Rival Editions Of The Text Of The New Testament As Contained In The Codex Vaticanus -- By: T. J. Conant

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:104 (Oct 1869)
Article: Rival Editions Of The Text Of The New Testament As Contained In The Codex Vaticanus
Author: T. J. Conant

Rival Editions Of The Text Of The New Testament As
Contained In The Codex Vaticanus1

Prof. T. J. Conant

In the three publications named below, we have at length, after so long delay and so many fruitless attempts, a quite satisfactory representation of the text of the celebrated Vatican manuscript, so far as it can be truly exhibited in a mere transcription and with moveable types. The collation by Bartolocci (1669), and the two procured by Bentley (about 1720 and 1726), and the partial one by Birch (1788), left much uncertainty in regard to its text. The professed publication of the text of the whole MS. by Cardinal Mai (five vols. 4to., 1857; New Testament, 2d ed., 1 vol. 8vo., 1859) disappointed expectation, and added little to the knowledge of its text. The illiberal jealousy of its guardians has long imposed such restrictions on its use, that no thorough and satisfactory collation could be made. Only here and there could a disputed reading be verified, during

a brief examination of a few minutes, or at most of a few hours. Much had to be inferred from the silence of collators; and in many cases it still remained uncertain, whether a reading, noted as a variation from the received text, was by the first hand, or by that of a subsequent and even very modern corrector. Of more minute, and yet, for purposes of criticism, most essential characteristics of the manuscript, very little was known.

In 1866, early in February, Prof. Tischendorf repaired to Rome, with letters from men of distinction in the diplomatic service, in the hope of obtaining permission from Pius IX. to publish, at his own expense, the text of the new Testament. This was refused; the Pontiff now reserving to himself the honor of giving the long withheld treasure to the Christian world. With much difficulty, by the promise of assistance in the task of the Roman editors, and of the use of the types cast for the so-called facsimile of the Sinaitic text, he obtained access to the MS. for a few hours, merely to verify disputed readings; with the understanding that he should make no such use of it as would lessen the value of the Pontiff’s projected publication. Though his time was very limited, he determined to examine, ad literam, the whole text of the New Testament. For this task he had special facilities; having with him Mai’s second edition of the New Testament, where were already noted all passages about which there was still any doubt, either from discrepancies in previous collations, or from disagreement with the Codex Sinaiticus. Moreover, his long and varied experience in deciphering ancient MSS., and a quick eye, trained to detect the most minute peculi...

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