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ARTICLE VII.

OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF Hebrew PhiloLOGY.

By Franz Delitzsch, Ph. D. of the University of Leipsic. Translated from the Latin by

Wm. W. Turner, Instructor in Hebrew in the Union Theol. Sem. N. Y.

DURING the publication of that most noble monument of German learning, industry, and typographical skill, the Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of Dr. Julius Fürst, there was issued in the year 1838, a work, small in size, but in merit of magnifie cent proportions, entitled, “Jesurun, sive Prolegomenon in Con. cordantias V. T. a Julio Fuerstio editas libri tres." Its author, Dr. Franz Delitzsch, who has given many other erudite publications to the world, is the intimate friend and favorite disciple of Dr. Fürst, and is mentioned by him in the Preface to his Concordance, where this work is largely quoted, in the highest terms of affection and respect. The design of the publication, as appears from its title, is to explain and defend the principles on which the learned editor of the Concordance proceeded in the execution of his task, and particularly in the construction of the new and original lexicon which forms its principal feature. There can be little doubt but that the author has enjoyed, throughout, the assistance and concurrence of Dr. Fürst, who speaks of the work as containing a complete exposition of his theory, and of its author as one quo nemo adhuc melius mentem meam perspexit, et ad sensum sententiamque meam penitius penetravit." The Jesurun is divided into three books: the first comprises the history of Hebrew philology from its earliest beginnings down to the present day; the second treats of the value of Jewish tradition, and of the comparison of the language with itself and with its dialects; and the third advocates the comparison of the Hebrew with the Indo-germanic languages, especially the Sanscrit. The following article is a translation of the first book, which, from the lucid order of the narration, the acuteness of its criticism, and the amount of new and valuable information it contains, it is thought will prove an acceptable present to all who are engaged in the critical study of the Sacred Scriptures, or who feel interested in the history of their interpretation

It cannot be denied, that the study of the sacred language and of Hebrew literature has made such great progress in the lapse of

ages, that if the Church, which now seems almost divested of the adornments of learning, would only strive to turn all these improvements to her own use, and to render them subservient to the cause of divine truth, she might hope to collect and to store up a more plenteous and joyful harvest of fruits than she has ever yet obtained from this source. He who should venture to contradict this, must be regarded as mentally bereft of sight and hearing : he must be blind to the state of things around him, and deaf to the instructive voice of history. Mean gre and defective was the knowledge of the Hebrew language which an exceedingly few of the early doctors of the Church (whose names are refulgent with glory from other sources) acquired with immense labor and difficulty from the schools of the Jews. For they were destitute of every aid except the instructions of their Jewish teachers, who then made use among themselves of the modern Hebrew, a language greatly differing from the ancient, by reason of the corruptions introduced into it from foreign tongues, and who had not yet learned to treat the sacred language grammatically, or to make a proper distinction between it and the deteriorated modern idiom. Hence it arose, that such an acquaintance with the Hebrew as the Fathers of the Church were enabled with much painstaking to acquire, was founded on the Jewish method, in itself imperfect and hard to be understood, and unaccompanied by even a moderate acquaintance with the grammar and history of the language.

Now it is certain, that however a people, guided as it were by a subtle and secret instinct, may excel in the practical use of their own language, it always remains to them something mysterious and inexplicable until, turning it from its mere subjective use into an object of contemplation, they begin to ascertain its principles and to preserve its purity, by comparing it with other languages, and analyzing the laws on which its structure depends. Who does not know how egregiously Plato (see only his Cratylus) and he among the Jews who most resembles him, Philo of Alexandria, blunder in the exposition of their mother-tongues? so much so in fact, that one can hardly tell whether they are in jest or in earnest! So too among the Romans, do not M. Terentius Varro and the old jurists, when attempting to give the etymons of Latin words, which they not

unfrequently do in the Digests, we say, do not these men, certainly grave and sober enough at other times, seem then to be laboring under a sort of serio-ludicrous hallucination ? And such is the case with the talmudical doctors, who must be allowed to have been profoundly versed in the speaking and writing of Hebrew : as soon as they attempt to explain the laws of construction or the formation of the language, they descend at once to the most ridiculous fancies. The reason is, they had no knowledge of grammar, which was not cultivated as a science till some centuries after ; their only guide was nature, which, although it gave thein a kind of instinctive knowledge of the causes and analogies of the language, could not enable them to furnish a rational and satisfactory explanation thereof to others. It is true that in the talmudic writings there is manifested a most acute and subtle appreciation of the laws of grammar, not indeed openly and clearly stated, but wrapped up in the intricacies of the Midrash, which is in a great measure grammatical and masoretical ; yet even those remarks whose correctness grammatical science has since confirmed, are the result rather of natural tact than of a scientific application of the reasoning powers.

Hence, it is evident how superficial must have been that acquaintance with the Hebrew which the early Fathers of the Church obtained from the Jews of the talmudic age; for, as they neither did nor could possess that incommunicable intuitiveness by which the Jews themselves in a manner divined the formation and laws of the language, their knowledge was merely traditional or conjectural, loose and vague; and they were preserved from more dangerous defects only by the analogy of their religious belief. Nevertheless, the undying gratitude of the Church is due to the exertions of Origen and Jerome, as the men who transplanted the seeds and offshoots of the holy language from the Jewish nurseries into the garden of the Church, and who with admirable industry laid the first foundation of Hebrew learning in the minds of Christendom. Origen (born about 185, died 253), on being smitten with the desire of learning the sacred tongue, journeyed into Palestine to visit the famous monuments of Jewish antiquity, and to examine and if possible obtain some Hebrew manuscripts; he here availed himself of the instruction and assistance of learned Jews, among others of the patriarch Jullus, with whom it appears he became intimately acquainted. Jerome (b. 331, d. 420) continued to an extreme old age a most ardent student of the Hebrew; and from the time when in early youth he lived alone with a Christian Jew and learned the first elements of the language, he spared neither labor, study, nor expense, but toiled unceasingly through all opposing difficulties, to acquire a thorough knowledge of the “Hebrew verity.” On returning to Jerusalem from Egypt, he placed himself under the instruction of one BarChanina, (whom Rufinus contemptuously calls Barabbas,) a man of singular learning, as is evident from his pupil, and who, induced by a large reward, was wont to receive the latter into his house by night, to avoid the enmity of his own people. Jerome also associated with himself, in the work of translating and expounding the Scriptures, some of the most learned of the Jews, whose ability he speaks highly of, as in his epistles to Damasus. In fact, he estimated the importance of Jewish learning and the authority of Jewish tradition much more highly than his contemporaries; in consequence of which, although he affected to be carrying on a controversy with the Jews, he acquired the censure and the enmity of many, even of St. Augustine himself, who knew not that the Punic and the Hebrew were the same language. “Memini,” says he, in his preface to Job, “me ob intelligentiam hujus voluminis Lyddæum quendam præceptorem, qui apud Hebræos primus haberi putabatur, non parvis redemisse nummis, cujus doctrina an aliquid profecerim, nescio.” And again, in his preface to the Book of Chronicles, he says, “Cum literis a me nuper flagitassetis, ut vobis Paralipomenon latino sermone transferrem, de Tiberiade legis quendam doctorem, qui apud Hebræos admirationi habebatur, assumsi et contuli cum eo a vertice, ut aiunt, usque ad extremum unguem.” When, being already advanced in years, he desired to undertake the study of the Chaldee language, he again had recourse to the Synagogue, and placed himself under the instruction of a Jew who was well versed in both languages; following in this the example of Origen, whose doctrinal errors he rejected.

By pursuing this method of study, Jerome became the most erudite and learned doctor of the ancient Church, being able to excel Origen by the fact that the schools of Palestine were in his own time in a more flourishing condition.* There was, indeed, a great similarity and equality in the state of Hebrew studies in the Syna

* I. G. Carpzov, Critica Sacra VI. § 2. SECOND SERIES, VOL. X. NO. I.

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gogue and in the Church, in the time of the talmudic writers; and if this fact had been recognised by Joh. Clericus, that envious disparager of the Fathers, he would have made use of other weapons against Martianay in his Quæstiones Hieronymiana. Indeed, after a careful examination of the works of Jerome, I can safely affirm, that he has gathered with such care and taste into the treasury of the Church whatever of most precious the Synagogue had to offer, that, next to the Talmud itself, his writings form the best source whence to derive a knowledge of ancient Jewish tradition ; although it is true, that the skill in the Hebrew language which Origen and Jerome acquired from their Jewish instructors was, in accordance with the times, defective, and partook of the corruptions of the talmudic dialect, which presented as it were a rude image of the ancient Hebrew. The Church moreover in succeeding ages, as we shall see hereafter, continued in her Hebrew studies to follow in the footsteps of the Synagogue, which had been divinely constituted the guardian, not only of the sacred volume in its original form, but also of the Hebrew language itself. Consequently those Fathers of the Church who possess any knowledge of the Hebrew, attribute it to the Synagogue ; and this knowledge, although turned by them from a profane to a sacred use, is never superior to that of their instructors, but on the contrary is usually more rude, more imperfect, and rarely can be said to equal it. Hence in the works of the older Fathers that agreement with the tradition of the antiquated Synagogue, and that preconceived mode of exposition not founded on argument, which perhaps the further it is removed from grammatical rules is so muchthe more likely to have hit on the truth ;-hence thosc ridiculous etymologies, that idle trifling in the comparison of languages, and those attempts at explaining Greek proper names from the Hebrew;* -hence that mixture of the modern with the ancient tongue,t

* See the second part of Origen's book de Nominibus, inserted in Opp. Hieron. by Martianay, but swarming with errors; e. g. Κολοσαείς (= 5 ms 3p φωνή γενομένη), κολωνία (= πε5: ánoxexahvuuérn). Comp. Philo I. p. 57. M. Aiglonia (=MEDSNO, HD29 ταπείνωσις), b. Taanit f. 20. Νικόδημος (ποπ πρου γιατρο

, . + As Patavās, comp. of Aram. Ned and Heb. wny serpens apostata (Irenæus, in Dial. c. Tryphone); -wa= naidria from mod. Heb. non (Origen ad Matt. 18: 19); 990 tentatio æterna et odium,

.(נקד from ,בעבורו

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