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The description must be divided into two periods. The op.e commences with the first edition of the Greek Testament, and ends with the Elzevir edition of 1624: the other includes the critical editions, which have appeared from that time to the present. The first period is limited by the Elzevir edition of 1624, because this edition forms an epocha in the history of the Greek text. After having fluctuated, during more than a century in the preceding editions, the Greek text acquired in this edition a consistency, which it has retained to the present day. In this edition was established the Greek text, which is now in daily use, and is known by the name of the Textus receptus. The description therefore of the first period will record the gradual formation of this text, and will furnish an estimate of its excellences or defects. Nor will the description of the second period be less important: for it will contain the rise and progress of that critical apparatus, which now enables us to form a more accurate text, than it was possible to form at an earlier period.
The first printed edition of any part of the Greek Testament, is one by Aldus Manutius, who printed the six first chapters of St. John's Gospel at Venice in 1504; and in 1512 the whole of St. John's Guspel was printed at Tubingen in Suabia. But these impressions, though it is proper to mention them, as the first of their kind, can now be regarded only as literary curiosities. They had no influence on subsequent editions, and therefore are of no importance in a critical history of the Greek text, ^ ,
The first printed edition of the whole Greek Tes- * (anient is that, which is contained in the Complutensian Polyglot, so called from Complutum, now Alcala, in Spain, where it was printed. The volume containing the Greek Testament, which is accompanied with the Latin Vulgate in a parallel column, is dated the 10th of January 1514. The whole was conducted under the auspices of Cardinal Ximenes, archbishop of Toledo, who employed for that purpose some of the most distinguished Hebrew and Greek scholars of that age, and who spared neither pains nor expense, in procuring Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
The Greek manuscripts, which were used for this work, are not particularly described by the editors, but are all included under one general character,
namely, " exemplaria vetustissima simul et emen
datissima." But as the term " ancient" is only a relative expression; as the accuracy of a manuscript, in its critical sense, depends not on the precision of its orthographical execution, but on the genuineness of its readings; and as all editors are disposed to enhance the value of their materials, the assertion of the Complutensian editors, in respect to theiu manuscripts, requires the confirmation of internal evidence. But thejnanuscripts themselves, which were deposited in the university library at Alcala, are no longer in existence. And if manuscripts were sent to them by Pope Leo the Tenth, as the editors assert, from the Vatican Library, no one knows, at present, what VJ they are, or even where they must be sought.
The only means therefore of ascertaining the qual
ity of the Greek manuscript or manuscripts, from which the Complutensian Greek Testament was printed, are those, which are afforded by the evidence of the Complutensian text itself. And this internal evidence directly contradicts the assertion of the editors in respect to the antiquity of their manuscripts. For wherever modern Greek manuscripts, manuscripts written in the thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth centuries, differ from the most ancient Greek manuscripts, and from the quotations of the early Greek fathers, in such characteristic readings the Complutensian Greek Testament almost invariably agrees with the modem, in opposition to the ancient manuscripts. There cannot be a doubt therefore, that the Complutensian text was formed from modern manuscripts alone.
The only cause of hesitation on this subject was removed about twenty years ago. As the editors had boasted of valuable manuscripts, sent to them from the Vatican Library, it was formerly thought not improbable, that the very ancient manuscript marked in the Vatican Library 1209, and distinguished by the name of The Vatican Manuscript, was one of the number. And as only imperfect extracts from this manuscript had been printed till very lately, we had not sufficient data to ascertain the' question. But in 1788 Professor Birch of Copenhagen published, in his edition of the four Gospels, complete extracts from this manuscript. Now since the Complutensian is the first printed edition of the Greek Testament, since the text of this edition has had great influence on sub
sequent editions, and it is therefore important to determine the value of its readings, I have taken the pains to collate the Complutensian edition with those extracts from the Vatican manuscript; but have never found in it a reading peculiar to that manuscript. That manuscript therefore could not have been used for the Complutensian edition: for, if it had, the influence of such a manuscript must have been sometimes apparent. And even were this conclusion erroneous, the result would be still the same: for, if it were true, that the Complutensian editors had the use of the Vatican manuscript, yet, if they never followed it, except where it harmonized with modern manuscripts, the effect is the same, as if they had never used it at all. Whatever zeal then may have been displayed, both by Cardinal Ximenes and by the learned men who assisted him, their edition contributed little or nothing toward the restoring of the purity of the Greek text.
The other principal editors of the sixteenth century were Erasmus, Robert Stephens, and Beza. But a description of their editions, and of the gradual formation of that text, which is now in common use, must be deferred to the following Lecture.
In the preceding Lecture was given an account * of the Complutensian edition of the Greek Testament, as far as it could be collected from the imperfect data, which now remain. The next edition, which demands our attention, is the first edition by Erasmus, of which we are enabled to give a much more minute description, because we are much better acquainted, both with the materials, of which it was composed, and with the manner, in which those materials were applied. A minute description of this edition is likewise of much greater consequence, as its influence on subsequent editions was much greater, than that of the Complutensian. It was printed at Basel, or Bale, in Switzerland in 1516, and was the first-published, though not the first-printed edition of the Greek Testament.
The Greek manuscripts, which were used by Erasmus for this edition, amounted to four, heside a manuscript of Theophylact, containing his commentary on the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles, accompanied with the Greek text. Three of those four manuscripts are still preserved in the Public Library at Bale; but the fourth is at present unknown. . It must not however be supposed, that those four man