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December 13, 2018 Book Reading Events 0

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The Ancient Versions of the Bible

Let us now examine the position of the Latin version. There are three
versions that are considered among the Christians to be the oldest: the Codex Alexandrinus, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Ephraemi. The first is in
London. It was this copy that was used for the first revision or correction of the
present books. The second is in Italy and was used for the second revision. The
third one is in Paris and bears the title “The Old Testament”. It does not,
however, contain the books of the Old Testament.
We can easily ascertain the position of all three versions through the
witnesses provided by history.

The Codex Alexandrinus

In volume 2 of his book, Horne said describing the Codex Alexandrinus:
This copy consists of four volumes. The first three volumes contain the
canonic as well as the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. The fourth
volume consists of the New Testament and the First Epistle of Clement to
Corinthians and the unacknowledged Book of Psalms which is attributed to
Further he specified:
Before the Book of Psalms it has an epistle of Athanasius. This precedes
the prayers that are recited in everyday rituals offered every hour. Then there
are fourteen psalms related to the faith. The eleventh of these psalms is an
eulogy to Mary. Some of these psalms are false, while others are derived
from the Gospels. The arguments of Eusebius are written on the hook of
Psalms while his legislative notes are inscribed on the Gospels. Some
scholars have been exaggerated in its praise while others disapproved of it in
equally exaggerated fashion. Wettstein is considered to be it s chief
The question of its antiquity has also been debated. Grabe and Sholtz
estimated that it was written towards the end of the fourth century while
Michaelis claimed that it was the oldest copy available and no other copy could
be older than it because it contained the Epistle of Athanasius. Woide, on the
other hand, situates it in the tenth century. He also surmised that this was one of
the copies that were collected in 615 in Alexandria for the Syrian translation. Dr
Semler thinks that it was written in the seventh century. Montfaucon said that
none of these copies, including the Codex Alexandrinus, can be said with
certainty to have been wrilten prior to the sixth century. Michaelis claimed that
it was written after Arabic had become the language of Egypt. This places it one
or two hundred years after the Muslim conquest of Alexandria. The basis of his
claim is that the copier interchanged M and B with each other according to the Arabic rules of recitation. Woide concluded that since it is subdivided into
chapters and various sections and bears the canonical notes of Eusebius it
cannot be older than the fourth century. Spohn raised the following objections
against the arguments forwarded by Woide:
The epistles of Paul (included in this copy) have not been divided into two
chapters and sections when this division was made in 396.
It contains the epistles of Clement when the reading of these letters was
prohibited by the councils of Laodicea and Carthage. Sholtz deduced
from this that it was written prior to 364.
The Codex Vaticanus
Horne said describing the Codex Vaticanus:
The introduction to the Greek translation printed in 1590 includes the
claim that this codex was written sometime prior to 388. Montfaucon and
Bianchini placed it in the fifth or sixth century. Dupin put it in the seventh
century while Hug places it at the beginning of the fourth century and Marsh
situates it towards the end of the fifth century. He has concluded that no
other two copies are so completely different from each other as the Codex
Alexandrinus and this codex.
He also said:
Dr. Kennicott also deduced that neither this codex nor the Codex
Alexandrinus has been copied from the version of Origen nor from the
copies of it prepared in the period immediately after it. Both were copied
from a version that does not bear any sign of the Origen version.

The Codex Ephraemi

Horne, describing the Codex Ephraemi, observed in the same volume:
Wettstein considers it to be one of the copies that were collected in
Alexandria for the revision of the Syrian translation but there is nothing to
support this opinion. He inferred this opinion from the marginal note that
appeared against verse 7 of chapter 8 of the Epistle to Hebrews, saying that
this version was prepared before 544 but Michaelis refuted this argument,
only saying that it was an ancient version. Marsh has suggested that it was
written in the seventh century.


The above is more than enough to convince us that no definite proof exists to
specify the year of the compilation of these revision. The scholars have only
made calculations and conjectures about the date of their origin on the basis of
some indefinite indications which they have found in their books. These vague
calculations obviously cannot authenticate any of the sacred books. Most of the
arguments cited above are of the kind that do not stand up to reason. Semler’s
statement with regard to the Muslim domination over Egypt is unacceptable, as
the language of a country could not possibly take over in such a short time.
Alexandria was conquered by the Muslims in the seventh century, in the
twentieth year of Hijra. Michaelis, however, forwarded strong arguments
placing its writing in the tenth century. Woide’s opinion that it was written in
the tenth century seems quite logical because it was in this century that the
practice of distorting the sacred texts became commonplace. Another indication
of this is the fact that this copy contains three books that are not genuine,
indicating that it must belong to a period in which it was difficult to distinguish
between true and false which definitely applied to the tenth century.
This proves the falsity of the claim that these books were written before the
emergence of Islam. The other claim is also disproved by the fact that the Codex
Alexandrinus contains books that are not genuine and that it has been
condemned by some scholars, Wettstein being foremost among them, and that
no other two copies are so completely different from each other as are the
Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Alexandrinus.
Now if, for a moment, we grant that the above three versions were written
prior to the appearance of Islam, it does not make any difference to our
contention, because we have never said that the sacred books were not distorted
in the period preceding Islam and that all the distortions were only made after it.
What we contend is that these books existed prior the period of Islam but they
did not possess an unbroken chain of authority to prove their authenticity. They
were certainly distorted even before the time of Islam. The presence of a
number of books in the pre-Islamic period does not, therefore, help prove their
authenticity. The presence of the above three versions in that period, if ever
proved, would only add to the number of the books distorted by earlier


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