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§. 1.

THERE is one distinct class of evidence provided by Almighty God for the conservation of the deposit in its integrity144144    [I have retained this passage notwithstanding the objections made in some quarters against similar passages in the companion volume, because I think them neither valid, nor creditable to high intelligence, or to due reverence.] which calls for special notice in this place. The Lectionaries of the ancient Church have not yet nearly enjoyed the attention they deserve, or the laborious study which in order to render them practically available they absolutely require. Scarcely any persons, in fact, except professed critics, are at all acquainted with the contents of the very curious documents alluded to: while collations of any of them which have been hitherto effected are few indeed. I speak chiefly of the Books called Evangelistaria (or Evangeliaria), in other words, the proper lessons collected out of the Gospels, and transcribed into a separate volume. Let me freely admit that I subjoin a few observations on this subject with unfeigned diffidence; having had to teach myself throughout the little I know;—and discovering in the end how very insufficient for my purpose that little is. Properly handled, an adequate study of the Lectionaries of the ancient Church would become the labour 68of a life. We require exact collations of at least too of them. From such a practical acquaintance with about a tenth of the extant copies some very interesting results would infallibly be obtained145145    [Textual student will remember that besides the Lectionaries of the Gospels mentioned here, of which about 1000 are known, there are some 300 more of the Acts and Epistles, called by the name Apostolos.].

As for the external appearance of these documents, it may be enough to say that they range, like the mass of uncial and cursive copies, over a space of about 700 years,—the oldest extant being of about the eighth century, and the latest dating in the fifteenth. Rarely are any so old as the former date,—or so recent as the last named. When they began to be executed is not known; but much older copies than any which at present exist must have perished through constant use: [for they are in perfect order when we first become acquainted with them, and as a whole they are remarkably consistent with one another]. They are almost invariably written in double columns, and not unfrequently are splendidly executed. The use of Uncial letters is observed to have been retained in documents of this class to a later period than in the case of the Evangelia, viz. down to the eleventh century. For the most part they are furnished with a kind of musical notation executed in vermilion; evidently intended to guide the reader in that peculiar recitative which is still customary in the oriental Church.

In these books the Gospels always stand in the following order: St. John: St. Matthew: St. Luke: St. Mark. The lessons are brief,—resembling the Epistles and Gospels in our Book of Common Prayer.

They seem to me to fall into two classes: (a) Those which contain a lesson for every day in the year: (b) Those which only contain [lessons for fixed Festivals and] the Saturday-Sunday lessons (σαββατοκυριακαί). We are reminded 69by this peculiarity that it was not till a very late period in her history that the Eastern Church was able to shake herself clear of the shadow of the old Jewish Sabbath146146    [‘It seems also a singular note of antiquity that the Sabbath and the Sunday succeeding it do as it were cohere, and bear one appellation; so that the week takes its name—not from the Sunday with which it commences, but—from the Saturday-and-Sunday with which it concludes.’ Twelve Verses, p. 194, where more particulars are given.]. [To these Lectionaries Tables of the Lessons were often added, of a similar character to those which we have in our Prayer-books. The Table of daily Lessons went under the title of Synaxarion (or Eclogadion); and the Table of the Lessons of immovable Festivals and Saints’ days was styled Menologion147147    [For the contents of these Tables, see Scrivener’s Plain Introduction, 4th edition, vol. i. pp. 80-89.].]

Liturgical use has proved a fruitful source of textual perturbation. Nothing less was to have been expected,—as every one must admit who has examined ancient Evangelia with any degree of attention. For a period before the custom arose of writing out the Ecclesiastical Lections in the ‘Evangelistaries,’ and ‘Apostolos,’ it may be regarded as certain that the practice generally prevailed of accommodating an ordinary copy, whether of the Gospels or of the Epistles, to the requirements of the Church. This continued to the last to be a favourite method with the ancients148148    See Scrivener’s Plain Introduction, 4th edition, vol. i. pp. 56-65.. Not only was it the invariable liturgical practice to introduce an ecclesiastical lection with an ever-varying formula,—by which means the holy Name is often found in MSS. where it has no proper place,—but notes of time, &c., [‘like the unique and indubitably genuine word δευτεροπρώτῳ149149    Twelve Verses, p. 220. The MS. stops in the middle of a sentence.,’ are omitted as carrying no moral lesson, as well as longer passages like the case of the two verses recounting the ministering Angel with the Agony and the Bloody Sweat150150    St. Luke xxii. 43, 44..


That Lessons from the New Testament were probably read in the assemblies of the faithful according to a definite scheme, and on an established system, at least as early as the fourth century, has been shewn to follow from plain historical fact in the tenth chapter of the Twelve Last Verses of St. Mark’s Gospel, to which the reader is referred for more detailed information. Cyril, at Jerusalem,—and by implication, his namesake at Alexandria,—Chrysostom, at Antioch and at Constantinople,—Augustine, in Africa,—all four expressly witness to the circumstance. In other words, there is found to have been at least at that time fully established throughout the Churches of Christendom a Lectionary, which seems to have been essentially one and the same in the West and in the East. That it must have been of even Apostolic antiquity may be inferred from several considerations151151    In the absence of materials supplied by the Dean upon what was his own special subject, I have thought best to extract the above sentences from the Twelve Last Verses, p. 207. The next illustration is his own, though in my words.. For example, Marcion, in A. D. 140, would hardly have constructed an Evangelistarium and Apostolicon of his own, as we learn from Epiphanius152152    i. 311., if he had not been induced by the Lectionary System prevailing around him to form a counterplan of teaching upon the same model.]

§ 2.

Indeed, the high antiquity of the Church’s Lectionary System is inferred with certainty from many a textual phenomenon with which students of Textual Science are familiar.

It may be helpful to a beginner if I introduce to his notice the class of readings to be discussed in the present chapter, by inviting his attention to the first words of the Gospel for St. Philip and St. James’ Day in our own English Book of Common Prayer,—‘And Jesus said unto His 71disciples.’ Those words he sees at a glance are undeniably nothing else but an Ecclesiastical accretion to the Gospel,—words which breed offence in no quarter, and occasion error to none. They have nevertheless stood prefixed to St. John xiv. 1 from an exceedingly remote period; for, besides establishing themselves in every Lectionary of the ancient Church153153    εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· μὴ ταρασσέσθω., they are found in Cod. D154154    και ειπεν τοις μαθηταις αυτου. The same Codex (D) also prefixes to St. Luke xvi. 19 the Ecclesiastical formula—ειπεν δε και ετεραν παραβολην.,—in copies of the Old Latin155155    ‘Et ait discipulis suis, non turbetur. as the Vercellensis, Corbeiensis, Aureus, Bezae,— and in copies of the Vulgate. They may be of the second or third, they must be as old as the fourth century. It is evident that it wants but a very little for those words to have established their claim to a permanent place in the Text. Readings just as slenderly supported have been actually adopted before now156156    E.g. the words καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν have been omitted by Tisch. and rejected by W. Hort from St. Luke xxiv. 36 on the sole authority of D and five copies of the Old Latin. Again, on the same sorry evidence, the words προσκυνήσαντες αὐτόν abr.& have been omitted or rejected by the same critics from St. Luke xxiv. 52. In both instances the expressions are also branded with doubt in the R. V..

I proceed to cite another instance; and here the success of an ordinary case of Lectionary licence will be perceived to have been complete: for besides recommending itself to Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort, the blunder in question has established itself in the pages of the Revised Version. Reference is made to an alteration of the Text occurring in certain copies of Acts iii. 1, which will be further discussed below157157    Pp. 78-80.. When it has been stated that these copies are אABCG,—the Vulgate,—the two Egyptian versions,—besides the Armenian,—and the Ethiopic,—it will be admitted that the Ecclesiastical practice which has resulted in so widespread a reading, must be primitive indeed. To some persons such a formidable 72array of evidence may seem conclusive in favour of any reading: but it can only seem so to those who do not realize the weight of counter-testimony.

But by far the most considerable injury which has resulted to the Gospel from this cause is the suspicion which has alighted in certain quarters on the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to St. Mark. [Those verses made up by themselves a complete Lection. The preceding Lection, which was used on the Second Sunday after Easter, was closed with the Liturgical note ‘The End,’ or ΤΟ ΤΕΛΟC, occurring after the eighth verse. What more probable, nay, more certain result could there be, than that some scribe should mistake the end of the Lection for the end of St. Mark’s Gospel, if the last leaf should chance to have been torn off, and should then transcribe no more158158    See Traditional Text, Appendix VII.? How natural that St. Mark should express himself in a more condensed and abrupt style than usual. This of course is only put forward as an explanation, which leaves the notion of another writer and a later date unnecessary. If it can be improved upon, so much the better. Candid critics ought to study Dean Burgon’s elaborate chapter already referred to before rejecting it.]


And there probably does not exist, in the whole compass of the Gospel, a more interesting instance of this than is furnished by the words εἶπε δὲ ὁ Κύριος, in St. Luke vii. 31. This is certainly derived from the Lectionaries; being nothing else but the formula with which it was customary to introduce the lection that begins at this place. Accordingly, only one out of forty copies which have been consulted for the purpose contains them. But the circumstance of interest remains to be stated. When these four 73unauthorized words have been thus got rid of, the important discovery is made that the two preceding verses (verses 28 and 29) must needs form a part of our Lord’s discourse,—which it is perceived flows on unbroken from v. 24 to v. 35. This has been seen already by some159159    Bp. C. Wordsworth. But Alford, Wcstcott and Mort, doubt it., though denied by others. But the fact does not admit of rational doubt; though it is certainly not as yet generally known. It is not generally known, I mean, that the Church has recovered a piece of knowledge with which she was once familiar160160    Thus Codex V. actually interpolates at this place the words—οὐκέτι ἐκείνοις ἐλέγετο, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μαθηταῖς. Tisch. ad loc., but which for many centuries she has forgotten, viz. that thirty-two words which she supposed to be those of the Evangelist are in reality those of her Lord.

Indeed, when the expressions are considered, it is perceived that this account of them must needs be the true one. Thus, we learn from the 24th verse that our Saviour was at this time addressing the ‘crowds’ or ‘multitudes.’ But the four classes specified in verses 29, 30, cannot reasonably be thought to be the Evangelist’s analysis of those crowds. In fact what is said of the Pharisees and Lawyers’ in ver. 30 is clearly not a remark made by the Evangelist on the reception which our Saviour’s words were receiving at the hands of his auditory; but our Saviour’s own statement of the reception which His Forerunner’s preaching had met with at the hands of the common people and the publicans on the one hand,—the Pharisees and the Scribes on the other. Hence the inferential particle οὖν in the 31st verse; and the use in ver. 35 of the same verb (ἐδικαιώθη) which the Divine Speaker had employed in ver. 29: whereby He takes up His previous statement while He applies and enforces it.

Another specimen of unauthorized accretion originating in the same way is found a little farther on. In St. Luke ix. 1 74(‘And having called together His twelve Disciples’), the words μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ are confessedly spurious: being condemned by nearly every known cursive and uncial. Their presence in the meantime is fully accounted for by the adjacent rubrical direction how the lesson is to be introduced: viz. At that time Jesus having called together His twelve Disciples.’ Accordingly we are not surprised to find the words ὁ Ἰησοῦς also thrust into a few of the MSS.: though we are hardly prepared to discover that the words of the Peshitto, besides the Latin and Cureton’s Syriac, are disfigured in the same way. The admirers of the ‘old uncials’ will learn with interest that, instead of μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, אC with LXAΞ and a choice assortment of cursives exhibit ἀποστόλους,—being supported in this manifestly spurious reading by the best copies of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, Gothic, Harkleian, Bohairic, and a few other translations.

Indeed, it is surprising what a fertile source of corruption Liturgical usage has proved. Every careful student of the Gospels remembers that St. Matthew describes our Lord’s first and second missionary journey in very nearly the same words. The former place (iv. 23) ending καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ used to conclude the lesson for the second Sunday after Pentecost,—the latter (ix. 35) ending καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν occupies the same position in the Gospel for the seventh Sunday. It will not seem strange to any one who considers the matter, that ἐν τῷ λαῷ has in consequence not only found its way into ix. 35, but has established itself there very firmly: and that from a very early time. The spurious words are first met with in the Codex Sinaiticus161161    Cyril Alex. (four times) and the Verona Codex (b), besides L and a few other copies, even append the same familiar words to καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν in St. Matt. x. 1..

But sometimes corruptions of this class are really perplexing. Thus א testifies to the existence of a short additional clause (καὶ πολλοὶ ἡκολούθησαν αὐτῷ) at the end, 75as some critics say, of the same 35th verse. Are we not rather to regard the words as the beginning of ver. 36, and as being nothing else but the liturgical introduction to the lection for the Twelve Apostles, which follows (ix. 36–x. 8), and whose Festival falls on the 30th June? Whatever its origin, this confessedly spurious accretion to the Text, which exists besides only in L and six cursive copies, must needs be of extraordinary antiquity, being found in the two oldest copies of the Old Latin:—a sufficient indication, by the way, of the utter insufficiency of such an amount of evidence for the genuineness of any reading.

This is the reason why, in certain of the oldest documents accessible, such a strange amount of discrepancy is discoverable in the text of the first words of St. Luke x. 25 (καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη, ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν, καὶ λέγων). Many of the Latin copies preface this with et haec eo dicente. Now, the established formula of the lectionaries here is,—νομικός τις προσῆλθεν τῷ Ἰ. which explains why the Curetonian, the Lewis, with 33, ‘the queen of the cursives,’ as their usual leader in aberrant readings is absurdly styled. so read the place: while D, with one copy of the Old Latin, stands alone in exhibiting,—ἀνέστη δέ τις νομικός. Four Codexes (אBLΞ) with the Curetonian omit the second καὶ which is illegible in the Lewis. To read this place in its purity you have to take up any ordinary cursive copy.


Take another instance. St. Mark xv. 28 has been hitherto read in all Churches as follows And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”’ In these last days however the discovery is announced that every word of this is an unauthorized addition to the inspired text. Griesbach indeed only marks the verse as probably spurious; while Tregelles is content to enclose it in brackets. But Alford, Tischendorf, 76Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers eject the words καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα, καὶ μετὰ ἀνόμων ἐλογίσθη from the text altogether. What can be the reason for so extraordinary a proceeding?

Let us not be told by Schulz (Griesbach’s latest editor) that ‘the quotation is not in Mark’s manner; that the formula which introduces it is John’s: and that it seems to be a gloss taken from Luke xxii. 37.’ This is not criticism but dictation,—imagination, not argument. Men who so write forget that they are assuming the very point which they are called upon to prove.

Now it happens that all the Uncials but six and an immense majority of the Cursive copies contain the words before us:—that besides these, the Old Latin, the Syriac, the Vulgate, the Gothic and the Bohairic versions, all concur in exhibiting them:—that the same words are expressly recognized by the Sectional System of Eusebius;—having a section (σις/η i.e. 216/8) to themselves—which is the weightiest sanction that Father had it in his power to give to words of Scripture. So are they also recognized by the Syriac sectional system (260/8), which is diverse from that of Eusebius and independent of it. What then is to be set against such a weight of ancient evidence? The fact that the following six Codexes are without this 28th verse, אABCDX, together with the Sahidic and Lewis. The notorious Codex k (Bobiensis) is the only other ancient testimony producible; to which Tischendorf adds ‘about forty-five cursive copies.’ Will it be seriously pretended that this evidence for omitting ver. 28 from St. Mark’s Gospel can compete with the evidence for retaining it?

Let it not be once more insinuated that we set numbers before antiquity. Codex D is of the sixth century; Cod. X not older than the ninth: and not one of the four Codexes which remain is so old, within perhaps two centuries, as 77either the Old Latin or the Peshitto versions. We have Eusebius and Jerome’s Vulgate as witnesses on the same side, besides the Gothic version, which represents a Codex probably as old as either. To these witnesses must be added Victor of Antioch, who commented on St. Mark’s Gospel before either A or C were written162162    Investigate Possinus, 345, 346, 348..

It will be not unreasonably asked by those who have learned to regard whatever is found in B or א as oracular,— ‘But is it credible that on a point like this such authorities as אABCD should all be in error?’

It is not only credible, I answer, but a circumstance of which we meet with so many undeniable examples that it ceases to be even a matter of surprise. On the other hand, what is to be thought of the credibility that on a point like this all the ancient versions (except the Sahidic) should have conspired to mislead mankind? And further, on what intelligible principle is the consent of all the other uncials, and the whole mass of cursives, to be explained, if this verse of Scripture be indeed spurious?

I know that the rejoinder will be as follows:—‘Yes, but if the ten words in dispute really are part of the inspired verity, how is their absence from the earliest Codexes to be accounted for?’ Now it happens that for once I am able to assign the reason. But I do so under protest, for I insist that to point out the source of the mistakes in our oldest Codexes is no part of a critic’s business. It would not only prove an endless, but also a hopeless task. This time, however, I am able to explain.

If the reader will take the trouble to inquire at the Bibliotheque at Paris for a Greek Codex numbered ‘71,’ an Evangelium will be put into his hands which differs from any that I ever met with in giving singularly minute and full rubrical directions. At the end of St. Mark xv. 27, he will read as follows:—‘When thou readest the sixth Gospel 78of the Passion,—also when thou readest the second Gospel of the Vigil of Good Friday,—stop here: skip verse 28: then go on at verse 29.’ The inference from this is so obvious, that it would be to abuse the reader’s patience if I were to enlarge upon it, or even to draw it out in detail. Very ancient indeed must the Lectionary practice in this particular have been that it should leave so fatal a trace of its operation in our four oldest Codexes: but it has left it163163    It is surprising to find so great an expert as Griesbach in the last year of his life so entirely misunderstanding this subject. See his Comment. Crit. Part ii. p. 190. ‘Nec ulla . . . debuerint.. The explanation is evident, the verse is plainly genuine, and the Codexes which leave it out are corrupt.

One word about the evidence of the cursive copies on this occasion. Tischendorf says that ‘about forty-five’ of them are without this precious verse of Scripture. I venture to say that the learned critic would be puzzled to produce forty-five copies of the Gospels in which this verse has no place. But in fact his very next statement (viz. that about half of these are Lectionaries),—satisfactorily explains the matter. Just so. From every Lectionary in the world, for the reason already assigned, these words are away; as well as in every MS. which, like B and א, has been depraved by the influence of the Lectionary practice.

And now I venture to ask,—What is to be thought of that Revision of our Authorized Version which omits ver. 28 altogether; with a marginal intimation that many ancient authorities insert it’? Would it not have been the course of ordinary reverence,—I was going to say of truth and fairness,—to leave the text unmolested: with a marginal memorandum that just ‘a very few ancient authorities leave it out’?


A gross depravation of the Text resulting from this cause, which nevertheless has imposed on several critics, 79as has been already said, is furnished by the first words of Acts iii. The most ancient witness accessible, namely the Peshitto, confirms the usual reading of the place, which is also the text of the cursives: viz. Ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό δὲ Πέτρος καὶ Ἰωάννης κ.τ.λ.So the Harkleian and Bede. So Codex E.

The four oldest of the six available uncials conspire however in representing the words which immediately precede in the following unintelligible fashion:—ὁ δὲ Κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σωζομένους καθ᾽ ἡμέραν

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