The Exegetical Punctuation Of The New Testament -- By: Charles F. Schaeffer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 025:100 (Oct 1868)
Article: The Exegetical Punctuation Of The New Testament
Author: Charles F. Schaeffer

The Exegetical Punctuation Of The New Testament1

Rev. Charles F. Schaeffer

The term “Biblical Criticism,” which has been introduced into theological science, has not yet received a definition that is marked by distinctness and precision, or that has been unanimously adopted by theological writers. In the very comprehensive sense in which some German authors employ it (e.g. Ebrard, in Herzog’s Encyk. 8. 90 ff.), the term embraces all the matter which belongs respectively to Isagogics or Canonics (Hagenbach, Encyk. §§ 46, 47), and to Apologetics. If this wide extent of signification be assigned to the term, it designates a comprehensive department of theological science, to which would belong all the investigations that are intended to demonstrate the authenticity,

the genuineness, the integrity, or uncorrupted preservation, and the credibility of the sacred writings. In no sense, however, does the term “biblical criticism,” in its genuine character, assume the office of deciding what the contents of these writings ought to be; it confines itself, even in this wide sense, to the task of ascertaining which of a certain class of ancient writings are properly component parts of the canon, what were the precise expressions of the writer, etc. When it has determined such points, it does not attempt to decide judicially on the competence of any inspired man; hence, its office simply is to exhibit as correctly as possible the true text, as it proceeded from the hand of a sacred writer. The term, however, may be employed in a restricted sense, and refer chiefly to the text of the books which are acknowledged to be canonical. In this case it discusses mainly the subject of ancient manuscripts, various readings, versions, early printed editions, and kindred topics, and it designs to determine by historical and other arguments the true meaning of the writer, as far as the editor can exhibit it to the eye in a printed form.

The System Of Punctuation

It cannot be doubted that the subject of the Punctuation of the text legitimately belongs to textual biblical criticism. As the masoretic points were attached to the text of the Old Testament at a comparatively late period (after the sixth century of the Christian era, Keil, Einl. in Alt. Test. §§ 169, 210; Herzog, Encyk. ix. 133), and were intended to preserve or define the exact meaning of the original; so, too, the marks of punctuation with which we are now familiar, were introduced into the text of the New Testament; and in many cases the sense of the original is materially affected by them. Although the autographs or original manuscripts of the sacred writers have long since perished, it...

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