ROTHERHAM'S REMINISCENCES - CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 10. - THE EMPHASISED BIBLE - THE WORK OF THE TEXTUAL CRITICS AND THE TRANSLATOR.
The Old Testament Translation - Dr. Ginsburg and his work - Westcott and Hort's Text of the New Testament-Issue of the Third Edition of the Emphasised New Testament - Bible Readings in Glasgow.
My father's work on the New Testament had naturally led to frequent incursions into the domain of the Old Testament, and at length the strong desire was originated to extend his translating labour to the Hebrew Scriptures. The Translator says:-
"It was in the seventies, between the publication of the first and second edition of my New Testament, that I began to form and write out a rendering of the Old Testament. But when I had advanced some way into the Book of Deuteronomy, my eyes became seriously inflamed; and, in view of the imperative claims of other eye-work upon me, it was deemed prudent to lay aside my MSS., and, at least for a good while, relinquish the intention to construct an Emphasised Old Testament. On the shelf those MSS. remained for twelve or fourteen years, until, during the winter of 1889-1890, appeared in 'Good Words' Mr. Gladstone's articles, which were subsequently published under the title of 'The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture. For the mere purpose of rightly appreciating those articles the MSS. were taken down for comparison, with the result that the conviction was borne in upon me that here w as something promising enough to be worthy to be re-cast and continued. Accordingly, the eye-trouble having meanwhile happily disappeared, a re-commencement was made in May, 1890, by the re-writing of the Book of Genesis. The work slowly but steadily progressed, and in five years and a half the whole Old Testament was written out in forty-five small and convenient MS. volumes, which thenceforth, stood side by side on my table. At this stage a diversion was made by the writing out afresh of the New Testament in fifteen similar small volumes; so that, for awhile, the entire Bible was before me in MS. in sixty
volumes, with every opening duly headed so that reference could be made to any book, chapter, and verse with the greatest facility, thereby making it easy to add finishing touches up to the last available moment.
"Just when the MS. of the Old Testament was nearing completion, came out Dr. Ginsburg's new recension of the Hebrew Text; and soon after was published that scholar's magnificent and priceless 'Introduction' to his Hebrew Bible. Here, then, was a critical apparatus of hitherto undreamed of availability - a more correct text - condensed various readings, drawn from rare and scattered sources, merely waiting to be disinterred from the minute, unpointed Hebrew quietly packed away at the foot of Ginsburg's Text - most welcome information (in his 'Introduction') on obscure points of ancient editing and mediaeval transmission and modern printing, not within reach of the ordinary rank and file of Hebrew students. It was soon perceived how greatly my Old Testament MS. would gain in value by the execution of two leading processes: (1) A careful revision of the MS. by a comparison throughout with Ginsburg's Text; and (2) the translation of such footnotes as promised some gain, however small, to English readers."
The "Ginsburg" revision indicated above cost the Translator another four years' patient toil, but the result has abundantly justified the effort.
At a very early stage of the proof-reading Mr. Rotherham decided to compare his pages, not only with the written copy, from which they had been set up, but also once more with the original, and accordingly every word was thus finally compared with Ginsburg's newly-edited Printed Hebrew Text, in order to secure the utmost attainable accuracy.
The passing of the Old Testament through the press occupied nearly twelve months, and thus completed upwards of ten years' labour bestowed on this important portion of "The Emphasised Bible."
DR. GINSBURG AND HIS WORK.
The Translator of the "Emphasised Bible" says:-
"It is a relief to think that no translator can be required first to construct his Hebrew and Greek texts before turning them into English. Life would not be long
enough for one man, or one set of men, to explore the whole of the immense field; besides, the task is more likely to be efficiently done if its widely different departments are undertaken by departmental experts."
The textual critic prepares the way for the translator, and the question for the translator is reduced to this: What Hebrew Bible and what Greek New Testament shall he employ for making his version? In a word, What texts shall he translate? Amongst modern scholars who have laboured on the sacred text, the late Dr. Ginsburg occupies a prominent place.
Christian David Ginsburg was born at Warsaw on Christmas Day,1831. He was educated in the Rabbinic College in the city of his birth, and when fifteen years old he adopted the Christian faith. As in the case of another man of whom we have heard, no less a man than the Apostle to the Gentiles, the whole after life of Ginsburg was affected by his training in the School of the Rabbis. Here began the work of a long life in the study of the Hebrew Bible, and matters relating thereto.
The greater part of Dr. Ginsburg's waking hours were spent in the British Museum. In a room at the end of the King's Library he plodded on with his work, writing no letters, and not easily diverted from his task. On one occasion the present writer was granted an interview, and examined, under the guidance of the great scholar, some specimens of the Massorah. "Have I shown you my Jonah?" said the doctor, and a reply in the negative resulted in the production of a large sheet containing a grotesque figure of Jonah and the great fish, the whole being constructed out of minute Hebrew letters containing Massorah directions, the work of some unknown scribe obviously not lacking in the saving grace of humour.
In all such work the order must always be, first, the excavator, then the builder. First the textual critic, then the translator, and then the expositor. With infinite patience and skill Dr. Ginsburg worked at the quarry, hewing out material for other men to use. Much of Dr. Ginsburg's work was of necessity left embedded in Hebrew in the massive volumes he produced. It remained for the translator of the "Emphasised Bible" to make available the findings of the great Hebraist and to open up the way to further knowledge of divine things
to the humblest Bible student. In such manner does the work of scholarly experts fit together, and it is thus that relays of toilers carry forward the work. The letter of the Bible is the shrine of its spirit and the organism by which it comes into contact with the reader's mind. Hence the most spiritual of Bible students may well feel grateful to all who have toiled at the wearying task of preserving, and - where necessary and possible - restoring, the true letter of the Sacred Text in its original tongues.
My father's intercourse with Dr. Ginsburg was carried on chiefly through the medium of Dr. Bullinger - himself an able scholar. Mrs. Ginsburg acted as private secretary to her husband. The following extracts from letters to my father will serve to show the good feeling which existed amongst this earnest group of workers:-
"Dr. Ginsburg has shown me your kind letter, which I was very pleased to read. Your kind words greatly encourage us.""
"Thanks for your kind letter. I read it to Dr. Ginsburg, and we are both in true accord with all you tell us of your work and of what is in your heart. We wish you God-speed."
"Dr. Ginsburg is greatly encouraged by your kind remarks, and I have ordered a cancel leaf to be printed for the remaining copies."
"Dr. Ginsburg also wishes to unite in these thanks, and to say that if he can be of any service in resolving any question, he will be happy to do so."
A letter from Mrs. Ginsburg says -
"Thanks for pointing out this misprint. I hope you will communicate to me any others that you may detect. It is only through the kind assistance of scholars that such a work can be perfected."
WESTCOTT AND HORT.
Scarcely less remarkable than the work of Dr. Ginsburg on the Text of the Old Testament was the prolonged labour of Drs. Westcott and Hort on the Greek Text of the New Testament. From the very interesting "Life and Letters of Bishop Westcott," by his son, the following extract is made:-
"In 1881 the Greek Testament, which had been so long expected, at last appeared, and was widely welcomed as an epoch-making book, and probably the most important contribution to Biblical learning in our generation."
The Times said:-
"To the world at large Westcott's tenure of the Regius Professorship will always be associated with the so-called 'Cambridge Text' of the New Testament, little as his professorship really had to do with it. Probably in the whole history of the New Testament since the time of Origen there has been nothing more remarkable than the quiet persistence with which these two Fellows of Trinity - Westcott, aged 28, and Hort, some three years younger - started in the Spring of 1853 to systematise New Testament criticism. They found themselves aware of the unsatisfactoriness of the textus receptus, and conscious that neither Lachmann nor Tischendorf gave 'such an approximation to the apostolic words as they could accept with reasonable satisfaction.' So they 'agreed to commence at once the formation of a manual text for (their) own use, hoping at the same time that it might be of service to others.' It says something at once for their determination and their care that the two famous volumes were not published till 1881, twenty-eight years from their inception. True, the lion's share of the accomplishment was due to Hort, who wrote the masterly statement of their principles of criticism in the second volume; but the importance of Westcott's co-operation appears from the declaration of the two authors that their 'combination of completely independent operations' enabled them 'to place far more confidence in the results than either could have presumed to cherish had they rested on his own sole responsibility.' To Westcott also must be given the merit of having, by his earnest cheerfulness, kept up the courage of his shy and nervous colleague."
The outstanding features in the life of the late Bishop of Durham (Dr. Westcott) are well known, and the splendid service he was able to render in settling troubles between the miners and their employers will not soon be forgotten.
Regarding Dr. Hort, however, less is known, and a slight digression may be permitted in order to include some tributes
to this eminent scholar which appear in the "Life and Letters of Fenton J.A. Hort," written by his son.
At a gathering of distinguished scholars, held soon after the passing of Dr. Hort, his friend and colleague, Dr. Moulton, said: "I was first brought into connection with Dr. Hort when the company w as formed for the revision of the New Testament. During the ten or twelve years which that work occupied his was one of the most prominent and characteristic figures in all meetings of the company. I seem to see him now, sitting or standing up to speak at one corner of the long table in the Jerusalem Chamber, referring from time to time to the many books which he had brought with him and consulted with so much advantage to the rest of us: I remember well the readiness with which he spoke upon the most varied subjects; the subtle insight which he showed as he entered into every new question raised; the recognition which he received from the first as one of the greatest authorities upon Textual Criticism. In questions which call for special knowledge (on points of natural history, for example), he spoke as a master; and, indeed, there was hardly any subject in regard to which he did not seem ready to give effective help.
"Loyal to the maxim which he loved so well, Dr. Hort habitually 'preferred things true to things accustomed.' He was always ready to give up a cherished opinion at the bidding of decisive evidence. In forming his conclusions, as we all know, he sought for the whole body of available evidence, and considered the whole subject from every point of view. He united in a wonderful degree that microscopic examination which reveals intimate structure with the distant and larger view, which presents a subject in all its various relations."
Dr. Kirkpatrick, in the course of his address, said:- "Yet indeed, the best memorial of Dr. Hort will be that monumental work in which his name is so happily coupled with that of his friend and fellow-worker. That work is characteristic of the man, both in its undertaking and in its execution. I remember his speaking to me once almost sadly (yet surely without real regret) of the large portion of his life which had been spent on textual questions. It was not for its own sake that textual criticism interested him, but for the sake of the greater problems which lay beyond it. He felt that if the interpretation
of the New Testament was to be based upon a secure foundation, a science of textual criticism must be established which would remove, as far as possible, every doubtful element in the determination of the actual words which were to be interpreted, and he set himself to the task with that thoroughness which was so characteristic of him."
ISSUE OF THE THIRD EDITION OF THE EMPHASISED NEW TESTAMENT.
At length nearly twenty years had elapsed since the issue of the second edition of the "Emphasised New Testament," and the work was out of print. These years had left their legacy to the translator in the shape of accumulated results of study. There were reasons which led him to conclude that the text of Westcott and Hort, now available, was to be preferred to that of Tregelles (which had been used for previous editions), mainly because the later scholars had the famous Sinai MS. before them from the outset, an advantage which Dr. Tregelles did not possess.
To make sure of incorporating this and other results, my father did not shrink from the labour involved in re-writing the whole of the New Testament; and the opportunity was taken to introduce a new method of indicating emphasis, and a style of presenting the text to the eye at once striking and suggestive. When all these improvements were fully worked out, the result justified the statement that the third edition of the Emphasised New Testament, issued in 1897, was practically a new work, and a very real advance on the earlier editions.
The special features of the third edition may be thus summarised:-
(1) It is an extremely literal translation; the drift, point, and emphasis of the original - the very feeling of the Greek - being clearly discernible in English. Familiar passages thus appear in fresh and often picturesque form.
(2) The text is displayed on the page in a manner that shows at a glance narrative and speech.
(3) Section headings assist the eye, and the accompanying indications of parallel passages in the other Gospels invite comparison therewith.
(4) The brief footnotes throw further light on the text.
(5) Quotations from the Old Testament are printed in italics.
(6) A valuable Introductory Note on the Interpretation of the Bible precedes the first Gospel.
Dr. Westcott (late Bishop of Durham), in acknowledging the receipt of the third edition of the Emphasised New Testament, said:- "As far as I can judge, your arrangement and close rendering of the text are likely to help English readers to see the fuller meaning and correspondences of words which often lose their force from our familiarity with them ... Wishing abundant blessing on your labours, believe me to be, yours most faithfully, B.F. DUNELM."
VISIT TO GLASGOW.
In the autumn of 1902 my father visited Glasgow. The printing of the Emphasised Old Testament had just been completed. A postcard to the present writer says:-
"I am enjoying more than I can say the study of the complete book. It is splendid! Whole book for me! I am preparing my copy for use in Glasgow."
An extract from a letter received from my father at this time indicates the variety of his Glasgow engagements. He says:-
179 Nithsdale Road,
My dear son Joseph, - You will have concluded rightly if you have thought I was not much in mind to write letters. We have well enjoyed ourselves thus far. On Sunday we had two good meetings at Wellington Street. Brethren uncommonly hearty. Monday wet; just got down to John Brown's and had a nice long chat with him. Tuesday, a fine Bible reading meeting at Bro. Paterson's, and refreshments round a long table afterwards. Subject, "The Church and the Kingdom," etc.; some lively and profitable conversation. Wednesday evening at Wellington Street; subject, "Holy Spirit in the Old Testament;" 80 to 100 present; fine hearing. Yesterday, rail to Gourock, thence by steamer to Rothsay; over the island by carriage, and so back. In evening, about 25 brethren and sisters at Bro. Webster's to Bible reading; most delightful and inspiring. To-day, resting this evening at Mrs. P. Crockatt's. Son of Charles Abercrombie came to tea on Sunday.
A postcard, written a few days later from Rahane Cottage, Gareloch, says:-
"Down the Clyde, and up the loch this forenoon, until to-morrow forenoon. Saturday evening last a District Conference in Shawlands Hall. Good paper read, and lively discussion. I said a few words, Bro. Halliday a few more. Sunday at Coplaw Street new chapel forenoon; say, 200 present. Many thanks for my address; some thought my one hour's discourse lasted only half an hour! Tuesday evening, about 60 came through rain to Coplaw Hall. Wednesday evening, about 100 present at Great Wellington Street; three from Grangemouth, including Bro. Clarke. To-morrow evening, to be at Bro. T. Wishart's to tea and Bible reading. Had more than half a day with Bro. Halliday. He is to be presented with the Emphasised Bible on the 12th prox. Sunday next at Shawlands, morning and evening. Return on Monday."
It will be concluded from the foregoing that my father greatly enjoyed his visit to Glasgow, and there is abundant assurance from those who were present at these gatherings that the pleasure was mutual.
JOSEPH BRYANT ROTHERHAM INDEX