Click here to get started today!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
THE (ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ), the general title appropriated by early and inveterate usage throughout the Western Church to the latter portion of the Holy Scriptures — to the collection of writings forming the authoritative records of the Christian, as contrasted with the earlier Jewish, revelation. As the various questions relating to the genuineness of the several books of the New Testament, their title to a place in the sacred volume, and their special characteristics, are discussed in the separate articles devoted to them, (See CANON), and each book, we have now to speak only of those matters which relate to the collection as a whole. For the title, (See TESTAMENT).
I. Contents and Arrangement. — The New Testament differs remarkably from the Old in this respect, that while the writings comprehended in the earlier collection range over a period of a thousand years, those included in the later were produced almost contemporaneously, within the compass of one generation — most of them probably between A.D. 50 and A.D. 70. The collection consists of twenty-seven writings, proceeding either from apostles or from persons who were intimately associated with the apostles in their labors. Five of the works are in the form of historical narratives; four of which relate the history of the Savior's life on earth with such variety of form, and with such differences in the selection and treatment of materials, as seemed needful to meet the wants of different readers; and the fifth describes the formation and extension of the Church by the ministry of the leading apostles. Twenty-one are epistolary. Thirteen of the letters expressly bear the name of Paul as their author; nine being addressed to various Christian communities, three — called the Pastoral Epistles — to office-bearers in the Church, and one to a private individual (Philemon). An anonymous letter addressed "to the Hebrews" is associated with the Epistles of Paul. Seven other letters — one bearing the name of James, two that of Peter, three that of John, and one that of Jude — are frequently comprehended under the common name of Catholic (that is general) Epistles, as having been intended for the use of Christians in general, or as having (most of them at least) no express individual or local destination. The volume closes with a prophetic vision, the Apocalypse ft John.
The writings thus associated in the New Testament seem to have at the first glance a somewhat unconnected and desultory character; and it may readily be admitted that the form in which the inspired records of Christianity have come down to us is not that which the wisdom of man would have conceived or expected. The Christian revelation has not assumed the shape which men might have deemed, a priori, probable or desirable — of an abstract system of truth, of a formal didactic treatise elaborately setting forth doctrines in logical order, like the creeds and confessions in which men have striven at different times to define and comprehend the fullness of the scriptural teaching; or enjoining duties in methodical succession, like those codes of law in which men seek to provide beforehand for misery contingency. Its actual form exhibits a far more admirable accommodation to the conditions of human nature — in its history of a life, its records of personal experience, its teachings by concrete examples, its presenting Christianity in action. The great majority of those for whose benefit a revelation is given have but little interest in pure theory or relish for abstract truth; the pattern affects them more than the precept, and they apprehend the more readily whatever comes into contact with the wants, feelings, and exigencies of their daily life. The form of the New Testament mainly narrative and epistolary — is one especially fitted to stimulate our attention, to enlist our sympathies, to quicken our human interest in its contents, and to bring the matters of which it treats home to us, not as subjects of theory, but as facts of experience, as personal and practical realities. "The book which shall have a deep and practical influence on real life must reflect its image, must present that real mixture of facts, thoughts, and feelings which is found to exist there."
But we have to recognize in the composition of the New Testament a further peculiarity, deviating from what we should perhaps have expected, but constituting in reality the most remarkable evidence of the divine superintendence that shaped the whole. The books of the New Testament present no formal bond of unity, profess no absolute completeness, make no direct claim, in most cases, to universal acceptance. On the contrary, they seem to have originated independently of each other, and to have been prepared with immediate reference to local or temporary objects — to the special circumstances and wants of churches, or even of individuals. Christ himself wrote nothing; and we do not find in what his disciples have left any professed design of giving a full record of his teaching or a continuous and perfect exposition of his doctrine. No apostle or evangelist avows it as his purpose to furnish an authentic standard of Christian doctrine and duty for all future time.
Their works, moreover, bear no traces of mutual concert or prearranged cooperation towards a common object. They address themselves to matters in which they feel a personal interest, and to persons with whom they have more immediate relations; and they write seemingly with reference to these alone, betraying no consciousness of any ulterior aim or further destination. Their writings present the appearance of having been as casual in origin as they are occasional in form. But this very occasional and seemingly accidental character impressed on the individual elements of the New Testament as human writings will be found, when we examine them more closely, to yield the highest evidence of the divine origin and purpose of the whole, and to furnish varied means for the illustration and confirmation of their truth. The parts, regarded in themselves, seem isolated and fragmentary; but the whole, which results from their combination, reveals a unity and completeness that can only be explained through the hidden but all-pervading agency of one divine Designer. The several narratives and letters have been obviously produced without any concert among the writers; each bears the stamp of individuality and independence; and yet, when they are placed side by side, they are found so marvelously to fit into each other, to sustain such mutually complementary relations, to be knit by so many links of connection, and to exhibit so entire a harmony of general design, that the unbiased reader cannot but recognize in their deeper interdependence a providential arrangement, and refer the whole to the common inspiration of one and the same Spirit guiding the several agents in their parts for the furtherance of his own gracious purposes. These occasional writings, proceeding from different authors, and brought together from different localities, constitute, when combined, an organized body fitly joined together and pervaded by one inward life. "When it is felt," as has been well said, "that these narratives, letters, visions, do in fact fulfill the several functions, and sustain the mutual relations, which would belong to the parts of one design, coalescing into a doctrinal scheme which is orderly, progressive, and complete, then is the mind of the reader in conscious contact with the mind of God; then the superficial diversity of the parts is lost in the essential unity of the whole; the many writings have become one Book; the many writers have become one Author" (Bernard, Bampton Lecture for 1864, p. 235).
The variety of the individual elements that make up the New Testament serves several important ends. The different parts of Scripture thereby illustrate, support, and explain each other; and it thus carries within itself manifold and varied evidence of its truth self-consistent, harmonious, divine. The four narratives of the life of Christ present that combination of substantial unity with circumstantial variety that marks the testimony of independent witnesses; and, written with special reference to the circumstances and wants of their original readers, and bringing into prominence the different aspects of the Savior's character, they at once supplement and confirm each other. They present to us, as has been observed, "four aspects, but one portrait; for, if the attitude and the accessories vary, the features and the expression are the same." The Gospel of Matthew — according to early tradition the Hebrew Gospel — exhibits Jesus as the Messiah fulfilling the law and the prophets; that of Mark, deriving its lifelike details from the communications of Peter, and written primarily for Roman use, depicts to us in rapid but vivid outlines Jesus putting forth his mighty power in action; that of Luke, the close companion of Paul, prepared for the use of the Greek world, portrays Jesus as the Friend of man, the universal Savior while that of John, written late in life at Ephesus for the fuller instruction of those already within the Church, completes the picture by presenting Jesus preeminently as the Son of God, and revealing to us the highest aspect of his teaching in the circle of his chosen disciples. In the book of Acts we find that the facts of the Savior's life and death and resurrection have become the fundamental doctrines of the Church; their significance is proclaimed and their power attested. The foundation of the Church is followed by its organization and training, as developed in the Epistles. The truths announced in the Gospels and proclaimed in the Acts are here expanded, defined vindicated in opposition to error or misunderstanding and brought to bear on the manifold relations of life, In the Epistles we find the different aspects of the truth apprehended and applied by men under various phases of experience and with reference to various exigencies; and while the Epistles thus form a practical supplement to the Gospels, they are complementary to each other, and fill up through their combination the perfect image of the faith, hope, and love represented by Paul, Peter, and John.
From various early notices it would appear that the books were, as was natural, first grouped under the two general divisions of evangelic and apostolic writings (εὐαγγέλιον and ὁ ἀπόστολος or τὰ ἀποστολικά ). The more detailed information which we obtain from the oldest extant MSS., versions, and catalogues of the books given by the fathers exhibits substantially the same arrangement as that now followed in our Bibles. But few copies contained the whole New Testament; most frequently the Gospels were contained in one volume, the Acts and Epistles in another; while the Apocalypse, which was less employed in public worship, was comparatively seldom associated with the other books. The general order of the books was as follows: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline Epistles, Apocalypse. From this arrangement there are, no doubt. individual deviations, especially as regards the position of the book of Acts; and several of the ancient versions and most of the catalogues place the Epistles of Paul, as they stand in the English Bible, before the Catholic Epistles. The order followed within these larger groups seems to have been from an early period very much the same as at present. The four Gospels are almost constantly found in their familiar order; and in the Pauline Epistles the letter to the Hebrews exhibits almost the only variation, being sometimes — and indeed most frequently — inserted before the Pastoral Epistles, sometimes annexed at the close (see Scrivener's Introd. to Criticisme of N.T. p. 60, etc.). the arrangement, in the case of the Gospels, was probably based on the order in which they were supposed to be written; in the case of Paul's Epistles, on the relative importance of the churches or individuals addressed. The Apocalypse has always, when received, been placed appropriately at the end. We can hardly fail to recognize the Providence by which the Church has been guided in the internal arrangement of her sacred records, so that they shall present a consecutive teaching; the main outlines of which are wellset forth by one who has recently applied himself to illustrate the value of the order of the New Testament in this respect. The New Testament "begins with the person of Christ, and the facts of his manifestation in the flesh, and the words which he gave from his Father; and accustoms us by degrees to behold his glory, to discern the drift of his teaching, and to expect the consequences of his work. It passes on to his body, the Church, and opens the dispensation of his Spirit, and carries us into the life of his people, yea, down into the secret places of their hearts; and there translates the announcements of God into the experiences of men, and discovers a conversation in heaven and a life which is hid with Christ in God. It works out practical applications, is careful in the details of;duty, provides for difficulties and perplexities, suggests the order of churches, and throws up barriers against the wiles of the devil. It shows us things to come, the course of the spiritual conflict, the close of this transient scene, the coming of the Lord, the resurrection of the dead, the eternal judgment, the new creation, and the life everlasting. Thus it is furnished for all emergencies, and prepared for perpetual use" (Bernard, ut sup. p. 31).
II. Early History of the Text. —
1. The Original Autographs. — The early history of the apostolic writings offers no points of distinguishing literary interest. Externally, as far as it can be traced, it is the same as that, of other contemporary books. Paul, like Cicero or Pliny, often employed the services of an amanuensis, to whom he dictated his letters, affixing the salutation "with his own hand" (1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18).In one case the scribe has added a clause in his own name (Romans 16:22). Once, in writing to the Galatians, I the apostle appears to apologize for the rudeness of the autograph which he addressed to them, as if from defective sight (Galatians 6:11). If we pass onwards one step, it does not appear that any special care was taken in the first age to preserve the books of the N.T. from the various injuries of time, or to insure perfect accuracy of transcription. They were given as a heritage to man, and it was some time before men felt the full value of the gift. The original copies seem to have soon perished; and we may perhaps see in this a providential provision against that spirit of superstition which in earlier times converted the symbols of God's redemption into objects of idolatry (2 Kings 18:4). It is certainly remarkable that in the controversies at the close of the 2d century, which often turned upon disputed readings of Scripture, no appeal was made to the apostolic originals. The few passages in which it has been supposed that they are referred to will not bear examination. Ignatius, so far from appealing to Christian archives, distinctly turns, as the whole context shows, to the examples of the Jewish Church (τὰ ἀρχαῖα - ad Philad. 8). Tertullian again, when he speaks of "the authentic epistles" of the apostles (De Proescr. Haer. 36, "Apud quas ipse authenticae littere eorum recitantur"), uses the term of the pure Greek text as contrasted with. the current Latin version (comp. De Monog. 11, "Sciamus plane non sic esse in Greco authentico"). The silence of the sub-apostolic age is made more striking by the legends which were circulated afterwards. It was said that when the grave of Barnabas in Cyprus was opened, in the 5th century, in obedience to a vision, the saint was fumnd holding a (Greek) copy of Matthew written with his own hand. The copy was taken to Constantinople, and used as the standard of the sacred text (Credner, Einl. § 39; Assem. Bibl. Or. 2:81). The autograph copy of John's Gospel (αὐτὸ τὸ ἰδιόχειρον τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ ) was said to be preserved at Ephesus "by the grace of God, and worshipped (προσκυνεῖται ) by the faithful there," in the 4th century (?) (Petr. Alex. p. 518, ed. Migne, quoted from Chron. Pasch. p. 5); though according to another account it was found in the ruins of the Temple when Julian attempted to rebuild it (Philostorg. 7:14). A similar belief was current even in the last century. It was said that parts of the (Latin) autograph of Mark were preserved at Venice and Prague; but on examination these were shown to be fragments of a MS. of the Vulgate of the 6th century (Dobrowsky, Fragmentum Praense Ev. S. Marci. 1778). In the natural course of things the apostolic autographs would be likely to perish soon. The material which was commonly used for letters, the papyrus-paper to which John incidentally alludes (2 John 1:12, διὰ χάρτου καὶ μέλανος; comp. 3 John 1:13, (διὰ μέλανος καὶ καλάμου ), was singularly fragile, and even the stouter kinds, likely to be used for the historical books, were not fitted to bear constant use. The papyrus fragments which have come down to the present time have been preserved under peculiar circumstances, as at Herculaneum or in Egyptian tombs; and Jerome notices that the library of Pamphilus at Caesarea was already in part destroyed (ex parte corruptam) when, in less than a century after its formation, two presbyters of the Church endeavored to restore the papyrus MSS. (as the context implies) on parchment ("in membranis," Jerome, Ep. 34 (141), quoted by Tischendorf in Herzog's Encykl. "Bibeltext des N.T." p. 159). Parchment (2 Timothy 4:13, μεμβράνα ), which was more durable, was proportionately rarer and more costly. In the first age the written word of the apostles occupied no authoritative position above their spoken word, and the vivid memory of their personal teaching. When the true value of the apostolic writings was afterwards revealed by the progress of the Church, then collections of "the divine oracles" would be chiefly sought for among Christians. On all accounts it seems reasonable to conclude that the autographs perished during that solemn pause which followed the apostolic age, in which the idea of a Christian Canon, parallel and supplementary to the Jewish Canon, was first distinctly realized.
2. The First Copies. — In the time of the Diocletian persecution (A.D. 303) copies of the Christian Scriptures over sufficiently numerous to furnish a special object for persecutors, and a characteristic name to renegades who saved themselves by surrendering the sacred books traditores, August. Ep. 76. 2). Partly, perhaps, owing to the destruction thus caused, but still more from the natural effects of time, no MS. of the N.T. of the first three centuries remains. Some of the oldest extant were certainly copied from others which dated from within this period, but as yet no one can be placed further back than the time of Constantine. It is recorded of this monarch that one of his first acts after the foundation of Constantinople was to order the preparation of fifty MSS. of the Holy Scriptures, required for the use of the Church, "on fair skins (ἐν διφθέραις εὐκατασκεύοις ) by skillful caligraphists" (Euseb. Vit. Const. 4:36); and to the general use of this better material we probably owe our most venerable copies, which fire written on vellum of singular excellence and fineness. But though no fragment of the N.T. of the 1st century until remains, the Italian and Egyptian papyri, which are of that date, give a clear notion of the caligraphy of the period. In these tie text is written in columns, rudely divided, in somewhat awkward capital letters (uncials), without any punctuation or division of words. The iota, which was afterwards subscribed, is commonly, but not always, adscribed; and there is no trace of accents or breathings. The earliest MSS. of the N.T. bear a general resemblance to this primitive type, and we may reasonably believe that the apostolic originals were thus written.
3. Early Variations. — In addition to the later MSS., the earliest versions and patristic quotations give very important testimony to the character and history of the ante-Nicene text. Express statements of readings which are found in some of the most ancient Christian writers are, indeed, the first direct evidence which we have, and are consequently of the highest importance. But till the last quarter of the 2d century this source of information fails us. Not only are the remains of Christian literature up to that time extremely scanty, but the practice of verbal quotation from the N.T. was not yet prevalent. The evangelic citations in the apostolic fathers and in Justin Martyr show that the oral tradition was still as widely current as the written Gospels (comp. Westcott's Canon of the N.T. p. 125-195), and there is not in those writers one express verbal citation from the other apostolic books. This latter phenomenon is in a great measure to be explained by the nature of their writings. As soon as definite controversies arose among Christians, the text of the N.T. assumed its true importance. The earliest monuments of these remain in the works of Irenaeus, Hippolytus (Pseudo-Origen), and Tertullian, who quote many of the arguments of the leading adversaries of the Church. Charges of corrupting the sacred text are urged on both sides with great acrimony. Dionysius of Corinth († cir. A.D. 176, ap. Euseb. H. E. 4:23), Ireneus (cir. A.D. 177; 4:6, 1), Tertullian (cir. A.D. 210; De Carne Christi. 19, p. 385; A dv. Marc. iv, v, passim), Clement of Alexandria (cir. A.D. 200; Strom. 4:6, § 41), and at a later time Ambrose (cir. A.D. 375; De Spir. S. 3:10), accuse their opponents of this offense; but with one great exception the instances which are brought forward in support of the accusation generally resolve themselves into various readings, in which the decision cannot always be given in favor of the catholic disputant; and even where the unorthodox reading is certainly wrong it can be shown that it was widely spread among writers of different opinions (e.g. Matthew 11:27 "nec Filium nisi Pater et cui voluerit Filius revelare;" John 1:13, ὅς - ἐγννήθη ). Wilful interpolations or changes are extremely rare, if they exist at all (comp. Valent. ap. Iren. 1:4, 5, add. θεότητες Colossians 1:16), except in the case of arcion. His mode of dealing with the writings of the N.T. in which he was followed by his school, was, as Tertullian says, to use the knife rather than subtlety of interpretation. There can be no reasonable doubt that he dealt in the most arbitrary manner with whole books, and that he removed from the Gospel of Luke many passages which were opposed to his peculiar views. But when these fundamental changes were once made he seems to have adhered scrupulously to the text which he found. In the isolated readings which he is said to have altered, it happens not unfrequently that he has retained the right reading, and that his opponents are in error (Luke v. 14 om. τὸ δῶρον; Galatians 2:5, οϊ v ς οὐδέ ; 2 Corinthians 4:5?). In very many cases the alleged corruption is a various reading, more or less supported by other authorities (Luke 12:38, ἑσπερινῆ; 1 Corinthians 10:9, Χριστόν ; 1 Thessalonians 2:15, add. ἰδίους ). Where the changes seem most arbitrary there is evidence to show that the interpolations were not wholly due to his school (Luke 18:19, ὁ πατήρ; Luke 23:2; 1 Corinthians 10:19 , add. ἱερόθυτον ). (Comp. Hahn, Evangelium Marcionis; Thilo, Cod. Apocr. 1:403-486; Ritschl, Das Evatn. Marc. 1846; Volckmar, Das Evang. Marc. Leipsic, 1852: but no examination of Marcion's text is completely satisfactory.) Several very important conclusions follow from this earliest appearance of textual criticism. It is, in the first place, evident that various readings existed in the books of the N.T. at a time prior to all extant authorities. History affords no trace of the pure apostolic originals. Again, from the preservation of the first variations noticed, which are often extremely minute, in one or more of the primary documents still left we may be certain that no important changes have been made in the sacred text which we cannot now detect. The materials for ascertaining the true reading are found to be complete when tested by the earliest witnesses. Yet further: from the minuteness of some of the variations which are urged in controversy, it is obvious that the words of the N.T. were watched with the most jealous care, and that the least differences of phrase were guarded with scrupulous and faithful piety, to be used in after-time by that wide- reaching criticism which was foreign to the spirit of the first ages.
4. First Critical Labors. — Passing from these isolated quotations, we find the first great witnesses to the apostolic text in the early Syriac and Latin versions, and in the rich quotations of Clement of Alexandria († cir. A.D. 220) and Origen (A.D. 184-254). (See VERSIONS).
The Greek quotations in the remains of the original text of Irenmus and in Hippolytus are of great value, but yield in extent and importance to those of the two Alexandrine fathers. From the extant works of Origen alone no inconsiderable portion of the whole N.T., with the exception of James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the Apocalypse, might be transcribed, and the recurrence of small variations in long passages proves that the quotations were accurately made, and not simply from memory.
The evangelic text of Clement is far from pure. Two chief causes contributed especially to corrupt the text of the Gospels — the attempts to harmonize parallel narratives, and the influence of tradition. The former assumed a special importance from the Diatessaron of Tatian (cir. A.D. 170. Comp. Westcott, N.-T. Canon, p. 358-362; Tischendorf on Matthew 27:49), and the latter, which was, as has been remarked, very great in the time of Justin Martyr, still lingered. The quotations of Clement suffer from both these disturbing forces (Matthew 8:22; Matthew 10:30; Matthew 11:27; Matthew 19:24; Matthew 23:27; Matthew 25:41; Matthew 10:26, omitted by Tischendorf Luke 3:22), and he seems to have derived from his copies of the Gospels two sayings of the Lord which form no part of the canonical text (comp. Tischendorf on Matthew 6:33; Luke 16:11). Elsewhere his quotations are free, or a confused mixture of two narratives (Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 6:32 sq.; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:43), but in innumerable places he has preserved the true reading (Matthew 5:4-5; Matthew 5:42; Matthew 5:48; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 11:17; Matthew 13:25; Matthew 23:26; Acts 2:41; Acts 17:26). His quotations from the Epistles are of the very highest value. In these tradition had no prevailing power, though Tatian is said to have altered in parts the language of the Epistles (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 4:29); and the text was left comparatively free from corruptions.
Against the few false readings which he supports (e.g. 1 Peter 2:2, Χριστός (c; Romans 3:26, Ι᾿ησοῦν; 8:11, διὰ τοῦ ἐνοικ . πν ) may be brought forward a long list of passages in which he combines with a few of the best authorities in upholding the true text (e.g. 1 Peter 2:2; Romans 2:17; Romans 10:3; Romans 15:29; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 7:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Corinthians 8:2; 1 Corinthians 10:24). But Origen stands as far first of all the ante-Nicene fathers in critical authority as he does in commanding genius, and his writings are an almost inexhaustible storehouse for the history of the text. In many places it seems that the printed text of his works has been modernized; and till a new and thorough collation of the MSS. has been made, a doubt must remain whether his quotations have not suffered by the hands of scribes, as the MSS. of the N.T. have suffered, though in a less degree. The testimony which Origen bears as to the corruption of the text of the Gospels in his time differs from the general statements which have been already noticed as being the deliberate judgment of a scholar, and not the plea of a controversialist. "As the case stands," he says, "it is obvious that the difference between the copies is considerable, partly from the carelessness of individual scribes, partly from the wicked daring of some in correcting what is written, partly also from the changes made by] those who add or remove what seems good to them in the process of correction" (Origen, In Matt. t. xv, § 14). In the case of the Sept., he adds, he removed, or at least indicated, those corruptions by a comparison of "editions" (ἐκδόσεις ), and we may believe that he took equal care to ascertain, at least for his own use, the true text of the N.T., though he did not venture to arouse the prejudice of his contemporaries by openly revising it, as the old translation adds (In Matt. xv, vet. int. "In exemplaribus autem Novi Testamenti hoc ipsum me posse facere sine periculo non putavi"). Even in the form in which they have come down to us, the writings of Origen, as a whole, contain the noblest early memorial of the apostolic text.
Although there is no evidence that he published any recension of the text, yet it is not unlikely that he wrote out copies of the N.T. with his own hand (Redepenning, Origenes, 2:184), which were spread widely in after-time. Thus Jerome appeals to "the copies of Adamantius," i.e. Origen (In Matthew 24:36; Galatians 3:1), and the copy of Pamphilus can hardly have been other than a copy of Origen's text (Cod. H3 Subscription). From Pamphilus the text passed to Eusebius and Euthalius, and it is scarcely rash to believe that it can be traced, though imperfectly, in existing MSS. as C L (comp. Griesbach, Symbole Criticae, 1, 76 sq.; 130 sq.). In thirteen cases (Norton, Genuineness of the Gospels, 1:234-236) Origen has expressly noticed varieties of reading in the Gospels (Matthew 8:28; Matthew 16:20; Matthew 18:1; Matthew 21:5; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:15; Matthew 27:17; Mark 3:18; Luke 1:46; Luke 9:48; Luke 14:19; Luke 23:45; John 1:3-4; John 1:28). In three of these passages the variations which he notices are no longer found in our Greek copies (Matthew 21:9 or Matthew 21:15, οἴκῳ for υἱῷ ; Tregelles, ad loc.; Mark 3:18 [Mark 2:14], Λεβὴν τὸν τοῦ Ἀλφ [?]; Luke 1:46; Ε᾿λισάβετ for Μαριάμ; so in some Latin copies); in seven our copies are still divided; in two (Matthew 8:28, Γαδαρηνῶν ; John 1:28, Βηθαβαρᾶ '/ ) the reading which was only found in a few MSS. is now widely spread; in the remaining place (Matthew 27:17, Ι᾿ησοῦν Βαραββᾶν ) a few copies of no great age retain the interpolation which was found in his time "in very ancient copies." It is more remarkable that Origen asserts, in answer to Celsus, that our Lord is nowhere called "the carpenter" in the Gospels circulated in the churches, though this is undoubtedly the true reading in Mark 6:3 (Origen, c. Cels. 6:36). The evangelic quotations of Origen are not wholly free from the admixture of traditional glosses which have been noticed in Clement, and often present a confusion of parallel passages (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 7:21 sq.; Matthew 13:11; Matthew 26:27 sq.; 1 Timothy 4:1); but there is little difficulty in separating his genuine text from these natural corruptions, and a few references are sufficient to indicate its extreme importance (Matthew 4:10; Matthew 6:13; Matthew 15:8; Matthew 15:35; Mark 1:2; Mark 10:29; Luke 21:19; John 7:39; Acts 10:10; Romans 8:28). In the Epistles Origen once notices a striking variation in Hebrews 2:9, χωρὶςθεοῦ for χάριτι θεοῦ, which is still attested; but, apart from the specific references to variations, it is evident that he himself used MSS. at different times which varied in many details (Mill, Proleg. § 687). Griesbach, who has investigated this fact with the greatest care (Meletema, i, appended to Comm. Crit. 2, 9-40), seems to have exaggerated the extent of these differences, while he establishes their existence satisfactorily. There can be no doubt that in Origen's time the variations in the N.-T. MSS., which we have seen to have existed from the earliest attainable date, and which Origen describes as considerable and widespread, were beginning to lead to the formation of specific groups of copies. Although the materials for the history of the text during the first three centuries are abundant, nothing has been written in detail on the subject since the time of Mill (Proleg. p. 240 sq.) and R. Simon (Histoire Critique... 1685-93). What is wanted is nothing less than a complete collection at full length, from MS. authority, of all the ante-Nicene Greek quotations. These would form a center round which the variations of the versions and Latin quotations might be grouped. A first step towards this has been made by Anger in his Synopsis Evv. Matthew Marc. Luc... 1851. The Latin quotations are well given by Sabatier (Bibliorum Sacrorum Latinae versiones antiquae, 1751).
III. Characteristics of the Early Copies. — From the consideration of the earliest history of the N.T. text we now pass to the aera of MSS. The quotations of Dionysius Alex. (i A.D. 264), Petrus Alex. († cir. A.D. 312), Methodius (t A.D. 311), and Eusebius (t A.D. 340), confirm the prevalence of the ancient type of text but the public establishment of Christianity in the Roman empire necessarily led to important changes. Not only were more copies of the N.T. required for public use, but the nominal or real adherence of the higher ranks to the Christian faith must have largely increased the demand for costly MISS. As a natural consequence, the rude Hellenistic forms gave way before the current Greek, and at the same time it is reasonable to believe that smoother and fuller constructions were substituted for the rougher turns of the apostolic language. In this way the foundation of the Byzantine text was laid, and the same influence which thus began to work continued uninterruptedly till the fall of the Eastern empire. Meanwhile the multiplication of copies in Africa and Syria was checked by Mohammedan conquests. The Greek language ceased to be current in the West. The progress of the Alexandrine and Occidental families of MSS. was thus checked; and the mass of recent copies necessarily represent the accumulated results of one tendency.
The appearance of the oldest MSS. has already been described. The MSS. of the 4th century, of which Cod. Vatican. (B) may be taken as a type, present a close resemblance to these. The writing is in elegant continuous (capitals) uncials, in three columns, without initial letters, or iota subscript or ascript. A small interval serves as a simple punctuation; and there are no accents or breathings by the hand of the first writer, though these have been added subsequently. Uncial writing continued in general use till the middle of the 10th century. One uncial MS. (S), the earliest dated copy, bears the date 949; and for service-books the same style was retained a century later. From the 11th century downwards cursive writing prevailed, but this passed through several forms sufficiently distinct to fix the date of a MS. with tolerable certainty. The earliest cursive Biblical MS. is dated A.D. 964 (Gosp. 14, Scrivener, Introduction, p. 36, note), though cursive writing was used a century before (A.D. 888, Scrivener, 1. c.). The MSS. of the 14th and 15th centuries abound in the contractions which afterwards passed into the early printed books.
The material as well as the writing of MSS. underwent successive changes. The oldest MSS. are written on the thinnest and finest vellum; in later copies the parchment is thick and coarse. Sometimes, as in Cod. Cotton. (N=J), the vellum is stained. Papyrus was very rarely used after the 9th century. In the 10th century cotton paper (charta bombycina, or Damascena) was generally employed in Europe; and one example at least occurs of its use in the 9th century (Tischendorf, Not. Cod. Sin. p. 54, quoted by Scrivener, Introduction, p. 21). In the 12th century the common linen or rag paper came into use; but paper was "seldom used for Biblical MSS. earlier than the 13th century, and had not entirely displaced parchment at the aera of the invention of printing, cir. A.D. 1450" (Scrivener, Introduction, p. 21). One other kind of material requires notice, redressed parchment (παλίμψγστος , charta deleticia). Even at a very early period the original text of a parchment MS. was often erased, that the material might be used afresh (Cic. Ad Fam. 7:18; Catull. 12). In lapse of time the original writing frequently reappears in faint lines below the later text, and in this way many precious fragments of Biblical MSS. which had been once obliterated for the transcription of other works have been recovered. Of these palimpsest MSS. the most famous are those designated by the letters C, R, Z, Ξ . The earliest Biblical palimpsest is not older than the 5th century. In uncial MSS. the contractions are usually limited to a few very common forms (Θ C, IC, Π HP, Δ A Δ, etc., i.e. θεός, Ι᾿ησοῦς, πατήρ, Δαυείδ; comp. Scrivener, Introduction, p. 43). A few more occur in later uncial copies, in which there are also some examples of the ascript iota, which occurs rarely in the Codex Sinaiticus. Accents are not found in MSS. older than the 8th century. Breathings and the apostrophe (Tischendort; Proleg. p. 131) occur somewhat earlier. The oldest punctuation after the simple interval is a stop like the modern Greek colon (in A, C, D), which is accompanied by an interval, proportioned in some cases to the length of the pause. In E (Gosp.) and B2 (Apoc.), which are MSS. of the 8th century, this point marks a full stop, a colon, or a comma, according as it is placed at the top, the middle, or the base of the letter (Scrivener, p. 42). The present note of interrogation (;) came into use in the 9th century.
A very ingenious attempt was made to supply an effectual system of punctuation for public reading by Euthalius, who published an arrangement of Paul's Epistles in clauses (στίχοι ) in 458, and another of the Acts and Catholic Epistles in 490. The same arrangement was applied to the Gospels by some unknown hand, and probably at an earlier date. The method of subdivision was doubtless suggested by the mode in which the poetic books of the O.T. were written in the MSS. of the Sept. The great examples of this method of writing are D (Gospels), H3 (Ep.), D, (Ep.). The Cod. Laud. (E2 Acts) is not strictly stichometrical, but the parallel texts seem to be arranged to establish a verbal connection between the Latin and Greek (Tregelles, in Horne's Intod. 3:187). The στίχοι vary considerably in length, and thus the amount of vellun consumed was far more than in an ordinary MS., so that the fashion of writing in "clauses" soon passed away; but the numeration of the (στίχοι in the several books was still preserved, and many MSS. (e.g. Δ Ep., K Gosp.) bear traces of having been copied from older texts thus arranged. The earliest extant division of the N.T. into sections occurs in Cod. B. This division is elsewhere found only in the palimpsest fragment of Luke, Ξ . In the Acts and the Epistles there is a double division in B, one of which is by a later hand.
The Epistles of Paul are treated as one unbroken book divided into 93 sections, in which the Epistle to the Hebrews originally stood between the Epistles to the Galatians and the Ephesians. This appears from the numbering of the sections, which the writer of the MS. preserved, though he transposed the book to the place before the Pastoral Epistles. Two other divisions of the Gospels must be noticed. The first of these was a division into "chapters" (κεφάλαια, τίτλοι , breves), which correspond to distinct sections of the narrative, and are on an average a little more than twice as long as the sections in B. This division is found in A, C, R, Z, and must therefore have come into general use some time before the 5th century. The other division was constructed with a view to a harmony of the Gospels. It owes its origin to Ammonius of Alexandria, a scholar of the 3d century, who constructed a Harmony of the Evangelists, taking Matthew as the basis round which he grouped the parallel passages from the other Gospels. Eusebius of Caesarea completed his labor with great ingenuity, and constructed a notation and a series of tables, which indicate at a glance the parallels existing to any passage in one or more of the other Gospels, and the passages which are peculiar to each. There is every reason to believe that the sections as they stand at present, as well as the ten "Canons," which give a summary of the Harmony, are due to Eusebius, though the sections sometimes occur in MSS. without the corresponding Canons. The Cod. Alex. (A) and the Cottonian fragments (N) are the oldest MSS. which contain both in the original hand. The sections occur in the palimpsests C, R, Z, P, Q, and it is possible that the Canons may have been there originally, for the vermilion (κιννάβαρις, Euseb. Ep. ad Carp.) or paint with which they were marked would entirely disappear in the process of preparing the parchment afresh. The division of the Acts and Epistles into chapters came into use at a later time. It does not occur in A or C, which give the Ammonian sections, and is commonly referred to Euthalius, who, however, says that he borrowed the divisions of the Pauline Epistles from an earlier father; and there is reason to believe that the division of the Acts and Catholic Epistles which he published was originally the work of Pamphilus the Martyr (Montfaunon, Bibl. Coislin. p. 78). The Apocalypse was divided into sections by Andreas of Caesarea about A.D. 500. This division consisted of 24 λόγοι, each of which was subdivided into three "chapters" (κεφάλαια ).
The titles of the sacred books are from their nature additions to the original text. The distinct names of the Gospels imply a collection, and the titles of the Epistles are notes by the possessors and not addresses by the writers (Ι᾿ωάννου α῎, β῎ , etc.). In their earliest form they are quite simple, According to Matthew, etc. (κατὰ Μαθθαῖον, κ . τ . λ .); To the Romans, etc. (πρὸς Ρωμαίους, κ . τ . λ .); First of Peter, etc. (Πέτρου α῎ ); Acts of Apostles (πράξεις ἀποστόλων ); Apocalypse. These headings were gradually amplified till they assumed such forms as The Holy Gospel according to John; The fist Catholic Epistle of the holy and all- praiseworthy Peter; The Apocalypse of the holy and most glorious Apostle and Evangelist, the beloved virgin who rested on the bosom of Jesus, John the Divine. In the same way the original subscriptions (ὑπογραφαί ), which were merely repetitions of the titles, gave way to vague traditions as to the dates, etc., of the bools. Those appended to the Epistles, which have been translated in the A. V., are attributed to Euthalius, and their singular inaccuracy (Paley, Hlore Paulinoe, ch. 15) is a valuable proof of the utter absence of historical criticism at the time when they could find currency. Very few MSS. contain the whole N.T., "twenty-seven in all out of the vast mass of extant documents" (Scrivener, Introduction, p. 61). The MSS. of the Apocalypse are rarest; and Chrysostom complained that in his time the Acts was very little known. Besides the MSS. of the N.T., or parts of it, there are also Lectionaries, which contain extracts arranged for the Church-services. These were taken from the Gospels (εὐαγγελιστάρια ), or from the Gospels and Acts (πραξαπόστολοι ), or rarely from the Gospels and Epistles (ἀποστολοευαγγέλια ). The calendars of the lessons (συναξάρια ) are appended to very many AMSS. of the N.T.; those for the saints'-day lessons, which varied very considerably in different times and places, were called μηνολόγια (Scholz, N.T., p. 453-493; Scrivener, p. 68-75). When a MS. was completed, it was commonly submitted, at least in early times, to a careful revision.
Two terms occur in describing this process, ὁ ἀντιβάλλων and ὁ διορθωτής It has been suggested that the work of the former answered to that of "the corrector of the press," while that of the latter was more critical (Tregelles, ut. sup. p. 85, 86). Possibly, however, the words only describe two parts of the same work. Several MSS. still preserve a subscription which at tests a revision by comparison with famous copies, though this attestation must have referred to the earlier exemplar (comp. Tischendorf, Jude subscript.); but the Coislinian fragment (H3) may have been itself compared, according to the subscription, "with the copy in the library at Caesarea, written by the hand of the holy Pamphilus" (comp. Scrivener, Introduction, p. 47). Besides this official correction at the time of transcription, MSS. were often corrected by different hands in later times. Thus Hischendorf distinguishes the work of two correctors in C, and of three chief correctors in D2. In later MSS. the corrections are often much more valuable than the original text, as in 67 (Ep.); and in the Cod. Sinacit. the readings of one corrector (2 b) are frequently as valuable as those of the original text. The work of Montfaucon still remains, the classical authority on Greek Palaography (Palaeographia Graeca, Paris, 1708), though much has been discovered since his time which modifies some of his statements. The plates in the magnificent work of Silvestre and Champollion (Paliographie Universelle, Paris, 1841; Eng. transl. by Sir F. Madden, London, 1850) give a splendid and fairly accurate series of facsimiles of Greek MSS. (Plates, 54-95). Tischendorf has published facsimiles of several important texts, especially the Codex Sinaiticus, and furnished in the Prolegomeena to his N.T. valuable information on this subject. Scrivener's Introduction gives specimens of many venerable MSS. For other topics relating to the character, form, and preservation of the N.T. text, (See CRITICISM, BIBLICAL); (See GREEK LANGUAGE); (See MANUSCRIPTS, BIBLICAL); (See RECENSION); (See VARIOUS READINGS).
IV. Commentaries. — The following list comprises nearly all the strictly exegetical helps on all the N.T. separately, exclusive of introductions (q.v.); to the most important we prefix an asterisk (*): Chrysostom, fonmilime (in Gr., in Opp. 3:1 sq.); Augustine, Exegetica (in Opp.; also tr. Sermons, Oxf. 1844-5, 2 vols. 8vo); Damianns, Excepta (in Mai, Script. t. t. VI, 2:226 sq.); Alulfus, Expositio (in Gregory Magn. Opp. IV. 2); Cramer, Catena (Oxf. 1844, 8 vols. 8vo); Valla [Romans Cath.], Adnotationes (Par. 1505, fol.; Basil. 1526, 1541,1545; Amst. 1638, 8vo); Erasmus, Adnotationes (Basil. 1516, fol., and often later; also in separate parts); Cajetan [R. C.], Commentarii (Ven. 1530-1, 2 vols. fol., and often later); Zeger [R. C.], Scholia (Colon. 1553, 8vo; also in the Critici Sacri); Zwingli, Adnotationes [on most of the books] (in Opp. iv); Bullinger, Commentarii (Tigur. 1554,1587, 1593, 1600, fol.); *Beza, A cdnotationes (Genev. 1556, 1565, 1582, 1588, 1598; Ca.mbr. 1642, fol.; Par. 1594, 8vo); *Marloratus, Expositio (Par. 1561, 1564, 1570; Genev. 1583, 1585, 1593, 1596, 1620; Heidelb. 1604, fol.); Strigel, Hypomemnata (Lips. 1565, 2 vols. 8vo; also 4to; 1583, 4to); Flacius, Glossa (Basil. 1570, 1659, Francf. 1670, fol.); Montanus [R. C.], Elucidationes (Antw. 1575, 3 vols. 4to); Aretius, Commentarii (Morg. 1580-84, 11 vols. 8vo; s. . 1589-96; Par. 1607, fol.; Bern. 1612; Par. 1618, 2 vols. fol.); Salmeron [R. C.], Commentaria, (Madrid, 1597-1602; Colossians Ag. 1604, 6 vols. fol.); Tossanus, Commentarii [on certain books] (Hanov. 1604, 1614, 4to); Drusius, Adnotationes (Franeck. 1612; Amst. 1632, 4to); also his Commentarimus Duplex (Franeck. 1616, 2 vols. 4to); De Dieu, Animadversiones (Lugd. Bat. 1633-46, 3 vols. 4to; also in Commentary on the Bible, Amst. 1693, fol.); Piscator, Commentarii (Herb. 1638, fol.); Ileinsius, Exercitattiones (L. B. 1639, fol.; Cambr. 1640, 4to); Camerarius, Commentarius (Cambr. 1642, fol.); Leigh, Annotations (Lond. 1650, fol.; also in Latin by Arnold, Lips. 1732, 8vo); Hammond, I'Paraphrase (Lond. 1653, 1659, 1660, 1680), 1681, 1689, 1702, fol.; Oxf. 1845, 4 vols. 8vo; in Latin by Le Clerc, Amst. 1798, fol.); Trapp, Commentary (Lond. 1656, fol.; 1868, 8vo; also in his Commentary on the whole Bible); Crell [Socinian], Commentarii [on most of the N.T.], supplemented by Schlichting (Amst. 1656, fol.; also in other forms); J. Capellns, Observationes [includ. L. Capellus's Spicilegimtm] (Amst. 1657, 4to; also in the Critici Sacri); Schmidt, Notte (Norib. 1658, fol.); Price, Conmmentarii (Lond. 1660, fol.; also in the Crit. Sac.); Morus, Noto (Lips. 1661, fol.); Pean [R. C.], Commentaire (Par. 1670, 8vo); Quesnel, Reflexions (Paris, 1671 sq.; Amst. 1
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'New Testament'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/new-testament.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11