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P R E F A CE.
N the year 1812, having accidentally fallen in with the translation of the Bible printed in 1549, I was struck forcibly with the variation from the present authorized version; and, as the Sacred Scriptures are, above all other writings, what most, or at least what should most, concern us, I could not help wishing I had learned the Hebrew, and began to set about it seriously.
I soon, however, procured more of the translations, and generally found, where a passage in the one was dark, some of the other versions served to explain it; and, upon reflection, it occurred to me that
collating the different translations was better than trusting to one individual, however well he might understand the Hebrew tongue, as it is generally admitted that the Hebrew idiom admits of being translated into English by a number of words very different in their signification.
Impressed with this conviction, I had no doubt that a collation of the principal versions was the best way to arrive at the sure word of truth contained in the Holy Scriptures, as we thereby had not only the opinion of a few, but almost all the learned men of the different periods when the translations were made, which certainly was better authority than any one person, however learned or pious, could lay claim to. By consulting, therefore, the various translations, a light is thrown upon many dark passages, which before were unintelligible to those not acquainted with the original; and even to those who were, appeared “hard to be understood.” But the theologist is not the only one that may find this collation useful in assisting his studies; the philologist will find it of great utility in tracing his vernacular tongue, with all its formations and variations, from the thirteenth century downwards; and from the learning and number of the translators, there can be no doubt of the purity of the language used at the different periods of the translations. There is a third and larger class, which, I trust may be benefited by this collation, namely, the whole religious body of Christians that have not been blessed with an education to enable them to examine the Hebrew and Greek originals, or have not had an opportunity of seeing many of the English translations. To this worthy class, it cannot but be useful. But there is a fourth class that may be benefited, although I trust it is but a small one—those that “ care about none of these things,” but from mere curiosity, or something worse, may be induced to look into this collation; and may, by the blessing of God, find something to impress their minds with the truth of the Scriptures, and that indeed they are the word of life.
I have ventured with few remarks of my own, or notes of any kind, as I am persuaded the comparison of the versions will bring out the sense without any observations of the Collator, yet I trust those few made will not be found altogether useless.
In a great many passages of our present version, the original Hebrew is given, instead of being translated into English, which cannot fail to obscure the sense. The following extracts will show the light thrown upon these passages by comparison, or rather the darkness by the present version. Gen. xvi. 14, “ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai roi.” To those unacquainted with the Hebrew, certainly the editions of 1572 and 1575 are better—“Wherefore the well was called the well of him that liveth and seeth me." Chap. xxiii. 9, " That he may give me the cave of Mach-pelah.” Edit. 1537, “ And let him give me the double cave,” &c. 2d Samuel viii. 1, “ And David took Metheg-Ammah out of the hands of the Philistines.” The other versions, “ And David took the bridle of bondage out of the hands of the Philistines.” Gen. xxxiii. 20, “And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel. Rogers' translation, 1537, “ And he made there an altar, and there called upon the mighty God of Israel." Chap. xxxv. 8, “And the name of it was called Allon Bachuth." Edit. 1537, “And the name of it was called the oak of lamentation." Exod. xvi. 15, “And when the children of Israel saw it they said one to another, It is manna, for they wist not what it was.” Edit. 1537, * And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is this? for they wist not what it was.” Chap. xvii. 15, “And Moses built an altar, and called it Jehovah-Nissi.” Edits. 1575 and 1572, “And Moses made an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is he that worketh miracles for me." Numbers xxii. 5, “ He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam, the son of Beor, to Pethor,” &c. Edit. 1537, “And he sent messengers to Balaam, the son of Beor the interpreter," &c.
But it is not in these places alone of untranslated words that we find a difference. In Gen. iv. 13, Cain is made to say, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”
At same place, in Editions 1537, 1572, 1575, it is rendered, “My sin is greater than it may be forgiven.” Chap. xxii. 1, “ After these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” Edit. 1616, “ After these things, God did prove Abraham.” Chap. xxxi. 53, “ And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.” Edit. 1537, “And Jacob sware by him that his father Isaac feared.” Exod. xxii. 28, “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.” Geneva version, “ Thou shalt not rail upon the judges, neither speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” Numbers xxix. 7, “ And ye shall afflict your souls." 1537, “And ye shall humble your souls.” Deut. vi. 4, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” All the other versions, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord only." Chap. xx. 19, “For the tree of the field is man's life, to employ them in the siege.” 1537,
1537, “ For the trees of the field are not men that they might come against thee to besiege thee."
Gen. xxxiii. 19, might stagger an antiquary, when he is informed that Jacob bought a parcel of a field, “for an hundred pieces of money." The version of 1537 is more likely to be correct, when it gives him “an hundred lambs.” Exod, xxviii. 13, present version, “Thou shalt make ouches of gold.” 1537, “Thou shalt make hooks of gold.” Chap. xxxij. 14, " And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.” Editions 1537, 1572, and 1575, “ The Lord refrained himself from the evil which he said he would do unto his people.” Exod. xxxviii. 8, “ And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Edit. 1537, “And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it also of brass, in the sight of them that did watch before the door of the tabernacle of witness.” Lev. xx. 6, “And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards,” &c. Edit. 1537, “ If any soul turn him to enchanters, or expounders of tokens,” &c.
Our present version, Num. xxiv. 16, makes Balaam fall into a trance “with his eyes
open." The other versions, “That falling into a trance, had his eyes opened.” Num. xxxiii. 5, “And he was king of Jeshuran,”' &c. 1537, “ And he was in Israel king.” Joshua v. 2, present version, “Make thee sharp knives.” 1537, “Make thee knives of stone." Chap.
. xi. 13, present version, “But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn." Rogers' version, “But Israell burnt none of the cyties that stode upon hills, save Hazor only that Joshua burnt.” If Hazor had still stood in its strength, Joshua could not have burned even it. Judges xviii. 7, “ And there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing." All the other versions are nearly the same as the Genevan, “Because no man made any trouble in the land, or usurped any dominion.” 1 Samuel xiii. 1, “Saul reigned one year, and when he had reigned two years over Israel,” &c. 1537, “Saul was as a child of a year old when he began to reign, and when he had reigned two years over Israel.” Chap. xvii. 22, “ And David left his carriage in the hands of the keeper of the carriage and ran,” &c. Edit. 1537, “ And David put the panyers (or baskets) from him into the hands of the keeper of the vessels and ran,” &c. It is more likely the young shepherd would bring baskets to hold his presents, than come riding in his carriage.
There are other words in the present version translated which might with more propriety have been left untranslated, as in the two following examples :-Ezra iv. 10, “And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.” Genevan version, " And the rest of the people whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and others that are beyond the river Cheenoth.” 2 Chron. ii. 13, “ And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding of Huram my fathers.” Edit. 1537, “And now I have sent a wise man, and a man of understanding, called Hiram Abi.”
But there certainly are some passages which neither of the versions explain so clearly as might be wished. In Job xxxvii. 22, of the present version, we read, “ Fair weather cometh out of the north, with God is terrible majesty.” Now it is not easy to see the connection between fair weather, and the terrible majesty of God! The other versions, although better, do not give the meaning of the original. Elihu is making his elegant speech, when, looking up, he exclaims, “ Behold the Shechinah (or brightness ) comes out of the north, he approaches wrapped in a whirlwind; with God is terrible majesty.” Job answers in the Genevan version, “It is the Almighty," &c. Then follows as in the present version, " Then the Lord an. swered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “ Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge,” &c. As a farther corroboration of this explanation, see Ezekiel's vision, Chap. i, 4 of his prophesies, where this symbol of the Divine presence is also seen approaching from the north. “I looked and behold a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it,” &c.
Another place where neither of the versions are clear, is in Hosea x. 5, “ The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-Aven.” This passage, there can be no doubt, refers to the calves set up at Bethel, but as Beth signifies a house, and El, the mighty God, the prophet changes the name to Beth-aven; and speaking of the people of Samaria, he says, they have feared or worshipped the calves, of the house of iniquity.
There is a third place in the 15th chapter of Judges, that none of the versions given in this collation render so clear as might be wished. After Samson has slain the Philistines with the ass's jaw-bone, the translators in the 19th verse make a well spring out of the jaw, out of which he satisfied his thirst, although they tell us in the 17th verse that he had thrown it away before, and gave the valley a new name, RAMATH-LEHI, or the lifting up of the jaw, to commemorate this extraordinary victory which the God of Israel had enabled him to perform by so unlikely a weapon. Keeping the new name of the valley in view, it is clear the 19th verse ought to have been rendered, But God clave an hollow place in Lehi, out of which came water, and when he had drank his spirit revived and he called the name thereof Ex-HAKKORE (or the fountain of him that prayed), which remains in Lehi unto this day.
It may be objected to by some, that Lehi could not be a new name given to that valley by Samson, as in the 9th verse, before he came from the rock Etam, the Philistines encamped in the valley of Lehi! But these critics forget that the Book of Judges was written long after the days of Samson, when the old name of the valley was not generally known, as the historian states that the fountain remains in Lehi “ unto this day.” This quotation from the 19th verse also shows that the water could not have issued from the jaw-bone, or it could not have merited the name EN-HAKKORE, or the fountain of him that prayed, nor could the bone have remained for any length of time in the valley.
But there are few passages of Scripture that, by comparing the different versions, will not be clearly understood.
As a whole, there is no book in existence that can be compared with this Sacred Gem in sublimity, simplicity, and vigour; nor can this opinion be better expressed than in the words of a late author, (Sir Daniel K. Sandford, Professor of Greek, Glasgow University,).-" That any one who has studied the poetry, history, and philosophy of the HEBREWS, even merely “ as specimens of composition, should lightly esteem them, is impossible. In lyric flow and fire, “in crushing force, in majesty that seems still to echo the awful sounds once heard beneath
the thunder clouds of Sinai, the poetry of the ancient Scriptures is the most superb that "ever burned within the breast of man."
I have great pleasure in acknowledging the kindness of Dr MURRAY, author of the Literary History of Galloway, in furnishing me with the materials of the Memoir of J. MʻRAY; and also of the Rev. Dr John Brown, Edinburgh, who allowed me to take a copy of the title of the original version of the New Testament in his possession, published at Rhemes, in 1582, by John Fogny. But if I were to mention all I have received kindness and attention from, I would have to recapitulate the names of the greater part of my subscribers. And I beg to express my gratitude to the whole of them, as without their patronage I could not have attempted to publish so expensive a work.
I have endeavoured as far as possible, in my extracts from the different versions, to copy word and letter, yet it is quite possible errors may be found, although I trust they will be few in number. Having done every thing my limited abilities admitted, to do justice to the Work; I hope my readers will keep in mind the lines of Pope :
- Whoever thinks a faultless work to see,
DUNDEE, June 1847.