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Ἡ Καινη Διαθηκη, εκ της Παλαιας Διαθήκης κατα
Editio Hellenistica. Two large 8vo. volumes, containing together 1508 pp. London: Pickering. 1843.
It is evidently proper and necessary to transcribe the title of these volumes as it is given; but, for the benefit of many of our readers, we "The New Testament Explained and Illustrated from the ancient Greek version, usually called the Septuagint, of the Old Testament." It is called "The Hellenistic Edition," to indicate that its characteristic structure and intention are to place before the student's eye the materials and means for the interpretation of the Christian Scriptures, which are furnished by the only writings that exist in the same kind, style, or dialect of the Greek language in which the apostles and evangelists wrote; the Septuagint, and the apocryphal books which it includes. It signifies little by what term we designate this peculiar form of the language, provided we correctly distinguish it from the classic dialects, and that which was called ( Kown diaλektos) the common Greek. The names Hellenistic, Alexandrian, Jewish Greek, and even Macedonic, are preferred by one or other; but the thing is the same. This method of study, combined with the constant comparison of the Hebrew Scriptures, as it is obviously the most just and direct mode of pursuing the great end, has been used and recommended by many; we may say, by all the most judicious expositors. Theodore Beza led the way, with great copiousness and ability; and he was worthily followed by Camerarius, Drusius, our distinguished countryman Gataker, Grotius, Bishop Pearson, and others in the seventeenth century, but a still greater number in the eighteenth and nineteenth. Especially distinguished in this department of biblical science have been, J. D. Michaëlis, Ernesti, Pfaff, Sturz, Henry Owen, John Blair, George Campbell, and (of not a few of our own contemporaries) Dr. Adam Clarke, Mr. Hartwell Horne, a very valuable article upon Holmes's Oxford edition of the LXX. in the Eclectic Review for 1806, and Dr. Davidson in his two comprehensive and useful works on "Biblical Criticism," and "Sacred Hermeneutics." The most excellent facilities have been afforded for the practice of this method of investigation, by the invaluable concordance to the Septuagint of Trommius, and the lexicons of Biel, Schleusner, Wahl, Bretschneider,
N. S. VOL. VIII.
Gibbs, and Robinson; and by Winer and Stuart in their grammars of the New Testament Greek.
Michaëlis says, "The book most necessary to be read and understood by every man who studies the New Testament, is without doubt the Septuagint; which alone has been of more service than all the passages from the profane authors collected together. It should be read in the public schools by those who are destined for the church; should form the subject of a course of lectures at the university, and be the constant companion of an expositor of the New Testament." After mentioning some confirmatory examples, he proceeds: "The attempts of the most learned critics to discover the sense of aperai (1 Pet. ii. 9) by means of passages from profane writers, have been unsuccessful; but, if they had referred to the text in the Septuagint (Isaiah xliii. 21,) whence St. Peter has borrowed the expression, they would have found that aperaι was nothing more than ban [praises,] the glory, not the virtues of God." Marsh's translation of Michaëlis's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. i., chap. iv., sec. 13.
The justness and importance of these sentiments are not lessened by any consequences that might be drawn from the facts, that this ancient version has innumerable faults, and that its different portions were translated by different persons, and with discrepant degrees of ability: for those undeniable circumstances constitute a suggestion and a motive for the more diligent and therefore profitable exercise of philological skill, upon every question as it arises.
The work before us is an achievement of prodigious labour: it incomparably exceeds every other in plan, structure, and comprehension. Wetstein, and other editors and commentators, have often given us references to chapters and verses of the LXX.; but rarely anything more than the figures of notation. But here we have an ample array, in the words at length, with perfect references, of passages from the inspired books, and the apocrypha, and from the works of Philo and Josephus; for, though those Jewish authors used a more Grecian style, they both, but especially the former, have many instances of words and phrases reflecting light upon the New Testament language; and still more, such as elucidate the things and actions described as alluded to. In these two volumes, the rich store-house is opened before us, in immediate juxtaposition with the text that requires the contribution. To every verse the citations are appended; and the whole is printed in a beautifully lucid and attractive manner. We confess that we should have been glad if the honoured editor had not dismissed the accents and the gentle aspirate; yet many will even like the book the better on this account, and it may perhaps fix on their attention, what some have neglected to observe, the indispensable necessity of retaining the rough aspirate and the iota subscript.
The learned and pious person to whom we are indebted for this
great boon to sacred literature, is the Rev. Edward William Grinfield, M.A., of Brighton. He has prefixed an address to the reader, in excellent but unaffected Latinity, extending to ten pages. Some considerable portions of this preface we shall translate, as being due to the deserts of the work, and to the satisfaction of our readers.
Among the many and diversified editions of the Greek New Testament, which have been published from the invention of printing to the present day, it may well excite surprise that no one has ever been thought of, upon a plan similar to this undertaking. Some have laboured in collecting and comparing with the sacred text, passages of the Fathers; others, quotations from the Jewish rabbies; others, verses of the poets; and others, the maxims of moral philosophers; but not one, so far as I am aware, has pointed out this plain and easy way of going straight up to the land of Israel,—close, indeed, to the very society of Christ and his apostles; the way prepared for us by the patriarchs and prophets themselves. I am not unacquainted with the numerous and valuable contributions in this kind of literature, which lie scattered through lexicons and various other works of sacred criticism; but no person, as yet, has collected the dispersed fragments into any kind of systematic and complete arrangement.
"The chief object of this edition is the illustration of the New Testament, without omitting a single passage, by making a continuous application of that venerable version of the Old Testament, which is cited more than two hundred times by Christ and his apostles. In the first place, we have compared all the words, and each single clause of the New Testament, with the same and similar ones in the Septuagint. Secondly, citations and parallel passages are recited very fully and accurately. Thirdly, capital topics, possessing an affinity in meaning and instructive design, though different in verbal expression, we have endeavoured diligently and copiously to collect. Lastly, to complete our comparisons, where the canonical books do not sufficiently supply illustrative passages, we have recourse to the apocryphal writings; and, in like manner, we complete the Septuagint text from the fragments of Origen's Hexapla.
“In very many instances, as the propriety of the case evidently requires, we have brought elucidatory passages from other parts of the New Testament itself. We have also annexed, in a separate form, so that they are manifestly distinguished, a few passages from the apostolic fathers, and some other ancient authors, who approximate to the Hellenistic forms of speech. But so many passages, and those most valuable, occur in Philo and Josephus, that we regard these two writers as beyond a doubt to be preferred to all the profane classics, in the prosecution of these sacred studies. In the works of Philo alone, are more than two thousand quotations from the Septuagint, and they are almost always given in the very words of the version.
Student of heavenly truth, whoever you are, refuse not to tread this sacred path! This road, by Jerusalem and Mount Zion, is open, clear, and straight; that by Rome or Athens, is far about, and, I fear, very often full of dangers. All who devote themselves to divine learning, may thus enjoy the guidance of Christ himself, to the genuine and primitive interpretation of the New Testament. Whatever opinion you may form of this our work, whether you may think highly of it or meanly, we shall judge our toils to have been well bestowed, if they induce you to the constant and assiduous employment of the venerable Seventy.
"But caution and sobriety are necessary. Other and even greater objects must be ever regarded. The greatest devotedness to the Septuagint must be governed and guided by supreme reverence for the Hebrew text.
"In the earlier parts of our work, we have paid especial attention to purely grammatical questions, and the precise meanings and relations of words and phrases; and, to aid to the utmost the efforts of young persons, we have purposely and frequently repeated our explications of phrases and idioms. After having well laid these foundations, we seek to ascend more easily and safely to loftier themes. In the study of the epistles, we enter the awful interior of the temple, the most holy place; and we summon from every quarter Moses and David, patriarchs and prophets, to sit in council with the apostles of Jesus. But, who of mortals is sufficient for these things? Without Divine illumination, and unremitting prayer to the Father of lights, all our labour will be thrown away. O, descend, thou Holy Spirit, and thyself illustrate thine own deep mysteries !"
The Christian scholar will, with his whole heart, concur in these sentiments of our learned and indefatigable editor. Without going the full length of his admiration of this very multifarious version, and with our eyes open to the many and serious errors and defects which are found in its translation of some of the sacred books, particularly the most important of the prophets, we are still persuaded that benefits of high importance will accrue to the students of the Divine word, from acting upon Mr. Grinfield's recommendation. Even without the aid of this work, but much more happily with it, let the student or minister look out the principal terms of a passage in the Greek Testament, first in the appropriate columns of Schmidt's Concordance,* and then in Trommius's of the Septuagint, comparing with the Hebrew, and his labour will bring its rich reward. Every text thus scrutinised, will not only produce a present advantage, but will spread a volume of light, ever increasing, over future fields of application.
We recommend to the student a careful attention to the observations on the value and use of the Septuagint made by Dr. Davidson, in his "Biblical Criticism," Lect. III. particularly page 56, and his "Sacred Hermeneutics," page 619-625. To his remarks and examples we would add, that discriminative caution must be used, before we conclude
* To an indefatigable, learned, and pious printer and publisher, we are indebted for a new edition of that Concordance, GREATLY improved and augmented by Dr. Charles Hermann Bruder; beautifully printed in the most commodious quarto form, Leipzig, 1842. The same liberal publisher, Mr. Tauchnitz, has also conferred on Bible students a correspondent benefit in his reprinting of Buxtorf's Hebrew Concordance to the Old Testament, or, more properly, it should be called a new work, on account of the manifold corrections, elucidations, and invaluable additions, of its editor, or we might not unfairly say, author, Dr. Julius Fürst: folio, pp. 1440, Leipzig, 1840. Under every word, the renderings of the Septuagint are carefully accumulated. A similar advantage, upon a smaller scale, Dr. Bruder has afforded, by prefixing the correlated Hebrew, with the Septuagint renderings, to many words, and inserting them, either one or both, in the flow of an article, where they cast an especial light upon the particular text. How happy would our fathers and teachers, -how happy should we in our youthful years-have been, had we possessed similar benefits! More happy will be our rising coadjutors and successors, if they will employ their special mercies with faithful diligence.
from the application of the Septuagint, that any peculiar expression in the New Testament, is a Hebraism. Frequently also, those translators employ a Greek word for one signification of a Hebrew word, and afterwards take that same word for different Hebrew meanings, which are totally alien from any of which the Greek can be regarded as susceptible. On the other hand, they indulge in too wide a liberty, of rendering the same word, occurring in different places, by a variety of terms or expressions. Very judicious and important are the observations of Morus, in his posthumous Lectures, (" Acroases Academicæ," 2 vols. Leipzig, 1797,) on the Hermeneutics of the New Testament, vol. ii., pp. 54-103; edited, with a large apparatus of excellent notes, by Eichstadt.
In a former part of this article, we have referred to a critique upon the Oxford Septuagint, an edition begun and carried on by Dr. Robert Holmes, till his death in 1805. He completed the Pentateuch; and the Rev. J. Parsons continued the Herculean task, (for such, on account of the vast collations, it truly was,) to the end of the historical books, the last part having been published in 1818. There, we fear, the work has stopped, and we have little hope of seeing it completed. We return to this mention of it, for the sake of uttering our lamentation that the article in the Eclectic Review has never met with the attention which it merited. To those who can consult it, we give the most earnest recommendation to read it without delay. We believe it to be the best dissertation upon the history, character, criticism, and use of the Septuagint that anywhere exists. From our own conjecture solely, we attribute it to one of the London clergy, honourably distinguished by his labours in the field of Bible-study. It made a considerable part of four numbers of the Eclectic Review. How grievous is the reflection that there are very many articles in that periodical, and, we may add, in the Congregational Magazine, the products of long and laborious study from men of eminent learning, genius, and piety; but which may be said to have had only an ephemeral existence! They are looked at through one month, read and prized by a few, passed over by many, admired and forgotten by others: yet their importance and usefulness are imperishable. It has been a good work to collect the reviews written by Hall, Foster, Macaulay, and others; but the same service remains to be done to very many compositions of this kind, which must be regarded as anonymous. Might not that monograph upon the Septuagint be a welcome volume in Mr. Clarke's Edinburgh Biblical Cabinet? We earnestly recommend it; and we assume that the permission of the editor of the Eclectic Review would be readily given.