Textual Evidence

Stuart on Text-Types (1836)

Excerpt from: Hug's Introduction to the NT, 3rd Ed.
xlated by D. Fosdick Jr. (1836)
Appendixed Notes, by M. Stuart

Page Index

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2009

Prologue: - Introduction to Stuart and Hug

Exerpt: - Stuart on Text-types: the current theories
    Hug's Theory - Koine, Hesychius, Lucian reces.
    Griesbach's Theory - Alexandrine, Occidental, Byzantine
    Sholz's Theory - Alexandrine and Constantinopolitan
    Eichhorn's Theory - Asiatic, African, Mixed
    Conclusion - no convincing theories

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I have little offer the reader concerning M. Stuart. He was a minor player in the translation and exposition of Hug's German work into English. What may be discerned of him will be found in his own brief notice in the preface to Hug, and also in his copious and detailed notes, which are very excellent and useful, both in orienting readers on the subject and issues, and also in current thought in Germany and in England.

The value in Stuart's work is in his excellent and very detailed snapshot of the state of knowledge concerning MSS and Text-Types in the 1830's. Its a rare glimpse of brilliant men struggling to handle a body of evidence that just became more and more complicated as discoveries came to light.

"Those who are acquainted with the merits of Hug's Introduction to the New Testament, will not think it strange that it should be deemed worthy of an English dress.

It has long been in high repute in Germany, and among German scholars in other countries. As an index to the estimate put upon it in Germany, we may take the declaration of Gesenius (Bibl. Essays Art. I.) made with direct reference to this work : " He [Hug] excels all his predecessors in deep and fundamental investigations."

- David Fosdick Jr., translators preface

"I have read, or rather studied,the book throughout in its English dress, in order to prepare for writing the Notes contained in the Appendix.

It is not important for me to say much, if any thing, in this place, with regard to the manner in which Hug has executed this work, and the relative value of the work itself. My notes will disclose to the reader, how far I agree or disagree with him, in respect to most of his important positions. His mode of arguing and illustrating is often original and peculiar. It is not the more attractive to me, however, on this account. He floes not say even the most common things, in the way that others say them ; whether from affectation, or peculiarity of mind, I know not. ...

The reader will be desirous to know something of Hug, in respect to his religious developments. He must know, then, that Hug is a Roman Catholic with a kind of Protestant heart. He wears, rather impatiently, if I discern aright, the chains which his profession imposes upon him ; and when he comes to critical conclusions which he apprehends may be construed as being included under the banns of Mother-Church, he endeavours to make a separation between his critical and his Catholic conscience. His critical conscience is at liberty, while his Catholic conscience is permitted to go along with the multitude. This awkward predicament gives birth to some curious paragraphs in his book.

- M. Stuart, Author of English Appendix, preface

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Stuart on Text-Types

Note 6. Classification of Manuscripts.

On this subject the reader should be apprised, that discussion is by no means an end, and that after all the ingenuity, labour, and learning, that have been exhibited, no real terra firma on which we can plant our feet, has yet been taken possession of or even fully discovered.

Hug's Theory of Recensions

The theory of Hug is briefly this, viz.

(1) That until about A.D. 250, there was a κοινη εχδοσις , i. e. editio vulgaris ('common edition') of the New Testament writings, corresponding in the main with the older Latin versions, with the Codex Cantabrigiensis, and with the old Syriac version or Peshito and the more ancient fathers.

(2) That about the middle of the third century, the defects of this κοινη εχδοσις becoming apparent to more critical readers, several undertook to revise and purify it. Hesychius engaged in this work, who was a bishop in Egypt; Lucian, a priest of Antioch in Syria, undertook a like task ; and Origen in Palestine did the same. The revised text of the first edition, Hug supposes to have obtained currency in Egypt; that of the second, in Syria, Asia Minor, Thrace, and Constantinople or Byzantium; that of the third, in Palestine. He thinks that the old κοινη εχδοσις , as exhibited in the older Latin versons, still kept its place in the West; for certain it is, that Gelasius bishop of Rome ( 496 A.D.) prohibited the use of the Lucian and Hesychian recensions, on the ground that he supposed them to be corrupt; (p. 117 above).

(3) A third period begins, according to Hug, soon after the respective recensions named above, and extends itself down to the present time ; during which various alterations from a variety of causes have been made in all these different texts. In ancient limes, different recensions were mixed together; and besides this, the κοινη εχδοσις would also come in for its share, with many possessors of MSS, in the correction and adjustment of them. From all these reasons combined, there is, in even the oldest MSS now extant, more or less of mixture of the different recensions ; although some MSS have predominant characteristics, which are plain and very visibly marked.

There will be no question about the ingenuity, acuteness, and immense labour, exhibited in the briefly represented theory of Prof. Hug ; at least I think there can be none among intelligent and practised readers. Its ingenuity, and indeed speciousness, has in part called forth high expressions of admiration from many critics, and made some converts. But although the κοινη εχδοσις , as stated by him, must be substantially true, as even Griesbach and others concede, yet that amid such an endless variety of readings as must have sprung up from causes suggested by him, during two centuries after the writings of the New Testament were composed, all MSS should be capable of classification, so as to make the κοινη εχδοσις a distinct and separate family, easily distinguishable from all subsequent MSS. - who will venture to affirm this, and pledge himself to produce satisfactory proof? Origen says of the Greek MSS in his time:

"The difference has become really great, bolh from the carelessness of copyists, and from the arbitrary conduct of those to whom the correction of them is entrusted ; as also from emendations, additions, and omissions made by many according to their owti judgment."

- Origen (Cited by Hug, p. 87).

How can it be, then, that there is but one character common to all these, and that this is so plainly marked that it will enable us distinctly to classify them, so as to separate them from the later families of MSS., if indeed there are such?

As to the second part of Hug's theory, viz. the different recensions by Hesychius, Lucian, and Origen, it is denied in whole or in part, by some of the most able critics.

Griesbach denies the existence of any recension of the New Testament by Origen, and thinks that what Hug names as such, is only a branch of the Lucian recension ; Meletem, p. LVII1. seq.

Matthaei, the celebrated editor of a critical edition of , the New Testament, even denies in toto the existence of any such recensions as Hug has described, and adopts the Byzantine MSS as his only safe guide. The class which consists of such as the Codex Bezae, Codex Claromontanus, and others of the like nature, he names editio scurrilis ; and he applies no softer epithets to those who pay deference to them.

But although there is a degree of extravagance in his positions, yet it is in fact somewhat doubtful, whether the recensions of Hesychius and Lucian ever obtained any extensive circulation in the countries where they were made.

Jerome (Praefat. in quatuor Evangg. - "Preface to the Four Gospels") says, respecting these recensions:

" Praetermitto eos codices, quos, a Luciano el Hesychio nuncupates, paur.orum hominum asserit perversa contenlio, etc."

The intimation in these words most clearly is, that the Hesychian and Lucian recensions were confined to a narrow circle of usage (paucorum); and disapprobation of this usage is plainly signified by asserit perversa conlentio. If Jerome is in the right, it would seem that Hug has attributed a great deal too much influence over the general state of the New Testament MSS after the middle of the third century, to the labours of Hesychius and Lucian.

Nor should it be unobserved by the critical reader, that the extensive and permanent circulation of the Lucian recension at Constantinople and in Thrace, which Hug and others have assumed, is a matter of great doubt, and, in view of some testimony that is extant, quite an improbability.

Eusebius testifies (De Vita Const. Mag. I. 4. c. 36), that the emperor Constantine required of him to cause fifty copies of the New Testament to be transcribed, for the use of the churches at Constantinople. Now the reverence which Eusebius had for Origen is well known, and is every where most abundantly testified by him. That the copies would be made, therefore, from such Codices as were approved by Origen and used by him, there can scarcely be a doubt.

But what were these? Origen's numerous works clearly shew that his Codices of the New Testament were of the Alexandrian hue; for he was educated, and spent the former part of his life, at Alexandria. Nor has Origen, in any of his works, apparently quoted a different text from that which seems to have been predominant at Alexandria. If all this be allowed, as I think it must be by those who are conversant with this subject, then it would seem to follow, that from the time of Constantine and Eusebius, the MSS at Constantinople must have been of the Origenian, i. e. Alexandrian cast; and so, after all, the Byzantine MSS are to be ultimately referred to those which Origen, and after him Eusebius, employed.

The passage in Jerome (ad Matth. 24: 36), on which Hug mainly relies to prove a distinct recension by Origen, is hardly capable of proving so much. Jerome says, that "in some Latin Codices, 'neque filius' is here added to the text; but," he adds, " this is not contained in Graecis, el maxime Adamantii el Pierii exemplaribus.

Schott, De Wette, and others, suppose it to be sufficient here to understand the exemplars of Adamantius (i.e. Origen) and Pierius, as meaning those MSS which these distinguished individuals sanctioned and employed, and to which they gave currency.

And indeed, if the whole be compared with what Origen says (on Matthew in Vol. III. p. 671, ed. de la Rue), this would seem to be altogether a probable interpretation of bis words. Origen takes occasion to speak of his critical edition of the Septuagint, and his emendation of it by means of asterisks and obelisks, and then he says, (the Latin translation of him only is here preserved):

" In exemplaribus autem Novi Testamenti, hoc ipsum me posse facere sine periculo non putavi."

If then his judgment was, as it here seems to be,, that he could not without danger undertake to correct the Mss. of the New Testament; and if, as even Hug concedes, he did not undertake to do this until extreme old age and as his last work; is it probable that he would, at such a time, and against his own mature judgment, execute a work which is least of all adapted to the employment of a superannuated man ? On the whole the probability cannot be well made out.

Griesbach's Theory of Recensions

The threefold recensions made by Griesbach are well known, viz. the Alexandrine or Oriental, the Occidental, and the Byzantine.

Hints in Bengel's Introductio ad Crisin N. Test, and in Semler's Vorbereittaigen zur ffermeneutik, seem to have first led him to this. The text of the occidental recension, as he supposes, may be found in the most ancient Latin versions, in Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, etc.; also in the Mss. of the Gospels, D. 1,13,69,118,. 124, 131, 157 ; in the Mss. of the Epistles. D. E. F. G. Its character is exegetical; it contains glosses and periphrases, and hebraizes in a high degree.

The Alexandrine recension, he thinks, is found in Clemens Alex., Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyrill Alex., Isidorus Pelus., and others; in the Memphitico-Coptic, Philoxeno-Syrian, Ethiopic, and Armenian versions; and also in the Mss. of the Gospels, B. C. L. 33, 103, 106; and in those of the Epistles, A. B. C. 17, 46, 47. Its characteristics are, higher grammatical purity and correctness of diction.

The Byzantine or Constantinopolitan recension is found, as he avers, in the Greek fathers of Asia Minor and the neighboring provinces, from the 4th to the 6th century ; in the Gothic and Slavic versions ; in the MSS of the Gospels, A. E. F. G. H. S.; and as to the Epistles, in the MSS of Moscow.

To the Peschito, Chrysostom, and MSS P. Q. T., he attributes a mixed text; and in a considerable degree to more than twenty MSS more.

This formal and definite division was attacked with great vehemence by Matthaei, and substantially doubted and impugned by Eichhorn, and others. It has occasioned great debate among critics ; especially so, as Griesbach estimates the value of a reading very much by the classes of recensions which support it, rather than by the number of witnesses.

Besides these opponents on the continent of Europe, Griesbach has had some powerful ones in England. Dr. Laurence (now archbishop of Cashel), attacked it with great vehemence and acuteness in his Remarks on the Classification of MSS. adopted by Griesbach, Oxf. 1814.

In 1815 the Rev. F. Nolan published his Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the NT; in which he has laboured to overthrow several of Griesbach's positions, and not without success. He, however, conies out at last, with an Egyptian, a Palestine, and a Byzantine family or recension of Codices; which seem to differ in nothing very material, except as to some supposed metes and bounds, from the three recensions of Griesbach.

Schott in his Isagoge declares also, that the effort of Griesbach to establish his classification, is a failure; and so Scholz, in his Curae Criticae, and in his Proleg. ad edit. Nov. Testamenti.

Scholz's Theory of Recensions

The division of Scholz himself, in the work last named, is into the Alexandrine and Constantinopolitan recension. To the former he assigns the copies in Egypt and in the West; also the Coptic, Latin, and Ethiopic versions, and the ecclesiastical writers of those regions. To the latter he assigns the copies of Palestine, Asia Minor, Syria, oriental Greece, specially Constantinople, the Philoxenian, Gothic, Georgian, and Slavic versions, and the ecclesiastical writers of those regions. To the latter he gives an almost unbounded preference.

But in amalgamating the Alexandrine and Western Mss. together, he has done not a little violence to both. Moreover, taking the fact as true, which Eusebius has related in respect to his making out fifty copies of the New Testament for the churches at Constantinople, in the time of Constantine; and the fact also that Eusebius is known, by the quotations in his works, to have given a preference to the Alexandrine copies; how can the superiority or even the discrepancy of the Constantinopolitan class of MSS in respect to the Alexandrine, be so definitely made out?

Eichhorn's Theory of Recensions

Eichhorn, in his Introduction to the New Testament, divides MSS into Asiatic, African, and Mixed. He has treated the subject with a degree of skill and moderation, which it would have been well if many other writers could have imitated.

Conclusion: No Consensus

The result of alll is, as the reader may now well see, that no terra firma is yet won. So judges De Wette, who is no ordinary judge ; so in substance Schott also, in his Isagoge.

Of course the estimation of the value of readings, which proceeds from classification merely or principally, is not to be confided in ; and consequently not a few of the decisions of Griesbach, who has gone far in criticisms of this kind, may be justly subjected to revisal, and some of them, doubtless, to reversal.

With such facts before him, the critical reader of the New Testament should look well to it how he trusts himself implicitly to the guidance of any one of the so-called critical editions.

Much land yet remains to be possessed. The labour of collation is, as yet, very imperfectly performed ; and that of quotations by the fathers from the Bible, as yet very imperfectly estimated or examined. The remarks of Hug, certainly a good practical scholar, as exhibited above, are a voucher for the correctness of this affirmation.

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