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a correct one. The dignity of our establishment, and the character of our authorised version, require that we should assert the one, and vindicate the other: this can only be done by undertaking a new translation: and I am convinced, that if able men were to engage in such a work, they would not only produce a very correct text, but they would also clear the translators of King James from many of the aspersions which are maliciously thrown on them. These translators had not the opportunities of arriving so completely at the sense of the original, in all cases, as Hebrew scholars now have: but with respect to general integrity, and a faithful regard to the spirit and meaning of the sacred oracles, they acquitted themselves in a manner which cannot be sufficiently extolled. Let me here take the opportunity of explaining, that, although I am proposing a revision, I am not one of those who undervalue the common version. To make use of the words of the translators themselves, "We are so far from condemning any of their labors that travelled before us in the same kind, either in King Henry's time, or in King Edward's, or in Queen Elizabeth's, of ever renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God, for the building and furnishing of his church, and that they deserve to be had of us, and of posterity, in everlasting remembrance. Therefore blessed be they, and most honored be their names, that break the ice, and give the onset upon that which helpeth forward to the saving of souls. Yet, for all that, as nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, so if we, building upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen by their labors, do endeavour to make that better, which they left good, no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us; they, we persuade ourselves, if they were alive, would thank us."—See Translators' General Preface.
Another circumstance, which may justly excite an anxiety in the jealous friends of the establishment, to see a revision undertaken by proper authority, is the fact of a translation having been begun by an individual, and meeting with the most flattering encouragement from the highest personages both in church and state, although the author makes the most indefensible attack on the common version that ever proceeded from any person who was not hostile to the establishment. I allude to the "First Part of a Translation of the Holy Bible," by Mr. Bellamy. This work is ushered into notice by a dedication to H.R.H. the Prince Regent, (who, to his eternal honor be it spoken, is ever forward in the patronage of literature) and with a long list of exalted subscribers; among whom stand the names of ten members of the Royal family, the chancellors of the two universities, seven bishops, twenty peers, and six dignitaries of the church.
Now, my Lord, the fact here stated gives rise to two very serious reflections. First, that these illustrious, noble, and right reverend persons, see the necessity of a new translation: and secondly, that they are so strongly impressed with that necessity, as to have had recourse to a very dangerous expedient for supplying the desideratum. They have given encouragement to an undertaking which must be incompetent, as being the work of one person only, whereas it requires the wisdom and experience of a body of learned men. There is no doubt but Mr. Bellamy has drank deeply from the springs of oriental literature, that he is a profound Hebrew scholar, and, with the exercise of a little more discretion, that he is qualified to make one of a select number, who might be employed in revising the Scriptures. But when an individual lays claim to so much infallibility, delivers his opiniona with so much arrogance, offers so many wild emendations, and assaults thetranslators of King James with so much virulence, as he has done, we are constrained to treat his labors with much less respect than they would have met with, had they been conducted with the modesty which becomes an attempt of so much hazard. The Hebrew language is by far too difficult of interpretation, to be rendered into English, on so gigantic a scale as the whole Bible, by any one person, however great his pretensions may be: therefore, when such a bold undertaking is begun, countenanced by the first characters in the kingdom, and accompanied, not with a few objections to detached passages, but with a sweeping clause, condemning the whole of the authorised version as "a translation at which we ought to blush and be shocked," it is high time for the friends of the church to take alarm, and to investigate the volume which we are told, to our surprise, is so unworthy of our estimation. Hitherto, when the common version has been examined by pious and well-disposed Hebrew scholars, we have been gratified by finding, that if they have objected to certain errors and defects, they have yet, on the whole, pronounced it to be as accurate and faithful a translation as the state of learning in 1611 would allow it to be. One learned oriental scholar, with a degree of candor which is most honorable, considering that he is of a different communion with ourselves, pays this high tribute of applause to the translators of 1611, after he had devoted thirty years to the study and exposition of their work: "Those who have compared most of the European translations with the original, have not scrupled to say, that the English translation of the Bible, made under the direction uf King James the First, is the most accurate andfaithful of the whole. Nor is this its only praise; the translators have seized the very spirit and soul of the original." 1 l :&r}.:' 'Dr. Adam Clarke.
But now, for the first time, a person, professing himself well disposed towards the doctrines of revelation, throws down the gauntlet, and pledges himself to prove that the authorised version is reproach to Christian nations," and that " it contains inconsistencies and contradictions 'which serve only to disgrace the sacred book, and. to aid the cause of infidelity." Can this language be that of a friend to the sacred cause of truth? or, would any man, who is truly anxious to give a correct reading of the Holy Book, hold up any copy of that book to the contempt of the Christian community, merely on account of a few partial errors i It is always indecent to speak lightly of grave and serious subjects; still worse to confuse irreverend combinations with pious intentions, and to pretend that what is meant to be the vehicle of the most awful truths can ever be charged with effects diametrically the reverse.
In our present imperfect state, where our best motives are liable to invidious construction, we ought to hesitate before we accuse each other of what is base and malevolent. God forbid, then, that I should speak harshly of a man, who has studied the word of God as intensely as Mr. Bellamy! his very labors imply good intentions. It is a hasty and a superficial perusal of the Bible which makes the scoffer, not months and years of meditation. I am constrained, therefore, to believe that Mr. Bellamy is well inclined towards the household of faith: but as he values the salvation of others, as he values his own Christian name, let him in future speak less irreverently of a copy of Scripture which merits our veneration in spite of all its errors. He may detect, and endeavour to remove its defects *, but he has no right to proceed otherwise than in the spirit of meekness and forbearance.
Mr. Bellamy is so often mistaken in his own attempts to improve the sense and style of the common version, and stumbles so frequently, that there is no fear of any mischief when his pages meet the eyes of persons who can compare his translation with the original. To them he will at once appear not infallible, and not a little arrogant. But there is much evil to be apprehended when his text and his notes are read by those who are unlearned in Hebrew lore. At the very onset, such readers yield implicit confidence in all his assertions and emendations, by being led to suppose that they have previously encountered the ordeal of a severe census: that the great and learned persons, whose names appear like an imposing iEgis in the list of subscribers, would never have patrohisecT his book, had they not approved of what they are indirectly recommending to others. Like the fatal shafts of Teucer, which 'fiey t>n a more certain and deadly errand, because they were securely afmed' from behind the shield of Ajax, so will Mr. Bellamy's attack on the common version be the more pernicious for the reason I have just advanced, unless a revision be undertaken, to suspend the public judgment. A judicious and faithful revisal would have the good effect of silencing injudicious cavillers: it would re-establish the credit of the old translators on points of importance; and would prove, that although they may have mistaken the meaning of some words, and imperfectly rendered others, yet they have been correct in exhibiting the sense of the original, where leading facts and doctrines are concerned. rone? the Septuagint has translated chegoroth, ircpifafiaTu. "What then becomes of Mr. Bellamy's emendation? Or what translation can ever be entitled to the confidence and respect of the public, which is not the work of a Company of oriental scholars, whose number shall be commensurate with the magnitude of the work? For his researches into Hebrew literature, for the light which he has undoubtedly thrown on many passages in Scripture, and for the result of many of his learned labors, the republic of letters must acknowledge itself indebted to Mr. Bellamy—Nay, I will go a step farther,—it is not improbable, that the work on which he is now engaged, will be the means of hastening a revision: but he must not expect that his dogmas will be quite so effectual in forming the opinions of men, as the Pope's Bull in the dark ages. ... . u ,i-.i*!ftfe
This New Translator is not satisfied with detecting verbal errors, but, proceeding on some fanciful hypothesis, pretends to discover that many facts and circumstances which form inseparable links in the chain of Scriptural history, are misrepresented in the common version. He tells us, in his notes on the 2nd chapter of Genesis, that Adam had fallen before he listened to the seducing voice of Eve—that he departed, even in Paradise, from the true worship of God—that Eve was not formed out of one of Adam's ribs—that our first parents were not naked in Eden: and to give some coloring to these wild conjectures, he adroitly interprets the Hebrew exactly as it may suit his own purpose. From this specimen, it is easy to judge what liberties he takes with the text in the progress of his work; and to show that he is not always infallible in his assumptions, I will venture to expose the fallacy of one of them. He is so resolutely determined to support his position, that Adam and Eve were not in a state of nakedness when they fled from the presence of the Almighty in the Garden of Eden, that, after sundry other alterations, he changes the word "aprons" into "enclosures," Gen. iii. 7, and thus explains the emendation. "In this verse only is the word J"PJn chegoroth, rendered by * aprons.' The word means, as a verb, to gird, surround, enclose, in every part of Scripture; as a noun, girders, or enclosures." Thus he intimates that the Hebrew word is only used to signify the enclosure of a place, and never the encircling of the body, and carelessly asserts that Scripture nowhere applies it as our translators have done. In defence of the common version, I venture to refer the Hebrew scholar to the following passages in the original language; and he will there find, that the word in question, in each of them, denotes the girding of the human body, and not the enclosing of a place: Exodusxii.il. Levit. viii. 7. Deut. i. 41. 2 Sam. xx. 8. 1 Kings ii. 5. Prov. xxxi. 24. Isaiah iii. 24.
Is it not remarkable, that the Targum of Jerusalem, (a book which Mr. Bellamy loves to quote, when it answers his purpose,) in its paraphrase of the term for which Mr. B. has discovered ,, ta new meaning, uses a word which comes from the root rut tonally and from which is derived the Greek word, £ovrj a belt or
Hitherto I have argued on the expediency of having the Bible revised by sound and well-qualified persons, under the direction of the episcopal bench, to prevent its falling into worse hands. I shall presently attempt to show, that although the present version was the best which the 17th century could produce, yet its Text is not valuable enough to pass current, without any suspicion of alloy, among the learned of the 19th century. And here, (before I begin to point out defects which are solely attributable to the imperfection of the English language and literature at the time when the translators commenced their labors, and not to any deficiency of talent or industry in the translators themselves) I must be allowed to say a few words in admiration of the plan which was pursued, and the care which was taken to give a correct copy of the holy volume, when it was put into the English garb in which it now remains. That there might be no lack of wisdom, learning or prudence employed in the undertaking, and that it might be conducted with due deliberation and reflection, fifty-four competent scholars were selected from the two universities, and were recommended to pay respect to the opinions and observations, which biblical, classical, and oriental critics, unconnected with the work, might occasionally offer; so that in reality the collective learning of the whole kingdom was united in the grand performance. That no passage might be hastily translated, that no reading might be rashly adopted according to the ipse dixit of any individual, the whole Bible was reviewed sentence by sentence, and word by word, by the whole body of translators, that it might receive the general consent. That the fact of making a revision should not seem to cast irreverent aspersions on those versions which had hitherto been authorised and venerated, the translators were expressly charged to consult those copies of the Scriptures, which went under the name of