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proposition follows, every one must see at once: viz. how much it confirms the canonical authority of any book, that it is found there, and how much it contributes towards settling the true number of canonical books.
CHAP. XIX. Some objections against the antiquity of the Syriac translation
answered. IT may perhaps be judged necessary, that, before I leave this subject, I should give the reader some account of what has been said contrary to my hypothesis of the age of this version ; though I protest seriously, I know not myself, nor have yet met with any thing, that can with any force be objected. But to omit nothing in a matter of such consequence, I will propose all that I know has been or can be objected.
1. Mr. Walter, a learned bishop in Germany”, though he allow this version (what he calls omnem laudem antiquitatis) the greatest antiquity, is afraid to suppose it made either by the apostles, or in their time, or even in the times immediately succeeding them; because, says he, then it would be of divine authority.
But nothing can be more weak than this; for,
(1.) It does not at all follow, that it must be of divine authority, because it was made by some honest Christian in their time ; unless we suppose every writer of their time under the conduct of inspiration : much less does it follow, that it must be divine, because it was wrote by a person immediately after their time; for if so, then the writings of Papias, one of the weakest of authors, the writings attributed to Ignatius, Clemens, or any one, who had the good fortune to be born then, must have been divine. But,
(2.) If there were arguments sufficient to prove it made by the apostles, which is supposed in his reasoning, I cannot see this should be any reason for our not believing it to be so; viz. because then it would have divine authority; for by the same reason we may reject any one of those books, which are certainly known to be theirs.
n Officin. Bibl. §. 345.
2. He further urges, that it is not mentioned by Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Theophilus, Epiphanius, Jerome, Cyril, Theodoret, &c. who wrote in Syria or Egypt. To which it will be sufficient to answer, that most of them, if not all, were ignorant of the language, and so could not cite it, or had no occasion to cite it; which I may safely assert, till it is proved that they had. But, if
my memory do not fail me, bishop Walton, in his XIII. Prolegom. before the Polyglot, shews, that Chrysostom did cite it in his Homily on Heb. xiii.
3. Mr. Du Pin supposes it made in the fifth or sixth century, because of the addition to the Lord's Prayer, viz. the doxology, and the word eucharist is put there instead of bread, which, says he, does not savour much of antiquityo. The first of these shall be considered presently; the last of these objections, viz. about the word eucharist, is founded upon a very great mistake, which one would wonder so great a master of antiquity should be found guilty of; for, to mention no others, I have observed the word eúxapotia several times in this sense in no later a writer than Justin Martyrp, who, as has been proved, lived very near the apostles' time. Nor indeed is it at all strange the word should have been thus early used, when we consider, that the original of it was the apostles' using the verb cúxaprotéw to denote our Lord's action in celebrating this ordinance 9.
4. Grotius' (as well as Du Pin) imagines this version made after the use of liturgies came into the church; because in it, at the end of the Lord's Prayer, we read the doxology, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever; which, not being to be found in the most ancient Greek copies, they conclude was put into them after the use of liturgies, and this version made out of such a copy.
This objection, I confess, appears very plausible; but the force of it will be easily taken away, if it appear,
(1.) That the doxology is as old as the prayer itself.
pas• Hist. of the Canon of the New 9 See Matt. xxvi. 27. Luke xxii. Test. c. 4. §. 2.
19. P Apol. 2. pro Christ. p. 97, 98. et Annot. in Matt. vi, 13. Dialog. cum Tryph. Jud. p. 260, 261.
s Matt. vi. 13.
sage, if it be at all an interpolation, inserted into the Syriac version, as into the Greek copies.
(1.) The doxology seems to be as old as the Prayer itself: for,
1.) It is certainly in the best, most ancient, and almost all the Greek manuscripts in the world. Erasmus, though he disputes against the passaget, acknowledges he found it in all the Greek copies : and Brugensis assures us, it was extant in all, except one manuscript at Parisu.
2.) Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, and others of the Greek fathers, read the passage *.
3.) It appears manifestly cited by Clemens Romanus twice, in the end of his first Epistle to the Corinthians y.
4.) The genuineness of the passage seems to me fully demonstrated by that excellent observation of the most ingenious and truly learned Mr. Gregory?, out of Lucian's Philopatris. That merry writer having been ridiculing, according to his custom, the Christian religion and doctrines, (particularly the doctrine of the Trinity, that three should be one, and one three, &c.) in the end of the dialogue has these words : “ Say no
more of those people, but begin your prayer with (the word] “ Father, and end it with the famous hymna.” By this it is evident he must intend what we call the Lord's Prayer; and if so, then the foluóvulos gên can mean nothing but the doxology, and if so, the testimony is beyond exception, that the clause was annexed to the Prayer in Trajan's, or at least Marcus Antoninus's time.
5.) It is further urged by the same incomparable Mr. Gregory, that “our Lord gathered his form of prayer out of the “ tradition of the elders, i. e. the Jewish prayers,” and that “ this doxology was among them.” This he proves, by producing the Jewish prayers at length out of their books, which is more fully done by Dr. Lightfoot b, Drusiusc, and Ca
Annot. in loc.
Apud Glass. Philol. Sacr. l. 1. Tract. 2. §. 2.
2 See his Works, c. 38.
ε “Ωστε έασον τούτους, την ευχήν από Πατρός αρξάμενος και την πολυώνυμον ωöny eis tiños inibeís. Lucian. Philopatr. juxt. finem.
x Glass. loc. cit.
y On voit de semblables doxologies dans l'Epitre de Saint Clement aux Corinthiens. Le Clerc in N. Test. Gallic. ad loc.
b Hor. Heb. in Matt. vi. 7-13. c Præterit. in loc.
pellusd. Now hence it follows, the doxology must be as old as the Prayer; though I must own, I am apt to suspect, that though the words of our Lord's Prayer are in the Jewish Euchologies, yet that these were taken from the Christians, rather than the contrary. Nevertheless, they are of antiquity sufficient to prove the point in hand.
I cannot therefore but blame the rashness of Erasmus e, Bezaf, and others, who have upon slight grounds justled this passage out of scripture, and reckoned it a trifling addition to the text, as Erasmus in so many words calls it. All that I know can be objected is, that it is not at the end of this Prayer in Luke, nor in the oldest Latin copies, nor cited by the Latin fathers; for answer to which I shall only refer the reader to what is above said, to Glassius's Dissertation on this subject 8, and Dr. Whitby's Examen of Dr. Mill's Various Lections h.
I conclude then, that this doxology being as old as the Prayer itself, can be no argument against the antiquity of the Syriac version. But,
(2.) Suppose the doxology really an interpolation into the Greek copies, and not originally a part of the Prayer itself, the antiquity of the Syriac version will not be at all hurt hereby. It is true, the liturgies and forms of prayer, as this objection of Grotius, Du Pin, and, as I find since, of Dr. Mills, supposes, were of late use in the church; and if the Syriac translation was made after these, I am ready to grant, what these gentlemen contend for, that it was not made near the apostles' time. But let the use of liturgies be as late as they please, and the interpolation of the doxology even after them; yet, I say, it does not follow, that the Syriac version was made after, because we may as well suppose an interpolation of the Syriac, as the Greek text. I have the pleasure in this thought to join with father Simoni, who well argues thus: “No argument," says he, “ can be weaker than this is against the antiquity of “ the Syriac version. If this addition was inserted into the “ Greek copies, why may not the same thing be affirmed of
d Spicileg. in loc.
g Philol. Sacr.
“ the Syriac version, which might be revised or altered in that “ place conformable to the Greek copies; especially since the
Syrian churches had their liturgies from the Greeks ?”
Thus does not this objection any way detract from the antiquity of the Syriac version, nor contradict the truth of my hypothesis, that it was made in or near the apostles' time; of which I shall say now no more, but leave the subject with one or two, which seem to me important, corollaries.
Coroll. 1. The antiquity of the Syriac version wonderfully confirms the purity and incorruption of the printed copies of the New Testament. The connection of this is the agreement there is between them both; and this is not only very great, but even surprising to one who considers, that our present Greek was compiled according to the judgment and discretion of one single person, out of a great number of differing manuscripts. That there is such an agreement, I aver upon a long and close observation. Now that this agreement should be, and the places in which they agree be corrupted, is the most absurd supposition imaginable. Each must prove the other to be genuine; unless we can suppose a combination in the churches of the east and west to corrupt their copies in the same places, without any reason in the world. .
Coroll. 2. The Syriac version is of very great service in explaining many passages in the New Testament. He who will consider, that this was the language which our Saviour and his apostles spake to each other, the idiom of which is
preserved in the sacred writings; he who believes this interpreter to have lived among those who spake this language, and to have known himself the customs referred to in our Saviour's and his apostles' discourses, must needs conclude him a very good guide in the explication of them. I will not produce any instances here, it being not directly to my purpose; but do venture to say, that very many of the most obscure places in the New Testament are in this version, by the skill of the translator, and the idiom of the language, happily explained ; and so explained, as perhaps there was no other way of coming at the true meaning of the text. This is commonly observed, and
many instances of it are produced by Martini and others; and many more may be found in the writings of Casaubon,