« AnteriorContinuar »
University Press, Cambridge:
The completion and publication of the Revised Version of our English Bible have imposed upon its readers an obligation which does not exist in relation to any other book. This obligation is not only unique, it is also comprehensive and difficult. Of a history, commentary, lexicon, law treatise, or text-book, the latest edition, if it be a revised one, is by general consent preferred. Even though the original work be marked by excellences of a high order, its revised form, without detailed examination of any sort, is assumed to be an improvement. And the assumption is commonly correct.
The Revised Version of the Bible may be fairly entitled to a like prepossession in the popular mind. The many years and the eminent and reverent scholarship devoted to it might easily seem to point decisively in that direction. Nevertheless, it should not, by being adopted as a matter of course, receive the same treatment. It is certain, moreover, that it will not. The Version of 1611 is endeared to millions by the traditions of over two and a half centuries; and if it shall ultimately be superseded by the Revision of 1881 and 1885, it will be because the superiority of the latter is generally conceded. The final verdict of the mass of intelligent readers will doubtless be that which shall have been reached by the great body of competent Biblical scholars; but it will be a judgment based as well upon some adequate knowledge of the peculiarities of each Version as distinguished from the other. Whatever, therefore, puts that knowledge within easy reach of all classes must be regarded as a public benefaction.
With the Revised Version before him, the problems that first confront the interested reader are these : What words of the Common Version have the Revisers approved and retained? what words have they introduced? what words have they excluded? A further leading inquiry would relate to the merits of the Revisional changes. But the what must precede the why; and the question forces itself, How is the student of the Revised Scriptures, without special help, to ascertain what is unchanged, what introduced, and what excluded ?
There seems to be but one answer. The desired information must be acquired by a word-for-word Comparison of the Revised with the Common Version. The 31,088 verses of the former must each be examined side by side with the same verse of the latter. Otherwise stated, the 792,444 words composing the Revised text must be compared with about the same number in the Version of 1611; and this attention to over fifteen hundred thousand words (the total of both texts) will be necessary in order that the alterations represented by the Revised text may be learned once.
Out of ten thousand Bible readers, could one be supposed willing seriously to undertake a work of such magnitude, it would still be pertinent to inquire what, in the way of real advantage, would be its probable outcome. And the candid answer would have to be, Almost nothing at all. The long and toilsome comparison, even if executed upon a properly matured plan, would so consume the available mental energy as virtually to leave none for weighing the changes made by the Revisers. Nor is this all. Unless the supposed labor were greatly augmented by some systematic attempt to preserve its results where they would meet the eye at each return to the text, the comparison would usually have to be repeated whenever it was desired to know accurately wherein the two versions disagree. It must be obvious that a task so utterly disproportionate to the limited leisure alike of the professional and of the average student of the Divine Word would be despairingly abandoned before it was fairly grappled with. Ordinary Bible readers will accomplish little in attempting to find out for themselves the differences between the Old Version and the New. On any but the most insignificant scale, the work must either be done to their hand, or it will not be done at all.
Happily, the difficulties to which attention has been drawn are not insuperable. They were carefully considered by the Editor (whose deep interest in Bible revision, he will be pardoned for stating, began in the year 1850) as far back as 1879; and a plan for overcoming them, having reference to the then expected Revised New Testament, was published in prospectus form in January, 1880. Two years later he brought out, as the complete embodiment of his scheme, the “Student's Edition ” of the Revised New Testament. The diacritical labor expended upon that volume was as fascinating as it was arduous. The work was received — by ministers, theological professors, intelligent laymen, and the religious and secular press - with warm and unqualified commendation.
It remains now to speak of the larger undertaking, of which the Student's Revised New Testament was the forerunner.
In the present volume the public have offered to them a Diacritical edition of the entire Revised Bible. The work was planned, and has been executed, with reference to an existing need, - one, it may be added, not of a transient character, - for which no other publication, on either side of the Atlantic, even attempts to provide. It may therefore claim, without presumption, to be the labor-saving edition of the Revised Bible. What its distinctive features should be, has been partially intimated already; what they actually are, will now be concisely set forth. Dealing. with the text, we inquire, —
I. WHAT WORDS OF THE VERSION OF 1611 HAVE THE REVISERS APPROVED
AND RETAINED ?
There are, as already stated, in the text of the Revised Bible 792,444 words. Of that number, 721,672 are retained from the Version of 1611. In this Bible every one of these latter is left unmarked, and its character, as an unchanged word, is known at sight. By this means ninety-one per cent of the text is practically removed
from the field of comparison. The occasional exceptions to this claim are due to the fact that the sense of a passage is sometimes materially affected by a change in the order of retained words, or in the punctuation. The changed order referred to, whether important or unimportant, is uniformly indicated by a curve after the verse numeral. Changes in punctuation are disregarded.
1 The most striking dissimilarity of the “Student's Revised New Testament" to the present Diacritical edition consists in the fact, that in the former work the revisional alterations in the text are shown by a system of underlining. Where new renderings are based on changes in the critical Greek text of the original, the lines are doubled.
2 The Old Testament is reprinted from the Oxford small-pica octavo edition ; the New Testament (having been electrotyped before the Revised Old Testament appeared) follows the Oxford pica edition of 1881. In the English (Oxford and Cambridge) editions of the Revised Bible a typographical error occurs in Ezekiel xxxviii. 16, where “ thee " is wrongly printed for “me” in the phrase “that the nations may know me.”
The passage is correctly printed in this edition.
II. WHAT WORDS HAVE THE REVISERS INTRODUCED ?
Of the above-named total number of words in the text of the Revised Bible, 70,772 — equal to nine per cent of the whole — have been introduced by the Revisers. In this Bible every one of those words is inclosed either by parallels or upright dashes, and its character, as an introduced word, is thus known at sight.
The total number of places having diacritical marks in the text is (O. T., 30,955 ; N. T., 17,501) 48,456. In about 675 instances the marginal alternative renderings of the Version of 1611 have contributed to the alterations in the Revised text. Cases of this kind are indicated by a section-mark.
III. WHAT WORDS OF THE VERSION OF 1611 HAVE THE REVISERS EXCLUDED
FROM THE TEXT?
For the purpose of comparing the Revised with the Common Version, it is not enough that the introduced words of the former be diacritically marked; the excluded words should also, and on the same page, be exhibited with equal distinctness. The latter class comprises 65,508 words. In this Bible every one of them appears in the foot-notes headed “Version of 1611," and its character, as a word excluded from the text, is thus known at sight.
Words disappearing from the text, besides being given in the foot-notes, will often be found as alternative renderings in the Revision margin.
When, to the facts given under the preceding inquiries, it is added that the Alternative Renderings found in the Revisers' Marginal Notes have, equally with the text, been compared with the Common Version and included in the marking, readers of this Preface will have a comprehension of the essential features of what is distinctive in the present edition of the Revised Version. They can, therefore, begin at once to use the work with profit and delight. There are other items, however, which, though of minor importance, may properly be brought to their notice.
1. The text of the Common Version used (with the approval of eminent Biblical scholars in this country) for purposes of comparison in the preparation of this volume is that of the “Cambridge Paragraph Bible of the Authorized English Version,” edited by the Rev. F. H. SCRIVENER, M. A., LL. D., and published in the year 1873. Dr. SCRIVENER states the object of his prolonged labor to be that “ of supplying to scholars and divines their much-felt want of a critical edition of the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible," and he calls attention to the fact “ that numberless and not inconsiderable departures from the original or standard edition of the Authorized Translation as published in 1611 are to be found in the modern Bibles which issue from the press by thousands every year.” “ Not a few of these variations,” — he goes on to say, especially those first met with in Cambridge folio Bibles dated 1629 and 1638, which must have been superintended with much critical care, amend manifest faults of the original Translators or editors, so that it would be most injudicious to remove them from the place they have deservedly held in all our copies for the last 240 years.” The “ Cambridge Paragraph Bible," as would be inferred from the foregoing, conforms to our “modern Bibles” whereever, in the judgment of its editor, they “amend manifest faults of the original Translators or editors,” but where their variations are believed to be “ for the worse," it restores the rendering found in the original edition as published in 1611.
2. The Appendices of the two American Revision Companies have from the first been regarded by the scholarship of this country as of very great value. The synod of a leading religious denomination has within the present month, in dealing with
the subject of the Revised Version of the Scriptures, placed on record its conviction that, whatever may be the fate of the Appendices in England, they “ will be in some way utilized for an American standard edition of the Revised Version." The verses which those Appendices designate as affected by the suggestions of the American Revisers are 1225 in number. It is manifestly desirable that, when he meets these passages in his reading, the student of the Revision should be able to distinguish them. In this volume the numeral of every such verse has an asterisk prefixed. An additional remark is here necessary. Each Appendix of the Revisers, it will be observed, begins with suggestions relating to “ Classes of Passages.” For the most part, the particular passages composing the “Classes" are not specified. In those cases the asterisk could not be made serviceable. This, however, does not lessen its utility where it does occur.
3. The marginal verse notation, properly employed in connection with the paragraph system of the Revision, involves what is widely regarded as a considerable inconvenience. It is very often impossible to tell where a verse begins. In this edition, the use made of the degree-mark entirely obviates that difficulty.
4. The words introduced by the Revisers are, in the Old Testament, about seven and two fifths per cent of the text; in the New Testament, about fourteen and one fifth per cent. In the whole Bible, as stated above, they constitute nine per cent.
5. The foot-notes of the entire Bible average 60 words each ; those of the Old Testament, 49 words ; those of the New Testament, 93 words. With these data in mind, the reader, on observing the bracketed numeral at the end of any footnote, will instantly know whether the amount of revisional change on that page exceeds or falls below the average of either of the Testaments, or of both combined. Accuracy in matters of this kind, as distinguished from random guessing, will not be without its influence in securing for the Revised Version its right place in the popular regard.
6. Fourteen entire verses have been cancelled by the New Testament Revisers. They are the following : Matt. xxii. 21 ; xviii. 11; Mark vii. 16; ix. 44, 46; xi. 26; xv. 28 ; Luke xvii. 36; xxiii. 17; John v. 4; Acts vii. 37 ; xv. 34 ; xxiv. 7;
7. Our remaining observations will relate to the Diacritical scheme exemplified throughout this work.
(1) The curve (whether before or after) is specially useful when found in connection with the numeral of a verse containing no words introduced by the Revisers, as it guards the reader against supposing that the passage is unchanged.
(2) Words substituted by the Revisers very often have positions in the text different from those formerly occupied by their superseded alternatives. The footnotes do not, therefore, invariably furnish the means of determining the precise order of words in the text of the Common Version.
(3) The reader's convenience is sometimes served, in the work of comparing the two versions, by marking one phrase against another, even though both contain the same word. It is quite possible that this might have been done much oftener with advantage, and that the rule of not allowing a common word to appear in the text and foot-notes has been observed with needless rigor. However, the matter is not of much consequence.
(4) Precision in exhibiting revisional alternations is sometimes sacrificed in order that the same word may not be marked in the text and appear also in the foot-notes. An example will illustrate the point. In Nehemiah vii. 19 the Revisers have substituted “spake of” for “reported,” and “reported” for “ uttered." The treatment of the verse in this volume shows “spake of" inclosed, and “uttered"