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" Article in the Greek. Text of the New Testament.” 1802. Published anonymously, but acknowleged to be the production of Dr. Wordsworth, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
3d. “ The Doctrine of the Greek Article applied “ to the Criticism and the Illustration of the New “ Testament.” By T. F. Middleton, A. M. 1808.
Dr. Wordsworth, on perusing Mr. Sharp's Remarks, experienced, as he informs us, “a “ feeling of uncertainty and scepticism,” that the rule insisted on by Mr. Sharp, and asserted by a writer so long ago as Beza, “ should have re“ mained so long unknown, or unacknowleged.” His first step was a determination to make an actual comparison of the rule with the volume of the New Testament. “But,” says he, in his first letter to Mr. Sharp, " at the same time, it “ occurred to me, that I should probably find “ some at least of those texts, the translation of “ which you had called in question, cited and
explained by the Greek Fathers; not indeed as instances of any particular rule, but ex
pounded by them, naturally, as men would “ understand any other form of expression in “ their native language. If Mr. Sharp's rule be
true, then will their interpretation of those “ texts be invariably in the same sense in which “ he understands them.” To these authorities he accordingly appealed, and examined, for the
few texts produced by Mr. Sharp, the volumi. nous works of seventy Greek, and nearly sixty Latin Fathers and divines, besides other theological collections--a labor, the very prospect of which would have deterred most men from the undertaking. The result was a complete confirmation of Mr. Sharp's doctrine respecting the use of the Greek Article.
In addition to this laborious work of Di. Wordsworth (though compressed into a small volume) nothing was wanted, but a similar examination of the writings of the Greek Poets and Historians. This desideratum has been supplied by the researches of the learned Bp. Middleton. He remarks, in his preface: “ That “ the use of the Greek Article should not have “ been more correctly ascertained may excite
surprise, when we perceive, that hints tending “ to prove the importance of the subject may be “ traced even in the writings of the Fathers.”“We have seen (says he) disquisitions on the • Homeric Digamma, on the Greek Accents, on
Dialectics, on the quantity of the Compara“ratives in INN, on the license allowed in Tra
gic Iambics and on their Cæsura, on the “ Greek Particles, and on Metres, especially “ those of Pindar. I will not deny that these
inquiries are all of them of the highest impor"tance to the cause of Classical Literature: yet
“the present, considered in the same point of * view, may claim at least a secondary rank; “ whilst in connexion with Theology, and perhaps, I may add, with the Philosophy of Grammar, it obviously admits them not to any com
petition.” He then alludes to the controversy occasioned by Mr. Sharp's Remarks ; after which he proceeds thus : “ The interpretation main“ tained by Mr. Sharp [that such phrases in “ the N. T. as Tom XPLOTOŰ xał Osol ought to be in
terpreted of one individual] became the more
probable from being sanctioned by the excel. “ lent Editor of Dawes's Miscellanea Critica, the
present Bishop of St. David's. The same in“ terpretation was also powerfully confirmed by “ the elaborate researches of Dr. Wordsworth, “ who has proved, that most of the disputed “ texts were so understood by the Fathers. If
any thing under this head remained to be done, “ it was to show, that the same form of expres“ sion in the classical writers required a similar
explanation, and also to investigate the principle of the canon, and to ascertain its limita« tions." This the learned author has done. In the former Part of his volume he resolves the question, What is the Greek Article? and in the Second Part he applies to the Greek text of the New Testament the doctrine laid down in the First.
It is surely to be regretted that the Rules which these writers have revived-for they are as old as the written Greek language—have not yet been applied to the correction of the authorized version of the New Testament, in passages which not only do not give the full sense of the original, but exhibit a meaning actually opposed to the truth conveyed in the Greek text. Such are the differences of idiom of different languages that, in translating from one into another, if attention be not paid to the common and little words, of most frequent recurrence, the real meaning cannot be obtained. Hasty readers are apt to consider the Conjunction, and the Article, ---especially the latter-as trivial, and as having but little relation to the chief terms: but they serve, in truth, as the bolts and cement, the tenons and mortices, in an edifice: they are the marks put by the architect upon the respective pieces which compose the structure, that each may occupy its proper place, and the materials be preserved from that confusion and disorder, which would endanger the safety and solidity of the building. “ There are persons [it is true] “ who appear to believe, that the usages of language are rarely reducible to fixed rules; that
; “their agreement is merely coincidence, and that “ Idiom is to be attributed solely to custom. I “ do not hold such reasoning to be at all philo
sophical : custom in language bears a close
analogy to chance in physics ; each of them is a “ name for the operation of unerring causes, which
we want either the ability or the inclination to
apprehend. Qualified by such a confession, “ each of these terms may be tolerated; but “ neither of them is to be employed as the ap
pellation of a power which disdains to act harmoniously and consistent with itself, and is • impelled only by caprice.
The principal rule insisted on by Mr. Sharp is thus briefly stated in his Contents: “When “ two personal nouns of the same case are con“nected by the copulative xal, if the former has “ the definitive article, and the latter has not,
they both relate to the same person,” or individual. The converse of this is equally true, and Mr. Sharp has given it as another rule:“ If they are connected by the copulative, and “ both have the article, they relate to different “persons.” In his larger statement of the rule he describes the nouns intended as being “either “ substantives or adjectives, or participles of
personal description respecting office, dignity,
affinity or connection, and attributes, proper“ ties, or qualities, good or ill." Bishop Mid
· Middleton on the Greek Article, p. xviii. 2 Mr. Sharp has expressly excepted Proper Names from