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P R E F A CЕ.
THE object of the present work is to lay before the reader the principal alterations which modern Critics have proposed in, the Authorized Version of the Old Testament, together with the reasons for or against such emendations. The plan usually adopted throughout the work has been to give, in the following order,
The Hebrew text;
The Septuagint Version, taken from the Vatican copy, unless otherwise specified;
The Authorized Version;
And, lastly, the explanations, both of those Commentators who support the present version, and also of those who consider the Hebrew text to be corrupt, or to have been misunderstood by our Translators.
Unless the order of the alterations upon any verse required a different classification, next to the Authorized Version have been given the notes of those Commentators who agree with it, the oldest writers being placed first, because later Critics may fairly be supposed to have availed themselves of the labours of their predecessors, and their notes to be in some measure critiques upon the preceding ones.
No one who is acquainted with the difficulties which beset the interpretation of particular passages will expect that any attempt should be made to arrange the notes according to their respective value. Oftentimes, the Commentators are all equally unsatisfactory, and bring to the mind the words of Cicero, "Quam bellum erat, Vellei, confiteri potius nescire quod nescires, quam ista effutientem nauseare, atque ipsum tibi displicere."
When several Commentators have agreed in the material parts of any alteration, they have been classed together, and the particular words of some one of them adopted according to the discretion of the Editor. More authorities might often have been quoted in support of certain alterations, but it was thought advisable
not to enlarge the work unnecessarily. Words of frequent occurrence, such as
, have been discussed once for all, generally in the place where they first appear, and in subsequent cases a reference is made to the passage in which they are explained. Proper names, on account of their frequency, have been reserved for an Appendix ; except where they materially affect the sense of a passage, or where there is great variety of opinion about their meaning.
Those who are conversant with the respective merits of Commentators will not be surprised at the use herein made of the German Critics. The object of the present work is not to enter into points of doctrine, but simply into critical difficulties; and though their neologian, or rather, infidel principles, are highly dangerous, yet where there is no question concerning a doctrine or the truth of a miracle, the German Critics are most valuable for learning and abilities few can vie with them, and they often prove safer guides to the plain sense of Scripture than some of our own orthodox divines: for what can be more hazardous for a man when dealing with the Word of God than to assert that a passage is unmeaning, interpolated, or corrupted, simply because he cannot understand it? Yet we find good and learned men, such as Bishop Lowth and Bishop Horsley, falling into this error, and unhesitatingly rejecting or altering passages which a German neologian will take in a critical manner, and fairly facing the difficulties, offer a possible, if not an easy solution, without having recourse to the unsafe remedy of correcting the text upon insufficient grounds. But whenever a point of doctrine or the truth of a miracle is involved, the reader cannot be too cautious in following the guidance of German Critics. The fairness and clearness they display upon other occasions seem at once to desert them, and they will twist the text in any way to get rid of a miracle or support their own peculiar views. An instance of this may be seen in Exod. xiv. 22, where Rosenmüller and others labour to prove that the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea was not miraculous. To do this they are obliged, in a plain historical narration, to force the word in into a figurative sense, and render it "like a wall," or "a defence;" although the true character of the event has been long ago settled in a scripture that admits of no second interpretation :
"The floods stood upright as an heap,
And the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea."
It is hoped that this publication may prove a useful supplement to those Commentaries which, while they give a loose paraphrase of the general sense of a passage, do not enter into minute criticisms; and often omit the very point in which the principal difficulty lies, or merely give that solution of it which the author may happen to prefer. Much time and labour will also be saved, even to such Biblical students as have access to good libraries, by showing them wherein the chief obscurity of any passage may consist; in what degree it may admit of
elucidation; and whether it be worth their while to search any farther. But, besides this, many of the works here quoted, are out of print and difficult to obtain; others are general treatises, which explain passages only incidentally, and would seldom repay the trouble of examination.
The writer would much regret, if these Collations should lead any one to form an unfavourable opinion of the Authorized Version of the Bible. Doubtless, it has some faults, and since it was made, much light has been thrown upon Scripture by the examination of MSS., the comparison of versions, and the labours of scholars; still the reader may rest assured that our present English Bible is one of the best translations that has yet been made of any book, and one over which a special Providence seems to have watched. It was carefully revised by the most learned men of a learned age, at a period when the English language was in its purity. Many of the alterations proposed in this work are upon minor critical points which do not affect the sense of the text, and are of little consequence to the general reader, though of interest to the scholar; some are of doubtful authority, and may well be deemed inferior to the common reading, but they have been given because critics differ in opinion, and it was desirable to afford students means of judging for themselves. One thing, however, may safely be asserted; that unless our Translators have misunderstood the sense of a passage, few have ever rendered it more elegantly or faithfully; it is from this extreme faithfulness that they have so well preserved the distinctive feature of Hebrew poetry, i.e., the parallelism, without having had that object in view. And we must enter the strongest protest against all who urge as a reason for a new translation of the Bible, that the style of our present translation is antiquated and obscure. They seem to forget the benefit conferred upon the English language by fixing its standard and preventing it from deteriorating: while the miserable way in which modern refinement disfigures what it attempts to improve may be seen in such instances as the following:
Au. Ver.-Set on bread.
Geddes.-Serve up dinner.
GEN. XLIII. 31.
GEN. XXVII. 33.
Au. Ver. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, &c.
Geddes.-Who then, and where is he, said Isaac, in the greatest consternation,
Even Bp. Lowth, perhaps the most elegant of all modern translators, sometimes alters passages for the worse, though there be no dispute about the meaning; as for instance in
ISAIAH I. 3.
Au. Ver. The ox knoweth his owner.
Bp. Lowth. The ox knoweth his possessor.
ISAIAH LV. 3.
Au. Ver.-Even the sure mercies of David.
Bp. Lowth. The gracious promises made to David, which shall never fail. And it may well be doubted whether the emendations which might safely be adopted into the text or the margin be sufficient to call for a new Authorized Version, considering the difficulties which now would attend its introduction; for whereas in former times the copies of the English Bible were comparatively few, they are now circulated by millions: a new translation would bring these copies into discredit, and unsettle the minds of the unlearned. Yet, considering the unavoidable imperfections of every translation, it is to be regretted that the critical study of the Old Testament has hitherto been so much neglected even by those whose duty it is to expound it; and that men should so confidently expatiate upon the spiritual sense of their text, without taking any pains first to arrive at its literal meaning. A knowledge of Greek is required of all candidates for holy orders, as necessary to the understanding of the New Testament; why should not a knowledge of Hebrew be considered equally necessary for the Old? Can a man be supposed to enter fully into the spirit of a prose author, much less of a poet, if he only know him through the medium of a translation? True it is that the Bible was destined for every nation under heaven, for every grade of society, and therefore it has been wisely ordained that in all languages it seems more than any other book to preserve the distinctive features of its original, and to stand forth in its majestic simplicity, as worthy of the God who gave it. Even its poetical beauties are such as suffer least by translation, being essentially the poetry of ideas rather than of words. Still, those who have time and opportunity will be amply repaid by studying the Scriptures in the Hebrew, and will often find a force and a clearness to which no translation can possibly do justice. More especially is it incumbent upon the clergy, who are set apart to minister to the LORD, and to teach his Word, to neglect no means of rightly understanding that Word; and if they be prevented from entering deeply into critical studies, it is at least desirable for them to know enough of Hebrew to appreciate the explanations of Commentators. They might thus be often preserved from crude and fanciful interpretations, and from building hastily upon false foundations. Moreover, many of the objections which Infidelity has urged against the inspiration of Scripture, have been drawn from passages which fairly admit of a different translation; and though, as it has been truly observed, "the Bible needs no apology," yet it is important for the good of others, that we should be able not only to give a reason for the hope that is in us, but also to meet the Infidel