« AnteriorContinua »
Notes, both of which are full of new and interesting information. It is deeply to be regretted that the cost of this work is such as will be likely greatly to limit its circulation.
It is my purpose, should a favouring Providence permit, to go over all the historical books of the Old Testament on the same plan. Other indispensable engagements may make the intervals of publication somewhat wide, but if life and health are spared, the work will be continually in hand till completed ; and so far as it may give presage of useful service to the cause of biblical knowledge and sound piety, I cannot hesitate to assure myself of the prayers of my readers, in conjunction with my own, for the blessing of Heaven to rest upon the enterprise.
NEW YORK, Nov. 1st, 1838.
I. OF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES GENERALLY.
§ 1. Titles, Divisions, &c.
THAT collection of writings which is every where regarded by Christians as containing the only true revelation made by God to man, and as the sole standard of faith and practice, is familiarly known by different appellations. Thus it is frequently termed The Scriptures, as being the most important of all writings; the Holy or Sacred Scriptures, because composed by persons divinely inspired; and sometimes the Canonical Scriptures, from a Greek word (<av canon) signifying a rule, because they were regarded as an infallible rule of faith and conduct, and to distinguish them from certain books termed Apocryphal (amoxρopor hidden, concealed,) from their being of obscure and doubtful origin, not possessing the proper testimonials to entitle them to a place among the genuine inspired writings. But the most usual appellation is The Bible (ẞißλov or Bißia biblion or biblia, Lat. liber, book, from ßißλos biblos, an Egyptian reed of the bark of which paper was made). This word in its primary import simply denotes a book, but it is applied to the writings of the prophets and apostles by way of emphasis and eminence, as being the Book of Books, infinitely superior in excellence and importance to every human composition. This title originated at a very early period, principally from the usage of the Greek Fathers, and has since been generally adopted by the Christian world.
The most common and general division of the canonical Scriptures is into the Old and New Testaments; the former containing those revelations of the divine will which were communicated to the Hebrews, Jsraclites, or Jews, before the birth of Christ; the latter comprising the inspired writings of the Evangelists and Apostles. This distinction is founded on 2 Cor. 3. 6, 14. Mat. 26. 28. Gal. 3. 17. Heb. 8. 8.-9. 15-20, where the ancient Latin translators have rendered dia0nxn diatheke (which signifies both a covenant and a testament, but in Biblical usage always answers to the Heb. berith, a covenant) by Testamentum, a testament; ' because,' says Jerome (Comment. in Mal. ch. 2. 2), 'they by a Græcism attributed to this word the sense of Fœdus, a covenant? Were such the usage, therefore, there would be no impropriety in terming the two main portions of the Scriptures the Old and New Covenant; implying thereby, not two distinct and unrelated covenants, but merely the former and
the latter dispensation of the one grand covenant of mercy, of which the prophet Jeremiah, ch. 31. 31-34, as expounded by the Apostle, Heb. 8. 6-13, gives so ample a description.
The books of the Old Testament again are usually farther subdivided by the Jews into the Law ( hattorah), the Prophets ( hannebeim), and the Hagiographa ( hakketubim, lit. the writings, emphatically so called); a classification expressly recognised by our Lord, Luke 24. 44, 'These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me;' where by Psalms is meant, not merely the book bearing that title in the Scriptures, but what is otherwise termed the Hagiographa. In this distribution the Law comprised the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, which were originally written in one volume, as all the manuscripts are to this day, which are read in the synagogues. 1ue Prophets were divided into the former and latter, in reference to the time when they respectively flourished; the first class containing the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, the two last being each considered as one book; the second comprising Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets, whose books were reckoned as one. The reason why Moses is not included among the prophets, is, because he so far surpassed all those who came after him, in eminence and dignity, that they were not accounted worthy to be placed on a level with him; and the books of Joshua and Judges are reckoned among the prophetical books because they are generally supposed to have been written by the prophet Samuel. The Ketubim or Hagiographa, that is, the Holy Writings, comprehended the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah (reckoned as one), and the two books of Chronicles, also reckoned as one. This third class or division of the sacred books has received the appellation of Ketubim, or Holy Writings, because they were not orally delivered as the law of Moses was; but the Jews affirm that they were composed by men divinely inspired, who, however, had no public mission as prophets. It is remarkable that Daniel is excluded from the number of prophets, and that his writings with the rest of the Hagiographa, were not publicly read in the synagogues as the Law and the Prophets were. This is ascribed to the singular minuteness with which he foretold the coming of the Messiah before the destruction of the city and sanctuary, and the apprehension of the Jews, lest the public reading of his predictions should lead any to embrace the doctrines of Christianity.
The subordinate division into chapters and verses is of comparatively modern date. The former is attributed to Hugo de Sancto Caro, a Roman Catholic Cardinal, who flourished about A. D. 1240; the latter to Rabbi Mordecai Nathan, a celebrated Jewish teacher, who lived A. D. 1445. The author of the versedivision in the New Testament was Robert Stephens, a distinguished printer of Paris, who lived in the sixteenth century. As this division, however, is not always made with the strictest regard to the connection of parts, it may be considered, to the mere reader or interpreter of the sacred volume, who wishes to obtain a clear, connected view of the chain of narrative, precept, prophecy, or argument of a particular book, as a disadvantage. But on the other hand, the facilities afforded by it in the matter of quotation and reference are so great as
perhaps to counterbalance all other inconveniences. Without some division of this kind it would be next to impossible to frame a Concordance, and yet of all aids to the right understanding of the Scriptures, none is so important as a Concordance.
§ 2. Language, Mode of Preservation, Incorrupt Integrity, &c., of the Old Testament Scriptures.
The language in which the Old Testament is written, with the exception of a few passages in Chaldee, is the Hebrew, so called, in all probability, from being principally spoken by the Hebrew nation, the descendants, through Abraham, of Heber, the grandson of Shem. (See Note on Gen. 10. 21 and 14. 13). This language belongs to a group or family of languages usually termed the Shemitic, of which the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic are cognate or kindred branches, in each of which ancient versions exist affording very important aids in the interpretation of the Hebrew text. This text has been transmitted to us in the form of manuscripts, written mostly on vellum or parchment, either rolled like a map, or in a book-form, with the contents written in two or three parallel columns. The Jews to this day use no other copies in their synagogues than the rolled manuscripts, which are transcribed with the utmost care and exactness, under regulations superstitiously strict, and often in a chirography of extreme beauty. Of these copies it cannot be affirmed of any one now in existence, that it is absolutely perfect. The lapse of time and the numerous transcriptions through which the sacred writings have passed, would naturally expose them in some degree to the inroads of error; and some instances of this kind have been pointed out. But on the whole the integrity of the Scriptures has been remarkably preserved. The most accurate inquiries have been instituted on this head, and the result of the laborious and critical examination of learned men has shown, that the alterations of the sacred text are extremely slight and trivial, and that in all essential points we have the divine revelation as it came from the hands of the several penmen.
§ 3. Ancient Versions.
The principal Ancient Versions, which illustrate the Scriptures, are the Chaldee Paraphrases, generally called Targums, the Septuagint or Alexandrian Greek Version, and the Vulgate or Latin Version. In a more detailed view of this subject than we now propose, it would be proper to enumerate also the translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, together with the Samaritan, Syriac, and Arabic Versions, but as these are comparatively of secondary importance we shall not at present dwell upon them, but refer the reader who is desirous of fuller information to the Introductions of Horne, Jahn, Carpenter, and others who have treated of them in all their particulars. We shall confine ourselves to the following, which, the reader will observe, are made more especially prominent, by frequent quotation, in the ensuing pages.
(a.) THE TARGUMS.-The Chaldee word
targum signifies in general any version or explanation; but the appellation is more particularly restricted to the versions or paraphrases of the Old Testament, executed in the East-Aramæan
or Chaldee dialect, as it is usually called. These Targums are termed paraphrases or expositions, because they are rather comments and explications than literal translations of the text. They are written in that dialect, because it became more familiar to the Jews after the time of their captivity in Babylon, than the Hebrew itself; so that when the law was 'read in the synagogue every gabbath-day,' in pure biblical Hebrew, an explanation was subjoined to it in Chaldee, in order to render it intelligible to a people who had in a measure lost their native tongue. This practice originated with Ezra, and it is highly probable that the paraphrases were at first merely oral, but that they were afterwards committed to writing for the benefit of those who wished to study and ponder 'the law of the Lord' at home. Indeed there are yet extant some manuscripts in which the text and the paraphrase are written alternately; first, a verse or two or three in Hebrew, and then a corresponding number of verses in Chaldee. But books of this description were not allowed in the public reading of the Law. -There are at present extant ten of these Chaldee paraphrases on different parts of the Old Testament, three of which, and those by far the most important, comprise the Pentateuch, viz. (1.) The Targum of Onkelos; (2.) That falsely ascribed to Jonathan, and usually cited as the Targum of the Pseudo-Jonathan; (3.) The Jerusalem Targum. Of the rest it will be unnecessary here to speak.
Targum of Onkelos.—It is not known with certainty at what time Onkelos flourished, nor of what nation he was. The generally received opinion is, that he was a proselyte to Judaism, and a disciple of the celebrated Rabbi Hillel, who flourished about fifty years before the Christian era; and consequently that Onkelos was cotemporary with the Saviour. But Bauer and Jahn place him in the second century. His Targum, embracing the five books of Moses, is justly preferred to all the others, both on account of the purity of its style and its general freedom from idle legends. It is rather a version than a paraphrase, and renders the Hebrew text word for word and with so much accuracy and exactness, that being set to the same musical notes with the original Hebrew, it could be read or cantillated in the same tone as the latter in the public assemblies of the Jews. The best-known Latin translation of this Targum, which we have generally quoted by the simple designation 'Chal.,' is that of Paulus Fagius, and the fullest information concerning it is to be found in a tract by G. B. Winer, entitled, 'De Onkeloso ejusque Paraphrasi Chaldaica Dissertatio, 4to. Lips. 1820.
For the sake of affording the English reader a still clearer idea of the nature of these paraphrases, and how far they differ from the original, we subjoin a specimen of each, in a literal translation ranged in parallel columns with the corresponding passages from our received version.
Gen. 1. 2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
v. 11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the hero yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was
TARG. OF ONKELOS.
And the earth was waste and empty; and darkness was upon the face of the abyss: and a wind from before the Lord breathed over the surface of the waters.
And the Lord said: Let the earth cause to spring up the tender herb, whose seed may be sown; the fruit-tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth and it was so.