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The Authority of Manuscripts.
13. There are catalogues of the known MSS. of the Scriptures, some of which, or one collected from them, it will be useful to have constantly at hand. Simon, Hit. Crit. V. T. I, 1. c. 21, 22, 23. Houbigant,
Proleg. c. 3. a. 2. Kennicott, Diff. 2. and Diff. Gen. 6 164. .
Mill. Prolegom... Wetstein, Proleg. Dupin, Prelim. Diff. Pfaff. ib. c. 4, 5.
Michaelis, 9 21-27. De Rosli, Var. Lect. Prol. Clavis.
14. Of the New Testament, there are several very ancient MSS.; but few MSS. of the Old Testament are of very great antiquity. Kennicott, Diff. 1. p. 305. Diff. 2. p. 465. Diff. Gen. Ø 49,
50, 162, 163,
15. The ages of MSS. are ascertained either by testimony, or by internal marks; with greatest certain, ty by the latter ; not however by any one mark singly, but by the conjunction of several. Simon, Hist. V. T. I. 2. c. 22, 23. Houbigant, Prol. p. 195.
Kennicort, Diff. 3, p. 309, 312, 313. Pfaff. c. 3. Ý , 2.
16. The authority of a MS. depends very much on its antiquity; and, consequently, it is of importance to ascertain the ages of MSS. as exactly as possible.
17. The principle on which antiquity gives authority to a MS. is, that the risk of falling into mistakes
in. B 3
increases in proportion to the frequency of transcribing; and, therefore, other things being equal, the authority of a MS. is in proportion to its antiquity. Wetstein, Proleg. c. 16. Kennicott, Diff. 2. p. 467. Wal
ton, Proleg. 6. 6. De Roffi, ib. can. 13-16.
18. But, from that very principle, there arises an exceptiou to this general rule ; viz. that a MS. certainly copied from one very ancient, has greater authority than another written earlier, but copied from a MS. of no great-antiquity. Houbigant, Proleg. p. 105, 106. Kennicott, Diff. 1. p. 307.
De Rossi, ib. can. 19--23.
19. But, there are other circumstances, besides their sages, which likewise affect the authority of MSS.
20. MSS. of the Hebrew bible are of greater or less authority, according to the countries in which they were written, and the persons for whose use they were written. Simon, V. T. I. 1. c. 21, 22. Houbigant, Prol. p. 107.
Kennicott, Dill. 1. p. 313. De Rossi, ib. can. 24–30.
21. Some MSS. show themselves to have been written by persons ignorant of the language ; and, on this very account, have great authority in favour of readings which could not have been introduced without know. ledge of the language.
Pfaff. c. 3. § 4. Michaelis, s 88. Marsh's Michaelis, ch. 8.
22. Some MSS. bear plain marks of being written with care, and therefore have great authority; others,
of being written negligently, and these can claim no authority. Simon, N. T. c. 30. Michaelis, $ 28. Walton, ib. Marsh's
Michaelis, ib. De Roft, ib.
23. MSS. which have been designedly rendered conformable to a particular copy or version, of which there are many instances, have no authority in cases wherein they agree with that copy or version. Simon, N. T. C. 30, 31. Mill, Prol. No 1268, đc. Wet. ftein, Prol. c. 4. 1.
Michaelis, Ø 21, 22, 28. Marsh's Michaelis, ib. De Rosli, ib.
24. A MS. transcribed from another, or MSS. tranf. cribed from the same original, or corrected by it, can have no separate or independent authority. Simon, N. T. c. 31. Wetstein, Prol, c. 4. \ 3. Michaelis,
28. Marsh's Michaelis, ib. § 3. De Rofli, ib.
25. MSS. written since the invention of printing, and copied from any printed edition, have no authority.
Kennicott, Diff. 1. p. 305. Wetitein, Prol. c. 2. $ 8. Micha
elis, 20. Marsh's Michaelis, il
The Use of Manuscripts, and the Manner of using
26. The first and principal use of MSS. is, to show us all the different readings which have taken place, that we may be able to compare them, and to choose that which is best supported. Kennicott, Disl. paffim.
27. If other considerations be equal, that reading is to be preferred, which is found in the most ancient MSS.
Pfaff, c. 12. can. 1. Walton, ib.
28. If other circumstances be equal, the reading of the greater number of MSS. is to be preferred to that of a less number. It is on this principle, that most of the received readings have been preferred.
Pfaff, ib. Wetftein, c. 16. 18. Michaelis, 28. . Walton, ilib.
29. Great regarď is to be paid to a reading found in a MS. which is evidently written with accuracy.
30. In judging of the number of MSS. which support a reading, care must be taken, not to reckon for different MSS. one which has been called by different names.
Wetstein, c. I. § 18. c. 4. § 1.
31. It is necessary to know, with respect to every MS. whether it contains the whole of the Old, or of the New Testament, or only a part of them, and what part; and whether it be complete or defective, and what its defects are. Mill, Prol. No u156. Wetstein, c. 1. V 12, 13, 16. c. 4. 3.
Marsh's Michaelis, ib. $ 4.
32. Besides the principal use which has been mentioned, MSS. answer indirectly several purposes subordinate to that'; particularly by indicating, in many ways,
the occafions of mistakes, and thus leading us to correct both thefe and fimilar mistakes.
33. MSS. fhew us the various forms of the characters used in different ages, and thus enable us to judge which of them were liable to be confounded. Houbigant, Proleg. Kennicott, Diff. 1. p. 313. Simon, V.T.
l. 1. c. 23. Wetst. Prol. c. 1. § 4, 5, 7. C. 2, 3, 4, 5.
34. From MSS. we learn what abbreviations have been at any time used; and by knowing this, we are enabled to account for the introduction of
various readings. Kennicott, Diff. Gen. § 25, 26. Wetít. c. 1. Ø 7. Michaelis,
$ 22. Ifa. li. 4. Lowth in locos
35. From MSS. it appears that, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek Scriptures, numbers were expressed, not only in words at length, but also by single numeral letters, and by figures; by which many corruptions have naturally been occasioned.
Kennicott, Diff. 1. and 2. Diff. Gen. 27.
בחלי " .he hath put him to grief " החלי
36. MSS. are often written with black rules, which, by confounding letters otherwise easily distinguishable, lead readers to mistake one of them for the other. 2, 07. Isa. liii. 10. " .” .
“ with grief.” Vulg. Lowth in l. Jer, xxviii. 8.
Ken. Diff. Gen. § 54, 122, 179. p. 83. note, p. 87. note. 17, 3. Ifa. vi. 13. Lowth in l. vii. 16. Ken. ib. c. 523. 17, 13. Id. Diff. 1. 2 Sam. v. l. comp. i Chron. xi. 1. 2, 3). 2 Sam. xxiii. 26. comp. i Chron. xi. 27. Ken. Dis. 1. 0, 3. i Sam. xvii. 32. comp. 70. 2, 4. Josh. vii. 18, &c. comp. 70. Vat. and v. 26, and » Chron.