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Syriac. Peshito Version (Codex add. 14470), of the 5th or 6th century. Beginning of Mark.
(From the original). See p. 14.
Palimpsest MS. of old Syriac Gospels discovered in the Convent of St. Catherine on
THE NEW TESTAMENT AND
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
1. Its Name. The New Testament forms the second and concluding portion of the Revelation given to the world in the line of Jewish history. It derives its name from an expression used by the Lord Jesus Christ in the institution of the rite which was designed to commemorate His death—“This cup is the new testament in my blood”—more correctly, “ This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (R.V.), in contrast with the old covenant made with Moses.1 The use of the word “testament” in this sense was due to the Latin testamentum, which was early adopted as an equivalent for the Greek word meaning “covenant.” 2
2. Its Language. A period of about four hundred years had elapsed after the last of the Old Testament Scriptures was written before the New Testament was commenced. In the interval the Jewish people, spreading far and wide in the pursuit of arts and commerce, had become familiar with the Greek
1 Luke xxii. 20; Matt. xxvi. 28; the Lord hath made with you." I Cor. xi. 25; cf. Exod. xxiv. 8: “Be
2 Διαθήκη. hold the blood of the covenant, which
tongue, which was the intellectual bond of the civilised world, as the Roman empire was its bond in a social and political sense. Into this language the Scriptures of the Old Testament had been translated from the Hebrew, about 200 B.C., at Alexandria, the great meeting-place of Rabbinical learning and Hellenic culture. From the amalgamation of these and other elements there resulted a form of Greek known as the “common or Hellenistic Greek. It was in this language that the New Testament was written a language marvellously fitted for the purpose, both because of the wide prevalence of Greek among the civilised nations of the time (resulting from the conquests of Alexander the Great), and on account of its unrivalled clearness, richness, and flexibility. Hence the New Testament has been aptly described as having "a Greek body, a Hebrew soul, and a Christian spirit that animates them both.” 2
3. Its Contents.
The New Testament Scriptures consist of twenty-seven different books, varying in their form and character—the first in order mainly historical, the next doctrinal, and the concluding portion relating to vision and prophecy. This is an order somewhat analogous to that found in the Old Testament, many of whose characteristics alike as regards thought and expression are reflected in the New Testament. The twenty-seven books are the work of nine different authors (assuming the Epistle to the Hebrews to have been written by some other person than St. Paul), each book having its special characteristics corresponding to the personality of its writer and the circumstances in which it was written, but all forming part of one divine whole centred in the Lord Jesus Christ and essentially related to an unseen world. They were written at various times, but all in the latter half of the first century-except perhaps the Epistle of James, which was probably written before 50 A.D.2
very gradually and with varying degrees of skill between 280 B.C. and
1 The Septuagint, so called because said to have been executed by seventy Jews brought to Alexandria from Jerusalem for this purpose by Ptolemy Philadelphus. The work was done
2 Dr. Ph. Schaff, Hist. Ap. Ch., p. 573
4. Manuscripts. The original MSS. have all perished. If written on papyrus 4 for ordinary use they would not last, while those of a more durable substance would be in frequent danger of destruction at the hands of persecutors.5 Hence the vast majority of extant MSS. are of a comparatively modern date—anterior, however, to the invention of printing in 1450, when the copying of MSS. practically ceased. A few precious copies written on vellum or parchment have come down to us from a very early period, the most important of which are (1) the Sinaitic (Codex x), and (2) the Vatican (Codex B) both of the fourth century; (3) the Alexandrine (Codex A) of the fifth century ; (4) Codex Ephraemi (C), also of the fifth century, and Codex Bezae (D) of the sixth century. These and other ancient MSS. to the number of about a hundred are
1 “The books of Scripture are a series, not a congeries. This is true of the Bible as a whole, and is the most remarkable fact in literature as well as in religion.”—Prof. Charteris, The New Testament Scriptures, p. 3.
On the Canon see Note A at the end of this chapter.
2 Speaking generally, this may now be said to be the opinion of the great majority of critics who are willing to be guided by evidence as they would in the case of any other books.
“In recent years,” says Prof. Ramsay in his preface to The Church in the Roman Empire, “as I came to understand Roman history better, I have realised that, in the case of almost all the books of the New Testament, it is as gross an outrage on criticism to hold them for second century forgeries as it would be to class the works of Horace and Virgil as forgeries of the time of Nero."
3 Even in the second century they had ceased to be available for reference, as we learn from Irenæus writing in the
latter part of that century, and from Origen who lived about fifty years later.
4 Papyrus (with a pen of reed, not a metal pen or stylus), seems to be referred to in 2 John, ver. 12 (xáptov, cf. kal. ájov, 3 John, ver. 13); but parchment in 2 Tim. iv. 13 (τα βιβλία, μάλιστα τάς μεμβράνας). The Egyptian and other papyri to be found in museums owe their preservation to special circumstances which saved them from exposure and from tear and wear.
5 For example, immense numbers of MSS. were destroyed by Imperial edict in the Diocletian persecution in the beginning of the fourth century: and even in Britain (as we learn from Gildas the historian) great piles were burned during the persecutions of the third century. A common way of avoiding punishment was to hand over the sacred books to the authorities, those who did so being known among their brethren by the name of traditores (traitors).