The New International Encyclopædia/Bible

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1316438The New International Encyclopædia — BibleCharles Foster Kent

BI'BLE. I. — In General. (1) Meaning of the Name. The word ‘Bible’ is derived from the Latin Biblia, which was treated as a singular, although it represented the transcription of the Greek neuter plural βιβλία, biblia, ‘little books.’ The Greek βίβλος, biblos, from which came the diminutive, was in turn derived from byblus or papyrus, the name of the famous material upon which ancient books were written. The name in its singular form appropriately emphasizes the unity of the Bible, while in its original plural sense it called attention to the fact that the Bible is a collection of many books. The title was first used about the middle of the Second Christian Century in the so-called Second Epistle of Clement (xiv. 2).

(2) The Original Languages of the Bible are Hebrew, Aramaic, and Hellenistic Greek. Hebrew, the language used by a majority of the Old Testament writers, is the Semitic dialect spoken by the inhabitants of Canaan, and adopted, if not originally employed by the Israelites, when they entered that territory. It is characterized by its simple constructions and by the absence of the expressive conjunctions and particles which in the Greek make it possible to indicate delicate shades of logical or philosophical thought. On the other hand, its vocabulary and idioms are exceedingly picturesque, each suggesting a vivid picture. In the verb the tenses discriminate between complete and incomplete: and the different stems, between simple, intensive, causative, reflexive, and passive action. Its simplicity, vividness, directness, and suggestiveness made it the ideal medium of expression for the story-teller, the poet, the orator, and the ethical teacher. Aramaic (incorrectly called Chaldee or Chaldaic, from the reference in Dan. ii. 4) was the Semitic dialect spoken originally by the people to the north and northeast of Canaan. The reference in Isa. xxxvi. 11 indicates that as early as B.C. 700 it was the language of politics in southwestern Asia. From the days of the Babylonian exile on it was used as the medium of communication between the Jews and other Semitic peoples, and gradually supplanted Hebrew even in Palestine, until, about B.C. 200, it became the common language. Aside from a few sporadic examples (cf. Gen. xxxi. 47; Jer. x. 11), it appears in the Old Testament only in Ezra iv. 8 to vi. 18: vii. 12-26: Dan. ii. 4 to vii. 28. The composite structure of these books explains its abrupt introduction into Hebrew contexts. In Ezra the Aramaic sections represent quotations by the final editor from earlier Aramaic documents, dating probably from the last century of the Persian period. Since his readers were entirely familiar with the Aramaic, he did not deem it necessary to translate these into the already classic tongue, which he preferred to employ. In Daniel, as well as Ezra, it is the Western or Palestinian Aramaic, rather than the form of the dialect in use in the East, which appears, suggesting that the originals were written in Palestine. Hellenistic Greek, the language of the New Testament, is the simplified dialect of Attic Greek, which was in use among the Semitic peoples, Hellenized as a result of the conquests of Alexander. By the beginning of the Christian Era it had become the literary language of Jews throughout the Roman Empire. As a consequence of its use by alien peoples, the complex verbal forms and constructions of classical Greek disappeared. Many characteristic Semitic idioms were carried over into the Greek, and its vocabulary enlarged. The result was a simple, direct, expressive language, combining the picturesqueness and concreteness of the Hebrew with the larger and more scientific and philosophical vocabulary of the Greek. Thus the composite dialect used by the New Testament writers was marvelously adapted to their purpose, and, by virtue of its simplicity and force, fitted to exercise through the medium of translations the powerful and beneficial influence which it subsequently exerted upon German and English language and literature.

(3) The Bible, Viewed as Literature, shares the general characteristics of the Oriental and more specifically of the Semitic group to which it belongs. The Occidental student, as in the Koran, feels at once the lack of systematic arrangement. The type of thought is intuitive rather than logical. Scientific method and interest are wanting. Instead, the religious motive is dominant. Not metre or rhythm of sound, but the rhythm of thought — that is, the repetition of the same idea or its antithesis — is the essence of its poetry. Concrete pictures and vivid figures are prominent in its prose, as well as in its poetry. Almost every form of literature is represented in the Bible, from the war song, the lament, and the lyric, to the rhapsody and the philosophical drama. Parables, fables, enigmas, proverbs, stories, biographies, epistles, orations, and prayers, are all found in this library, representative of the literary activity of the Israelitish race. Among the more specific characteristics of biblical literature may be noted its naturalness, its realism, the love of external nature which it reflects, its practical optimism, which rests upon the recognition of a divine purpose for good realizing itself in all life, and its exalted moral tone. It is also characterized by a remarkable combination of realism and idealism; starting with the actual, which they never ignore, the biblical writers are constantly predicting and striving for the realization of the complete ideal which is ever before their eyes.

Of the two Testaments, the Old undoubtedly contains more that deserves a place among the world's greatest literature. Certain portions of the Gospels, because of their simple directness and vividness, and certain of Paul's wonderful appeals and rhapsodies are accounted great, measured simply by literary canons; but as a rule, the New Testament writers gave little heed to form in their zeal to apply the principles of Christianity to the needs of human life. While the New Testament represents the writings of a religious body, the Old is the literature of a race. It abounds in passages and books which are recognized as unsurpassed for their vigor or dramatic force, beauty or grandeur. The literary merit of the different books varies greatly, since the Old Testament reflects the different stages in the literary history of the Israelites. The Song of Deborah, certain of the prophetic narratives, the sermons of Isaiah, the messages of inspiration and comfort in Isaiah xl. to lv., certain of the Psalms, and the Book of Job represent some of the high-water marks of Hebrew literature.

(4) The Authorship of the different parts of the Bible is a subject which has received the careful attention of scholars during the past two or three centuries, with the result that the Jewish traditions, hitherto accepted without question, have been largely abandoned in the light of the internal evidence from the books themselves. The Bible is the work, not merely of a dozen, but of scores of devoted prophets, priests, sages, psalmists, apostles, and editors. Most of its books are recognized as composites, containing citations from earlier and later sources, joined together in their present form by faithful copyists and editors who thus preserved them. The Book of Proverbs, for example, probably embodies the crystallized experience of fifty or a hundred wise men, living at different periods, and studying life from many different points of view. The Bible, therefore, is the expression of the many-sided experiences and revelations vouchsafed to the truth-seekers and teachers of the Israelitish race. Most of them were intent only upon proclaiming the truth revealed to them, content themselves to sink into oblivion, if their aim were realized: hence a great majority of the writings of the Bible are anonymous, except as we are able to determine from the internal evidence the date, purpose, and class to which the author belonged.

(5) Periods Represented by the Bible. — Some of the oldest poems of the Old Testament go back to the days of the Judges, about B.C. 1200, and certain of the Psalms and the Book of Daniel are in all probability later than B.C. 200, so that its literature represents at least one thousand years. The oldest epistle of the New cannot be dated before A.D. 50, and the latest writing is certainly not later than A.D. 150, and possibly 100, so that the New Testament represents at the most a brief century of literary activity. Supplemented by the later apocryphal Jewish literature, the Bible, as a whole, reflects thirteen centuries of literary production.

(6) The Subjects Treated in the Bible are as varied as the literary forms. In the implied explanation, in connection with the story of man's fall, of the reason why serpents crawl in the dust, instead of being provided with legs, and in the accounts of creation, there is evident the questioning attitude toward natural phenomena which marks the beginning of scientific investigation; but otherwise more important themes commanded the attention of the biblical writers. Aside from the modern department of science, almost every phase of human life and thought was treated by them. Nothing that concerned man was beneath their attention. The prophetic literature is concerned with political, social, moral, and spiritual questions. Its aim is to present the character and will of Jehovah and the principles which govern his universe, and to lead humanity intelligently and faithfully to conform to them. The legal literature was intended to provide a norm to regulate the public and private life of the people, so that in attaining their best development they might also realize the divine purpose. The maxims and wise counsels of the sages were calculated to guide the inexperienced in their daily duties and throw light upon individual problems. The psalmists gave expression to the spiritual experiences and attitude of the nation and individual toward God. The epistles of the New, like the prophecies of the Old, contain warnings, exhortations, and illuminating teachings intended primarily to anticipate the needs of those to whom they were addressed; while the apocalypses, though differing widely from the preceding in form, were intended to convey similar messages of comfort and encouragement to those passing through great crises. The Gospels have the one dominant aim of presenting the life and teaching of the Founder of Christianity; and the Book of Acts, the influence of that life and teaching upon the Jewish and pagan world.

(7) Modern Methods of Biblical Study. — During the Dark Ages the traditions and conjectures of Jewish rabbis and Christian monks regarding the origin, date, and authority of the different books of the Bible satisfied the majority of students, since these were hallowed by age and the continued indorsement of the Church. With the new interest in the Bible, inspired by the Protestant Reformation, came a new spirit of investigation. Careful study of the Scriptures themselves sometimes confirmed, but more often revealed data at variance with the teaching of tradition. As critical, scientific methods of historical and literary study were developed and proved trustworthy, they were adopted in dealing with the vital and often exceedingly complex problem presented by the Bible. That they should lead to conclusions at variance with those held by an unscholarly age was inevitable. That there should also be much sincere but ignorant opposition to the new results was also assured: but their final acceptance was equally sure, for they represent simply the testimony of the Bible itself, as revealed by the only methods of investigation which command universal confidence. Fortunately, the work of overturning unfounded traditions is now nearly complete, and the importance of the positive results of the critical study of the Bible is beginning to be popularly appreciated. With relief it is discovered that no essential truths contained in the Bible are lost, while its vital teachings are brought out into clearer relief. Reconstruction in the fields of biblical literature, history, and theology is going on rapidly, with the practical aim of providing a firm foundation for a religious faith which will meet the tests of a critical, scientific age.

(8) Contributions of Universities and Biblical Students in General. — The new methods and new results are the contributions of no one school. In Germany, a growing body of scholars, associated with the leading universities, and trained in careful, tireless methods of investigation, have explored every department of biblical study. Among the leaders in Old Testament criticism might be mentioned the names of Eichhorn, Graf, Wellhausen; while at the University of Tübingen, under the leadership of Baur, there grew up a school which performed a permanent service in calling attention to the critical problems of the New Testament, and in emphasizing the historical and literary methods of investigation. In Holland, under the inspiration of Kuenen, a group of Dutch scholars have made many valuable contributions to biblical study. In England, Oxford University, represented by Professors Cheyne and Driver, has proved the leader. Biblical scholars in all the leading universities, colleges, and seminaries of England, Scotland, and America, have joined in the work of critical analysis and reconstruction. With only a few exceptions, the agreement in regard to the general questions of biblical history, literature, and religion is unanimous among students in these countries. To the details and to the interpretation of the facts, attention is now being chiefly devoted.

(9) The Positive Results of Modern Biblical Research can here be presented only in barest outline. Aided by the discovery of new manuscripts, great advances have been made in the recovery of the original texts. In the field of literary criticism effort has been centred upon ascertaining the authorship and approximate date of the individual sections and the structure of the different books, with the result that it is now possible to make an approximate chronological arrangement of all the literature of the Bible. A new appreciation of the literary beauty of the Bible has also been aroused. On the basis of the oldest sources, supplemented by extra-biblical contemporary information, the history of the Israelitish people, the life of Jesus, and the record of the Early Christian Church have been restudied. On the same basis the faith of Israel, which reached its culmination in Christianity, is being traced. In every department of investigation the principle of growth and development from the simple to the higher, and with this the fact of the unity of all life and thought, find fullest illustration. Thus the revelation of the Divine preserved in the Bible is found to be in perfect harmony with His revelation of Himself elsewhere. With the demonstration that the Bible records real facts and is the result of impulses and influences which still stir humanity, comes the deeper realization that it has a living, vital, eternal message for mankind. It may be defined as the record on the one hand of thirteen centuries of human endeavor to know and do the will of God, and on the other of His gracious response to that effort.


(A) Of the Old Testament among the Jews. The earliest Jewish commentaries upon selected passages of the Law are apparently found in the writings of Philo (c.20 B.C.-50 A.D.), and in the Mishna. Many of the facts that have led modern investigators to recognize the composite authorship and legendary character of the Pentateuch were already clearly perceived by the Alexandrian philosopher. But by adopting the allegorical method of interpretation then in vogue among rhetoricians he was able to avoid the most obvious inferences, and to read into the text his own philosophy. In this he no doubt had predecessors; but it was his work that became epoch-making in its influence upon Jewish haggada, Christian dogma, and Greek philosophy.

On the other hand, the Mishna largely confined itself to the “Halaka,” or the rules of conduct authoritatively deducted from the Law. Among its leading interpreters were Hillel and Shammai (First Century B.C.), the Gamaliels and Johanan ben Zakkai (First Century A.D.). In such Midrash works as Mekilta (to Ex.), Sifra (to Lev.), and Sifre (to Num. and Deut.), likewise written in Neo-Hebraic, the “Haggada,” or homiletic exegesis, had a wider field; and the same is true of the Aramaic paraphrases, or Targums. While the two Aramaic gemarus are primarily commentaries upon the Mishna, a vast number of passages from all parts of the Bible are introduced and explained in the discussion. The chief amoraic authorities of the Palestinian Talmud are Chiya (died c.230) and Johanan ben Nappacha (died 279); the most eminent exegetes of the Babvlonian Talmud are Abba Arica, called Rab (died 247), Chisda (died 309). Ashi (died 427) and Rabina (died 499) of Sura, Samuel (died 257) and Amemar (died 422) of Nehardea, Rabba ben Nachmani (died 330) and Abayi (died c.339) of Pumbedita, and Raba (died 352) of Machuza.

An inestimable aid to the understanding of the Bible was rendered by the scholars who, in the Eighth Century, devised systems of vowel notation to preserve the traditional reading of the text. In the same century, the Karaites, under the influence of Mohammedan thought, rejected the ‘oral law,’ codified in the Mishna and the Talmuds, and fell back upon the Pentateuch itself. Extracts from the works of Anan ben David (c.760) and Benjamin ben Moses Mahawendi (c.800) render it probable that their lost commentaries were already characterized by that sober exegesis we find in the writings of Jefet ben Ali (902-990), Aaron ben Joseph (c.1300), and Aaron ben Elijah (died 1369). The reaction produced a wholesome effect. Without breaking with the historical development, rabbinical scholars began to vie with the Karaites in attention to grammar, lexicon, and literal sense. Eminent among these were Saadia ben Joseph al Fayyumi (892-942), gaon, or president, of the academy at Sura, who wrote in Arabic translations, commentaries, and grammatical works; Jehudah ben Karish (c.920), Menahem ben Sarak (c.950), Jehudah Chayyug of Fez (c.1000-50), the grammarian, and his younger contemporary, Jonah Abulwalid Marwan ibn Janah, the lexicographer, who was a bold and sagacious textual critic. In opposition to both Karaites and Rabbanites, Chiwwi al Balkii (fl. 875-900) pursued his independent criticism of the Bible itself, known to us partly through Saadia, partly, it would seem, through the Geniza fragments recently found by Schechter, and published in the Jewish Quarterly Review (1901, page 345 ff.). With the doubts and questions that occupied Chiwwi's mind, Solomon ben Isaac (‘Rashi’) of Troyes (1040-1105) had little sympathy. His commentaries, printed in the Rabbinic Bibles, are celebrated for their erudition rather than for any originality. But, according to Ibn Ezra, a Spanish rabbi, Isaac ben Jasos, maintained that Gen. xxxvi. 31 ff. was written at the time of Jehoshaphat; and Abraham ben Mein ibn Ezra, of Toledo (1088-1167) himself, however cleverly he concealed his heresies, not only revealed his consciousness of the late origin of the vowel-points, but also his grave doubts as to the Mosaic authorship of parts of the Pentateuch, More deeply influenced by Greek and Arabic philosophy was Moses ben Maimon, of Cordova (1135-1204). His Arabic work, Dalalat at hairin, or “Guide of the Erring,” lays down hermeneutical principles akin to those of Al Ghazali (died 1111) and Ibn Roshd (Averroes, died 1198), allowing the suppression of the literal sense in the interest, not of theology, but of a philosophical system. David Kamchi, of Narbonne (died 1235), wrote commentaries that were particularly valuable because of his excellence as a grammarian. Tanchum of Jerusalem (c.1250) also produced several commentaries. Levi ben Gerson (died 1370) gave special attention to archæology; his exegesis was much influenced by his philosophy. An original thinker was Chasdai Creska (c.l410), who conceived of prophethood as within the domain of human power. Joseph Albo (died c.1444) reflected in a profound manner on the element of divination in prophecy, and its ethico-pædagogic value. They were influenced by Christian thought. Isaac Abrabanel (died 1508) was perhaps the first Jewish exegete who could approach the historical books with the intelligence of a statesman; his personal experience and the sufferings of his people account for the intense Messianic hope nourished by and reflected in his interpretation of the prophets. The exegesis of Solomon ben Melek, of Fez (c.l550), was largely philological, leaning heavily on D. Kamchi. By his critical edition of the Bible and the Masora (1524-25) Jacob ben Chayim rendered a great service to biblical science. But the two great critics of the Sixteenth Century were Elijah ha Levi (Elias Levita, 1472-1549), whose Masorcth Hammosoreth (1538) proved the late origin of the vowel-points; and Azariah de Rossi, in whose Meor Enayim (1574) the fact is clearly recognized that the Greek version fairly represents the Hebrew text current at the time in Palestine. Much was done for the text by Menahem Lonzano (1618) and Solomon Norzi (Minchat Shai), written 1626, printed at Mantua (1742-44), while Jacob Lumbroso (1630) explained it grammatically in a meritorious manner. The impulse to a deeper literary criticism was given by Baruch Benedict Spinoza, in his famous Tractatus Theologico-politicus (1670). A searching examination of the difficulties suggested by Ibn Ezra led him to reject the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch; and he made valuable observations on the manner in which biblical books were edited, and the political side of the activity of the prophets. The immediate effect of his work was more marked in Christian than in Jewish circles. But it paved the way for the great achievement of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), through whose labors and admirable spirit a rapprochement between Jewish and Christian exegesis has been gradually effected that is of utmost value to biblical science. During the Nineteenth Century, S. D. Luzzato searched for the motives that led to intentional changes of the text by the punctuators (Oheb Ger, 1830; Mishtaddel, 1847); Leopold Zunz (Gottesdienstliche Vorträge der Juden, 1832) recognized the untrustworthiness of the superscriptions in the Psalter, the hand of the chronicler in Ezra, and the late date of the Chronicles; Z. Frankel (Historisch-kritische Studien zu der Septuaginta, 1841) discussed learnedly the Greek version; Abraham Geiger (Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel, 1857) offered numerous critical suggestions; H. Graetz, in his Geschichte der Juden (1875-86), his Commentar zu den Psalmen (1882-83), and his Emendationes (posthumous, 1892-93), greatly furthered both literary and textual criticism, and men like Fürst, Goldziher, Bacher, Montefiore, Jastrow, Gottheil, Abrahams, Halévy, and others have taken a part in the critical study of the Bible. No great commentary from the standpoint of modern science has yet been written by a Jew; but without the impulses received from eminent Jewish scholars, Christian exegesis would not be to-day where it is.

(B) Of the Whole Bible Among Christians.

The history of the interpretation of the Bible is in reality the history of the principles which have underlain the study of the Scriptures.

This history is divided into the following stages: (A) The Patristic Stage; (B) the Reformation Stage; (C) the Modern Stage. Between the Patristic and the Reformation stages lies what is usually understood as the Mediæval Age, which, in its spirit, is so largely a continuation of Patristic methods as to be in reality a part of that stage. Between the Reformation and the Modern stages lies what is generally known as the Rationalistic Age, which, as a matter of fact, is simply the bridge that carries the Reformation methods over into those which characterize the Modern Stage.

(A) The Patristic Stage.

(a) The early period, represented by Clement of Rome, c.100: the author of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, c.l20; Justin Martyr, c.150; and Irenæus, c.180.

The Bible with which the Fathers began was the Septuagint, which was accepted as directly inspired of God, even when it differed widely from the Hebrew. On this the writings preserved from the Apostolic Age were based, and as they came gradually to be formed into a generally accepted group and to be received as themselves inspired, they were placed along with the Septuagint as the comprehensive Bible of the Church. In the Septuagint were included the Apocrypha, which were appealed to as scriptural equally with the other books. Under the earlier conception of the Church as a spiritual flock, the first use of the Bible was the pastoral and homiletical, followed later, as the Church idea hardened under the rise of heresies, by the doctrinal use. Under both these views, but especially under the latter, the prevailing method of interpretation was the allegorical, by which the literal sense of the passage was held not to be its only sense, in fact not its more important sense, but as inferior and subordinate to the hidden, spiritual sense which, as coming more directly from the Holy Spirit, was considered the real object of the interpreter's study.

For this method the early Fathers were not primarily responsible. Indeed, they were hardly conscious of it as a method. It was the generally current habit of their day, to which time it had been handed down through Palestinian and Alexandrian Judaism from the Classical Age. It was, however, a method, and one that was scientifically vicious, as it practically reduced the meaning of Scripture to whatever the interpreter's fancy conceived, or his sense of what was fitting to God determined.

(b) The Alexandrian School, represented particularly by Clement of Alexandria, c.200, and by Origen, c.185-254.

The interpretation characteristic of this school differed from that of the earlier Fathers simply in its more careful formation of the principles which had been sub-consciously in use by them. It was a process natural and quite inevitable, in view of the scholarship of those who were the leaders in the school; but its only effect was to give a greater definiteness to the allegorical idea and impart to it a further-reaching influence.

(c) The Syrian Schools. (1) The Edessa School, represented by Ephraem Syrus, c.378. (2) The Antioch School, represented by Theodore of Mopsuestia, c.350-428.

Contemporaneous with the Alexandrian scholars had been a group of writers in North Africa (e.g. Tertullian, c.200, and Cyprian, d.258), who, while allegorizing, made much of the literal method. Their position, however, was not in the way of protest against the method at Alexandria. Such protest was reserved for these Syrian schools, which were really the outgrowth of a rising dissatisfaction with the allegorical extremes to which the Alexandrian methods were leading, though their scholarship was inspired by that of Alexandria itself. Their protest voiced itself in the principle that the Scriptures themselves were the basis of knowledge, and not any esoteric gnosis hidden in them. They set themselves, consequently, the task of discovering the actual historical meaning of Scripture.

But while their labors were directed chiefly against the allegorical method, they were not wholly free from this method themselves, this was doubtless due to the fact that the doctrines of the Church remained with them, as with those before them, the object and aim of Scripture study; for, while they held theoretically that the historical sense of the passage was the only sense to be discovered, yet, when that sense did not avail for doctrinal purposes, they were obliged to discover a secondary spiritual sense. This was particularly true in the case of the Old Testament prophecies. Consequently, as dogmatics grew in the Church, and in their growth came more to depend upon Scripture for proof, the traditional rule of faith came to be the regulative form of all interpretation, and so to necessitate a continued resort to allegorical methods. Of these Syrian schools, the school of Antioch was of further-reaching and more lasting influence, making itself felt to a greater or less extent with such Fathers as Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Cyril, in the East and Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine, in the West. This was largely due to its leader, Theodore of Mopsuestia, who has been termed the exegete of the ancient Church. Unfortunately, his opposition to Origen brought him under the ban of orthodoxy which naturally served ultimately to reinstate Origen's extreme conception and exaggerated use of allegory in the interpretative work of the Church, where it remained dominant until the Reformation.

(d) The Mediæval Period, which may be divided into the following sub-periods: (1) The post-Patristic, represented by Bede, d.c.735; Alcuin, d.804; Rabanus Maurus, d.856; and Radbertus, d.865. (2) The Scholastic, represented by John Scotus Erigena, d.891 (though ma certain sense he belongs to a much later age of thought); Anselm, d.ll09; Abélard, d.1142; Peter Lombardo d.c.1164; Aquinas, d.l274; and Occam, d.l347. (3) The pre-Reformation, represented by Nicolas Lyra, d.l340; Lorenzo Valla, d.c.1465; Reuchlin, d.l522; and Erasmus, d. 1536.

The first of these sub-periods was the dark age of the Church, which may be safely said to have made no contribution to scriptural study. Its work was nothing more than that of compilation from the Fathers, either in the way of excerpts from their writings or glosses on them, and, under the dominance of the Papal idea of the Church, came wholly into servitude to dogma, to support which in the interests of the Catholic faith was its one and only object.

The second sub-period differed from the first largely in its intellectual aggressiveness. The object of Scripture study was still the support of the Church's faith, but the work was no longer done by slavish citations of the Fathers, but by speculative reasoning. This change was brought about by the rise of free inquiry, over against which it became necessary to vindicate the faith. This method naturally resulted, when applied to the interpretation of Scripture, in a renewed discarding of the literal sense and a further extravagance of allegorizing.

But with the revival of learning in the third period, there came not only a new stimulus to the spirit of inquiry, but a new power to the work of interpretation — a power which showed itself especially in its opening up to the interpreter of the original languages of Scripture, particularly Hebrew, and thus bringing him face to face with the scholarly realities of its actual words. This naturally brought into prominence the literal sense, emphasizing its importance and increasing thus its influence upon other possible senses. The rule of faith was indeed still the object of Scripture study, but the service which this study rendered to it came now to be based more upon this primary meaning which the original language conveyed; and this in turn led to a weakening of the authority which the rule of faith exercised over interpretation itself. It was, in fact, the beginning of a radical change in the underlying conception of the Church involved in the interpretative process.

(B) The Reformation Stage.

(1) The Protestant period, represented particularly by Luther, 1483-1546; Melanchthon, 1497-1560; and Calvin, 1509-64.

This change in the conception of the Church, begun in the previous period, attained its full issue as men of thought came more vitally to the consciousness that it was not the Church which was to decide what Scripture should teach, but Scripture which was to determine what should be taught in the Church. The growth of this consciousness was helped on the one side by the deepening conviction of the Church's intellectual and moral inability to handle Scripture, and on the other side by the increasing scholarly and religious respect for the Scriptures themselves. The characteristic of the Reformation interpretation was thus its fundamental principle of the sole authority of Scripture in the things of faith.

Along with this change in the conception of the Church went a change in the conception of the inspiration of the Scriptures. They were still held to be inspired, but not in any mechanical or even verbal way. There was a unique qualification that Scripture writers were understood to possess which separated them from all others, so that even the Apocrypha were no longer on the same level with the other books; but this qualification was not any magical power which rendered their words infallibly true. The Bible writers were simply illumined by the Spirit in their knowledge of spiritual things, being in the committing of that knowledge to writing subject to the ordinary laws of the human mind. In fact, inspiration as a process was considered to be always present in the Church.

With such radical alteration of the fundamental judgments regarding Scripture and the Church underlying interpretation there resulted naturally a complete change in the interpretative method. Not only was the literal sense held to be the primary sense to be considered, but the study of it was held to be perfectly possible with the aid furnished by Scripture itself. In other words, Scripture was held to be its own interpreter, sufficient and complete in all matters pertaining to salvation. As a consequence, the determination of Scripture meaning devolved upon the individual student of Scripture, so that private judgment for the first time in history came to be not only a fact of criticism, but a right of religion.

At the same time, under the continued influence of scholarship, the study of the original languages and other helps was carried on, serving constantly to make the Scriptures clearer to the understanding, while, under the growth of religious fervor, the Scriptures themselves were studied for the aid they could give religious life, serving to make them increasingly impressive to the spiritual sense. The Spirit was recognized not only as having spoken to the writers of Scripture, but as then and there speaking to those who came to Scripture in study or in meditation, and so the tendency asserted itself to refer all Scripture in its meaning to Christ, and naturally also claim was laid upon the need of faith in Christ and general spiritual illumination in order to understand the meaning which Scripture really conveyed.

This tendency to centre everything on Christ, however, naturally opened the way to a return to the old habit of allegory; while the tendency to interpret Scripture in the light of itself led to the sole emphasizing of what was called, after the Pauline phrase (Rom. xii. 5), “the proportion of faith.” This idea of proportion was useful primarily in preventing the distortion of single passages against their context or against the statements of Scripture as a whole, but it shifted its course most easily from the ‘faith’ given by Scripture in its own teachings to that laid down by the teachings of the Church, and in so doing started the whole process of interpretation toward the baneful exaggerations of the scholasticism which followed upon this first period of the Reformation.

(2) The period of the Counter-Reformation, represented by Cajetan, 1409-1534; Bellarmin, 1542-1621; Francis of Sales, 1567-1622; and Jansenius, 1585-1638.

Though the Roman communion did not change its conception of the Church's authoritative relation to interpretation, nor alter its idea of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, yet the humanism which had been so influential in bringing Protestantism to life had had its effect also within the Mother Church. In both churches it had emphasized the value of the sources of theology; yet, owing to the fact that with the Roman Catholic Church the old belief in ecclesiastical authority and Scripture inspiration still obtained, it was natural, not only that while the Reformers went back for their sources to Augustine and Paul, the Roman Catholic scholars stopped with Aquinas; but also that such revival of theological learning as their study of the sources brought about did not produce with the latter any vital change in interpretative methods.

In fact, the merits of the Counter-Reformation, which are to be freely and fully recognized, were in the purifying of the Church's organization and the spiritualizing of its life, rather than in the liberalizing of its methods of interpretative work. What impulses toward this there might have been were impossible of realization in view of the reactionary decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-63), which united ecclesiastical tradition to the Scriptures and the Apocrypha as the authoritative sources of the Church's faith, and made the Church itself the sole expounder of the sense they should have.

(3) The Post-Reformation Period. (1) The sub-period of Protestant Scholasticism, represented by Gerhardt, 1582-1637; J. G. Carpzovius, 1679-1767; and Calovius, d.l686.

It was natural that, having rejected the infallible authority of the Papacy, the Reformation Church should not only look around for another objective authority to take its place, which it found in the Scriptures, but that, having secured a political right to its peculiar doctrines, and being thus compelled to maintain them against the attacks of opposing Protestant theologies, as well as against the teachings of Rome, it should come to make the authoritative Scripture an oracle to serve it in its needs, and so substitute for a scholarly interpretation of the Scriptures a dogmatic distorting of them.

This was the result produced by the Protestant scholasticism, which differed from the Catholic scholasticism of the Middle Ages in being less ingenuous. It professed to base its system only on the Scriptures, but in reality based it on the Scriptures as interpreted by the party creeds in the Church, so that the Scriptures became an armory of controversial proof-texts without any recognized difference between the Old Testament and the New, or any understood idea of progress or development in revelation.

(2) The sub-period of Rationalism, represented by Lessing, 1729-81; Michaelis, 1817-91; and Eichhorn, 1752-1827.

Such degeneration in the spirit and life of interpretation was not without protest on the part of those who held equal right to Reformation principles with those who were responsible for the degeneration. It was not, however, until the philosophical movement, which saw its beginning in Descartes and Spinoza, reached its full vigor in Lessing that this protest effected the revolution in interpretative method which is known as rationalism.

The underlying principle of this revolution was its insistence upon reason as the test of revelation and the judge of the meaning of Scripture, which was taken only in its literal sense. It was anti-supernatural in its bias, however, and consequently negative in attitude and essentially destructive in results. It brought to ridicule the confessional dependence upon a mechanical inspiration by emphasizing the difficulties and discrepancies of Scripture, and held up to such scorn the speculative squabbles of the credal parties in the Church that the way was opened in men's minds to a general skepticism and an unbelief of the crudest kind. There was little in the Church to oppose this movement, since pietism and mysticism had spent their force, and scholarship was all arrayed on the critical side.

(C) The Modern Stage, represented by Semler, 1725-91; Schleiermacher, 1768-1834; Baur, 1792-1860; Meyer, 1800-73; and Ritschl, 1822-89.

It was from scholarship, however, that the first impulse was to come toward the newer interpretation which characterizes the present day; since, however difficult it may be to state the year and day with which the rationalistic period ceased and the modern stage of interpretation began, it is quite clear that with the effort of Semler to interpret the Scripture writers in the light of the circumstances and conditions with which they were surrounded, there was given to interpretation a historical basis which has characteristically marked it ever since.

Semler's interpretative work necessarily partook of the rationalistic spirit of his day, though it improved upon the rationalistic method. The power of rationalism, however, was broken by the philosophy of Kant, whose system left reason essentially robbed of its ability to stand in judgment over Scripture. To produce order out of the destructive wreckage of this onslaught, there was needed a constructive force, which was largely supplied by Schleiermacher and his followers, whose attitude to Scripture was one which, in proportion as it rejected all idea of mechanical inspiration, emphasized the practical character of the divine message to the soul, and the results of whose Scripture study were seen not only in constructive work in the field of gospel and apostolic history, but also in a profound quickening of the religious life of the time.

A final effort, however, was made by rationalism in the philosophy of Hegel, who returned to the theory that Scripture must be judged by reason, and whose philosophy and history furnished the fundamental basis for that interpretation of the New Testament which characterized the Tübingen School of biblical criticism, the influence of which on Scripture interpretation was in its day well-nigh universal. This effort failed, and its failure was due as largely as anything to the work of Ritschl, who showed the essential disagreement of this philosophy of history with the historical facts given in the New Testament record, and who, especially whose followers, in Scripture interpretation, returned practically to the spirit of Schleiermacher's position — that the Scriptures constitute a divine message to the soul. Involved in this position there was not only a denial of all mechanical inspiration, but of all objective authority as attaching to Scripture, and a conception of the Church, not as an ecclesiastical organization whose doctrines were to be proved by Scripture, but as a spiritual community whose religious consciousness interprets for itself the Scripture contents. At the same time, in spite of these spiritual conceptions of Scripture and the Church, the Ritschlian method of interpretation essentially emphasized the historical sense of Scripture to the exclusion of all hidden senses behind it.

The extensive influence of Ritschlianism as a school of theology has had its effect upon interpretation, especially in its affirmation of the purely spiritual authority of the Scriptures and the spiritual relation to them of the Church. As a consequence the inspiration of the Scriptures has come quite widely to be considered as largely of the same kind as all religious literature, and the authority of its message as more and more distinctly of a purely spiritual sort. Added to this Ritschlian influence on interpretation have been the general acceptance of the principles of evolutionary philosophy, which have brought to light the possible presence in the process of Scripture revelation of the natural laws of development, and the general prevalence of the principles of a newer biblical criticism, which in the line of these same evolution principles have shown the large probability of a natural documentary development of the historical portions of the Scripture record, particularly in the Old Testament. These things have all combined to make Scripture interpretation to-day very largely the interpretation of religious books belonging to the ancient literature of the Jewish people and the Christian Church, inspired essentially as all religious literature is inspired, and intended for the spiritual edification rather than for the dogmatic establishment of the Church. Formally the authority involved in interpretation is acknowledged as resting with the Scriptures; to a large degree it is made practically to rest with the religious sense of the interpreter, while the one general principle which universally controls the present interpretative method, both in theory and in practice, is a principle brought out by Semler at the beginning of this modern stage of the science, and increasingly dominant ever since — that to be interpreted rightly, and, in fact, to be interpreted at all, the Scripture passage must be considered not so much in its literal, grammatical sense as in the light of the historical surroundings in which it was written.


(A) Canon of the Old Testament. The word canon is a Semitic loan-word in Greek, meaning literally a rod or pole, a carpenter's rule; figuratively a model or standard; and in Alexandrian writers sometimes a list of classics. It was used by the pseudo-Aristeas (c.20 A.D.) to indicate the character of the Law; by the Gnostic Ptolemy (c.200 A.D.) to denote the authority of the sayings of Jesus, and by Athanasuis in A.D. 367 to designate the collection of sacred books. In the churches, and probably already in the synagogues of Alexandria, volumes publicly read as sacred and inspired were termed ‘canonical,’ in distinction from esoteric or heretical writings withheld from public use. Among the Palestinian Jews such books were at first simply said to be ‘holy.’ But in the First Century A.D. the Pharisees maintained that holy books “made the hands unclean,” and that consequently an ablution was necessary after contact with them. The Sadducees protested in vain against ascribing to them the same kind of sanctity that attached to heave-offerings and dead bodies. This new ritual naturally tended to fix the limits of the canon. In the case of each book used in the synagogue, the question must be raised whether a washing was obligatory. Thus the freedom of introducing new books was necessarily curtailed, and doubts were suggested as to the fitness of some works that had been used.

As in the ease of the New Testament, the finally established canon of the Hebrew Bible was the result of a critical process reducing the number of books approved for public reading. Many works that maintained their place in the Alexandrian canon, such as Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, and I. Maccabees, lost somewhat of the prestige they had had when they were first translated from the Hebrew or Aramaic original. Books like the Jubilees, the Psalms of Solomon, the Apocalypses of Enoch, Noah, Baruch, Ezra, and others were crowded out of the synagogue. A sphere of antilegomena was created: Ezekiel, Esther, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, and probably also Daniel, were held by some not to “render the hands unclean,” while others deemed them worthy of a place with the accepted writings. This criticism naturally sought likewise to free the text from all supposed later accretions. Thus various additions to Daniel, Esther, and other books were removed. The critical eye was not keen enough to perceive the numerous interpolations in Job, Jeremiah, and elsewhere, and the best guide, the earliest Greek version, was distrusted. But to this critical movement we owe the text, as well as the canon preserved in our MSS. and editions of the Hebrew Bible.

At the end of the Second Century A.D. the canon recognized by most synagogues contained twenty-four books, divided into three parts, viz.: (1) The Law, or the live books ascribed to Moses. (2) The Prophets, i.e. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and The Twelve; and (3) The Writings, comprising Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles. These were not all placed on the same level. As the Law had been the first to acquire authority, so it remained at all times the highest authority, and all non-Mosaic books were looked upon in the light of a commentary on the Law, and classed together as Qabbala, or ‘tradition.’ Among these books, however, the collection of ‘Prophets’ had been more sharply differentiated. In regard to Ezekiel the liberal policy had prevailed; but Daniel was no longer regarded as among the prophets. Ruth and Lamentations were counted as separate books belonging to the third collection; and Canticles, Ecclesiastes, and Esther were permitted to remain in this series. The three divisions evidently mark different degrees of estimation. Of this threefold canon we have no evidence earlier than Baba bathra, 13b 14a (c.200 A.D.).

Toward the end of Domitian's reign the number of canonical books seems to have been reduced to twenty-two (Josephus, Contra Apionem, i. 8, written c.95 A.D.), or twenty-four (Ap. Ezræ xiv. 44, 45), if Ruth and Lamentations were copied separately for convenience in use at the festivals of Shabuoth and 9th Ab. It was natural that the tendency seen in the arrangement of the alphabetic Psalms should also lead to a similar division of the canon. If the number had been fixed as twenty-four at the so-called synod of Yamnia (c.90 A.D.), Josephus is not likely to have changed it to twenty-two. Since he counts thirteen books as prophetic and four as poetic and didactic, it is clear that the attempt had not yet been made to reduce the prophetic collection to the number of eight. Daniel and Ezra were very popular prophets at that time. The reaction came later, as a consequence of Christian apologetics. In II. Macc. ii. 13 (written c.35 A.D.), Judas Maccabæus is said to have founded a library consisting of “books concerning kings and prophets, the poems of David, and letters of kings concerning gifts.” This ‘library’ is not yet a canon, and the author is likely to have known as many ‘prophets’ as Josephus recognized. Ben Sira's grandson, who wrote after B.C. 132, was familiar with “the prophets and the other writings,” as well as with ‘The Law’ (Eccles. i. 1 ff); but what books he counted as ‘prophets’ cannot be determined. The evidence seems to point to the Second Century A.D. as the period during which a prophetic canon of eight books was definitely fixed, and with it inevitably the third group.

The order of the Prophets and the Hagiographa prescribed in the Talmud, represents neither the original order nor the finally prevailing arrangement. In earlier times each book was copied on a separate roll, and the synagogue reader had a certain freedom of choice in his selections. This apparently was still the case at the end of the First Century A.D. (Luke iv. 17; Baba bathra 13b.). It was when larger volumes were produced and a fixed order of the haphtaras, or sections read in the synagogue, had been established, that the question as to the proper succession arose. Chronological and practical considerations then naturally led to conflicting results. It is probable that the Greek version has preserved the earliest attempts to arrange the prophetic books chronologically — viz., the Twelve, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Regard for the effect of the contexts upon the mind of the reader may, as Baba bathra 14a. suggests, have been responsible for the order: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, The Twelve, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve was the order finally adopted. The order of the haphtaras probably was not determined until after the prophetic canon had been reduced to its present form, leaving out Daniel. When Ruth was removed from Judges and Lamentations from Jeremiah, the former seems to have been made at first an introduction to the latter, and the latter was given its chronological place between the Solomonic writings and Daniel. Subsequently, both were united with the antilegomena to form the Five Rolls (Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther) read at certain festivals. Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles was the order ultimately prevailing.

The threefold canon of the Second Century A.D. reveals the gradual growth of the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Elohistic Covenant Code (Ex. xx. 24 — xxiii. 33) probably proclaimed by the priesthood of some great Ephraemitic sanctuary in the name of Moses, naturally was looked upon with reverence. Still greater authority, however, did the Deuteronomic Code enjoy. This law was likewise ascribed to Moses and enjoined upon Judah in B.C. 620. At the time even prophets like Jeremiah declared it to be a forgery (Jer. viii. 8). But during the Chaldean and Greek periods, it grew in importance as the common law of the people. The earlier codes and narratives, together with the annals of the kings, were subjected to a redaction in the spirit of this Deuteronomic law. But as the theocracy developed, the interest settled on the cult; and numerous regulations concerning sacrifices, rites, and taboos, legends, myths, and genealogical traditions were added. These priestly additions are regarded by many scholars as a separate work compiled in Babylonia, brought to Palestine by Ezra and proclaimed at a great assembly, described in Neh. viii. — x., in B.C. 444. It is possible, however, that they grew up at the sanctuary in Jerusalem, and that Ezra wrote in one book all the material recognized as Mosaic, leaving out Joshua and Kings, to inculcate obedience to the law. Additions were made to the law as late as in the Second Century B.C. These scribes began to feel a certain reluctance to write the further developments of the law. It is no doubt the Maccabean period that gave to the law that central position in the religious life of Israel which it has in the Psalms.

This national uprising also lifted the prophetic writings to new importance. The exile which realized the gloomy forebodings of the earlier prophets enhanced their reputation as soothsayers. But their words were understood as exhortation to obedience to the law, and consequently could not be given the same authority with the law itself. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings were plainly written with a didactic purpose to show the dangers of disobedience to the law. Hence they were regarded as ‘prophetic’ books. The publication of Daniel, in B.C. 165, revived the interest in prophecy, and inspired not only imitators, but also editors, to whom we owe the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve, in their present form. Apocalyptic versions furnished enthusiasm for the Messianic movements. Disenchanted, Judaism, to save its life, fell back upon the Law and the earlier Prophets.

The Psalter was in the main a product of the Hasmonæan Age, whatever earlier elements may have found their way into its different collections. As it was ascribed to David and numerous hymns were supposed to refer to his greater Son, its influence in an era of Messianic hopes was by no means limited to the temple-service. Associated with it as early as in the middle of the First Century B.C. were the writings ascribed to Solomon. The attacks upon Canticles and Ecclesiastes, with a view to having them relegated to the limbo of the genuzim, as unfit for public use, were frustrated. We owe the preservation of the precious love-lyrics to an utterly impossible allegorical interpretation; and judicious interpolations saved from destruction the remnants of a remarkable philosophy of disenchantment. The survival of Esther is probably due partly to the tenacity of the old ancestral cult, partly to the vindictive spirit prevalent in the people at the time when its canonicity was discussed.

There is no record of any book having ever been added by a Jewish assembly to a previously existing canon. The history of the canon is a history of the criticism of the canon. Certain books of a religious nature were held in high honor. Their contents suggested a divine origin. Ancient Hebrew critics inquired whether the character of some of these books justified the traditional estimate, and in many instances were forced by their doctrine of inspiration to answer in the negative. Some of them were successfully impugned as works not possessing a sanctity rendering a ceremonial washing necessary after contact with them. Others were not eliminated, though strong efforts were made to withdraw them from public use. Among those that had been regarded as sacred, but had been rejected, some continued in certain circles to be quoted as Scripture, as Ben Sira in Baba Kama 92 et al., or read in certain synagogues, as Baruch in the time of Origen (Euseb. Hist. vi. 2.5), or copied in the Bible, as Enoch by the Jews of Ethiopia. Among the Hellenistic Jews, a large number of these works were preserved and quoted as Scripture.

(B) Canon of the New Testament. The history of the New Testament canon is the history of the New Testament writings viewed as an authoritative and closed collection. It inquires as to the estimation in which these writings were held by the Early Church; how and when they came to be collected, and the principles upon which and the date when the collection was closed.

(1) The New Testament Writings in the Apostolic Age. — During this period the New-Testament books came into existence. They were, in the majority of cases, produced independently, with no special reference to each other, by various authors at different times, for the use of different communities of individuals. Each book began its career alone. The answer to the question how they came to be collected, united, and constituted the canon or rule for universal Christian faith and practice, is to be sought first in certain characteristics of the Apostolic Age. Christianity was not, at first, a book-religion. The teachings of Jesus were committed to His Apostles, to be reproduced and proclaimed and taught by them, orally, as the Gospel. The Gospel was authoritative, for it was the Gospel of God. Therefore, the words of the Apostles, as the accredited teachers and expounders of the Gospel, were accorded the greatest weight. What was true of their spoken words was also true of what they wrote. Hence, when the Gospel took on a written form, whether in an epistle or in a narrative of Jesus's words and deeds written by an Apostle or an intimate companion and fellow-worker with the Apostles, such writing was sure to be carefully preserved, often read, widely circulated, and highly honored. It was a natural result, untrammeled by any theories whatsoever. The evidence for this is abundant throughout the New Testament. Upon those two principles the supreme authority of the Gospel itself, and the preëminent right of the Apostles and their intimate associates to teach it, the subsequent career of the New-Testament books depended.

(2) The Sub-Apostolic Age (to about A.D. 140) was an intensely practical period. It was a missionary age. The Christian documents that remain from it only incidentally reveal the state of opinion as to the New-Testament books. They do, however, afford us a glimpse into the condition of the Church in nearly all parts of the Roman world then covered by Christian activity. Everywhere there was the same high opinion of the (now dead) Apostles, as the authorized exponents of the faith. There was general uniformity as to the recognition of the supreme authority of our Lord's teachings. These were naturally placed alongside of the Old Testament, which, nevertheless, continued to be the only generally recognized ‘Scripture.’ From the canonization of our Lord's words contained in the gospel narratives, it was but a step to the canonization of the Gospels themselves. But this step was not yet formally taken. Collections, more or less complete, of the Pauline Epistles were in the hands of the leading men in the Churches of Antioch, Asia Minor; Greece, Rome, and other places. Quotations from the New-Testament writings are numerous, but of a free, informal character, in but one instance introduced by the regular formula, “it is written.” The Apocryphal Gospels from this period show large dependence on our canonical Gospels.

(3) From A.D. 140-225 the Church was engaged in a deadly struggle with foes within and without. Gnosticism threatened to annihilate the primitive Christian faith, while the Roman Government put Christianity itself under the ban. The Church was called upon to defend its faith and its position. Hence, the more important Christian literature of this period is controvercial From the writings of Justin Martyr, in Rome, about A.D. 150, we learn that the memoirs of the Apostles, also called ‘Gospels,’ were in common use in the public Sunday services of the Christians, and that these writings, as having been written by the Apostles and their companions, were the main source of the Church's knowledge of Christ's deeds and teachings. Nevertheless, Justin held no strict theory as to the canonicity of the four Gospels. The progress of thought in this respect was such that Irenæus, forty years later, speaks of the four Gospels as the four foundation pillars of the Church, declaring that the four creatures in Revelation iv. 7 symbolized the same Gospels. In Irenæus we also find the conception that the Gospels, though four in number, were of one Spirit. In writers between Justin and Irenæus we see the same general high estimation of the Gospels and familiarity with their contents. In reference to the Epistles, especially those of Paul, we find that not only many collections were in existence, but that they were coördinated with the Gospels as a second and essential element in the documents of the New Dispensation, which were now being placed alongside of the Old Testament as belonging to the Church's authoritative Scriptures. The conflict with heresy simply accelerated and sharpened the thought of the Church in these respects. At the outset both heretics and orthodox appealed to the same early documents and traditions. But when heresy began to manipulate these documents, or to forge others as of equal value, or to explain them by fanciful interpretations, such men as Irenæus, Tertullian, and Hippolytus protested, insisting that only those writings which the Church had always used and received as of Apostolic origin were to be accepted as standard and authoritative. By A.D. 225, the principle of a New Testament alongside of the Old was pretty firmly established and generally adopted throughout the Church. The two great divisions of this New Testament were designated by the terms, almost universally used, ‘the Gospel’ and ‘the Apostle,’ corresponding to the Law and the Prophets; and each division was considered inspired. The main elements in ‘the Apostle’ part were the Epistles of Paul, I, Peter, and I. John, These were practically universally used. The Acts and the Apocalypse were also quite generally used. In respect to the other New-Testament books, though they belonged to the collection in some localities, their use had not yet become universal. On the other hand, in some localities, certain early Christian books, such as I. Clement, Ep. Barnabas, and the Didache, were accorded canonical rank. In Rome, the principle of Apostolic origin was rigorously applied; in Alexandria, the spirit was more liberal.

(4) Period from A.D. 225-691. — All that now remained was for the Church to come to some agreement as to the differences between the collections in use. As to Alexandria, the writings of Clement and Origen show that doubts as to II. Peter and II. and III. John were freely expressed, while James and Jude were, apparently, not used. A later Alexandrian bishop, Dionysius (c.250 A.D.), rejected the Apocalypse. There was much discussion, also, as to the authorship of Hebrews. Finally, however, Athanasius, the great Bishop of Alexandria, in A.D. 367, decreed that the canon consisted of the 27 books now included in the New Testament. In the West, the question of the disputed books, which there were Hebrews, James, Jude, and II. Peter, was finally settled by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397, which accepted them as canonical. Usage in Rome and Alexandria and Carthage thus became uniform. In the East, dominated by Antioch and Constantinople, it was long before the question was settled. Eusebius, about A.D. 325, had pointed out that seven books were ‘Antilegomena,’ i.e. spoken against (by some). Of these, Hebrews and James were generally used in the East. The others, II. Peter, II. and III. John, Jude, and Revelation, were often either unknown or unacknowledged. These were also probably wanting in the earlier Syriac Bibles. Gradually the practice in the East became conformed to that in the West, until at the Council of A.D. 691, though not without some inconsistency, the canon of the West — i.e. our present New-Testament canon — was recognized. The controversies of the Reformation times left the New-Testament canon untouched.


(A) Versions in Ancient Languages. I. Greek. — (1) According to Aristobulus, the pseudo-Hecatæus, and pseudo-Aristeas, who probably all flourished at the beginning of the First Century A.D., there existed long before Ptolemy II. Philadelphus (B.C. 285-247), a translation of the Jewish Law, with which the great legislators and philosophers of Greece became acquainted. While the general character of these writings and the evident desire to magnify Moses threw doubt upon the assertion, it may reflect the confused memory of some translation supplanted by the officially recognized version. If so, it is lost, except as it may have been incorporated in the latter.

(2) The origin of the most important Greek version is minutely described in the letter of Aristeas to his brother, Philacrates. This document relates how Ptolemy II. Philadelphus was persuaded by his librarian, Demetrius of Phaleron, to send an embassy to the high-priest, Eleazar, with a request for a copy of the Jewish Law and six men from each tribe to translate it. Seventy-two men were dispatched to Alexandria with a copy written in golden letters. They were led to the island of Pharos, where, in 72 days, they produced a work that greatly delighted Philadelphus as well as the Jews.

The spurious character of this epistle was already recognized by John Louis Vives (1522), Joseph Scaliger (1609), and Richard Simon (1678), and fully demonstrated by Humphry Hody (1684). The author professes to be a Greek, while he manifestly is a Jew. He claims to be employed at the Court of Ptolemy Philadelphus, while his ignorance of the King's reign and his familiarity with later conditions render it probable that he lived in the days of Augustus or of Tiberius. His official documents are forgeries; his story is based on mythical and legendary motives, and while it throws light on the Ptolemaic dynasty and the beginning of Roman rule, it can give no aid in determining the origin and date of the version. The name derived from this legend (Septuaginta et duo. Septuagint, LXXII., LXX.) is most misleading, being generally applied to the Sixtine edition, and it is, therefore, avoided by accurate scholars.

The earliest external evidence is probably found in Eupolemus. This writer seems to have used a translation of Chronicles. He apparently wrote his History of the Kings in Judæa not long before Alexander Polyhistor, who died in B.C. 40. Demetrius, who likewise lived some years before Alexander Polyhistor, seems to have used the Greek Pentateuch. Two books give direct statements as to which and by whom they were translated. A colophon to Esther states that the ‘letter of Phurai,’ or Purim, by which probably the Book of Esther is meant, was brought to Egypt in the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, by Dositheus and his son Ptolemy, having been translated in Jerusalem by Lysimachus, Ptolemy's son. The year meant is probably either B.C. 113, the fourth year of Ptolemy X. Soter II. (Lathyrus), or B.C. 48, the fourth of Ptolemy XIV. and Cleopatra VII. But the statement itself is unreliable. Of greater value is the preface to Ecclesiasticus (q.v.), in which the grandson of Jesus Siracides refers to books that had already been translated, such as the Law, the Prophets, and some other works, and mentions that he came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of Euergetes, who must be Ptolemy IX. Euergetes II. (Physcon), consequently in B.C. 132. He does not state how many years he had been in Egypt. The impression is that translations were the order of the day. Many valuable works had already been done into Greek; others remained untranslated. The Law, no doubt, was first translated. Whether this was done already in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, as many scholars, influenced by the Aristeas letter, still think, or in the days of Ptolemy VII. Philometor (B.C. 181-145), as others maintain, cannot be determined with certainty. But as yet there is no evidence of any considerable body of Jews having been in Egypt in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Papyri from the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes I. (247-221) mention a town called Samaria in the Fayum, as well as some Jewish settlers in Pseruris, and this King greatly favored the Jews in Alexandria. The version is likely to have grown out of the necessities of synagogue and temple rather than out of royal curiosity. It was an oral, and then a written, targum, or interpretation, accompanying the reading of the text, before it became a substitute for the Hebrew. Such a targum to the Law may well have developed in the synagogues of Alexandria. But it is more likely that the Psalter was translated for use in a temple. From Isaiah xix. wo know that ‘the language of Canaan’ was maintained for a while by the colonies that went with Onias III. into the Heliopolitan nome B.C. 170; but this cannot have lasted long, and particularly in the Temple of Leontopolis (see Onias's Temple) the need of a version of the Psalter for liturgical purposes would be felt. There is much that points to the reign of Ptolemy Philometor for the beginning of the process of translation. The version was probably completed by the beginning of our era.

Our knowledge of the version is derived from printed editions, extant manuscripts, translations made from it, and quotations in early writers. The editio princeps appeared in the Complutensian Polyglot (1514-17), based chiefly upon the MSS. numbered 68, 108, and 248 in Holmes and Parsons's collection; the Aldine, printed in Venice in 1518, was based on Holmes and Parsons's 29, 68, and 121; the Sixtine edition was published in Rome (1587), and was based on Codex Vaticanus, but supplied and altered by other MSS.; the Grabian edition, based on Codex Alexandrinus, appeared at Oxford, in 1707-20; the magnificent and indispensable edition of Holmes and Parsons, for which 297 separate codices were more or less carefully collated, among them 20 uncials, was published at Oxford, in 1798-1827. Tischendorf was able to use Codex Sinaiticus for his editions (1850ff.); and Nestle Cozza's facsimile of Codex Vaticanus for the edition of 1887; Swete's Cambridge edition (1887-94 and 1895-99) was based on the Vatican MS., but gave the reading of some of the leading uncials. A larger Cambridge edition is in course of preparation.

The extant manuscripts are in part uncials or majuscules, and in part cursives or minuscles; some are approximately complete Bibles; others give only portions of the Bible. Among the uncials, the most important are Codex Alexandrinus (A), written in the Fifth Century, probably in Egypt, now in the British Museum, published in autotype facsimile in 1881-83; Codex Vaticanus (B), probably written in Egypt after A.D. 367, published in a facsimile by Cozza (1881), and in a more accurate photographic reproduction in 1890; Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C), written in Egypt in the Fifth Century, now in Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1845; Codex Sinaiticus (X), written probably in the Fifth Century, now in Leipzig and Saint Petersburg, published by the discoverer, Tischendorf, partly in Leipzig, 1846, 1855, and 1857; partly in Saint Petersburg, 1862 and 1867. Codex Ambrosianus (F), of the Fifth Century, now in Milan, published by Ceriani in his Monumenta III. (1864); Codex Sarravianus (G) of the Fifth Century, now in Leyden, Paris, and Saint Petersburg, published in 1897; and Codex-Marchalianus (Q), of the Sixth Century, now in Rome, published in heliotype, 1890, are of particular value because of their Hexaplaric notes and signs. Some recently discovered papyri fragments may date from the Third Century. Of the numerous cursive manuscripts, none is likely to be older than the Ninth Century, though some may have been made from uncials older than those in our possession. They manifestly belong to different families, but the classification is as yet imperfect. Of especial interest is Codex Chisianus (88), now in Rome, possibly written in the Eleventh Century, containing a different translation of Daniel from that of the uncials.

No extant manuscript seems to be older than the three recensions of the text undertaken in the beginning of the Fourth Century by Lucian in Antioch, Hesychius in Alexandria, and Eusebius and Pamphilus in Cæsarea. But some codices unquestionably have preserved independent and earlier textual traditions, while others represent later corrupted forms of these standard texts. Among the daughter-versions, the Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, and Slavonic appear to have been made from a text of the Lucianic recension; the Buhairic Egyptian seems to reflect the Hesychian recension, while the Sahidic, in part at least, is earlier in origin; the Ethiopic version has in certain books a marked similarity to Codex Alexandrinus, while elsewhere it apparently was based on Greek MSS. not known to us; the Arabic version of the Prophets also shows kinship to Codex A; the Old Latin is earlier than Origen; the Syriac version of Paul of Tella was made either from a copy of Origen's Hexapla or from the column edited by Eusebius.

Between 220 and 250, Origen wrote his Hexapla, giving in separate columns the Hebrew, the Hebrew in Greek letters, the officially received Greek text, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, and in some parts a fifth, sixth, and seventh Greek translation. From the critical editors of Homer he borrowed the signs with which he indicated what was found in the Greek, but not in the Hebrew (obelus), what was found in the Hebrew but not in the Greek, and therefore supplied from some other version (asterisk), and the end of each such passage (metobelus). The original work is lost. Part of a copy made in the Tenth Century was discovered by Mercati in 1896. As no passage athetized by Origen is found in the Old Latin, important changes do not seem to have been made in the version for some time before Origen. All the more startling are some of the variations found in Jewish and Christian writers of the First and Second centuries. They apparently point to the existence of another version or text-recension already at the end of the First Century A.D. On the other hand, there is strong evidence that both Origen's text and that represented by the Old Latin exhibited many peculiarities and numerous additions not found in the original translation. As this translation seems to have been produced by many men, in different places, from the middle of the Second Century to the beginning of our era, the value of its different parts is naturally not the same, either from a literary point of view or as a means of discovering the original Hebrew and Aramaic text. With all its natural shortcomings, it is on the whole a close and faithful rendering, and constitutes our earliest witness to the original. Recent investigation of the Greek papyri found in Egypt has increased our knowledge of the Hellenistic dialect in which it is written.

As the differences between the Greek version and the current Hebrew text, occasioned largely by expansions in the latter, were observed in an age intent upon textual purity, a desire for a more accurate translation, particularly of some books, would naturally arise. Thus II. Esdras appeared in addition to I. Esdras, the expurgated edition, further revised by Theodotion, beside the Chigi Daniel, the much longer Job known to Theodotion beside the shorter, the longer Jeremiah already familiar to New-Testament writers beside the shorter, and possibly a new form of Judges. It is quite probable that new versions of certain books were thus produced not long before Josephus at Antioch or Jerusalem.

(3) In the reign of Hadrian (117-38), Aquila of Sinope, in Pontus, a proselyte to Judaism, made a complete version of the Hebrew Bible, known through ancient writers, fragments of the Hexapla, and a portion found in 1897 by Burkitt among material brought from the Genizah of Cairo to Cambridge. This translation was slavishly literal, and removed many inaccuracies of the current version.

(4) Theodotion of Ephesus, another Jewish proselyte, probably in the time of Marcus Aurelius (161-80), executed a less literal, yet faithful translation, preserved in part through ancient writers and fragments of the Hexapla, manifestly on the basis of an earlier text-recension.

(5) Symmachus, an Ebionite of Samaritan birth, probably in the reign of Commodus (180-92), produced a more elegant version on the basis of already existing translations.

(6) The most elegant of all versions was Quinta, found by Origen at Nicopolis, near Actium, of uncertain age, possibly a relic of the early Christianity of Epirus.

(7) Decidedly of Christian origin is Sexta, found at Jericho, c.217.

(8) Of Septima little is known.

(9) The Græcus Venetus, found in a Venice MS. of the Fourteenth Century, is a version of the Pentateuch, Ruth, Proverbs, Canticles, Lamentations, and Daniel, made by a Jewish translator, possibly Elissæus, c.1360. It attempts to reproduce Attic Greek, but uses the Doric dialect for the Aramaic portions of Daniel.

II. Latin. — (1) There probably existed before Jerome a number of Latin versions. Of these the oldest may date from the end of the Second Century A.D. As Cyprian is the earliest writer acquainted with it, and as Northern Africa was the centre of Latin literature at this time, it has been supposed that the version originated in Carthage. The vulgar dialect in which it is written may, however, have been spoken in other parts of the Empire; and it has recently been suggested that the relations of the version to a type of Greek text prevailing in Syria points to Antioch as its birth-place. Still others think of Northern Italy. It is possible that manuscripts and quotations from early Latin writers represent versions produced independently in different centres or Antiochian and Italian recensions of an original African text. The Old Latin is the most valuable witness to the Greek text before Origen. What remains has been published by P. Sabatier in 1739-49, and the recent additions by Münter, Ranke, Belsheim, Burkitt, and others.

(2) Jerome in 382 was requested to revise this Latin Bible. His first revision was followed after 392 by another, in which he used the obelus and asterisk of Origen. But already, in 390, he had begun his direct translation from the Hebrew, which as a version is a masterpiece, and was destined to become the Bible of the Occident. In this Vulgate version, the unrevised books of Siracides, Sapientia Solomonis, I. and II. Maccabees, and Baruch, as well as the first revision of the Psalter, represent the Old Latin, while Tobit and Judith were translated from Hebrew or Aramaic. Only gradually the new translation won its way. It was exposed to corruption, and in spite of the labors of Cassiodorus, Alcuin, Lanfranc, and others, was found by Roger Bacon to be “horribly corrupted.” The Mazarin Bible was printed in 1452; Gutenberg's Psalter, 1457. For the improvement of the Latin text the Hebrew and Greek were used in the Complutensian and the Wittenberg Bibles, by Osiander and Pellicanus. Good manuscripts were used by Robert Stephanus for his edition (1528), which became the foundation of the Vulgate, officially recognized as the Bible by the Tridentine Council (1546), and printed with the approval of Sixtus V. (1590) and Clement VIII. (1593). A thoroughly critical edition does not yet exist.

(3) Among the later Latin translations, the following are most noteworthy: The very literal version of Sanctus Pagninus (1528), revised by Servetus (1542), by Stephanus (1557), by Arias Montanus (1572); that of Sebastian Münster (1534-35); the excellent but incomplete work of Leo Judæ (1541-42); the elegant version of Sebastian Chateillon (1546-54); the faithful rendering of Immanuel Tremellio and F. du Jon (1571-79); the painstaking version of Johannes Fischer — ‘Piscator’ (1601-07); and those by Coeceius (before 1669), Sebastian Schmidt (1696), Jean le Clerc (1693), Charles François Houbigant (1753) for the first time from a critically restored original, J. A. Dathe (1773-94), and Schott and Winzer (1816).

III. Aramaic. — (1) The Peshitto, or Syriac Vulgate, is possibly the earliest of the translations that were made into various Aramaic dialects. It is evidently the work of many men. Concerning the Jewish origin of Proverbs and Chronicles there can be no doubt, and there is no indication of a different origin in the case of the Pentateuch. But in the Psalms and the Prophets the Greek version has clearly been used, either by the original translator or by a later editor, who probably was a Christian. The Hebrew text used shows that no part of the version is likely to be older than the First Century A.D., and it may not have been completed until the beginning of the Third. It became the Bible of the Edessene Church, as the Greek version passed from the synagogue to the Greek churches. The text was printed in the Paris (1645) and London Polyglots (1657), by Lee (1824), at Urmia (1852), by Ceriani (Codex Ambrosianus, 1876-83), and at Mosul (1887).

(2) A translation into Syriac from the Greek text of Origen's Hexapla was made in Alexandria by Paul of Tella for the Monophysite Church in 616, published by Ceriani (1874). It is of great value for the restoration of Origen's text.

(3) Numerous fragments have been found of a translation made in Syria, and in vogue among Christians, dating from the Fourth Century.

(4) Of the two Targums written in Judæan Aramaic, though edited in Babylonia, that are ascribed to Onkelos and Jonathan, the former is probably the older. The translation accompanying the reading of the Law was at first given orally; written renderings to aid the memory may have been gathered in the age of Onkelos (= Aquila), but the final edition cannot have been made before c.400 A.D. The Prophets called for, and permitted, greater freedom in interpretation; written translations may have begun to appear in the time of Jonathan (Theodotion?) but the final edition is likely to have been made after that of Onkelos. The so-called Jerusalem Targums I., II., and III. were not edited before the end of the Seventh Century, as allusions to the wife and daughter of Mohammed show, while some of the material may be very old, as a reference to John Hyrcanus indicates. The Targums to the Hagiographa belong to the Seventh Century; to Esther there are two; to Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel there is none. The Targums are printed in the Polyglot and Rabbinic Bibles, and by Berliner (Onkelos) and Lagarde (Prophets and Hagiographa). Recently discovered Jemenite MSS. give a more trustworthy supra-linear vocalization.

(5) The Samaritan Targum is based on the Hebrew text adopted by the Shechemite community. It has been published in the Polyglots and by Petermann-Vollers (1872-91). Its age is uncertain. As the ‘Samaritan’ quoted in hexaplaric scholia seems to be a Greek translation of this Targum, it probably existed before Origen's time.

IV. Egyptian. — (1) The Sahidic version, of which parts have been published by Ciasea, Erman, Maspero, and Lagarde, is probably the oldest of the Egyptian translations, and may go back to the beginning of the Third Century, as it seems to have been made from a Greek text earlier than that of Origen, at least in the case of Job.

(2) Of the Akhmimic, Fayyumic, and Memphitic recensions of a Middle Egyptian version, somewhat later than the Sahidic, fragments have been published by Zoega, Quatremère, and Maspero.

(3) The Buhairic version, of which Lagarde has published the Pentateuch and Psalter, and Tattam the Prophets, is no doubt the youngest of the Egyptian versions. It may belong to the end of the Fourth Century.

V. Ethiopic. — The Ethiopic version was made from the Greek. It is probably the work of different translators in the Fourth and Fifth centuries. In some places it seems to have preserved a purer text than that of Origen. In addition to the books of the Greek Bible, it included also such works as Enoch, Jubilees, and Fourth Esdras. The Octateuch was published by Dillmann (1853-71); Joel, also by him (1879); Jonah, by Wright (1857); Obadiah and Malachi (1892), Lamentations and Isaiah (1893), by Bachmann; the Psalter, by Rödiger (1815); Dillmann published the Apocrypha (1894) and edited texts of Enoch (1851), Jubilees (1859), and Ascensio Isaiæ (1877); Charles edited Jubilees and Ascensio Isaiæ (1899); and Fleming published a critical text of Enoch (1902).

VI. Gothic. — A few fragments of Ulfilas's translation of the Old Testament have been found and published by Mai and Castiglione (1817), Gabelentz and Löebe (1843), and Massmann, Ulfilas: Die heiligen Schriften des alten und neuen Bundes in gothischer Sprache (1895-97). The version was made from a Greek text of the Lucianic recension, obtained in Constantinople about the year A.D. 350.

VII. Armenian. — According to Moses of Chorene and Lazar of Pharpi, who lived in the Fifth Century, this version was made between 390 and 430 by Mesrop and Sahak. It was translated in part from a Greek Hexaplaric text, whose obeli and asterisks have survived in some manuscripts, in part from a text of the Lucianic recension. The oldest manuscript at Etchmiadzin is dated 1151. This version was printed in Venice in 1805 and 1860.

VIII. Georgian. — Moses of Chorene affirms that this version was the work of Mesrop. Whether this is correct or not, it existed in the Fifth Century, and was made from a Greek text. A MS. Psalter dates from the Seventh Century, and a MS. of the Bible at Athosis dates from 978. The version has been printed in Saint Petersburg (1816).

IX. Slavonic. — The translation of Cyril and Methodius was probably into the Old Slavonic of the Balkan Peninsula, made before they went to Moravia, in the middle of the Ninth Century. A MS. Psalter in the glagolitic alphabet belongs to the Eleventh Century. Esther seems to have been translated from the Hebrew; Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah 1-25, 40-51, and some of the Apocrypha from the Latin Vulgate, the bulk of the Bible from a Greek text of the Lucianic recension. This Old Slavonic Bible was printed at Ostrog (1581).

X. Arabic. — (1) There is some evidence that the Law and the Prophets were known through Arabic versions at the end of the Seventh and in the Eighth Century, but nothing has been preserved of them.

(2) The first extant version is that of Saadia ben Joseph al Fayyumi, who was gaon in Sura, and died A.D. 942. Of this translation, written in Arabic with Hebrew letters, the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Proverbs have been published by Joseph and Hartwig Derenbourg (1893-96). Fragments of other versions also made by Jews have been found. Important are the translations of Japhet ben Ali, the Karaite, of which the Psalter and Daniel have been published.

(3) Abu Said, a Samaritan, made a translation of the Pentateuch c.1070 A.D.

(4) In many Coptic manuscripts the text is accompanied with an Arabic translation, and other Arabic MSS. have manifestly been translated from the Coptic.

(5) An Arabic version of the Latin Vulgate appeared in 1671.

(6) The Arabic text in the Paris and London polyglots is, in certain books, a translation of the Syriac Peshita, made in the Thirteenth Century. Books translated from the Hexaplar Syriae have been edited by Lagarde and Baudissin.

(7) Certain parts of the Arabic Bible in the Paris and London polyglots are translated from a Greek text similar to Codex Alexandrinus.

For versions of the New Testament in ancient languages, see section “The Text of the New Testament.”

(B) Versions in Modern Languages. With the development of the different nationalities and languages of modern Europe, versions of the Bible in the vernacular became a necessity. The history of these different versions, in most cases, exhibits the same general features. In each country, one or two out of a number of independent translations became most commonly used, and, either formally or informally, adopted by the national Church. Successive revisions of these national versions have been made necessary by the progressive changes in the vernacular and by the constant improvement in biblical scholarship. Furthermore, in nearly all European languages, independent versions, of various grades of accuracy and popularity, have been frequently published. The following account does not register all the very numerous versions that have been made. It attempts to indicate merely the main points in each national version, with only incidental reference to the most important of the many independent private translations.

English Versions. — The translation of the Scriptures into the Anglo-Saxon tongue began as early as the Eighth Century. Cædmon put parts of the Scripture narrative into verse. Bede (d.c.735) translated the Gospel of John. Aldhelm and others made metrical versions of the Psalms. In King Alfred's time, other portions, as the Commandments and the Psalter, were translated. Ælfric (c.1000) translated parts of both Testaments. There was, however, previous to the Norman Conquest, no complete and generally used Anglo-Saxon Bible. After the Conquest (1066), under the influence of the Normans, the old Anglo-Saxon became English. During the Thirteenth Century, a revival of religious interest in England led to a number of attempts to translate the Latin Bible into the common tongue. Orm, an Augustinian monk, wrote the Ormulum, a metrical paraphrase of the Gospels and Acts. Others treated Genesis and Exodus in the same way. Later, by William of Shoreham (c.1320), Richard Rolle, and others, prose versions of the Psalter were made. But these efforts did not produce an English Bible. Down to 1360, only the Psalter had been translated. Twenty-five years later, the whole Bible was circulating in a popular English version that common people could easily understand. This great achievement was mainly due to John Wiclif (d.1384). With his fellow-workers, Nicholas of Hereford and John Purvey, Wiclif completed the entire Bible by 1382. the New-Testament part was probably Wiclif's own work. In 1388 the whole was revised by Purvey and made public. The work was, of course, based on the Vulgate. Its avowed purpose was that ‘pore men’ might be able to read the truth. It was welcomed by such, and its effect on the religious life of England was profound. Yet it did not become a national version. Its popularity led to attempts to suppress it, and besides the language was changing so rapidly that many words soon became obsolete. But the seed had been sown, and in due time the Reformation was in progress in England. The adherents of the Reformation keenly felt the need of a translation, especially of the New Testament, in the English of the day. But, though printing was invented in 1450, it was not until 1525 that any part of the English Bible was put into type, and this was done on the Continent. In this respect England was far behind Germany and other countries. The printed English Bible began its history with the New Testament of William Tyndale. His evangelical views compelled him to flee from England to the Continent, and during 1524 and 1525 he was at Wittenberg, Cologne, and Worms. His New Testament was published at Worms, 1525-26, after an unsuccessful attempt to bring it out at Cologne. Copies of the edition at once began to find their way into England. Their sale was prohibited by Parliament. Tyndale published a corrected edition in 1534. Before his death, in 1536, five or more reprints had been issued by Antwerp publishers, some of which were quite inaccurate. This large circulation shows how ineffectual was Parliament's prohibition. In 1530 Tyndale published, probably at Wittenberg, a translation of the Pentateuch. He also translated the historical books from Joshua to II. Chronicles, but did not live to publish them. His translations were made from the Hebrew and Greek originals. He was very careful in his choice of English words, and the value of his version is mainly due to the fact that its English was the English of the people, not Anglicized Latin. It was also truthful, impartial, and fearless. Because of its intrinsic excellence it became a standard or model text by which all subsequent English versions, as well as the English language, have been most profoundly influenced. This version, especially because of its annotations, was heartily disliked by the King and many of the clergy. But something had to be done to meet the demand for an English Bible. Miles Coverdale (1488-1568), a clergyman of character and ability, at the suggestion of friends in high station, undertook a new translation. He began his task in November, 1534, finished the translation in October, 1535, and in the same year published the first complete English Bible, including the Apocrypha. It was dedicated to Henry VIII. Coverdale evidently borrowed largely from the labors of others. His New Testament was little more than a superficially revised Tyndale. In the Old Testament he depended largely on Tyndale and on Luther's German translation. The work was printed on the Continent, but published in England. Succeeding editions in 1537, 1539, 1550, and 1553 showed much care in revision. In 1536, through the King's indirect permission, the way was opened for the wider circulation of Coverdale's and other versions, Tyndale's alone being strictly proscribed. In 1537 a large folio Bible, bearing the name of Thomas Matthew as translator, appeared, dedicated to the King. It was, in reality, but a reprint, slightly changed, of Tyndale and Coverdale. In this Bible, Tyndale's translation of the Old-Testament books from Joshua to II. Chronicles appeared in print for the first time. The whole was, doubtless, the work of John Rogers, Tyndale's friend and literary executor. The printers, Grafton and Whitechurch, cleverly succeeded in obtaining the royal license, with its exclusive privileges for their publication. “Matthew's” Bible thus became, practically, the first authorized English Bible. In 1539 a revision of this Bible was prepared by Richard Taverner and published, the first complete Bible ever printed in England. Meanwhile, Thomas Cromwell was planning the publication of a Bible that might be formally authorized, and at the same time acceptable to all the clergy. Coverdale was one of several employed by him to prosecute the work. The sheets were first printed in Paris. These were, however, seized and in part destroyed by the Inquisition. The presses, type, and other material were then removed to England, where the work was published in 1539. Copies of this Bible, which was called the ‘Great’ Bible on account of its size, were ordered to be placed in the parish churches, so that any who desired might read. Until 1568 this Bible held the position of an authorized version. The Scripture passages of the English Prayer-books of 1549-52 were taken from it. Its Psalter is still in use in the English Church. During the last seven years of Henry's reign, his influence and power were directed against any further efforts to popularize the Bible. With the accession of Edward VI. (1547), the proscribed editions began to be reprinted and freely circulated. It is estimated that 75,000 copies of the Scriptures were printed during Edward's reign. Then came the reaction under Mary (1553-58), when the Scriptures were again proscribed and the leaders of the Reformation were persecuted, martyred, or compelled to flee to the Continent. Many of the refugees settled at Geneva, where they published an English New Testament in 1557, and the whole Bible in 1560. These were handy editions, in plain type, with chapters divided into verses and a marginal commentary. This Geneva Bible soon eclipsed all others in popularity. In 1568, under the leadership of Archbishop Parker, the ‘Bishop's Bible,’ the joint labor of eight English bishops, was published. Though it thus became the authorized version, it was too expensive to be popular.

The Douai Version. — The strength of the Reformation movement in England drove many English Catholics to France. At Rheims and Douai English colleges were established by these refugees, for the purpose of educating young men for the priesthood. In 1582 an English New Testament, with annotations, was published at Rheims, by John Fogny. The work was completed by the publication of the Old Testament in 1609, at Douai. The English Bible used by Roman Catholics is thus known as the Douai Bible. It is characteristic of this translation that it was made from the Vulgate and not from the Greek and Hebrew originals. This was because of the decree of the Council of Trent making the Vulgate the standard Bible of the Roman Church. The Rhemish Testament of 1582 contains an elaborate preface setting forth the value and proper use of a popular version, and defending the accuracy of the following translation. In the light of the preface one's judgment of the version should be charitable. It was a serious, conscientious attempt, hampered, indeed, by a compulsory dependence on the Vulgate, but not altogether blind to the necessity, at times, of falling back on the Greek. Its English is not so idiomatic as that of Tyndale's version. The renderings that have called forth ridicule, such as “the Pasche and the Azymes” (Mark xiv. 1), “the justifications of our Lord” (Luke i. 6), and the like, are not so numerous as is often implied; nor were they the result of carelessness on the part of the translators. In subsequent editions, such as those of Dr. Challoner (London, 1752), and Dr. MacMahon (Dublin, 1791), and more modern reprints, these ‘inkhorn’ expressions are rare. In fact, the modern editions of the Douai Bibles show marked improvement over those of 1582 and 1609.

Authorized Version. — At the Hampton Court Conference, 1604, James I. was petitioned to give the Genevan Bible preference over the Great and the Bishops' Bible, or else to authorize a new translation of the Scriptures. James was pleased with the latter proposition, and on July 22 directed the Archbishop of Canterbury (Bancroft) to begin the undertaking. The work was done by a commission of forty-seven members, following directions suggested by the King. In 1611 the translation was completed and published, with a fulsome dedication to the King and a wholesome explanatory and hortatory preface in the reader. According to the preface, the translators, by a careful comparison of all preceding versions, sought to make a better one than any of the many good ones then in use. The new Bible was in good demand at once. Five editions were issued in three years. It found, however, a formidable rival in popularity in the Genevan Bible; yet its manifest superiority gave it inside of fifty years the field, and it became the Bible universally used by English-speaking people. Its influence on the English language has been unmeasurable.

The Revised Version. — From 1702 to 1870 many schemes for further revision were proposed, and many private translations of the whole or parts of the Bible were published. In 1870 the Convocation of Canterbury entertained a plan for the revision of the Authorized Version of 1611. The work was done by two committees, the one British, the other American, the latter being advisory only. Each committee was divided into an Old-Testament and a New-Testament company. After long and painstaking labor, the Revised New Testament was published in 1881 and the whole Bible in 1885, by the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge. The sale of the Revised New Testament was at first immense. Many unauthorized reprints appeared in America. It is estimated that in less than one year after issue 3,000,000 copies were sold on both sides of the Atlantic. Though the Revised Bible has been subjected to severe criticism, it has steadily won favor among the more educated circles in preference to the version of 1611. In 1902 it was announced that it would be issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society. This should be the best proof of its general acceptance, as the Society is restricted to the issue of Bibles in current use in English. In 1901 the surviving members of the American Committee published an American Revised Version (New York), embodying the readings they had suggested to the British Committee, and such other improvements as had occurred to them in the interval.

Celtic Versions. — In the British Isles, there were no Celtic versions before the Reformation. An Irish New Testament was first published in 1595, the Old Testament in 1685. O'Kane's Irish Testament was issued in 1858. In Gaelic a New Testament appeared in 1690, the whole Bible in 1783-1801. It has since been revised in 1826, 1860, and 1880. A Manx version was made in 1770-72. In Cymric a New Testament was printed in 1567, the whole Bible in 1588. A Breton New Testament was published in 1827, another in 1847, the Bible in 1860.

German Versions. — The earliest Germanic versions did not include the whole Bible, but generally only the Psalter and the Gospels. The Monsee Fragments, of the year 738, rescued from old book-covers, belonged to a bilingual copy of the Gospels, Latin on the left, old Bavarian German on the right. The “German Tatian” is a harmony of the Ninth Century in the East-Frankish dialect. Such manuscript versions were numerous, and continued to be made even after the invention of printing. Of printed German versions before Luther's, a register has been made of 18 editions of the entire Bible, 22 of the Psalter, and 12 of other portions, all between 1466 and 1521. The earliest was the Bible published by Mantel, Strassburg, 1466. Next appeared Eggstein's, Strassburg, 1470, and Pflanzmann's, Augsburg, 1473. None of these early editions became popular. They were all made from the Vulgate, and by translators who were not masters of the German tongue. It was Luther's translation that made an epoch in the history of both the German Bible and language. Luther began translating as early as 1517, but not until 1521 did he decide to make a new version of the entire Bible. The New Testament was completed during his confinement in the Wartburg (1521-22), and published at Wittenberg by Melchior Lotther, September 21, 1522. A second edition was issued in December of the same year. The Old Testament appeared gradually, the Pentateuch in 1523, other parts later, until in August, 1534, the first complete edition of Luther's Bible was published, probably by Hans Lufft of Wittenberg. The character of this version was such that its author has been called the German translator. It was based on independent study of the original Hebrew and Greek, coupled with marvelous exegetical insight and a remarkable ability to express ideas clearly in strong, pure German. It was so popular that 10 editions of the Bible and 16 of the New Testament were issued in Luther's lifetime, under his supervision, besides over 50 independent and unauthorized reprints. Other German versions made during this period have been almost forgotten; though the excellent translation of the Prophets made by Denck and Hätzer (1527-29), of which 10 editions in quick succession were published, deserves to be mentioned. From Roman Catholic circles versions were issued in opposition to Luther's, notably Speier's, 1526, Ditenberger's, 1534, and the Cologne Bible of 1630 and 1632, commonly called the ‘Catholic Bible.’ Of revisions of Luther's version, the ‘Durchgesehene Bibel,’ and an official revision of 1892ff., called the ‘Probebibel,’ are the most recent and important. Of the many independent German versions since Luther the most important are Piscator's, 1602, De Wette and Augusti's, 1809-69, E. Reuss's, 1892-94, E. Kautsch's (Old Testament) 1890-94 (2d ed. 1896), and C. Weizsäcker's (New Testament), 7th ed. 1894.

In Switzerland, Luther's version became known at once. The delay in the publication of the fourth and fifth parts of the Old Testament led to an independent translation of these portions at Zurich in 1529. The Zurich Bible, issued in 1530, was largely identical with Luther's. This has been revised from time to time, most recently in 1895 (New Testament and Psalms only).

Dutch Versions. — During the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries, a Dutch version, made perhaps as early as 1300, was represented in many manuscripts, none containing the whole Bible. On the basis of this version, a portion of the Bible was printed at Delft in 1477. In 1478 the ‘Cologne Bible,’ the first complete Bible in Low German, was published. In 1522 a Dutch revision of Luther's New Testament was printed at Basel and Amsterdam. In 1524 an independent Dutch translation of Erasmus's Greek New Testament, “in goede platte Duytsche,” appeared at Delft. This was followed in 1526 at Antwerp by a Bible of the Reformation period. On the Roman Catholic side, a New Testament was printed in 1527, the whole Bible in 1548, In Protestant Holland many Bibles were issued by the various branches of the Reformed Church. In 1632 the Dutch Bible was officially revised by order of the States-General and the Synod of Dort. This was published in 1636, and became known as the ‘Staaten Bibel.’ Of modern editions, the most noteworthy is the revision undertaken at the request of the Synod by Kuenen and his disciples, known in Holland as the "Synod Bibel" (New Testament, 1866; Old Testament, 1897-1902).

Scandinavian Versions. — Parts of the Bible existed in Old Norwegian and Old Swedish as early as the Twelfth and Thirteenth centuries, somewhat later in Old Danish. Under the auspices of Christian II. a New Testament was issued in Danish in 1524, but it was not well received. In 1529 a Danish New Testament and Psalms by Christen Pedersen (1480-1554) was published at Antwerp, in 1531 a new and improved edition, and in the same year a Danish translation of the Psalms. But it was not till 1550 that the whole Bible was printed in Danish, the version being based on Luther's German. A revision of this in 1605-07 was not popular. After the separation of Norway (in 1814), a revision for Denmark alone was made in 1819. In 1872 a second revision was published. In Norway revisions were published in 1830, 1857-69, and 1890 (not yet complete). In Icelandic, a New Testament was issued in 1540, the whole Bible in 1584. This was revised in 1644, and a number of times since. In Sweden a translation of the New Testament, made by Laurentius Andreæ and Olaus Petri on the basis of Luther's version, was printed in Stockholm in 1526. Parts of the Old Testament appeared in 1536, and in 1540-41 the entire Bible, translated by Laurentius Petri, Laurentius Andreæ, and Olaus Petri, was published in Stockholm. The most important revisions have been those by Johan Gezelius, father and son (1674-1724), Odman and Tingstadius (1774-93), and Torén, Lindgren, and Melin (1853-79). The new version of the New Testament, which since 1883 is officially recognized by the Lutheran Church, is the work of Sundberg, Torén, and Johnson. Of independent translations, those by Thomsader and Walderström of the New Testament, and by Fjollstedt and Melin of the whole Bible, have enjoyed the greatest popularity. Perhaps the most elegant and scholarly versions of biblical books are those by F. O. Myrberg.

French. — The earliest versions on French soil were in the Teutonic dialects. Not until the Twelfth Century was any part of the Bible translated into French. The first printed French Testament appeared in 1477 at Lyons. In 1487 a large edition of the Bible was issued, dedicated to Charles VIII. This was followed by other sumptuous, expensive editions. Of a more popular character were the translations by J. Lefèbvre d'Etaples (New Testament, 1523, Old Testament, 1528, lacking the Psalter; Bible, 1530), all based on the Vulgate. In 1546 this Bible was placed on the Index. The Louvain Bible of 1550, though only a slightly altered Lefèbvre d'Etaples, became the generally used Roman Catholic Bible of France. It was revised in 1608, 1621, and 1647. More modern versions, to keep pace with the development of the French language, have appeared from time to time, such as the New Testament of Richard Simon, 1702. and the Port Royal Bible of 1667-87. Of modern Roman Catholic versions, Lassere's Gospels, 1887, is excellent, though not approved by the Church authorities. On the Protestant side, Olivetan (Peter Robert), Calvin's cousin, made a translation which was issued at 1535 at Serrières at the expense of the Waldenses. In subsequent editions this version was greatly improved. It was revised in 1588 by the Geneva pastors. In 1724 and 1744, J. F. Ostervald made a more modern version, which succeeded Olivetan's as the Bible of French Protestantism. Ostervald's version was revised, not very successfully, in 1805 (Old Testament) and 1835 (New Testament). Better modern revisions of the same are those of Ségond, 1874 and 1880, and the New Testament of Oltramare, 1872, and that of the French Bible Society, 1881. Other good modern translations are those of Perret-Gentil, Neuchâtel, 1847ff. (Old Testament), Eug. Arnaud, 1858 (New Testament), A. Rilliet, Geneva, 1859 (New Testament), E. Stapfer, Paris, 1889 (New Testament), and E. Reuss. Paris, 1874ff. An official synodical revision, undertaken at the suggestion of Bersier, is not yet complete.

Italian. — The first Italian version was made probably by Waldensian missionaries, in North Italy in the Thirteenth Century. The first printed Italian Bible was that of Nicolò de Malherbi, Venice, 1471. The better translation of Ant. Bruccioli, Venice, 1530-32, based on the Hebrew and Greek, was prohibited. Other early versions were those of Zaccaria, 1532, and Giglio, 1551, both of Venice. From Protestant circles an Italian New Testament was issued at Lyons in 1551, and a Bible at Geneva in 1562. In 1607 Giovanni Diodati, of Lucca, issued a Bible at Geneva. In 1776 the Archbishop of Florence, Ant. Martini, published a Bible at Turin, which, being favored by the Church, was the version adopted by the British and Foreign Bible Society in their Italian editions of the Sacred Scriptures. A Roman Catholic revision of the Martini Bible was issued in 1889.

Spanish. — In Catalonia, a version of the New Testament was made as early as the Fourteenth Century. A Bible was printed in Valencia in 1478. In Castile, on account of the large number of Jews, Spanish versions of the Old Testament were not uncommon in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries. The first printed Spanish New Testament was issued at Antwerp, 1543, the second at Geneva, 1546. In 1553 an Old Testament was printed at Ferrara, a double edition, the joint work of Jews and Christians. The first Spanish Bible, translated by Cassiodoro Reyna, was published at Basel, 1569, revised at Amsterdam in 1602. These books circulated in the Netherlands and Italy, but were prohibited in Spain. In 1790 the Roman Catholic Miguel published a Bible at Valencia which became commonly used, and was reprinted in 1828 by the British and Foreign Bible Society for distribution in Spain.

In Portuguese, a New Testament was printed in 1681 at Amsterdam. In 1712-19, the same translator, J. F. d'Almeida, published the Pentateuch and Historical Books. In 1778, a Bible, the first printed in Portugal, was published at Lisbon, the work of A. P. Figueiredo. This version has been reprinted by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Slavic Versions. — The beginnings of the Slavic versions go back to the efforts of Cyril and Methodius in the Ninth Century. The first version for general use among the Slavs of Russia was made in the Fifteenth Century. In 1581, under the auspices of Prince Constantine, a Bible was published at Ostrog. A revision of this was published in 1663 at Moscow. In 1753 a more thorough revision was made under the auspices of the Empress Elizabeth. In the early part of the Nineteenth Century, for linguistic reasons, the Holy Synod authorized another revision. This was partially published, 1818-25, by the Russian Bible Society, but opposition to the society prevented further progress until after the accession of Alexander II. In 1876 the revision was completed and published. The dates of the first versions in the other Slavic languages are as follows: Czech (Bohemian), Fourteenth Century (first printed edition, 1488); Bulgarian, 1828; Croatian, 1495: Polish, Thirteenth Century (first printed in the Fifteenth Century); Servian, 1847; Sloven, 1555; Wend, 1547.

Modern Greek. — A modern Greek version of parts of the Old Testament was made by the Jews in 1547. In 1638 certain Dutch Protestants had a modern Greek Testament published at Geneva. Another one was issued in England in 1703. These were forbidden by the authorities of the Greek Church. In 1830 the British and Foreign Bible Society republished and circulated this translation. In 1833-38 a new and better version of the New Testament was published, and the Old Testament was also gradually rendered into modern Greek. Later editions appeared in 1861 and 1872. The attempt to circulate a new revision in 1901, in the army, led to student riots in Athens, because it was supposed to emanate from Russia, and to be the entering wedge for such a version into the Church.

In Magyar or Hungarian, a New Testament was first printed in 1541. The whole Bible was published in 1590. A modern revision is partially completed. The Lithuanian and Lettish version began with the New Testament and Psalms in 1662. A Finnish New Testament was published in 1548, the Bible in 1642. A new translation was made in 1859. The Lapps received the Bible in their own tongue in 1838-40.

Of modern missionary versions, only brief mention can be made. The whole or parts of the Bible have been translated into about 400 languages; many of these, of course, being dialects of one main stock. As to particulars, it may be specified that the Sacred Scriptures have been rendered into upward of 40 Indian dialects of the Western Hemisphere, into 60 dialects and languages of Africa, into many of the tongues of the Pacific Isles, into Japanese, Chinese, the various dialects of India, into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, modern Armenian, Kurdish, Georgian, and modern Syriac. The uplifting and civilizing influence of such translations is beyond all estimation.


(A) Text of the Old Testament. Our knowledge of the Massoretic text is derived from the printed editions and the extant manuscripts. The Psalter was printed in 1477, probably at Bologna; the Pentateuch in 1482, at Bologna; the Five Megilloth, possibly also in 1482, at Bologna; the Prophets in 1486. at Soncino; the Hagiographa in 1486-87, at Naples. Of the whole Bible, the editio princeps appeared at Soncino in 1488. A second edition was probably printed at Naples, 1491-93. The third edition, used by Luther, appeared at Brescia in 1493, and a fourth at Pesaro in 1511-17. For the Complutensian Polyglot, printed at Alcalá, 1514-17, Cardinal Ximenes employed Alfonso de Zamora, who had at his disposal seven valuable manuscripts. The first Rabbinic Bible was edited by the Christian Jew, Felix of Prato, and published by Daniel Bomberg at Venice, in 1516-17. Of this, quarto editions appeared in 1518, 1521, and 1525-28. The editio princeps of Jacob ben Chayim's Rabbinic Bible, with the Masora, was published by Bomberg at Venice in 1524-25. Of all the earlier editions, this is the most accurate. These editions were, in part, based on manuscripts not known at the present time. A mixture of the Complutensian and the Bomberg texts is found in the Antwerp (1569-72), Paris (1629-45), and London (1654-57) Polyglots, and in Hutter's edition (1587). More critical value, because of the collation of new manuscripts, must be accorded to the editions of Joseph Athias (1661 and 1667); Jablonski (1699); Van der Hooght (1705); Opitz (1709); and J. H. Michaelis (1720). But particularly valuable is the edition of Raphael Chayim Italia, printed at Mantua in 1742-44, because of the subjoined commentary of Jedidja Salomo Norzi (written 1626). Kennicott's Bible (1776-80) was the result of a collation of over six hundred manuscripts. An indispensable supplement to this work was published by De Rossi (1781, 1788, 1798). Together, Kennicott and De Rossi possessed some knowledge of 1346 manuscripts and over 300 editions. The books have been carefully edited by Baer and Delitzsch (1869-95, 14 parts, including all except Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). A Massoretic, critical edition, based on Jacob ben Chayim's text, was published in 1894 by Ginsburg, with a very valuable apparatus.

The manuscripts are either unpointed parchments or leather rolls of the Pentateuch and the Megilloth for public use, or pointed codices in book form of parchment or paper for private use. By direct statement or by handwriting, they are shown to have been made in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Egypt, Arabia, or Syria. The oldest dated manuscript is the Saint Petersburg Codex of the Latter Prophets, written in 1228 of the Seleucid Era, or A.D. 916. It is possible that a manuscript of the Law in the British Museum (Or. 4445) belongs to the Ninth Century. But it is difficult to determine the age of a Hebrew manuscript on paleographical grounds, and the dates given are not always reliable. The work of classifying these manuscripts into families, according to age and country, and of comparing their minute differences, has been retarded by the discovery that they all represent substantially the same recension of the text. This fact has been explained by many scholars as due to the adoption of one model codex and the destruction or retirement of its rivals. It is more likely, however, that the uniformity results from the labors of scribes and Massorites. Among the Massoretic marginal annotations there are frequent references to standard codices now lost, such as Codices Mugah, Hilleli, Zanbuki, Jericho, Sinai, Machzor rabba, Ezra, and Babli. Of these, the oldest seems to date from c.600. There is no reason to suppose that any of them differed essentially from those now known, though they may have contained many minor differences, not wholly without importance. For the Massorites, who from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century supplied the text with annotations, vowel-points, and accents, were, as the name implies (Massorah — ‘tradition’), chiefly recorders of a tradition that had already taken form. It was above all to preserve the traditional reading of the Scripture that they entered their marginal notes on textual peculiarities, introduced their systems of vowel-notation, and indicated the accents as aids in cantillation. The latest of these activities was the accentuation. Possibly as early as A.D. 700, the punctuation-marks and neumes used in Greek Dictionaries and psalters began to be adopted as an assistance to the eye in the musical declamation of certain books. This chanting itself had grown out of a particularly solemn reading. The written signs probably took the place of manual signs without changing the customary intonation. While the same system was applied to all books in Babylonia, a special system was developed in Palestine for Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. Many differences still existed in the Eleventh Century between the Babylonian school of Jacob ben Naphtali and the Palestinian school of Aaron ben Asher. During the Seventh Century, the vowel-signs seem to have been introduced. The infra-linear system, derived from the Nestorians, is likely to have been earlier than the supra-linear system exhibited — e.g. by the Saint Petersburg Codex of A.D. 916, wrongly supposed to have been Babylonian. That the vowel-points are not earlier than A.D. 500 is evident from the Talmud, which does not know any such signs. In regard to the vocalization, minor differences have been recorded between the Babylonian schools at Nehardea, Sura, and Pumbedita, and between these and the Palestinian school of Tiberias. It was probably during the Sixth Century that the Massorah, in its narrower sense, was inserted by the side of the text (Massora parva), or at the bottom and the top of the page (Massora magna), or at the end and beginning of the book (Massora finalis). This is a body of annotations, partly indicating how in doubtful cases the text should be read (qerē’ = ‘it is read,’ sebhir = ‘it is thought’), partly giving summaries, concordantial matter, and the like. This material was gathered during the Talmudic period (c.180-500 A.D.).

Quotations in Mishnah, the Palestinian Talmud, Midrashim, and Babylonian Talmud, the Aramaic Targums, and Jerome, and less directly the later Greek versions, reveal the consonantal text that enjoyed canonical authority from the Second to the Sixth Century. It is probable that a standard text was gradually obtained, and that divergent types were naturally eliminated as a result of the critical process by which the canon was established, and of the demand that holy scriptures should be written exclusively in the Syrian (‘Assyrian’) characters to facilitate correct reading and to distinguish approved codices. Certain differences between the earliest Greek version and the Massoretic text suggest that, in the case of some of the Prophets and the Hagiographa, the codices used by the Alexandrian translators were written in the Egypto-Aramaic alphabet, possibly already in the middle of the Second Century B.C. As the Book of Esther (last third of the Second Century B.C.) still associates the Hebrew language and its peculiar script (viii. 9), the change probably began somewhat later in Palestine. The lingering preference for the older letters yielded only to the practical considerations of the scribes in the course of the First Century A.D. All rolls were not transcribed from the old Semitic alphabet at the same time; but as new copies were made, the request to write them in the characters then in vogue in Syria (resembling, no doubt, the Palmyrene or Nabatæan) was more and more followed. While many copyists' errors undoubtedly were committed, the text is not likely to have suffered very greatly in this process of transcription. For the motive of the change was a deeper reverence for the text that was deemed canonical and a desire for greater accuracy. This regard for the codices copied and the traditional reading is evidenced by the curious arrest of the tendency to indicate by vowel-letters the pronunciation, and by the introduction of spaces between words. Since, in the Talmudic period, only copies written in the later Syrian characters would be used as models, the disappearance of older manuscripts is naturally accounted for.

Concerning the state of the text from the Third Century B.C.) to the Second Century A.D., we possess a certain amount of knowledge through the Samaritan Pentateuch and its Targum, the earliest Greek version, and the translations made from it, the Book of Jubilees, the earliest Syriac version, and some writers of the period. For the Pentateuch, the testimony is most direct, as the Samaritan copy is written in Hebrew and in the old characters, slightly modified. Our earliest manuscript, however, is of the Thirteenth Century, and the age of this recension is very uncertain. There is no evidence that the present text is identical with the one recognized by Manasseh at the time of Alexander, when the temple on Gerizim was built. But the fact that many of its 6000 deviations from the Massoretic text agree with the Greek version suggests that it gained a definite form at an earlier date than the Judæan law. It is printed in the Paris and London polyglots. The difference between the Massoretic text and that from which the oldest Greek version was made is very great. The latter manifestly had no division of words, used vowel-letters very sparingly, was in some passages longer, and in many more instances shorter, than the Massoretic text, and frequently presented different consonants. It is evident, from the Book of Jubilees, that the text had not yet assumed its present form in Palestine at the beginning of our era. Whether the codices that were first rendered into Syriac presented a type akin to those used by the Alexandrian translators, or corrections were made after the Second Century A.D. to bring the Syriac version into harmony with the Greek, cannot easily be determined.

The earlier condition of the Hebrew text can only be surmised, and the original itself approximately restored, by a critical sifting of all this comparatively late material, by observation of parallelism, metre, and logical connection, and by scientific conjecture. In the attempt to reconstruct the earliest form of the text, literary and historical criticism must come to the aid of the investigator, removing later glosses, interpolations, annotations, editorial remarks, and mistaken inscriptions, and thus revealing the growth and composition of the biblical books. Houbigant first undertook to publish a translation based upon a critically restored text (1753). Since then the necessity of such work has been in increasing measure felt by scholars. The greatest enterprise in this direction has been the publication of the Polychrome Bible, under the editorship of Paul Haupt, of which fourteen out of twenty parts have appeared (New York, 1898 sqq.).

The earliest division of the several books was occasioned by the practice of reading certain sections of the Law and the Prophets on the Sabbath. In Palestine the Law was read in about three years, in Babylonia in one year. Hence the 154 Palestinian sedarim of the Law and the corresponding haphtaroth of the Prophets and the 54 Babylonian parashioth. There were also 379 shorter paragraphs called ‘closed,’ because the next section began on the same line, and 290 ‘open’ paragraphs. These Jewish sections were frequently arranged with a view to the effect of the opening and closing sentences, rather than to the logical connection, and are not superior to the Christian chapters, imperfect as they are, that Stephen Langthon introduced in 1270.

(B) Text of the New Testament. (1) The History of the New-Testament Text. The Autographs and First Copies. — In all probability, the New-Testament autographs were written on the perishable papyrus paper. They circulated at first separately and independently of each other. Copies began to be made at once. With the first of such copies the history of the New-Testament text began. Early Christianity was free, informal, and not distinguished for literary culture. Therefore, the first copies of the New-Testament books were not always carefully executed, especially if made for private use only. Yet such copies must have been used as exemplars from which other copies were made.

The External Form. — This was, except in the case of the smaller epistles, that of the roll. After a time it was customary to write several books on one large roll. The roll form was, however, inconvenient. Probably the whole New Testament was never written on one large roll. It is evident that the text of a MS. or roll comprising several books would depend for its accuracy on the quality of the text of each of the separate copies used as exemplars rather than on the skill of the scribe who executed it.

The Origin of Variant Readings and Various Types of Text. — It was during the first two centuries that the most of the more important errors, or variant readings, crept into the New-Testament text. Then the churches were most independent of each other; intercourse between leaders of Christian thought in different parts of the world was more rare and scholarship less accurate than was the case later. The absence of a standard text and the lack of competent supervision made the production of errors almost inevitable. The same conditions permitted the rise of several distinct types of text. In any given locality — Rome, for example — the Christian teachers would seek to establish a uniform text. They would try to eliminate the differences between their copies of the New-Testament books. Thus there came into being and common use a Roman type of text. Such measures could not, of course, produce absolute uniformity even in Rome. Essentially the same process went on in other centres of Christian influence — as, for example, Alexandria.

Improvement in the Third and Fourth Centuries. — During the Third Century the Church improved its scholarship. Parchment was being used in preference to papyrus. The roll form was giving way to the codex. The older copies of the New-Testament writings were being used as standards of comparison. The scholars of Rome, Alexandria, Carthage, Antioch, and other centres of Christian learning were coming to know each other's work. Comparison of texts was possible. Such conditions brought about a more conservative spirit. Scholars sought to correct, eliminate, or prevent errors in MSS. The result was, on the whole, beneficial. The labors of Origen (A.D. c.185-254), Pamphilus (died 300), Hesychius (date uncertain), Lucian of Antioch (A.D. 250-315), and Jerome (A.D. c.340-420) were all inspired by the desire to ascertain and preserve the true text. These efforts did not produce a uniform text, but they tended to check the production and propagation of errors. By the end of the Fourth Century several main types of text were dominant. One of these was the so-called Western text, represented in the writings of Irenæus; in the early Latin fathers, Tertullian and Cyprian of Carthage: in the Old Latin Version; in the earliest forms of the Syriac Version, and, in part, in the Egyptian Version. Another type of text is found in the writings of the Alexandrian Fathers. In the East — that is, in Antioch, and afterwards Constantinople — a third type, sometimes called the Syrian, made its appearance. The Syrian text is a later and less original type than the Western, or Alexandrian. There were, of course, many MSS. whose text was so confused as not to be representative of any particular type.

From about A.D. 450 the history of the Greek text (of manuscripts) contains nothing needing special mention.

The Printed Greek Text. — The first printed Greek Testaments were those of Erasmus, published at Basel, by Froben, in 1516-35, five editions in all, and that included in the Complutensian Polyglot, printed 1514-1517 but not published until 1521, at Alcalá, Spain. These were fallowed by the beautiful Regius editions of Robert Stephens (Etienne), of Paris (1546-51, four editions), of which the third, that of 1550, is the mast famous; and of Theodore Beza, of Geneva (1565-1611, ten editions). The text of all these earliest editions was practically the same, not based on early or good MSS., or constructed on true critical principles. In 1624 a Greek Testament was issued from the Elzevir Press, of Leyden, based on the editions just mentioned, which informed the reader that he had therein the “textum nunc ab omnibus receptum.” This edition gained great currency, and its ‘textus receptus’ became commonly used throughout Protestant circles.

The continuous discovery of Greek MSS., and the more careful study of the versions and fathers, showed only too plainly that the received text was far from identical with that of the more ancient witnesses. It now became the task of scholarship to seek to ascertain, if possible, the correct text. Soon the so-called critical editions began to make their appearance. The first great work of this kind was the New Testament of John Mill (Oxford, 1707), a large folio volume with prolegomena containing a mine of information. This was followed by the editions of J. A. Bengel (Tübingen, 1734), of J. J. Wetstein (Amsterdam, 1751-52), and of C. F. Matthaei (1782-88), and others of less importance. The next step in advance was taken by J. J. Griesbach, in his two-volume edition of 1786 and 1806, and his Symbolæ Criticæ (1785 and 1793). In his printed text the readings of the received text were often supplanted by those which seemed more strongly supported. Griesbach, like Bengel, followed clearly defined critical principles. In 1840-50 the philologist, Carl Lachman, published a New Testament in which the received text was altogether discarded. In its place was a text constructed by the critic on the basis of evidence. This method has been followed in all subsequent critical editions.

The work of all these men was used and more than supplemented by the gigantic labors of Tischendorf in his great eighth edition, published in 1865-72, containing a critical text and an apparatus exhibiting all the more important variants then known. Similar in character, and also the monument of the labor of a lifetime, was the Greek Testament of S. P. Tregelles, which appeared in 1857-72. In 1881, after twenty-five years' joint study, the edition of Westcott and Hort was published at Cambridge and London — the text in one volume, an introduction and appendix in another, written by Dr. Hort. The veteran German exegete, Bernhard Weiss, has also crowned his lifelong study of the New Testament by an edition of its text (1900). Of these four great critical editions, those of Tischendorf and of Westcott and Hort are in most common use.

(2) The Textual Criticism of the New Testament. — Since the autographs of the New Testament have long since perished, the existing witnesses to the text must be carefully studied, their variations noted, and a decision reached, if possible, as to which variants are to be preferred as more nearly representing the readings of the autograph. This is textual criticism.

(a) The witnesses to the text of the New Testament are: (1) Greek MSS.; (2) Ancient versions; (3) New-Testament citations found in the writings of ecclesiastical writers, especially of the first five centuries. (1) Greek MSS. are of two kinds — uncial and cursive. The uncials are those written in capitals or semi-capitals, the letters being unconnected with each other. Some of the uncial MSS. contain the whole or large portions of the New Testament, while others are only fragments, stray leaves of lost codices. They are all earlier than the Tenth Century. In the Ninth Century the cursive or running style of handwriting came into use. MSS. written in this are called cursives. No cursives are earlier than the Ninth Century, but many of them preserve ancient and valuable texts. While there are less than a hundred uncials, the known cursives number over 1400 for the Gospels alone. Among all these MSS. five uncials deserve special mention: (1) The Codex Sinaiticus, now in Saint Petersburg, containing the whole New Testament, with the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of Hermas, was discovered by Tischendorf in the Monastery of Saint Catharine at Mount Sinai, in February, 1859. It was written in the Fourth or Fifth Century. Its leaves are of fine parchment, or vellum, 13½ inches wide by 14⅛ inches high. The text is in four columns of 48 lines each. The codex once contained the whole Bible. (2) The Codex Alexandrinus, one of the treasures of the British Museum, was written in the Fifth Century. It is also a MS. of the entire Bible. To the New Testament were added I. and II. Clement. The whole MS. contains 773 leaves, of which 639 belong to the Old Testament. The pages measure 10¼ by 12¾ inches, with two columns on each. The text is divided into sections, or paragraphs, instead of being without a break (except at the end of a book), as in the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. (3) The Codex Vaticanus, in the Vatican Library at Rome, is probably the best New-Testament MS. in existence. It is of about the same age as the Sinaiticus, and, like it, is a MS. of the whole Bible. Its pages measure 10 by 10½ inches. Its vellum is of the finest quality; 142 of its 759 leaves belong to the New Testament. The last part of the volume is missing. The New-Testament text is written in three columns on a page. (4) The Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. This is a palimpsest — i.e. a MS. whose original writing has been erased in order to use the parchment for another work. In this case a part of a Greek Bible was used on which to write some of the works of the Syrian father Ephraim. By means of chemicals, the original writing has been partially restored. The MS. has but one broad column on a page. It was written in the Fifth Century. At present it contains only about two-thirds of the New Testament, many parts having been lost. The Codex is in the National Library in Paris. (5) The Codex Bezæ is a MS. of the Gospels and Acts, written in the Sixth Century. It is a bilingual codex, the Greek text being on the left, the Latin on the right, page of the open book. There is but one column on a page. This MS. was presented to the University of Cambridge, by Theodore Beza, in 1581.

For convenience of reference MSS. are designated by symbols, either letters of an alphabet or numbers. Thus the five uncials just described are designated by the letters ℵ (or S), A, B,. C, D, respectively.

In addition to New-Testament MSS., the service-books of the Greek Church, containing lessons for daily reading, are useful witnesses to the New-Testament text. Over 1000 such books, ranging in date from the fourth to the Fourteenth Century, are known.

(2) The Versions. — For textual criticism, the three most important versions are the Syriac, the Latin, and the Egyptian.

The origin of the Syriac Version is hidden in obscurity. It is altogether likely, judging from the parallel history of the Latin Version, that the first translations were of a private character, the work of different Christian teachers in the early days of Syrian Christianity. Tatian (about A.D. 150-175), a companion of Justin Martyr after his quarrel with the Roman Church, returned to his native Syria, and there published his Diatessaron, a compilation of the four canonical Gospels into a continuous narrative. Some have thought that this was the beginning of the Syriac New Testament. However that may be, it is a remarkable fact that the earliest forms of the Syriac Version were made from a Greek text similar to that prevalent in Rome in the latter half of the Second Century. Such, in general, is the text found in the fragments discovered by William Cureton in 1842 (published in 1858), and in the Syriac palimpsest discovered in 1892 at Mount Sinai by Mrs. Lewis and her sister, Mrs. Gibson. After a while these earlier forms of text become more conformed to the type of Greek text regnant in the East. This text is represented in the Peshitto, or common Syriac Version, which was current as early as the Fourth Century. The Philoxenian, or Harkleian, Version, a slavishly literal translation, begun in A.D. 508, was revised and completed in A.D. 616. The Jerusalem, or Palestinian, Version was made about the same time, for the use of the Syrian churches of Palestine.

The Latin Version. — Not until about the end of the Second Century did the need arise for a Latin New Testament. The early Roman Christians used Greek. It was in country districts, probably, especially in Northwest Africa, that the first Latin translations were made. These were private translations for local use. The text was of the Western type, current in Rome and Northern Africa. A little later the same thing took place in Italy. The effect of so many independent versions was that in the time of Augustine (354-430) and Jerome (c.340-420) the Latin text was greatly confused. At the solicitation of Damasus, Bishop of Rome, Jerome undertook to revise it. Though he used the best Greek MSS. at his disposal, yet his work was but a revision, not a new translation. It was published about A.D. 384. It slowly but steadily won its way to supremacy, and so became known as the Vulgata, or commonly used version. Through careless copying and mixture with older types of text the Vulgate became corrupted. It was revised by Alcuin in 801, by Lanfranc in 1069-89, and by others in succeeding centuries. In obedience to a decree of the Council of Trent (1546), a revised Vulgate was published in 1589-90 with the sanction of Pope Sixtus V. (the Sixtine Vulgate). This was found so faulty that in 1592, under the auspices of Pope Clement VIII., the Clementine Vulgate, the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, was issued. A critical revision of the Vulgate is now in process of publication in England (Wordsworth and White's). The Codex Amiatinus, the most important MS. of the Vulgate, is one of the most magnificent books in the world.

The Egyptian or Coptic Version. — The early history of this is exceedingly obscure. Several dialects were spoken by the native Egyptian during the early Christian centuries. These dialects are all represented in the Coptic MSS. of the New Testament. The beginnings of this version seem to have been made as early as A.D. 250. It was designed in the first place to meet the needs of the uncultivated populations of the rural districts. For some unknown reason, the text of the Egyptian Version is more Western than Alexandrian.

The other ancient versions are of minor importance. The Armenian seems to have been made in the Fifth Century, the Georgian a little later. The Gothic, the work of Ulfilas, second bishop of the Goths in Mœsia, dates from the latter half of the Fourth Century. The Ethiopic, used in the churches of Abyssinia, was made in the Fifth Century. The Persian and the Arabic are several centuries later. The earliest Slavic version dates from the Ninth Century. The Frankish of the Ninth and the Anglo-Saxon of the Tenth Century were made from the Latin.

A third class of witnesses to the text of the New Testament consists of the patristic citations. Among the Fathers, Irenæus, Tertullian, and Cyprian are the main representatives of the Western text, Clement of Alexandria and Origen of the Alexandrian, while the post-Nicene fathers, especially of the East, generally represent the Syrian text.

(b) The Principles of Textual Criticism. — The first printed Greek Testaments were uncritical and based on few and late MSS. With the appearance of Mill's New Testament in A.D. 1707 it was seen that the number of witnesses to be consulted was very large, and that the variant readings were to be counted by the thousands. The first attempts to decide between readings were based, naturally, either on mere individual preference or on the comparative number and age of the opposing authorities. It was soon found, however, that such simple rules were not sufficient. For very often the reading that commends itself on grounds of intrinsic worth and probability is absent from the majority of MSS., including some of the oldest. It is well known that difficult readings in an autograph are quite likely to be changed in the course of transcription to easier or smoother ones. The reverse is not the case. Hence we have the celebrated canon of Bengel, “proclivæ scriptioni præstat ardua,” i.e. the more difficult reading is to be preferred to the easier. Other principles or canons are, “that reading is to be preferred which seems to have been likely to have been the source of the others,” and, “the shorter reading is to be preferred.” Such canons are the result of close observation and are necessary to prevent the too free use of mere conjecture. But a textual critic deals not merely with readings alone. Readings are contained in documents, and the quality and interrelationship of the documents must be considered. If nine out of ten manuscripts are all copies of one and the same manuscript, their united testimony amounts only to the testimony of the one manuscript from which they are derived. If that one was a poor manuscript, the text of the nine copies can be no better. Therefore, the testimony of one manuscript may be of more weight than that of a number of opponents. That a majority of witnesses favor a reading is not a necessary indication of its correctness. The witness of a manuscript which is carefully executed or seems to have been exceptionally fortunate in its ancestry should be allowed great weight. The general value of a manuscript is ascertained by a careful examination of each of its various readings. Hence the canon adopted by Westcott and Hort, “knowledge of documents should precede judgment on readings.” Another canon, formulated by the same critics, is drawn from the fact that the relation between the different manuscripts of a work is like that of the several branches of a genealogical tree. With any new copy or set of copies serious changes may be introduced. Such copies may become, in their turn, parents of large numbers of others, all of which will exhibit the same characteristic changes. These readings will be absent from manuscripts belonging to another line of descent. So we have the canon, “all trustworthy restoration of corrupted texts is founded upon a study of their history — that is, of the relations of descent or affinity which connect the several documents.” The most consistent example of the application of such principles is Westcott and Hort's Greek New Testament, of 1881. Other critical editors, while recognizing the value of these principles, have allowed their individual preferences fuller play.

VI. Bibliography. The following carefully selected and purposely brief list of books, for the most part in English, is made up of those suggested by the authors of the preceding article, with a few additions, and is arranged under the same heads as the article itself. Only the latest edition is mentioned:

I. In General. — W. R. Smith. The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (New York, 1901); W. H. Bennett and W. F. Adeney, Biblical Introduction (New York, 1900); S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (London, 1897); J. Robertson, The Old Testament and its Contents (London, 1893); A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament (London, 1891); W. H. Simcox, The Language of the New Testament (London, 1889); R. G. Moulton, The Literary Study of the Bible (New York, 1899); R. F. Horton, Revelation and the Bible (London, 1892); the bibliographies given by M. R. Vincent, Student's New Testament Handbook (New York, 1893); and by C. W. Votaw and C. F. Bradley, Books for New Testament Study (Chicago, 1900); the article “Bible” in Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible, and in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

II. Interpretation. — L. Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche (Jena, 1869); J. C. K. Hofmann, Biblische Hermeneutik (Nördlingen, 1880); C. A. Briggs, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (New York, 1899); F. W. Farrar, The History of Interpretation (London, 1886); A. Immer, Hermeneutics of the New Testament (English translation, Andover, 1890); P. Schaff, Theological Propædeutic (New York, 1893, chap. cxxvii.-cxl.).

III. The Canon.— A. The Old Testament Canon. G. Wildeboer, The Origin of the Canon of the Old Testament (English translation, London, 1895); F. Buhl, Canon and Text of the Old Testament (English translation, Edinburgh, 1892); H. E. Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament (London, l892); and the article “Canon” in the Encyclopædia Biblica, and in the Jewish Encyclopædia.

III. B. The New Testament Canon. — Th. Zahn, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons (3 vols., Leipzig, 1892); A. Harnack, Das Neue Testament um das Jahr 200 (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1889); B. F. Westcott, History of the New Testament Canon (London, 1889); A. H. Charteris, Canonicity (London, 1880); and the article “Canon” in the Encyclopædia Biblica, and in Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible.

IV. Version. — English. P. Schaff, A Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version (New York, 1889); B. F. Westcott, A General View of the History of the English Bible (London, 1872); J. Eadie, The English Bible (2 vols., London, 1870); H. W. Hoare, The Evolution of the English Bible (London, 1902); The English Hexapla (London, Bagster, 1841); Forshall and Madden's edition of Wiclif's translation of the Bible (4 vols. Oxford, 1850); F. Frey's edition of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament (London, 1862); and J. I. Mombert's edition of Tyndale's Pentateuch (New York, 1884). For non-English versions consult The Bible of Every Land (London, Bagster, 1861); A. Ostertag, Die Bibel und ihre Geschichte (Basel, ed. R. Preiswerk, 1892); A. Loisy, Histoire du texte et des versions de la Bible (2 vols., Paris, 1895); F. G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, being a History of the Text and its Translation (London, 1896); H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge, 1900). For full bibliographies consult the article “Bibelübersetzungen” in the third edition of Herzog (Vol. II. 1-176), and for a list of the Bible translations prepared by missionaries, consult the list of J. S. Dennis in his Centennial Survey of Foreign Missions (New York, 1902, pp. 123-172).

V. Textual Criticism. — A. Old Testament Text. C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (London, 1897); F. Buhl, Canon and Text of the Old Testament (English translation, Edinburgh, 1892). B. New Testament Text. The Prolegomena to Tischendorf's 8th edition of his Greek New Testament, by C. R. Gregory and the late Ezra Abbot (Leipzig, 1884); F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (ed. by E. Miller, London, 1894); C. R. Gregory, Die Textkritik des Neuen Testaments (Leipzig, 1900); B. B. Warfield, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (New York, 1887); M. R. Vincent, The History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (New York, 1901); C. E. Hammond, Outlines of Textual Criticism to the New Testament (London, 1902); Edwin Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek (London, 1889).