Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/639

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years contributed less than most to the cause of Christian science. The Complutensian Polyglot gave us the first printed Septuagint, and the first printed, though not the first published, New Testament in Greek. For the formation of the text of the Septuagint and of the Latin Vulgate, great pains were taken to collect early manuscript authorities. Two Septuagint manuscripts were borrowed from Rome. The Vatican Bible of the fourth century was not among them, probably because its age and importance were not known to Ximenes and his colleagues. For the Latin text Spain itself possessed authorities as early as could readily be found elsewhere. The Greek text of the New Testament was formed from less good sources: and not one of the manuscripts used can now be identified with certainty. No praise is too high for the design of Ximenes; and, as regards the execution, it is doubtful whether the best scholarship of all Europe, had it been mustered at Alcala for the work, could have produced a much better result. The science of textual criticism was scarcely born. At this time, and for years afterwards, scholars such as Erasmus had no hesitation as to printing a text from a single manuscript, and from sending that manuscript as "copy" to the press.

Though printed in 1514, the Complutensian New Testament was not published for some years. It seems indeed that copies of the whole work were not procurable earlier than 1522. The story of the preparation of the Greek New Testament which was actually the first in circulation is well known. Neither in its object, the anticipation of the Complutensian text, nor in the manner of its preparation, does it seem to us deserving of praise. Hurried through the press of Proben between September and March, it was formed on the authority of six manuscripts at most, the best of which Erasmus neglected almost entirely to consult. We have already traced the history of some of these manuscripts and have seen them in the hands of Johann Reuchlin. Four of them are still at Basel; a fifth, now in the Oettingen-Wallerstein Library at Mayhingen, was the one authority available for the Apocalypse. The last six verses of the last chapter are missing; and Erasmus was reduced to translating them into rather surprising Greek from the Latin Vulgate. The sixth authority was not a copy of the New Testament, but of Theophylacfs commentary on the Gospels, apparently still at Basel. It is this Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, who is designated in Erasmus' preface by the mysterious name Vulgarius.

Faulty as was the Erasmian edition, it was a truly epoch-making book. It was the ancestor of the textus receptus, and the channel by which the Greek text of the New Testament was most widely diffused. This was natural not only because Erasmus was first in the field, but because his text, in its many editions, was far cheaper and more convenient than the huge Polyglot, of which but six hundred copies in all were printed.

To trace the history of the printed Greek Testament through the