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attempting to collate the New Testament quotations from the Old Testament, with the Septuagint. I had no intention of opposing him, in any other way than as every fallible man, sincerely investigating truth, should be willing to be opposed by another sincere inquirer, who deems him mistaken in some particular, and wishes to attain further information and satisfaction respecting it; or who desires that it should be fairly examined and determined, for the common benefit.
I never intimated, or suspected, that Dr. A. Clarke had hastily taken up his opinion: but I thought it too unqualified, and in a measure erroneous. I have met with similar assertions in other writers; and I wished to draw the attention of the more learned part of your readers to the subject.
There is no doubt that the sacred writers of the New Testament in many instances quote the Septuagint literatim; in still more verbatim; and in a great majority of the quotations, as to the substance, though with variations in the words themselves. But the question is, Do they always thus quote the Septuagint? This is the point at issue, and which I desire to have determined.
I make no pretensions to those kinds and degrees of learning which your correspondent demands; but I thought, and still think, that, by comparing even the Roman edition of the Septuagint, with a Greek Testament where most of the different readings are found, the above stated question might be decided: but, if this cannot be done without that multifarious learning which
Dr. A. Clarke requires, I can only give it as my opinion that it never will be determined..
I before intimated, and I now more expressly avow, my sincere desire of assistance, and even candid correction, from the learned; especially those who have access to sources of information from which I am necessarily excluded.
If the Septuagint be, for substance, quoted in the New Testament, in all places except where a various reading, either in the one or the other, can be well supported, so as to reconcile satisfactorily every apparent discordancy; then the question is answered affirmatively: and this concession shews that, however valuable the qualifications and preparations are which your correspondent requires, (and the want of them does not induce me to depreciate them,) they are not essentially necessary to the inquiry. But, if many instances may be adduced, in which no satisfactory various reading can be substantiated, and yet the quotation in the New Testament differs materially from the Septuagint; then the question is determined negatively. This latter is my present opinion; but, conscious of incompetency on the more recondite parts of criticism, I crave information, and am open to conviction; especially when any learned man, who once thought as I do, will favour me with his reasons for changing his opinion,
It still appears to me, that, if the Septuagint was the fountain whence all their quotations are 'drawn,' the writers of the New Testament have established the Septuagint as the genuine scripture, with all the authority of inspiration, and
in preference to the Hebrew text. I own, I cannot see how this conclusion, from such unqualified premises, can be avoided: and I shall be glad to see the argument fairly answered. If our blessed Saviour preached in Syriac, and the evangelists recorded his instructions in Greek, their words are not his words, (unless Greek be Syriac,) but a divinely inspired translation of his words into Greek: sometimes in the words of the Septuagint, and sometimes not, as the Lord directed them.
'Our Lord wrote nothing; an author; he did not write publish his own sermons.
that is, he was not
his own history, or This was all which I
meant to say; and not to affirm that he never wrote in any sense. I am, however, ready to allow that even this is rather too unqualified; for the epistles to the seven churches of Asia are his writing, nearly, as the Epistles of St. Paul are his writing; that is, he dictated them to the apostle John as his amanuensis. But this was not during his abode, as man, on earth.
If the Alexandrian Septuagint be the most approved, (which I leave to more competent judges,) then, in the first instance which I adduced, the evangelist quoted the Septuagint. "A Virgin "shall conceive," is not indeed, strictly speaking, a literal translation; yet it would not be easy to give a more literal one, consistent with propriety and the idiom of the two languages.
I am ready to think that axes is the genuine reading, (Matt. i. 23,) because it accords more exactly with the Hebrew: but our venerable translators adopted καλέσεσι. I had no desire to
assume the office of a critic; the passage was a quotation from the Old Testament, and I did not omit it.
After all Dr. A. Clarke's remarks on the third quotation, I can hardly think that learned men in general will maintain the opinion that the evangelist (Matt. ii. 6) meant to quote the Septuagint of Micah v. 2. This, however, I must refer to their decision.
The criticism on Hos. xi. 1, especially on the word, amounts to this, that the word differently pointed, may be rendered differently; (which even I was aware of:) but can these letters, however pointed, regularly mean his sons? The conjecture, however, of the last letter, needful for this rendering, being mistaken for a soph-pashuck, and so dropt by a transcriber, comes in conveniently. Now this is the very thing which I feared, when I called the public attention to the question; namely, the conjectural alteration of the Hebrew text (not the Masoretic points, but the letters,) to make it accord to the Septuagint. And, if the Hebrew be the authentic word of God, who can deny that, in this way, there is great danger of human learning adding to, deducting from, and altering, the language of inspiration.
I must leave it to others to determine how far this instance is happily chosen. If his sons be the genuine reading of the Hebrew, the quotation does not appear to me very apposite, even as an accommodation: and, whatever right inspiration may confer, I cannot conceive of a man being inspired to misquote the sacred scriptures.
The third quotation I reserve for this place. I was at first of opinion that it was an error of the press; and Dr. A. Clarke's paper furnishes instances to bear me out in that opinion. I do
not, however, wish to avail myself of this plea. Probably it was my own blunder; but, whatever else this proves, it does not prove that the writers of the New Testament always quoted from the Septuagint. Q. E. D.
I foresee, Mr. Editor, that both you and your readers will soon be weary of this subject, if it become controversial. But, unless some very special occasion require it, I do not intend to trouble you with any answer to the remarks which may be made on my attempt; but either patiently to endure the castigation, or to leave the decision to your readers; or to put myself under the protection of my more learned brethren, if they should see the cause of truth likely to be hurt through my incompetency in questions ⚫ of deep criticism.
I have formed a plan of improving, and alsò abridging, my original design; in which, if permitted, I shall proceed, as inoffensively as I can.
I trust a high regard to the sacred oracles, united to a firm persuasion that what Bishop Horsley calls the Esdrine edition of the Hebrew Bible is, for substance, the genuine Old Testament Scripture, has engaged me in an attempt, which is not quite congenial either to my turn of mind
'P. 338, Mic. v. 7. should be Mic. v. 2: p. 339, Gen. xlix. 2. should be Gen. xlix. 12.