« AnteriorContinuar »
character endeared her to the people in every parish where het. husband has officiated as Pastor; and whose tender feelings of sympathy for distress, unwearied activity of benevolence, and constant anxiety to promote the happiness of all whom her kind offices can reach, are still known, and will long be remembered with approbation, in the circle where Providence has blessed her with opportunities of doing good. By her Dr. MACKNIGHT had four Sons. The eldest, a very promising child, died at the age of seven. Another reached the age of thirty-three, after having suffered much from a lingering distemper, which at last proved fatal to him. The loss of this very amiable young man, was the chief distress which Dr. MACKNIGHT experienced in the course of his long and useful life. Of his family now remaining, one is engaged in a department of the Profession of the Law, and the other is a Clergyman of the Church of Scotland.
This plain and cursory narrative, which must now be brought to a close, is another proof of what has frequently been remarked, that the history of men whose lives have been spent in the acquisitions of learning, are generally barren of those incidents which excite an interest in the details of biography. Continually occupied with the duties of his office, with his studies, and his writings, Dr. MACKNIGHT seldoin mingled in what may be called the bustle of the world, and had no share in the political transactions of the day. For engaging in these, indeed, as already hinted, he was little qualified, either by the natural bent of his mind, or by his usual habits of life. But he has left behind him a reputation superior to that which is conferred by the pursuits of ambition, or the lustre of events creating only a temporary interest in the passions of men; and his name will probably be remembered with veneration, as long as the study of divine truth continues to be cultivated in the Christian world:
The new translation of the apostolical epistles being the principal part of the work now offered to the public, it will, no doubt, be expected that the author should give the reasons which induced him to undertake a performance of this sort, after the many versions of the scriptures already published. The principles also on which this translation is formed, must be explained, that the reader may understand in what respects it will differ from other versions. And as the commentary and notes, with the prefaces and essays, have greatly increased the size of the work, some account must be given of what is done in them towards explaining the meaning of the sacred oracles.
SECTION 1. Of the ancient translations of the Scriptures ; and of their influence on the
modern versions. - With respect to the reasons which induced the author to attempt a new translation of the apostolical epistles, he acknowledges, that the versions of the scriptures used at present by the different nations of Europe, have been faithfully made, accord. ing to the skill of the persons who made them; and that the common people who read any of these versions can be at no loss to know the fundamental articles of the christian faith. Nevertheless, a new translation of these divinely inspired writings cannot be thought superfluous, unless it could be said with truth of some one of the versions extant, that it is every where accurate, intelligible, and unambiguous. But this, it is supposed, no good judge will take upon him to affirm,
The learned, in reading the ancient and modern versions of the scriptures, must be sensible that there is a remarkable agreement among them, especially in their translations of the difficult passages. Now, though at first sight this may be thought a proof of their accuracy, the inference is by no means safe. That agreement may have proceeded, not from the justness of the translation, but from the subsequent translators treading in
the steps of those who went before them. And that they actually did so, will appear from what follows.
During the first and following age, the disciples of Christ being numerous in the countries where the Syriac was the vulgar language, a translation of the writings of the apostles and evangelists into that language became absolutely necessary, after the gift of tongues, and of the interpretation of tongues, had ceased in the church. Wherefore, a Syriac translation of the books of the new testament was very early made, for the use of the christians in the east, who did not understand the Greek. This, with the Syriac translation of the Hebrew scriptures, is what the Maronites, who use that translation, call The pure and ancient Syriac version, (simplicem et antiquam. Mill's Prolegomena, No. 1237. Kuster's edition.) But the Maronites speak without proof, when they say a part of that version was made in the time of Solomon, and the rest by Thaddeus, or some other of the apostles, in the time of Agbarus. It is certain, however, that the Syriac version of the new testament is very ancient. For, from its wanting the second epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the epistle of Jude, and the revelation, and from some other marks of antiquity, Walton and Mill, with great probability, infer that it was made before the whole of the sacred writings were generally known; consequently, that it was made in the beginning of the second century. (See 2 Pet. Pref. Sect. i.) This Syriac version, on account of its antiquity, and because it is in a language noi materially different from that which our Lord and his apostles used, was held in great esteem, in the early ages, by all the eastern churches. But it was not known among us till the sixteenth century, at which time it was brought into Europe, from Ignatius, the patriarch of Antioch, by an eastern priest; and falling into the hands of Albert Widmanstad, he printed it at Vienna, in the year 1555; since which it hath been well known to the learned in Europe, and well received by them all*.
The reasons which occasioned a Syriac translation of the scriptures to be made in the east, operated likewise in producing
• Mill, by testimonies perfectly convincing, (No. 1237.) hath established the antiquity and authenticity of the first Syriac version. Afterwards, in the fifth century, as is supposed, a second Syriac translation of the old testament was made from the Septuagint, as set forth in Origen's Hexapla, and of the new, according to Mill, from a Greek copy precisely the same with that from which the Italic or vulgate Version was taken. But, for the reasons afterwards to be mentioned, (page 5.) it is more probable that it was taken from the vulgate itself. In this second Syriac version, the epistles wanting in the first, together with the history of the adultress, John viii, are translated.
a Latin translation of the same writings, for the use of the christians in the west. This is what hath been called the old Italic version, which, as Mill conjectures, (No. 308.) was made in the time of Pope Pius I. that is, in the middle of the second century, not long after the first Syriac version was made. In the Italic version, the new testament was translated from the Greek, and the old, not from the Hebrew, but from the Septuagint, which at that time was generally believed to have been made by inspiration, and was esteemed of equal authority with the Hebrew itself. But the edition of the Septuagint from which it was made being very incorrect, Jerome, about the year 382, at the desire of pope Damasus, translated the old testament into Latin from the LXX. as set forth in Origen's Hexapla; and, at the same time, corrected the Italic translation of the new testament by the Greek. (See Mill, No. 852, 853.) In his preface, however, Jerome informs us, (No. 1356.) that he corrected it only in those passages where he thought the meaning of the Greek text was misrepresented. The other passages, in which the deviations from the original were of less importance, he suffered to remain as he found them, that his might not appear to be very different from the former edition of the Italic version, which at that time was universally used. Afterwards, between the years 392 and 405, Jerome translated all the books of the old testament from the Hebrew. This second version, as well as his corrections of the Italic translation of the new testament, being disapproved by many of the bishops and learned men of that age, as lessening the credit of the old translation, a new edition of the Italic version was compiled, in which its translations of the Psalms, and of some other books of the old testament, were retained, (Simon Hist. Crit. L. ii. c. 7.) and Jerome's second version of the rest were adopted, together with his corrected translation of the new testament. The Italic version of the bible, thus modelled and amended, is what hath long been known in the church by the name of the Vulgate. And though at the first that edition was rejected by many who adhered to the Italic translation in its primitive form; yet the prejudices of the public subsiding by degrees, it came at length into such general esteem, that it was substituted in place of the Italic, which had been long publicly read in the western churches, and in all the churches of Africa, (No. 546.) And thus the vulgate became the only version of the scriptures, used in the Latin church, down to the times of the reformation.
The Italic translation of the new testament having been made from copies of the original, nearly as ancient as the apostolical age, the readings of these copies exhibited in the vulgate, were considered as so authentic, that in the fifth and following centuries, some of the transcripts of the Greek testament were corrected by the vulgate. In this manner, the famous Alexandrian MS. was corrected, if we may believe Wetstein, (see Pref. to his Greek testament) as likewise, according to Mill, (No. 1457. 1479.) were the Vatican and the St. Germain copies; and, according to Kuster, some others. (See his Preface.) Nay, Mill himself thought the readings of the vulgate so authentic, that he imagined certain passages of our present Greek testament might, by these readings, be restored to what he calls their primitive integrity. (No. 1309. 133.) Be this as it may, if the vulgate edition of the Italic version was in such esteem as to be used anciently in correcting the Greek copies, we may well believe that the persons who translated the new testament into the Syriac, the second time, and into the other eastern languages, would be much guided by the vulgate, or by the versions which followed it. Hence, in the second Syriac, and other eastern versions, there is such a surprising agreement with the vulgate, that Mill once thought them translations actually made from it. (No. 1249.) Afterwards, indeed, to give the greater authority to the readings of the vulgate, he supposed the Greek copies, from which these oriental versions were made, were the same with the copy from which the Italic was taken. (No. 1250.) But it can hardly be thought that these translators met with copies of the original exactly similar to that from which the Italic was made. The general esteem in which that version first, and afterwards the vulgate, was held in the early ages, makes it more probable that the oriental versions copied the Italic, or vulgate*, as the Italic itself seems to have been copied from, or corrected † by the first Sy. riac translation. What confirms this conjecture is, that the
* If what is alleged above be true, namely, that the most ancient copies of the Greek testa. ment were corrected by the vulgate, and that the Ethiopic, the second Syriac, the Arabic, and other oriental versions of the new testament were translations from the vulgate, it will follow that the readings of these ancient MSS. and versions, are to be considered in no other light than as the readings of the yulgate. The same judgment must be passed on the readings of the Savon version; for it was made from the vulgate. Wherefore, though, at first sight, the agree. ment of so many MSS. and versions in any reading, may seem to aid weight to that rading; yet, in so far as these MSS. were corrected by the vulgate, and the versions mentioned were made fron it, their agreement in that reading is of less consequence, as the authority of the whole resolves itself'ultimately into that of the rulgate.
+ The agroement of the Italic with the first Syriac, is shown by Beza, in many passages of his Dotes.