« PrécédentContinuer »
sertation immediately preceding, it was the first written book of the New Testament.
The dispersion of the Jews throughout the Greek Empire, the Septuagint translation, and the public addresses of the Elders to the Greek Jews in their Synagogues, had, as intimated, already effected certain idiomatic changes on the Greek employed in teaching the Law of Moses and expounding the Old Testament Scriptures ; but these only embraced, and could only embrace, ideas connected with Judaism. More was wanted to adapt it for the general diffusion of the religion of Jesus. Hitherto uninspired men had used their best endeavours to clothe Hebrew phraseology in the garb of another language: but in the Apocalypse we have it under a Divine sanction, and adapted to the Christian dispensation. So far, therefore, as concerns language, the Apocalypse may be considered as an initiatory or elementary work, -as the Rudiments of the New Testament Greek; and hence the number of Hebraisms, and peculiar forms of speech, which pervade this book : for a rigid adherence to what may be called the technical phraseology, is inseparable from the nature of an elementary work, and more especially, when a large portion of it has been before in use in another language and that language the one in which all the Prophecies were
written, to which the Apostles were to appeal when proclaiming the glad news, that the promise made to the fathers was fulfilled by God in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Many have laboured to prove, that the entire phraseology of the New Testament is perfectly consonant to the usage of the Greek historians, philosophers and poets; but in this attempt they have shown a zeal without knowlege. The formation of the idiom of which I have been speaking was indispensable; and this idiom pervades the New Testament, but especially the Apocalypse. The assertion, however, of some men, that the Greek scriptures abound in lingual inaccuracies, does not appear to me to be well founded. In those portions which I have had occasion particularly to examine, I have found the converse to be so invariably true, as to lead me to conclude, that a stronger proof cannot be given by any person, that he has not made himself acquainted with the New Testament idiom, than his venturing to charge the sacred penmen with violations of grammar.
In fact they understood the grammar of the language better than those who quarrel with them ; or, which comes to the same point, their adherence to the rules of grammar is so rigid as to repel every assault, and to place the acquirements of the critic, who makes the attack, in a very questionable point of view.--How do such men generally proceed ? They meet with some supposed violation,--they substitute the idea or mode of speech which they conceive to be intended :—they read on and presently meet with something which does not harmonise with the imposed sense; and a new violence is then committed, to prevent obscurity. The text again resists this : the Critic, never questioning his own judgment, blunders on, till he has lost the sense entirely : and then, instead of retracing his steps, or even trying what would be the result of allowing the author to speak in his own language, charges him with solecisms and violations of grammar.
In offering these remarks nothing can be farther from my mind than a personal allusion to individuals. Indeed it would be unjust to charge any, who, to the best of their ability, have laboured to explain the sacred pages, with having wilfully employed other than legitimate means to make out the sense. The points which I would establish are simply these : that, to admit any proposed sense, resting on a supposed violation of language in the author, is highly injudicious, in as much as it tends to set farther inquiry at rest; that it is dangerous, because we may thereby receive, as revealed truth, what is a mere human fiction; that it is, in every case, safer to remain ignorant of the true, than to receive a false sense; and, in a word, when the
assumed sense implies a violation of the rules of grammar, on the part of the inspired penman, that no other evidence is wanted to prove, that the critic, or translator, has missed the meaning of the passage. And I am persuaded that, till this shall be received and acted upon, as an invariable rule, we never shall obtain any thing like a correct version of the Scriptures.
In translating the Apocalypse if the verbal sense be not given correctly, the version will, of necessity, mislead. Every one sees that the book is difficult; and every one may see too, that this was designed by the Revealer. It was not intended that it should, as it were, counteract its own predictions :-its enemies were to be left to act as if it had never been written. One principal cause of the difficulty of the book is, the mode of expression, which at first sight appears quite easy, and the translation obvious, even to a school-boy; but a close examination shows the Greek intricate, and the translation false, as not agreeing with the nature of the Greek expression, or of the Hebrew phrase of which it is often the representative. In the same chapter and in the same recital unexpected changes of tenses and cases are frequently obvious in the original. This fact is undeniable; but, if we disregard them, we throw away one of the principal means employed, in this prophecy, to guide the reader to the sense.
This subject is important; and it may prove useful, before we advance any farther, to illustrate it by a short reference.
John writes in several characters: nor does he ever deviate from the style proper to each in its place.
The Revelation was gioen TO SHOW to God's servants, things which were shortly to come to pass and the things seen were to be WRITTEN in a book, and sent to the seven congregations : that is, the things SHOWN, were to be accompanied with such a detail of the circumstances of the vision, as might enable the reader to “HEAR,” that is, to understand “The WORDS OF THE PROPHECY." Accordingly, on some occasions, John records, simply, as a Historian, what he saw or heard ; and on others he becomes, as it were, the Exhibitor, calling upon the reader TOSEE, which in the sense of the Greek term, idoù (ecce], signifies also to hear, when the attention is called to sounds or words. The transition from the one style to the other is always sudden, and in some places frequent, but should be constantly regarded. Sometimes when he drops the participial mode of speech, (that usually employed when he introduces the servants of THE OMNIPOTENT to behold the vision,) it is for the purpose of explanation; which, of necessity, requires another form of expression :-in one word, on such occasions he adopts the language proper to an Expositor. Thus, in the fourth