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A Dissertation on the Ancient Versions of the Bible ; Shew-
ing why our English Translation differs fo much from
In the Year 1729, Doctor Brett published a Chronological Essay in
· In the Preface to Porle's Annotations on the Bible, there is a short
v An Introduction to the Reading of the Holy Scriptures; irt-
tended chiefly for young Students in Divinity. By Messrs.
This is a Work of extraordinary Merit; the Authors have left scarcely
Apostles have used in describing it. By J. TAYLOR.
The Merit of this Tract will not be seen by an hafty Reader ; every
: A DIS
REVEREND SIR, VOU desire to know, « Since the Greek Septuagint and the Eng:
1 " lish Bible are Translations from the Original Hebrew, how « it comes to pass that these two Translations have such Variations
from each other? I do not mean in some few Words only, but in « whole Sentences ; many being in our Englih Translation 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 such 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 obscure Place in the Country, near no Library from which he may borrow such Books, or have Opportunity to consult them, is not to be blained, if he should not know how to answer this, or other Questions relating to ecclesiastical Matters. For although he came from the University well versed in the learned Languages, (as you fhew yourself to be, or you could not have compared our English Bible with the LXX, and so would never have thought of the Matter) yet for want of Books to inform him how the Scriptures have from Tiine to Time been copied, translated and published, he may not be able to answer such a Question, and satisfy himself in such a Point as this.
And I must confess for myself, that if I had not the Polyglot Bible, before which Bishop Walton (the learned Editor of that noble and useful Work, consisting of fix large Folios) has put several excellent Prolegomena, and Du Pin's Compleat Canon of Scripture, with some other Books relating to the Editions and Translations of the Holy Scriptures, I could not have answered your Question, But by the Affiftance of Vol. III,
Copies was writcopies coming out, being
these Books, I hope I may do it to your Satisfaction. And I can give you a plain, short, and cały Answer, which is, that there were different Copies of the Hebrew Original, and the LXX translated from one Copy, and our English Translators from another; so as the Copies différed, the Translations differed also.
But another Question may arise. How came there to be so much Difference between several Copies of the same Book ? I answer, the same will always happen in all Books frequently transcribed by feveral Hands. Now, I helieve no Book ever had so many Transcripts as the Bible. As the Jews had several Synagogues in Judea, so had they in all Countries where they were dispersed after the Captivity. For they did not all return to fudea at the Restoration of Jerufalem and the Rebuilding of the emple, but very many continued in those Parts of the Chaldean, Perfinn, Greciun and Roman Empires where they had obtained Settleinents, where also they increased and multiplied. This we may be convinced of irom what we find in the New Testament, where we read that in every Place unto which the Apostles went to preach the Gospel they found Numbers of Jews and a Jewish Synagogue. And every Synagogue had at least one Copy of the Bible, beside the many Copies written for the Use of private Persons. Every one of these Copies was written singly by itself, (the Invention of Printing, by which ten Thousand Copies coming out of the same Press Thall not differ so much as a Letter or a Comma, being yet scarce three Hundred
Years old) and therefore could hardly fail to differ in some Particulars even from the Copy from which it was taken, unless more than once carefully revised, compaied and corrected, which we may reafonably suppose was not always done. These Copiers therefore could hardly keep free from inaking many Mistakes, such as often to omit a Word, or to write one Word for another: which last Miftake might easily be made in Hebrew Books, where the Letters ) and 2, 7 and 7, 7 and 77, and some others are so near alike, that very often in Writing one can liardly be distinguished from the other ; and the mistaking such a Letter changes the Word, and gives it another Signification.
Copiers alto, in the transcribing lo large a Book as the Hebrew Bible, might easily mistake so far as to be guilty of considerable Oversights, even to overlook and omit a whole Sentence, especially when they wrote in Halte, as, no Doubt, many of them did, who made it their Business to copy Books for their Livelihood. Where therefore the LXX want a period or Sentence which is in our English Bibles, we may suppose it was wanting in the Copy from whence they translated : And where ihey have a Sentence which is wanting in our English Bibles, we may luppote it was in the Copy from which their Translation was made, but left out in the Copy from whence our prefent Hebrew Copies were taken, and from which we have our Englina Translations And so vice versa. This I think is a natural and rational Account how these Diversities arose; that is, from different Copies of the Original. Ihich Differences could hardly be avoided, and might easily happen throrth the Carcleiness and Oversights or Mistakes of Transcribers, who ould scarce avoid then in so long a Work.
. · Some indeed will tell you that the LXX in their Translation took