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NEW SERIES-No. 17.
For September and October, 1821.
NOTICE OF SOME SPURIOUS EDITIONS OF GRIESBACH'S NEW TESTAMENT.
BEG leave to call your attention, and that of your readers, to a literary and theological fraud which appears to have been practised to some extent in England, and by which some may be imposed upon in this country, if not warned against it. I refer to several editions of the Greek New Testament, which have been published, purporting to be of Griesbach's Text, but in fact retaining some of the false readings which he has decidedly rejected. The intention of such publications is evident. The authority of Griesbach's text had become established. It was regarded as the standard, and acknowledged to have settled for the present the readings of the Greek Scriptures. In doing this, however, it had affected some of the proof texts of orthodox doctrine especially of the trinity; showing that some were spurious, and some corrupted, and leaving some doubtful. This to be sure must be a serious evil; but one would hardly have supposed that it would be thought worth while to have recourse to deception and artifice in order to remedy it. And yet this has been done. Editions of the New Testament have been pub lished under the sanction of his name and authority, which yet contain many of the most important corruptions unaltered. His influence thus has been made use of to perpetuate the very errors which he has exposed. And many may buy the Greek Testament, thinking to possess his amended text, because the title page bears his name, and so be led into important error by a direct falsehood.
I do not know that many of these impostors have found their way into our country; and it is creditable to the honesty of our countrymen, that none have been republished here: I know, however, that accidentally some copies have been imported, and I was led to think the more of the matter by finding that a friend had purchased a beautiful pocket Testament, purporting to contain Griesbach's text, which he soon found not to be at all trust-worthy; and it is now nearly useless to him. I have seen several copies of this edition at the Bookstores, and think that our theological students should be warned against it. It reads on its title page, Cura Leusdenii et Griesbachii. I do not recollect the date or place of its printing; but suppose it to be the same which is noticed in the Monthly Repository for 1817, as Duncan's Edition; and of which Dr. Carpenter gives the following account.
"The only peculiarity of Leusden's Editions, is the employment of certain marks to denote words which occur only once in the New Testament, or words for the first time occurring which are employed more frequently. These marks are not employed in Duncan's Edition. As to Griesbach, he is either followed or neglected, ad libitum. So far,' says the Critic, in the Monthly Repos. from finding this Edition a valuable aid to the biblical scholar, and a benefit to the sacred interests of religion, it is found to have been conducted with the grossest partiality to preconceived theological opinions, to bid defiance to any system of selection, and to be a confused mixture of the Received Text, of Griesbach, and of other readings, adopted in part from both.' In short, he describes it as an Edition 'in which Griesbach is followed in all readings of no importance, and rejected, where his alterations might be supposed to offend against popular doctrines and prejudices.' In this light he represents it, and most justly, as an unworthy artifice. If a person chooses to make up a text of his own, let him say but do not let him use Griesbach's name, and leave Griesbach, wherever, in opposition to doctrinal prepossessions, that honest Editor followed the course of evidence. The fairest way is, to leave the Received Text with all its faults, or to alter it without reference to symbols of faith."
Dr. Carpenter thinks this edition to be a reprint of Aitton's, (published at Leyden in 1809,) "with the omission of Leusden's notula. But Aitton," he says, "tells us what he has done. He informs us that Griesbach is a most eminent Editor, and his emendations of the greatest value, and that he has therefore followed him AS FAR AS WAS ALLOWABLE AND PÒSSIBLE; but that in some places he has retained the Received
Text where HE thought it preferable to Griesbach's. he leaves Griesbach, he does not say, but we find that it happens to be wherever Orthodoxy puts her veto upon the unbiassed decisions of Criticism. And yet Aitton has the shamelessness to call his text, Griesbachii Textus. All that can be said in his favour is, that he tells us he does leave it, where he thinks the common reading preferable. The Duncans take this mangled text of Griesbach; but they do not say who mangled it, on what authority, or to what extent. It might be mere ignorance in them; but it is lamentable ignorance. If it were intentional, it is a fraud of the most criminal nature."
It is evident, then, that this edition deserves no credit, and is only calculated to mislead. Dr. Carpenter gives an account of two other editions, in which a similar deception has been practised. One of them was published in 1809, purporting to be juxta exemplar Wetstenii Glasguæ, et D. Jo. Jac. Griesbachii Hala, impressum ;-accurante Gulielmo Whitefield Dakins, LL. D. Soc. Antiq. Lond. Socio; Sancti Petri Westmon. PreIt was dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Yet notwithstanding the sanction of these great names, the edition is a fraud.
"I soon found," says Dr. Carpenter, "that neither Wetstein's name, nor Griesbach's, ought to have been employed; that the glaring interpolation in 1 John v. 7, 8, is retained, without the slightest intimation that it never appeared in Greek till above a thousand years after the Epistle was written; and that, in various other passages, where system has no concern, it does not follow Griesbach where he leaves the Received Text. How could any man of learning superintend, and an Archbishop in any way sanction, so unjustifiable a publication? What is there that the Unitarians ever have even been charged with doing, which demands so much the heavy censure of handling the word of God deceitfully?" "
The other example noticed by Dr. C. is of a little different character, not being so completely an imposition, though discovering a most unworthy adherence to system and doctrine, in preference to the purity of the holy scriptures. I quote the whole account, as given by Dr. Carpenter.
"I have now to notice an Edition proceeding from one who is above such ignorance, but whom his own theological prepossessions, or, I fear, the worldly wisdom of those whose interest was involved in the popularity of the Edition, or both influences united, have prompted to pursue Aitton's course, and to follow Griesbach only quantum licuit et fieri potuit:' I refer to the Rev. EDWARD VALPY's Edition of the Greek Testament, in 3 vols.
324 Spurious Editions of Griesbach's New Testament.
8vo., 'cum Scholiis Theologicis et Philologicis.' This Edition was announced some years before it was published; and the advertisements stated that Griesbach's Text would be followed. It was, in consequence, suggested to Mr. Valpy the Printer, that Griesbach's own Prolegomena, prefixed to his minor Leipsic Edition of 1805, (which in 1809 was reprinted at Cambridge in New England, with great fidelity and correctness, by Messrs. Wells and Hilliard,) might be of material service in his Uncle's projected Edition. On the faith of the preparatory advertisements, a copy was procured, which I have lying before me. The title-page says nothing about the Text; but Mr. Valpy's Preface at once sets the matter at rest. He tells us that he has retained the received readings in many cases where he thought the evidence for them superior to that of Griesbach's Text. We have here then VALPY's judgment against GRIESBACH's; just as in the before-stated case of AITTON : and I am concerned to add, sometimes without reasons assigned, and at others against reasons. Indeed, as will appear from an extract from his Preface which I will give below, Mr. Valpy has been studying in Aitton's critical school. I would have recommended to him, unless he could have resolved to follow Griesbach thoroughly, as Griesbach follows critical truth, to have let Griesbach alone entirely, and to have satisfied himself with giving the Received Text, and noticing in his Notes all the various readings which he thought of authority and at the same time to be ALLOWED by a regard to the doctrines of the Church of England, with which he expresses the earnest hope that he has said nothing inconsistent, or, if he has, he declares that he wishes to unsay and retract it.
“On examination into particulars, we find Mr. Valpy clinging to every reading which Orthodoxy stamps as her own. The ratio testimoniorum is always overbalanced by the analogia fidei. He tells us, indeed, that we ought always to examine the ancient testimonies with strict impartiality, 'sine discrimine aut studio partium; but as Griesbach's evidence and decision are sometimes admitted against the Received Text, they surely ought not to be rejected where the evidence is much stronger, merely because Orthodoxy wants their support. If the question of the genuineness of an uncertain passage is to be decided by its conformity to a standard of faith, let criticism alone: if by evidence, let criticism settle the matter, without considering how it affects doctrine. The text is not to be carved to the doctrine; but the doctrine tried by the genuine text."
I have no remarks to make, Mr. Editor. on these statements. They speak for themselves. If such artifices are needful to support orthodoxy, how long will it be supported by honest men, and how long will it stand? ARISTIDES.
ON THE INSUFFICIENCY OF NEGATIVE VIRTUE.
A MERE abstinence from gross offences will not preserve us from future condemnation. The servant who hid his talent in a napkin might have affirmed with truth and earnestness, that he had been guilty of no overt and positive act;-yet he was consigned to outer darkness, and was branded with ignominy and disgrace. We all have talents committed to our care; and it is worthy our serious consideration, that something more is expected of us, than that they should merely be returned in precisely the same condition in which we received them. They will be received with indignation, unless they have been actively employed for some useful and profitable purpose. But are not men guilty of inconsistency and falsehood, when they attempt to justify themselves by asserting, that although it may be true they do little good, yet they shall be accepted because they are guilty of no crimes? Does not what is termed negative goodness include positive sin?-Is it no crime to neglect those talents which were bestowed on us for the most valuable purposes? Is it no crime to debase that glorious image in which we were created? Is it no crime to disregard the will of GOD and violate his commands? If this be a crime, it is a crime that attaches itself to those, who are not active and conscientious in the discharge of their christian duties. God did not send us on the journey of life, that we might indulge our indolence or idle curiosity by the way, and thus convert it into a tour of amusement or an excursion of pleasure. We have an important mission assigned us; and he cannot be innocent, who carelessly neglects or wilfully disregards it. Our business in this life is to prepare for another; and this cannot be effected by inactive professions or empty wishes. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven." We would not encourage the idea, that men by their own exertions can ever claim heaven as their just reward. But we do wish them to consider, that their own exertions are made a condition upon which GOD, through Jesus Christ, will bestow future happiness as a gift of favour. The correctness and sincerity of our religious principles are to be determined solely by their effects on our practice. And if men do in reality possess the pure principles of Christianity, they cannot fail to manifest it by the activity and holiness of their lives. It is true, we may possess the form of godliness without its power; and it is much to be feared, that the religion of many is a mere mechanical movement; that they are influenced only by external considerations.