Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tably not only that they believed and knew it to represent Scripture faithfully, but also that it was familiarly used and received by the Jews as Scripture, at that time. Here, then, is what we meant, when we said that it was so generally received from the first,' that is, during the centuries immediately succeeding its formation. Is Sir James now able to comprehend it?

We have next a number of pages filled with statements of the practices adopted by the Jews, about a century after the introduction of Christianity, for the purpose of invalidating the evidence which the Old Testament bore to the purity of the Gospel, such as tampering with particular passages of the Septuagint, and procuring persons of their own persuasion to translate anew the Old Testament into Greek, purposely distorting all the texts which were favourable to Christianity ; together with an account of the labours of Origen in correcting the copies of the Septuagint, and of the different editions of that version which have since appeared. Every thing that is at all valuable in this discussion Sir James copies, not only in substance, but almost word for word, from Dr. Owen’s Inquiry into the present State of the Septuagint version; without, however, making the slightest acknowledgment of the quarter from which he derives it. He is indeed one of the most wholesale but artful plagiarists we have ever known : for he studiously assumes, in every part, the air of an original investigator, and carefully places at the bottom of his page all the references which he finds in his author, so as to make the world believe that they result from his own learned investigations.

We do not think it necessary to follow him over this beaten ground; nor indeed would any reasonable limits suffice to discuss the subject with the fulness with which it ought to be treated, if once entered upon. After all, what is to be inferred from the utmost that can be urged against the integrity of the Septuagint? It is allowed that this version has occasionally suffered from the designs of wilful corrupters, and from the errors unavoidably incidental to frequent transcriptions. It is also allowed by every judicious critic that the Hebrew original has partially suffered from both these causes, for no cause has operated to affect the one, wbich has not equally affected the other ; but, in neither, have these causes operated to an extent sufficient to affect their general purity and integrity. “Take,' says Dr. Kennicott, the most faulty MS. now extant in the world, and, I humbly presume, it will be found to contain the same Bible in the main, and to teach the same great doctrines and duties as are taught at present.' The learned Origen, it is true, speaks in strong terms of ihe errors which had in his time crept into the Septuagint; errors of which some, no doubt, affected the sense, but the greater part of which were variations of

single

x 2

single letters or words of minor importance; such as are found in all ancient manuscripts. This venerable Father, it is known, took incredible pains in collating the different MSS. so as to restore the text to its original purity; and it is allowed, on all hands, that his services in this department were most valuable. In what degree he succeeded, and to what extent partial discrepancies affecting particular passages have crept into the MSS. subsequently to his time, is a question which would be important in a critical discussiou of the Septuagint version, but does not bear upon the subject before us. What we before affirmed, and what we continue to affirm without fear of contradiction, is that, taken as a whole, the Septuagint has come down to us in a state of sufficient purity to make it a very valuable mean of guiding us to the interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

As to the assertion that our present Septuagint is not substantially the same with that originally designated by the name, it is borne down by such overwhelming proofs to the contrary, that it is perfectly astonishing how any one could dare to make it." The general historical evidence of its identity may probably of itself be deemed sufficient; but this evidence applies with much greater force in the case of the Septuagint than in that of the works of any ancient author, from its having been publicly read as Scripture in many ancient churches, and therefore guarded with the most scrupulous care, the most sacred reverence. Nor is this all. The Apostles and Evangelists undoubtedly quoted in many passages from different parts of the Septuagint; and the very passages which they quoted from the version as it existed in their day, remain in that version as it exists in ours. Again, many of the ancient Fathers, whose works have come down to us, have written commentaries on different books of Scripture which they read according to the Septuagint; for instance, Augustin on the Psalms, Cyril on Isaiah, with many others: and any person comparing their commentaries with the text we now possess, must immediately perceive that it is substantially the same with that which they illustrated, Many of the early Fathers again have made direct quotations from the Septuagint, which appear in our present copies of that version ; some have even incidentally remarked on passages in it, to which there are none corresponding in the Hebrew, and vice versâ; and the very same discrepancies which are noted by them are found at the present day.*

Before we finally dismiss Sir J. Burges's publication, we think it right, in justice to ourselves, to advert to one passage, in which he has even outgone hiniself in a scandalous misrepresentation of our

• See Walton's Prolegoniena, ix. 37, et seq.

meaning

sess.

meaning. In animadverting on Bellamy's absurd pretension of discovering, in plain passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, a sense which had never been thought of before, we remarked how strongly the folly of it was pointed out by the entire concurrence of all translators, ancient and modern, as to the received sense. In particular, we stated that, besides many other versions, the Chaldee Paraphrase, the Septuagint, the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, as far as they remained, were entitled to consideration in removing doubts as to the sense of the Hebrew, as they were made at a time when many advantages for the right interpretation of that language probably existed, which we do not now pos

It must have been obvious to every reader, that, in stating this, we had not the slightest intention of pledging ourselves for the accuracy of the versions to which we alluded, in every part; we merely meant to say, that, in passages similar to those to which we then referred, (we were speaking of a passage in the book of Genesis,) if the received sense could be deemed at all doubtful, the concurrence of these several versions must make it completely certain. Yet Sir J. Burges, after observing that Aquila translated the Bible with the insidious design of perverting passages bearing testimony to the truth of the Gospel, quotes (copying from Dr. Owen) a particular lest (Isaiah xiv. 7.) which he perverts from its true sense of prophetically alluding to our Saviour's miraculous birth; and most unwarrantably insinuates that we approved of Aquila's version in such passages as this; and thence infers that, as Reviewers, we have deserted the cause, and sanctioned a passage directly contrary to our avowed principles and to the whole tenor of our orthodox and enlightened publication.'-(Enquiry, p. 74.)—This gentleman must already have discovered that we entertain no very extraordinary respect for his talents and understanding: but we really do not rate him so very low as to think that he did not, in the passage to which we have alluded, know that our meaning was not that which he has represented. We here take

leave of the Baronet. The duty of guarding the public against the errors into which he would lead them, has been by no means a pleasant one, and we greatly regret that he should have adopted a proceeding which has imposed it upon us. We sincerely believe that it is far from his views to impair the credit of the Holy Scriptures ; and we thesefore lament the more that weakness of judgment which could lead him to act as if he had the worst intentions. It has often happened, that an injudicions friend has proved more prejudicial than an avowed foe; but never, surely, was there a stronger instance of it, than this before us; where a person wishing to support the authority of the Bible, pursues a course by which weapons of the most fatal kind are supplied to its

x 3

enemies.

enemies. We easily see that he has been carried away by the dangerous vavity of seeking to display his erudition in matters of theology; and the stimulant power of the same busy feeling, probably, induced him to obtrude himself into a discussion foreign to his pursuits, and to which he is wholly incompetent. We believe too (and we grieve while we make the humiliating admission) that he is really the dupe of Mr. Bellamy; and that, imposed upon by his bold and confident asseverations, he verily conceives bim qualified to improve the present translations of the Hebrew Scriptures! On these accounts, we could have looked with some indulgence on the part he has taken, if he had not assumed a tone of arrogance and invective, which, in a person of his rate of understanding, is perfectly intolerable. For the part of his proceedings which we noticed in the beginning of this article, we cannot possibly frame any adequate excuse; we allude to his production of Bellamy's translation through many pages of his book, under the name of a literal translation from the Hebrew,' with a studious concealment of Bellamy's name, in a manner which must lead every reader to suppose that it is a literal translation which he has carefully made himself, or one, at least, for the accuracy of which he is prepared solemnly to vouch. This bears, as we have said, every appearance of a direct and intentional imposition on the public. Our readers have the facts before them, and must judge for themselves.

With regard to Mr. Bellamy, we really grow more convinced, as we become more acquainted with him, that he is perfectly incorrigible. Since the preceding observations were written, he has pubTished what he calls A Critical Examination of the Objections made to the New Translation:' in which he again puffs off himself and his performances* in the most extravagant strain; scatters in the wildest profusion opprobrious epithets on all his opponents; pretends to argue while he only gratuitously asserts; and asserts under the profoundest ignorance of every thing on which assertion ought to be founded. In fact, it is the unhappy lot of this writer in his vain endeavours to evince his learning and competence, only to redouble the proofs of his incapacity. But the worst part of his proceeding (and it is a feature of peculiar blackness) is his repeated and wilful misrepresentation of the intention of those who object to his translation. He affirms, in the preface of this last publication, (p. iv.) that the design of a few objectors to a new revision of the authorized translation is to shew that errors are consecrated by time, to put a stop to any amendment of the present version, however contradictory to the sacred original, however it

* He especially eulogizes a work which he has recently published under the name of • The Antideist, in which he surrenders to the infidel the Bible as it stands in our present i'ersion, and considers it to be only defensible, as represented in his translation.

may may impeach the moral justice of God, &c.” Was there ever a more impudent statement of a palpable untruth? ---How often must we repeat that the sole design of those who object to his translation is, to maintain the true sense of Scripture, and to prevent its being grossly perverted and misrepresented ?

What to say more we hardly know :—but we are almost tempted by this inveterate persistance in detected falsehood, to suspect (and we speak it with equal seriousness and sorrow) that Mr. Bellamy labours under some deficiency of understanding; that he has not, in short, sufficient matter for reason and argument to work upon, and that, therefore, all human means must fail to produce in him any conKiction of his error, or to turn him from the evil of his proceeding.

[ocr errors]

Art. II.-1. An Essay on certain Points of Resemblance be

tween the Ancient and Modern Greeks. By the Hon. Fre

derick Sylv. North Douglas. 2. Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, &c.

during the Years 1812 and 1813. By Henry Holland, M.D.

F.R.S. &c. 1819. 3. Greece, a Poem; with Notes, Classical Illustrations and

Sketches of the Scenery. By William Haygarth, Esq. A.M. IT is a remark of Lord Byron, that of the ancient Greeks we

know more than enough-of the moderns we are perhaps more neglectful than they deserve. We do not quite agree with the first part of his lordship's proposition, for we think that we have still much to learn respecting them. Leaving this, however, we readily admit that a multitude of classical volumes on Greece has issued from the press since the middle of the seventeenth century: nor ought we perhaps to wonder that a portion of the globe so intensely interesting to the scholar, the artist, and the antiquary, should, by reviving ancient recollections and associations, exert an influence on the feelings, and so completely absorb the eye and the mind of the traveller as to leave him unconscious almost of the present race of mortals, and careless of the existing state of Greece.

* Yet are her skies as blue, her crags as wild,
Sweet are her groves and verdant are her fields,
Her olive ripe as when Minerva smiled,
And still his honied wealth Hymettus yields ;
There the blythe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
The free-born wanderer of her mountain air;
Apollo still her long, long summer gilds,

Still in his beam Alendeli’s marbles glare,
Art, glory, freedom fail, but nature still is fair.

« AnteriorContinuar »