Monday, May 2, 2011

Chronology of Printed GNTs: 1600 - 1700

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The 17th Century (1600 - 1700)
The 17th century is characterized by increased interest and activity in collating existing and available manuscripts.  In part this was driven by doctrinal disputes between Protestants and Roman Catholic authorities, and in part by a desire to establish the authoritative text for the Reformers, as against temporal authorities like church organizations.   Awareness and interest in textual variants grew, especially as descrepancies arose between the popular texts and those of a few very ancient copies, such as Codex D (Bezae), Codex A (Alexandrinus), and Codex B (Vatican MS 1209).   Readings from these MSS as well as others were gathered into the evolving 'apparatus' of critical notes.

Theodore Beza, as noted in the previous post, began to gather and critically assess the readings of fresh MSS and also the most ancient in his possession, namely, Codex Bezae (Gospels, 4th-5th cent.) and Cantabrigensis (Acts, Epist.). 

Both Beza's and Stephen's texts were used, in combination with earlier translations, to produce the King James Bible, which became the defacto standard in English, supplanting the Bishop's Bible and other earlier works.

Brian Walton (1657) next published a polyglott (multi-language NT) with variants, incorporating readings from Codex Alexandrinus ("A" - the oldest MS then known), as well as collations of 16 new MSS from Archbishop Ussher.

John Fell (1675), then added a small edition with further collations and citations of the Memphitic (Lower Egyptian) and the ancient Gothic versions, made soon after the time of Constantine (5th century).   This was the first time a translation other than the Latin was used critically.

John Mill (1707), assisted by Bishop Fell, now produced the crowning achievement of the century, (d. 1686).  Mill still followed closely the text of Stephen, but with printing and other corrections.  Dr. Scrivener (1881) describes the work: "..Of the criticism of the NT in the hands of Dr. John Mill it may be said, that he found the edifice of wood, and left it marble."
Mill was aware of the danger of rash judgements, and like Maestricht, was more focussed on the classification of documents, a necessary preliminary to future critical editing.

The beginning of the 18th century also saw one bizzare and unfortunate additional publication, an attempt which would be repeated in subsequent centuries:

Nicholas Toinard (1707), a Roman Catholic priest from Orleans, simultaneously published alongside Mill: M. Vincent (1899) tells us; 
"Toinard was the first Roman Catholic since Erasmus, and the last before Scholtz (1830), who undertook a critical edition. In his Prolegomena he announces that he has made a Greek Testament according to the two oldest Vatican codices and the Old Latin Version, where it agreed with them. He was thus working on the same principle afterward proposed by Bentley." 

Toinard however had also previously published a 'Harmony' of the Gospels:
"Locke's interest in the harmony of the Gospel narrative was quickened during his travels in France, when he met Nicolas Toinard. In December 1678, Toinard presented him with the sheets of his Harmony of the Gospels; and in the same year, Locke inscribed in a notebook a fragment of a harmony of the life of Jesus.39 This chronology of the history of Jesus, from the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist to Jesus’ baptism by John, follows Toinard. Noteworthy in the sequence of texts is the location of the prologue to St John’s Gospel. Locke places it, following Toinard, after the baptism. While the relocation of the prologue may raise suspicions of Socinianism, Toinard’s accompanying comment, that the prologue, even although relocated in the history of the Gospel, signifies ‘the eternal and divine origin of the word, that is, of Jesus Christ’, offers a ready, although perhaps insufficient, assurance of orthodoxy."
(Christianity, Antiquity, and Enlightenment: Interpretations of Locke, V. Nuovo, (Springer, 2011), Ch. 2: Locke's Theology)
 This same Toinard then, seems to be the "M. Toinard" [bad scan?] mentioned but misnamed in  Illustrations of Biblical Literature,....Rev. James Townley, (1833?) p. 28:
"In some parts of the Pentateuch, transpositions appear to have taken place, by which the chronological order is interrupted; ... Father Simon, and Dr. A. Clarke suppose, that by being inscribed upon leaves, or portions of bark or papyrus, the [pages] were very liable to be deranged, especially as [they lacked pagination].  But Dr. Kennicott conjectures, that many of the first manuscripts were upon skins sewed together; and that these transpositions were occasioned by the skins being separated, and afterward misplaced; and finds a singular instance in a roll preserved in the Bodleian library, at Oxford.   Mr. Whiston and M. Toinard have attempted to prove similar transpositions in the NT, from the same cause; but have been successfully refuted by the Rev. Jeremiah Jones, in his  Vindication of the former part of St. Matthew's Gospel, ch. xiv."

The key point here is that long before there were any coherent theories or developed practices (i.e., a scientific methodology), we have a Roman Catholic priest proposing abandoning all evidence except the two oldest manuscripts (conveniently owned by the Vatican) and the Old Latin.   As Vincent noted, this is the same proposal as Richard Bentley (1716), only it clearly originates 10 years earlier with a Roman Catholic committed to reversing the Protestant Reformation.   Toinard's wild ideas concerning the drastic rearrangement of John's Gospel is also a serious red flag, indicating typical Roman Catholic flights of fancy, later to be picked up and carried out by Bultmann (1941).


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