By Adolf Jülicher
§ 52. The Witnesses to the Texts down to 1500 A.D., as they exist to-day
1. The first place must here be given to the quotations from the New Testament in the works of ecclesiastical writers, because some of these have the advantage of a higher antiquity than any of the preserved manuscripts, and in their case we may generally be certain to what part of the world the quoted texts belonged. Now, the writings of the Fathers from the third century onwards are extremely rich in such quotations, and naturally we need only take the Latin Fathers into consideration as witnesses for the Latin text, the Syrian for the Syriac, and so on. Unhappily, the great work of throwing light upon this class of evidence is hardly begun. The ʽCatenaeʼ— Commentaries patched together from the utterances of earlier Fathers, and usually written all over the margins bordering the Bible texts—seem once more, we are glad to say, to be attracting the earnest attention of modern theologians; but the greater part of them have not yet been edited at all, and the Patristic texts themselves but unsatisfactorily, while the actual words of the Bible quotations are often the most untrustworthy part about them. Thus it is only in a few instances1 that an exhaustive collection of this material and a critical study of it have been attempted. The greatest caution is necessary for this task: allusions to a Scripture sentence must of course be judged differently from direct quotation; but even with the latter, the words are often given simply from memory, and are then never to be trusted on individual points of expression. We may assume that an ecclesiastical writer would scarcely have looked up short and well-known Sayings in his Bible before making use of them. If the same author quotes a passage very frequently, and always in exactly the same words, we may take it that his memory is clinging to a written source. When the quotation is very long,2 the idea of its repetition from memory is out of the question, and we may draw the same conclusion when we are given minute information as to the place where the quotation is to be found. Books of Logia, such as Cyprianʼs ʽTestimoniaʼ and Augustineʼs ʽSpeculum,ʼ are of the highest value for textual criticism, inasmuch as they were doubtless put together from Bible manuscripts. The same is true of Commentaries which give portions of the text one after another before they explain them. Many traditional errors in the Text can be rectified by means of the commentary, because we can there see what was the form of the Text which the commentator was using.3 But the evidence of a ʽFatherʼ reaches its highest value when he actually refers to some peculiarity in the wording, or when he compares different readings one with another. But even in cases where the author has neither quoted accurately, nor is the condition in which his words have come down to us above suspicion, the context will sometimes enable us to decide with some certainty to which of two or three variant readings the writer gave his preference —e.g. whether in Gal. ii. 5 he read ʽTo whom we gave place for the moment,ʼ or ʽTo whom we gave place, no, not for an hour.ʼ4 The very great value of the Catenae consists chiefly in the fact that they alone have preserved a number of fragments, from a literature otherwise lost beyond recall, which offer excellent materials for the determination of the time and provenance of interesting variants. It stands to reason that in this respect the writings of heretics and schismatics are quite as valuable to us as those of the most orthodox Fathers, and that the work of the inexperienced blunderer ranks with that of the eloquent master of ideas. Even inaccurate translations, like those of Irenaeus and Origen into Latin, may acquire special importance, since the translator, free as he is in his rendering of the quotations, shows us nevertheless how he read the passages in question in his Bible. Very often this is also the case with variants in inferior manuscripts; in Codices W and A, for instance, of Cyprianʼs ʽTestimonia,ʼ the original text (which is only retained uncorrupted in L) has been arbitrarily remodelled, but in accordance with the copyistsʼ own versions of the Bible; thus the different copyists of Cyprian become witnesses to certain forms of the Latin translation which would otherwise have sunk into oblivion.
2. The systematic study of the second order of records, the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament Books, has been carried much further. These are divided according to the form of writing into the Uncial and Minuscule texts, but since few of the latter are earlier than the tenth century, their authority cannot rival that of the Uncial, for as a rule a manuscript is the more valuable the older it is. This rule, however, has its exceptions. A Minuscule manuscript of the twelfth century may have been copied with care and accuracy from a very old and good original, and similarly an Uncial manuscript of the seventh may have been carelessly copied from an indifferent original prepared five years before; in this case no one would prefer the latter. Thus the Ferrar group of Minuscule Gospel texts (so called because they were discovered by the Irish critic, Ferrar) contain a larger amount of peculiar matter than would a whole series of Majuscule MSS. put together. Unfortunately, the age of a manuscript cannot generally be determined even approximately without the help of the paleographer; before the eighth century the Greeks did not insert the date of composition in their manuscripts, nor can we tell anything of their places of origin. Among the old codices some are bilingual—Greco-Latin, Greco-Coptic, or Greco-Sahidic—and in that case the translation stands either between the lines of the Greek text or in separate columns beside it. The more important manuscripts, many of which are now denoted in the great libraries by very elaborate symbols, have been given shorter names since the rise of textual criticism: e.g. ʽVaticanus,ʼ from its present place of abode; ʽAlexandrinus,ʼ to record the fact that it was conveyed to England from Alexandria by the help of Cyrillus Lucaris; ʽCodex Ephraemi Syri rescriptus,ʼ because there the Bible text lay hidden under that of the homilies of Ephraim; and so on. Still simpler is the system introduced by J. J. Wettstein, of designating the Greek Majuscule codices by means of Latin capital letters, and, when these did not suffice, by Greek and even Hebrew capitals: e.g. Δ, Σ, Φ, etc. א and ב; the Greek Minuscules by Arabic numerals, and the manuscripts of the old Latin translation by small Latin letters.
The only drawback to this system is that, owing to the incompleteness of the manuscripts, the same sign is made use of for several texts of very different ages and values; thus B, for instance, in the case of the Gospels and Epistles, stands for a manuscript of the fourth century, and in that of the Apocalypse for one of the end of the eighth; H, for the Gospels, indicates an almost worthless MS. of about 900, for the Acts, a mutilated ninth century codex, and for Paul a very good MS. of about 500. The case is still worse with the Minuscule texts. Here each of the four principal parts of the New Testament—the Gospels, the Acts and Catholic Epistles, the Pauline Epistles and the Apocalypse—is numbered from 1 upwards (the Gospels reach 1273 even in Gregory and Tischendorfʼs ʽNovum Testamentum Graeceʼ); so that the same number, say 12, indicates quite different manuscripts according as it is a question of the Gospels, the Acts, the Pauline Epistles, or the Apocalypse—and even two different lectionaries, one of the Gospels and one of the Epistles, bear this number! On the other hand, one and the same MS. bears a different number for each different part of the New Testament: a ʽFlorentinusʼ of 1381, for instance, bears the number 367 for the Gospels, 146 for the Acts, 182 for the Pauline Epistles, and 23 for the Apocalypse! And in addition to this the English, following Scrivener, have a system of numeration differing in many ways from the German, which follows Gregory. Thus it may be seen that considerable patience and attention are required in order to estimate correctly all the different witnesses referred to in editions of the Texts, in Commentaries and in critical investigations. It must especially be borne in mind that several of the very best manuscripts have been preserved to us in very incomplete form; that the more comprehensive of them may have been copied from various different originals, so that some parts of them may be of greater value than others, and that one and the same scribe—where the work is not shared between several—sometimes appears as though tired out, and makes mistakes which never occur in other parts of his work. Valuable manuscripts have sometimes undergone two, three or even more wholesale corrections, but the corrections by no means always offer the best readings. (The work of the correctors is generally indicated in its chronological order by the addition of small letters, Arabic numerals, or asterisks, to the principal letters, e.g. אa, אb, H1, D**, etc.)
Only two of the more important New Testament manuscripts appear to belong to the fourth century: the ʽSinaiticusʼ and the ʽVaticanus,ʼ both containing the whole Bible.
א (Sinaiticus). Discovered in the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai by C. von Tischendorf in 1844: published in 1862; now in St. Petersburg. This is the only Uncial MS. which contains the complete New Testament, even including the Epistle of Barnabas and the ʽShepherdʼ of Hermas. Even if it belongs to the 50 MSS. prepared by Eusebius for Constantine, and the same Egyptian scribe to whom we owe B assisted here and there in its production, it ought not to be estimated at so high a value as its discoverer is inclined to claim for it.
B (Vaticanus). An Athanasian Bible, either written about 331 (so O. von Gebhardt) or soon after 367 (A. Rahlfs5); breaks off at verse ix. 14 of Hebrews, while a few leaves are also lost at the beginning and in the middle. Thus part of Hebrews, 1. and 2. Timothy, Titus, Philemon and the Apocalypse are altogether wanting. This precious possession was long jealously guarded in the Vatican Library, and only since 1867 have we become tolerably familiar—again through Tischendorf—with its readings; a photographic. impression of it appeared in Rome in 1889. Its original text, which can still be easily distinguished in spite of some later retouching, is almost universally considered excellent.
A (Alexandrinus). Has been in England since 1628, and has there been frequently collated. In 1879 it was sumptuously edited at the expense of the British Museum. It also contains the whole Bible; in the New Testament (which includes the Apocalypse) we also find the First and Second Epistles of Clement, but of these the last pages are wanting, as well as the whole of the Psalms of Solomon, which originally formed the end. The bookbinder has robbed us of several marginal letters; and the larger part of Matthew, part of John and of 2. Corinthians are now missing from this Codex. A belongs to the second half of the fifth century. Its text differs very much in the different books, and is least serviceable in the Gospels.
C (Cod. Ephraemi Syri reseriptus). Now in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris. It is probably as old as A, and also of Egyptian origin. It, too, was a complete Bible, though little of the Old Testament is now preserved. It contains rather more than half of the New, however, but in fragments scattered over every part of it. It is difficult to read, but repays the trouble, for it contains some quite original readings.
P and Q1 are likewise good palimpsests, and consist in fragments of the Gospels from the sixth and fifth centuries. They are portions of the Isidorus Manuscript of Wolfenbüttel, which also contains fragments of the Gothic translation.
L. A Gospel Codex, dating indeed only from about 800, and written either carelessly or else by a scribe entirely ignorant of Greek, but founded nevertheless upon an excellent original. It is now in Paris.
Δ. Contains the four Gospels, almost without a break. It was written at St. Gall in the ninth century from an original containing many peculiar readings, especially in Mark; the Latin version runs between the lines. The Codex G of the Pauline Epistles (called Boernerianus from its former owner, a Leipzig Professor named Borner, who flourished about 1700), which is also bilingual, is perhaps by the same hand, or was at any rate produced in the Same monastery and at the same time. From this again F, a ninth century Greeco-Latin manuscript produced at Reichenau, may have been copied, at least as far as the Greek version is concerned.
Among the other manuscripts containing only the Pauline Epistles, Codex H (about 500) must be reckoned one of the very best, but unfortunately only about one-ninth of the Epistles are preserved, and even these are scattered between St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Paris, Turin and Mount Athos. We may also mention the somewhat older A (containing only fragments of 1 Cor. i. vi. and vii.) because it belongs to the few ʽPapyraceiʼ which we still possess.
Among the manuscripts containing the Acts alone, E stands first. It is called Laudianus after Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, who presented it to the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It is in Greek and Latin, and was produced in Sardinia about 600.
Finally, there are two other Greco-Latin MSS. to be mentioned, both of which once belonged to Theodore Beza, and both of which are now known by the symbol D; they are written colometrically and probably belong to the sixth century. The one, ʽCantabrigiensisʼ (so called because it was presented by Beza to the University Library of Cambridge), contains the Gospels and the Acts; the other, ʽClaromontanusʼ (so called from its birth-place, the monastery of Clermont, but now in Paris), contains the Pauline Epistles—Hebrews remarkably different in form from the other thirteen. Even the Latin versions in both are particularly interesting, though some caution is necessary in using them as witnesses to a supposed primitive Latin text. But while the excellences of the Greek version in the Claromontanus enjoy universal recognition, the Cantabrigiensis is at this moment the subject of the keenest controversy. Long unduly neglected and even ignored by the critics, as being full of bad mistakes and spoilt by numerous interpolations, it has for the last ten years been extolled as the version most nearly approaching the original text, and even as the representative of a separate recension, at any rate of the Lucan writings.6 Its frequent agreement with the Old Latin, and often with the Old Syrian and Egyptian versions, speaks strongly in its favour, and the fact that in the most important cases all the other Greek manuscripts are against it need be no proof of its corruption, but may quite as well be due to the fact that it or its original (which some believe—somewhat fantastically—to have been the copy of Irenaeus) was the only survivor from a period in which the New Testament text had not yet been subjected to the polishing which afterwards became universal. Nevertheless it is indisputable that D displays a tendency towards an arbitrary conformation of the Gospel texts and a loose treatment of its original, and although some of its peculiar readings may be very ancient, they need not for that reason be original; moreover, what cause have we to suppose that the corruption of the sacred texts had not already reached its maximum before the time of Irenwus? The tendency to explain, ending sometimes in mere paraphrase, and to amplify details is still more conspicuous in all examples of the ʽWesternʼ text than the tendency manifested, say, in B and its descendants to polish, to remove vulgarisms and to shorten prolixities. It will be wisest to recognise both, and to try in each individual case to ascertain the original text by the help of D and also of B, א, etc.; neither the one nor the other presents us with a faultless original text, but still less is either a mere dust-heap. But the most essential thing for the advancement of research on this point is that the old translations which follow D should be systematically studied, established in their true relationship one with another and made use of for the reconstruction of their Greek originals. [Cf. R. Harris on the ʽCodex Bezaeʼ in ʽTexts and Studiesʼ (Cambridge, 1891); and B. Weiss and A. Harnack in the pamphlets mentioned on p. 453. Aconvenient collation of D has been made by E. Nestle, in his ʽNovi Testamenti graeci Supplementumʼ (1896), pp. 7-66.
3. (a) Translations, under certain circumstances, may render excellent service in the determination of the original wording of a text, e.g. when they are old and literal, when they allow us to perceive with some certainty how the Greek which underlies them ran, or when they date from a time of which our records are insufficient. Ceteris paribus the first-hand translations are to be preferred to the second-hand, the re-translations; but even the latter are not quite useless, unless we are already familiar with their originals. For instance, an Irish re-translation based on the ʽItala,ʼ and belonging to the sixth century, would be more valuable than a direct Slavic translation of a Greek text, of which there were a hundred other records. In fact the Old Slavic translation, dating at the earliest from the ninth century, is of no importance to the history of the text, and the same would be true of the Persian and Arabic versions even if we could be certain that they were founded on a Greek original. It is an established point that the Egyptian, Gothic, Ethiopian and Armenian translations are from the Greek, even though the Syrian text may from the first have had some influence on the two latter. They are of considerable antiquity: the Gothic, which is from the hand of Bishop Ulfilas, might be dated about 370, the Ethiopian not much later. We need not conclude that the whole New Testament was translated at the same time; when it was a question of gradual completion we may always assume that the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles are the oldest. Mesrobes is said to have presented the Armenians, some time after 431, with a Bible in their own tongue, and written in a peculiar alphabet. From the fourth century onwards the need of possessing the sacred books in the vernacular must have been the cause of their translation into the different dialects of Egypt; for after about 300 we find the Greek losing more and more ground in that country, till at last it is confined to the capital alone. Luarge portions of translations in the Theban or Sahidic (i.e. Upper Egyptian) dialects, in the Memphian or Boheiric (i.e. the dialect of the Delta), and in that of Fayoum and other Middle Egyptian districts, have been made known through the industry of scholars, especially Danes; the Boheiric has long played a great part in the Coptic Church, and an Arabic re-translation has actually sprung from it. But as yet the study of textual history has not derived great profit from all these translations. The Greek originals from which they are taken appear mostly to approach the ordinary text very nearly, and even where this is not the case, the incompleteness of the materials presented by them prevents our coming to any very definite conclusions. Moreover, the knowledge of Ethiopian, of Armenian, and, above all, of the Egyptian dialects—knowledge indispensable to the successful prosecution of such studies—is lacking in almost all those who are interested in them. P. de Lagards possessed both knowledge and interest, but he died without having carried out his great schemes. Thus there are only two translations left, the Latin and the Syrian, from the comparison of which with the Greek records we may expect, on account of their high antiquity and their comparative accessibility, to obtain a steady increase of knowledge.
(b) We are accustomed to distinguish two forms of the Latin translation: the Itala and the Vulgate; but it might be more accurate to speak of them as the pre-Hieronymite and the Hieronymite translations. For the ʽVulgate,ʼ which only obtained this name in the Middle Ages, was for a long time by no means the ʽVulgarʼ (vulgata = ἡκοινή): four centuries passed away before it succeeded in ousting its rival from ecclesiastical use. The relationship of the Vulgate to the Itala in the case of the Old and New Testaments respectively is very different, since Jerome translated the former afresh from the Hebrew, without any reference to the Septuagint, while he did no more than revise the Gospels superficially, and soon afterwards (in 382) the other Books of the New Testament also, at the request of Pope Damagus. He undertook no fresh translation of them, however, but at the most a fresh recension of the Latin text he already possessed. In so doing he contented himself as a rule with removing the more important deviations of the Latin from the Greek in favour of the latter, and preferred merely to choose from among various Latin versions the reading which followed the original most closely, without inserting anything of his own. But, of course, he never observed that he was only dealing with a Greek text, not with the Greek original; when any uncertainty arises he seeks the genuine New Testament only in the Greek (ʽGraecae fidei—autoritati— reddidi Novum Testamentumʼ). Thus the translation of Jerome, with the characteristics peculiar to it, is scarcely more than a record of one form of the Greek text of about the year 380. And even from this point of view it must be used with the greatest caution, because Jerome himself did not do his work consistently, and afterwards his text suffered an unusually marked deterioration by being subjected, naturally enough, to the influence of the traditional version. The different Vulgatetexts display just as many variants as the original MSS. Not till 1200 did certain Parisian theologians exert themselves successfully in the establishment of a textus receptus, though unfortunately their Vulgate was not founded on the very best authorities. It is due to the influence of this edition that the numerous printed versions of the Vulgate belonging to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—including even those of Erasmus and of R. Stephanus—do not differ very materially from one another, and that it seemed an easy task to Pope Sixtus V. to publish, in fulfilment of the resolutions of the Council of Trent, an infallible Latin text in 1590—although, indeed, Clement VIII. silently replaced it two years later by one still more infallible. For those days these were quite respectable pieces of work, but the mixed text which even the present official version of the Roman Church represents is not sufficient for the purposes of critical research. The original text of Jerome can only be restored by means of the ancient manuscripts, among which the Codex Amiatinus, whose history we can trace with some accuracy, is of special interest.
The name of Itala for the pre-Hieronymite texts of the Latins was introduced, all unconsciously, by Augustine, who recommended in his ʽDe Doctrina Christianaʼ that the ʽItalaʼ should be preferred to other Latin translations of the Scripture, because it had the advantage of being literal and intelligible at thesame time. Thus he must have known several Latin translations (latinae quaelibet). ByʽItalaʼ he probably meant that version which he had learned to know and value in Italy—that is, when staying at Milan with Bishop Ambrose. The translation current in his native African Church appeared to him inferior, principally because it kept so loosely to ʽthe wordsʼ—that is, to the Greek ʽoriginal textʼ of about 397. To us this particular lack of literalness would rather seem to speak in favour of the value of the translation. And in truth the Old Latin texts are raised to the position of witnesses to the original wording of the first order because, while they are exempted by the frequent awkwardness and barbarity of their Latin from all suspicion of having paraphrased or artificially altered the form of the original, they yet differ very markedly from the Greek texts still preserved. Yet they are certainly prepared from very ancient manuscripts. For Cyprian undoubtedly quotes from a Latin Bible, about the year 250. Still, a number of the most important questions are not yet answered: (1) whether Tertullian used Latin Bible-texts about the year 200; (2) whether there were several independent translations or only one, which later became very much corrupted, or rather ʽemendated,ʼ and (3) whether, if this were the case, Africa or Italy was its birthplace.
In any case, the twenty-seven Books of the New Testament were not rendered into Latin all together by one translator. Consequently the different books might have different histories; the oldest Latin text of the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles might come from Africa, while perhaps the Epistle to the Hebrews and the later Catholic Epistles might have a different origin. But it is also possible that the Gospels were translated at several places in the West at about the same time, and that the similarity between all the transmitted texts may be explained by the mingling they underwent in later times. On the other hand, the Pauline Epistles might only have been translated once, and the many different forms of this translation have been due to its further distribution throughout the West, and especially to its frequent comparison by learned scribes with Greek manuscripts. But for the present the greatest caution is required in dealing with this question. We possess indeed countless New Testament quotations in the Old Latin authors, —these have yet to be restored to their original form according to the best manuscripts; we possess, further, a rich store of fourth century and later manuscripts (both complete and fragmentary) of the pre-Hieronymite text— these also have to be thoroughly examined as to their age, birth-place (to be deduced by comparison with the quotations of the Fathers) and mutual relationship, with constant reference, too, to all the non-Latin texts. But first and foremost they require to be published in complete and authentic form. Then perhaps a history of the ʽItalaʼ may be written (for it is to be hoped that confusion will not be worse confounded by the sacrifice of this now wellestablished name to mistaken ideas of correctness) by the help of which the page still almost blank in the history of the Greek Text from the second to the fourth century may be satisfactorily filled. Remarkable instances of agreement between Latin and Oriental texts, as against all, or almost all, other authorities, show that this labour would be well rewarded, even—nay, especially —if it resulted in the definite destruction of certain exaggerated expectations.
The most valuable services in the investigation of the Itala and the Vulgate were rendered in the eighteenth century by G. Bianchini: (ʽEvangeliarium quadruplex latinae versionis antiquae,ʼ 1749) and P. Sabatier (ʽBibliorum S. latinae versiones antiquae,ʼ ed. 2, 1751), the latter an attempt at a complete restoration of the Old Latin translations by means of manuscripts and quotations of the Fathers. In modern times the work has been carried on in Germany by EH. Ranke, H. Rénsch, L. Ziegler, P. Corssen, J. Haussleiter, and E. von Dobschiitz; in Italy by G. Amelli; in England by J. Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury, W. Sanday, and H. J. White; in Norway by J. Belsheim; in France by-L. Delisle, P. Batiffol and S. Berger (in his excellent ʽHistoire de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siécles du moyen Age,ʼ 1893). A very fine edition of the Vulgate has been appearing in Oxford since 1889, entitled ʽNovum Testamentum latine secundum editionem 8. Hieronymi,ʼ edited by Wordsworth and White; but only the first volume is as yet completed; the ʽOld-Latin Biblical Texts,ʼ i-—iv. (Oxford, 1883, 1886, 1888 and 1897), contain also excellent reprints of Itala manuscripts. F. C. Burkitt, in his article on ʽThe Old-Latin and the Italaʼ in ʽTexts and Studies,ʼ iv. 3, 1896, asserts that what Augustine understood by Itala was Jeromeʼs revision of the Gospels, so that Itala and Vulgate would in reality mean the same thing; but sufficient evidence for this theory is not produced.
3. (c) The history of the Syriac New Testament is similar to that of the Latin. A translation rich in peculiar readings into the Syriac of Palestine must for the present be left out of account, because, in the first place, we are not certain of its age (the manuscripts do not go back beyond the eighth century), and, in the second, the equally important question has not yet been decided as to whether this Jerusalemic document is derived directly from a Greek manuscript or is remodelled from an Edessenic text, perhaps with reference to the Greek. The Syrian Vulgate has been commonly known since the ninth or tenth century by the name of ʽPeshitto,ʼ meaning ʽthe simple,ʼ probably either in the good sense of ʽnot tampered with,ʼ or in the deprecatory of ʽunlearned,ʼ i.e. not accurately grounded on the original, but possibly too in that of ἁπλῆ as opposed to hexaplaris. This, however, can only be ascertained from the history of the Old Testament, and indeed the Old Testament is the older portion of this translation. About the year 500 Bishop Philoxenus of Hierapolis caused the Peshitto to be completed and improved according to certain Greek examples by a Rural Bishop named Polycarp, because in it the New Testament differed very markedly from that of the Greek Bible, partly in the meaning of several individual passages and partly through the absence of four of the Catholic Epistles—an uncertainty which caused distress to the Monophysitie Syrians. But since even then there still remained much that was doubtful, the monk Thomas of Heraclea, in the year 616, finished the assimilation of the Syrian Bible to that of his Alexandrian brethren by a translation of unexampled accuracy, which succeeded in displacing the original translation of Philoxenus altogether, and the Peshitto in part, among the Monophysites. Or, at any rate, wherever the Peshitto was still used, it borrowed the books it had so long lacked from this later translation. But portions of the Peshitto have ʽbeen very freely incorporated with the ʽHeracleensisʼʼ as we now have it, both from marginal notes and from the memory of copyists; whereas the opposite process has not been nearly so frequent. In fact, since the beginning of the Middle Ages the Peshitto has been propagated with surprising fidelity. We can distinguish two classes of Peshitto manuscripts—one West-Syrian7 and the other East-Syrian8; within each of these the variants are not numerous, and the classes themselves do not differ very considerably. Thus by about 481 the Syrian Vulgate is as far advanced as the Latin at about 1200.
But the Peshitto of 431 has yet another translation behind it; the quotations of Aphraates and Ephraim9 from the New Testament differ so constantly and so characteristically from the wording of the Peshitto, in spite of a great deal of agreement which cannot be accidental, that we might take the present Peshitto simply as a Recension, based as far as possible on an emendated Greek text, of an older— probably third century—translation. This older text naturally has the greater interest for us. But most valuable of all would be the authentic text of the Syrian ʽDiatessaron,ʼ10 which springs from yet older sources, and which, moreover, as might have been expected, has strongly influenced the text of the separate Gospels. But we can scarcely hope for a complete reconstruction of this.
The publication of the actual Old Syrian New Testament was begun in 1858 by W. Cureton, after whom the translation of the Gospels—unfortunately preserved but in very fragmentary form—was named Syrus Curetonianus; another and perhaps still older text—known as the Sinaiticus from its having been discovered in a palimpsest belonging to the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai—has, however, very few omissions, and was published in 1894 by Bensly, R. Harris and Burkitt. These two texts have a number of peculiar readings in common, but the Sinaiticus alone contains some of almost greater interest; unfortunately, however, theological considerations bore a large part in the moulding of this latter text, and for the present we must beware of exaggerating its value as a witness. The history of the Syriac Text of the New Testament is, in fact, still more involved than that of the Latin.
Cf. the ʽEvangeliarium Hierosolymitanumʼ edited by P. de Lagarde in the ʽBibliotheca Syriaca,ʼ in which two manuscripts discovered on Mount Sinai by Agnes 8. Lewis and Margaret D. Gibson in 1892 and 1893 are made use of. Also ʽThe Palestinian Syriac Lectionary of the Gospelsʼ (1899: fragments of the Pauline Epistles and the Acts, belonging to the same type of translation), edited by G. William in the ʽAnecdota Oxoniensiaʼ (1893) and by Mrs. Lewis in ʽStudia Sinaitica,ʼ vi. 1897 For the study of the Peshitto the edition of the Dutch scholars Leusden and Schaaf, entitled ʽNovum Testamentum syriacumʼ (1709) is still indispensable; it has a Latin translation and is furnished with an array of variants.—The Heracleensis was edited by Joseph White between 1778 and 1803; the most important supplement to it is the ʽApocalypse of St. John in a Syriac Version hitherto unknown,ʼ edited by J. Gwynn (1897).—The Diatessaron is partially preserved in the Armenian translation of Ephraimʼs Commentary; see the Latin version by J. B. Aucher and G. Moesinger entitled ʽEvangelii concordantis Expositio facta a §. Ephraemoʼ (1876). The Arabic and Latin versions of the Diatessaron are less trustworthy. All the material is turned to account in Zahnʼs ʽForschungen zur Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons,ʼ i., 1881, and iv., 1891, pp. 225-46; see also his ʽGesch. des. N.T.lichen Kanons,ʼ vol. ii. pp. 530-56. The material of the Curetonianus has been made accessible to all by F. Bathgen in ʽEvangelienfragmente des griechischen Texts des Curetonʼschen Syrers wiederhergestelltʼ (1885); that of the Sinaiticus by A. Merx in ʽDie 4 kanon. Evglien. nach ihrem ältesten bekannten Texte; eine Übersetzung des syrischen im Sinaikloster gefundenen Palimpsesthandschriftʼ (1897). A list of the Variants in the Sinaiticus and the Curetonianus is given by C. Holzhey in ʽDie neuentdeckte Cod. Sinait. untersuchtʼ (1896). Fora criticism of the new text see Wellhausenʼs ʽNachrichten der Göttinger Gesellschaft der Wissenschaftʼ (1895, no. 1).—As yet no universal adoption of symbols to prevent vexatious confusion has been found practicable with the different Syriac texts.
1) E.g., with Justin, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.
2) E.g., Matt. xxiv. 4b-31 in Cyprianʼs Ad Fortun. 11.
3) Thus Origen and Chrysostom among the Greeks, Ambrosiaster and Jerome in the West, Ephraim among the Syrians.
4) See above, p. 594.
5) Theologische Literaturzeitung for 1899, p. 556.
6) See p. 451.
7) Melchitic, Jacobitic and Maronitic.
9) See pp. 539 fol.
10) See pp. 493 fol.