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THE

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.

NEW SERIES-No. 7.

For January and February, 1820.

ON THE CHARACTER OF WAKEFIELD'S TRANSLATION OF

THE NEW TESTAMENT,

FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.

Upon taking up Wakefield's 'Translation of the New Testament, one naturally and reasonably expects to find, from the well known character of the author, much learning skilfully employed, much ingenuity boldly exercised, and some whimsicality occasionally indulged. The critical reader will not be disappointed in either of these expectations. He will find abundant proofs of uncommon acquisitions in useful learning, many instances of a happy exercise of ingenuity, and some blemisbes arising from the precipitancy, and want of patient reflection, which were peculiarly characteristic of this eminent man. As we are to form our judgment, however, of the value of_his work, not from individual examples of successful or of erroneous translation, but from the general principles by which he was guided, “non nævo aliquo aut crepundiis, sed corpore omni,” I shall remark upon some of those decided faults and striking improvements, which are found to occur frequently, and which give a general character to bis work.

1. The first peculiarity, which I shall mention, is a fault which, though productive of no very important consequences, is found in every part of his translation ; viz. the caprice with which he has rendered, sometimes with the definite, and sometimes with the indefinite Article, words which have none in the Greek. His general practice is, to render words without the Article in Greek, with the indefinite English Article ; but the plain meaning of the sacred writer has sometimes compelled him to deviate from it, and he has often translated otherwise New Series--vol. II.

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without any apparent reason. An instance occurs of the omis. sion of the Article in Matt. iv: 3. u ulos u tx 018, which Wakefield renders, “ As thou art a son of God,” notwithstanding the frequency with whicb Jesus is spoken of as the son of God in a high and peculiar sense, and not withstanding also, that he has elsewhere rendered the same phrase more definitely, as Mark i. 1. “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Cbrist, the son of God," loov Ts Ort. Luke i. 35. is rendered by Wakefield, "A holy spirit will come upon thee, and a power of the most bigh God will overshadow thee, and therefore thine offspring will be holy, and a son of God.” Now as a holy spirit, and a power of the most bigh God can mean only the divine omnipufence, the expressions should be such as not to imply ihe existence of more than one almighty power; which can be effected only by using the English definite Article.--The translating of isos Oux in tbis instance by, a son of God, produces, as Middleton* bas observed, a downright anti-climax. A son of God wust be understood to nean,' a boly man, and the angel is made to declare to Mary, “tbe power of the most high God will oversbadow thee, and therefore thine offspring shall be called a holy man.It seems clear, that isos @lov iliust bere be understood in the peculiar sense in which the title was given to our Saviour.

Upon the same principle by which he renders δυναμις ύψιστου, , a power of the most High, why should be not translate xsie κυρίου in the 061b verse of ibe same chapter, a hand of the Lord, and Xplotos zugros in the 11th verse of the next, Cbrist a Lord ? But in both these instances be has used the. The want of consistency in his rendering of the same phrase, under similar circumstances, leads one to suspect, that he had not bestowed sufficient attention upon the subject to ascertain the correct principles of the interpretation of the Greek Article, or to determine upon any uniforai system. This irregularity is found in every part of his work; ihus I open upon Romans, Ist chap. and I find in 1st verse, as everyyeasy Oid, translated, “ for the Gospel of God; in verse 41h 78 Özso@srtos vlov Ois, “proved to be a son of God,” xcelæ Futupce dysoums, " by the holy spirit,” et avæotaOlas vingar, "by a miraculous resurrection from the dead.”. Here are four instances of the omission of the Article in the Greek, and Wakefield has alternately rendered by the English definite and indefinite, seemingly without authority or system. But it is needless to multiply examples of an inconsistency which is obvious to every scbolar.

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* Middleton on the Greek Article, Part II. p. 297.

2. Another peculiarity, which I think must be considered a fault, is he great weight which he ascribes to the authority of the ancient Eastero Versions. Of the Æthiopic, in particular, be seems to have had an extravagantly high opinion. He calls it in one place (note upon Acts xvi. 19.) “ that most valuable of Versions;" in another (note upon Acts v. 3.) he says, " the Æthiopic translator bas, often preserved genuine words, corrupted in all our MSS." and again (on 2 Tim. iii. 16.) “ The single testimony of the Æthiopic is with me, I own, equivalent to all the rest of the old versions in a difficult or disputed passage. He speaks of the Coptic also in terms of high cominendation, calling it, " that inost accurate version.”' (on Matt. xx, 16.) He says of the Syriac and Ætbiopic, (on Acts xiii. 48.) that “they preserve more genuine readings, that seem to have been long supplanted, than any other."

But the best proof which can be given of the estimation in which he held them, will be found in the frequency with which he adopis their readings. The union of two or three of these versions rarely fails to prove decisive with him; and I have observed, that in thirty-seven instances, he follows the Æthiopic, entirely unsupported either by MSS. or other versions; and under similar circumstances be follows the Syriac in nine, the Arabie in five, and the Coptic in four instances; and very probably several have escaped my notice.

Now whateyer may be the critical value of these versions, and they certainly stand very high, it is plain that no single authority, whether MS. or version, can be of sufficient imporlapce to justify a translator in often adopting its readings unsupported. If the exigence of a passage be imperative for the reading of a valuable individual version, he might perhaps be allowed to follow it alone ; but never to adopt its readings merely because he thinks them in some degree preferable. But this seems to have been frequently done by Wakefield,

It is easier to account for this undue appreciation of the Eastero versions, than entirely to justify it. We learn frono a passage in his Memoirs, * that he had acquired a knowledge of the Hebrew, and its kindred languages the Syriac and Chaldee, of the Æthiopic, Arabic, Persic, and lastly, of the Coptic. He even made some improvements in the lexicon and grammar of the latter language." of the versions of the New Testament in these several tongueş, he made great and constant use when preparing his translation. He naturally set a high value upon a branch of knowledge which he possessed in a very superior

* Volume 1. p. 236.

degree, and he availed himself with great care and accuracy of those sources of information which were not equally accessible to others.* He has frequently corrected the erroneous quotations of Wetstein and Griesbach, sometimes with an amusing expression of contempt for 'their ignorance, or of abuse for their inaccuracy, and I have found not fewer than ninety instances, in which he has given a various reading, from some one or more of the Eastern versions, which Griesbach has omitted. This is certainly higbly bonorable to his fidelity and accuracy; and it may be said, in palliation of his offence, that many of the cases, in which he follows these valuable versions in preference to the majority of MSS., are instances of bis omitting those apparent interpolations either from other parts of the New Tes. tainent, or from the invention of the transcriber, for the purpose of explaining the words of the sacred writer, which ought to be expunged, according to a sound canon of criticism Jaid down by Wetstein,t Griesbach, I and others.

3. A third peculiarity of his translation is his habit of rendering the imperfect tense in the participial forn in English. Wakefield has perhaps adhered too strictly to this mode of translation, but it frequently expresses tbe particular time of performing an action with far greater precision than the common form. Thus Luke vii. 11., we read in the received version, “ It came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain, and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.” After this completion of the action, we do not expect to hear of any thing that took place previous to his arrival in the city ; but in the next verses we are told of his raising the young man to life," as he came nigh to the gate of the city." Wakefield's translation is preferable : “ On the next day, Jesus was going to a city called Nain, and a good many of his disciples and a great multitude were going with him.” But it is not to be denied, that this rendering sometimes gives wrong impressions, thus Matt. ix. 24. “Jesus saith to them, (the company at the house of the Ruler of the synagogue,) Withdraw, for the girl is not dead, but asleep. And they were laughing at him.” This implies that they were laughing at him before he spoke. He has in this instance adhered too closely to his system.

The imperfect tense is frequently used in Greek to express the continuance of action, which is entirely overlooked in the common translation, but whicb Wakefield has observed; thos Luke iv. 44. he renders, “he continued preaching in the

* See his Memoirs, vol. 1. p. 355. Nov, Test. vol. 2. p. 862-3. reg. 9.

| Proleg. p. 60 recens. secund.

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