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devote three years to the study of the New Testament in the original language, and he asked me what were the books best adapted to give him assistance, his knowledge of that class of books being then but limited. As his zeal was burning with a pure and ardent flame, I have little doubt that he put into execution the resolution which he had formed”-Hanna's Life.
THE OLDEST PRINTED BOOK. Among the recently-acquired rarities in the British Museum, is a printed bull of Pope Nicholas V. dated 1455-two years earlier, as has been alleged, than the date of the earliest printed book. But the Rev. T. F. Dibdin, in his “ "Library Companion,” mentions an older latin Bible. His remarks are in substance as follows:
“We have most indisputable evidence relative to the earliest edition of the sacred text, not only in latin, but in any other language. That first edition is assuredly the impression printed in a large, square, gothic type. It is destitute of a printed date. Some in consequence supposed it to be as old as the year 1440, and others 1450. At length two copies were found in the Royal Library of France—one upon paper, the other upon vellum. Upon the margin of the paper copy was an inscription in the handwriting of the time, purporting that copy to have been 'illuminated, bound, and perfected by Henry Cramer, Vicar of the collegiate church of St. Stephen of Mentz, in the year 1456, on the feast of the assumption of the glorious Virgin Mary. From this evidence it is clear that the Bible in question was printed prior to, or during the year 1456-probably in the preceding year. It is possible, even, that it may have been printed in 1450. Indeed, from the testimony of Ulric Zel, detailed in the Cologne Chronicle of 1499, it is most probable that this was the very Bible which they began to print in the Jubilee
of 1450.' “This is the very first book printed with metal types. Those who have not seen it can form little notion of the beauty and regularity of the press-work, and of the magnificent appearance of the volumes. They exhibit a master-piece of art, and a miracle in their way, shewing that the infancy and maturity of the art of printing were almost simultaneous."
PREJUDICE AND SCRIPTURE. Mex entertain a vast many prejudices with regard to the Word of God, coming to its study very often with their minds made up, instead of laying them open without any prepossessions or sophistication, to its only influence. Instead of consenting in its own beautiful and expressive language, “ to be delivered into the mould,” of the Bible, we often endeavor to recast it to our own wishes, or conform it to our own limited knowledge and experience. We do this without intending any wrongour minds are prepossessed with notions of our own, and these of necessity color every truth with which we come in contact.
The evils arising from this habit are peculiarly dangerous in the present day, when an enquiring spirit is abroad and we are compelled to justify our creed before the world, and reconcile it with the facts of philosophy and science. By adding to the gold and silver of Revelation, the wood, hay, and stubble of ancestral prejudices, we often peril that cause which, weighed upon its own merits, is beyond all injury. The false when broken away from the true, will sometimes carry with it a portion of the original fabric, and not unfrequently jeopardize the whole by encumbering or disguising its beautiful symmetry.
We do not use the word “Prejudice,” as we have already said, in an offensive sense ; for men must of necessity be in some measure influenced by their present knowledge. In other words, whilst that knowledge is limited and imperfect, we must be more or less under the power of Prejudice. In this infant state of the intellect all are liable to be misled. Until that which is perfect is come, we must know in part, and see only in part, and partial views of truth are but prejudices in favor of crror.
Even language itself, innocently and correctly employed at first, may mislead after-generations. Words by changing their meanings prejudice the original sense of a passage. The words " Prevent," as used in 2 Sam. xxii. 6, and 1 Thess. iv. 5; and " Lot” as omployed by Paul in writing to the Romans, are of this class, and many for this reason have been puzzled to understand the texts referred to. A more striking illustration occurs in Judges, ix. 53, where it is recorded that a certain woman cast a stone from the tower of Thebez on Abimelech. Her
purpose only is stated in our modern versions of the Bible. She did it, we are told, “ all to break his skull."* But an actual fact is recorded in the early English copies, which state in the nervous phraseology of the day, that the fatal stone did its work with awful completeness—it “all-to,” or altogether, “brake his skull.” By following the sound, the sense has been thus prejudiced.
But not only is language changing. Knowledge is in like manner varying, growing, modifying every day. New facts in art, science, natural history, and every branch of information, are constantly brought to light, so that the wisdom of one generation is often proved foolish by the next.
Under these circumstances, it must be impossible to give the exact spirit, the very image, of a book like the Holy Scriptures, written for all time, and anticipating not only the history of the world, but its philosophy and science. By way of illustration, let us suppose' the Bible remotely to refer to some Eastern custom, fashion, or form of speech. If we have never heard of the existence of such custom or form of speech, we must of necessity give our own ideas upon the subject; and in the latter case, substitute some idiom from the English language, which we think, comes near the idea intended to be conveyed. The Frenchman, when he meets a friend, asks “How do you carry yourself?”—the Spaniard, “How do you stand ?”—the Dutchman, “How do you feed ?" But in translating their respective salutations, we should represent each as asking " How do you do P” Now this very plain and obvious rendering would seriously damage the integrity of the originals, which have all a force and spirit peculiarly suited to the circumstances of each
And yet, we could not adapt these to the genius of our own tongue by any other form of words : if literally rendered, the sense would be obscured, or entirely destroyed; and translated as we have given them, the nice and discriminating characteristics of the original are lost sight of.
The florid language of the East abounds in poetical and idiomatic expressions, the exact sense of which cannot be given in our own language. So that in the mere act of translation
* We must except from this remark the beautiful “ Pocket Paragraph Bible," published by the Tract Society, which gives the true reading.
from the Hebrew, considerable prejudice must necessarily be created in the mind of an English Student. As our acquaintance with the East becomes more extended, we find consequently, that great additional light is thrown on the marginal readings of our English Bible. Idioms so obscure and unintelligible to our translators, that they were put aside as untranslateable, are now found to be in daily use in India and other parts of Asia, as we learn from numberless striking examples in Roberts’s “ Illustrations."
Not only has the inability exactly to render one language into another, prejudiced our Bible; it has suffered to a great extent from an ignorance of the manners and customs prevalent in the East. A striking illustration occurs in Proverbs xix. 24, and xxvi. 15, “ The slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again." How was it possible for any one ignorant of the customs prevalent in Egypt and Palestine, of hiding the hand in the dish when eating, to conjecture that this was the better, and no doubt the correct, rendering of the passage ? Again, in the well known promise, “ Cast thy bread upon the waters," &c., was it not necessary to a due appreciation of the text, that the agricultural usages of Bible countries should be rightly understood ? A still more remarkable case will be elicited by comparing our authorized translation of Isaiah xxvii. 2, with the beautiful version of Bishop Lowth.
The state of knowledge—the range of assumed facts—at any given period, must again prejudice our version of the Bible. Suppose, for example, a plant or an animal to be mentioned in the original Scriptures, the very existence of which was unknown to our translators. They could only make an approach to the sense by giving the name of some plant or animal which came nearest to it, just as the Islanders of the South Seas did when our missionaries first introduced horses, asses, and dogs, amongst them. Up to this period they had no other animals but pigs; and they consequently designated all these new importations by that name, adding a qualifying epithet to distinguish the one from the other. Thus the ass was the noisy or long-eared pig; the dog, the barking pig; and the horse, the pig that carries the man. In a similar manner we shall
find many objects of natural history misrepresented in the Scriptures. The unicorn is a well know instance, and numberless others occur amongst those connected with the Levitical institutions,
To allude to the various prejudices which exist on doctrinal points of Scripture would be altogether at variance with the character of this Magazine, and would lead moreover to a very wide field of argument. We shall therefore confine ourselves .to matters of science and fact.
We draw our strongest proofs of the Divinity of the Scriptures from the fulfilment of its prophecies. But we only take one department of these prophecies——the strictly historical. We point to the ruins of Babylon, the desolation of Tyre, the political position of Egypt, and the magnificent ruins and bald hills of Edom. These are, so to speak, the standing dishes of apologists and commentators, whilst they entirely overlook another class of prophecies quite as remarkable—the predictions in science and art with which the Bible abounds. Let us read, for example, the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, and then ask ourselves if the doctrine of the circulation of the blood, supposed to have been discovered within the last three centuries, is not plainly adumbrated by the royal preacher. In Job xxviii. Psalm ciy, and Eccles. i. 6, 7, we have other theories as clearly developed, which are thought to be the inventions of our own day.
These are but a few points out of the many anticipated in Scripture, and it must necessarily be so. Suppose the Bible had been framed to suit the philosophy of any particular era
-the days of Sir John Maundeville, for example, one of our earliest travellers, what would the philosophers of our own day say to it? Would they not at once reject it if it contained a tithe of the absurdities and impossibilities which then went under the name of philosophy? Speaking of the pole stars of the North and South hemispheres, this traveller says—“These two stars move never, and by them turneth all the firmament right as doth a wheel that turneth by his axle-tree.” In his time the Copernican system was unknown, and his astronomy of course at fault. So was his geography. “In going from Scotland or from England," says he, “ toward Jerusalem, men go upward