While modern critics are occupied with the problem as to the origin of the Four Gospels, and with their so-called "discrepancies", we believe that MATTHEW, MARK, and JOHN got their respective Gospels where LUKE got his, viz., anothen = "from above" (Luke 1:3, see note there); and that the "discrepancies", so called, are the creation of the Commentators and Harmonists themselves.  The latter particularly; for when they see two similar events, they immediately assume they are identical; and when they read similar discourses of our Lord, they at once assume that they are discordant accounts of the same instead of seeing that they are repetitions, made at different times, under different circumstances, with different antecedents and consequents, which necessitate the employment of words and expressions so as to accord with the several occasions.  These differences thus become proofs of accuracy and perfection.

    The Bible claims to be the Word of God, coming from Himself as His revelation to man.  If these claims be not true, then the Bible cannot be even "a good book".  In this respect "the living Word" is like the written Word; for, if the claims of the Lord Jesus to be God were not true, He could not be even "a good man".  As to those claims, man can believe them, or leave them.  In the former case, he goes to the Word of God, and is overwhelmed with evidences of its truth; in the latter case, he abandons Divine revelation for man's imagination.

    In Divine revelation "holy men spake from God as they were moved (or borne along) by the Holy Spirit" (2Pet. 1:21).  The wind, as it is borne along among the trees, causes each tree to give forth its own peculiar sound, so that the experienced ear of a woodman could tell, even in the dark, the name of the tree under which he might be standing, and distinguish the creaking elm from the rustling aspen.  Even so, while each "holy man of God" is "moved" by One Spirit, the individuality of the inspired writers is preserved.  Thus we may explain the medical words of "Luke the beloved physician" used in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles (Col. 4:14).

    As to Inspiration itself, we have no need to resort to human theories, or definitions, as we have a Divine definition in Acts 1:16 which is all-sufficient.  "This scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas."  The reference is to Ps. 41:9.  It is "by the mouth" and "by the hand" of holy men that God has spoken to us.  Hence it was David's voice and David's pen, but the words were not David's words.  Nothing more is required to settle the faith of all believers; but it requires Divine operation to convince unbelievers; hence, it is vain to depend on human arguments.

    With regard to this, it is generally assumed that, because it comes to us in Greek, the N.T. ought to be in classical Greek, and is then condemned because it is not!  Classical Greek was at its prime some centuries before; and in the time of our Lord there were several reasons why the N.T. was not written in classical Greek.

    1. The writers were Hebrews; and thus, while the language is Greek, the thoughts and idioms are Hebrew.  These idioms or Hebraisms are generally pointed out in the notes of The Companion Bible.  If the Greek of the N.T. be regarded as an inspired translation from Hebrew or Aramaic originals, most of the various readings would be accounted for and understood.

    2. Then we have to remember that in the time of our Lord there were no less than four languages in use in Palestine, and their mixture formed the "Yiddish" of those days.

      1. There was HEBREW, spoken by Hebrews;
      2. There was GREEK, which was spoken in Palestine by the educated classes generally;
      3. There was LATIN, the language of the Romans, who then held possession of the land;
      4. And there was ARAMAIC, the language of the common people.

      Doubtless our Lord spoke all these (for we never read of His using an interpreter).  In the synagogues He would necessarily use Hebrew; to Pilate He would naturally answer in Latin; while to the common people He would doubtless speak in Aramaic.

    3. ARAMAIC was Hebrew, as it was developed during and after the Captivity in Babylon (*1).  There were two branches, known roughly as Eastern (which is Chaldee), and Western (Mesopotamian, or Palestinian).

      This latter was known also as Syriac; and the Greeks used "Syrian" as an abbreviation for Assyrian.  This was perpetuated by the early Christians.  Syriac flourished till the seventh century A.D.  In the eighth and ninth it was overtaken by the Arabic; and by the thirteenth century it had disappeared.  We have already noted that certain parts of the O.T. are written in Chaldee (or Eastern Aramaic) :  viz. Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan. 2:4-7:28.  Cp. also 2Kings 18:26.

      Aramaic is of three kinds :--
      1. Jerusalem. 
      2. Samaritan. 
      3. Galilean.

      Of these, Jerusalem might be compared with High German, and the other two with Low German.
      There are many Aramaic words preserved in the Greek of the N.T., and most of the commentators call attention to a few of them; but, from the books cited below, we are able to present a more or less complete list of the examples to which attention is called in the notes of The Companion Bible (*2).

      1. Abba (*3).  Mark 14:36.  Rom. 8:15.  Gal. 4:6.
      2. Ainias.  Acts 9:33, 34.
      3. Akeldama.  Acts 1:19.  Akeldamach (LA).  Acheldamach (T Tr.).  Hacheldamach (WH).  See Ap. 161. I.  Aram. Hakal dema', or Hakal demah.
      4. Alphaios.  Matt. 10:3.  Mark 2:14; 3:18.  Luke 6:15.  Acts 1:13.
      5. Annas.  Luke 3:2.  John 18:13, 24.  Acts 4:6.
      6. Bar-abbas.  Matt. 27:16, 17, 20, 21, 26.  Mark 15:7, 11, 15.  Luke 23:18.  John 18:40, 40.
      7. Bartholomaios.  Matt. 10:3.  Mark 3:18.  Luke 6:14.  Acts 1:13.
      8. Bar-iesous.  Acts 13:6.
      9. Bar-iona.  Matt. 16:17.  See No. 27, below.
      10. Bar-nabas.  Acts 4:36, &c.  1Cor. 9:6.  Gal. 2:1, 9, 13.  Col. 4:10.
      11. Bar-sabas.  Acts 1:23; 15:22 (Barsabbas all the texts).
      12. Bar-timaios.  Mark 10:46.
      13. Beel-zeboul.  Matt. 10:25; 12:24, 27.  Mark 3:22.  Luke 11:15, 18, 19.
      14. Bethesda.  John 5:2.  (Bethzatha, T WH; Bethsaida, or Bethzather, L EH Rm.)
      15. Bethsaida.  Matt. 11:21.  Mark 6:45; 8:22.  Luke 9:10; 10:13.  John 1:44; 12:21.
      16. Bethphage.  Matt. 21:1.  Mark 11:1.  Luke 19:29.
      17. Boanerges.  Mark 3:17.  (Boanerges, L T Tr. A WH.)
      18. Gethsemanei.  Matt. 26:36.  Mark 14:32.
      19. Golgotha.  Matt. 27:33.  Mark 15:22.  John 19:17.
      20. Eloi.  Mark 15:34.
      21. Ephphatha.  Mark 7:34.
      22. Zakchaios.  Luke 19:2, 5, 8.
      23. Zebedaios.  Matt. 4:21, 21; 10:2; 20:20; 26:37; 27:56.  Mark 1:19, 10; 3:17; 10:35.  Luke 5:10.  John 21:2.
      24. Eli.  Matt. 27:46.  (Elei (voc.), T WH m.; Eloi WH.)
      25. Thaddaios.  Matt. 10:3.  Mark 3:18.
      26. Thomas.  Matt. 10:3.  Mark 3:18.  Luke 6:15.  John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24, 26, 27, 28, 29; 21:2.  Acts 1:13.
      27. Ioannes.  John 1:42; 21:15, 16, 17.  (Ioanes, Tr. WH.)  See Bar-iona.  (Iona being a contraction of Ioana.)
      28. Kephas.  John 1:42.  1Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5.  Gal. 2:9.
      29. Kleopas.  Luke 24:18.
      30. Klopas.  John 19:25.
      31. Lama.  Matt. 27:46.  Mark 15:34.  (Lema, L.  Lema, T Tr. A WH).
      32. Mammonas.  Matt. 6:24.  Luke 16:9, 11, 13.  (Mamonas, L T Tr. A WH.)
      33. Maran-atha.  1Cor. 16:22  ( = Our Lord, come!).  Aram. Marana' tha'.
      34. Martha.  Luke 10:38, 40, 41.  John 11:1, &c.
      35. Mattaios.  Matt. 9:9; 10:3.  Mark 3:18.  Luke 6:15.  Acts 1:13, 26.  (All the critics spell it Maththaios.)
      36. Nazareth (-et).  Matt. 2:23; 4:13 (Nazara, T Tr. A WH); 21:11.  Mark 1:9.  Luke 1:26; 2:4, 39, 51; 4:16 (Nazara.  Omit the Art. L T Tr. A WH and R.)  John 1:45, 46.  Acs 10:38.
      37. Pascha.  Matt. 26:2, 17, 18, 19.  Mark 14:1, 12, 12, 14, 16.  Luke 2:41; 22:1, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15.  John 2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55, 55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39; 19:14.  Acts 12:4.  1Cor. 5:7.  Heb. 11:28.  The Hebrew is pesak.
      38. Rabboni, Rabbouni (Rabbonei, WH).  Mark 10:51.  John 20:16.
      39. Raka.  Matt. 5:22.  (Reyka' is an abbreviation of Reykan.)
      40. Sabachthani.  Matt. 27:46.  Mark 15:34.  (Sabachthanei, T Tr. WH.)
      41. Sabbata (Aram. sabbata').  Heb. shabbath.  Matt. 12:1, 5, 10, 11, 12, &c.
      42. Tabitha.  Acts 9:36, 40.
      43. Talitha kumi.  Mark 5:41.  (In galilaean Aramaic it was talitha' kumi.)
      44. Hosanna (in Aram. = Save us; in Heb. = Help us).  Matt. 21:9, 9, 15.  Mark 11:9, 10.  John 12:13.

    Besides  the Greek text mention ought to be made of these, although it concerns the interpretation of the text rather than the text itself.  We have only to think of the changes which have taken place in our own English language during the last 300 years, to understand the inexpressible usefulness of documents written on the material called papyrus, and on pieces of broken pottery called ostraca, recently discovered in Egypt and elsewhere.  They are found in the ruins of ancient temples and houses, and in the rubbish heaps of towns and villages, and are of great importance.

    They consist of business-letters, love-letters, contracts, estimates, certificates, agreements, accounts, bills-of-sale, mortgages, school-exercises, receipts, bribes, pawn-tickets, charms, litanies, tales, magical literature, and every sort of literary production.

    These are of inestimable value in enabling us to arrive at the true meaning of many words (used in the time of Christ) which were heretofore inexplicable.  Examples may be seen in the notes on "scrip" (Matt. 10:10.  Mark 6:8.  Luke 9:3); "have" (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16.  Luke 6:24.  Philem. 15); "officer" (Luke 12:58); "presseth" (Luke 16:16); "suffereth violence" (Matt. 11:12), &c. (*4)

  5. THE MANUSCRIPTS of the Greek New Testament dating from the fourth century A.D. are more in number that those of any Greek or Roman author, for these latter are rare, and none are really ancient; while those of the N.T. have been set down by Dr. Scrivener at not less than 3,600, a few containing the whole, and the rest various parts, of the N.T.  The study of these from a literary point of view has been called "Textual Criticism", and it necessarily proceeds altogether on documentary evidence; while "Modern Criticism" introduces the element of human opinion and hypothesis.

    Man has never made a proper use of God's gifts.  God gave men the sun, moon, and stars for signs and for seasons, to govern the day, and the night, and the years.  But no one to-day can tell us what year (Anno Mundi) we are actually living in!  In like manner God gave us His Word, but man, compassed with infirmity, has failed to preserve and transmit it faithfully.  The worst part of this is that man charges God with the result, and throws the blame on Him for all the confusion due to his own want of care!

    The Old Testament had from very early times official custodians of the Hebrew text.  Its Guilds of Scribes, Nakdanim, Sopherim, and Massorites elaborated plans by which the original text had been preserved with the greatest possible care (see Ap. 93). (*5)  But though, in this respect, it had advantages which the Greek text of the N.T. never had, it nevertheless shows many signs of human failure and infirmity.  Man has only to touch anything to leave his mark upon it.  Hence the MSS. of the Greek Testament are to be studied to-day with the utmost care.  The materials are :--

    1. The MSS. themselves in whole or in part.
    2. Ancient versions made from them in other languages. (*6)
    3. Citations made from them by early Christian writers long before the oldest MSS. we possess (see Ap. 168).

    As to the MSS. themselves we must leave all palaeographical matters aside (such as have to do with paper, ink, and caligraphy), and confine ourselves to what is material.

    1. These MSS. consist of two great classes :  (a) Those written in Uncial (or capital) letters; and (b) those written in "running hand", called Cursives.  The former are considered to be the more ancient, although it is obvious and undeniable that some cursives may be transcripts of uncial MSS. more ancient than any existing uncial MS.  This will show that we cannot depend altogether upon textual criticism.

    2. It is more to our point to note that what are called "breathings" (soft or hard) and the accents are not found in any MSS. before the seventh century (unless they have been added by a later hand).

    3. Punctuation also, as we have it to-day, is entirely absent.  The earliest two MSS. (known as B, the MS. in the Vatican and a the Sinaitic MS., now at St. Petersburg) have only an occasional dot, and this on a level with the top of the letters.  The text reads on without any divisions between letters or words until MSS. of the ninth century, when (in Cod. Augiensis, now in Cambridge) there is seen for the first time a single point which separates each word.  This dot is placed in the middle of the line, but is often omitted.

      None of our modern marks of punctuation are found until the ninth century, and then only in Latin versions and some cursives.  From this it will be seen that the punctuation of all modern editions of the Greek text, and of all versions made from it, rests entirely on human authority, and has no weight whatever in determining or even influencing the interpretation of a single passage.  This refers also to the employment of capital letters, and to all the modern literary refinements of the present day (*7).

    4. Chapters also were alike unknown.  The Vatican MS. makes a new section where there is an evident break in the sense.  These are called titloe, or kephalaia (*8).  There are none in  a (Sinaitic), see above.  They are not found till the fifth century in Codex A (British Museum), Codex C (Ephraemi, Paris), and in Codex R (Nitriensis, British Museum) of the sixth century.

      They are quite foreign to the original texts.  For a long time they were attributed to HUGUES DE ST. CHER (Huego de Sancto Caro), Provincial to the Dominicans in France, and afterwards a Cardinal in Spain, who died in 1263.  But it is now generally believed that they were made by STEPHEN LANGTON, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1227.  It follows therefore that our modern chapter divisions also are destitute of MS. authority.
    5. As to verses.  In the Hebrew O.T. these were fixed and counted for each book by the Massorites; but they are unknown in any MSS. of the Greek N.T.  There are none in the first printed text in The Complutensian Polyglot (1437-1517), or in the first printed Greek text (Erasmus, in 1516), or in R. Stephens's first edition of 1550.  Verses were first introduced in Stephens's smaller (16mo) edition, published in 1551 at Geneva.  These also are therefore destitute of any authority.

    Many printed editions followed the first efforts of ERASMUS.  Omitting the Complutensian Polyglot mentioned above, the following is a list of all those of any importance :--

    1. Erasmus (1st Edition) 1516
    2. Stephens 1546-9
    3. Beza 1624
    4. Elzevir 1624
    5. Griesbach 1774-5
    6. Scholz 1830-6
    7. Lachmann 1831-50
    8. Tischendorf 1841-72
    9. Tregelles 1856-72
    10. Alford 1862-71
    11. Wordsworth 1870
    12. Revisers' Text 1881
    13. Westcott and Hort 1881-1903
    14. Scrivener 1886
    15. Weymouth 1886
    16. Nestle 1904

    All the above are "Critical Texts", and each editor has striven to produce a text more accurate than that of his predecessors.
    Beza (No. 3 above) and the Elzevir (No. 4) may be considered as being the so-called "Received Text" which the translators of the Authorized Version used in 1611.

    In the notes of The Companion Bible we have not troubled the general English reader with the names of distinctive characters or value of the several MANUSCRIPTS.  We have thought it more practical and useful to give the combined judgment of six of the above editors; viz. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort, and the Greek Text as adopted by the Revisers of the English N.T., 1881, noting the agreement or disagreement of the Syriac Version therewith.  (See note 3, p. 136.)

    A vast number of various readings are merely different spellings of words, or a varying order of two or more words.  These are not noticed in The Companion Bible, as they do not affect the sense.  There are many more, consisting of cases of nouns and inflections of verbs, &c., but these are noticed only when they are material to the interpretation.  All are noted in cases where it really matters, but these are not numerous.  A few are the subject of separate Appendixes.  The number of these Appendixes may be found under the respective passages, such as Matt. 16:18.  Mark 16:9-20.  Acts 7:17.  Rom. 16:25.  1Pet. 3:19.  Rev. 1:10.

    The six critical Greek texts are indicated in the notes by their initial letters (see below).  Where the reading is placed within brackets by the respective editors, the initial letter itself is also placed within brackets, and it is followed by "m" were the reading is placed in the margin.  It will thus be seen which of the above editors retain, insert, or omit a particular reading; and which of these expresses his doubts by placing it within brackets or in the margin.  To enable the reader to form his own judgment as to the value of any particular reading, it remains only to give a brief statement of the principles on which the respective editors (*9) framed their texts.

    GRIESBACH (*9) based his text on the theory of Three Recensions of the Greek manuscripts, regarding the collective witness of each Recension as one; so that a Reading having the authority of all three was regarded by him as genuine.  It is only a theory, but it has a foundation of truth, and will always retain a value peculiarly its own.

    LACHMANN (L.), disregarding these Recensions, professed to give the text based only on the evidence of witnesses up to the end of the fourth century.  All were taken into account up to that date; and all were discarded after it, whether uncial MSS., or cursives, or other documentary evidence.  He even adopted Readings which were palpably errors, on the simple ground that they were the best attested Readings up to the fourth century.

    TISCHENDORF (T.) followed more of less the principles laid down by Lachmann, but not to the neglect of other evidence as furnished by Ancient Versions and Fathers.  In his eighth edition, however, he approaches nearer to Lachmann's principles.

    TREGELLES (Tr.) produced his text on principles which were substantially the same as Lachmann, but he admits the evidence of uncial manuscripts down to the seventh century, and includes a careful testing of a wide circle of other authorities.  The chief value of his text lies not only in this, but in its scrupulous fidelity and accuracy; and it is probably the best and most exact presentation of the original text ever published.

    ALFORD (A.) constructed his text, he says, "by following, in all ordinary cases, the united or preponderating evidence of the most ancient authorities."  When these disagree he takes later evidence into account, and to a very large extent.  Where this evidence is divided he endeavours to discover the cause of the variation, and gives great weight to internal probability; and, in some cases, relies on his own independent judgment.  At any rate he is fearlessly honest.  He says, "that Reading has been adopted which, on the whole, seemed most likely to have stood in the original text.  Such judgments are, of course, open to be questioned."  This necessarily deprives his text of much of its weight; though where he is in agreement with the other editors, it adds to the weight of the evidence as a whole.

    WESTCOTT AND HORT (WH).  In this text, the classification of MSS. into "families" is revived, with greater elaboration than that of Griesbach.  It is prepared with the greatest care, and at present holds a place equal in estimation to that of Tregelles.  Where all these authorities agree, and are supported by the Syriac Version, the text may be regarded as fairly settled, until further MS. evidence is forthcoming.  But it must always be remembered that some cursive MSS. may be copies of uncial MSS. more ancient than any at present known.  This fact will always lessen the value of the printed critical editions.

    The Revisers of the N.T. of 1881 "did not deem it within their province to construct a continuous and complete Greek text."  They adopted, however, a large number of readings which deviated from the text presumed to underlie the Authorized Version.  In 1896 and edition known as the Parallel N.T. Greek and English, was published by the Clarendon Press for both Universities.  In the Cambridge edition the Textus Receptus is given, with the Revisers' alternative readings, in the margin.  In the Oxford edition, the Revisers give their Greek with the readings of the Textus Receptus in the margin.

(*1)  It is so called because it was the language of Aram, or Mesopotamia, which is Greek for Aram Naharaim = Aram between the two rivers (Gen. 24:10.  Deut. 23:4.  Judg. 3:8.  Ps. 60, title).  It is still called "The Island".  There were other Arams beside this :  (2) Aram Dammasek (north-east of Palestine), or simply Aram, because best know to Israel (2Sam. 8:5.  Isa. 7:8; 17:3.  Amos 1:5); (3) Aram Zobah (not far from Damascus and Hamath), under Saul and David (1Sam. 14:47.  2Sam. 8:3); (4) Aram Beth-rehob (N. Galilee, Ap. 169), 2Sam. 10:6; (5) Aram Maachah (1Chron. 19:6, 7); (6) Aram Geshur (2Sam. 15:8).

(*2)  Further information may be found in the following works :--
  • AD. NEUBAUER :  On the dialects spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, in Studia Biblica ... by members of the University of Oxford.  Vol. I, pp. 39-74.  Oxford, 1885.
  • F.W.J. DILLOO :  De moedertaal venounzen heere Jesus Christus en van zyne Apostelen, p. 70.  Amsterdam, 1886.
  • ARNOLD MEYER :  Jesu Mutter-Sprache.  Leipzig, 1896.
  • G. DALMAN :  Die Worte Jesu, mit Berucksichtigung des nathkanonischen judischen Schrifttums und der aram. Sprache erortert.  Vol. I.  Leipzig, 1898.  Also Grammatik des judisch-palastinischen Aramaisch.  2.  Auflage.  Leipzig, 1905.  In the Index of Greek words.

(*3)  The order of the words is that of the Greek alphabet.

(*4)  The examples given in the notes are from Deissmann's Light from the Ancient East, 1910; New Light on the New Testament, 1901; Bible Studies, 1901.  Milligan's Selections from the Greek Papyri, &c.  Cambridge Press, 1910.

(*5)  Ancient copies of the Septuagint reveal two other orders :  that of Diorthotes (or Corrector) and the Antiballon (or Comparer).  But these attended chiefly to "clerical" and not textual errors.

(*6)  Of these, the Aramaic (or Syriac), i.e. the Peshitto, is the most important, ranking as superior in authority to the oldest Greek manuscripts, and dating from as early as A.D. 170.  Though the Syrian Church was divided by the Third and Fourth General Councils in the fifth century, into three, and eventually into yet more, hostile communions, which have lasted for 1,400 years with all their bitter controversies, yet the same version is read to-day in the rival churches.  Their manuscripts have flowed into the libraries of the West, "yet they all exhibit a text in every important respect the same."  Pehsitto means a version simple and plain, without the addition of allegorical or mystical glosses. Hence we have give this authority, where needed throughout our notes, as being of more value than the modern critical Greek texts; and have noted (for the most part) only those "various readings" with which the Syriac agrees. See § VII, below.

(*7)  Such as are set forth in the Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford.

(*8)  There are sixty-eight in Matthew; forty-eight in Mark; eighty-three in Luke; and eighteen in John.

(*9)  We include Griesbach's principles, though his edition is not included in the notes of The Companion Bible.

Appendix List

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