Page images
PDF
EPUB

tion of their fellow-men, under a similar belief of the approaching end of the world; - imagine what would be the feelings and language of such individuals, and contrast them with those of the Apostles, and you may perceive what a singular phenomenon is presented in the New Testament.

In what manner is this phenomenon to be explained? How is the problem to be solved, that men, anticipating the end of the world and the final judgment of mankind as at hand, should have insisted so little upon these events for the purpose of exciting the terrors or the hopes of those whom they addressed? It can be explained, I think, bat in one way. The feelings which those expected events would naturally have produced were absorbed in the deeper, the intenser feeling, produced by a thorough conviction of the essential truths of religion. To them, who knew themselves the creatures, the care, the special ministers, of the God of Love; to them, the disciples of his Son, the witnesses, nay, themselves the very agents, of that divine power by which the laws of nature were suspended; to them, before whose view the clouds resting upon eternity had been rolled away, the consummation of this world was of little more concern than the revolution of an empire. Assured of immortality, and with everything to give strength to the feeling which this assurance is adapted to produce, it was of small moment to them or to their disciples whether with the dead they should be raised incorruptible, or whether with the living they should be changed. One all-penetrating sen

timent of the truth of their religion annihilated the power of smaller excitements. Their feelings were calmed by the contemplation of one absorbing interest, which no changes could affect.

How, then, was this conviction of the truth of their religion produced, this conviction which so wrought upon their minds that the anticipated consummation and judgment of the world had no power strongly to move them? There is one an swer to this question which a Christian will give I know of no other.

NOTE C.

BY THE EDITOR.

(See pp. 183-191.)

VARIOUS READINGS OF CERTAIN PASSAGES SUPPOSED TO HAVE A BEARING ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.

BESIDE the three celebrated passages which have been remarked upon by Mr. Norton,—Acts xx. 28, 1 Timothy iii. 16, and 1 John v. 7, 8,- there are others, of more or less importance, whose supposed bearing on the doctrine of the Trinity is affected by various readings of the original text. It is the object of the present note to exhibit all the passages of this class that can be regarded as of any consequence, where a reading different from that followed in the Common Version has been adopted in any of the leading critical editions of the Greek Testament which have been published in the present century. In some instances, the reading thus adopted may be thought more favorable to the Trinitarian theory than that which before stood in the text; in others, the reverse is the case.

The examples which are about to be given of various readings of the Greek text of the New Testament, in connection with those which have already been noticed, might perhaps lead one imperfectly acquainted with the subject to suppose the differences in the original manuscripts to be more important than they really are. The number of these differences, or various readings, is very large; but an examination of them tends only to confirm our confidence in

the essential correctness with which the text of the New Testament has been transmitted to us. At least nineteen twentieths of them, as Mr. Norton has remarked,* may be dismissed at once from consideration, as being so obviously errors of transcribers, or found in so few authorities, that no critic would regard them as having any claim to be received as genuine. Setting these aside, we shall find that about the same proportion of those which remain are of no sort of consequence as affecting the sense. A small number, however, are of a nature to excite some interest; there are a few passages of considerable length in the Received Text whose genuineness is doubtful or more than doubtful, as the doxology in the Lord's Prayer, the last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark, and the story of the woman taken in adultery. See also, in the critical editions, Matthew xxiii. 14; xxvii. 35; Mark vi. 11; Luke ix. 55, 56; xvii. 36; John v. 3, 4; Acts viii. 37; ix. 5, 6; and xxiv. 6-8. But it may be safely said, that the various readings do not appreciably affect the evidence of any theological doctrine except the doctrine of the Trinity; and with respect to this, their importance has often been exaggerated. Still, in studying the Scriptures to ascertain what they teach, the first thing to be settled is, what is Scripture. If words which purport to be a part of Scripture, in the copies which are in common use, are spurious, or doubtful, the lover of truth will wish to know it; and the greater his reverence for Scripture, the more desirous will he be not to confound the mistakes of transcribers with the words of Evangelists and Apostles.

The place of true reverence for Scripture has, however,

* Evidencés of the Genuineness of the Gospels, Vol. I., Additional Note A, Sect. III., "On the Character and Importance of the Various Readings of the New Testament," p. xxxviii. The substance of this Section is reprinted in Mr. Norton's Notes on the Gospels, Preliminary Note I.

too often been usurped by a blind and superstitious reverence for what has been called the "Received Text." It will be proper, therefore, before entering on the principal subject of this note, to state some facts in regard to the history of the printed Greek text of the New Testament.

THE earliest printed edition of the Greek Testament was that contained in the fifth volume of the Complutensian Polyglot. The printing of this volume, it appears, was completed in 1514; but it was not published till 1522. The manuscripts which were used for it have never been identified, though the story of their having been sold to a rocket-maker is now exploded;* and there has been much controversy respecting their value. The editors speak of them as "very ancient and correct"; but there is reason for questioning their competency to determine the fact. The art of criticism was then in its infancy; such works as Montfaucon's Palæographia Græca did not exist; and, as Bentley says, "it is not everybody knows the age of a manuscript." It is remarked by Bishop Marsh, that the text which they have given almost invariably agrees with that of the modern Greek manuscripts, such as were written in the thirteenth century or later, — where these differ from the most ancient, and from the quotations of the early Greek Fathers. "There cannot be a doubt, therefore," he says, "that the Complutensian text was formed from modern manuscripts alone."†. Wetstein had before come to the same conclusion.‡

The first published edition of the Greek Testament was

* See an article by Dr. James Thomson, first published in the Biblical Review for March 1847, and afterwards reprinted in Tregelles's "Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament," pp. 12-18.

† Lectures, &c., p. 96.

Nov. Test. Græc. (Prolegom.), Tom. I. p. 118.

« EelmineJätka »