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superior to that which is conferred by the pursuits of ambition, or the lustre of events creating only a temporary interest in the passions of men; and his name will probably be remembered with veneration, as long as the ftudy of divine truth continues to be cultivated in the Christian world.
HE new translation of the apostolical epifties being the
principal part of the work now offered to the public, it will, no doubt, be expected that the author should give the reasons which induced him to undertake a performance of this fort, after the many versions of the scriptures already published.--The principles also on which this translation is formeds must be explained, that the reader may understand in what respects it will differ from other versions.--And as the commentary and notes, with the prefaces and essays, have greatly increased the size of the work, fome account must be given of what is done in them towards explaining the meaning of the sacred oracles.
Sect. I. Of the ancient translations of the Scriptures ; and of
their influence on the modern versions. With respect to the reasons which induced the author to at tempt a new translation of the apostolical epistles, he acknowa ledges, that the versions of the scriptures used at present by the different nations of Europe, have been faithfully made, according 'o the skill of the persons who made them; and that the common people who read any of these versions can be at no loss to know the fundamental articles of the christian faith. Never. theless, a new translation of these divinely inspired writings cannot be thought superfluous, unless it could be said with truth of some one of the versions extant, that it is every where accurate, intelligible, and unambiguous. But this, it is supposed, no good judge will take upon him to affirm. .
The learned, in reading the ancient and modern versions of the scriptures, must be sensible that there is a remarkable agreeVOL. I.
ment among them, especially in their translations of the difficult passages. Now, though at first fight this may be thought a proof of their accuracy, the inference is by no means fafe. That agreement may have proceeded, not from the justness of the translation, but from the subsequent translators treading in the steps of those who went before them. And that they actually did so, will appear from what follows.
During the first and following age, the disciples of Christ being numerous in the countries where the Syriac was the vulgar language, a translation of the writings of the apostles and evangelists into that language became absolutely necessary, after the gift of tongues, and of the interpretation of tongues, had ceased in the church. Wherefore, a Syriac translation of the books of the new testament was very early made, for the use of the christians in the east, who did not understand the Greek. This, with the Syriac translation of the Hebrew scriptures, is what the Maronites, who use that translation, call The pure and ancient Syriac version, (simplicem et antiquam. Mill's Prolegomena, No. 1237. Kufter's edition.) But the Maronites speak without proof, when they say a part of that verfion was made in the time of Solomon, and the rest by Thaddeus, or some other of the apostles, in the time of Agbarus. It is certain, however, that the Syriac version of the new testament is very ancient. For, from its wanting the second epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the epistle of Jude, and the revelation, and from some other marks of antiquity, Walton and Mill, with great probability, infer that it was made before the whole of the sacred writings were generally known; confequently, that it was made in the beginning of the second century. (See 2 Pet. Pref. Sect. i.) This Syriac version, on account of its antiquity, and because it is in a language not materially different from that which our Lord and his apostles used, was held in great efteem, in the early ages, by all the eastern churches. But it was not known among us till the fixteenth century, at which time it was brought into Europe, from Ignatius, the patriarch of Antioch, by an eastern priest; and falling into the hands of Albert Widmanstad, he printed it at Vienna, in the year 1555; since which it hath been well
known to the learned in Europe, and well received by them
The reasons which occasioned a Syriac translation of the scriptures to be made in the east, operated likewise in producing a Latin translation of the same writings, for the use of the christians in the west. This is what hath been called the old Italic version, which, as Mill conjectures, (No. 308.) was made in the time of Pope Pius I. that is, in the middle of the second century, not long after the first Syriac version was made. In the Italic version, the new testament was translated from the Greek, and the old, not from the Hebrew, but from the Septuagint, which at that time was generally believed to have been made by inspiration, and was esteemed of equal authority with the Hebrew itself. But the edition of the Septuagint from which it was made being very incorrect, Jerome, about the year 382, at the desire of pope Damasus, translated the old testament into Latin from the LXX. as set forth in Origen's Hexapla ; and, at the same time, corrected the Italic translation of the new testament by the Greek. (See Mill, No. 8529 853.) In his preface, however, Jerome informs us, (No. 1356.) that he corrected it only in those passages where he thought the meaning of the Greek text was misrepresented. The other passages, in which the deviations from the original were of less importance, he suffered to remain as he found them, that his might not appear to be very different from the former edition of the Italic version, which at that time was universally used. Afterwards, between the years 392 and 405, Jerome translated all the books of the old teftament from the Hebrew. This fe. cond verfion, as well as his corrections of the Italic translation of the new testament, being disapproved by many of the bishops and learned men of that age, as leflening the credit of the old
Mill, by testimonies perfe&ly convincing, (No. 1237.) hath etablished the antiquity and authenticity of the first Syriac version. Afterwards, in the fifth century, as is supposed, a second Syriac translation of the old testament was made from the Septuagint, as set forth in Origen's Hexapla, and of the new, according to Mill, from a Greek copy precisely the fame with that from which the Italic cr vulgare version was taken. But, for the reasons afterwards to be mentioned, (page s.) it is more probable that it was taken from the vulgate itself. In this second Syriac version, the epistles wanting in the first, together with the history of the adulterefs, John viii. are translated.