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ON THE VARIOUS READINGS OCCURRING IN THE OLD AND
NEW TESTAMENTS. I. The Christian Faith not affected by Various Readings. - II.
Nature of Various Readings. - Difference between them and mere errata. - III. Causes of various readings; -1. The negligence or mistakes of transcribers ; -2. Errors or imperfections in the
2. manuscript copied ; — 3. Critical conjecture; -4. Wilful corruptions of a manuscript from party motives. - IV. Sources whence a true reading is to be determined ;– 1. Manuscripts ; – 2. Antient Editions ; 3. Antient Versions ; — 4. Parallel Passages ;5. Quotations in the Writings of the Fathers ;-6. Critical conjecture. - V. General Rules for judging of Various Readings.
– VI. Notice of Writers who have treated on Various Readings. 1. THE Old and New Testaments, in common with all other antient writings, being preserved and diffused by transcription, the admission of mistakes was unavoidable : which, increasing with the multitude of copies, necessarily produced a great variety of different readings. Hence the labours of learned men have been directed to the collation of manuscripts, with a view to ascertain the genuine reading : and the result of their researches has shown, that these variations are not such as to affect our faith or practice in any thing material : they are mostly of a minute, and sometimes of a trising nature. real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any single manuscript or edition,
but is dispersed in them all. It is competently exact indeed, even in the worst manuscript now extant; nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost in them."! It is therefore a very ungrounded fear that the number of various readings, particularly in the New Testament, may diminish the certainty of the Christian religion. The probability, Michaelis remarks, of restoring the genuine text of any author, increases with the increase of the copies; the most inaccurate and mutilated editions of antient writers are precisely those, of whose works the fewest manuscripts remain. Above
! Dr. Bentley's Remarks on Free-thinking, rem. xxxii. (Bp. Randolph's En chiridion Theologicum, vol. v. p. 163.) The various readings that affect doctrines
, and require caution, are extremely few, and easily distinguished by critical rules: and where they do affect a doctrine, other passages confirm and establish it. See examples of this observation in Michaelis, vol. i. p. 266, and Dr. Nares's Strictures on the Unitarian Version of the New Testament, pp. 219-221.
2 Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. i. pp. 263–263." In profane authors," says Dr. Bentley, “ (as they are called) whereof one manuscript only had the luck to be preserved. -- as Velleius Paterculus among the Latins, and Hesychius among the Greeks -- the faults of the scribes are found so numerous, and the defects so beyond all redress, that notwithstanding the pains of the learnedest and acutest critics for two whole centuries, those books still are, and are likely to continue, a mere heap of errors. On the contrary, where the copies of any author are numerous, though the various readings always increase in propor: tion, there the text, by an accurate collation of them made by skilful and judicious
all, in the New Testament, the various readings show that there could have been no collusion ; but that the manuscripts were written independently of each other, by persons separated by distance of time, remoteness of place, and diversity of opinions. This extensive independency of manuscripts on each other, is the effectual check of wilful alteration; which must have ever been immediately corrected by the agreement of copies from various and distant regions out of the reach of the interpolator. By far the greatest number of various readings relate to trifles, and make no alteration whatever in the sense, such as Δαβιδ for Δαυιδ ; Σολομωντα for Σολομωνα; και for δε ; καγω for και εγω (@g for and I); ελαττων for ελασσων και Κυριος for Θεος; λαλωσιν for λαλησωσιν; Μωσης for Μωυσης ; and γινεσθω
: ; for yavs sw; all which in most cases may be used indifferently.
In order to illustrate the preceding remarks, and to convey an idea of their full force to the reader, the various readings of the first ten verses of Saint John's Gospel are annexed in Greek and English ;and they are particularly chosen because they contain one of the most decisive proofs of the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
hands, is ever the more correct, and comes nearer to the true words of the author." Remarks on Free-thinking, in Enchirid. Theol. vol. v. p. 158.
Codices Veronensis, Ver10. Εν ΤΩ κοσμω ην
noc mundo - in this cellensis, Brixiensis, and He was in Tre world. world.
Corbeiensis, edited by Blanchini and Sabatier, Ireneus, Cyprian, Ambrose once,
Augustine repeatedly. On the whole, these various readings. — though not selected from any single manuscript, but from all that have. been collated, together with the antient versions and the quotations from the fathers, — no where contradict the sense of the evangelist ; nor do they produce any material alteration in the text."
The principal collators and collectors of various readings for the Old Testament, are Dr. Kennicott and M. de Rossi, of whose labours an account has already been given. As the price of their publications necessarily places them out of the reach of very many biblical students, the reader, who is desirous of availing himself of the results of their laborious and learned researches, will find a compendious abstract of them in Mr. Hamilton's Coder Criticus. For the New Testament, the principal collations are those of Erasmus, the editors of the Complutensian and London Polyglotts, Bishop Fell, Dr. Mill, Kuster, Bengel, Wetstein, Dr. Griesbach, and Matthæi, described in the preceding pages of this volume ;4 and for the Septuagint, the collations of the late Rev. Dr. Holmes, and his continuator, the late Rev. J. Parsons.5
Il. However plain the meaning of the term "Various Reading may be, considerable difference has existed among learned men concerning its nature. Some have allowed the name only to such readings as may possibly have proceeded from the author; but this restriction is improper. Michaelis's distinction between mere errata and various readings appears to be the true one. “ Among two or more different readings, one only can be the true reading; and the rest must be either wilful corruptions or mistakes of the copyist. It is often difficult to distinguish the genuine from the spurious; and whenever the smallest doubt can be entertained, they all receive the name of VARIOUS READINGS ; but, in cases where the transcriber has evidently written falsely, they receive the name of errata.
III. As all manuscripts were either dictated to copyists or transcribed by them, and as these persons were not supernaturally guard
i Christian Observer for 1807, vol. vi. p. 221. 2 See pp. 122, 123. supra.
3 Codex Criticus of the Hebrew Bible, wherein Vander Hooght's text is corrected from the Hebrew manuscripts collated by Kennicott and De Rossi, and from the antient versions ; being an attempt to form a standard text of the Old Testament. To which is prefixed an Essay on the nature and necessity of such an undertaking. By the Rev. George Hamilton, A. M. London, 1821, 8vo.
4 See pp. 127. 130. 132, 133, 134. 136. supra. Michaelis has given a list of authors who have collected various readings, with the remarks on their labours. Introd. vol. ii. part i. pp. 419—429. See also Pfaff's Dissertatio de Genuinis Novi Testamenti Lectionibus, pp. 101–122.
5 See an account of their edition of the Septuagint, supra, p. 132. of this volume.
ed against the possibility of error, different readings would naturally be produced :- 1. By the negligence or mistakes of the transcribers; to which we may add, 2. The existence of errors or imperfections in the manuscripts copied; 3. Critical emendations of the text; and 4. Wilful corruptions made to serve the purposes of a party, Mistakes thus produced in one copy would of course be propagated through all succeeding copies made from it, each of which might likewise have peculiar faults of its own; so that various readings would thus be increased, in proportion to the number of transcripts that were made.
1. Various readings have been occasioned by the negligence or mistakes of the transcribers.
(1.) When a manuscript is dictated, whether to one or to several copyists, the party dictating might not speak with sufficient clearness ; he might read carelessly, and even utter words that were not in his manuscript; he might pronounce different words in the same manner. The copyist, therefore, who should follow such dictation, would necessarily produce different readings. One or two eramples will illustrate this remark
In Eph. iv. 19. Saint Paul, speaking of the Gentiles, while without the Gospel, says, that being past feeling, they gare themselves over to lasciviousness. For ain)ynkotes, past feeling (which the context shows to be the genuine reading), several manuscripts, versions, and fathers read aan TIKOTES, being without hope. Dr, Mill is of opinion, that this lection proceeded froin some ignorant copyist who had in his mind Saint Paul's account of the Gentiles in Eph. ii. 12. where he says that they had no hope, szida un exovres. But for this opinion there is no foundation whatever. The antient copyists were not in general men of such subtle genius. It is therefore most probable that the word aand Timores crept in, from a mis-pronunciation on the part of the person dictating. The same remark will account for the reading of votion, young children, instead of nito, gentle, in 1 Thes. ii. 7., which occurs in many manuscripts, and also in several versions and fathers. But the scope and context of this passage prove that vnalou cannot be the original read. ing. It is the Thessalonians, whom the apostle considers as young children, and himself and fellow labourers as the nurse. He could not therefore with any propriety say that he was among them as a little child, while he himself professed to be their nurse.
(2.) Further, as many Hebrew and Greek letters are similar both in sound and in form, a negligent or illiterate copyist might, and the collation of manuscripts has shown that such transcribers did, occasion various readings by substituting one word or letter for another. Of these permutations or interchanging of words and letters, the Coder Cottonianus of the Book of Genesis affords the most striking eramples.
Thus, B and M are interchanged in Gen. xliii. 11. Tepepergov is written for Tepebiutor. -r and K, as yuvnyos for Kuvnyos, x. 9.; and é contra palex for padcy, xi. 16. -Γ and N, as συγκοψουσιν for συνκοψουσιν, Xxxiv. 30. - Γ and X, as δραχματα for εραγματα, xxxvii. 6. - A and A, as Kepovalovs for Keduwvalovs, xv. 19.; and è contra Aleep for Allwp, xxxvi. 2. — A and N, as Nebpwv for Nepud, x. 9. - A and T, as Atat for Arad, x. 10., &c. -Ζ and Σ, as Χασαδ for Χαζαό, xxii. 22. ; and μακαριζουσιν for μακαρισουσιν, XXX. 13. - θ and X, Οχοζαχ for Οχοζα9, Χxvi. 26.
θ and T, απογραφητι for arospaoni, xvi. 9. - K and X, as Kalax for Xalax, x. 11.; and oux for ork, xiii. 9:- 11 and 4, as uponentai for vaišnpnrai, xxxix. 9. Sometimes consonants are added to the end of the words apparently for the sake of euphony; as Xubad for Χωβα, πίν. 15. - γυναικας for γυναικα, xi. 13. - Ευέλατ for Eυϊλα, x. 7. - M is generally retained in the different flexions of the verb λαμβανω, in the future λημψομαι, Amptortai, xiv. 23, 24, &c. and in the aorist, Anu ponto, xviii. 4. And also in the word puti apadnudons, xix. 17. This also is common in the Codex Vaticanus. Sometimes a double consonant is expressed by a single one, and rice versa; for instance, evenkovcu for εννενηκοντα, . 9, and Σεννααρ for Σινααρ, x. 10. ; ψιλια for ψελλια, χχίν. 47., &c.
μαχαιρα, Χxvii. 40.
The Vowels are often interchanged, for instance, A and E, as TEDOTORKOvra for Tegapakovra, vii. 4., avagn for avesn, xxi. 14. — A and H, as avešev for newžer, viii. 6., μαχαιρη for
- E and H, as εψεμα for εψημα, ΧΧν. 29., ηνυπνιασθη for CVUTVIAoin, xxviii. 12. H and I, as Κιτιοι for Kητιοι, Χ. 4., ελικη for ελικι, xlix. 11, H and Y, as πηχην for πηχυν, vi. 17. - Ρεημα for Ρευμα, xxii. 24. - O and Y, as διωρυφα for diopopa, vi. 17.- O and , as Powbos for Powowi, x. 11.
The Vowels are often interchanged with the Diphthongs, for instance, AI and E, as απελευσεσθαι for απελευσεσθε, xix. 2., ανενεγκαι for ανενεγκε, xxii. 2., παιδιου for πεδιου, ΧΧΧν. 27., καταξεται for καταξετε, xlii. 38.
:- El and A, as you for ynpa, xv. 15. El and E, as Elverev for cvekov, xviii. 5. El and h, as uden for noav, xviii. 19. - EI and I, as παριςηκει for παρειςηκει, xviii. 8., γυναικια for γυναικεια, xviii. 11., ουδες for ουδεις, Xxxi. 41., κρειον for κριον, Χν. 9., &c.. - 01 and H, a. dabots for yabns, xxxi. 50.
or and H, as -Anons for aanpous, xxvii. 27.; and lastly, or and 2, as karapovpevots for καταρωμενους, xii. 13.1
The manuscripts of the New Testament abound with similar instances of permutations. Thus we meet with Auivada for Ayevadaß, in Matt. i. 4.; Akery for Agay, in Matt. i. 14. ; dia twv pa Intwv for Övo rwv pa Intwv, in Matt. xi. 2.; Marsav for Marlar, in Luke iii. 24. ; papavin for pwpavin, in Luke xiv. 34. ; ponov for in John xx. 25.;
in Rom. xii. 11. ; Aavid for Aa81d, in Matt. i. 1., and in many other passages. The reader will find numerous other examples in the elder Michaelis's Dissertation on various readings.2 Permutations of this kind are very frequent in antient manuscripts, and also in inscriptions on coins, medals, stones, pillars, and other monuments of antiquity.
(3.) In like manner the transcribers might hare mistaken the line on which the copy before them was written, for part of a letter ; or they might have mistaken the lower stroke of a letter for the line; or they might have mistaken the true sense of the original, and thus have altered the reading; at the same time they were unwilling to correct such mistakes as they detected, lest their pages should appear blotted or defaced, and thus they sacrificed the correctness of their copy to the beauty of its appearance. This is particularly observable in Hebrew manuscripts.
(4.) A person having written one or more words from a wrong place, and not observing it, or not choosing to erase it, might return to the right line, and thus produce an improper insertion of a word or a clause.
Of this we have a striking instance in John vii. 26. Do the rulers knorr ixDEED (a.nsws), that this is the very Christ, (annows ó XQ1505, TRULY the Christ) The second anniws is wanting in the Codices Vaticanus, Cantabrigiensis (or Co. dex Bezæ), Cyprius, Stephani ,, or Regius 62, Nanianus, and Ingolstadiensis, in numbers 1, 13, 28, 40, 63, 69, 116, 118, and 124 of Griesbach's notation, and nine other manuscripts of less note, which are not specified by him; it is also wanting in the manuscripts noted by Matthæi with the letters a, l, s, and 10, in all the editions of the Arabic version, in Wheeloc's edition of the Persian version, in the Coptic, Ar. menian, Sclavonic, and Vulgate versions; and in all the copies of the Old Italic version, except that of Brescia. Origen, Epiphanius, Cyril, Isidore of Pelusiun, Chrysostom, and Nonnus, among the antient fathers; and Grotius, Mill, Bongel, Bishop Pearce, and Griesbach, among the modern writers, are all unanimous in rejecting the word almows. The sentence in 1 Cor. x. 28.
γαρ Κυριου η γη και TO FACpwma avens, The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, is wanting in the Codices Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Cantabrigiensis, Basileensis, Borceli, Ilarleianus, No. 5864, and Seidelii, and in Nos. 10, 17, 28, 46, 71*, 73, and 80, of Griesbach's notation: it is also wanting in the Syriac version, in Erpenius's edition of the Arabie version, in the Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Old Italic versions, and in the quotations of the fathers Johannes Damascenus, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, Isidore of Pelusium, and Bede. Griesbach has left it out of the text, as a clause that ought most undoubtedly to be erased. There is, in fact, scarcely any authority to support it; and the clause is superfluous; in all probability it was inserted from the twenty-sixth verse, which is word for word the same.
1 Dr. Holmes's Edition of the Septuagint, Vol. I. Præf. cap. II. 0 I.
2 D. Christiani Benedicti Michaelis Tractatio Critica de Varus Lectionibus Novi Testamenti, pp. 8–10. Halæ Magdeburgicæ, 1749, 4to.