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about twenty years! To complete its eminence in Biblical literature, and to place itself at the head of all the cities in the universe, London has only to add a new and improved edition of its own POLYGLOT, with the additional versions which have come to light since the publication of the original work.
To the above list might be added those who have illustrated the sacred writings by passages drawn from Josephus and the Greek and Roman classics, among which the following are worthy of particular regard: Jo. Tobia KREBSII Observationes in Nov. Testam. è Flav. JOSEPHO, 8vo., Lips. 1754. Geo. Dav. KYPKE Observationes in Novi Fœderis Libros, ex auctoribus, potissimum Græcis, &c., 2 vols. 8vo., Vratislaviæ, 1755. Georgii RAPHELII Annotationes in Sacram Scripturam, &c., Lugd. 1747, 2 vols. 8vo. Krebs throws much light on different facts and forms of speech in the New Testament by his quotations from Josephus. Kypke does the same by an appeal to the Greek writers in general. And Raphelius gives historical elucidations of the Old, and philological observations on the New Testament, drawn particularly from Xenophon, Polybius, Arrian, and Herodotus.
To these might be added several excellent names who have rendered considerable services to sacred literature and criticism by their learned labours: Sir Norton Knatchbull's Observations, Hallett's Critical Notes, Bowyer's Conjectures, Leigh's Annotations, &c., &c.; to whom may be added those who have illustrated innumerable passages, obscure and difficult, in lexicons and dictionaries for the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testament: Buxtorf, Cocceius, Mintert, Pasor, Schoettgenius, Stockius, Krebs, Calmet, Leusden, Robinson, Michaelis, Edward Leigh, Schulz, Dr. Taylor, Schleusner, and Parkhurst, a particular account of whom would far exceed the limits of this preface; but Schleusner, as a lexicographer for the New Testament, is far beyond my praise.
I have already apprized the reader that I did not design to give a history of commentators, but only a short sketch; this I have done, and am fully aware that different readers will form different opinions of its execution; some will think that writers of comparatively little eminence are inserted, while several of acknowledged worth are omitted. This may be very true; but the judicious reader will recollect that it is a sketch and not a complete history that is here presented to his view, and that the important and non-important are terms which different persons will apply in opposite senses, as they may be prejudiced in favour of different writers. given my opinion, as every honest man should, with perfect deference to the judgment of others, and shall be offended with no man for differing from me in any of the opinions I have expressed on any of the preceding authors or their works. I could easily swell this list with many foreign critics, but as far as I know them I do not in general like them; besides, they are not within the reach of common readers, though many of them stand, no doubt, deservedly high in the judgment of learned men.
Having said thus much on commentaries in general, it may be necessary to give some account of that now offered to the public, the grounds on which it has been undertaken, and the manner in which it has been compiled.
At an early age I took for my motto Prov. xviii. 1: Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. Being convinced that the Bible was the source whence all the principles of true wisdom, wherever found in the world, had been derived, my desire to comprehend adequately its great design, and to penetrate the meaning of all its parts, led me to separate myself from every pursuit that did not lead, at least indirectly, to the accomplishment of this end; and while seeking and intermeddling with different branches of human knowledge, as my limited means would permit, I put each study under contribution to the object of my pursuit, endeavouring to make every thing subservient to the information of my own mind, that, as far as Divine Providence might think proper to employ me, I might be the better qualified to instruct others. At first I read and studied, scarcely committing any thing to paper, having my own edification alone in view, as I could not then hope that any thing I wrote could be of sufficient importance to engage the attention or promote the welfare of the public. But as I proceeded I thought it best to note down the result of my studies, especially as far as they related to the Septuagint, which about the year 1785 I began to read regularly, in order to acquaint myself more fully with the phraseology of the New Testament, as I found that this truly venerable version was that to which the evangelists and apostles appear to have had constant recourse, and from which in general they make their quotations. The study of this version served more to illuminate and expand my mind than all the theological works I had ever consulted. I had proceeded but a short way in it before I was convinced that the prejudices against it were utterly unfounded, and that it was of incalculable advantage toward a proper understanding of the literal sense of Scripture, and am astonished that the study of it should be so generally neglected. About nine years after this, my health having been greatly impaired by the severity of my labours, and fearing that I should soon be obliged to relinquish my public employment, I formed the purpose of writing short notes on the New Testament, collating the common printed text with all the versions and collections from MSS, to which I could have
access. Scarcely had I projected this work when I was convinced that another was previously necessary, viz., a careful perusal of the original text. I began this work, and soon found that it was perfectly possible to read and not understand. Under this conviction I sat down determining to translate the whole before I attempted any comment, that I might have the sacred text the more deeply impressed on my memory.
I accordingly began my translation, collating the original text with all the ancient and with several of the modern versions, carefully weighing the value of the most important various readings found in those versions, as well as those which I was able to collect from the most authentic copies of the Greek text. A worse state of health ensuing, I was obliged to remit almost all application to study, and the work was thrown aside for nearly two years. Having returned to it when a state of comparative convalescence took place, I found I had not gone through the whole of my preliminary work. The New Testament I plainly saw was a comment on the Old; and to understand such a comment, I knew it was absolutely necessary to be well acquainted with the original text. I then formed the plan of reading consecutively a portion of the Hebrew Bible daily. Accordingly I began to read the Old Testament, noting down on the different books, chapters, and verses, such things as appeared to me of most importance, intending the work as an outline for one on a more extensive scale, should it please God to spare my life and give me health and leisure to complete it. In this preliminary work I spent a little more than one year and two months, in which time I translated every sentence, Hebrew and Chaldee, in the Old Testament. In such a work it would be absurd to pretend that I had not met with many difficulties. I was attempting to illustrate the most ancient and most learned book in the universe, replete with allusions to arts that are lost, to nations that are extinct, to customs that are no longer observed, and abounding in modes of speech and turns of phraseology which can only be traced out through the medium of the cognate Asiatic languages. On these accounts I was often much perplexed, but I could not proceed till I had done the utmost in my power to make every thing plain. The frequent occurrence of such difficulties led me closely to examine and compare all the original texts, versions, and translations, as they stand in the London Polyglot, with some others not inserted in that work; and from these, especially the Samaritan, Chaldee Targums, Septuagint, and Vulgate, I derived the most assistance, though all the rest contributed their quota in cases of difficulty.
Almost as soon as this work was finished I began my comment on the four gospels, and notwithstanding the preparations already made, and my indefatigable application early and late to the work, I did not reach the end of the fourth Evangelist till eighteen months after its commencement. Previously to this I had purposed to commit what I had already done to the press; but when I had all my arrangements made, a specimen actually set up and printed, and advertisements circulated, a sudden rise in the price of paper, which I fondly hoped would not be of long continuance, prevented my proceeding. When this hope vanished, another work on the Scriptures by a friend was extensively announced. As I could not bear the thought of even the most distant appearance of opposition to any man, I gave place, being determined not to attempt to divide the attention of the public mind, nor hinder the general spread of a work which for aught I knew might supersede the necessity of mine. That work has been for some time completed, and the numerous subscribers supplied with their copies. My plan however is untouched; and still finding from the call of many judicious friends, and especially of my brethren in the ministry, who have long been acquainted with my undertaking and its progress, that the religious public would gladly receive a work on the plan which I had previously announced, I have, after much hesitation, made up my mind; and, in the name of God, with a simple desire to add my mite to the treasury, having recommenced the revisal and improvement of my papers, I now present them to the public. I am glad that Divine Providence has so ordered it that the publication has been hitherto delayed, as the years which have elapsed since my first intention of printing have afforded me a more ample opportunity to reconsider and correct what I had before done, and to make many improvements.
Should I be questioned as to my specific object in bringing this work before the religious world at a time when works of a similar nature abound, I would simply answer, I wish to do a little good also, and contribute my quota to enable men the better to understand the records of their salvation. That I am in hostility to no work of this kind, the preceding pages will prove; and I have deferred my own as long as in prudence I can. My tide is turned; life is fast ebbing out; and what I do in this way I must do now, or relinquish the design for ever. This I would most gladly do, but I have been too long and too deeply pledged to the public to permit me to indulge my own feelings in this respect. Others are doing much to elucidate the Scriptures; I wish them all God's speed. I also will show my opinion of these Divine records, and do a little in the same way. I wish to assist my fellow labourers in the vineyard to lead men to HIM who is the fountain of all excellence, goodness, truth, and happiness; to magnify his law and make it honourable; to show the wonderful provision made in his GOSPEL for the recovery and salvation of a sinful world; to prove that God's great design is to make his creatures happy; and that
such a salvation as it becomes God to give, and such as man needs to receive, is within the grasp of every human soul.
He who carefully and conscientiously receives the truths of Divine revelation, not merely as a creed, but in reference to his practice, cannot fail of being an ornament to civil and religious society. It is my endeavour therefore to set these truths fairly and fully before the eyes of those who may be inclined to consult my work. I do not say that the principles contained in my creed, and which I certainly have not studied to conceal, are all essentially necessary to every man's salvation; and I should be sorry to unchristianize any person who may think he has Scriptural evidence for a faith in several respects different from mine. I am sure that all sincere Christians are agreed on what are called the essential truths of Divine revelation; and I feel no reluctance to acknowledge that men eminent for wisdom, learning, piety, and usefulness, have differed among themselves and from me in many points which I deem of great importance. While God bears with and does us good, we may readily bear with each other. The hostility of others I pass by. The angry and malevolent are their own tormentors. I remember the old adage: "Let envy alone, and it will punish itself.”
Of the copy of the sacred text used for this work it may be necessary to say a few words. It is stated in the title that the text " is taken from the most correct copies of the present authorized version." As several use this term who do not know its meaning, for their sakes I shall explain it. A resolution was formed, in consequence of a request made by Dr. Reynolds, head of the nonconformist party, to King James I., in the conference held at Hampton Court, 1603, that a new translation, or rather a revision of what was called the Bishops' Bible, printed in 1568, should be made. Fifty-four translators, divided into six classes, were appointed for the accomplishment of this important work. Seven of these appear to have died before the work commenced, as only forty-seven are found in Fuller's list. The names of the persons, the places where employed, and the proportion of work allotted to each class, and the rules laid down by King James for their direction, I give chiefly from Mr. Fuller's Church History, Book x., p. 44, &c.
Before I insert this account, it may be necessary to state Dr. Reynolds's request in the Hampton Court conference, and King James's answer.
Dr. Reynolds. "May your Majesty be pleased that the Bible be new translated, such as are extant not answering the original?" [Here he gave a few examples.]
Bishop of London. "If every man's humour might be followed, there would be no end of translating." The King. "I profess I could never yet see a Bible well translated in English; but I think that of all, that of Geneva is the worst. I wish some special pains were taken for a uniform translation, which should be done by the best learned in both universities, then reviewed by the bishops, presented to the privy council, lastly ratified by royal authority, to be read in the whole Church, and no other."
The bishop of London in this, as in every other case, opposed Dr. Reynolds, till he saw that the project pleased the king, and that he appeared determined to have it executed. In consequence of this resolution, the following learned and judicious men were chosen for the execution of the work.
THE PENTATEUCH: THE STORY FROM JOSHUA TO THE FIRST Book OF THE CHRONICLES
Dr. ANDREWS, Fellow and Master of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge; then Dean of Westminster, afterwards Bishop of Winchester.
Dr. OVERALL, Fellow of Trinity Coll., Master of Kath. Hall, in Cambridge; then Dean of St. Paul's, afterwards Bishop of Norwich.
Dr. CLARKE, Fellow of Christ Coll. in Cambridge, Preacher in Canterbury.
Dr. LAIFIELD, Fellow of Trin. in Cambridge, Parson of St. Clement Danes. Being skilled in architecture, his judgment was much relied on for the fabric of the Tabernacle and Temple. Dr. LEIGH, Archdeacon of Middlesex, Parson of All-hallows, Barking.
Mr. BEDWELL, of Cambridge, and (I think) of St. John's, Vicar of Tottenham, near London.
FROM THE FIRST OF THE CHRONICLES, WITH THE REST OF THE STORY, AND THE HAGIOGRAPHA,
Master EDWARD LIVELY.
Mr. RICHARDSON, Fellow of Emman., afterwards D. D., Master, first of Peter-house, then of
Mr. CHADERTON, afterwards D. D., Fellow first of Christ Coll., then Master of Emmanuel.
a single and a wealthy man.
Mr. ANDREWS, afterwards D. D., brother to the Bishop of Winchester, and Master of Jesus Coll.
Mr. SPALDING, Fellow of St. John's in Cambridge, and Hebrew Professor therein.
Mr. BING, Fellow of Peter-house, in Cambridge, and Hebrew Professor therein,
THE FOUR GREATER PROPHETS, WITH THE LAMENTATIONS, AND THE TWELVE LESSER PROPHETS.
Dr. HARDING, President of Magdalen Coll.
Dr. REYNOLDS, President of Corpus Christi Coll.
Dr. HOLLAND, Rector of Exeter Coll. and King's Professor.
Dr. KILBY, Rector of Lincoln Coll. and Regius Professor.
Master SMITH, afterwards D. D., and Bishop of Gloucester. He made the learned and religious
Mr. BRETT, of a worshipful family, beneficed at Quainton, in Buckinghamshire.
THE PRAYER OF MANASSEH, AND THE REST OF THE APOCRYPHA.
Dr. DUPORT, Prebend of Ely, and Master of Jesus Coll.
Dr. BRAINTHWAIT, first Fellow of Emmanuel, then Master of Gonvil and Caius Coll.
Dr. RADCLYFFE, one of the Senior Fellows of Trin. Coll.
Master WARD, Emman., afterwards D. D., Master of Sidney Coll. and Margaret Professo
Mr. Downs, Fellow of St. John's Coll. and Greek Professor.
Mr. Boyce, Fellow of St. John's Coll., Prebend of Ely, Parson of Boxworth in Cambridgeshire.
THE FOUR GOSPELS, ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, APOCALYPSE.
Dr. RAVIS, Dean of Christ Church, afterwards Bishop of London.
Dr. ABBOTT, Master of University Coll., afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.
THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL, AND THE CANONICAL EPISTLES.
Dr. BARLOWE, of Trinity Hall, in Cambridge, Dean of Chester, afterwards Bishop of Linco n.
"Now, for the better ordering of their proceedings, his Majesty recommended the following rules, by them to be most carefully observed.
1. The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit.
2. The names of the prophets, and the holy writers, with their other names in the text, to be retained, as near as may be, according as they are vulgarly used.
3. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz., the word Church not to be translated Congregation, &c.
4. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of faith.
5. The division of the chapters to be altered either not at all, or as little as may be, if necessity so require.
6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in
7. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit reference of one scripture to another.
8. Every particular man of each company to take the same chapter, or chapters; and having translated or amended them severally by himself, where he thinks good, all to meet together, confer what they have done, and agree for their part what shall stand.
9. As any one company hath despatched any one book in this manner, they shall send it to the rest, to be considered of seriously and judiciously; for his Majesty is very careful in this point. 10. If any company, upon the review of the book so sent, shall doubt or differ upon any places, to send them word thereof, note the places, and therewithal send their reasons; to which, if they consent not, the difference to be compounded at the general meeting, which is to be of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work.
11. When any place of special obscurity is doubted of, letters to be directed by authority, to send to any learned in the land, for his judgment in such a place.
12. Letters to be sent from every bishop to the rest of his clergy, admonishing them of this translation in hand; and to move and charge as many as, being skilful in the tongues, have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular observations to the company, either at Westminster, Cambridge, or Oxford.
13. The directors in each company to be the Deans of Westminster and Chester for that place: and the King's Professors in Hebrew and Greek in each university.
14. These translations to be used, when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible, viz.,
"Besides the said directions before-mentioned, three or four of the most ancient and grave divines in either of the universities, not employed in translating, to be assigned by the vicechancellor, upon conference with the rest of the heads, to be overseers of the translations, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the fourth rule above specified.
"And now after long expectation and great desire," says Mr. Fuller, "came forth the new translation of the Bible (most beautifully printed) by a select and competent number of divines appointed for that purpose; not being too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things might haply escape them. Who neither coveting praise for expedition, nor fearing reproach for slackness, (seeing in a business of moment none deserve blame for convenient slowness,) had expended almost three years in the work, not only examining the channels by the fountain, translations with the original, which was absolutely necessary, but also comparing channels with channels, which was abundantly useful in the Spanish, Italian, French, and Dutch (German) languages. These, with Jacob, rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well of life; so that now, even Rachel's weak women may freely come both to drink themselves and water the flocks of their families at the same.
"Leave we then those worthy men now all gathered to their fathers and gone to God, however they were requited on earth, well rewarded in heaven for their worthy work. Of whom, as also of that gracious KING that employed them, we may say, Wheresoever the Bible shall be preached or read in the whole world, there shall also this that they have done be told in memorial of them." Ibid. p. 57, &c.
The character of James I. as a scholar has been greatly underrated. In the Hampton Court conference he certainly showed a clear and ready comprehension of every subject brought before