Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

contents, much less upon an addition of any matter on his own responsibility1. Even if we grant (although it seems doubtful) that the 52nd chapter was added by Baruch, this does not constitute an exception to the statement made above, inasmuch as chapter 51 ends with words introduced specially to guard against any identification of the writer of the final one with the prophet. Lastly, if Baruch had felt himself empowered to add on his own authority to the words of Jeremiah, he would surely have given us an account of an event of such deep interest to himself and his readers as the prophet's death. 'Plainly there was a clearly defined distinction between the war.ds of a prophet and those of the uninspired man V

7. Thus then the very lack of order, if we may say so, which is displayed here, serves a valuable end in shewing that we possess the words of Jeremiah put together in those same troublous times in the course of which they were spoken, not arranged with the care and method which would have been afterwards employed to remodel and fit them to men's notions of propriety. It is not the Book of Jeremiah edited by a future generation, but his words, as they fell from the inspired lips themselves, that are thus in God's Providence preserved to us.

8. The question of which we have just treated, how far the Book of Jeremiah, as we now have it, gives us the exact words of the prophet himself, is closely connected with another, which we cannot omit to notice. It is well known that the earliest existing translation of the Old Testament is that made into Greek3 for the use of the Jews and others, speaking that tongue, who lived at Alexandria in Lower Egypt (about B. C. 277). This translation for the most part adheres with tolerable fidelity to the Hebrew as we now possess it. But the Book of Jeremiah presents in places so startling an exception to this rule, that some

1 The same is shewn by the style, which is so markedly the same throughout the Book.

2 See Speaker's Commentary, p. 323, and for the explanation given above of the lack of order, p. 322.

s Commonly called the Septuagint, or LXX., from the number of translators said to have been employed for the purpose by Ptolemy Philadelphus.

have been induced to enquire, which is to be followed? Can it be that the Greek is in this case the more correct, and that the Hebrew represents a later edition of the writings of the prophet?

9. Looking first at the facts of the case we find

(a) that in the LXX., as compared with the Hebrew, there are very.few additions, but an immense number of trifling omissions besides some of more importance. On the whole in the LXX. about one-eighth part of the text as it stands in the Hebrew is wanting. There is besides a certain amount of alteration of passages, affecting the sense.

(p) The arrangement of the prophecies against foreign nations differs in the two. In the LXX. instead of coming near the end of the Book (chaps. xlvi.—li.) they stand after chap. xxv. 13, and therefore before the section of kindred subject-matter which begins chap. xxv. 14. Also their order of sequence among themselves differs. See § 13 below.

10. This difference between the Hebrew and Greek forms of the Book existed in the time of Origen. In his Epistle to Africanus (p. 56, Migne Edition), he speaks of Jeremiah as a book' in which we found much transposition and alteration of the words of the prophecies.' It is clear however (and this is an important point to notice) that it is not a case of two independent collections of Jeremiah's writings, since then the differences would extend over the whole work with tolerable evenness, instead of being confined in great measure to certain parts of it, and further (as a German commentator1 remarks) we should not find the peculiar form of Introduction to the Book (noticed above) virtually the same, and chap. lii. added in both. Besides both forms of the Book must have existed very early, for, as soon as one authoritative form became known (a thing which would naturally take place in a very brief period with a prophet so illustrious and honoured as Jeremiah was in the eyes of his banished countrymen), no other differing to the extent that the

1 Graf, Einleitung, lvi.

Greek form differs could venture to compete with it. Still there is sufficient difference to make it interesting to enquire, which text represents Jeremiah's own arrangement most truly.

Ii. Some1 maintain the claims of the LXX., others* those of the Hebrew3.

By the former is pleaded:

(a) That the earlier position of the prophecies directed against foreign nations is that which they are more likely to have occupied in Jeremiah's roll (compare the words of xxv. 13). To this it may be replied that Jeremiah himself or Baruch might well have deemed the end of the Book the fitting place for them, written as they may have been on separate parchments, and by this position leaving the prophecies which had to do with the Jews themselves distinct and preceding them. See further, however, in note on xxv. 13.

(b) That chaps. xxix. 16—20, xxxiii. 14—26, xxxix. 4—13, Hi. 28—30 and some shorter passages do not occur in the LXX., and are not of a character to be accidentally omitted. For remarks on these see notes.

(c) That chap. xxv. 26 (last words of verse) introduces in Hebrew a Kabalistic mode of naming (omitted in LXX.) which Jeremiah would not have made use of. See note on verse for reply.

By the latter is pleaded:

Either (a) The arbitrary character of the renderings in the LXX. So Graf4, "After the innumerable instances given above of the arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Alexandrian trans.. lator it is altogether impossible to give his new edition—for one can scarcely call it a translation—any critical authority, or to draw from it any conclusion as to the Hebrew text having ever

1 e.g. Michaelis, Movers, Hitzig, Bleek.

3 e.g. St Jerome, and many others in ancient times; among moderns, Ewald, Havernick, Keil, and others.

3 For further remarks on the respective claims of Heb. and LXX., see note on chap. xxv. 13.

4 Einleitung, lvi., translated as above in Speaker's Commentary.

existed in a different form from that in which we have it at present."

Or (b) That, without bringing any such charge of arbitrariness against the Greek translator, the general nature of the omissions (about 2700 words in all) points to the conclusion that necessity for haste, not caprice, was the motive. The omissions here spoken of are such as do not curtail the sense, viz. the words 'the prophet' after 'Jeremiah,' the words 'saith the Lord,' or any such expression as 'the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,' instead of simply 'the Lord.' On the death of Jeremiah, which seems to have occurred soon after Baruch had been forcibly conveyed to Egypt, the latter, both in deference to the opinion of his master and through dislike of the princes (chap. xliii. 3), who had brought him there, would desire to return. Several persons may then have been employed to transcribe in all haste, probably on more than one parchment roll, the original words which Baruch would undoubtedly wish to bring back to Palestine with himself. There occur in the course of the Book but few omissions which may not be explained on this hypothesis, which is that of Dean Payne Smith1. The LXX. is simply the Greek translation of this the authoritative form of the Book among the Egyptian exiles. Finally the frequency of intercourse between Egypt and Palestine caused the speedy addition of chap. Hi. to the text possessed by the former.

12. Such a conjecture, in a matter which cannot but be obscure, is perhaps as good a one as can be offered. At any rate we find that Ezra and the men of the 'great Synagogue,' to whose labours we owe in so large a measure the determination of the Canon of the Old Testament, deliberately adopted the — Hebrew form of the Book in preference to the Greek. That therefore is the form which had authority for the Jews of Palestine, and through them has now authority for us.

13. The following Table shews how, as has been said above in § 9 (b), the order of succession of the prophecies against foreign nations differs in the two.

1 Speaker's Commentary, Vol. v. p. 324.

[ocr errors]

Thereupon the LXX. (chap, xxxii.,- etc.) takes up the Heb. chap. xxv. 15, etc.

« AnteriorContinuar »