The Traditional Text of the Holy
By Dean John William Burgon
About the Author
By reading this book, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, you will have powerful evidence to refute the false notion that the traditional received text was not present until after the fifth or sixth centuries. You will see that the traditional received text was from the beginning. It was from the very New Testament autographs and was copied and re-copied by hand accurately from the beginning until the invention of printing when it was made permanent.
This present book is another of Dean John William Burgon's masterpieces. It is loaded, as are all of his books, with overwhelming evidence from manuscripts, lectionaries, ancient versions, and church fathers. Dean Burgon does three things in this volume:
(1) He outlines his seven tests of Scriptural truth;
(2) He proves the superiority of the traditional received text; and
(3) He shows the inferiority of Westcott and Hort's favorite manuscripts-Vatican and Sinai, that is, B and Aleph.
His arguments are powerful and convincing! You will want to order several copies of this book and distribute it widely! The Traditional Text has now been traced, from the earliest years of Christianity of which any record of the New Testament remains, to the period when it was enshrined in a large number of carefully-written manuscripts in a main accord with one another. Proof has been given from the writings of the early Fathers, that the idea that the Traditional Text arose in the middle of the fourth century is a mere hallucination, prompted by only a partial acquaintance with those writings. And witness to the existence and predominance of that form of Text has been found in the Peshitto Version and in the best of the Latin Versions, which themselves also have been followed back to the beginning of the second century or the end of the first.
We have also discovered the truth, that the settlement of the Text, thought mainly made in the fourth century, was not finally accomplished till the eighth century at the earliest; and that the later Uncials, not the oldest, together with the cursives express, not singly, not in small batches or companies, but in their main agreement, the decisions which had grown up in the Church. In so doing, attention has been paid to all the existing evidence: none has been omitted. "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus", has been the underlying principle. The foundations of the building have been laid as deeply and as broadly as our power could allow. No other course would be in consonance with scientific procedure. The seven notes of truth have been made as comprehensive as possible. Antiquity, number, variety, weight, continuity, context, and internal evidence, include all points of view and all methods of examination, which are really sound.
The characters of the Vatican, Sinatic, and Bezan manuscripts have been shewn to be bad, and the streams which led to their production from Syrio-Old-Latin and Alexandrian sources to the temporary school of Caesarea have been traced and explained. It has been also shewn to be probable that corruption began and took root even before the Gospels were written.
The general conclusion which has grown upon our minds has been that the affections of Christians have not been misdirected; that the strongest exercise of reason has proved their instincts to have been sound and true; that the Text which we have used and loved rests upon a vast and varied support; that the multiform record of Manuscripts, Versions, and Fathers, is found to defend by large majorities in almost all instances those precious words of Holy Writ, which have been called in question during the latter half of this century.
We submit that it cannot be denied that we have presented a strong case, and naturally we look to see what has been said against it, since except in some features it has been before the World and the Church for some years. We submit that it has not received due attention from opposing critics. If indeed the opinions of the other School had been preceded by, or grounded upon, a searching examination, such as we have made in the case of B and Aleph, of the vast mass of evidence upon which we rest,- if this great body of testimony had been proved to be bad from overbalancing testimony or otherwise,- we should have found reason for doubt, or even for a reversal of our decisions.
But Lachmann, Tregelles, and Tishendorf laid down principles chiefly, if not exclusively, on the score of their intrinsic probability. Westcott and Hort built up their own theory upon reasoning internal to it, without clearing the ground first by any careful and detailed scrutiny. Besides which, all of them constructed their buildings before travellers by railways and steamships had placed within their reach the larger part of the materials which are now ready for use. [Several paragraphs have been omitted.] We hear constantly the proclamation made in dogmatic tones that they are right: no proof adequate to the strength of our contention has been worked out to shew that we are wrong. To conclude, the system which we advocate will be seen to contrast strikingly with that which is upheld by the opposing school, in three general ways:
I. We have with us width and depth against the narrowness on their side. . . .
II. We oppose facts to their speculation . . . .
III. Our opponents are gradually getting out of date: the world is drifting away from them.
Thousands of manuscripts have been added to the known stores since Tichendorf formed his system, and Hort begin to theorize, and their handful of favourite documents has become by comparison less and less. Since the deaths of both of those eminent critics, the treasures dug up in Egypt and elsewhere have put back the date of the science of paleography from the fourth century after the Christian era to at least the third century before, and papyrus has sprung up into unexpected prominence in the ancient and medieval history of writing. It is discovered that there was no uncial period through which the genealogy of cursives has necessarily passed. Old theories on those points must generally be reconstructed if they are to tally with known facts. But this accession of knowledge which puts our opponents in the wrong, has no effect on us except to confirm our position with new proof. Indeed, we welcome the unlocking of the all but boundless treasury of ancient wealth, since our theory, being as open as possible, and resting upon the visible and real, remains not only uninjured but strengthened. If it were to require any re-arrangement, that would be only a re-ordering of particulars, not of our principles which are capacious enough to admit of any additions of materials of judgment.
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