This was originally published July 16, 2010 on Facebook as a Note. But I publish it here, to help tell about my faith journey.
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This is a continuation of the notes on the Living Oracles
see “The Living Oracles” Appendix Contents for discussion of the definition of spurious.
The Living Oracles Table XII SPURIOUS READINGS (pp.30-36)
1. What follows is the editorial comments of Table XII SPURIOUS READINGS, there are several terms, phrases and people that, if one knew, would help in full understanding of the editorial comments. Those terms, phrases, people are [embedded links are my estimations based on some limited research, links to the people are estimations based on dates near or prior to the 1830s]:
[Johann Jakob] Griesbach; Arian heresy; [Christian Friedrich] Michaelis;
Tholue; Mill; [Johann Jakob] Wetstein;
war of orthodoxy; polemics; interpolation; Christendom;
early heretics, Marcion [of Sinope], Lucian, Tatian, Asclepiodotus, Hermophilus, Apollonius, Hesychius;
2. It is important to note that the blockquotes represent the lengthy quote of Michaelis within the editorial comments themselves; the blockquotes are simply used to help the reader see where “The Living Oracles” quotes, at length, Michaelis.
3. The reader will also note that the SPURIOUS READINGS have been truncated to only the book name headings.
Editorial Comments of Table XII SPURIOUS READINGS
(p.30) The following words and phrases are rejected from the original text by Griesbach, and many of them by other eminent critics and collators of ancient manuscripts.
Many of these interpolations and spurious readings have crept into the text by the remissness of transcribers. Few of them could have been inserted from any design to favor any private opinions. In the historical books many of them are taken from the other historians. The copyist of Matthew sometimes adding from his recollection words from Mark, or Luke, or John and in like manner in transcribing parallel passages in the others, added from Matthew, etc.
The marginal readings, which were at first (like our supplements) for explanation, in process of time became the fruitful source of interpolation, being frequently transplanted into the text. The devotion of the transcriber sometimes added an “Amen,” and “For thine is the kingdom,” etc. And thus, (p.31) without any evil intention, many spurious readings have crept into the text. Some few, however, appear to have been the result of design. After the Arian heresy enlisted the passions of the belligerents in the war of orthodoxy, there appears to be some ground for ascribing to the pride and jealousy of the polemics a design to foist into the text some words favorable to their distinguishing tenets. Some of these were soon detected, and others have continued for many generations. The Greek text now in use, has already undergone several purgations; and it is now generally admitted that Griesbach, Michaelis, Tholue, (to say nothing of Mill and Wetstein,) and their contemporaries, have left little or nothing of this sort for those who succeed them.
The reader will see, without any suggestion from us, how little the faith of Christians is jeopardized by all the interpolations now rejected from the common text. No fact, no cardinal truth of Christianity is in the least affected, admitting every word found in the following table to be rejected with the unanimous concurrence of all Christendom. Some, indeed, appear to be rejected without a very overwhelming authority; but all, I think, have more than a bare majority of votes, regarding both number and character against their standing in the text.
Arranged as they appear in the following table, the reader will be able to survey the whole array of them, without any other emotion than that of wonder how, in 2000 years, so few interpolations are now found in the sacred writings, so often transcribed, and by so many hands, when the classics of Greece and Rome yet afford so many.
But it may be gratifying to the student of this volume, to have a single extract from Michaelis on this subject:
“The various readings in our manuscripts of the New Testament have been occasioned by one of the five following causes:
- Omission, addition, or exchange of letters, syllables, or words, from the mere carelessness of the transcribers.
- Mistakes of the transcribers in regard to the true text of the original.
- Errors, or imperfections in the ancient manuscript, from which the transcriber copied.
- Critical conjecture, or intended improvements of the original text.
- Willful corruptions, to serve the purposes of a party, whether orthodox or heterodox.
To the last cause alone, I apply the word corruption; for though every text that deviates from original purity, may so far be said to be corrupted: yet as the term is somewhat invidious, it is unjust to apply it to innocent or accidental alterations.”
Passing over his very interesting illustrations of the first four causes, we shall make a extract or two from what he says under the fifth cause. After referring to the attempted corruptions of the text by early heretics, Marcion Lucian, Tatian, Asclepiodotus, Hermophilus, Apollonius, Hesychius, he observes—
“Of all the sects into which the Christian church has been divided, none have had it in their power to alter the New Testament in a higher degree than the Arians, because they were more than once the ruling party. They have been accused of the most violent corruptions of the sacred text; but though it can not be denied, that when in power, they were as much inclined to persecution as the orthodox themselves; yet the crime of corruption has never been proved in a single stance. They are charged by the ancient fathers, of having erased a passage found in the Old Latin version of John’s Gospel, ‘quia Deus Spiritus est,’ ch. iii. 6. Now at least one half of the assertion is false, as appears fram [misspelling in original] Blanchini Evangeliarium quadruplex; but admitting the whole to be true, the orthodox convict themselves of error; and not the Arians; for every man acquainted with criticism of the New Testament, knows that these words are spurious, unless the Latin version is better authority than (p.32) the Greek original. We have no reason, therefore, to suppose that the celebrated passage in the first epistle of John, which is universally omitted in the old Greek manuscripts, was erased by the fraud of the Arians, and those who support the argument, contradict the accounts of their own party, who related that when Huneric, king of the Vandals in Africa, made his confession of faith, the true believers appealed to this passage in the Latin version, and that the Arians made no objection.
—“Though no advocate for heresy, I candidly confess that the orthodox themselves have been guilty of the charge which they have laid to others; nor do I confine this assertion to those who have assumed the title without deserving it, but extend it even to such as have even taught the pure and genuine doctrines of the Bible. The hope of acquiring an additional proof of some established doctrine, or of depriving an adversary of some argument in his favor, may seduce even a true believer to the commission of a pious fraud. Or blinded by prejudice, and bound by fetters of a theological system, he finds his favorite doctrine on every line; he expounds, therefore, not by reason, but by system; his explanations acquire the form of marginal notes, and these marginal notes are at length obtruded on the text. The words oude o uios, Mark xiii. 32, were thought to afford an argument against the divinity of Christ; Ambrose, therefore, was of opinion that they ought to be erased, and says that they were omitted in the old Greek manuscripts. I will not positively affirm that Ambrose was guilty of falsehood, but this at least certain, that no manuscript exists at present, in which they are not found. But admitting the pious father to have spoke the truth, and that he had actually a copy of a Greek manuscript, in which the words were omitted, it is natural to attribute the omission to the same motives as those by which he was actuated himself.”
We arranged the spurious readings, so far as they are at all worthy of notice, in order of the books in which they are found. Some of them, found in the article and in particles not always translated, are unworthy of notice.
[SPURIOUS READINGS given for: Matthew, (p.33) Mark, Luke, John, (p.34) Acts, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, (p.35) Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, (p.36) First and Second Peter, First John, Third John, Jude, Revelation.]
It would have been more in accordance with general usage, to have given these spurious readings in the Greek language; but this would not have benefited those for whose use the version is made.
For today, the above is all I am going to post. I have thoughts on the information and will post them later; when that occurs I will place a post and link to the information.