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which are now in the press confining this detail to such as have been printed in the Irish character, the only one countenanced by the Irish Society; and having principally in view the point of faithfulness.
In consequence of the great anxiety exhibited early after the Reformation, by the ministers of Queen Elizabeth, and by many pious persons, that the Bible should be translated into the native language of Ireland for the use of the people, that Princess transmitted to this country a fount of Irish types, "in hopes that God in mercy would raise up some to translate the New Testament into their mother tongue;" and that it was not long before that, animated by the facilities thus afforded, and urged by the lamentable experience of the want of such a work, William O'Donnell, or Daniel, Protestant Archbishop of Tuam, completed a version of the New Testament into Irish, which was said to have been commenced by Nehemiah Donnellan, his predecessor in that see. his competency for the task we have the testimony of Ware, who informs us, that "he was indeed a man of distinguished learning;' and it was made from the original Greek, "to which," says the Archbishop in his dedication, "I tied myself, as in duty bound." The general fidelity and purity of this version have been acquiesced in for upwards of two centuries; and I am not aware that it has ever been seriously impugned, except to the extent and in the manner which I shall presently state.
The history of the translation of the Old Testament is as follows:-William Bedell, a man of peculiarly primitive piety and zeal, whose useful life has been deemed by the celebrated Bishop of Sarum, Dr. Burnet, to have been a subject worthy of his pen, was appointed by King James I. to the Provost-ship of Trinity College, Dublin, and subsequently to the then united Bishopricks of Kilmore and Ardagh. Immediately upon his appointment, the Bishop endeavoured in every way to provide for the spiritual instruction of the poor people of his diocese, through the medium of the only language which they could well understand, or would willingly be instructed in; and, in order that he might be properly qualified to superintend a translation of the Old Testament into that tongue, he forthwith commenced its study in the 57th year his age. He applied himself diligently to the task, and was soon enabled to officiate in it; to compose a complete grammar of it; and, finally, to superintend and revise the projected translation, which he committed to one King, who, as Burnet observes, "was believed to be the elegantest writer of the Irish tongue then alive, both for prose and poetry." The same writer informs us, that "the Bishop set himself so much to the revising of this work, that always after dinner or supper he read over a chapter; and, as he compared the translation with the English, so he compared the English with the Hebrew and Septuagint, or with Diodati's translation, which he valued highly; and he corrected the Irish where he found the English translators had failed."
Such is the history of this version, which has also for a long period of time been acquiesced in as sufficiently faithful and pure.
It was scarcely to be expected, that persons more trustworthy and
I shall conclude this history of these translations with the mention of an important fact, which is, that influenced by the reasonings and authority of Archbishop Usher and Bishop Bedell, the convocation assembled at Dublin, in the year 1634, did, after much debate on the measure, and opposition made to it, establish among others the following canon, as a direction to incumbents of bene fices :-"And where all, or most part of the people are Irish, they shall also provide the same books, the BIBLE and two books of Common Prayer, in the IRISH tongue, as soon as they may be had." This canon distinctly demonstrates the conviction of the assembled prelates and clergy of Ireland, that the Irish version of the New Testament, then existing in print, was such as they not only might patronize, but should make use of; while it appears to imply a confidence, that the translation of the Old which was then in contemplation was in proper hands.
I shall now proceed with a succinct account of the several editions which have appeared of the Bible, thus rendered into Irish, and which were printed in the native character, to which I shall add some notice of those which are in preparation. There was an edition of the New Testament put forth, almost immediately upon its translation being finished; it was a small folio, scarcely above quarto size, and printed at the expense of Sir William Usher, and of the province of Connaught, Á. D. 1602. The second edition of this portion of Scripture, was published in quarto in the year 1681, under the auspices of the celebrated Christian philo
sopher, Robert Boyle; and it was followed in 1685, by the first edition of the Old Testament, printed also in quarto, through the instrumentality of the same illustrious individual.
The MS. of Bedell's translation was preserved, as the ark of the Lord, in the spiritual inundation which deluged Ireland at his death. It came to the hands of Boyle, who may be termed the Bible Society of that age, and who exerted himself indefatigably and successfully towards its publication. He was encouraged and assisted in the work by many of the principal prelates of the day; he was aided also by the Provost and Vice-Provost, and indeed by the entire body of the College, the head of which, at that time, was Dr. Narcissus Marsh, afterwards Primate of Ireland, an excellent Irish scholar, and author of a grammar in that tongue. Boyle in his edition followed in the Old Testament the MS. of Bedell, with immaterial alterations; and in the New he copied the existing one of Daniel, with some slight deviations, of which I shall hereafter notice two that are important. It is to be observed of these ancient editions, that they were replete with typographical errors, a matter of no consequence now, as they are become mere bibliographical rarities.
I shall now pass on to the detail of modern editions of the Old or New Testaments, in the Irish character and language; the first of these was the New Testament of the British and Foreign Bible Society, printed in 12mo. and stereotyped A. D. 1818, the editor was Mr. J. M'Quige, formerly a preacher in the Methodist connexion. This is the book alluded to in the vote of the Committee of the Irish Society, quoted by the Quarterly Review; this is the book that has been virulently attacked and censured by critics in certain newspapers; this also is the book which has been adopted by some of the very same men that passed the resolution alluded to, as the copy from which they were to print with proper editorial corrections, two new editions; and the book which has operated towards enlightening with Divine truth the dark peasantry of Ireland, in a manner which has astonished many. These various circumstances make it necessary for me to be more particular touching this edition, and first in reference to the vote of the Irish Society-how, it will be reasonably asked, are we to reconcile the expressions of certain persons of this body with their conduct, or how can they be acquitted of the charge of gross contradiction? Simply thus the resolution referred to the EDITION only, and not to the VERSION. How it came to be so loosely and inaccurately expressed I cannot conceive; but unquestionably it was not intended to impugn the existing versions, which had for a long time been approved by all the members joining in the vote, and was especially recommended by the vote
It is important to detail the real history of this transaction here. The Irish Society, in the infancy of its establishment, had unusual difficulties to struggle with, and the total ignorance of the native language, which existed among almost all the constituent members of the Committee, was not the least of these. It had been proved to them, that, besides the gross misnomer of one of St.
Peter's epistles, the application of the feminine pronoun to our blessed Lord, had occurred in the first twelve pages of the 12mo edition which they had caused to be examined; errors so considerable, created a great degree of what appears to me to have been a justifiable alarm concerning the accuracy of the entire work. It happened also, that just at this period they were apprized of a resolution of the Christian Knowledge Society, to print an Irish Bible, a measure adopted without any communication whatsoever with them. Knowing, therefore, the importance to the cause of adhering to the existing version, and fearing for many reasons, arising from their experience in Irish editorship, that an attempt at alteration might be made, they did assemble, and, as there was not time for further collation, they did venture to advise with the Society alluded to by the vote in question, which was more hurried in expression than in substance. I shall only add with respect to it, that the Quarterly Reviewer was mistaken in calling it a vote of the Irish Society, it was one of the Committee alone. But, although the Committee passed this vote, which was justifiable upon the presumption which their then existing opportunities of knowledge afforded them, their subsequent experience has convinced them, that, with the exception of a few errors now amended, the 12mo. edition is substantially correct ; and they do not hesitate to circulate it as a pure transcript of God's holy word.
And now with respect to the conduct of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in putting forth an edition of the New Testament containing errors, I shall observe, that it was only to be expected of them that they should provide a competent editor, which they did to the best of their judgment and information; and that they should cause any mistakes which might have occurred to be corrected in the plates, which they have accordingly done, and have even been pressing for lists of errata, with a view to more thorough emendation-and it is to be observed, that the number of instances in which they have been called on from critics in Ireland, to make correction, are but few. I shall proceed to enumerate such of them as are material.
1. A misnomer in the title of one of St. Peter's epistles, corrected many years ago.
2. The application of the feminine pronoun to our blessed Lord in Matt. iii. 12. This error arising from the mere omission of a point, was noticed in 1822, and amended.
3. The want of an accent to the word expressing fault in Luke xxiii. 14, so that it conveyed the directly contrary meaning; this error has been lately discovered, and I believe removed.
4. The text of John ii. 4, had been altered from Daniel's original, in the printing of Boyle's 4to., and the alteration followed in the 12mo.; the original version is now restored.
5. An Irish word strictly signifying "justice," had been substituted for one used by Daniel, and expressive of "righteousness," in Rom. xiii. 21 and 22, and two other places; the latter term has been restored, because it is more correct, and occurs in the original Irish version in these texts, as well as in others where the word righteousness is used in a similar sense.
And lastly, an important alteration has been made in John i. 42; the conclusion of this verse, which follows the account of our blessed Lord's bestowing the name of Cephas on St. Peter, was given in words signifying in Irish," which is, by interpretation, a rock." Now, as the word thus used in the Irish tongue cannot be rendered "stone," this egregiously erroneous translation, which occurs in the first and second editions, as well as in the stereotyped 12mo. has been changed into one which runs thus, "which is, by interpretation, Peter;" and in this it follows the analogy of the Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and other versions; and also, especially the Galic and the Vulgate. It is indeed, strange, that our Protestant Bible renders it stone, with the marginal reading Peter; while in the very next verse preceding, it has "the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ," with the marginal reading, "the anointed."
Some time ago I heard it boldly asserted, and even lately it has been alleged, that the 12mo. edition is not favourable to the doctrine of the divinity of our Lord; but this is an allegation without foundation in fact. In order to discover how far it might be true, I applied to a Gælic minister, one of those who superintended the alterations lately made for the improvement of the version of the Bible in that dialect, and requested of him to point out to me any texts, if any such there were, in which that all-important doctrine appeared to be disregarded. He informed me that he was not aware of any, but that, in revising the old Gælic edition, they had found in Phil. ii. 6, that a word expressive of " similar" was used, instead of one denoting "co-equal" with God, as applied to Jesus Christ. I was much pleased, however, to discover, on looking into the 12mo. Irish, and into Boyle's, that the orthodox term was used in both; and my favourable opinion of the version in this material point was confirmed by finding that in Tit. ii. 13, instead of the word "and" as a translation for " και, an Irish word expressive of " to wit" is used; making the verse to bear the following meaning:-"The glorious appearing of the great God, to wit our Saviour Jesus Christ." Indeed, after an attentive examination of this edition of the New Testament in Irish, I think I may fearlessly deny that there is any ground for this charge. One more fact respecting this book should be noticed here; it had been frequently represented to the Committee of the Irish Society, that the version, either because of its being antiquated or provincial, was not understood by several individuals in various places to whom it had been read. Minute inquiry, however, soon established the truth, that it was not unintelligible in the instances alluded to from either of these causes, but simply because the reader used in his pronunciation a different dialect from that to which the hearer was accustomed.
It remains now to satisfy the public with regard to three new editions of the Irish Bible, which are at present in the press. The first of these, an 8vo., is printing for the British and Foreign Bible Society, by the King's printers in Dublin; the number of copies 5000. The last sheet is struck off, a table of errata is preparing, and it will probably be completed before this paper is