FEW readers can appreciate the labor and care necessary, to the perfecting of an impression of the New Testament. The ten thousand minutiae necessary to typographical perfection, would require the hundred eyes of the fabled Argus, and the piercing vision of the eagle. Perhaps a copy of a book, as large as the New Testament, perfectly free from typographical errors, is not to be found on earth.
Aware of all the difficulties in our way, and most solicitous to have the stereotype pocket edition of this work as perfect, in its typography, as any in existence, we have been at the labor and expense of preparing two editions at one and the same time--so that any errata discovered after the sheets of the third edition were worked off, might be corrected in the standing form of the pocket edition. Few, very few errors have been discovered in the third edition; these are corrected in its errata; and, of course, do not appear in this.
The sheets of the third edition, after having been repeatedly read by myself and others, were submitted to the examination of THOMAS CAMPBELL, sen. and of FRANCIS W. EMMONS, to whom we are much indebted for the care which they have bestowed on them, and the numerous suggestions with which they have favored us. Their classical and biblical attainments have been of much service to us, and to the public, in the completion of this work.
One or two classes of provincialisms, such as the hereupon, thereupon, and whereupon; the hereby, thereby, and whereby; and the herein, therein, and wherein of Doctor Campbell, and a few of Doctors Macknight and Doddridge, which sometimes escaped in the third edition, are strangled in this.
While the greater matters of accuracy, precision, and perspicuity deserve all attention, the less matters of neatness, smoothness, and harmony, are not wholly to be neglected. Doctor Campbell, the highly and jsutly celebrated author of the Philosophy of Rhetoric, has given us leave to prune himself of some of those rather awkward words and phrases, which are to be atributed more to the taste of the last century, and to his greater attention to his countrymen, than to his want of judgment or taste in good and elegant composition. The sacred Scriptures are more generally read than any other writings, and exert a greater influence on th diction and style of the community: and they ought, therefore, to be a model. As the original was at least at par with, it not something in advance of, the age and population in which it appeared, a translation of it ought, we think, always to be in the plainest and best style of the community, for which it was intended.
A good style is always a plain and intelligible style. What is sometimes called a learned, is rather an unlearned style; because true learning is the art of communicating, as well as of receiving instruction--and he that speaks or writes not to edification, is unlearned in the greatest of all arts, the art of imparting instruction. It has often been observed, that it requires more real learning to make a plain and an intelligible discourse, than to make one vulgarly called learned. Indeed, there are not wanting some persons, in every community, who appreciate a discourse because it transcends their comprehension, and regard him as the greatest scholar, who uses the most learned and rare terms and phrases.
The verses are placed at the commencement of the paragraph, merely for convenience in referring to the common version; and, although much called for by many readers, they are, in our judgment, of no advantage in understanding the book. We have, however, kept the connexion unbroken, before the eye of the reaer, as in the former editions; and, it is to be hoped, that but few now regard the verses, as so many detached precepts or proverbs. This custom of versifying is, we rejoice, yielding to the more enlightened judgment of the present age, and we were much gratified to see, the other day, a recent octavo impression of the common version, published at Boston, in the manner of our first edition.
In this, as well as in the third edition, the words printed in Italics are all supplements, depending wholly upon our judgment, or that of the translators, and are to be regarded as such; the spurious readings, or interpolations, are rejected from this edition. It gives us pleasure to discover, that this, also, is obtaining credit; and to see a scholar of such reputation as Professor Stuart, in his tanslation of the epistle to the Romans, leaving out the interpolatiosn found, both in the common Greek Testament, and in the King's translation of it.
Some extracts from the appendix of the second edition, containing extracts from the preface of the first edition of the King's translation, in vindication of this versin, will close our prefatory remarks.
Our whole phraseology on religious topics is affected by the antiquated style of the common version. Hence we have been constrained to adopta name for this style, to distinguish it from the good style of persons well educated in our mother tongue. This old fashioned style we call the sacred style; yet this sacred style was the common style in the reign of James. This the following abstact from the original preface will show. Cam. ed. p. 5.--
"Many men's mouthes have been open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the translation so long in hand, or rather perusals of translations made before: and ask what may be the reason, what the necessitie of the employment? Hath the Church been deceived, say they, all this while? Hath the bread been mingled with leaven, her silver with drosse, her wine with water, her milk with lime? (Lacte gypsum male misceter, saith S. Ireny.) We hoped that we had been in the right way, that we had the oracles of God delivered unto us, and that though all the world had cause to be offended, and to complain, yet that we had none. Hath the nurse holden out the breast, and nothing but winde in it? Hath the bread been delivered by the fathers of the church, and the same proved to be Lapidosus, as Seneca speaketh? What is it to handle the world of God deceitfully, if this be not? Thus certain brethren. Also, the adversaries of Judah and Jerusalem, like Sanballat in Nehemiah, mock, as we heare, both at the work and workmen, saying, What do thse weak Jews, &c. Will they make the stones whole again out of the heaps of dust which are burnt? Although they build, yet if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stony wall. Was their translation good before? Why do they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people? Yea, why did the Catholicks (meaning Popish Romanists) always go in jeopardy, for refusing to go to heare it? Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholicks are fittest to do it; they have learning, and they know when a thing is well. We will answer them both briefly: And the former, being brethren, thus, with S. Hierome, Damnamus veteres? Minime, sed post priorum studia in Domo domini quod pssumus laboramus. That is, Do we condemn the ancients? In no case: but after the endeavors of them that were before us, we take the best pains we can in the house of God. As if he said, Being provoked by the example of the learned, that lived before my time, I have thought it my duty to assay, whether my talent in the knowledge of the tongues may be profitable in any measure to God's church, lest I should seem to have labored in them in vain, and lest I should be thought to glory in men (although ancient) above that which was in them. Thus S. Hierome may be thought to speak."
Now though many alterations in orthography, punctuation, and in marginal readings have been made on the King's translation, so that the first editions differ in many respects from the modern, yet the style is still preserved; and from its old-fashioned peculiarities, it is called the sacred style. I know it may be said, that the style of the King's translation is still more ancient, than the era of his reign, because the "Bishops Bible" and other previous translations did present to the translators the style of their ancestors, from the days of Wickliffe; so that many peculiarities in the obsolete style of the 15th and 16th centuries, are to be found in the common version.
The old Gothic buildings in North and South Britain are generally places of worship; hence, although this style of architecture was once as common in England and Scotland as any of the present models; yet this style being preserved only, or almost exclusively, in the places of worship which the veneration of our ancestors preserved from dilapidation, has given a sacred aspect to places of worship, and has rendered the Gothic style of architecture as sacred, as the obsolete style of King Henry, or King James. Had it not been for the veneration shown to places of worship,not a specimen of Gothic style would at this day have stood upon the British Isles; and had it not been for the same species of veneration, we should not have had at this time any book, sacred or profane, written or published in the style of the 16th centurey. This style we have avoided in the present edition, and hve as far as waspracticable in one effort, removed from the sacred writings the obsolete verily, ye, unto, liveth, keepeth, heareth, doth, hath, thou, thee, and thy: and all their kindred terms and phrases of the same antiquity. They have yielded their places to another race in all our writings and speeches, except in the pulpit or synagogue--why not also in the sacred writings? We might as reasonably contend, that men should appar in the public assemblies for worship with long beards, in Jewish or Roman garments, as that the Scriptures should be handed to us in a style perfectly antiquated, and consequently less intelligible.
Some may contend, that the adoption of you instead of thou, when one only is meant, is not grammatical. But let us consider, that the rules of grammar are no more than the rules drawn from common usage, or the custom of good speakers or writers--Since the days of Horace it is admitted, by all grammarians, that common usage is the sovereign arbiter of language: Usus, quem penes arbitrium est, el jus, et norma loquendi. Custom, or universal usage, has made you as singular as thou: and the question is not, whether this be a perfection or an imperfection in our language--but, Is this the general or universal usage? If so, then it is grammatical. In all cases where the utmost precision is necessary, you is now used. In celebrating the rites of matrimony, and in administering an oath, we do not use thou. Nor does the judge upon the bench, when pronouncing a sentence upon a criminal, address him by thou; but by you. Now, if in those instances, where the greatest precision is necessary, you is used, and never thou, why should it be otherwise in a translation of the Scriptures? Excepting in addresses to the Deity, and in the personification of inanimate things, we aim at the expulsion of thou, and the substitution of you.
Again, the King's translators vindicate themselves, and apologize for us:--
"Another thing we think good to admonish thee of (gentle reader,) that we have not tied ourselves to uniformity of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for, there be some words that be not of the same sense every where) we were especially carefull, and made a conscience, according to our duty. But that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word only by purpose, never to call it intent; if one where journeying, never travelling; if one where think, never suppose, if one where pain, never ache; if one where joy, never gladness, &c. Thus to mince the matter, we thought to savour more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed scorn in the Atheist, than bring profit to the godly reader. For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free? use one precisely, when we may use another no lesse fit, as commodiously? Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leave the old ecclesiastical words, and betake them to others; as when they put washing for baptisme, and congregation instead of church: as also on the other side, we have shunned the obscuritie of the Papists in their azymes, tunike, rational, holocausts, prepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late translation is full; and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar."
The Puritans, it seems, were accustomed to substitute washing for baptism, and congregation for church, and now some of their descendants condemn Drs. Campbell and Macknight for using immersion for baptism--and Dr. Doddridge for substituting congregation for church. But this by the way. If the last sentiment in the above extract be correct, we will be excused in all our efforts, to render this version as plain as possible to the dullest apprehension. If the King's translators found reasons to justify themselves for shunning the obscurities of the Papists, we will, for the same reasons, be allowed to shun the obscurities of the Protestants, if this can be done by a fair translation.
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