« EdellinenJatka »
best way to make an ancient misshapen elifice regular and uniform, is 10 puli it down, and build it all anew.
As the most approved versions are those, that adhere not too close to the letter, nor deviate too far from it, our authors profess to have kept between both. Indeed they have often, out of a regard to the sacred text, and a deference to the opinion of the generality of the world, not taken the liberty necessary to an exact and perfcet tranflation. But left the liberties they have sometimes taken, may not be relished by those, who have not fufficiently attended to the rules of a good translation, they thought proper to make the following remarks upon that subject.
1. In the first place it must be observed, that in translating we are not to render uord for word, but sense for sense, and that the most literal verfions are not always the most faithful. There is a great deal of difference between the letter and the literal sense. The letter is the word explained according to its etymolowy. The literal sense is the meaning of the author, which is frequently quite different from the grammatical signification of the words. The design of a version is not to explain the words of a book, that is the office of a grammarian, the intent of a translator ought to be to express the thoughts. Thus a man may be a good grammarian, and at the same time a wretched translator.
2. Nothing is more common than for the lame words, in the mouths of different nations, to have different fignifications. In this case to confult
your dictionary would be a certain mcans 10 put you wrong as to the literal sense of an author. For instance, were we to render the Greek word jca datizein by the English word to scandalize, we should be far from expreffing the meaning of the sacred penmen. For scandalizein, in Greek, significs to lay a fnare, to put an obstacle in the way, to dishearten, 10 cauje to waver and fall, &c. Whereas in English, to scandalize, is properly to speak i l of a perion, to dofame, and the like.
3. It often happens that one author uses a word in a different sense from that of another. Of this, to justify and juftification are instances. In English to justify a person, is, to speak in his defence, to clear him from what he is accused of ; whereas in the scripture language, to justify, is an act of God's mercy, whereby pardoning our fins, in confideration of our faith and repentance, he declares us juft or righteous, and treats us as tuch, for the fake of Jesus Christ. There are abundance of words of the like nature; the facied writers of the New Testament forming their Jyle upon the Hebrew and Septuagint version, often give a particular meaning to the Greek words. If iherefore we were to render such words by their most usual fignification, we should indeed render them according to the letter, but at the same time we should be far from exprefling the ideas annexed to them by the author. The fame writer also very often uses the iame word in different senses, not only in different places, but sometimes in the same sentence. If we were to render them always by the same word, on pretence of being faithful and exact, we should on the contrary, express ourselves in a very improper and frequently in an unintelligible manner. The Greek word, for example, that signifies faith* is made use of by St. Paul in very different senses ; sometimes he means by it the being persuaded of a thing t, sometimes trust or reliance I, and sometimes the object of faithf, that is, the gospel. As these are very distinct ideas, the rules of a good translation require, that in each place we give the word faith the meaning which is agreeable to the context.
4. It is well known, that in Hebrew, upon which the Greek of the New Testament is formed, there are certain expletives, or fuperfluous particles, which in that tongue inay posibly have their graces, or at least may not be so disagreeable as in ours. Such is the conjunctive copulative, kai, and, which commonly in the New Testament instead of connecting begins the discourse. Hence it is that we meet with such multitudes of ands, without any meaning at all, and which in the living languages sound very odd. Of the same nature is the adverb behold or lo. It often has its meaning and enphasis, but for the most part it is a mere Hebraim without any particular fignification.
5. As for the other particles, for, but, as, now, then, &c. the criticks have very well observed, that they have not determinate significations, and therefore it would be very wrong to render them always in the same manner. In fixing their sense the context and connection of the difcourse must be our guide. These several meanings of the same particle are owing to the Hebrew, where the particles vary extremely in their fignification*; but the same thing is to be met with in both Greek and Latin authors.
6. As feveral may think it strange that in this versiin thou and thee are changed into you, it will be proper to remove their scruples, which can proceed only from their being used and accustomed to the contrary. But such should consider, That no prescription ought to be pleaded against reason, and that to speak in a barbarous style in a polite age and language, is highly unreatonavie. Those, who object against this, either forget or do not know that the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues having no you in the fingular number, it was impossible for the sacred penmen to speak otherwise. The pretended dignity of Thee and Thou in the gospels, is to be met with in all the discourses and books of those times, because they could not talk to one another in any other manner. But now-a-days that you is made use of in the fingular number, when we would speak landsomely, and that to say Thou is extremely rude and uncivil, or a sign of great familiarity, or of the meanest dependance, there can be no reason of adınining this indecent manner of expreffion m the version of the New Teftament. What can be more grating than to hear the disciples calling their Lord, thou, and thit, and our Saviour talking to the Apostles as to the meanest of servants ?
it is not ihe same thing when we address ourselves to God, as when men are talking to one another. God is infinitely above the little rules of our breeding and civility, and as the addrefles of the faithful to ihis Supreme Being are of a supernatural order, it is proper their lan
† Rom. xiv. 23: I Heb. xvii. &c. Ø Rom. iv. 14. * see lo; le on the style or the holy Scriptures. Obj. 3. c. 2.
guage should in some measure be fo too. Upon this occasion the oriental style has a certain fublimity in it, which may be much easier conceived than expressed. And if, when we speak to kings in an heroick style, we find thou has something very noble, grand, and respectful, how much more to when we address ourselves to the King of
2. In this version the translators had solely in view the thoughts of the sacred penmen, without any regard to the particular explanations and applications of divines. Syflems of divinity are to go by the scriptures, and not the scriptures by them. To prove a doctrine by a text, which in its natural senle proves it not, or does not do it without a strained and forced interpretation, is to betray at once both the scriptures and doctrine too. Divines, who go this way to work, expose at the same time the Christian religion in general, and their own principles in particular.
In each communion a man is obliged to adhere to the articles, therein established, but then every one ought to be left free to interpret the scriptures, by the same rules that are necessary for explaining any other book whatsoever. Besides, when a doctrine is proved by several express: texts, or by one such, 10 endeavour to prove it by paliages quite foreign to the purpose, is unfair dealing, a pious fraud very blame-worthy, or at least Thews such a ftrong prejudice and blind oliftinacy, as can never make for the credit of any sect or party. Calvin was a truly orthodox divine. But he ingenuously disclaimed both the ancients and moderns, when ip proof of certain mysteries they alledged texts, which in his opinion had no manner of relation with the matter in hand. However, the like liberty is not here taken, but without confuting any particular explanation, our authors have laid it down as a law, to represent the text just as it is, and to have every one at liberty to judge of the truths therein contained.
8. There are two sorts of Heroilms in the New Testament. Some there are, which all the world understand, having been accustomed to them; but there are others, which would be unintelligible, if not explained. The first of these are preferred, in order to give the Version the air of an original, which is cílencial to a good translation. The others have an [English, turn given them, and the Hebraism is marked in the C-mment. For instance, as it is usual in all languages, as well as in Helrew, to term the difciples or followers of any perfon, his children, this expreffion is retained, as the children of God, and the children of the devil. The Hebrewus tay, to eat bread*, when they would express eating in general or making a meal. Now this Hebraiji cannot be rendered literally without ambiguity. Again, for the edge of the word, they fay, the mouth of the swordt, which is unintelligible in English. For a thing they lav, a word; for pofterity, they fay, feed; for a tree, they fay, wood; and make use of the word, to answer, in the beginning of a discourse, before any person has spoke. It is evident in these and the like cates the Hebraism must be dropt, and the author's meaning, not his expressions, must be kept io. "To give the Verhon a certain oriental turn,
* John xiii. 18.
* Luke xxi. 24.
natural to the New Testament, all the figures are carefully preserved, as far as peripicuity and the purity of language will admit.' There are several ellipses, that is, words understood, which it was necessary to supply; and several ena lages, or changes of tenses and persons which cannot be imitated without barbarijm, and leaving the sense obscure, equivocal, and sometimes entirely wrong * la fine, there are several allutions to words, which are very seldom capable of being translated from one language to another. This is done where the words in our language would bear it; for instance, let the dead bury their dead, which is a sort of an enigmatical expresion, the understanding whereof depends on the taking the word dead in two different senses.
To conclude, nothing has been omitted to keep up the character, genii's, and /dle of the sucred peninen, as far as was consistent with preterving their fenfe. If there are any supplemental words, they are no more than the text necessarily requires. They, for whom the facred writings were at first designed, supplied without any difficulty the words that were wanting, being used to that way of expression. But our language will not adnit of any of these ellipses. All modern and affreted expressions are carefully avoided, and though the fam liar and popular style of the Evangelists is closely imitated, yet is it done without descending to any mean or low expression. There is a nobleness in the fimplicity of the language of the sacred authors, which distinguishes them in an eminent manner from common writers, and no endeavours have been wanting to follow them in that particular,
IV. The NOTES.
The Notes were designed for the following uses. 1. They fhew the difference between the [English] and Greek, to the end they, who understand the original, may the better judge of the faithfulness of the translation. 2. They serve to clear up the literal sense, when any obscurity occurs. 3. They describe the places, persons, and usages, spoken of or alluded to, as well as explain the proverbial sayings, ways of expresion, and the like, the knowledge whereof gives great light to the meaning of a passage. For instance, our Saviour prefers the whiteness of the lily before all the magnificence of Solomon's royal robes. Now the beauty and force of this comparison are much more conspicuous, when we are told, the robes of the eastern princes were white. 4. When a pafrage may be rendered several ways, or is not understood in the fame manner by interpreters, the different senses are taken notice of in the Notes, and either that, which is thought the best, is remarked, or the reader is left to judge for himself, when the case is doubtful. 5. The various readings, that make any alteration in the sense, are fet down. 6. Our authors candidly own, they know not the meaning of
* See Luke xiii. 34. Mat. xxiii. 37.
some passages. They lay nothing down for certain but what appears fo, and what they cannot rationally explain, they leave as they found it, doubtful and obscure. It is imposible, a work of fo great antiquity, should be every where equally clear, fince we are deprived of many beps, which would have given great light into leveral difficult places. It is sufficient that every thing, relating to.our faith and morais, is delis vered with all imaginable plainness and perspicuity.
V, The P R E F A C E S.
As there will be an occafion to mention the Prefaces to each book of the New Teftument, in the Introduction, the reader is referred thither, in srder to avoid repetition.