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In this translation I have strictly followed the text of Tischendorf 's eighth critical edition of the Greek Testament as far as it has been published, namely to Luke xviii. 9; then, to the end of the Gospel of John, that of the second edition of his Synopsis Evangelica, published in 1864, after he had collated the Codex Sinaiticus; and that of his seventh edition (1859) in the remainder of the New Testament. I have chosen this text in preference to that of Griesbach or Lachmann, partly because I consider it as on the whole the best, and partly because I believe that it is so considered by the majority of competent scholars throughout the world, and thus deserves, more than any other, to be regarded as the modern received text. It is fortunate that, so far as theological opinion is concerned, there is no ground of choice between the three editions which have been named. I do not speak of the splendid edition of Tregelles, because only three-fourths of it have been published.
It is hardly necessary to say that my judgment does not coincide with that of Tischendorf in regard to every reading. It cannot be expected that there should be a perfect uniformity of opinion in cases where the evidence, external and internal, is very evenly balanced. But for several reasons I have thought it best not to interpose my own judgment in regard to the Greek text in any instance. I am responsible only for the translation. Punctuation, however, is well known to be a matter of interpretation rather than of textual criticism; no punctuation marks of any consequence being found in the most ancient manuscripts. In this respect, therefore, I have occasionally used my right as translator; though I regard the punctuation of Tischendorf as in general very judicious.
I have also thought it inexpedient to depart from the Common Version in the arrangement of the General Epistles, namely, those of James, Peter, John, and Jude, which in Teschendorf's edition come between the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul.
I request that every reader will bear in mind the Greek text which I have followed; otherwise some of my departures from the Common Version might seem to be unnecessary or arbitrary.
In regard to my translation, it is so difficult to state in few words the views and principles by which I have been guided, that I must leave it to speak for itself. I will merely say that it has been my aim to make a version more free from wholly or nearly obsolete words and phrases, more intelligible, more critically accurate, and on the whole even closer to the original than that of King James's translators, though less incumbered with mere Greek and Hebrew idioms. I have endeavored, with what success it is not for me to say, to retain what may be called the savor and spirit of our old and familiar version, so far as is consistent with the paramount duties of a translator; and in doing this I have simply acted in conformity with my own judgment and taste.
Though mere professions of impartiality are deservedly held in light esteem, yet, as my book is published by the American Unitarian Association, it may not be wholly superfluous to state that my translation has not been supervised or corrected by any association, or by any authority whatever. Every word of it is the result of my own judgment, guided by universally acknowledged principles of scientific interpretation, without regard to creed or church. This does not mean, however, that I have not occasionally consulted with the accomplished Greek scholars of Cambridge, Professors Sophocles and Goodwin, as to the meaning of a word or a phrase. I would especially acknowledge my obligations to that thorough and accurate scholar, my friend Mr. Ezra Abbot, the assistant librarian of the University, who kindly offered his aid in looking over the proof-sheets; in the performance of which important service he also made many criticisms and suggestions, which have added much to the value of my translation. To the same gentleman I am indebted for access to a manuscript translation of the Epistles of Paul to the 'Romans and the Corinthians by that distinguished Biblical theologian, the late Professor Andrews Norton of our University. I have also had access to the most important translations of the whole or of parts of the New Testament in English, German, and French, and to the principal commentaries, ancient and modern.
References to the parallel passages in the four Gospels, and to those cited from the Old Testament, have been given in the margin, together with a few notes, containing some various readings, some renderings different from those in the text, and a few explanations of my own phraseology. But exposition, or interpretation, or argument, formed no part of my design. For this purpose another volume would have been required.
The preceding Preface was written by Dr. No-yes several months before his death, which took place June 3d, 1868. Though his physical strength had long been failing, his mind retained its accustomed clearness till near the close of his life, and he was able to revise the proof-sheets of his translation to the end of the Epistle to the Philippians. The manuscript of the remainder had already been placed in the hands of the printer. In performing the delicate and responsible task intrusted to me of revising the proof-sheets from the Epistle to the Colossians to the end of the volume, I have not hesitated to correct obvious oversights, and have occasionally made such verbal changes as I felt assured the author would have approved, could they have been submitted to his judgment. This liberty, however, has been used with great caution; and in no case have I presumed to substitute my own interpretation of a passage for one which appeared to have been deliberately adopted by Dr. Noyes. A few notes have been added, to which the initial "A." is appended.
In September of the present year, the fifth part of Tischendorf's eighth critical edition of the Greek Testament was published in Germany, extending from Luke xviii. 10 to John vi. 23. A list of the changes required to conform the translation to the text of this edition will be found at the end of the volume. It will be observed that Tischendorf now reads "only begotten Son" in John i. 18, instead of "only begotten God," For other changes worthy of notice, see Luke xxiii. 17; xxiv. 13, 21 ; John iii. 13; iv. 9.
Cambridge, Mass., December 1st, 1868.