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pears the most probable, from the author's design, or from other sources, should be maintained.
1. In those cases, in which there is more than usual copiousness, it will be necessary to separate, what relates to the principal idea, from what is added, for the sake of amplification, illustration, or ornament. To these latter, it is evident no peculiar force is to be attributed.
Every word, especially in comparisons, similes, repetitions, rhetorical expressions, is not to be urged too far.
2. Brevity, has respect either to single words or the style generally. In the first case, many ideas are comprehended in one word, (pregnantia verba ;) in the second, something is left to be supplied by the reader, which the nature of the subject, and common usage, it is presumed will suggest.
At times ideas seem to be omitted, where the particle yag does not very closely connect the two sentences. Act. II. 34. The Sacred Writers adopted a very sententious and brief style, in their discourses, arguments, and sometimes even in their narrations.
3. In difficult passages, we must
a. Endeavour to discover the precise point where the difficulty lies. b. We must observe what sense the passage
will not bear.
c. The causes of the ambiguity or obscurity, we should endeavour to remove.
d. We must examine what sense is rendered most probable, from the usus loquendi, from the design of the writer, from his state of mind, from the context, from history.
J. C. G. Ernesti diss. de usu vitæ communis ad interpretationem N. Test. L. 1779. 4.
ON THE METHOD OF
CULIAR TO THE SACRED WRITERS.
I. From the character and design of the Sacred Writers, it is evident, that every thing like refinement and subtlety would be banished from their writings, and that a peculiarity of construction, and simplicity of diction, conformable to the Jewish manner of writing, would characterize their compositions. Besides this general character common to them all, each of the inspired penmen has his own manner, which is to be learned by careful attention. From these remarks, it will appear, what rules, as it regards this point, the interpreter ought to observe.
What is here said is not intended as inconsistent with the acuteness and terseness ascribed to the Sacred Writers, especially St. Paul.
J. W. Fuhrmann Comm. de concinnitate Pauli in Ep. ad Rom. L. 1776.
The peculiarity or novelty, as to the structure of their sentences, is to be traced to their familiarity with the Hebrew language, and therefore should not be regarded as authorizing any unusual sense of words. Fischer Proluss. de Vit Lex. P. 410. ss.
The simplicity of style observable in their narration, mode of teaching, disputing, and arguing, relates not only to the use, of certain phrases, of numerous finite verbs, and of conjunctive particles, but in the whole form of their periods, and mode of expression. Different subjects, have each their influence on this general character of style.
1. The structure of the language in the N.T. is to be understood, from the familiar method of instruction, conversation and writing.
2. For this purpose it will be highly expedient to examine the Eastern and especially the Hebrew method of narration, instruction, and composition.
3. We must observe what is peculiar to each author, in his method, of constructing his discourse.
4. The peculiar kind of writing, (poetic, prosaic, aphoristic, didactic, uniform or variable, polished, sublime,) deserves our attention, as the whole character of the composition depends upon this circumstance.
II. The most important characteristics of the Sacred Writers as to the general structure of their discourses, are,
1. The connexion is not always obvious and continued but is frequently broken and abrupt. 2. Additions are frequently made which do not appear essential to the expression of the sentimeft. 3. And in other cases the construction is eliptical. 4. They are not always exact in the grammatical structure of their sentences.
1. The interruptions in their discourses.
a. From digression, when the writer passes from one subject, to others connected with it, sometimes not returning to his original point at all, and at others, not for a considerable time. The occasion of these digressions, is sometimes in the ideas themselves, at others in the words ; or it is furnished by the circumstances of the case, the time or place, the state of feeling in the writer or reader. Gal. IV, 24; Hebr V, 2; Joh. VI, 32.
b. By parenthesis, which is longer or shorter, and at times one parenthesis arises out of another.
J. Fr. Hirt d. de parenthesi et generatim et speciatim sacra. Jen. 1745. 4.
Cph. IFollii Comm. philol. de parenthesi s. præf. præmisit, C. F. Boenerus, Lips. 1726. 4.
Ad. Bened. Spizneri Comm. theol. de parenthesi libris sacris V. et N. T. accommodata, L. 1772. 8.
Both digressions and parentheses may be discovered, a. from the nature and series of the ideas, b. the character: of the discourse, and the use of the particles, especially the conjunctions.
We must not always expect to find the discourse constructed according to the rules of art, nor proceeding in an unbroken order.
2. The abrupt construction, is when excitement of feeling, or any other cause, induces the writer either to suppress something (drogiúnnois,) or suddenly to pass to a different subject. In the historical books, and in the writings of St. Paul, there are various examples of this kind. It is obvious, that in such cases, we are not to look for a continued narration or argument.
3. Pleonasm is either of single words, as when to verbs signifying action, the member of the body by which the action is performed is added ; of pronouns (avros after ós,) of particles-of phrases (as επάρας τες οφθαλμές, ανοίξας το σόμα) or of whole sentences,
In these instances, some are peculiar to the East, others common to all popular discourses.
4. Tautology is where the same idea is expressed by various synonymous words or phrases.
It is clear that we should not endeavour to explain as different, expressions intended to convey the same idea.
Jo. Fr. Kluge Doctrinæ de taulologiis ad vindicandos scriptores sacros, et profanos Specimen. Vit. 1760. 4.
5. Ellipsis is either grammatical or rhetorical, constant or temporary. It is either of single words, or of sentences.
Some writers have, very unreasonably, multiplied ellipses, and others have entirely proscribed their application
to the interpretation of the Scriptures. To the first class belongs Lamb. Bos, see his work on the Greek Ellipses. It is, therefore, the more necessary, that attention should be paid to this subject.
a. No ellipsis should be admitted which is not confirmed, by constant or frequent usage.
b. The character of the passage ought to give evidence, from the mode of construction, from the state of feeling in the writer, from the nature of his subject, or disposition of his readers, that the occurrence of an ellipsis, is not unlikely. This occurrence is to be looked for when the discourse is vehement, or negligent.
c. There should be good reason assigned for the admission in every instance.
d. The more obviously and easily the ellipsis can be supplied, the more probable it is that an ellipsis should really be acknowledged.
e. What is stated fully in some places, may be expressed more briefly in others, so as to render it obvious, that the latter expression is elliptical. Thus of our Saviour, it is sometimes said, έρχεσθαι, an elliptical form of έρχεσθαι εις τον κόσμον. .
J. A. Wolfii Comm. I. et II. de agnitione ellipseos in interpretatione librorum, SS. L. 1800. 4.
Chr. Bruenings libellus de silentio SS. sive de iis. quæ in verbo divino omissa aut præterita vel sunt vel videntur. Adjectæ sunt in calce dissertart: aliquot affinis argumenti, Frf. 1750. 8.
ON DISCOVERING THE GENERAL MEANING, AND UNDERSTAND
ING THE NARRATION OR ARGUMENT.
1. 'The meaning of passages, is to be distinguished from the meaning of the individual words, and is discovered, if after the sense of their several