Review of a Few Passages

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1. Mark 1:22As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Mark 1:2). This variation will illustrate the fact that mere numbers of Greek copies (even if uncial) will not always outweigh a smaller number of greater weight.
The common Greek text reads "in the prophets;" and the variation gives "in Esaias the prophet.”
For ‘in the prophets,' there are A E F H K M P S U V Γ Π (twelve Greek uncials).
For ‘in Esaias the prophet,' there are א B D L Δ (only five).
Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford and Wordsworth all adopt the latter reading. It will be seen by turning back to the Families of Manuscripts (page 93) that nearly all in favor of the common text are Constantinopolitan, and the four others (omitting D as neither) are all Alexandrian; to which may be added the two important cursives 1 and 33, also of the same family.
Besides the above, there are for the common text the Philox. Syriac and the Æthiopic versions, and Fathers Chrysostom and Photius.
For ‘Esaias the prophet' there are the Latin copies, the Peshito and Jerusalem Syriac; the Coptic, Gothic, and Armenian versions; and Fathers Irenmus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Basil, Titus of Bostra, Victor of Antioch, Severianus, Jerome and Augustine.
In this case we doubt not that the three great uncials 14, B, and D have decided the question with the Editors, the reading being supported by the Latin and Peshito versions, and so many of the Fathers.
2. Mark 16:9-209Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. 14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:9‑20). The question involved here touches the importance of retaining or rejecting a long sentence of eleven verses. Some copies close the gospel with the words "for they were not afraid" (Mark 16:88And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. (Mark 16:8)), an ending which would strike every person, one would think, as very strange and undignified. Still of course such questions must be decided by the evidence.
What makes this instance a little more embarrassing is that some copies have another ending differing also from the common text, and one copy at least has both endings. Thus, L gives, at the end of Mark 16:88And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. (Mark 16:8), "And this also is somewhere extant: ‘And they briefly announced all that was bidden them to Peter and his company. And after this also Jesus Himself from the east even to the west sent forth through them the holy and incorruptible proclamation of eternal salvation.' And this also is extant after ‘for they were afraid,'" and then follow Mark 16:99Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. (Mark 16:9) to 20 as in the common text.
There can be no doubt that the shorter ending given above may be dismissed as without authority; though it is found in a few copies of minor weight; the only real question is, are verses 9 to 20 to be retained or rejected?
The evidence for the passage is A C D (three of the great uncials) E F G K M S U V X Γ Δ; all the cursives; the Cureton, Peshito, Jerusalem, and Philoxenian Syriac; the Memphitic, some copies of the Old Latin and the Vulgate, with later versions. The passage was known to Irenaeus in the second century; to Hippolytus in the third; and to Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom in the fourth.
Against the passage are א B (two of the great uncials). In B after verse 8 there is a large blank, left (which is quite unusual in this manuscript), as if the passage was in the copy from which B was taken, but was left for further consideration as to whether or not it should be inserted; the passage being marked with an asterisk in some copies. So, that B is sometimes claimed for the passage rather than against it. Why was the blank left, if there was nothing to fill it in the copy from which B was taken? L has already been mentioned as containing two endings. The Old Latin k gives a loose translation of the note in L, which note is also found in some of the versions.
With so much for and so little against, one might well wonder why any one could advocate its expulsion. One reason is that it was doubted by some of the Fathers. The earliest one is Eusebius, who in forming his canons for harmonizing the Gospels (hereafter to be considered) found a difficulty in reconciling the resurrection as given in Matt. 28:11In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (Matthew 28:1) with that in Mark 16:99Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. (Mark 16:9). Eusebius says some copies end the gospel at the words "they were not afraid." "At this point, in nearly all the copies of St. Mark's Gospel, the end is circumscribed. What follows, being met with rarely in some, but not in all, would be superfluous, especially if it contained a contradiction to the testimony of the other evangelists. This [any] one would say if he deprecated and would entirely get rid of a superfluous question.”
Others of the Fathers have also written disparagingly of the passage, but their testimony is most probably but an echo of what Eusebius had stated.
Strangely enough, some of the Editors who have not ventured to cut out the passage take a sort of middle path, and admit the passage as scripture, but hold it to be a subsequent addition and not by St. Mark, alleging that the style is not that of the evangelist. But mere style of composition is very uncertain ground on which to judge of the genuineness of a passage, especially in so short a portion.
The passage is omitted by Tischendorf, and marked as doubtful by Alford, upon what, we must think, is most shallow evidence. The passage is unquestionably genuine.
3. Luke 14:55And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? (Luke 14:5). This is a variation in which the evidence is nearly equally divided. The common text reads, "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit?" The variation reads ‘son' for 'ass.' This reading of ‘son' is startling, and seems so strange an association that Dr. Scrivener says "common sense" forbids even a moment's hesitation as to which to choose. Let us look however as to how the evidence stands.
For "ass:”
א (one of the four great uncials) K L X Π Greek uncials,
A host of Greek cursives,
The Memphitic and Jerusalem Syriac,
Three of the best copies of Old Latin (a, b, c) and two others,
The Vulgate, Armenian, Æthiopic versions.
For "son:”
A B (two of the four great uncials) E G H M S U V Γ Δ
A Greek uncials,
A host of Greek cursives,
The Peshito, Cureton, and Philoxenian Syriac,
The Thebaic and Persic versions,
Three of the Old Latin (e, f, g),
Some Slavonic manuscripts,
Titus of Bostra, and Clement of Alexandria of the
C is defective here, and other copies and versions read differently from either of the above; one (D) having ‘sheep or ox,' and one ‘son or ox or ass.' There can be no question that the evidence for ‘son' is very strong. A and B belong to two families, and where they agree in a reading it is mostly judged to be the true one. And further, the Canon No. 4 would apply here. Unquestionably ‘son' is the more difficult reading: we can the better suppose that ‘son' has been altered to ‘ass' because of the difficulty of the former, than that any would alter ‘ass' into ‘son.' Of course it may have been a mistake in a copyist; but in the old copies it stands thus: ONOC for 'ass,' and γΙOC for ‘son,' two words which are not very much alike. Of modern editors Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and Wordsworth choose ‘son;' Griesbach chose ‘ass,' but marked ‘son' as probable.
If 'son' is adopted, it would be in the sense of ‘if a son fell into a pit, or even an ox;' but there is no word for even;' it is simply ‘a son or an ox.' Tregelles refers to Deut. 5:1414But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. (Deuteronomy 5:14), where the Sabbath is binding on two classes: persons, headed by ‘son,' and animals, headed by ‘ox.' Our Lord takes the two heads, and says if either fall into a pit on the Sabbath it would be rescued.
It is perhaps best to consider the reading as doubtful, though the five Editors named above give ‘son' without any such limitation.
The evidence is not exactly the same for the whole passage; some copies which omit the words in verse 3, retain verse 4.
For the words in verse 3 there are A² D; for verse 4 A; for both portions, C³ F G H I K L M U V Γ Δ; the mass of the cursives; the Latin, Peshito and Jerusalem Syriac, Armenian, and Æthiopic versions; Tertullian, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Cyril, and Augustine of the Fathers.
Against the portion in verse 3, A¹ L; against verse 4, D; against both portions, א B C¹; a few cursives; the Cureton Syriac, the Memphitic, Thebaic, and some of the Old Latin versions.
Two theories have been started. One, that the passage is a gloss, or a series of glosses, written by persons in the margins of their Testaments, from which they have found their way into the texts, some taking one, and some another, and some all. It is supposed the glosses were added because of something being needed to explain why the people waited in the porches, and in what way the waters were troubled.
On the other hand, it has been supposed that the passage was originally in the text, but was omitted by some as too strange an occurrence to be true.
The passage is omitted by Tischendorf, Tregelles and Alford, but we think without sufficient authority. It is found in some of the earliest of the versions, and is in the great majority of manuscripts. If it had been an invention we cannot but think that the inventor would have accounted for the troubling of the water in some other way than by the descending of an angel. To insert marginal notes to try and explain doctrines is a very different thing from inventing a story of such a supernatural visitation.
For the word are B (of the great uncials) E F G H L S T UV X Δ Λ; the mass of cursives; the Peshito, Jerusalem, and Philoxenian Syriac, the Thebaic, a few Old Latin, and some of the Vulgate.
Against the word are א D (of the great uncials) K M Π; four cursives; Cureton's Syriac, the Memphitic, the best of the Old Latin (a, b, c, e, &c.), the Vulgate, Armenian and Ethiopic versions; Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and Cyril of the Fathers.
A and C are both defective here.
This is one of the passages on which the infidel Porphyry attacked the truth, alleging that our Lord said He would not go, and yet went. Jerome answered the objection; but it is evident that in the copies they had, there was no word 'yet,' or it would have been referred to.
Both readings have very respectable external support. It is hardly a variation that could have occurred accidentally, because it is οὔπω ‘not yet,' or οὐκ ‘not,' and not simply the omission of a word. Here Canon No. 4 would come to our assistance. Unquestionably the ‘not' is the more difficult reading, and while preferring to mark it as doubtful, we fear the ‘not yet' has been substituted to remove the difficulty.
6. John 7:53; 8:1153And every man went unto his own house. (John 7:53)
11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11)
. This is the well-known record of the woman taken in adultery, and is another instance where a whole passage of several verses has been called in question.
Here it must be conceded at once that the preponderance of external evidence is against the passage; but it is just one of those instances where mere weight of evidence may give way to the many witnesses.
As we have already seen, many copies were used for reading in the congregation, besides the Lectionaries which were specially written for that purpose, and it has been suggested that this passage might have been judged to be a tolerance of immorality, and be omitted on that account. In the Lectionaries it is placed to be read on the days set apart to penitent women. In some Greek copies the passage is put at the end of the Gospel, and in others it is put at the end of Luke 21.
This shifting of the passage into various places is, we think, evidence rather in its favor. Where did the passage come from originally if not written by John? And if he did not write it, why was it not at once expunged? Instead of this, in some copies where it stands in its right place it has marks apparently to point it out as doubtful, while in others it is banished to other places by men who, though rash, were not wicked enough to take it from the word of God.
The actual evidence for the passage is D (one of the great uncials), E F G H M K S U Γ Λ also uncials, being marked as doubtful in E M S A. Over 300 cursives, in some being marked as doubtful, and in about ten being put in a different place. Some of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, Arabic, Persian, Jerusalem Syriac, Æthiopic, and many copies of the Memphitic versions. Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, of the Fathers, and the Apostolic Constitutions.
Against the passage are quoted א A B C (of the great uncials) L T X Δ. Of these A C are defective here, but by a careful calculation of the space the passage would occupy they are quoted as not containing it. In L and A there are spaces left after 7:53, and in A the copyist had begun to write 8:12 but drew a line through the words, he had written. About fifty cursive copies omit the passage. Some of the Old Latin, the Cureton, Peshito and Harclean Syriac, and the Armenian versions omit it. The early Fathers are silent on the passage. Against the passage must also be named that in the manuscripts which contain it there are many variations, D having a sort of abridged form of the narrative.
That the passage was expunged because it was thought to give a license to sin, is not what is thought now simply. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) and Nicon (century 10) both give this as the reason why the narrative was excluded. But to go further back we find that Tertullian (died A.D. 200) was very strong on the question of adultery, and devoted many pages to prove that if committed after baptism, it admitted of no pardon. The bishop of Rome had issued an edict that the sin of adultery and fornication were to be remitted on the guilty one's repentance. This drew forth a sharp rejoinder from Tertullian. "Where," said he, “shall this liberality be posted up? On the very spot, I suppose, on the very gates of the sensual appetites, beneath the very titles of the sensual appetites.... Far, far from Christ's betrothed be such a proclamation? She, the true, the modest, the saintly, shall be free from stain even of her ears. She has none to whom to make such a promise; and if she have had, she does not make it; since even the earthly temple of God can sooner have been called by the Lord a 'den of robbers' than of adulterers and fornicators ... . Whatever authority, whatever consideration, restores the peace of the church to the adulterer and the fornicator ought to come to the relief of those who repent of murder or idolatry." The reader will surely see how such a passage as the one in John's Gospel would stand in the way of one of such unbending sternness.
On the whole we think good reasons can be assigned for the passage not being found in many copies: the quotation from Tertullian clearly evinces how hard a lesson it is to learn what grace is. His treatise is quoted to prove that the passage was not in his copy of the Testament, or he would have referred to it when speaking on the subject. Perhaps so; but it also shows for what reason the passage may have been expunged: for we must believe either that it was added or expunged by some one. We have seen why it may have been the latter, but we know of no motives that could have induced any to add the passage. It may also be noted that in one copy (Codex Veron.) some one was so anxious to get rid of the passage that he tore out the leaves which contained it, though in doing this he had to destroy what preceded and what followed it.
Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford all omit the narrative; Griesbach marks it as doubtful, and Wordsworth inserts it in his Greek Testament, but does not believe it to be canonical, a mode of action which strikes us as singularly inconsistent.
One thing which seems to have weighed with the critics is, that the style of the Greek in this portion is judged to be different from John's writings generally. But, as we have remarked on the passage in Mark 16, this is very unsafe ground for rejecting a passage.
We believe the passage to be genuine, and to have a divine stamp upon it which has never been found in any human production. Who could have discovered such a way out of the apparent dilemma in which our Lord was placed? Grace triumphed in a marvelous way.
7. Acts 8:3737And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Acts 8:37), "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
This verse is omitted by most modern Editors. Of the five oldest Greek copies, it is omitted from four (A B C), and the other (D) is defective here. H L P and many cursive also omit it. Most of the ancient versions also omit the verse.
On the other hand, E inserts the verse, with many cursives, some of the Latin copies, one of the Syriac, the Armenian, and the Arabic versions. It is quoted by Irenæus in the second century, by Cyprian in the third, and by Jerome and Augustine in the fourth.
As we have said, the verse is omitted by most modern Editors (Wordsworth retains it). Alford accounts for its insertion thus: "The insertion appears to have been made to suit the formularies of the baptismal liturgies, it being considered strange that the eunuch should have been baptized without some such confession." On the other hand, it has been argued that because of infant baptism this verse was sought to be got rid of by those who had loose ideas of the inspiration of the scriptures. The preponderance of evidence is decidedly against the passage.
8. Acts 13:19, 2019And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. (Acts 13:19‑20). The common text reads, "By lot. And after that he gave [to them] judges, about the space of four hundred and fifty years." Some copies read, "By lot about the space of four hundred and fifty years. And after that he gave judges." It will be seen, by comparing the two readings, that it is but a transposition of the words; yet one that alters the sense materially. The one passage says they had judges for four hundred and-fifty years; and the other that the judges were given after the four hundred and fifty years. The question of the judges existing for this period has always been a difficulty with those who have studied the chronology of the Old Testament; indeed one may say that volumes have been written on this point; but the variation removes at once the difficulty: yet the question is, was the variation made to remove the difficulty, or was it there originally?
For the common text there are D² E H L P; the Æthiopic version.
For the variation there are א A B C; the Vulgate, Memphitic, Thebaic, and Armenian versions.
D¹ does not transpose the words, but, though otherwise like the common text, it omits the words after that,' so that it is claimed as a witness rather for the variation than the common text.
Here the Canon must not be forgotten that the more difficult text is often the correct one; still this must not be pressed too far. If the variation were an alteration made in the original, it would scarcely have found its way into four of the great uncials, embracing both the Alexandrian and Constantinopolitan families. This reading is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Wordsworth, and we think it is most probably the correct reading.
9. Acts 16:77After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (Acts 16:7). The common text reads "the Spirit suffered them not." Another reading is, "the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.”
For the common text there are H L P, many cursives, one copy of the Vulgate, and the Thebaic versions; Chrysostom and Theophylact of the Fathers.
For the words "of Jesus" there are א A B C² D E; nine or ten cursives; the Vulgate, Æthiopic, some of the Armenian, the Syriac and Memphitic versions.
The latter reading is adopted by nearly all modern Editors, and we believe rightly. All the great uncials are in its favor; and we think the words "of Jesus" are a great deal more likely to have been omitted (because of the seeming strangeness of the expression in this connection) than that they have been added.
10. Acts 20:2828Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28). The common text reads, "To feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." At first sight the readings here are very embarrassing. Some copies read ‘the church of the Lord;’ others ‘of Christ;' others ‘the Lord Christ;' and others ‘the Lord and God,' &c. But all may be dismissed as without any weight except the readings 'of God,' `the Lord,' and ‘the Lord and God.'
For ‘God' we have א B; about 14 cursives; the Vulgate and Philoxenian (text) versions.
For ‘Lord' there are A C¹ D E (the Latin versions of the last two agreeing with the Greek), about 16 cursives; the Memphitic, Thebaic, Philoxenian (margin) and Armenian versions.
For ‘Lord and God' are C³ H L P, more than a hundred cursives; the Slavonic version.
What makes this variation of importance is the latter part of the sentence, "which he hath purchased with his own blood." The question is, does this refer to God, or the Lord, or the Lord and God? At first sight the word ‘Lord' would seem to be more appropriate, because of the thought of ‘the blood of God;' but this may be the key to the variation. If the early Christians staggered at such an expression, they might have attempted to, soften it by altering ‘God' into ‘Lord.' And others, finding some copies read one way and some the other, combined the two into the Lord and God.' The external evidence is very nearly of equal weight for ‘God' and for ‘Lord,' as will be seen above; but unquestionably ‘God' is the more difficult reading; we can see no reason why this should be substituted for ‘Lord,' whereas the converse is probable.
The Fathers come in here to help the solution. Both Tertullian and Ignatius use the expression "the blood of God," which they would scarcely have done had they not had this apparent sanction from scripture. Basil the Great and Epiphanius also use the word ‘God.' Others of the Fathers differ.
We believe the common text to be correct; though it has been judged that the harshness of the expression may be softened in the translation; and instead of "which he hath purchased with his own blood," it may be rendered "which he hath purchased with the blood of his own.”
11. 1 Cor. 3:1414If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:14). This will illustrate the intricate questions an Editor is called upon to decide. The common text reads "If of anyone the work abides;" which a variation alters to "If of anyone the work shall abide." It will at once be seen that there is here only a shade of difference in the meaning, yet it has to be decided as to which is the best reading. This is an intricate question, inasmuch as the first is μέυει, and for the second μευει; and seeing that all the great uncial copies have no accents except those supplied by later 'hands, none can be called as witnesses. And though Versions and Fathers may give definitely one or other of the tenses, yet whence did they get what they give, seeing that the uncial copies, from which all must have emanated, decided nothing?
Still Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, and Wordsworth all decide for "shall abide.”
12. 1 Cor. 11:2424And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24). "This is my body which is broken for you." Here the question is whether the word ‘broken' should be retained or omitted.
For the word broken' א³ C³ D² E F G K L P; 37, 47, and nearly all cursives; Peshito and Harclean Syriac, one Armenian and Gothic versions; Basil, Damasc. Œcum. and Chrysos. of the Fathers. D¹ may be also claimed for the word ‘broken,' though it gives a different Greek word (θρυπτόμενον).
For the omission of the word are א¹ A B C¹; 17; one Armenian; Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Fulgentius of the Fathers.
Though the four great uncials omit the word by the first hands, and form thereby a strong evidence against the word, it is on the other hand supported, by later hands of א, C, and D; and the Peshito, version. The Liturgies of the fourth century also, retain the word.
The passage has evidently been tampered with while the four uncials give no other word in the place of ‘broken,' D¹, as we have seen, supplies another Greek word; the Vulgate, with Cyprian, and Ambrose, gives ‘delivered' (tradetur); while-the Coptic and Armenian have ‘given.'
The word may have been left out or altered because it was thought to clash with John 19:3636For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. (John 19:36), "A bone of him shall not be broken;" but we cannot see that it clashes with this: in some of the sacrifices the bodies were divided, but a bone was not broken; in the Psalms too we have strong expressions; such as "all my bones are out of joint:" the broken bread too prefigures the broken body. Christ took bread, broke it, and said, "This is my body." On the whole, we should prefer to mark the reading as doubtful.