Page images

of chapters, the marginal renderings and references, chronological dates, &c." (Christian Preacher, p. 415, ed. 1800.) Such is the evidence borne by a person, whose partialities could not, from his situation, be on the side of the Universities, to the estimation in which Dr Blayney's edition was held, more than thirty years after it had been presented to the world.

From the Report of the Sub-Committee already cited, and from other circumstances, I am led to conIclude that some of these learned Dissenters would not much care if the Italics were banished altogether from the pages of the English Bibles. I should however be sorry to suppose that such would be the leaning of their minds, if they had duly considered the various bearings of the subject. Translation, after all, is but a substitute for something better. To the mere English reader, indeed, the English Bible is as the Word of God; still it is in reality but man's interpretation of God's Word-not the Word itself. There is of necessity a portion of human weakness and human ignorance mixed up with it. Certain marks, therefore, which may at the least give some indications of the specific differences between the Antient and Modern Languages, do seem not unbecoming even the profoundest understandings, when employed in translating such a work, from Originals which are accessible only to the learned-more especially when the work is designed for the benefit of all orders of society throughout the Kingdom.

We live in singular times; and find men placing themselves in strange positions. From the quarters whence this attack has proceeded I did not expect argu

ments, the tendency of which is to obliterate the signs which are continually pointing to the Original Sources of Divine Truth. The grand principle on which Dissent is founded consists in the rejection of all human authority in matters of Religion. Now, I cannot imagine a more effectual method of reducing the minds of men to the most slavish dependence on human authority, than by omitting all traces of the languages in which the Bible was first written; and so giving a semblance of perfection to a mere translation of the Word of God... When I consider the proceedings upon which I have had occasion to comment, as the proceedings of Dissenters "Such," I say to myself, "are the inconsistencies of human conduct."

There are cases in which wise men would hesitate to press Authority upon any one; and I really should have expected beforehand, that a Committee of NonConformists would have taken some time to deliberate, before they pressed the Authority of the Text of 1611, as they have done...Has the Authority we hold up, as a Standard not to be departed from, those intrinsic characters, which entitle it to that distinction ?-Will the agitation of the matter, brought before us, tend to the advancement of Religion ?... These are questions which grave and practical men would have naturally asked, before they adopted any very strong measures; and these questions the Sub-Committee seem either not to have asked, or to have answered on extraordinary principles... With regard to the Authority of the Text of 1611, enough has been adduced, in the preceding pages, to enable the reader to judge for himself on that point... With regard to the consequences of agitating the matter

under discussion, I would beg the Gentlemen of the Sub-Committee to consider, whether to adopt their own language they have not themselves been the means of "throwing such stumbling blocks in the way of the unlearned, as are greatly calculated to perplex their minds, and unsettle their confidence in the Text of Scripture."...It is for the purpose of as far as possible preventing such lamentable results, that I have endeavoured to vindicate the Text of the English Bible, as now printed by the Universities, from the reproaches with which it has been assailed.

I cannot take leave of the subject, without declaring that I have the satisfaction of being acquainted with some learned Members of the University of Oxfordand of associating with many learned Members of the University to which I have the honour to belong-whom I verily believe to be not a whit behind the Gentlemen of the Sub-Committee, in their anxiety that the Text of Scripture should go forth into the world, with all the correctness which can be given to it by human care. Το those learned persons also it would not be less gratifying, than to the Gentlemen of the Sub-Committee, to find that Scripture, thus rendered as far as possible free from error, was read and understood and acted upon, "from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof."


THE fact which has come to my knowledge that there are persons whose minds have been unsettled, with regard to the Supplementary Words in our Bibles, by the published Report of the Sub-Committee is a very serious consideration; and renders it a matter of duty to throw what light I can upon the subject. That, in translating, so as to be intelligible, from the Antient into the Modern Languages, Supplementary Words are indispensable, is beyond all doubt; but it must be acknowledged that there have been writers— they are, indeed, very few-who have condemned the practice of distinguishing such words, by any particular character. Of these was Houbigant, whose sentiments -expressed towards the end of the Prolegomena to his Hebrew and Latin Bible-will be found below.*

"Nihil est in Sacro Interprete magis vituperandum, quàm Sacros Scriptores sic exhibere, tanquam incautos quosdam Compositores, qui orationem suam sæpè mancam relinquerent, et cuilibet additamento perviam. Addantur sanè quædam in oratione Latinâ; nam Hebraica verba ponderanda sunt, non numeranda: sed tamen hæc addantur, quæ Hebraicâ ex indole nascantur, quæ ex ante-dictis liceat introduci, quæ ambiguitatibus occurant ; quæ, si omitterentur, facerent, vel Latinum sermonem obscurum, vel sententiam Latinam Habraicæ non satis similem. Neque enim fieri potest, ut duarum Linguarum paria semper verba paribus respondeant. Quæ cùm addentur, non proptereà Lectores, per Litteras Italicas, aut per parenthesim, monendi erunt, hæc addi, quæ adduntur. Nam, si hæc tantum adduntur, quæ sint medullæ ipsius Hebraicæ, non verendum, ne hæc Lectori perperam suppleta fuisse videantur. Si quis hæc verba Latina, ego vir probus, Gallicè ita convertit, je suis homme de bien, nemo dixerit monendos ei esse Lectores, additum fuisse Gallico in sermone verbum suis; nam liquet verbum Latinum sum, quamquam abest Latino ab sermone, in eo contineri. Proptereà nos tali curâ, quæ quidem nobis inutilis videbatur, in nostrâ Versione componendâ supersedimus." p. cxc.

[ocr errors]


Another objector, to distinctions applied to supplementary words, was Dr Symonds-the late Professor of Modern History in this University. After censuring the Italics of 1611, he bestowed the strongest language of reprehension upon those subsequently introduced. A person who has recourse to violent expressions is seldom in the right; nor did Dr Symonds form an exception to this rule. Let us consider some of his positions. "In Acts vii. 39," he observes, "there occurs a still stronger instance [than Matt. ii. 18. 'Rachel weeping for her children'] of the injudicious use of Italics, because the necessity of using them arose from the preceding ungrammatical language of the translators: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them." Had the translators written agreeably to the idiom of the English tongue, they would have rendered this passage, Whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust from them."" Here undoubtedly is an extremely perplexed mode of thinking. First, we have "the injudicious use of Italics;" then it follows-" because the necessity of using them arose, &c.:"-and after all it is not easy to understand why the Italics are censured. If, according to Dr Symonds, the word "him" be superfluous, it surely can do no harm to point it out as not existing in the Original.... The learned Professor, however, goes on : "The modern printers have not only implicitly followed their pattern in this instance, but in the very next verse have gone beyond it; for they have distinguished two words by Italics (which were not so distinguished before) for no other reason, it should seem, than to shew, that they had better have been omitted by all For as for this Moses.""... Now inasmuch as,

« PreviousContinue »