Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

surprised to learn that these opposite deductions have been drawn from the very same premises, with this simple but important difference, that the Dean has gone to Eusebius himself for his authority, and that the Doctor, by his own confession, had no copy of Eusebius at hand to consult,* when he wrote his Dissertation. The real circumstances of the case are these : Aristobulus, in a work which he is said to have dedicated to Ptolemy Philometor, asserts that, before the time of Alexander and the Persian empire, an account of the institutions of Moses and of the Israelites from their departure out of Egypt to their settlement in the land of Canaan, existed in a Greek translation, and that Plato and Pythagoras both made use of this translation : and he then goes on to state that a complete version of the Pentateuch was made in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, under the superintendence of Demetrius Phalereus, keeper of the celebrated library at Alexandria. The expression of Aristobulus is ή ολη ηρμενεια των δια του νομου παντων, « the entire interpretation of all things pertaining to the law ;" and the reference should have been, not to the first book of the Preparatio Evangelica, as Dr. Brett has erroneously stated above, but to the twelfth chapter of the thirteenth book, as correctly given by the learned writer † whose accuracy he so wantonly and groundlessly impeaches.

It will be universally admitted, that the Jews have, at all times, manifested a strong partiality for the books of the law. This has, no doubt, been in some measure owing to the circumstance of these books having been longer in use than the rest; but it has probably arisen also, in a very considerable degree, from the circumstance of their containing the history of Moses, together with a full account of those institutions to which they owe all the peculiarities of their character and their very existence as a separate people. These books which, in their collective form, are generally known among them by the name of “ the law,” were not only first written, but likewise continued to be publicly read, to the exclusion of the rest, amidst all the vicissitudes of the Jewish state, till the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. If, then, as some have thought, the Septuagint Version was undertaken, in the first instance, for the accommodation of those Jews who spoke the Greek language, no supposition can be more natural than that the part which was publicly read in their synagogues prior to the time above mentioned, should be first translated : or if, as Aristeas has asserted, and as later writers have maintained, it was made at the request of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and under the sanction of Eleazer, the Jewish High Priest, to be deposited among the literary treasures of the Alexandrine library, a variety of circumstances concur to render it probable that the books containing an account of the institutions of Moses would be the grand object of interest to strangers, since it was by the observance of these institutions alone that the Jews attracted the attention of heathen nations. Besides, it is well known that the version of the five books of Moses is more accurate than that of the remaining books; and this is easily accounted for on the supposition that the law was first translated, because a difference in the general merits of the version necessarily implies a difference in the qualifications of the translators. But if we suppose, with Dr. Brett and others, that the whole version was completed at once and by the same individuals, one of two things must have been the consequence, either of which is sufficient to overturn this hypothesis. No perceptible difference would, in that case, have existed between the transla

• P. 26.
+ The Old and New Testament connected, &c., Vol. II. p. 29, Note k.

tion of the books of Moses and that of the other books; or, if any such difference had existed, the comparison would have been in favour of the latter, on account of its having been undertaken at a time when the translators must have become familiar with their employment, and must therefore have been better qualified to produce a correct and faithful version.

We are fully justified, then, on the ground both of external and internal evidence, in concluding that the Septuagint Version was made at different times and by different individuals, and that the five books of Moses were first translated, probably in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about the year B, C, 280,

This version of the law soon came into extensive use, and continued to be read alone in all the Greek synagogues for more than a century, till Antiochus Epiphanes issued a decree in which he prohibited the reading of the law on pain of death. The arbitrary mandate of Antiochus was executed with great rigour; and the Jews of Jerusalem, finding themselves de barred by it from the use of the law, are supposed to have taken this opportunity of introducing the reading of the prophets, “so that, when the reading of the law was again restored by the Maccabees, the section which was read every sabbath out of the law served for their first lesson, and the section out of the prophets for their sccond lesson."* This practice, it is said, was soon adopted by the Jews in Egypt and other countries; and hence, probably, arose the first actual necessity for a Greek version of the books of the prophets. Of this circumstance, it is true, no direct mention has hitherto been discovered in any ancient writer ; but as every known fact which can be brought to bear upon the subject, concurs to render the supposition proþable, we are quite at liberty, in the absence of positive testimony, to avail ourselves of such facts in the way of argument. We know, for instance, that the law only was publicly read in the synagogues of Palestine before the decree of Antiochus Epiphanes was issued ; and it has been shewn above, that, in the time of Jesus Christ and his apostles, the prophetical books also were read on the sabbath days in the synagogues of Judea, Galilee and Asia Minor. It is obvious, therefore, that these books must have been well known, before the Christian era, to the Jews residing in every part of the world ; because the practice of foreign Jews, in every thing pertaining to religious matters, was uniformly regulated by that of their brethren at Jerusalem. The translation of the prophetical books, then, must have been made in the interval between the year B. C. 168, in which the decree of Antiochus was issued, and the public appearance of Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Galilee ; and consequently the books themselves must have formed a part of the Jewish canon long before the publication of the Gospels and oiher parts of the New Testament.

Another circums'ance which tends to corroborate the opinion that the books of the prophets were translated into Greek about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, is the division of the books of the Old Testament into three parts, of which the law formed the first, the prophets the second, and the remaining books the third; and for the origin of which it is impossible, on any other supposition, to assign so plausible a reason. Of this division we have already seen traces in the Talmud, in the catalogue of Jerome, in the writings of Josephus and Philo, and in the Gospel of Luke. Similar traces of its existence before the time of our Lord occur in the second prologue to the book of Ecclesiasticus, in which the Jewish Scriptures are

The Old and New Testament connected, &c., Vol. I. p. 334.

In the age

spoken of as "the law, the prophets, and the other books,” or “the rest of the books." From this prologue we learn that Jesus, the son of Sirach, translated the book of Ecclesiasticus from Hebrew into Greek, in the thirtyeighth year of the reign of Ptolemy Euer etes II., commonly called Physcon. Admitting, then, that the prologue was written, as it professes to be, and as there is no reason to doubt that it was, by the person who translated the book, this triple classification of the Jewish Scriptures must have begun to prevail among the Alexandrine Jews as early as the year B. C. 132. But from the indefinite terms in which the author of the prologue mentions the third part, as compared with the distinct manner in which he describes the first and second, it seems reasonable to conclude that the two parts comprehending the law and the prophets were, by this time, familiar to the Jews of Alexandria, but that no authorized version of the books composing the third part had yet appeared in a collective form, although it is by no means improbable that separate and independent Greek translations of particular books may have existed long before this period. In later times this part had its distinguishing and appropriate title as well as the rest. of our Lord and apostles it was called “the Psalms," * probably because the Psalms occupied the first place among the books of which it was composed : by the Jews of Tiberias and Babylon it was called 'dina, Chetuhim, Scriptures, and this title the Jews still retain ; and by the early Christian Fathers, and probably also by contemporaneous Jews, who spoke the Greek language, it was known by the corresponding Greek term, Tizpesa, or 'Aygypapa, Holy Scriptures.f.

appears, then, upon a review of the preceding arguments, that the Septuagint Version of the Jewish law was made, for the use of the Alexandrine Jews, about the year B. C. 280; but that no Greek translation of the books of the prophets existed prior to the year B. C. 168. It appears also, that, in the year B. C. 132, the five books of Moses, and the books of the prophets, were considered as two distinct classes or collections of writings by the Jews of Alexandria, and were mentioned as such by Jesus, the Son of Sirach, under the titles of “ the law and the prophets.” It likewise appears that the Septuagint Version of the other Jewish Scriptures could not have been made so early as the year B. C. 132; or that, if Greek translations of particular books did then exist, they were not collected into a separate volume, and distinguished by a general title, till a later period. Consequently, the Septuagint Version of the prophets" must have been made and published separately from that of the law” and “the other

ld Testament, between the years 168 and 132 B. C. But whether it then assumed the precise form in which we now have it, or has since been augmented by the insertion of new matter, or by the addition of separate books, are questions to which we must briefly advert before this branch of the subject is dismissed.

The version of the prophets, published in all the printed editions of the Septuagint, is universally admitted to be, with the exception of one book, the version originally published under that name. That one book is Daniel

, of which the translation, usually inserted in printed editions of the Septuagint, was taken from the version of Theodotion, who translated the whole of the Jewish Scriptures into Greek about the year of our Lord 185. It was

books" of the

Luke xxiv. 44.
+ Suiceri Thesaurus, Fol. Amst. 1728, Tom. I. pp. 59, 783.

VOL. I.

2 L

upon this circumstance that Collins grounded his fourth objection to the antiquity and authority of Daniel's prophecies. “ It does not appear,” says that subtle adversary of the Christian religion, " that the book of Daniel was translated into Greek, when the other books of the Old Testament were, which are attributed to the Seventy; the present Greek Version, inserted in the Septuagint, being taken from Theodotion's translation of the Old Testament, made in the second century after Christ.”* Jerome, however, from whom we derive our knowledge of this fact, explains the cause of it, and informs us that the Septuagint Version of the book of Daniel existed in the third century, but that Origen declined inserting it in his Hexapla on account of the great corruptions which it had undergone. Our copies, therefore, having been derived from the Hexapla, the original Septuagint Version of the book of Daniel was supposed, in the time of Collins, to have been entirely lost. But a copy was lately discovered, and has since been published by Dr. Holmes in his splendid edition of the Septuagint, printed at the Clarendon Press, Oxford. If, then, the book of Daniel formed a part of this version in the time of Origen, there is every reason to suppose that it was made at the same time with the version of the other prophetical books. It is true, later Jews have attempted to degrade the book of Daniel to a rank below that of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets, for causes formerly assigned ; and it is equally true that Jerome, in his catalogue, enumerates it among the books which constitute the Hagiographa. But while Jerome implicitly follows the Jewish arrangement, Origen and Melito both place Daniel in the order assigned to him in our English translation ; and while the Talmudists withhold from him the title of prophet, except in a subordinate sense, Josephus and our Lord unequivocally acknowledged his claims to high distinction under that character,

(To be continued.)

SONNET.

Yes, go to other scenes; but do not fear
The voice of peace and love so often heard
Within these walls, each pure and holy word
Breath'd by thy lips in other seasons here,
Shall fade within our hearts.—No, not in vain
Here hast thou rais'd for us the fervent prayer
And bade our fainting spirits soar again
To heavenly hopes, and cast off mortal care,
Pointing our path to virtue and to bliss.
O! we will love the way thy steps have trod,
And thine own faith, thy trust, thy holiness,
Shall shine to guide us still ;-and from our God
In these devoted hours will we implore

A blessing on his lot whom we may hear no more.
Liverpool.

[graphic]

REVIEW.

Art. I.-Vie et Mémoires de Scipion de Ricci, Evêque de Pistoie et Prato,

Réformateur de Catholicisme en Toscane, sous le Règne de Leopold, foc. Par De Potter. Paris. 1826.

This book contains, though in an ill-digested form, a great deal of curious matter, on a topic on which it would be well if more were known or remembered in the progress of English controversies between Catholic and Protestant. For the Catholic it is a delicate matter to dilate or reason upon the means which every government possesses of reform and restraint over the possible or apparent political tendencies of his church, and the zealous Protestant has generally found it his safest course of argument to perplex the Catholic with dwelling upon all the worst features of the Roman system, without at all considering whether there are any means of correcting its tendency, or what expedients even Catholic governments have adopted (and Protestant governments may, therefore, equally adopt) for preventing any inconvenient encroachments from the temporal power of the Papal authorities.

In truth, a review of the state of actual resistance to, and consequent triumph over, the spirit of Papal political encroachment, or curialism as it was called, and of the progress which was making, without any scruple on the part of Catholic sovereigns, towards providing that in practice the rights of the government, and the ease of the people, should suffer no inconvenience from foreign interference, will shew how little was to be apprehended in that quarter, how easily those actions which have a detrimental or conflicting influence upon a government may be restrained without any proscription of opinion, and how probable it is that, but for the consequences, direct and indirect, of the French Revolution, and of our own exertions to keep up the authority which we pretend now to be so inordinately afraid of, the temporal power of the Pope would at this moment have been not merely in substance, but almost in name, extinct.

In France, the church had long maintained, to a great extent, its practical independence. In Austria and Belgium, the Papal dominion had been destroyed. In Tuscany, as we shall see, it had been equally abolished; and even Naples and Spain had given official intimation of their inclination to follow the example. Amidst all this revolt, where would have been the support of a system which avarice and the love of dominion in the Papal court undoubtedly fought hard to retain, but which it was wholly incompetent to preserve, against those governments which began to feel it to be their interest to knit the church into more close union with themselves, and to destroy that spirit of Papal interference and authority over their subjects, which was often found highly inconvenient, and always expensive and burdepsome ?

Scipio de Ricci was born at Florence in 1741, a descendant of the family of Macchiavelli. His brother was the last General of the society of the Jesuits, and at its suppression was confined in the Castle of St. Angelo, where he died. Scipio was brought up with the same religious views, but early became a convert to Jansenism; a rigid observer of the ritual discipline of the church, but a zealous opposer of the temporal encroachments of the Papal court; a reformer, in short, to say the truth, not of the most amiable

« ПредишнаНапред »