Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dean Burgon's Debt to Solomon Malan

The following account has been exerpted from Solomon Caesar Malan, D.D.: Memorials of his Life and Writings, (1897), by Arthur Malan, his son:

'The year 1881 was rendered memorable by the publication of the "Revised Version of the New Testament " — an attempt to improve the time-honoured English Bible, in the opinion of many qualified judges, ill-advised in its aim and unfortunate in its results. Soon after its appearance a torrent of adverse criticism was poured upon the hapless volume, proving incontestably that it was an open question whether the sanctity of the Bible would be enhanced, and the credit of English scholarship be advanced, by adopting the New Version in place of the Old.  Foremost in the catalogue of hostile comment stands a work which probably ranks as one of the noblest monuments of critical ability that ever issued from the English press — the  Revision Revised of Dean Burgon. The ten years' travail of "the most competent scholars of the age" was at length accomplished, and May 17th, 1881, was the birthday of the Revised Version

But the occasion called for the man: the "great Dean" armed him for the fight, and dealt such vigorous blows for the cause, that, fifteen years after its ill-starred appearance, the existence of the Revised Version is scarcely appreciated.  Others besides Dean Burgon rallied to the rescue, but to him pre-eminently belongs the honour of vindicating the credit of the Authorised Version when confronted by the Revised. What wonder if he gave loose bridle to his pen ?  as he said,
" When the words of inspiration are seriously imperilled, it is scarcely possible for one who is determined to preserve the deposit in its integrity, to hit too hard or too straight."  During the long summer days of 1881 (June to September) the first of the three articles was elaborated for the  Quarterly Review, in which, while proving the depravity of the codices on which Drs. Westcott & Hort based their recension, he pours his broadside upon the unwarrantable presumption of "intuitive perception" for estimating the genuine Text of Scripture.

"Not theory — not prejudice — not conjecture — not unproved assertion — not a single codex, and certainly not codex B. — not an imaginary ' Antiochene Recension' of another imaginary ' Pre-Syrian Text ' — not antecedent fancies about the affinity of documents — neither the [purely arbitrary] method of genealogy, — nor one man's notions (which may be reversed by another man's notions) of ' transcriptional probability ' — not ' instinctive processes of criticism,' — least of all ' the individual mind,' with its ' supposed power of divining the original text ' — of which no intelligible account can be rendered — nothing of this sort — (however specious and plausible it may sound, especially when set forth in confident language ; advocated with a great show of unintelligible learning ; supported by a formidable array of cabalistic symbols and mysterious contractions ; above all when recommended by justly respected names) — nothing of this sort, we say, must be allowed to determine for us the Text of Scripture."

The Dean demands a vastly different critical method : — " In every case of doubt or difficulty, after patiently collecting all the available evidence (Manuscripts, Versions, Patristic citations), then, without partiality or prejudice, must we adjudicate between the conflicting authorities, and loyally accept the verdict for which there is clearly the preponderating evidence. The best supported reading, in other words, must always be held to be the true reading, and nothing may be rejected from the commonly received Text, except on evidence which shall clearly outweigh the evidence for retaining it." 
The reader who follows the Dean in the mighty thunders of his eloquent and convincing arguments, finds his confidence restored — for well may it have been shaken by a perusal of the Revised Version. One after another, the distressing doubts raised in his mind by the rash and heartless treatment of the English Bible, are shattered into dust ; and the  reader feels a thrill of exultation in such a passage as —
"But because we propose to ourselves that no uncertainty whatever shall remain on this subject (St. Luke ii. 14), it will not be wasted labour if at parting we pour into the ruined citadel just enough of shot and shell to leave no dark corner standing for the ghost of a respectable doubt hereafter to hide in." ..." The ' New Greek Text ' put forth by the revisionists is utterly inadmissible. The traditional Text has been departed from by them nearly six thousand times, almost invariably for the worse. . . . To attempt, as the revisionists have done, to build the Text of the New Testament on a tissue of unproved assertions and the eccentricities of a single codex of bad character, is about as hopeful a proceeding as would be the attempt to erect an Eddystone lighthouse on the Goodwin Sands." 

Those " long summer days," devoted so assiduously by Dean Burgon to the preparation of his first article, were succeeded by similar labour all through the autumn, while he was preparing his second article on "The New English Version." During that period, from May to December, 1881, letters from the Dean of Chichester continually reached the Vicar of Broadwindsor, requesting him to search the ancient versions for the readings of various passages in the NT, no reason being assigned to explain the purpose for which they were required. The penmanship of the great Dean was notoriously difficult to decipher, and often at the breakfast-table, after the letterbag had distributed its contents, the Vicar's brow would be seen contracted over the perusal of a letter which presented to him graver difficulties than the versions whereof it treated. But, none the less, in the course of the morning he would perform the service asked, and send off the results in the afternoon.

The two articles duly appeared, and Mr. Murray forwarded copies of the Quarterly  to Broadwindsor. Then the learned Vicar's eyes were opened. There were his verdicts of the versions all faithfully recorded — the batteries of heavy calibre were unmasked. While public speculation was rife, and men wondered who was the author of those mighty fulminations of scathing criticism, Dr. Malan, at any rate, recognised the sign-manual of authorship.

The Dean acknowledged his obligation to Dr. Malan in the volume which subsequently reproduced the essays,  The Revision Revised,  by such notices as the following : —
P. 67. "... So the Arabian version, but not the Gothic, Armenian, Sclavonic, or Georgian, as Dr. S. C. Malan informs the reviewer."  P. 120. " For my information on this subject I am entirely indebted to one who is always liberal in communicating the lore of which he is perhaps the sole living depository in England, the Rev. Dr. S. C. Malan. See his ' Seven Chapters of the Revision of 1881 Revised,' p. 3. But especially should the reader be referred to Dr. Malan's learned dissertation on this very subject in his ' Select Readings in Westcott and Hort's Greek Text of S. Matt.,' pp. 1 — 22."  P. 124. " True, that we have made acquaintance with certain ancient versions about which little or nothing was known 200 years ago, but (with the solitary exception of the Rev. Solomon Caesar Malan, the learned Vicar of Broadwindsor, who, by the way, is always ready to lend a torch to his benighted brethren) what living Englishman is able to tell us what they all contain ? "  P. 356. " The Syriac versions, the Vulgate, Gothic, Georgian, Sclavonic, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Armenian (we owe the information, as usual, to Dr. Malan) are to be set against the suspicious Coptic."  P. 451. " Dr. Malan (who must be heartily sick of me by this time), in reply to my repeated enquiries, assures me that in Coptic and Sahidic alike ' the relative pronoun always takes the gender of the Greek antecedent ' (then follows a long quotation from a letter of Dr. Malan's, which supplied the Dean with the requisite testimony of the versions for establishing the true reading of the famous verse, 1 Tim. iii. 16 — ' And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh,' etc."  P. 382. " On the same side as the present illustrious Bishop of Lincoln are found the late Philip E. Pusey and Archdeacon Lee, Canon Cook and Dr. Field, the Bishop of S. Andrew's, and Dr. S. C. Malan." 

Dr. Malan aimed his [own] blow at the revisers in a trenchant and scholarly pamphlet, " Seven Chapters (S. Matthew i. — vi. ; S. Luke xi.) of the Revision of 1881 Revised" (Hatchards, 1881). While admitting that a few trifling alterations in the English Bible are advisable, if not necessary, he insists that -
" such alterations should be made with a light, loving hand as an act of worship, and so as not to break the spell of hallowed and blessed words, sucked in with the mother's milk, and heard through life in every genuine English home.  
" No wonder, then, if the scholars who attempted to revise one Gospel [John?] in 1856 rightly declared it to be 'a work of extreme difficulty, scarcely capable of being surmounted' — so that they all but gave it up.  
" But, in these days of reckless changes, men shrink from very little. Some, therefore, came forward eager for the work, who, taking their own wishes, which they knew, to be those of the nation at large, which they could not ascertain, said the time was ripe for a revision ; and getting others to think with them, a company for the revision of the Old and New Testaments was formed of men, said to be ' the most competent scholars of the age.' An agreeable surprise to most of them, no doubt, whatever it may be. 
" How and by whom the choice was made does not appear. . . . Meanwhile, some of the wisest and best men chosen withdrew at once ; and one can only regret that a few more did not follow that example, and, for their own sakes, eschew the responsibility of having to put pieces of their own new cloth on the weft of the old garment.  
"For not only is the rent made worse in that stately robe of honour, but it no longer looks like itself, pieced as it is all over with patches of many colours. The revisers, instead of religiously and devoutly weighing the injury done by many changes in household words so familiar as those of the Bible, and, therefore, how little they need alter — seem rather to have looked upon it in the light of a Greek exercise, and to have taken pleasure in making as many changes as they could ; too often, also, with little or no regard for cadence, rhythm, style, or even grammar. They have, of course, made a few improvements, such as any fair scholar of average ability would have made. But as the outcome of so many heads, of all the learning, taste, and judgment, we were led to expect from such a guild, the work must stand on its own merits alone, and be judged accordingly, without respect of persons. It ought to be nearly perfect, above the reach of cavil, and acceptable to all. 
" Far from it, however — the result appears to us plain men to be little short of a great failure. But our amazement turns to sadness when we hear from Bishop Ellicott ' . . . that there is not a hastily-arrived-at judgment to be found in any page of the Revised Version ' — that ' no precipitate decision has any place whatever in the results now given,' for ' the revision of the Greek Text and of the Authorised Version has been thorough and up to the full standard of correction,' the whole thing, it seems, having gone through six or seven revisions. Whence we naturally conclude that it can neither be improved nor superseded. It is to be this — or nothing."  

Dr. Malan is at a loss to reconcile facts with the hallucinations of the Bishop and his company — the reverence which they profess for the Authorised Version and reluctance to make unnecessary alterations — with the fact that eight or nine changes occur in every five verses of the Gospels, and fifteen changes occur in every five verses of the Epistles ; their " anxiety to make the new work so blend with the old that the venerable aspect of the Authorised Version might never be lost, and its fair proportions never be sacrificed to merely pedantic accuracy," — with the manifest contradictions of the result.  " The result is — not the English Bible adorned and beautified, as Bishop Ellicott fondly seems to think, but quite another book." He notices manifold alterations which may fairly strike the ordinary reader as being made simply for the love of change, the ' cacoethes mutandi ' as he calls it, e.g., Matthew ii. n, "they offered " for " they presented ; " iii. 4, " his food " for " his meat." " One wonders the revisers did not also turn ' locusts ' into ' crickets or grasshoppers ; '
iii. 16, ' went up from the water ' for ' went up out of the water.' " But herein he detects something more serious than mere arbitrary change:
"Our Saviour's baptism, witness S. Ephrem and other Fathers, was by total immersion ; so that when raising His head above the water, after having bowed it under, He came out of the water as if out of the grave, and not ' from ' the grave assuredly. Whereas the Revised Version makes our Saviour walk ' from ' the water to dry land, where, according to the Revised Version the coming down of the Holy Ghost would have taken place. But the Holy Ghost came upon Him while He was yet standing in the water, though 'out of it.' Otherwise the sacrament would not have been fully wrought out."  

He considers the fashion adopted in the Revised Version of printing quotations from the Old Testament "mere affectation and in doubtful taste." He notices expressions introduced which are awkward and incorrect, e.g., Matthew i. 24, "And Joseph arose from his sleep " for " Then Joseph being raised from sleep ; " and vi. 1, " That ye do not your righteousness " for " that ye do not your alms." "
What is ' to do one's righteousness ? ' It may be Hebrew, but it is not English." In the 1st Chapter of St. Matthew, of twenty-five verses, the revisers have made sixty changes, whereof Dr. Malan says : " one is good and one is admissible ; all the rest appear either ill-judged or unnecessary."

Matthew iv. 14. — The revisers read, "toward the sea," instead of " by the way of the sea."  asks Dr. Malan,
" Where did they find that  οδον θαλασσης  means ' toward the sea ?" ' : whereas he interprets it as " the road that skirts the seashore from Tiberias to beyond the plain of Gennesaret, on which were situated Magdala, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, where our Saviour, the Light of the World, dwelt." 

Matthew v. 29. — For " if thy right eye offend thee," the revisers read, " causeth thee to stumble." Dr. Malan considers the alteration ill-advised, since the readiest construction of the amendment will be, " if thy right eye is bad and thy sight defective." The suggestion comes from his pen with peculiar force. How often did his own solitary right eye, by reason of its defective sight, cause him to stumble — twice with consequences of serious injury — yet was it his constant prayer that its defective sight might not be plucked from him.

He resents with forcible argument the alterations introduced into the Lord's Prayer:

Luke vi. 2. — " When ye pray, say, Father " — our being omitted in Vat. Sin. and Vulgate. But " retincnt universim exemplaria MSS., et agnoscit Orig." says Mill. " So do also (adds Dr. Malan) Syr., P. Phil, and Cur., Memph., Armen., Georg., A. -Saxon, Pers. (Tawos), Eth., Arab., and Slav., all of which read 'Our Father.' So, then, has the Church of Christ read this verse from the first century, say these faithful witnesses, down to the present time, and so she will continue unto the end to read it, all whims and fancies of revisers notwithstanding."

Matthew vi. 10. — "But deliver us from the Evil One" (R.V.). Dr. Malan insists that our Saviour left the exact meaning of του πονηρου doubtful, and therefore to be regarded as a matter of private interpretation ; otherwise, He might have explained it as He explained some parables.
'ο πονηρος and το πονηρον admit of no question as to meaning in Nom. case ; του πονηρου is clearly used elsewhere in an oblique case, e.g., Matthew v. 39 " But I say unto you that ye resist not evil " (surely not " the Evil One ! ").   Hence it is an open question whether του πονηρου in the Lord's Prayer means "evil" or the " Evil One." The only literal and truthful rendering, therefore, is either " evil " or " the evil." " ' From the Evil One ' is a gloss of the revisers. ' Deliver us from evil ' implies not only ' the Evil One,' but all sin and shame, trouble and sorrow, grief and sickness, pain, suffering, and loss of every kind. Cave ne incaute dominicce orationis divulges mysteria, says S. Ambrose. It is idle to talk of ' courage ' on the part of the revisers in adopting ' the Evil One.' If so, he was a courageous man, who some years ago, deliberately smashed the priceless Barberini vase in the British Museum."  
The Revised Version omits in same verse (Matthew vi. 13) the doxology, " For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever." " But," says Dr. Malan, "it is found in versions older than any MS. extant," of which he gives a long list.
" With such authorities, what is the use or the wisdom of denying this doxology to English Christians, who have repeated it for centuries past, and who will yet repeat it, God willing, for centuries to come ? "  
Dr. Malan concludes : —
" Enough, in sooth, of this weary work. As I have not yet attained unto the scholarship required, in order to appreciate the merits of corrections made by a guild of scholars said to be the ' most competent of the age,' further criticism from me would be of little use. Moreover, I cannot find heart to continue pointing out what, to my limited sight, looks not only like mistakes or blemishes, but like real injury done to the one Book which, during nearly forty years of active parochial work, I have found to be the milk in childhood, the mainstay in after-life, and the only solace in death, of my people."  
He appends translations of the Lord's Prayer from the Syriac, Sahidic, Memphitic, Ethiopic, Gothic, Greek, Armenian, Georgian, Latin, Arabic, Anglo-Saxon, Sclavonic, Persian, Welsh, Irish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Wallachian, Romansch, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Modern Greek, Albanian, Maltese, Russian, Bulgarian, Servian, Polish, Bohemian, Tatar, Kalmuc, Mongolian, Mandchu, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Burmese, Siamese, Javanese, Malay, Pali, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Pashtu, Panjabi, Sindhi, Mahratta, Gujarati, Oriya, Telugu, Canarese, Tamil, Singhalese, Malayalim, Amharic, Hebrew, Modern Armenian, Kurdish, Malagasy, Maori, Fijian (a catalogue of seventy-one languages).  Among the few letters preserved by Dr. Malan, one from the Rev. Henry Wall Pereira (author and linguist, Hebrew prizeman, Durham Univ.) must have afforded him pleasure: -
" Sutton Wick, Abingdon, Berks,
" 15 May, 1884. 
" My dear Sir, 
" Having occasion, during recent illness, to go over some of the ground on which the revisionists have trampled upon our beloved Old Version, I had the pleasure of re-perusing your pamphlets, Seven Chapters, and  Select Readings,  which you were so kind as to send me in November, 1882. I need scarcely assure you that I found myself very strongly confirmed in my estimate of the Revised Version by a re-perusal of your admirable and most scholarly labours.    I now write not only to add fresh thanks to you for your labours in defence of our Authorised Version ; but, if it be not too late, to add a passage which I happened to meet with during the same illness, and which, if you have not met with it, will show how thoroughly in accord with the teaching of the ancient Church your distinction between the use of γενεσις in S. Matt. i. 1, and γεννησις in S. Matt. i. 18, is thus proved to be.  

If you are familiar with the passage, pray pardon me for thrusting it upon you. If, however, it should so happen that it has not previously crossed your path, it will please me to know that you may thus add one more emphatic evidence of your correct judgment on the proper use of these two words.   The passage occurs in the ' Ecclesiastical History of Socrates', lib. vii. c. 32, as quoted in an old volume of the Quarterly Review, vol. xxvi. (1822), p. 329. 
" Ουτω γαρ και ο Παμφιλου Ευσεβιος εν τω αυτω λογω τω εις τον βιον Κωνσταντινου, κατα λεξιν ταυτα φησι.  Και γαρ και γεννησιν υπομενειν ο μεθ' ημων θεος δι' ημας ηνεσχετο - Και τοπος αυτου της ενσαρκου γεννησεως ανομαστι παρ' Εβραιοις η Βηθλεεμ εκηρυττετο.  
The use of γεννησεως in the above quotation, connected as it is with υπομενειν  ηνεσχετο in the first instance, and with ενσαρκου in the second, is most decisive. 'ο μεθ' ημων θεος — Immanuel.  
 Believe me, my dear Sir,
 Yours very faithfully,
 Henry W. Pereira." 

The Guardian pronounced the pamphlet to be " in a tone of the severest censure . . . Dr. Malan's condemnation of the work of the revision being amongst the most unqualified that we have yet seen."

Having dealt his blow at the Revised Version, Dr. Malan followed it up (1882) with another aimed at the Greek Text "constructed" by Drs. Westcott & Hort for the work undertaken, " Select Readings," etc. (Hatchards). This Text seems a daring and arrogant achievement, in the face of the charge given by Convocation to the revisers, "to introduce as few alterations as possible into the Authorised Version, consistently with faithfulness." To the unlearned and ignorant they appear to have pressed liberty into license with startling audacity. By what unanswerable authority do they set the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. on a pedestal of glory above their fellows ?

Dr. Malan upbraids them with setting aside ancient and accredited witnesses, on a mere assumption incapable of proof. Nothing certain is known respecting the origin of the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. The "principles of textual criticism " is a high-sounding phrase, with which Drs. Westcott & Hort fortify their position ; but those "principles" involve questions by no means definitely answered, and the logic of an undergraduate may suffice to pronounce them "not proven." The net result is that the Revised Text is a fabric resting on insecure foundation, and consequently no better than a house built upon the sand.   Dr. Malan claims that the witness of accredited versions, made long before any known MS., is at least as good as that of two MSS. of doubtful and uncertain origin. Under his championship, the unlearned believer, who has staked his faith upon the Bible, and has shuddered in his helplessness with horror and dismay at this attempt to shake its foundations, may breathe again, and thank God, and take courage. The strong men armed may keep their house, but the stronger comes and takes away their armour wherein they trusted, and their goods are scattered.
Writes Dr. Malan,
" Unless it can be proved that those two MSS. were copied by orthodox and infallible men from apostolic manuscripts, it does not follow that they are best, only because they are said to be oldest. . . . There is light enough given us in the Word of God, as we have it, to guide us heavenwards. Yet that light and that word are to be found, not in one or two MSS. only, of which we know nothing, but in the voice of that Word as it has always been and is now heard and believed, in the whole Catholic Church of Christ."  
Dr. Malan writes in no captious spirit, professing very great respect for the labours of those learned doctors.
"But they must have been well aware that the publication of their new Greek Text would shock the feelings of many simpleminded men like us country parsons. For clearly, if they are right, then not only we, but all who have gone before, have been wrong and led astray by the Greek Text we have followed." 

He claims a right to say a few words on what appears the dismemberment or mutilation of the Greek Testament —
"without having studied very deeply principles of textual criticism, which, whether established or not, must ever be chiefly conventional and arbitrary."  And for the ordinary Englishman, unversed in the technicalities of the subject, but estimating the evidence as best he may pingui Minerva — a study of the defence of the Received Text as hewn from the ancient rocks by the linguistic ability of Dr. Malan, and further shaped by the brilliant power of Dean Burgon — may serve to estimate the merits of the question. The learned scholars on either side present their dissertations to an honest and impartial, if unlearned, public. Let the British jury weigh the evidence in opposite scales of the balance, and it will be strange if the verdict is not for the Received Text.
Dr. Malan limits his remarks to the consideration of some two dozen "alterations," counterbalancing in each case the evidence of the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. by an overwhelming mass of other MSS., versions, and quotations from the Fathers. It is clear to common sense that he has solid grounds for refusing to place implicit reliance on the two notorious MSS. to the prejudice of other evidence.  Therefore also it is clearly premature to construct a new Text according to the method employed by Drs. Westcott and Hort ; and assuredly the wisdom of Dr. Malan commends itself to the impartial reader, when he says : —
" It seems to me that the advantage, if any, of manifold changes that rest wholly on surmises as to the real age, origin, and character of MSS., is not to be compared with the mischief done by unsettling the mind and shaking the faith of those who know better. ... I doubt whether they ever gave serious thought to the evil that would result from so many apparently reckless alterations in a Text which is common to all. They probably looked at it only as critics, from a sacred corner in their study ; whereas I have looked at it from an active and practical life, that leaves me little or no time for theories. If their favourite MSS. were proved to be exact copies of apostolic autographs, then, indeed, we all should bow and worship. But the Apostles and Evangelists never wrote the originals of Sin. and Vat. Therefore ought those MSS. to rank among sober critics only as additional helps, to be used with caution, like all others."  

Dr. Malan's method is clearly contrasted with that of Drs. Westcott and Hort in the matter of deciding between γενεσις and γεννησις, S. Matthew i. 18. The " constructors " adopt γενεσις as might be expected, pronouncing the testimony of the versions to be "ambiguous" on the subject. Dr. Malan, while alluding to his previous treatment of the question in answer to Dean Alford, brings forward an additional weight of authority to strengthen his position, a convincing proof of his almost boundless access to the wisdom of ancient literature. He avails himself of the polyglot resources of type at the command of his publishers, and gives many quotations in the original lettering. Besides Greek in abundance, there is an imposing array of quotations in the characters of Arabic, Syriac, Memphitic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian, Sclavonic, Persian, and AngloSaxon. He gives the original characters out of respect, to ensure precision, as unwilling to degrade the noble languages by attempting to represent them in Roman type ; and he sums up the argument thus : —
" We have gone through all the old versions, not one of which favours the reading of Sin. and Vat. γενεσις but the Syriac prepared for the heretic Xenaias of Mabug. Neither are they ' ambiguous,' but perfectly clear and intelligible. So that when the Cambridge doctors call them ' ambiguous,' one is reluctantly driven to conclude that either they have not looked attentively into the meaning of γενεσις and on its several bearings in this verse, or that, if they consulted the old versions, they failed to understand them. For it cannot be supposed that such scholars would quote any book, much less the old versions — at second-hand from others, without personal inspection. Second-hand scholarship, we know, is worth very little. 
" When the Chairman of the New Testament Company said that the various readings in the Greek Text would be chosen " ambulando " (as the work went on), the term was apparently so flippant, and so little in keeping with the solemn work of handling the sacred text and the faith of millions, that it sounded like a note of alarm. ... A society was at once formed, which I joined at the time, whose members pledged themselves never to use this revision when it appeared. ... If the Received Text was really so bad as to require re-casting . . . this should have taken years, not only of patient microscopic study of Greek words and letters, by textual critics devoted to that kind of work, but also of search into the records, as yet little known, of the primitive Church, so as to bring to bear on this new Greek Text, said to be so much needed, the broad daylight of the whole Church of Christ, and not that only of a few MSS., concerning which their own advocates confess that nothing is known."  (p. 313-327)

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