Reference: New Testament
(Lu 22:20), rather "New Covenant," in contrast to the old covenant of works, which is superseded. "The covenant of grace is called new; it succeeds to the old broken covenant of works. It is ever fresh, flourishing, and excellent; and under the gospel it is dispensed in a more clear, spiritual, extensive, and powerful manner than of old" (Brown of Haddington). Hence is derived the name given to the latter portion of the Bible. (See Testament.)
(See BIBLE; CANON; INSPIRATION.) hee kainee diatheekee. See Heb 9:15-17; 8:6-13. The Greek term diateeeekee combines the two ideas "covenant" and "testament," which the KJV gives separately, though the Greek is the same for both. "Covenant" expresses its obligatory character, God having bound Himself by promise (Ga 3:15-18; Heb 6:17-18). "Testament" expresses that, unlike other covenants, it is not a matter of bargaining, but all of God's grace, just as a testator has absolute power to do what he will with his own. Jesus' death brings the will of God in our favor into force. The night before His death He said "I appoint unto you by testamentary disposition (diatitheemi) a kingdom" (Lu 22:29). There was really only one Testament - latent in the Old Testament, patent in the New Testament. The disciples were witnesses of the New Testament, and the Lord's Supper was its seal. The Old and New Testament Scriptures are the written documents containing the terms of the will.
TEXT. The "Received Text" (i.e. the "Textus Receptus" or TR) is that of Robert Stephens' edition. Bentley (Letter to Wake in 1716 A.D.) said truly, "after the Complutenses and Erasmus, who had very ordinary manuscripts, the New Testament became the property of booksellers. R. Stephens' edition, regulated by himself alone, has now become as if an apostle were its compositor. I find that by taking 2,000 errors out of the Pope's Vulgate (i.e. correcting by older Latin manuscripts the edition of Jerome's Vulgate put forth by Sixtus V, A.D. 1590, with anathemas against any who should alter it 'in minima particula,' and afterwards altered by Clement VIII (1592) in 2,000 places in spite of Sixtus' anathema) and as many out of the Protestant pope Stephens' edition, I can set out an edition of each (Latin, Vulgate, and Greek text) in columns, without using any book under 900 years old, that shall so exactly agree word for word, and order for order, that no two tallies can agree better. ... These will prove each other to a demonstration, for I alter not a word of my own head."
The first printed edition of the Greek Testament was that in the Complutensian Polyglot, January, 10, 1514 A.D. Scripture was known in western Europe for many ages previously only through the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. F. Ximenes de Cisneros, of Toledo, undertook the work, to celebrate the birth of Charles V. Complutum (Alcala) gave the name. Lopez de Stunica was chief of its New Testament editors. The whole Polyglot was completed the same year that Luther affixed his 95 theses against indulgences to the door of the church at Wittenberg. Leo X lent the manuscripts used for it from the Vatican. It follows modern Greek manuscripts in all cases where these differ from the ancient manuscripts and from the oldest Greek fathers. The Old Testament Vulgate (the translation which is authorized by Rome) is in the central column, between the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew (the original); and the editors compare the first to Christ crucified between the impenitent (the Hebrew) and the penitent (the Greek) thief!
Though there is no Greek authority for 1Jo 5:7, they supplied it and told Erasmus that the Latin Vulgate's authority outweighs the original Greek! They did not know that the oldest copies of Jerome's Vulgate omit it; the manuscript of Wizanburg of the eighth century being the oldest that contains it. Owing to the Complutensian Greek New Testament not being published, though printed, until the Polyglot was complete, Erasmus' Greek New Testament was the first published, namely, by Froben a printer of Basle, March 1516, six years before the Complutensian. The providence of God at the dawn of the Reformation thus furnished earnest students with Holy Scripture in the original language sanctioned by the Holy Spirit. Erasmus completed his edition in haste, and did not have the scruples to supply, by translating into Greek front the Vulgate, both actual hiatuses in his Greek manuscripts and what he supposed to be so, especially in the Apocalypse, for which he had only one mutilated manuscript.
To the outcry against hint for omitting the testimony of the three heavenly witnesses he replied, it is not omission but non-addition; even some Latin copies do not have it, and Cyril of Alexandria showed in his Thesaurus he did not know it; on the Codex Montfortianus (originally in possession of a Franciscan, Froy, who possibly wrote it, now in Trinity College, Dublin) being produced with it, Erasmus INSERTED it. So clumsily did the translator of the Vulgate Latin into Greek execute this manuscript that he neglects to put the necessary Greek article before "Father," "Word," and" Spirit." Erasmus' fifth edition is the basis of our "Received Text." In 1546 and 1549 R. Stephens printed two small editions at Paris, and in 1550 a folio edition, following Erasmus' fifth edition almost exclusively, and adding in the margin readings from the Complutensian edition and from 15 manuscripts collected by his son Henry, the first large collection of readings. The fourth edition at Geneva, 1551, was the first divided into modern verses. Beza next edited the Greek New Testament, generally following Stephens' text, with a few changes on manuscript authority.
He possessed the two famous manuscripts, namely, the Gospels and Acts, now by his gift in the university of Cambridge; "Codex Bezae" or "Cantabrigiensis," D; and the epistles of Paul, "Codex Clermontanus" (brought from Clermont), now in the Bibliotheque du Roi at Paris; both are in Greek and Latin. The Elzevirs, printers at Leyden, published two editions, the first in 1624, the second in 1633, on the basis of R. Stephens' third edition, with corrections from Beza's. The unknown editor, without stating his critical principles, gravely declares in the preface: "texture habes ab omnibus receptum, in quo nihil immutatum aut corruptum damus"; stranger still, the public for two centuries has accepted this so-called "Received Text" as if infallible. When textual criticism was scarcely understood, theological convenience accepted it as a compromise between the Roman Catholic Complutensian edition and the Protestant edition of Stephens and Beza. Mill (1707) has established Stephens' as the Received Text in England; on the continent the Elzevir is generally recognized.
Thus, an uncritical Greek text of publishers has been for ages submitted to by Protestants, though abjuring blind assent to tradition, and laughing at the claim to infallibility of the two popes who declared each of two diverse editions of the Vulgate to be exclusively authentic. (The council of Trent, 1545, had pronounced the Latin Vulgate to be the authentic word of God). Frequent handling and transmission soon destroyed the originals. If the autographs of the inspired writers had been preserved, textual criticism would not have been necessary. But the oldest MSS, existing, Codex Sinaiticus ('aleph) Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Alexandrinus (A), are not older than the fourth century. Parchment was costly (2Ti 4:13). Papyrus paper which the sacred writers used (2Jo 1:12; 3Jo 1:13) was fragile. No superstitious or antiquarian interest was felt in the autographs which copies superseded. The Diocletian persecution (A.D. 303) attacked the Scriptures, and traditores (Augustine, 76, section 2) gave them up.
Constantine ordered 50 manuscripts to be written on fair skins for the use of the church. God has not seen fit (by a perpetual miracle) to preserve the text from transcriptional errors. Having by extraordinary revelation once bestowed the gift, He leaves its preservation to ordinary laws, yet by His secret providence furnishes the church, its guardian and witness, with the means to ensure its accuracy in all essentials (Ro 3:2). Criticism does not make variations, but finds them, and turns them into means of ascertaining approximately the original text. More materials exist for restoring the genuine text of New Testament than for that of any ancient work. Whitby attacked Mill for presenting in his edition 30,000 various readings found in manuscripts. Collins, the infidel, availed himself of Whitby's unsound argument that textual variations render Scripture uncertain.
For the general contents of the New Testament see BIBLE. See also COVENANT. The chronology of the principal events recorded in the New Testament is given in the following tables, with approximate dates. The dates of the Epistles of Peter, James, John, and Jude are according to the A.V. For the date of the crucifixion see SEVENTY WEEKS: other dates are reckoned from that.
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
27 Augustus emperor of Rome
6 Census in Judaea. Birth of John the Baptist
5 Birth of Jesus (Four full years before A.D.) Presentation in the temple.
4 Visit of the magi. Flight into Egypt, Massacre of infants. Death of Herod;
Archelaus made ethnarch of Judaea, Samaria and Idumaea
Herod Antipas tetrarch of Peraea and Galilee. Philip tetrarch of Ituraea, Trachonitis. etc.
6 Quirinis (Cyrenius) governor of Syria the second time
Archelaus banished, and Judaea made a province of Syria.
7 Enrolment, or taxation, under Cyrenius. Annas made high priest
8 Jesus at Jerusalem. Lu 2:42-46
Lu 2:14 Tiberias emperor of Rome: reigns alone
17 Caiaphas made high priest
26 Pontius Pilate procurator of Judaea
John commences his ministry. (See TIBERIUS.) Mr 1:1-11
Baptism of Jesus. The Temptation
Miracle of the water made wine at Cana. Joh 2:1-11
Jesus visits Capernaum
The first Passover. Jesus cleanses the temple. Joh 2:13-22
John cast into prison. Jesus preaches in Galilee Mr 1:14-15
Jesus at the synagogue at Nazareth: cast out of the city. Lu 4:16-30
Jesus visits the towns of Galilee Mr 1:38-39
The twelve Apostles chosen Mr 3:13-19
Sermon on the Mount. Matt. 5.- 7; Lu 6:17-49
Miracles in the land of the Gadarenes. Mr 5:1-20
The Jews offended at Jesus at Nazareth. Mr 6:1-5
Jesus again visits the villages around. Mr 6:6
Jesus sends forth the twelve. Mr 6:7-13
Death of John the Baptist. Mr 6:17-29
Feeding the five thousand. Mr 6:35-44
Miracles in Gennesaret. Mr 6:53-56
Mr 6:28 Approach of the third Passover Joh 6:4
Feeding the four thousand. Mr 8:1-9
The Transfiguration. Mr 9:2-10
Feast of Tabernacles. John 7.
Journey towards Jerusalem. Lu 9:51
The seventy disciples sent out. Lu 10:1-16
Feast of Dedication (winter). Joh 10:22-39
Jesus goes away beyond Jordan. Joh 10:40-42
The raising of Lazarus at Bethany. Joh 11:1-44
Jesus retires to Ephraim. Joh 11:54
Joh 11:29 Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Cleanses the temple Mr 11:1-18
The Greeks visit Jesus. Voice from heaven. Joh 12:20-36
The last (fourth) Passover. The Lord's supper Mr 14:1-2
The Crucifixion. Ascension. Pentecost
30-34 The events from Pentecost to Stephen. Acts 2
It is proposed in this article to consider the text of the New Testament. The subject naturally divides itself into-- I. The history of the written text; II. The history of the printed text. I. THE HISTORY OF THE WRITTEN TEXT.--
1. The early history of the apostolic writings externally, as far as it can be traced, is the same as that of other contemporary books. St. Paul, like Cicero or Pliny often employed the services of an amanuensis, to whom he dictated his letters, affixing the salutation "with his own hand."
The original copies seem to have soon perished.
2. In the natural course of things the apostolic autographs would be likely to perish soon. The material which was commonly used for letters the papyrus paper, to which St. John incidentally alludes.
comp. 3Joh 1:13 was singularly fragile, and even the stouter kinds, likely to be used for the historical books, were not fitted to bear constant use. The papyrus fragments which have come down to the present time have been preserved under peculiar circumstances as at Herculaneum or in the Egyptian tombs.
3. In the time of the Diocletian persecution, A.D. 303, copies of the Christian Scriptures were sufficiently numerous to furnish a special object for persecutors. Partly, perhaps, owing to the destruction thus caused, but still more from the natural effects of time. no MS. of the New Testament of the first three centuries remains but though no fragment of the New Testament of the first century still remains, the Italian and Egyptian papyri, which are of that date give a clear notion of the caligraphy of the period. In these the text is written in columns, rudely divided, in somewhat awkward capital letters (uncials), without any punctuation or division of words; and there is no trace of accents or breathings.
4. In addition to the later MSS. the earliest versions and patristic quotations give very important testimony to the character and history of the ante-Nicene text; but till the last quarter of the second century this source of information fails us. Only are the remains of Christian literature up to that time extremely scanty, but the practice of verbal quotation from the New Testament was not yet prevalent. As soon as definite controversies arose among Christians, the text of the New Testament assumed its true importance.
5. Several very important conclusions follow from this earliest appearance of textual criticism. It is in the first place evident that various readings existed in the books of the New Testament at a time prior to all extant authorities. History affords a trace of the pure apostolic originals. Again, from the preservation of the first variations noticed, which are often extremely minute, in one or more of the primary documents still left, we may be certain that no important changes have been made in the sacred text which we cannot now detect.
6. Passing from these isolated quotations, we find the first great witnesses to the apostolic text in the early Syriac and Latin versions and in the rich quotations of Clement of Alexandria (cir. A.D. 220) and Origen (A.D. 1842~4). From the extant works of Origen alone no inconsiderable portion of the whole New Testament might be transcribed; and his writings are an almost inexhaustible store house for the history of the text. There can be no doubt that in Origen's time the variations in the New Testament MSS. were beginning to lead to the formation of specific groups of copies.
7. The most ancient MSS. and versions now extant exhibit the characteristic differences which have been found to exist in different parts of the works of Origen. These cannot have had their source later than the beginning of the third century, and probably were much earlier. Bengel was the first (1734) who pointed out the affinity of certain groups of MSS., which as he remarks, must have arisen before the first versions were made. The honor of carefully determining the relations of critical authorities for the New Testament text belongs to Griesbach. According to him two distinct recensions of the Gospels existed at the beginning of the third century-the Alexandrine and the Western.
8. From the consideration of the earliest history of the New Testament text we now pass to the era of MSS. The quotations of Dionsius Alex. (A.D. 264), Petrus Alex. (cir. A.D. 312), Methodius (A.D. 311) and Eusebius (A.D. 340) confirm the prevalence of the ancient type of tent; but the public establishment of Christianity in the Roman empire necessarily led to important changes. The nominal or real adherence of the higher ranks to the Christian faith must have largely increased the demand for costly MSS. As a natural consequence the rude Hellenistic forms gave way before the current Greek, and at the same time it is reasonable to believe that smoother and fuller constructions were substituted for the rougher turns of the apostolic language. In this way the foundation of the Byzantine text was laid. Meanwhile the multiplication of copies in Africa and Syria was checked by Mohammedan conquests.
9. The appearance of the oldest MSS. have been already described. The MSS. of the fourth century, of which Codex Vaticanus may be taken as a type present a close resemblance to these. The writing is in elegant continuous uncials (capitals), in three columns, without initial letters or iota subscript or adscript. A small interval serves as a simple punctuation; and there are no accents or breathings by the hand of the first writer, though these have been added subsequently. Uncial writing continued in general use till the middle of the tenth century. From the eleventh century downward cursive writing prevailed. The earliest cursive biblical MS, is dated 964 A.D. The MSS. of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries abound in the contractions which afterward passed into the early printed books. The oldest MSS. are written on the thinnest and finest vellum; in later copies the parchment is thick and coarse. Papprus was very rarely used after the ninth century. In the tenth century cotton paper was generally employed in Europe; and one example at least occurs of its use in the ninth century. In the twelfth century the common linen or rag paper came into use. One other kind of material requires notice --re-dressed parchment, called palimpsests. Even at a very early period the original text of a parchment MS. was often erased, that the material might be used afresh. In lapse of time the original writing frequently reappeared in faint lines below the later text, and in this way many precious fragments of biblical MSS. which had been once obliterated for the transcription of other works, have been recovered.
10. The division of the Gospels into "chapters" must have come into general use some time before the fifth century. The division of the Acts and Epistles into chapters came into use at a later time. It is commonly referred to Euthalius, who, however, says that he borrowed the divisions of the Pauline Epistles from an earlier father and there is reason to believe that the division of the Acts and Catholic Epistles which he published was originally the work of Pamphilus the martyr. The Apocalypse was divided into sections by Andreas of Caesarea about A.D. 500. The titles of the sacred books are from their nature additions to the original text. The distinct names of the Gospels imply a collection, and the titles of the Epistles are notes by the possessors, and not addresses by the writers.
11. Very few MSS. certain the whole New Testament --twenty-seven in all out of the vast mass of extant documents. Besides the MSS. of the New Testament, or of parts of it, there are also lectionaries, which contain extracts arranged for the church services.
12. The number of uncial MSS. remaining. though great when compared with the ancient MSS. extent of other writings, is inconsiderable. Tischendorf reckons forty in the Gospels. In these must be added Cod. Sinait., which is entire; a new MS. of Tischendorf, which is nearly entire; and Cod. Zacynth., Which contains considerable fragments of St. Luke. In the Acts there are nine: in the Catholic Epistles five; in th