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instance of the MS. collations, that something like a critical collection and discrimination of their respective readings, something like a digest and arrangement of their concordant and discordant testimonies, should have been attempted, before the practicability of the measure proposed upon principles necessarily involving these points had been presumed. And to have effected even this, would not previous collations of the versions themselves have been neces
The advocates however for a corrected text and a new translation seem to have thought, that much might be done towards the accomplishment of the object before them without either a classification of manuscripts, or a verification, as well as an arrangement, of the readings, furnished by the versions. They imagined, that both these rich mines of emendation, without the laborious process of extracting the ore from its matrix, yielded an abundant treasure adapted to immediate use. On this fairy ground they trod ; and, attempting to reduce upon a small scale their theory into practice, exbibited, it must be confessed, much brilliant conjecture, but little solid criticism. Upon the point, however, of their failure in this attempt it may be proper to be a little more particular.
In proof then that the general principle of their criticism, together with their efforts in its exemplification, was unsatisfactory and fallacious, I shall first quote the statement of Baver, a critic by no means indisposed to novelty of opinion, and therefore the least exceptionable judge. Arguing that the Masoretical text, although like all the productions of antiquity, it must have suffered from the ignorance and inattention of transcribers, has nevertheless better preserved its integrity than any other ancient text, sacred or profane, he goes on to show, that his opinion is confirmed by the fate of their unavailing labours, who wrote in corroboration of the contrary position. He says, Deinde enim id me in sententia mea firmat, quod maxima
pars emendationum criticarum, quas viri docti attulerunt ant finxerunt, a criticis modestioribus, et linguæ Hebraicæ analogiæ peritioribus, jam jure reprobatur, et ut non necessaria et vana repudiutur. Non longum est tempus, cum omnes, qui novum quid tentare voluerunt, pro seculi genio vires ingenii in corrigendo textu V. T. exercuerunt. Sed quot numerantur emendationes a criticorum duce audacissimo, Houbigantio Francogallo, Kennicotto, Reiskio, Lowthio, ipsoque Michaele, ut alios minus celebres viros nunc silentio transeam, oblatæ et commendatæ, re attentius perpensa, rationibusque in utraque lance ponderatis, hodie adhuc plausum omnium communem ferunt? Jamjam docti litterarum sacrarum interpretes agnoscere incipiunt, ab utraque parte esse peccatum, et ab iis, qui sinceritatem Cod. Heb. nimis magnis laudibus extollebant, et ab illis, qui nimium deprimebant; caute esse versandum in crisi, et non statim de corruptione esse conquerendum, priusquam idiotismorum Hebraicorum rationes probe cognoverimus. Sic multitudo emendationum, quarum tam ferax fuit seculum nostrum, oblivioni traditur, et vix paucæ manebunt doctissimorum interpretum assensu comprobatæ.
In conformity also with the statement of Baver is the censure of Eichorn upon the criticisms of those, who have vainly endeavoured to amend the Masoretical text by the versions. Pauci, he remarks, certe textui biblico vulnera esse altius inflicta videbant, quam ut vel interpretum veterum ope sanari possent. Jam cum tamen ex illis ei vellent medicinam parare, non potuerunt non eo delabi, ui sæpius conjecturas interpretum magis, quam veram olim e codicibus exhibitam lectionem sequerenter: nec quid vere scriptum fuerit, sed quid scribi potuerit invenirent, ut elegantiora, exquisitiora, acutiora, forsitan veriora etiam, verba in vulgarem locum substituerent,
* Critica Sacra, p. 167.
scriptoremque adeo ipsum potius quam librariorum lapsus corrigerent. *
In the judgment therefore of more modern and less adventurous critics, the efforts of those, who thus attempted to improve the text, have only tended to corrupt it ; and must consequently have retarded, instead of having promoted, the great object in their contemplation. The bold project of applying critical conjecture without control, or, as it was presumed to be, of restoring its lost lustre, to the word of God, attracted indeed general admiration; and afforded scope for the exertion of elegant taste and of extensive erudition. But although the meteor arose in splendor, it blazed only for a short period; and if it be not already, will perhaps be soon forgotten.
* Præfat. in Kocheri Nov. Bib. Heb. p. 2.
Lowth's translation of Isaiah. Animadversions upon it. Cen
sured by Kocher. Specimens of erroneous criticisms in it. Isaiah Chap. i. 3, Chap. i. 29, Chap. ii. 20, Chap. viii. 9, Chap. xxiv. 11. Kocher as superior in Philological acquirements, as inferior in classical taste. Lowth and his followers men of indisputable learning and ability.
FROM a review of the general principles of criticism adopted by the advocates for a new version, I proceed to give a specimen of the mode in which they were desirous of amending the sacred text. This I shall take from the most celebrated production of the day, Bishop Lowth'stranslation of Isaiah.
When the translation alluded to first appeared, and even while it was rising into credit and reputation in our own country, foreign writers began to be startled by the unbridled boldness and temerity of its numerous emendations. Nor was it long before a direct attack was made upon it in a work entitled, “ Vindiciae S. Textus Hebræi Esaiæ Vatis, adversus D. Roberti Lowthi, Ven. Episc. Lond. criticam. A Dav. Kochero V. T. et Ling. Orient. Professore. Bernæ 1786.” So rapid was the effect produced by the publication of Kocher, that in the year 1795 we find Baver recording this unqualified condemnation of the criticisms, which had occasioned it: Lowthius, Episcopus Londinensis, id imprimis egit, ut Jesaiæ textum curis criticis recenseret, et non paucas, ut sibi visum est,emendationes proposuit Sed maximam illarum partem haud necessariam, inutilem, imo falsam esse, omnes fere interpretationis bonæ periti concedent.* From this l'indiciæ
* Critica Sacra, p. 452:
then of Kocher I shall select one or two of the many judicious remarks, with which it abounds, in confutation of the Bishop's amended text.
In Isaiah i. 3. our authorized version thus literally renders the Hebrew ; “ Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” This is translated by Lowth in the following manner ; 66 Israel doth not know me; neither doth my people consider.” The reason for the addition of the word me, is thus given in the notes. [Me-] The same ancient versions (that is, the LXX, Syriac, Acquila, Theodotion, and the Vulgate] agree in adding this word ; which very properly answers, and indeed is almost necessarily required to answer, the words possessor and Lord preceding. 'logana dĆ ME oủx šyw. LXX. Israel autem me non cognovit. Vulg. 'Iogara dé Mor o'x fgw. Aq. Theod. The testimony of so scrupulous an interpreter as Acquila is of great weight in this case. And both his and Theodotion's rendering is such, as shews plainly, that they did not add the word MOT to help out the sense, for it only embarrasses it. It also clearly determines, what was the original reading in the old copies, from which they translated. It could not be 'IT', which most obviously answers to the version of the LXX and Vulgate, for it does not accord with that of Aquila and Theodotion. The version of these latter interpreters, however injudicious, clearly ascertains both the phrase and the order of the words of the original Hebrew; it was nix 5x70 yg'. The word nix has been lost out of the text. The very same phrase is used by Jeremiah, chap. iv. 22.
; have been as above represented ;, for they have joined 5x70' with mix, as in regimine : they could not have taken it in this sense, Israel meus non cognovit, had either this phrase or the order of the words been different. I have endeavoured to set this matter in a clear light, as it is the first example of a whole word being lost out of
and the order of the words must ; עמי אותי לא ידעו