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Testament of his Polyglott (1657), and by Bishop Fell in his small edition (1675). The sources of textual evidence generally had been described and discussed with intelligence and candour by the French scholar Simon (1689– 95). But Mill's edition was the first which impressed the public mind by marshalling a great array of variants, roughly estimated at thirty thousand. In his learned Prolegomena Mill often expressed opinions and preferences, but without supplying any general clue to the labyrinth exhibited in his critical notes.

The alarm felt in some quarters is strikingly shown by Whitby's censure of Mill's edition (1710), in which he goes so far as to affirm that the “Received Text” can be defended in all places where the sense is affected (in iis omnibus locis lectionem textus defendi posse), and that even in matters “ of lesser moment” it is “most rarely” invalidated. On the other hand, anti-Christian writers did not fail to make capital of a circumstance which they represented as impugning the tradition. Thus Anthony Collins, in his “Discourse of Free-thinking,” specially dwelt on Mill's 30,000 variants. In his published reply to Collins (1713), Bentley pointed out that such variants are perfectly compatible with the absence of any essential corruption, while he insisted on the value of critical studies in their application to the Scriptures. Dr. Hare, in publicly thanking Bentley for this reply, urged him to undertake an edition of the New Testament. Undoubtedly there was a wide-spread feeling that some systematic etfort should be made towards disengaging a standard text from the variations set forth by Mill.

Three years later (1716), Bentley received a visit from John James Wetstein, a Swiss, related to the Amsterdam publishers who had reprinted Bentley's Horace. Wet

CHAPTER X.

THE PROPOSED EDITION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

DR. Joun Mill published in 1707 his edition of the Greek Testament, giving in foot-notes the various readings which he had collected by the labour of thirty years. To understand the impression which this work produced, it is necessary to recall the nature of its predecessors. The Greek text of the New Testament, as then generally read, was ultimately based on two sixteenth century editions; that of Erasmus (Basel, 1516), which had been marked by much carelessness; and that due chiefly to Stunica, in the "Complutensian” Polyglott (so called from Complutum, or Alcalá de Henares) of Cardinal Ximenes, printed in 1514, and probably published in 1522. The folio edition printed by Robert Estienne at Paris in 1550 was founded on the text of Erasmus. The Elzevir editions, of which the first appeared in 1624, gave the text of Estienne as imperfectly revised by the reformer Beza. The second Elzevir edition (1633) declared this to be “the text now received by all.” Hence it came to be known as the “Received Text.”

The existence of various readings, though a well-known, was hardly a prominent fact. Some had been given in the margin of the folio Estienne; Beza had referred to others; more had been noticed by Walton in the Greek Testament of his Polyglott (1657), and by Bishop Fell in bis small edition (1675). The sources of textual evidence generally had been described and discussed with intelligence and candour by the French scholar Simon (168995). But Mill's edition was the first which impressed the public mind by marshalling a great array of variants, roughly estimated at thirty thousand. In his learned Prolegomena Mill often expressed opinions and preferences, but without supplying any general clue to the labyrinth exhibited in his critical notes.

The alarm felt in some quarters is strikingly shown by Whitby's censure of Mill's edition (1710), in which he goes so far as to affirm that the “ Received Text" can be defended in all places where the sense is affected (in iis omnibus locis lectionem textus defendi posse), and that even in matters “ of lesser moment” it is “most rarely” invalidated. On the other hand, anti-Christian writers did not fail to make capital of a circumstance which they represented as inpugning the tradition. Thus Anthony Collins, in his "Discourse of Free-thinking," specially dwelt on Mill's 30,000 variants. In his published reply to Collins (1713), Bentley pointed out that such variants are perfectly compatible with the absence of any essential corruption, while he insisted on the value of critical studies in their application to the Scriptures. Dr. Hare, in publicly thanking Bentley for this reply, urged him to undertake an edition of the New Testament. Undoubtedly there was a wide-spread feeling that some systematic etfort should be made towards disengaging a standard text from the variations set forth by Mill.

Three years later (1716), Bentley received a visit from John James Wetstein, a Swiss, related to the Amsterdam publishers who had reprinted Bentley's Horace. Wet

stein was then on leave of absence from his duties as a chaplain in the Dutch army. For years he had devoted himself with rare ardour to those critical studies of the New Testament which were afterwards embodied in his edition (1751-2). He had recently collated some Greek MSS. in the Library of Paris. "On hearing this,” Wetstein writes, Bentley “urged me to publish my collations, with his aid. I pleaded my youth, and the shortness of my leave of absence; I asked him to undertake the work himself, and to use my collections. At length I moved the great critic to entertain a design of which he seemed to have had no thought before—that of editing the New Testament."

It is assumed by Tregelles that Wetstein was mistaken in supposing that Bentley had not previously contemplated an edition. Bentley's studies on the New Testament dated, it is true, from his earliest manhood; there are traces of them in his Letter to Mill (1691), no less than in his reply to Collins; he had already collated the Alexandrine MS., and had been using the “ Codex Bezae” (his “Cantabrigiensis," belonging to the University Library) since 1715. But it does not follow that Wetstein's statement is not accurate. The fact that Bentley was deeply studying a subject is never sufficient to prove that he meant to write upon it.

Now, at any rate, the plan was definitely formed, and Wetstein returned to Paris, in order to aid it by further collations. In April, 1716, Bentley announced his project in a remarkable letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Wake. Monk hints, though he does not say, that Bentley's object was “to interest the public," in view of imminent law proceedings. I quite agree with Mr. A. A. Ellis, the editor of Bentleii Critica Sacra, that in this case there is no real ground for such a suggestion. Bentley's enthusiasm for the work was sincere, as his correspondence with Wetstein abundantly shows; he did not bring his scheme before the public till 1720; and his object in addressing the Primate was no other than that which he states, viz., to learn whether the project was likely to be encouraged. After sketching bis plan, he observes to Dr. Wake that it might be made forever impossible by a fire in the Royal Library of Paris or London. It is startling to read this foreboding, expressed in 1716. Fifteen years later, a fire actually broke out at night in the King's Library, then lodged at Abingdon House, Westminsterwhen the Cottonian Genesis was seriously damaged. An eye-witness of the scene has described Bentley hurrying out of the burning Library, in his night-gown and his great wig, with the most precious of his charges, the Alexandrine manuscript of the Greek Bible, under his

arm.

The Archbishop's reply to Bentley is not extant, but appears to have been favourable. For the next four years (1716–20) Bentley continued to gather materials. Wetstein was not his only ally. David Casley, the Deputy King's Librarian, worked for him in the libraries of Oxford. More important still was the aid of John Walker, a Fellow of Trinity College, who went to Paris in 1719, and passed nearly a year there in collating manuscripts. Walker was most kindly received by the Benedictines of St. Maur, with whom Bentley had already been placed in communication by Wetstein. They provided him with a room in their monastery at St. Germain des Prés, procured collations from the Benedictines of Angers, and personally aided his work in their own library. Walker returned from Paris in 1720. Bentley now

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