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A REPLY To the Quarterly Review on the New Translation of
the Bible from the Original Hebrew. By J. BELLAMY.
ALTHOUGH I was in hopes I should have been suffered to pursue my course unmolested during my labors, which, under the blessing of God, will, I humbly trust, tend to promote the glory of my native country, and the stability of her Establishment : yet I am obliged, very reluctantly, in the midst of these labors, to answer, and I hope to defeat, the virulent attacks of a concealed writer, who is reported to be a member of the established church, engaged in the publication of a new edition of the Holy Bible. If this be true, I cannot but lament that any one who officiates in the sacred department, should be so wanting in that charity, which is the perfection and ornament of the Christian religion.'
Having devoted upwards of twenty-one years to the laborious work of a New Translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew only, the design of which is to aid the cause of religion by removing the ground of those objections which have hitherto been advanced against the Scriptures, principally for political purposes; surely I have not deserved this abuse. I have been told by many of our liberal and learned clergy, that, if there were a thousand contradictions in the common version, and it should be shown that five hundred have no authority from the Hebrew; the great body of the clergy would feel themselves obliged to any person, who should thus reduce the number. And, since the publication of the first part, I have received the most fluttering testimonials from many distinguished clergy, who, from what they have seen, are anxious to have the other parts of the work as speedily as possible;
VOL. XVIII. Cl. Jl. NO. XXXVI.
and with a liberality that does them the greatest credit, and shows their love of truth, hesitate not to declare that, if the remaining parts should be executed equal to the first, no clergyman will be without it. Even some of our liberal and learned prelates have approved, and one who is himself a host, was so satisfied, that he said before one of his prebendaries, “ Magna est veritas, et prævalebit.”
It is much to be lamented that the state of periodical Reviews in this country is such, that their editors and scribes, who are hired to write in them, assume the privilege of stabbing the literary and even the moral character of any man, while they themselves remain unknown. Shame burns not the cheek of the anonymous writer, if be be wrong; nobody knows him, and it generally turns out that he is nobody, when known. Such a return shall never come from my pen; for if he who spake as never man spake, who came to bless all nations with divine wisdom, was by the enemies of his Gospel, the Pharisaical critics of the time, charged with being beside himself- of having a decil, &c., because he told them that they taught for doctrines the commandments of men, i. e. the false interpretations of the sacred original, and on this account was persecuted by the bigots of that day,-one humble as myself may expect to be abused by men of this description; one of whom wrote to a learned prelate a short time since, and on the subject of a New Translation said, “ The very errors, my Lord, are consecrated !”
The writer of this article in the Quarterly Review comes forward under an imputation no less serious, and, if true, no less disgraceful, than that of having a personal interest to serve ; cess of his own publication depending in some measure on the condemnation of my new translation. I shall therefore in the following pages, as he pleads for the continuance of the common version, with its errors, frequently address him as the ADVOCATE for the errors in the commion version.
It is rather singular that some person baving no interest to defend, was not chosen to write against me. I have often been told that all the parties interested in publishing Bibles will be my enemies; I did not however think that the love of truth, particularly biblical truth, had been at so low an ebb; but truly I have found it 80;-this is the fourth Bible publisher by whom my new translation has been assailed. If however I do not prove, that the remarks made on my translation are false and groundless, and made in the most profound ignorance of ihose branches of the Hebrew language with which the reviewer pretends to be familiarly acquainted; then I will be the first to acknowledge that the new translation does not deserde the support of the public.
This ADVOCATE says, “ li has never been contended that it (the common version) is a perfect work.” I have said the same. See Introduction. p. iii. "As I advanced in years, and my understand
p ing began to be capable of forming right conclusions, I was struck with the grandeur and dignity of many parts of the commou version, I rightly concluded, that if the Holy Scriptures were so excellent in the translation, they must be still more excellent in the original; and, from that period, a desire to obtain a knowledge of the sacred language absorbed every other consideration.' As this gentleman has said, “ It has never been contended that this (the common version) is a perfect work, or that there are no particular passages susceptible of improvement;" for wliat reason he has omitted to mention those passages in my translation, which the learned among our clergy, and the best Hebrew critics, have declared so highly improved, and by which the objections in the received translation have been for ever removed, I leave the public to judge.
The writer, speaking of the attempts of some to amend the translation, (p. 251.) observes,—“ Of the many attempts of this description, some have proceeded from incompetent and injudicious persons, and have speedily sunk into oblivion. Others have been the matured fruits of the industry, learning, and talents of such men as Lowth, Blayney, Horsley, Newcome, men, whose' qualifications for the work were undoubted.” The critic however omits to say what these writers have said in those “ matured fruits of industry,” concerning the necessity of a new translation. He says indeed that I have quoted “ Lowth, Kennicott, Newcome,' Blayney;" and also says, Mr. Bellamy has made a representation which is completely false
by quoting their authority, as a sanction for his new translation, he evidently wishes to impress us with a belief that those learned men were of his opinion.”
If the reader turns to the first page of the preface to my translation, he will find the quotations taken from the “ matured fruits of industry, learning, and talents" of these very men, “to whose judgment great deference will be at all times paid.” Bishop Newcome says,
is Were a version of the Bible executed in a nianner suitable to the magnitude of the undertaking, such a measure would have a direct tendency to establish the faith of thousands.”. Dr. Lowth, in his Visitation Sermon at Durham, 1758, says, “ Nothing would more effectually conduce to this end, thail the exhibiting the Holy Scriptures themselves in a more advantageous and just light, by an accurate revisal of our vulgar translation.”-“ Great improvements might now be made, because the Hebrew and Greek languages have been much cultivated and far better understood, since the
year 1600.” Dr. Kennicott's Remarks, &c. 1787. p. 6. "It (the com, wou version) has mistakes the true sense of the Hebrew in not a
few places. Do we not know the advantages commonly taken by the enemies of Revelation, of triumpbing in objections plausibly raised against the divine word, upon the basis of an unsound text or wrong translation ?" Blayney's Prelim. Disc. to Jeremiah, 1789.
I now appeal to every impartial reader, whether, as this critic positively declares, I “have made a representation completely false," or whether I “ have attempted to impress the public with a belief contrary to the opinion of those learned men;" for in these quotations the writers were decidedly and unequivocally of the same opinion with myself, viz. that a revision of the Scriptures is absolutely necessary, and that it would be attended with the most benefịcial effects. It would redound to the honor of the unimpeachable character of the divine Author of the sacred volume, the credit of religion, the happiness of society in all Christian nations, and the security of governments ; by removing those contradictions (not to be found iv the original) which have been blazoned on the standard of Deism for ages, and with which this description of men during the last fifty years endeavoured to overturn both church and state; declaring, that "in order to accomplish the last, they must bring about the first ; and that the only way to do this, is to show the people the contradictions as they stand in the common version :" contradictions for which we have been often put to the blush to form an excuse; but which I aver, in the most decided manner, are not to be found in the original Hebrew. Those who attempt, like this shallow reviewer, to show, that the most gross and palpable contradictions, as they stand in the received versions, were translated from the Hebrew, in effect say that they are in the Hebrew. Persons of such principles, who plead for the continuance of those acknowleged errors in the translation, with which objectors have been, and still are, able to confound the most ingenious and powerful writers; are the most dangerous enemies to religion and governments, in all Christian nations; because by pleading for the continuance of the errors in the common version, they are giving the most powerful aid to infidelity,
This writer says, p. 260, “ We have, in the first place, the Greek version, well known by the name of the Septuagint, which has ever been prized most highly by both Jews and Christians, as conveying generally the true interpretation of the Hebrew.”
Indeed! “ever been prized by Jews!” This is presuming too much on the ignorance of the reader. How came the editor to suffer this observation to come before the public? Does the reviewer make this assertion in ignorance? Does he not know that for a long time after the dispersion, the Hebrew language wasi in the hands of the Jews only, even to the time of Aquila ; and that, from the use made of the Greek translation by Christians Dr. Wall says,
throughout the Greek empire, in refuting the Jews by quoting passages from it to prove that the Messiah was come, it was held in such abhorrence by them, that a yearly fast was instituted to deprecate the day on which this translation was made ? So much for the manner in which it “ has ever been prized most highly by Jews, as conveying generally the true interpretation of the Hebrew.” And so much for the truth of the 'statement of the ADVOCATE for the common version.
As to modern authority for the very imperfect state of the Septuagint, I desire none better than the learned Bishop Usher, who from laborious investigation had made up his mind concerning this very imperfect translation. He says, that “the Septuagint translation continually adds to, takes from, and changes, the Hebrew text at pleasure: that the original translation of it was lost long ago; and what has ever since gone under that name, is a spurious copy, abounding with omissions, additions, and alterations of the Hebrew text." See his Letters.
" that the Greek translations of what we call the Septuagint, are all very imperfect ; that these translators were but meanly skilled in the language, being Alexandrian Jews; that they have rendered absurdly many passages where the Hebrew copy was the same as the present.”
As to ancient authority, Origen says, “ The Greek copies were so imperfect, that by the corrections he made, he found it difficult to approach to any thing like truth." Jerome also declared that " the Greek translation was so full of errors, that he was induced to attempt a Latin translation from the Hebrew, in which he confined himself to the sense, and not to a literal translation.” Yet, notwithstanding the authority of these learned men, who lived in the early ages of the Christian church, the Quarterly Reviewer
“ No reasonable doubt can exist, that the authors of the Septuagint version possessed the means of making it most faithful to the original.” And yet this inconsistent writer says, p. 261, “We readily allow, indeed, that it is not a perfect work it contains errors and imperfections—as it has been preserved by human means, it has suffered occasionally by negligence and mistakes of transcribers."
He continues, " But, in addition to the Septuagint, we possess other important assistances derived from antiquity for the interpretation of the Hebrew.” As, however, all these, viz. the Syriac, Vulgate, &c. were made, by his own acknowledgment, long after the Septuagint; and no translation from the Hebrew having appeared till the time of Aquila, whatever errors have been made in the Septuagint must in a great measure have been retained in all the translations.
This Advocate, in order to depreciate the Hebrew, says, “ The Hebrew, in which the books of the Old Testament are