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THE WRITINGS, OF
SKETCH OF THE LIFE, AND NOTICES
DR. JOHN JAMES GRIESBACH.
[Although this illustrious professor is still among the living, it is presumed that the readers of the Monthly Repository will be sufficiently interested in what relates to him, to admit of a departure from the rule which allots this portion of the work to memoirs of deceased authors or eminent persons. It is with his literary rather than his natural life that they are concerned, and of this the prin cipal events are already past.
For the biographical facts of the following paper, the author is indebted to Bayer's Magazin für Prediger, vol. 3, 1790, from which it is partly translated.]
JOHN JAMES GRIESBACH sophy, and history. The public was born January 4th, 1745, lectures of the university in phi at Buzbach, in Hesse-Darmstadt. losophy and philology not being His father, the Rev. Conrad Cas- agreeable to his taste, nor suited par Griesbach, served a church in to the state of his acquirements, this place at the time of his son's he endeavoured to supply their birth, but removed in a few weeks deficiency by the help of private to his native city, Frankfort on tutors and professors extraordi the Main, where he ended his nary; but he diligently attended days. The son was sent at a very the theological prelections of early age to the Gymnasium of Reuss, Cotta, and Sartorius. He Frankfort, and had also private studied the ancient system of the instructors at home, by whom he ology under them with great assiwas initiated not only into the duity, of which, (says his German ancient and modern languages, biographer,) he continued to reap and those branches of science the benefit, after his views on the which were adapted to his years, subject of theology became more but into some of the fine arts. He enlarged. He was not in danger, was hence enabled to carry, in his of misrepresenting the ancient sys18th year, to the university of tem, and of imputing absurdities Tübingen, then much resorted to, to it with which it was not chargeas having escaped the ravages of able; and as he did not change the seven years war, a competent his opinions on a sudden, but knowledge of Latin, Greek, and gradually, with the gradual acHebrew, and some acquaintance cession of knowledge and the prowith mathematics, natural philo- gressive illumination of the age,
he never fell into the habit of ment. He found time, however, forming his decisions rashly, or to associate with all the literary maintaining them dogmatically. men of the university, especially He learnt, too, from Reuss, on Semler, and to compose two diswhom he chiefly attended, to sertations, (the first two in the separate that which alone is of subjoined list of his works,) the practical utility in theological dis- latter of which he defended for his cipline, from that which is mere. master's degree. ly learned speculation.
In the year 1769 he set out Having resided two years and a upon a series of travels, by which half at Tübingen, he removed to he hoped to accomplish several Halle, where a wider horizon at objects intimately connected with once opened on his view. Semler, his future destination, and with to whom theology in Germany the peculiar bias of his mind toowes more of its present state of wards sacred criticism. First, advancement than to any other To make himself acquainted with man, was at the head of the uni- the constitution and customs, with versity, and under him and Nös- the excellencies and defects, of selt our author pursued his theo- the principal universities of Eu. logical studies for the greater part rope, and with their most celeof four years and a half which he brated professors. Secondly, To spent at Halle. At the end of study more closely the characters this time, by the advice of Semler, of different men, and especially who had long noticed his talents, of different religious sects. Thirdhe renounced his thoughts of tak- ly, To explore the manuscripts ing orders, and determined to preserved in different libraries, in qualify for the station of a pro- order to acquire by the frequent fessor. With this view, he re- perusal of copies of the Greck moved in 1776 to Leipzig, and in Testament, that facility and secu prosecution of his design, made rity in the application of the it his object, during the first half rules of criticism which such a year, to learn the methods and preparation alone can give―to de peculiar characteristics of all the termine, from personal observacelebrated teachers of the univer- tion, how far the collations alsity. The remaining six months ready made might be depended of his stay in this city he devoted on; how far the uncollated ma(with the exception of those hours nuscripts agreed in character with which he past under the tuition the collated; how far the critical of Reiske) chiefly to the study of apparatus, which was already in the ancient sources of ecclesias- his possession, was to be em. tical history, in which Ernesti ployed; and whether the theory assisted him with the use of his of criticism, of which he had library and the communication drawn the outline, would be sanc. of many valuable directions. In tioned by experiment, or require 1767 he returned to Halle, and to be altered and modified. Wetcontinued for a year his study of stein had pursued a similar mode the ancient Christian writers, of qualifying himself for the office uniting with it a minute critical of a critic, and both he and investigation of the New Testa. Griesbach must be greatly in
debted to it for their acknowledg- sides with Wetstein, and, in his ed superiority in this department Symbole Criticæ, and the preface
of theology. Our author's attention was not confined to manuscripts of the New Testament, but, when he found none of this description in a library, he cxamined copies of the LXX, or of any other Greek authors which it chanced to contain.
to the second volume of his first edition of the Greek Testament, has supported his opinion by collateral authorities. He also collated nearly the whole of Stephens' manuscript (L), a copy of the gospels, not of very high antiquity, but containing in general a very good text. As he found that Wetstein's extracts from it were both inaccurate and incom.
He spent the first part of the year 1769 in visiting the principal universities in the north-west and Bouth-west of Germany. He plete, he has given his own colthence past into Holland, and lation at full length in the Symafter a short stay there, crossed bole Critica. It may be sup over into England, and reached posed that among the manuscripts London in September of the same in the Royal library he would pay year, While here, he visited the particular attention to those which British Museum every day. He the learned have considered as next proceeded to Oxford, where having been used by R. Stephens: he spent two months, exploring he was convinced that the greater the treasures of the Bodleian, and part of them were actually pre made a short excursion to Cam- served there. This question has bridge, In June, 1770, he left since been discussed, for the last England for France, and occu- time, by Mr. Porson and Mr. pied himself, during three months, Marsh, in the controversy which at Paris, in examining the valu. Archdeacon Travis, unhappily for able collection in the Royal li- his own credit, provoked. brary, in that of the Abbaye St. On Griesbach's return to Halle, Germain, and several others. He he delivered and published a Disparticularly examined the well- sertation, De Codicibus Evangeknown Codex rescriptus Ephrem, liorum Origenianis, which pro(C of his catalogue,) and has cured him the liberty of deliverpccasionally corrected Wetstein's ing prelections in the university. account of its readings. Frag- This work contains the first devements only of it remain, and of lopement of his system of critithe pages which have not perished cism. He almost immediately a great part is illegible. It can began to deliver, first exegetical only be read in clear weather, and and then critical, lectures on the at that part of the day when the New Testament. Being appointed light is strongest, namely about in the beginning of the year 1773 noon, The original reading of professor extraordinary of theolo this manuscript in 1 Tim. iii. 16, gy, he added prelections on herhas been much disputed. Wet- meneutics, on Christian antiquistein represents it as having OE. ties, and on the history of sects, Dr. Less, who examined the ma- ancient and modern, in pursuing nuscript after him, controverted which he stated and discussed the his statement; but Griesbach peculiar tenets of each. The time
which he could redeem from his these great men must surely have
sacrificed their own sense of pro, priety to the spirit of their times.
Though Griesbach's method of treating the text excited no violent outcry of impiety and heresy,
official engagements, he devoted to his preparations for a new edition of the Greek Testament. To GRIESBACH we owe it that To publish an edition, in which a more accurate text of the sacred all former editions should be con- books has come into circulation, sidered as of no authority, and the and begins to be appealed to as text be settled with regard to the the standard in discussions arising ancient sources of evidence only, out of the language of Scripture. was a step which was likely to While interpolated clauses and excite much opposition and oblo- spurious words stand upon the quy. Even Bengel, high as he " vantage-ground" of the text, it stood in public estimation, could is in vain to brand them with not venture to do it. Griesbach marks. But once fairly banished determined, therefore, to proceed from the place which they have with caution, and with this view, usurped, there is very little danbegan by publishing synoptical ger of their restoration*. tables of the first three Evange lists. Finding that no violent opposition was excited by the freedom with which he treated the yet there were among his contem,” received text, he followed it up poraries some who reviled, and by publishing the Gospel of John; some who ridiculed, his system. the reception of which still encou- There were, indeed, very few who raged him to proceed. He there- had just notions on the subject of fore published the remaining part sacred criticism. An opinion alof the New Testament, and re- most universally prevailed, that printed his two former works in the Greek manuscripts, nay even one volume, to correspond with it. the oriental versions, had been No editor, since the time of corrupted from the Latin. Learned R. Stephens, had undertaken to men contended blindly for the ausettle the text on critical autho- thority of some one individual rity alone. Mill Lad found fault copy, which they made their with the vulgar reading in many standard. The affinities and ge passages. Wetstein has marked in nealogy of manuscripts, circumhis margin the omissions, additions, stances so important in estimat and changes, which he approved: ing the value of their testimony, Bengel has denoted the degrees of were unknown, or not taken into authority of various readings by the account. the letters a, B, 7, 8, &c. but he Griesbach's illustrious master, admitted nothing into his text Semler, had been the first to opwhich had not been placed there pose the prejudice against the by some previous editor. In thus Latinizing manuscripts, though he abstaining from correcting what had been himself strongly infected they acknowledged to be wrong, with it by his study of Wetstein.
In this view, a cheap edition of Griesbach's text and margin is very much to be wished.
Bengel had thrown out a hint re- versions, which favour one
other of the readings of a doubtful passage, and to proclaim that genuine which has the majority.He must first endeavour to ascertain what was the reading of the Alexandrine and what of the Western edition, The reading which he finds in a copy or copies which he knows to be decidedly of the Alexandrine cast, if it be confirmed by the citations of the fathers who used, and the versions which were made from, that edition, he concludes to have really been extant in it at the time when our researches on this subject must commence, namely, the beHe discovered that, as early as ginning of the third century. The the beginning of the third century, same course is pursued in ascer there existed two editions (recen- taining the genuine reading of the siones) of the sacred text. How Western edition. It is not im. this diversity arose, history does possible that in this classification not inform us, but the distinction of manuscripts, only two or three itself is clearly marked. One may be found on one side, and edition, which he calls the Alex- all the mass of copies on the andrine, may be found in the other; but if these two or three quotations of Origen; the other, are independent testimonies, they the Western, in those of Tertullian outweigh a hundred, who repeat and Cyprian. From the combi- the reading from each other or nation of these two, together with from some common authority. the errors and variations which Having then ascertained, as well necessarily arise in a long series as possible, what was the real of transcriptions, sprung, in suc- reading of each edition, (supposceeding times, a third, the By- ing them to disagree,) the next zantine. Our present manuscripts inquiry of the critic is, which is exhibit more or less of one or more worthy of being followed. other of these editions; (for they This must be solely decided by are not to be found unmixed in internal evidence. he general any individual copy;) and are rules for the probabilities of the said to belong to the Alexandrine genuineness of readings are known or Western, according to the pro- from the writings of Bengel and portions which they contain of Werstem. Griesbach adds some readings peculiar to these editions. to them, derived from what he
It is easy to see how the considers as the peculiar genius knowledge of these facts should of each edition. The Western guide the critic. His business is edition preserves harsh, Hebraiznot to strike a balance between ing, and solecistic readings which the manuscripts, citations, and offended the taste of the lettered