Imagini ale paginilor

Latin language. The first edition of the Armenian New Testament appeared at Amsterdam (in the entire Armenian Bible), in 1666. Two detached editions were printed at the same place in 1668 and 1698; and another at Venice in 1789, edited by Dr. Zohrab, a learned Armenian divine, who had collated a few manuscripts for it, and who accompanied it with some short notes. In this impression which was reprinted verbatim in 1816, the editor marked i John v. 7. with an asterisk. In 1806 the same learned editor published at Venice, at the expense of the college of the monks of St. Lazarus, his critical edition of the entire Armenian Bible, for which he made use of sixty-nine manuscripts, viz. eight of the entire Bible, fifteen of the Psalms, thirty-two of the Gospels, and fourteen of the Epistles and Acts of the Apostles. He took, for the basis of this edition, that manuscript of the whole Bible, which appeared to be the most antient and accurate : such errors as were discovered he corrected by means of other copies; and in the margin he inserted the various readings, together with the number of manuscripts by which they were supported, and a few critical explanations when necessary. In this edition Dr. Zohrab has expunged 1 John v. 7., it being unsupported by any of the manuscripts which he had collated.?

8. There are extant two Persian versions of the four Gospels, the most antient and valuable of which was first printed in the London Polyglott by Bishop Walton, from a manuscript in the possession of Dr. Pococke, dated A. D. 1314: it was made from the Syriac, having sometimes retained Syriac words, and subjoined a Persian translation. The other Persian translation was edited by Wheloc, and after his decease by Pierson, at London, in 1652-57, after a collation of three manuscripts. It is supposed to have been made from the Greek.3

II. The principal antient WESTERN TRANSLATIONS of the New Testament, which claim our notice, are the Gothic, the Sclavonic, and the Anglo-Saxon versions.

1. The Gothic version of the New Testament was made from the original Greek by Ulphilas, a celebrated bishop of the Mæso-Goths, who assisted at the council of Constantinople in 359, and was sent on an embassy to the emperor Valens about the year 378. He is said to have embraced Arianism, and to have propagated Arian tenets among his countrymen. Besides translating the entire Bible into the Gothic language, Ulphilas is said to have conferred on the MæsoGoths the invention of the Gothic characters. The character, however, in which this version of the New Testament is written, is in fact the Latin character of that age ; and the degree of perfection, which the Gothic language had obtained during the time of Ulphilas, is a proof that it had then been written for some time.

The translation of Ulphilas (who had been educated among the Greeks) was executed from the Greek: but, from its coincidence in

? Semler, Apparatus ad Liberalem Novi Testamenti Interpretationem, p. 69. Michaelis, vol. i. pp. 98—105, 614–617.

2 Cellerier, Introduction au Nouv. Test. pp. 185, 186. 3 Michaelis, vol. ii. pp. 105, 106.617—619. Semler, p. 69. Walton, Prol. c. xvi. 9. pp. 695, 696.



many instances with the Latin, there is reason to suspect that it has been interpolated, though at a remote period, from the Vulgate. Its unquestionable antiquity, however, and its general fidelity, have concurred to give this version a high place in the estimation of biblical critics : but, unfortunately, it has not come down to us entire. The only parts extant in print are a considerable portion of the Four Gospels, and some fragments of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

The Four Gospels are contained in the celebrated Coder Argenteus, which has been described in å former page.!

Of this precious relic of antiquity, wbich is at present deposited in the university library at Upsal, four editions have been printed, viz. 1. At Dordrecht or Dort, 1665, in two vols. 4to. in Gothic characters, with the Anglo-Saxon version; this is very correct, and was published by Francis Junius : - 2. At Stockholm, 1671, 4to. edited by George Steirnhelm, in Latin characters, and accompanied with the Icelandic, Swedish, and Vulgate translations:- 3. The edition prepared by the learned Eric Benzel, archbishop of Upsal (who made a new copy from the original manuscript), and published after his decease by Mr. Lye, at Oxford, in 1760, in small folio, is executed in Gothic letters; the errors of the preceding cditions are corrected, and many of the various lections, with which the Gothie version furnishes the Greek Testament, are remarked in the notes. But the last and best edition is, 4. That published at Weissenfels, in 1805, by M. Zahn, in one volume, quarto : it unites every thing that can be desired, either for the purposes of criticism or interpretation. The text is given from a very beautiful and exact copy, which the celebrated scholar Ihre had procured to be made under his own inspection, and with the design of printing it. The editor has placed Ihre's Latin translation by the side of the text; and has also added an interlineary Latin version, critical notes placed at the foot of each page, and an bistorical introduction, together with a complete glossary. The fragments of the Gothic version of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, edited by Knittel from a Codex Rescriptus, are reprinted with a Latin translation in the appendix to the second volume of Mr. Lye's Saxon and Gothico-Latin dictionary. And in 1807, the Rev. Samuel Henshall published in 8vo. the Gothic Gospel of Saint Matthew, from the Codex Argenteus of the fourth century, with the corresponding English or Saxon, from the Durham Book of the eighth century, in Roman characters ; a literal English version of each, and notes, illustrations, and etymological disquisitions.

2. The Sclavonic or Old Russian translation was executed from the original Greek in the ninth century by the two brothers, Cyril (who invented the Sclavonic characters) and Methodius, the translators of the Old Testament. It was first printed in the edition of the entire Sclavonic Bible at Prague in 1570, and at Ostrog in 1581, and has since been several times reprinted at Moscow, Kiow, and elsewhere. In all the editions prior to the year 1653, the memorable verse, 1 John v. 7. is omitted. In the editions of 1653 and 1663 it

1. See an account of the Codex Argenteus, and also of the other portions of the Gothic version discovered by signor May and others in pp. 91–94. supra.

2 See a notice of it in p. 93 supra.

[ocr errors]

is inserted in the margin, but it is incorporated in the text in all subsequent impressions. This version is pronounced by M. Dobrowsky, who is profoundly skilled in Sclavonic literature, to be a very literal translation from the Greek, the Greek construction being very frequently retained, even where it is contrary to the genius of the Sclavonian language; and in general it resembles the most antient manuscripts, with which it agrees, even where their united evidence is against the common printed reading. The Sclavonian version, he adds, has not been altered from the Vulgate, as some have supposed, though the fact is in itself almost incredible ; and it possesses few or no lectiones singulares, or readings peculiar to itself. From an edition of this version, printed at Moscow in 1614, M. Alter selected the readings on the Four Gospels, and from a manuscript in the imperial library, the readings on the Acts and Epistles, which are printed in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Vienna, 1787, 2 vols. 8vo.) M. Dobrowsky states that these various lections are given with great accuracy, but that those which Matthäi has selected from the Revelation are erroneous and useless. Griesbach has given a catalogue of the Sclavonic manuscripts collated for his edition of the New Testament, communicated to him by Dobrowsky, at the end of which is a brief classed account of the editions of the Sclavonic New Testament.

3. Anglo-Saron versions. - Although Christianity was planted in Britain in the first century, it does not appear that the Britons had any translation of the Scriptures in their language earlier than the eighth century. About the year 706 Adhelm, the first bishop of Sherborn, translated the Psalter into Saxon : and at his earnest persuasion, Egbert or Eadsrid, bishop of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, soon after executed a Saxon version of the Four Gospels.” Not many years after this, the learned and venerable Bede (who died A. D. 735) translated the entire Bible into that language. There were other Saxon versions, either of the whole or of detached portions of the Scriptures, of a later date. A translation of the book of Psalms was undertaken by the illustrious King Alfred, who died A. D. 900, when it was about half finished : and Elfric, who was archbishop of Canterbury in 995, translated the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judith, part of the book of Kings, Esther, and Maccabees. The entire Anglo-Saxon version of the Bible has never been printed : King Alfred's translation of the Psalms, with the interlineary Latin text, was edited by John Spelman, 4to. London, 1640; and there is another Saxon interlineary translation of the Psalter, deposited in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth. Of the Four Gospels, there have been three editions printed : 1. By Matthew Parker, 4to. London, 1571 ; 2.


1 Michaelis, vol. ii. pp. 153—158, 636, 637. Griesbach, Prolegomena, vol. i. pp. caxvi.cxxxii

. Beck, Monogrammata Hermeneutices Novi Testamenti, pp. 108, 109.

% The manuscript of this translation is now deposited in the Cottonian Library in the British Museum, (Nero, p. iv.): Mr. Astle has given a spocimen of it in plate xiv. of his “ Origin and Progress of Writing," and has described it in pp. 100, 101.

By William Lisle, 4to. London, 1638; 3. By Thomas Marshall, 4to. Dordrecht, 1665, with the Mæso-Gothic version, and reprinted at Amsterdam in 1634. The Anglo-Saxon version being evidently translated from the Old Latin, Michaelis is of opinion that it may be of use in determining the readings of that version ; and Semler has remarked that it contains many readings which vary both from the Greek and Latin texts, of which he has given some examples. Dr. Mill selected various lections from this version; which, from the difference of style and inequalities observable in its execution, he ascribes to several authors : it is supposed to have been executed in the eighth century."

[ocr errors]


ON THE USE AND APPLICATION OF ANTIENT VERSIONS. Observations on the respective merits of the several Antient Versions :

Rules for consulting them to the best advantage. ALTHOUGH some hints have been incidentally offered, in the preceding sections, relative to the use of particular translations of the Bible ; yet, as the antient versions are equally useful in sacred criticism in order to ascertain the genuine reading of passages, as well as in assisting us to determine the true meaning of the Scriptures, it may not be improper to subjoin a few general observations on the most beneficial mode of applying them to these important objects.

As no version can be absolutely free from error, we ought not to rely implicitly on any one translation : but, if it be practicable, the aid of the cognate dialects should be united with reference to a version, in order that, by a comparison of both these helps, we may arrive at the knowledge of the genuine readings and meanings. From inattention to this obvious caution, many eminent men have at different times ascribed to particular versions a degree of authority to which they were by no means entitled. Thus, by many of the fathers, the Alexandrian interpreters were accounted to be divinely inspired, and consequently free from the possibility of mistake: a similar opinion was held by various eminent modern critics, particularly by Isaac Vossius, who asserted the Septuagint to be preferable to the Ilebrew text, and to be absolutely free from error!' The church of Rome has fallen into a like mistake with respect to the Vulgate or Latin Version, which the council of Trent declared to be the only authentic translation.

Further, versions of versions, that is, those translations which were not made immediately from the Hebrew Old Testament, or from the Greek New Testament, are of no authority in determining either the

1 Johnson's Hist. Account of English Translations of the Bible, in Bishop Watson's Collection of Theological Tracts, vol. iii. pp. 61–63. Bp. Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. pp. 158. 637. Kortholt, pp. 351–333. Semler, Apparatus ad Lib. Nov: Test. Interp. pp. 72, 73.

genuine text or meaning of the original, but only of that version from which they were taken. This remark applies particularly to the Anglo-Saxon, Old English, Spanish, French, and German translations, whether of the Old or New Testament; which, being made before the sixteenth century, were executed immediately from the Latin : and subsequently, even in those examples where they are imanimous in a reading, their united voices are of no more authority than that of the Latin version alone. In all cases, therefore, which require the aid of a version, either for the purpose of criticism or interpretation, recourse must be had to those translations, which, being more antient, or better executed, are preferable to every other. And in this view, the following will be found most deserving of attention, not only as uniting the two qualifications of antiquity and excellence, but also as being more generally accessible to students, being for the most part comprised in the Polyglott Bibles, which are to be found in almost every public library.

1. The Alexandrian Version is confessedly the most antient, and with all its errors and imperfections, contains very much that is highly valuable, and on this account it has been used by nearly all the more antient interpreters. With the Septuagint should be consulted the fragments of the translations executed by Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, as well as the fifth, sixth, and seventh versions ; the diligent use of all these is, perhaps, the best possible preparation to the critical interpretation of the New Testament.

II. The Syriac Peschito, whose fidelity as a version, independently of the excellence of its style, has received the highest commendations from Michaelis, is particularly serviceable for the interpretation of the New Testament.

III. The Latin Vulgate, with the exception of the Psalms, deservedly claims the third place.

IV. The Targums or Chaldee Paraphrases, though unequally executed, contain many things that are exceedingly useful, and necessary to be known, especially the paraphrases of Jonathan Ben Uzziel : they not only contribute essentially to the understanding of many difficult passages in the Old Testament, but also throw much tight on the interpretation of the New Testament. Extracts from them are to be found in all the larger commentaries, and also in the works of Dr. Lightfoot.

V. The other versions made immediately from the Hebrew and Greek originals follow next in order, particularly the Arabic translations of the Old Testament: but no certain dependence can be placed, as an authority in support of a reading, on the Latin translations of the Oriental versions, which are printed in the Polyglott Bibles. On the peculiar application of antient versions to the ascertaining of various readings, see Chapter VIII. infra.

It will not however be necessary to consult antient versions, except in passages that are really difficult, or unless a particular exa

i Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 3.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »