Greek: Ancient Critical Text History (3)

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   "A new era in biblical criticism commences with the year 1707, when the Rev. Dr. John Mill
published, at Oxford, his important edition of the New Testament, with 30,000 various readings and
useful prolegomena.   He selected for his text the third edition of Stephens, as reprinted in Walton’s
, and added all the collections of readings that had then been published: he also formed new
collations himself of original editions, and of the quotations from the New Testament which occur
in the writings of the fathers; and he obtained extracts of MSS. that had not previously been collated.
During thirty years he devoted himself, with increasing assiduity, to the production of this work, and
he survived its publication but fourteen days.   A re-impression of his edition was executed by Küster,
at Rotterdam, in 1710, with the readings of twelve additional MSS.   The editions of the Greek
Testament published at present are generally, at least in this country, printed from Mill’s text.
   An attempt towards a critical amendment of the text was made by Dr. Wells, in his edition of the
New Testament, published at Oxford, in detached portions, between the years 1709 and 1719.   But
far more considerable [change]s of the received text were introduced in the edition published by
Bengel, at Tübingen, in 1734: it is however remarkable, that except in the book of Revelation,
Bengel does not adopt one reading which is not to be met with in some of the printed editions.   His
edition is distinguished by its accuracy; he does not alter the text itself, except in the book of
Revelation, but the relative value of the various readings is signified by the characters of the Greek
alphabet affixed to each citation.
   The materials for the revision of the text were greatly increased in 1751-2 by the publication
of Wetstein’s edition
, with its valuable prolegomena and its vast collection of readings.   Wetstein

collated several MSS. himself; (in thirty-eight years he collated about eighteen MSS. of the Gospels;)
others he examined, and the collations of others were diligently collected by him.   This edition is con-
sidered by Michaelis to be more important, in a critical point of view, than any other.   The notes are
particularly useful; for they contain copious extracts from rabbinical writers, which greatly serve to
explain the idiom and turn of expression of the New Testament.   The text is simply a reprint of the
editio recepta of the Elzevirs.
  The emendations proposed by Wetstein, and indicated by him in the
margin, were adopted by Bowyer, a learned printer in London, who inserted them in the text of his
edition, published 1763: a second edition appeared in 1772.

   Between the years 1775 and 1777, Dr. Griesbach published his revised text of the Greek Testa-
ment; but the second edition of this work, which was completed in 1806, is by far the most important,
because it contains the results of collations made subsequently to the publication of the first edition.
The first volume of this second edition was reprinted in 1796, at the expense of the then Duke of
Grafton.   All the critical materials which had been amassed by Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, Matthæi,
Birch, and Alter, together with the results of his own extensive researches, were collected by Dr.
Griesbach, and applied by him to the general revision of the text.   Besides the readings which he
admitted into the text, he formed a large collection of marginal readings, to which he affixed marks to
denote the various degrees of probability as to the genuineness of such readings.   In 1805, he pub-
lished a manual edition, exhibiting, in a compendious form, the results to which he had been led by
his minute critical investigations.
   An edition of the various readings has been printed, together with Mill’s text, in an 8vo. volume,
by Messrs. Bagster.   The advantage of these will appear from the subjoined tabular form:--

ΛΟΥΚΑ, XI. 1-13.
   [See Greek TR.]

   A revision of the Greek text, on the authority of a set of MSS. of the Byzantine family, was
published by Matthæi, at Riga, 1782-1788: he formed his edition from the rich collection of
Byzantine MSS.
belonging to the Patriarchal Library at Moscow.   Among the critical editions of the
New Testament must also be mentioned that of Dr. Harwood, published in London, 1776, and again
in 1784
, in which the received text forms the basis, but [chang]ed by readings from the Codex Bezæ
and the Codex Claromontanus.
  Alter’s edition of the New Testament, published 1786-7, is merely a
copy from a single MS., the Codex Lambeeii I., in the Imperial Library at Vienna, accompanied with
various readings from Greek MSS. in the same library, and from the Coptic, Sclavonic, and Latin
  In 1781, an edition of the Four Gospels was published, with various readings from the
Vatican and other MSS., the results of the combined labour of Professors Birch, Adler, and Molden-
hawer, who were employed by the King of Denmark to traverse Germany, Italy, France and Spain,
for the purpose of collating the most famous MSS. contained in those countries.
  This edition is
particularly valuable, on account of the large extracts it contains from the Codex Vaticanus.   In 1798,
Birch published, at Copenhagen, a collection of various readings derived from the same sources: but
a calamitous fire, which destroyed the printing-office, types, and paper, prevented the completion of
the entire work.

   Another revised Greek Testament was published in 1830-36, by Dr. Scholz, of Bonn, who had
for years been accumulating materials for this work from the principal libraries of Europe and the
East.   This edition contains a greater number of readings than any of the preceding.   In the [amendment]
of the text, Griesbach had generally admitted the authority of the more ancient MSS.; but Scholz
was influenced by a contrary principle, for, as the ancient MSS. are very few in number, he contended
that their testimony is of less weight than that of the mass of more modern MSS.   The text of Scholz
has been reprinted in England; first, in 1840, in the "English Hexapla," and subsequently
in the "Critical Greek and English New Testament:" in this latter edition, the text is accompanied
by the readings, both textual and marginal, of Griesbach, and the variations of the principal printed
   In 1831, a revision of the New Testament was published by Lachmann: it is conducted on the
principle that the ancient MSS. are to be followed implicitly, even in cases where there are manifest
errors of transcription; and no appeal except to Greek and Latin authorities is admitted.   At the end
of this edition there is a list (extending to 42 pages) of the discrepancies between the received text and
that adopted by Lachmann.   In the second edition of this work, the authorities on which the [chang-
e]s of the text were made are given, and the Latin Vulgate is added.
   In 1841, Tischendorf published a critical edition of the Greek text, in which he partly adopted
the readings of ancient authorities: other editions have been issued by him; among which may be
mentioned one published at Paris, for which he appears to have searched many MSS., with the view
of selecting such particular readings as exhibit any tendency to countenance the renderings of the
Latin Vulgate.   A new edition of his Leipsic Greek Testament appeared in 1849.

   In consequence of the paucity of the MSS. in which the Apocalypse has been transmitted to us,
[Thousands of minuscule & cursive manuscripts are being ignored.   See RJS.]
that book affords less scope for textual criticism than any other portion of the New Testament; hence
it has been comparatively overlooked in many of the critical editions above enumerated.   Erasmus,
as we have seen, edited it upon very [good] authority:
and Griesbach, finding that his system of
classification was inapplicable to this book, devoted but little critical attention to it.   It was not till
1844 that the full appliances of modern criticism were brought to bear upon this previously neglected
portion of Holy Writ.   In that year, Dr. Tregelles published a revised edition of this book.   His text
is formed entirely from ancient authorities, part of which were known but imperfectly to Griesbach
and Scholz; and he has given a copious collection of various readings, including all that are found in
ancient MSS., and all that have any importance in themselves, or are supported by any considerable
number of authorities.   To render the result of his critical investigations accessible to the mere English
reader, Dr. Tregelles has added a literal English version of his amended text.

   A more important critical edition of the New Testament than any which has yet appeared is
in course of publication.   The object contemplated in this edition is no less than the restoration of the
text commonly received among the churches during the fourth century.   This is accomplished by
means of direct reference to the most ancient MSS. extant; and in all passages where these ancient
documents do not precisely agree, or where there is the slightest room for doubt, conflicting evidence
on every side of the question is carefully adduced.   The ancient versions are allowed a voice as to
the insertion or non-insertion of clauses; but no word is admitted into the text which is not found
in one or other of the most ancient MSS.   The citations occurring in early writers are carefully noted;
and even the readings of modern MSS. are impartially stated in the margin.   The received text is
allowed no prescriptive authority whatever; and in all cases in which its readings are retained, the
MS. authorities on which such readings rest are systematically enumerated.
  The works of ancient
and modern biblical critics have been closely examined, and the errors into which many of them have
fallen are detected and avoided in this edition, by means of a fresh and most laborious collation of
several of the MSS. cited.   The projector and editor of this work is Dr. Tregelles, the editor of the
Apocalypse, as above mentioned.   Twenty years of his life have been devoted to this undertaking,
it is to be hoped that the period is not far distant when his [the received] text of the pure and unadulterated word
of God will be given [back] to the Church.   ....

   Messrs. Bagster have published an edition of the Greek Testament in large type, for the conveni-
ence of general use.   The common text[?] is given, with the addition of those readings which are supported
by great authority: at the end is a collation of
the texts of Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and
--The Bible of Every Land. (1860, Second Edition) {CHM note: adapted.}   Samuel Bagster   [Info only:
Gray color indicates Critical Text thinking.]

**File: Greek: Ancient Bible History (3)--1860   S. Bagster   [Info only]


   The Septuagint is unquestionably the most ancient and the most important of all the versions of
Scripture that have been transmitted to us.   It derives its name from the now exploded story of its

having been translated by seventy or seventy-two translators, each of whom, it is said, executed a
separate translation from the Hebrew text; and, on coming together afterwards to compare the results
of their labour, discovered a miraculous verbal agreement between their respective productions.   The
accounts given by early writers concerning this version, when divested of fabulous and improbable
details, afford us little or no information as to its real history beyond the mere date of its execution,
which concurrent testimonies lead us to place somewhere about the year 285 B.C., or during the joint
reign of Ptolemy Lagus and Philadelphus his son.   This version is far more ancient than any Hebrew
now extant
; and it is therefore peculiarly valuable not only as exhibiting the state of the original
text at that early period, but also as showing the interpretation conventionally attached to the words
of sacred writ
by the Jews of that epoch.
   The Septuagint, on its first appearance, seems to have been received with comparatively little
favour by the Jews of Palestine
, but afterwards it became regarded among them as an accredited
version of their Scriptures.   The large and then rapidly increasing class of their countrymen called
Hellenistic or Grecian Jews, from their living in cities where Greek was spoken, adopted this version
as their own; and it was habitually used in public and private among them, from the time of its
completion till about the close of the first century of the Christian era.   The early Christians, who
were generally ignorant of Hebrew, had recourse to this version in proving from the prophets that
Jesus was the promised Messiah
; and the Jews, being unable to meet the arguments drawn from this
source, endeavoured to throw discredit on the version itself, by alleging that it did not agree with the
Hebrew text
.   In order still further to evade the proofs that Jesus was the Christ, which in the pages
of the Septuagint were laid open to the gaze of all nations, the Jews, in default of better arguments,
instituted a solemn annual fast, in execration of the day in which the version was completed.
   Thus rejected by the Jews, the Septuagint became the accredited version of the professing
Christian Church; it was uniformly cited by the Greek and Latin fathers; and from it the old Italic,
the Armenian, the Arabic, and most of the ancient versions of the Old Testament were made.   The
Septuagint has been, moreover, honoured above all other versions, in being quoted by the inspired
writers of the New Testament.   There are in all 244 quotations from the Old Testament in the New;
and of these,
according to Bishop Wetenhall, 147 are from the Septuagint, while 97 vary more or less
from it.   Taking ten citations from each of the four evangelists as they rise, the bishop has shown that,
of these forty citations, twenty-two differ from
the Septuagint, having been apparently translated anew
from the Hebrew, while fourteen agree both with the Septuagint and the Hebrew; whence he draws
the conclusion, that
"the Holy Ghost did not intend, in the style of the New Testament, to canonise
any translation by a constant and perpetual use of it."

   The dialect in which this version is written resembles that of the New Testament, but it contains
more Hebraisms, and is even further removed from the idiom of the classical Greek writers.   It is
evident that the translators were not Palestine but
Alexandrian Jews, and that they were familiar with
the phraseology of Egypt.   This is proved by the many Coptic words and terms, appertaining to
Egyptian customs and philosophy, which appear in the translation.   Thus, the Thummim of the high
priest is in the Pentateuch rendered by the term {α’}ληθεία (truth), which same word was inscribed on
the sapphire collar worn about the neck of the chief priest in Egypt.   It is equally evident from the
style of the Septuagint, that different portions were executed by different hands, the various books of
which it is composed being very unequal in point of execution.
  The Prophetical and most of the
Historical Books, and the Psalms, were translated by very incompetent individuals.   The Pentateuch,
the Proverbs, and the book of Job, are generally considered the portions best translated.   In several
passages of the Pentateuch, the Septuagint follows the Samaritan more closely than the Hebrew text.
The translator of the book of Job appears to have been familiar with the language of the Greek poets,
and though he often seems studious of elegance rather than of accuracy, yet his very faults, it has been
remarked by Jahn, are indicative of genius.   The discrepancy in point of chronology which exists
between the Septuagint and the Hebrew text is very remarkable, and not easily to be accounted for:

according to the Hebrew, a period of 2448 years elapsed between the creation and the giving of the
law by Moses;
whereas, in the Septuagint, this interval is represented as extending over 3953 years.
   In consequence of the numerous transcriptions of the Septuagint made by Jews and Christians,
errors arising from the inadvertence of copyists crept into the text, and a revision was therefore under-
taken, during the early part of the third century, by Origen, a learned father of the Church.   His
object in engaging in this recension or revision was not only to detect and remove the errors of copies,
but by a thorough comparison of the Septuagint version with the Hebrew original, and with all other
existing Greek versions, to form a standard of appeal for the Christians in their arguments with the
Jews.   He devoted twenty-eight years to the preparation of the work, and travelled all over the East
in quest of materials.   During the course of these travels he met with six Greek translations, namely,
the version of Aquila, the version of Symmachus, and that of Theodotion, hereafter to be mentioned,
and three anonymous translations.   He instituted a minute comparison between these six translations,
the Septuagint, and the Hebrew.   The versions of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and the
Septuagint, were written by Origen in parallel columns, forming what early writers termed the
Tetrapla; and when he added two columns of the Hebrew text, the one in Hebrew the other in Greek
, the entire work was denominated the Hexapla, by which title it is still known.
made no alterations whatever in the text of the Septuagint which he inserted in the Hexapla:
whenever he found that text deficient in a word which occurred in the Hebrew, or in any of the other
Greek versions, he indicated the omission, using for that purpose an asterisk (* :) and two large dots,
placed after the word itself; when, on the other hand, he met with a word or words redundant in the
Septuagint, he made no erasures in the text, but placed an obelus (&obelus; :) and two smaller dots, to show
that the reading was wanting in the original.   This great work extended to fifty volumes, and from
its admitting in certain books fragments of other translations besides the four above enumerated, it
has been variously denominated the "Octapla," or the "Enneapla."   Fifty years after the death of
Origen it was found at Tyre, where that great man had died, by Pamphilus and Eusebius; and by them
it was deposited in the famous library of Pamphilus the martyr, at Cæsarea, the civil metropolis of
Palestine.   It was unfortunately consumed with that library in A. D. 653, when Cæsarea was taken by
the Saracens.   But although destroyed, this laborious compilation is not altogether lost to us, for the
column containing the Septuagint had been transcribed by Pamphilus and Eusebius, with the marks
and annotations of Origen.   Of this transcription, however, we possess no perfect copy, for the asterisks,
obeli, and other marks, were confused and interchanged by copyists, and readings and glosses from
later versions were added to those cited by Origen.
   Two other revisions of the Septuagint remain to be noted, both of which were executed about the
same period as the transcription of the Hexapla text by Pamphilus and Eusebius.   The principal of
these revisions was executed by Lucian, a presbyter of Antioch, A.D. 312, who confined himself to the
comparison of the Septuagint with the Hebrew text, without having recourse to other Greek versions.
This recension was adopted by all[?] the churches of the East, from Antioch to Constantinople.   The
other revision was effected by Hesychius, an Egyptian bishop, and according to Jerome, was used in
all[?] the churches of Egypt.
   The principal MSS. in which the Septuagint has been transmitted to us are the Vatican and
Alexandrine codices, already described in our notice of the New Testament.   The Vatican MS. is
supposed to contain the earlier text, while the Alexandrine MS. apparently exhibits many of the
amendments and interpolations of Origen’s Hexapla; but these texts have been so often blended, that
it is difficult to distinguish between them.
   The printed editions of the Septuagint, although very numerous, may all be considered as belong-
ing to one or other of the four following primary or original editions:--

  1. The Complutensian edition, so called because it appeared in the Complutensian Polyglot.   Much
    diversity of opinion exists as to the MSS. used for this edition.   It approaches so closely

    to the Hebrew, that it is questioned whether the editors corrected the readings of their
    MSS. by comparison with the original, or whether they employed a MS. in which
    portions of Aquila’s version were blended with the Septuagint text.   This might be
    ascertained by examining the MSS. used, which are now at Madrid.

  2. The Aldine edition, published at Venice, at the Aldine press, in 1518.   Several ancient MSS.
    were used in the formation of this text, and it is usually accounted considerably purer
    than the Complutensian; yet, according to Archbishop Usher, it follows in many
    instances the peculiar renderings of Aquila’s version; by some it is thought to contain
    readings from Theodotion’s version.
  3. The Roman or Vatican edition, printed in 1586, chiefly from the Vatican MS. at Rome.
    This edition was undertaken by order of Sixtus V., whence it is often called the Sixtine
    edition.   It was printed under the care of Cardinal Caraffa, who with his coadjutors
    devoted nine years to its preparation and publication.   In this edition the Vatican MS.
    is rarely departed from, except when, through some inadvertence of the printer, readings
    from the Aldine edition are inserted; but such instances are comparatively few.   This
    text has been more frequently reprinted than any other, and may be called the textus
    of the Greek [o]ld [t]estament [s]criptures.
  4. The Alexandrine edition, printed at Oxford from the Alexandrine MS., between 1707 and
    1720.   This edition was prepared for the press, and partly printed, under the care of
    Dr. Grabe, and after his death it was completed under the editorship of Lee and Wigan.
    The defective and incorrect passages of the Codex Alexandrinus are supplied in this
    edition, partly from the Vatican MS., and partly from the Complutensian edition; and
    these amended portions are distinguished from the rest of the text by being printed in
    smaller characters.   The critical marks used by Origen are inserted, and copious pro-
    legomena were added by Dr. Grabe.   A facsimile edition of the Alexandrine MS. was
    published at the public expense, under the care of the Rev. H. H. Baber, one of the
    librarians of the British Museum, between 1816 and 1827.

   Several valuable editions of the Septuagint have been published with various readings.   The first
in point of time is that published by Breitinger, at Zurich, 1730-1732: it contains Grabe’s text, with
the various readings of the Vatican edition printed at the foot of the page.   In 1821, Mr. Bagster
issued an exact reprint of the Vatican text, with the various readings of the whole Alexandrian text
as edited by Grabe.   A splendid folio edition was published at Oxford, 1818-1827, under the editorship
of Dr. Holmes, dean of Winchester, and, after his deatli, of Rev. J. Parsons.   The text is that of the
Vatican edition, to which readings from all known MSS. are added, with quotations from the patristic
writings and from ancient versions.   The various readings are so numerous, that they confirm the
general opinion, that "the text of the Septuagint is in a worse state than any other except the Latin
  This edition is furnished with prolegomena and other critical apparatus.   Another edition
of the Vatican text, with readings from the Alexandrine and other MSS., from the Complutensian
and Aldine editions, and from the fragments of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, was published
at Paris in 1839, edited by the Abbé Jager.   An important edition, also from the Vatican MS., has
been issued by Messrs. Bagster: it includes the real Septuagint version of Daniel; and in the Apocrypha,
the fourth book of Maccabees has been added to the three found in previous reprints.
   The Septuagint has been twice translated into English.   The first translation was made by
Charles Thomson, late secretary to the Congress of the United States, and was published at Phila-
delphia in 1808, in 4 vols. 8vo.   In 1844, a close translation from the Vatican text, with the principal
readings of the Alexandrine copy, was completed by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton, and published
in London, in 2 vols. 8vo."
--1860   S. Bagster   [Info only]

ANCIENT GREEK.   THE SEPTUAGINT VERSION.--1860   S. Bagster   [Info only: Greek Character   n.d. Exodus 15:1-13 paraphrase, parallel with COD. ALEX. CT | HEXAPLORUM RELIQUIÆ. unknown]


   We have already seen that, during his travels through the East, Origen met with six Greek
translations of the Old Testament.   All the information we possess concerning these translations may
be briefly summed up in a few words.
   The versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, appear to have been executed during the
second century of the Christian era.   The versions of Aquila and Theodotion are at least known to
have been completed before the year A.D. 160, for Justin Martyr, who wrote about that period, refers
to them.   Aquila was a Jew born at Sinope, in Pontus.   He is supposed to have embraced Christianity,
and to have afterwards relapsed into Judaism.   His object in writing this version was to assist the
Jews in their arguments with the Christians, and he is said to have wilfully perverted many of the
prophecies relating to the Messiah
.   When the Jews rejected the Septuagint, they adopted this version
in its stead; and, in token of their approbation, distinguished it by the name of "the Hebrew Verity."
It is a close and literal translation of the Hebrew, and is of some use in criticism, as exhibiting the
antiquity of certain contested readings of the Masoretic text.
   The version of Symmachus (an Ebionite, or semi-christian) is less literal than that of Aquila,
but clearer and more elegant.   The version of Theodotion, who was also an Ebionite, holds a middle
place between the literal exactness of Aquila and the freedom of Symmachus.   Theodotion’s version
conforms in so many instances to the text of the Alexandrine MS., that it has sometimes been
questioned whether his design was to produce a new translation, or simply to rectify the readings of
the Septuagint text.
   Three other versions, less ancient than the preceding, were discovered by Origen, but their date
and the names of their translators are unknown.   They are usually distinguished by the numerals
5, 6, and 7, applied to them in accordance with the number of the column they occupied
in the great
biblical work of Origen above described.   The fifth translation contained the Pentateuch, the Psalms,
the Canticles, the twelve minor prophets, and the books of Kings.   The sixth comprised the same
portions of the sacred volume with the exception of the books of Kings.   The seventh contained only
the Psalms and the minor prophets.

   All that now remains to us of these six translations, besides what we possess through Syriac
channels, consists of a few fragments, preserved by means of the transcription of the Hexapla text of
the Septuagint, made, as above stated, by Pamphilus and Eusebius, about A.D. 300.   These fragments,
with the remains of Origen’s Hexapla text, were published by Montfaucon at Paris, 1714, in 2 vols.
folio, with preliminary disquisitions on the Hebrew text, the ancient Greek versions, and the labours
of Origen.   On account of the costliness and rarity of this work, a smaller and abridged edition was
published at Leipsic, 1769-70, by Bahrdt."
--1860   S. Bagster   [Info only: Origen was an heretick.]

Origen, pp. 127-129a & Hexapla, pp. 129b-132a--Robert J. Sargent

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