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book, is to examine these positions of Eichhorn in relation to the Gospels. In order to do this, he divides his work into two parts ; in the first of which he endeavours to establish the proposition, that “the Gospels remain essentially the same as they were originally composed ;” and in the second, that “they have been ascribed to their true authors."
In proof of his first proposition, he labours, in Chap. I., to shew “ the agreement of the respective copies of the four Gospels," i. e. the uniformity or harmony of the same Gospels, which exists between all the different manuscripts or copies of them in different ages and countries, or (in other words) the uniformity of text which pervades the totality of them at all times and in all places.
In order not to be misunderstood, the author begins by informing his readers what exceptions are to be made to this general declaration. He does not suppose the present Greek text of Matthew to be the original, but only an early translation of the original Hebrew copy which was current in Palestine. Nor does he suppose, that no accident has ever befallen any single word, phrase, or verse, of any of the Gospels, but that these books have been exposed, like other ancient books, to some errors and variations introduced by copyists and others through mistake on various grounds and from a variety of causes. He enumerates what he believes to be interpolations ; in which he is much more liberal to his opponents, than I, with my present views, can possibly persuade myself to be. The two first chapters of Matthew, be thinks, did not belong to the original Gospel of this writer ; as also Matt. 27: 3-10, containing the narrative respecting Judas' repentance and suicide ; and Matt. 27: 52, 53, containing an account of the resurrection of many saints and their appearance in Jerusalem after the resurrection of the Saviour. Luke 22: 43, 44, which relates that an angel appeared and strengthened the Saviour during his agony and bloody sweat, is also, in his apprehension, of a suspicious character; and John 21: 24, 25, (the last part of v. 24 and the whole of v. 25) “has the air of an editorial note. Besides these, John 3:3, 4, (the last clause of v. 3 and the whole of v.4), containing the passages respecting angelic influence on the waters of the pool at Bethesda, is very questionable ; and John 8: 3—10, containing an account of the woman that was taken in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus, is “justly regarded by a majority of modern critics, as not having been a part of the original Gospel.”
It is proper that we should hear him speak for himself as to the manner in which he supposes these interpolations to have been made.
The two passages last mentioned, and the other interpolations that have been suggested, that is, the two insertions into the body of the text of the original Hebrew of Matthew's Gospel, and one into that of Luke's Gospel, were, we may suppose, first written as notes or additional matter in the margin of some copies of the Gospel in which they are found. But passages belonging to the text of a work, which had been accidentally omitted by a transcriber, were, likewise, often preserved in the margin. From this circumstance, notes and additional matter, thus written, were not unfrequently mistaken for parts of the text, and introduced by a subsequent copier into what he thought their proper place. This is a fruitful source of various readings in ancient writings; and may explain how the passages in question, if not genuine, have become incorporated with the text of the Gospels ; p. 25 seq.
After these remarks he goes on and endeavours to shew, that all these interpolations might have been made in the ordinary course of things, without any design to corrupt the Gospels. The very fact that spurious passages can be thus distinguished from the original, is a pledge, as he intimates, for the integrity of the rest ; and at all events, as he more than once intimates in other passages, nothing important in regard to Christian doctrine, or duty is lost, in case we exclude the interpolations in question.
On this part of Mr. Norton's treatise I shall take occasion hereafter to make some remarks, and particularly to inquire, whether it is so clear, as he seems to consider it, that the original Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew, and that the two first chapters are made up of extraneous matter, composed by another author. For the present therefore I dismiss these topics, in order to pursue the main object of Mr. Norton's book, and to shew the manner in which he has treated his subject.
The essential agreement of the Mss. of the Gospels is thus briefly and strikingly stated by him.
There have been examined, in a greater or less degree, about six hundred and seventy manuscripts of the whole, or of portions, of the Greek text of the Gospels. These were written in different countries, and at different periods, probably from the fifth century, down. wards. They have been found in places widely remote from each other, in Asia, in Africa, and from one extremity of Europe to the other.
Besides these manuscripts of the Greek text, there are many manuscripts of ancient versions of the Gospels, in at least eleven different languages of the three great divisions of the world just mentioned. There are, likewise, many manuscripts of the works of the Christian fathers, abounding in quotations from the Gospels; and, especially, of ancient commentaries on the Gospels, such as those of Origen, who lived in the third century, and of Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth ; in which we find their text quoted, as the different portions of it are successively the subjects of remark.
Now, all these different copies of the Gospels, or parts of the Gospels, so numerous, so various in their character, so unconnected, offering themselves to notice in parts of the world so remote from each other, concur in giving us essentially the same text ; p. 28 seq.
After some explanatory remarks he proceeds thus : The agreement among the extant copies of any one of the Gospels, or of portions of it, is essential; the disagreements are accidental and trifling, originating in causes, which, fronı the nature of things, we know must have been in operation. Every copy of any one of the Gospels presents us with essentially the same work, the same general history, the same particular facts, the same doctrines, the same precepts, the same characteristics of the writer, the same form of narration, the same style, and the same use of language ; and by comparing together different copies, we are able to ascertain the original text to a great degree of exactness; or, in other words, where various readings occur, to determine what were probably the words of the author. The Greek manuscripts, then, of any one of the Gospels, the versions of it, and the quotations from it by the fathers, are all, professedly, copies of that Gospel or of parts of it; and these copies correspond with each other. But as these professed copies thus correspond with each other, it follows that they were derived more or less remotely from one archetype. ment admits of no explanation, except that of their being conformed to a common exemplar. In respect to each of the Gospels, the copies which we possess must all be referred, for their source, to one original Gospel, one original text, one original manuscript. As far back as our knowledge extends, Christians, throughout all past ages, in Syria, at Alexandria, at Rome, at Carthage, at Constantinople, and at Moscow, in the east and in the west, have all used copies of each of the Gospels, which were evidently derived from one origidal manuscript, and necessarily imply that such a manuscript, existing as their archetype, has been faithfully copied ; p. 29 seq.
After these just and very apposite remarks, the author goes on to shew, in a very graphic manner, what an olla podrida the text of the Gospels would have been a Mischmasch truly, as Bertholdt rashly enough asserts of the Textus Receptus
in case the original copies of the Gospels had been dealt with in the manner that Eichhorn has stated. Well has he said, that they would have been as unlike, as the Arabic copies of the Arabian Nights' Entertainment, or the Mss. of the Gesta Romanorum.' He might have gone still further. From the frequency with which they have been copied, and from the nature of the case where so much of the miraculous is exhibited, they would have been, it is nearly certain, much more discrepant than the copies of those fictions.
It would be doing injustice to this weighty arguinent not to exhibit the remarks which the author makes upon it.
The argument which has been employed, seems easy to be comprehended; and at the same time conclusive of the fact, that all our present copies of each of the Gospels are to be traced back to one original manuscript, in multiplying the copies of which, no such lib. erties can have been taken by transcribers, as are supposed in the hypothesis under consideration. The argument seems, likewise, very obvious; yet its force and bearing appear to have been overlooked in framing that hypothesis. The fact does not seem to have been distinctly adverted to, that the transcriber or possessor of a manuscript, making such alterations as the hypothesis supposes, could introduce them only into a single copy, and into such others as might be transcribed from it; and that he could not, properly speaking, add to or corrupt the work itself. His copy would have no influence upon contemporary copies; and in the case of the Gospels, we may say, upon numerous contemporary copies, in which the true text might be preserved, or into which different alterations might be introduced. It is quite otherwise, since the invention of printing. He who now introduces a corruption into the printed edition of a work, introduces it into all the copies of that edition ; if it be the only edition, into all the copies of that work; and in many cases, into a great majority of the copies which are extant, or which are most accessible. All these copies will agree in presenting us with the same changes or interpolations. He may properly be said to corrupt the work itself. .... The power of an ancient copier to alter the text of a work was very different from that of a modern editor; yet it would seem, that they must have been confounded in the hypothesis under consideration; unless some further account is to be given of the manner, in which the text of our present Gospels has been formed and perpetuated; p. 33 seq.
In the Notes which have relation to the integrity and uniformity of the text of the Gospels, are some very interesting and useful remarks and illustrations. But I shall have occasion to advert again and separately to them, in the sequel.
Eichhorn, whose mind could not but be apprehensive of the substantial uniformity of the Gospel-text, the world over, and who could not resist the feeling that some plausible account, at least, of this extraordinary phenomenon should be given, has suggested that in process of time, i. e. as he thinks, near the end of the second and the beginning of the third century, 'the Church, out of the many Gospels which were extant, selected four which had the greatest marks of credibility, and the necessary completeness for common use.
The answer to this by Mr. Norton, is complete and absolutely overwhelming. After indulging so much in extracts as I have already done, and must hereafter do, I shall refrain from presenting it at length before the reader in the words of the author. Suffice it to say, that he has strikingly exhibited the facts, that the church was at that period not a regularly organized body having extended ecclesiastical jurisdiction. There were no general councils; no acknowledged single or complex head; no religion established and regulated by civil law ;—in a word, no appointed and generally acknowledged authority of any kind, either to sanction or condemn books for the whole church. Besides all this, the churches were in a state of persecution ; they were separated from each other by distance, by diversity of habits, manners, customs and language; and the eastern churches, moreover, had been excommunicated by the western, i. e. by Victor of Rome, before the period in question, so that great asperity of feeling existed in various respects between them. Under circumstances like these ; and also, I may add, when editorial criticism on Mss. and editions was a thing unpractised to any considerable extent, and in some respects novel and strange; the supposition of Eichhorn is an absurdity-an utter and palpable absurdity. It has not the shadow of a fact to rest upon, and is altogether a fancy, like a multitude of others which he has thrown out upon the world, generated purely in his own fancy-loving brain.
I cannot forbear, however, from giving the reader the closing paragraph of this prostrating assault upon Eichhorn's position. It runs thus :
But we may even put out of view all the preceding considerations. “ The Church,” it is said, “ about the end of the second, and the beginning of the third century, first labored to procure the general reception of the four Gospels in the Church.”. By the Church, must be meant the great body of Christians. The general reception of