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is found joined with other Attributive Nouns, precisely as in the Epistles; and, so far as these only are concerned, the sentences in which they occur are to be construed by the same rules, and ought to be translated in a similar manner, So that, till something is determined respecting these rules, we are not in a condition to proceed, with that precision which the subject absolutely demands, in our enquiry into the meaning of the Apocalypse. The reason just stated for discussing the topics which form the subject of this dissertation, is strengthened by another consideration. Various passages in which the combinations occur, which we are about to consider, have been translated in a manner which not only obscures the meaning of the original, but absolutely imposes upon the text a false sense ; and that too on subjects of the first importance. This fact has been so fully established by others who have preceded me, that, on this point, little is required, but, only to endeavour not to do them injustice, in the use which I shall make of their labors; and in pursuing this object I shall, as far as I am able, endeavour to treat it in such a manner, as to enable the common reader to understand it sufficiently to arm him against the effects of distortions imposed on the text by modes of translation, which set all the rules of the language at defiance.
It is but too well known that, unhappily, different sentiments are entertained among men respecting the Divinity of THE Messiah, I speak not now of professed deists, but of those who call themselves Christians; who admit the authority of the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice; and who, notwithstanding, are directly opposed to each other on this doctrine. To what should this be principally attributed ? To the darkness of the Scriptures ? or to the veil cast over these lively oracles by mistranslations ? Few, it is hoped, will seriously maintain that the Divine Record—the only instrument employed by God to enlighten mankind -can, possibly, itself be dark. True it is, that mankind are, naturally, so ignorant, and have their minds so pre-occupied with falsehood and error, that it is exceedingly difficult to have their prejudices removed ; but this is very generally admitted, both by those who assert, and by those who deny, the Divinity of the Messiah; and it is also very generally allowed by both, that whoever be in error, the cause must lie somewhere else than in the writings of the inspired penmen. It is but too common, on questions of this kind, for those who differ, boldly to charge each other with wilful perversion of the scriptures, and a studied suppression of evidence. This is, however, a mode of procedure unworthy of the cause of
truth, and no way suited to enlighten and convince either those who bring the charge, or those against whom it is made: nor can the cause of truth be any way weakened, by admitting, in argument, that the opposing party is as honestly in search of it as those who deem them to be in
It is true, that individuals may be found engaged in this controversy who have some other aim than a simple maintenance of truth ; but it is equally true, that this species of dishonesty may be found not exclusively on one side of the question : nor, in a fairly-conducted argument, should it be assumed that those we oppose are ever found wilfully employing other than legitimate weapons. To the issue it is not necessary that the adversary should be proved dishonest: it is quite sufficient that his armour be shown to be not battle-proof; but this can only be done by using such weapons against him, and in such a manner, as may ultimately leave him defenceless.
It is admitted on all hands that the points in difference, among those who call themselves Christians, can be settled only by an appeal to the Holy Scriptures : and, indeed, all profess to draw their peculiar tenets from the inspired volume. Do these divine records teach opposite and contradictory doctrines ? Who will pre sume to affirm this, and yet call themselves
Christians ? The cause, then, of the differences which exist can only be attributed to the prepossessions and prejudices of the individuals, no matter how acquired; or to ambiguities in translations, when these are followed ; or,—which comes to the same thing,—to ignorance, in a greater or less degree, of the idiom and construction of the original text. Indeed to the latter may be attributed the greater part of the ambiguities of the different versions; and the strong prejudices which occupy the minds of many, may be attributed to the direct, or indirect effect, produced by mistranslations. It is, then, of the greatest importance that the genuine sense of the original, in those passages which occasion the principal differences, should be fully ascertained, so that all ambiguity, whether arising from difference of idiom, the phraseology enployed, or the mode of construction, may be removed, by a strict adherence to the rules of the language in which the original is written, and a close and rigid examination of the modes of speech employed by the writers.
Some notice has been taken (in the preceding Dissertations) of certain Nouns employed by the inspired penmen to designate the Creator of the Universe. It has been shown that the terms of most frequent recurrence, namely Kyrios (Kúpos,commonly rendered the LORD), and the
Theos (á Osòs, commonly rendered God), have been defined by the amanuensis of the Apocalypse; and that the former, except when put for “Adonai,” represents the Hebrew word Jeho vah, of which “The ETERNAL” is a proper English translation; and the latter, the Hebrew word ELOHIM, of which the correct version is, "THE OMNIPOTENT:" but the manner in which these are combined with other Attributives, in the Apostolic Epistles, and the difference of sense resulting from different modes of combination, remain to be noticed. In this department of sacred criticism much has been done within these few years, and well done, by the late Mr. Granville Sharp, by Dr. Chr. Wordsworth, and Mr. Middleton, now Bishop of Calcutta."
The works alluded to, are, 1st, Remarks on the use of the Definitive Article in the Greek text of the New Testament, containing many new proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from passages which are wrongly translated in the common English Version. By Granville Sharp.” 1798. A Second Edition was published in 1802 ; and a Third Edition in 1803.
2d. “Six Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq. respecting his Remarks on the uses of the Definitive
While the present volume was passing through the Press, accounts were received of the death of this distinguished scholar.