Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Tum fata, pallentisque busti

Frigus iners et opacus borror
Custodiet, quos vere puertiæ
Cernis fruentes : nos tumuli manent

Nunquam revisuros penates,

Queis reditus mala parca rupit.
Ergò hanc supremæ vocis imaginem
Habe. “ Valcto.” Non dabitur quidem

Te rursus affari, sed ipsa,

Quæ tremulas modulata chordas
Hæc parva fundit munera barbitus,
Ministra Musæ dextera, tum nigra

Fluenta Cocyti docebit

Funereum resonare carmen.
Heu nos sub urnâ surdus et immemor
Pulvis, fugato Sole, jacebimus,

Duroque compressi sopore

Tartarea potiemur umbra;
Dum tu, perenni luce superbiens,
Pergis remotos visere nobium

Tractus, et extremos per orbes

Libero iter meditata cursu,
Volas secundo flaminis alite,
Carpisque flores luminis aurei,

Curraque resplendens aperto,

Purpureos jacularis ignes.

M. LAWSON.

St.John's College, Cambridge,

November 230 1811.

BIBLICAL CRITICISM.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL JOURNAL. I Have long considered the authorised English version of the Sacred Scriptures, as one of the most excellent which we have in any of the Western Languages : my notions of its excellence do not, however, lead me to suppose it so near perfection, as to preclude the possibility of its receiving improvement and correction. Sober and judicious criticism ought to be invited and encouraged; but it certainly would be well for those, who publish critical remarks upon the inspired penmen, to consider the importance of the subject, and not suffer the imagination to spurn those restraints which reason would impose. Te

indulge in conjecture until every legitimate method of interpretation has been tried, without success, is criminal in a critic, and should never be resorted to, until every other method fails, then, indeed, “ a conjectural sense is better than none.” I have sometimes noticed a wantonness in the critical remarks of oriental scholars upon the Hebrew text, and am thoroughly convinced, that although a knowledge of the Cognate dialects is highly desirable, and may be truly useful, if under the guidance of a sound understanding; yet, nothing can have a greater tendency than such knowledge, to mislead a person who thinks he may, on every occasion, resort to it to solve his difficul. ties. The inclination of such persons to torture a passage in Hebrew, has sometimes called forth my indignation, and sometimes excited laughter, at the puny efforts of such Alphabetic Doctors. It is, however, matter of no small consolation to the unlearned, humble Christian, that such criticisms are, in general, upon subjects of minor importance; and had all the various lections in the Old Testament, coilected by Kennicott, De Rossi, &c. and those in the New Testament, collected by Mill, Wetstein, Griesbach, &c. remained scattered in the various codices whence they gathered them, nothing which materially affects either our faith, or our practice, would have remained in the textus receplus which ought to be expunged, or have been wanting that ought to be supplied. I do not intend to intimate, that the learned ought therefore to fold their arms in supine indifference, and desist from their labors in this department of literature ; if it is desirable to have perfect copies of the Greek and Roman authors, it must be as much more desirable to have a perfect copy of the Bible, as the importance of the latter exceeds that of the former. The learned who thus employ their time are highly to be commended, and I cannot but consider the late revival of Oriental learning as an auspicious omen, that God is about to finish his MYSTERY, and fill the whole earth with his Glory.

Every man who understands his vernacular tongue, is not able to express himself readily and in appropriate words in it; neither is every man who understands a foreign language able to grasp the meaning of a writer in that language, in obscure and difficult passages: there is much more requisite, in order to make a good interpreter of another language, than a mere ability to give a grammatic resolution of sentences. There is an idiosyncrasy in some men for interpreting, which is almost totally wanting in others, and which want cannot be supplied by all the grammatical knowledge in the world. I have no intention of injuring any man in the estimation of his fellows by my observations: I intend to point out a few things which I conceive to be erroneous in some of the pieces which have appeared in your Journal; at the same time I readily acknowledge this to be a task, which any man may perform, with much more ease than he can avoid falling into errors himself. If I am correct in my views, those writers will have an opportunity of increasing their knowledge ; if I am myself mistaken, I will readily submit to be corrected.

Having in a former paper pointed out some of (what I conceived to be) Mr. Bellamy's mistakes, I shall in this make a few remarks upon those of his antagonist, Dr. G. S. Clarke. I certainly think Mr.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

-ow should we : illow the proון ;תשיבב as תסובב the Jews interpret

Bellamy right in charging Dr. G. S. C. with reviving Jewish interpretations of passages, relating to our ever blessed Redeemer. But though his fancies (for they are not translations) seem to militate against the same fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and of the Church of England, yet the Jews have paid far more respect to the genius and structure of their language than he has, though they have boldly and impiously declared their hatred of the Divine Person intended by the controverted texts. I suppose, that if the Jews can be shown to have mistranslated these texts, it will be a sufficient answer to any thing Dr. C. can advance in favor of his transmutation of them ; I shall, therefore, advert to the Jewish interpretation of Jeremiah xxxi. 22. “ Fæmina reducit virum.” -“ Hebraei hunc locum sic legendum contendunt:-et hoc est novum in terra, ut mulier quæ passim alijs viris se prostituit, veteris mariti cupida, illum iterum sui amantem obtineat. Meretrix autem illa fuit populus Israeliticus et Deus maritus. Attraxit illam Deus novo miraculo, ut inquieta ambiret amici. tiam ejus.” Annor. in Bib. Heb. Seb. Munst. Basil. 1535. Here

; priety of such a substitution of one word for another, it will notanswer the purpose they intend in this case, for it is not reconcilable with the preceding member of the sentence, it is not yoxa yon, chadasha baarets, a new thing in the earth. There have been instances of women forsaking their husbands, and of their restoration to favor after their infidelity ; but should we allow that no transgressing wife had ever regained the favor of an injured husband, the thing intended by the metaphor was not new in the earth, since the Jewish history abounds with instances of spiritual whoredoms on the part of the Israelites, and of their restoration to the favor of Jehovah, their spiritual husband. I am really at a loss to conceive how any

Christian scholar can read the chapter without perceiving this part to be a prophecy of the Messiah. The misfortune is, that men do not draw their religious opinions from the Book of God, but first embrace a set of notions, and then try to reconcile the Bible to them, proceeding in a manner diametrically opposite to that which they should pursue. That the subjects treated of in this chapter pertain to the times of the Christian Dispensation, is manifest from their being quoted in the 8th chapter of the Hebrews: this I should suppose sufficient to determine the opinion of a Christian. But should the Jews argue, that the word does not signify to compass, i. e. to shut up as in the womb, I answer, that their assertion is not of sufficient authority; for it is used in a sense analogous to this in Jonah ii. 4. 6. 2004 773), re-nahar yesobbeeni, and the flood compassed me about, v. 4.

D' IN VOJTY ODPN, aphaphuni mayin ad nephesh, tehoum yesobbeeni. The waters clasped me about even to the soul, the abyss inclosed me, v. 6. These are sufficient to show, that the Christian interpretation is not forced or unnatural ; nor would the Jewish writers have descended to abuse Mary the blessed Virgin, or have called her fin, Hharia, had they been able to show by argument,

, tesobub gabar. But where Dr. G. S. Clarke learnt that and signifies to transform, I am at a loss to know ; unless, misled by his Lexicon,

nekebah ,נקבה תסובב גבר that we are mistaken in our translation of

he found one sense of it convertere, and gave it an English dress the Heb. Lexicographer never intended it to wear. He

may

however rest assured, that if the abilities of Rabbi Kimhi, Aben Ezra, and other Jewish Doctors, have not been sufficient to invalidate the Chris. tian versions of this passage, his are altogether unequal to the task. I shall now take the liberty of showing Dr. C. the modesty of the Jewish writers as it respects the genius of their language, when compared with him in the translation of Isa. ix. 5. Dr. C. would have us read the name, “\Vonderfully counselling God, a warrior has engaged with my Father, that prosperity shall prevail !!” The Jews render the

pissige, “ He whose name is the wonderful Counsellor, the Miglity God, the Fither of Eternity, hath called his name the Prince of Peace.” There is certainly a show of plausibility in this version of the passage, which is totally wanting in that of Dr. Clarke ; this gentleman must be sensible, I think, that he has taken a liberty with the sacred text, which no scholar could take with a Greek or Roman classic author, without exposing himself to censure. The New Testa. ment is sufficiently express in giving the attributes of the Divine nature to our Lord Jesus Christ : since it declares the word to be God, the Maker of all things, and that all the fulness of the Godhead resided in the Messiah, a Christian can have no doubt of the propriety of understanding the name in the manner we have it in the English version. To a Jew, however, the New Testament is of no authority ; I shall therefore make a remark or two upon their interpretation of the contro

: " I do not consider it of any moment, whether we take 87p in the active or passive voice, whether we read it in the preter or future. Jonathan Ben Uzziel, in his Targum, reads it in the future and passive, “ vocabitur nomen ejus.”—They, however, have no authority

.asher ,אשר לו שם the words כלא and שמו for supplying between

lo sheem, “ whose is the name, or who is called.” But if they can adduce no authority for an interpolation of this kind, neither can they give another instance of such a parenthesis in the Bible, as that contained between shemo and sar shulom - No man can give a grammatic reason why pele yoets, el gibour, abi ad, should be taken as the names or a tributes of the agent, and sar shalom as the attribute or name of the object. The order of the Hebrew, which is generally very like the order of the English, authorises us to believe, that all the nouns following 877 are in the aceusative case. Such an ellipsis and parenthesis would be monstrous; and although we are not to look for the refinements of Greek and Latin grammarians in the syntax of the Hebrew shepherds and husbandmen, yet we are to expect the simplicity of nature, and may depend upon it, that we shall always find ther syntax such as nature dictates, inartificial and easy. In fine, to say much on such a subject, appears to me like attempting to make an axiom more than self-evident; and had not the prophecy been applied to our Lord Jesus by his people, the Jews would never have thought of distorting it, but would have read it either as the English version, or with a conversive : « And he hath called his name Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, the

.6 .and in Gen. xx ,מלאך יהוה or יהוה his title in the Hebrew be

Prince of Peace.” This manner of rendering it is defensible in two ways-it is agreeable to the majestic energy of prophetic expression to speak of things future, as if they had already had their accomplishment; one in particular I shall mention ; Balaam says, apy's 212 717, darach cocab mi-yakaub, “ a star hath gone forth from Jacob.” The Targums and the Caballists understand this to be said of the Messiah; but should we give up that point, and allow it to refer only to David, still the expression is in the preter, though the event intended was future. Again, reading the verb 897 in the preter, and allowing it to refer to circumstances prior to the prophecy, the reading is still defensible: He hath called his own name 2, Pelee, Judges xiii. 18, The people of God in all ages have asked counsel of God, he is therefore a Counsellor. Abraham, and many of his descendants, knew that the Messiah was a Divine Person, and I think every Hebrew scholar who reads his Bible with attention, will easily perceive that the person so often mentionell in the history of the early Patriarchs by the title of my Taba, malaak Jehovah, was Jehovah himself, manifested to the perceptions of his highly-favored servants. This title is commonly rendered by Onkelos 90 xp', Gloria Dei ; perhaps better rendered præsentia Dei. In all the places that I have noticed, wherein we are informed of the appearance of Jehovah to these ancient Worthies the Arabic version has all of Sho, malaku 'llahi, whether

a, . . onban, ha-elohim, is in the Arabic all of tho, malaku 'Waki. Yet in Exod. iii. it is clear, that he who in ver. 2. is styled 1777 753,

, and if words have any meaning, that he was the God, who with strong arm brought his people out of the land of Egypt; He hath therefore

. He also who formed the Heavens, and laid the foundations of the Earth, is the Father of Eternity, the divine on, chochmah, aoroz, or coola, whose delights were with the sons of men, though set up or established from everlasting ; while both Jews and Christians acknowledged, that the Prince of Peace is peculiarly the title of the Messiah.

I have no intention to interfere in the quarrels of Mr. Bellamy and Dr. Clarke respecting Poetry or no Poetry; nor those respecting 77 and nyon. I have no business with these minor subjects, and am no ways affected with the chagrin of the one, or the wit of the other ; but shall just detain your readers a few moments, by a remark or two upon a bold assertion of Dr. Clarke, No. vi. p. 254. “MANY WORDS, both in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and in the Greek of the New, have, by the most orthodox, as well as the best persons, long been esteemed GLOSSES and INTERPOLATIONS.” Now I boldly affirm, (and have all the piety, learning, and ability, on my side, which for ages have been employed in this department of literature,) that no word ought to be considered as a gloss or inter. polation without full proof; and where such words are glosses or interpolations, they must throw light upon, or explain, the passages in which they are found. But where do we find them in the words of a prophecy? No. ---We find names of places sometimes mentioned

,אלהים and יהוה is in the succeeding parts of the chapter styled both

« EdellinenJatka »