HOME | Contents | Papyri | Uncials | Miniscules | See also the textual materials listed book by book in McNeile's INTRODUCTION TO THE NT
it is now time to describe the more important of the individual manuscripts
of the New Testament in the original Greek, and to show how they take their
several places in the textual theories, which have been outlined in the preceding
Each manuscript has its own individual character, which reveals itself only
to the student who examines it in detail;
and some of them have had stories to which an element of romance attaches.
It will of course be understood that only the most important can be individually
but it will be possible to include all those which the reader is likely to
find mentioned in the Variorum Bible or in the smaller critical editions of
the Greek text, or in works dealing with textual criticism.
Papryri |P5 | P13 | P38 | P45 | P46 | P47 | P48 | P52
It has already been explained (Ch.1) that to the two
categories of vellum manuscripts,
Uncials and Minuscules,
there has now to be prefixed a third,
which has only come into existence within the last fifty years,
and indeed has only acquired much importance within the last seven.
That is the category of Papyri, which has added a new chapter to textual history,
and has gone far to bridge the gap between the autographs of the New Testament
books and the great vellum uncials.
Of these, fifty-three are now included in the official lists,
where they have a section to themselves, being indicated by a letter P and a number. Most of them, however, are quite small fragments, which have little individual importance, though those which are earlier than the fourth century have some collective value, as indicating what types of text were current in Egypt in the early years of the Christian Church.
This is a conjoint pair of leaves (i.e., two leaves from a single quire, still joined together as when the sheet of which they are composed was originally folded), found by Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus in 1896-7, and published as Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 208. Since one leaf of it contains John i.23-31, 33-41, and the other John xx.11-17, 19-25, it is evident that the whole Gospel was included in a single quire, probably of twenty-five folded sheets, of which this is the outermost but one; it was thus the first example to be discovered of this form of codex, of which several other specimens are now known. In date it is of the third century, and its text agrees generally with that of the Sinaiticus.
Published by Grenfell and Hunt in 1904 as Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 657.
It contains Heb.ii.i4-v.5, x.8-22, 29-xi.13, xi.28-.17.
It is an example of the re-use of a papyrus which had already been used for
Originally it was a roll, containing an epitome of Livy, written in the third
Late in that century, or early in the fourth, the back of it was used to receive
the Epistle to the Hebrews, of which these portions survive. Its text is akin
to that of the Vaticanus, and it is valuable as containing part of the Epistle
which is lost in that manuscript.
Now, however, we have an earlier and more perfect copy of the Epistle in P46.
Probably fourth century, though its first editor would put it earlier. Contains Acts xviii.27-xix.6, xix.12-16. Its importance lies in the fact that its text is markedly of the "Western" type, concurring often with Codex Bezae. Another example is found in P48. It is interesting to know that texts of this type (a type specially strongly marked in Acts) were in use even in Egypt. Edited by H. A. Sanders (Harvard Theological Review, 1927).
We now come to the great Chester Beatty find, the Old Testament part of which has been described above (Ch.I). The New Testament part comprises portions of three codices, which when complete would have covered the whole of the New Testament, except the Pastoral and Catholic Epistles; and since all are of the third century or earlier, it will be seen what an important addition they make to our textual material.
This consists of portions of thirty leaves of a codex which originally consisted of about 220 leaves, and contained all four Gospels and the Acts. In direct contrast with P5 and P46it is formed of a succession of quires of only two leaves.
It seems that these two methods of forming papyrus codices represent early experiments, which were eventually abandoned in favour of quires of eight, ten, or twelve leaves, such as we find in late papyrus codices, and universally in vellum and paper books. The leaves are wide, and the writing is small, in a single broad column. Consequently a full page contains a large amount of text, and even small fragments may have enough to be of value. The extant remains consist of portions of two leaves of Matthew, six of Mark, seven of Luke, two of John and thirteen of Acts. Those of Luke and John consist of the major part of leaves, those of Mark and Acts are smaller but sufficient for the character of the text and the readings of many important passages to be clear, those of Matthew so small as to be negligible. For the details of the passages preserved, reference must be made to the publication of the papyrus by the present writer (Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, fasc.ii., 1933), or The Text of the Greek Bible (1937). The interest of the papyrus lies in the fact that it cannot be assigned wholly to any of the families of text described in the previous chapter. In Mark it is nearer to the Caesarean family than to either Neutral or Western. In Luke and John (where the Caesarean text has not yet been determined) all that can be said is that it is intermediate between Neutral and Western; in Acts it is distinctly nearer to the Neutral and has none of the major variants characteristic of the Western text in this book, though it has some of the minor ones. It therefore adds to the proof that the Neutral text has no exclusive predominance in Egypt, but that rather there was, by the beginning of the third century, a welter of various readings which were only gradually crystallising into distinct families, and that the Caesarean text may well have had its growth in Egypt, before Origen took it to Caesarea.
The fortunes of this MS. are an illustration of the chances of discovery.
In Mr. Beatty's original acquisition there were ten leaves, in conjoint pairs,
containing portions of Romans on the first halves,
and portions of Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians on the second
- evidently, therefore, part of a single-quire codex of the Pauline Epistles
and calculations of space made it probable that Hebrews had been included in
the missing intermediate portion.
This calculation was confirmed when, shortly after the ten leaves had been
published by the present writer,
it was announced that the University of Michigan had acquired thirty more leaves
of the same codex, in excellent condition,
which showed that Hebrews was indeed included,
and was placed immediately after Romans.
Scarcely had these been published by Professor H. A. Sanders, of Michigan,
together with the ten Beatty leaves, when they were capped by the acquisition
by Mr. Beatty of forty-six leaves more.
The entire manuscript therefore consists, in its present state, of eighty-six
nearly perfect leaves out of a total of 104, of which the last five were probably
at least they are not needed for the completion of Thessalonians,
and would not be enough for the Pastorals, which seem to have been omitted.
The order of the Epistles is: Romans, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians; and the only portions missing (apart from a line or two at the bottom of each page) are Rom.i.1-v.17, vi.14-viii.15, and 1 Thess.ii.3-v.4 and 2 Thess. By the courtesy of the authorities of the University of Michigan, the entire text has now been printed in a single volume in the series of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, and a complete photographic facsimile has also been published.
Here, then, we have a nearly complete manuscript of the Pauline Epistles,
written apparently about the beginning of the third century - that is to say,
more than a century before the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
It emphatically confirms the general soundness of the text, while as between
the Neutral and Western families it leans strongly to the former.
There is a larger sprinkling of minor Western readings in Romans than elsewhere,
but even there the Neutral preponderance is as nine to five, while in the other
Epistles it varies between four to one and eight to one.
One remarkable variant is the placing of the doxology in Romans (xvi.25-27)
at the end of chapter xv.
Most of the minuscules place it at the end of xiv,, most of the uncials have
it at the end of xvi., while the Alexandrinus has it in both places.
The position in P46 would seem to confirm
the views of those who regard chapter xvi. as not belonging to the Epistle
at all, but as a letter of introduction for "our sister Phoebe" to
a church (such as Ephesus) where Paul had many friends, which has accidentally
become attached to the great letter to the Romans;
but it would be dangerous to adopt this conjecture without confirmation, and
it is possible that the variable position is due to its being treated like
a doxology to a hymn, and being read at the end of xiv. or xv., when xvi.,
which is mainly a string of personal names, was omitted.
Ten leaves out of the middle of a codex of Revelation, being either the central portion of a single-quire codex of thirty-two leaves or the middle quire of a three-quire codex. It contains Rev.ix.10-xvii.2, with the loss of from one to four lines at the top of each page. Written in rather a rough hand, probably of the third century. The manuscripts of Revelation fall into three groups:
P47 allies itself more with the first group than with either of the others;
but these five MSS. show a good deal of divergence among themselves.
A fragment, apparently of the third century, containing Acts xi.11-16, 24-29, important because its text, like that of P38, is distinctly Western. Published by Vitelli (1932.)
This scrap, measuring about 3.5 by 2.5 inches, was among some papyri acquired in 1920 by Dr. B. P. Grenfell for the John Rylands Library at Manchester, but remained unnoticed until Mr. G. H. Roberts identified it as the oldest existing manuscript of any part of the New Testament. It contains John xviii.31-33, 37, 38 in a hand, which can be confidently assigned to the first half of the second century. In the middle fifty years of the nineteenth century, if this scrap could have been produced and its date established, it would have created a profound sensation; for it would have convincingly refuted those who contended that the Fourth Gospel was not written until the second century was far advanced.
Now we see that it was not only written, but had spread to a provincial town in Egypt, by the middle of the second century, which goes far towards confirming the traditional date of composition, in the last years of the first century. Published by Mr. Roberts in 1935. See Plate XIV.
Codices | א - Sinaiticus | A - Alexandrinus | B - Vaticanus | C - Ephraemi | D - Bezae | E - Basiliensis & associated codices | H3 - Euthalius | I - Washingtonianus II | K - Cyprius | L - Regius | N - Purpureus Petropolitanus | O - Sinopensis | P2 - Porphyrianus | R - Nitriensis | T - Borgianus | W - Washingtonianus I | Z - Dublinensis | Δ - Sangallensis | Θ - Koridethianus | Λ - Tischendorfianus III | Ξ - Zacynthius | Π - Petropolitanus | Σ - Rossanensis | Φ - Beratinus | Ψ - Laurensis
We shall now proceed to describe the best of the vellum uncials in the order
of their alphabetical precedence.
In addition to their alphabetical designations, which are those commonly used,
Gregory's official list provides a numeration in Arabic numerals with a 0 prefixed
( e.g. 046), so that additions can easily be made in the event of future discoveries.
The total up to date is 212.
Some of the more important we have met already in our catalogue of the manuscripts
of the Septuagint.
one of the latest found of all the flock, yet one of the most important, and therefore (since the letters of the Latin and Greek alphabets had been already appropriated for other manuscripts) designated by its discoverer by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph.
The discovery of this manuscript, now nearly a century ago, was the supreme
triumph of the great Biblical scholar Constantine Tischendorf.
In the year 1844 he was travelling in the East in search of manuscripts,
and in the course of his travels he visited the monastery of St. Catherine
at Mount Sinai.
While working in the library he noticed a basket containing a large number
of stray pages of manuscripts,
among which he was astounded to behold several leaves of the oldest Greek writing
he had ever set eyes on,
and, as a short inspection proved, containing parts of the Greek Bible.
No less than forty-three such leaves did he extract, and the librarian casually
observed that two basket loads of similar waste paper had already been consumed
in the furnace of the monastery.
It is therefore not surprising that he easily obtained permission to keep the
leaves which he had picked up;
but when he discovered that some eighty more leaves of the Old Testament from
the same manuscript were also in existence, difficulties were made about letting
him see them; and he had to content himself with informing the monks of their
value, and entreating them to stoke their fires with something less precious.
He then returned to Europe, and having presented his treasure to his sovereign,
King Frederick Augustus of Saxony, published its contents under the name of
the Codex Friderico-Augustanus.
These forty-three leaves belonged, like all that Tischendorf had yet seen or
heard of, to the Old Testament, containing portions of 1 Chronicles, 2 Esdras,
Tobit, and Jeremiah, with Esther complete;
they are now, as we have seen (Ch.V, p.67), at
Leipzig, separated from the rest of the volume to which they once belonged.
In 1853 he returned to Sinai;
but his former warning, and perhaps the interest aroused in Europe by the discovery,
had made the monks cautious, and he could hear nothing more concerning the
In 1859 he visited the monastery once again, this time under the patronage
of the Tsar Alexander II, the patron of the Greek Church;
but still his inquiries were met with blank negation, until one evening, only
a few days before he was to depart, in the course of conversation with the
steward of the monastery, he showed him a copy of his recently published edition
of the Septuagint.
Thereupon the steward remarked that he too had a copy of the Septuagint, which
he would like to show to his visitor.
Accordingly he took him to his room, and produced a heap of loose leaves wrapped
in a cloth;
and there before the astonished scholar's eyes lay the identical manuscript
for which he had been longing.
Not only was part of the Old Testament there, but the New Testament, complete
from beginning to end.
Concealing his feelings, he asked to be allowed to keep it in his room that
evening to examine it;
leave was given, "and that night it seemed sacrilege to sleep."
He tried to buy the manuscript, without success.
Then he asked to be allowed to take it to Cairo to study;
but since the monk in charge of the library objected, he had to leave it behind.
The Superior of the monastery, however, was at Cairo;
and he, at Tischendorf's request, sent for the manuscript, and placed it in
his hands, a few sheets at a time, for copying.
Then Tischendorf suggested that it would be a graceful act to present it to
the Tsar of Russia, as the protector of the Greek Church; and since the monks
desired the influence of the Tsar in connection with the election of a new
Archbishop, they consented to this, and after dilatory negotiations, Tischendorf
was allowed to take the precious manuscript to Russia for presentation to the
In view of stories put about subsequently by later generations of monks at
it should be emphasised that Tischendorf's behaviour was quite correct throughout.
He acted all through in agreement with the monks, and when there was some delay
in the arrival of the counter-gift which, in accordance with Oriental usage,
was expected from the Tsar, he intervened and secured the transmission of a
sum of 9000 roubles and some decorations.
To the end of his life he remained on good terms with the Sinai community,
as contemporary documents show.
[The full story may be found in a pamphlet issued by the Trustees of the British Museum in 1934 (The Mount Sinai Manuscript of the Bible).]
The romance of the Codex Sinaiticus was not yet over, however. Since the year 1856 an ingenious Greek, named Constantine Simonides, had been creating a considerable sensation by producing quantities of Greek manuscripts professing to be of fabulous antiquity - such as a Homer in an almost prehistoric style of writing, a lost Egyptian historian, a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel on papyrus, written fifteen years after the Ascension (!), and other portions of the New Testament dating from the first century. These productions enjoyed a short period of notoriety, and were then exposed as forgeries. Among the scholars concerned in the exposure was Tischendorf; and the revenge taken by Simonides was distinctly humorous. While stoutly maintaining the genuineness of his own wares, he admitted that he had written one manuscript which passed as being very ancient, and that was the Codex Sinaiticus, the discovery of which had been so triumphantly proclaimed by Tischendorf! The idea was ingenious, but it would not bear investigation. Apart from the internal evidence of the text itself, the variations in which no forger, however clever, could have invented, it was shown that Simonides could not have completed the task in the time which he professed to have taken, and that there was no such edition of the Greek Bible as that from which he professed to have copied it. This little cloud on the credit of the newly-discovered manuscript therefore rapidly passed away, and the manuscript reposed, still unbound and in the cloth which had wrapped it at Sinai, in what was presumed to be its final home. It had, however, one more transmigration to undergo. In 1933 it became known that the Soviet Government was not unwilling to sell it, having little use for Bibles and much for money. Indeed, negotiations had previously been opened with an American syndicate; but the financial crisis supervened, and America's difficulty gave England an unhoped-for opportunity. After prolonged negotiations a bargain was concluded by which it passed into the possession of the Trustees of the British Museum for the sum of £100,000 (much less than the sum contemplated in the American negotiations), of which half was guaranteed by the British Government. Accordingly, just before Christmas, 1933, the great Bible entered the British Museum, amid scenes of much popular excitement. There were, of course, those who criticised the purchase. Some used the argument of Judas Iscariot in John .5, but found that its parentage made it unpopular; some revived the legends of Tischendorf's misconduct and the claim of Simonides, but these also had little success. Others, more plausibly, argued that since an excellent photographic facsimile had been published by the Oxford University Press (New Testament, 1911; Old Testament, 1922) from photographs taken by Professor Kirsopp Lake, the original was of no further importance; but even this (which never commended itself to those who had experience of MSS. and photographs) has been disproved by a study of the scribes and correctors of the MS. by Messrs. H. J. M. Milne and T. G. Skeat of the British Museum (published 1938), which never could have been carried through without access to the MS. itself. The manuscript has now been beautifully and securely bound by Mr. Douglas Cockerell, and one may hope that it has now reached its final resting-place.
Plate XV gives a general idea of the appearance of the manuscript. The original size of the page is 15 inches by 13.5 inches. There are four narrow columns to each page (except in the poetical books, where there are only two), and the eight columns thus presented to the reader when the volume is opened have much of the appearance of the succession of columns in a papyrus roll; it is not at all impossible that it was actually copied from such rolls. The vellum is made from fine skins, and is of excellent quality; the writing is large, clear, and good, without any attempt at ornamentation. The MS. originally contained the whole Greek Bible, but, as has been stated above (p.129), only a part of the Old Testament escaped the waste-paper basket of the Sinai monastery. The New Testament is complete, and at the end are added two apocryphal works, which for a long time enjoyed almost equal credit with the New Testament books, but finally failed to obtain a position in the Canon - namely, the Epistle of Barnabas and the "Shepherd" of Hermas. The original text has been corrected in many places, the various correctors being indicated in critical editions as אa, אb, אc, etc. The date of the manuscript is in the fourth century, probably about the middle of it. It can hardly be much earlier than AD 340, since the divisions of the text known as the Eusebian sections are indicated in the margin of the Gospels, in a hand evidently contemporaneous with the text; and these sections, which are a device for forming a sort of Harmony of the Gospels, by showing which sections in each Gospel have parallel sections in any of the others, were due to the scholar Eusebius, who died about AD340. On the other hand, comparison with other hands of the fourth century, of which more are now available than was formerly the case, seems to show that it cannot be appreciably later than the middle of the century. The oldest correctors, אa, and אb, are not much later than the manuscript itself, even if they are not, as Messrs. Milne and Skeat think, the original scribes themselves, y, a very active group of correctors, is of the seventh century; the others, later and of small importance.
A study of the facsimile page will show something of the way in which manuscripts were written and corrected, besides providing a specimen of the readings of א in an important passage. The page contains Luke x.20-52, though it has been necessary to omit eight lines from the top of each column in the plate. In verse 22 (the first line of the plate), א has "for" (ὅτι - hoti) in place of the received text "and"; and, as the note in the Variorum Bible shows, א is supported by B, D, and L among the principal MSS., while A heads the mass of later uncials and cursives which contain the "received" reading. Of the editors, Tischendorf, Tregelles, McClellan, Westcott and Hort, and the Revised Version follow א, while Lachmann and Weiss are on the other side. In line 2 the scribe has accidentally omitted the little word μεν, and has added it above the line. At line 14, which begins verse 24, will be seen an example of the usual procedure of א in marking the beginning of a fresh paragraph by allowing the first letter to project into the margin, but without any enlargement. In line 15 the original scribe had written εις εαυτους, which is found in no other MS., but it has been corrected to the usual εν αυτοις - en autois: there is practically no difference in sense. In lines 22, 23 (verse 25) there is a more extensive alteration. The scribe began by writing και οι αρχοντες των εξουσιαζουσιν αυτων και ευεργεται καλουνται - kai oi archontes ton exousiazousin auton kai euergetai kalountai (= "and their rulers exercise authority over them and are called benefactors"), which makes nonsense; accordingly he (or a corrector) has cancelled the erroneous letters αρχοντες των - archontes tonby putting dots above them (a common method in Greek MSS.), has altered the verb into a participle by writing the letters ντες over the erroneous υσιν, and has cancelled και ("and") by dots above each letter, thus restoring the text to its proper form. In verse 31 (column 2, line 7) there is a disputed reading, some authorities having the words "And the Lord said," as in our Authorised Version, while others omit them. The evidence is evenly balanced. Not only A and the mass of later MSS., but also א, as our plate shows, and D give the disputed words (ειπεν δε ο κυριος - eipen de o kyrios), while B and L, with the two chief Coptic versions, omit them. Lachmann, Tregelles, and McClellan retain the words (see the Variorum note); Alford, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort reject them; and the Revisers have followed the latter, though the division of the best evidence must have made a decision difficult, א and D being a fair set-off against B and L, even if the "Syrian" MSS. be disregarded.
Small alterations in the MS. must be passed over briefly;
they will be seen in column 2, line 37;
column 3, lines 5, 6; column 4, line 36.
The reader may also note the common practice of writing the last letters of
a line very small, so as to get more into a line.
But in verses 43, 44, a very important textual question arises.
These verses contain the mention of the Bloody Sweat, and of the Angel who
appeared to strengthen our Lord in His agony -
an incident, it is hardly necessary to say, of the deepest interest and value.
Now these verses are omitted by the two great manuscripts A and B (so seldom
found on the same side that their agreement is the more striking), and also
by R and T, the valuable cursives 13 and 69, some MSS. of the Bohairic and
Sahidic versions, and by some of the Fathers.
Against these there were, before the discovery of א,
to be set only D and L among the better uncials, the Old Latin and Vulgate,
the Peshitta Syriac, other MSS. of the Coptic versions, many Fathers, and the
mass of later MSS.
The better authorities might fairly be said to be against the genuineness of
but the balance might be held to be redressed by the two modern discoveries,
X and the Curetonian Syriac
[A still later discovery, however, the Sinaitic MS. of the Old Syriac, omits them.]. They will be seen in the last ten lines of column 3 on our plate. The reader who looks closely at it, however, will see that a faint row of dots has been placed above the first line of the passage, and equally faint hooks or commas at the beginning and end of each of these lines. This shows that some corrector did not find the verses in the copy with which he was comparing the MS. and accordingly marked them as doubtful. Tischendorf believed the marks to be due to the first corrector of the MS., who certainly used a good and ancient copy, and accordingly in the Variorum note we find אa enumerated among the authorities against the verses; but it is obviously difficult to be sure to what hand such simple marks are to be attributed. Careful scrutiny of the original, since its arrival in the British Museum, has shown (what no photograph could reveal) that an attempt has been made to erase the dots; so the conflict of evidence is made more plain. It is clear that the verses were absent from some very early copies; but it is also clear that some equally early ones contained them; and the majority of editors have shown a wise discretion in preferring the evidence in favour of their authenticity.
Our analysis of this single page of the Codex Sinaiticus will have shown the reader something of the task of the textual critic, and something of the variations which he meets in every MS. - some of them being mere slips of the pen on the part of the scribe, while others testify to a real peculiarity of reading in the MS. from which this was copied. It remains to say something as to the general character of this ancient authority, and of the rank which critics assign it among the array of witnesses to the text of the New Testament.
Besides being one of the most ancient, the Codex Sinaiticus is also one of
the most valuable texts of the New Testament.
In many passages it is found in company with B, preserving obviously superior
readings where the great mass of later manuscripts is in error.
According to the analysis of Westcott and Hort, its text is almost entirely
but it is not equally free from Western and Alexandrian elements.
Especially in the Gospels, readings from these two sources are not unfrequent,
Western readings being most prominent in St. John and in parts of St. Luke.
One most noticeable case in which this manuscript is found in agreement with
B is in the omission of the last twelve verses of St. Mark, in which א
and B stand alone against all the other extant manuscripts (with the partial
exception of L), though with some important support from three versions and
some of the Fathers.
Agreements between א and B are so frequent that it is
evident that they belong to the same family of text;
Westcott and Hort regard them as the two main representatives of the Neutral
and whether the text be called Neutral, or Hesychian (as by von Soden), or
Egyptian, or Alexandrian (as perhaps seems preferable now that it is clear
that it was by no means the only text in Egypt), it is certain that it is one
of the most important groups of witnesses to the New Testament text.
As to their place of origin, much difference of opinion has prevailed.
Dr. Hort was "inclined to surmise," from certain very slight indications
of orthography, that they were written in the West, probably at Rome;
and that the ancestors of B were also written in the West, while those of א were
written in Alexandria.
On the other hand, forms of letters are occasionally found in B which are certainly
Egyptian, though it is impossible to be certain that they are exclusively so;
and the writing of א bears a quite discernible resemblance to a hand
which is found (at a considerably earlier date) in papyri from Egypt.
Another eminent scholar, Professor Rendel Harris, suggested that both manuscripts
came from the library of Pamphilus at Cassarea, of which Eusebius made use,
and it is almost certain that א was there when the corrector אc
worked on it;
but this would not necessarily be inconsistent with their having been written
On the whole, however, this is one of the cases where the only fair course
is to admit ignorance, and to hope that future discoveries may in time bring
This has been one of the chief treasures of the British Museum since its foundation, and a volume of it may be seen, side by side with the Sinaiticus, by every visitor in one of the showcases in the Department of Manuscripts. Its history, at least in later years, is much less obscure than that of the Sinaiticus.
In 1624 it was offered by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Sir Thomas Roe, our ambassador in Turkey, for presentation to King James I. King James died before the manuscript started for England, and the offer was transferred to Charles I. In 1627 the gift was actually accomplished, and the MS. remained in the possession of our sovereigns until the Royal Library was presented to the nation by George II, when it entered its present home. Its earlier history is also partially traceable. Cyril Lucar (according to contemporary statements) brought it to Constantinople from Alexandria, of which see he had previously been Patriarch; and an Arabic note at the beginning of the MS., signed by "Athanasius the humble" (possibly Athanasius III, Patriarch of Alexandria, who died about 1308), states that it was a gift to the Patriarchal cell in that town. A later Latin note adds that the gift was made in AD1098, but the authority for this statement is unknown. Another Arabic note, written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, states that the MS. was written by Thecia the martyr; and Cyril Lucar himself repeats this statement, with the additions that Thecia was a noble lady of Egypt, that she wrote it shortly after the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), and that her name was originally written at the end of the manuscript. This, however, was only tradition, since the end of the MS. had been lost long before Cyril's time. The authority for the tradition is quite unknown, and so early a date is hardly possible. The occurrence in the manuscript of treatises (see Ch.5, p.67) by Eusebius (d. AD 340) and Athanasius (d. AD373) makes it almost certain that it cannot be earlier than the middle of the fourth century, and competent authorities agree that the style of writing probably shows it to be somewhat later, in the first half of the fifth century. It is certain that the writing of this MS. appears to be somewhat more advanced than that of the Vaticanus or Sinaiticus, especially in the enlargement of initial letters and similar elementary ornamentation; but it must be remembered that these characteristics are already found in earlier MSS., and that similar differences between contemporary MSS. may be found at all periods. The dating of early Greek uncials on vellum is still very doubtful for want of materials to judge from, and it is possible that the tradition mentioned above is truer than is generally supposed; but for the present it is safer to acquiesce in the general judgment which assigns the manuscript to the fifth century.
Like the Codex Sinaiticus, it contained originally the whole Greek Bible, with the addition of the two Epistles of Clement of Rome, which in very early days ranked almost with the inspired books; and, in addition, the table of contents shows that it originally included the Psalms of Solomon, the title of which, however, is so separated from the rest of the books as to indicate that they were regarded as standing on a different footing.
The Old Testament has suffered some slight mutilations, which have been described already; the New Testament more seriously, since the whole of St. Matthew's Gospel, as far as chapter xxv.6, is lost, together with leaves containing John vi.50-viii.52 (where, however, the number of pages missing shows that the doubtful passage, vii.53-viii.11, cannot have been present when the MS. was perfect), and 2 Cor.iv.13-.6, one leaf of the first Epistle of Clement and the greater part of the second. The leaves measure 12.75 by 10.25 inches, having two columns to each page, written in large and well-formed hands of round shape, apparently by two scribes in the Old Testament and three in the New א, B, C (with the Old Latin, Vulgate, Bohairic, and Curetonian Syriac versions) omit the words, and are followed by all the editors except McClellan. Though D and L represent pre-Syrian testimony, the balance of that testimony, as contained in א , B, and the versions, overweighs them., with initial letters enlarged and projecting into the margin. The text has been corrected throughout by several different hands, the first being nearly or quite contemporary with the original scribe. The facsimile given in Plate XVI shows the upper part of the page containing John iv.42-v.14. In column 1, line 6, it will be seen that this MS. contains the words "the Christ"; and a reference to the Variorum Bible footnote shows that it is supported by C3 (i.e., the third corrector of C), D, L (with the later MSS.), while
More important readings will be seen in the second column, which contains the story of the cure of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda. It will be seen (lines 13, 14) that an alteration has been made in the MS., and that certain letters have been rewritten over an erasure, while others are added in the margin. The words which are thus due to the corrector, and not to the original scribe, are those which are translated "halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel of the Lord." A close examination shows that the first and last parts of the passage originally occupied line 14, before the erasure; but the words in italics are an addition which was not in the original text. They are also omitted (see the Variorum Bible footnote) by א, B, C, L, with the Guretonian Syriac and the Sahidic versions. They are found only in D, the corrections of A and G, and later MSS., and are thus inevitably omitted by nearly all the editors. With regard to verse 4 the distribution of evidence is different. It is omitted, like the former words, by א, B, C, the Curetonian Syriac, most MSS. of the Bohairic and the Sahidic versions; and these are now joined by D, which in the previous case was on the other side. On the other hand, A and L have changed in the contrary direction, and are found to support the verse, in company with C3, the later uncials, and all cursives but three, the Old Latin and Vulgate, and the Peshitto Syriac. Thus the versions are fairly equally divided; but א, B, C, D form a very strong group of early authority, as against A and the mass of later MSS. L and the Old Latin are, in fact, the only witnesses to the verse which can be considered as pre-Syrian, and consequently we find the Revised Version omits the verse, in common with Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort; Lachmann and McClellan alone appearing on the other side.
Specimens of scribes' errors and their corrections may be seen in lines 1, 2, 26-28. In the former the words first written have been erased, and the correct reading written above them; in the latter, some words had been written twice over by mistake (λεγει αυτω θελεις υγιης γενεσθαι λεγει αυτω θελεις υγιης γενεσθαι απεκριυη αυτω - legei auto theleis ugies gevesthai legei auto theleis ugies genesthai apekrithe auto). The whole passage (from the first γενεσθαι) has been erased, and then correctly rewritten, with a slight variation (λεγει for απεκριθη); but as the correct reading was much shorter than that originally written, a considerable space is left blank, as the facsimile shows.
As regards the quality of the text preserved in the Codex Alexandrinus, it must be admitted that it does not stand quite so high as its two predecessors in age, א and B. Different parts of the New Testament have evidently been copied from different originals; but in the Gospels, at any rate, A is the oldest and most pre-eminent example of that revised "Syrian" text which (to judge from the quotations in the Fathers) had become the predominant text as early as the fourth century. It will often be found at the head of the great mass of later uncials and cursives which support the received text; and although it is much superior to the late cursives from which the "received text" was in fact derived, it yet belongs to the same class, and will be found oftener in agreement with the Authorised Version than with the Revised. In the Acts and Epistles it ranks definitely with B and א, and is perhaps an even better example of that class than they. In the Apocalypse also it belongs to the Neutral type, and is probably the best extant MS. of that book, with the possible exception of P47. The Epistles of Clement, which are very valuable for the history of the early Church, the first having been written about the end of the first century and the other before the middle of the second, were until quite recently not known to exist in any other manuscript. The Eusebian sections and canons, referred to above (p.132), are indicated in the margins of the Gospels, which also exhibit the earliest example of a division into chapters. A similar division of the Acts and Epistles, ascribed to Euthalius of Alexandria, who wrote about AD458, is not found in this manuscript; and this is an additional reason for believing it not to have been written later than the middle of the fifth century.
The Codex Alexandrinus was the first of the greater manuscripts to be made
accessible to scholars.
The Epistles of Clement were published from it by Patrick Young in 1633,
a collation of the New Testament and notes on the Pentateuch were published
in Walton's Polyglot (1657),
the Old Testament was printed by Grabe in 1707-20,
and the New Testament by Woide in 1786.
In 1816-28 the Rev. H. H. Baber published the Old Testament in type resembling
as closely as possible the writing of the original.
Finally a photographic reproduction of the whole MS. was published in 1879-83,
under the editorship of E. Maunde Thompson, then Principal Librarian of the
A reduced facsimile of the New Testament, and of the Old Testament as far as
Judith, has since appeared (1909-36).
The most valuable of all the manuscripts of the Greek Bible. As its name shows, it is in the great Vatican Library at Rome, which has been its home since some date before 1481.
There is, therefore, no story to tell of the discovery of this MS.; the interest which attaches to its history is of a different kind, and relates to the long struggle that was necessary before its contents were made accessible to scholars. For some reason which does not clearly appear, the authorities of the Vatican Library put continual obstacles in the way of all who wished to study it in detail. A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a number of selected readings from it, as proof of its superiority to the received Greek text. In 1669 a collation (or statement of its various readings) was made by Bartolocci, but it was never published, and remained unknown until 1819. Other imperfect collations were made about 1720 and 1780. Napoleon carried the manuscript off as a prize of victory to Paris, where it remained till 1815, when the many treasures of which he had despoiled the libraries of the Continent were returned to their respective owners. While at Paris it was studied by Hug, and its great age and supreme importance were first fully made known; but after its return to Rome a period of seclusion set in. In 1843 Tischendorf, after waiting for several months, was allowed to see it for six hours. Next year De Muralt was permitted to study it for nine hours. In 1845 the great English scholar Tregelles was allowed indeed to see it but not to copy a word. His pockets were searched before he might open it, and all writing materials were taken away. Two clerics stood beside him and snatched away the volume if he looked too long at any passage! However, the Roman authorities now took the task in hand themselves, and in 1857 and 1859 editions by Cardinal Mai were published, which, however, differed so much from one another and were both so inaccurate as to be almost useless. In 1866 Tischendorf once more applied for permission to edit the MS., but with difficulty obtained leave to examine it for the purpose of collating difficult passages. Unfortunately the great scholar so far forgot himself as to copy out twenty pages in full, contrary to the conditions under which he had been allowed access to the MS., and his permission was naturally withdrawn. Renewed entreaty procured him six days' longer study, making in all fourteen days of three hours each; and by making the very most of his time Tischendorf was able in 1867 to publish the most perfect edition of the manuscript which had yet appeared. An improved Roman edition appeared in 1868-81; but the final and decisive publication was reserved for the years 1889-90, when a complete photographic facsimile of the whole MS. made its contents once and for all the common property of all scholars.
The Codex Vaticanus originally contained
the entire Greek Bible,
but it has suffered not a little from the ravages of time.
The beginning has been lost, as far as Gen.xlvi.28;
in the middle Psalms cvi.-cxxxviii. have dropped out;
at the end, the latter part of Hebrews (from chapter ix.14), the Pastoral Epistles,
and the whole of the Apocalypse have disappeared.
It is written on 759 leaves (out of an original total of about 820) of very fine vellum, each leaf measuring 10.5 by 10 inches, with three columns to the page. The writing (see Plate XVII) is in small and delicate uncials, perfectly simple and unadorned. There are no enlarged initials, no stops or accents, no divisions into chapters or sections such as are found in later MSS., but a different system of division peculiar to this manuscript. Unfortunately, the beauty of the original writing has been spoilt by a later corrector, who, thinking perhaps that the original ink was becoming faint, traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect. Thus it is only in the case of such words that we see the original writing untouched and uninjured. An example may be seen in the thirteenth and fourteenth lines from the bottom of the third column in our plate, where the corrector has not retouched the words καγω απεστειλα αυτους εις τον κοσμον - kago apesteila autous eis ton kosmon, which have been written twice over by mistake. One scribe wrote the whole of the New Testament, but there is no sufficient ground for Tischendorf's assertion that he is identical with one of the scribes of the Sinaiticus, though there are certain resemblances which suggest that both may have come from the same scriptorium. There are corrections by various hands, one of them (indicated as B2) being ancient and valuable. With regard to the date of the manuscript, critics are agreed in assigning it to the fourth century, about contemporary with א, though the more complete absence of ornamentation from B has generally caused it to be regarded as slightly the older.
Over the character of the text contained in B a most embittered controversy has raged. It will have been noticed that it is only within quite recent years that א and B have emerged from their obscurity and have become generally known; and it so happens that these two most ancient manuscripts differ markedly from the class of text represented by A, which up to the time of their appearance was held to be the oldest and best authority in existence. Hence there was a natural reluctance to abandon the ancient readings at the bidding of these two newcomers, imposing though their appearance might be; and this was especially the case after the publication of Dr. Hort's theory, which assigned to these two manuscripts, and especially to B, a pre-eminence which is almost overwhelming. Dean Burgon tilted desperately against the text of Westcott and Hort, and even went so far as to argue that these two documents owed their preservation, not to the goodness of their text, but to its depravity, having been, so to speak, pilloried as examples of what a copy of the Scriptures ought not to be! In spite of the learning with which the Dean maintained his arguments, and of the support which equally eminent but more moderate scholars such as Dr. Scrivener gave to his conclusions, they have failed to hold their ground. Scholars in general believe B to be the chief evidence for the most ancient form of the New Testament text, and it is clear that the Revisers of our English Bible attached the greatest weight to its authority. Even where it stands alone, or almost alone, its evidence must be treated with respect; and such readings not unfrequently find a place in the margin of the Revised Version. One notable instance, the omission of the last twelve verses of St. Mark, has been mentioned in speaking of the Codex Sinaiticus; others will be found recorded in the notes to the Variorum Bible or in any critical edition of the Greek New Testament.
The page exhibited in our facsimile contains John xvi.27-xvii.21.
Six lines have been omitted from the top of the plate.
It was chosen especially as showing a good example of the untouched writing
of the MS., as described above;
but it also contains several interesting readings.
In xvi.27 it has "the Father" instead of
and the note in the Variorum Bible informs us that B is here supported by the
original text of C and by D and L.
On the other hand, it is opposed by the original text of א (both א and
C have been altered by later correctors) and by A and Δ.
Most of the later MSS. follow the latter group;
the versions and Fathers are divided.
The evidence is thus very evenly divided, and so, consequently, are the editors;
Tischendorf, McClellan, and Weiss retaining the
"received" reading, "God," while Lachmann, Tregelles, and
Westcott and Hort follow B.
The Revisers have done the same, being probably influenced by the fact that
the evidence in support of the word "Father" comes from more than
one group of authorities, B and L being Neutral, D Western, and C mixed, while
the Coptic versions, which also support it, are predominantly Neutral.
This is a good instance of an evenly balanced choice of readings.
In xvi.33 the received reading
"shall have" is supported only by D and the Latin versions, while א,
A, B, C, and nearly all the other uncials and versions read "have";
so that practically all editors adopt the latter reading.
In xvii.11 another instance occurs of an overwhelming majority in favour of
a change, the received reading being supported only by a correction in D and
by the Vulgate, while א, A, B, C, L, and all editors
read "keep them in thy name which thou hast given me."
In the next verse, א, B, C, D, L (all the best MSS. except A, and most
of the versions) omit the words "in the world," which are found in
A and the mass of cursives.
Of the editors, only McClellan, preferring what he regards as internal probability
to external evidence, retains the "received" reading.
In the words which follow, a more complicated difference of opinion exists,
for which reference may be made to the Variorum Bible note.
One reading is supported by A and D;
another by אc (the third corrector of א)
and the two Coptic versions;
a third by B, C, and L.
Of the editors, Lachmann adopts the first reading, McClellan the second, and
the others, including the Revisers, the third.
None of the variations here mentioned as occurring on this page of B is of
first-rate importance, but they furnish a fair example of the sort of problems
with which the textual critic has to deal and of the conflicting evidence of
MSS. and the divergent opinions of editors.
Finally, in verse 15 (column 3, lines 13, 14 in the plate) there is a good
example of a class of error to which, as mentioned above (p.19), scribes were
The words to be copied were "I pray not that thou shouldest take them
out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them out of the evil";
but when the scribe had written the first "out of the," his eye wandered
on to the second occurrence of these words, and he proceeded to write "evil" instead
"world," thus omitting several words, and producing nonsense.
The correction of the blunder has involved the cancelling of some words in
line 14 and the writing of others in the margin.
Sometimes the omission of words in this way does not produce obvious nonsense,
and then the error may escape notice and be perpetuated by being copied into
Now in the National Library of Paris, having been brought from the East to Italy early in the sixteenth century, and taken from Italy to Paris by Queen Catherine de' Medici. This manuscript is a prominent instance of a fate which befell many ancient books in the Middle Ages, before the introduction of paper into Europe. When vellum became scarce, a scribe who was unable to procure a sufficiency of it was apt to take some manuscript to which he attached little value, wash or scrape off the ink as well as he could, and then write his book on the vellum thus partially cleaned. Manuscripts so treated are called palimpsests, from a Greek word implying the removal of the original writing. The Codex Ephraemi is a palimpsest, and derives its name from the fact that the later writing inscribed upon its vellum (probably in the twelfth century) consists of the works of St. Ephraem of Syria. Naturally to us the earlier writing in such a case is almost always the more valuable, as it certainly is in this case; but it requires much labour and ingenuity, and often the application of chemicals (to which ultra-red or ultra-violet photography may now be added), in order to discern the faded traces of the original ink. Attention was first called to the Biblical text underlying the works of St. Ephraem at the end of the seventeenth century. In 1716 a collation of the New Testament was made, at the instance of the great English scholar Richard Bentley; but the first complete edition of it was due to the zeal and industry of Tischendorf, who published all that was decipherable, both of the Old and of the New Testament, in 1843-5.
The original manuscript contained the whole Greek Bible, but only scattered leaves of it were used by the scribe of St. Ephraem's works, and the rest was probably destroyed. Only sixty-four leaves are left of the Old Testament; of the New Testament there are 145 (out of 238), containing portions of every book except a Thessalonians and 2 John. It is written in a medium-sized uncial hand, in pages measuring 12.5 by 9.5 inches, and with only one column to the page. The Eusebian sections and the division into chapters appear in the Gospels, but there are no traces of divisions in the other books. The writing is generally agreed to be of the fifth century, perhaps a little later than the Codex Alexandrinus; and two correctors have left their mark upon the text, the first in the sixth century, and the other in the ninth. Of course it will be understood, in reference to other manuscripts as well as this, that the readings of an early corrector may be as valuable as those of the manuscript itself, since they must have been taken from other copies, perhaps no less old, then in existence.
The great age of C makes it extremely valuable for the textual criticism of
the New Testament;
but it is less important than those which we have hitherto described, owing
to the fact that it represents no one family of text, but is rather compounded
from them all.
Its scribe, or the scribe of one of its immediate ancestors, must have had
before him manuscripts representing all the different families which have been
Sometimes it agrees with the Neutral group of manuscripts,
sometimes with the Western,
not unfrequently with the Alexandrian,
and perhaps oftenest with the Syrian.
The page exhibited in Plate XVIII contains Matt.xx.16-34
(eight lines being omitted from the bottom of the page), and a reference to
the notes in the Variorum Bible will show that its readings here are of some
In verse 16 it is the chief authority for the words, "for many be called
but few chosen";
in this case it is supported by D, but opposed by א and B, which omit the sentence (A is defective here).
Similarly in verses 22 and 23 the words, "and to be baptized with the
baptism that I am baptized with," are found in C, E, and a multitude of
later uncials and cursives, but are omitted by א,
B, D, L, Z, and most of the versions.
In all these cases the Revised Version sides with א and B against C, and there can be little doubt
that the Revisers are right, and that these readings of C are due to the habit
(very common in the Syrian type of text) of introducing into the narrative
of one Evangelist words and clauses which occur in the description of the same
or similar events in the others.
In the University Library at Cambridge. This is undoubtedly the most curious, though certainly not the most trustworthy, manuscript of the New Testament at present known to us.
Its place of origin is doubtful. Egypt, Rome, southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, northern Africa have all been advocated, the last having perhaps a slight balance of probability. It was at Lyons in the year 1562, when Theodore Beza, the disciple of Calvin and editor of the New Testament (see p.104), procured it, probably after the sack of the city by the Huguenots in that year; and by Beza, from whom it derives its name, it was presented in 1581 to the University of Cambridge. It is remarkable as the first example of a copy of the Bible in two languages, for it contains both Greek and Latin texts. It is also remarkable, as will be shown directly, on account of the many curious additions to and variations from the common text which it contains; and no manuscript has been the subject of so many speculations or the basis of so many conflicting theories. It was partially used by Stephanus in his edition of 1550 and by Beza in his various editions. After its acquisition by Cambridge it was collated, more or less imperfectly, by various scholars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and published in full by Kipling in 1793. A new edition, with full annotations, was issued by Dr. Scrivener in 1864; and since that date two other Cambridge scholars. Professor Rendel Harris and Mr. Chase, have made careful studies of its text from rather different points of view. A complete photographic facsimile was published in 1889.
In size the Codex Bezae is smaller than the manuscripts hitherto' described, its pages measuring 10 by 8 inches. The Greek and Latin texts face one another on opposite pages, the Greek being on the left hand, the Latin on the right. Each page contains a single column, not written continuously, as in the MSS. hitherto described, but in lines of varying length, the object (imperfectly attained, it is true) being to make the pauses of sense come at the end of a line. It is written in uncials of rather large size, the Latin and Greek characters being made curiously alike, so that both pages have a similar general appearance at first sight. The writing is of unusual form, which suggests that it was not written in one of the principal centres of production, such as Alexandria or Rome, and which also caused it formerly to be assigned to a rather later date than now seems probable; it is now generally regarded as not later than the fifth century. The manuscript has been corrected by many hands, including the original scribe himself; some of the correctors are nearly contemporary with the original writing, others are much later.
The existence of a Latin text is sufficient proof by itself that the manuscript was written in the West of Europe, where Latin was the language of literature and daily life. In the East there would be no occasion for a Latin translation; but in the West Latin was the language which would be the most generally intelligible, while the Greek was added because it was the original language of the sacred books. Also the volume seems to have been used somewhere where the Scriptures were publicly read in Greek, for the liturgical directions are all on the Greek pages. But Latin copies of the Scriptures existed long before this manuscript was written; and the question arises, whether the scribe has simply copied a Greek manuscript for his Greek pages and a Latin manuscript for his Latin, or whether he has taken pains to make the two versions correspond and represent the same readings of the original. On this point a rather curious division of opinion has arisen. It is tolerably clear that in the first instance independent Greek and Latin texts were used as the authorities to be copied, but it is also clear that the texts have been to some extent assimilated to one another; and while Dr. Scrivener (and most scholars until recently) argues that the Latin has been altered to suit the Greek (and therefore ceases to be very valuable evidence for the text of the Old Latin version), Professor Rendel Harris and several later scholars maintain that the Greek has been altered to suit the Latin, and that therefore it is the Greek that is comparatively unimportant as evidence for the original Greek text. The latest editor of Acts, Professor A. C. dark, regards the Latin text as having no independent value. Striking evidence can be produced on both sides; so that there seems to be nothing left but to conclude that both texts have been modified, which is in itself not an unreasonable conclusion. Some scholars also have maintained that it has been influenced by the Syriac version. The general result is that the evidence of D, whether for the Greek or Latin text, must be used with some caution; and care must be taken to make sure that any apparent variation is not due to some modification introduced by the scribe.
But the special interest of Codex Bezae is not to be found so much in verbal variations as in wider departures from the normal text, in which there is no question of mere accommodations of language, but which can only be due to a different tradition. Codex Bezae, unlike the MSS. hitherto described, which are copies of the entire Bible, contains only the Gospels and Acts, with a few verses of the Catholic Epistles, which originally preceded the Acts; but in these portions of the New Testament it exhibits a very remarkable series of variations from the usual text. It is the chief representative of the Western type of text, finding its nearest ally in the African type of the Old Latin version. Its special characteristic, as explained above (Ch.VI, p.112), is the free addition, and occasionally omission, of words, sentences, and even incidents. One of these will be found in the page of the MS. reproduced in our Plate XIX, containing Luke v. 38-vi. 9. The first word on the page shows that this manuscript contains the last words of verse 38, "and both are preserved," which are omitted by א, B, and L, and after them by Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and the Revised Version; while A, C, and the mass of later MSS. agree with D, and are followed by Lachmann, Tregelles, and McClellan. Verse 39 is omitted altogether, both by D and by the Old Latin version (see note in Variorum Bible). At the end of vi.9 the words οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων - ohi de esiopon ("but they were silent") are added by D alone; and in place of verse 5 D alone inserts the following curious passage (lines 16-20 in the plate): "On the same day, seeing one working on the sabbath day, he said unto him, Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the law." This striking incident, which is contained in no other manuscript or version, cannot be held to be part of the original text of St. Luke; but it may well be that it is a genuine tradition, one of the "many other things which Jesus did" which were not written in the Gospels. If this be so, one would forgive all the liberties taken by this manuscript with the sacred text, for the sake of this addition to the recorded words of the Lord.
It will be of interest to note some of the principal additions and omissions found elsewhere in this remarkable manuscript. After Matt.xx.28, D is the principal authority (being supported by one uncial, Φ, the Old Latin and Curetonian Syriac versions, and a few copies of the Vulgate) for inserting another long passage: "But seek ye to increase from that which is small, and to become less from that which is greater. When ye enter into a house and are summoned to dine, sit not down in the highest places, lest perchance a more honourable man than thou shall come in afterwards, and he that bade thee come and say to thee. Go down lower; and thou shalt be ashamed. But if thou sittest down in the worse place, and one worse than thee come in afterwards, then he that bade thee will say to thee, Go up higher; and this shall be advantageous for thee." Matt.xxi.44 ("and whosoever shall fall on this stone," etc.) is omitted by D, one cursive (33), and the best copies of the Old Latin. In Luke x.42, D and the Old Latin omit the words, "one thing is needful, and." In Luke x. 19, 20 the same authorities and the Old Syriac omit the second mention of the cup in the institution of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but differ markedly with one another in their arrangement of the text. In Luke xxiv.6, D and the Old Latin omit the words "He is not here, but is risen"; they omit the whole of verse 12, with Peter's entry into the sepulchre; they omit in verse 36 "and saith unto them, Peace be unto you"; the whole of verse 40, "And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet"; in verse 51 the words "and was carried up into heaven"; and in verse 52 the words "worshipped him and." In John iv.9 the same authorities omit "for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans"; this time with the support of א. In Acts xv.20, D omits "and from things strangled," and adds at the end of the verse "and that they should not do to others what they would not have done to themselves." In the narrative of St. Paul's missionary journeys in Asia, this manuscript and its allies have so many variations as to have suggested the idea that they represent a separate edition of the Acts, equally authentic but different in date; or else that they (or rather the source from which they are descended) embody touches of local detail added by a scribe who must have been a resident in the country and acquainted with the local traditions. Little changes of phrase, which the greatest living authority on the history and geography of Asia Minor declares to be more true and vivid than the ordinary text, are added to the narratives of St. Paul's visits to Lycaonia and Ephesus. Thus in chapter xix.9, D adds the detail that St. Paul preached daily in the school of Tyrannus "from the fifth hour to the tenth." In chapter xix.1 the text runs thus, quite differently from the verse which stands in our Bibles: "Now when Paul desired in his own mind to journey to Jerusalem, the Spirit spake unto him that he should turn back to Ephesus; and passing through the upper parts he cometh to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples he said unto them." And when the evidence of D comes to an end, as it does at x.29, the other authorities usually associated with it continue to record a text differing equally remarkably from that which is recorded in the vast majority of manuscripts and versions.
The instances which have been given are sufficient to show at once the interest
and the freedom characteristic of the Western text, of which the Codex Bezae
is the chief representative.
It is not, however, to be supposed that it is always so striking and so independent.
In many cases it is found in agreement with the Neutral text of B and א,
when it no doubt represents the authentic words of the original.
But space will not allow us to dwell too long on any single manuscript, however
interesting, and further information as to its readings can always be found
by a study of any critical edition or of the notes to the Variorum Bible.
A selection will be found in Appendix I.
In the National Library at Paris. It has been said that the Codex Bezae contains only the Gospels and Acts; and consequently when we come to the Pauline Epistles the letter D is given to another manuscript, which contains only this part of the New Testament. Like the Codex Bezae, it formerly belonged to Beza, having been found at Clermont (whence its name), in France, and in 1656 it was bought for the Royal Library. Like the Codex Bezae, again, it contains both Greek and Latin texts, written on opposite pages. Each leaf measures 9.75 by 7.75 inches, with very wide margins. It is written on beautifully fine vellum, in a very handsome style of writing, and (still like D of the Gospels) it is arranged in lines of irregular length, corresponding to the pauses in the sense. It is generally assigned to the sixth century, and may have been written in Sardinia, since its Latin text is nearly identical with that used by Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, in the fourth century. The Greek text is correctly written, the Latin has many blunders, and is more independent of the Greek than is the case in Codex Bezae, belonging to the African type of the Old Latin version. Hence Africa has also been suggested for its place of origin. It has been corrected by no less than nine different hands, the fourth of which (about the ninth century) added the breathings and accents, as they appear in the plate. The text of this Codex is distinctly Western, as might be expected from its containing a Latin version; but Western readings in the Epistles are not so striking as we have seen them to be in the Gospels and Acts.
The remaining uncial manuscripts of the New Testament may, and indeed must,
be described more briefly;
but as they are sometimes referred to in the Variorum Bible,
and of course oftener in critical editions of the Greek,
a short notice of them seems to be necessary.
is an eighth-century copy of the four Gospels, at Basle, in Switzerland, containing a good representation of the Syrian type of text, so that it will often be found siding with A.
This is much more valuable, and is the most important Biblical MS. In the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It is a manuscript of the seventh century, containing both Latin and Greek texts, the Latin being on the left and the Greek on the right (unlike D and D2). It is written in large rough uncials, in lines of varying length, but containing only one to three words each. Its text is Western, with a large admixture of Alexandrian readings. The history of this volume is interesting. An inscription contained in it shows that it was in Sardinia at some time in the seventh century. It was brought to England probably either by Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 668, or by Ceolfrid, Abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in the early part of the eighth century. It was probably deposited in one of the great monasteries in the north of England, for it is practically certain that it was used by Bede in writing his commentary on the Acts. At the dissolution of the monasteries it must have been turned loose on the world, like so many other treasures of inestimable value; but ultimately it came into the hands of Archbishop Laud, and was included by him, in 1636, in one of his splendid gifts to the University of Oxford. It is the earliest MS that contains Acts viii.37 (the eunuch's confession of faith), D being deficient here. top
is merely a copy of D2, made at the end of the ninth century, when the text of D2 had already suffered damage from correctors. Hence it is of no independent value.
Of the remaining manuscripts we shall notice only those which have some special value or interest. Many of them consist of fragments only, and their texts are for the most part less valuable. Most of them contain texts of the Syrian type, and are of no more importance than the great mass of cursives. They prove that the Syrian text was predominant in the Greek world, but they do not prove that it is the most authentic form of the text. Some of the later uncials, however, contain earlier texts to a greater or less degree; and these deserve a separate mention.
belong to the same textual group as D2.
divided between Paris, Leningrad, Moscow, Kieff, Turin, and Mount Athos, where the whole MS. once was. Sixth century, written in short sense-lines according to an edition prepared by Euthalius in the fourth century. top
Portions of the Pauline Epistles in the Freer Collection at Washington. Probably seventh century. Definitely "Neutral" or Alexandrian in character, and agrees more with א and A than with B.
is a ninth or tenth century copy of the Gospels,
with a typically "Syrian" or Byzantine text.
in the National Library at Paris, is conspicuous among the later uncials
for the antiquity of the text which it preserves, and it was probably copied
from a very early manuscript.
It is assigned to the eighth century, and contains the Gospels complete, except
for a few small lacunae.
It has a large number of Alexandrian readings in the modern sense of that term
(having in fact probably been written in Egypt), and it is very frequently
found in conjunction with B in readings that are now generally accepted as
One notable case in which its evidence is of special interest is at the end
of St. Mark's Gospel.
Like B and א, it breaks off at the end of verse 8;
but unlike them it proceeds to give two alternative endings.
The second of these is the ordinary verses 9-20, but the first is a shorter
one, which is also found in a small number of minor authorities:
"But they told to Peter and his companions all the things that had been
said unto them.
And after these things the Lord Jesus himself also, from morning even until
evening, sent forth by them the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal
It is certain that this is not the original ending of St. Mark's Gospel,
but it is very probably an early substitute for the true ending, which may
have been lost through some accident, or else not written at all.
In any case it is interesting as showing the independent character of L and increasing the general value of its testimony elsewhere.
Mainly at Leningrad, but with some leaves at Patmos, the Vatican, the British Museum, Vienna and Genoa. About half of a fine copy of the Gospels, written in the sixth century in silver letters upon purple vellum, with a Byzantine text. The Leningrad portion was discovered at Caesarea in Cappadocia in 1896. Akin to O, Φ and Σ, especially the last.
Forty-three leaves of St. Matthew, written in the sixth century in gold letters upon purple vellum, with five illustrations. Acquired at Sinope in Asia Minor by a French officer in 1899, and now in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris.
a palimpsest of the ninth century at Leningrad,
containing Acts, Epistles, and Revelation,
and valuable as one of the few uncials of the last book.
a palimpsest in the British Museum (Add. MS.17211). It was brought from the convent of St. Mary Deipara, in the Nitrian Desert of Egypt. It contains 516 verses of St. Luke in a fine large hand of the sixth century, over which a Syriac treatise by Severus of Antioch has been written in the eighth or ninth century. Its text is distinctly valuable, and it contains a large proportion of pre-Syrian readings.
in the Propaganda at Rome;
peculiar as containing both Greek and Coptic texts, the latter being of the
Thebaic or Sahidic version.
It is only a fragment, or rather several small fragments, containing 179 verses
of St. Luke and St. John.
It is of the fifth century, and contains an almost entirely Neutral text, with
a few Alexandrian corrections.
Dr. Hort ranks it next after B and א for excellence of
Several fragments of other Graeco-Coptic MSS. have since been discovered of
lesser size and importance.
in the Freer Collection at Washington. Acquired by Mr. C. L. Freer in Egypt in 1906. Apparently late fourth or fifth century.
It contains four Gospels in an order common in the West, Matthew, John, Luke,
Its text varies in character, as if it had been copied from several different
In Matthew, John i.1-v.12 (a quire added in the seventh century to replace
one that had been damaged), and Luke viii.13 to the end, it is of the common
Byzantine type, but the rest of John and Luke are Alexandrian, Mark i.1-v.30
is Western, and the rest of Mark is Caesarean.
After Mark xvi.14 there is a remarkable insertion, part of which is quoted
by Jerome from "some copies, chiefly Greek":
"And they answered and said.
This generation of lawlessness and faithlessness is under Satan,
who doth not allow the truth of God to prevail over the unclean things of the
Therefore make manifest thy righteousness.
So spake they now to Christ,
and Christ said unto them.
The tale of the years of the dominion of Satan is fulfilled,
but other terrible things draw near,
and by reason of the sins of them I was delivered over unto death,
that they may return to the truth and sin no more;
that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness
which is in heaven."
Plate XX shows this passage.
a palimpsest, consisting of thirty-two leaves, containing 295 verses of St. Matthew in writing of the sixth or possibly the fifth century, over which some portions of Greek Fathers were written in the tenth century. It was evidently written in Egypt, in a very large and beautiful hand. Its text is decidedly pre-Syrian, but it agrees with א rather than with B.
is a nearly complete copy of the Gospels in Greek, with a Latin translation between the lines, written in the ninth century by an Irish scribe at the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland. It was originally part of the same manuscript as G3 of the Pauline Epistles. Its text, except in St. Mark, is of the ordinary Syrian type and calls for no special notice, but in St. Mark it is decidedly Neutral or Alexandrian, of the same type as L. top
This letter, which was formerly given to a number of uncial fragments,
has now been transferred to a curious new discovery,
to which attention was first called by von Soden in 1906.
It is a manuscript of the Gospels, of uncouth appearance,
probably of the ninth century,
written in late, rough uncials by a scribe who knew very little Greek,
which formerly belonged to the monastery of Koridethi, near the Caspian,
and is now at Tiflis.
In most of the Gospels its text is not far removed from the common Byzantine
type, but in Mark it is quite different.
Here it is so nearly akin to the two groups of minuscules, 1-118-131-209 and
13-69-124-346, referred to above (Ch.VI,
p.117), that the whole may be regarded as a single family, Family Theta;
and it is to this family that Streeter gave the name of the Caesarean text.
A copy of Luke and John which has been shown to have been originally part
of the same manuscript as minuscule 566, at Leningrad.
Like E of the Septuagint, it was written partly in uncials and partly in minuscules,
in the ninth or tenth century, when the change from one style of writing to
the other was taking place;
and as with E, Tischendorf divided the two portions and disposed of them to
It has a note, also found in twelve minuscules, to the effect that its text
was derived "from the ancient copies at Jerusalem."
is a palimpsest containing 342 verses of St. Luke, written in the eighth century, but covered in the thirteenth with a lectionary. It is now in the library of the British and Foreign Bible Society in London, whither it was brought from the island of Zante in 1820. Its text belongs to the same class as L, having a large number of Alexandrian readings, and also some of Western type. Dr. Hort places it next to T.
A copy of the Gospels, formerly at Smyrna, of the ninth century, which has
recently been made the subject of a special study by Mrs. Kirsopp Lake, who
regards it as the head of a sub-family of the Byzantine type, akin to, but
not descended from, the Codex Alexandrinus (A).
A copy of Matthew and Mark, written in the sixth century in silver letters on purple vellum, with illustrations. Found at Rossano in Calabria in 1879. In text it is closely akin to N.
The fourth of the group of purple manuscripts, N-O-Σ- Φ),
at Berat in Albania.
Contains only Matthew and Mark, with a note saying that it was mutilated "by
the Franks of Champagne" -
i.e., probably some of the Crusaders.
Its text is generally Byzantine, but it contains the long addition after Matt.xx.28,
already quoted as occurring in D.
A copy of the Gospels (from Mark ix.5 onwards), Acts, and Epistles, of the
eighth or ninth century,
in the monastery of the Laura on Mount Athos.
Like L, it inserts the shorter ending to Mark before the longer one.
Examined in 1899 by Lake, who showed that its text in Mark is an early one,
with readings both Alexandrian and Western, but chiefly akin to the group א G
33 | 81 | 157 | 565
Of the great mass of the minuscules it is not proposed to give any detailed description; but a few may be mentioned as of some individual importance. The total now included in the official list is 2429, besides 1678 Lectionaries.
First there is the group 1-118-131-209, known as Family 1, investigated by Lake in 1902, and now forming part of the Caesarean text. MS.1 is also notable as having been one of the MSS. used by Erasmus in preparing the first printed Greek New Testament. But in the main he followed MS. 2 in the Gospels, a fifteenth-century copy of the Byzantine text in its latest form.
Next there is the other group, 13-69-124-346, with a number of other MSS.
showing more or less affinity with them,
which is known as the Ferrar group,
from its first identifier and editor,
or Family 13.
This also has now been subsumed into the Caesarean text.
A MS. of the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, at Paris, of the ninth century, with a text akin to B, and considered by Hort to be the best of the cursives.
A MS. of Acts, written in 1044, in the British Museum. One of the best minuscules of the Acts, ranking in quality with the leading uncials.
In the Vatican. Said by Hort to be in the same class as 33 and claimed by Streeter for the Caesarean group.
At Leningrad, written in gold letters on purple vellum. It has the same subscription with reference to copies at Jerusalem as A, and in Mark is akin to the Caesarean type.
Of the rest we cannot say anything here. For the most part they do but produce, with less and less authority as they become later in date, the prevailing Syrian type of text. No doubt good readings may lurk here and there among them, but the chances against it are many; and the examination of them belongs to the professional student of Biblical criticism, and not to those who desire only to know the most important of the authorities upon which rests our knowledge of the Bible text.
Only for completeness' sake, and as an example of the smaller form of writing prevalent in Greek manuscripts from the ninth century to the fifteenth, is a plate given here of one of these "cursive" MSS. (Plate XXI).
The manuscript here reproduced was written in the year 1022, and is now in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. It contains the Gospels only, and its official designation in the list of New Testament MSS. is Evan.348. The page of which the upper half is here produced, on the same scale as the original, contains the beginning of St. Luke's Gospel. Its text is of no special interest; it is simply an average specimen of the Greek Gospels current in the Middle Ages, in the beautiful Greek writing of the eleventh century.
The most important authorities for the text of the Greek Testament have now
been described in some detail;
and it is to be hoped that the reader to whom the matter contained in these
pages is new will henceforth feel a livelier interest when he strolls through
the galleries of one of our great libraries and sees the opened pages of these
ancient witnesses to the Word of God.
These are no common books, such as machinery turns out in hundreds every day
in these later times.
Each one of them was written by the personal labour and sanctified by the prayers
of some Egyptian or Syrian Christian of the early days, some Greek or Latin
monk of the Middle Ages, working in the writing-room of some great monastery
of Eastern or Western Europe, some scribe in a professional scriptorium.
Each has its own individuality, which must be sought out by modern scholars
with patient toil and persevering study.
And from the comparison of all, from the weighing, and not counting merely,
of their testimony, slowly is being built up a purer and more accurate representation
of the text of our sacred books than our fathers and our forefathers possessed,
and we are brought nearer to the very words which Evangelist and Apostle wrote,
more than eighteen hundred years ago.