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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
1. It is sometimes said, remarks a writer lies scattered in them all, which it is the business in the North American Review, that he who of critics to select from the general mass. 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 they are attributed, so the inquiry concerning the suspect that the ruling party of the Christian uncorrupted state of the text affords every reasonchurch had endeavoured to annihilate whatever able security, that in all essential points it remains was inconsistent with its own tenets, and by the at this day as it was at first given to the world. means of violence to produce a general uniformity There is not a MS. yet discovered so incorrectly in the sacred text. Whereas, the different readings written, that does not bear testimony to this its of the MSS. in our possession afford sufficient escape from every vitiation, by which its value, as proof that they were written independently of a treasury of religious truth, could be impaired : each other, by persons separated by distance of time, remoteness of place, and diversity of opinions. I
* Michaelis' Introduct. chap. vi., sect. 5.
nor does it appear that all the attention which, i 2. It is in some degree uncertain at what period since the revival of learning, has been paid to the Scriptures were originally translated into the this subject, goes further than to place the evi-languages spoken in the British Islands. Early in dence of the fact in its proper light, and to con
the Saxon times we know that they were read in tribute towards preserving and illustrating that the vernacular tongue, through the translations of evidence for the benefit of future ages.
For Adhelm, bishop of Sherborne (A. D. 706), although the printed text cannot be justly con- Egbert, bishop of Lindisfern (A. D. 720), the edered as having attained, either before or since venerable Bede (a few years subsequently), King the labours of modern critics, the highest point of Alfred (nearly two hundred years later), and Elrenovated integrity to which it may be brought, fric, archbishop of Canterbury (A. D. 995). There by the most extensive collation and judicious were, in addition to these translations, various selection of readings, from MSS., Versions, and glosses or commentaries upon detached portions quotations; and although a beautiful field of bib- of the Scriptures, in the vernacular tongue, and hical criticism is thus left open for further research; intended for common use. yet, upon satisfactory grounds, it may be safely 3. About 1390, Wycliffe completed his transasserted, 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
4. The favour in which this Version was held important fact, sentiment, or doctrine.*
excited the jealousy of the Romish clergy, who
made various ineffectual attempts to suppress it. SECTION VI.
In 1408, Arundel, archbishop of York, ordained
in convocation, that no book or treatise composed THE ENGLISH BIBLE.
by John Wycliffe, or by any other in his time, or Early English Versions—“The Authorised Version ”—Critical hereafter to be composed, should be read by any
Value of the “Authorised Version” — Imperfections in this
one, unless approved by the Universities, or,” &c.,
“under pain of being punished as a sower of schism, I. Althotgh sacred criticism has immediately and a favourer of heresy.” This intolerant decree to do with the Scriptures in their original lan- was followed by another, inore severe in its prohiguages, it is also, though more remotely, conversant bitions :- “ That no one should, by his own auwith Versions, or translations of the sacred text thority, translate any text of Holy Scripture into into other languages. It would be incompatible English, or any other tongue, by way of book, with the nature of the present work, to attempt a libel, or treatise ; and that no one should read critical review of the character of the principal any such book, libel, or treatise, now lately set translations of ancient and modern times; but it forth in the time of John Wycliffe, or since, or would be justly deemed defective, if it did not hereafter to be composed, under pain of the greater comprise some bibliographical and critical account excommunication, until the said translation should of the English Version.
be approved by the diocesan of the place, or, if 1. The character of the English Bible is not a occasion require, by a provincial council.” He matter of idle curiosity, or of curious and unpro- who disobeyed this order was to be treated and fitable speculation. Every translation is, properly punished as a favourer of error and heresy. speaking, an interpretation of the original text ; 5. The rigour of this decree was, however, inand it is surely of the very first importance to adequate wholly to repress that desire to read the ascertain how far that translation, which is in daily sacred volume, which its circulation had created ; and constant use by millions of those to whom the and many persons were burnt for contumacy in word of promise is addressed, and upon which reading out of Wycliffe's translation. In 1415, a they are exclusively dependant for ascertaining law was passed, making it treason to read any of * the mind of the Spirit,” is really a faithful and Wycliffe's books. All who were found guilty of exact representation of the sense of the sacred so doing were to "forfeit land, cattle, body, life, writers. This section will be devoted to a dis- and goods, from their heirs for ever, and so be cussion of those topics involved in this inquiry.
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 See Cook's Inquiry into the Books of the New Testament, rigorous and cruel measures did not wholly supchap. v., sect. 6; and as a further discussion of the principles aport which readings may be estimated, the sixth chapter of press the reading of Wycliffe's Version in private, 141 III. of Ernesti's lustitutes may be referred to
they at least prevented any addition being made
to the translations of the Scriptures already monarch for having suffered his bishops to “burne extant.
God's word, the root of faith, and to persecute the 7. There is no doubt that Wycliffe made his lovers and ministers of it.” translation from the Latin Vulgate, and not from 12. For this translation, which is said to have the originals; its authority, therefore, is not of been Tindal's, as far onwards as the Second Book the highest kind.
of Chronicles inclusive, the royal patronage was 8. The Old Testament of Wycliffe's Version has obtained during the same year in which Tindal never yet been published. His New Testament died (A. D. 1536). The Lord Cromwell and has passed through two editions. The first was Archbishop Cranmer prevailed upon the King to printed under the superintendence of the Rev. issue an order, that “A book of the whole Bible John Lewis, in 1731, the second was edited by should be provided and laid in the choir of every the Rev. II. H. Baber, A. M., in 1810.
church, for every man that would to look and read 9. The progress of the Reformation in Germany therein.” and England removed some of the impediments, 13. The hand of persecution having been thus at least for a time, that the Romanists had inter- paralyzed, those inspired with a love of Scripture posed in the way of biblical translations; and in knowledge, and animated with a zeal for the ad1526, the first edition of Tindals translation of vancement of the Gospel, took advantage of the the New Testament was published at Antwerp. times, and various editions of the Bible followed Its publication revived the fears and hatred of the each other in rapid succession. John Rogers, who Romish priests, and Bishop Tonstal was so intent subsequently became the first martyr in the reign upon its suppression, that he bought up all the of the sanguinary Mary, published, under the ascopies that could be found, and committed them sumed name of Thomas Matthewes, an edition of to the flames at Paul's Cross. Only one copy of the Bible in 1537. In the following year, Johan this impression is known to be extant. It is very Hallybushe printed the New Testament in Latin minutely described by Mr. Beloe, in his Anec- and English; and in 1540, the whole Bible was dotes of Literature, to which the curious reader reprinted by Grafton and Whitchurch, with a preis referred.*
face written by Archbishop Cranmer, whence it 10. The zeal of the Bishop in this case out- was 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 prede- 14. The persecution of the Protestants that took cessor, it was, to a great extent, purchased and place in Mary's reign having compelled Bishop destroyed by the Romanists. Nothing daunted, Coverdale, amongst others, to quit England, he however, Tindal completed a third edition, as also took up his residence in Geneva, and there pubtranslations of the Pentateuch and the book of lished a revised edition of the Bible with notes. Jonah ; shortly after which he was seized in Of the Geneva Bible the New Testament appeared Flanders, strangled, and had his body reduced to in 1557, and the entire Scriptures in 1560. Eight ashes, A. D. 1536.
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 Bible.” was published in a folio volume, and dedicated to 15. We have now enumerated the principal Ilenry VIII. in a spirited Introduction, in which editions of the sacred writings that preceded the the author reproaches the self-willed and fiery " Authorised” English Version now in common
use. It must not be supposed, however, that these * Vol. III. pp. 52–57, cited in Carpenter's “Guide to the Practical Reading of the Bible," pp. 7–10. Holdsworth and
were so many new and independent translations. Pall, 1830.
They were, in fact, only so many revisions of 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 bath divers significations, that Vulgate, or in the Septuagint Version. The Ge- to be kept which hath been most commonly used by nera 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 The division of the chapters to be altered either not
priety of the place and the analogy of faith. (5) basis was the previous translation, and that it was
at all or as little as may be, if necessity so require it. ouls - conferred diligently with the Greek,”as the (6) No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only eltor, in one place, inadvertently admits.
for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, 16. To the general accuracy and excellence which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly of Tyndal and Coverdale's translation, all compe- and fitly be expressed in the text. (7) Such quotations tent judges have borne the highest testimony. of places to be marginally set down as shall serve for * The violent opposition it met with,” says Geddes, the fit reference of one Scripture to another. (8) a Roman Catholic and a stern critic, “seems to have Every particular man of each company to take the arisen more from the injurious reflections contained
same chapter or chapters ; and, having translated or in the prologues and notes on the then established amended them severally by himself when he thinks
good, all to meet together, confer what they have religion, than from any capital defects in the Ver- done, and agree for their part what shall stand. sion itself. It was far from being a perfect trans- (9) If any one company hath dispatched any one lation, it is true; but it was the first of the kind, book in this manner, they shall send it to the rest, to and few first translations will, I think, be found be considered of seriously and judiciously; for His preferable to it. It is astonishing how little oh- Majesty is very careful in this point. (10) If any one solete the language is even at this day; and in company, upon the review of the book so sent, shall point of perspicuity, a noble simplicity, propriety doubt or differ upon any places, to send them word of idiom, and purity of style, no English Version thereof
, note the places, and therewithal send their
reasons; to which if they consent not, the difference has yet surpassed it. The criticisms of those who
to be compounded at the general meeting, which is wrote against it are generally too severe, often to be of the chief persons of each company, at the captions, and sometimes evidently unjust.” end of the work. (11) When any place of special
II. From the time at which the Bishops' Bible obscurity is doubted of, letters to be directed by appeared, A. D., 1568, no translation or revision authority, to send to any learned in the land for his of the Scriptures of any importance seems to have judgment in such a place. (12) Letters to be sent been undertaken, till 1604. At this period James froin every bishop to the rest of his clergy, admon1. took measures to procure the present “Author- ) ishing them of this translation in hand; and to move ised Version. He nominated fifty-four learned
and charge as many as, being skilful in the tongues, men, chiefly Professors and Divines from the observations to the company, either at Westminster,
have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular universities of Oxford and Cambridge, whom he Cambridge, or Oxford. (13) The directors in each charged with the task of “ re-translating, revising, company to be the deans of Westminster and Chester or correcting preceding Versions, so as to produce for that place; and the King's professors in Hebrew as perfect a translation as possible.” Of the fifty- and Greek in each University. (14) These translafour
, however, only forty-seven actually engaged tions to be used when they agree better with the text in the work, the others having died or declined than the Bishops' Bible itself ; viz., Tindal's, Matthe undertaking; or, as some think, they were
thewes', Coverdale's, Whitchurch's, Geneva. (15) Beappointed to be overseers of the rest.
sides the said directors before mentioned, three or 1. There has been a good deal of controversy of the Universities, not employed in translating, to be
four of the most ancient and grave divines in either on the question, whether this edition of the Bible
assigned by the Vice Chancellor, upon conference with should be considered as a new and independent the rest of the heads, to be overseers of the transla
or as only a revision of those Versions tions, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better obserby which it was preceded. If the directions given vation of the fourth rule, above specified.” by the King to those persons charged with the
2. Such were the directions given by James I. be deemed conclusive evidence on the to those whom he engaged in this grave
undersubject, the question will be speedily settled. taking; and it is evident from the “ Translators' They were as follow :
preface to the reader,” in which they speak of (1) “ The ordinary Bible read in the church, com- “ building upon their foundation that went before,” worls called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and of “ endeavouring to make that better which they as little altered as the original will permit. (2) The left so good;" and—more conclusive still—in which banes of the prophets and the holy writers, with the they aver “ we never thought from the beginning ahir names in the text, to be retained as near as that we should need to make a new translation, 125 be, according as they are vulgarly used. (3) The old ecclesiastical words to be kept; viz., as the * Fuller's Church Ilistory, Book x. pp. 46, 47.
nor yet to make of a bad one a good one Tongues ;" the profound Orientalist, Mr. W. Bedbut to make a good one better, or out of many good well, tutor to the eminent Dr. Pocock; Dr. John ones, one principal good one, not justly to be ex- Rainolds, whose memory was so extraordinary that cepted against ; that hath been our endeavour," he could readily turn to all material passages in that our mark:”-it is evident, from these ex- every volume, leaf, page, or paragraph, of the pressions, that, although the translators of James multitude of books he had read,” and who did, with great care and diligence, consult and most prodigiously seen in all kinds of learning, compare with the antecedent English Versions the and most excellent in all tongues ;” Drs. Holland, Hebrew and Greek texts of both Testaments, they Kilby, Miles Smith, and Richard Brett, who have did not, properly speaking, execute a new trans- each left in their published works undoubted proofs lation. It is equally obvious, however, from these of their critical skill in the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, passages, as well as from the text itself, that the Arabic, Ethiopic, Greek, and Latin tongues; closing Version they completed was neither a servile copy with Dr. John Bois, " that eminent light of learnof any previous Version, nor “a compilation of ing," who, at five years of age, had read the entire second-hand translations." That they were laid Bible, and before he was six, “could write Hebrew under some restrictions cannot be denied, nor that in an elegant hand, and who for ten years was their undertaking has sometimes suffered from chief Greek lecturer in his college, besides reading them; but the nature and number of these are lectures in Greek at four in the morning in his equally insignificant.
own chamber;" and Sir Henry Saville, the celeIII. The critical value of the authorised English brated editor of Chrysostom's works, in Greek, in Version of the Scriptures is a question of very grave eight folio volumes, and founder of the professorimportance, especially to those to whom this edi- ships of astronomy and geometry at Oxford. These tion of the Bible is alone accessible. There has were the qualifications of a few of James's translabeen some controversy as to the competency of tors, and it is but fair to presume that their assoJames's translators to discharge the trust reposed in ciates could not have been vastly inferior to them them; some writers having gone so far as to assert in ancient learning and general knowledge. that there was not amongst them a single Hebrew 2. But upon this question we are not reduced scholar, the Hebrew language having been, in the to the necessity of inferring the adequacy and reigns of Elizabeth and James I., most shamefully excellence of the work from the qualifications of neglected in our universities.* Nothing, how- its conductors. Its character and quality are ever, can be farther from the truth than both of matters of fact, and therefore capable of examithese statements.
nation and proof. Let us, then, glance at some of 1. In the time of Elizabeth, the Oriental lan- the testimonies that have been borne to these, by guages were amongst the ordinary philological witnesses of unexceptionable character and comstudies at the two universities; and Fulke in par- petence. ticular 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.f In the public schools emulation in these 1611), an order was made in the parliament, that studies was excited, as is exemplified in a notice a bill should be brought in for a new translation of examinations at Merchant Tailors' school, in of the Bible into English. The project, however, 1572, where the Bishop of Winchester “ tried the slumbered for four years, till Bishop Walton had scholars in the Hebrew Psalter." Among these nearly completed the publication of his splendid scholars was the famous linguist, Dr. Lancelot An- Polyglott, when the grand committee for religion drewes, who afterwards stood at the head of the passed the following order : list of James's translators. Of his associates we “ That it be referred to a sub-committee to send need only enumerate Dr. Adrian Saravia, who for, and advise with, Dr. Walton, Mr. Hughes, Mr. was a profound scholar, and tutor to the celebrated Castle (Castell), Mr. Clark, Mr. Poulk, Dr. Cudworth, Oriental critic, Nicholas Fuller ; Dr. R. Clarke, and such others as they shall think fit, and to couwho thoroughly understood the Hebrew, Greek, sider of the translations and impressions of the Bible, and Latin languages; Dr. Sayfield, to whose He- and to offer their opinions therein to this committee.” brew criticisms the learned and acute Gataker In pursuance of this order, the sub-committee, often refers with confidence, and whose skill in the which was composed of some of the most learned Hebrew tongue Minsheu sought and acknowledged, men of the time, often met, and consulted with when he published his valuable “ Guide into others of great attainments in the Oriental tongues.
In these conferences were made “divers excellent * Bellamy's Prospectus of a New Translation, &c.
and learned observations of some mistakes in the - Defence of Translations, p. 3-10.
translations of the Bible into English ; which yet