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ment of sacred literature, very great advance has been made within the present century. Much also has been done by individual editors of the whole or parts of the New Testament in regard to questions of textual criticism, as well as in regard to the exegesis of particular passages involving points of peculiar difficulty. The quotations which are found both in the Greek and Latin fathers have also been examined with a degree of care and accuracy which was unknown until the present time; whilst as regards the important aids which are furnished to the Biblical student by lexicons, concordances, and grammars, it may suffice to observe that almost the whole of those which are now in the hands of scholars, and which are held in the highest estimation by them, are the productions of the present century, and, for the most part, of the last twenty years.
Under such circumstances it can be no matter of surprise that an increasing anxiety was felt on the part of Biblical scholars to take advantage of the opportunities thus afforded for correcting the errors, whether textual or grammatical, of the Authorised Version, and to present it to English readers in a form in which it more closely approximates to the Hebrew and Greek original. The first practical step in the work of revision which has led to the production of the volume now before us, was the publication in March, 1857, of a Revision of the Gospel of St. John by. Five Clergymen viz., the present Bishops of Gloucester and Salisbury, Dr. Alford, the late Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Barrow, and Mr. Humphrey--a work which was followed at no great intervals of time by a revised edition of the Epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians. It is not unworthy of remark that the • Five Clergymen,' afterwards reduced to four, were accustomed to meet regularly at the Vicarage of St. Martin’s-inthe-Fields, where the Revisers of 1881, according to the Guardian' of November 17, 1880, took their farewell dinner after the termination of their larger and more arduous undertaking But no steps of importance were taken for nine years towards the promotion of the object which was contemplated by the · Five Clergymen,' and it was not until the year 1869 that a complete revision of the whole of the New Testament was put forth by one of their number, in which the fruit of the joint labours of his associates was embodied with slight alterations.*
* The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, after
In the preface to this volume the late Dean Alford expresses his conviction of the impossibility that one man's work should ever fulfil the requisites for an accepted version of the Holy Scriptures, and he states that the objects proposed in its publication were mainly these, viz. (1) .to keep open the great question of an authoritative revision;' (2) 'to show the .
absolute necessity of such a measure sooner or later; and *(3) to disabuse men's minds of the fallacies by which the * Authorised Version is commonly defended. After exposing in few words the ignorance and unfairness which are often displayed in the objections which are urged against attempts to revise the received English version of Holy Scripture, the writer concludes his preface in these words :
* The Reviser has only to express his wish and prayer that this work may as soon as possible be rendered useless by the more matured and multifarious labour of a Royal Commission. Such a Commission he believes the various sections of the Church in this realm fully able to furnish with members; and he doubts not that its issue would be a new authorised version, founded upon the old, but everywhere, by its own weight of excellence, superseding it.' The Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol sympathised with the views thus expressed, not only in regard to the necessity and importance of a new revision of the Bible, but also in regard to the composition of the body by which so important a work should be undertaken, and the authority under which they were to act. After many conferences upon the subject with Dean Alford, Bishop Ellicott communicated his views to the late Bishop of Winchester, Dr. Wilberforce, who, in his turn, conferred with Mr. Gladstone, then Prime Minister. Finding from Mr. Gladstone that there were great, if not insuperable, difficulties, in his judgment, attending the appointment of a Royal Commission, Bishop Wilberforce resolved to bring the subject before the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, a body to which it had on former occasions been submitted, but without meeting with any general acceptance. Accordingly, on February 10, 1870, the Bishop of Winchester proposed a resolution, which was seconded by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, to the effect that a
the Authorised Version, newly compared with the original Greek and revised by Henry Alford, D.D., Dean of Canterbury. 1869. deserves to be noticed that the Paragraph Bibles published by the Religious Tract Society, at the instigation of the late Mr. Joseph Gurney, contain many valuable suggestions and improvements of the
joint Committee of both Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury should be appointed, with power to confer with any Committee that may be appointed by the Convocation of the Northern Province, to report upon the desirableness of a revision of the Authorised Version of the New Testament.' The Bishop of Llandaff suggested that the inquiry should not be confined to the desirableness of an improved version of the New Testament, but that the inquiry should be extended to the Old Testament, and moved as an amendment the insertion of the words Old and,' which amendment was seconded by the Bishop of St. David's (Thirlwall), and the resolution of the Bishop of Winchester, as thus amended, was put and agreed to in the following terms: That
a Committee of both Houses be appointed, with power to * confer with any Committee that may be appointed by the Convocation of the Northern Province, to report upon the desirableness of a revision of the Authorised Version of the Old and New Testaments, whether by marginal notes or
otherwise, in all those passages where plain and clear errors, • whether in the Hebrew or Greek text originally adopted by the translators, or in the translations made from the same,
shall be found to exist.'* On the following day the resolution of the Upper House of Convocation was communicated to the Lower House, coupled with the request that the Convo*cations of Armagh and Dublin, as well as the Convocation of York, might be communicated with on this important inquiry.' The assent of the Northern House of Convocation was not formally asked, and some difference of opinion was expressed at York on the subject; but in the meantime the Joint Committee appointed by the two Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury had, after careful deliberation, arrived at the conclusions which are expressed as follows in the report which was read to the Lower House of Convocation on May 5, 1870:
(1) "That it is desirable that a revision of the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures be undertaken.
(2) That the revision be so conducted as to comprise both marginal renderings and such emendations as it may be found necessary to insert in the text of the Authorised Version.
(3) That in the above resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language, except where in the judgment of the most competent scholars such change necessary.
* See Chronicle of Convocation, vol. ii. p. 74.
(4) That in such necessary changes the style of the language employed in the existing version be closely followed.
(5) That it is desirable that Convocation should nominate a body of its own members to undertake the work of revision, who shall be at liberty to invite the co-operation of any eminent for scholarship, to whatever nation or religious body they may belong.'
In accordance with the last of these resolutions, the two Houses of Convocation appointed a Committee, consisting of eight members from each House, who proceeded without delay to invite scholars belonging to different religious bodies to join one or other of the two Companies into which they divided themselves—the one for the revision of the Old Testament, and the other for the revision of the New Testament-and having first drawn up some rules for the guidance of both Companies, they addressed themselves, in the month of June, 1870, to the important task which they had taken in hand, the Old Testament Company beginning their work with the revision of the Pentateuch, and the New Testament Company with that of the Synoptical Gospels.
It appears from a speech delivered by the Dean of Westminster in the Lower House of Convocation on February 16, 1871, that, in accordance with a resolution which had been adopted on July 7 in the preceding year, an invitation was addressed by the Bishop of Winchester and by the Dean of Westminster both to the Episcopalian and non-Episcopalian scholars of the United States to co-operate with the English Companies in the work of revision.
The object proposed in this co-operation was not only to obtain for the respective Companies, in accordance with the fifth of the original resolutions, the aid of many competent scholars on the other side of the Atlantic, but also to secure, if possible, for the forthcoming revision, the same general reception in America which it was hoped that the co-operation of scholars belonging to the various religious bodies in England would ensure for it in this country. The invitation thus addressed to American scholars was promptly and cordially accepted, and the American Committee, divided, as in England, into two Companies, was duly organised in the course of the year 1871, and began active work in October, 1872.
The mode of operation adopted in regard both to the English and the American Companies may be briefly described as follows :- At the first revision of each book, after each verse has been read in Hebrew or Greek, and in English according to the Authorised Version, the suggestions of any absent members have been read by the respective secretaries, and any proposal made either by absent or present members, if seconded by a member present, has become a substantive proposition, to which any member has been at liberty to speak, either for or against its adoption. If approved by a simple majority of members, the vote of the absent member who proposed any emendation being taken into account, such emendation has been adopted at the first revision, subject, however, to being challenged on the second revision, on which occasion, unless approved by two-thirds of the members present, as provided by the fifth of the rules already quoted, it has fallen to the ground, and the Authorised Version, unless any other emendation has secured the same majority, has been restored. In this manner the whole of the New Testament has been not only twice, as originally proposed, but, for the greater part, thrice revised.*
In regard to the co-operation of the American Companies, the course adopted has been to transmit copies from time to time of the several books, as revised by the English Companies. The American Companies have carefully examined these copies, and transmitted to the English Companies such suggestions upon them as have been adopted by a majority of the members. These suggestions have been considered by the English Companies, and many of them adopted. A table has been drawn up of the comparatively unimportant readings and renderings of the American Companies, which is inserted at the end of the volume.
We wish we could say that the high hopes and expectations with which this important work has been undertaken and carried on are justified by the result; but, as we shall presently have occasion to show, there are grave reasons to believe that the Revised Version will not command the undivided reverence of the world, and will certainly not replace the immortal language of the English Bible. As the character of the English Version must be affected by the readings adopted in the Greek text by the Revisers, it is necessary to call attention to some salient points in connexion with it. This task is rendered easier by the publication, in a continuous text, of the readings adopted by the revisers, of which an accurate list
* It may seem almost superfluous to state that all the members of the two Companies, whether they are members of the Committee appointed by Convocation or not, have an equal vote on every question which arises for discussion in connexion with the work of revision. At the conclusion of the work it rests with the members of the Committee appointed by Convocation to present the results to the body by which they were appointed.