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in. He delighted not to discourse
capacities; especially the most, that is, the poor; and might have opportunity, in the face of the world, to practice the most difficult of necessary duties; loveliness, contentedness, abstinence from pleasure, contempt of the world, sufferance of injuries and reproaches. Thus suited and tempered by divine wisdom was the life of our blessed Saviour, that all sorts of men might be in an equal capacity to follow him, that none might be offended, affrighted or discouraged; but that all might be pleased, delighted, enamoured, with the homely majesty and plain beauty thereof. And in effect so it happened, that ordinary people (the weakest, but sincerest and unprejudiced sort of men) were greatly taken with, most admired and applauded his deportment; many of them readily embracing his doctrine and devoting themselves to his discipline; while only the proud, envious, covetous, and ambitious scribes and lawyers rejected his excellent doctrine, scorned the heavenly simplicity and holy integrity of his life."
For the Christian Spectator.
REMARKS ON THE SEPTUAGINT.
If we were to give credit to Aristeas, and to Philo, Josephus, and Justin Martyr, who have quoted him, we must believe that the Greek Version of the Old Testament, which is called the Septuagint, was made by seventy two Jewish Elders, at the request of Ptolemy Philadelphus king of Egypt; and with an exactness which could be the result, only, of supernatural assistance. Learned men, however, have satisfactorily proved, that the book that bears the name of Aristeas, is a forgery; and that the whole story, which it contains, respecting the manner of ma
king the Greek Version, is a fiction unworthy of credit.* But though nothing is known concerning the authors of this version; yet the Dialect in which it is written, as Dr. Prideaux has remarked, seems plainly to show, that it was made at Alexandria in Égypt. And the inequalities of its style and execution, furnish just ground to believe,
that it was made by different persons, and at different times." Had the whole been the work of one man, or of any par ticular number of men who consulted together, we might expect to find a uniformity of style and language, and,
*See Dupin on the Canon, vol. 1. Prideaux's Connexion, vol. 3d. and Hod.. dy, De textibus originalibus, &c.
(making proper allowance, for the greater difficulty in translating some parts of the Old Testament, than others,) a uniform accuracy in the translation. The reverse of this, however, is found to be the case. The Pentateuch indeed, so far as I have been able to discover, exhibits a uniformity of style, and, in accuracy, and perspicuity, is far superior to any other portion of the Septuagint. But, in the other parts of this version, a great diversity of style is observable; and some books are rendered with much more exactness than others. No one, I think, can compare together the book of Psalms and the book of Proverbs in this version, without being convinced, that they were translated by different men, who acted independently of each other. The language of Psalms is plain and simple; to that of Proverbs, neither of these epithets can, with justice, be applied. The translator of Psalms appears to have felt it a sacred duty to adhere closely to the original; the translator of Proverbs has indulged in the mos unwarrantable liberties, not only changing the sense of many passages, but interpolating many others. Thus for instance, disappointed to find that Solomon, who had sent the sluggard to the Ant, to learn lessons of heavenly wisdom, had taken no notice of that little, sagacious, industrious insect, the Bee, he has undertaken to supply the deficiency, by adding a paragraph concerning bees. The style of Job differs as widely from that of Psalms, as does the style of Proverbs; nor is it rendered any more accurately. Between the translation and the original, it is, in many places, difficult to trace a resemblance, or to conjecture what the translator read. And similar remarks are, in a measure at least, applicable to many other parts of this version. This diversity of style,
Chap. vi. 8. For other interpolations see chap. iv. 27; ix. 12; xii. 11; xiii. 13; xvi. 5, 17; xxv. 10; xxix. 27, &c.
and rendering, seems plainly to show. that this translation was made by different men, who acted independently of each other; and it is also a presumptive evidence, that it was not all made at the same time. And though history does not enable us to determine with certainty, when the several parts of it were executed; yet there can, I think, be little reason to doubt that the Pentateuch, or Law, was translated, as early as the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. For by that time, the Jews of Alexandria, (for whose use this Version was made) living surrounded with the Greek inhabitants, had, most of them, lost their own language, and knew only the Greek. Into this, therefore, they needed their Law translated, for the purpose of reading. it in their synagogues on the sabbath; a practice, which, at this time, prevailed universally among the Jews, not only in Judea, but in other countries where they resided in considerable numbers. And especially would this practice be adopted by the Egyptian Jews; who were so desirous of imitating their brethren in Judea, in every thing pertaining to religion, that at length, in direct violation of the Law of Moses, they built a Temple at Heliopolis, in which sacrifices were offered, and every branch of religious worship performed, in the same manner as in the Temple at Jerusalem. As soon then, as the Greek became the only language spoken among them, they would, no doubt, have their Law translated into it. For though it has been the custom of the Jews, in later ages, to read their scriptures, in the Synagogue, only in the Hebrew yet at the time to which I now refer, and long afterwards, it was their practice to read them in a language which they generally understood. To this practice, the Targums, which were paraphrastic translations into the current language of Judea, owed their existence.
But, though the Law was translated into Greek as early as the reign
of Ptolemy Philadelphus; yet the prophets probably were not translated, till after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the Jews had iutroduced the practice of reading the prophets, as well as the law, in their Synagogues. As soon as this practice became established in Judea, it would naturally be adopted by the Alexandrian Jews; and, of course, lead to a translation of the Prophets into Greek.
And the eighteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of Isaiah, as rendered in the Septuagint, seems clearly to prove, that this book, at least, was not translated, till about the time, that Onias built his Temple at Heliopolis. Of this and the following verses, it is well known, that Onias made great use, not only in persuading the King of Egypt to grant him liberty to build this Temple; but likewise, in reconciling the Jews to this notorious violation of their Law. And hence," the city of destruction," in this passage, is in the Septuagint, changed into πόλις ἀσεδὲκ, the city of righteousness; which is manifestly a wilful mistranslation of the text, to make it favor Onias, and his Temple.
Whether the Hagiography was translated, at the same time with the Prophets, cannot now be ascertained. There is however, in the prologue prefixed to the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus by the Greek translator, a passage, which, if I mistake not, contains an allusion to the Septuagint; and if it does, it proves that the whole of the Old Testament must have been translated, as early as the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes king of Egypt. For it was in his reign, that this prologue was written. Offering an apology for the imperfection of his translation, arising from the difficulty of adequately expressing in Greek, the force and spirit, of what had been written in Hebrew, the translator says, "Wherefore let me entreat you to pardon us, wherein we may seem to come short of some words, which we have labored to interpret. For the same things uttered
in Hebrew, and translated into another tongue have not the same force in them. And not only these things, but the Law itself, and the Prophets, and the rest of the Books" (the Hagiography)" have no small difference, when spoken in their own lan guage," that is, from what they have, when translated into another. I can perceive neither pertinency nor propriety in these words, unless the Law, and the Prophets, and the other sacred Books were, at this time, ex. tant in some other language, beside the Hebrew, here called by way of emphasis, "their own language." And if the Son of Sirach here alludes to any translation of the Old Testament, that translation was unquestionably the Greek. And he had just cause to insinuate, that there no small difference between that and the Hebrew. The difference, however, was more owing to the incompetency of the translators, than to the imperfection of the Greek language.
Of the value of this version very different opinions have been entertained. Some have preferred it to the Hebrew; while others have condemned it as useless. The truth, I apprehend, will be found to lie in a medium between these two extremes. If I might be permitted to express my views of the importance of the Septuagint to the cause of Biblical Literature, I should say,
1. That it affords little or no assistance in correcting the Hebrew text. I am sensible indeed, that this is disputed ground. Many learned men have attached an importance to the Septuagint in this respect, to which in my view, it has no just claims. They have considered it a faithful representative, of the Hebrew Manuscripts existing at the time, when it was made; and of course have regarded it, as furnishing inestimable means of purging the original text from those corruptions, by which they suppose it has since been blemished and defaced. And bence, whenever they have disliked the
reading of the original, they seem to have felt themselves, at liberty to depart from it, provided they could. plead the authority of this version. That the authority of the Septuagint however, is wholly insufficient to justify such departures, will appear, if we consider, in the first place, that supposing the Septuagint, in its present state, to be an accurate representation of that particular Manuscript, from which it was made, it will by no means follow, that it is an accurate representation of the Hebrew Manuscripts in general, at that time. Some critics, of considerable note, have expressed strong suspicions, that some parts of this version at least, were made from a corrupted "As to copy of the inspired text. the Greek Version of the Book of Proverbs,' says Dr. Grey, "that goes under the name of the Septuagint, it must be owned that, in many places, 'tis a wretched one, the worst perhaps of the whole Bible; full of interpolations, transpositions, and palpable mistakes. All that can be said for it is, that whoever was the Author or Authors of it se seem to have translated from a corrupted copy, which they wanted either courage, or skill, to reform; and which must therefore, lead them into unavoidable obscurity, and confusion." Le Clerc also says of them, "Aut vitioso usi sunt codice, aut non satis attenti fuerunt." They either translated from a corrupted copy, or were not sufficiently careful.
In the second place, if we should admit that the Septuagint, when it came out of the hands of the translators, was a faithful representative of the correctest Hebrew Manuscripts at that time, it will by no means follow, that this is the case now. It is as probable a priori, that the Septuagint has suffered by the mistakes of transcribers, as it is, that the Hebrew has. And facts, I presume, show that it has suffered much more. A far greater diversity is found to exist between the Manuscripts of the
Septuagint, than between the Manuscripts of the Hebrew.
But, in the third place, it can by no means be conceded, that the Septuagint, when it came from the hands of the translators, was an accurate representative of the Hebrew Text, at that time. The supposition, that the translators made no mistakes, is wholly unsupported by proof, and altogether improbable in itself considered. Some alterations since their time may have taken place, not only in their version, but also in the Hebrew, by the carelessness of transcribers: but after making all due allowance for these, there will still remain, a large number of passages in the Septuagint, which, I apprehend, can never be accounted for, without supposing that the translators have, either intentionally or unintentionally, departed widely from the original, which they professed to translate.
If any one entertain doubts of this, let him translate the Greek of such passages into Hebrew, and it will give a text so different from the present Hebrew text, not only in sense, but in sound and appearance, as will, I trust, satisfy him, that a transcriber could scarcely mistake the one for the other.* If then the Hebrew, in these places, has been altered, the alteration must have been made by design. But who would be guilty of such baseness? The Christians, I believe, have never been charged with it. But some learned men have strongly suspected the Jews, in whose keeping the Hebrew Manuscripts were, of having made such alterations. I cannot however, but look upon this suspicion, as a most uncharitable one, and a flagrant act of injustice, to this much injured people. For in the first place, some of the most striking instances of discrepancy, between the Septuagint and the He
*As a specimen of the passages referred to above, the reader may consult the following: Job iv. 12 to the 21. vi. 14 to the 20. xl. 14, 15. xli. 24, 25. Isa. x. 8, 9. xxvii. 2, 3, 4.
authority, as too many critics have been disposed to do. As the Hebrew is the original, it has, on that ground, far higher claims to our confidence than any version; and especially than the Septuagint, which car
with it so much evidence of care. lessness and negligence, not to say, of unfaithfulness, in the translators. But if we should consider the Septuagint, as possessing equal authority with the Hebrew, the question would arise, when, and on what ground, are we to give it the preference. Its warmest advocates will not pretend, that we are to follow it in all cases in which it differs from the Hebrew. What then are the cases in which we are to give it the preference? The answer will probably be, we are to prefer it whenever it makes better sense than the Hebrew. But who are to be the judges of this? What one might esteem better sense, another perhaps would view very differently. If our views of sense and propriety, are to be our guide in this case, I do not very clearly perceive why they might not be our guide as well without the Septuagint, as with; at least, I am unable to see what other purpose, the Septuagint answers, than merely to suggest to us readings, which, without it, would perhaps never have occurred to our minds.
brew, are found in those passages,
That the Greek Translators have been guilty of numerous blunders, is uudeniable. By comparing their version with the Hebrew, we find, that they have often mistaken one Hebrew word, for another, when the difference consisted in only one or two letters which nearly resemble each other in shape. Thus, in Zach. xii. 10, they have read 1p (which they literally render, xarwpxǹavro, "they have danced") for 11 they have pierced," confounding Daleth and Resh; and, by this mistake, have completely destroyed the sense of the passage. And a multitude of instances, nearly similar, might be produced, were it necessary. These instances, though they do not impeach the fidelity of the translators, are by no means calculated to give us a favorable opinion either of their judgment or their scrupulous care. They also show us how unreasonable it is, to reduce the Hebrew to a level with the Septuagint, in point of
* See the following passages in the Septuagent, Gen. xìix, 10. Isa. ix, 6. Jeremiah. xxiii, 6. Daniel ix, 26. Zech. xii, 10
and xiii, 1.
After all, if sense and propriety are to form the rule of judging, which is to have the preference, the Septuagint, or the Hebrew, when they differ, the decision, I am persuaded, in an overwhelming majority of cases, will be in favor of the latter. Ia nine instances out of ten, in which the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew, every impartial person, who is a competent judge, will I doubt not, admit that the Hebrew makes the best sense and is most conformable to the analogy of faith. Can this version then, be a sufficient authority for altering the original text? For my own part, I feel no disposition to give up my Hebrew Bible for the Septuagint; nor do I believe, that