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The result then of the whole is this ; that the antiquity of the received Hebrew text may be clearly carried up to the first century of the Christian æra. For the sake of argument however, instead of dating the certain existence of it seventeen centuries back, let us date it only thirteen; and fix its origin at the very commencement of the sixth century, when we are told, that the characters of vowels and accents were originally invented. Will it even then follow, that any other text can be referred to, as occurring either in versions or in manuscripts, at all to be compared with it? Certainly not? for the versions as I have remarked are themselves of the same Edition ; and every manuscript in existence must be contemplated as a mere individual of some particular family derived from it.

The Masoretical text therefore as distinguished by vowels and accents, although not of inspired, is nevertheless of very high authority. It is incontrovertibly at least thirteen centuries old ; and furnishes us with a reading of inestimable value, not only on account of its own intrinsic excellence and antiquity, but also on account of the traditional character with which it is invested. Whether we consider its vowel readings, as substitutions for some other more ancient and more simple readings of a similar description, or as substitutions for the mere use of the Matres Lectionis, still must we regard them as readings universally respected at a period long anterior to the date of our oldest Manuscripts. Yet these are the readings, which many modern translators, particularly in our own country, have despised and derided ; conceiving, as one of the last but not least celebrated of their number sarcastically remarks, that “his critical judgment must be weak indeed, who is not qualified to revise and reverse the decisions of the wise men of Tiberias. "*

We know that the Greek of the New Testament was

* Bishop Horsley, Preface to Hosea.

originally written without pauses to regulate the sense, and without any distinction of words.

But were it possible for us to possess an early copy of it, or the transcript of an early copy, with every deficiency of the kind alluded to fully supplied by persons abundantly competent to the task, should we not esteem it a treasure of the first critical importance ? Now we possess such an early copy of the Old Testament in the Masoretical pointing of the text, which not only distinguishes between one word and another, as well as between one sentence and another, but between words connected together in the same sentence; and what is more, gives a determinate sense to the words themselves, the meaning of which would be otherwise vague and uncertain. Nor should it be forgotten, that the vowels and accents, by the combined operation of which so clear and steady a light is thrown over every part of the text, are not only themselves of very high, but likewise emanate from traditional readings of still higher, antiquity. Is it possible, that any critic, who gives himself a moment's time for reflexion, and who is not altogether overrun with self-conceit, can persist in exhibiting so egregious a want of judgment as to despise, and so consummate a proof of folly as to deride, readings of this description.

CHAP. VII.

Theory of elucidating Hebrew by the cognate dialects, particu

larly by the Arabic. Extract from Schultens, in exemplification of this theory. The verb 57. More ingenuity of investigation, than solidity of reasoning in it. Languages derived from the same source do not always use the same word in the same sense. The derivative sense more likely to occur in the more modern, and the primitive in the most ancient languages. Position, that the Hebrew tongue may be greatly illustrated by the study of the dialects, contains some theoretical truth with much practical uncertainty. Difficulty of the illustration. Signification of words in a constant state of fluctuation. Improvement in criticism often brings increase in perplexity. Oriental languages built upon the same foundation are sometimes composed of different materials. Hebrew and Syriac. Restrictions prescribed by Baver. Lexicons improved only in Etymological investigations. A translator not to be led astray by ingenious conceits, and Theoretical novelties,

HAVING endeavoured to point out in detail the futility of their reasoning, who contend for the necessity of a new tranalation from a presumption, that the received Hebrew text has been rendered infinitely more correct than at the period of the last translation, which was taken from it, by the very improved state of modern criticism ; and to demonstrate that the received text is not only the best, but the most ancient and authoritative, which can be adopted, I shall now briefly consider another part of their reasoning, in pursuit of the same object, grounded upon the supposed advantages, which a translator of the Bible would now possess in consequence of the great illustration, which the Hebrew language has received from a more extended cultivation of oriental literature. The former ar

gument relates to the emendation of the text itself, the latter to the explanation of the words, of which that text is composed.

It has long been conceived that the Hebrew language is capable of very considerable elucidation by what we usually denominate the sister dialects, that is, by other languages of the same origin, particularly by the Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic. This has been a favourite topic with the admirers of Schultens, who, possessing a deep and accurate knowledge of Arabic, zealously laboured to demonstrate how greatly that language was capable of illustrating Hebrew, in his “ Origines Hebrææ ; sive Hebrææ linguæ antiquissima natura, et indoles ex Arabia penetralibus revocata,” as well as in his “ De Defectibus hodiernis Linguæ Hebrææ," and in the controversy which succeeded them. There is doubtless much ingenuity and recondite investigation displayed by this able Scholar upon a subject, where imagination is ever ready to seize the reins of reason; a subject, which few besides himself could so systematically expand or so lavishly adorn; but it seems carried to an extreme, and frequently fails of producing substantial fruit by being too theoretical and refined for practical utility. Indeed his whole hypothesis is framed upon the anvil of those philosophical lexicographers of Arabia, who, persuaded that the materials of their own language were inexhaustible, fabricated with no vulgar vanity their intricate links of combined significations from what they conceived to be the profundity of its principles, and the subtilty of its construction.

As a specimen of the mode of elucidation adopted by Schultens, I shall give in his own language a few extracts from his critical disquisition upon the Hebrew word 570, which in his tract “ De Defectibus hodiernis Ling. Heb. occupies more than four quarto pages ; referring the reader for fuller information to the tract itself. Ordior a 578, Arabice Jun quod declaratur per si incrementum

roburque cepit adolescens, granum in spica ; ut est apud Golium. Sic habes grandescere, magnum fieri, adolescere, succrescere, roborari, invalescere, aliasque ideas magnitudinis, quas Dictionaria nostra cu recte et rite attribuunt. Illud autem incrementum roburque cepit, satis apparet esse secundarium ac derivatum. Ex quo fonte ? Ex firmiter torquendo et plectendo funiculo, quod tanquam princeps atque primigenium radicis enotatur a Criticis Arabum. Zjauhari ; * * “ Dịcitur san nag torsi funem quum

-densiore et firmiore compuge in כתלתה פתל מחכם

mulier גדלא .item compactius firmiusque אגדולה

torques. Inde 1759729 puella, quæ elegantiore est statura, et 59730 tenui gracilitate præditus vir, non ex macie. Item S111 Sy juvenis robustior factus, et granum 572, quum sit grandius et firmius.” Similiter fere Phiruzabadi. * * “ Dịcitur 570 hoc vel illud, qui firmiter intorquet ; et vir byzan vocatur, cui ilia subliliore filo deducta,, simulque validitus compacta membra sunt. Brachium 517est robustius, compactius. Crus

. pulchro plexu textuve corporis prædita ; et a loricis, firmius contexta. Et 7031 759 570 intortus, intextusque fuit fætus cupreæ, aliorumve foetus, pro adoleverunt et robusti evaserunt."*** Hinc proclivis fuit metaphora ad corpus, quod nervis, venis, tendinibus, toris, intexitur, quasi, et firmum sibi ac compactum robur acquirit. Such is the ground-work of his argument; let us now see the application of it.

Ex hac jam origine thematis 570 vel gratia, vel lux etiam nova, sese insinuabit in loca bene multa. Liquet nunc, verbi causa, quantus sit nervus in formula 573 1977 Exod. xv. 16. Proprie lacerti compacti et torosi firmitudo intorta et robustior. ** Ad firmitątem com

בנים גדלתי ורוממתי .2.pactam etiam respicitur Esai.i

vulgo, Filios educavi et extuli. Subest nervosius quid, et venustius. In corpore humano, cum quo comparatur populus Judaicus, duo requiruntur, quæ illud perficiant,

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