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quated opinions and dull ethics, and were restrained only by an indomitable force in the popular mind, from proceeding to more open impiety. Yet the Spaldings and Abraham Tellers, the Semlers and Zollikoffers prepared the way for a bolder race, the men who, within the last fifty years, have openly denied miracles, prophecy, and all positive revelation. Their day, however, we have good reason to believe, is fast declining; and scriptural theology, with the piety of the heart, and some good measure of christian liberality, is gaining the ascendancy in Germany.
We think that we see much reason for admiring the wisdom of God in permitting that unhappy class to run its course. By the universal sifting which has been given to the science and art of interpreting ancient books, prejudices have been broken up, many exegetical errors, which had lurked under implicit adoption from the sanction of custom, have been brought to a fair review, the theory of impartial interpretation has been demonstrated, and its practice confirmed. A transition class of Bible-scholars, if we may so call it, was created, forming the middle age between such men as Heyne, Eichhorn, and Paulus, and the school of Neander, Tholuck, and Nitzsche. Of this intermediate class, the late Frederick Rosenmüller may be taken as the representative. In their writings we find much that demands our approbation and our thanks, and much to awaken our grief. They resemble honourable and veracious men of the world, who tell us the truth upon matters of fact, but trouble not themselves about reasonings and deductions from the facts. So these critics scrutinize the words and sentences of Scripture with the same rigid impartiality as they would the Dialogues of Plato; and they bring out the sentiments held by the apostles just as matters comprised in the history of the human mind; but there they stop. Up to this point we go with them, and we thank them for their ample contributions ; but here we are compelled to a mournful separation. They seem to think it no duty of theirs to embrace the doctrines which the scripture-writers taught, nor even any business of theirs to ask the serious question, What is truth?
But their criticism and philology brings us to a solid footing. Upon the testimony of the very men who are indifferent to the truth or falsehood of the gospel, we are enabled to ground additional evidences and confirmations of our belief. They evince that such and such doctrines were held by Paul and John, upon the moral state of man, upon the method of redemption, and upon the influence of the Divine Spirit: and we receive those doctrines as the TRUTH OF GOD.
Is it not then manifest, that a thorough acquaintance with the CRITICISM of the Bible, as the necessary foundation of its just InTERPRETATION, is of the greatest importance in a course of theological education? In these days of universal inquiry, when all sentiments are put to the question, not only should the ministers of the gospel, but Christians universally, of each sex and in all the walks of society, make themselves acquainted with the nature, principles, and details of Biblical criticism.
But, one hundred and fifty years ago, this study seems to have
forsaken our land. Of late years, by the force of imperative circumstances, our countrymen have had their attention loudly called to it. Yet this has been chiefly, as to both the excitement and the means of satisfying it, by the influence of translations from German anthors, or their works published in Latin. But, neither in that imported form, nor in books of native origin, have we possessed any book to wbich an inquirer could be referred for a complete and comprehensive view of this interesting subject. The works of Bishop Marsh and Mr. Hartwell Horne; the translations from Michaelis, Ernesti, Pareau, and some others; and a few valuable books produced in New England by Stuart, Stowe, and the writers in the American Biblical Repository, with all their worth and usefulness, do not present any single work adequate to our purpose, nor conjoined would they compose one.
Great, therefore, is onr pleasure and thankfulness, that we can now point to a work, which seems to approach as nearly to completeness as the nature of the subject will admit.
This is a large and closely printed volume, comprehending the whole field of the philology of both the Old and the New Testament, and minutely discussing every part of it. It consists of twenty-six lectures, so rich in matter, appropriate, condensed, and well digested, that the Table of Contents alone occupies twelve pages in small type. Our limits, therefore, will permit us to give only a rapid indication of some among the principal subjects that are discussed.
The first Lecture treats of the Nature, Importance, and Sources of Bible-criticism. We extract from it the following passage, which furnishes a specimen of the spirit in which the whole work is composed :
"- Considerable training is requisite to the production of an accomplished biblical scholar. A long course of instruction and of study must go before high attainments in this, as well as other departments of knowledge. You should particularly attend to the manner in which men of acknowledged eminence have proceeded, before you attempt criticism yourselves. It is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the unskilful and the ignorant; and we would not have you expose yourselves to the imputation of rashness, or the charge of presumption. Above all, seek to have a right spirit within; a spirit created by the Holy Ghost, and matured in its holy tendency by his hallowing influences. God has given you his word to he a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. Pray that this lamp may shine into your souls to scatter their dark ness and their ignorance, by imparting the light of the kpowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
The author proceeds to treat upon the Sources of Evidence for ascertaining the genuine Text of the Sacred Records.
I. Manuscripts. This subject occupies the whole of the second Lecture. It is treated with regard to Hebrew copies of the Old Testament books, and more at length with respect to the Greek of the New; a difference proportioned to the amplitude of the materials.
II. The ancient Versions, of both the Old and the New Testament, are the subjects of the next eight Lectures. It may be well supposed, from this extent of discussion, that the history, character, and utility of these venerable documents, are not treated slightly. In particular, the Septuagint receives a very minute and careful attention. The histories and legends concerning it, as given by Aristobulus, the assumed Aristeas, Philo, Josephus, and Epiphanius, are candidly scrutinized. The learned author does not yield himself to the sweeping excisions and condemnatory judgment of Humfrey Hody; and, in the same calm and temperate disposition, he dissents from the conjectures of Jahn, Bauer, Gesenius, Stuart, Lee, and Tychsen, concerning the internal character of this Version, as compared with the ancient Samaritan. He concludes his discussions, which occupy the whole of Lect. III. with the following paragraph :
" The merits of the LXX. have been generally acknowledged, and its critical use recognized, by all scholars. Among all the ancient translations of the Old Testament, it bears the highest reputation, whether we consider its antiquity or internal value. It is much older than any Hebrew MSS. we now possess; and its authors must have had better opportunities of knowing the Hebrew language, in proportion as they lived nearer the time when it was a living tongue. It shows us, not only the state of the tert at the time when it was made, but also the sense attached to it. But no one competent to judge will deny that it has many errors and imperfections, showing that its real value is by no means commensurate with its high reputation. Most, if not all of the translators, were not competent to the task they undertook. They were not sufficiently acquainted with the two languages; nor did they exhibit a due regard to etymology, grammar, or orthography. The whole version is rather free than literal ; figures and metaphors are resolved, and later Jewish dogmas are frequently referred to. With all the deductions, however, that must be made, and all the mistakes into which we may suppose the translators to have fallen, it is an important help in the emendation of the Hebrew text, as also in its interpretation. It has even indirectly contributed to the interpretation of the New Testament, being written in the same language, and exhibiting the same idioms. Few will deny that it should be read and studied by every biblical scholar, as furnishing essential service in the right understanding of those Scriptures which were given for the enlightenment and salvation of men.”
Our necessary limits oblige us to contract the further account of this rich volume, and to do little more than mention the subjects of the remaining Lectures. Lect. XI. is on the quotations of ancient writers, chiefly, of course, the Greek and Latin Fathers, as sources of information in ascertaining the genuine text of Scripture. Lect. XII. treats the question of conjectural emendation, which the author absolutely discards. Lect. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. are occupied with the details of critical investigation concerning those passages of the New Testament having a diversity of reading, upon which the most important consequences have been supposed to depend, with regard either to theological doctrines or the integrity of the sacred text. Those passages must be pretty well known to our readers. They are the following :
1 John v. and part of verses 7 and 8. The Professor carefully weighs the evidence on both sides, and concludes, as the result of clear moral demonstration, that the passage is not a genuine part of the Epistle of St. John: and he further observes,
“ I am also of opinion that too much stress has been laid on this clause by
the orthodox in general, as if it contained an indubitable proof of the doctrine [of the Holy Trinity.] Granting its authenticity, I would not place it beside other texts relating io the same subject, I think it far from being decisive, or even applicable to the point.-It seems to be entirely foreign from the design of the writer and the scope of his argument, to understand the words ēv sioi, supposing them to be authentic, of unity of essence or nature. Consent, or unaninity of purpose, would clearly accord with the preceding context; but consubstantiality would mar the connexion, and destroy the coherence of the passage."
1 Tim. iii. 16. The learned Professor gives his suffrage in favour of the common reading, Oeós.
John vii. 52, to viii. 11. Decidedly in favour of the genuineness of the passage.
Acts xx. 28. “On the whole, I am inclined to adopt toũ Kupiou (the Lord) as the probable reading. It is best supported by external evidence; and the internal is at least equally strong with that for To Otou (God.”]
Matt. vi. 13. With great hesitation and reluctance, Dr. Davidson acknowledges that he “ cannot avoid coming to the conclusion against the authenticity of the words,” and that they were transferred from the customary doxology of the ancient Liturgies.
Mark xvi. 9-20. This large passage Mr. Granville Penn, in his " Annotations on the Book of the New Covenant,” has rejected, with great dogmatical boldness: herein, however, following several of the most distinguished German critics, both such as were and such as were not anti-supernaturalists, we must express our apprebension that Dr. Davidson has scarcely done justice to the adverse party : but happily, in his supplementary observations and Appendix, at the close of the volume, he remedies this defect. He considers the evidence in favour as quite sufficient to rebut the objections, and to establish the authenticity of the passage. Professor Moses Stuart has some good observations on the same side, in refutation of Mr, Norton, of Harvard University, in the American Biblical Repository, Jan. 1839.
John v. 3, 4. The author admits that there are weighty reasons for doubt; but not, in his view, " sufficient to counterbalance the great number of MSS., versions, and fathers, that are decidedly favourable to its authenticity.”
Lect. XVIII. On the causes of the various readings. Lect. XIX. The History of the text of the Old Testament, and a review of the most valuable printed editions. Lect. XX. The History of the New Testament text, revisions, and editions. We take a citation ; at the same time premising that it requires some explanation and modifying. It is not usual to call our common version 6 the received text," that phrase being appropriated by most accurate writers to the Hebrew and Greek texts of the ordinary editions. Consequently, the term " the same text," at the close of this citation, is not suitable to the author's precise intention.
"Having thus given a history of the text of the whole Bible, printed and unprinted, and having shown the attempts made to restore it to its genuine purity, it remains for me to say a few words on all that criticism has accomplished. The result of it has been to establish the genuineness of the Old and
New Testament texts in all matters of any importance. No new doctrines have been elicited by its aid: no historical facts have been summoned forth from their obscurity by means of it. All the doctrines and duties remain unaffected. Of what utility then bas it been to the world? Why all the labour and prodigious industry expended? Have all the resources of modern criticism been thrown away? We believe they have not. They have proved that there is no material corruption in the records of inspiration. They have shown in the most successful manner that, during the lapse of so many centuries, the text of the Holy Scriptures has been preserved in a surprising degree of purity; and that it has not been extensively tampered with by bold and daring hands." (We think that the Professor might have spoken more strongly ; for, with scarcely an exception, the various readings seem to have proceeded from inadvertence, haste, or a mistaken but honest belief in the genuineness of the reading preferred.] “We discover that it is very nearly in the same state as that in which it was found 1700 years ago. The German critics, with their immense researches, have not been able to show that the common text varies in any matter of serious moment, from that which they recommend. It is substantially the same as their own proposed texts, and entitled to as much attention, until they establish to the satisfaction of the great body of thinking men, the changes which they wish to make. It has taught us to view the Scriptures, as we now have them, in the light of the infallible word of God. We may boldly challenge the opponent of the Bible to show that this book has been materially corrupted. Empowered and emboldened by the fruits of criticism we may well say that the Holy Scriptures remain essentially the same as they originally proceeded from the writers. We need not therefore be under any alarm when we hear of the vast collection of various readings accumulated by the collators of MSS., and by the critical editors of the Bible. They are in general of a trifling nature, resembling the differences of orthography, that we find in the writings of different authors, and the varieties in the collocation in which the varying taste of writers puts the same words. Confident therefore of the general integrity of our religious records, we can look upon upwards of 100,000 various readings in the New Testament alone, without alarm; since they are so very unimportant as not to affect our belief. I thank my God that I am thus assured of the immoveable ground of my faith, and that I am able to walk over that sacred field which he has given me to contemplate and to explore, as his own glorious and gracious production. My faith in the integrity of his word is not a blind or superstitious principle, when I perceive that all the results of learning incontestably show that the Bible, as we have it at present, may be [has a right to be regarded as the sacred gift of heaven, whose spuriousness no effort of infidelity can expect to demonstrate. Let the illiterate and plain reader of the Bible also take comfort to himself, when he learns that the received text, to which he is accustomed, is substantially the same as that which men of the greatest learning, the most unwearied diligence, and the severest babits of study, have elicited from a prodigious heap of documents. Let him go forward with a heart grateful to the God of salvation, who has put him in possession of the same text as is possessed by the great biblical editors, whose names are so well known in the literature of the Scriptures."
Lect. XXI. On the divisions of the Hebrew and Greek Testaments into paragraphs, chapters, verses, &c.
Lect. XXII. and XXIII. On the History and characteristics of the Hebrew language; the diversities of style in the different writers of the Old Testament, the Hebrew vowel-points, &c.
Lect. XXIV. On the language and style of the New Testament.
Lect. XXV. On the Greek article. We are happy to see that Dr. Davidson does justice to the excellent work of Bishop Middleton on this subject, and vindicates it against the objections of Professor Stuart.