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$ 15. Some allowance is no doubt to be made for the influence of polemic theology, the epidemic disease of those times wherein most of the versions, which I have been examining, were composed. The imaginations of men were heated, and their spirits embittered with continual wranglings, not easily avoidable in their circumstances : and those who were daily accustomed to strain every expression of the sacred writers, in their debates one with another, were surely not the fittest for examining them with that temper and coolness, which are necessary in persons who would approve themselves unbiassed translators. Besides, criticism, especially sacred criticism, was then but in its infancy. Many improvements, through the united labours of the learned in different parts of Europe, have since accrued to that science. Much of our scholastic controversy on abstruse and undeterminable questions, well characterised by the Apostle, strifes of words, which minister not to godly edifying 105, is now happily laid aside. It may be hoped, that some of the blunders into which the rage of disputation has formerly betrayed interpreters, may,
proper care, be avoided ; and that the dotage about questions, which gender contention (questions than which nothing can be more hollow or unsound ), being over, some will dare to speak, and others bear to hear, the things which become sound doctrine, the doctrine according to godliness.
1 Tim. vi. 3, &c. 109 See an excellent sermon on this subject, by my learned colleague, Dr. Gerard, vol. II. p. 129.
DISSERTATION THE ELEVENTH.
OF THE REGARD WHICH, IN TRANSLATING SCRIPTURE INTO ENGLISH, IS
DUE TO THE PRACTICE OF FORMER TRANSLATORS, PARTICULARLY OF THE AUTHORS OF THE LATIN VULGATE, AND OF THE COMMON EN. OLISH TRANSLATION.
THE REGARD DUE TO THE VULGATE,
In the former Dissertation', I took occasion to consider what are the chief things to be attended to by every translator, but more especially a translator of holy writ. They appeared to be the three following; first, to give a just and clear representation of the sense of his original ; secondly, to convey into his version as much of his author's spirit and manner as the genius of the language, in which he writes, will admit; thirdly, as far as may be, in a consistency with the two other ends, to express himself with purity in the language of the version. If these be
1 X. Part I,
the principal objects, as, in my opinion, they are ; they will supply us with a good rule for determining the precise degree of regard which is due to former translators of reputation, whose works may have had influence sufficient to give a currency to the terms and phrases they have adopted. When the terms and phrases employed by former interpreters are well adapted for conveying the sense of the author, when they are also suited to his manner, and do no violence to the idiom of the language of the translation, they are justly preferred to other words equally expressive and proper, but which, not hav. ing been used by former interpreters of name, are not current in that application. This, in my opi. nion, is the furthest we can go, without making greater account of translations than of the original, and showing more respect to the words and idioms of fallible men, than to the instructions given by the unerring Spirit of God.
$ 2. IF, in respect of any of the three ends above mentioned, former translators, on the most impartial examination, appear to have failed, shall we either copy or imitate their errors ? When the question is thus put in plain terms, I do not know any critic that is hardy enough to answer in the affirmative. But we no sooner descend to particulars, than we find that those very persons who gave us reason to believe that they agree with us in the general principles, so totally differ in the application, as to show themselves disposed to sacrifice all those pri
mary objects in translating, to the phraseology of a favourite translator. Even Father Simon could ad. mit that it would be wrong to imitate the faults of Saint Jerom, and to pay greater deference to his authority than to the truth?. How far the verdicts he has pronounced on particular passages in the several versions criticised by him, are consistent with this judgment, shall be shown in the sequel.
$ 3. But, before I proceed farther, it may not be amiss to make some remarks on what appears to have been Simon's great scope and design in the Critical History ; for, in the examination of certain points strenuously maintained by him, I shall chiefly be employed in this Dissertation. His opinions in what regards biblical criticism, have long had great influence on the judgment of the learned, both Popish and Protestant. His profound erudition in Oriental matters, joined with uncommon penetration, and, I may add, strong appearances of moderation, have procured him, on this subject, a kind of supe. riority, which is hardly disputed by any. Indeed, if I had not read the answers made to those who attacked his work, which are subjoined to his Critical History, and commonly, if I mistake not, thought to be his, though bearing different names, I should not have spoken so dubiously of his title to the vir
2 En effet, il [Pagnin) auroit eu tort d'imiter les fautes de St. Jerôme, et de deferer plus à l'autorité de ce pere, qu' à la verité. Hist. Crit. du Vieux Testament, liv. ii. ch. xx,
tue of moderation. But throughout these tracts, I I acknowledge, there reigns much of the illiberal spirit of the controvertist. None of the little arts, however foreign to the subject in debate, by which contempt and odium are thrown upon an adversary, are omitted. And, we may say with truth, that by assuming too high an ascendant over Le Clerc and his other antagonists, he has degraded himself below them, farther, I believe, than, by any other method, he could have so easily effected.
4. In regard to Simon's principal work, which I have so often had occasion to mention, the Critical History of the Old and New Testaments, its merit is so well known and established in the learned world, as to render it superfluous now to attempt its character. I shall only animadvert a little on what appear to me, after repeated perusals, to be the chief objects of the author, and on his manner of pursuing these objects. It will scarcely admit a doubt, that his primary scope, throughout the whole performance, is to represent Scripture as, in every thing of moment, either unintelligible or ambigu
His view in this is sufficiently glaring; it is to convince his readers that, without the aid of tradition, whereof the church is both the depositary and the interpreter, no one article of Christianity can, with evidence sufficient to satisfy a rational inquirer, be deduced from Scripture. A second aim, but in subordination to the former, is to bring his readers to such an acquiescence in the Latin Vulgate, which