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VII. It only remains to suggest a few additional | They are not the works of a single faction, but of considerations relative to the various readings in Christians of all denominations, whether dignified the Scriptures, with a view to remove any un- with the title of orthodox, or branded by the favourable impressions which may have been ruling church with the name of heretic; and created in the minds of persons not conversant though no single MS. can be regarded as a perfect with this department of biblical criticism. copy of the writings of the apostles, yet the truth lies scattered in them all, which it is the business of critics to select from the general mass.
1. It is sometimes said, remarks a writer in the North American Review, that he who knows nothing, fears nothing. This is occa- 3. On the other hand, we may say, with the sionally true; but the proverb would have been most perfect confidence, that the sacred writings more generally so, had it been thus: "he who have not, in any thing essential, been obscured or knows nothing, fears every thing." In innume- hurt by all the changes which have passed upon rable cases we see this verified; and it is quite the original text. The various readings have left applicable to the subject of various readings in to it all its peculiar characteristics, as a work of the Scriptures. The first attempts to compare ancient literature, and a record of revealed reMSS., and to collect these readings, were de-ligion. Mistakes will be most frequently comnounced as being horribly profane and dangerous. mitted, says Dr. Cook, where the attention of the Yet the comparison went on. Next, it was ad- transcriber, or of those who revise his copy, is mitted to be right in respect to the New Testa- most apt to slumber. As the inattention will be ment, but very wrong in regard to the Old; every greatest in points of little consequence, so it may word, and letter, and vowel-point, and accent of be expected, that what is of importance will exwhich, Buxtorf roundly asserted to be essentially cite more attention, and be more faithfully transthe same all the world over. More than eight mitted. Even the mistakes into which ignorant hundred thousand various readings, actually col- transcribers, incapable of this discrimination, fall, lected, have dissipated this illusion, and taught are limited by the circumstances that are known how groundless the fears of those were, who were to give rise to them, and, in general, might be altogether inexperienced in the criticism of the expected either to indicate themselves, or to be sacred text. The real theologian is satisfied from discovered by collating different MSS.; while the his own examination, that the accumulation of more serious injury which might arise to the text many thousands of various readings, obtained at from the inadvertent or ill-judged intrusion of the expense of immense critical labour, does not explanatory readings from the margin, or from the affect a single sentiment in the whole Old or designed corruption of it to serve a purpose, is New Testament. And thus is criticism, which naturally either prevented or corrected, by the some despise and others neglect, found to be one of mutual jealousy and vigilance of contending sects. those undecaying columns, by which the imperish- And such, from the most thorough examination of able structure of Christian truth is supported. the different channels of evidence that has yet 2. But it would be no difficult matter to show, been made, appears to be the state in which the that the fact of these variations in the text of the text of the New Testament has been preserved. Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, as found in the The various readings have never yet been found various MSS., and other documents classed with to go beyond the limits thus fixed to error. them by biblical critics, do really afford incon- greatest number is in letters or words which testable arguments in favour of the authenticity of make no alteration upon the sense; and where the Bible. No book, as Michaëlis has remarked, the sense is affected, it is generally in points of no is more exposed to the suspicion of wilful cor- consequence to any religious truth. As the inruption than the Scripture, for the very reason, quiry concerning the writers of the Scriptures that it is the fountain of divine knowledge; and leaves no good reason for doubting that the difif in all the MSS. now extant we found a simi-ferent books were written by the persons to whom larity in the readings, we should have reason to suspect that the ruling party of the Christian church had endeavoured to annihilate whatever was inconsistent with its own tenets, and by the means of violence to produce a general uniformity in the sacred text. Whereas, the different readings of the MSS. in our possession afford sufficient proof that they were written independently of each other, by persons separated by distance of time, remoteness of place, and diversity of opinions. I
they are attributed, so the inquiry concerning the
* Michaelis' Introduct. chap. vi., sect. 5.
2. It is in some degree uncertain at what period the Scriptures were originally translated into the languages spoken in the British Islands. Early in the Saxon times we know that they were read in the vernacular tongue, through the translations of Adhelm, bishop of Sherborne (A. D. 706), Egbert, bishop of Lindisfern (A. D. 720), the venerable Bede (a few years subsequently), King Alfred (nearly two hundred years later), and Elfric, archbishop of Canterbury (A. D. 995). There were, in addition to these translations, various glosses or commentaries upon detached portions of the Scriptures, in the vernacular tongue, and intended for common use.
nor does it appear that all the attention which, | since the revival of learning, has been paid to this subject, goes further than to place the evidence of the fact in its proper light, and to contribute towards preserving and illustrating that evidence for the benefit of future ages. For although the printed text cannot be justly considered as having attained, either before or since the labours of modern critics, the highest point of renovated integrity to which it may be brought, by the most extensive collation and judicious selection of readings, from MSS., Versions, and quotations; and although a beautiful field of biblical criticism is thus left open for further research; yet, upon satisfactory grounds, it may be safely asserted, that this possible progress, in its gram-lation of the Bible, which was very widely circumatical accuracy, as it has not hitherto brought, lated, notwithstanding that copies had to be gives no promise of bringing, any accession to the made by the tedious and expensive process of information contained in the Scriptures, and writing. threatens no change upon their statement of any important fact, sentiment, or doctrine.*
THE ENGLISH BIBLE.
Early English Versions-"The Authorised Version"-Critical
I. ALTHOUGH sacred criticism has immediately to do with the Scriptures in their original languages, it is also, though more remotely, conversant with Versions, or translations of the sacred text into other languages. It would be incompatible with the nature of the present work, to attempt a critical review of the character of the principal translations of ancient and modern times; but it would be justly deemed defective, if it did not comprise some bibliographical and critical account of the English Version.
1. The character of the English Bible is not a matter of idle curiosity, or of curious and unprofitable speculation. Every translation is, properly speaking, an interpretation of the original text; and it is surely of the very first importance to ascertain how far that translation, which is in daily and constant use by millions of those to whom the word of promise is addressed, and upon which they are exclusively dependant for ascertaining "the mind of the Spirit," is really a faithful and exact representation of the sense of the sacred writers. This section will be devoted to a discussion of those topics involved in this inquiry.
See Cook's Inquiry into the Books of the New Testament, chap. v., sect. 6; and as a further discussion of the principles upon which readings may be estimated, the sixth chapter of part III. of Ernesti's lustitutes may be referred to.
3. About 1390, Wycliffe completed his trans
4. The favour in which this Version was held excited the jealousy of the Romish clergy, who made various ineffectual attempts to suppress it. In 1408, Arundel, archbishop of York, ordained in convocation, that no book or treatise composed by John Wycliffe, or by any other in his time, or hereafter to be composed, should be read by any one, unless approved by the Universities, or," &c., "under pain of being punished as a sower of schism, and a favourer of heresy." This intolerant decree was followed by another, more severe in its prohibitions :-"That no one should, by his own authority, translate any text of Holy Scripture into English, or any other tongue, by way of book, libel, or treatise; and that no one should read any such book, libel, or treatise, now lately set forth in the time of John Wycliffe, or since, or hereafter to be composed, under pain of the greater excommunication, until the said translation should be approved by the diocesan of the place, or, if occasion require, by a provincial council." who disobeyed this order was to be treated and punished as a favourer of error and heresy.
5. The rigour of this decree was, however, inadequate wholly to repress that desire to read the sacred volume, which its circulation had created; and many persons were burnt for contumacy in reading out of Wycliffe's translation. In 1415, a law was passed, making it treason to read any of Wycliffe's books. All who were found guilty of so doing were to "forfeit land, cattle, body, life, and goods, from their heirs for ever, and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and most arrant traitors to the land."
6. It may readily be supposed, that if these rigorous and cruel measures did not wholly suppress the reading of Wycliffe's Version in private, they at least prevented any addition being made
to the translations of the Scriptures already | monarch for having suffered his bishops to "burne God's word, the root of faith, and to persecute the lovers and ministers of it."
7. There is no doubt that Wycliffe made his translation from the Latin Vulgate, and not from the originals; its authority, therefore, is not of the highest kind.
8. The Old Testament of Wycliffe's Version has never yet been published. His New Testament has passed through two editions. The first was printed under the superintendence of the Rev. John Lewis, in 1731, the second was edited by the Rev. H. H. Baber, A. M., in 1810.
9. The progress of the Reformation in Germany and England removed some of the impediments, at least for a time, that the Romanists had interposed in the way of biblical translations; and in 1526, the first edition of Tindal's translation of the New Testament was published at Antwerp. Its publication revived the fears and hatred of the Romish priests, and Bishop Tonstal was so intent upon its suppression, that he bought up all the copies that could be found, and committed them to the flames at Paul's Cross. Only one copy of this impression is known to be extant. It is very minutely described by Mr. Beloe, in his Anecdotes of Literature, to which the curious reader is referred.*
12. For this translation, which is said to have been Tindal's, as far onwards as the Second Book of Chronicles inclusive, the royal patronage was obtained during the same year in which Tindal died (A. D. 1536). The Lord Cromwell and Archbishop Cranmer prevailed upon the King to issue an order, that "A book of the whole Bible should be provided and laid in the choir of every church, for every man that would to look and read therein.”
13. The hand of persecution having been thus paralyzed, those inspired with a love of Scripture knowledge, and animated with a zeal for the advancement of the Gospel, took advantage of the times, and various editions of the Bible followed each other in rapid succession. John Rogers, who subsequently became the first martyr in the reign of the sanguinary Mary, published, under the assumed name of Thomas Matthewes, an edition of the Bible in 1537. In the following year, Johan Hallybushe printed the New Testament in Latin and English; and in 1540, the whole Bible was reprinted by Grafton and Whitchurch, with a preface written by Archbishop Cranmer, whence it 10. The zeal of the Bishop in this case outwas called Cranmer's Bible. After having been ran his discretion; for the means he employed to ordered by Henry VIII. to be set out and read in suppress the translation of Tindal materially pro- every parish church, this capricious prince, within moted the object which its author had in view two years afterwards, prohibited its use. In 1550, when he undertook it. The first edition, thus it received the royal favour of Edward VI., but purchased up and destroyed, was very imperfectly subsequently shared the fate of the religion it was executed; but the money expended by Bishop intended to elucidate. During the reign of this Tonstal in purchasing it up, enabled Tindal to prince several of these early editions of the Scrippublish a more correct and better printed edition,tures were reprinted, but no new translation was three or four years afterwards. In 1530, this undertaken. edition made its appearance, but, like its predecessor, it was, to a great extent, purchased and destroyed by the Romanists. Nothing daunted, however, Tindal completed a third edition, as also translations of the Pentateuch and the book of Jonah; shortly after which he was seized in Flanders, strangled, and had his body reduced to ashes, A. D. 1536.
14. The persecution of the Protestants that took place in Mary's reign having compelled Bishop Coverdale, amongst others, to quit England, he took up his residence in Geneva, and there published a revised edition of the Bible with notes. Of the Geneva Bible the New Testament appeared in 1557, and the entire Scriptures in 1560. Eight years subsequently (1568), an edition of the Bible, 11. Various means were employed to stay the revised by a number of learned men, several of progress of Scripture reading and translation; whom were bishops, presided over by Archbishop but the work which Tindal had so nobly com- Parker, was published. From the official characmenced went forward, and in 1535, Miles Cover-ters of those under whose superintendence it was dale, who had been one of Tindal's coadjutors, prepared, this edition was called "The Bishops' completed a translation of the entire Bible. It was published in a folio volume, and dedicated to Henry VIII. in a spirited Introduction, in which the author reproaches the self-willed and fiery
* Vol. III. pp. 52-57, cited in Carpenter's "Guide to the Practical Reading of the Bible," pp. 7-10. Holdsworth and Ball, 1830.
15. We have now enumerated the principal editions of the sacred writings that preceded the "Authorised" English Version now in common use. It must not be supposed, however, that these were so many new and independent translations. They were, in fact, only so many revisions of
16. To the general accuracy and excellence of Tyndal and Coverdale's translation, all competent judges have borne the highest testimony. The violent opposition it met with," says Geddes, a Roman Catholic and a stern critic, "seems to have arisen more from the injurious reflections contained in the prologues and notes on the then established religion, than from any capital defects in the Version itself. It was far from being a perfect translation, it is true; but it was the first of the kind, and few first translations will, I think, be found preferable to it. It is astonishing how little obsolete the language is even at this day; and in point of perspicuity, a noble simplicity, propriety of idiom, and purity of style, no English Version has yet surpassed it. The criticisms of those who wrote against it are generally too severe, often captions, and sometimes evidently unjust."
Tindal and Coverdale's Version, with occasional | word Church not to be translated Congregation, &c. insertions of the additions found in the Latin (4) When any word hath divers significations, that Vulgate, or in the Septuagint Version. The Ge- to be kept which hath been most commonly used by neva Bible purports to be a new translation from the most eminent Fathers, being agreeable to the prothe originals; but there can be no doubt that its priety of the place and the analogy of faith. (5) The division of the chapters to be altered either not basis was the previous translation, and that it was at all or as little as may be, if necessity so require it. only conferred diligently with the Greek," as the (6) No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only editor, in one place, inadvertently admits. for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text. (7) Such quotations of places to be marginally set down as shall serve for the fit reference of one Scripture to another. (8) Every particular man of each company to take the same chapter or chapters; and, having translated or good, all to meet together, confer what they have amended them severally by himself when he thinks done, and agree for their part what shall stand. (9) If any one company hath dispatched any one book in this manner, they shall send it to the rest, to be considered of seriously and judiciously; for His Majesty is very careful in this point. (10) If any one company, upon the review of the book so sent, shall doubt or differ upon any places, to send them word thereof, note the places, and therewithal send their reasons; to which if they consent not, the difference to be compounded at the general meeting, which is to be of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work. (11) When any place of special obscurity is doubted of, letters to be directed by authority, to send to any learned in the land for his judgment in such a place. (12) Letters to be sent from every bishop to the rest of his clergy, admonishing them of this translation in hand; and to move and charge as many as, being skilful in the tongues, observations to the company, either at Westminster, have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular Cambridge, or Oxford. (13) The directors in each company to be the deans of Westminster and Chester for that place; and the King's professors in Hebrew and Greek in each University. (14) These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible itself; viz., Tindal's, Matthewes', Coverdale's, Whitchurch's, Geneva. (15) Besides the said directors before mentioned, three or of the Universities, not employed in translating, to be four of the most ancient and grave divines in either the rest of the heads, to be overseers of the translaassigned by the Vice Chancellor, upon conference with tions, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the fourth rule, above specified.”*
II. From the time at which the Bishops' Bible appeared, A. D., 1568, no translation or revision of the Scriptures of any importance seems to have been undertaken, till 1604. At this period James I took measures to procure the present "Authorised Version. He nominated fifty-four learned men, chiefly Professors and Divines from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, whom he charged with the task of "re-translating, revising, or correcting preceding Versions, so as to produce as perfect a translation as possible." Of the fiftyfour, however, only forty-seven actually engaged in the work, the others having died or declined the undertaking; or, as some think, they were appointed to be overseers of the rest.
1. There has been a good deal of controversy on the question, whether this edition of the Bible should be considered as a new and independent translation, or as only a revision of those Versions by which it was preceded. If the directions given by the King to those persons charged with the work may be deemed conclusive evidence on the subject, the question will be speedily settled. They were as follow :—
(1) The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit. (2) The ames of the prophets and the holy writers, with the other names in the text, to be retained as near as may be, according as they are vulgarly used. (3) The old ecclesiastical words to be kept; viz., as the
nor yet to make of a bad one a good one
Tongues; the profound Orientalist, Mr. W. Bedwell, tutor to the eminent Dr. Pocock; Dr. John Rainolds, whose memory was so extraordinary that "he could readily turn to all material passages in every volume, leaf, page, or paragraph, of the multitude of books he had read," and who “ was most prodigiously seen in all kinds of learning, and most excellent in all tongues;" Drs. Holland, Kilby, Miles Smith, and Richard Brett, who have each left in their published works undoubted proofs of their critical skill in the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Greek, and Latin tongues; closing with Dr. John Bois, "that eminent light of learning," who, at five years of age, had read the entire Bible, and before he was six, "could write Hebrew in an elegant hand, and who for ten years was chief Greek lecturer in his college, besides reading lectures in Greek at four in the morning in his own chamber;" and Sir Henry Saville, the celebrated editor of Chrysostom's works, in Greek, in eight folio volumes, and founder of the professor
were the qualifications of a few of James's translators, and it is but fair to presume that their associates could not have been vastly inferior to them in ancient learning and general knowledge.
III. The critical value of the authorised English Version of the Scriptures is a question of very grave importance, especially to those to whom this edi-ships of astronomy and geometry at Oxford. These tion of the Bible is alone accessible. There has been some controversy as to the competency of James's translators to discharge the trust reposed in them; some writers having gone so far as to assert that there was not amongst them a single Hebrew scholar, the Hebrew language having been, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., most shamefully neglected in our universities.* Nothing, how-its ever, can be farther from the truth than both of matters of fact, and therefore capable of examithese statements.
2. But upon this question we are not reduced to the necessity of inferring the adequacy and excellence of the work from the qualifications of conductors. Its character and quality are
nation and proof. Let us, then, glance at some of the testimonies that have been borne to these, by witnesses of unexceptionable character and competence.
1611), an order was made in the parliament, that a bill should be brought in for a new translation of the Bible into English. The project, however, slumbered for four years, till Bishop Walton had nearly completed the publication of his splendid Polyglott, when the grand committee for religion passed the following order :
1. In the time of Elizabeth, the Oriental languages were amongst the ordinary philological studies at the two universities; and Fulke in particular speaks of many youths at Cambridge, in 3. In 1652 (that is, forty years after the publi1583, who were intimate with Hebrew and Chal-cation of the authorised Version, published in dee. In the public schools emulation in these studies was excited, as is exemplified in a notice of examinations at Merchant Tailors' school, in 1572, where the Bishop of Winchester "tried the scholars in the Hebrew Psalter." Among these scholars was the famous linguist, Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, who afterwards stood at the head of the list of James's translators. Of his associates we need only enumerate Dr. Adrian Saravia, who was a profound scholar, and tutor to the celebrated Oriental critic, Nicholas Fuller; Dr. R. Clarke, who thoroughly understood the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages; Dr. Sayfield, to whose Hebrew criticisms the learned and acute Gataker often refers with confidence, and whose skill in the Hebrew tongue Minsheu sought and acknowledged, when he published his valuable "Guide into
* Bellamy's Prospectus of a New Translation, &c. Defence of Translations, p. 340.
"That it be referred to a sub-committee to send for, and advise with, Dr. Walton, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Castle (Castell), Mr. Clark, Mr. Poulk, Dr. Cudworth, and such others as they shall think fit, and to consider of the translations and impressions of the Bible, and to offer their opinions therein to this committee."
In pursuance of this order, the sub-committee, which was composed of some of the most learned men of the time, often met, and consulted with others of great attainments in the Oriental tongues. In these conferences were made "divers excellent and learned observations of some mistakes in the translations of the Bible into English; which yet