« PreviousContinue »
which seems to have vested him with a discretionary, power of selecting chiefly those sacred Scriptures, which he knew to be useful and necessary to the doctrine of the Church, with the sacred text, as it is marked in the corrected edition lately put forth by M. Griesbach, we shall perhaps discover how far it is probable he acted to the full extent of his powers, and removed those parts of Scripture from the circulated edition, which he judged to be neither conducive to use nor doctrine, and which are now marked as probable interpolations in the received text.” p. 26. p. 8.
Were we to assume the accuracy of Mr. Nolan's translation of the letter to Eusebius, we should even then dispute the validity of his conclusions. But the correctness of his rendering is more than doubtful. Mr. Falconer properly inquires, whether there is any Greek term in the letter, which denotes an edition ; any thing which denotes the conveyance of the Imperial authority, or even the intimation of the linperial pleasure, to do any thing more than to get fifty well-written copies of the Scriptures, of a convenient forin, for the service of the churcbes at Constantinople. And these inquiries he very satisfactorily determines in the negative. The correctness of the following criticism is we think indisputable.
• Let us examine however in what words and in what manner Con. stantine “invests” Eusebius with this power, according to Mr. Nolan's version of the instrument. “ It seemeth good unto us to submit to
your consideration, that you would order to be written.” From this translation it would seem, that Eusebius might consider whether he would order these copies to be made or not, and that it would depend upon the result of this deliberation, whether he would issue his orders for this purpose. The fact however is, that the words translated « submit to your consideration,” do not convey this meaning. They are these, πρέπον γάρ κατεφάνη το δηλωσαι τη ση συνέσει.
Similar phraseology is to be found in another letter of Constantine, addressed to several bishops at Antioch. It is also used in another letter of Constantine, in which he commends Eusebius for refusing the overseership, or bishoprick, of the church at that place. “But your ouvions acted very pro. perly in refusing the overseership of the church at Antioch,” at non σύνεσις υπέρευγε πεποιηκε, παραιτουμένη την επισκοπίας της κατά την Αντιόχειαν Exxancías. And again in another passage ; “ at which council it will be necessary
for your σύνεσις to be present ;” ών των συμβουλία και την ση) συνεσιν παρε εναι δεησει. . When Constantine addresses the bishops Theodotus, Theodorus, Narcissus, Ætius, Alpheius, and the other bishops at Antioch, he uses the same words; “ I have read what was written by your συνεσις ;” ανέγνων τα γραφεν τα παρά της υμετέρας συνέσεως. Lib. iii.
po 619. Vit. Constant. ed. Reading. And in the close of the same letter we have the words which Mr. N. translates, “ submit to your « consideration,” καλως δεν είχε δηλωσαι τη συνέσει υμών; and in another passage, “ your ouvions will be able to regulate the election in such a
manner, that–” δυνήσεται υμων η σύνσεις ουτω ρυθμίσει την χειροτονίαν ' I conclude therefore, that the word oursons is a term denoting an
abstract good quality, a virtue, or excellent property, which it was use? to coveri into an expression of compliment, or a title of respect.-HS ΣΥΝΕΣΙΣ, your intelligence." " It seemed proper to signify to your intelligence that,” &c. This 1 conceive to be the proper ex. planation and force of the expression used by Constantine" pp. 5, 6!
Mr. Nolan's translation is exceptionable in o her particulars: “ for the purpose" has not any equivalent expression in the original, nor is it implied in the term Fyxatasxévols.
The copies of the Scriptures ordered by Constantine, were to be written on well prepared parchment, εν διφθέραις εγκατασκευοις, by scribes who excelled in the art of beautiful writing, and who were celebrated for the accuracy of their transcripts ; and these particular copies were to be both easy to be read, and easily portable for
use.' They were for the use of the churches wbich Constantine had lately built at Constantinople, and were therefore to be prepared by the most excellent artists. Such, we agree with Mr. Falconer, was the purport of the directions conveyed to Eusebius in the Emperor's letter, and these directions, we suppose, were transmited to the Bishop of Cæsarea, as one who well understood the minner in which the required copies could best be provided for the accommodation of the churches. Such we take to be the sense of “Ων μάλιστα την τ’ επισκευής και την χρήση των της εκκλησίας λόγω αναγκαίαν είναι γινώσκεις, rendered by Mr. Nolan, whereof chiefly, you know, the preparation and use to be ne
cessary to the doctrine of the church ;' but for which rendering Mr. Falconer proposes to read,' necessary in consideration of,
having regard to the nature and constitution of the church.' The doctrine of the church was, we think, entirely out of the question.
The construction which Mr. Nolan puts upon the letter of Constantine, it will have been noticed, is, that Eusebius was invested with the discretionary power of preparing such a test of the Sacred Scriptures, as he might judge most consonant to the doctrine of the church. But a writer must possess a strange faculty at drawing conclusions, who can deduce a position of this kind from the Imperial letter. All the directions," Mr. Falconer justly remarks, relate to externals, to the parchment, the * writing, the size, the immediate transmission of the copies, the
mode of their conveyance to Constantinople, and the person who was entrusted with the care of tbem on the road."
Mr. Nolan, on the supposed credit of the passage in Eusebios, which we bave already quoted, and which Mr. Falconer bas clearly shewn to be erroneously translated, and altogether misconstrued by him, imputes to the bishop a daring and criminal proceeding : • He removed those parts of Scripture which he
judged to be neither conducive to use nor doctrine, and which are now marked as probable interpolations in the received text.
They amount principally to the following : The account of the • woman taken in adultery, Jobn vii. 53. viii. 11. and three texts, ' which assert in the strongest manner the mystery of the 'Tri
nity, of the Incarnation, and Redemption. I John v. 7. I Tim. . ii. 16. Acts xx. 28.' In this manner did Eusebius, according to Mr. Nolan, exercise the discretionary puwer' with which he was vested, of selecting chiefly those sacred Scriptures, which he kuew to be useful and necessary to the doctrine of the church. And how are we to digest this? Could Eusebius, at Cæsarea, in the fourth century, give out and obtain circulation for copies of the Scriptures which he had modelled according to his own will, and from which he had expunged whatever passages did not happen to please him? Had he previously obtained possession of all existent copies of the New Testament, and been successful in blotting out of the reinembrance of all Christians the recollection of the passages which he had presumed to cancel? Were the preceding passages the only ones which a person who could obliterate them from the sacred text, would think of removing? And if Eusebius could perform an office of this kind, were there not other persons who bad quite as good an inclination to the same work, and by whom other passages which they might not approve, may have been also expunged? If Euscbius could expunge to the extent of his wishes, be might also have inserted numerous passages, it being easy to conceive that a person who could do the former, had no reason to withhold him from the latter proceeding. Such consequences as these, all admissible on Mr. Nolan's assumption, should induce a strong hesitation in the mind of any writer, before he indulges himself in the amusing work of framing an hypothesis wholly irrespective of fact. What might be the 'will of Eusebius, we presume pot to say, but we do think that the power of altering the Scriptures was completely out of his reach ; and we are quite certain that so far as the records of Ecclesiastical History are our guide to the knowledge of past transactions, which involve the wilful corruption of the Scriptures, there is not the shadow of authority to attach such culpability to the person whom Mr. Nolan has exbibited as a man guilty of this crime. The only fact, the fair, and simple account of the matter which relates to Eusebius, in regard of the question brought forward by Mr. Nolan, is, that he was directed by the Emperor Constantive, to provide fifty copies of the Scriptures, of elegant execution, for the churches which he had erected in his new metropolis. This is the nature of the entire transaction. What possible ground could a writer of sobriety and caution find in the affair, on which to rest such positions as the following ? • At the beginning of this century (the fourth)
an edition of the original Greek was published by Eusebius, of · Cæsarea, under the sanction of Constantine the great.' "The
edition of the Scriptures dispersed and thus altered by hiin, was • peculiarly accommodated to the opinions of the Arians. "The • first edition of the Scriptures published with the royal authority.' . The peculiar alterations which the text has undergone from ( the hand of Eusebius.' Eusebius expunged these verses ".(i. e.) Acts xx. 28. 1.Tim. ii. 16, 1 John v. 7.) from bis text,
and every manuscript from which they have disappeared is li' neally descended from his edition. This is hypothesis with a witness!
• 10. But“ now the charge is to be brought home to Eusebius,” p. 35. The latter part of St. Mark's Gospel “ was wanting in most copies of “ the Evangelists extant, in the time of St Jerome, the beginning of 6 the fifth century
Eusebius composed a work called the Canons, a kind of harmonical tables, in which this part of St. Mark's Gospel, is omitted. Mr. Nolan's conclusion is, that " it must have been ex" punged from the original text,” and that “there seems to be con“ sequently no other reasonable inference," but that “his edition agreed “ with them, and with the copies extant in the times of St Jerome, “ in omitting this passage,” p 36. What Eusebius omitted in his canons is evident; what he erased in the fifty copies sent to Constanti. nople, and whether he erased any thing, is far from evident. The former was an innocent act, the latter would have been a
gross fraud. But if these passages were erased from the fifty copies, it is clear by the hypothesis that the MSS. at Cæsraea contained them, and subsequent copies would have defeated the intentions of the episcopal iinpostor. It is the argument of Mr. Nolan, that what Eusebius omitted in his canons, he expunged in the fifty copies of the Scriptures destined for the Constantinopolitan new churches. Will it exculpate the Bishop to call these fifty copies“ his edition" of the New Testament? We must remember that the original MSS. at Cæsarea were untouched, according to the hypothesis of Mr. N. and not afterwards removed from the library, by the Emperor or the Bishop.' p. 10.
Eusebius's canons do not include the latter part of Mark's Gospel :--and what does that prove? Nothing less, according to Mr. Nolan, than that Eusebius ' expunged' the passage, in his edition of the New Testament! A most unwar. rantable inference, truly. Does this omission admit of no other explanation than one wbich impeaches the bonesty of the man? Would it not be sufficiently accounted for by the hesitation of Eusebius respecting the passage, which might be wanting in the MSS. that he used?
We thank Mr. Falconer for this interesting tract, which is written in a sober and scholar-like manner. of its efficiency on the subject to which it relates, there can be but one opinion among those who, in such questions, form their judgementon the appropriate evidence by which alone they can be determined. We are glad to perceive in this tract, a particular examination of a subject to wliich, in our review of Dr. Laurence's pamphlet, we adverted, and a confirmation of the sentiinents which on that occasion we felt it to be our duty to express. Mr. Falconer is perfectly correct in the conclusion with wbich lie terminates his criticisms.
" It must not be concealed, that I have condemned a part of a work which that able reasoner and theologian, Dr. Magee, the Dean of Cork, has commended. What is commended or censured has not al. ways been examined. But I venture to affirm, “ that the broad and “ deep foundation” of Mr. N.'s work, consists of materials which no architect, who was building for the honour of true religion, would have employed.' p. 15.
Art. VI. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of London,
at the Visitation in July and August, 1818: By William, Lord Bishop of London. 8vo. pp. 32. 1818. THREE years have elapsed since we had occasion to notice
his Lordship's Primary Charge, a charge distinguished, as we regretted to remark, by its purely secular character, and its tone of feeble-minded jealousy and alarm with respect to the Sectaries. The present production is but a reiteration of the same sentiments.
The Primary Charge opened with a panegyric somewhat fulsome upon Bishop Randolph; the present, in place of that, commences with a panegyric upon his Lordship's clergy.
• It is a pleasing reflection, that in reviewing the various transactions of so many years, I discover no personal ground of complaint against any of my clergy: it is a subject of higher congratulation, that I am enabled to regard with so much satisfaction the general complexion of their professional conduct and attention to their sacred duties.'-.. • I may assert, with a justifiable confidence, that a body more truly respectable, for learning or piety than the clergy of this diocese, and less in need of allowance for human infirmity and error, will not easily be found.'
We can well imagine the secret amusement which this goodhumoured compliment afforded to some blushing subjects of his Lordship's commendation, but the Bishop must be better acquainted with the individual characters of his clergy thay we are, who know them only by common report.
No wonder that feeling this perfect satisfaction with the ministers of the diocese over which he has the singular felicity to preside, his Lordship should, in the succeeding paragraph, proceed to declare his conviction that every measure which tends
to improve the condition, or increase the influence of the clergy,
* Eclectic Review, N.S. Vol. IV, July 1815. p. 9. Vol. X. N. S.