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folio volumes, by the title Hexaploram Origenis quæ supersunt.
Such is the history of one of the most celebrated among the literary undertakings of antiquity. In the next Lecture, this review of sacred criticism, as far as it relates to the early and the middle ages, will be continued and concluded.
In the preceding Lecture was given some account of the labours of Origen to amend the corrupt ed text of the Septuagint version. At the end of the third, and at the beginning of the fourth century, similar, though less laborious tasks, being founded probably on the prior labours of Origen, were undertaken by Lucian, a Presbyter of Antioch, and by Hesychius, an Egyptian Bishop. Their revisions, or, as we should say of printed books, their editions of the Septuagint, were held in such high estimation, that the edition of Hesychius was generally adopted by the churches of Egypt, and that of Lucian was commanded by Constantine the Great to be read in all the churches from Antioch to Constantinople.
Nor was the criticism of the Hebrew Original neglected in those ages. Tiberias in Galilee was then the seat of Jewish learning: it was the residence of the best Hebrew scholars, the repository of the best Hebrew manuscripts. The two great works of Jew.
ish literature are the Talmud, and the Masora. The v commencement of the Talmud may be dated from
the third century : but, as it chiefly relates to doc- .
trines, a description of it would be foreign to the present Lecture. The materials of Jewish criticism are contained in the Masyra, which received its title from the mode of forming it, the primary parts of it being a collection of literary notices, which had been preserved by tradition, not indeed from the time of Moses, as some of the Jews pretend, nor even from the time of Ezra, as others assert, but probably during several centuries before they were committed to writing, or rather before they were collected into one general mass.
This collection was formed at Tiberias. In what century it was begun is not positively known, but certainly not sooner than the fourth, and probably not sooner than the fifth century. It was considered in the light of a common-place book, to which new materials were continually added, till at length it became as large as the Bible itself. The subjects, of which it treated, were, the great and small divisions of the Hebrew text, the words with various readings, the letters, the vowel points, and accents. It is true, that the Masora, in addition to the materials, which it afforded for Hebrew criticism, contained such fanciful and absurd remarks, as might excite a prejudice against the whole. But we must not therefore reject the good with the bad : for we are indebted to those learned Jews, who began and continued the Masora, for the accuracy, with which the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible have descended to the present day; an obligation, which should never be forgotten, however great in other respects might have been the prejudices of those, to whom the obligation is due.
The history of sacred criticism now conducts us into Italy, and directs our attention to the labours, which Jerom bestowed on the Latin version, at the end of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century.
The old Latin version was a translation from the Greek, in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, the Hebrew not being understood, except in rare instances, by the members of the Latin Church. It was probably made in the early part of the second century: at least it was quoted by Tertullian before the close of that century. But before the end of the fourth century, the alterations, either designed or accidental, which had been made by transcribers of the Latin Bible, were become as numerous, as the alterations in the Greek Bible, before it was corrected by Origen. Indeed, if we may judge from the strong expressions, which were used on this subject by Augustine, as well as by Jerom, they were even more numerous. For Augustine, in one of his epistles to Jerom, calls the Latin version " tam varia in diversis codicibus, ut vix tolerari possit ;” and Jerom himself says, “ cum apud Latinos tot sint exemplaria, quot codices, et unusquisque, pro arbitrio suo, vel addiderit vel subtraxerit quod ei visum est.”
It has been doubted, whether these numerous varieties arose from alterations in one Latin translation, or whether from the beginning there were not several Latin translations. A discussion of this question would employ more time, than the present Lecture can admit. But the probable result of such a discus.
sion is, that before the time of Jerom there was only one Latin translation of the Old Testament but more than one of the New, whence the variations in the Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, were augmented by the additional cause, that different translations were sometimes blended in the same copy. But whatever causes might have operated in producing the evil, both Augustine and Jerom were of opinion, that it was such, as required an immediate remedy. And as no one was so well qualified for a critical revision of the Latin version as Jerom himself, he was commissioned to undertake the task by Damasus, who then presided over the See of Rome.
In correcting the Latin version of the New Testament, he every where compared the translation with the original. In the Old Testament, as the Latin version was there only the translation of a translation, he compared it with that translation ; for he was not commissioned to make a new translation from the Hebrew, but to correct an existing translation, which had been made from the Greek. But he determined to select, for the basis of his emendations, the most accurate text of the Septuagint, which he could procure; and a journey to Palestine afforded him an opportunity of consulting the Hexapla preserved in the Library of Cæsarea. Though his revision therefore of the Latin version, was only in the New Testament a revision according to the original, yet the emendations, which he made in the Old Testament, were founded on a copy of the Septuagint, which Origen himself had corrected from the Hebrew.