke, pp.12 and 16. Also Opp. ii.593 A: vi.398 C, -- A.D.420.]

(12) Theodoret, [in Coloss. i.20, -- A.D.430.]

(13) Theodotus of Ancyra, [Galland. x.446 B, -- A.D.430.]

(14) Proclus, Abp. of Constantinople, [Gall, x.629 A, -- A.D.434.]

To which may be added the evidence of

(15) Cosmas Indicopleustes, four times repeated, [Coll. Nov. PP., (Montfaucon,) ii.152 A, 160 D, 247 E, 269 C, -- A.D.535.]

(16) Eulogius, Abp. of Alexandria, [Gall. xii.308 E, -- A.D.581.]

(17) Andreas of Crete, twice, [Gall. xiii.100 D, 123 C, -- A.D.635.]

Now, when it is considered that these seventeen Fathers of the Church all concur in exhibiting the Angelic Hymn as our own Textus Receptus exhibits it, -- (viz. en anthropois eudokia,) -- who does not see that the four oldest uncial authorities for eudokias are hopelessly outvoted by authorities yet older than themselves? Here is, to all intents and purposes, a record of what was once found in two Codices of the iii^rd century; in nine of the iv^th; in three of the v^th; -- added to the testimony of the two Syriac, the Egyptian, the Ethiopic, and the Armenian versions. In this instance therefore the evidence of Antiquity is even overwhelming.

Most decisive of all, perhaps, is the fact this was the form in which the Churches of the East preserved the Angelic Hymn in their private, as well as their solemn public Devotions. Take it, from a document of the v^th century: --


But the text of this Hymn, as a Liturgical document, at a yet earlier period is unequivocally established by the combined testimony of the Apostolical Constitutions (already quoted,) and of Chrysostom, who says expressly: -- Eucharistountes legomen, Doxa en hupsistois Theo, kai epi ges eirene, en anthropois eudokia. [Opp. xi.347 B.] Now this incontestably proves that the Church's established way of reciting the Angelic Hymn in the iv^th century was in conformity with the reading of the Textus Receptus. And this fact infinitely outweighs the evidence of any extant MSS. which can be named: for it is the consentient evidence of hundreds, -- or rather of thousands of copies of the Gospels of a date anterior to A.D.400, which have long since perished.

To insist upon this, however, is not at all my present purpose. About the true reading of S. Luke ii.14, (which is not the reading of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford,) there is clearly no longer any room for doubt. It is perhaps one of the best established readings in the whole compass of the New Testament. My sole object is to call attention to the two following facts: --

(1) That the four oldest Codices which contain S. Luke ii.14 (B, ', A, D, A.D.320-520), and two of the oldest Versions, conspire in exhibiting the Angelic Hymn incorrectly.

(2) That we are indebted to fourteen of the Fathers (A.D.240-434), and to the rest of the ancient Versions, for the true reading of that memorable place of Scripture.

II. Against all this, it is urged (by Tischendorf) that, --

1. Irenaeus sides with the oldest uncials. -- Now, the Greek of the place referred to is lost. A Latin translation is all that survives. According to that evidence, Irenaeus, having quoted the place in conformity with the Vulgate reading (iii. c. x. § 41, -- |Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,|) presently adds, -- |In eo quod dicunt, Gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax, eum qui sit altissimorum, hoc est, supercaelestium factor et eorum, quae super terram omnium conditor, his sermonibus glorificaverunt; qui suo plasmati, hoc est hominibus suam benignitatem salutis de caelo misit.| (ed. Stieren, i.459). -- But it must suffice to point out (1) that these words really prove nothing: and (2) that it would be very unsafe to build upon them, even if they did; since (3) it is plain that the Latin translator exhibits the place in the Latin form most familiar to himself: (consider his substitution of |excelsis| for |altissimis.|)

2. Next, Origen is claimed on the same side, on the strength of the following passage in (Jerome's version of) his lost Homilies on S. Luke: -- |Si scriptum esset, Super terram pax, et hucusque esset finita sententia, recto quaestio nasceretur. Nunc vero in eo quod additum est, hoc est, quod post pacem dicitur, In hominibus bonae voluntatis, solvit quaestionem. Pax enim quam non dat Dominus super terram, non est pax bonae voluntatis.| (Opp. iii. p.946.) |From this,| (says Tischendorf, who is followed by Tregelles,) |it is plain that Origen regarded eudokias as the true reading; not eudokia -- which is now thrice found in his Greek writings.| -- But,

Is one here more struck with the unfairness of the Critic, or with the feebleness of his reasoning? For, -- (to say nothing of the insecurity of building on a Latin. Translation , especially in such a matter as the present,) -- How can testimony like this be considered to outweigh the three distinct places in the original writings of this Father, where he reads not eudokias but eudokia? Again. Why is a doubt insinuated concerning the trustworthiness of those three places, (|ut nunc reperitur,|) whore there really is no doubt? How is Truth ever to be attained if investigations like the present are to be conducted in the spirit of an eager partisan, instead of with the calm gravity of an impartial judge?

But I may as well state plainly that the context of the passage above quoted chews that Tischendorf's proposed inference is inadmissible. Origen is supposing some one to ask the following question: -- |Since Angels on the night when Christ was born proclaimed on earth Peace,' -- why does our Saviour say, I am not come to send Peace upon earth, but a sword? . . . . Consider,| (he proceeds) |whether the answer may not be this:| -- and then comes the extract given above. Origen, (to express oneself with colloquial truthfulness,) is at his old tricks. He is evidently acquainted with the reading eudokias: and because it enables him to offer (what appears to him) an ingenious solution of a certain problem, he adopts it for the nonce: his proposal to take the words eirene eudokias together, being simply preposterous, -- as no one ever knew better than Origen himself .

3. Lastly, Cyril of Jerusalem is invariably cited by the latest Critics as favouring the reading eudokias. Those learned persons have evidently overlooked the candid acknowledgment of De Touttée, Cyril's editor, (p.180, cf. bottom of p.162,) that though the MSS. of Cyril exhibit eudokia, yet in his editorial capacity he had ventured to print eudokias. This therefore is one more Patristic attestation to the trustworthiness of the Textus Receptus in respect of S. Luke ii.14, which has been hitherto unaccountably lost sight of by Critics. (May I, without offence, remind Editors of Scripture that instead of copying, they ought in every instance to verify their references?)

III. The history of this corruption of the Text is not hard to discover. It is interesting and instructive also.

In the immediately post-Apostolic age, -- if not earlier still, -- some Copyist will have omitted the en before anthropois. The resemblance of the letters and the similarity of the sound (EN, AN,) misled him: --


Every one must see at a glance how easily the thing may have happened. (It is in fact precisely what has happened in Acts iv.12; where, for en anthropois, D and a few cursive MSS. read anthropois, -- being countenanced therein by the Latin Versions generally, and by them only.)

(2.) The result however -- (doxa en hupsistois Theo kai epi ges eirene anthropois eudokia -- was obviously an impossible sentence. It could not be allowed to stand. And yet it was not by any means clear what had happened to it. In order, as it seems, to force a meaning into the words, some one with the best intentions will have put the sign of the genitive (c) at the end of eudokia. The copy so depraved was destined to play an important part; for it became the fontal source of the Latin Version, which exhibits the place thus: -- Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. . . . . It is evident, by the way, (if the quotation from Irenaeus, given above, is to be depended upon,) that Irena3us must have so read the place: (viz. eirene anthropois eudokias.)

(3.) To restore the preposition (EN) which had been accidentally thrust out, and to obliterate the sign of the genitive (c) which had been without authority thrust in, was an obvious proceeding, Accordingly, every Greek Evangelium extant exhibits en anthropois: while all but four (B, ', A, D) read eudokia. In like manner, into some MSS. of the Vulgate (e.g. the Cod. Amiatinus,) the preposition (|in|) has found its way back; but the genitive (|bonae voluntatis|) has never been rectified in a single copy of the Latin version. -- The Gothic represents a copy which exhibited en anthropois eudokias

The consequence is that .a well-nigh untranslatable expression retains its place in the Vulgate to the present hour. Whether (with Origen) we connect eudokias with eirene, -- or (with the moderns) we propose to understand |men of good pleasure,| -- the result is still the same. The harmony of the three-part Anthem which the Angels sang on the night of the Nativity is hopelessly marred, and an unintelligible discord substituted in its place. Logic, Divinity, Documents are here all at one. The reading of Stephens is unquestionably correct. The reading of the latest Editors is as certainly corrupt. This is a case therefore where the value of Patristic testimony becomes strikingly apparent. It affords also one more crucial proof of the essential hollowness of the theory on which it has been recently proposed by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles and the rest to reconstruct the text of the New Testament.

To some, it may perhaps seem unreasonable that so many words should be devoted to the establishment of the text of a single place of Scripture, -- depending, as that text does, on the insertion or the omission of a single letter. I am content to ask in reply, -- What is important, if not the utterance of Heaven, when, at the laying of the corner-stone of the New Creation, |the Morning Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy?|

IV. Only one word in conclusion.

Whenever the time comes for the Church of England to revise her Authorized Version (1611), it will become necessary that she should in the first instance instruct some of the more judicious and learned of her sons carefully to revise the Greek Text of Stephens (1550). Men require to know precisely what it is they have to translate before they can pretend to translate it. As for supposing that Scholars who have been appointed to revise a Translation are competent at a moment's notice, as every fresh difficulty presents itself, to develope the skill requisite for revising the original Text, -- it is clearly nothing else but supposing that experts in one Science can at pleasure shew themselves proficients in another.

But it so happens that, on the present occasion, that other Science is one of exceeding difficulty. Revisionists here will find it necessary altogether to disabuse their minds of the Theory of Textual Criticism which is at present the dominant and the popular one, -- and of which I have made it my business to expose the fallaciousness, in respect of several crucial texts, in the course of the present work.

I cannot so far forget the unhappy circumstances of the times as to close this note without the further suggestion, (sure therein of the approval of our trans-Atlantic brethren,) that, for a Revision of the Authorized Version to enjoy the confidence of the Nation, and to procure for itself acceptance at the hands of the Church, -- it will be found necessary that the work should be confided to Churchmen. The Church may never abdicate her function of being |a Witness and a Keeper of Holy Writ.| Neither can she, without flagrant inconsistency and scandalous consequence, ally herself in the work of Revision with the Sects. Least of all may she associate with herself in the sacred undertaking an Unitarian Teacher, -- one who avowedly [see the letter of |One of the Revisionists, G. V. S.,| in the |Times| of July 11, 1870] denies the eternal Godhead of her Lord. That the individual alluded to has shewn any peculiar aptitude for the work of a Revisionist; or that he is a famous Scholar; or that he can boast of acquaintance with any of the less familiar departments of Sacred Learning; is not even pretended. (It would matter nothing if the reverse were the case.) What else, then, is this but to offer a deliberate insult to the Majesty of Heaven in the Divine Person of Him who is alike the Object of the Everlasting Gospel, and its Author?

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