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For J U L Y, 1792.
ART. I. A Translation of the New Testament. By Gilbert Wake.
field, B. A. Late Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. Svo. 3 Vols. 11. 18. Boards. Deighton. 1791. F Mr. Wakefield's qualifications for the important task
which he has here undertaken, his various writings may enable the public in some measure to form a judgment. That he possesses a competent knowlege of the ancient languages, the firit requisite in a translator of the New Testament, will not be questioned by those who have read his Silva Critica, and his Commentary on St. Matthew. That he is capable of writing the English language with strength and elegance, his former publications abundantly prove; and that he is not deftitute of taste, fufficiently cultivated and chastised to enable him to relish that fimplicity of style, which is alone suited to the dignity of the Christian Scriptures, may be reasonably presumed from his intimate acquaintance with the ancient models of good writing. A favourable expectation may also be formed concerning this work, from the just conceptions which the author appears to have entertained of the nature of his design, and from the judicious rules which he has prescribed to himlelf in the execution. We shall give Mr. Wi's ideas on this subject in his own words:
• The chief rules, which I prescribed to myself in the execution of this work, were : To adopt the received version upon all poll ble occasions, and never to super sede is, unless some low obsolete of obscure word, some vulgar idiom, some coarse or uncouth phrase, some intricate construction, fome harsh combination of terms, or fome misrepresentation of the sense, demanded an alteration. To aim at an entirely new translation, or to admit any variation, but for the reason's now alledged, always appeared to me equally unne. cessary and unwise. But a very small share of magnanimity was required to resist any temptation to innovace, that might arise from aspiring to the character of fuperiour learning, discernment, and taste, by finding fault at every step, and faftidioofly fubftituting alteration only without amendment. If I have ever incurred this VOL.VIII.
censure eventually myself, the motive was of another kind; and I have not altered in a single instance from caprice or vanity, but fimply from an intention to improve. Use has so far fanctihed, if I may employ the term, our received version, that no translation, I am perfuaded, effentially different from it, can ever be cordially relined, I do not say by the generality, but by readers of exact taste and polished understandings. Nor have I ever yet conversed with a fingle person, whole approbation I could wish to secure, of a different Opinion in this respect.
• Another rule, which I laid down for myself, was: To make my translation as completely vernacular without vulgarity, as was confiftent with those inducements to variation speciñed above; thae it might be rendered as perfect a specimen as I could make it, of pure unaffected Englis diction. This object, upon a superficial view, may appear to some, perhaps, of no difficult accomplishment: the uniform preservation, however, of fimplicity, harmony, and fidelity, in the version of such plain compositions, as the scriptures of the New Testament, would be found by any one, inclined to make the experiment, a very serious and, in some cases, an insuperable difficulty. There is, and ever will be, much diverfity of opinion on these points, nor am I by any means so unexperienced as to expect aniversal approbation : nay, it is very probable, that, where I have thought myself moft dextrous, a judicious examiner will with reason think me the most unhappily unsuccessful. The possibility also of the reverse of this statement, should incline every reader 10candour and moderation in his decisions. With this view to purity of English stile, I have, in some instances, substituted a word of our own growth for it's equivalent from a Roman-origin : though I may also have adopted sometimes a method directly contrary, where the English word produced a barsh or abrupt termination of the sentence: for to the modulation of the periods I have carefully attended, in imitation of our old translators, who, for the most part, pursued this object with admirable success. I could wish to fee an Englijon version of the scriptures in such a phrafeoltgy as should make it an everlasting possesion” for our countrymen. And, if good Engliso expreslions were to be rejected merely for their fimplicity, every ge. neration would require a translation altogether new in this respect. I cannot admire the prevailing practice of banishing fignificant and native phrases from our compositions, to make room for a pompous verbofity from the vocabulary of Rome. This innovating propensity contributes to set a mark of difrepute on expresiions et Aterling worth; and to diminish even the copiousness and ftrength, as well as the purity of our language. If this afteked and pedantic humour had prevailed with the Greeks, those parents of all science, and the great inftructors of mankind! their incomparable language could never have preserved ii's propriety and uniformity for two chouland years.'
With respect to our received translation, Mr. Wakefield. allows that it is, especially in point of simplicity, worthy of the highest commendation : but he adds chat the authors of it,
at so early a period after the revival of letters, had acquired a less competent knowlege of the original language than many, fence that time, have been able to attain. He undertakes to correct the mistakes which have arisen from this cause, and to bring to view many elegances depending on an accurate perception of the Grecian and Oriental phraseology. Simplicity he profefles to be his chief object; and he declares his entire disappro. bation of what are called liberal translations of the scriptures, considering them as too much calculated to weaken the dignity and efficacy of the sacred writings, and to expose them to ria dicule and contempt :
• The admirable fimplicity of the gospel-narratives is so exactly suited to the characters of the reputed authors, that with the apni. bilation of this excellence, a ftriking criterion of authenticity is deftroyed; and it seemed to me a most ignoble ambition to court the fickly tastes of those readers, to whom the native plain nefs of the gospels has no relish. While Xenopbor and Luke make themselves intelligible to all, they abound in elegancies, that can engage the attention of the profoundelt scholars and give an exquisite delight to the most refined critics.'
The principles of biblical translation, which Mr. W. lays down, he appears to us to have very diligently, and, in the main, very successfully, followed. In a work of this kind, however, it is imposible that there should not be many things liable to objection; and it is our duty briefly to notice some of the principal defects which we have remarked in this translation.
Sometimes, too close an adherence to the original produces a fingularity of expression scarcely admiffible ; for example, Matth. xxi. 18. • A certain man had two sons, and he came up to the first, and said: Child, go work to day in my vineyard. Mark, v. 31. 'Thou seest the multitude squeezing thee.' Acts, vi. 7. And the word of God was thriving,' &c. Phil. lippians, ii. 15. Children amidst a crooked and twisted race.'
Some interpretations of the original are given, which will generally be thought forced or fanciful; as Matth. xxiii. 14. * Ye devour widows' houses, though ye pray at the same time with a long preamble.' John, iii. 8. The breath breathes in whom it litteth, and thou hearest its voice.' Romans, xv. 13:
Now may the God of this hope fill you with all joy and peace through the faith, that ye may abound in this hope under the influence of an unpotted mind.' verse 16. that this oblation of the Gentiles may be acceptable, fanctified by holiness of spirit.' Titus, iii. 8. According to his own mercy did he deliver us by a washing of another birth, with a renewal of holy breath.' James, i. 17. • Every good gift and every perfect kindness
cometh down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is na parallax nor tropical shadow.'
In some cases, a method of spelling, which is now become obsolete, is inelegantly retained, as toucht, lockt, dasht, wasbt, puht, ruht, flasht, sitten.
Unwarrantable freedoms are sometimes taken in omitting passages, or in altering the original text. In Matthew, xvii. 21. Mark, xi. 26. and in other places, entire verses are omitted, we think, without sufficient authority. There are numerous smaller omissions or alterations, which appear to us unneceffary or ill-supported; among which are Luke, ii. 14. Glory be to God in the highest heavens, and the peace of his good will to men on earth.' Luke, xxiii. 25. ( When once the master of the house hath composed himself.' 1 Corinthians, xiii. 3. • Though I give up my body so as to have cause of boasting,' &c.
There are also instances in which the translation affumes too much of a paraphrastic air ; as John, xi. 33. He earnestly constrained himself and Atruggled with his feelings and said, '&c. Acts, x. 36. . That doctrine which God sent to the children of Israel, when he delivered to them a gospel of peace by Jesus Christ, belongeth equally to all.” Romans, i. 17. For thereby a pardon from God is proclaimed to a reliance upon faith ; as it is written, he that trufteth to faith for pardon will save his life,' Liberties of this kind are frequently taken in the Epistles, for which we can by no means think that the tranflator sufficiently justifies himself by faying, “I express myself with all poslīble fimplicity, as I suppose the Apostle himself would have delivered his meaning in my situation, and in our Janguage.' This is certainly to become a commentator on the Apostle's sense; and is not very consistent with the censure which the author, in his preface, passes on liberal translations.
The exceptions, which may be made to this work, are not, however, either so numerous or so important as materially to affeet its merit, which is unquestionably great.
While it correcis many inaccuracies, inelegancies, and obsolete phrases, which are to be found in the common version, it retains its general character of fimplicity. While it abounds with proofs of critical acumen, which will be discovered by the learned, it is sufficiently plain and intelligible to be used with advantage by the illiterate. Many pallages, erroneously rendered, or left in obscurity, in the common translations, are here given with great correctnefs and perspicuity. Of these, we transcribe the tollowing passages as examples: Mark, iii. 21. •And when his own family heard of ic they went out to secure him; for some had told them, that he was gone out.' John, xiv. 30, 31. • I will not say much more unto you now : for the ruler of this world is coming; and I have nothing now to do, but to convince the world that I love the Father, and do as he commanded me.' Acts, xx. 28. As for yourselves, therefore, and all that flock, of which the Holy Spirit made you overseers, take care to tend the church of God which he gained for himself by his own Son. Of the translation of this last passage we shall quote the author's justification, in the following note, vol. iii. p. 147.
“ V. 28. take care to feed pooixete Troiano: I judge this to be the true construction. So Eur. Iph. Taur. 113. Oρα δεμας καθειναι. . See Matt. vi. 1. Prov. iv, 1. LXX.
'-the church of God“TIV **27.0190 TOU Seov: I have altered my opinion of this passage, and have determined for this reading from the fame confiderations, that would have influenced me in the case of any indifferent and uncontroveried rext. It is the reading of the Ætbiopic version, whose authority is with me irresistible on this occafion : see note xvi. 7. and most onjuftifiable is this aflercion of Griesach, Æthiops habet vocabulum quo sempèr pritur, five 9:3 in greca veritate legatur, five xuza: neuiri igitür lectioni favet : which is ipfamously falle. On the contrary, as far as my recollection will carry me, this translator Never employs the word here introduced, bus to signify the SUPREME GOD ALONE. See Castell's Lexicon in the word 72. This was my first inducement to retain this reading. My next was, the variation between the Syriac and Copric versions; the former of which has the church of the MESSIAH ; and the latter, the church of the LORD: and this want of uniformity excices in me a strong suspicion of interpolation in consequence of the peculiar sentiments of the translators or the authors of those MSS. which they followed,
.- bis own for -Tou idiou cisato : literally his own blood: but, as this expression could answer no good purpose, and would unavoidably lead those unacquainted with the phraseology of these languages into erroneous do&rines and impious conceptions of the deity, I could not justify myself in employing it in this place. So blood is used for man in xvii. 26. and Matt. xxvii. 4. So Homer II. Z. 211.
Ταυτης του γενεης τε και ΑΙΜΑΤΟΣ ευχομαι ειναι. .
ΑΙΜΑ σοφου Φοιβοιο και ευπαλαμοιο Κυρηνης, , Add Nonnus D. lib. v. p. 152.
• And the scholiast on Eur. Orest. 1239. says: AIMA O Ó TALΔΕΣ, γενΘ- οι αδελφοι, συγγενεια οι γαμβροι. And Virgil En. vi. 836.
• Projice tela maru, SANGUIS MEUS ! This is well known, and supplies the most easy and obvious interpretation of this most disputed passage. See also Mr. Henley's note in the appendix to Rowyer's Criticisms, who first excited in my mind the idea of this acceptation, and to whom therefore the entire applause, justly due to this excellent solution of so great a difficulty, ought in all reason to be given. If no passage of the N. T. quite parallel can be found, we should recollect, that Luke is an elegant writer,