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spoken, and which became common to all the countries conquered by Alexander." Another version was soon undertaken by an individual whose name was Aquila, which he completed and published in the year of our Lord 128. In 184 this version was followed by another Greek translation of the Old Testament by Theodotion: this was also soon followed by another translation by Symachus, a Samaritan.
The Old Testament, with the exception of the two books of Chronicles and Ezra and Daniel, was translated into Chaldee, called the Targums, or Chaldee paraphrases. This was made during the first centuries; no part of it was probably made later than the ninth century. A targum of the two books of Chronicles has more recently been found in the University of Cambridge, printed at Amsterdam, with a Latin translation, in the year 1715. Christianity having been early preached in Syria, the Scriptures were translated into the language of that country probably as early as the second century. This version is of good authority, and is very valuable. The Arabic translation of the Scriptures was probably made about the tenth or eleventh century. This version is important in ascertaining the signification of several Hebrew words and forms of speech. The New Testament, and some portions of the Old, have been translated into the Ethiopic language. This version is of considerable antiquity, being executed about the fourth century. By means of this translation the Scriptures became somewhat extensively circulated in Ethiopia. The ancient capital of this country was Saba; and the queen whom the wisdom of Solomon attracted to Palestine was the sovereign of that country.
Many Latin versions of the Scriptures were made at the first introduction of Christianity by unknown authors. The Vulgate, or Latin version, was made by Saint Jerome, at the command of Pope Domasus, near the close of the fourth century. Jerome appears to have formed his text in general out of the previous versions, collating the whole with the Hebrew and Greek, from which he professes to have translated several books entire. In the sixteenth century, the council of Trent decided the Latin Vulgate to be authentic, and to be exclusively used in the public service of the church. A revision of the Latin Vulgate was undertaken by Pope Sixtus V., and published at Rome in 1590; but suppressed by Pope Clement VII., whose authentic edition appeared in 1592. But, notwithstanding the revisions and variations of Sixtus and Clement, (both infallible pontiffs ! that could err, however, occasionally, like other men,) who mistranslated several passages to support the peculiar dogmas of the Romish church, the Latin Vulgate preserves many true readings, where the modern Hebrew copies are corrupted. The Armenian version is worthy of note. The author of this version was Miesrod, a minister of state, and inventor of the Armenian letters. This version was probably completed at an early period in the fifth century; it has remained in use among the Armenian people ever since. The history of this people furnishes some illustrious instances of almost unexampled genuine piety. In the seventeenth century manuscript copies of the Bible became so scarce in Armenia, that a
* Buchanan's Christian Researches ; Memoirs of Episcopius.
single one cost 1200 livres, or £50.* The art of printing was called in, of which they had heard in Europe, by a council of Armenian bishops assembled in 1662. A number of editions of the Scriptures were soon printed and circulated among the people.
The modern versions of the Scriptures, or those made since the discovery of the art of printing, are two-fold-viz., in the Latin language, and in the vernacular languages of almost all countries in which Christianity has been propagated. The Latin versions have been executed both by the Church of Rome, by which they are now exclusively used, and by Protestants. The translations of the Scriptures into the different modern languages of the globe are so numerous, that it is extremely difficult to obtain correct accounts of all of them, and still more difficult to compress those accounts into an analysis suitable to the limits assigned to this discourse.
Among the different modern versions of the Scriptures, the German version holds a conspicuous place. This version was executed by Martin Luther of Wirtemberg, Germany, assisted by Melancthon and others. The New Testament was published in 1522; the Old Testament was not collected and published together until 1534. This version laid the foundation for the circulation of the Scriptures throughout the Germanic states. The first printed edition of any part of the Scriptures in English was the New Testament, at Ham. burgh, in 1526. It was translated by William Tindal, with the assistance of other distinguished men. In 1535 was published the translation of Miles Coverdale, a great part of which was Tindal's; and two years after, John Rogers, the martyr, (who had assisted Tindal in his Biblical labors,) edited a Bible, probably at Hamburgh, under the assumed name of Thomas Matthews; hence it is generally known by the name of Matthews' Bible. During the sanguinary reign of Queen Mary, Miles Coverdale, John Knox, Christopher Goodman, and other English exiles, who had taken refuge at Geneva, published a new translation between the years 1557 and 1560. The New Testament of this edition was the first in English which was divided into verses. This is called the Geneva Bible.t We will pass other translations, such as the Roman Catholic English version, crowded with barbarous and foreign terms; a part of which was printed in 1582, the other part in 1609–10, &c.; and call the reader's attention to the version now in use, called King James' Bible. In consequence of objections being made to the English Bible, a new version was determined on by King James in 1604. Fifty-four men of distinguished learning and piety were selected for this purpose, seven of whom, probably, either declined the work from diffidence, or were prevented from engaging in it by death, as only forty-seven appear on the list of translators. Competent judges scruple not to affirm that it is accurate and faithful, that the translators have seized the very spirit and soul of the original, and impressed this almost everywhere with pathos and energy. Says Bishop Middleton, “ Its style is incomparably superior to any thing which might be expected from the financial and perverted taste of our own age. It is simple; it is harmonious; it is energetic; and, which is of no small importance, use has made it familiar, and time
* Michaelis' Lectures.
has rendered it sacred.” In order to ascertain whether the modern editions of this version were correct, it has recently been collated with a fac-simile of the first edition of King James' Bible. The fol. lowing is from the twenty-second annual report of the American Bible Society :
Many friends of the society are aware, probably, that suspicions were awakened, a few years since in England, in regard to the integrity of the present English Bible. Charges of numerous and wide departures from the first edition of the translators had been freely circulated.
Having procured one of these copies, (a fac-simile copy of the first edition of King James' Bible, prepared with great minuteness,) your board felt it their duty to institute a rigid comparison between it and the standard copy of this society. To secure perfect fairness, as well as thoroughness, in such an undertaking, a supervising committee was appointed by the board, consisting of one member from each religious denomination connected with the society. A skilful proof reader was first directed to compare the early and the modern copy, word for word, and to note down all the discrepancies. Professor Bush, the editor of the society's publications, having in the library a great variety of Bibles issued during the three last centuries, was then requested to go through the same, and learn where and when the changes found commenced. The committee, then, each with a copy of some age in hand, carefully followed the editor, and examined the investigations. The whole subject was then laid before the entire board for their adjudication. The task has been arduous, though one of great interest. While it has been found that numerous variations exist between the early and the present copies of the English Bible, it is also found that they pertain only to unimportant particularssuch as capital letters, commas, italic words, &c., not affecting the sense.” Thus the present copies of our English Bible are proved to be correct with its first edition.
By this synopsis we see how wonderfully the Scriptures have been circulated among the nations of the earth. Surely, O Lord, thou hast determined that thy law should be made known among all the tribes of men !
5. The preservation of the Scriptures. Considering the Bible the oldest book extant, its preservation to the present time may be well considered a prodigy; especially, if we consider its opposition to the principles of wicked men, and its universal tendency to disquiet their consciences. Men, in a course of rebellion and sin, do not like to be disturbed; they wish to remain quiet and unreproved. Whatever arouses them from their repose, exposes their wickedness, and unfolds their crimes, must meet with unsparing reprehension. This the Bible has done with a masterly band; it has developed the contents of the depraved heart of man, and exhibited it as pol. luted and defiled; it has pointed out to man his untold crimes, showed him their moral turpitude, and threatened him with unending wo, unless he repent and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Universal rejection would have been the fate of such a production whererer men live in sin against God, and its destruction would naturally be sought with unremitting care. Such has been the fact respecting the Bible in all ages, as history abundantly demonstrates.
But, with all the hostility, virulence, menaces, fires of fagots, and unabated efforts of wicked men for its destruction, the Bible still exists a reprover of their base wickedness and folly, while its cotemporary publications have been entombed in oblivion.
In nearly all the persecutions against Christians during the first centuries of the Christian era, and even down to a later date, the destruction of the Bible was sought with unwearied assiduity. Antiochus left no means untried to destroy every copy of the Old Testament; he made it death for a Jew to possess or conceal a copy. In the year 303, Dioclesian, a Roman emperor, commanded the churches to be razed; the Bibles to be burned, &c.; all who persisted in their avowal of Christianity, to be made slaves; and those who would not sacrifice to heathen deities were to be imprisoned, or put to death. In one month, no less than seventeen thousand suffered death! In the province of Egypt alone, no less than one hundred and forty-four thousand persons are said to have died by violence of their persecutors, and seven hundred thousand through the fatigues of banishment, &c. The churches were thrown down, and all the copies of the holy Scriptures that could be found were burned in the street.* This persecution, under Dioclesian and his successors, continued for about ten years with great severity. Others, at different times, have exhibited a deadly hate, and apparently superhuman malice against the Bible; yet it not only has not perished, but not one sentence has been lost!
Soon literature and science began to decline, and as these declined Bibles became exceedingly scarce. The tenth and eleventh centuries was an age of the most profound ignorance and degrading superstition. And let our views be what they may of the general utility of monastic institutions, it is an acknowledged fact, that when literature was crushed everywhere else in these centuries, it found a refuge in the monasteries; and nearly all the copies of the Scriptures extant were deposited in these cloisters. Many of the monks devoted themselves exclusively to the study, and transcribing or copying of the holy Scriptures. Among them we may mention the name of Thomas à Kempis, author of the Christian Pattern, who lived in the fourteenth century, and died in the ninety-first year of his age. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the dark and gloomy scenes of former times began to pass away. A glorious day began to dawn. Several translations of the Scriptures were made during these centuries, which, in some measure, contributed to the preservation of Scriptural knowledge from utter extinction. But, when the Scriptures began to receive a more extensive circulation, the people were often forbidden to possess or read them, by decrees of popes or councils; at least, forbidden to read them, except in the Latin tongue. The Council of Trent in 1564 passed the following edict :-“All persons are forbidden to use the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, without a particular license; and whoever presumes to read or possess them without such license, shall not receive absolution, until he has delivered them up to the ordinary ; and the bookseller who sells, or otherwise disposes of such translations, shall forfeit the value of the books, and be subject to such other punishment as the bishop shall judge suitable to the nature of
* See Miller's History of Propagation of Christianity
the offense." But the reading of the Scriptures could not be suppressed. So long as the people could get them, they would read them. Some of the means by which the preservation of the Bible was effected are,
1. The durability of the materials on which the ancient manuscripts were written. The nature of these materials we have already noticed.
2. The strong attachment the early Christians manifested to the Scriptures. This attachment led them to seek their preservation in every possible way. When edicts were passed against reading the Scriptures they would read them in secret, choosing rather to obey God than man. When copies of the Scriptures became exceedingly scarce, and consequently high priced, they would make great efforts to obtain a copy, for which they would pay the most enormous sum. Rather than relinquish their love for the Scriptures they would suffer the confiscation of their property, imprisonment, torture, and even death itself.
3. The attention and interest manifested in reading the Scriptures. Such was the interest felt in perusing them, that a large proportion, and, in some instances, nearly the entire Scriptures, were committed to memory. Such was the tenaciousness of memory exhibited by some of the ancient worthies, that they seemed to make it a repository of the sacred records.
4. The particular care of Divine Providence has in all ages been vouchsafed in their preservation. He has been pleased to preserve the records containing his will as revealed to man. The arm that has raised itself against them has not prospered.
We have the most irrefragable evidence that not any of the ca. nonical books of Scripture have been lost. “If any books seem to be wanting in our present canon, they are either such as are still remaining in the Scriptures unobserved under other appellations, or they are such as never were accounted canonical, and contained no points essential to salvation. Consequently they are those of which we may safely remain ignorant here, and for which we shall never be responsible hereafter.”
The uncorrupted preservation of the Scriptures deserves particular attention. That the Old Testament has not been corrupted appears,
i. From the fact, that, “if the Jews had wilfully corrupted these books before the time of Christ and his apostles, the prophets would not hạve passed such a heinous offense in silence; and if they had been corrupted in the time of Christ and his apostles, these would not have failed to censure the Jews. If they had been mutilated or corrupted after the time of Christ, the Jews would unquestionably have expunged the falsified prophecies concerning Christ, which were cited by him and his apostles.
2. Neither before nor after the time of Christ could the Jews corrupt the Hebrew Scriptures; for, before that event, any forgery or material corruption would be rendered impossible by the reve. rence paid to these books by the Jews themselves, the publicity given to their contents by the reading of the law in public and in private, and by the jealousies subsisting between the Jews and Samaritans, and between the different sects into which the Jews were