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NE\V TESTAMENT SCHOLARSHIP IN MY TIME* SIR ROBERT FALCONER IN 1881, as a lad of fourteen, I reached New ,York from Trinidad. Among other interesting events of which I have a memory was the excitement due to the arrival from London, a few days before, of the first consignment of copies of the Revised New 'Testament. It was said to have made a sensation in New York comparable to that made by the issue of the book in London. In the history of the English Bible, its publication was indeed a significant milestone. It was at once attacked on the ground that it was far more than a revision of the Authorized Version, more even than .a fresh translation; for it was based upon a new Greek t~xt. It would impair in the minds of religious people-so it was said-the sacred words ende.ared by long use. Amid the controversy, however, there was this satisfaction, as I well remember hearing my father assure some friends, that no changes in the translation, which was the result of the labours during many years of the greatest 'British and American New Testament scholars, had vitally _affected any doctrine. This very satisfaction was due to a method of scriptural interpretation which 'has since been utterly changed. Then, the Bible was treated by theologians as a treasury of doctrines. Each verse was held to be verbally inspired, and could be used, often under distortion of its true import, to. prove some doctrine the assent to which was deemed·vital for soundness in the faith. Bu_ t after the Revised Version appeared, the previously wide-spread doctrine of plenary inspiration gradually dropped out of sight. If verbal accuracy was essential to guarantee the truth of doctrine, why -had the Holy Spirit allowed corruptions in the texts? The revised book made its 'way very slowly, though surely; for sacred truth, invested with such noble expression as that of the Authorized Version, had through public'reading a'nd private meditation so appealed to the heart and mind that any change jarred the sensitively responsive spirit. Equally important with the new translation was the revision of the Greek text on which it was based. The Authorized Version had been made from the , Textus Receptus issued in 1550. During the intervening three hundred and thirty years manuscript material had been accumulating, and in the later period scholars, of whom England had supplied some of the greatest, were developing principles of criticism far beyond any known to *Of Sir Robert Falconer's last series of lectures (delivered at Emmanuel College, Toronto) three have appeared as The Heart oj the New Testament (Toronto: Ryerson, 1943). The article here printed is derived from the manuscript 'of the unpublished introductory lecture, which has the additional interest of supplementing Religion on My Life's Road (1938). Since the author di,d not live to prepare it for the press, a good deal of editing has been necessary: the cancelling of a few sentences, the restoration of many passages omitted on the score of ,time, the revision of an occasional sentence Or phrase, and the supplying of a suitable ritle. [EDITORS' NOTE.} 135 ~ F t f I 136 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY Erasmus. Of the Committee of Revisers the most influential members in , the prepara~ion of a basic Greek text, probably also in the translation, were Dr. Hort and Dr. vVestcott. But they were not satisfied with the . text adopted by the Revisers, and in the same year as the new version was published, 1881, they issued their own Greek text, together with an introductory volume setting forth their principles of criticism. This text may be said to have been epoch-making, and in England at least it held almost undisputed prestige for more than a generation. Even today, though Codex B, which it followed, is seen to be only the best early revised text, Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament is unsurpassed. As regards the science of Textual Criticism, the year 1881 ends one period and opens another, wherein it was relatively stable for many decades. In the English-speaking world, the Revisers' Version opened a new epoch for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 135-149
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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