« PreviousContinue »
11: 9, 10. There is manisestly couched here a comparison between the two titles prophet and angel, with a view to raise the latter. Now to this end the common English word messenger is not adapted, as it does not convey to us the idea of greater dignity than that of a prophet, or even of so great. My argument here may be thought not quite consistent with what I urged in my first remark on this word. But the two cases are rather opposite than similar. The allusion was there to the ordinary signification of the term ; the allusion is here not to the signification, but to the common application of it 10 beings of a superior order. The intention was there, comparatively, to depress the character ; the intention here is to exalt it.
16. Another case in which the word angel ought to be retained, though used of man, is when there would arise either obscurity or ambiguity from the construction if the word messenger should be employed. It cannot be doubted, that the angels of the seven churches mentioned in the Apocalypse (ch. 1: 20. 2: 1, 8, 12, 18. 3: 1, 7, 14), are human creatures; but the term messenger would render the expression ambiguous, or rather improper. The messenger of societies (in like manner as of individuals) is one sent by them, not to thein. In this, and some other instances, the Greek äyyskos is to be understood as corresponding in extent of signification to the Hebrew 72 malach which often denotes a minister or servant employed in any charge of importance and dignity, though not a message. It would, therefore, be no deviation from what is included in the Hellenistic sense of the word, is through the whole of that passage it were rendered president.
17. Ju what concerns civil offices, our translators have very properly retained soine names to which we bave none entirely equivalent. Of this number is the name tetrarch, which adınits no explanation but by a periphrasis. Centurion and publican are of the same kind. The word legion, though not a name of office, being the name of a military division to which we have not any exactly corresponding, may be ranked in the same class. The three words last specified are neither Hebrew nor Greek, but Latin ; and as they are the names of things familiar only to the Latins, they are best expressed by those names of Latin derivation employed by our translators. Two of them occur in the Latin form in ihe New Testament, neyev and xevtvplov, though for the latter word the Greek εκατόνταρχος is oftener used. .
It may be proper here to observe, in regard to such Latin appellatives, that from the connexion which subsisted between all European countries and the Romans, and from the general acquaintance which the western nations have long had with the ancient Roman usages, history, and literature, their names of offices, etc., are naturalized in most modern languages, particularly in English. This makes the adoption of the Latin name for an office, or any other thing which the Jews had solely from the Romans, peculiarly pertinent. The remark now made holds, especially when the persons spoken of were either Romans or the servants of Rome. If therefore, after the Vulgate, we had rendered yediaoyos, tribune, ávo úratos, proconsul, and perhaps onela, cohort, the expression, without losing any thing in perspicuity to those of an inferior class, would have been to the learned reader more significant than chief captain, deputy, band.
The word niyeuwv also, though sometimes a general term denoting governor or president, yet, as applied to Pilate, is known to import no more than procurator. Properly there was but one president in Syria, of which Judea was a part. He who had the superintendency of this part was styled imperatoris procurator. For this we have the authority of Tacitus the Roman annalist, and of Philo the Alexandrian Jew. And though the author of the Vulgate has commonly used the term presis for nyeuav, yet, in translating Luke 3: 1, he has rendered ηγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιlárov rns 'lovdalas, procurante Pontio Pilato Judæam. To those who know a little of the language, or even of the history, of ancient Rome, the Latin names in many cases are much more definite in their signification, than the words by which they are commonly rendered ; and being already familiar in our language, are not, even to the vulgar, more obscure than names originally English, relating to things wherewith they are little acquainted. For a similar reason I have also retained the name pretorium, which though a Latin word, has been adopted by the sacred writers, and to which neither common-hall nor judgment-hall entirely answers. That the evangelists, who wrote in Greek, a more copious language, found themselves compelled to borrow from the Latin the name of what belonged to the office of a Roman magistrate, is to their translators a sufficient authority for adopting the same method.
18. I shall conclude this Dissertation with observing, that there are two judicatories mentioned in the New Testament, one Jewish the other Grecian, the distinguishing names of which may, not without energy, be preserved in a translation. Though the noun ouvédolov is Greek, and susceptible of the general interpretation council or senate; yet, as it is commonly in the Gospels and Acts appropriated to that celebrated court of senators or elders accustomed to assemble at Jerusalem, and from the Greek name called sanhedrim, which was at once their national senate and supreme judicatory; and as it appears not in those books to have been ever applied to any other particular assembly, though sometimes to such in general as were vested with the highest authority ; I have thought it reasonable to retain the word sanhedrim, in every case where there could be no doubt that this is the court spoken of. The name has been long naturalized in the language; and, as it is more confined in its application than any common term, it is so much the more definite and energetic. The other is the famous Athenian court called the Areopagus, and mentioned in Acts 17:19; which, as it was in several respects peculiar in its constitution, ought to be distinguished in a version, as it is in the original, by its proper name. To render it Murshill from etymology, without regard to use, would entirely mislead the unlearned, who could never imagine that the bistorian spoke of bringing the apostle before a court, but would suppose that he only informed us that they brought him up to an eminence in the city, from which he discoursed to the people. This is in part effected by the common version ; for, though in verse 19, it is said, “ They brought Paul to Areopagus,” it is added in verse 22, “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars-bill, and said." This leads one to think that these were two names for the same bill. The Areopagus with the article is the proper version in both places.
INQUIRY WHETHER CERTAIN NAMES WHICH HAVE BEEN ADOPTED
INTO MOST TRANSLATIONS OF SCRIPTURE IN THE WEST, COINCIDE IN MEANING WITH THE ORIGINAL TERMS FROM WHICH THEY ARE DERIVED, AND OF WHICH THEY ARE USED AS THE VERSJON.
It was observed in a former Dissertation, as one cause of difficulty in the examination of the Scriptures, that before we begin to study them critically we have been accustomed to read them in a translation, whence we have acquired a habit of considering several ancient and oriental terms as equivalent to certain words in modern use in our own language, by which they have been commonly rendered. What makes the difficulty the greater is, that when we become acquainted with other versions beside that into our mother-tongue, these, instead of correcting, serve but to confirm the prejudice : For, in these translations, we find the same original words rendered by words which we know to correspond exacıly, in those tongues, to the terms employed in the English translation. In order to set ibis observation in ihe strongest light, it will be necessary to trace the origin of some terms which have become technical among ecclesiastic writers, pointing out the changes in meaning which they have undergone. When alterations are produced gradually, they escape the notice of the generality of people, and sometimes even of the more discerning : For a term once universally understood to be equivalent to an original term, whose place it occupies in the translation, will naturally be supposed still equivalent, by those who not attend to the variations in the meanings of words which a tract of time often insensibly produces. Sometimes etymology contributes to favor the deception.
How sew are there, even anong the readers of the original, who entertain a suspicion that the words mystery, blasphemy, schism, heresy, do not convey to moderns precisely those ideas which the Greek words (being the same except in termiuation) uvornocov βλασφημία, σχίσμα, αίρεσις, in the New Testament, conveyed to Christians in the times of the apostles? Yet, that there is not such a correspondence in meaning between them as is commonly sup
posed, I intend, in the present Dissertation, to put beyond a doubt. That there is a real difference in regard to some of those words, is I think generally allowed by men of letters; but as all are not agreed in regard to the precise difference between the one and the other, I shall here examine, briefly, the import of the original terms, in the order above-mentioned, that we may be qualified to judge how far they are rightly rendered by the words supposed to correspond to them, and that we may not be misled, by the resemblance of sound, to determine concerning the sameness of signification.
The Greek word uvornocov occurs frequently in the New Testament, and is uniformly rendered in the English translation mystery. We all know, that by the most current use of the English word mystery (as well as of the Latin ecclesiastic word mysterium, and the corresponding terms in modern languages) is denoted some doctrine to human reason incomprehensible; in other words, such a doctrine as exhibits difficulties, and even apparent contradictions, which we cannot solve or explain. Another use of the word, which, though not so universal at present, is often to be met with in ecclesiastic writers of former ages, and in foreign writers of the present age, is to signify some religious ceremony or rite, especially those now denominated sacraments. In the communion-office of the Church of England, the elements, after consecration, are sometimes termed holy mysteries. But this use seems not now to be common among Protestants, less perhaps in this country than in any other. Johnson has not so much as mentioned it in his Dictionary. Indeed, in the fourth, and some succeeding centuries, the word uvoañolov was so much in vogue with the Greek fathers, and mysterium or sacramentum, as it was often rendered, with the Latin, that it would be impossible to say in what meaning they used the words ; nay, whether or not they affixed any meaning to them at all. In every thing that related to religion, there were found mysteries and sacraments, in doctrines and precepts, in ordinances and petitions : they could even discover numbers of them in the Lord's Prayer. Nay, so late as Father Possevini, this unmeaning application of these terms bas prevailed in some places. That Jesuit is cited with approbation by Walton, in the Prolegomena to his Polyglot, for saying, “ Tot esse in Hebraica Scriptura sacramenta, quot literæ; tot mysteria, quot puncta ; tot arcana, quot apices ;" a sen