|Alford in a congenial mood...|
Alford (1863) gives more specific details and an assessment of Tischendorf, in his own prolegomena to The Greek Testament, covering in detail up to Tischendorf's 7th edition, which is useful, since usually only the 8th or last edition of Tischendorf is discussed:
"8. Dr. Tischendorf has published at Leipzig several editions of the Greek Testament. I shall speak here of two only : the second, which appeared in 1849, and the seventh, in 1859. In his revision of the text, as explained in his prolegomena to the edition of 1849, he has followed the most ancient MSS., not however disregarding the testimony of the later ones and of versions and fathers, where the former disagree, or where the readings of the elder MSS. have apparently sprung from corruption of the text. And to judge of this last, he lays down the following rules:
— Readings are to be suspected, —1. which are peculiar to one or other of the elder MSS., or which savour strongly of the character of some one class of recensions, and have therefore probably proceeded from some corrector: —2. which although supported by many MSS., have manifestly or probably sprung from the error of a copyist: —3. which have sprung from a desire to assimilate citations from the Old Testament to the text of the cited passage, or parallel places in the Gospels to one another. In such cases (unless there be strong cause to the contrary) the discrepant reading is to be preferred to the accordant one.4. A reading is to be preferred, which appears to furnish a clue to the others, or to contain the elements of them in itself.5. The usage of the New Testament writers in general, and of each one in particular, is to be regarded in balancing readings with one another.
For the discussion of these rules, I refer the student to the work itself. The theory of them is unobjectionable ; it will be by the practical carrying out of them that the New Testament Editor must be judged. And, on the whole, his principles appear to have been boldly and consistently carried out ; and the text of this edition of 1849 is, in my view, very far superior to any which preceded it. The fact of my never having adopted it myself, will shew that I do not consider this praise to be in all cases deserved. The edition is very unequal in its various parts. His design grew on him as he advanced, and he did not re-write the earlier portion to correspond with the later. In the Epistles, he gave in full the authorities for the reading which he adopted, as well as those for that which he rejected : in the Gospels, very rarely the latter, — sometimes neither. Indeed the digest, in the early Gospels, was miserably meagre. Full one-third of the readings of D were omitted, as well as many others of importance. Compare only, e.g., the various readings of Matt. 12:1-8 with those in Lachmann. And the same is true of almost every page. His adoption of readings was not always distinguished by watchfulness to detect trips of transcribers, as e. g. in John 6:51, where the homoeoteleuton was obviously the first source of confusion : see also Luke 24:51-52. But, allowing for such imperfections, and for instances of carelessness such as are incident to all who undertake a work of this kind, I cannot but regard Tischendorfs 2nd edition as the most valuable contribution, at the time of its appearance, which had been yet made to the revision of the text of the New Testament. And I believe that all future texts arranged on critical principles, will be found to approach very closely to his. Such has been the case with my own, although in every instance of correction or re-arrangement I have been led, not by him, but as the careful reader may see, by the rules which he and I have followed in common. And it will be found by any who will take the trouble to compare our texts, that the differences between us are both numerous and important.
9. Tischendorf's 7th edition is a far larger work, and, on account of its many departures from the second and subsequent ones (6), requires special notice.
As far as regards uniformity of plan and execution, this edition is certainly superior to the second. The array of witnesses cited for and against the text adopted is every where as copious as circumstances would admit. But it may be doubted whether in point of text this later edition is any advance on that other. While professing the same critical principles as before, the Editor has involved himself far more in subjective speculations, the tendency of which has been to lead him away in very many instances from the safe path of the consensus of our most ancient evidence, into the defence of a speculative text, respecting which arbitrary opinion may be as strongly pronounced on one side as on the other. This habit has resulted in a going back in a number of passages to the received text : so much so, that the defenders of that text against ancient evidence have claimed this edition of Tischendorf's as a victory on their side (7). Undoubtedly, on all sound critical principles, it must be regarded, as far as its text is concerned, as a retrogression, rather than an advance, since that of the edition of 1849.
10. It is much to be regretted that in many particulars Tischendorf's digest should still present so many marks of inaccuracy; and that, where not borne out by others, so little reliance can be placed upon its citations of versions and Fathers. This is the universal testimony of those who have taken the pains to compare his citations with the originals : and I can add to it from my own experience. When I have had occasion to search the works of a Father to discover the real bearing of a passage which has been obscured by being partially extracted in his notes, I have, at least as often as not, found that it ought not to have been alleged as evidence.
11. And the complaints made with regard to the versions are even more loud and general The charges are made against Tischendorf, that he has referred very carelessly to the Curetonian Syriac : that in the case of the important Syriac version (Peschito) he relies on the Latin translation of Leusden and the very unsatisfactory edition of Schaaf : and it would appear certain from his silence (Proleg. edn. 7, p. xix) that he has neglected the much more important editions of Widmanstadt and Lee (see Tregelles, Horne's Introd. to N. T. vol. iv. p. 260).He has passed over in silence the edition of the Coptic (Memphitic) version of the Acts and Epistles by Dr. Paul Botticher — which though not perfectly satisfactory, should still not have been left unconsulted by a professed critical Editor — and has relied on the very incorrect Latin of the older edition of Wilkins. Again, in the case of the Armenian version, he has trusted wholly to the incorrect and partial collations (Tregelles, ib. p. 811) which were made for the N. T. edited by Scholz. It is also not unjust to say, that I have been informed by a Mend who has some knowledge of the original languages, that in the case of other versions, where Tregelles and Tischendorf differ in their statement of the readings adopted and the impressions given by an ancient version, the English Editor is commonly right, and the German Editor commonly wrong.
12. Still, with all these faults, Tischendorf s last edition is an indispensable book to the thorough biblical scholar. Its research, and accumulation of testimonies are wonderful, considering that they are the work of one man: and the digest contains what must necessarily form the materials for all future revisions of the N. T. text. It is all the more to be regretted that such a work should be disfigured by blemishes so considerable, and should not have been carefully kept free from those elements of untrustworthiness, which its Author was so ready to point out and insist on in his predecessor, Dr. Scholz."
6. This term ("7th edition") must, in Tischendorf's case, be taken with some qualification. His various editions do not represent successive deliberate recensions of his text and digest, nor do they embrace the same design, as in most other works : but they are merely, for the most part, varying forms under which he has issued his text, with or without an abbreviated digest of various readings. Properly speaking, we have had but three editions from him : the first in 1841, the second in 1849, and the third in 1857-9.
7. So, e. g., Dr. Wordsworth, Preface to his Greek Testament, vol. i. p. xiv.