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CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Art. 1.-1. The Hebrew Text of the Old Testament Revised
from Critical Sources. By S. Davidson, D.D., of the
University of Halle. London: Bagster and Sons. 1855. 2. An Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Tes
tament. With a New Translation. By M. Kalisch, Phil.
Doc., M.A. Exodus. London : Longman and Co. 1855. 3. Specimen of a Revision of the English Scriptures of the
Old Testament, from the original Hebrew, on the basis of the Common English Version, compared with the earlier ones on which it was founded. Book of Job. Prefaced by Professor CONANT, Rochester Theological Seminary. New
York and London: Trübner and Co. 1855. 4. Scripture, and the Authorised Version of Scripture ; being
the substance of Two Ordination Sermons. Appendix, containing Notes, and a Glossary of Words which have become obsolete in the sense which they bear in the Translation of the New Testament. By SAMUEL HINDS, D.D., Bishop of Norwich. Second Edition, with additions.
London : Fellowes. 1853. THE works placed at the head of this article point significantly to an energetic movement in the public mind of the age. It requires no prophetic eye to discern that the subject here brought before us, is one which must ere long be discassed in the highest quarters, and by the most powerful thinkers. However strong the reluctance may be on the part of many, among the clergy and the laity, to see the principle of reform applied to the authorised version of our Scriptures; certain it is, that the question of improvement and advancement in this, as in every other branch of human inquiry, is one that is becoming daily more and more urgent. Strange, indeed, it would be, if the event were otherwise. In an age of books, the best of all books cannot but be, in some sense, exposed to the same scrutinizing eye and awakened intelli
gence that is now directed towards every production that bears upon it the impress of mind and genius. And in a book where, independently of its higher claims to attention, there is so much of these merely human qualities alone, to create an intense interest for all it records for all it teaches—for all it reveals—there cannot but be matter of regret, if in every respect it is not so perfect as we could imagine it to be; and this, from its connexion with the ordinary instrumentality necessary for the translation of the original languages, and thus handing down this book to us in the vernacular tongue.
That such a volume should differ greatly and essentially in many respects from all other volumes; that some portions of it should lie under the veil of that obscurity which must attach to ages almost coeval with the existence of man;
that several of its books are much older than the Argonautic expedition; that others surpass the antiquity of Homer ; that many of them must be dated higher than the foundation of Rome; and that even its latest parts are as old as the Cæsars,-are circumstances that
may at once account for imperfections and discrepancies in the original, or in manuscripts of the original of this volume, which we can never expect to see entirely removed. It must surely, however, be admitted, that it is a most laudable attempt to remove as many of these as possible, by the efforts which human scholarship and research can bring to bear upon this subject. There are few, therefore, who would deny to the critical labours of Kennicott, De Rossi, and Davidson, their just desert of praise, unless they are incapable of understanding the nature of such services in the cause of Biblical learning. And yet, for all general purposes, it must be acknowledged, that the labours of these eminent men are thrown away, if our English version of the Bible is to profit nothing by such aids; and is still condemned, in spite of all this vast accumulation of erudition and knowledge, to remain in the same unimproved state which it has
een during the last two hundred and forty-five years. It would be a sad reflection, could we indulge it, that Biblical science and criticism have been so long expending their energies upon a field, from which we can never hope to reap anything for our English Bible. But such undoubtedly is the conclusion to which we must arrive, if we refuse to admit the importance or necessity of its revision. It should never be forgotten, that the majority of persons who read the Bible are of necessity prohibited, by want of time or education, from reading it in the original languages. Hence it becomes of the more consequence that they should have not merely a
GENERAL REASONS STATED.
good translation of it provided for them, but the very best that can be made. They have just reason to complain, if those to whose authority the guardianship of this work is entrusted, do not permit them, whatever be the defects of this translation, to share in the benefits of that increased measure of learning and ability which has been so largely bestowed, especially of late years, upon the elucidation of the original text of the Holy Scriptures.
Perhaps it will be replied to this argument, that it is the office of commentators, and of public instructors, to supply this light, and thus make up by their teachings what cannot be gained always from the written word itself; and that no translation could ever be made so perfect, as to remove all the disadvantages of reading the Scriptures in a language which is not the original one. The latter of these assertions may at once be admitted, but the justness of the former is not so apparent. For how few are there, comparatively speaking, who have time or opportunity to read learned commentaries ! And even if they were able to do so, the number of these is so perplexing, that they would be as much at a loss as ever for the real meaning, or for an authority that might be equivalent at least to the present reading. And then as to pulpit ministrations, we cannot help thinking that the minister who should frequently indulge in a habit of correcting the present authorised version in his sermons, would be looked upon with some degree of jealousy, as one who was rather attempting to display his learning than to benefit his hearers. By many persons such a mode of enlightening an audience is considered to savour of pedantry or affectation, as an attempt to be wiser than what is written, and an innovation upon the long-established claims of the present version to something like indisputable authority. For these reasons there are but few of the clergy, we believe, who adopt this method of teaching; and if they were more disposed to so, there would be another obstacle to it, for the passages of the English Bible most needing correction are not those which would be most frequently handled in the pulpit. And yet notwithstanding this, it is but too obvious that many passages occur in the lessons selected by the Church for instruction, and especially in the Psalms, which are probably passed over by the majority of hearers carelessly, or without the attention they deserve, because they convey no definite idea to their minds; not to speak of other words or expressions which long usage has sanctioned, but which would scarcely be tolerated in any other book selected for public reading and improvement.
It may be, however, that there are still many who will be