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interpolated, may be estimated from the obstinacy with which it has been contended for, from its still retaining its place as genuine in the editions of the Common Version, and even in editions of the original professedly formed on the text of Griesbach, from the lingering glances cast toward it by such writers as Bishop Middleton, and from the pertinacity with which the more ignorant or bigoted class of controversialists continue to quote and even defend it.
After all that has been written concerning these texts, no one of them requires particular notice except that from the First Epistle to. Timothy. Of this the true reading and proper explanation are both doubtful. In respect to the reading, the question is, as I have mentioned, between os (who or he who) and (which). Griesbach gives the preference to the former, but it has been shown, I think, that he is incorrect in the citation of his authorities.* The original reading, I believe to have
See Laurence's Remarks upon Griesbach's Classification of Manuscripts, pp. 71-83. According to Griesbach, of the Versions (which as regards this text afford by far the most important evidence to be adduced), the Arabic of the Polyglot, and the Slavonic, alone support the reading Ocós; in all the others, a pronoun is used answering to os or to ő. That is to say, the Coptic, the Sahidic, and the Philoxenian Syriac in its margin, express the pronoun os; the Vulgate, and the older Latin versions, o, quod; and the Peshito or vulgar Syriac, the Philoxenian Syriac in its text, the Erpenian Arabic, the Æthiopic, and the Armenian, use a pronoun which may be translated indifferently "who" or "which."
But according to Dr. Laurence, whose statements I see no reason to distrust, "the Coptic, the Sahidic, and the Philoxenian versions do not necessarily read ős, but most probably ő," and "the Peshito or
been (which). For this the external evidence, when fairly adjusted, seems greatly to preponderate; and it may have been altered by transcribers first into os, and afterwards into cós, in consequence of the theological interpretation of the passage, according to which the mystery spoken of was Christ, an interpretation that appears to
vulgar Syriac, the Erpenian Arabic, and the Ethiopic, do not indifferently read ős or ő, but indisputably ő." "The Armenian reads neither ős nor , but, in conjunction with the Byzantine text, Ocós." Of all these versions, therefore, Griesbach's account is incorrect; and the number and importance of those which favor the reading ő, taken in connection with the fact of its having been, from the first, the reading of the whole Western Church, produce a preponderating weight
of evidence in its favor.
In regard to the Philoxenian version, Dr. Laurence, as may appear from what is quoted, expresses himself with some obscurity. But I presume his opinion was, that both in the text and in the margin it probably reads o. See White's note in his edition of this version.
[Later investigations have shown that the statements of Dr. Laurence here relied on are in several respects erroneous. But before pointing out their inaccuracy, it may be well, for the better understanding of the subject, to mention the dates generally assigned by scholars to the ancient versions which contain this passage. The Old Latin or Italic, and the Peshito Syriac, are supposed to have been made in the second century; the Coptic and Sahidic, in the third, or the latter part of the second; the Ethiopic, Gothic, and Latin Vulgate, in the fourth; the Armenian, in the fifth; the Philoxenian or Harclean Syriac was completed A. D. 508, and revised A. D. 616. Later versions are the Georgian, of the sixth century, but since altered from the Slavonic, made in the ninth; and the Arabic versions, one edited by Erpenius, supposed to be made from the Syriac, another published in the Paris and London Polyglots, made from the Greek, both of uncertain date and very little value, - and still another of the ninth century, made from the Greek at Emesa in Syria by one Daniel Philentolos, a manuscript of which is preserved in the Vatican Library.
In regard to the reading of the present passage in these versions,
have been given it at an early period. But the passage, I believe, has no reference to Christ personally.
The words translated "mystery of godliness," as if purposely to obscure the sense, should be rendered "the new doctrine of piety," or "concerning piety"; and in order to avoid an awkward collo
the following is believed to be a correct account of the facts which may now be considered as established. The Old Latin or Italic version, and the Latin Vulgate, read quod, corresponding to ő, which ; the Gothic, as edited by Gabelentz and Loebe, has the masculine relative, answering to os, who, though the word corresponding to μvorηplov, runa, is feminine; the Peshito Syriac, the Coptic, the Sahidic, the Ethiopic, the Armenian, the Philoxenian Syriac both in the text and in the margin, the Erpenian Arabic, and the Arabic of Philentolos (see Hug's Introd. to the N. T., § 107, 3d ed.), use a pronoun which may here be indifferently translated who or which; the Arabic of the Polyglot, the Slavonic, and the Georgian, support the reading Ocós, God. In most of the ambiguous versions, the relative pronoun has the same form for all the genders; in the Coptic and Sahidic it is masculine, but the word answering to μvorýpɩov being also masculine, we have no means of determining whether the translators had before them os or o. In respect to the Armenian version, the Eclectic Review for January 1831, p. 48, gives a quotation, apparently from a later edition of Dr. Laurence's Essay, according to which he no longer claims it as supporting the reading Oeós, but leaves its testimony doubtful. The Eclectic Reviewer himself, Dr. Henderson, and Dr. Tregelles, for whom a special collation of Zohrab's edition of this version has been made by a competent scholar, represent it as reading a pronoun equivalent to either ős or o, as stated above. As to the Philoxenian Syriac, see the note of White, referred to by Mr. Norton.
The evidence of the ancient versions is particularly important in regard to this passage, on account of the slight difference between the three readings as written in the ancient Greek manuscripts. In the uncial or more ancient manuscripts, Oeós, ős, and o were written nearly as follows: C, OC, O. The change from one of these readings to another could therefore be much more easily made in the
cation of words in English, we may connect the epithet "great" with the substantives "pillar and foundation"; an arrangement which, though contrary to the construction of the original, sufficiently expresses the sense. The following rendering, then, I believe, gives the meaning of the Apostle.
"I thus write to you, hoping to come to you
Greek manuscripts than in those of the ancient versions. The more important of these versions represent the text of manuscripts far older, probably, than any that have come down to us. They represent, moreover, the text of manuscripts found in countries widely separated from each other. Their testimony has therefore not only the weight of the highest antiquity, but is far more independent, than that of the great mass of modern manuscripts. A large majority of these were written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, or later, within the narrow limits of the patriarchate of Constantinople, and under influences which tended to produce a uniformity of text. (See Norton's Genuineness of the Gospels, Vol. I., Additional Note A, pp. xxx.-xxxii.) In many passages the reading which the great body of them present differs from that which is proved to be genuine by the agreement of the most ancient witnesses combined with internal evidence. It is accordingly a well-established principle of criticism, to use the words of Tregelles, that "the mass of recent documents possesses no determining voice, in a question as to what we should receive as genuine readings." When, therefore, we find that the evidence of the nine oldest versions in favor of a relative pronoun as the original reading in this passage is confirmed by the five oldest and best manuscripts which we possess (the Alexandrine, Ephrem, Augian, and Boernerian reading ős, the Clermont ō), and also by the earliest Fathers to whose testimony we can appeal with any confidence, we can have little doubt that the reading Oeos, though found in all but three of the cursive, and in two of the later uncial manuscripts, is a corruption of the original. It is perhaps worth noting, that one of the more recent manuscripts which read ős, the Codex Colbertinus 2844 (numbered 17 in the Epistles by the critical editors), is of peculiar value. Eichhorn, as quoted by Tregelles, speaks of it as "full of the most excellent and oldest readings"; and styles it "the Queen of the manuscripts in cursive letters."
shortly; but should I be delayed, that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, that is, the assembly of the living God. Beyond doubt, the great pillar and foundation of the true religion is the new doctrine concerning piety, which has been made known in human weakness, proved true by divine power, while
We are left then to decide between os and o. The question which of these readings is to be preferred is rendered more difficult of solution by the ambiguous evidence of most of the versions, and, it may be added, of many of the Fathers. It is not necessary to discuss it here. Among modern critics, ős is regarded as the most probable reading by Benson, Griesbach, Schott, Vater, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Meyer, De Wette, Olshausen, Wiesinger, Huther, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Davidson, and Tregelles; ő is preferred by Erasmus, Grotius, Sir Isaac Newton, Wetstein, and Professor Porter.
One who wishes to pursue the subject further, and to examine the authorities for the statements which have here been made, may consult, in addition to the notes of Wetstein, Griesbach, Scholz, and Tischendorf, in their editions of the Greek Testament, the Eclectic Review for January 1831, Art. III.; Porter's Principles of Textual Criticism, (London, 1848,) pp. 482-493; Davidson's Biblical Criticism, (London, 1853,) Vol. II. pp. 382 - 403; Tregelles's Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament, (London, 1854,) pp. 227-231; and the able reviews of Porter and Davidson, by the Rev. Dr. Noyes (who prefers the reading os), in the Christian Examiner for January 1850, and May 1853. The note of Wetstein deserves particularly to be studied. Of the earlier defenders of the common reading of this passage, the ablest, perhaps, is Berriman, whose "Critical Dissertation upon 1 Tim. iii. 16" appeared in 1741. Among its later champions, the most prominent is Dr. Ebenezer Henderson, whose essay on the subject, entitled "The Great Mystery of Godliness Incontrovertible," &c., was published in London in 1830, and reprinted, with additional observations by Professor Stuart, in the Biblical Repository for January 1832. The remark of Dr. Davidson, that "Henderson's reasoning to show that the Old Syriac version may have had eós equally well as o, is a piece of special pleading undeserving of notice," may be applied with justice