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fessing the religion of Christ. At Jerusalem many (uugiades) ten thousands soon embraced Christianityi. The city and country of Samaria was converted by Philip's preaching, and confirmed in their faith by Peter and Johnk. Philip published the gospel all the way from thence to Cæsareal. St. Paul's design to persecute at Damascus, is a proof there were great numbers of Christians there m, which himself afterwards confirmed and increased n. Peter by his miracles and preaching mightily augmented the number of Christians at Joppa", and was successful in making proselytes at Cæsareap. The apostles, who were dispersed upon the persecution of Stephen, baptized many to the Christian faith in Phoenicia and Antioch 9, where Barnabas being sent, made large additions of converts", and afterwards together with Paul preached among them for a whole years. Thus was this large country of Syria, with its principal cities and towns converted to Christianity, by the preaching of the apostles, within the space of ten or
Obs. 2. The language of all these converts was Syriac, or the same with that translation we are now discussing. I mean, not so exactly the same, as that there ere no various dialects; it is plain there were by the instance of Peter, whose dialect proved him to be a Galileant; but that they were also intelligible to one another plainly appears by the same instance ; the difference in the way of speaking in one part of this country from another, seeming to have been no more, than in one part of England from another. The language is indeed sometimes called Chaldee, sometimes Syriac, sometimes Syro-Chaldaic; but most commonly by the writers of the New Testament, and first Christian writers, it is called Hebrew. I need not now enter into any critical inquiries concerning the language; only for the sake of those who are unacquainted with these things, I shall lay down the following remarks, which, if it were necessary, it would be no difficult matter to confirm.
1. The original or primeval language of the world was Hebrew u.
i Acts xxi. 20.
1 Acts viii. 40.
6 Acts ix. 42. p Chap. x. r Acts xi. 22. s Acts xi. 26.
i Matt. xxvi. 73. Phaleg. l. 1. C. 15.
m Acts ix. 1,
9 Acts xi. u Bochart.
2. This continued universal till the flood, and so on till the attempt of building of the tower of Babel; for then the whole earth was of one language and of one speech *, about seventeen hundred and fifty years after the creation.
3. At that time there was a confusion of languages; and men being scattered into different parts of the earth, and not conversing with each other, formed different dialects of speech y.
4. These seem to have been no other than the various dialects of the old Hebrew; as Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and the other languages of that eastern part of the world are: just as from the Latin we see the Italian, French, and Spanish had their original
5. The Chaldee or Syriac dialect was the language of Syria and Mesopotamia, and the adjacent country. This is evident from the title Laban the Syrian put upon his monument, viz. N017102", which are plain Syriac or Chaldee wordsa; and from Rabshakeh's speech to the Jews, which is expressly said to be delivered 1998, i. e. in Syriac b.
6. The family of Abraham, through all their various ages, retained their old Hebrew language pure and uncorrupt till the Babylonish captivity. This is evident, because all the books of the Old Testament wrote before that time are in that language; and in the last-cited place, the Jewish officers desired to communicate with Rabshakeh in Syriac, and not in Hebrew, that so the common people in Jerusalem might not understand them.
7. After the captivity they forgot their own Hebrew, and learnt the language of the Chaldeans or Syrians, or rather mixed it with their own. This appears, in that a great part of the books of Ezra and Daniel, which were wrote after the captivity, are wrote in this language; and they had need of interpreters to translate the other books, when they were read in the synagogues in Hebrew, which they did not understand, into Chaldee which they did c.
8. This Chaldean or Syriac language, or, as some call it, Syro Chaldaic dialect, was the language of Jerusalem and
a Gen. xxxi. 47.
2 Kings xviii. 26. • Lightfoot, Harm. New Test. §. 17.
Galilee, and all the country about, in our Saviour's time. There needs no other proof of this, than the great number of Syriac words, which are now remaining in the Greek T'estament; such as Talitha Kumid, Ephphathae, Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthanif, Bethesda, Golgothah, Gabbatha, Racak, Cephas!, Aceldamam, Boanerges ", Maran-athao, Bar-Jona P, Abba 9, &c. These are all evidently Syriac words, (as they know, who are the least acquainted with the language,) and such as were in common use among the Jews, in our Saviour's time. I would only observe further concerning one of these Syriac words, viz. Aceldama, that it is said to be év tñ ilą diela Méxto aútūv, i. e. in their own dialect, which they then spake.
Those who are not acquainted with these studies will be very likely to object here, that we read nothing of the Syriac in the New Testament, but that the words above are commonly called Hebrew; which is indeed true, as also that the first Christian writers commonly call the language of the Jews at this time Hebrew. But it is easy to answer, that Hebrew being the old language, and the other derived from it, and not very different, it is no wonder the Jews were fond of the old name, and always retained it. And as to the fathers, it cannot be strange, they should call it as the Jews did, they generally being ignorant of either language; though Justin Martyr, who lived in Syria, speaks of Hebrew and Syriac, as of one and the same language, Dialog. cum Tryph. Jud. p. 331. And the most learned of the fathers, Jerome, who understood both, perpetually observes the difference; and Nonnus, who lived in the fourth century, in his Paraphrase on St. John's Gospel in Greek verse, for Hebrew puts Syriac. So on John xix. 13.
Γαββαθά παφλάζoντι Σύρω κικλήσκετο μύθω. .
Γολγοθά τον καλέεσκε Σύρων στόμα, &c.
Αυσονίη γλώσση τε Σύρω και 'Αχαΐδι φωνή.
& John v. 2.
Mark xv. 34. d Mark v. 41. e Mark vii. 34.
1 John i. 42.
m Acts i. 19. * Matt. v. 22. xxvii. 33.
John xix. 13. ✓ Mark iji. 17.
• 1 Cor. xvi. 22. P Matt. xvi. 17. - 9 Mark xiv. 36.
our Saviour's time, that in which himself and his apostles conversed and preached. Mr. Vossius is the only one I know of a contrary opinion; he thinks the common language of Jerusalem and that country was Greek"; but it is plain from Acts xxi. 37. the common Jews did not understand that language; and Josephus expressly tells us $, that “it was a strange lan
guage to him and his countrymen.” If any one has a mind to see more of this controversy, he may see it warmly managed between father Simon and Vossius 4, in the books cited in the margin. All that I shall further add, is, that inasmuch as I have promiscuously above used the words Chaldee and Syriac, the reason thereof is, because those two dialects are so very much alike, and indeed almost the same, as every one knows, who is acquainted with the very rudiments of them, and may be very easily perceived by those, who have not learnt the languages, if they will but cast their eye upon Buxtorf's Chaldee and Syriac Grammar; or perhaps more clearly, if they consult that incomparable Harmonical Grammar of the Orientals compiled by Ernestus Gerhardus, founded upon Schickard's Hebrew Rules. The truth is, there is scarce any difference at all between them, save only in a few words, and the punctuation." There would be but little difference visible “ between Chaldee and Syriac," says the learned critic in these languages, Lud. de Dieus, “if those who affixed the points “ to them had thought it fit. I distinguish them,” says he, “ because others do; and some little difference there is in “ forming the words ; else for my part I own them to be one “ and the same languagey.” So Amira?, and to the same purpose our celebrated countryman Fullera; “ the Chaldee and “ Syriac dialects are not so properly said to be alike, as to be “ almost the same.” And in another placeb accounts for it by a learned proof, that the Syrians and Chaldeans were one and the same people. And I cannot but observe here, that what the prophet Daniel in one place calls ous yes, i. e. the
Voss. Respons. ad iterat. P. Si- * See bis preface to his Syriac and mon. Object.
Chaldee Grainmar. • Præfat. in Antiq. Jud. et Præfat. y Ibid.
z Prælud. in Gram. Syr. seu Chald + Critical History of the New Test. part 1. c. 6. u Lib. jam cit.
in Bell. Judaic.
a Miscell. Sacr, 1. 1. c. I.
language of the Chaldeansc, in the next chapter is called non, i. e. Syriac d.
CHAP. XVI. Several observations, which prove the Syriac version made in
or near the apostles' times. Obs. 3. It was absolutely needful, that a version should be made ; and therefore very probable, a version was made of the books of the New Testament into the Syriac language, in or near the apostles' times.
This observation naturally arises and follows from the two foregoing; for if, as has been proved, an innumerable multitude of persons were converted to Christianity in Jerusalem and Galilee, in Cæsarea, Damascus, Samaria, Joppa, Lydda, Antioch, and all over Syria; if the language of all this country was Syriac, there can be nothing more unreasonable than to suppose, they were for any long time destitute of those inspired books, which contained the foundations of their new religion. To suppose this, would argue them either to have very little knowledge of, or very little zeal for, their profession ; neither of which was the case we are sure. Nothing can be more reasonably concluded, than that upon the foregoing hypothesis, either the apostles or themselves would take care to have a good version as soon as might be.
1. It may with a great deal of reason be supposed, that some one or other of the apostles would take care to have the sacred books of Christianity published among the churches of Syria in their own language. This would be the best and most likely means of preserving and propagating those doctrines and that faith, which they had declared among them. Without this, I cannot see, how they could expect any other than the speedy decay of the Christian religion after their time, even when it made the most flourishing figure in their time. On the other hand, a version (made by themselves, or a person of their appointment) of their writings into the language of the country, would be a very probable method of advancing the work they had been so long labouring in, of keepc Dan. i. 4.
d Dan. ii. 4.