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Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers In English - J. B. Lightfoot, D. D., D.C. L., LL. D.

Though the principles on which a text of the Seven Epistles should be constructed are sufficiently obvious, they have been strangely overlooked.

The first period in the history of the text of the genuine Ignatius commences with the publication of the Latin Version by Ussher (1644) and of the Greek original by Isaac Voss (1646). The Greek of the Epistle to the Romans was first published by Ruinart (1689). The text of Voss was a very incorrect transcript of the Medicean MS, and in this respect subsequent collations have greatly improved on his editio princeps. But beyond this next to nothing was done to emend the Greek text. Though some very obvious corrections are suggested by the Latin Version, these were either neglected altogether by succeeding editors or were merely indicated by them in their notes without being introduced into the text. There was the same neglect also of the aid which might have been derived from the Long Recension. Moreover the practice of treating the several MSS and the Latin Version of the Long Recension independently of one another and recording them Co-ordinately with the Greek and Latin of the genuine Ignatius (instead of using them apart to ascertain the original form of the Long Recension, and then employing the text of this Recension, when thus ascertained, as a single authority) threw the criticism of the text into great confusion. Nor was any attention paid to the quotations, which in several instances have the highest value. Hence it happened that during this period which extended over two centuries from Voss to Hefele (ed. 1, 1839; ed. 3, 1847) and Jacobson (ed. 1, 1838; ed. 3, 1847) inclusive, nothing or next to nothing (beyond the more accurate collation of the Medicean MS) was done for the Greek text.

The second period dates from the publication of the Oriental versions—the Syriac Abridgment with the Syriac Fragments by Cureton (1845,1849), and the Armenian Version by Petermann (1849)1 New materials of the highest value were thus placed in the hands of critics; but, notwithstanding the interest which the Ignatian question excited, nearly thirty years elapsed before any proper use was made of them. In some cases the failure was due, at least in part, to a false solution of the Ignatian question. The text of Bunsen (1847), Cureton (1849), and Lipsius (1859), which started from the assumption that the Syriac Abridgment represented the genuine Ignatius, must necessarily have founded on this rock, even if the principles adopted had been sound in other respects. Petermann and Dressel (1857) however maintained the priority of the Seven Epistles of the Vossian text to the Three of the Curetonian; and so far they built upon the true basis. But Petermann contented himself with a casual emendation of the text here and there from the versions; while Dressel neglected them altogether. Jacobson (ed. 4, 1863) and Hefele (ed. 4, 1855) also, in their more recent editions which have appeared since the Oriental versions were rendered accessible, have been satisfied with recording some of the phenomena of these versions in their notes without applying them to the correction of the text, though they also were unhampered by the false theory which maintained the priority of the Curetonian Abridgment. It was reserved for the most recent editors, Zahn (1876), and Funk (1878), to make use of all the available materials and to reconstruct the text for the first time on sound and intelligible principles.

The text which I have given was constructed independently of both these editions, and before I had seen them, but the main principles are the same. Indeed these principles must be sufficiently obvious to those who have investigated the materials with any care. In the details however my views frequently differ from theirs, as must necessarily be the case with independent editors; and in some respects I have had the advantage of more complete or more accurate materials than were accessible to them.








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