Whiston Didache from Arabic sources - editions before Hierosolymitanus

Steven Avery

Paul R. Gilliam
William Whiston and the Apostolic Constitutions: Completing the Reformation (2023)

Whiston then provides Ethiopic extracts from Ludolphus’ work that demonstrate the close relationship between these extracts and the Apostolic Constitutions. Whiston also provides the canons purported to be from Hippolytus, ‘which is a shorter Extract out of the same Constitutions’ along with the Arabic Didascalia, ‘or Athanasian Edition of the former Six Books of the Constitutions’.106 Finally, Whiston provides a table of contents for the Ethiopic and Arabic Didascalia, ‘the former of which is evidently either the very same with, or an extract Abridgment of the latter.’107 He credits Wanslebius for the Ethiopic account and Dr. Grabe for the Arabic account. These table of contents are then paralleled with the corresponding places in the Apostolic Constitutions. Based on the textual evidence provided in his discussion, I provide a sampling of Whiston’s conclusions: 1) the Ethiopic appears to contain the 127 statutes ‘or the Intire Abridgments of the Constitutions and Canons together’ and that the Abtleis appears to hold the 85 apostolical canons but condensed down to 81.108 2) Almost one half of the extract from Hippolytus comes from Apostolic Constitutions book 8. Thus, ‘it seems not improbable that Hippolytus did make this 8th Book more publick than the rest, even in his Days.’109 3) The Ethiopic abstracts come from the days of Athanasius. 4) The extracts that the Ethiopians received were the originals minus the ‘Doctrinal Parts, which favor’d the Arians against the Athanasians’.110 To the

And most important, the Ethiopic Didascalia and the Arabic one now in Oxford ‘which are either the very same, or the former is a plain Abridgment of the latter’, are corrupted versions of the Catholic Doctrine – the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions.115 This last conclusion is of such significance that Whiston next offers ten reasons for his conclusion that the Ethiopic Didascalia and the Arabic version are both corrupted accounts of the Catholic doctrine. Once again, I provide a sampling. 1) The Ethiopic and Arabic edition omits only the segments from the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions that Athanasius and his contemporary Anthony did not condone, ‘I mean all the middle Chapters of the Sixth Book; in which are contained such clear Testimonies against the Athanasians and for the Arians;

As we shall see momentarily, Grabe himself refers to Wilkins’ letter and Whiston’s response in a footnote in his An Essay upon two Arabick Manuscripts.119

Now that we have observed Grabe’s reasons for doing something he is not accustomed to do – engage in a nasty argument with an individual via the printed word – we turn our attention to Grabe’s specific arguments against the authenticity of The Doctrine of the Apostles as found in the two Arabic manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. We begin with Whiston’s opinion – the opinion that Grabe sets out to prove erroneous. Whiston concludes that the two Arabic manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, one of which has the title The book of Didascalia which is the Doctrine delivered by the Fathers, the twelve Apostles, and Paul the Apostle, and James Brother of the Lord, Bishop of Jerusalem, consisting of thirty-nine chapters and the other manuscript simply The Doctrine, represent an authentic apostolic writing that has been long lost to the church. Both these Arabic manuscripts contain a preface,
119   J. Grabe, An Essay upon two Arabick Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (1711),

Third, Grabe has not ‘promised to answer the Doctrine of the Apostles, or its Preface, found by me in Arabick, at Oxford.’123 The reason Grabe has not made this promise is because he would be unable to fulfill it! Yet, as we shall see shortly, Grabe will, in fact, publish a rebuttal to Whiston’s arguments concerning the Arabic manuscripts in Oxford.

As we shall now see, Grabe chose the latter in his An Essay Upon Two Arabick Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library, and that ancient Book, call’d, The Doctrine of the Apostles, which is said to be extant in them; wherein Mr. Whiston’s Mistakes about both are plainly prov’d. In this piece, Grabe begins his preface to the reader with this confession, ‘Altho’ I am not inclined to enter into Controversy with particular Persons; yet I have written this Essay against Mr. Whiston.’129 Grabe gives four reasons for breaking his usual practice by writing against Whiston. Interestingly, for one of these reasons, Grabe refers to Whiston’s remarks, already discussed above, in his reply to Allix. Grabe notes that, in this work, Whiston offers five reasons that Grabe would not write against Whiston or Whiston’s opinions about the Apostolic Constitutions. Grabe records Whiston’s third reason, already cited above: ‘Dr, Grabe has not, I believe, promised to answer the Doctrine of the Apostles, or its Preface, found by me in Arabick at Oxford; nor do I believe, He can do it. Yet till that is done, ‘tis perfectly impossible to do the other.’130 Another reason for writing against Whiston about the two Arabic manuscripts, before writing against Whiston in relation to the Apostolic Constitutions themselves, is in order to show how Whiston is too ‘forward and overhasty … in making Discoveries and publishing Assertions, even about Points of the highest Consequence, before he hath thoroughly examin’d, and   Ibid.   J. Grabe, An Essay Upon Two Arabick Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (1711), Preface.1. 130   Whiston’s words quoted in J. Grabe, An Essay Upon Two Arabick Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (1711), Essay.4. 128 129


Etching by George Vertue, 1720 Greek text of Apostolic Constitutions 6.14

Volume two of Whiston’s Primitive Christianity Reviv’d consists of Whiston’s English translation of the Apostolic Constitutions. Therefore, volume two is simply entitled, ‘THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES BY CLEMENT IN Greek and ENGLISH; WITH THE Various Readings from all the Manuscripts.’ It is Whiston’s translation, with alterations, of the Apostolic Constitutions that will be employed throughout as it is found in the Ante-Nicene Fathers volume seven.9 Whiston’s volume three is entitled, ‘AN ESSAY ON THE Apostolical Constitutions. Wherein is proved that they are the most Sacred of the Canonical Books of the New Testament.’ We will rely on this volume much in chapters two and three, as we expose Whiston’s arguments for the apostolic origins of the Apostolic Constitutions. Volume four has a revealing title, ‘AN ACCOUNT OF THE FAITH OF THE Two First Centuries, CONCERNING The ever-blessed Trinity, and the Incarnation of our Lord; in the Words of the Sacred and Primitive Writers themselves; both in their Originals, whether Greek or Latin, and in English.

I am at work on a translation of the Apostolic Constitutions in their entirety. Whiston’s translation is now 311 years old and is based on Turrianus’ (Francisco Torres) Greek text. Fiensy and Darnell employed Franz Xaver von Funk’s Greek text. I am using, as did Grisbrooke, Marcel Metzger’s Greek text. More discussion on the critical text of the Apostolic Constitutions will be offered in the next chapter.

To get a feel for how the editor of the Apostolic Constitutions has reworked his sources, I provide Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson’s translation of the Syriac text (the Greek is lost) of the   P. Smith, ‘Auctoritas and Potestas in the Apostolic Constitutions’ (2018), 86.

Notice that Whiston complains that ‘modern Criticks’ have not taken the Apostolic Constitutions seriously. One reason for this may be due to the scholarly conclusions that surfaced before Whiston’s birth. In the west, the Apostolic Constitutions was ‘entirely unknown’ during the middle ages.34 It was rediscovered in the sixteenth century when a copy was found in Crete. Its contents were revealed in an abbreviated form in a 1546 Latin edition, by Carolus Capellus, in Ingolstadt. Seventeen years later in 1563, the full Greek text, the editio princeps, was edited by the Jesuit Franciscus Turrianus. Also produced at this time was a Latin translation by Bovius. The Greek editio princeps, as well as the Latin translation, were published at Venice.35 There are numerous manuscripts of the Greek text ranging in date from the tenth century to the sixteenth century.36 With these preparatory remarks on the surface, we may now direct our attention to pre-Whiston scholarly opinion concerning

.38 Franciscus Turrianus (circa 1509-1584), the Jesuit mentioned above who edited the full Greek text of the Apostolic Constitutions, decided that both the Apostolic Constitutions and the Ignatian long recension were authentic. In other words, Turrianus thought that the Apostolic Constitutions did, in fact, come straight from Jesus’ first-century apostles and were then collected by Clement; and that the Ignatian long recension was the product of the second-century martyr Ignatius of Antioch. Therefore, neither document is a later forgery. According to Turrianus then, to account for the similarities between the two documents, Ignatius

We will spend much time with this work in chapter three. It is worth observing at this juncture in our narrative that Whiston translated the Apostolic Constitutions himself from Greek into English in 1709. Oddly, Whiston says very little about the Greek text he employs in volume two of Primitive Christianity Reviv’d which contains his actual translation; he only says, on the title page of volume two that he uses ‘Various Readings from all the Manuscripts’. However, volume one of Primitive Christianity Reviv’d contains a title page that has the shorter title for four volumes of his Primitive Christianity Reviv’d as well as an ‘Advertisement to the Reader’. Though Whiston’s desire is that this advertisement ‘be as brief as possible’ because volume one also includes his ‘Historical Preface’ which holds accounts of both Whiston’s university and convocation proceedings, the ‘Advertisement to the Reader’ is still eight pages long.110 In this advertisement Whiston makes us aware that the Greek of the Apostolic Constitutions ‘is according to the Original Venice Edition A.D. 1563, whence all other are deriv’d, and which was chiefly made from a very good Copy from Crete, and also in part from two interpolated ones from Calabria and Sicily.’111 Furthermore, Whiston sates, in his ‘Advertisement’, that he has put the interpolated texts in double square brackets; however, he has not translated the interpolated texts into English to avoid confusion on the part of the reader who is fully reliant on the English translation. When he is doubtful concerning   Ibid. Here Whiston spells his name ‘Allen’ and not ‘Allin’.   W. Whiston, Primitive Christianity Reviv’d (1711), 1.HP.xiv. 110   Ibid., 1.‘Advertisement to the Reader’.i. 111   Ibid., 1.‘Advertisement to the Reader’.ii-iii. 108 109
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