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that they sometimes erred. It is unnecessary to cite examples which
may be found in every commentary. 5. Changes in the English language have also been going on since our translation came into use, really and constantly, though slowly and retarded, perhaps, as Dr. Trench suggests, by the hold which the Scriptures have upon the hearts of the people. “In many cases, no doubt, our authorized version, by its recognized authority, by an influence working silently but not the less profoundly felt, has given fixity to the meaning of words which otherwise they would not have possessed, and kept them in their places; but the currents at work in language have been sometimes so strong as to overbear even this influence."
Dr. Trench suggests and comments on the following examples of this change of signification as specially noteworthy. (Pages 24–30 :)
Matt. vi, 25 : “ Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ;” an expression which, among the older English writers, meant be not anxious.
Luke xiii, 7: “Why cumbereth it the ground ?” To cumber, in its present signification, is too weak and negative an expression for the Greek: but formerly, as in Luke x, 40, it meant to vex, annoy, injure, trouble.
Acts xvii, 23: “ Devotions." A word now abstract, and signifying the mental offerings of the devout worshiper ; but once concrete, meaning the outward objects to which these were rendered, as temples, altars, images, shrines and the like; and it was these objects of worship that Paul beheld.
Acts xix, 37: “ Robbers of churches ;" that is of temples, since church' is in constant use in early English for heathen and Jewish temples, as well as for Christian places of worship.
Acts xxi, 15 : “ After those days we took up our carriages and went up to Jerusalem.” “Carriage,' says our author, is a constant word in the English of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for “baggage,' being that which men carry, and not, as now, that which carries them. The Genevan has it correctly, though somewhat quaintly,“ trussed up our fardels.”
(In I Sam. xvii, 22, where also our translators introduce the word, "And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage," the Genevan reads, "And David left the things, which he bare, under the hands of the keeper of the carriage," explaining the last word in the margin, "Ebr. vessels.")
Ephes. iv, 3: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Not as a hopeless formality: the Greek word means "giving all diligence," and 'endeavoring' meant no less, two centuries and a half ago.
I Tim. v, 4: "Nephews," a term that once indicated lineal descendants, and is here used to denote grandchildren.
Many other words might be put into this category, beside a number which instead of changing their meaning, have simply gone into disuse: and in employing these terms, the Scriptures, as we circulate them, convey no idea, or one very different from that intended by the translators. In many cases, even, we should gain by going back to the Genevan version, which was in common use when the version of King James was published. 'Love' certainly is preferable to 'charity,' in I Cor. xiii. 'I wot not,' Phil. i, 22, is antiquated; but the Genevan has 'know,' as it has also in Rom. xi, 2, and Acts iii, 17. Instead of 'blains,' Ex. ix, 9, 10, the Genevan has blisters.' For letteth,' II Thess. ii, 7, it has 'withholdeth;' for 'leasing,' Ps. iv, 2, v, 6, it has 'lies;' for 'Jewry,' Luke xxiii, 5, John vii, 1, it has 'Judea;' for 'Easter,' Acts xii, 4, the passover;'* for 'take no thought,' Matt. vi,
* Dr. Trench (p. 34) speaks of the retention of 'Easter,' and 'Jewry,' in these places, as an oversight; but this oversight was the more remarkable, inasmuch as the Genevan translators had uniformly adopted, in their Bible, ‘Judea,' and 'the passover;' a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of the critic. He also fails to do justice to the Genevan version, in quite a number of cases. It had anticipated King James's version in substituting 'separate' for 'depart,' ("depart us from the love of God,") at Rom. viii, 39, (p. 31,) and had used 'murmuring,' instead of 'grudge,' in Acts vi, 1, (p. 34.) Commending our translators for their discrimination in using 'idolaters' for 'worshipers of images,' I Cor. x, 7, and 'idols,' for 'images,' II Cor. vi, 16, and I John v, 21, he says, (p. 168,) "in the latter passage, indeed, the Genevan had anticipated this correction." It had done so in all of them. On page 103, he says, Whited
23, ‘be not careful ;' for 'expecting,' Heb. x, 13, 'tarrieth ; and for ear the ground, Is. xxx, 24, 'till the ground.' It was no improvement for the translators to substitute reason' for 'meet,' in Acts vi, 2. 'Ere'is unusual, though not obsolete; but in John iv, 49, the Genevan hasó before my son die.'
Several,' once had the meaning of separate,' and so we read, II Kings xv, 5, and dwelt in a several house ;' but the Genevan has, “and dwelt in a house apart.' 'Strait' and 'straight'
a are often confounded; but for the former, the Genevan sometimes has strict; thus, 'a strict commandment,' instead of 'he straightly charged him;' and so in Matt. vii, 13, the streicte gate.
If these things are true, it follows that our common version of the Scriptures is not the best possible one, and does not convey to the English reader “the mind of the Spirit' as distinctly and fully as a version might do. And furthermore, if it were now all that the Christian scholarship of the world might make it, there would be an inestimable saving of labor and misapprehension. The labor of preachers and of commentators would be greatly abated; many obscure passages would become clear, and stumbling-blocks without number would be removed. How many, e. g., have stumbled at “bare grain," (I Cor. xv, 37,) who would have no difficulty in reading “mere seed!” How many would be helped by some change of phraseology showing the connection of 'sin' and
sepulchers' is an improvement upon 'painted sepulchers,' Matt. xxiii, 27, which all our preceding versions had.” But the Genevan has 'whited tombs,' and Wiclif, in 1380, 'sepulcris whitid.' On page 100, complaining of the rendering of II Cor. iii, 14, 'but their minds were blinded,' where he prefers hardened, as the better word, he says, “ Wiclif and the Rheims, which both depend on the Vulgate, (* sed obtusi sunt sensus eorum,') are here the only correct versions." Yet here the Genevan of 1568, says, are hardened,' as also in Rom. xi, 7; while in the former passage, Wiclif has 'but the wittis of hem ben astonyed,' and the Rheims, “but their senses vvere dulled.' On page 104, he commends the translators for the rendering profane person,' Heb. xii, 16, which he says first
appeared in the Rheims; in this, also, he is mistaken, for the Genevan had already given currency to it. These inaccuracies are probably due to a lack of discrimination between the Genevan Testament of 1557, and the completed Bible, which was first published in 1560, in which the translation differed in many respects. English Hexapla, p. 134.
'a cart-rope,' in Is. v, 18! How obscure the argument of Paul, in Rom. x, 16, 17, ("For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,") until we adopt some rendering which shows that 'report' and 'hearing' are the same word in Greek, and that 'believe' and 'faith' are as nearly alike as 'believe' and 'belief'! How the darkness would be lifted from John xvi, 23, if the English reader recognized the difference in the two Greek words, each of which is translated 'ask'! Even the marginal renderings of the translators are sometimes better than those which they put in the text, though unfortunately omitted from so many of the most widely circulated editions of the Bible.
What then is to be done? It is easier to feel and to state difficulties, than to suggest appropriate remedies; but this is one of the great questions of the day.
There is a difficulty even in deciding in what way and with what modifications, if any, the original work of King James's translators can best be edited and published by the American Bible Society, restricted as it is by its organic law, to the version in common use at its organization. No one would be content to have the original of 1611 exactly and literally reproduced for daily use and general circulation. No publisher would hazard his capital in such a speculation. Various and important departures have been made from the original editions in both the text and its accessories, sometimes by accident and sometimes by design. The references and marginal renderings have been multiplied, the chapter headings and running titles have been abbreviated, enlarged, and otherwise modified, and in the text, capitals, hyphens, parentheses, punctuation marks, italics, and orthography, have been made to undergo innumerable modifications; so that a collator employed by the Bible Society in comparing the text of half a dozen copies of the Scriptures, from different presses, found that in these apparently trivial points the variations were between twenty and thirty thousand. And this matter, though apparently simple, is not one easily settled; it certainly is not to be determined by the accidents of proof reading, or a ma
jority of copies examined. Every step needs to be taken with scholarship and care, for a capital letter may involve a comment, the position of a comma may have an important effect on the sense, and a chapter heading may prove to be explanatory, erroneous, or untrue. To the American Bible Society this matter has proved to be one of peculiar difficulty and embarrassment; and we wait with no little interest to see by what modifications of their recent standard edition the managers propose to silence the objections which were raised against it, after it had met with universal approval for quite a number of years.
It certainly falls within the province of the Bible Society, and indeed it has become a necessity for them, to decide what chapter-summaries, if any, shall be introduced into their editions of the Scriptures. For many years after its organization, these summaries were given in a very much abridged form, and even then not uniformly in the various editions, while such accessories as references and dates, and even the marginal readings of the translators, were entirely omitted, until the year 1830. About that time the society began to print the summaries more at length, but in preparing the standard edition of 1851, these were subjected to extensive alterations, with a view to freeing them from gross errors of grammar and of fact, and of removing inappropriate comments. It is understood to be the present policy of the managers to abandon all these changes and return to something of older date; a course which the Rev. Dr. Turner said, in offering his resignation as one of the committee on versions, “ stamps certain heretofore printed accessories with an immense weight of authority, and sanctions their absolute perpetuity so long as this society shall last, or until it shall alter its constitution. And yet some of these accessories, so established, were made, nobody knows when or by whom ; some of them are manifestly erroneous, and help to darken the meaning of the version; and some of them are misstatements, and contradictory to the very text of which they are professedly the index."*
* Statements and Documents concerning the recent action of the Board of Managers, p. 69.