« AnteriorContinuar »
version. Of many such differences between Greek and English, I shall mention at present only one. We find it necessary to introduce some of the personal pronouns almost as often as we introduce a verb. Not only does our idiom require this, but our want of inflections constrains us to take this method for conveying the meaning. In the ancient languages this is quite unnecessary, as the inflection of the verb, in almost every case, virtually expresses the pronoun. There are certain cases, nevertheless, wherein the pronoun is also employed in those languages. But, in those cases, it has, for the most part, an emphasis which the corresponding pronoun with us, because equally necessary in every case, is not fitted for expressing. Thus our Lord says to his disciples 95, Ουχ υμεις με εξελεξασθε, αλλ' εγω εξελεξαμην υμας, which is rendered in the common version, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. This version is at once literal, just, and perspicuous; yet it has not the energy of the original. The stress laid on 'vuels and syo, which are here contrasted with manifest intention, because the words are otherwise superfluous, is but feebly, if at all, represented by the pronouns ye and I, which are, in English, necessary attendants on the verbs. Our translators could not have rendered differently, had the words been Ου με εξελεξασθε, αλλ' εξελεξαμην yuas. Yet every reader of taste will perceive that this expression is not nearly so emphatical. I might
97 John, xv. 16.
add that such a reader will be sensible, that even so slight a circumstance as beginning the sentence with the negative particle, adds to the emphasis, and that VUELS 8 would not have been so expressive as 8X 'Vuels. To do justice, therefore, to the energy, as well as to the sense of the original, it is necessary, in modern languages, to give the sentence a different turn. The Port Royal, and after them Simon, and other French translators, have done this successfully by rendering it, Ce n'est pas vous qui m'avez choisi, mais c'est moi qui vous ai choisi. The like turn has been given by some very properly to the words in English, It was not you who chose me, but it was I who chose you.
I recollect one instance in the Old Testament, wherein our translators have taken this method. Joseph, after he had discovered himself to his brethren, observing that the remembrance of their guilt overwhelmed them with terror and confusion ; in order to compose their spirits, says to them 98 It was not you that sent me hither, but God. The expression in the Greek translation is perfectly similar to that above quoted from the Gospel. Oux υμεις με ασεςαλκατε ωδε, αλλ' η ο Θεος. In the ori
: nx 77377 49 7587. I do not say, however, that the pronoun, when mentioned, is, in every case, emphatical, or that, in every case, it would be proper to deviate from the more simple manner of translating:
98 Gen. xlv. 8.
$ 33. Thus much shall suffice for what regards those leading rules in translating, which may be judged necessary for securing propriety, perspicuity, and energy; and, as far as possible, in a consistency with these, for doing justice to the particular manner of the author translated; and for bestowing on the whole, that simple kind of decoration, which is suited to its character. This finishes the first part of this Dissertation relating to the matter or principal qualities to be attended to in translating.
I SHALL now subjoin a few remarks on the readings, where there is, in the original, a diversity of reading, which are here preferred.
Were it in our power to recur to the autographies of the sacred penmen, that is, to the manuscripts written by themselves, or by those whom they employed, to whom they dictated, and whose work they supervised, there could be no question that we ought to recur to them, as the only infallible stan, dards of divine truth. But those identical writings, it is acknowledged on all hands, are nowhere now to be found.
What we have, in their stead, are the copies of copies (through how many successions, it
is impossible to say), which were originally taken from those autographies. Now, though Christians are generally agreed in ascribing infallibility to the sacred penmen, no Christian society, or individual, that I know, has ever yet ascribed infallibility to the copiers of the New Testament. Indeed, some Christians appear absurd enough to admit thus much in favour of those who have transcribed the Old Testament; about which they seem to imagine, that Providence has been more solicitous than about the New. , For, in regard to the New Testament, nothing of this kind has ever been advanced. Now, what has been said of the transcribers of the New Testament may, with equal certainty, be affirmed of the editors and printers. It is, nevertheless, true, that, since the invention of printing, we have greater security than formerly, against that incorrectness which multiplies the diversities of reading; inasmuch as now, a whole printed edition, consisting of many thousand copies, is not exposed to so many errors, as a single written copy was before. But this invention is comparatively modern. Besides, the effect it had, in point of correctness, was only to check the progress, or, more properly, to prevent the increase of the evil, by giving little scope for new variations. But it could have no retrospective effect in rectifying those already produced.
§ 2. It behoved the first editors of the New Testament in print, to employ the manuscripts of which they were possessed, with all their imperfections.
And who will pretend that Cardinal Ximenes, Erasmus, Robert Stephens, and the other early publishers of the New Testament, to whom the republic of letters is indeed much indebted, were under an infallible direction in the choice of manuscripts, or in the-choice of readings in those passages wherein their copies differed from one another ? That they were not all under infallible guidance, we have ocular demonstration, as, by comparing them, we see that, in many instances, they differ among themselves. And if only one was infallibly directed, which of them, shall we say, was favoured with this honourable distinction ? But, in fact, though there are many well-meaning persons, who appear dissatisfied with the bare mention of various readings of the sacred text, and much more with the adoption of any reading to which they have not been accustomed, there is none who has yet ventured to ascribe infallibility, or inspiration, to any succession of copyists, editors, or printers. Yet, without this, to what purpose complain? Is it possible to dissemble a cir. cumstance clear as day, that different copies read some things differently? a circumstance of which every person who, with but a moderate share of knowledge, will take the trouble to reflect, must be convinced that it was inevitable ? Or, if it were possible to dissemble it, ought this truth to be dissembled ? If, in any instance wherein the copies differ, there appear, upon inquiry, sufficient reason to believe, that the reading of one copy, or number of copies, is the dictate of inspiration, and that the reading