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country, must be contemplated by every friend to truth, and Christianity, with a pleasure ftill more interesting and exalted.
The Hebrew and other Oriental languages have lately been culrivaled by scholars, whose taste is equal to their erudition, and who, to the labour of patient and minute investigation, bave joined that accuracy of judgment, and chastity of ornament, without which, diligence is often misapplied, and learning it seif disgusting. Should the example of such critics excite the emu. lation of others, equally qualified to engage in fimilar pursuits, theology would no longer open to the fteps of the young student those intricate and thorny paths, which few have courage to tread, and in which even those who have explored them, have rarely gathered a fingle flower, to cheer them on their way.
Bur while we are thus taught how the brow of criticism may be smoothed, while the sacred pages are gradually exhibited to us in a form which attracts our curiosity by its novelty, and challenges our admiration by its elegance, there is reason to apprehend that these advantages, however substantial they may be to the learned reader, and however plausible fome persons may deem them in every instance, will, if caution be not used, produce effects the most injurious to religion. There would be no caules indeed, to dread these effects, if the writers here alluded to, addressed their criticisms only to speculative men; if they were content to hold up that light to scholars only, the blaze of which, instead of directing the illiterate, will but dazzle and millead them. The contrary, however, and we say it with the most serious concern, is unhappily the case. To speak plainly, we think the frequent recommendations of a new translation of the Scriptures the more alarming, as they come from persons whole talents derive additional relpeclability from the purity of their intentions, and whose reputation confers authority, as well as fplendour, on the higheft ftations in the church. .
The probable, not to say the neceffary consequences, of this meafure, are dangerous in the extreme. It would tend to shake the faith of thousands, to whom it were impoffible to demonstrate the nece they of a change, or the principles on which it was conducted. There would lose their veneracion for the old verfion, without acquiring funficient conhưence in the new. They would even expet till farther alterations, in what they have hitherto received as the intall.ble oracles o: hearca ; and thus, being incapable of inquiry theante res, and suipicious of their instructors, might they be ahan one ac length, either to doubts tbat admit of no folutsin, or to them, which mocks convi&ion. Grrat indeed must be the benchis, that can compensate even for the reinstatt probably of ruch an evil. Yet we might alk the mud cavus ac rate for a new verhon, whether the portent does not conter etery intestion to Chuttians of the lower ranks which they are care of l iving is their view
of the great outlines of religion intercepted, or obscured, because fone of the minuter touches, which their situation could never have enabled them to perceive, are copied with a less faithful pencil? Will the peasant, who has already learnt from his Bible. that there is one God, the punisher of the wicked, and there warder of the righteous, reap any necessary, or useful inftruc. tion, from being told, that the words which originally recorded these awful principles of religion were arranged in metrical or. der? In passages relating to ancient customs, of which he is necessarily ignorant, will he feel the superior force of a tranlla. tion, that marks such allusions with greater exactness and pro. priety? In the selection of corresponding idioms, by means of which a good version reflects the beauties of the original language, what charms shall he be able to discover, who, inherit. ing only a mechanical use of his own tongue, is equally igno. rant of universal grammar, and of the peculiar force of idioma. tical expressions ?
It were easy to muitiply arguments to the same purpose; nor would chefe obvious remarks have found a place in our Review, had it not been the profesled design of the work before us to rea commend and facilitate an improved English version of the Scriptures. In the opinion of the learned Prelate, nothing could be more beneficial 10 the cause of religion, or more honourable 10 the reign and age, in which it was fatronized and executed.' "The reasons for its expediency,' says he, ‘are the mistakes, imperfections, and invincible obscurities, of our present version, the accesion of various helps, fince the execution of that work, the advanced fate of learning, and our emancipation from slavery to the Masoretic points, and to the Hebrer text, as absolutely uncorrupt"?
Witbout pursuing a subject which would lead us beyond the Jimits prescribed to this article, it may be sufficient to remark, in general, that these reasons do not seem to us sufficiently cogent. We have already observed that the imperfections com.' plained of, feldom affe&t either the faith or practice of illiterate perfons; and that, in many inttances, even a more accurate verson would to them be attended with equal obfcurity. At she same time, every pious and inquisirive scholar is under the higheft obligations to such critics as Bishop Newcome. To men of this description, therefore, let him present the fruits of his theo. logical speculations, since they only can derive those advantages from his labours, which his mistaken zeal would extend to all. In them he will find no innocent prejudices, which it may be dangerous to remove, and from them he will certainly receive That meed of honest and well-earned fame, which in every good man's estimation is inferior only to the filent praise of his own heart. * Preface, p. xvi. xvii. .
tion from cations, of of exped
The accession of various helps, and the advanced fate of learning, would be highly favourable to the execution of a new version, if the reasons given above did not convince us that such a version is neither necessary nor expedient. The same may be faid, with some limitations, of what it is fashionable to call' our emancipation from pavery to the Maforetic points, and to the Hebrew text as absolutely uncorrupt.' We say with some limitation, for though we are no longer interested in the debates which were supported with so much acrimony by Buxtorf and Capellus, we are sorry to see the most faithful translation of the Hebrew Scriptures gran dually finking into contempt. We are justified by the concur. rent opinion of Bishop Lowth *, when we consider the Masoretic punctuation as preferahle, upon the whole, to any one of the ancient versions, from the peculiar advantage it possefles of hav. ing been formed upon a traditionary explanation of the text, and of being generally agreeable to that sense of Scripture which passed current, and was commonly received by the Jewish na. tion in ancient times. We know that the superstitious zeal of the Rabbins once supposed the points to have been written by the finger of God. They are now, on the contrary, too often denied that credit which is juftly challenged by the best human authority.
Let us however be careful to guard our sentiments on the expediency of a new version against the possibility of misconstruction. We mean not to repress that laudabie spirit of inquiry which has prompted so many able scholars to examine the Scrip. tures of the Old Testament in their original language; we presume not to pass an undistinguishing censure on every attempt to improve our present version : on the contrary; we fincerely rejoice in the success of every effort, which tends even in the re. moteft degree to illuftrate the sacred Oracles of Truth; and we heartily will, that as much may speedily be done toward the elucidation of the remaining parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, as we have lately seen accomplished for Isaiah, for Jeremiah, and for the Twelve Minor Prophets, by their respective translators, Our objections are levelled solely against the authoritative subftitution of a new version in the room of that which custom bas familiarized to the ears, and hallowed in the imaginations of the great mass of English Christians; and those objections are founded merely in the apprehension, that the possible advantages of such a measure would be more than counterbalanced by the evils which, we think, would probably result from it.
After these observations, all tending to discourage the intro. duction of a new version into our religious allemblies, candour. obliges us to subjoin the rules proposed by our Author for the
* Prelim. Dissers. to Isaiah, p. 55,
condud of such a work. To each of these rules he has added a variety of pertinent remarks and exemplifications, which we have not room to transcribe.
• Rule I. The translator should express every word in the original by a literal rendering, where the English idiom admits of it; and where not only purity, but perspicuity, and dignity of expression can be preserved.
i II. Where the English idiom requires a paraphrase, it should be so formed as to comprehend the original word or phrase; and the sopplemental part should stand in Italics; except where harshness of language arises from pursuing this method.
III. Where a verbal translation cannot be thus interwoven, one equivalent to it, and which implies the reading in the original, should be substituted ; and the idiom in the text should be literally rendered in the margin.
"IV. The same original word, and its derivatives, according to the leading different senses, and also the same phrale, should be respectively translated by the same corresponding English word or phrase : except where a distinct representation of a general idea, or the nature of the English language, or the avoiding of an ambiguity, or barmony of sound, requires a different mode of expresiion,
IV. The collocation of the words should never be harsh, and unsuited to an English ear. An inverted structure may often be used in imitation of the original, or merely for the sake of rhythm in the sentence : but this should be determined by what is easy and harmo. nious in the English language : and not by the order of the words in the original, where this produces a forced arrangement, or one more adapted to the licence of poetry than to prose.
i VI. The simple and ancient turn of the present version should be retained.
i VII. The old ecclefiaßical terms Thould be continued: as gracı, elea, predestinated, &c.
VIII. Metaphors are, in general, to be retained ; and the subftitution, or unnecessary introduction, of new ones should be avoided.
IX. Proper names should remain as they are now written, « X. The best known geographical terms 1hould be inserted in the text, and the original ones should stand in the margin. As Syria, marg. Aram : Ethiopia, marg. Cush, &c.
• XI. The language, sense, and punétuation of our present version should be retained; unless when a sufficient reason can be aligned for departing from them.
• XII. The critical sense of passages should be considered ; and not the opinions of any denomination of Chrillians whatever.
• XUI. Passages which are allowed to be marginal glosses, or about the authenticity of which critics have reason to be doubtful, hould be placed in the text between brackets.
• XIV. In the best editions of the Bible, the poetical parts should be divided into lines answering to the metre of the original.
• XV. Of dark passages, which exhibit no meaning as they stand in our present version, an intelligible rendering should be made, on che principles of sound criticilm.'
- Moft Most of these rules are pregnant with good sense, and dir. play an accurate and extensive knowledge of the subject. We will add, too, that, thould the wishes of the learned Prelate be gratified by the publication of a new, or a revisal of the old version of the Scriptures, his own rules may, with some few li. mitations, be very properly and safely recommended to the transa lators, as the models on which their work should be formed.
In found criticism, as it is mentioned in the last rule, the Bishop includes conjectural criticism, the fober use of which he frequently recommends. We agree with him, that, if it be admiffible at all, it cannot be used to soberly. “Si ita literas ac verba mutare et transferre liceat,” says the great Pocock *, “ubi tandem pedem figemus ? Tot erunt textus facri, quot critici vel interpretes, five in conjectando feliciores, five paulum æquo doctiores.”
Bentley's specimen of his intended edition of the Greek Teltament, excites no regret in our minds, that even the first conjectural critic this country has boasted, was induced at length to leave the sacred volume untouched. We rather suspect, chat had the work itself appeared, it would have afforded a serious example of what Burman + observed, indeed ironically-Doctus criticus et adsuetus urere, fecare, inclementer omnis generis libros tractare, apices, fyllabas, voces, dictiones confodere, et Aylo exigere, continebitne ille ab integro et intaminato divinæ fapientiæ monumento crudeles ungues ?
We doubt, indeed, whether conjecture can ever be authorized in a translation which is intended for general use. For if it be exercised on flight occafions, it must be in some degree superfluous; if on material ones, it must ever be indecisive.
In justification of conjectural criticism, our Author cites the au:hority of Bishop Lowth, in the following extract from his Preliminary Differtation to Isaiah : :
“ If the translation Mould sometimes appear to be merely conjectäral, I desire the reader to consider the exigence of the case; and to judge, whether it is not better, in a very obscure and doubtful par. sage, to give something probable, by way of supplement to the au. thor's sense apparently defective, than either to leave a blank in the translation, or to give a merely verbal rendering which would be altogether unintelligible.” Prelim. Dissert. p. 73.
But the Bishop of London speaks of such versions only as are offered to the theological student. “I believe,” says he, in the passage immediately following that quoted by our Author, “that every translator whatever, of any part of the Old Testament, has taken sometimes the liberty, or rather has found himself under the necer. fiiy, of offering such readings as, if examined, will be found to be merely conjectural. But I desire to be understood, as offering this apology, in behalf only of those translations which are designed for the price
* Notæ miscellaneæ in Portam Mofis, p. 135. + Burman. Orat. Lugd. Bat. 1720.