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certain MSS. which were found in the Royal Library at Paris, and he published in his third edition a list of some 2,200 various readings from different MSS., one of which was the Codex Bezæ. Notwithstanding, however, the fact that these materials were not only within his reach, but had been partially employed by him, he nevertheless, in his third edition, made but little use of them, and adopted for the most part the fourth edition of the text of Erasmus, which was published in the year 1516. This edition was brought out by Erasmus in great haste with the view of anticipating, as it did, the publication of the Complutensian New Testament of Cardinal Ximenes. The consequence of this precipitancy was that although there was one, amongst the MSS. that Erasmus used which is of the highest critical value, and although he might even have obtained through his friend Paulus Bombasius a transcript, or at least a collation, of the Vatican Manuscript itself, he made but little use of either. He rejected, we are told, the readings of the former because they were so different from the other MSS. which he consulted ; and, as regards the latter, he appears to have contented himself with referring to it in regard of the three witnesses' of 1 John v. 7, and obtaining a transcript of a portion of the same chapter. It appears further that the single MS. of the Apocalypse which Erasmus used was so defective that he was constrained to produce a text by retranslation of the Vulgate into his own Greek. Some corrections were introduced into the fourth edition of this work, which is virtually that upon which the Authorised Version of 1611 is founded. Notwithstanding these corrections it has been alleged, and apparently upon good authority, that there are words in the two editions of the Greek Testament from which the English version of 1611 was made, having no manuscript authority whatever: these were inserted as the Greek equivalents of a Latin version, certainly no accurate representation of the original Greek, of which Erasmus possessed only a corrupt text. We cannot undertake even a cursory description of the materials for the formation of a critical text of the New Testament which are now available, and we must content ourselves with referring those of our readers who desire to form a just estimate of their extent and value to Bishop Ellicott's valuable work on the revision of the English New Testament. It must suffice us to observe that of the two oldest MSS., the Vatican and the Sinaitic, both of which are assigned by the most competent judges to the fourth century, the former contains nearly the whole, and the latter the whole, of the New Testament; and
that in addition to the numerous MSS., both uncial and cursive, of later dates, we have three MSS. of nearly as early a date as the two already named, viz., the nearly complete Alexandrian MS. which was presented to King Charles I. by Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria; the fragmentary rescript which bears the name Codex Ephremi (the original writing having been in great measure erased to allow of a work of Ephrem the Syrian being written upon the same parchment), both probably of the fifth century; and for the Gospels and Acts the valuable Codex Bezæ, which is assigned to about the middle of the sixth century. For St. Paul's Epistles we have, in addition to the Vatican, Sinaitic, and Alexandrian MSS., not only the Codex Ephremi, but also the very important Claromontane and Augiensian MSS.; for the Catholic Epistles the four oldest MSS.; and for the Apocalypse, in addition to the Sinaitic MS. and the Codex Ephremi, a valuable MS. of the eighth century which is now in the Vatican library.
But it is not only in regard to the possession of the materials on which a trustworthy text may be based that the Revisers of 1881 occupy a position widely different from that of their predecessors in 1611. The collation of ancient MSS., dispersed amongst the various public libraries of Europe, is a work involving no inconsiderable amount of time and labour, even on the part of those who have acquired by long practice the art of deciphering those MSS. with comparative facility. And hence it is a boon of inestimable value to the Biblical student of the present day, that instead of being constrained to undertake this expenditure of time and labour himself or to trust to the results of collations made at his request by others who may not be equally competent for the task, he has the results of such collations, as regards eight of the most important MSS., in so accessible a form that he is able, as Bishop Ellicott observes,' to read and study the text of ' each in its sequence and connexion, and so to form a more trustworthy judgment of the peculiar character of the individual document. In addition, moreover, to the facilities thus afforded of examining the principal uncial manuscripts, the Biblical scholar of the present time is enabled, in virtue of the labours not only of Dr. T'ischendorf and other continental critics, but of Dr. Tregelles, Mr. Scrivener, and other English scholars, to arrive at a much more accurate knowledge of all the leading cursive manuscripts, and to assign to them their proper degree of importance in the determination
of the text. In like manner as regards the ancient versions of Holy Scripture, although much remains to be done in this department of sacred literature, very great advance has been made within the present century. Much also has been done by individual editors of the whole or parts of the New Testament in regard to questions of textual criticism, as well as in regard to the exegesis of particular passages involving points of peculiar difficulty. The quotations which are found both in the Greek and Latin fathers have also been examined with a degree of care and accuracy which was unknown until the present time; whilst as regards the important aids which are furnished to the Biblical student by lexicons, concordances, and grammars, it may suffice to observe that almost the whole of those which are now in the hands of scholars, and which are held in the highest estimation by them, are the productions of the present century, and, for the most part, of the last twenty years.
Under such circumstances it can be no matter of surprise that an increasing anxiety was felt on the part of Biblical scholars to take advantage of the opportunities thus afforded for correcting the errors, whether textual or grammatical, of the Authorised Version, and to present it to English readers in a form in which it more closely approximates to the Hebrew and Greek original. The first practical step in the work of revision which has led to the production of the volume now before us, was the publication in March, 1857, of a Revision of the Gospel of St. John by · Five Clergymen? viz., the present Bishops of Gloucester and Salisbury, Dr. Alford, the late Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Barrow, and Mr. Humphrey--a work which was followed at no great intervals of time by a revised edition of the Epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians,
and the Colossians. It is not unworthy of remark that the • Five Clergymen,' afterwards reduced to four, were accus
tomed to meet regularly at the Vicarage of St. Martin’s-inthe-Fields, where the Revisers of 1881, according to the Guardian' of November 17, 1880, took their farewell dinner after the termination of their larger and more arduous undertaking. But no steps of importance were taken for nine years towards the promotion of the object which was contemplated by the Five Clergymen,' and it was not until the year 1869 that a complete revision of the whole of the New Testament was put forth by one of their number, in which the fruit of the joint labours of his associates was embodied with slight alterations.*
* The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, after
In the preface to this volume the late Dean Alford expresses his conviction of the impossibility that one man's work should ever fulfil the requisites for an accepted version of the Holy Scriptures, and he states that the objects proposed in its publication were mainly these, viz. (1) 'to keep open the great question of an authoritative revision;' (2) 'to show the
absolute necessity of such a measure sooner or later;' and *(3) to disabuse men's minds of the fallacies by which the * Authorised Version is commonly defended. After exposing in few words the ignorance and unfairness which are often displayed in the objections which are urged against attempts to revise the received English version of Holy Scripture, the writer concludes his preface in these words :
* The Reviser has only to express his wish and prayer that this work may as soon as possible be rendered useless by the more matured and multifarious labour of a Royal Commission. Such a Commission he believes the various sections of the Church in this realm fully able to furnish with members; and he doubts not that its issue would be a new authorised version, founded upon the old, but everywhere, by its own weight of excellence, superseding it.' The Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol sympathised with the views thus expressed, not only in regard to the necessity and importance of a new revision of the Bible, but also in regard to the composition of the body by which so important a work should be undertaken, and the authority under which they were to act. After
After many conferences upon the subject with Dean Alford, Bishop Ellicott communicated his views to the late Bishop of Winchester, Dr. Wilberforce, who, in his turn, conferred with Mr. Gladstone, then Prime Minister. Finding from Mr. Gladstone that there were great, if not insuperable, difficulties, in his judgment, attending the appointment of a Royal Commission, Bishop Wilberforce resolved to bring the subject before the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, a body to which it had on former occasions been submitted, but without meeting with any general acceptance. Accordingly, on February 10, 1870, the Bishop of Winchester proposed a resolution, which was seconded by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, to the effect that a
the Authorised Version, newly compared with the original Greek and revised by Henry Alford, D.D., Dean of Canterbury. 1869. It deserves to be noticed that the Paragraph Bibles published by the Religious Tract Society, at the instigation of the late Mr. Joseph Gurney, contain many valuable suggestions and improvements of the text.
joint Committee of both Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury should be appointed, with power to confer with any Committee that may be appointed by the Convocation of the Northern Province, to report upon the desirableness of a revision of the Authorised Version of the New
Testament. The Bishop of Llandaff suggested that the inquiry should not be confined to the desirableness of an improved version of the New Testament, but that the inquiry should be extended to the Old Testament, and moved as an amendment the insertion of the words Old and,' which amendment was seconded by the Bishop of St. David's (Thirlwall), and the resolution of the Bishop of Winchester, as thus amended, was put and agreed to in the following terms: That "a Committee of both Houses be appointed, with power to • confer with any Committee that may be appointed by the . Convocation of the Northern Province, to report upon
the desirableness of a revision of the Authorised Version of the Old and New Testaments, whether by marginal notes or otherwise, in all those passages where plain and clear errors
, • whether in the Hebrew or Greek text originally adopted by
the translators, or in the translations made from the same, ‘shall be found to exist.'* On the following day the resolution of the Upper House of Convocation was communicated to the Lower House, coupled with the request that the Convo* cations of Armagh and Dublin, as well as the Convocation of York, might be communicated with on this important inquiry.' The assent of the Northern House of Convocation was not formally asked, and some difference of opinion was expressed at York on the subject; but in the meantime the Joint Committee appointed by the two Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury had, after careful deliberation, arrived at the conclusions which are expressed as follows in the report which was read to the Lower House of Convocation on May 5, 1870:
(1) “That it is desirable that a revision of the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures be undertaken.
(2) That the revision be so conducted as to comprise both marginal renderings and such emendations as it may be found necessary to insert in the text of the Authorised Version.
(3) That in the above resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language, except where in the judgment of the most competent scholars such change is necessary.
* See Chronicle of Convocation, vol. ii. p.