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Re: Tregelles' memory, mostly false (to ML)

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    Dear Mitch L.: ML: Can anyone confirm the following memorization feat by Samuel Tregelles? That story is full of exaggerations. Since the OT portion of
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 21 5:04 PM
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      Dear Mitch L.:

      ML: "Can anyone confirm the following memorization feat by Samuel Tregelles?"

      That story is full of exaggerations. Since the OT portion of Vaticanus was already in print, Tregelles would not have spent time reading "beginning in Genesis" but would have studied only the NT portion. Also, Vaticanus is written in Greek throughout; thus Tregelles would not have been reading "in Hebrew, Aramaic" but only in Greek. Also, I don't know of any publication by Tregelles that could be called a collation of Vaticanus.

      In Tregelles' 1854 book "An Account of the Printed Text of the New Testament," he describes why he went abroad in 1845; specifically, he gives the purposes of his visit to the Vatican, and he shares some details about what happened there. Here is an excerpt, from which you can deduce which parts of that story are accurate and which are not so accurate:

      "One principal object which I had in going abroad was to endeavour to collate for myself the Vatican MS. (B). This important document was collated for Bentley by an Italian named Mico, and this collation was published in 1799; it was subsequently collated (with the exception of the Gospels of Luke and John) by Birch. A third collation (made previously to either of these, in 1669,) by Bartolocci, remains in MS at Paris. As this is the most important of all New Testament MSS, I had compared the two published collations carefully with each other: I found that they differed in nearly two thousand places; many of these discrepancies were readings noticed by one and not by the other. I went to Rome, and during the five months that I was there, I sought diligently to obtain permission to collate the MS accurately, or at least to examine it in the places in which Birch and Bentley differ with regard to its readings.

      All ended in disappointment. I often saw the MS, but I was hindered from transcribing any of its readings. I read, however, many passages, and have since noted down several important readings. The following are of some moment: Rom. v. 1, ECWMEN is the original reading of the MS (thus agreeing with the other more ancient MSS etc.); a later hand has changed this into ECOMEN. The collations of Birch, Bentley, and Bartolocci, do not notice this passage. In Rom. viii. 11, the MS. reads DIA TO ENOIKOUN AUTOU PNEUMA : to notice this reading explicitly is of the more importance, because Griesbach and Scholz cite the Vatican MS. as an authority for the other reading (which, however, they reject), DIA TOU ENOIKOUNTOS PNEUMATOS.

      My especial object at the Vatican was thus entirely frustrated; and this I regret the more from my increased conviction of the value and importance of the Vatican MS. I inspected several other MSS. in the Vatican library; I was only, however, able to consult them in particular passages. One of these is the Codex Basilianus (B in the Apocalypse : the Vatican MS. is defective in that book); one of the three ancient copies which contain the Revelation. From the very defective character of the collation of this MS which was communicated to Wetstein, it was supposed that this MS had many chasms. By transcribing the first and last line of every page, I obtained certain proof that the MS. contains the Revelation entire : besides this, I was allowed to trace four pages. Tischendorf has since published the text of this MS (not a facsimile edition); in a few places, he has, however, erred as to the readings ; in Rev. xvi. 9, he reads THN EXOUSIAN, - the MS. really omits THN : in Rev. xvi. 12, he reads TON MEGAN TON EFRATHN, - the second TON is not in the MS. . . . .

      It is needless to dwell on the detail of my annoyances at the Vatican : there was one repetition of promises made and then broken; hopes held out which came to nothing. All that I could actually do there was through the real kindness of the late Cardinal ACTON, whose efforts were unremitting to procure me access to the Vatican MS. Cardinal Acton at once obtained permission for me (which had been previously refused) to collate in the Bibliotheca Angelica.

      The introduction, etc., which I brought from Bishop (now Cardinal) WISEMAN to Dr. GRANT, then the Principal of the English College at Rome, was utterly useless. I must speak with gratitude of the efforts to aid my object on the part of Abbate FRANCESCO BATTELLI, and of Dr. JOSEPH NICHOLSON (since Bishop of Hierapolis in partibus, and coadjutor to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Corfu)."

      The book is accessible online.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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