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Evan Roberts Quote : Christian Books : APPENDIX (H).

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


On the Interpolation of the text of Codex B and Codex ' at

S. Matthew xxvii.48 or 49.

(Referred to at pp.202 and 219.)

IT is well known that our two oldest Codices, Cod. B and Cod. ', (see above, p.80,) exhibit S. Matthew xxvii.49, as follows. After soson [Cod. Sinait. sosai] auton, they read: --

(Cod. B.) (Cod. '.)
alloc de labo de labon loGchE¯
loGchEn enuxen autou enuxen autou TE¯
TEn pleuran kai exEl pleuran kai exEl
then udor kai aima then udor kai ai

Then comes, o de is? palin kraxas k.t.l. The same is also the reading of Codd. C, L, U, G: and it is known to recur in the following cursives, -- 5, 48, 67, 115, 127 .

Obvious is it to suspect with Matthaei, (ed.1803, vol. i. p.158,) that it was the Lectionary practice of the Oriental Church which occasioned this interpolation. In S. John xix.34 occurs the well-known record, -- all' heis ton stratioton lonche autou ten pleuran enuxe, kai euthus exelthen haima kai hudor and it was the established practice of the Easterns, in the Ecclesiastical lection for Good Friday, (viz. S. Matth. xxvii.1-61,) to interpose S. John xix.31 to 37 between the 54th and the 55th verses of S. Matthew. This will be found alluded to above, at p.202 and again at pp.218-9.

After the pages just quoted were in type, while examining Harl. MS.5647 in the British Museum, (our Evan.72,) I alighted on the following Scholion, which I have since found that Wetstein duly published; but which has certainly not attracted the attention it deserves, and which is incorrectly represented as referring to the end of S. Matth. xxvii.49. It is against ver.48 that there is written in the margin, --

(E Hoti eic kath' historian euaGGelion Diadorou kai Tatianou kai allon diaphoron aEion pateron; touto proskeitai:

(E Alloc de labon; loGchEn enuxen autou TE`n pleuran. kai exE??lthen hudor kai haima: touto leGei kai ho Chrusostomoc.

This writer is perfectly correct in his statement. In Chrysostom's 88th Homily on S. Matthew's Gospel, (Opp. vii, 825 C: [vol. p.526, ed. Field.]) is read as follows: -- Enomisan Elian einai, phesi, ton kaloumenon, kai eutheos epotisan auton oxos: (which is clearly meant to be a summary of the contents of ver.48: then follows) heteros de proselthon lonche autou ten pleuran enuxe. (Chrysostom quotes no further, but proceeds, -- Ti genoit' an touton paranomoteron, ti de theriodesteron, k.t.l.)

I find it impossible on a review of the evidence to adhere to the opinion I once held, and have partially expressed above, (viz. at p.202,) that the Lectionary-practice of the Eastern Church was the occasion of this corrupt reading in our two oldest uncials. A corrupt reading it undeniably is; and the discredit of exhibiting it, Codd. B, ', (not to say Codd. C, L, U, G,) must continue to sustain. That Chrysostom and Cyril also employed Codices disfigured by this self-same blemish, is certain. It is an interesting and suggestive circumstance. Nor is this all. Severus relates that between A.D.496 and 511, being at Constantinople, he had known this very reading strenuously discussed: whereupon had been produced a splendid copy of S. Matthew's Gospel, traditionally said to have been found with the body of the Apostle Barnabas in the Island of Cyprus in the time of the Emperor Zeno (A.D.474-491); and preserved in the palace with superstitious veneration in consequence. It contained no record of the piercing of the Saviour's side: nor (adds Severus) does any ancient Interpreter mention the transaction in that place, -- except Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria; into whose Commentaries it has found its way. -- Thus, to Codices B, ', C and the copy familiarly employed by Chrysostom, has to be added the copy which Cyril of Alexandria employed; as well as evidently sundry other Codices extant at Constantinople about A.D.500. That the corruption of the text of S. Matthew's Gospel under review is ancient therefore, and was once very widely spread, is certain. The question remains, -- and this is the only point to be determined, -- How did it originate?

Now it must be candidly admitted, that if the strange method of the Lectionaries already explained, (viz. of interposing seven verses of S. John's xixth chapter [ver.31-7] between the 54th and 55th verses of S. Matth. xxvii,) really were the occasion of this interpolation of S. John xix.34 after S. Matth. xxvii.48 or 49, -- two points would seem to call for explanation which at present remain unexplained: First, (1) Why does only that one verse find place in the interpolated copies? And next, (2) How does it come to pass that that one verse is exhibited in so very depraved and so peculiar a form?

For, to say nothing of the inverted order of the two principal words, (which is clearly due to 1 S. John v.6,) let it be carefully noted that the substitution of allos de labon lonchen, for all' eis ton stratioton lonche of the Evangelist, is a tell-tale circumstance. The turn thus licentiously given to the narrative clearly proceeded from some one who was bent on weaving incidents related by different writers into a connected narrative, and who was sometimes constrained to take liberties with his Text in consequence. (Thus, S. Matthew having supplied the fact that |ONE OF THEM ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink,| S. John is made to say, |And another -- took a spear.|) Now, this is exactly what Tatian is related by Eusebius to have done: viz. |after some fashion of his own, to have composed out of the four Gospels one connected narrative .|

When therefore, (as in the present Scholion,) an ancient Critic who appears to have been familiarly acquainted with the lost |Diatessaron| of Tatian, comes before us with the express declaration that in that famous monument of the primitive age (A.D.173), S. John's record of the piercing of our Saviour's side was thrust into S. Matthew's History of the Passion in this precise way and in these very terms, -- (for, |Note,| he says, |That into the Evangelical History of Diodorus, of Tatian, and of divers other holy Fathers, is introduced [here] the following addition: And another took a spear and pierced His side, and there came out Water and Blood.' This, Chrysostom also says|), -- it is even unreasonable to seek for any other explanation of the vitiated text of our two oldest Codices. Not only is the testimony to the critical fact abundantly sufficient, but the proposed solution of the difficulty, in itself the reverse of improbable, is in the highest degree suggestive as well as important. For, -- May we not venture to opine that the same kath' historian euangelion, -- as this Writer aptly designates Tatian's work, -- is responsible for not a few of the monstra potius quam variae lectiones which are occasionally met with in the earliest MSS. of all? And, -- Am I not right in suggesting that the circumstance before us is the only thing we know for certain about the text of Tatian's (miscalled) |Harmony?|

To conclude. -- That the |Diatessaron| of Tatian, (for so, according to Eusebius and Theodoret, Tatian himself styled it,) has long since disappeared, no one now doubts . That Eusebius himself, (who lived 150 years after the probable date of its composition,) had never seen it, may I suppose be inferred from the terms in which he speaks of it. Jerome does not so much as mention its existence. Epiphanius, who is very full and particular concerning the heresy of Tatian, affords no indication that he was acquainted with his work. On the contrary. |The Diatessaron Gospel,| (he remarks in passing,) |which some call the Gospel according to the Hebrews, is said to have been the production of this writer .| The most interesting notice we have of Tatian's work is from the pen of Theodoret. After explaining that Tatian the Syrian, originally a Sophist, and next a disciple of Justin Martyr [A.D.150], after Justin's death aspired to being a heretical leader, -- (statements which are first found in Irenaeus,) -- Theodoret enumerates his special tenets. |This man| (he proceeds) |put together the so-called Diatessaron Gospel, -- from which he cut away the genealogies, and whatever else shows that the Lord was born of the seed of David. The book was used not only by those who favoured Tatian's opinions, but by the orthodox as well; who, unaware of the mischievous spirit in which the work had been executed, in their simplicity used the book as an epitome. I myself found upwards of two hundred such copies honourably preserved in the Churches of this place,| (Cyrus in Syria namely, of which Theodoret was made Bishop, A.D.423,) -- |all of which I collected together, and put aside; substituting the Gospels of the Four Evangelists in their room .|

The diocese of Theodoret (he says) contained eight hundred Parishes . It cannot be thought surprising that a work of which copies had been multiplied to such an extraordinary extent, and which was evidently once held in high esteem, should have had some influence on the text of the earliest Codices; and here, side by side with a categorical statement as to one of its licentious interpolations, we are furnished with documentary proof that many an early MS. also was infected with the same taint. To assume that the two phenomena stand related to one another in the way of cause and effect, seems to be even an inevitable proceeding.

I will not prolong this note by inquiring concerning the |Diodorus| of whom the unknown author of this scholion speaks: but I suppose it was that Diodorus who was made Bishop of Tarsus in A.D.378. He is related to have been the preceptor of Chrysostom; was a very voluminous writer; and, among the rest, according to Suidas, wrote a work |on the Four Gospels.|

Lastly, -- How about the singular introduction into the Lection for Good-Friday of this incident of the piercing of the Redeemer's side? Is it allowable to conjecture that, indirectly, the Diatessaron of Tatian may have been the occasion of that circumstance also; as well as of certain other similar phenomena in the Evangeliaria?

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