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On the Relative antiquity of the Codex Vaticanus (B), and the Codex Sinaiticus (א).

(Referred to at p. 70.)

I. “Vix differt aetate a Codice Sinaitico,” says Tischendorf, (ed. 8va, 1869, p. ix,) speaking of the Codex Vaticanus (B). Yet does he perpetually designate his own Sinaitic Codex (א) as “omnium antiquissimus.” Now,

(1) The (all but unique) sectional division of the Text of Codex B,—confessedly the oldest scheme of chapters extant, is in itself a striking note of primitiveness. The author of the Codex knew nothing, apparently, of the Eusebian method. But I venture further to suggest that the following peculiarities in Codex א unmistakably indicate for it a later date than Codex B.

(2) Cod. א, (like C, and other later MSS.,) is broken up into short paragraphs throughout. The Vatican Codex, on the contrary, has very few breaks indeed: e.g. it is without break of any sort from S. Matth. xvii. 24 to xx. 17: whereas, within the same limits, there are in Cod. א as many as thirty interruptions of the context. From S. Mark xiii. 1 to the end of the Gospel the text is absolutely continuous in Cod. B, except in one place: but in Cod. א it is interrupted upwards of fifty times. Again: from S. Luke xvii. 11, to the end of the Gospel there is but one break in Cod. B. But it is broken into well nigh an hundred and fifty short paragraphs in Cod. א.

There can be no doubt that the unbroken text of Codex B, (resembling the style of the papyrus of Hyperides published by Mr. Babington,) is the more ancient. The only places where it approximates to the method of Cod. א, is where the Commandments are briefly recited (S. Matth. xix. 18, &c.), and where our Lord proclaims the eight Beatitudes (S. Matth. v.)


(3) Again; Cod. א is prone to exhibit, on extraordinary occasions, a single word in a line, as at—

S. Matth. xv. 30 S. Mark x. 29. S. Luke xiv. 13.

This became a prevailing fashion in the vith century; e.g. when the Cod. Laudianus of the Acts (E) was written. The only trace of anything of the kind in Cod. B is at the Genealogy of our Lord.

(4) At the commencement of every fresh paragraph, the initial letter in Cod. א slightly projects into the margin,—beyond the left hand edge of the column; as usual in all later MSS. This characteristic is only not undiscoverable in Cod. B. Instances of it there are in the earlier Codex; but they are of exceedingly rare occurrence.

(5) Further; Cod. א abounds in such contractions as

________ _________

(with all their cases), for ΑΝΘΡωΠΟC, ΟΥΡΑΝΟC, &c. Not only

______ ______ _____ _____ ______

(for ΠΝεΥΜΑ, ΠΑΤΗΡ-ΤεΡ-ΤεΡΑ, ΜΗΤεΡΑ), but also

______ ______ _____


But Cod. B, though familiar with ῑc̄, and a few other of the most ordinary abbreviations, knows nothing of these compendia: which certainly cannot have existed in the earliest copies of all. Once more, it seems reasonable to suppose that their constant occurrence in Cod א indicates for that Codex a date subsequent to Cod. B.

(6) The very discrepancy observable between these two Codices in their method of dealing with “the last twelve verses of S. Mark’s Gospel,” (already adverted to at p. 88,) is a further indication, and as it seems to the present writer a very striking one, that Cod. B is the older of the two. Cod. א is evidently familiar with the phenomenon which astonishes Cod. B by its novelty and strangeness.

(7) But the most striking feature of difference, after all, is only to be recognised by one who surveys the Codices themselves with attention. It is that general air of primitiveness 293in Cod. B which makes itself at once felt. The even symmetry of the unbroken columns;—the work of the prima manus everywhere vanishing through sheer antiquity;—the small, even, square writing, which partly recals the style of the Herculanean rolls; partly, the papyrus fragments of the Oration against Demosthenes (published by Harris in 1848):—all these notes of superior antiquity infallibly set Cod. B before Cod. א; though it may be impossible to determine whether by 50, by 75, or by 100 years.

II. It has been conjectured by one whose words are always entitled to most respectful attention, that Codex Sinaiticus may have been “one of the fifty Codices of Holy Scripture which Eusebius prepared A.D. 331, by Constantine’s direction, for the use of the new Capital.” (Scrivener’s Collation of the Cod. Sin., Introd. p. xxxvii-viii.)

1. But this, which is rendered improbable by the many instances of grave discrepancy between its readings and those with which Eusebius proves to have been most familiar, is made impossible by the discovery that it is without S. Mark xv. 28, which constitutes the Eusebian Section numbered “216” in S. Mark’s Gospel. [Quite in vain has Tischendorf perversely laboured to throw doubt on this circumstance. It remains altogether undeniable,—as a far less accomplished critic than Tischendorf may see at a glance. Tischendorf’s only plea is the fact that in Cod. M, (he might have added and in the Codex Sinaiticus, which explains the phenomenon in Cod. M), against ver. 29 is set the number, (“216,”) instead of against ver. 28. But what then? Has not the number demonstrably lost its place? And is there not still one of the Eusebian Sections missing? And which can it possibly have been, if it was not S. Mark xv. 28?] Again. Cod. א, (like B, C, L, U, Γ, and some others), gives the piercing of the Saviour’s side at S. Matth. xxvii. 49: but if Eusebius had read that incident in the same place, he would have infallibly included S. John xix. 34, 35, with S. Matth. xxvii. 49, in his viith Canon, where matters are contained which are common to S. Matthew and S. John,—instead of referring S. John xix. 31-37 to his xth Canon, which 294specifies things peculiar to each of the four Evangelists. Eusebius, moreover, in a certain place (Dem. Evan. x. 8 [quoted by Tisch.]) has an allusion to the same transaction, and expressly says that it is recorded by S. John.

2. No inference as to the antiquity of this Codex can be drawn from the Eusebian notation of Sections in the margin: that notation having been confessedly added at a subsequent date.

3. On the other hand, the subdivision of Cod. א into paragraphs, proves to have been made without any reference to the sectional distribution of Eusebius. Thus, there are in the Codex thirty distinct paragraphs from S. Matthew xi. 20 to xii. 34, inclusive; but there are comprised within the same limits only seventeen Eusebian sections. And yet, of those seventeen sections only nine correspond with as many paragraphs of the Codex Sinaiticus. This, in itself, is enough to prove that Eusebius knew nothing of the present Codex. His record is express:—ἐφ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῶν τεσσάρων εὐαγγελίων ἀριθμός τις πρόκειται κατὰ μέρος κ.τ.λ.

III. The supposed resemblance of the opened volume to an Egyptian papyrus,—when eight columns (σελίδες) are exhibited to the eye at once, side by side,—seems to be a fallacious note of high antiquity. If Cod. א has four columns in a page,—Cod. B three,—Cod. A two,—Cod. C has only one. But Cod. C is certainly as old as Cod. A. Again, Cod. D, which is of the vith century, is written (like Cod. C) across the page: yet was it “copied from an older model similarly divided in respect to the lines or verses,”—and therefore similarly written across the page. It is almost obvious that the size of the skins on which a Codex was written will have decided whether the columns should be four or only three in a page.

IV. In fine, nothing doubting the high antiquity of both Codices, (B and א,) I am nevertheless fully persuaded that an interval of at least half a century,—if not of a far greater span of years,—is absolutely required to account for the marked dissimilarity between them.

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