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well acquainted with that dialect of the Greek language in which they wrote, the Alexandrine, which was that of the Version of the Seventy Interpreters, the most generally circulated among the Hellenists, or Grecizing Jews, as distinguished from the Hebrews, who used the vernacular Syro-chaldaic dialect, Acts vi. 1. And their style, though frequently blended with Hebraisms, as was natural, bears a remarkable affinity to that of the Seven Sages, in the earliest ages of Grecian literature, which is much simpler, and less ornamented, than the polished periods of Xenophon and Plato, Æschines, and Demosthenes ; as may appear from a few specimens.

Ερωτηθεις τι ὁ Ζευς ειη ποιων; τα μεν ύψηλα ταπεινοι, τα δε ταπεινα ύψοι, εφη.

“ Chilo having been asked, what JovE was doing? answered, He is humbling the proud, and exalting the humble."

Ερωτηθείς ει λαθοι Θεον ανθρωπος αδίκων; αλλ' ουδε διανοουμενος, εφη.

"Thales having been asked, whether a man, while doing wrong, could escape the notice of GOD? No, said he, not even in thought."

Ερωτηθεις τι το θειον ; το μητε αρχην εχον, μητε τελευτην, εφη. "The same having been asked, What is THE DEITY? answered, What hath neither beginning nor end."

Ερωτηθεις τι δυσκολον; εφη, το ἑαυτον γνωναι· τι δε ευκολον ; το αλλῳ ὑποτιθεσθαι.

“ The same having been asked, What is difficult? answered, To know one's-self: What is easy?-To advise another."

Ερωτηθεις τις ευδαιμων; ὁ το μεν σωμα ὑγιης, εφη, την δε ψυχην ευπαιδευτος.

“ The same having been asked, Who is happy? answered, He that has a sound body, and a well educated mind."

Ερωτηθεις τι αν ποιη τον βιον αφοβον, ειπεν, ορθη συνειδησις. "Bias having been asked, What would make life fearless? said, an upright conscience.”

θεωρει ώσπερ εν κατοπτρῳ τας σαυτου πραξεις, ἵνα τας καλας επικοσμης, τας δε αισχρας καλυπτῃς.


"Contemplate," said he, "as in a mirror, your own actions; that you may adorn the good, and hide the bad,” &c.

These admirable sayings, in a primer size, contain a fund of curious, useful, and pleasant information, respecting the religion, morality, and politics, of the earlier and purer age of Greece,

about B.C. 600, before they were spoiled and corrupted by lying oracles, vain philosophy, and democratic rage; free from the grovelling polytheism, the abandoned licentiousness, and the revolutionary principles of latter times. It is much to be regretted, that they are not introduced into our public schools and seminaries, as an elementary class-book: they would teach, not only words, but things; and furnish an excellent preparation for the Greek Testament; and a desirable antidote against the gilded, but deleterious poison of the most admired classics, Virgil, Homer, Horace, &c.

Nor are the Hebraisms, or Oriental phrases, interspersed through the gospels, to be considered as solecisms, or barbarous modes of speech; they are equally grammatical, and much more energetic, than the feebler phrases of classic lore. You will seek in vain among them for such a magnificent amplification as this, εχαρησαν [κατα] χαραν μεγαλην σφοδρα, “ They rejoiced with exceeding + great joy," Matt. ii. 10.

The genuine excellences of style are acknowledged to consist in simplicity, perspicuity and precision, brevity, energy and gravity, joined to variety and copiousness of expression; and in the combination of all these, the Evangelists will not shrink from a comparison with the most finished models of Grecian and Roman composition:

"Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull,
Strong, without rage, without o'erflowing full."

The distinguishing feature of their style, and in which they

See the Heathen vices described in glowing colours by St. Paul, in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans; on which the following exhortatory address to the Greeks, of Clemens Alexandrinus, may furnish an excellent comment. Edit. 1616, p. 30.

Ταυτα ύμων της ἡδυπαθειας τα αρχέτυπα, αύται της ύβρεως αἱ θεολογιαι, αὗται των συμπορνευοντων ὑμῖν θεων αἱ διδασκαλιαι-Πανισκοι, και γυμναι κόραι, και μωριων εντασεις ταις γραφαις απογυμνούμενοι — ̔Ηταιρικεν ὑμῖν τα ωτα, πεπορνευκασιν οἱ οφθαλμοι, αἱ οψεις μεμοιχευκασι! Ω βιασαμενοι τον ανθρωπον, και το ενθεον του πλασματος ελεγχει απαρξαντες !

"These are the symbols of your voluptuousness! These your insulting theologies! These the instructions of your co-fornicating gods! your fawns and naked nymphs, and contests of satyrs, exposed in your scriptures!—Your ears are defiled, your eyes incontinent, your looks adulterous, ye debasers of manhood; devoting to disgrace the first fruits of the divine part of your frame."

Our Bible translators consulting euphony, or the harmony of their periods, often use adjectives adverbially, as here, “exceeding,” for “exceedingly,” judiciously imitating the majestic compound epithets of the Greek language, in which the English is too deficient.

excel all others, is simplicity both of expression and sentiment. Simplex munditiis, "plain in neatness," is their modest garb: the sacred writers disdaining the meretricious ornaments of heathen elocution. They "spoke, and they wrote, the words of truth and soberness," not "the enticing words of man's wisdom;" that the faith of believers might stand, not "in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." And the astonishing success of the preaching, and the writings of these unlettered and despised " Galileans," illustrated that idiomatic phrase, ovк advνaτησel mapa тy Оεų τаν ρημа. "No word, or thing, shall be αδυνατησει παρα τῷ Θεῷ παν ρημα. impossible with GOD," Luke i. 37, borrowed from the Hebrew, Gen. xviii. 14, which would probably have puzzled Xenophon or Demosthenes. The word of GOD, though contained in "earthen vessels," was "lively and powerful," sufficient to "confound the wise and the mighty," with a heaven-taught "wisdom and mouth (or eloquence) which none of their adversaries were, or ever will be, able to gainsay or resist," fulfilling their Master's promise, Luke xxi. 15. Of all the evangelists, John is the most simple, because he was the most highly gifted.


There is, however, a marked diversity in their styles, which appears much more plainly in the originals, than as melted down and amalgamated in the menstruum of a common translation; confirming the foregoing position, that their language was in great measure their own. Thus, the phrase, denoting the reign of THE MESSIAH upon earth, "the kingdom of heaven," is peculiar to Matthew, the rest preferring " the kingdom of God." The verb pew, "to say," is used by Matthew often, by Mark once, but never by either Luke or John; the synonyme, Epɛw, is used by all except Mark; and tow, by all except John; avakλivw, "to recline," occurs in all the gospels except John's ; κατακειμαι, "to lie down," in all except Matthew's. Matthew alone applies the title Kanynτns, "Leader," or "Teacher," to CHRIST; Luke alone, the title AsσTоrns, " Sovereign," to GOD, and Emiσταтns, "President," or "Master," to CHRIST. Indeed, every one of the evangelists has many words not to be found in the rest; and that, not only where he relates new things, but also the same things, actions, or circumstances, in common with the rest.

Not only the peculiarities of their style, but the precision and copiousness of their language, are either imperfectly represented, or totally lost, in the English Bible; and that, frequently of


necessity, on account of the poverty of the English, and indeed of every modern language, compared with the Greek; that most critical and philosophical of all languages, for accurately expressing the various modes of sensation and reflection.

Thus these six verbs, in the gospels, expressing various modes of speech, or conversation, λεγω, επω, φημι, ρεω, ερεω, ειρω, are all vaguely rendered in the English Testament," to say." Three of them are so rendered in one short passage, Matt. v. 21, 22, and four of them in another, Matt. xxi. 25-27; whereas, in the original, they not only serve to diversify the style, but to give it a precision which poorer languages cannot supply.

Take another example: the word trapoç, used only by Matthew, and piloç, used by all but Mark, are indiscriminately rendered "friend;" yet there is but little affinity between their radical significations. The former properly signifies "companion," and is a term of civility addressed to indifferent persons, and even to strangers: the latter, which properly signifies "friend," implies the affection and regard due to an intimate, or a near relation. The former is correctly addressed to the envious and dissatisfied labourers in the vineyard, Matt. xx. 13; to the guest who wore not the wedding garment, Matt. xxii. 12; and by OUR LORD to the traitor Judas, in the very act of apprehending him, Matt. xxvi. 50. It is to be regretted that the respectable name of "friend," belonging to pλoç, should ever be prostituted to unworthy objects, though common use permits us to employ it in this latitude; and it may be questioned, whether the corrector rendering of rapoç, "companion," in English, or "mon compagnon," would be tolerated by the usage of either language; since the former is not adopted by any English translator, and the latter only by the Geneva French. This remark may remove the surprise that some unlearned readers have expressed, how OUR LORD could condescend to adopt the insincere modes of worldly fashion, and denominate a man "friend," whom he knew to harbour the basest and most hostile intentions.

Other curious instances may be found in Campbell's excellent preliminary Dissertations on the four Gospels, Vol. I. p. 594—610.

These observations may tend to repel the charge of ambiguities of expression, objected to the evangelists, by writers of the Socinian and Unitarian schools. Many such are to be set down to the translators, as we have seen, for which the evan

gelists are not accountable. And even granting that some real ambiguities are to be found in their gospels, arising from the various senses of the same word, or the various constructions of the same sentence, this is no more than what takes place in all languages, ancient and modern; all equally tolerating and licensing, primary and secondary, literal and figurative significations of words. And who can question, that many seeming ambiguities and difficulties, which perplex the profoundest scholars of the present day, were perfectly plain and intelligible to their countrymen and contemporaries, who were familiarized to the idiom, and well acquainted with all the oriental and foreign customs and manners to which the gospels either openly refer, or tacitly allude.

Another source of ambiguities and dissonances, in the sacred text, may and must have arisen from literal errors, that have glided occasionally into the multiplied copies of the original autographs of the evangelists, in the course of so many ages, during their wide dissemination throughout all lands. Our enemies, who deny the inspiration of the evangelists themselves, will not surely contend for the inspiration of all the successive copiers, even from one single manuscript. This, however, we may venture to assert, that the multiplicity of manuscripts from widely different quarters, and of ancient versions, furnish, by careful collation of their various readings, more abundant critical helps for forming a correct text of the sacred writers, both of the Old and New Testament, than of any other ancient writers whatsoever throughout the world. And we may assert with confidence, that the verbal inaccuracies, which, after all our pains, will and must remain in the original text, without a second inspiration of the editors, (which is not to be expected by the warmest high churchman) are trivial in themselves, not affecting any material point of faith, doctrine, or practice. They resemble motes mingling in the sun-beams.

And further, if we candidly and impartially compare the evangelists with any other writers of memoirs, or histories of a given person, or period of time, the superiority of the former, in point of consistency, will be found immense. Take, for instance, the parallel accounts of the trial of Socrates, furnished by his

Let the reader look into Johnson's Dictionary, and he will find, to the full, as many meanings attached to English words, as in any Lexicon to Greek.

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