Page:The New Testament in the original Greek - 1881.djvu/63

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INTRODUCTION TO THE AMERICAN EDITH >\ K

Moreover, the large number of various readings is a pot* itive advantage in ascertaining the true text The word of the wise man may be applied here: "In the multitude

die New Tr-t aiiii-ut is thus rendered uncertain. But a cartful analysis will show that nineteen twentieths of these are of uo more consequence than the palpable errata in the first proof of a modern printer, they have so little authority, or are so mani festly false, that they may be at once dismissed from considera- tion. Of those which remain, probably nine tenths are of no importance as regards the sense; the differences either cannot be represented in a translation, or affect the form of expression merely, not the essential meaning of the sentence. Though tin corrections made by the revisers in the Greek text of the Ni u Testament followed by our translators probably exceed two thousand, hardly one tenth of them, perhnps not one twentieth, will be noticed by the ordinary reader. Of the small residue, many are indeed of sufficient interest and importance to consti- tute one of the strongest reasons for making a new rcvi>i<>n. which should no longer suffer the known errors of copyists to take the place of the words of the evangelists and apostle*. But the chief value of the work accomplished by the self-deny- ing icholars who have spent so much time and labour in the search for manuscripts, and in their collation- or publication, does not consist, after all, in the corrections of the text which have resulted from their researches. These corrections may affect a few of the passages which have been relied on for the support of certain doctrines, but not to such an extent as ewen- tially to alter the state of the question. Still less is any ques- tion of Christian duty touched by the multitude of various read- ings The greatest service which the scholars who have de- voted themselves to critical studies and the collection of critical materials have rendered has been the establishment of the fact that, on the whole, the New Testament writings have come down to us in a text remarkably free from important corrup- tions, even in the late and inferior manuscript* on which the so-called 'received text' was founded; while the helps which

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