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ation uphrase, or the word,
ture, although the principle of our translators is the same. So cautious were they, and so delicately apprehensive lest they should infuse aught except “the sincere milk of the word,” that their principle was to render, not phrase by phrase, or idiom by idiom, but word by word; a mode of translation which would utterly disguise the sense of any book except the Scriptures. But the simple and really philosophical construction of the Hebrew language readily allows a permutation, which the refinements of less primitive tongues would render impracticable; and the Evangelists, who all thought in Syro-Chaldee, (one, most probably, wrote in it,) produced a Greek as capable of verbal translation as the Hebrew itself. Thus the principle of our translators was in the highest degree advantageous, as it secured, for the most part, and with the least controversy, the true sense of the original ; or if there was any ambiguity, the translated phrase accurately represented it, and the unlearned reader had it in his power to estimate the question as well as the learned, and to balance conflicting or correlative interpretations. Our translators, however, extended their principle to the writings of St. Paul; and here its application produces very different effects. For St. Paul's style is of the most peculiar construction; highly idiomatic, and its idioms too so different from those of either Hebrew or ordinary Greek, that scholars have travelled to Cilicia in search of them ; abrupt, parenthetical, vehement, abounding in aposiopeses and implicit connections. The Epistles of St. Paul are, therefore, as may be expected, the most obscure part of the English Bible; idioms, harsh, yet intelligible in the Greek, lose all their character and signification in literal English. The rhetorical eloquence of the great Apostle disdains the fetters of verbal permutation; and the unlearned reader often misunderstands him, and frequently does not understand at all.
Yet it is scarcely possible to censure the venerable compilers of the Anglican version. No doubt they were as well aware of this inconvenience as any modern theologians. But they were not circumstanced as individual translators. They had upon themselves the provision of every man's spiritual daily bread, in a great people, and to all generations. A mighty responsibility! It was very natural that they shoulù distrust themselves, and not “ do their own pleasure," nor“ speak their own words." Their self-distrust shrank instinctively from the idea of substituting their own word for the word of God, even where they might feel most convinced that the senses of both were identical. They preferred therefore to apply a principle, which had been experienced safe and solid in other parts of Scripture, to the writings of St. Paul. But, while we do every justice to the correctness of this measure, we cannot disguise the fact that the Apostle's sense has really suffered in the process.
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Such being the state of the case with regard to the authorized version of St. Paul's Epistles, it may seem that private translations of this portion of Scripture may have some better warrant than those of other parts of the Bible. Yet it may be again remarked, in proportion to the superior difficulties of the contest, all the important and valuable qualifications of the Scripture interpreter are here required in a vastly superior degree.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, of all others, is that which calls for the most abundant exercise of these great qualities : its style is so copious, rich, figurative and florid, that its genuineness, on this very account, has been debated; its matter is highly mysterious, and can only be faithfully conveyed by the most rigid and scrupulous adherence to the plain intent of its language ; attachment to hypothesis, always dangerous, here must be absolutely fatal. If ever sobriety and scholarship were indispensable requisites, they are so here. But so great is the importance of its subject (the development of the proposition,“ the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ,") that a good translation of it, enriched with a good commentary, would be invaluable to the biblical student, and useful to the leisurely, but unlearned Christian.
We confess that we opened the volume on our desk with apprehensions; and those apprehensions have not been tranquillized. Mr. Sampson was a man of that true and noble piety which glorifies God in benefiting his creation ; whose contemplation is only the nurse of its activity ; yet which renders all the glory where it is due, and trusts, in self-abandonment, to the blood of the Saviour, to purify its most hallowed exertions. His scholarship, however, was not equal to his piety; and he loved hypothesis and the reputation of discovery; “one thing he lacked," sobriety of judgment, and that was, in this case, “ the one thing needful.”
The Editor has prefixed an Introduction, which appears to us the most sober and sensible thing in the volume. In it he makes out very probably, that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written in Greek, A. D. 63, from St. Paul's dictation, by St. Luke, which accounts for the variety of the style.
The question respecting the genuineness of this Epistle does not appear to us to affect that of its inspiration. Did it profess to be the production of St. Paul, this argument would be, indeed, decisive. But this is not the case. Little doubt can exist of its great antiquity; there is every reason to believe it was composed before the destruction of Jerusalem; and even those who, in the early ages, doubted respecting the author, esteemed the Epistle canonical. But it would be very satisfactory to prove, by inferential reasoning, that it is really the work of St. Paul, and thus put cavillers to utter silence. Paley,
ment wow Did it prestle doe
in his Horæ Paulinæ, has omitted to notice the Epistle which most needed the application of his argument. For, valuable as that argument is, and irresistible as are the conclusions which it substantiates, the other Epistles of St. Paul can afford to miss it. If they be not genuine, we have no security for any contemporary writing, much less for one of higher antiquity. The value of the Horæ Paulinæ consists not so much in the proof which that work affords of the genuineness of St. Paul's Epistles, clear and demonstrative as this proof is, as in the principle which it has suggested for trying the pretensions of other writings of more doubtful ascription. The Epistle to the Hebrews is just the work which requires the application of Paley's principle ; but, although no spurious work could stand the scrutiny of Paley's test, there are doubtless many genuine works to which it could not be applied. Perhaps the feeling that such was the case in the instance of the Epistle to the Hebrews restricted Paley from treating it. It is, indeed, greatly deficient in circumstance; the last chapter being that alone which appears to afford any vantage ground to the inquirer.
It might be expected, however, that this portion of the Epistle would be discussed with some view to elucidation. The Editor, indeed, has some remarks on the subject in his Introduction, but the translator has so miserably embroiled the Apostle's sense, that he has removed all chance of success in tracing the authorship of the Epistle. We will venture to incur the charge of absence of method, by first bringing forward, as a specimen of the criticism which “ has received the praise of some of the best biblical scholars in Ireland,” Mr. Sampson's version of Chap. xiii. 23.
23. Ye know that our brother Timotheus hath long since been sent on an embassy, in company with whom (if he shall come back somewhat quickly) I shall see you.
Such is Mr. Sampson's translation. Now for his criticism.
Ver. 23. “ Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty,” A. V. The verb yuvoo KETE, is not in the imperative, but in the indicative mood; and should, therefore, he rendered " ye know.” Again, the participle årole vuévov, refers to a time long since past. If the Apostle had intended to say “is set at liberty," he would have used the infinitive mood, present tense, átolveolai; but the meaning seems to me quite different from the present rendering: and for this opinion, I shall now proceed to give my authorities.
We find in Polybius “máliv åtenveto,"_" rursum decedebat ;" “ He again departed on an embassy.” Again, in Appian, b. Civil 4. 'Apxéhaov átéhoev" demisit Archelaum;" "he dismissed Archelaus on an embassy:" St. Paul had sent Tychicus to the Colossians, Col. iv. 7,8.; Epaphroditus to the Philippians, Phil. ii. 25. 28. see also 19. 23, 24. ; that he intended to send Timotheus with them, but that he delayed him till after the event of his answering before Nero Cæsar. The joyful news of his acquittal before this emperor (to whom he had appealed, on account of which appeal he had been brought to Rome), was sent by various dispatches to the Christian churches; and, among other messengers, it seems most probable, that a considerable time before he wrote this epistle, Timotheus had been dispatched with the joyful tidings to the Heleni, and others, Jews of Judea and Palestine. It appears also, that the Apostle was then waiting at Rome for the return of Timotheus from this embassy to Judea ; and, therefore, he says, “with whom if he come shortly, I will see you." It appears also, that Timotheus was the usual companion of the Apostle in his travels; and that St. Paul's growing infirmities made it necessary to wait the return of this companion and messenger: and in looking to verse 16. above, it seems not improbable that Timotheus was to be the bearer of some contribution from the brethren in Judea, whereby St. Paul might be enabled to proceed towards Spain. We learn from St. Chrysostom, (vide Præ.) that St. Paul did, after his acquittal, proceed first to Spain, and thence to Judea. For these reasons I have translated the passage, “Ye know by this time, that Timotheus hath long since been sent on an embassy ;” and that this is the received acceptation of the word árolów, among the sacred historians, the reader will find at Matt. xiv. 15. årólvoov toùs öxlovs, “ send away the multitude." As to the interpretation, “That Timothy is set at liberty;" A. V. it no where appears that Timotheus had either been accused, confined, or brought to any public trial. Ph. 197, 198, Note.
Let us examine this in detail :- 1st. “ the verb gevokeTe is not in the imperative, but in the indicative mood."-Indeed! Why so ?-Mr. Sampson deigns not to say. Yet it surely seems more natural that the Apostle should deliver information, than idly record what his converts knew, especially when he was writing“ with hasty dispatch."* Such a style savours more of the novelist or dramatist than of the real correspondent. “ Again, (we are told) the participle åmodelupévov refers to a time long since passed.” Another unsupported assertion. If it be meant to say that the perfect tense has necessarily that force, such a proposition is notoriously untrue, and, so far from meriting “ the praise of biblical scholars," would be ridiculed by school-boys. The perfect tense is so far from denoting " time long since past," that it often approaches very near to the present. (See Hom. Il. A. 37, and Clarke's Annotations.) “ Next,” says Mr. Sampson, “if the Apostle had intended to say “is set at liberty,” he would have used the infinitive mood, present tense, átolveobar. Most assuredly, he would have done no such thing. For that word would have signified, " is now being set at liberty,” “is now in the act of being liberated.” The English term “ is set” is strictly past in its signification ; it is the “liberatus est,” the perfect of the Latins. So that in this short sentence, we have two UNFOUNDED assertions, one of which is either a direct blunder, or very clumsily expressed, and we have besides a very gross error on a very elementary grammatical question. But átolevuévov, it seems, must mean “ long since sent on an embassy"! “ We find in Polybius, nákuv åtehúero, rursum decedebat,” ” he again departed on an embassy.” Mr. Sampson again dispenses with references. But must decedo, as well as átolveo dal signify to go on an embassy? The quotation from Appian might simply be rendered, “ he dismissed Archelaus." It is remarkable
• Mr. Sampson's Translation of bed Bpayéw.
too, that in all the texts adduced to support this meaning, the verb
Todów does not ONCE occur; the word is always népstw : a circumstance, if conviction were wanting, perfectly conclusive. What follows, is an insult to any reader's understanding. “ That this is the received acceptation of the word åtolúw, consulting the sacred historians, the reader will find at Matth. xiv. 15. ápólvoov toùs oxlovs.” What ! “ Send the multitudes away ON AN EMBASSY!!!” this is really too good. Mr. Sampson himself does not venture to give this rendering ; and, unless he does, what advantage can it afford his argument? To crown the beauties of this erudite annotation, we are informed of certain “Heleni," personages to whom Mr. Sampson has previously introduced us. Who can these be ? Gentle Reader! we shrewdly surmise that they are persons usually known by the designation of ®EXnves.
As to the interpretation “ that Timothy is set at liberty," it no where appears that Timotheus had either been accused, confined, or brought to any public trial. True. And what then? Nothing appears to the contrary. It no where appears from the Acts that St. Paul visited Arabia shortly after his conversion ; but we find, from the Epistle to the Galatians, that he did. And although no mention occurs of any personal persecution of Timothy, the fact is not so violently improbable as to justify a perversion of the plainest words in order to get rid of it.
We think we have gone far to shew the character of the “ learning" which pervades the work. We will now say something on the general principle on which it is conducted.
There are only two senses in which a translation of St. Paul can be said to be good : either where it adheres, like the authorized version, to the strict grammatical meaning of the words, or where it endeavours to approach the sense by deserting the verbal construction. In the first of these excellencies, our version, as a version, cannot be surpassed. A literal translation, widely differing from the authorized version, COULD NOT be good. Now Mr. Sampson, apparently, endeavours to surpass our translators on their own ground ; his version is so extremely bald and awkward, that it must be supposed an attempt to be literal ; but it differs so enormously from the unaffected plainness of the English Bible, that this circumstance alone is direct presumption of its deficiency.
Let us, however, advance from presumptive to positive evidence. chap. i. 8. We have 'PABAOE cv Bútntos ñ 'PABA0E rñs Baoldelas oov. This Mr. Sampson translates : " the wand of rectitude is the ensign of thy kingdom.” The superiority of the authorized version in point of literal accuracy, is too conspicuous to be insisted on.
The opening of the second chapter in the authorized version is clear VOL. XI. NO. III.