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No. 22, Old Bosweil-court, Strand,
BY J. WHITTLE ; AND BY E. HARDING, AT THE CROWN AND MIT
Introduction to the New Testament, By John David Michaelis, late
Professor in the University of Gottingen, &c. Translated from the
John's College Cambridge. 8vo. 6 vol. Rivingtons. 1802.
century, a greater revolution than in Germany. As laborious and useful scholars the Germans have excelled ever since the æra of the reformation ; and science, physical, moral and political, has long been cultivated among them with great success. It is but of late years, however, that their attention has been generally turned to the cultivation of their own language, and to the study of poetry and the Belles lettres; but so far are we from admiring their taste, that we would rather labour through the most prolix publications on law, physic, and divinity, of the grandfathers of the present generation, than waste our time on some of the admired productions of Schiller, and Kotzebue, and Wieland.
Vieland. In the works of the elder authors information may certainly be obtained by him who has patience to dig for it. In those of the latter there is little to be found besides shocking profaneness, or tales of horror calculated to frighten children. NO, LXXI. VOL, XVIII.
Such, however, is the rage for what is called poetry, that every ancient writing is, by the present race of Germans, considered as poetical ; and grave divines, or rather those, who, by the courtesy of the country, are called divines, instead of co-operating with their forefathers to illustrate, by various erudition, the facred text, treat the Scriptures of the Old Testament as a collection of oriental fables. Hence the dull absurdities of Herder, which are daily done into English for the mutual benefit of the deers and the booksellers, and hence the admiration of German theology, which we so often meet with in the Monthly Review, and other Journals of the same stamp.
By this we do not mean to insinuate that there are no fober divines in Germany. In a country so populous, and containing about forty universities, there are, doubtless, many such ; and the work before us is a proof that very lately there was in it at least one theological writer who had no occasion to shrink from a comparison with any that had written before him. It is, indeed, the merit of this translation of Michaelis's Introduction to the New Teftament, that has induced us to give pretty copious account of the whole of it to our readers ; for, the first part having been published several years before the commencement of our critical labours, it is only to the second that our attention is imperiously called by duty. Of the first part the learned translator gives a concise yet comprehensive view in the following words:
“ Each chapter contains a separate differtation on some important branch of sacred criticism. In the chapter, which relates to the authenticity of the New Testament, the evidence both external and internal is arranged in fo clear and intelligible a manner, as to afford conviction even to those, who have never engaged in theological inquiries: and the experienced critic will find the subject discussed in so full and comprehensive a manner, that he will probably pronounce it the most complete clay on the authenticity of the New Testament that ever was published. The chapter, which relates to the inspiration of the New Testainent, contains a variety of very sensible and judicious remarks; and though the intricacy of the subject has sometimes involved our author in obscurity, yet few writers will be found who have examined it with more exactness. The language of the New Tefament is analysed in the fourth chapter with all the learning and inge nuily for which our author is so eminently distinguished.--In the fifth chapter, where he examines the passages which the Apofiles and Evangelists have quoted from the Old Testament, he takes a distinct view of the leveral parts of the inquiry, and considers whether these quotations were made immediately from the Septuagint, or were translations of the Hebrew; whether their application is literal or typical; and whether the sacred writers did not lometimes accomınodate to their present purpole expreffions and pal?ages, which in themselves related to different subjects. In the fixth chapter, which contains an account of the various readings of the Greek Testament, he news the different causes which gave them birth, and deduces clear and certain rules to guide us in the choice of that which is genuine.-The Seventh chapter, which contains a review of the antient versions of the New Testament, is not only critical but historical, and com
prises prises in itself such a variety of information, as makes it difficult to determine, whether it most excels in affording entertainment or conveying in. struction. The eighth chapter relates to the Greek manuscripts, and after fome previous differtations in regard to the subject in general, contains a critical and hiftorical account of all the manticripts of the Greek Teltament, which have been hitherto collated.-- The quotations from the New Tettament, in the works of ecclefiaftical writers, form the subject of inquiry in the ninth chapter, in which our author examines the various modes in which it is supposed that these quotations were made, and considers how far they were made from mere memory, and how far we may consider them as faithful transeripts' from the manuscripts of the New Testament, which the writers respectively ufed. Having thus examined the text of the Greek Testament, its various readings, and the three grand fources from which they must be drawn, namely, the Greek manufcripts, the antient versions, and the quotations in the works of ecclefiaftical writers, he proceeds, in the tenth chapter, to examine fuch readings, as either are, or have been introduced into the lacred text on mere conjecture, He allows that critical emendations, which have no reference to points of doctrine, are fometimes allowable; but he highly inveighs against theological conjecture, and maintains that it is inconlistent io adopt the New Testament, as the standard of belief and manners, and yet to allert the privilege of rejecting or altering, without authority, whatever contradicts a previously aílumed hypothesis. The eleventh chapter contains only a chronological account of the authors who have collected various readings to the Greek Testament: but the twelfth contains a very excellent review of all the critical editions of the Greek Testament from 1514, when the Complutensian was printed, down to the present time. He likewise considers the imperfections, which have hitherto attended such editions as are printed with various readings, and delivers the plan, and the rules, on which a perfect edition, according to his opinion, should be formed. The last chapter, which relates to the marks of distinction in the Greek Teliament, and the divisions which have been made at different times in the sacred text, will be moit interesting to those who are engaged in the examination of Greek manuscripts : but as many practical rules are deduced from the inquiry, it will be likewise of importance to every man who is employed in the study of divinity at large.” (Pref. PP. 3—6.)
This is so full, and, at the same time, so just an account of what is promised in the first part of Michaelis's Introduction, that we might dismiss that part of the work without farther notice; did it not contain many incidental observations of the highest importance; and were it not illustrated by many valuable notes of the translator. Some of the observations will be found exceedingly useful ; and fome, though ingenious, both groundless and dangerous; nor can a different character be given of the notes and differtations of the editor, who, though he often corrects his author, sometimes, we think, falls into error himself. We shall, therefore, proceed rapidly through the whole work, dwelling only on such particulars as have not been noticed by Mr. Marsh in this concise review ; ftating, occasionally, such additional arguments as occur to us in support of the truth;