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Reutlingen, furnished Latin MSS. for collation; and Maturinus Veyssiere de la Croze sent a careful selection of the most important passages of the New Testament from Armenian and Coptic MSS., which supplied deficiencies in Mill's collations of
Other materials of inferior importance we here omit to mention.
WETSTEIN, BENGEL'S RIVAL.
While Bengel was making this valuable collection of critical materials, and was already engaged in collating and arranging,
a vigorous and active young man, who possessed more than a common share of various knowledge and attainments, began," says Leonard Hug, “to entertain thoughts of getting the start of the Würtemberg theological tutor. His name was John James Wetstein, of Bâsle.” He was born there on the fifth of March, 1693; became a divinity student in the university of his native city; applied himself early to the study of criticism and antiquities; and at the age of twenty, with John Lewis Frey for his moderator, held a public academical disputation on the various Readings of the Greek Testament, in which he maintained the practicability of ascertaining the pure reading of the original text, perfect and complete. He afterwards made for the purpose an extensive tour in foreign countries, chiefly in France and England, during which he examined and collated many MSS. of the Greek Testament, and a considerable number of versions. Being in London in the year 1716, he there became personally acquainted with the learned Richard Bentley (a friend of Mill, who died in 1707), and informed him of the critical apparatus he had collected. He was urgently advised by Bentley to undertake an edition of the Greek Testament; but, excusing himself as being so young a man, and for want of time on his tour, he offered to Bentley, if he would undertake it himself, the use of his whole apparatus. This inclined Bentley to set about it, and Wetstein, on his return to Bâsle, sent him other materials besides, from the libraries of that city. Bentley now issued pro
Upon this subject, and for comparison with our account of Wetstein, we refer the reader to a book entitled, “Joh. Jac. Wetstenii Prolegomena in N. T.,” ed. Joh. Salom. Semler, Halæ, 1764, p. 476, &c.; and the Acta, or“ Discussions and Proceedings respecting the Errors of J. J. W.” &c., Básle, 1730-4.
posals for his intended publication, which were accompanied by a specimen of it. This was in the year 1721. But notwithstanding that engagement to the public, and his being thus amply provided with collations of MSS. from France, Holland, and Italy, no such edition ever appeared; for Bentley had fallen out with his coadjutor, Conyers Middleton, and could not keep upon the best terms with Wetstein himself; but the chief obstacle was his disgust at having been refused by government a permission to import from France the paper he preferred for printing the work. Bentley's undertaking being thus abandoned, and Wetstein having the critical collections again at his own disposal, the latter was earnestly solicited by his relatives of the same name, who were booksellers at Amsterdam, to prepare those criticisms for insertion in a reprint, which they were about to make, of Gerard von Mastricht's edition. At their instance, and with encouragement from the above-mentioned John Lewis Frey, he began with renewed activity to increase and arrange his materials. This he did especially from the year 1726 (the third year since the publication of Bengel's Prodromus,) when his brother, Peter Wetstein, who had just returned from Amsterdam to Básle, entreated him, in the name of their Dutch relatives, to oblige them by immediately preparing and forwarding some specimens of his work, together with his Prolegomena, that they mght without delay advise with other learned friends upon the subject. The Prolegomena, with these specimens, were published in 1730 anonymously; but this precaution did not secure their author from three years' persecution on account of them, particularly at Bâsle, his native place. Of that persecution we shall relate a few particulars, and how it originated; because it will show the suspicion with which critical works upon the New Testament were regarded in those days, and how desirable therefore it was for the advancement of sound knowledge, that a person of Bengel's approved piety should just then have been engaged in this sort of criticism, as also what reason there was for all Bengel's modest caution about it. The originator of Wetstein's persecutions was the same Professor J. L. Frey who had been the first to encourage his entering upon enlarged critical pursuits; who had procured him opportunities of giving public lectures on the Greek Testament; and had maintained particular intimacy with him up to the year 1728. Wetstein, in his own account of the controversy, has not explained why the professor became so suddenly altered towards him.
In assuming that Frey allured him to the field of town into the controversy, having proved ineffectual, his opponents managed to get possession of memoranda which the students had taken down at his Greek Testament lectures; and from what these notes contained upon doctrinal points, they contrived to frame such accusations as led to his being summoned to submit the whole mass of his written criticisms to the Senate's inspection, and to answer personally to a long list of objectionable tenets which he was accused of maintaining. Compliantly and adroitly as he replied to every question, it was at length decided, that he taught opinions adverse to the doctrinal system of his church, that he inclined to Socinianism, and even favoured the views of Rationalists. For instance, that though he admitted the inspiration of the Scriptures, he held their infallibility as relating only to principal matters. It was further proved against him, that in his public lectures and discourses he had spoken too freely about scripture obscurities, and of the common people's inability to understand them; that he had ridiculed in certain companies the belief of satanical existence; had explained away demoniacal possession as nothing more than a physical malady; and had acknowledged that in catechizing he had designedly passed over those passages of Scripture wherein the devil is mentioned. That in a sermon upon the tenth Commandment he had expounded concupiscence as a thing not sinful; that in his church prayer he habitually omitted the expression “making satisfaction,” under the pretext of its being a difficult expression; and that the most suspicious part of his conduct, was his having forbidden his students to deliver up the notes they had taken of his lectures ; and his having made alterations in such parts of them as he thought would give offence. These proceedings against him issued in his being suspended from the ministry, and he went away to his relatives in Holland, where the Remonstrants appointed him to the rectorship of a high school, as successor to the aged John le Clerc, upon condition that he should previously return to Bâsle and retrieve his license. He complied; and having prevailed with the Senate to rescind his suspension, on the 8th of October, 1732, he was again declared capable of ecclesiastical functions. Nevertheless, his controversy with Iselin and Frey did not end here; for remote from them as was now his place of residence, they so kept up animosities, that Wetstein declared it was owing to their opposition that the publication of his Greek Testament had been delayed for at least twenty years.
CONTINUATION OF BENGEL'S CRITICAL RESEARCHES.
Bengel having, in the year 1729, submitted his work on the Greek Testament, together with his “ Apparatus Criticus," to the censorship at Stuttgart, and to the Theological Faculty of Tübingen, received licenses for their publication, which were conveyed in terms very honourable and encouraging to himself. Shortly after this, he found Wetstein's Prolegomena come out together, with the specimen of that critic's intended edition of the Greek Testament. A work of such importance for its copious collations, of course he could not neglect to examine; especially as he was aware that so travelled a scholar as Wetstein must have greatly the advantage of him in extent of materials. He therefore once more paused about his own publication, till he had carefully sifted the whole of this newly presented mass of research. In the subsequent announcement of his work,* he says, “The new edition promised in the ' Prodromus' is, by the Divine help, so far completed, that it may be considered as almost ready to be presented to the public. But as my arrangement required further consideration, and has in consequence been altered, the whole will be found distributed into four distinct works. First, I shall send out a larger edition of the Greek Testament in quarto, which will be succeeded by a smaller one in octavo; the larger will be accompanied by another work entitled “ Apparatus Criticus, giving a particular account of every reading I have adopted; and then, in a separate volume, I shall publish as soon as possible my exegetical annotations, which though completed in amount, do not appear sufficiently matured for the press."
With regard to the readings adopted by himself in the text, he reassures any anxious inquirers, that, with some exceptions in the Apocalypse, which was a book peculiarly circumstanced, he had not admitted a single expression that had not been embodied with it in printed editions; and he had the more confidently made this a rule with himself, because research had convinced him that any reading not adopted by former printed editions,
. This announcement was entitled, “ Notitia Novi Testamenti Græci, rectè cautèque adornati, quod perbrevi publicandum justis conditionibus recipiunt Jo. Georgius et Christianus Godofredus Cotta, bibliopolæ.”
even though it might have probability on its side, was always of minor importance. Finally, in composing his “ Apparatus," he had carefully considered and weighed each of the forty-three canons of Gerard von Mastricht; and that the promised canon of four words would be found in that “ Apparatus." This announcement was accompanied with specimens of the form of the text in quarto, as also of the “ Apparatus Criticus.” Accordingly both made their appearance, followed by the smaller Greek Testament, in the year 1734.*
The arrangement of each edition is exhibited in its title-page, and both of them were found to agree in every particular with the announcement and specimens; neither were they much inferior as to type, correct printing, and good paper, even to those of Amsterdam.
As the minor Greek Testament was without the “ Apparatus Criticus,” its preface gave a brief account of Bengel's researches, and of the principles upon which he thought it right to conduct them. In the concluding paragraph of this preface he inserted an adage, which, though brief and in quaint Latin, excellently shows how to search the Scriptures with the greatest benefit:
“ Te totum applica ad Textum ;
The “Apparatus Criticus" consists of three parts: the first explains what New Testament criticism is; its difficulties, with the best means of overcoming them; and gives a concise but sufficient history of this branch of knowledge down to his own time. The second part shows, by way of introduction to each portion of the New Testament, the resources of criticism for such several portions, with references to editions, manuscripts, and fathers. Here it was his object to determine more evidently the relative value of the different MSS. by their antiquity, origin, and greater or less degree of correctness, as also what collations, more or less accurate, they had undergone. Next are detailed all the principal
* The quarto edition has the following title, “'H KAINH ATAOHKH, Novum Testamentum Græcè, ita adornatum, ut textus probatarum editionum medullam, margo variarum lectionum in suas classes distributarum, locorumque parellelorum delectum; apparatus subjunctus criseos sacræ, Millianæ præsertim, compendium, limam, supplementum et fructum exhibeat : inserviente Jo. Alberto Bengelio: Tubingæ, 1734." The octavo was entitled, “ 'H Kalvi Acubíkn, N. T. Græcum, ita adornatum, ut in textu medulla editionum probatarum retineatur, atque in margine ad discernendas lectiones genuinas, ancipites, sequiores, ansa detur : Stuttgardiæ, 1734."