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We are now to inquire in what manner he applied them to the purpose of restoring the genuine text of the New Testa. ment. The critical rules which he laid down for himself, were such, in general, as had been approved by preceding or cotemporary critics. In particular, the very binge of his system, the distribution of all the manuscripts and versions of the New Testament into several classes or families, according to their internal marks of relation or consanguinity, if we may so speak, had been distinctly pointed out by Bengel, as a necessary preliminary to the formation of an amended text; and the very same classification adopted by Griesbach, had been still more fully exhibited and recommended by his teacher Semler, as Dr. Laurence has shewn by quotations from their writings.* Indeed, Griesbach himself was too candid to deny or conceal bis obligations to Bengel and Semler, which he directly acknowledges in the preface to his second edition of the New Testament.f His merits then, must be sought in the application of this system to the materials which he possessed, and in the results to which it has led. What these results are we shall see in the sequel. As to the application of the system, Griesbach, after Semler, arranged all the manuscripts of the New Testament which had been collated, in three classes, or families, according to the particular recension or edition of the text which they seem to exhibit, or from which they appear to have sprung; which he denominated from the places where those several texts are supposed respectively to have prevailed, the Alexundrine, the Occidental, or Western, and the Byzantine. The origin and source of these several texts he does not profess to have discovered, but contents hinself with the fact of their existence, as evidenced by the agreement of the manuscripts of each class among themselves, and with the scriptural quotations of the fathers who lived and wrote in those quarters respectively, to which they are assigned. For example, that there were two different recensions or texts prevalent as early as the third century, is proved by the difference between the quotations found in the works of Origen and Clement of Alexandria, on the one hand, and those .of Tertullian and Cyprian on the other; and some manuscripts are found to agree with the former, and some with the latter. There are other manu
* Bengel. Apparat. Critic. P. i. 9 31 and 32, Obs. 31. Semler. Wetstenii Libelli ad Crisio, &c. ed. 1766, pp. 177, 193, 198, and Apparat. ad Liberal. N. T. Interpr. ed. 1767, p. 45. Cited in Laurence's Remarks, ch. ii.
Ego vero, doctis nonnullis Bengelii observationibus admonitus, eam viam, quam Semlerus ingredi coeperat, quamque diuturnio studio edoctus unice veram esse perspexeram, longius et ad metam usque persequi me debere autumabam." N T. Præf. p. v.
Ibid. Prolegom. p. lxxiv..
scripts which differ from both, and are found to agree with the quotations of those fathers who flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries in Greece, Asia Minor, and the adjacent provinces, thereby constituting a third class. But it happens, most frequently, that a manuscript is found to agree uniformly with neither of the foregoing classes, but corresponds sometimes with one, and sometimes with another, exhibiting a mixture of the three. Hence, there is need of no little critical acumen-and, in some cases, the greatest is not sufficient-lo determine with any degree of certainty the genealogy of the text. The most that can be done in this case is, first, to ascertain as far as possible, by a comparison of all the fathers and versions which decidedly exhibit the same recension, what are the native or characteristic readings of that recension; preference being given to those which are supported by the most ancient witnesses, and by the best internal evidences of genuineness.f Next, to distribute the several readings of each manuscript according to their agreement with the characteristic readings of this or that recension respectively. Thus, the celebrated Alexandrine manuscript is found to follow one recepsion in the Gospels, another in the Epistles of St. Paul, and a third in the Acts and Catholic Epistles; and the Vatican manuscript, in the former part of St. Matthew's Gospel, agrees with the Western recension, while in the rest of St. Matthew, and in the other. Gospels it follows the Alexandrine.
Supposing then, the justice of this system of recensions, and the propriety of a corresponding classification of manuscripts, to be established on sufficient grounds, there immediately results from it another principle of great importance, which is, that all the witnesses of any one class are to be counted but us one, and can give only a single testimony. It is evident that any number of copies of a printed edition can confer no more authority on a disputed passage than a single copy. And the same is true of any number of manuscripts copied from a common source. They all represent but one and the same original. But when two or more different and independent editions conspire, they furnish the testimony of separate witnesses. Hence, . the value of a reading in the New Testainent is to be estimated not merely by the number of manuscripts in which it is found,
*“Nulla recensio in codice ullo jam superstite reperitur intaminata, qualis primitus fuerat.”-Ib. p. Isxviii.
t" Cum vero hujusmodi corruptiones neutiquam codices ejusdem recensionis omnes invaserint, sed singulos tantum deformarint, intelligitur etiam, permagni momenti esse, ut nativa recensionis cujusque lectio indagatur Comparandi scili. cet sunt codices, Patres et versiones omnes eandem recensionem exhibentes, et e lectionibus in ipsis obviis seligenda est ea, quam et vetustiores testes et interna bonitatis indicia præ reliquis commendant."-Ib. p. lxxviii. Ibid, p. Ixxii.
but by the joint concurrence of such as belong to different reccnsions or editions of the text. It may consequently happen, that a reading, probable in itself, and supported only by two or three manuscripts of separate classes, or even of a single class, may and should be preferred to one which has a hundred manuscripts of the same family on its side;* and this by the necessity of the case, because of the Western and Alexandrine recensions comparatively few manuscripts remain, while those of the Byzantine are very numerous. The uge moreover of manuscripts must be taken into the account, the greatest weight being, of course, assigned to the most ancient. Yet the age of the text itself is of still more importance; since a recent manuscript may have been copied from, and so represent the text of one of great antiquity-possibly more ancient than any now extant.t After all, a difficulty of no small magnitude remains behind, and that is, to determine, among the several recensions which we may suppose the Geek text to exhibit, what is the peculiar character of each, and what degree of authority is to be assigned to them respectively; and the decision of tbis question involves many minute considerations. The Western recension, for example, frequently preserves the genuine readings which are harsh and unusual; and which in the other recensions are supplanted by others more congenial to the Greek idiom. The Western, on the other side, abounds with glosses, and explanatory additions, from which the others are free. In general, the nature of the reading itself in question, determines the proper weight to be allowed to each recension; in readings of a certain description, the Alexandrine--in those of another kind, the Western recension will have the preponderance. I Those readings wherein they all agree are to be counted undoubtedly genuine. Where they differ, the most ancient is to be preferred. A reading, good in itself, if it have the support of any one ancient recension, is to be adopted, although the majority of the witnesses may be against it. These, and various other rules, are laid down by Griesbach as the basis of his criticism, and are, for the most part, approved by the general consent of critics. .
From the general outline of his system, which we have now given, it appears that the main binges on which it turns are, the
* Ibid, p. Isi. “ Quotquot enim ad eandem recensionem pertinent testes interse consentierites, pro unico haberi debent. Usu igitur venire potest, ut duo tresve codices tantundem valeant, quantum alii centum."-Ibid, p. Ixxix. and Symbolæ Crit. vol. ii. p. 624.
Ibid p. Isis. 1“ Pro diversis enim lectionum generibus diversum est recensionis cujusque momentum. In alio genere occidentalis recensio, in alio Alexandrina plus ponderis habet."-Ibid. p. lxxviii.
Ø Ibid. p. Isis.
doctrine of three principal ancient recensions of the Greek text of the New Testament, and the correspondent classification of all the manuscripts, versions and fathers. These principles were not new, but to Griesbach is due the credit of having, with extraordinary and indefatigable diligence, applied them to the vast mass of critical materials collected by his predecessors, and of having exhibited their results in a lucid and perspicuous manner in his celebrated edition of the Greek Testament. This was unquestionably a task of immense labour, and he has accomplished it in a masterly manner. His work will always be of great value to scholars, as comprising the sum and substance of all the various readings of the New Testament of any importance, known at the time of its publication, digested in the most convenient form; and of still higher value to christians, as affording a final and decisive proof how little the whole hundred and fifty thousand various readings affect the integrity of the sacred text, or the doctrines of their faith. This, we must say again, we account the most valuable fruit of all the labours of biblical critics.
Of the merit of Griesbach's labours in another point of view, as regards the justness of the system of recensions adopted by him-his success in assigning to each its true relative valueand in referring the various manuscripts, versions and fathers to these several recensions—and inally, the value of his emendations of the text--we are bound to give our readers an opportunity of forming an opinion, by laying before them the opposing views of Dr. Laurence and Mr. Nolan, on these points, though we are sensible of the difficulty of doing them even imperfect justice in the space which we have left. And first, as to his system of recensions-Griesbach, in his Curæ in Epistolas Paulinas, to which he often refers in explanation of his theory, supposes the existence of five or six different recensions of the text: and in his first edition of the Gospels, he acknowledges the extreme difficulty of ascertaining their precise number, and of referring to each its appropriate manuscripts, which he pronounces to be the only true way of proceeding, while at the same time he admits that he was forced by the insurmountable difficulties which attended it, to pursue a different course.* The results, therefore, at which he arrived, would seem by his own showing, to rest on an insecure foundation.t At the head of the Alex
"Sed hæc via (quam unice veram esse certissime mibi persuasum est) adeo est impedita hactenus, tantisque difficultatibus obstructa, ut aliam quærere invitus sæpe cogerer."-Griesb. Euang. Præf. p. xii, cited in Laurence's Remarks, ch. ii.
Dr. Scholz, in his Cure Csilica in Historiam Textus Euangeliorum, containing the prospectus of a new edition of the Greek Testament, of which we understand the first volume has been recently published, acknowledges fire recensions of the text, which he makes the basis of his system.
andrine recension, according to Griesbach's system, stands Origen, the celebrated catechist of Alexandria, who flourished in the beginning of the third century. To the readings found in his works, and those of Clement of Alexandria, he attaches the highest value, as supposing them to exhibit the most ancient or primitive text; and such manuscripts as he finds to agree more or less with them, he refers to the same recension. To this class, though he follows neither of the three exclusiveiy, he assigns in general the greatest weight, while he allows the least to the Byzantine. Now both Mr. Nolan and Dr. Laurence agree in depriving the Alexandrine recension of the testimony of Origen, on which it principally rests. Dr. Laurence objects to the method adopted by Griesbach to ascertain the conformity of his principal manuscripts with the text of Origen, as leading to a faulty result, as well as charges him with inadvertence and inaccuracy in its application. The proofs which he offers in detail on both these points, do not adınit of abridgement; but we will give a specimen of his manner of reasoning, and of the results to which it leads.
“Griesbach's mode of ascertaining the class of a manuscript," observes Dr. Laurence,* " is to compute its various readings, or deviations from the received text; and if they prove numerous, to take it from the Byzantine, and to rank it under that text which appears principally to participate in them.”
The inadequacy of this mode he shews in the following man
“The manuscript marked A he represents as belonging to the Alexandrine class in the Epistles of St. Paul, because out of one hundred and seventy deviations from the received text, it agrees one hundred and ten times with Origen, and differs from him only sixty. Now let us turn the scale and institute a comparison founded upon its variations, not from the received text, but from the Alexandrine, or the quotations of Origen. Griesbach states that the manuscript A differs both from Origen and from the received text sixty times. He also informs us that it differs from Origen alone, when it agrees with the received text, ninetysir times. Adding, therefore, these numbers together, we perceive that the deviations of A from Origen, or from the Alexandrine text, amount to one hundred and fifty-sir in all. But is it not evident that out of these it agrees with the received or Byzantine text, when it differs from Origen ninety-six times, and dissents from it only sirty? The conclusion, therefore, is unavoidable, and we seem compelled upon this calculation, to class the manuscript under the Byzantine text, as we were upon the other calculation under the Alexandrine; so that a diametrically opposite result takes place."*