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additional proof that he can never have seen the Gospels of Matthew and Mark,—or he would (to say nothing of the other difficulties attending this view, which have before been dealt with in ch. i.) most certainly have availed himself of those parts of their narratives, which are now not contained in his own.
OF THE PRESENT WORK.
1. This Edition of the New Testament is undertaken with a view to put the English reader, whose knowledge is confined to our own language, in possession of some of the principal results of the labours of critics and scholars on the sacred text.
2. There are of course very many cases where this cannot be done. The English reader must be content to remain in ignorance of all those minute niceties of meaning and connexion, which depend on the import of the constructions and the particles in a language far surpassing our own in its power of expressing the varying shades and slightest turns of thought.
3. But it is believed that there are far more cases, where there is no reason why these results should not be imparted to him. And the more we value the inspired word of God, the more anxious ought we to be, that all should possess every help to ensure the purity of its text, and to clear up its true meaning.
4. In the present state of the English reader's knowledge of his Bible, there are two great obstacles to the attainment of these ends. The one consists in his ignorance of the variations of reading in the ancient authorities from which the sacred text is derived; the other in his ignorance of the existence of other and often indisputably better renderings of the sacred text than that which the version before him gives. Our Authorized Version is, as a translation, of high excellence, and is never to be thought of by Englishmen without reverence, and gratitude to Almighty God. But it is derived very often from readings of the Greek which are not based on the authority of our best ancient witnesses ; and it frequently gives an inadequate rendering of the text which it professes to translate. 5. The principal instances of both these imperfections it is the object
of the present Edition to enable the English reader to correct for himself. Words and passages, which in our Authorized Version are wrongly read or inadequately rendered, are printed in italics in the text, the true reading or rendering being pointed out, in the margin below, in the same type as the rest of the text. Besides this, in cases where the principal ancient authorities differ about the reading of the text, the variation is stated in the margin.
6. Marginal notices are also appended in some cases where antiquated terms, or expressions generally misunderstood, are used in the Authorized Version.
7. The notes are mainly an adaptation and abridgment of those in my Edition of the Greek Testament. Additions are sometimes made to those notes, where further explanations, of a nature suitable to the English reader, seemed to be required.
8. The marginal references are adapted and abridged from those found in our ordinary English Bibles. I found, on examination, that many of these were either irrelevant or superfluous, and that sometimes passages the most important for elucidation were not adduced at all. It may be well to mention that the parallel places in the Gospels are not cited on the margin, being systematically given at the head of each paragraph in the notes.
9. It is necessary, at a time when there is so much unsettled opinion respecting the authority of Scripture, to state plainly in the outset, the belief of the Editor on that point, and the principles on which his work has been undertaken.
10. I regard the Canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to have been given by inspiration of Almighty God, and in this respect to differ from all other books in the world. I rest this my belief on the consent of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, and on evidence furnished by those books themselves '.
11. I find that it has pleased God to deliver His revelation of Himself to man, which is contained in those books, by the vehicles of human testimony, human speech, and human writing. All the phænomena necessarily incident to these human vehicles I consequently expect, and find, in our sacred books as we have them.
12. Their writers testified that which was true. The Spirit of Truth dwelt in them specially for this purpose. But He did not divest their testimony of its human character. Their peculiar styles and manners of writing were not taken away, nor their disposition to record peculiar facts, and to note different aspects of the truth. Each holy man set down that which he had seen or heard, or which he found in trustworthy
1 I have treated of this matter more formally and in detail further on, in Chap. I. § vi. of this Introduction. But I have considered it desirable besides, to publish a general statement in the preliminary account of this English edition.
record, or heard from competent witnesses; and in this remembrance or selection, he was guided specially by the Holy Spirit. But each man reported, and each man selected, according to his own personal characteristics of thought and feeling. Any one who can read the Gospel and Epistles of St. John, and doubt this, would seem to me to read to little purpose indeed.
13. A very important result of this may be thus stated. The two, three, or four, Gospel records of the same event are each of them separately true: written by men divinely guided into truth, and relating facts wbich happened, and as they happened. If we could now see the whole details of the event, we should also see that each narrative is true, and how it is true. But, not seeing the whole details of the event, and having only these two, three, or four, independent accounts, we must be prepared sometimes to find, that they appear to be discrepant the one from the other: and we must not expect that we can reconcile such apparent discrepancies. It is a case where we must walk by faith, not by appearance. One day we may, and one day I firmly believe we shall, see the event with all its details as it happened, and shall be permitted to glorify God for the Truth of His holy Word in every particular ; but that day is not yet come.
14. This is the belief, and these are the principles, on which I have recognized and dealt with what appear to me the undeniable apparent discrepancies in detail between some of the Gospel narratives. I have never attempted to force them into accordance. I shrink from doing so, and I see no end gained by doing so. On the other hand, I believe the confirmation of the faith, gained by the testimony which these discrepancies furnish to the absolute independence of the narratives, to be of infinitely more importance, than would be the most complete piecing together of them into one apparently harmonious whole.
15. Human speech was also a vehicle chosen by God for the transmission of the Revelation of Himself to man. Now all language is liable to be imperfectly understood. Few things can be expressed so clearly, but that some possibility occurs of an interpretation being given, other than was intended. And this defect of the instrument of thought has certainly not been removed in its employment by God Himself. Nay this very employment by Him has rather tended to increase the defect : the things which it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive, when set forth in human speech, are too deep and weighty for the instrument which should convey them, and the result is that the sayings of Holy Scripture are often extremely difficult to understand. “ The unlearned and unstable,” we are told, “wrest them to their own destruction :" and short of this, their sense is often misapprehended, and their true significance set aside, for want of intelligent study. We often hear Holy Scripture spoken of as if it were not only all true, which it is,—but all
so plain that there can be no question as to its meaning, which it as certainly is not. Coming as it does from God, its simplest saying has in it a depth which the human mind cannot fathom: and its apparently disjoined sentences have a connexion which it often surpasses even the practised eye to discover, or the most ripened and chastened judgment satisfactorily to pronounce upon.
16. The reader of this work will find this conviction lying at the root of all its endeavours to explain Scripture: that we are dealing not with mere human thoughts, whose significance we may exhaust and surpass, but with divine Truth, conveyed to us in human words—the treasure, in the earthen vessel. No amount of labour can be ill bestowed in searching into, and comparing, and meditating on, the import and the connexion of the words of Scripture. Nor are we to expect a time when our work may be regarded as done. As the ages of the world and of the Church pass onward, new lights will ever be thrown upon God's word, by passing events, by the toil of thought, by the discoveries of historical research and of scientific enquiry.
17. Nor has the Bible any reason to fear the utmost activity, and the furthest extension, of such pursuits. We have been, I am persuaded, too timid and anxious in this matter. Let research and enquiry be carried forward in every direction, and in a fearless spirit: and when their results are most completely established and firmly assured to us, then will it be most undeniably found, that Creation, Providence, and Revelation, are the work of the same God :—then will the plainest light be thrown on the meaning of Holy Scripture, in all points on which such research and enquiry bear.
18. We are too apt to forget that another vehicle in which God has transmitted to us His Revelation, is human writing. The conservation of the sacred books by His Providence ought to be taken into account, as well as their original composition. The general notion concerning the Bible, as regards this point, may perhaps be not unjustly described as being, that the sacred text has come down to us in one unquestioned form, and that form represented by the English Authorized Version. The fact of some variations existing here and there is perhaps known, but its import is at once nullified by some statement, that these variations make no possible difference in the sense: and there the matter is allowed to rest : some even doubting the expediency of further inviting the English reader to its consideration.
19. But surely such a course is hardly that of those who are exhorted to be "not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” If it has pleased God, in the course of His providential care of His word, that certain portions of it should be variously transmitted to us, can we, without blame, resolve to shut our eyes to this His will ? And the case, as affecting English readers, is even stronger than this. There is one