« PreviousContinue »
A Differtation on the Ancient Verfions of the Bible; fhew-
In the Year 1729, Doctor Brett published a Chronological Effay in
An Hiftorical Account of the feveral English Translations of
In the Preface to Pole's Annotations on the Bible, there is a fhort
This is a Work of extraordinary Merit; the Authors have left fcarcely
This Work, which is prefixed to the Author's Paraphrafe and Notes
Article of it contains Matter for much Confideration, and fhews the
OU defire to know, "Since the Greek Septuagint and the Eng"lish Bible are Tranflations from the Original Hebrew, how "it comes to pass that these two Tranflations have fuch Variations "from each other? I do not mean in fome few Words only, but in "whole Sentences; many being in our English Tranflation which are "not to be found in the Septuagint, and fome again in the LXX which "are not to be found in our English Bible."
I do not at all wonder at your asking fuch a Question; for a Clergyman who has but a small Benefice, which will not afford him Means to buy Books of a large Price, and lives in an obfcure Place in the Country, near no Library from which he may borrow fuch Books, or have Opportunity to confult them, is not to be blained, if he should not know how to answer this, or other Queftions relating to ecclefiaftical Matters. For although he came from the University well verfed in the learned Languages, (as you fhew yourself to be, or you could not have compared our English Bible with the LXX, and fo would never have thought of the Matter) yet for want of Books to inform him how the Scriptures have from Time to Time been copied, tranflated and publifhed, he may not be able to answer fuch a Queftion, and fatisfy himfelf in fuch a Point as this.
And I must confefs for myself, that if I had not the Polyglot Bible, before which Bifhop Walton (the learned Editor of that noble and ufeful Work, confifting of fix large Folios) has put feveral excellent Prolegomena, and Du Pin's Compleat Canon of Scripture, with fome other Books relating to the Editions and Tranflations of the Holy Scriptures, I could not have answered your Question. But by the Affiftance of VOL. III.
thefe Books, I hope I may do it to your Satisfaction. And I can give you a plain, fhort, and cafy Answer, which is, that there were different Copies of the Hebrew Original, and the LXX tranflated from one Copy, and our English Tranflators from another; fo as the Copies differed, the Tranflations differed alfo.
But another Queftion may arife. How came there to be so much Difference between feveral Copies of the fame Book? I answer, the fame will always happen in all Books frequently tranfcribed by feveral Hands. Now, I believe no Book ever had fo many Tranfcripts as the Bible. As the Jews had feveral Synagogues in Judea, fo had they in all Countries where they were difperfed after the Captivity. For they did not all return to Judea at the Restoration of Jerufalem and the Rebuilding of the Temple, but very many continued in thofe Parts of the Chaldean, Perfian, Grecian and Roman Empires where they had obtained Settlements, where alfo they increafed and multiplied. This we may be convinced of from what we find in the New Teftament, where we read that in every Place unto which the Apoftles went to preach the Gofpel they found Numbers of Jews and a Jewish Synagogue. And every Synagogue had at least one Copy of the Bible, befide the many Copies written for the Ufe of private Perfons. Every one of thefe Copies was written fingly by itfelf, (the Invention of Printing, by which ten Thoufand Copies coming out of the fame Prefs fhall not differ fo much as a Letter or a Comma, being yet fcarce three Hundred Years old) and therefore could hardly fail to differ in fome Particulars even from the Copy from which it was taken, unless more than once carefully revifed, compared and corrected, which we may reafonably fuppofe was not always done. Thefe Copiers therefore could hardly keep free from making many Miftakes, fuch as often to omit a Word, or to write one Word for another: which laft Mistake might easily be made in Hebrew Books, where the Letters and, and, and П, and fome others are fo near alike, that very often in Writing one can hardly be diftinguifhed from the other; and the miftaking fuch a Letter changes the Word, and gives it another Signification.
Copiers alto, in the tranfcribing fo large a Book as the Hebrew Bible, might cafily mistake fo far as to be guilty of confiderable Overfights, even to overlook and omit a whole sentence, efpecially when they wrote in Hafte, as, no Doubt, many of them did, who made it their Bufinefs to copy Books for their Livelihood. Where therefore the LXX want a Period or Sentence which is in our English Bibles, we may fuppofe it was wanting in the Copy from whence they tranflated: And where they have a Sentence which is wanting in our English Bibles, we may fuppofe it was in the Copy from which their Tranflation was made, but left out in the Copy from whence our prefent Hebrew Copies were taken, and from which we have our English TranflationAnd so vice versa. This I think is a natural and rational Account how thefe Diverfities arofe; that is, from different Copies of the Original. Which Differences could hardly be avoided, and might eafily happen through the Careleinefs and Overfights or Miftakes of Tranfcribers, who ould fcarce avoid them in fo long a Work.
Some indeed will tell you that the LXX in their Tranflation took