The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/New Testament Criticism
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New Testament Criticism
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NEW TESTAMENT CRITICISM. Triple Evidence. — Logicians distinguish between metaphysical, physical and moral evidence for the things we know. Metaphysical evidence is based on the unchangeable essences of objects or on the analysis of our concepts; for example, the whole is greater than its parts. Physical evidence is based on the conditional stability of the laws of nature; for example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Moral evidence is based on the testimony of a witness; it implies that we have the genuine words of the witness, and that the witness is endowed with the necessary knowledge and veracity. The New Testament does not furnish us either metaphysical or physical evidence; we have to be content with moral evidence. And even this is not of the highest order. We do not listen to the words of eyewitnesses, but we have only a number of historical and doctrinal writings to consult. Again, we do not possess a single autograph of these writings; our New Testament text has been copied and copied again, edited and edited again, so that at present not a single verse reads exactly alike in all copies and editions. The very words of our witnesses seem to have become uncertain. Moreover, doubt has been raised as to the knowledge and the veracity of our New Testament writers; their evidence has been pronounced unreliable even in those passages in which their words are practically certain.
Criticism. — For these reasons the principles of criticism must be applied to the books of the New Testament. Lower or textual criticism will inquire into the genuineness of each verse and of every word of the New Testament. Higher criticism will investigate the authenticity of the entire New Testament books, and will test their reliability. Meanwhile, let not the metaphysician and the scientist underrate the evidence furnished by the New Testament writings. It is the evidence on which history is built; even the abstract thinker is content with this kind of evidence as soon as he leaves the region of speculation and enters into practical life.
Lower or Textual Criticism. — Lower or textual criticism strives to restore the original text of the New Testament Its method consists generally in a reversal of the process by which false readings have penetrated into the text. The original readings are suggested partly by the ingenuity of the critic, partly by the text of early manuscripts or of patristic quotations or again of early versions.
Original Manuscripts. — The original copies of our New Testament books must have been lost very early. No early Father appeals to the original manuscript in defense of his own peculiar reading of the text. Tertullian (de præscript. 36) and Peter of Alexandria (de pasch. vii; Migne, P. G., xviii, 517, 520) are no exceptions. Tertullian's words concerning the Pauline Epistles do not necessarily imply the existence of the original copies; and Peter's testimony is based on late authority. Neither can it be said that a fragment of Mark's original Gospel is still kept in Venice (Baron., Annal. ad ann. 485), and that the copy of Matthew's Gospel written by Barnabas is still extant in Constantinople (Assem., Biblioth. orient., ii, pp. 81 ff); for both relics are spurious.
Early Variations.— Some of the early ecclesiastical writers are of opinion that the New Testament text was corrupted intentionally by the heretics. This view is expressed by Irenæus (c. hær. i, 27; Migne, P. G., vii, 638), Dionysius of Corinth (Eus., H. E., iv, 23; Migne, P. G., xx, 388 ff.), Tertullian (c. Marc, v, passim), Eusebius (H. E., v, 28 Migne, P. G., xx, 516), and Epiphanius (hær., xlii, 9 ff.; Migne, P. G., xli, 708). We do not deny that heretical writers may have introduced one or another variant, but they cannot be held responsible for the great bulk of different readings. Nor are we at a loss to account for the early appearance of variations. (1) Oral tradition was prized higher in the earliest time of the Church than the written word. (2) The dogma of inspiration was not sufficiently well developed to demand a special amount of accuracy on the part of the copyists. (3) Most copyists did not work as official scribes of the Church, but transcribed the text for the use of private persons. (4) It must also be kept in mind that the scientific accuracy of later days was not a characteristic feature of the first centuries. (5) Finally, the copyists were fallible men, and as such they were not exempt from the various sources of accidental error to which all scribes are subject.
Earliest Witnesses for Variations. — Among the earliest witnesses for the existence of variants in the New Testament text must be reckoned Polycarp, Hegesippus, Papias, the Elders of Irenæus, Justin, Theodotus, the churches of Vienne and of Lyons, Marcion, Ptolemæus, Heracleon and Tatian. Nor can the variants, for the existence of which they testify, be regarded as mere accidental slips of memory. Polycarp's quotation of Acts ii, 24 (ad Philipp. 1, 2) disagrees with nearly all Greek codices and early visions, but it agrees with cod. D, the Vulgate, and several other versions. The double reading of this passage must then have existed even in his day. Irenæus (adv. hær. 30, 1; Migne, P. G., vii, 1203) appeals to ancient and accurate manuscripts in defense of a certain reading. Clement of Alexandria, too (Strom. iv, 6; Migne, P. G. vii, 1252), cites variants of certain passages. Various readings must therefore have been quite common in the 2d century. In the 3d century Origen complains of the great diversity in the codices (in Matt, xv, 14; Migne, P. G. xiii, 1293), and during the course of the 3d century Jerome attests that the evil grew rather than diminished (ad Dam., præf. in evang.). After the 4th century the occurrence of variants is attested by existing manuscripts, patristic quotations and faithful translations.
Incipient Stability. — It has been believed that Origen was the author of a revised text of the New Testament. But this opinion can hardly be reconciled with Origen's own words (in Matt, xv, 14; Migne, P. G. xiii, 1293). On the other hand, many learned men did not consider it below their dignity to aid in the transcription of the sacred text. Eusebius and Jerome (H. E VI xxxii, 3; de vir. ill. 75) testify that Pamphilus had transcribed certain texts. Jerome again (ep. 34; al. 141) tells us that the priests Acacius and Euzoius had been engaged in transcribing the sacred text in the library of Cæsarea. In other passages Jerome shows his esteem for the manuscripts written by Adamantius and Pierius (in Matt, xxiv, 26; in Gal. iii, 1; Migne, P. G., xxvi, 181, 348), the latter of whom was one of Origen's successors in the presidency of the Alexandrian school; but neither Jerome nor Eusebius can be cited as a witness for a text revision by either of Jerome's favorites (cf. Eus. H. E., vii, 32; Migne, P. G., xx, 732). True text revisions appear to have been edited by the Egyptian bishop Hesychius and the Antiochian priest Lucian. It is true that Jerome's words (ad Dam., præf. in evang.; de vir. ill. 77) are not as clear and definite as one might desire. Still they show that Hesychius and Lucian had paid considerable attention to the problem of the New Testament text. Hug, Eichhorn and W. Bousset have ventured to suggest that the work of Hesychius has been preserved in the so-called Alexandrian group of New Testament variants, while that of Lucian is variously connected with the Byzantine or the neutral group. But no proof for either view has thus far been advanced. It cannot be denied, however, that from the 4th or 5th century onward the variants in the New Testament crystallize into several types or forms, differing according to the country in which the respective manuscripts were written, the versions were made and the citations were employed.
Causes Which Effected the Stable Text Groups. — We have said that the different groups of variants were more or less attached to their place of origin. But loyalty to the customs of particular places was not the only cause of the incipient text stability. The following considerations will suggest additional reasons: (1) The local ecclesiastical authorities naturally insisted on having the transcriber copy the text current in each particular Church. (2) After the Church began to enjoy the blessings of peace under the reign of Constantine, the bishops had better opportunities to regulate the interior affairs of their respective dioceses (cf Sozom., H. E. i, 11; Migne, P. G. lxvii, 889). (3) Owing to Diocletian's decree concerning the destruction of sacred books, many copies of the New Testament had been destroyed during the late persecution, so that the number of the model texts was greatly reduced (Eus., H. E. viii, 2; Migne, P. G. xx, 745). (4) Finally, the Emperor Constantine charged Eusebius with the transcription of 50 new codices which were donated to the various imperial foundations and thus became the model text for innumerable other copies (cf. Eus., Vit. Constant., iv, 34, 36, 37; Migne, P. G. xx, 1181 ff.). Here we have an explanation of the fact that the so-called Syrian or Byzantine group of texts attained such an overwhelming popularity.
The Written Text from the 4th to the 16th Century. — Though from the 4th century onward the particular churches had their own peculiar groups of variants which they propagated in preference to other readings, it must not be imagined that the lines of demarkation between these text-families are mathematically accurate. Suppose we denote by 1 the text peculiar to the Church A, by 2 that current in the Church B, by 3 that peculiar to the Church C, etc., then the text peculiar to the Church Z will not be entirely new, but in all likelihood it will be a mixture of 1, 2, 3; and the text of the Church Y will be a mixture expressed by 3, 2, 1, and similarly the text of the Church X will be the mixture of 2, 1, 3. And while the codices were thus propagated, fairly faithful reproductions of parts of the text were kept for us by Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, the two Cyrils, Basil, the two Gregorys, Chrysostom, Theodoret and Ephræm. To these illustrious men must be added Andrew of Cappadocia for the 5th century. Venerable Bede, John Damascene and Alcuin for the 8th, Photius for the 9th, Suidas and Arethas for the 10th, Theophylactus, Œcumenius and Euthemius for the 11th and 12th, the Correctoria for the 13th and Laurentius Valla for the 15th. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of men and works important for textual or lower criticism.
New Testament Codices. — Greek manuscripts are divided into uncials and cursives or minuscles. In uncial writing all the letters are large and divided. The other class of manuscripts is called minuscule, because its letters are small; it is called cursive, because its letters are linked together in a running hand. Broadly speaking, the manuscripts written before the 10th century are uncial; those written between the 10th and the invention of printing (1454 A.D.) are minuscule or cursive. Not counting eight manuscript psalters containing the text of the hymns found in the third Gospel, the New Testament uncials number 114; two of these belong to the 4th century, 15 to the 5th, 24 to the 6th, 17 to the 7th, 19 to the 8th, 31 to the 9th, 6 to the 10th. But only one of all these contains the complete text of the New Testament; four others contain the greatest part of it. Besides these five, there are 81 gospel manuscripts (12 complete or nearly so, 14 partial ones and 55 fragmentary), 13 of the Book of Acts (five complete or nearly so, eight more or less fragmentary), five of the Catholic Epistles (four more or less complete, one fragment), 20 of the Pauline Epistles (seven more or less complete, 13 fragmentary). There are four complete manuscripts of the Apocalypse, and one defective one. Of the cursive manuscripts more than 1,200 contain the Gospels, more than 400 the Book of Acts, more than 500 the Pauline Epistles, more than 180 the Apocalypse. Besides, textual criticism knows more than 260 lectionaries with fragments of the Book of Acts and of the Epistles, and more than 950 evangelistaria, about 100 of which are uncial manuscripts. The investigation into the origin and the relationship of the various cursive manuscripts is far from being complete. To facilitate reference, the uncial manuscripts were denoted by capital letters, either Latin or Greek or even Hebrew, while the cursives were indicated by Arabic figures. H. Fr. von Soden has changed this notation considerably. On the list arranged according to this improved plan, not merely the identity of Soden's 2,328 manuscripts is indicated, but also their age and contents (‘Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer altesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte’; Bd. i.).
The Printed Text. — It was in 1516 that Erasmus published the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament text. He based his work on six manuscripts at most; of these none was complete and only one valuable. New and improved editions of the Erasmian text were issued in 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535. Meanwhile, the polygot edition of Cardinal Ximenes, which had been prepared with much greater care and had left the press on 10 Jan. 1514, was published in 1522 (perhaps in 1520); but being limited to 600 copies, it never reached a large circulation. Not to mention other reissues of these two main editions, Robert Estienne or Stephanus repeated in his third and fourth editions (1550, 1551) almost the pure Erasmian text, adding in the margin variants based on 15 manuscripts and the polygot of Ximenes. The English Authorized Version and the so-called Received Text current in England follow the third edition of Stephanus. His fourth edition is the first Greek text divided up into verses. Among its numerous re-editors, Th. Beza and the Elzevir Brothers deserve the first rank. The preface of the second Elzevir edition, which appeared in 1633, contains the words “textum habes nunc ab omnibus receptum.” Hence the reprints of this text, and there are more than 170, are simply called the Received Text. In brief, then, the Received Text is the text of the second Elzevir edition, which appears to be a repetition of the Bezan text. This latter is the fourth edition of Stephanus corrected according to several notes of Henry Stephanus, some ancient versions and the Codex Claramontanus. In its turn, the Stephanus edition is a repetition of the fifth Erasmian edition, and the latter is based on cod. 1 and 2 for the text of the Gospels, on code. 4 for the text of Acts, on cod. 7 for the Pauline Epistles, on cod. 1 for the text of the Apocalypse, in such a way, however, that the successive reprints of this highly composite text were slightly emended according to a few other text sources.
Critical Apparatus.— Robert Estienne (c. 1546) and Th. Beza (c. 1565) are rightly considered as the pioneer collectors of an apparatus for the textual criticism of the New Testament. Br. Walton (c. 1657) and John Fell also cooperated at the building up of such an apparatus, but they were far surpassed by Mill (c. 1707), who collected about 30,000 variants out of more than 100 sources. Bengel (1687-1752) first divided the various readings into groups. He distinguished between an African and an Asiatic or Byzantine type of variants. Semler (c. 1740) and Griesbach (1745-1812) distinguished three text groups: the former called his divisions the Alexandrian, the Occidental and the Oriental or Byzantine family; the latter named his groups the Alexandrian, the Occidental and the Constantinopolitan. Eichhorn (c. 1820) and Hug (c. 1840) agreed with Griesbach, but Scholz (c. 1850) returned to the double division into Alexandrian and Byzantine readings. Tischendorf (1815-74) acknowledged four different types of text, an Alexandrian, a Latin, an Asiatic and a Byzantine; Tregelles (1813-75) favored again a dual division of texts, naming them the Constantinopolitan and the Alexandrian group. Finally, Westcott and Hort introduced four text families: the Syrian, the Occidental, the Alexandrian and the Neutral. The Syrian text is the vulgate text in the Greek Church since the middle of the 4th century. It is supposed to be a revised edition of a pre-Syrian vulgate text. This latter exhibits three peculiarities: one group of its variants is remarkable for paraphrases, interpolations, amplifications and omissions; this text constitutes the Occidental group. Another group of variants is peculiar for its grammatical and scholastic emendations, and this is called the Alexandrian. A third set of variants, though pre-Syrian, shows neither the diffusiveness of the Occidental text, nor the nicety of the Alexandrian; it is, therefore, called the Neutral group. Now, since the Syrian text figures as the vulgate of the Greek Church after the middle of the 4th century, and since about a century must be allowed for the rise and passing away of the Occidental and the Alexandrian families, the Neutral type of variants must have been the common text during the course of the 2d century. But it cannot be maintained that these premises and conclusions are admitted by all textual critics.
Critical Editions of the New Testament. — After the Received Text had become the current Greek text, it began to be regarded as quite sacred. Mill, Bengel and Wetstein collected various readings differing from the Received Text, but they did not dare to introduce them into the body of the New Testament. It was Griesbach who first changed the Received Text according to the authority of various manuscripts; but not even Griesbach had the full courage of his conviction. Besides, he was not acquainted with some of the oldest manuscripts discovered after his time (c. 1777). We need not delay over some of the less important editions published by Mace, Harwood, Matthæi, Alter, Scholz, Schott, Knapp, Tittmann, Hahn, Theile and others.
Lachmann (1793-1851) was the first who endeavored to construct a new text out of the oldest manuscripts known to him. Believing it to restore the original text, he tried to reconstruct the readings that had been current in the Church during the course of the 4th century. For this purpose he confined his study to a few of the oldest manuscripts, together with a few of the Fathers, and the best codices of the Latin Vulgate. He simply counted the authorities in favor of each reading and then followed the majority. Though the text thus prepared is far better than the Received Text, it is based on too small a number of witnesses, on too slight a knowledge of the few manuscripts actually used and on too mechanical a method of using them.
Tischendorf's services in the publication of manuscripts have probably done more to establish textual criticism on a sound basis than anything else. Besides, he published at least eight (according to another method of reckoning, 21) editions of the New Testament. It is to be regretted that he did not use his material more consistently and scientifically. Between 1841 and 1849 he differs considerably from the Received Text; between 1849 and 1869 he approaches quite closely to it; but after 1869 he again diverges from it. His last, or eighth edition (1864-72), still remains the standard collection of evidence for the Greek text. The prolegomena (1884-94) to this edition are the work of Gregory; they give an account of the manuscripts, the versions and the patristic quotations.
Tregelles (1831-75) published two manuscripts and collated many others with great accuracy, thus preparing his material for a revised Greek text. He based his edition exclusively on the most ancient authorities, but he used a larger number of them than Lachmann had done. Like his predecessors, he did not follow the principle of grouping in his new edition, so that the choice of his readings depends somewhat on personal preferences. Alford, Lightfoot, Weiss and others also have devoted a good deal of study to the New Testament text, but more with a view to its proper interpretation than its emendation.
Finally, Westcott and Hort have given us a new edition of the New Testament text based on the principle of grouping as explained under the preceding number. By adhering to the Neutral readings, they believe they reproduce the text current in the Church during the course of the 2d century. This edition has met with determined opposition, especially on the part of Scrivener and Burgon. These two scholars maintain that in the reconstruction of the Greek text all available authorities must be considered, and the most ancient must not be given the sole right of being heard. J. B. McClellan, too, based his English version of the Gospels (1875) on a revision of the Greek text, in which internal probability is taken as the most trustworthy guide in the selection between variants. Other good editions of the Greek text have been published by Weymouth, Gebhardt, Nestle, Bandscheid and Hetzenauer.
Recent Discoveries. — In recent years quite a number of discoveries have been made which have an important bearing on the textual criticism of the New Testament. The Arabic text of Tatian's ‘Diatessaron’ has come to light and was edited by Ciasca in 1888. The so-called second Epistle of Clement was discovered by Bryennios in 1875. In the last-named manuscript was also contained the Teaching of the Apostles, but it was not made known till 1883. A fragment of the Gospel of Peter was discovered in 1886 by members of the French Archæological Mission, who conducted excavations in the cemetery of Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. The Sinaitic Syriac manuscript was discovered by Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Gibson in 1892, during their visit to the monastery of Saint Catharine, on Mount Sinai. Part of the Codex Purpureus was brought to light in 1896 in the neighborhood of Cæsarea. Finally, some Sayings of our Lord were discovered by Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt in 1896 and 1903 on the site of the ancient Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt.
Results. — Confining ourselves to general statements, we may derive the following conclusions from what has been said: (1) The material for the textual criticism of the New Testament is constantly growing. (2) In Mill's time the number of variants in the New Testament was estimated at 30,000; in 1874 Scrivener counted at least 120,000; Schaff stated in 1892 that they did not fall much short of 150,000. (3) There are more variants than words in the New Testament; in fact, there are about 20 variants to each single verse and they increase with each new discovery. (4) Lower criticism shows that we need not be alarmed at the number of these variants and that the substance of the New Testament is absolutely certain. (5) Dr. Hort, who is surely good authority in this question, tells us that “the amount of what can in any sense be called substantial variation . . . can hardly form more than a thousandth part of the entire text.” (6) Kaulen enumerates only four passages in which the variants touch matters of faith: Mk. i, 1; Acts xx, 28; 1 Cor. xv, 51; and 1 Tim. iii, 16. But our faith is not affected by these variants; the revealed truth contained in these four passages is sufficiently certain from other texts of the New Testament. (7) Our classical scholars are satisfied that we possess the true text of those classical works of antiquity that have come down to us, though our knowledge of these works depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, while the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds and even thousands. (8) The fact that our New Testament variants differ only in form, not in substance, excludes the hypothesis that it is the result of syncretism. The very defenders of this hypothesis seem to feel the difficulty; hence they declare that the New Testament presents “a syncretism without parallel in literature, unless in the Old Testament.” (9) The number of manuscripts, of ancient versions, and of patristic quotations, is so great that it is practically certain that the original text of the New Testament is preserved in some one or another of these ancient authorities. This cannot be said of any other book of antiquity.
Higher Criticism. — The name Higher Criticism (q.v.) implies that it deals with problems more important than those of the textual or lower criticism. These problems are the questions concerning the integrity, the authenticity, the literary form and the trustworthiness of the various books. In the case of profane writings, these topics have been considered by a science called Literary Criticism. The higher critic ought to employ in his work not only the evidence of the literary work itself, but also external evidence that may be at his command. The internal evidence comprises the style of the book, the views of its authors, allusions to past or contemporary events, geographical and chronological data, religious, moral and political principles, grammatical forms, lexicographical peculiarities; in fact, all the details that offer a solid basis for comparing the work under consideration with other literary products of the same period of time or by the same author. After all these elements have been considered, the actual work of comparison can safely be undertaken.
Faults of Higher Criticism. — We do not say that all higher critics are sophists, nor do we imply that sophistry occurs more frequently in higher criticism than in any other branch of human science; we wish only to point out some faults that higher critics have actually committed in their process of reasoning. (1) Many higher critics begin their work with a prejudiced or biased mind. While the orthodox inquirer cares very little whether he has to admit a supernatural fact more or less, and is therefore free to follow objective evidence, the unbeliever is pledged a priori not to admit any supernatural fact, seeing that a single fact of this kind would upset all his theories. If Christianity, they say, originated from Jesus, then he must have been superhuman. But nothing superhuman must be admitted at any cost. Hence Christianity must be considered as the syncretism of its age, the last efflorescence of the Judæo-Greco-Roman spirit. And all this vague terminology blinds them to the fact that this hypothesis involves a greater miracle than they have sought to avoid. (2) The higher critics often infer a passe ad esse; they imagine that a certain fact can be explained according to a given hypothesis, and forthwith that hypothesis is upheld as the only explanation. History and common sense may go against their inference, but all this cannot make them change their point of view; stet pro ratione voluntas. (3) The higher critics often change the degree of certainty of their contentions as they go along. First, something may be true; next, it is probably true; again, it is certainly true; finally, they actually refer back to their preceding statement with the words, “we have proved this to be so.” (4) The argument of silence, too, has been highly favored by certain higher critics, though no regard was paid to the conditions under which alone this argument is of any value. (5) Again, higher critics are apt to pronounce judgment on topics outside their sphere of study. They claim to give an opinion on matters theological, philosophical, historical, scientific without the least hesitation; they even feel aggrieved if their criticism is criticised.
First Beginning of Higher Criticism. — The name higher criticism is of comparatively recent origin, but its principles are very old. In the last century before Christ, Dionysius of Halicarnassus won great renown by his critical acumen. In the early days of the Church, too, the books of Scripture were defended against the attacks of a Porphyry and a Celsus by men like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius and Jerome by an appeal to the principles that are employed by our present-day higher critics. It is true that during the course of the succeeding ages our great Christian scholars were imbued with too great a reverence for the inspired books to subject them to the critical process applied in the case of profane literature. Still, there were notable exceptions even to this rule. The introductory treatises to the Bible as a whole or to its several books were applications of critical principles. Richard Simon (1638-1712) applied the same in a pre-eminently masterful way in his famous work, ‘Histoires Critiques du Vieux Testament, du Texte et des Versions du Nouveau Testament.’ The erudite works of Dom Calmet, too, give evidence of skilled critical inquiry.
The Age of Scoffers. — Though raillery is no longer the equivalent of argument, it is instructive to review the attempts made to undermine the authority of the Scriptures by means of this weapon. Among the scoffers Voltaire holds a pre-eminent place. The tradition that he copied his difficulties against the credibility of the Bible out of Dom Calmet's works without either adding their solution or indicating his sources is too well known to need repetition. In his wake followed the French encyclopædists. A panegyrist calls Voltaire the king who succeeded Louis XIV, and who handed the royal sceptre over to Napoleon. Among his ministers figure such celebrated men as Diderot, D'Alembert, Buffon, Helvétius, D'Holbach, D'Argens, Lamettrie, Turgot, Condorcet, and in a way also Rousseau and Montesquieu. The king himself had learned his trade among the Deists of England, whither he was forced to withdraw in 1726, and where he remained for about two years. Cherbury, Toland, Tindal, Woolston, Collins, Bolingbroke, Chubb, Whiston, Shaftesbury, Whittey, Somers, Wharton, Shrewsbury and Buckingham figure among the principal apostles of English Deism.
Rationalism.— In Germany three forces had been at work to prepare the minds of the people for disbelief in the New Testament: First, the Wolfian philosophy had freed the mind from the strict letter of the Bible; secondly, the New Testament editions of Westein and Griesbach had shaken the readers' confidence in the inspired text; thirdly, Bengel and Crusius had modified the current notion of inspiration, insisting more on the active part of the inspired instruments than on their passive condition. The public was thus ready to appreciate Lessing's publication of the ‘Fragments of Wolfenbüttel,’ the work of his deceased friend Samuel Reimarus (d. 1768). The first part of this work published in 1774 inculcated tolerance for the Deists; the second part appearing in 1777 was a general attack on revelation; the third part published in 1778 was directed against Jesus and his apostles, practically representing them as so many deceivers.
But this attack on the reliability of the New Testament was too brutal to become popular. Hence Paulus (1761-1851) proposed a hypothesis which removed the supernatural element from the New Testament as effectively as Reimarus had done, and at the same time saved the veracity of the inspired writers. In his ‘Leben Jesu’ (1828) he distinguishes two kinds of supernatural elements in the Gospels; one kind is carried into the Gospels by the interpreters against the intention of the inspired writers; another kind is really intended by the sacred text. The former is removed by a proper method of interpreting the Bible; the latter must be regarded as the result of the subjective impression of the evangelists. They were rude, uncultured fishermen and judged of the extraordinary phenomena in the life of their Master in a way that was neither scientific nor rational. In brief, according to Paulus, the writers of the New Testament are no longer deceivers, but they were incompetents.
The reliability of the New Testament fared still worse in the ‘Leben Jesu’ published (1835, 1864, 1874) by Strauss (1808-71). He apparently saves both the veracity and the competency of the sacred writers, but he declares their work to be a mere collection of myths. The storm raised in Germany by this work is too well known to need further description.
Strauss had studied only the contents of the Gospels without paying due attention to the Gospels themselves. Ferdinand Christian Baur (1809-82) perceived this weak point in the work of his pupil, and endeavored to strengthen it. He believed that he had discovered the key to the history of early Christianity in the romance of the so-called Clementine Homilies. The opposition between Peter and Paul and their respective parties he traced back from these homilies into the books of the New Testament, in which the opposition between Petrinism and Paulinism was said to be either reflected or harmonized or again considered as past. Only the Apocalypse of John, the Epistles to the Galatians, to the Romans and to the Corinthians were admitted as genuine; all the rest of the New Testament was pronounced pseudonymous, and relegated into the 2d century. Here we have the tenets of the Tübingen school.
Anti-Tübingen Movement. — Baur made several vital mistakes in his assumptions: (1) His fundamental thesis concerning the great opposition between Paul and the other apostles cannot be proved (cf. Weber, ‘Katholik,’ 1898, pp. 193 ff.; 1899, pp. 45 ff.). (2) Baur's preference for the four great Pauline Epistles was merely personal; subsequent negative criticism has not spared their genuineness (cf. Bruno Baur, ‘Kritik der paul. Briefe,’ 1850-52; Steck, ‘Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echthcit untersucht,’ 1888; Pierson, ‘Der Bergrede,’ 1878). (3) Baur was wrong in his utter neglect of early Christian tradition. The testimony of a Clement of Rome, an Ignatius, a Justin, a Marcion, an Irenæus and a Tertullian should not be set aside at the bidding of merely subjective considerations. Hilgenfeld, in his ‘Historischkritische Einleitung in das Neue Testament’ (1875), acknowledged the genuineness of several New Testament books rejected by Baur; Reuss, in his ‘Geschichte der heil. Schriften d. N. T.’ (1842), restores the origin of the whole New Testament, excepting 1 Pet. to the 1st century. Similar conclusions were reached by Ewald, B. Weiss, Hofmann, Schulze, Godet, Zabn, Harnack and other writers. On the whole, our most recent critics admit that early Christian tradition ought to be respected, and though the defenders of the general genuineness of the New Testament books encounter still strenuous opposition, as has been seen on the occasion of the publication of Zahn's ‘Einleitung,’ they are no longer charged with lack of scientific method.
Syncretism. — There are critics who maintain that the striving to understand Jesus as the originating source of Christianity must prove abortive. They believe that “the most enlightened scholarship of Europe and America has no standing before the bar of logic.” The genesis of Christianity, we are told, “must be sought in the collective consciousness of the first Christian and immediately pre-Christian centuries; in the amalgamation of faiths when all the currents of philosophic and theosophic thought dashed together their waters in the vast basin of the Roman circum-mediterranean empire.” But how can organic unity develop out of heterogeneity? How can concord develop out of discord and opposition? The material elements which compose the plant or the brute beast exist before either plant or beast begin to live; but who will imagine that a horse or a cow will be the result of the dashing together of their respective material elements? Moreover, Monsignor Batiffol (Revue biblique, January 1903) has shown that between 120 and 140 A.D. Marcion wrote a treatise proving that an opposition exists between the Law and the Gospel; at that early period, therefore, the Gospel was considered as possessing paramount authority. Again, Marcion appealed to Saint Paul in proof for the absolute newness and independence of Christianity. At Marcion's time, therefore, there existed a Canon of the New Testament books. And why should the faithful have esteemed the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles higher than the Epistles of an Ignatius, unless they were convinced that these canonical writings contained the exact teaching of the Master? The authority of Christ's word had preceded the authority of the canonical books.
What is Christ? — Higher critics distinguish between the Christ of history and the Christ of Christianity. Harnack, Wrede and Staerk may be said to simply rob Christianity of its Christ. Schmiedel, O. Holtzmann, Bousset and Schürer endeavor to link the Christ of history together with the Christ of Christianity, but their explanations are unsatisfactory. The Abbé Loisy, too, distinguishes a triple Christ: first, the views of Christ concerning himself; secondly, the faith of the early Christian community concerning Christ; thirdly, the Christology of the New Testament. And if you ask on what the faith of Christianity is based, if not on the facts of history, there will be as many different answers as there are writers. So that we rightly urge against our present-day higher critics the dilemma: Christ is either God, or what is He?
Bibliography. — A fairly complete list of the older literature belonging to this subject may be found in Reuss, ‘History of the New Testament’ (Vol. II, p. 367 f.); O. von Gebhardt adds to the preceding a fairly complete list of the pertinent literature down to about 1896 in his ‘Ürtext und Ubersetzungen de Bibel,’ which is a reprint of his articles on ‘Bibeltext und Bibelübersetzungen,’ contributed to the ‘Realencyclopædie,’ pp. 16, 54 ff. A reference to the contemporary literature may be found in the numbers of the Ecclesiastical Review under the heading “Recent Bible Study.” Besides, the reader may consult Rose, ‘Studies on the Gospels’ (authorized English translation by Mgr. Robert Fraser, 1904); Lagrange, ‘La Methode Historique’ (Paris 1904); Lagrange, ‘Etudes sur les Religions Sémitiques’ (Paris 1905); Chauvin, ‘La Bible depuis ses Origines jusqu'à nos jours’ (Paris 1903); Chauvin, ‘L'Enfance du Christ d'après les Traditions Juives et Chretiennes’ (Paris 1904); Chauvin, ‘Le Procès de Jésus-Christ’ (Paris 1904); Calmes, ‘Comment se sont formés les Evangiles’ (Paris 1904); Fonsegrive, ‘L'Attitude du Catholique devant la Science’ (Paris 1903); ‘Jésus-Christ, Est-il resucité’ (Paris 1901); Chauvin, ‘Histoire de l'Antéchrist’ (Paris 1901); Chauvin, ‘Au Golgotha’ (Paris 1905); Méchineau, ‘L'origine apostolique du Nouveau Testament’ (Paris 1903); Méchineau, ‘L'Autorité humaine des Livres Saints’ (Paris 1903); Colomer, ‘La Bible et les Théeories Scientifiques’ (Paris 1904); Saubin, ‘La Synagogue Moderne’ (Paris 1903); Vallot, ‘Les Miracles de l'Evangile’ (Paris 1905); Saubin, ‘La Dogme Chrétien dans la Religion Juive’ (Paris 1900); Saubin, ‘Le Talmud et la Synagogue Moderne’ (Paris 1900); Paulus, ‘Les Juifs et le Messie’ (Paris 1904).