Page images
[ocr errors]

still more remote preterpluperfect is characterized, he conceives, by being honoured with two Pashtas. Now all, who are in the least acquainted with the doctrine of accents, know, that the proper situation of Pashta is over the last letter of the last syllable ; but that when a word requires it, the natural accent or tone of which word falls upon

the penultima, or when the last syllable has Pathach furtive, or a double Shevu, then and then only, from the necessity of the case,

are two Pashtas employed ; one being placed over the last letter of the last syllable as usual, the other over the syllable upon which the tone falls, thus in 179, that only, which is over the penultima affecting the pronunciation What has this modification of an accent, adopted merely to suit the variety of emphasis, to do with the modification of tenses?

It should likewise be remarked, that if a peculiar designation of time were really effected by Pashta, when it is used with a verb, such effect would be produced uniformly ; as indeed he distinctly states it is, asserting, that the observation of his rule is “ regular throughout Scrip

The reverse however proves to be the fact; for verbs, which have Pushta are found by the context to be in all tenses. Thus Gen. iii. 22, the verb no by marked with this accent, he himself construes shall take, as a future in the following clause; “therefore now surely he shall put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life.” Again Gen. xxvii. 25, the verb 653xy with the same accent he correctly translates, and I will eat; “approach before me, and I will eat the repast of my son. Now in both these instances it is apparent from the context, that a future action alone is alluded to. This is still clearer in the narrative of Joseph's dream, when his brethren say to him, Shalt thou reign over us?” where the verb shalt thou reign is son with Pashta.

Nor is this the case only when a single Pashta, but


also, when two occur over the same verb. So Gen. xxii. 2, he construes, narx thou lovest, not thou hadst loved. “ Take now thy son, thy only son, whom thou lovest." And in the 6th verse of the same chapter he renders during which he laid, not which he had laid; Abraham took the wood of the offering, which he laid upon Isaac." What may be his opinion upon the point, when he gets to the book of Numbers, I know not ; but in chap. xxiv. 17, it will puzzle him I conceive to translate, according to his rule, in what he calls the most remote preterpluperfect tense, the verb isxix “ I shall see him, but not now;" as the prophet Balaam is indisputably alluding to the future fortune of the Israelites. But indeed the hypothesis is altogether too unsound to endure the minutest examination, and so hollow as to ring at every touch.

I have been more particular in my remarks upon this singular attempt at a new translation of the Bible, in consequence of the public expectation which that attempt seems to have excited. The Quarterly Reviewers, however, have denounced without reserve its total failure; and for their spirited condemnation of it deserve the thanks of every friend to solid reasoning and sober criticism. Foreigners, it is to be hoped, will not form their estimate of the present state of Hebrew erudition among us from so illiterate a production, notwithstanding the respectable subscription which has been obtained to encourage it. For in this country, it should be recollected, the plausible projector, and importunate promoter, of every undertaking, apparently useful, and certainly laborious, solicit not public patronage in vain; and seldom is incapacity presumed, until it be detected..

Having thus devoted a whole chapter to the eccentricities of a translator, who regards convertibility as the essence of Hebrew construction, and incomprehensibility as the object of Hebrew criticism, not in compliment to

him, but solely in deference to the notice, which he has received, I shall now release myself from all further al

ion to him; and return with satisfaction to authors of name and credit, whose opinions are worth refutation.


Expediency only of a new translation asserted on the other side.

No inaccuracies in the present translation affecting faith or morals. Probable reasons which might have prevented compliance with the proposal for a new translation under authority. No good case made out in support of that proposal. The received Hebrew text stated to be corrupt. Mode of amending it inefficient. Collations of MSS. and versions. No classifications of MSS. ever attempted. Under different editions impracticable. All MSS. and versions, the Septuagint alone excepted, of one and the same edition. Septuagint too corrupted for use. Eichorn. Critical Principles adopted by the advocates for a new translation unsatisfactory and fallacious. Baver. Eichorn.

The various writers in favour of a new version, have generally had in their contemplation a translation of the whole Bible, as well of the New as of the Old, Testament; but their arguments have been principally, and sometimes exclusively, limited to the consideration of the question, as connected with the state of the Old Testament alone. To this latter point, therefore, I shall altogether confine my own observations.

From the detail of opinions contained in the first chapter, comprehending those of the principal writers upon the subject from the commencement to the conclusion of the last century, it may be seen that, while some have argued the necessity, others have only urged the expediency of the measure.

The anonymous author of "An Essay for a new translation of the Bible," proposes in his very title page to demonstrate the necessityof the undertaking ; Lowth denominates it "a necessary work ;” and Kennicott alludes to “the great expediency, or rather the necessity of a more exact English Bible."* What precise idea was here intended to be asfixed to the word necessity, does not appear ; but it was probably one in perfect conformity with an observation of Archbishop Newcome, who makes the following remarks :-" In common language a measure is said to be necessary, when it is highly expedient.+

Presuming therefore, that the term was meant to be taken in so limited a point of view, let us next see upon what this presumption of a high expediency was grounded. Certainly not upon the notion, that our present translation contains errors in any degree affecting religious opinion and conduct. This seems to be distinctly disavowed. Durell observes in recommendation of a new version, that 6 the minds of the people cannot hereby be unsettled. All the leading articles of religion will remain undisturbed ; neither will the ground of their faith or practice be ever so remotely affected.Kennicott in his “Dissertatio Generalis” thus expresses himself: “Quidni itaque et nunc etiam boni omnes faverent si hodiernam nostram versionern in melius, recudi viderint? Sunt certe, et ii magni nominis viri qui versionem impense flagitant perfectiorem; quorum tamen nemo non fatebitur, in ea, quam nunc habemus, versione satis omnino integritatis esse, ut de credendi et agendi norma liquido constent omnia."'S A similar avowal is made by Blayney, who hesitates not to admit, that “neither the errors, which have crept into the original text, nor those, which deform the translation, have fallen upon any essential points either of doctrine or of morals.”|| And subsequently he remarks, as Dúrell had done before him, that by the application for a new version, “no innovation in religion is intended, not any the least alteration in the grounds of our faith and practice.

* Remarks, Introd. p.

# Critical Remarks, Preface, p. 9.
| Prelim. Disc. to Jeremiah.

+ Historical View, p. 189.
$ Sect. 8.
4 Page xi

« PreviousContinue »