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our memory; but we may venture to pronounce, that to an ancient Roman, who knew nothing of the learning or opinions of the east, the greater part of Arias's Bible would appear no better than a jumble of words without meaning.
13. To all the other evil consequences resulting from such versions we ought to add, that they necessarily lead the unlearned reader into an opinion, that the original which is susceptible of them must be totally indefinite, equivocal, and obscure. Few, without making the experiment, can allow themselves to think, that it is equally possible, by this mode of translation, completely to disfigure, and render unintelligible, what is written with plainness and simplicity, and without any ambiguity, in their mothertongue; yet nothing is more certain, than that the most perspicuous writing, in any language, may be totally disguised by this treatment.* Were the ancient Greek or Latin classics, in prose
As it is impossible, without an example, to conceive how monstrous the transformation is which it occasions, I shall here subjoin a specimen of a few English sentences, translated into Latin in the taste and manner of Arias. Ego inveni aliquod pecus in meo frumento, et posui illa in meam libram. Ego rogavi unum qui stabat per, si ille novit cujus illa erant. Sed ille vertit unam viam a me, et fecit non ita multum ut vindicare salvum ad redire mihi ullam responsionem. Super hoc ego rogavi unum alium qui dixit unam magnam tabulam abiegnam in replicatione quam ego feci non substare. Quam unquam ego volui non habere posita illa sursum, habui ego notum ad quem illa pertinebant; nam ego didici post custodias quod ille fuit unus ego fui multum aspectus ad." Were these few lines put into the hands of a learned foreigner, who does not understand English, he might sooner learn to read Chinese than to divine their meaning. Yet a little attention would bring an Englishman who knows Latin soon to discover that they were intended as a version, if we may call it so, of the following words, which, in the manner of Arias, I give with the version interlined.
Ego inveni aliquod pecus in meo frumento, et posui illa in I found some cattle in my corn and put them into rogavi unum qui stabat per, si ille novit cujus illa erant.
asked one who stood by, if he knew whose they were. viam a me, et fecit non ita multum ut vindicare salvum
meam libram. Ego my pound. I Sed ille vertit unam But he turned a ad redire mihi ullam way from me, and did not SO much as vouch safe to return me any responsionem. Super hoc ego rogavi unum alium qui dixit unam magnam Upon this Ι asked another who said great tabulam abiegnam in replicatione quam ego feci non substare. Quam unquam deal in reply which I did not understand. How ever ego volui non habere posita illa sursum, habui ego notum ad quem illa pertinebant, I would not have put them up, had I known to whom they belonged, nam ego didici post custodias quod ille fuit unus ego fui multum aspectus ad. for I learned afterwards that he was one I was much beholden to. Should one object, that the Latin words here employed do not suit the sense of the corresponding words in the passage translated, it is admitted that they do not; but they are selected in exact conformity to the fundamental rules followed by Árias. Thus una via, away, vindicare salvum, vouchsafe, quam unquam, however, tabula alegna, deal, substare, understand, post custodias, afterwards, aspectus, beholden, are all agreeable to the primary rule of etymology, and in no respect worse than reptifico, where both sense and use require produco; or assumptio for doctrina, to the utter destruction of all meaning; or non omnis for nullus, which gives a meaning quite different. But by what rule, it may be asked, is pound rendered libra, in a case wherein it manifestly means septum? By the same rule, it is answered, whereby iashab is rendered sedere, in a case wherein both the sense and the construction required inhabitare, and daber rendered verbum, where it manifestly means res-the golden rule of uniformity, by which every term ought always to be rendered the same
or verse, to be thus rendered into any modern tongue, nobody could bear to read them. Strange, indeed, that a treatment should ever have been accounted respectful to the sacred penmen, which, if given to any other writer, would be universally condemned as no better than dressing him in a fool's coat.
I am not at all surprised that certain great men of the church of Rome, like Cardinal Cajetan, who (though with foreign assistance he translated the Psalms) did not understand a word of Hebrew, show themselves great admirers of this method. The more unintelligible the Scriptures are made, the greater is the need of an infallible interpreter, an article of which they never lose sight. But that others, who have not the same motive, and possess a degree of understanding superior to that of a Jewish cabalist, should recommend an expedient which serves only for debasing and discrediting the dictates of the divine Spirit, appears perfectly unaccountable. I shall only add, that versions of this kind are very improperly called translations. The French have a convenient word, travesty, by which they denote the metamorphosis of a serious work into mere burlesque, by dressing it in such language as renders it ridiculous, making the noblest thoughts appear contemptible, the richest images beggarly, and the most judicious observations absurd. I would not say, therefore, the Bible translated, but the Bible travestied, by Arias Montanus: For that can never deserve the name of a translation, which gives you neither the matter nor the manner of the author, but, on the contrary, often exhibits both as the reverse of what they are. Malvenda, a Dominican, is another interpreter of the same tribe with his brother Pagnin, and with Arias, whom he is said greatly to have exceeded in darkness, barbarism, and nonsense. I never saw his version, but have reason to believe, from the accounts given of it by good judges, that it can answer no valuable purpose.
way, and agreeably to its most common signification, without minding whether it make sense or nonsense so rendered. [The literal translator follows implicitly the sage direction given by Cajetan, "Non sit vobis curæ, si sensus non apparet, quia non est vestri officii exponere sed interpretari: interpretamini sicut jacet, et relinquatis expositoribus curam intelligendi." Præf. Comment. in Psalm.] Now it is certain that pound occurs oftener in the sense of libra than in that of septum. But how do you admit such gross solecisms as redire responsionem? I answer, Is this more so than sedere tentorium? or do the prepositions as used here, stabat per and aspectus ad, make the construction more monstrous than inter ad in that sentence sit dividens inter aquas ad aquas? Besides, there is not a word in the above specimen, which, taken severally, is not Latin; so much cannot be said for Arias, whose work is overrun with barbarisms as well as solecisms. Witness his fructescens and reptificent, in the few examples above produced. And in regard to the total incoherence and want of construction, can any thing in this way exceed in creari ea, or in die facere Deus, or ad terram quod sumptus est inde, or major iniquitas quam parcere?
STRICTURES ON THE VULGATE.
I PROCEED now to consider a little the merit of some other Latin translations of holy writ. The first, doubtless, that deserves our attention, in respect both of antiquity, and I may say of universality, in the western churches, is the Vulgate. The version which is known by this name, at least the greater part of it, is justly ascribed to Jerom, and must therefore be dated from the end of the fourth, or beginning of the fifth century. As its reception in the church was gradual, voluntary, and not in consequence of the command of a superior, and as for some ages the old Latin version, called the Italic, continued, partly from the influence of custom, partly from respect to antiquity, to be regarded and used by many, there is reason to believe that a part of that version still remains in the Vulgate, and is in a manner blended with it. One thing at least is certain, that in several places of the Vulgate we find those expressions and ways of rendering which that learned father in his works strongly condemned, at the same time that, in other parts, we see his emendations regularly followed. Besides, as I hinted before, there were several corrections which, though his judgment approved them, he did not, for fear of shocking the sentiments of the people, think it prudent to adopt. From this it may naturally be inferred, that the manner and style of the Vulgate will not be found equal and uniform. And I believe no person who has examined it with a critical eye, will deny that this is the case.
2. From what remains of the old Italic, it appears to have been much in the taste of almost all the Jewish translations, extremely literal, and consequently in a great degree obscure, ambiguous, and barbarous. To give a Latin translation of the Scriptures, which might at once be more perspicuous, and more just to the original, was the great and laudable design of that eminent light of the western churches above-mentioned. The Old Testament part of the Italic version had been made entirely from the Septuagint; (for the Hebrew Scriptures were for some ages of no estimation in the church;) but Jerom being well skilled in Hebrew, undertook to translate from the original. This itself has made in some passages a considerable difference on the sense. And as the version of the Seventy has generally the mark of a servile attachment to the letter, there can be no doubt that there must have been in the Hebrew manuscripts extant at the times when the several parts of that version were made, considerable differences of reading from those in common use at present. And though I think, upon the whole, that the Hebrew Scriptures are much preferable, an acquaintance with the Septuagint is of
great importance for several reasons, and particularly for this, that it often assists in suggesting the true reading in cases where the present Hebrew copies are obscure, or appear to have been vitiated. Jerom in such cases judiciously recurred to that translation; and often when it was more perspicuous than the Hebrew, and the meaning which it contained seemed better adapted to the context, borrowed light from it. Perhaps he would have done still better to have recurred oftener. For however learned those Jews were to whose assistance he owed the acquisition of the language, they were strongly tinctured with the cabalistical prejudices which prevailed more or less in all the literati of that nation. Hence they were sometimes led, on very fanciful grounds, to assign to words and phrases meanings not supported by the obvious sense of the context, nor even by the most ancient versions and paraphrases. In this case, there can be no doubt that these were more to be confided in than his Jewish instructors.
3. No intelligent person will question the fitness of that judicious and learned writer for the task of translating the Bible into his native language. But that we may not be led too far in transferring to the work the personal merit of the author, we ought to remember two things; first, that the Vulgate, as we have it at present, is not entirely the work of Jerom; and, secondly, that even in what Jerom translated, he left many things, as he himself acknowledges, which needed correction, but which he did not choose to alter, lest the liberties taken with the old translation should scandalize the vulgar. It is no wonder, then, that great inequalities should be observable in the execution. In many places it is excellent: The sense of the original is conveyed justly and perspicuously; no affectation in the style; on the contrary, the greatest simplicity combined with purity. But this cannot be said with truth of every part of that work.
4. In the preceding part of this Dissertation, page 330, I took notice of one passage rendered exactly in the manner of Arias, who found nothing to alter in it in order to bring it down to his level. Indeed, there are many such instances. Thus ouk av εowon Taσa oap is rendered, "Non fieret salva omnis caro," Matt. xxiv. 22. In some places we find barbarisms and solecisms to which it would be difficult to discover a temptation, the just expression being both as literal and as obvious as the improper one that has been preferred to it. Of this sort we may call, "Neque nubent, neque nubentur," Matt. xxii. 30, Mark xii. 25: "Nonne vos magis plures estis illis?" Matt. vi. 26: "Non capit prophetam perire extra Jerusalem," Luke xiii. 33; and "Filius hominis non venit ministrari sed ministrare," Matt. xx. 28. Yet as to the last example, the same words in another Gospel are rendered without the solecism," Filius hominis non venit ut ministraretur ei, sed ut ministraret," Mark x. 45. Very often we meet with instances of the same original word rendered by the same Latin word, when
the sense is manifestly different, and the idiom of the tongue does not admit it. This absurdity extends even to conjunctions. The Greek or answers frequently to the Latin quia, because, and not seldom to quod, that. Here, however, it is almost uniformly, in defiance of grammar and common sense, rendered quia or quoniam. Thus, "Tunc confitebor illis quia nunquam novi vos," Matt. vii. 23, and "Magister, scimus quia verax es," chap. xxii. 16. These expressions are no better Latin than these which follow are English: "Then will I confess to them, because I never knew you," and "Master, we know because thou art true;" words which, if they suggest any meaning, it is evidently not the meaning of the author: nor is it a meaning which the original would have ever suggested to one who understands the language.
Nay, sometimes even the favourite rule of uniformity is violated, but not for the sake of keeping to the sense, the sense being rather hurt by the violation. Thus, Aaoç, answering to populus, and commonly so rendered, is sometimes improperly translated plebs. ETоINGε AUTOWσiv Ty day avrov, Luke i. 68, is rendered, "Fecit redemptionem plebis suæ.' Sometimes the most unmeaning barbarisms are adopted merely to represent the etymology of the original term. Τον αρτον ἡμων τον επιουσιον δος ἡμιν σημερον, is rendered, "Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie," Matt. vi. 11. Panis supersubstantialis is just as barbarous Latin as supersubstantial bread would be English, and equally unintelligible. There is an additional evil resulting from this manner of treating holy writ, that the solecisms, barbarisms, and nonsensical expressions which it gives rise to, prove a fund of materials to the visionary, out of which his imagination frames a thousand mysteries.
5. I would not, however, be understood by these remarks as passing a general censure on this version, which, though not to be followed implicitly, may, I am convinced, be of great service to the critic. It ought to weigh with us, that even the latest part of this translation was made about fourteen hundred years ago, and is consequently many centuries prior to all the Latin translations now current, none of which can claim an earlier date than the revival of letters in the West. I do not use this argument from an immoderate regard to antiquity, or from the notion that age can give a sanction to error. But there are two things in this circumstance, which ought to recommend the work in question to the attentive examination of the critic. First, that having been made from manuscripts older than most, perhaps, than any now extant, it serves in some degree to supply the place of those manuscripts, and furnish us with the probable means of discovering what the readings were which Jerom found in the copies which he so carefully collated. Another reason is, that being finished long before those controversies arose which are the foundation of most of the sects now subsisting, we may rest