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THE NEW TESTAMENT AND
THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. 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 (Luke xxii. 20; Matt. xxvi. 28; 1 Cor. xi. 25; cf. Exod. xxiv. 8). 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. 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 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 66 common" or Hellenistic Greek. It was in this language, in a colloquial style, that the greater part of 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. 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
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 very gradually and with varying degrees of skill between 280 B.C. and 150 B.C.
2 Dr. Ph. Schaff, Hist. Ap. Ch. p. 573.
all forming part of one divine whole1 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 2-except perhaps the Epistle of James, which was probably written before 50 A.D.
4. Manuscripts.-The original MSS. have all perished. If written on papyrus 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. 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 ), discovered by Tischendorf in St. Catherine's Convent at the foot of Mount Sinai in 1859, now deposited at Petrograd; (2) the Vatican (Codex B); and (3) the recently discovered Washington (Codex W) containing the Gospels-all of the fourth century;
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.
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 in 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 The Egyptian papyri owe their preservation to special circumstances which saved them from exposure and tear and wear. Small fragments of the first and fourth Gospels and about a third of Hebrews found at Oxyrhynchus, are assigned to the third or fourth century.
4 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.
(4) the Alexandrine (Codex A), preserved in the British Museum, and dating from the fifth century; (5) Codex Ephraemi (C), also of the fifth century—a palimpsest, the original writing having been effaced in the twelfth century (but now revived) to make room for the writings of Ephraem Syrus; and (6) Codex Beza (D), of the fifth or sixth century, preserved in the University of Cambridge. These and other ancient MSS. to the number of more than 150 are called Uncials, because written with capital letters without any separation between the words, -the others of a more modern character being called Minuscules or Cursives, because written in a small running hand. Of the latter there are about 2500-a immense array of witnesses compared with the few MSS. of classical works preserved to us, which can frequently be counted on the ten fingers. Owing to the greater liability to error in copying with the hand than in the use of the printing press, about 200,000 Various Readings have been discovered in the extant MSS. of the New
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Testament. Happily the differences between the readings are for the most part so minute that they do not affect the substance of revealed truth. As it is the duty of the Church, however, to ascertain, as far as possible, the exact words of the sacred writers, a special department of study has been instituted, commonly known as Textual Criticism, which has for its aim to adjudicate on the rival claims of the various readings, with due regard to the age and special characteristics of the several manuscripts, as well as to the common risks of misapprehension and inadvertence to which all copyists were liable.
5. Other Witnesses. - In the performance of the difficult and delicate task just mentioned attention must be paid to two other valuable sources of information. (1) Those writings of Church Fathers- ranging from the end of the first century to the fourth or fifth century of the