A Criticism Of The Huntington Palimpsest -- By: E. S. Buchanan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 075:297 (Jan 1918)
Article: A Criticism Of The Huntington Palimpsest
Author: E. S. Buchanan


A Criticism Of The Huntington Palimpsest

E. S. Buchanan

New York City.

In the Journal of Theological Studies for January and April, 1917, my friend Canon Christopher Wordsworth in a thoughtful review of the text of the newly-found Palimpsest makes the suggestion that it represents a paraphrase or tar-gum of the original text. Without closing inquiry or pronouncing definitely on the documentary evidence, Canon Wordsworth says: —

“To one, like myself, brought up and accustomed to recognize the Church as a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, and accustomed in either of our current English versions [A.V. and R.V.] interpreted by the Creeds and Liturgy, as we have them in the providence of God, to find a sufficient presentment of the Divine Gospel message, the impression left by a perusal of three Gospel lections from the Huntington Palimpsest, probably suggests such a question as the following: ‘Can this text be the production of a Christian orthodox teacher, familiar himself with some Old-Latin text in character approximate to the Corbey MS., only in his zeal to deliver the message in a form suited, as he believed, to witness for the Catholic faith against the tide of threatening heresy, he freely targums it, regardless of the letter? ‘“

The answer to this suggestion is as follows: —

1. At the end of St. John’s Gospel we find these words: “Here endeth the Gospel according to John, a Disciple of the Lord Jesus. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, beginneth the Acts of the Disciples.” So likewise at the end of St. James there is the subscription, “Here endeth the Epistle of James, a Disciple of the Lord Jesus. Beginneth the Epistle of Peter, a Disciple of the Lord Jesus.” (There is only one Epistle of Peter found in the Palimpsest.) It is unbelievable that a Christian would palm off his own meditations as the Gospel (or as the Epistle) of a Disciple who saw the glory of the Son of God. Heretics in the first three centuries invented many books of pseudo-Scripture and attributed them to Disciples of Christ; but no orthodox Christian follower of the God of truth and love could be guilty of such forgery.

2. The support here and there given to the Palimpsest text not only by Beatus but also by Irish texts, and also by such venerable MSS. as the Codex Veronensis of the late fourth century, preclude the possibility of its being a one-man text that first saw the light in the dark ages in Spain. If the Palimpsest had been invented instead of copied when it was prepared in the ninth century, it could not have been retroactive and have thrown back some of its choicest readings (such as St.

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