« PrécédentContinuer »
of the Bible which, in the year 331 A.D., the Emperor Constantine ordered to be executed for Constantinople, under the direction of Eusebius, the bishop of Cæsarea, best known as a Church historian. In this case it must be understood that the Emperor Justinian, the founder of the Sinaitic monastery, sent it as a present from Constantinople to the monks at Sinai.” The MS. was edited by Dr. Tischendorf in 1862 ; the New Testament was reproduced for ordinary use in 1863, 1865; and the translation into English of its “various readings" is now given to the world at a small price.
There appears to be no reason to doubt that this Codex is the oldest in existence. The only others which can at all compare with it in antiquity are the Vatican Codex, so called from the place where it has long been deposited ; and the Alexandrian, which is now in the British Museum.
The Vatican Codex was known to be in the Vatican Library in 1475. Its previous history is not known. It contained the Old and New Testaments, copied in uncial letters. Of the New Testament it now contains the four Gospels, the Acts, the seven General Epistles, nine of Paul's Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews down to chap. ix. 14; but the two Epistles to Timothy, the Epistles to Titus and Philemon, and the Revelation are missing. Palæographic data lead Dr. Tischendorf to assign to this MS. an almost equal antiquity with the Sinaitic Codex, and to ascribe its production to the middle of the fourth century. He says, however, that it is certainly not one of the fifty copies ordered by Constantine. Only recently has the Roman Court permitted any access to it beyond a hurried examination of its pages. Erasmus appealed to it when accused of departing in some passages from the Vulgate version in his Greek Testament. Dr Bentley obtained some readings from it by the hand of an Italian named Mico, in 1720, and his collation is now in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Fac-simile copies of several fragments, and also some various readings from it, have been obtained by other scholars. Cardinal Mai undertook an edition of it in 1828, by command of Leo XII., but his edition was not published until 1857, three years after his death, and it was found to be full of mistakes. Dr. Tischendorf was at length enabled to fully examine the MS. and to revise and correct Mai's New Testament, which revisions and corrections he published in 1867. Still further corrections were supplied, when, at last, after so many delays, Vercellone and Cozza were last year permitted to make a fac-simile edition of the Codex.
The Alexandrian Codex was in 1628 sent as a present to Charles I. of England, from Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, who brought it with him from Alexandria, where he had formerly been patriarch. It was thence called the Alexandrian Codex. It borean Arabic subscription, stating that the MS. was said to have been written by Thecla the Egyptian Martyr. It contains the Old and New Testaments; but the New Testamentis imperfect in Matthew, John, and the 2nd Corinthians. It contains, however, the one genuine, and a fragment of the Apocryphal epistle by Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, an epistle of Athanasius, and a production of Eusebius on the Psalter. On palæographic grounds it is believed to have been written in the middle of the fifth century. A remarkably accurate fac-simile edition by Woide of the New Testament was edited in 1786, and, with a few corrections, it has been republished in 1860.
Besides these venerable documents, there are many other Codices, of which two of the more important are the Codex Ephræmi and Codex Bezce. The first contains a portion of both the Old and New Testaments, and was probably written in the fifth century. It was corrected by another hand, perhaps a century later, and afterwards again corrected, possibly about the ninth century. In the thirteenth century the writing was partly effaced, and written over, or across, by Ephræm the Syrian, in Greek. It takes its name from this circumstance, and is what is termed a palimpsest MS., i.e. a parchment or vellum from which one writing has been erased, and on which another has been written. This MS. is now in the Imperial Library, Paris.
The Codes Bezce, or Cantabrigiensis, containing the four Gospels and the book of Acts, is written in Greek and Latin on opposite pages. It was possessed by Theodore Beza, whence its first name, and is now at Cambridge, whence its second name. Beza made use of it in the notes to his Greek Testament. The best judges refer its origin to the sixth century.
By the discovery of the Sinaitic, and the publication of the Vatican Codices—beyond question the two most ancient MSS. copies of the New Testament in existence-students of the Bible are now enabled to examine the correctness of the Authorised Version with an aid which was never previously within their reach. The Authorised Version, as is well known, is based upon the text as edited by Erasmus in 1516 and Robert Stephens in 1550. The MSS. which they consulted, says Tischendorf, were not written till about the tenth and subsequent centuries. Tregelles, however, intimates that Stephens may have obtained access to the Codex Bezæ, and to which he perhaps refers in the third edition of his Testament, as MS. B.; but this is a matter still in dispute among critics. Since the time of Erasmus and Stephens, several far older MSS. have been discovered than any they could have access to; and, beside the Greek, translations of the Greek into Syriac, Egyptian, Latin, and Gothic of the second, third, and fourth centuries. In the works of the Christian Fathers, who wrote in the second and following centuries, are to be found many quotations from the Gospels and Epistles, and these citations have been collated and compared with the text. The result of such investigations has been to discover “ thousands of readings which had not been edited by Erasmus or Stephens.”
By these means the Biblical student is now furnished with the means both of estimating the value of the Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrian Codices, as well as of collating the Authorised Version with the readings of these and other important MSS. Dr. Tischendorf thus sums up the argument as to these three Codices. The text of these MSS. “is not only in accordance with the writing of MSS. in the fourth and fifth centuries, the same which was read in the East in precisely those centuries ;* but rather, for the most part, it truly represents the text which was then copied from much older documents by Alexandrian scribes who knew very little of Greek, and, therefore, did not intentionally make the least alteration ;—that is to say, the very text which in the third and second centuries was spread over a great part of Christendom. In further confirmation of this idea, we may refer to the agreement of our three ancient copies with the oldest translations,—the Latin, made in the second century in Proconsular Africa ;t the Syriac version of the Gospels made at the same time, and recently brought from the Nitrian desert in Egypt to the British Museum ; # and the Coptic or Egyptian versions of the third cen
* Shown by comparison with the inscriptions, part of which was cut in Greek uncials, on the Rosetta stone, more than a century B.C., a disinterred Herculaneum papyrus roll, buried since A.D. 79, and other MSS., as to the age of which there can be no question.
+ To the existence of this Old Latin version Tertullian bears witness. Cardinal Wiseman satisfactorily establishes the fact that the Old Latin version did exist at that time, and was in all reasonable probability made in the Roman province of North Africa. It is called Ante-Hieronymian, to more fully distinguish it from the Vulgate, the Latin version, or recension, made by Jerome at the end of the fourth century.
# This valuable MS. was among a collection of MSS. brought from the Nitrian monasteries in 1842. Dr. Cureton was the first to discover the MS. containing
tury.* Thesame opinion is also further confirmed by the agreements of the text of the three great MSS. with Irenæus,t Clement of Alexandria, Origen,ş and others of the older Fathers of the Church. What we have been saying applies most of all to the Codex Sinaiticus, which, for example, is unapproachable in its close relation to the Latin version of the second century; it applies in a lesser degree to the Vatican MS.,
the Gospels, and to collate the text, which is thence called the Curetonian Syriac. He considers this MS. was written in the fifth century. Alford, Tregelles, Ewald, Bleek, and other great scholars agree with Cureton in regarding this MS. as being older than the better known Peshito Syriac version. The MS. contains only a portion of Matthew; the four last verses of Mark; parts of six chapters of John; and portions of eleven chapters of Luke,-in which order the Gospels are therein arranged. It is especially interesting, as furnishing some new data for the controversy as to the Evangelist Matthew's having written in Hebrew (Syro-Chaldaic), and as presenting evidences that the fragment of Matthew which the MS. contains was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew of the Apostle.
* The Memphitic version, in the dialect of Lower Egypt, which was brought to Europe in the 16th century, and various copies of which are now at Oxford, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and other places; and the Thebaic version, in the dialect of Upper Egypt, discovered some time after the Memphitic, and to a knowledge of which the discovery of the Memphitic led. There is also a third Egyptian version, of which only a few fragments are preserved, now styled the Bashmuric, or Ammonian. Scholars seem generally agreed in assigning to the Thebaic version a greater antiquity than belongs to either of the others. Both the Thebaic and Memphitic versions are from the Greek, and were done independently of each other. It is concluded that the third Egyptian version is a translation from the Thebaic. The beginning of the third century is the date generally assigned to the Thebaic translation, as stated by Tischendorf.
+ Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, disciple of Polycarp, lived in the second century, wrote much, quoted largely from the Scriptures, and his works were early translated into the Latin.
I Clement of Alexandria, “the most illustrious writer of the second century, and the most justly renowned for his various erudition, and his perfect acquaintance with the ancient sages” (says Moshein). He was the disciple of Pantænus, and the head of the Alexandrian school, destined for the instruction of catechu
He also quoted extensively from the Scriptures. § Origen, one of the most earnest, most learned, most laborious, and most gifted of the writers of the third century; whose famous Hexapla, now preserved only in fragments, and whose dogmatic writings still furnish so many valuable materials for textual criticism; whose receptive mind thus early perceived the existence in all the Word of an inner and spiritual sense ; whose illustrious example, and profound interpretations of many portions of the Scriptures, helped to preserve down to the dark ages, a belief in the deeper wisdom of the oracles of God, in the minds of almiost all the ablest and most original commentators; and who abundantly merits the higher estimation in which in more recent times many able men have begun to hold him.
and still less to the Alexandrian, which, however, is far preferable in the Acts, Epistles, and Revelation to what it is in the Gospels.”
Dr. Tischendorf instances other evidences to prove the antiquity, and consequent reliableness of the Sinaitic Codex. Some of these are so remarkable and so important that I extract them :
“The ordinary conclusion of the Gospel of S. Mark (chap. xvi. 9-20), is found in more than 500 Greek MSS., in all Syriac and Coptic MSS., in almost all the Latin, and in the Gothic version.* But Eusebius and Jerome say expressly that in nearly all correct copies of their time, S. Mark's Gospel ended with the 8th verse of the last chapter, and was without verses 9-20. With these famous accurate MSS. of Eusebius (who died A.D. 340), there agree—among all extant Greek MSS.only the Sinaitic and the Vatican.”
Origen, the Codex Bezce, the early Latin, most ancient Syriac, and oldest Coptic read John i. 4, “In Him is life," and not “In Him was life.” With these the Sinaitic agrees. Origen,' several ancient Latin MSS., and the Sinaitic read John xii. 10, “ He that is washed needeth not to wash, but is clean every whit.” Origen thus quotes it six times. The Sinaitic also agrees with Tertullian (who died about A.D. 216) in John vi. 51, “ If any man eat of my bread, he shall live for ever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The genuineness and antiquity of these three MSS. being beyond dispute, I now propose to furnish a list of all the more important difference of readings of the Gospels and the Revelation, as furnished by these Codices, and as collated by Dr. Tischendorf.
J. H. MANCHESTER.
(To be continued.)
* The Gothic version was made by Ulphilas, bishop of the Goths, who succeeded Theophilus, A.D. 348. The existence of this version became known in the latter part of the sixteenth century. The Codex Argenteus, the Gothic version of the Gospels, was taken among the spoils of Prague, in 1648, by the Swedish Count Königsmark, who sent it to Stockholm. It was written on purple vellum in letters of silver, whence its name Argenteus; but it is much discoloured by age. After many adventures it was restored to Sweden, and it is now in the library of the University of Upsala. It is beautifully executed. Several other fragmentary palimpsest MSS. have since been discovered. It is not believed that the Codex Argenteus is the very copy made by Ulphilas, and its value in textual criticism is only confirmatory, though, when it does support more ancient readings, “it is entitled to a most attentive hearing."