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Having stated all that seems requisite, with regard to those who may be considered as adverse to the use of Italics, let me now give a very brief account of some of those who have thought it becoming to distinguish, by a peculiar character, the additions which, in translating, the exigencies of language might compel them to adopt.
Dr Geddes and others have mentioned Arias Montanus—whose Version of the Bible, founded on that of Pagninus, was printed in the Antwerp. Polyglot of 1569–72, and in Walton's Polyglot 1657—as the first Translator who distinguished supplementary words by Italics. Now, that Arias Montanus distinguished words by Italics is certain ; but then they were not necessarily supplementary words. His intention was, that his Version should exhibit its own variations, of whatever kind they might be, from the Latin Vulgate. To understand in what way this was effected, it will be sufficient to take a single instance, Matt. ii. 7; in which I shall first give the Original; then the Latin Vulgate; and lastly the Version of Arias Montanus, printed in his own manner.
Τότε “Ηρώδης λάθρα καλέσας τους μάγους ηκρίβωσε παρ' αυτων τον χρόνον του φαινομένου αστέρος. .
“ Tunc Herodes clam vocatis Magis diligenter didicit ab eis tempus stellæ, quæ apparuit eis."
“ Tunc Herodes clam vocans Magos perquisivit ab eis tempus apparentis stellæ.” And thus, when Arias Montanus, adhering to the literal construction of the Original, gave “vocans Magos,” instead of “vocatis Magis ;” “perquisivit” instead of
diligenter didicit,” and so on, he marked the variation from the Vulgate by Italics: and where there was no variation, he retained the common character. If
therefore the Italics, as used by Arias Montanus, indicate an addition, it is only by accident.*
So far as I know, Sebastian Munster, the first Protestant Translator of the Bible into Latin, was the first person who distinguished, by brackets, such words, supplementary to those of the Original, as his mode of translation required. Of his purposes in this respect, he has given the following account, in the Preface to his Version; the first edition of which appeared in 1534.
“ Porrò in Latinâ Versione hoc unum spectavimus, ut quoad fieri potuit Latina Hebraicis responderent, nisi quod aliquando quasi per parenthesin adjecimus unam aut alteram dictionem, quæ ad explicationem obscurioris faceret sententiæ, id quod summè necessarium videbatur in Prophetis.”
Simon, although a Roman Catholic, speaks highly of the Version of Sebastian Munster; greatly preferring it to those of Pagninus and Arias Montanus.t
* “ Putting such supplements in Italics," says Dr Geddes, “is a mere modern refinement, unknown to the most literal antient translators. Even Pagninus himself did not dream of so silly a device. The father of it I believe was Arias Montanus; who yet probably never meant that it should be adopted in a translation for common use." Letter to Louth, p. 33. Now, in the first place, Arias Montanus is not quite a modern, compared with Pagninus ; the former having been born in 1527, and the latter in 1466, or according to some accounts in 1471 :—and in the second place, it is curious that a Translator of the Bible should have been so little acquainted with the purport of the Italics used by Arias Montanus. Whether the distinction of supplementary words be entitled to the appellation of “so silly a device,” the readers of the preceding pages will be enabled to decide.
+ « Cette derniere Version de Munster paroit être beaucoup meillure que celles de Pagnin et d'Arias Montanus, qui ont negligé le sens, pour s'attacher trop scrupuleusement à la Grammaire. Munster au contraire a tâché de ne s'éloigner jamais du sens, bien qu'il s'applicast aussi à la Grammaire; et qu'il n'a pas regardé simplement la signification de chaque mot en soi-même, à l'imitation d’Arias Montanus, mais il a outre cela consideré les endroits où ces mots se rencontrent; et quoi qu'il ne soit pas tout-à-fait pur dans son stile, il n'a cependant rien de trop rude, ni de trop barbare." Hist. Crit. du V. T. p. 321. This approaches very nearly to the character of a perfect Interpreter of Holy Writ. It seems due to the first Protestant Translator of the Bible into Latin to record that he was born at Inghelheim in 1489, was educated at Heidelberg, and was afterwards Hebrew Professor at Basil. As there was but an interval of six years between the publication of the Version of Pagninus and that of Sebastian Munster, the distinguishing of supplementary words cannot be considered as (in the language of Dr Geddes) “a mere modern refinement.” I suppose it to be immaterial whether the distinction be made by brackets or by Italics.
The method of dealing with supplementary words, which appears to have been struck out by Sebastian Munster, was adopted by Beza in 1556, by Tremellius and Junius in 1575, and by the Authors of other Latin Versions, whom it cannot be needful to mention. Nor was it lost sight of in after-times; as may be seen in Le Clerc's Translation in 1693. With regard to those who have more recently published Latin Translations of Scripture, I shall content myself with adducing the following passage from the Preface to Dathe's Version of the Minor Prophets :
“ Et primo quidem monendum videtur, me non paraphrasin dare voluisse, sed versionem, quæ proprie dicitur, quæ nempe verbis prophetarum nihil addat, sed textus hebræi sensum plane reddat. Quæ vero nonnunquam verba interserta sunt, aliis typis exscripta, ea quidem in textu hebræo non leguntur, sed necessario addenda videbantur ad dicta prophetarum intelligenda: 'ad amplificanda ea non faciunt, ideoque in illis locis paraphrasten egisse nemini videbor." (ed. 1790.)
So far therefore as Latin Versions are concerned, the object, which, in the early part of the sixteenth century, Sebastian Munster proposed to himself, by distinguishing supplementary words, was kept in view by Dathe, towards the close of the eighteenth century.
In the same year (1534) with Sebastian Munster's Latin Bible, appeared Luther's German Version of the
Scriptures; but the idea of distinguishing supplementary words does not appear to have occurred to him. It would indeed have been very surprising if the same idea had occurred to the two Translators at the same time.
In no edition, I believe, of Luther's Bible, are supplementary words pointed out.... The Spanish Version of Cypriano de Valera, the Italian Version of Diodati, and various early French Versions, present supplementary words distinguished by Italics, or by marks equivalent to Italics.
Such of the later French Versions as I happen to have inspected—those of Ostervald, Le Cene, Beausobre and Lenfant-have the supplementary words marked with considerable care... The French Version of Le Maistre de Sacy possesses great and well-deserved reputation. Being a Translation from the Latin Vulgate, it has not been appealed to, in the course of the preceding observations; but it is here adduced in confirmation of the practice of employing Italics, for the purpose of marking additions. As an instance of the use of them, I will mention the rendering of Gen. i. 9. “ Let the dry land appear” (see p. 13). The French Language here afforded De Sacy an advantage, of which he happily availed himself, when he translated the passage—“que l'élément aride paraisse.' And it is to be observed that when he introduced the word “ élément” he took care that it should be printed in Italics.*...But not to dwell upon the various Versions of Scripture into the different Languages of Europe since the days of
“ Among the modern versions,” says Dr J. P. Smith, “I beg leave to point out the extraordinary excellence, particularly in the New Testament, both as to fidelity of sentiment, and felicity of expression, which distinguishes the French Translation of Isaac Le Maistre De Sacy, one of the illustrious Society of Port Royal, and a noble sufferer for truth and conscience. He died in 1684.” Four Discourses, &c. 1828.
King James's Translators, it appears that the use of Italics, for the purpose so often mentioned, had at that time been long sanctioned by the learned of other Nations. Let us now see what had taken place, with regard to the distinction of supplementary words, in our own Country, and at the same period.
The New Testament according to Coverdale's English Translation, published in 1538 along with the Latin Vulgate, affords intimations of a purpose
of distinguishing, by brackets, such words in the English as were in addition to the Latin; and in the Epistle to the Reader prefixed to the Work, reference is made to Jerome and Origen, as authority for such a plan of proceeding. The proper opportunity has now, in fact, arrived for remarking, that the kind of distinctions which Dr Geddes denounced as “a silly device”—“ mere modern refinement”. -were thus appealed to, as antient, even in the sixteenth century.—On the marks of distinction used by Origen, I shall venture to lay before the reader the observations of the present Bishop of Peterborough.
“In the revision of the Septuagint, the first part of Origen's labour was to collate it throughout with the Hebrew ; and wherever he found any word or words in the former, to which there was nothing correspondent in the latter, such word or words he did not expunge from the Septuagint, but he inclosed them within certain marks expressive of their absence from the Hebrew." *
It really is a curious circumstance that one of the first of those who, three centuries ago, applied marks
* See Bishop Marsh's “Lectures on the Criticism and Interpretation of the Bible.' p. 58. ed. 1828.