J.A. Bengel

Exerpted from: J. A. Bengel, Novum Testamentum Graecum,
(Tubingen: Cott, 1734)

Page Index

Last Updated: May 31, 2010

J.A. Bengel - Introduction

Bengel's NT - (1734), Greek Text & Apparatus
   Intro - background to Bengel's NT
   Text - PA text, pp.146-7

Bengel's GNOMON: - (1742), Bengel's Critical Commentary
   Intro: - history of editions
   Preface: Blackley Translation (English)
   Text: - Bengel's Commentary (English)

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J.A. Bengel


Excerpted from: www.skypoint.com

Johann Albrecht Bengel

1687-1752. Born in Winnenden, Württemberg, Germany, and later Abbot of Alpirsach in that principality. His 1734 edition has been called the first Protestant attempt "to treat the exegesis of the New Testament critically" -- a reference primarily to his Gnomon (1742), but also to his New Testament. What the latter actually was was a minimally revised edition of the Textus Receptus which had critically chosen readings in the margin. In practice, therefore, Bengel's importance rests not on his text, nor on his collations, which Scrivener notes are rather poor, but on the introduction to his text, his marginalia, and the articles which explained them.

Beginning in 1725, Bengel discussed textual families (distinguishing the Asiatic text, which is our Byzantine text, and the African text, which is everything else). He also outlined critical principles, including the highly significant "prefer the harder reading." These modern principles caused Bengel to propose more changes to the Textus Receptus than any other edition before Lachmann's. (Bengel was the first to note how probable variants were, ranging from grade "a" for a certain reading on down to "e".) This, unfortunately, led to charges the the editor was perverting the scriptures (not for the last time!).

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Bengel's NT (1734)

Pericope de Adultera (Jn 7:53-8:11)

Excerpted from: http://www.bible-researcher.com

Bengel, 1734. Johann Albrecht Bengel, Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ (The New Testament)

Novum Testamentum Græcum ita adornatum ut Textus probatarum editionem medullam, Margo variantium lectionum in suas classes distributarum locorumque parallelorum delectum, apparatus subjunctus criseos sacræ Millianæ præsertim compendium limam supplementum ac fractum exhibeat, inserviente J.A.B.

["The Greek New Testament, so prepared that the approved text of the editions is in the middle, and in the margin selected various readings distributed into their ranks of preference, and collateral places, with an appended apparatus, featuring principally a revised compendium of the sacred criticism of Mill, supplemented and also abridged, by the service of J.A.B.].

Edente Jo. Albert Bengel. Tubingæ, 1734 (4 vols.);
1753 (manual); 1763 (revised Apparatus only); 1776 (manual).

Bengel's edition is remarkable for its completeness and its practical usefulness as a resource for study. Preceding the text is a lengthy Introduction modelled after Mill's (see Mill 1707). The text was the first to be presented in paragraphs.

Symbols in the Apparatus:

It is accompanied by a selection of noteworthy readings in the margin (drawn from Mill's apparatus), each graded according to its relative worthiness as the original reading.
This was done by assigning each grade a Greek letter (α, β, γ, δ, ε), from most preferable, somewhat preferable, equal to (γ), somewhat inferior, or much inferior to the main printed text (The main text used only readings from previous editions of the Received Text).

After the text comes a lengthy Apparatus Criticus [Critical Apparatus] evaluating variants. Here he bases these evaluations upon an innovative theory of manuscript groups, in which the readings are referred to either the 'debased' Asiatic (Byzantine) family, or to the more 'pristine' African (Alexandrian) family, which was often seconded by the Old Latin and Greek-Latin (Western) manuscripts.

Unlike previous editors, he also gives citations both for and against each deviation from the Received Text, so that if a manuscript is not mentioned the reader would not be left doubting whether it supported the text or not.

The following 15 Greek manuscripts (using notation of Scrivener, Miller, 1894) were first published in Bengel's Apparatus Criticus:

Uncials Used: Codex V (e, 9th cent), Cod. M Paul (10th c.)

Cursives (miniscules):

Gospels: 1 (10th), 2 (15th), 83 (11th), 84 (12th)
    85 (13th), 86 (10th), 97 (15th), 101 (16th)

Acts: 45 (15th), 46 (11th)
Paul: 54 (12th), Rev: 80 (12th)

Lectionary (Evst.): 24 (10th)

Bengel encountered some opposition from writers who were offended by his recommended changes to the Received text, but in general his work was widely appreciated and commended. This is due partly to Bengel's prudent decision not to cause needless offense by introducing the changes into the text itself.

It should also be noticed that Bengel did not recommend the omission of the disputed clause in 1 John 5:7 (see Erasmus 1516 ), but rather defended it; and so he gained the respect of persons who might otherwise have attacked his work. Count Zinzendorf, the patron of the Moravian Brethren, announced that Bengel's text was to be the basis of the German version to be used in their churches; and John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, also used Bengel's text for his English version (see Wesley 1755 ).

Bengel died in 1752, after having also provided a complete exegetical commentary to his text (see Bengel 1742 ). A manual edition of his text was brought out in 1753, minus the Apparatus Criticus, with revised estimates of the marginal readings. An enlarged and corrected edition of his Apparatus Criticus appeared in 1763, prepared by his son-in-law Philip David Burk (see Burk 1763 ). Beginning with the manual edition of 1776, edited by Bengel's son Ernst, there is included a Tabula quae criseos Bengelianae diversas periodos exhibet, showing all differences between the editions and the readings preferred by Bengel in his Gnomon Novi Testamenti (see Bengel 1742)."

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Bengel's NT (1734)

Pericope de Adultera: Text (Jn 7:53-8:11)

From Novum Testamentum pg 146-147

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Bengel's GNOMON (1734)

Pericope de Adultera (Jn 7:53-8:11)

Excerpted from: http://www.bible-researcher.com

Bengel, 1742. Johann Albrecht Bengel,

Joannis Bengelii Gnomon Novi Testamenti, in quo, ex nativa Verborum Vi, Simplicitas, Profunditas, Concinnitas, et Salubritas sensuum coelestium, indicatur.

[Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament, in which, from the natural force of the words, the simplicity, depth, harmony, and saving power of the heavenly meanings, is indicated]

Tubingen, 1742; 2nd ed., edited by Ernst Bengel, 1759; 3rd ed., edited by Ernst Bengel, 1773; with notes added by J. Steudal, 1835, and reprinted 1855.

Bengel's Gnomon is an exegetical commentary on the Greek text, written in Latin, which indicates the readings preferred by him at the time it was written. These do not always correspond to the readings preferred in his earlier critical edition (see Bengel 1734).

Bengel's exegesis frequently dwells upon rhetorical aspects of the text, and he especially notices structural parallelisms and figures of speech. The exegetical commentary is also accompanied by text-critical remarks which supplement the textual commentary of his earlier Apparatus Criticus (1734).

In many places it is clear that Bengel's rhetorical analysis has played a large part in his choice of readings, so that the exegetical and critical aspects of the commentary cannot be separated. His treatment of 1 John 5:7-8, in which he defends the authenticity of the disputed Trinitarian clause, is a notable example of this, for he defends the clause quite impressively on rhetorical grounds alone.

Like his text, Bengel's Gnomon was a great success, and was frequently reprinted after his death. John Wesley used it as the basis of his Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (see Scanlin 1988, pp. 103-4). At length an English translation of the entire work was made: Gnomon of the New Testament by John Albert Bengel, now first translated into English. With original Notes explanatory and illustrative. Revised and edited by Rev. Andrew R. Fausset, M.A., of Trinity College, Dublin (4 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1857).

Title page of volume 1: Gnomon of the New Testament by John Albert Bengel, according to the edition originally brought out by his son, M. Ernest Bengel; and subsequently completed by J.C.F. Steudel. With corrections and additions from the ed. secunda of 1759.

Fausset's English edition is not to be confused with the more widely available American edition, Gnomon of the New Testament, &c. by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent (Philadelphia: Perkinpine & Higgins, 1864), which has recently been reprinted under the inapt title, New Testament Word Studies by John Albert Bengel, A New Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1971).

Fausset's English edition is a faithful translation of Bengel's Gnomon, "revised" only by the addition of footnotes which give comments found in Bengel's other works; Lewis and Vincent, on the other hand, present a thorough revision, in which extracts from Bengel's remarks are attached to an entirely different critical text and discussion. Remarks of Bengel which depend upon his own text, or which for any other reason are not in accordance with the views of Lewis and Vincent, are suppressed or contradicted."

- www.bible-researcher.com

Bengel's Gnomon

The Blackley/Lewery translation,
3rd. Ed. (London, 1876)

We have chosen to use the Blackley/Lewery translation of Bengel's Gnomon, because it is a carefully prepared translation that attempts close fidelity with the original:


... "The distinctive features I refer to are the following : —

I. An entirely new translation of the Gnomon itself, which is presented without any abridgment or omission, except of arguments based upon readings since proved corrupt, and abandoned by the general consent of theological scholars. The omissions thus necessitated do not probably extend to as much as one page per cent. of the original Latin work.

II. The adoption of the Authorised English version [KJV] as the basis of comparison throughout, all variations from its words being specially noted.

III. The adoption of the English order of the words for reference, rather than that of the Greek. This feature, so important for the English reader, has not been followed in the American edition.

IV. The incorporation by the editors of additional references both to Scripture and to critical writers ; of occasional explanatory clauses where a mere translation of the author's very terse Latinity would not enable the general reader to grasp his meaning ; and of some original notes, which are not inserted without due consideration, and which it is hoped may be found neither presumptuous nor useless.


It remains to state the share in the work undertaken by each translator. The present writer is responsible for the four Gospels, (with the exception of from Luke xi. to John vii. inclusive,) all the General Epistles, and all notes and additions to these parts marked W. L. B. [W.L. Blackley]:

And the Rev. James Hawes for Luke xi. to John vii. inclusive, the Acts of the Apostles, the Pauhne Epistles, and all notes and addi- tions to his portion of the work to which the letters Ed. are appended."

Frensham Parsonage, Farnham,
May 1866.

Bengel's Gnomon (1742: transl. 1866)

The PA: John 7:53-8:11

53. [See, as to the genuineness of this verse, note on chap, viii. 1.] And every man — Blackwall considers that these words should begin the next chapter. If any change, however, be made, it would be better to end chap. vii. with the words Mount of Olives, thus defining the acts of each day, and the words of each paragraph. The matter is of no consequence; yet the old order may as well be retained, so as to connect Jesus' going to the Mount of Olives with his entry into the temple on the following day.


1-11. The wisdom and power evinced by Jesus in the story of the woman taken in adultery are such as to make it surprising that this part of the Gospel history should be considered doubtful by many in the present day. [Tisch., Ols., Mey., L., Thol, Neand., etc., agree that the passage, chap. vii. 53, to viii. 11, is no part of Johns Gospel. Alf., though undecided, is strongly inclined to reject it. Yet it is certainly a traditionary document, dating from the apostolic age, and containing (says Calvin) nothing unworthy of the apostolic spirit. Hence, though not John's, it may with some confidence be accepted as a true history. Mey.]

Went — As having no house of his own; comp. chap, vii, 53. Unto the Mount of Olives — The same mountain where they were afterwards to take him. See chap, xviii. 2 ; a thing they had vainly attempted, see chap. vii. 30.

2. Came — As was expected. Taught — Which made his interrupters more troublesome ; see ver. 3.

4. Master — lit., teacher; implying their reason for asking his opinion. In the very act — Such disgraceful doings were very apt to occur in the time of feasts ; comp. chap. vii. 37. What follows confirms the authenticity of this narrative : as, for instance, the mention of darkness, ver. 12, and of adultery a work of darkness here ; and the reference to judgment, in ver. 15 and 11.

5. Should be stoned — Either this was a betrothed woman, or the language of the Scribes and Pharisees amounts to this : Moses commanded adulteresses to be put to death, (Deut. xxii. 22, etc.,) and our forefathers have appointed the manner af execution to be stoning. But — Lit, therefore which shows more subtlety in the question than but would do.

6. To accuse — Of breach of the law. [If he should decide for stoning her, they could accuse him to the Eoman autho- rities ; or perhaps to the people, as contradicting himself ; Matt. V. 31, 32. Diech, in Z. ; if against it, to the Sanhe- drim, for contradicting Moses. Mey.']

They knew how lenient Jesus was towards the guilty, since it was not to exe- cute judgment he had come into the world.

But — Men immersed in deep thought often make various gestures ; some even appearing as if writing, which gestures they cease upon their attention being challenged by anything else. It is no such gesture as this which our Lord continues to use after the subject has been brought before him by the Scribes and Pharisees.

Stooped down, and with his finger ivrote on the ground — God wrote once, in the Old Testament ; Christ wrote once, in the New. But it was with a finger, not with a pen, that the Divine Wisdom wrote ; on the ground, not in the air, or on a tablet. He wrote or drew either letters form- ing words, (possibly the same as those he spoke, ver 7,) or lines and characters without distinct meaning ; whether they remained or disappeared after he ceased writing. See Dan. V. 5.

Writing is generally used as a record for the future. Therefore it seems clear that this action of our Lord should be interpreted by the words he spoke after the writing, in this sense : Moses wrote the law ; I can also write ; in fact it is my law which Moses wrote. Ye, Scribes, write judgments against others ; I can write them against you ; see ver. 26. Your sins are written in your hearts; and your names in the earth; see Jer. xvii. i. 13. (It may be that he wrote the names of the woman's accusers.) Ye do not now understand my writing ; but the d.iy shall come when that which I have written shall be manifest to all the earth, and your iniquities shall be all exposed. Therefore, our Lord —

I. By his silent action fixed the vague, rash, and careless thoughts of his adversaries, and awakened their consciences.

II. He indicated that he was not come as a judge at that time ; and that he preferred acting in a manner which might seem rather slack to these unreasonable accusers, to entering upon such a case as that brought before him ; [and to this the old Gloss, which reads, he wrote on the ground not claiming, refers, implying that this is not his affair ;]

Moreover, that the time for him to act as judge over the culprit before him, and over her prosecutors, and over all mankind, righteous and unrighteous, for their every act, had not yet come, but should come ; that meanwhile all things are recorded ; 'and that a day shall come when the earth shall not be able to conceal the crimes of the hypocrites. Comp. Isa. xxvL 21 ; Job xvi. 18. For writing is generally used to preserve remembrance for futurity ; Ex. xvii. 14; Ps. cii. 18.

This action of Jesus Christ clearly resembles in some degree the ceremony usually observed in the case of an adulteress, see Numbers, v. 1 2-23, etc., but not altogether ; for the law quoted applies to a woman suspected ; but the present passage refers to a woman caught in the act. The law required that the accused woman should drink words written by the priest in a book, and washed out with water, and mingled with dust from the ground ; but those words which Jesus wrote on the ground the woman could not drink with, much less without, water. Hence we easily observe that in this act of Jesus, so far as it affected the woman, there was something left, as it were, incomplete and in suspense, as implying that Jesus was indeed a judge, but that he would not exercise his office as such then, but at some future period, when the woman before him should either receive punishment or pardon. (For the same reason he lets off the accusers for the time with only a wound of conscience.)

7. When they continued — Most of the Latin copies read therefore for when. He that is without sin — Either he who is incapable of sin, or he who hath not sinned. See Deut. xxix. 19, Sept., and comp. 2 Macc. viii. 4 ; xii. 42. The witnesses were generally the first to stone the condemned. [Hence the first stone. V.G.] All the witnesses in this case had incurred guilt deserving of punishment, either in the same or similar crimes. [Thus without sin means, without sin of this kind unchastity. L. Mey.]

9. Beginning at the eldest — [Eldest in years; not the elders of the people. Mey., etc. But the whole clause is simply equal to, from first to last, i.e., every one of them. Thol.] These had been most stricken. Great is the power of Jesus ! [To penetrate men's inmost thoughts. V.G.] Alone — None of his questioners remaining. Some other persons, even of the Pharisees, did remain. See ver. 2, 12.

10. But — The Greek word,πλην, thus translated is one never used by John in any of his writings, he always expressing its sense in a different form ; this proves the word to be a gloss unknown to the ancients. Those — They had already fled away.

11. Go — He doth not say, in peace; nor thy sins be forgiven thee; only, sin no more. See chap, v. 14. [But dost thou, Lord, show favour to sinners I Nay : note what follows : go, henceforth sin not. The Lord did condemn, then, not the women, but the sin. Augustine in Thol. He reformed the culprit, without acquitting her of crime. Ambrose in L.]

12. Again — As in chap. vii. Jesus generally begins his discourses with the doctrine of salvation ; then on meeting contradiction, he proceeds to reproof. Light — An expression appropriate to the morning, and contrasting with works of darkness, such as adultery. Of the world — Of the whole world. [Light, says Augustine, reveals both itself and other things. It bears testimony to itself, opens sound eyes, and is its own witness. L.] He that followeth — By this he showed that he by no means allowed the adultery, though he did not condemn the adulteress.

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