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For AUGUST, 1832.
Art. I. An Illustration of the Epistles of St. Paul, including an entirely New Translation. By Charles Eyre, Clk., Trinity College, Cambridge, A.B., 1807. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1832.
'T'HE 'proposed object' of the Author of these volumes is so important and commendable, that it is with deep regret we find ourselves compelled by a stern sense of duty to speak of his performance in the language of strong and unqualified condemnation. If Mr. Eyre has indeed felt, in any adequate degree, ' the awful responsibility of his undertaking , and the ' perilous position' in which he has placed himself, we can but deplore that such feelings should not have restrained him from the extreme of critical rashness;—that his honesty of purpose should have so singularly miscarried in the act, and that, as a translator and commentator, he should have outraged every sound principle of criticism, and even the more obvious rules of literary fidelity. His paraphrase has all the effect of a studied falsification of the meaning of the original, whenever it speaks a language which the Translator has predetermined that it shall not speak. We would not impute this to an insidious design,—to any conscious unfairness, but must ascribe it, rather, to the complete pre-occupation of the Author's mind by a false hypothesis, to which he has been led by anti-scriptural opinions. What those opinions are;'there can be no mistake in inferring from the whole spirit of the production, although Mr. Eyre has not deemed it prudent to avow them explicitly. 'If, he says, 'the peculiarities 'of the Author's religious thinking be inquired after, he is a 'member and friend of the Church of England: he hopes for her 'durability, but not, if, unlike all other national institutions, she * be immutable.' This looks like mere evasion. What has the mutability or immutability of the national Establishment to do with the matter,—that is to say, with the actual sentiments of this professed churchman? Feeling, apparently, that this explanation will not be deemed very satisfactory, Mr. Eyre adds:
vOL. viII.—N.s. M
'If pressed further on the articles of his creed, he will say nothing. Too much mischief has already been done to the world by dogmatizing. Were he to embody a single article in terms, he would be immediately, either with the supporters or opponents of the Church, embarked in what he declines, polemics.' p. ix.
This is very strange, that an individual may not honestly avow his belief, without being chargeable with dogmatizing,— cannot be a confessor without becoming a polemic. But if the Author be a member and 'a clerk' of the Church of England, as he takes care to announce, has he not pledged his assent to thirty-nine articles; and does he now scruple to imbody in terms a single article? What flagrant inconsistency! Yet, notwithstanding this morbid apprehension of polemics, he has not scrupled to put forth two volumes which indirectly controvert almost every article of the Christian faith, and in which, strange to say, the Commentator is engaged in perpetual controversy with his text. Mr. Eyre affects to translate St. Paul: he is, in fact, constantly aiming to correct him. Never was translator so completely merged in the commentator. "My good apostle," we hear him whispering at every paragraph, "you do not mean what you say. Permit me to correct your expressions. You should have said so and so. I do not indeed wonder that your brother Peter should have remarked that many things in your letters are hard to be understood; for really you have all along been completely misunderstood by the whole Christian Church, owing to your very obscure, inaccurate, and unguarded way of writing. Happily, I have hit upon a method of smelting your 'rough ore'; and I flatter myself that 'the rationality, the common sense, 'the nobleness of spirit, the manly wisdom, the clear intelli'gibility of the religion of Christ', and 'the strict conformity of 'your teaching with right reason, its universal application to 'human nature and practical life, and its never failing conformity 'with sound judgement, will, by my Work, be made manifest to 'every unprejudiced mind.'"
Archbishop Whately has remarked, that 'there is no one of 'the sacred writers whose expressions have been so tortured, 'whose authority has been so much set at nought, by Unitarians, 'as St. Paul; which is a plain proof that they find him a for'midable opponent, and which should lead those who prize the 'purity of the Gospel to value his writings the more.' 'Still may 'St. Paul be said to stand, in his works, as he did in person while 'on earth, in the front of the battle; to bear the chief brunt of 'assailants from the enemies' side, and to be treacherously stabbed 'by false friends on his own;—degraded and vilified by one class 'of heretics, perverted and misinterpreted by another, and too 'often most unduly neglected by those who are regarded as or'thodox.' * Of the truth and force of these remarks, the present volumes furnish additional illustration, at once melancholy and satisfactory; melancholy, because it is affecting to witness so much ingenuity bootlessly applied under the influence of heretical delusion; and satisfactory, from the fresh proof that the result affords, that either the evangelical doctrines are the true, as they are the obvious sense of the apostolic writings, or they are the most enigmatical and unintelligible of human compositions.
To justify our account of the present 'Illustration of St. Paul,' it will not be necessary to go beyond the first page. The third and fourth verses of the first chapter of Romans, are thus laboriously mystified.
'Jesus Christ, in conformity with these writings, as inheritor of the sure mercies of David, derived his carnal existence from a natural birth in the lineage of David, being son of David according to natural extraction, or according to a legal tie connecting him to David, his earthly progenitor. In conformity also with these writings as the predicted begotten of God, as the holy one, who should not see corruption, he was effectively, that is clearly marked or designated as son of God by a resurrection from death, that is he derived his spiritual existence from a resurrection from death; his existence as son of God, as the holy one who should not see corruption. It is not said that he was a son in form or substance, or according to that mode of connection, which exists between sons of the flesh and their fathers, but that he was a son according to a tie or bond, according to a spirit of holiness residing within him, which connected him in unity of spirit, as the holy one, to his holy father in heaven; and that he was shewn to be so by an open investiture with immortality, by the fulfilment in him of the promise of the eternal inheritance.'
Is this translation? Is it paraphrase? We do not ask, whether it is the proper sense of the passage; but is it a sense which any translator, having no other object than to render the simple meaning of his text, could possibly have ascribed to the apostle? Can any rational explanation be given of St. Paul's object in introducing these verses, on the hypothesis that he meant only to convey the idea, that Jesus Christ was descended from David, and that he was now by his resurrection immortal? We say nothing of the total suppression, in the Author's trans
* Whately's "Essays on the Difficulties in the Writings of St. Paul," pp. 71, 46. We cannot refrain from expressing the wish^hat Mr. Eyre had perused, and imbibed the spirit of these admirable Essays. See Eclectic Review, Third Series, Vol. I. p. 120.
lation, of the clause, "Our Lord ",—although it indicates a very culpable want of exactness, to say the least. The total misrepresentation of the entire passage is as glaring as it is offensive, and prepares us, at the outset, for the way in which every passage is treated that affirms the deity of the Saviour. We may remark, by the way, that in the Received Version, the departure from the order of the words in the original, is far from judicious, and weakens the force of the passage. The apostle's words might be thus freely rendered: Concerning His Son,—the descendant of David, indeed, in His human nature, the mighty (or mightily declared) Son of God (or Messiah) in His holy, spiritual nature, as demonstrated by His resurrection from the dead,—Jesus Christ, Our Lord, from whom, &c. The parallel passage, Rom. ix. 5, Mr. Eyre thus paraphrases:
'Of them according to the opinions I then entertained were exclusively the fathers, and from them the Christ; a God over all blessed for ever and ever, from them I mean according to the flesh.'
In these few lines, we have first, a daring interpolation without the shadow of a reason for it,—' according to the opinions I then 'entertained': as if it was a matter of opinion whether the patriarchs were of the Hebrew stock, and whether the Messiah was of that race; and as if moreover the Writer had formerly held such an opinion, but now renounced it. Next, here is a needless and violent transposition of the words To xara adfxa, in utter defiance of the syntax, for the mere purpose of getting rid of their antithetical force. And thirdly, there is the gross impropriety of connecting the indefinite article, not simply with ©eoj, (which, taken by itself, might be understood in an inferior sense,) but with words that predicate universal supremacy as well as deity: —o av Itti Trdvrav ®co; luXoymo; si; Tow? alava;. In four different ways, the Socinians have attempted to evade the evidence of this passage: 1. by cancelling ©eos, in defiance of all the MSS. and versions: 2. by interpreting the word as synonymous with Ki/fIoj, which would still leave it impossible to understand the passage as ascribing less than the attributes of Deity to the Lord: 3. by conjecturally changing b av into av o,—the expedient proposed by Schlitingius, but which even the Editors of the Improved Version deemed too hazardous; although Mr. Belsham has adopted it in his Translation, as preferable to the fourth equally desperate expedient: 4. by altering the punctuation, so as to make the verse conclude with a doxology to the Father *,—a mode so objectionable, that even Socinus, Crellius, Schliting, and Belsham have rejected it.
* The insufficiency, as well as inadmissibility, of this violent change, was pointed out in our review of Mr. Belsham's work, Eclectic Review, Vol. XIX. p. 502.
In this way false witnesses are generally found to confute each other. Mr. Eyre's version has the merit of being, perhaps, the most obviously erroneous and unmeaning. According to his view of the passage, what business has the phrase To xara odgxa in the sentence at all? It is opposed to nothing; it illustrates nothing; it is altogether superfluous. And according to our Author's Socinian creed, in what sense can Christ be even a god over all, or a lord over all, a supreme and universal sovereign, entitled to eternal praise and worship? For this, take the passage as we will, must be necessarily implied in the expressions. After examining these various shifts of heresy, the conclusion of Michaelis must commend itself to the reader, as the only one which any honest mind can rest in: 'I, for my part, sincerely believe, that Paul 'here delivers the same doctrine of the divinity of Christ, which 'is elsewhere unquestionably maintained in the New Testa'ment.'
As Mr. Eyre does not attempt to support his unscrupulous transpositions and conjectural explanations of the original text, by any critical notes, or by any explanation of his principles of translation, it would be a mere waste of time and labour to enter into any further examination of his work, considered as a translation. He may be a scholar, but of competent scholarship we find no evidence in these volumes; nor of any range of reading, critical or theological. Without wishing to offend, we must say, that the impression they are adapted to leave, is, that the Author's literary acquirements are not much in advance of his theological attainments; nor does the purity of his English compensate for his ill treatment of the Greek. That he may not have to complain of being dismissed without a hearing, we shall transcribe a few felicitous specimens of his ' Illustration ' without comment; leaving our readers to judge from them, how far Mr. Eyre's Work can 'aspire, as a paraphrase, to have as much 'fidelity as any translation, and as a translation, to be as bene'ficially illustrative as any commentary or paraphrase extant.'
Rom. V. 1. 'Through Christ, faithfulness being accounted unto us even as it was to Abraham for righteousness, through Christ, through our pledge to be as to faithfulness one with him, and God's promise to accept us, to accept all the faithful as one with him, we through Christ by faithfulness have access to this gracious state of peace in which we stand before God, through Christ, through his death, whereby as in a mirror we see reflected under a concentration of light the image of that self-prostration, into the similitude of which we are baptized or pledged.
'With God, and as far as concerns our acceptance with him, the pledge if sincere is every thing. In what way, whether with any and what particular overt acts we glorify God depends upon him : whether we fill a throne or a dungeon, it is to him: but to us and our per