The Project Gutenberg eBook of Biblical Revision

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Title: Biblical Revision

Author: Edward Slater

Release date: March 6, 2021 [eBook #64728]

Language: English

Credits: Transcribed from the 1856 John Farquhar Shaw edition by David Price


Transcribed from the 1856 John Farquhar Shaw edition by David Price.






Holy Scripture.




[The Authorized Version] is far from being immaculate.  It is not sufficiently close and uniform in rendering the original . . . is not calculated to convey precise and critical information in difficult and mysterious passages of the Prophecies, &c.

Dr. William HalesNew Analysis of Chronology, Vol. II. p. ix.





Price One Shilling.



Deut. xxxii. 2.


Deut. xxxii. 46, 47.


Among the characteristics of an Age replete with new and unlooked-for events, perhaps not the least singular and impressive is the desire, now extensively evinced, for an improved translation of Holy Scripture.

A solitary voice, [3] it is true, has been raised to the same effect, from time to time; but it has gradually died away in the noise of worldly bustle, or been summarily stifled by Prejudice or Fear.

A more fitting time has arrived for renewing the cry; for we have become more reflective with the progress of events, and a desire for improvement—not limited to mere material good—has sprung up, that is irrepressible, and all but universal.

But, encouraging as is the Temper of the Times for prosecuting the task that we have undertaken, we need to make our way cautiously.  The subject is confessedly a delicate one, and is, moreover, in not a few quarters, entrenched in prejudices under the seeming sanction of religion itself.

p. 4“Were the Bible,” pleads Dr. Knox, [4] “corrected and modernized, it would probably become more showy, and perhaps quite exact, but it would lose that air of sanctity which enables it to make an impression which no accuracy could produce.  We have received the Bible,” he goes on to say, “in the very words in which it now stands, from our fathers; we have learnt many passages from it by heart in our infancy; . . . so that its phrase is become familiar to our ears, and we cease to be startled at apparent difficulties.”  And again: “We should hardly recognize the Bible were it to be read in our churches in any other words than those which our fathers heard before us.”  Possibly the people would require some time to familiarize themselves to the change, more especially in the public services of the church; but the objection, formidable as the good Doctor thought it, is not sufficient to overrule the plea.  Precisely the same objection, if entertained, would have deprived us of the benefit of the present authorized version.  People long accustomed to the previous version must have been pained and startled on the introduction of the new.  Such a consequence, however, obvious as it must have been, was not admitted to be a good argument against a change at that epoch.  True, there are more readers now than there were then, and so far the inconvenience of change would be aggravated; but, unless we could persuade ourselves that we should never have a different version to the present, we cannot refuse to entertain the proposition before us in deference to such a consideration.  The notion that we shall always acquiesce in the present version, with the proofs around us of the possibility of improving it, coupled with the desire so extensively evinced for improvement, can scarcely be seriously entertained.

The truth is, the people are not accountable for the reasoning ascribed to them—possibly with some justice at p. 5the time the Doctor wrote—in the above extract.  We have given it at length, because we have nowhere seen the argument, as generally used, better expressed; but, whatever there is in it, we hold it a great disparagement to the religious feeling of the people at the present time, to suppose them capable of putting Superstition for Piety, as conveyed in the terms of that passage; or to imagine that anything less than a just and faithful version of Holy Scripture would or could content them.

But besides the inconvenience of the change so pathetically pleaded, there is the time-honoured Phraseology of the Bible—that phraseology that has earned the suffrages of a whole people, young and old, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, and been associated with our Literary glories—to warn us off the holy ground.  Into what critic’s crucible, it may be asked, do we propose to place the Bible, and what frigid, tame, and insipid version, among those with which we have been of late years familiar, do we design to substitute for our own old authorized translation?

Plainly, none.  We know of none—valuable as some of them unquestionably are—worthy of competing, in whole or in part, on an extended view of the question, with our own; while, in point of phraseology, to which the objection specifically refers, the advantage is all in favour of the old version.  But if the question at issue were—which it is not—between Phraseology on the one hand, and Fidelity on the other, we should and could have no hesitation in deciding for the latter.  But we really think it possible to preserve most of the beautiful phraseology of the present version, and even add to it, while we disencumber the text of its errors, and render it a more faithful reflex of the Divine Original.

But the outward Dress and Ornament of the book do not exhaust all the objections incident to the question.  There are yet others of a subtler order—the exponent of deeper feelings—to which we must briefly advert.  And first, there are those who find few or no difficulties, for their part, in the p. 6Bible, as it now stands, and therefore, naturally enough, object to a change.  The Bible, they maintain, is a plain book, and the very terms of the Announcement at the head of it, as a Revelation of God’s will to man, upon the knowledge of which his salvation depends, precludes, they argue, any other supposition.  To a certain extent they are right; and God forbid we should be understood to mean that the Bible, in its present English dress, is not satisfactory on all the great points of faith and duty.  We are sometimes told the contrary, indeed, by those who have formed exaggerated views of the inadequacies of our version; but such an opinion is entitled to no manner of respect; on the contrary, it would be very easy to produce passages—key-passages, we might call them, from which the WHOLE TRUTH of the Gospel might be extracted—which would utterly defy any other translation than that exhibited in the authorized version.  But while conceding all this, we are not debarred from seeking a version yet nearer perfection than the present, if it is to be had.  There are subordinate lessons, surely, that might be rendered more precious and instructive; and it cannot be a right or creditable principle to direct our inquiry only to that which saves, in the vulgar sense of that term, and give only a listless and perfunctory attention to all the rest.  Not unfrequently, however this arid notion of the plainness of Scripture is resolvable into the inert and abortive state of the faculties in which they are perused.  There is no difficulty, because the subject is not fairly grappled with.  The words titillate and amuse, while the sense is in the clouds.  More respectable is that tranquillizing and elevating feeling which oftentimes accompanies the reading, in which the understanding, though not dead, is still at fault through the veil interposed by the phraseology.  This placid acquiescence of the soul in a message the exact purpose of which it fails to comprehend, may be taken to express a tacit homage to the power of the Divine Spirit breathing through the words, however feebly enunciated; p. 7and there may be still, under the happiest methods of elucidating Scripture yet open to us, a just and legitimate scope for its exercise: nevertheless, we covet habitually, and as a general principle, the discharge of a higher function of the soul,—TO UNDERSTAND as well as TO FEEL, and TO ACT as well as TO BE ACTED ON.

But while these find Scripture so plain as to be able to dispense with the Critic’s art, and all other aid, to throw further light on their contents, there are those, on the other hand, who love a Mysterious Bible, and to whom the whole science of Biblical interpretation is positively distasteful, as savouring of the wisdom of man rather than of the grace of the Spirit.  They find their devotion fed, as they think, by the Mystical element, and revel in difficulties that to others are simply discomfiting.  Cloud-land is their home.  Accordingly, to relieve Scripture of its obscurities, and render it more patent and intelligible, is the last service for which we might expect their thanks.  While this is a genuine feeling,—indulged in for the special delectation of their own bosoms—and not a pretence to ensnare others, or inveigle their weaker brethren in the toils of a spiritual autocracy, it is simply an error of the brain—an idiosyncrasy, to be treated with all due gentleness and consideration.  Let such, then, observe that there is no reason why Scripture should be more difficult in the translation than it is in the original, or than God designed it, or inspired men transmitted it to us; and that the aim of these and similar efforts is simply to ensure a version that will exhibit the Word of God with at least equal force and perspicuity to that presented in the original text.  Nor would a genuine reverence for Scripture allow us to stop short of this point, since anything less must be so much clear loss of most important Truth.  There are many who are grievously perplexed by the obscurity that attaches to certain portions of Scripture, and for their sakes, as well as for the obvious duty of the case, we insist upon all the aid we can procure to elucidate p. 8those portions.  To take one instance—a striking one—the Messianic prophecies—those prophecies in not a few instances now portraying the Messiah in unmistakable lineaments, and now, without the slightest hint of a change of subject, [8a] varying the portrait, as by a dissolving process, so that it seems no longer HIMSELF that is set before us, but one of the erring children of men.  Now, evidently, it would be most desirable, if a new version could obviate or relieve this difficulty.  In sundry instances the sense is marred by an incongruousness in the metaphors, [8b] for which the Bible, perhaps, is the last book in the world to be made answerable; and this particular fault, in most instances, a slight change in the pointing, for which the context would give p. 9the fullest warrant, or a juster translation, would satisfactorily amend.

But will not a new translation endanger those articles of our faith in which we have been brought up from our infancy, and which we believe to be essential to salvation?  May not the translation fall into the hands of those who are ill-affected to the orthodox faith, and is there not ground to believe that hostility to that faith is the real object of many of those who are most conspicuous in the promotion of this scheme?

This apprehension we believe to lie at the basis of much of the objection that is entertained to the proposed change: but has it not occurred to the alarmists, that the weapon cuts both ways, and that it is just as possible, as far as at present appears, for the other side to be discomfited in the shock?  Who shall say that the Evangelical or Orthodox scheme shall not gain ground by the experiment, and the opposite scheme suffer?  But these objections are manifestly unworthy a belief that professedly rests as its basis on the Word of God; rather is it a belief in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, not which the Holy Ghost teacheth.  And with regard to the individuals that may be selected for the task, surely all anxiety on that ground is superfluous.  The general sense of Scripture is not now to be determined: that has been done long ago; and all that remains for us is, in the use of such means as our advancing scholarship supplies, to make that sense—as Providence from time to time supplies the opportunity—yet more explicit, and available for proficiency in Divine knowledge.

Thus far we have been occupied in clearing our ground, and essaying a hearing, with what chance of success we might, considering the outcry, more or less reasonable, with which the question before us is usually met.  We take no further notice of the objections to our task, and proceed to explain more distinctly in what that task consists.  But, first of all, we must premise, that we contemplate a “revised” p. 10rather than an entirely “new” version.  Certain feelings have entwined themselves round the stock of the present version which it would not be safe or needful to sever, except where the imperious demands of fidelity to the sense necessitate the infliction.

The fiat given to the use of the old authorized version is substantially honourable to the nation—perhaps equally so with the fiat that gave it existence.  There is a pregnant power in the words, as symbols of the burning thoughts of the men engaged, not pale reflexes of things, that has secured the all but universal use of the present version, with all its imperfections, despite the labours of Lowth, and Horsley, and Campbell, and Henderson, and Good, and others—all eminent names—more or less to displace it.  “The Spirit of the Living Creatures was in the Wheels, and whither the Wheels were to go the Spirit of the Living Creatures went with them.” [10a]

Foremost in the conditions of a correct version is Purity of Text.’  There is no doubt, we believe, in the minds of all qualified to pronounce on this part of the question, that the text, both of the Old and New Testament, generally unassailable as it is, is yet, on some not unimportant points—and what is unimportant in such a document?—susceptible of improvement.  We wish, by all means, to have the benefit of this improved text, as no consideration of consequences can weigh against the actual inconveniences that belong to the text, in some instances, as it now stands.  The discrepancies, for example, in the Chronicles, [10b] in matters p. 11relating to numbers, with the statements in the corresponding passages in 2 Samuel and Kings, furnish most damaging weapons in sceptical hands wherewith to assail the Sacred Books.  Some of these discrepancies are only imaginary, but others, it must be confessed, are palpable and incontrovertible, and ought not to stand, as they now do, in our Bibles, open, without a word appearing on the page in their defence, to the most unmitigated contradiction. [11a]  The fact is, the text in these instances is corrupt, and there need be no scruple, considering the way in which NUMBERS were variously written of old, by letters, ciphers, or words, and more especially the liability of transcribers to err in these matters, in arriving at that conclusion.  This extreme devotion to the Massoretic text on the part of our translators, to the overthrow of common sense, and disregard of the thousand arguments that plead for a change over the one thus pertinaciously followed, is most detrimental to the credit of the Sacred Volumes; for two statements diametrically opposed cannot, of course, be both correct; the weaker, therefore, should naturally be made to give place to the stronger.  In some cases, possibly, this may be done by a new recension of the text; in others the alteration should be summarily made in conformity with the obvious maxims in universal use for determining the truth in the case of contradictory documents. [11b]

Next to Purity of Text is a Correct Version.  That the present version does not satisfy this condition in the just sense of the word, or to the extent we have a right to require in such a matter, is now almost universally conceded.  The plea of “good enough” is given up, and the wishes of the religious public for a translation more true to p. 12the original, are “condescendingly” admitted to be just and reasonable; and if this admission expressed the voice of authority, as well as the general sense of the learned world, our wishes would speedily be in a condition to be fulfilled.  Meantime it is for us to agitate the question till the boon be accorded, agreeably to the good old English rule, when the stronghold of authority is to be stormed.

It has appeared to us, in the prosecution of our task, that we could put this question before the ordinary English reader in a form to enable him to determine for himself with tolerable correctness the Validity of our plea for a more correct version of Holy Writ.  On such a point it is important he should be able to judge for himself: accordingly, we shall exhibit sundry amended passages, by way of specimen, in juxtaposition with the corresponding passages of the present version.  It may be premised, that it is not necessary that the amended translation should be in all respects immaculate and unassailable; it suffices for the present purpose if we establish the fact, that the authorized version is capable of amendment.  The field before us is almost illimitable, so numerous are the corrections that require to be supplied.  Of course, we must pick our path here and there.  We begin with the Old Testament; and here two passages recommend themselves for selection, as well for their own intrinsic interest as for the materials they afford for elucidating the principles that underlie the transfusion of Hebrew into English.  The reader is invited to ponder the two versions in the points in which they differ, however minute the difference at first sight may appear, as the change in these cases has proceeded upon a strictly literal translation of the original Hebrew; and the variation, on a further view, may not appear so unimportant as at first.  Our first passage consists of extracts from the Song of Deborah, Judges v., and the amended version is due, substantially, to the able pen of Dr. Edward Robinson, Translator of Gesenius, &c.  See “Biblical Repository.”  Two other versions of the p. 13same Song are given by Dr. Adam Clarke in his Commentary, from Dr. Hales and Dr. Kennicott respectively; but, with all their merit, they are less literally true to the original, and therefore less eligible for selection, than the one we have adopted:—

Judges v.

Old Version.

2.  Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.

New Version.

2.  For the leading of the leaders in Israel, for the voluntary offering of the people, praise ye the Lord . . .

7.  The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose . . .

7.  Leaders failed in Israel, they failed, until that I, Deborah, arose, that I arose a mother in Israel . . .

10.  Speak, ye that ride on white asses . . .

10.  Ye that ride on white asses, . . . prepare a song,

11.  They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.

11.  Responsive to the voice of those who divide the spoil by the watercourses.  There they shall rehearse the victories of the Lord, the victory of his princes in Israel; then shall the people of the Lord descend to the gates.

12.  Awake, [13] awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song. . . .

12.  Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song . . .

13.  Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty.

13.  Then I said, Descend, ye remnant of the nobles of the people!  O Lord, descend for me among the mighty!

14.  Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

14.  Out of Ephraim came those whose dwelling is by Amalek.  After thee (Ephraim) was Benjamin among thy hosts; out of Machir (Manasseh) came down princes, and from Zebulun those who grasp the staff of a leader.

15.  And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley.  For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.

15.  The princes of Issachar also came with Deborah; yea, Issachar was the staff of Barak.  He rushed into the valley at his feet.  For the divisions of Reuben I have great griefs of heart . . .

16.  Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?  For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.

16.  Wherefore didst thou sit still among the folds, to listen to the lowing of the herds?  For the divisions of Reuben I have great revolvings of heart.

17.  Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships?  Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.

17.  Gilead (Gad) abode beyond Jordan; and Dan, why tarried he in ships?  Asher sat at the shore of the sea, and abode at his creeks.

18.  Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

18.  For Zebulun, the people scorned their lives, and rushed upon death, and Naphtali, in the high places of the plain.

19.  The kings came and fought, . . . they took no gain of money.

19.  The kings came, they fought, . . . they took no spoil of silver.

22.  Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.

22.  Then did the horses’ hoofs smite the ground from the haste, the haste of their riders . . .

p. 14We here pause, before proceeding to our second extract, to notice one very damaging source of mistranslation as applicable to the Old Testament.  We allude to what may be called the use of the Prophetical or Theological scheme in dealing with the Prophecies.  For instance, in the 2nd verse of 53rd chap, of Isaiah, as below, the words “for he shall grow up” ought to be rendered “and” or “so” (resuming the argument of the previous chapter) “he grew up” in the PAST tense; and so on through the chapter.  The Prophets, it is well known, in the vividness of their prophetic vision, contemplated the future events that passed under their ken as actually past; [14] and as this is a prominent characteristic of p. 15their mode of delivering prophetic truth, it ought not to be lost sight of in a translation.  The explanation of the fact that what they spoke of as actually past was still future, belongs to what is called “exegesis,” and stands out as an Order of Rhetoric significant of, and sacred to, their prophetic function; but by no means should such an element enter into a translation, which, if it does not present a faithful reflex of the original, is simply a misnomer.  Not that there is any inviolable uniformity in the practice of the translators in the use of this scheme.  Far from it; as is evident from the translation that follows.  And this serves to render a subject, necessarily obscure from its very nature, immeasurably more so.  The truth is, we have here forced upon us the fact, that the translators were not fully acquainted with a principle of the language—now well understood—that lies at the basis of the whole structure. [15]  They saw its force—they could not help doing so—in the Narrative portions, but were not cognizant of it as a Fundamental principle of the language, applicable alike to all subjects, and not variable and flexible at the pleasure of the interpreter.

We are sorry we can adduce no particular name on which to cast the responsibility of the following amended version.  We have consulted very many of the most distinguished of those who have laboured to translate this, in some respects, p. 16very intricate passage, and what we have given must be considered mainly as an amalgam of the joint labours of them all.  We are far from thinking we have given the best version possible; and perhaps the text itself, where the difficulty is peculiarly pressing, may yet be found susceptible of improvement:—


Old Version.

New Version.

Ch. lii. 13.  Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

Ch. lii. 13.  Behold, my servant shall be prosperous; he shall be exalted and extolled, and be magnified exceedingly.

14.  As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

14.  As many were astonished at thee; (so marred was his visage more than any man, and his form than the sons of men.)

15.  So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

15.  So shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him (do him homage); for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard have they considered:

Ch. liii. 1.  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

Ch. liii. 1. (Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?)

2.  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

2.  And he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a land of drought: he hath no form nor comeliness that we should see him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

3.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

3.  Despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and concealing as it were his face from us; despised, and we esteemed him not.

4.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

4.  Surely it was our griefs that he bore; and our sorrows, he carried them: but we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5.  But he was wounded for our p. 17transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

5.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his infirmity we were healed.

6.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

6.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned each one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, [17a] yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought [17b] as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

7.  He was oppressed; but he, submitting himself, [17c] does not even open his mouth: as a lamb is brought to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

8.  From oppression and from judgment was he taken: but the wickedness of his generation who shall declare? for he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people, for the stroke due to them!

9.  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

9.  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the [impious] [17d] in his death; though he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

p. 1810.  Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

10.  But it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief, proclaiming, If his soul shall make an offering for sin, he shall see a seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11.  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

11.  He shall see of the travail of his soul; he shall be satisfied: by his knowledge of woe [18a] shall my righteous servant make many righteous, and himself shall bear their iniquities.

12.  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

12.  Therefore I will allot him the great for his portion, and he shall divide the mighty as spoil, because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with transgressors.  So he bore the sin of many, and intercedes [18b] for the transgressors.

Note.—The new translation is less soft and mellifluous than the old, but let it not be hastily condemned in the comparison on that account.  It is more exact, and that is the principal object now.  Probably it may yet fall into hands that shall combine all the beautiful flow of the old version, with no less, and even far greater exactness than we have been able to achieve.

p. 19Thus far for the Old Testament.  We adopt a somewhat different mode of selection in dealing with the New, but adhere to our plan of exhibiting the two versions in juxtaposition.  The amended passages that follow are taken, with a few exceptions, from Professor Scholefield’s “Hints for an Improved Translation of the New Testament.”  They are, it is presumed, sufficiently important to warrant the selection, but it must be premised that it is not by taking isolated passages for emendation that the WHOLE TRUTH insisted upon in these pages can be enforced.  There are numberless points of correction of which our version is susceptible that are not adapted for such isolated exhibition, and which it is the special business of the Greek particles to supply; but the exhibition of such points, involving the structure of sentences and the mutual relation of the clauses of which they are made up, would require a much larger canvass.  We indicate this source of correction only to avert the conclusion, that our argument rests solely on the basis supplied in the particular mode of illustration adopted.

Old Version.

New Version.

Mark iv. 13.

And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

And he says to them, Know ye not this parable? how then will ye know any [19] parables?

Luke xvi. 12.

And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s.

. . . in that which is another’s (i.e. God’s).

John xviii. 15.

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple.

And Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was the other disciple (probably Judas).

John i. 9.

Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Which coming into the world lighteth every man.

p. 20Acts xix. 2.

Whether there be any Holy Ghost.

Whether the Holy Ghost be given.

Rom. vi. 17.

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.

But God be thanked that whereas ye were the servants of sin.

Rom. xiv. 23.

Is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith.

Is condemned if he eat, because it is not of faith.

2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.

. . . be hid (with a veil), it is hid to the abandoned:

As to whom the god of this world habitually blinds their minds, being unbelieving.

1 Pet. iii. 6.

Whose daughters ye are as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

. . . as long as ye do well, and yield to no fear, (as Sarah on one memorable occasion did).

2 Pet. i. 19, 20, 21.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light, &c.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation;

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Moreover, we have the word of prophecy made more sure, (the voice from heaven while in the holy mount confirmed it).

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of the nature of a private revelation;

For prophecy was not prompted in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as prompted by the Holy Ghost.

2 Pet. iii. 5, 6.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water;

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God, the heavens and the earth were of old involved in a confluence of waters;

Whereby the world that then was, being deluged with water, perished.

p. 211 Cor. v. 9.

I wrote unto you in an epistle.

I have written to you in my epistle (the present).

1 Cor. vii. 11.

But and if she depart.

But if also she be separated.

1 Cor. x. 17.

For we being many, are one bread and one body.

For there is one bread, and we, who are many, are one body.

1 Cor. xv. 41.

For one star differeth from another star in glory.

Nay (or, this is not all, for) one star differeth from another star, &c.

2 Cor. iii. 18.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord

And we all with unveiled face reflecting as in a glass . . . (Moses put a veil on his face, not so the disciples of Christ).

2 Cor. v. 1.

If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.

If the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved.

2 Cor. xii. 2, 4.

I knew a man in Christ.

It is not lawful to utter.

I know a man in Christ.

It is not possible.

Gal. iii. 22.

That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

That the promise may be given to believers by Jesus Christ.

Eph. v. 13.

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light.

But all things are reproved, and made manifest by the light.

Phil. i. 7.

Partakers of my grace.

Partakers with me of grace.

Phil. i. 10.

That ye may approve things that are excellent.

That ye may try things that differ.

p. 22Phil. iv. 8.

If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise.

Whatever virtue, and whatever praise there be.

Col. i. 19.

For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.

For all the fulness of the God-head was pleased to dwell in him.

Col. ii. 23.

Not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Not with any regard to the satisfying of the flesh.

2 Thess. ii. 6, 7.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

And now ye know what withholdeth him, that he may be revealed in his own time.  For the mystery of iniquity is already working; only there is one that now withholdeth it, until he be taken out of the way.

Heb. iv. 2.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not word profit them.

For we have the glad tidings thereof even as they; but the word of its report (i.e., which they heard) did not profit them.

Heb. ix. 12.

He entered in once into the holy place.

He entered once for all into the holy place.

Heb. ix. 15, 16, 17.

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

For a testament is of force after p. 23men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

And for this end he is the mediator of the new covenant, that, his death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, they that are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be brought in the death of the mediating sacrifice.

For a covenant is valid over dead sacrifices: since it is never of any force while the mediating sacrifice continues alive.

Heb. xii. 18.

To the mount that might be touched.

To the mount that could be touched.

Heb. xiii. 4.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.

Let marriage be honourable in all, and the bed be undefiled.

1 Pet. iii. 20.

Were saved by water.

Were saved through the water (brought safely through).

1 Pet. iv. 8.

Shall cover the multitude of sins.

Will cover a multitude of sins.

2 Pet. i. 16.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you . . .

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you . . .

2 Pet. ii. 1, 3.

And bring upon themselves swift destruction . . . and their damnation slumbereth not.

. . . and their destruction slumbereth not (destruction, precisely the same word as before).

2 Pet. ii. 5.

Noah the eighth person.

Noah, with seven others.

2 Pet. ii. 14.

Cursed children.

Children of the curse.

Rev. iv. 6.

Four beasts.

Four living creatures.

Rev. x. 6.

That there should be time no longer.

That there should be no more delay.

Thus far, by way of specimen of the improvement of which the authorized version is susceptible on the score of fidelity to the original.  The instances might have been multiplied indefinitely, but we designed only a specimen.  p. 24We would repeat that there is a large amount of improvement practicable in elucidating and enforcing the sense, when it is not positively misrepresented, that is less fitted for such display, and which alone it would require the transcription of a large portion of the Bible to render apparent.

“Claudite jam rivos pueri; sat prata biberunt.”

We have indeed said enough to justify our plea, and here we might close the evidence, but we are tempted further to observe that the sense of Scripture is not only obscured in the authorized version by errors of translation, but there is almost an equal amount of mischief done to the sense by the present mode of distributing the subject-matter into chapter and verse; for which, as is well known, there is no valid authority, [24a] either as regards the Old or the New Testament.  This fault it is the special object of the new Paragraph Bible lately published by the Religious Tract Society, to remedy.  We confine ourselves to two illustrations.

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah begins with a parenthesis, (‘Who hath believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’) [24b]  This, in our view, is a p. 25soliloquy into which the prophet breaks forth in relief of his feelings, while contemplating the overpowering events that pass in review before him, coupled with the rejection of the message by the great body of his countrymen. [25a]  These events had already begun their career at the 13th verse of the foregoing chapter, and they go steadily on through the remainder of that, and the whole of the following chapter, broken only by the ejaculation of the prophet, thus violently wrenched from its place, as the matter now stands.

The other instance we adduce of the obscuration of the sense occasioned by the present faulty distribution of the letter-press, occurs Joshua v. and vi.  It is an example of an analogous kind to that already given.  It makes a parenthesis used simply in explanation of a series of instructions from the Lord to Joshua to vacate its place in the narrative, and actually stand at the commencement of a new chapter, in which the same series of instructions is still continued.  See the “Edinburgh Review” for October last. [25b]  We shall place the old and new arrangement in juxta-position, when the violence done to the sense, as the matter now stands, will be apparent at once.

Old Arrangement.

New Arrangement.

Joshua v. 15.

And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place where thou standest is holy.  And Joshua did so.

And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place where thou standest is holy.”  And Joshua did so.

Ch. vi.  Now Jericho was straitly shut up, because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

p. 262.  And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, &c.

(Now Jericho was straitly shut up, because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in).  And the Lord said unto Joshua, “See, I have given into thy hand Jericho,” &c.

The reader will observe in the above paragraph that, in addition to a better distribution of the letter-press, we have given the spoken language in italics, with inverted commas,—a character of type we recommend to be carried out continuously in the revised version, as it, actually is with excellent effect, in the new Paragraph Bible.  These may be thought small matters, but we have been led to mention them as thinking the adoption of them will give facility, not merely to the private, but also to the vivâ voce reading of Scripture,—a point surely not undeserving of attention.

Connected with these desiderata are others of a minor character, as—an improved punctuation—the substitution of vernacular for obsolete words—the use of euphemisms where the allusion is obvious, and no violence is done to the sense—appropriate concise headings to the different sections in the margin—chronological arrangement of the several books—chronological data, &c. &c.

We are proceeding beyond the strict limits we assigned to ourselves in the course of these last remarks, and scarcely venture further in recommending attention—though especially worthy of it, in the case of a Book we wish to make universally attractive,—to what may be called the æsthetics of book-making.  We all know the advantage of a readable type, open space between the lines, paragraphs and smaller divisions clearly indicated, large margin, &c.; and though, in comparison with our main object, these are small matters, they yet constitute distinct items in the Roll of convenience, and therefore merit attention—especially in subserviency to the object of giving to the Bible the adjuncts appropriate to a HOUSEHOLD BOOK.

Such is an outline of what we hope to see done.  We might have multiplied instances of mistranslation to an unlimited p. 27extent, and many other improvements conducing to a clearer exposition of the sense of Scripture might have been suggested: but we stop here.  Enough has been said to substantiate our argument, and we desist from the present line of thought to indulge the flattering belief that we have at length gained our object; that, in fact, we have a Bible such as we have invoked—with a purer text,—a correcter version,—and other appliances better adapted to fit it for the high ends for which it was given, than the present.  What, now, it may be asked, are the peculiar advantages we promise ourselves from the ACQUISITION?  Some advantages seem to flow very naturally and directly from the measure; and one that we may very confidently anticipate is, a keener perception and appreciation of Scripture in its fundamental qualities of truthfulness, power, and majesty, as the volume is spread out before us with increased effulgence, and life-likeness to the original.  The whole orb of truth will shine out with a brightness of which it is now in part shorn through defect in the instrument by means of which it is viewed.  Moreover, the evidences for the Divine authority of the sacred books would be yet clearer, as blemishes were eliminated, obscurities cleared up, weak parts strengthened.  The evidences of Christianity, in their brightest array, and most decisive effect, lie in the sacred oracles themselves.  They vouch for their own authority.  How potent a power this is may be judged of from the fact that they are accredited by those to whom they not only show no favour, but the most decided and uncompromising hostility!  Many circumstances wrongfully accredited to them mar and weaken the evidence; but these, however perplexing in some cases, and damaging—as the text now stands—in others, cannot overlay their credibility.  There are, moreover, doctrines embedded in their pages that appeal solely to faith, and that receive our assent mainly as part and parcel of a Book that we deem divine.  It is the word of God, and we turn away at our peril from the voice that speaks to us from p. 28HEAVEN.  Certain passages there are, as we think, so impressed with the character of Divinity, so reassuring of a divine utterance, and so marvellously radiant with truth, that, under the full force of the impression, the whole soul resigns itself to the spell, and faith is scarcely so much a voluntary emotion as a necessity.  We believe because we have no alternative. [28]  Such is the power of the sacred oracles in themselves to command belief.  Nevertheless, the evidence generally of their divine authority would be yet more conclusive, as the result of a version more true to the sacred text.  The Divine voice would be still more audible.  The arguments p. 29that have hitherto commanded our assent would acquire fresh force, while obstacles and imperfections would dwindle into insignificance, or altogether disappear.  The force of our plea could scarcely present itself more strongly.  The Scriptures themselves constitute the great battle-field of the argument affecting a Divine Revelation.  The question is decided in the minds of thousands, on considerations drawn from the Scriptures themselves,—in virtue, that is, of their own credentials, and not on the elaborate speculations or ingenious apologies of (assumed) interested advocates.  A more direct and forcible evidence is required for men in no ecclesiastical position to forestall opinion, and with little time or ability to enter into abstruse and recondite arguments.  The ordinary books of evidences, however effective concurrently with the evidence furnished by Scripture itself (and in this way they are—many of them—doubtless exceedingly useful), are not alone, and, in the absence of such corroboration, calculated to produce the evidence that is desired to rebut the counter arguments to which human nature in its infirmity is assailed.  It requires the re-assuring voice of God himself to give the requisite confidence and satisfaction.  Hence we have sufficiently indicated the field to which our labours may be most successfully directed while endeavouring to establish and diffuse, in their most telling and cogent form, the evidences of the Christian faith.

Moreover, a competent knowledge of Biblical erudition would, under the new conditions of the Holy Books, be no longer so costly or onerous as at present.  Truly, this is a great desideratum.  The mass of reading now required to peruse Scripture with due edification and interest is altogether beyond the leisure of the busy, or the means of the less affluent: and to be doomed to hopeless ignorance of so much enlightenment as is symbolized in the goodly tomes that meet the eye on every side, devoted to the elucidation of Holy Writ, is by no means satisfactory.  With this p. 30partial distribution of spiritual advantages, the Christian Church seems drifting away from its fundamental basis of universality, and,—in the very spirit and wake of heathenism,—abetting and consecrating the principle of an esoteric and exoteric school—a pet and a common class of disciples—the one furnished with all the erudition—the prime secrets and witcheries of knowledge—the other abandoned to the merest generalities, a sorry heap of prejudices, or at best a dubious and insufficient light.  But however this be, certain it is there is now available a vast amount of Biblical lore of no mean value, and which no good Christian would willingly forego, that is all but sealed to the bulk of the Christian world. [30]  The publication of Scripture on the principles we advocate would go far to remedy the evil.  The beautiful emendations of the Sacred text that are now scattered over a wide waste of territory, and all but lost, would be garnered up, and made available for common use.  The occasional criticisms of Archbishop Whately, for instance, and the p. 31specific emendations of the late Professor Scholefield, would become alike the property of the esoterics and the exoterics: they would be treasured up and embalmed in our own Bibles.  In a word, we should succeed to a large inheritance of the labours of others.  There would be still much left, of course, to reward industry and sagacity, and succeeding times might fairly expect to have the benefit of all future discoveries in this important field.  The immediate benefit would be to relieve the unlettered from dependence on the Commentary to the extent they now are.  They who run might read. [31]

We may further be entitled to expect some abatement of our present unchristian differences, which are fostered to some extent, as we think, by the difficulties inherent in the Book rather as a translation than as an original.  To some extent it gives a less certain sound, as it is obliged to avail itself of human organs.  By repairing the instrument, we may find a great impediment to our common understanding and accord removed, while the union thus formed will be all the more valuable as it will be real, not simulated—uniform, not patched up for the occasion to defeat a common enemy.  It will grow out of the only bond of union—sympathy, namely, of belief—that promises to be permanent and available in the hour of trial.  Divers forms of worship, and many varying shades of opinion, may co-exist with this unity.  Charity thinketh no evil, is not easily provoked.  If this happy purpose p. 32could be secured by imparting a clearer light to the firmament of Christian truth, as the result of the measure we advocate, it would not be easy to overrate the boon in the removal of the scandal that belongs to the present divided state of Christendom, and in the service it would render to the church in carrying out her many offices of healing and comfort to the world.

Still further: Popular Education, to the extent to which it is identified with the Bible, would be subserved by an improved translation.  In many parts of the kingdom the Bible, as is well known, is the only organ of education available—the only apparatus by which any ray of intellectual light finds entrance into men’s minds.  This may be accounted for from the fact that, in addition to knowledge, Scripture brings with it the soul’s health; otherwise, in the rude state in which it finds a large portion of the population, it would have small chance of fulfilling this incidental office of educating the masses.  In this light Scripture, where, as in Protestant countries, it is freely diffused, must be regarded as a most precious boon to a nation—as a guarantee, in fact, that the people shall be in some sort educated, and invested with the attributes of rational and responsible beings.  Nor is the benefit of Scripture, as a help to education, confined to the poor: in early youth it smooths the entrance on the path of knowledge, not less effectually to the rich than to the indigent.  There is, moreover, to be considered the part that Scripture plays in the education of the land, in the actual occupancy it enjoys in almost every family as a HOUSEHOLD BOOK, available as the Urim and Thummim of the ancient economy, and actually doing that service which the “lares and lemures” of heathen households were vainly invoked to perform.  It is in vain to exclaim against this state of things, from whatever motive, sceptical or superstitious: the fact is as we have stated it, and, with the absence of such means of education, the country, to a large extent, must necessarily be uneducated.

p. 33Thus obviously is the Bible the recognized organ of popular education in this country, and in this view it is most important that its efficiency should be complete.  But this inference derives its chief force from considerations affecting the character of the education it supplies.  In this aspect of it there is nothing that should make us regret the actual occupancy it enjoys in this regard.  On the contrary, it is admirably adapted by its own peculiar power over men’s souls to create—not a learned, but an intelligent people; and if intelligent, then free, independent, powerful,—a match for tyranny in every shape, and at every turn.  Nor are the ruling powers themselves less benefited in thus being able to lay deep the foundation of their authority in the fixedness of principle, just appreciation of good as distinct from its counterfeit, and sober and well-advised aims of the people so trained and nurtured.

Closely connected with education, or such an education as we have now been considering, is public morality, and with it the strength and prosperity of a Nation.  The condition of England in her various phases—civil, military, political, and religious—has naturally arrested the attention of intelligent foreigners, as presenting a marked superiority in these respects, or in some of them, to their own country.  They have inquired the cause of this distinction with little success, and are as much at fault in being able to trace no symptoms of decay or flagging vitality in the system, cruelly tried as it not unfrequently is, prognosticating its ruin.  Perhaps there is a solution of the enigma here.  Perhaps the use of Scripture as the prime material of our early education has generated a better morality among us, and precluded the admission of certain forms of evil, little consonant to national greatness or national welfare, from which we see other countries, differently schooled, are not exempt.  On this head, while avoiding undue pretension, we would not choose to say less than truth permits.  With all the deductions to be allowed in disparagement of our claim to a high p. 34place in the scale of morals absolutely, we have yet, as compared with other countries,—a conscience, a sense namely of right and wrong, pervading the bulk of the people, and leavening the land with a wholesome morality,—we are not habituated to treat suicide as a virtue, [34]—our functionaries, as a body, are not venal,—we are not dangerous to the State when we meet in numbers beyond two or three,—and we are not incapable of self-government.  M. de Montalembert, in his late work on the Future of England, while generously doing homage to the greatness of this country, the destinies of which he undertakes to decide, has not adverted to this high moral and religious training as supplying any explanation of the phenomenon: perhaps deeming his own country to be not less amply supplied with the means of religious culture.  On this point we are at issue with him, if such is his opinion.  In France, as in Catholic countries generally,—and it must be confessed in some Protestant countries too,—it is not so decidedly a religious or moral, as p. 35an ecclesiastical and conventual training, that is accorded; one, that is, which, while it overlays the memory with dogmas, and deals in technical and artificial requirements, leaves the conscience all but uninformed, and morality, as a pervading, practical, germinating principle, almost a non-entity. [35]

Paullo majora canamus.  The time is come when countries, as such, need to be educated no less really than smaller bodies and isolated individuals.  Countries are brought now almost into as close contact with one another as individual members of the same commonwealth; and the identical principle that inculcates the education of individuals—that, namely, of mutual self-defence and reciprocal advantage—applies to the aggregation of individuals in a nation.  The times of ignorance picture to us man as a savage, a terror to his neighbours, and everywhere an object of rightful destruction.  Education became a necessity, if he would be safe from violence, or reap advantage from the society of his fellow.  The picture presented by the history of nations in relation to one another is substantially the same.  There has been little improvement in this respect yet visible.  Nor has the necessity for it seemed urgent, while the nations were separated by the natural obstacles of their position, and their means of mutual annoyance in a corresponding degree circumscribed.  Science has now removed these obstacles, and the nations are brought into immediate contiguity and contact, while their means of mutual annoyance have been enormously and frightfully multiplied.  Startling it is to think of the growing power of nations for evil, and inflicting evil upon one another, in the present temper p. 36and morale of the nations.  Surely we may say the time has come for providing a remedy appropriate to so fearful a crisis.  There is none that occurs to us so sure as a system of instruction that recognizes as its basis a sanctity in the relations of state with state, and lodges deep in the consciences of the several people those great principles of justice, truth, and benevolence, in which God has indissolubly bound up all human happiness, whether of nations or of individuals.  Unhappily there is so much to unlearn on the subject of the relative duties of nations to one another before this good work can be proceeded in.  The sacred records have not been supposed to furnish any lessons on this branch of human duty, and none have been sought for.  But—

“In them is plainest taught and easiest learn’d
What makes a Nation happy, and keeps it so.”

Paradise Regained.

Embued with the conviction that we have the means adequate to the high ends here proposed in these very records—well understood and properly carried out—we have ventured upon these high themes in disregard of the imputation to which we may be subjected, with some plausibility, of overstating our cause.  We say with some plausibility, only as merging our feelings for the moment in the superficial view ordinarily taken of the real character of the religious element—a view altogether ignored by the history of our race, and the peculiar phenomena of the times.  We may add, it is unmistakably at variance with the consciousness of almost every individual in Christendom, to whom it is no secret that religious questions—unless the interest has been neutralized by long neglect, or quashed by desperate violence—exert a strange and engrossing power over his soul.  In whatever way we look at it, it is a power, and in this view may even be perverted to evil.

“Suppose ye,” says Christ, “that I am come to send p. 37peace upon earth?  I tell you, Nay, but rather division.” [37a]  In deep sympathy with these words, and in corroboration of the prophetic spirit by which they are marked, are the following observations of Stanley, when summing up his reminiscences of the Lake of Galilee—the toiling all night and catching nothing—the great multitude of fishes, so that the net broke—the casting a hook for the first fish that came up—the net cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind: “all these,” says he, “are images which could occur nowhere else in Palestine but in this one spot, and which, from that one spot, have now passed into the religious language of the civilized world, and in their remotest applications, or even misapplications, have converted the nations, and shaken the thrones of Europe.” [37b]

Thus demonstrative it is that Religion is no weak, idle, evanescent figment of man’s imagination, but a real, substantial, controlling power, shaping his thoughts, it may be unconsciously, and blending itself with the solid structure of society and nations.  Greece and Rome, it has been well said, have attracted here and there a visitor, but only the Holy Land has provoked a crusade.  Nor is the evidence of its power to be fetched wholly from the records of the past; we think we see in it in our own days a germinating principle more potent than anything else now in operation to work great changes, and rival, at least, if it does not throw into the shade, all that history has yet unfolded.  That this power may be based in knowledge, and directed to a righteous end, unlike the character oftentimes it bears on the page of the past, it may deserve some consideration as a means to this end, whether we may not yet read our lesson to greater advantage, and educe from the sacred page a fuller amount of good than in its present state it is calculated to afford.  And we have the more confidence in urging our present suit, because we are persuaded that the boon we invoke will not long be unattended with other forms of p. 38active beneficence conducing to the same high ends.  The church will almost simultaneously rouse herself to new exertion.  A yet more effective order of Religious Teaching than we can yet boast of—from the pulpit and the press, will probably be elicited.  And thus we shall evoke, not an isolated power waging dubious war against fearful odds, but a CONFEDERATE force, equal, we will hope, to the crisis;—a crisis such as, no one is so obtuse as not to see, demands something vastly in advance of the elements at present available for neutralizing the fearful evils now festering at our core, or looming in the no distant horizon.

Such is our argument.  The sum is, that the Sacred Books are replete with good, and that a just appreciation of what is due to our own interests, no less than gratitude for the gift itself, demands from us the consecration of whatever further power Providence has, in these latter days, conferred upon us to that end, to render that good in its utmost extent salutary and efficacious.

And the time for action presses.  Already various undertakings are on foot to supply the desired object: and there may be reason to fear, in the failure of help from higher quarters, that some Society—the Religious Tract Society, for example, as suggested by the “Edinburgh Review,” thus following up its recent excellent publication of the New Paragraph Bible—or some self-constituted body, as is this moment sitting in America for this very purpose—or individual scholars—may appropriate the ground we should rather reserve as the Special Sphere for the operations of the highest Authority in the realm.

It only remains that we give utterance to our most fervent hope that this great work may signalize the reign of our beloved Queen.  It will not be the least sparkling of the diamonds that will lend lustre to her crown.  All concurrent circumstances point to this as the fitting time, and to her Majesty as the appropriate individual to inaugurate the solemnity.  Religious scruples have given way to a more p. 39enlightened and creditable feeling, and a higher standard of religious truth than that afforded by the present version is plainly a desideratum.  The reflections cast upon the Protestant faith in the recent trials for Bible-burning in Ireland, authorized in measure by the concessions of Protestants themselves to the faultiness of the authorized version, wait to be removed.  Let her Majesty, following in this respect the example of James I., appoint to this work a body of men the most qualified for the task the realm affords, and we cannot doubt the result will be a version of Holy Scripture incomparably better than the present; thus supplying a fresh cause of exultation in her Majesty’s rule, and a surpassing debt of gratitude to the hand that conferred the boon.


Extract from a Speech of M. Guizot at a late Meeting of the Protestant Biblical Society in ParisSee Times, April 19, 1856.

“Whether we consider the history of nations, or the private life of individuals, the moral efficacy and salutary power of the holy books glowingly manifest themselves.  Undoubtedly, even among nations where it is assiduous and general, the reading of the holy books has not the effect of stifling the bad passions of men; it does not obviate all errors and faults.  Man remains full of weakness and vice, even when conscious of the presence of God.  But the habitual reading of the holy books preserves nations from the greatest perils; it prevents them from forgetting God.  It has this advantage—that God remains for them, not an idea, a name, a system of philosophy, a riddle, but the true and living God, under whose eye they constantly live, amid the struggles and casualties of this world.”


Reed and Pardon, Printers, Paternoster Row, London.


[3]  A solitary voice, in the strict sense of the word, was raised by the Rev. Canon Selwyn at the last meeting of Convocation (March, 1856).  The motion was not suited to the mollia tempora fandi, perhaps.  But, whatever the cause, there can be no doubt of the fitness of the hands into which the motion fell, or that the day is far from being distant when the question will force itself on the notice of Convocation, in all probability, in another shape.

[4]  “Essays, Moral and Literary,” by Dr. Vicesimus Knox.  No. XLIX.

[8a]  See Psalm xxii. throughout.  The difficulties attending the entire application of the psalm to Christ are by no means insuperable.  Scott unreservedly refers the whole to Christ.  Adam Clarke dissents.  Psalm lxix. is for the most part a manifest adumbration of the Messiah; and if the difficulties in the way of the entire application of the Psalm to Christ, presented in verse 5, where he is made apparently to lament his foolishness and his guilt, could be surmounted, a great boon, it is conceived, would be granted to all who desire to understand what they read.  The representative scheme, besides being open to other objections, has no explicit authority in the Scriptures to recommend it, and the double sense is now all but universally abandoned.  Possibly, if the text will not yield in these cases, there are principles of interpretation involved that await future development.

[8b]  Gen. xlix. 21.  For, “Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words,” read, “Naphtali is a spreading Pine, that putteth forth goodly boughs.”  Psa. xxix. 9.  For, “The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests,” read, “The voice of the Lord rendeth the pines, and layeth bare the forests.”  So Dr. Lee.  To surrender the Bible, body and soul, into the hands of the Massorites, as is required by their pointing of these passages, is surely asking too much.  Let the reader peruse the whole of the 29th Psalm, and determine the fitness of the correction for himself, which he may very safely be allowed to do.  The former passage, if consistently carried out on the principles of the translators, would run, “Naphtali is a hind let loose, that giveth goodly words,” in which the incongruousness of the metaphor would, if possible, be still more manifest.  See Stanley’s “Syria and Palestine,” p. 355.

[10a]  See Preface to Herwitz’ “Etymology and Syntax of the Hebrew Language.”

[10b]  See Kitto’s Bib. Cyc., art. Chronicles.  The whole article is very reassuring, considering the able and accomplished pen from which it proceeds.  The writer, Dr. Davidson, to whom the lovers of Biblical philology are under the greatest obligations, deliberately asserts the corruption of the passages in question, and advocates a reading in conformity with the corresponding statements in 2 Samuel and Kings.

[11a]  Compare, among other instances in point that might be given, 1 Kings ix. 28 with 2 Chron. viii. 18.

[11b]  If no purification of the text should avail us in these cases, it would be advisable to accompany the change in the text with a note in the margin explanatory of the corruptness of the reading that has been superseded.

[13]  The change of accent the word undergoes in the original when repeated in the second hemistich, gives marvellous emphasis to the exhortation—an emphasis altogether lost in the translation.

[14]  The application of this principle may go some way towards neutralizing the doubts that have been raised as to the identity of the Isaiah of the later portion of the prophecy with the Isaiah of the earlier portion.  See chap. lxiv. 10, 11.  One thing at least is evident, namely, that the Apostle Paul, who was confessedly well read in Hebrew literature, in his quotations from the latter portion of the prophecy, seems to have had no notion of any other Isaiah than that to whom the whole prophecy is ordinarily ascribed.  See Rom. x. 16.  In fact, these doubts, now complacently acquiesced in as valid by the Rationalistic School abroad and at home, were equally unknown to all the world till about half a century ago.  The general reader may content himself with Dr. Alexander’s candid and able investigation of the question in his recent Commentary on Isaiah.

[15]  The uses of the particle ו in combination with the verb.  Let the Hebrew student consult the masterly investigation and elucidation of this subject in the Hebrew Grammar recently published by Messrs. Mason and Bernard, Vol. II. chapters 51–55.

[17a]  This rendering is faulty as not providing for the emphatic personal pronoun “he” in the original.

[17b]  Niphal in the sense of the Hithpael conjugation.  See Gen. xvi. 9.

[17c]  The original will not admit of this rendering, though the sense is not objectionable.

[17d]  There is great difficulty here.  The word rendered impious, and inserted in brackets, signifies rich, mostly with an accessory notion of violence and wrong; but the parallel clause, “He made his grave with the wicked,” and the further expression, “He was numbered with the transgressors,” in the last verse, seem to justify the sense here given; and so it has been understood by some rabbins and other commentators, as Luther, Calvin, Gesenius.  See Matt. xix. 23.  We confess we are not satisfied.  The common reading that represents Christ as rewarded with a grave among the rich, because, forsooth, he had done no violence, &c., is surely inadmissible.

[18a]  So, ‘A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ v. 3.

[18b]  Intercedes in the present, because his intercession is a continuous act.  This distinction of tense as contradistinguished from the past tense in the use of the preceding verb he bore, expressing a transaction once and finally concluded, so conspicuous in the original, is entirely overlooked in the authorized version; so Calvin, Vitringa, Lowth, Henderson, Jones, Barnes, &c.  This concurrence in the interpretation of the authorized version is especially to be wondered at in the more recent of the above-named critics.  Messrs. Mason and Bernard give, less happily we think, that he might make, &c.  Dr. Alexander, New Jersey, favours the view adopted in the amended version.  See his admirable Commentary on Isaiah.

[19]  A Hebraism lurks here.  So, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not ANY of his benefits;” and not “all his benefits,” as our translation has it.  So again, “And God gave Cain a mark, lest ANY finding him should kill him,” where the same word is rightly rendered.  Ps. ciii. 2; Gen. iv. 15.

[24a]  Various divisions, both of the Old and New Testaments, were in use from the earliest period, but the present divisions into Chapters and Verses are ascribed, the former, with some hesitation, to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, about the middle of the thirteenth century; the latter to Robert Stephens, a Frenchmen, about the middle of the sixteenth century.  See art. Scripture in Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopædia.

[24b]  In an elaborate translation of the whole of this prophecy, in the Hebrew Grammar recently published by Messrs. Mason and Bernard, the authors conceive the opening passage, “Who hath believed our report,” &c., to express the awe and wonder of the kings mentioned in the previous chapter at the events they are supposed to witness, and accordingly they render it, “Who hath believed our hearing” &c., the tidings, that is, that have reached us, the kings aforesaid.  But, with all due respect for the translation generally, we are unable to accept this view of the passage before us, conceiving it to be far-fetched, and opposed to the purpose for which, in so many words, it is quoted in the New Testament.  See John xii. 37; Rom. x. 16.

[25a]  In like manner Jacob, in the course of predicting the future fortunes of his sons, exclaims parenthetically, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.”  Gen. xlix. 18.

[25b]  This article has since been republished in a separate form, under the title of the “Present State of the English Bible,” by the Rev. William Harness, A.M.  It will well repay repeated perusal by all those who are interested in this pre-eminently interesting question.

[28]  Let the reader advert for a moment, in connexion with the argument for the evidences of Christianity, to the ASSUMPTIONS ordinarily and persistently made by Christ in relation to his person and mission, and then conceive of the frightful arrogance involved in these assumptions, supposing them to be unfounded; coupling this thought at the same time with that perfect sobriety of mind and even tenor of a uniformly staid and well-balanced deportment by which he was pre-eminently characterized.  We do not find these assumptions in the slightest degree startling or incredible, because they comport in our minds with the WHOLE character of Christ as developed in the gospel.  Where the evidence of Messiahship failed among his own countrymen, if there were any failure of evidence, we may advert for the solution, among other considerations, to their blind disregard to the perfect compatibility and harmony of these assumptions with the other features of Messiah as exhibited by Christ.  Here are a few of the expressions alluded to, all taken from the earlier chapters of St. John’s Gospel:—

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”  “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”  “The bread of God is he which came down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”  “And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  “I and my Father are one.”  “Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”—How Christ should have preferred SUCH claims without legitimate authority, and ample power to substantiate them, is a question to which we cannot divine an answer.

[30]  Some striking illustrations of this position are to be found in the Appendix to Mr. Stanley’s recent volume on Sinai and Palestine.  This Appendix consists of a vocabulary of topographical words in Hebrew and English.  Great care has been taken in giving the precise English for the corresponding Hebrew term.  Referring to the previous part of his work, he says, “I have often had occasion to refer to the richness and precision of the local vocabulary of the Hebrew language.  In the authorized version this is unfortunately lost; not so much by the incorrect rendering of any particular word, as by the promiscuous use of the same English word for different Hebrew words, or of different English words for the same Hebrew word.”  And again: “The geographical passages of the Bible seem to shine with new light as these words acquire their proper force.  How keenly, for example, are we led to notice the early tendency to personify and treat as living creatures the great objects of nature, when we find that the ‘springs’ are the ‘eyes,’ the bright, glistening, life-giving eyes of the thirsty East; that the mountains have not merely summits and sides, but ‘heads,’ ‘shoulders,’ ‘ears,’ ‘ribs,’ ‘loins,’ &c.”  This whole Appendix is deeply interesting to the Hebrew student.  He must feel at the same time how much the mere English student of Scripture suffers in the absence of the same knowledge.

[31]  “They who have access to the Scriptures in the original are . . . endowed with ten talents, compared with which the power of reading them in our authorized version is but one.  The right improvement of the one talent will ensure to its possessor the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul; but this does not render guiltless those who have greater talents if, from supineness and indolence, they neglect to use the enlarged means with which they are gifted for attaining to the knowledge of the truth.”—“Introduction to the Greek Testament, with Grammatical and Exegetical Notes, by William Webster, M.A., and William Francis Wilkinson, M.A.,” p. xvi.  The above work has special claims upon that numerous class who, with little time for elaborate research, are glad to obtain the results of a thorough critical investigation of the language and teaching of the New Testament.

[34]  The following is from Lewes’s “Life of Goethe,” just published.  The words in double inverted commas are those of Goethe himself: ‘“I had a large collection of weapons, and among them a very handsome dagger.  This I placed by my bedside every night, and before extinguishing my candle I made various attempts to pierce the sharp point a couple of inches into my breast; but not being able to do it I laughed myself out of the notion,” &c.  He played with suicidal thoughts, because he was restless, and suicide was a fashionable speculation of the day,’ &c. . . . In October, 1772 the report reaches him that his Wetzlau friend, Goué, has shot himself.  “Write to me at once about Goué,” he says to Kestner, “I honour such an act, and pity mankind,” &c.—Vol. I. p. 197.  There is more to this abominable purpose in the sequel.  Such was Goethe, a man sprung from the people, not the offspring of an effete noblesse, and at a time of life when the very thought of self-destruction is most alien to all the instincts of nature,—‘a canker in youth,’—and with no taint of constitutional melancholy in his system.  Goethe’s genius was a sea of glass, capable of reflecting the rays cast upon it from without with unusual brilliancy; but, unlike our Shakspeare, devoid of independent power of originating new thought.  Thus he reflected all his days the prevailing fashion of his time, and thus he but re-enacts the sentimentalism of the hour in his suicidal lucubrations.

[35]  The policy of Pericles may be considered in relation to the causes that aggrandize a people.  His notion seems to have been that to awaken great deeds in a nation you must supply it with great and noble thoughts.  Hence his magnificent public buildings, his lavish cultivation of the arts, and even the attention he paid to the amusements of the people, to make them subservient to refinement and purity of taste.  But æsthetics alone do not make a great people.—See Thuc. II., 38, 39.

[37a]  Luke xii. 51.

[37b]  Sinai and Palestine, p. 369.