Aug 4, 2010
Michaelis on Wetstein
Excerpt from: Michaelis, , (Princeton, 1880)
Review: - Stuff:
Wetstein - his accuracy and integrity
The Greek NT - publication and format
The Latin Vulgate - Wetstein's hostility
Doctrinal Bias - Westein's beliefs
MSS Collations - Mill's and his own
Collations cont. - Mill, Bengel, Syriac Readings
Collations cont. - Erasmus, inaccuracies, negligence
Collations cont. - Michaelis' own collations
Collations cont. - Storr, Trefchow, Leis,
Use of Numbers - & Letters, other errors in press
Greek NT (p.471 f)
15. I come now to the celebrated edition of John James Wetstein, which, of all the editions of the Greek Testament, is the most important, and the most necessary to those, who are engaged in sacred criticism. Of the exegitical use of this edition I have treated above, in the last section of the fourth chapter: at prescnt I shall confine myself to the critical part of it, and consider it only ill reference to the text of the Greek Testament, and its various readings.
The reader will excuse my prolixity on this subject, not only because Wetstein's edition is of the utmost importance, but because its critical merits, during some time after its publication, were not thoroughly understood. It was impossible from the nature of the work itself, that the reviewers, who noticed it in their literary journals on its first appearance, should have sufficient knowledge of the subject ; and nothing less than the constant use of it during many years could enable us to speak with any tolerable precision of a work, which contains a much greater number of readings, than the edition by John Mill, (though he had given already 30,000) and which, inconsequence of the numerous authorities, by which the various readings are supported, contains above a million of quotations.
Though it seems useless to inquire, whether a collector of various readings is orthodox, or heterodox, since the one may have as good eyes, as deep learning, and as much honesty, as the other ; yet in the case of Wetstein, it is necessary to take some notice of his religious opinions. For if acted unfairly in concealing his sentiments on points of religion, a suspicion might arise that he a acted also unfairly in the statement of his evidence for the various readings of the Greek Testament. This subject is really of great importance, for as a third part perhaps of the manuscripts, which he quotes, have been collated by no one but himself, he is so far our only evidence, and we must rely entirely on his authority.
It may be asked then,
(1) Whether he has quoted his manuscripts either falsely or imperfectly, in order to establiih his own religious opinions?
(2) whether his diligence and accuracy have been such, that we may at all times depend upon them ?
The first of these questions I should make no scruple to answer in the negative, and to pronounce that Wetstein in his character of a critic is perfectly honest. For in the principal passages of the New Testament relative to the Divinity of Christ, in which no various reading had been quoted by former critics, Wetstein has likewise produced none ; though many of the adversaries of that doctrine have endeavoured to help themselves by critical conjecture.
The two passages, to which I allude, are John 1:1 and Rom. 9:5. in which a pious zeal might have induced a critic, who was not an impartial lover of the truth, to have confirmed the two conjectures of the Socinians, και θεος ην ο λογος, and ων ο επι παντων θεος, by quoting false evidence in its favour. but Wetstein is perfectly free from this reproach, and the foundness of his critical judgement induced him to reject even the conjectures themselves.
But his explanation 1 of the two passages is partial in a very high degree ; and in the last passage he has made use of a finesse, that is inconsistent with honour and integrity, in placing his explanation, not among the notes at the bottom of the page, to which it properly belongs, but amxong the various readings. This is all that can be laid to his charge ; and if he has given no false quotations in passages, where he had points of doctrine to establish, we have no reason to suspect him in passages of less importance.
With respect to the second question, whether Wetslein has been sufficiently diligent and accurate in collating his manuscripts, and in his edition of the Greek Testament in general, it will appear from the examples, which I shall produce, that we have less reason to pronounce him faultless, than in regard to the first question.
' God who is over all be blessed for ever,' is the explanation of Wetstein, who understands it not of Christ but of the Father ; and in support of his explanation quotes several passages from the fathers, who deny that ων ο επι παντων θεος relates to Christ.
He quotes also the celebrated passage of Julian, τον γεον Ιησουν ουτε Παυλος ετολμησεν ειπειν θεον, ουτε Ματθαιος, ουτε Μαρκος, αλλ' ο χρησος Ιωαννης.
He concludes therefore that both Julian, and the fathers, whom he quotes, must have explained this passage in a manner different from that in which we explain it. Now this proof amounts to nothing ; for though the evidence of Julian, as well as that of the fathers, is of importance, when the question relates to the readings of the Greek Testament, because their authenticity must be determined by the force of evidence; yet their explanation of a passage, and especially that given by Julian, cannot be admitted in determining a point of simple criticism. Wetstein therefore makes use of the dishonest licence of quoting explanations among his Variae lectiones, which must be determined not by opinions, but by facts.
Wetstein's Greek Testament was published at Amsterdam in 1751 and 1752, in two volumes foHo. I will divide the description of it into three heads,
1. The Prolegomena.
2. The text, with the proposed alterations of the editor.
3. The collection of various readings.
He first published his Prolegomena in 1730, at Amsterdam, in 4'% without mentioning his name, under the following title :
Prolegomena ad N. T. Graci editionem accuratiilimam e vetustissimis codicibus MSS. denuoprocurandum: in qulbusagitur de codicibus MSS. N. T., scriptoribus Graecis, qui N. T. usi suerunt, versionibus veteribus, editionibus prioribus, et claris interpretibus j et proponuntur animadversiones et cautiones ad examen variarum leclionum N.T. necellari^.
These Prolegomena were afterwards printed with his Greek Testament, with several alterations. For the arrangement is different, many important paragraphs are added, and the opinions, which the author had entertained, are in some places changed. This is highly commendable. The manuscripts, which were divided in the first edition of his Prolegomena into several classes, according to their antiquity, and the characters, in which they are written, are in the second edition divided into only two classes, those in the first class being denoted by letters, those in the second by numbers; the arrangement of the manuscripts in each class is likewise different.
This renders it difficult to find in the first edition a manuscript described in the second, which is sometimes necessary : and at the same time excites a suspicion that Wetstein made many mistakes, in altering the old marks, by which he denoted his manuscripts in the first edition, to those which he adopted in the second, for in so dry and tedious an employment it was almost impossible to avoid numerous errors. And when I consider that these arbitrary signs, in which the understanding is wholly unemployed, were to be changed in several hundred thousand instances, it appears to me that the alteration must have produced a great number of errata, not only in the Prolegomena, but also among the various readings.
Perhaps those who were personally acquainted with Wetstein, and knew his method of proceeding, might communicate some information, that would do away our apprehensions on this subject ; and it is principally with this view, that I have mentioned it at present, because if the same doubts arose a hundred years hence, it might be impossible to obtain a satisfactory answer.
No man will deny that Wetslein's Prolegomena discover profound erudition, critical penetration, and an intimate acquaintance with the Greek manuicripts. It is a work, which in many respects has given a new turn to sacred criticism, and no man engaged in that study can dispense with it. Wherever Wetstein has delivered his sentiments respecting a Greek manuscript, which he has done less frequently than Mill, and indeed less frequently than we could have wished, he shews himself an experienced and sagacious critic.
He is likewise more concise than Mill, in delivering his opinion, and does not support it by producing so great a number of readings from the manuscript in question. This conciseness is the consequence of that warmth and haste, which were peculiar to Wetstein's character, and which have sometimes given birth to mistakes. The fire of his disposition was likewise the cause of his advancing conjectures, in regard to the history of his manuscripts, which exceed the bounds of probability.
But the critical rules, which he has delivered, are perfectly just; and in this respect there is a remarkable agreement between him and his eminent predecessors, Mill and Bengel.
Wetstein's Aversion to it
In regard to the Latin version alone they appear to differ, which in Mill and Bengel has powerful, and, perhaps, partial advocates, but in Wetstein a severe and sagacious judge, who sometimes condemns it without a cause. The Greek manuscripts, which confirm the readings of the Vulgate, and which he supposed had been corrupted from it, he of course condemned with equal severity : and some collections of various readings, which had been made by catholics, he made no scruple to pronounce a forgery, saying, Timeo Danaos, et dona serentes.'
But in consequence of his antipathy to the Vulgate, his collection of various readings is less perfect than it might have been.
Dr. Semler deserves the thanks of the public, for having pubhished in an octavo volume the Prolegomena of Wetstein, and enriched them with his own notes. He is less inimical to the readings of the Vulgate than Wetstein, and the opposition, which the reader will find between the text and the notes, will enable him to examine the question on both sides, and therefore bring him nearer to the truth.
It was Wetstein's original intention to print the text of his Greek Testament from the Codex Alexandrinus, for in the early part of his life he subscribed to the general opinion, in regard to the supposed uncommon excellence of this manuscript. But, as his prejudice in favour of it abated, he abandoned his design, which was before he quitted Basel.
His adversaries accused him of fickleness on this account ; but he ought rather to be commended for having discovered errors in his former opinions, and acknowledging them to the public. He was afterwards the very person, through whom the Codex Alexandrinus lost so much of its credit ; but perhaps he went too far in depreciating this manuscript, because it has readings which agree with the Latin versions.
Having given up the design of printing the Codex Alexandrinus, he resolved to establish a text formed on the authority of the most ancient and most valuable manuscripts. It is probable, as will appear in the sequel, that the alterations, which he would have made in the common text, would not have been very considerable : but, as he was suspected of entertaining Socinian principles, and the world might have supposed that his chief object was to propagate his own religious opinions, it was requested, if I mistake not, by the Arminians themselves, that he would make no alterations whatsoever.
This advice he very prudently followed, and printed the text of the Greek Testament, as it stands in the common editions, under the title Novum Testamentum Graecum Editionis Recepta.
The alterations, which he intended to have made, he pointed out partly in the text itself by a mark, denoting a proposed omission, partly in the space which is between the text and the various readings, in which he noted those readings, which he preferred to the common text. The number of these proposed alterations is very moderate, and they are always supported by good authority. I have often wondered therefore that Wetstein is such an advocate for critical conjecture, as he has never preferred a reading, that rests upon conjecture without the evidence of a manuscript, to that of the common text.
It was reasonable to suppose, that he would not be wholly impartial in the passages which relate to the divinity of Christ. But he has in no instance gone so far, as to alter a reading from conjecture, though in passages, in which various readings could be found, he has chosen that, from which no proof can be drawn of the doctrine in question.
The celebrated passage 1st John 5:7, he believed to be spurious, for which he has assigned his reasons at full length : and I believe that in this point he was not mistaken.
But he is not to be defended in preferring του Κυριου to του Θεου, Acts 20:28. and ο εφανερωθη to Θεος (ΘΣ) εφανερωθη, 1st Tim. 3:16, the common reading of which two passages is defended by Baumgarten, in his Vindicite vocis Θεος, 1 Tim. 3:16 and by Ernesti in his Specimen castigationum Wetstienii 62
The alterations, which Wetstein proposed, have been received into the text of an edition of the Greek NT published by Bowyer, the learned printer, under the following title:
Novum Tesl:amentum Grecum ad fidem Graecorum folum codicum MSS. nunc primunn exprcflum, adfliputante Joanne Jacob Wetstenio, juxta scdtiones Jo. Alberti Bengelii divisum, et nova interpundlione s^epius illustratum. AcccslTere in ahero volumineemendationesconjedurales virorum dodlorum un decunque decunquc colledise. Londini, cum, typis et sumptibus G. B, 1763.
The words, which he proposed to omit, without substituting others in their stead, are retained in this edition, but inclosed in brackets. In the second volume, p. 464 — 475 is a catalogue of those readings adopted by Wetstein, which differ from the text of Mill's edition, or, which is the same thing, the 3rd edition of Robert Stephens.
If we except the book of Revelation, in which the alterations are so numerous, that Bowyer has not included them in his catalogue, they amount to only three 334, which is a very moderate number, when we consider that many of them relate to niceties of no great importance, and that many of the rest are found in other editions. It may be observed, that Bowyer has neglected to note in this catalogue 1st John 5:7. which Wetstein rejected as spurious, but in the text itself he has not neglected to include it in brackets.
Mill's Work Enhanced
Wetstein's collection of various readings, which to a critic is the most valuable part of his publication, far surpasses the collections of Mill and Bengel : and Wetstein has not only produced a much greater quantity of matter than his predecessors, but has likewise corrected their mistakes. The extracts from manuscripts, versions, and printed editions of the Greek Testament, which had been quoted by Mill, are generally quoted by Wetstein. 2
Whenever Wetstein had no new extracts from the manuscripts quoted by Mill, or had no opportunity of examining them himself, he copied literally from Mill ; but wherever Mill has quoted from printed editions, as from the margin of Robert Stephens's for instance, or from the London Polyglot, Wetstein did not copy from Mill, but went to the original source, as appears from his having corrected many mistakes in Mill's quotations. It were to be wished however that Wetstein had examined every quotation made by Mill, and had retained every thing, which he found to be accurate.
2. I say generally quoted, because it will appear in the sequel that Wetstein has not done it always.
For it is certain that Wetstein has omitted many of Mill's quotations, in which it does not appear that Mill was mistaken ; and of some of them I can confidently assert, from my own experience, that they are perfectly right.
The Barberini and Welesian readings Wetstein has designedly omitted ; and the Vulgate he has quoted less frequently than Mill, as also some other versions, and the works of the fathers. Even the Greek manuscripts, which he himself collated, he has often neglected to quote for readings, which Mill had produced from the same manuscripts.
I will not deny that in most of these instances Mill might have been mistaken, and that Wetstein omitted his quotations because they were erroneous. But is it not possible that Wetstein himself was sometimes mistaken, and that he overlooked readings, which Mill had accurately quoted ? Wetstein had so much fire in his character, that he could hardly avoid being sometimes too precipitate : and, as it will appear from the examples which I shall produce, that he collated in a negligent manner, it is reasonable to conclude that as Mill was often mistaken on the one hand, so Wetstein was not seldom mistaken on the other.
It would have been of great service, if in those cases, in which Wetstein omits what Mill had quoted, he had made use of some mark to denote that Mill was mistaken. We should then be certain whether he omitted a reading by accident or design,, and should readily give credit to his declaration ; but since he has used no such mark, I know of no other method of determining the question with any accuracy, than to make a collection of all the readings in Mill's Greek Testament, which are omitted in that of Wetstein, and to have recourse to the original documents, from which they are quoted, in order to determine, whether they are actually there, or not.
1. See my Carae In Actus Apostolorum Syriacos, § vii. in the remarks on Acts 7:29, 12:14, 13:1, 16:22, 37, 18:8. 19:18, 27. 21:21. To which I will add another instance, Luke 24:18, where he has neglected to quote the variant reading tis for ev, on which Bengel maybe consulted. Here then Wetstein is hardly to be defended.
Collations and Corrections
The readings which Mill had quoted from printed editions, ancient versions, and the works of the fathers, have been corrected by Wetstein where they were erroneous, and augmented where they were deficient. He was likewise the first who gave extracts from the Philoxenian Syriac version.
And the extracts, which Bengel first produced from several Greek manuscripts, he has taken into his own collection ; but here he has been guilty of several omissions, for instance a reading in Luke 24:18, mentioned in the preceding note.
Many Greek manuscripts, which had been imperfectly collated, he collated anew, or procured fresh extracts from his literary friends ; and he has procured extracts from a very great number, which before his time had never been collated.
Nor has he neglected to quote the critical conjectures of others, though he has not ventured to make any himself, or to insert in the text those which had been made by others.
In short, he has performed more than all his predecessors put together. But whether Wetstein has collated his manuscripts with sufficient accuracy, and neglected nothing worthy of notice, is a question that deserves to be examined. Those only, who reside where the manuscripts themselves are preserved, can decide with any certainty upon this subject, but if we may conclude from the data, which are actually in our hands, the manuscripts stand in need of a fresh collation. I will quote some examples, in which I have found Wetstein defective in his extracts from printed editions, ancient versions, and the works of the fathers.
He censures, in his Prolegomena, p. 109. the quotations which Mill had made from the Syriac version. Now as Mill was unacquainted with Syriac, and Wetstein understood the language, one might naturally expect to find in his edition the most complete extracts. But I would recommend to my readers to consult on this subject the Curce in Adus Apostolorum Syriacos, § 13.
It will there appear,
1. That Wetstein has omitted many remarkable readings of the Syriac version, though not as many as Mill, who has omitted them by hundreds, in one and the same book.
2. That Wetstein has even omitted readings of the Syriac version, which Mill had accurately quoted...[Michaelis gives some examples here] ...we must conclude that in many of those examples, in which Wetstein has tacitly omitted what Mill had quoted, that the fault is not on the side of Mill, but of Wetstein.
To collate the New Syriac Version, Wetstein took a journey to England. We are indebted to him for the pains which he has taken; and, as he did not undertake to give complete extracts from it, we must be satisfied with what he actually performed. But Ridly has observed, that even of these extracts, as well from the text, as from the margin, many are inaccurate.
I have observed above, that Wetstein's quotations from the Vulgate are very incomplete. It is true that he was no friend to the Latin version ; but though he had a right to pass judgement upon a reading, after he had produced the evidence on both sides, yet impartiality required that he should leave no evidence unheard, whatever opinion he himself entertained of it. He has omitted the variant reading of the Vulgate επειρασεν for επληρωσεν Acts 5:3, though it is noticed by many, even among the commentators.
Another instance is Acts 3:19, where we find in the Vulgate 'ut cum venerint tempora': the Greek manuscript therefore, from which that version was made, must have had εαν, instead of αν. Now if it were the genuine reading, it would alter the whole construction ; for the words, 'that, when the times of refreshing are come,' would then form a protasis, and the words "he shall send Jesus Christ", the apodosis 3: though this is not the construction of the Vulgate, which in this passage is devoid of meaning, Tertullian has 'ut superveniant'. The Latin version therefore, which he used, must have been made by a translator, who joined αν to ελθωσι, and read οτως ανελθωσι.
The Codex Cantabrigiensis has οπως επελθωσιν, which is translated from the Latin 'superveniant'.
Now of these readings, Wetstein quotes only that of the Codex Cantabrigiensis, though Mill has quoted 'ut cum' from the Vulgate and 'ut' from Tertullian. The other example is 1 Cor. 12:11, where several authorities omit ιδια.
Now it is true, that Wetstein has taken notice of the omission, but he has neglected to mention that among these authorities are the Syriac and the Vulgate. This neglect is the more inexcusable, as it is not only mentioned by Mill and Bengel, but Wetstein himself quotes Beza as having approved of the omission and Beza, in the note, to which he alludes, says:
Vetus interpres non legit, ut nee Syrus nee Arabs interpres, ut mihi plane vidcatur horum duorum jJ^ta et iv.x^oi unum esle alterius glostVma.
3. και before αποσειλη would make the apodosis, and be a Hebraism; οπως, εαν ελθωσι καισοι αναψυξεους απο προσωπου του Κυριου, και (tum) αποσειλη, etc. It is true that this reading is attended with grammatical difficulties, and I do not believe that is the true reading ; yet it deserved to be noted, as it is not impossible that it might be found in Greek manuscripts, if they were accurately examined.
Collations and Corrections
Of Wetstein's imperfect extracts from the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and of his neglecting to quote from the Armenian version the remarkable reading in Acts 6:9, which I mentioned ch. vii. § 20, I take no notice, because Wetstein did not collate these versions himself. See his Prolegomena, p. in. and Vol. II. p. 454.
But I cannot pass over an example, in which Wetstein has not only neglected to quote what Erasmus had asserted of some Latin manuscripts, but has quoted the Syriac version inaccurately, though it is a passage which particularly deserves the attention of a critic. It is Acts 7:43, where the martyr Stephen quotes from the prophet Amos μετοικιω υμας επεκεινα Βαθυλωνος, a reading, which differs both from the Hebrew and the Septuagint. Now Erasmus, in his note to this passage, says, in nonnullis exemplaribus reperi mutatum trans in in.
Wetstein has taken no notice of this, which however is not a very material fault, because the printed editions os the Vulgate have trans ; and it shews only that Wetstein's extracts from Erasmus are incomplete. In the same place he likewise neglects to mention what Mill had quoted from the Ethiopic version, and Wechel's edition ; in the former of which the whole reading is omitted, and in the latter, for επεκεινα Βαθυλωνος, is επεκεινα Δαμασκου.
And instead of quoting these authorities, which he ought not to have neglected, he has quoted the Syriac version, which he ought to have omitted, because it does not differ from the common Greek. The Syriac is ----, which exactly corresponds to επεκεινα Βαθυλωνος : but Wetstein in his hurry observed only --- , overlooking the important word, ---, which entirely alters the sense,and has quoted εκ as the reading of the Syriac. And as he has quoted the same reading from the New Syriac, it is probable that he is equally mistaken in regard to that version.
This is the man, whose diligence and accuracy has been so extolled, that, when I took the liberty, in reviewing his Greek Testament in the Relationes de libris novis, to censure his explanation of several passages, especially of such as relate to the Divinity of Christ, his friends were extremely offended, and challenged me to produce a single critical mistake. I confess, that at that time I had no idea of their being so numerous ; nor did I call in question the accuracy of his various readings, till I had discovered so many examples of negligence, which have presented themselves unsought.
The same negligence is observable in Westein's quotations from the fathers. I would not insist that a collector of various readings should pass over none, that are found in the works of the fathers : but we may reasonably expect, that he should omit none, which his predecessors have already quoted, when their quotations are accurate ; and that he should give complete extracts from the works of such fathers as have commented on whole books of the New Testament.
But Wetstein has done neither, and even from the commentary of Theophylact on the Acts of the Apostles, which he boasts (Vol. II. p. 454.) of having accurately collated, he gives very imperfect extrasts. This was observed by Ernesti, p. 8, 9. of his Specimen castigationum in Wetstenii Novum Testamentum.
Collations and Corrections
I can speak likewise from my own experience ; for having had occasion to collate the text of Theophylact, when I read lectures on the Acts of the Apostles, I compared it with the extracts which had been given by Wetstein, and found them extremely defective, In the seven first chapters alone I have detected thirty-two readings, which Wetstein has omitted : he has therefore omitted nearly as many as he has noted. That my readers may not suppose that these thirty-two readings relate merely to trifles, I will mention a few examples in the note.
[note is left out]
- and it is certain that Wetstein himself considered the greatest part of them as important, appears from the circumstance, that he has quoted them from other documents. Wetstein's negligence is here the more inexcusable, as Sifanus has noted in the margin those passages which differ from the common text of the Greek Testament. If then he was so negligent, where it was so easy to discover variations, what mud we expecl of his extradls from Greek mnnulbripts ?
Wetstein's extracts from printed editions of the Greek Testament I have never examined, except that I have consulted the Complutensian edition for those readings, which Saubert quotes from the Codex Ravianus. Of these I have discovered six that are omitted by Wetstein : four of them relate indeed to trifles of grammar only, but the other two relate to the transposition of words, of which Wetstein has generally taken notice. I have already observed that his extracts from the Geneva edition of 1620 are very imperfect, and in ten examples totally false ; but I will not consider this as a very material fault, as the edition of Geneva is not one of the principal editions of the Greek Testament, and was perhaps for that reason less accurately collated by Wetstein.
Of Wetstein's extracts from Greek manuscripts, which he alone has collated, or which he has more fully collated than his predecessors, I am unable to judge, because I have not access to the manuscripts themselves. But if we may judge from the examples that have been given from the Syriac version and Theophylact, we shall not conclude that all his quotations are accurate, especially from manuscripts which he collated only once, nor accuse Mill of inaccuracy, where he has quoted readings that Wetstein has totally omitted.
Collations and Corrections
Thus far I had written in the edition of 1765. Since that time several Paris manuscripts have been again consulted, either in single pages, or single books. The result of these inquiries I have given in the Orient. Bibl. to which I refer my readers for further information.
Of the Codex Coislianus 199 Wetstein says, contuli qua potui diligentia:
» See Vol. IV. p. 196. Vol. VI. p. 7. Vol. IX. No. 151
- yet Professor Storr found, in the four chapters of the book of Revelation, not less than 17 various readings, that Wetstein had overlooked, Trefchow has likevvise produced examples in his Tentanien, p. 15, 16. ; but at the same time he apologizes for Wetstein. Dr. Lefs found the manuscripts, which he examined, to have been accurately collated by Wetstein.
But a circumstance remains to be mentioned, which renders Wetstein's quotations extremely uncertain. It is possible that Wetstein was not sufficiently accurate in arranging his quotations from manuscripts, and other documents, in proper order, and that he placed in one line, references which belonged to another, a mistake which might easily have happened in spite of the utmost care, where references are made by figures. 4
It is likewise possible that he was not sufficiently accurate in correcting the work, as it went through the press : and if the errors of the compositor remained uncorrected, in a publication like that of Wetstein's Greek Testament, the reader is led into mistakes, which it is not in his power to amend. In other works, the errors of the press, though they are certainly defects, may be detected from the general connection ; and it is possible that several errata may be found in this Introduction, as I have not had sufficient time to conect my own publications.
Now that sufficient care was not bestowed on the correction of Wetstein's Greek Testament, is evident from the inaccuracy even of the text itself, where it was infinitely easier to detect errors, than among the various readings.
At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, the address ω Θεοφιλε is omitted : and in the Prolegomena he ascribes wrong numbers to his manuscripts, so that it is difficult sometimes to ascertain his meaning. 5 What then must we expect in the references among the variant readings ? which amount to above a million, and where the eye, and the patience of the most diligent corrector must soon be wearied.
4. I have taken notice of an erratum of this kind, where 30 is printed for 31, in the sixth section of the Chapter relating to the manuscripts of the Greek Testament, No. 90.
5. See the Note 61. ch. viii, § 6. of this Introduction .
Further Errors, Difficulties
Besides, Wetstein has increased the difficulty, by quoting his manuscripts, not by abbreviations, as Mill had done, but by numbers ; and even these are different, in the different parts of his Greek Testament. The following are instances of inaccuracy, which have occurred to me in the course of my reading. Acts 1:26, the article is omitted in the text before κληρος, and ch. 7:39. υμων is falsely printed for ημων: mistakes, which create confusion in the various readings to those words in Acts 5:24, there is a reference among the various readings, which belongs to a different place. Wetstein's quotation is, ο τε ιερευς και ο σρατηγος του ιερου, και οι αρχιερεις] οι αρχιερεις και ο σρατηγος του ιερου. Vers. Syr. 2 Macc. 3:22.
Now the reference 2 Macc. 3:22, belongs to the 23rd verse, and should have been noted not among the variant readings, but in the notes as the bottom of the page. For in the 23rd verse is used the expression κεκλεισμενον εν παση ασφαλεια to which Wetstein meant to produce a similar expression from the second book of the Maccabees, namely, διαφομασσειν μετα πασης ασφαλειας.
Acts 7:29, the common reading is ου εγεννησεν υιους δου: but as a various reading to ου, Wetstein quotes και, from his Codex 28.
Now this must be an error of the press, for Codex 28 is the Sinaiticus, which Mill has not quoted for this reading: but he quotes the Codex Covelli 3, which is Wetstein's Codex 26. And we cannot suppose that the fault is on the side of Mill, from whom Wetstein has borrowed his extracts from these two manuscripts, as appears from his own words ; for he says only that he saw them, and makes no mention of having collated them : ' istos codices vidi anno 1714 et I7I6 '
These inaccuracies have been very materially augmented by Wetstein's mode of notation, who substituted letters and numbers to the abbreviations which had been used by Mill. Now if an abbreviation occurs above a thousand times, and each time a certain number is to be written for it, it is almost impossible to avoid sometimes writing wrong : even if Wetstein had made no mistakes in writing, it was almost impossible for the compositor to avoid them in printing ; and errata in numbers, where the eye only can be employed, are extremely difficult to detect.
Lastly, the alterations which Wetstein made in the classification of his manuscripts must have been a source of numerous errors : for as he denoted his manuscripts, in the 2nd edition of his Prolegomena, by marks different from those, which he had used in the first, he was of course obliged to alter all his references, and to translate as it were from numbers into numbers.
But this is an undertaking of such a nature, that every man, who is not a bare machine for reckoning, must unavoidably fail. We may reasonably conclude, therefore, as Wetstein was so inaccurate in cases where he was less exposed to the danger of mistake, that the number of errors, which arose from this transformation, is very material.
There are other inconveniencies, to which the reader is exposed by Wetstein's method of noting his manuscripts.
Numbers, especially if they are numerous, are more difficult to retain in the memory, than names. When I hear of a Codex Rhodiensis, I have some determinate idea of a manuscript of the Greek Testament ; but the title Codex 50 excites in me no idea whatsoever. Few persons perhaps have used Wetstein's Greek Testament more than myself, yet, after a lapse of above thirty years, I am hardly able to decipher a dozen manuscripts without having recourse to the Index : and, however bad my memory may be, I will venture to assert, that no man whatsoever is able to retain all the marks, which Wetstein has used to denote his manuscripts.
And to make the difficulty still greater, he has used a fourfold notation, so that the same number, which denotes a manuscript in one part, does not denote it in another. For instance, the Codex Leicestrensis is denoted in the first part by the number 69, in the second part by 37, in the third by 31, in the fourth by 14. Again, the figure 15 denotes in the first part the Codex Regius 2868, or Kusteri Parisiensis 8 ; in the second part the same figure denotes the Codex Amandi, in the third the Coislinianus 25, and in the fourth the Fragmentum Basileensi.
It is surely beyond the power of human memory to retain the whole oi this comphcatcd notation ; and we are reduced to the necessity, either of consulting the index, in order to know the meaning of each quotation, or to content ourselves with being informed of the number, without knowing the quality of the quoted manuscripts.
Yet, after having weighed the numerous defects of Wetstein's Greek Testament with its numerous excellencies, we may pronounce it an edition of such importance, as to be indispensable to every man, who is engaged in sacred criticism. It deserves to be revised, in order to correct its errors, and supply its deficiencies : but, as this would be an undertaking too great for any one man, it were to be wished that those who have access to libraries, would collate again the several manuscripts which Wetstein has quoted. The copy of Wetstein's Greek Testament, which is in my possession, I have endeavoured to make as complete as possible, for the service of posterity. The principal additions, which I have made to it, are the following :
a) Extracts from the Codex Molsheimensis, Guelpherbytanus A and B, and the Codex Ravianus in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
b) Extracts from the Gothic version of Ulphilas in the four Gospels, according to the corrections which have been made by Ihre : also from the fragments of the Gothic version of the epistle to the Romans.
c) Extracts from the Latin versions, published by Blanchini, especially in the Gospel of St. Mark.
d) Extracts from the Syriac version, and the Arabic version, which was made from it, especially in the Gospel of St. Mark, and the Acts of the Apostles.
e) Extracts from Theophylact, in the Acts of the Apostles.
f) Extracts from the Geneva edition of 1620, communicated to me by Schmidt.
These extracts I had written in the margin of Wetstein's Greek Testament:, when I published the second edition of this Introduction in 1765. Since that time I have made many important additions, which would be too great a trespass on the time of the reader to relate.
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