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|Importance of the Subject.
WHAT is the genuine Greek—what the true Text of the New Testament ? Which are the very words which were written by the
Evangelists and Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ under the Inspiration of the Holy Ghost ? Have we up to this period received and
used for the information of our faith and the guidance of our lives a Form of Text, which in a vast number of particulars, many of
which are of great importance, has been fabricated by the device or error of men ?
This question has been raised in the research of recent times, which has brought to light an amount of evidence residing in ancient
copies and translations of the New Testament, that has led many eminent scholars to reject, as being in their estimation corruptions
of the pure Text, various passages which have endeared themselves to Christians in the course of centuries. Thus, according to
principles largely adopted,
(a) The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel according to St. Mark must be cast aside, and an abrupt close made after the
words, ' for they were afraid.'
(b) In the Lord's Prayer as given by St. Luke (xi. 2-4), the following clauses must be excised :—' Our .... which art in Heaven';
'Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth ' ;—' but deliver us from evil.'
(c) The Doxology must be omitted from the Lord's Prayer in St. Matthew (vi. 13), and so all record of it lost in the Gospels.
(d) (d) Vv. 43, 44 must no longer be reckoned in the 22nd chapter of St. Luke, and thereby the account mustdisappear of the
strengthening Angel and the ' Bloody Sweat,' as well as the evangelical record of ' the Agony in the Garden.'
(e) The first of our Lord's seven Sayings from the Cross (St. Luke xxiii. 34) must be regarded as unauthentic, * Father, forgive
them, for they knew not what they do.'
(f) Also St. Luke's assertion of the Ascent into Heaven (xxiv. 15),—an omission of the more importance, because St. Mark's
account of the same event, which included also the session at the Right Hand of God, is supposed under these principles to have
vanished with the last twelve verses of his Gospel.
(g) St. Luke's recital of the Institution of the Holy Sacrament (xxii. 19, 20) must be lost, except as far as ' This is My Body.'
These seven instances, which might be multiplied extensively by the addition of other omissions,—such as of the descending angel
and the cure wrought in the pool of Bethesda, of the last cry in St. Mark's description of the centurion's faith, of the greater part of St.
Luke's account of the Inscription on the Cross, of St. Peter's visit to the Sepulchre in the same Gospel, of the salutation ' Peace be
unto you,' of the Lord shewing His Hands and His Feet, of the word 'broken,' whereby a gash is made and a blank space left in St.
Paul's grand version of the Institution of the Holy Sacrament, and others too numerous to recount here —not to do more than allude
to startling statements, such as that our Lord's Side was pierced before death, and that the sun was eclipsed at its full, (1)—may
teach all who revere and love the Word of God what precious points are at stake. If the changes advocated by the modern school
leave enough behind in Holy Writ to support without doubt the essentials of the Faith of Christendom, yet they are so momentous in
themselves as to produce a painful wrench in earnest affections which have attached themselves to words familiar and deeply loved
from childhood, and to prove that, at least to first appearance, general and special attention should be directed to what may really be
a corruption of the Holy Scriptures. Besides this, the number of alterations, amounting in the most moderate of the new recensions to
5,337,' (2) reveals the formidable nature of the operations that are threatened. If the majority of these alterations are small, it must be
remembered that the instance taken is one which presents much less change than other editions of the New Testament. Enough is
shown to establish beyond doubt that it is the duty of all Christians, who take an intelligent interest in the controversies of their day,
not to sit still when such concerns are in jeopardy.
Yet at the present time there are comparatively few persons, clerical or lay, who have an intelligent acquaintance with the grounds
on which this important question rests. The subject at first sight presents a forbidding aspect to most minds :—the exceedingly
valuable treatises on it are too full of learning, and too long for such as are not really students to master :—and the hurry and haste of
modern life demand a simpler mode of treatment.
It is therefore with the hope of presenting the chief features of Textual Criticism, or such elementary considerations as are
immediately involved in determining the Greek Text of the New Testament, to readers in a clear and not uninteresting way, that in
deference to the urgent solicitations of some who enter deeply into the controversy, the composition of this little treatise has been
undertaken. Inexpressibly dear to all true Christians, whether they range themselves on the one side or the other, must be the very
expressions,—the sentences, the phrases, the words, and even the rhythm and the accents,—of the genuine utterance of the Holy
Spirit of God. The general sentiment of Christianity has applied with plenary enlargement the warning given at the close of the last
Book in the Bible against addition or omission.'(3) ' Let no man add to the words of the Holy Scriptures or detract anything from them,'
said one of the most renowned of the Fathers.'(4) ' Let them fear the woe which is destined for them who add to or take away,' was
the consentient admonition of another.(5)
The leading points in the contention on either side will be given in the Narrative. The questions in debate are questions of fact, and
must be decided by the facts of history, the origin and nature of the documents on which they depend, and due regard to the
proportion of the Christian Faith. They cannot be settled piecemeal. All the counts of the case must be before the court. An attempt
will therefore be now made to represent with all candour the chief grounds on which opinion should rest, as they have been set forth
in the career of the Science of Textual Criticism, in the principal arguments employed by the Rival Schools of the present day, in the
history of the transmission of the New Testament from age to age, and in the leading Materials of Criticism; and it will be our duty to
deduce in conclusion the main principles that ought to regulate critical operations in any endeavour to revise and remodel the Sacred
(1) St. John V. 3, 4 : St. Mark xv. 39 : St. Luke xxiii. 38 : xxiv. 12 : xxiv. 36 : xxiv. 40 : I Cor. ix. 24, /cXw^utvor : St. Matt, xxvii. 49: St. Luke
xxiii. 45. iKkii-KovToq, which, as Dean Burgon truly says ("Revision Revised," p. 65), ' means an eclipse of the sun and no other
thing,' though the Revisers translate it *the sun's light failing.'
(2) The number of changes in the Greek Text of the Revised Version as estimated by Dr. Scrivener (Burgon, "The Revision Revised,"
p. 405). The changes in the English of the Revised Version are said to amount to 36,191.
(3) Rev. xxii. i8, 19.
(4) Athanasius, "Ex Festali Epistola," xxxix. (t. ii. p. 39, Eil, Colon).
(5) Tertullian, "Adv. Hennogenem," xxiu
|A Guide to
by Edward Miller
BY EDWARD MILLER, M.A.
RECTOR OF BUCKNELL, OXON.
—St. Matt. xxiv. 35.
'' Truth crushed to earth shall rise again. "
GEORGE BELL AND SONS, YORK STREET,
COVENT GARDEN, LONDON.