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The following is copied from Collins' Edition of the Bible, printed in New York in 1807.]
AS the DEDICATION of the English translation of the BIBLE to king James the first of England seems to be wholly unnecessary for the purposes of edification, and perhaps on some accounts improper to be continued in an American edition, the Editor has been advised by some judicious friends to omit it, and to prefix to this edition a short account of the translations of the Old and New Testaments from the original Hebrew and Greek in which they were written.
To the Jews were first committed the care of the sacred Writings, and for many ages they were in a manner confined to that chosen people. There was then no need of translations into other languages; yet was the providence of God particularly manifest in their preservation and purity. The Jews were so faithful to their important trust, that, when copies of the law or the prophets were transcribed, they observed the most scrupulous exactness: they not only diligently compared the one with the other, but even counted the number of letters in each book, and compared and recorded the numbers.
The first translations that were made of the Old Testament were after the Babylonish captivity. They are called the Targums, which word in the Chaldean language signifies Translations. They are also often called the Chaldee Paraphrases; some of them are exact translations of different parts of Scripture; others are properly paraphrases, containing enlargements, explanations, and even additions. Several of them are yet extant, and they are often mentioned by the ancient fathers of the Christian church. Some have affirmed that the five books of Moses and that of Joshua were translated into Greek before the days of Alexander the Great. But the most remarkable translation of the Old Testament into Greek is called the Septuagint, which, if the opinion of some eminent writers is to be credited, was made in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 260 years before I the Christian era. At any rate it is undoubtedly the most ancient that is now extant, and on many accounts deserving notice, though not to be put on a level with the Hebrew text, as has been sometimes done.
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and no sooner was the gospel spread through the nations than it was found necessary to translate the inspired Writings for each into its proper tongue. Some translations of the Old Testament, different from the Septuagint, were made into Greek from the year of Christ's birth 128 to 200. It is generally believed that the church of Antioch was favoured with a Syrian translation of the Bible as early as the year 100. The Ethiopians of Abyssinia have a version of the Bible, which they ascribe to Frumentius, of the fourth century. Chrysostom, who lived in the end of the fourth, and Theodoret, who lived in the middle of the fifth century, both inform us that they had the Syrian, Indian, Persian, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Scythian versions. The ancient Egyptians had the Scriptures translated into their language. The Georgians have a version in their ancient language. The most ancient German translation is supposed to have been made by Ulphilas, A,
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