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ambiguous or obsolete, carry solemnity and gravity with them; and that what is awkward and uncouth, approximates to the magnificent grandeur of the ancient Hebrew. In fact, with them, “Omnia ignota pro magnifico sunt.” The translators, however, did not admit these expressions, because they thought that quaintness and obsoleteness resemble the simplicity or sublimity of the original, but because they were part of the phraseology of the age, and not quaint or obsolete at that period. In like manner we should endeavour to produce a version, whose diction should be the diction of the day: and the attempt would now be more feasible than formerly, inasmuch as the language has arrived at its level, and no further revision will be required. A few specimens of different translations of Scripture, at different times, will not be mal-apropos in this place; and will serve to show how gradually the language has been changing, and what various features it assumed, until it finally arrived at its present state.
Translation of St. Matthew, by an unknown writer, about the
« Blynde men seen, erookid men wandren, mesels been maad clene, deef men heeren, deed men rysen agein, pore men ben taken to prechynge of the Gospel.” St. Matthew xi. 5.
By Wicklif. A. D. 1377.
“ And Jhesus thretynde him, and anoon Jhesus putte hym out.” Mark i. 42.
“He expownede to his disciplis alle thingis bi hemsilf.” Mark iy. 34.
" And whanne wijn failide." John ii. 3.
“ Thanne thei that resseyden his word weren baptized.” Acts ii. 41.
By Tindal. 1526.
« As they were come oute, beholde, a dum man, possessed of a devil, was broughte too him," Matt. ix. 32.
“ Pilate sayed unto them, Take watchmen, go, and make it as sure as ye can: and they wente, and made the sepulcre sure with watchmen, and sealed the stone." Matt. xxvii, 65, 66.
Earlier specimens might be adduced, but they would have been AngloSaxon: whereas I have thought proper to confine myself to such as are strictly English.
By Miles Coverdale. 1535.
« And whatsoever ye axe in prayer, if ye belefe, ye shall receive it.” Matt. xxi, 22.
“ But these are written that ye should belefe that Jesus is Christe the sonne of God, and that ye, thorow belefe, might have lyfe in his name.” John xx. 21.
The next extracts are taken from the Great (or Cranmer) Bible, 1541; the Geneva Bible, 1560; the Bishops' Bible, 1568; and King James's Bible, 1611. So little time elapsed between the publication of these, that much difference cannot be expected in their respective diction or orthography; but, as each was edited with the intention of improving and revising preceding editions, they afford a fair opportunity of showing what was considered correct and grammatical English, at the time of their publication.
That the comparative view may be more distinct, the same passage is selected from each version, viz. St. Matthew ii. 7, 8.
GREAT BIBLE, GENEVA' BIBLE, BISHOPS' BIBLE, K.JAMES'S BIBLE, 1541. 1560. 1568.
1611. Then Herode when he 7. Then Herode privi. 7. Then Herode, whien 7. Then Herode when had prively called the ly called the wisemen, he had privilye called he had privily called wyse men, he enquyr. and diligently inquired the wyse men, inquired the wise men, enquir. ed of them diligently of them the time of the of them diligently what ed of them diligently, what time the starre starre that appeared,
time the starre appear
what time the starre appered; and he bad 8. And sent them to ed.
to Bethleem, Bethlehem, saying go, 8. And he sent them to 8. And he sent them and said, Go youre way
and searche diligently Betlilehem, and sayde, to Bethlehem, and said, thyther, and search di. for the babe; and when go and search diligent- goe, and search dililigently for ye chylde. ye have founde him, ly for the young childe, gently for the young And when ye have bring me word againe, and when ye have child, and when ye founde him, bring me that I may come also, founde hym, bryng me have founde him, bring word againe, that I and worship him. worde agaive, that I me word again, that I may come, and worslıyp
may come, and worship may come, and worship hym also.
The specimen of King James's Bible is as it came out of the translators' hands, in 1611; and it will be observed, that the orthography does not correspond with the copies now in use. The fact is, when the common version has been reprinted at different times, the editors and printers have been suffered to take liberties with the text, and not only to correct orthographical errors, but even to make insertions of words and whole sentences. The greater part of those words printed in Italics, with which the later copies abound, are the licences of no distant date. Some, indeed, are to be traced back to the first edition, but scarcely in
Properly speaking, the Geneva Bible was published at Geneva, by English Protestant refugees, when they dare not print it in England, and not merely by way of revising preceding editions.
the proportion of one to five. Both the Universities have more than winked at these liberties; they have ventured to authorise them : and hence the corrections of Dr. Scattergood, which were inserted in the reprint of 1683; and of Dr. Lloyd, in the reprint of 1701. The greatest freedom of the kind was taken under the direction of Dr. Blaney, in the year 1769, who was openly commissioned, by the Vice Chancellor and Delegates of the University of Oxford, to revise the punctuation, to add more words in Italics, by way of rendering the sense more clear, to correct the heads of the chapters, and to increase the number of marginal references.
My object in making this statement is, to supply an additional argument in favor of a new version : for if individuals have been suffered to make partial revisions, if such emendations have been judged necessary, if the sanctity of the authorised translation has not been thought to be invaded by these practices, what objection can be made against a thorough revision ?-a revision which shall employ the talents and judgment, not of an individual only, but of a competent and learned body of men, selected by the heads of the church, and authorised by the sovereign and his privy council. It appears that the common version has been pronounced defective by the means already taken to improve it: why then hesitate to revise it completely and effectually?
My business is now to adduce examples of the alleged defectiveness of our authorised copy of Scripture, or rather of its comparative defectiveness ; for, as I have observed before, it is quite equal to the age in which it was edited, in style, diction, grammar, and fidelity,—although far behind such a translation as the present state of literature demands, in every one of these particulars. The following examples are chiefly taken from such chapters in the Old Testament, as form the lessons on sabbath days, and on the principal festivals. More numerous and more glaring errors might be selected; but my end will be answered without swelling the list unnecessarily.
Misapplication of the Copulative and Adverbial Expressions.
Verbal niceties were so little attended to, by writers of every description, in the sixteenth, and greater part of the seventeenth
'My reason for confining these strictures to the Old Testament is, that the defective passages in the New were exemplified at large, by a very able scholar, about 30 years back. Dr. Symonds exhibited great taste and judgment in the execution of his lask; but it is probable that his treatise would have met with a better reception from all parties concerned in the purity of a national translation, if he had not been too diffuse, and tuo severe against the venerable compilers of the common version. He did not duly estimate either the patience of his readers, or their habitual respect for what had long been consecrated in their eyes.
century, that, in the language of the translators themselves, it was considered as “the next step to trifling." They even acknow. ledged that their work was deficient in accuracies of this kind, and defended themselves by asking, “ Is the kingdom of God become words and syllables?": The public taste has become much refined since that period ; and there are few men of letters who can be reconciled to an improper and indeterminate use of such terms as and, but, also, only, &c., which frequently affect the sense of a passage. In the authorised version they are so loosely and vaguely applied, as to render whole verses ambiguous. The first chapter of Genesis alone contains a repetition of the conjunction and, until it not only becomes fatiguing to the ear, but it likewise deforms and obscures the text in a very considerable degree. It is meant to be a translation of the Hebrew y vau,? and to be taken in a connective sense : but even thus it might have been rendered, then, but, therefore, thus, so, and also, in several of the verses; by which means the historic detail would have been clearly worded, and the order of creation would have appeared more distinct and perspicuous. In one place only have our translators varied the read. ing, viz. v. 27. “ So God created man in his own image:” whereas they might have diversified it to advantage in twenty or thirty.
Genesis vi. 11. “ The earth also was corrupt before God.” (Nothing comes before to require the connective sense which also here gives. N.B. The passages must be turned to, or my examples may appear inconclusive.)
1 See the Translators' General Preface.
2 Parkhurst has shown that it is also used prohibitively, and negatively, and observes thus upon it: “ This very common use of the particle , vau clears up the sense of 1 Kings ü. 9. Let the reader attentively consider in the original Hebrew, the 8th and 9th verses, and he will clearly perceive that the middle of the 9th must be understood parenthetically; “ And now do not hold him guiltless, (for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou shouldst do unto him) neither bring down his grey hairs with blood to the grave. Accordingly Solomon held him not guiltless, by confining him to Jerusalem under pain of death. And when he violated this condition, to which he had himself expressly assented, and sworn, Solomon for this fresh offence, as a wise man, caused him to die. This interpretation fully explains the text, and acquits David of the charge of cruelty and treachery in his conduct respecting Shimei.”
Mr. Bellamy, both in the Preface to his New Translation, and in his Pamphlet, gives himself great credit for discerning the true reading of this änd other difficult passages in Scripture, and seems to have forgotten that many divines of the established church understood and explained many of them, long before he offered his assistance. There is scarcely an incorrect or obscure verse in our copy of the Bible, which has not been satisfactorily discussed by learned commentators connected with our communion; and it would be more candid of Mr. Bellamy, if he would occasionally acknowledge the aid which he derives from their previƠus labors.
Genesis xlii. 22. « Therefore, behold, also his blood is required."
Numbers xxiv. 12. « Spake I not also to thy messengers."
Psalm xl. 17. “ But (though) I am poor and needy, yet the Lord careth for me.'
Psalm lxix. 4. “ When (then) I restored that which I took not away."
Psalm lxxxix. 27. “ Also I will make him my first-born.”
Isaiah liii. 9. « And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death: because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.'
The learned Bishop Lowth translates this verse, "And his grave was appointed with the wicked, but with the rich man was his tomb ; although he had done no wrong, neither was there any guile in his mouth.” This reading agrees with the original, and is consistent with the event, as it afterwards happened.
In addition to the above examples, I may briefly notice the frequent misuse of or for nor, either for neither, and the converse.
The very frequent use of the present for the preter, or participle ; as, “ My sins are not hid (hidden) from thee.” Ps. lxix. “ If the prophet had bid (bidden) thee do some great thing." 2 Kings v. 13.
1 Kings xix. 12. “ But I, thy servant, fear (have feared) the Lord from my youth.”
1 Kings xix. 29. “ And it came to pass, when mid-day was past, and they prophecied (had prophecied) until the time of the evening sacrifice.”
Psalm lxviii. 131 “Though ye have lien among
Psalm lxix. 20. " I looked for some to have pity upon me; but there was none."
Psalm cxxviii. 2. « Oh! well is thee."
Expressions that are Equivocal, Obsolete, or Inelegant. Genesis xxxiv. 2. “ He defiled her"-(Hebrew, humbled her.)
Genesis xxxix. 6. “ And Joseph was a goodly person and wellfavoured.”
Genesis xxxix, 11. « Joseph went into the house to do his business.”