Page images
PDF
EPUB

each individual has his distinct and which, if universally applied, would peculiar translation. The instance render language no longer a safe of Theodore Beza shews how dan, and intelligible medium of commugerous it is for a translator to give nication, but the source of endless way to such a bias. We see in him error and misrepresentation. . a man of unquestionably honest in- To select but one or two instances tentions and of profound skill in from the work now under considerlanguages, yet from a conviction ation, can Mr. Belsham seriously that partial election and indefectible maintain that the passage (Heb. i. grace are“ the clear and indisputa. 2.) d' xat tous asuvas fainoiv, ble doctrines of the New Testa. “ admits equally of two senses ?” ment," wresting words and sen. In the remarks, which, with the tences from their plain grammatical Editor's permission I design here. meaning to bring them, as he cone after to offer upon this passage, I ceived, to a nearer conformity with shall shew how little support the the general sentiments of the principles of Greek composition Apostles. Beza most probably afford hiin in attributing to dia with a thought it « impossible" as Mr. genitive the sense of the impulsive Belsham does “ that the Apostle cause, and in rendering this passhould contradict himself," and was sage “ with a view to whom he even willing to lend a helping hand to constituted the former dispensa. preserve him from any danger of tions." But independently of this the kind; he believed that he also consideration we have a resource, so well “ understood his general an unexceptionable criterion for scope and design,” as to be in no determining the point thus brought danger of “ giving a turn to the into dispute betwen us and the translation which the original did . Unitarians; that is, the power of not warrant.” Yet he would un. reference to other passages of doubtedly have succeeded in furnish- similar import. If by a desperate ing a more correct representation perversion of language it should be of the Word of God, if in forming sought to involve the Apostle's his translation' he had been con- meaning in obscurity, a direct and tented to act as a critic and a immediate mode of clearing the grammarian instead of melting sense suggests itself by appealing down the text into the mould of his to John i. 10. where we read, own theological opinions. Mr. ò xoguos di auty tyEveto. Will the Belsham, it is true, admits that Unitarians maintain that here also “ translators are to be censured we are to render d' auto “ with a when through the bias of system view to him ?” No; but to evade they are induced to give a turn to the force of this pinching passage a the translation which the original sense is assigned by them to the does not warrant.” But in spite of word symveTo, which, it may without the seeming candour of this conces- fear of contradiction be asserted, is sion, the bias of system, it must no where else to be met with in the still be maintained, acts most pre entire compass of Greek literature, judicially upon the mind of a trans. By interpreting the words, “ the jator when it causes him to repre- world was enlightened by him,” the sent as ambiguous passages which connexion which we affirm to exist in reality are not ambiguous; when between these two passages is supit disables him from deciding im. posed to be effectually broken, and partially between the opposing ar- the ambiguity of the quotation from guments by which different versions the Epistle to the Hebrews to be of the same passage may be sup- established beyond dispute. As a ported; when it leads him in short natural and necessary consequence to invent a system of philology, it may then be translated just as the Unitarians please. But what is conviction of its ambiguity, it is our to be the limit of such a system? business (especially if we aspire to If every 'translator can thus deter. the rank of critics and translators) mine what passages are of ambigu- to employ all the aids which leanous import, if he is to be directed ing and attention can supply; to by no fixed principle but by his own meditate, to weigh, to compare, tewill subjected to the guidance of an jecting prejudice; and to admit that avowed bias in favour of a par. conclusion only which on true crititicular set of opinions, must not the cal principles can be shewn to be Word of God be rendered fluctua preferable to the rest. How dif. ating and uncertain? There must ferent is the process of the Unibe some determinate rule for ascer- tarian,! having, from a partial view taining the true sense of Scripture; of the Scriptures, determined that a otherwise it is but a delusion to say particular system is, at all events, that all believers derive their faith to be supported, he meets with a from the same inspired volume; passage which he misi translate in since under the operation of such a one certain manner, or acknowledge principle of translation, it is neither bis peculiar tenet to be indefensible, actually nor virtually the same. There is one interpretation of every Ambiguity may fairly be said to disputed passage bearing upon the exist when, all the resources of question of our Lord's divinity, critical skill being exhausted in which he is not only shut out from support of two different senses, the admitting, but is absolutely disa most accurate and impartial dis- abled from duly and impartially cernment cannot determine on considering; because that interprewhich side the advantage lies. But tation is irreconcilably at variance surely no sophistry can induce a with an arbitrarily assumed first persuasion that a passage is ambi- principle which is to be in every guous, while, on behalf of the one instance the test of the true sense interpretation, the most solid and and meaning of Scripture. Tous consistent reasons can be alleged, in the much disputed passage, but upon the other bypothesis the Tit. ii. 13., it is scarcely possible words present only a forced con- that any Uoitarian should imparstruction, and a total irrelevancy to tially review both sides of the ques. the argument of which they form a tion and determine between the coapart? Ambiguity, even where it dicting claims of each ; for he canreally exists, in the Scripture is the not admit the possibility of Christ offspring only of our ignorance; being called “Our Great God." dispel the latter, and the former But the Trinitarian is not thus fetvanishes at once. We cannot in tered; he is at liberty to consider fact without a direct violation of all the bearings of the argument, propriety speak of a passage as and to determine in favour of that admitting equally two senses; translation which shall most satis. since indisputably there is one factorily recommend itself to bis fixed aod determinate meaning, judgment. If he find it necessary which alone the writer meant to to decide from critical reasoning express, and which would be in that Christ alone is spoken of in this stantly manifest to a person per- verse, and that the title of - Out fectly acquainted with the lan. Great God” is attributed to Him, guage of the original. It is there the expression undoubtedly affords fore only the imperfection of our to the Triuitarian a farther confir knowledge which makes us sup- mation of a doctrine advanced in pose the sentence to be equally numberless other passages. But he capable of two meanings; and in- is under no bias to compel the text stead of resting contented in the to exhibit this meaning. He feels

[ocr errors]

no alarm in either alternative ; for appearance of our Great God and the cardinal article of his faith, Saviour Jesus Christ *?" I answer, pamely, Belief in the Holy Trinity, does not depend upon the issue. If, '* Mr. Belsham goes on to enquire“ who therefore, on the other hand he sees ought to take offence at an Unitarian be.' reason upon critical principles to be cause he prefers the Church of the Lord lieve that the Father is spoken of in (Acts xx. 28.) which he has purchased the verse in conjunction with the with his own blood,' a reading supported Son (that is, if the words be ren

by all the best MSS. to the Church of

God, which, &c.'" dered as in our public version,

Waiving the enquiry whether or no the “ looking for the glorious appear- reading approved by Mr. Belsham be so ances of The Great God, and (of) firmly established as he represents, I must Our Saviour Jesus Christ,'') the observe that this is not a parallel case with result is, that we find one passage the former, and is quite out of place in the less than some have imagined testi, present argument. The dispute in the fying the Divinity of Christ, and that

former passage (Tit. iii. 13.) is concerning

the mode of translation; but in the pasis all. But the Unitarian is aware

sage Acts xx. 28, it is concerning the true that the very existence of his creed

reading. If this were settled, no one is involved in the dispute. Having could possibly doubt how the sentence laid it down according to Mr. Bel ought to be rendered. Mr. Belsham how. sham that “the simple humanity of ever virtually gives up here the opinion he Jesus Christ is the doctrine of the elsewhere expresses as to the manner in New Testament,” he is obliged to

which ambiguous passages are to be trans

lated; for if certain critical rules are to be interpret this and similar passages

applied for determiving the words them. conformably with that preconceived

selves, can there be any reason why a opinion. Whatever the rules of process similar in its nature should not be gramınatical construction and the employed to determine also the meaning ordinary style of the Apostle from of the words ? No one ever thought of analogy may require. the Unitarian taking offence at an Unitarian for precannot yield to them without ceas.

ferring one reading to another, provided

he were able to give sufficient reasons for, ing to be an Unitárian. “He is

such a preference; and the same degree guided in his choice,” Mr. Belsham

of liberty we willingly allow him in the says, (when in candour he ought to conduct of bis translation, provided that acknowledge that no choice is left) here also he can assign solid grounds for co by the analogy of the faith, or in adopting this or that version in preference other words, what he apprehends to

to any other. But Mr. Belsham makes a. be the genuine doctrine of the Apos

distinction between the two cases, which I

really think his own reason, if impartially, tles;' and therefore his ingenuity

exercised, would teach him does not exist, must be employed to devise some

and ought not to be admitted. He does not plausible support for the interpre. pretend to say, and he would laugh at any tation which a priori he has deter. one else who shonld maintain, that the mined must be adopted. I have passage, Acts xx., “ admits equally of two particularly alluded to this passage

readings;" but he prefers the one conbecause it is brought into notice by

fessedly because it is supported, as he

thinks, by superior authorities. Where. a remark of Mr. Belsham, exhibit.

fore then may not the biblical translator ing much of that false candour and

as well as the textual critic apply to his specious liberality which greatly in authorities, and decide, by their aid, upon fluence unthinking minds, not capa the respective merits and correctness of ble of discerning that the tendency different versions of a passage, as he does of such opinions is to leave no

upon a point of disputed reading? Far

ther I must observe, that if “the analogy standard of divine truth except the

of the faith,” upon which Mr. Belsham so fluctuating opinions and prejudices

much relies as a guide to correctness of of man. “Who can blame a Trinj. translation, is to be allowed equal weight.. tarian," he says, (p. xxi.) “ for in settling a genuine text, the issue, in this translating Tit. ii. 13. ''the glorious instance, will not be favourable to the REMEMBRANCER, No. 47.

4P

if he so translate the passage merely trapslation of the Scriptures, that because he is a Trinitarian, and the bias of their opinions is exhibitwithout being able to give a satis. ed. They loved truth and the apfactory reason why he does so, probation of their own consciences every candid mind of every per tvo well to seek support for their suasion must blame him. That li- creed by wresting any part of the cence, however, which the Unitarian Sacred Writings to a sense wbich it is so ready to allow in another, he would not fairly and lawfully admit. will hardly deny to himself; and this With reference to the Trinitarian concession of Mr. Belsham enables question indeed they shewed pecuus, antecedently to any inspection liar moderation ; and far from imiof his work, to determine what de- tating later translators, by extendgree of impartiality we are likely to ing or paring down the meaning of meet with in his exposition of pas- words till they had brought them to sages which interfere with his pro- correspond with “the apalogy of fessed tenets. But though we are the faith,' they forbore to transhereby rendered sensible of the late many passages in a manner state to wbich, in such hands, the favourable to their own views, apScripture will be reduced, it is still parently because it was within the difficult to understand the principles limits of possibility that the opposite upon which his praise and censure interpretation might be true. They are distributed. He could not blame would not be thought to snatch at a Trinitarian for translating the pas- any unfair advantages, because they sage (Tit. ii. 13) in a way which, if felt that the doctrine of The Triadmitted, cuts up the Unitarian nity is too firmly rooted in the creed by the roots; and yet the im- Scriptures to dread the force of any putation of “ translating with a bias assailant, and needs not for its supfavourable to the Deity of Christ,” port the aid of any artifice whathe attempts to throw upon the au- ever. thors of our Established Version, whose representation of the sense of October 8, 1822. this passage agrees, in the important point, with that which Mr. Belsham himself marks with his approbation. The forbearance and To the Editor of the Remembrancer. candour exhibited by our translators in their version of this passage, and of many others similar in

On reading a letter, sigoed LAICUS, kind, ought to have shielded them in your 43rd Number, Bishop Wat. from a charge of rendering their son's remarks on 1 Cor. xv. 36, 37, great undertaking subservient to iy his Apology for the Bible, immetheir own theological opinions. diately occurred to my recollection That these learned and venerated as quite sufficiently explanatory of men entertained the strongest, con St. Paul's use of the word árolás, viction of our Blessed Lord's Di. I beg it may be understood by vinity is happily a fact which can- Laicus, that in replying to his not be disputed: but it is in the question in the Bishop's words, I other monuments of their piety would by no means insinuate, that which remain to us, and not in their Laicus's enquiry was dictated at all

in the spirit of the arch-ipfidel to

whom the Bishop wrote. So far Unitarians ; since the phrase “ The Church of God' occurs, at the least, ten times in

otherwise, that I am rejoiced at the writings of St. Paul, while the ex.

finding a layman in the list of your pression “The Church of the Lord” is no correspondents, and had it been where else to be met with.

possible, without injury to Bishop

SIR,

Watson's reasoning, would have ber as in every grain of corn there sent you the passage divested of its is contained a minute insensible personal reflections. In the inter- seminal principle, which is itself the pretation proposed by CLER. GLOC. entire future blade and ear, and in as derived from Clemens Romanus, due season, when all the rest of the Atzavors appears to me to be only a grain is corrupted, evolves and un. synonymous word for årolárn, and folds itself visibly to the eye ; só therefore inadequate to the solution our present mortal and corruptible of Larcos's difficulty.

body may be but the ecuviæ, as it

were, of some hidden ånd at pre: Bishop Watson.-Letter IX. sent insensible principle, (possibly

the present seat of the soul,) which " Paul,” you say, " affects to be at the resurrection shall discover à naturalist, and to prove (yoù itself in its proper form."-I do might more properly have said il. not agree with this great man (for lustrate) his system of resurrection such I esteem him) in this philosofrom the principles of vegetation, phical conjecture, but the quota.

– Thot fool,' says he, that tion may serve to shew you, that which thou sowest is not quickened the germ does not evolve and unexcept it die;' to which one might fold itself visibly to the eye, till all réply in his own language, and say, the rest of the grain is corrupted ;

Thou fool, Paul, that which thou that is, in the language and mean. sowest is not quickened, except it ing of St. Paul, till it dies. Though die not.""

the authority of Jesus may have It may be seen, I think, from this as little weight with you as that of passage, who affects to be a patu. Paul, yet it may not be improper ralist, to be acquainted with the to quote to you our Saviour's exmicroscopical discoveries of mo- pression, when he foretells the nudern times, which were probably 'merous disciples which his death neither known to Paul nor to the would produce,~"Except a corn Corinthians, and which, had they of wheat fall into the ground and been known to them both, would die, it abideth alone, but if it die, have been of little use in the illug- it bringeth forth much fruit." tration of the subject of the resur. You perceive from this, that the rection. Paul said, that which thou Jews thought the death of the sowest is not quickened except it grain was necessary to its reprodie: every husbandman in Corinth, duction; hence every one may see though unable perhaps to define what little reason you had to object the term death, would understand to the Apostle's popular illustration the Apostle's phrase in a popular of a resurrection. Had he known sense, and agree with him that à as much as any naturalist in Engrain of wheat must become rot- rope does, of the progress of an ten in the ground before it could animal from one state to another, sprout: and that as God raised as from a worm to a butterfly, from a rotten grain of wheat the (which you think applies to the roots, the stem, the leaves, the ear case) I am of opinion, he would not of a new plant, he might also have used that illustration in precause a new body to spring up from ference to what be has used, which the rotten carcase in the grave. is obvious and satisfactory.Dr. Clarké observés, “ In like inan.

N. R. A.

« PreviousContinue »