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THE

BRITISH CRITIC,

FOR JANUARY, 1816.

ART. I. An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament; in which the Greek Manuscripts are newly classed, the Integrity of the Authorised Text vindicated, and the various Readings traced to their Origin. By the Rev. Frederick Nolan, a Presbyter of the United Church. 8vo. .576 pp. 16s. Rivingtons. 1815.

IT has been objected, and with a sufficient degree of justice, both to the writers and to the readers of the present day, that they are ever disinclined to enter into the labour of investigation themselves, but are contented to rely upon the industry and to trust to the fidelity of their predecessors: εἰς ἔτοιμα μᾶλλον τρέπον· Ta. It is therefore with peculiarpleasure that we introduce to the learned world a volume, which is of itself sufficient to relieve the age in which we live from so severe a charge, and to prove that there is one man at least among us, who, in the ardour of investigation and in the depth of original research, will yield to no Theologian of ancient days.

Mr. Nolan's reputation as a Theologian, is already established by his work on the OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY GHOST, published at the close of the year 1813. After such an exertion of talent, most men would have allowed themselves some little relaxation, or had they engaged without respite in further literary pursuits, would have selected an object on which it would not be necessary to bestow uncommon exertion. In both these respects our author's devotedness to his professional studies, led him to a different course; for the foundation of the work now before us was laid in our own pages in February, 1814, and our introductory observation fully expresses our sense of the arduousness of the undertaking. As to the success which has attended his labours in the present instance, we are on many considerations restrained. from obtruding upon our learned readers any premature conclusions of our own, but without incurring the imputation of partiaB

lity,

VOL. V. JANUARY, 1816.

lity, we shall be permitted, we trust, to assume thus much in our author's behalf that there can be but one opinion as to the industry, the accuracy and the ingenuity displayed in so extraordinary a manner throughout the volume-an opinion which we confidently promise ourselves will not only be privately entertained, but publicly demonstrated. But without further preface, we shall lay before our readers an historical sketch of the investigations previously made into the state of the Received Text of Scripture, as no unsuitable introduction to what has been done by Mr. Nolan.

The early efforts of every art, necessarily superficial, admit of an easy description. The first essay, in sacred criticism commenced under the patronage of that distinguished prelate Cardinal Ximenes, who undertook at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Complutensian Polyglott. Fifteen years were employed in compiling this great work, forty-two persons, eminent for their learning, having been maintained at a considerable expence in preparing it for publication. In executing this task, there was little room for the exercise of conjectural or emendatory criticism. The editors undertook the work expressly with the design of following the most antient manuscripts, with a religious exactness; having been supplied by Leo X. with seven of the most valuable copies in the Vatican library; and they accomplished the work agreeably to its intention. A manuscript, in the Bodleian library, which Dr. Mill found in Archbishop Laud's collection, harmonises with the Complutensian text in so extraordinary a degree, as to justify the supposition, that they have been respectively taken from the same exemplar. The fidelity of this edition to the original from whence it was copied gives it the authority of a manuscript, and so highly has it been estimated, for the purity of its text, that many critics have given it the preference to the received text of our printed editions. The most striking peculiarity of this edition, is the celebrated verse containing the heavenly witnesses, 1 John v. 7. which has been the subject of so much learned discussion; but the opinion of every unbiassed person now rests in the conviction, that it retains this verse merely as a translation from the Latin Vulgate.

The publication of this great and celebrated work was anticipated by the third edition of Erasmus, who undertook to settle the text, on the testimony of the Greek and Latin Vulgate, and who consequently produced that edition from which the received text deviates in no reading of the least importance. The manuscript which formed the exemplar of this text is still extant, having been discovered by Griesbach in the British Museum; and from a collation of that accurate critic it appears, that Erasmus, who entrusted the revisal of the press to Ecolampadius, adhered very

closely

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