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or paraphrasts, among ourselves. I am far from thinking that in some of his guesses he may not be right; it is however much more probable, that in the greater part of them he is wrong.
A mere conjecture may be mentioned in a note; but if, without the authority of copies, translations, or ancient ecclesiastical writers, it may be admitted into the text, there is an end of all reliance on the Scriptures as the dictates of the divine Spirit. Manuscripts, ancient translations, the readings of the most early commentators, are, like the witnesses in a judicial process, direct evidence in this matter : The reasonings of conjecturers are but like the speeches of the pleaders. To receive, on the credit of a sagacious conjecturer, a reading not absolutely necessary to the construction, and quite unsupported by positive evidence, appears not less incongruous than it would be, in a trial, to return a verdict founded on the pleading of a plausible speaker, not only without proof, but in direct opposition to it. For let it be observed, that the copies, ancient versions, and quotations, which are conformable to the common reading, are positive evidence in its favor, and therefore against the conjecture; and even if the readings of the passage be various, there is, though less, still some weight in their evidence against a reading merely conjectural, and consequently destitute of external support, or different from them all. It must however be acknowledged, that the variety itself, if it affect some of the oldest manuscripts and translations, is a presumption that the place has been early corrupted in transcribing.
14. I cannot avoid here taking notice of a correction, merely conjectural, proposed by the late Dr. Kennicott; a man to whose pious and useful labors the learned in general, and the students of the divine oracles in particular, are under the greatest obligations.
, i ninja 23.me, E.T. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, Isa. 53: 9. This ingenious critic supposes, that the words in?? and innan have, by some means or other, changed places. He would have them therefore transposed, or rather restored, each to its proper place, in consequence of which
many plausible conjectures, which their ill-advised predecessors,” former publishers, "had advanced into the body of the page, have the late editors, in consequence of their more extensive researches, been obliged to degrade to their proper place, the margin? Can they then be too scrupulous in admitting their own corrections?” Upon the whole, from the way wherein Dr. Geddes qualifies his sentiments, I am convinced, that the difference between him and me on this article is more in the words than in the thought. His verdict, in regard to every one of the particular cases supposed by him, is unexceptionable ; but his manner of expressing the general position is, in my opinion, unguarded, and consequently may mislead.
* Diss. ii. chap. iv. 2d period.
the import will be, (I give it in his own words), And he was taken up with wicked men in his death; and with a rich man was his sepulchre. He adds: “Since the preceding parts of the prophecy speak so indisputably of the sufferings and death of the Messiah, these words seem evidently meant as descriptive of the Messiah's being put to death in company with wicked men, and making his grave or sepulchre (not with rich men, but with one rich man.
Now let it be observed, that of all the vast number of manuscripts which that gentleman had collated, not one was found to favor this arrangement; that neither the Septuagint nor any other translation is conformable to it; that no ancient author known to us, in any language, quotes the words, so arranged, either from the original or from any version ; and, consequently, that we cannot consider the conjecture otherwise than as opposed by such a cloud of witnesses, as, in inquiries of this kind, must be accounted strong positive evidence. Had the words, as they are read in Scripture, been ungrammatical, so as to yield no meaning that we could discover, and had the transposition of the two words added both sense and grammar to the sentence, and that in perfect consistency with the scope of the context, I should have readily admitted, that the criticism stood on a firmer foundation than mere conjecture, and that the external proofs, from testimony; might be counterbalanced by the intrinsic evidence arising from the subject. But this is not pretended here. To be associated with the rich in death, is equally grammatical, and equally intelligible, as to be associated with the wicked; the like may be said in regard to the burial. Where, then, is the occasion for a change? The only answer that can be given is certainly a very bad one. The occasion is, that the words may be adjusted to an event which, in our opinion, is the fulfilment of the prophecy.
But if such liberties may be taken with the prophets, there will be no difficulty in obtaining from them proofs in support of any interpretation. The learned Doctor takes notice, that the preceding part of this chapter speaks indisputably of the sufferings and death of the Messiah. I am as much convinced as any man, that the subject of the prophecy is as he represents it; but to say that it is indisputably so, seems to insinuate that it is universally admitted. Now this is far from being the fact. It is disputed by the whole Jewish nation, and is allowed by some Christian expositors to be only in a secondary sense prophetical of Christ. Suppose a Christian, after the passage shall have been in the Christian Bibles newmodelled in the way.proposed, to urge it on a Jew, as an argument from prophecy, that Jesus the son of Mary is the person in whom the prediction was fulfilled, and therefore the Messiah ; inasmuch as the words exactly represent what, in so signal a manner, happen
ed to him—he suffered with malefactors, and was buried in a rich man's sepulchre; would not the other have reason to retort, “Ye Christians have a wonderful dexterity in managing the argument from prophecy ; ye, first by changing and transposing the prophet's words, accommodating them to your purpose, make him
say, what we have direct evidence that he never said; and then ye have the confidence to argue, this must infallibly be the event intended by the prophet, it so exactly answers the description. Ye yourselves make the prophecy resemble the event which ye would have to be predicted by it, and then ye reason from the resemblance, that this is the completion of the prophecy !"
Let us judge equitably of men of all denominations. Should we discover that the Masorets had made so free with the declaration of any prophet, in order to adapt it to what they take to be the accomplishment, would we hesitate a moment to call the words, so metamorphosed, a corruption of the sacred text? In an enlightened age, to recur to such expedients will be always found to hurt true religion instead of promoting it. The detection of them, in a few instances, brings a suspicion on the cause they were intended to serve, and would go far to discredit the argument from prophecy altogether. I cannot conclude this remark without adding, that this is almost the only instance wherein I differ in critical sentiments from that excellent author; from whose labors, I acknowledge with gratitude, I have reaped much pleasure and instruction.
15. To conclude what relates to various readings. Those variations which do not affect either the sense or the connexion, I take no notice of, because the much greater part of them would occasion no difference in translating; and even of the few of these which might admit some difference, the difference is more in words than in meaning. Again, such variations as even alter the sense, but are not tolerably supported by either external or internal evidence, especially when the common reading has nothing in it apparently irrational or unsuitable to the context, I have not judged necessary to mention. Those, on the contrary, which not only in some degree affect the sense, but from their own intrinsic evidence or from the respectable support of manuscripts and versions, have divided the critics about their authenticity, I have taken care to specify. When the evidence in their favor appeared to me clearly to preponderate, I have admitted them into the text, and assigned my reason in the notes. Wherever the matter seemed dubious, I have preferred the common reading, and suggested in the notes what may be advanced in favor of the other. When the difference lay in the rejection of a clause commonly received, though the probability were against its admission, yet, if the sentence or clause were remarkable, and if it neither conveyed a sentiment unsuitable to the general scope, nor brought obscurity on the context, I have Vol. I.
judged it better to retain it than to shock many readers by the dismission of what they have been accustomed to read in their Bible. At the same tine. to distinguish such clauses, as of doubtful authority, I inclose them in crotchets. Of this the doxology, as it is called, in the Lord's prayer, is an example. In other cases, I have not scrupled to omit what did not appear sufficiently supported.
THE DIALECT EMPLOYED. As to what concerns the language of this version, I have not much to add to the explanations I have given of my sentiments on this article in the latter part of the preceding Dissertation, and the first part of the present. When the common translation was made, and (wbich is still earlier) when the English liturgy was composed, the reigning dialect was not entirely the same with that which prevails at present. Now, as the dialect which then obtained does very rarely, even to the readers of this age, either injure the sense or affect the perspicuity, I have judged it proper in a great measure to retain it. The differences are neither great nor numerous. The third person singular of the present of the verb terminates in the syllable eth in the old dialect, not the letter s, as in that now current. The participles are very rarely contracted ; nor is there ever any elision of the vowels. Indeed, these elisions, though not entirely laid aside, or becoming much less frequent now than they were about the beginning of the last century. The difference is in itself inconsiderable ; yet, as all ranks and denominations of Christians are, from the use of either the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer, or both, habituated to this dialect; and as it has contracted a dignity favorable 10 seriousness from its appropriation to sacred purposes; it is, I think, in a version of any part of holy writ, entiiled to be preferred to the modern dialect.
2. The gayer part of mankind will doubtless think that there is more vivacity in our coinmon speech, as, by retrenching a few unnecessary vowels, the expression is shortened, and the sentiment conveyed with greater quickness. But vivacity is not the character of the language of the sacred penmen. Gravity here, or even solemnity, if not carried to excess, is much more suitable. “I bid this nian,” says the centurion in the anonymous translation, “Go, and he's gone; another, Come, and he's here; and to my servant, Do this, and it is done,” Matt. 8:9. And in the parallel place in Luke, ch. 7: 6, “ Lord, don't give yourself the trouble of coming; I don't deserve you should honor my house with your presence.'
There are, I believe, not a few, who would prefer this manner to that of the common version, as being much smarter as well as more genteel. Surely, if that interpreter had given the smallest attention to uniformity, he would never have rendered úunu duriv deyo úuiv, as he sometimes does, by the antiquated phrase, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you.” It would have been but of a piece with many passages of his version, to employ the more modish and more gentlemanlike asseveration, “Upon my honor.” With those who can relish things sacred in this dress, or rather disguise, I should think it in vain to dispute.
3. Another criterion of that solemn dialect is the recourse, when an individual is addressed, to the singular number of the second personal pronoun thou and thee, and consequently to the second person singular of the verb; which, being in common language supplied by the plural, is in a manner obsolete. This also is, from scriptural use, and the constant use of it in worship in the British dominions, both by those of the establishment and by dissenters, universally intelligible, and now considered as the proper dialect of religion. Immediately after the Reformation, the like mode in using the pronoun was adopted by all Protestant translators into French, Italian, and German, as well as into English. But as, in Roman Catholic countries, those translations were of no authority, and as the Scriptures are read in their churches, and their devotions and ceremonies performed, in a language not understood by the people, the customs of dissenters, as all Protestants are in those countries, could not introduce into the language of religion so great a singularity of idiom. And as there was nothing to recommend this manner to the people, whilst there were several things to prejudice them against it, we do not find that it has been employed by any late Popish translators into French.
What tended to prejudice them against it is, first, the general disuse of it in the ordinary intercourse of men; and secondly, the consideration, that the few exceptions from this disuse in common life, instead of showing respect or reverence, suggest always either pity or contempt; no person being ever addressed in this way but one greatly inferior, or a child. This being the case, and they not having, like us, a solemn to counterbalance the familiar use, the practice of Protestants would rather increase than diminish their dislike of it. For these reasons, the use of the singular pronoun in adoration, has the same effect nearly on them which the contrary use of the plural has on us. To a French Catholic, Tu es notre Dieu, et nous te benirons, and to an English Protestant, You are our God, and we will bless you, equally betray an indecent familiarity.* By
The way in which Saci, who appears to have been a pious worthy man, translates from the Vulgate the Lord's prayer, rendered literally from