Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the Apostolic constitutions of Clement the Twelfth as in those of Benedict the Fourteenth, against those who in any manner favor and promote the society and conventicles of Freemasons, which constitutions are announced in the edict of the Secretary of State against such as may offend in the premises in the Pontifical dominions. In the exercise of our special mercy we commute the pun. ishment of delivering him over to the secular authority ; (that is the punishment of death) to perpetual imprisonment in some one of our fortresses ; such custody to be strict, and without hope of further pardon, and there let him abjure his formal heresy, and be absolved from ecclesiastical censures on performance of a salutary penance."

There is no further trace of Joseph Balsamo, otherwise Count Cagliostro, who, if he has not sufficed “to point a moral," has, under the imaginative genius of Dumas, served “ To adorn a tale."

F.T. P.

ART. VI.-ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS OF TRINITY

COLLEGE (DUBLIN) LIBRARY. The Codex Montfortianus : a Collation of this Celebrated MS.,

with the Text of Wetstein, and with certain MSS. in the University of Oxford. By the Rev. Orlando T. Dobbin, LL.D., T.C.D., M.R.I.A. London: S. Bagster and Sons.

1855.

We have never acquiesced in the appellation of Silent Sister said to be bestowed upon our University by the proud Establishments of another Country. We think that the Alumni of Trinity College Dublin have laboured not ingloriously in many regions of literature and in most of those of Science. There is however one department in which we are ready to confess that there exists on the part of our venerable seat of learning a culpable silence : the manuscript treasures bequeathed to us by the industry of past ages have been suffered to lie on its shelves unpublished and almost unknown. Since the days of Usher and Ware it is surprising how little has been done to illustrate the ancient documents which the libraries of this country contain. And yet what country with the exception perhaps of Italy, can supply richer materials to the antiquarian, or the critic? There is the Book of Dimma a noble manuscript of, we believe, the 7th century, whose text of the Gospels could not but prove interesting to the biblical student, while the ecclesiastical forms of prayer which it contains should throw much light on the history of the Irish Church.—There is older still we believe in time as it is certainly more wonderful in execution-the Book of Kells or Gospels of St. Bridget, a volume whose elegance of character and brilliancy of illustration excited the wonder of Cambrensis in the 12th, as it has done that of Westwood in the 19th century. Need we mention the Book of Armagh-itself a treasure and a history—which we are told the munificence of the present Primate is about to add to the MS department of the College-or the Gospels of St. Patrick, the same probably which Pope Pelagius presented to the Saint with relics of Saints Peter and Paul previously to his departure for this country, and which contains, as Petrie justly surmises, "the oldest copy of the Sacred Word now existing.” We could add other manuscripts open to the inspection of the curious in the Library of Trinity College or in the Museuins of our Public Institutions; but while we admit that the politeness of the Custodians has made those documents visible, we regret that they may be yet looked upon as inaccessible to the generality of scholars, and we are forced to confess that the reproachful complaint addressed to our countrymen by Sember in a particular case, was justified in its widest sense and might be repeated in the instance of nearly every MS. we possess—"Mirum est viros docto: ejus insulæ nondum in clariori luce collocasse hujus codicis historiam.

Fortunately there is some indication that better days are about to dawn upon us. The gentlemen who are engaged in preparing for the press a digest of the Brehon Laws will, we doubt not, impart to the public much that has hitherto been confined to mouldering parchments; the Ancient Music of Ireland is about to be rescued from oblivion, and of the ardour and successful energy with whieh our biblical manuscripts are about to be explored, we have a sufficient earnest in the volume lately published by Dr. Dobbin from these sources

and entitled-from the ancient record with which it dealsthe Codex Montfortianus. There are few persons, however moderately versed in the

, history of the Sacred Volume, who need to be informed to what keen controversies the passage of St. John, 1. ep. v. ch. 7th v. has given rise. To those, however, who have contented themselves with the current or vernacular edition of Scriptures, it may not be amiss to state, that the passage above mentioned, “and there are three that bear witness in Heaven,” &c., &c., though at present contained in most editions of the Greek Testament, and of course in the versions from them) is yet wanting in almost all the Greek MSS. of the N.T. whose date is anterior to the origin of printing. The Vulgate or Latin versions of the Bible have, it is true, (or certainly seem to have,) contained this passage from the earliest date; it seems to be alluded to by the Latin Fathers of the second century; it is quoted as a biblical passage by those of the third ; in after ages it occurs as a Scripture citation in most of the Western Fathers; and Councils, as well as Theologians, have made use of it as a sacred testimony, to confirm or illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity.

Shortly after the invention of the Art of Printing, however, the cares of the learned were turned towards editing the Sacred Scriptures in their original tongues. The University of Alcalà in Spain was the first to undertake the work. Under the auspices of the great Ximenes that learned body collected the most ancient MSS. from Italy, Greece, and other countries, and edited the whole of the Scriptures. (1504–1522) in four different tongues in the immortal work, known to the world as the Complutensian Polyglot. The testimony of the "three heavenly witnesses” appears in the Greek text of this work; but in a critical edition of the Greek Testament edited by Erasmus and Printed at Basil by Frobenius in 1516, that same testimony is wanting. This first edition of Erasmus was, it is true, printed after one manuscript only. That MS. too was defective in many places, and, being written in cursive characters, could not date even as far back as the tenth century-Glaire, Introd. Vol. II. p. 445. But a second edition of the Greek Testament prepared by the same accomplished scholar and edited in 1519, was still silent as to the heavenly witnesses. Erasmus appears not

to have seen as yet the Complutensian edition of the New Testament, which indeed was not publicly sold until the year 1522 Remonstrances, however, were addressed to him in consequence of the omission of the commonly-received text (1. John v. 7.) not by a Jesuit, though the Titular Bishop of Meath creates one for the occasion just 30 years before the time, * but by Lee, Stunica and some others. The classical editor replied, that in the next edition of his Greek Testament he should insert the missing text, in case it were sustained by the authority of a single Greek Manuscript. To this engagement of Erasmus may be traced the origin of the fame of the Montfortian Codex. It was then, it would appear, a manuscript of some reputed antiquity. It was in the possession, it would seem, of Oxford University : it was sulted by Lee: it contained in legible and undoubted characters the text of the three heavenly witnesses : the fact was averred to Erasmus by Lee and other competent scholars ; and Erasmus, not to avert censures, no where existing, or trench upon

infallibilities attached to no manuscript, save that perhaps of an episcopal reviewer ; but, we believe, to redeem his promise, and restore what he considered to be, not improbably, the true reading, inserted in his edition of the Greek Testament of 1522, the since famous passage, 1 John v. 7., Οτι τρεις εισι

ခံ o

μαρτυρούντες εν τοόυρανο πατης, λογος και πνευμα αγιω και ουτοι οι

Teas

fr los.“ And there are three, who bear witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one."

Towards the middle of the 16th century the celebrated French printer, Robert Stephens, gave to the world several editions of the Greek Testament, all of them excelling in beauty of typography as well as in the general accuracy of text. The third of these editions, printed in 1550, exhibits the Complutensian and Erasmian reading of 1 John v. 7, said by the editor to be sustained by the additional evidence of seven out of sixteen Greek MS. which he collected on this occasion. It is needless to inform our readers, that the popular editions of the Greek Testament, which followed those of Erasmus and Stephens adopted universally the above text and transmitted it, as a part of the inspired writings, not less to the vernacular versions of the West, than to the Greek editions issued in the East and in general to the Liturgy of the Oriental Churches.

* See a Review of the Codex Montfortianus in the Christian Examiner of January, 1855. Herbert. The Article is supposed to have been written by the Titular Bishop of Meath. It gives a clear and succinct account of Dr. Dobbin's work, but the well known controversial tenden. cies of the good Prelate betray him at times into violations of history, as well as common sense.

But at the hands of the keen divines of the 16th and 17th centuries every portion of the sacred volume was sure to be subjected to the closest investigation. Sandius a Unitarian, and Richard Simons, a Roman Catholic critic, contended warmly and ably against the genuineness of the adopted passage. The former maintained that it was nothing more than a modern interpolation-a mere imposture of the Trinitarians; the latter urged the probability, that, from a marginal gloss, it passed insensibly into the test of some Latin MSS. and thence was adopted into others. Both those critics regarded the absence of the verse (1 John v. 7.) from Greek MSS. as proof conclusive that it was not genuine. Those on the contrary who were unwilling to reject the established reading, grounded their arguments for its retention on the fact chiefly that it was already in possession, as also on the authority of the Latin Fathers and the Vulgate; but they urged at the same time that vouchers for its genuineness were to be found even among the Greek Codices. Unfortunately for the issue of this appeal, the Greek MSS. which the Complutensians had used in their edition of the N. T. had perished in the flames : those of Stevens too had dissappeared and some others as that of Berlin (Ruvianus) &c. were obviously of too recent a date to be held of much critical value. The controversy therefore, so far as it concerned existing Greek MSS., was narrowed to a consideration of one Codexthat from which Erasmus had borrowed his reading of 1522, and which, subsequently changing its name and owners, had passed through the hands of Froy (a Franciscan Friar) Clements, Clark, Montfort * and Ussher, till with the other volumes of the illustrious prelate it found a last resting-place in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

The volunie indeed had changed its name and owners, but the controversy which we have mentioned above, and whose

• It was while in possession of Dr. Montfort-à Cambridge Professor of Divinity towards the middle of the last century-that the Coder was collated for the great London Polyglott. From this circumstance it is styled Montforlianus.

« PreviousContinue »