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In a complete collection of the Apocryphal writings the Apostles' Creed is necessarily included, and as necessarily given, as it stood in the fourth and until the sixth century (from Mr. Justice Bailey's edition of the Common Prayer Book), without the article of Christ's Descent into Hell;—an interpolation concerning which the author of the Preface to the Catalogue of the MSS. of the King's Library thus expresses himself: "I wish that the insertion of the article of Christ's Descent into Hell into the Apostles' Creed could be as well accounted for as the insertion of the said verse (1 John, v. 7*).
*Catalogue of MSS. of the king's library, by David Casly, 4to, in Pref. p. xxiv. For large particulars of Christ's Descent into Hell, see the Gospel of Nicodemus, chap. xiii. to xx.
The verse above alluded to by Mr. Casly is 1 John, v. 7. This spurious passage, in the authorized version of the New Testament, printed by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the King's Printers, and appointed to be read in churches, stands thus. "For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." This verse, Mr. Casly says, is now generally given up; being in no Greek MS. save one at Berlin, which is discovered to have been transcribed from the printed Biblia Complutensia; and another modern one at Dublin, probably translated or corrected from the Latin Vulgate. It is conjectured that it may have been inserted by the mistake of a Latin copyist: for the owners of MSS. often wrote glosses or paraphrases of particular passages between the lines, and ignorant transcribers sometimes mistook these notes for interlined omissions by the original scribes, and accordingly in re-copying the MSS. incorporated these glosses or paraphrases into the body of the text. For instance, Jerome, in one of his letters, says that an explanatory note which he himself had made in the margin of his Psalter had been incorporated by some transcriber into the text; and Dr. Bentley, in the 96th page of his Epistle, annexed to Malala's Chronicle, has proved Elva opos EσTIV EV Tη Apaßia, in Galatians iv. 25, to be of the same stamp.†
It is scarcely necessary to tell the reader, that in 1516 and 1519 Erasmus published his first and second editions of the Greek Testament, ooth which omitted the three heavenly witnesses. That having promised
Cat. King's Libr. Pref. p. xxi.
The best that can be said for it is, that it might possibly have come in, in like manner, not long before, from a
to insert them in his text, if they were found in a single Greek MS.; he was soon informed of the existence of such a MS. in England, and consequently inserted 1 John, v. 7, in his third edition, 1522. That this MS., after a profound sleep of two centuries, has at last been found in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. That the Complutension edition, which was not published till 1522, though it professes to be printed in 1514, has the seventh and eighth verse patched up from the modern Latin MS., and the final clause of the eighth verse, which is omitted in its proper place, transferred to the end of the seventh. That Colinæus, in 1534, omitted the verse on the faith of MS. That R. Stephens, in his famous edition of 1550, inserted the verse, and marked the words èv Tật oùpavŵr as wanting in seven MSS. That Beza, suspecting no mistake, concluded that these seven MSS. contained the rest of the seventh verse, and the eighth with the words èv tŷi yŶi.*
Sir Isaac Newton wrote a Dissertation upon this passage, wherein he gave a clear, exact, and comprehensive view of the whole question, and wherein he says, that when the adversaries of Erasmus had got the date.t
The text is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. 2. Nor in any Latin manuscript earlier than the ninth century. 3. It is not found in any of the ancient versions. 4. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers, though, to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, they have cited the words both before and after this. 5. It is not cited by any of the early Latin Fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. 6. It is first cited by Vigilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century, and by him it is suspected to have been forged. 7. It has been admitted as spurious in many editions of the New Testament since the reformation :-in the two first of Erasmus, in those of Aldus Colinæus, Zwinglius, and lately of Griesbach. 8. It was omitted by Luther in his German Version: in the old English Bibles of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth, it was printed in small types, or included in brackets:
Porson's Letters to Travis. Preface.
+ Newton's works by Horsley, 4to, vol v. p. 549.-Bishop Horsley, in his edition of Sir Isaac Newton's works, has not included several MSS. on theological subjects for the reasons which perhaps induce the nobleman in whose possession they remain to withold them still from publication. His Lordship's judgment in this respect is said to be influenced by a prelate whose notions do not accord either with Sir Isaac's opinions of criticism. They are fairly transcribed, in the illustrious author's own hand-writing, ready for the press; and it is to be regretted that the production of his luminous mind be suppressed by any censorship, however respectable.
gloss or paraphrase, that was at first put in the margin or between the lines."
but between the years 1566 and 1580, it began to be printed as it now stands by whose authority is not known.-See Travis's Letters to Gibbon, and Purson's to Travis. Also Griesbach's excellent Dissertation on the Text at the end of his second volume. Archbishop Newcome omits the text, and the Bishop of Lincoln expresses his conviction that it is spurious. (Elem. of Theol. vol. ii. p. 90, note.)*
In a sumptuous Latin MS. of the Bible, written so late as the thir teenth century, formerly belonging to the Capuchin Convent at Montpe lier, afterwards in the possession of Harley, Earl of Oxford, and now deposited in the British Museum, the verse of the three heavenly witnesses is wanting, as appears by the following literal extract from it:
Hic est qui uenit per aquam (I sanguineiu. the rpë. Non in aq solum, sed in aqua (I sanguinem (I spu. spe est qui testificatur. quoniam rpe est heritas. Quoniam tres sunt. qui testimonium dant in tra. Spe. aqua. (I sanguis. Et tres unum sunt.†
The following Greek and Latin authors HAVE NOT QUOTED THE TEXT:+
Greek authors:-Irenæus-Clemens Alexandrinus-Dionysius Alexandrinus, (or the writer against Paul of Samosata under his name)— Athanasius-The Synopsis of Scripture-The Synod of Sardica-Epiphanius-Basil—Alexander of Alexandria—Gregory Nyssen-Nazianzen, with his two commentators, Elias Cretensis and Nicetas-Didymus de Spiritu Sancto-Chrysostome-An author under his name de sancta et consubstantiali Trinitate-Cæsarius-Proclus-The Council of Nice, as it is represented by Gelasius Cyzicenus-Hyppolytus-Andrias-Six catena quoted by Simon-The marginal scholia of three MSS.Hesychius-John Damascenus-Oecumenius-Euthymius Zigabenus.
Latin authors:-The author de Baptismo Hæreticorum, among Cyprian's works-Novatian Hilary-Lucifer Calazitanus-Jerome-Augus tine-Ambrose-Faustinus-Leo Magnus-The author de PromissisEncherius-Facundus-Cerealis-Rusticus-Bede-Gregory-Philastrius --Arnobius, junior-Pope Eusebius.
It is evident that if the text of the heavenly witnesses had been known
· Improved version of the New Testament, 1808. +HARL. COLL. MSS. Cod. 4773.
Porson's Letters to Travis, p. 363
By the publication of this volume, the Editor conceives he has rendered an acceptable service to the theological student and the ecclesiastical antiquary; he has endeavoured to render it more gratifying to the reader, and
from the beginning of Christianity, the ancients would have eagerly seized it; inserted it in their creeds, quoted it repeatedly against the heretics, and selected it for the brightest ornament of every book that they wrote upon the subject of the Trinity. In short, if this verse be really genuine, notwithstanding its absence from ail the visible Greek MSS. except two, one of which awkwardly translates the verse from the Latin, and the other transcribes it from a printed book; notwithstanding its absence from all the versions except the vulgate; and even from many of the best and oldest MSS. of the vulgate; notwithstanding the deep and dead silence of all the Greek writers down to the thirteenth, and most of the Latins down to the middle of the eight century; if, in spite of all these objections, it be still genuine, no part of Scripture whatsoever can be proved either spurious or genuine; and Satan has been permitted, for many centuries, miraculously to banish the finest passage in the N.T. from the eyes and memories of almost all the Christian authors, translators, and transcribers.*
Sir Isaac Newton observes, "that what the Latins have done to this ext (1 John v. 7), the Greeks have done to that of St. Paul (Timothy, ii. 16.) For by changing o into the abbreviation of Oeos,, they now read, Great is the mystery of Godliness: GOD manifested in the flesh: whereas all the churches for the first four or five hundred years, and the authors of all the ancient versions, Jerome, as well as the rest, read, “Great is the mystery of godliness which was manifested in the flesh." Sir Isaac gives a list of authors, who, he says, 'wrote, all of them, in the fourth and fifth centuries for the Deity of the Son, and incarnation of God; and some of them largely, and in several tracts; and yet," he says, "I cannot find that they ever allege this text to prove it, excepting that Gregory Nyssent once urges it, (if the passage crept not into him out of some marginal annotation). In all the times of the hot and lasting Arian controversy, it never came into play; though now these disputes are over, they that read God made manifest in the flesh, think Sir Isaac says, one of the most obvious and pertinent texts for the business."
There are other interpolations and corruptions of passages in the New Testament, but the Editor perceives that the few observations he has hastily collected and thrown together in this note, have already extended it to undue length, and it must here close.
* Porson's Letters to Travis, 8vo. p. 402.
more convenient for reference, by arranging the books into chapters, and dividing the chapters into verses. He has only to add, that the lover of old literature will here find the obscure but unquestionable origin of several remarkable relations in the Golden Legend, the Lives of the Saints, and similar productions, concerning the birth of the Virgin, her marriage with Joseph, on the budding of his rod, the nativity of Jesus, the miracles of his Infancy, his labouring with Joseph at the carpentry trade, and the actions of his followers. Several of the papal pageants for the populace, and the monkish mysteries performed as dramas at Chester, Coventry, Newcastle, and in other parts of England, are almost verbatim representations of the stories. Many valuable pictures by the best masters-prints by the early engravers, particularly of the Italian and German schools-woodcuts in early black letter, and black books-and illumination of missals and monastic MSS.-receive immediate elucidation on referring to the Apocryphal New Testament, and are without explanation from any other source.