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READING OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
Τ Η Ε
THE authors of this incomparable Version and learned Commen:
tary having given a particular account, at the end of the Introduction, of each branch of their work, the translator has thought fit to prefix, by way of preface, the substance of what is there faid, that the reader may beforehand have a just notion of the nature of the whole undertaking
It having been represented to the late king of Pruffia, that the French Verfions of the holy scriptures being, by length of time, become obsolete and unintelligible, it was necessary either to make a new translation, or Tevise the old ones; he was pleased to cast his eyes on Messieurs' De Beaufobre and Lenfant, as the properest persons to do the publick that important piece of service. Accordingly they jointly set about this work, by the king's express order, and after some years compleated the whole, consisting of the following parts; An Introdu£tory Discourse to the Reading of the Scriptures ; An Abstract or Harmony of the Gospel History; A New Verfion of all the Books of the New Testament ; A literal Commentary on all the difficult Pallages, with a General Preface to all St. Paul's Epistles, and a Critical Preface to each book in particular.
I. The INTRODUCTION.
HOUGH there is nothing in the Introduction but what
divines are well acquainted with, yet it may not be displeasing to them to fee so many particulars alluded to in the scriptures, and dispersed up and down in the works of the ļearned, brought together and handled in one treatise. It was chiefly intended for fludent's in a:vi, nily, who have not the opportunity, or perhaps the ability, of coming at those voluminous works that treat of the many curious as well as necesary points here discutsed. In the first part you have a clear account of all the Jewish matters as far as is requisite for the understanding the scriptures. The civil and religious state of the Jews: The Samaritans: ceremonies : The temple: facrifices : Synagogues : high priest, and others; courts of justice, particularly the Sanbedriñ : prophets and ferites, Jewish feels, Pharisees, Sadduces, Ejjenes: Projelytes of the gate, and Projelytes of righteousnels : years, montes, days, and hours of the Jews : fafts and feasts, particularly the Jewish fabbath, &c. In the second part, which relates more especially to the New Testament, you have the proofs of the truth of the Christian religion: The nature of the New Testament St; le: The chronology, and geography of the New Tefiament : The Hebrew money, weights, and measures: The various readings: The division inio chapters and verses: The beresies in the days of the Apostles: The versions of the New Testament, ancient and modern, to which will be added an account of our English ones, &c.
II. The Abstract ar Harmiony of the GOSPEL HISTORY. As for the evangelical and apostolical Harmony, 1. It contains the birtory of the actions of Jejus Christ and the Apostles in their irue order of time, which the Evangelifts did not so much regard, as not conducing to their principal delign of proving Jefus' to be the Mafiah from his dit. trines and miracles. 2. It thews that is common to all the Evangelists, and what is particular to each of them. 3. It paraphrafes or explains in other words ihe original text, which otherwise would require noies. 4. It clears up many things which could not to well be treated of in the Commentary. §. It may ferve alio for a table of the principal matters,
III. The VERSION. When our authors were ordered by the king of Prusia to undertake this work, they consulted whether they should revise the old versions, or make an entire new one. But when they considered that a new crantlation would cost thein no more time and pains than the revising an old one, and that it was impossible to revile an old version, so as to make it all of a piece; they resolved upon the former, well knowing that the
beft way to make an ancient misshapen elifice regular and uniform, is to puli it down, and build it all anew.
As the moft approved versions are those, that adhere not too close to the letter, nor deviate too far from it, our authors profets to have kept between both. Indeed they have often, out of a regard to the sacred text, and a deference to the opinion of the generality of the world, not taken the liberty neceffary to an exact and perfect tranflation. But left the liberties they have sometimes taken, may not be relished by those, who have not fufficiently attended to the rules of a good translation, they thought proper to make the following remarks upon that fubject.
1. In the first place it must be observed, that in translating we are not to render word for word, but fense for sense, and that the most literal verfions are not always the most faithful. There is a great deal of differ
ence between the letter and the literal sense. The letter is the word exi plained according to its etymology. The literal sense is the meaning of the
author, which is frequently quite different from the grammatical signification of the words. The design of a version is not to explain the words of a book, that is the office of a grammarian, the intent of a translator ought to be to express the thoughts. Thus a man may be a good grammarian, and at the same time i wretched translator.
2. Nothing is more common than for the same words, in the mouths of different nations, to hiave different significations. In this case to consult your dictionary would be a certain means to put you wrong as to the literal sense of an author. For instance, were we to render the Greek word fcandalizein by the English word to scandalize, we fhould be far from expressing the meaning of the facred penmen. For Scandalizein, in Greek, signifies to lay a snare, to put an obstacle in the way, to dishearten, to cause 10 waver and fall, &c. Whereas in English, to scandalize, is properly to speak ill of a perion, to defame, and the like.
3. It often happens that one author uses a word in a different sense from that of another. Of this, to justify and justification are instances. In English to justify a person, is, to speak in his defence, to clear him from what he is accused of ; whereas in the scripture language, to justify, is an act of God's mercy, whereby pardoning our fins, in consideration of our faith and repentance, he declares us juft or righteous, and treats us as such, for the sake of Jesus Christ. There are abundance of words of the like nature; the faci ed writers of the New Testament forming their style upon the Hebrew and Septuagint version, often give a particular meaning to the Greek words. If therefore we were to render such words by their most usual signification, we should indeed render them according to the letter, but at the same time we should be far from exprefsing the ineas annexed to them by the author. The fame writer also very often uses the same word in different lenses, not only in different places, but fometimes in the same sentence. If we were to render them always by the same word, on pretence of being faithful and exact, we should on the contrary, express ourselves in a very improper and frequently in an unintelligible manner. The Greek word, for example, that signifies faith*
is made use of by St. Paul in very different senses; sometimes he means by it the being persuaded of a thing +, sometimes trust or reliance I, and sometimes the object of faith, that is, the gel. As these are very distinct ideas, the rules of a good translation require, that in each place we give the word faith the meaning which is agreeable to the context.
4. It is well known, that in Hebrew, upon which the Greek of the New Testament is formed, there are certain expletives, or superfluous particles, which in that tongue may possibly have their graces, or at least may not be fo disagreeable as in ours. Such is the conjunctive copulative, kai, and, which commonly in the New Testament instead of connecting begins the discourle. Hence it is that we meet with such multitudes of ands, without any meaning at all, and which in the living languages found
odd. Of the same nature is the adverb behold or lo. It often has its meaning and emphasis, but for the most part it is a mere Hebraism without any particular fignification.
5. As for the other particles, for, but, as, now, then, &c. the criticks have very well observed, that they have not diterminate significations, and therefore it would be very wrong to render them always in the faine i manner. In fixing their sense the context'and connection of the difcourse must be our guide. These several meanings of the same particle are owing to the Hebrew, where the particles vary extremely in their fignification * ; but the same thing is to be met with in both Greek and Latin authors.
6. As teveral may think it strange that in this version thou and thee are changed into you, it will be proper to remove their scruples, which can proceed only from their being used and accustomed to the contrary. But such should consider, That no prescription ought to be pleaded against reafon, and that to speak in a barbaraus style in a polite age and language, is highly unreasonable. Those, who object against this, either forget or do not know that the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues having no you in the fingular number, it was imposible for the Sacred penmen to tpeak otherwise. The pretended dignity of thee and
Thou in the gospels, is to be met with in all the diicourses and books of those times, because they could not talk to one another in any other manner. But now-a-days that you is made use of in the singular num. ber, when we would speak bardfimely, and that to say Thou is extremely rude and uncivil, or a tign of great familiarity, or of the meanet dependance, there can be no reason of admitting this indecent manner of expreffion in the version of the New Testament. What can be more grating than to hear the disciples calling their Lord, thou, and ther, and our Saviour talking to the Apostles as to the mcanest of fervants ?
It is not the same thing when we address ourselves to God, men are talking to one another. God is infinitely above the little rules of our breeding and civility, and as the addreises of the faithful to this Supreme Being are of a jupernatural order, it is proper their lan
Ueb xriji. &c. o Rom, iv, 14;
of Rom. xiv. 23:
guage should in some measure be fo too. Upon this occasion the oriental style has a certain sublimity in it, which may be much easier conceived than expressed. And if, when we speak to kings in an heroicke style, we find thou has something very noble, grand, and respectful, how inuch more so when we address ourselves to the King of kings!
7. In this version the translators had solely in view the thoughts of the sacred penmen, without any regard to the particular explanations and applications of divines. Systems of divinity are to go by the scriptures, and not the scriptures by them. To prove a doctrine by a texi, which in its natural senle proves it not, or does not do it without a strained and forced interpretation, is to betray at once both the scriptures and doctrine too. Divines, wlio go
way to work, expofe at the same time the Christian religion in general, and their own principles in particular.
In each communion a man is obliged to adhere to the articles, therein established, but then every one ought to be left free to interpret the scriptures, by the same rules that are necessary for explaining any other book whatsoever. Besides, when a doctrine is proved by several express texts, or by one such, to endeavour to prove it by passages quite foreign to the purpose, is unfair dealing, a pious fraud very blaine-worthy, or at least Thews such a strong prejudice and blind obstinacy, as can never make for the credit of any sect or party. Calvin was a truly orthodox divine. But he ingenuouily disclaimed both the ancients and moderns, when in proof of certain mysteries they alledged texts, which in his opinion had no manner of relation with the matter in hand. However, the like liberty is not here taken, but without confuting any particular explanation, our authors have laid it down as a law, to represent the text just as ic is, and to have every one at liberty to judge of the truths therein contained.
8. There are two sorts of Hebraisms in the New Testament. Some there are, which all the world understand, having been accustomed to them; but there are others, which would be unintelligible, if not explained. The first of these are preserved, in order to give the Version the air of an original, which is essential to a good translation. The others have an (English) turn given them, and the Hebraism is marked in the Comment. For instance, as it is usual in ali languages, as well as in Hebrew, to term the disciples or followers of any person, his children, this expression is retained, as the children of God, and the children of the devil
. The Hebrews say, to eat bread *, when they would express eating in general or making a meal. Now this Hebraism cannot be rendered literally without ambiguity. Again, for the edge of the sword, they say, the mouth of the swordt, which is unintelligible in English. For a thing they say, a word; for posterity, they fay, feed; for a tree, they say, wood; and make use of the word, to answer, in the beginning of a discourse, before any person has spoke. It is evident in these and the like cases the Hebraism must be dropt, and the author's meaning, not his expressions, must be kept to. To give the Version a certain oriental turn, ,