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I must add, that. no Syriac, no Armenian, no Æthiopic, no Arabic version of the Bible, has any notes; yet those are the vulgar tongues of large portions of the world.
I beg, however, not to be misunderstood :-while I mention the multitude of Roman-catholic Bibles, and versions of Bibles, without notes, I admit, most unequivocally, that it is the acknowledged right of our church and her pastors, to direct, when, where, and what notes should accompany them. But [ must think, that the various instances, in which I show, that they have been published without notes, prove incontrovertibly, how unjustly we are charged with admitting it, as a principle of our religion, that the versions of the Bible into a vulgar tongue should not be published without them.
I shall now cite a few miscellaneous facts, to show how much the Church of Rome has, at all times, desired to promote the general circulation and perusal of the sacred writings, both in the original language, and in translations from it.
1. To begin with the Practice of the Church in the middle ages I refer you to the second part of Dr. Hody's “ Historia Scholastica Textus Versionumque Græcæ et Vulgatæ.” It is impossible to peruse it, without acknowledging it to prove, beyond controversy, that there never was a time, even in the darkest ages, when the study of the scriptures, and that too in their original languages, was not cultivated and encouraged by the Roman-catholic clergy. In our own country, the works of the Venerable Bede, of Holy Robert of Lincoln, and of Roger Bacon, show how much biblical learning was cultivated and encouraged in those days.
2. Every candid scholar must surely own it to be principally owing to the labors of the Monks of the middle ages, that we are now in possession of the sacred writings. This will appear clear to every one, who peruses the 10th chapter of Mr. Lingard's invaluable Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon church, and the 4th chapter of the 3d book of Dr. Henry's History of Britain. Gerhardus Tyschen, Professor of Philosophy and Oriental Literature, in the united Universities of Butzow and Rostock, in his “ Tentamen de variis Codicum Hebræorum Veteris Testamenti MSS. Rostochii 1772," expresses himself in terins of astonishment at the labors of the Monks in the transcription of the sacred writings, and the singular felicity of their execution. “I am sensible,” he says, “ that it is the general opinion, that the study of the fine arts was buried during the middle ages. It is however certain, that, while literature was crushed every where else, she found a refuge in Monasteries.” He particularly mentions, how much the inhabitants of those pious abodes studied the Hebrew language: and how many of them were employed in transcribing Hebrew manuscripts. He says, that calligraphy arrived, in them, at its summit of excellence: the beauty of their transcriptions, he remarks, is such as could not have been attained, unless they possessed some art of fixing the forms of written letters, to which we are strangers.
3. The typographic art was no sooner discovered than the Catholic presses were employed in printing in every size, from the folio to the twenty-fourth, the Old and New Testament, or particular parts of them, in the Hebrew and Greek originals, and the Latin translations.
4. Every Roman-catholic acknowledges, with readiness, the transcendent merit of the London Polyglott; and every candid Protestant should admit, with equal readiness, that the London Polyglott was preceded by the Catholic Polyglots of Complutum, Antwerp, and Paris; and that, without them, the London Polyglott would not have existed. The Roman-catho. bics justly applaud the invaluable labors of Dr. Kennicott. The Protestants should equally applaud what Doctor Kennicot always took a pleasure in mentioning, that the Catholics employed themselves as actively and as disinterestedly, in his service, as his Protestant auxiliaries. And I think you will permit my mentioning, in this place, that the Doctor always spoke, in particular terms of respect and gratitude, of the exertions of Mr. Alban Butler, the author of the Lives of the Saints
new and elegant edition of which work, with beautiful engravings, has lately, by the exertions of Mr. Murphy, of Howland Street, made its appearance.
5. Many examples show, that, when any nation has been converted or recalled to the Catholic religion, the Church of Rome has been careful to supply it with a translation of the scriptures, in its vernacular language. The numberless translations of the whole scriptures, or of different parts of them, into the Latin, which was once the language of the whole Western Empire, are well known. So early as the fourth century, St. Augustin observed, that “the number of those, who had translated the scriptures from the Hebrew, into the Greek, might be computed; but that the number of those, who had translated the Greek into the Latin, could not: for that, immediately on the introduction of Christianity, if a person got possession of a Greek manuscript, and thought he had any knowledge of the two languages, he set about translating the scriptures."
6. The Peshito, or Sincere Version of the Four Gospels into Syriac, was certainly made before the fourth, and there are circumstances which render it probable, that it was made at the end of the 1st, or the beginning of the 2nd, century. In 1552, the Maronite Christians having, under the direction of Ignatius their patriarch, sent Moses of Marden to Pope Julius the Third, to acknowledge the supremacy of the See of Rome, and to be received into his comniunion, the Emperor Ferdinand caused a new edition of this version to be printed at his own expense, at Vienna, and transmitted to Syria.
7. In 1548, there appearing to be an opening for the introduction of Christianity into Æthiopia, Pope Paul the Third caused an Ethiopic version of the New Testament to be published at Rome for the use of the new Æthiopic Christians.
8. An Arabic version of the whole Bible was published at Rome in 1591; and, in 1671, the congregation at Rome de Propaganda fide, published, for the use of the Arabic Christians in communion with her, an Arabic version of the whole Bible, in 3 volumes folio, under the direction of Sergius Risius, bishop of Damascus. We are informed by Abbas Nazarias, in his Diarium Eruditum, that it was the labor of 46 years. With the same beneficent view, an Arabic version of the Four Gospels was printed in 1591, at the Medicæan press, in Rome.
9. The extreme difficulty of acquiring even a slight knowledge of the Chinese language, the small vumber of those who can but imperfectly read it, and the immense expense attending the printing of the smallest work in it, prevented the Catholic missionaries from publishing any version of the scriptures in that language. It was, however, their wish to do it, when such a version should be generally useful, and when the means of printing and publishing it should be in their power. With this view, the Jesuits prepared a Harmony of the Four Gospels in the Chinese language. It is preserved in the British Musæum. The British and Foreign Bible Society mentions this circumstance in the First Report of their proceedings, and commends the elegance of the version.
It is observable, that at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, sixty thousand copies of a French translation of the New Testament were distributed among the converted Protestants, by the order of Lewis the Fourteenth. I beg leave to add, that having lived long in France, and been intimately acquainted with the literary and devotional habits of that people, I am perfectly satisfied, that the Bible was as much read, as much explained, and as well understood by the people at large, in France, as it is in England. I will, however, admit, that it was not read at so early an age in France, as it is by English Protestants. But, (absit invidia verbo), I will presume to say, that takiug a protestant boy of the age of ten years, who has read the Bible, in the manner in which it is usually read before that age in England, and a Catholic boy of the same age, who has been taught the French catechism, and particularly Fleury's Historical Catechism, in the manner in which they are usually taught in France, I am quite confident that the latter will be found to have quite as full and as clear a knowledge of the history, the morality, and the religion of the Old and New Testament, as the former.
I shall now notice a charge, often brought against the Catholics,-that they were forced, against their will, to print versions, in vernacular languages, of the sacred Text, in consequence of the effects produced by the versions, made in those languages, by the Protestants..
For this charge there is no foundation.
1. The earliest printed Protestant version is that in the Ger. man language, by Martin Luther. The New Testament of that version was printed in 1522;. the Old, in 1.530.
It had been preceded, Ist. by Fust's celebrated Bible, printed at Mentz, in 1462 ; 2ndly. by Bemler's, printed at Augsburgh, in 1467 ; and 3rdly, by the four versions mentioned by Beausobre, (Hist. de la Reformation, Liv. 4.)
2. The earliest printed French Protestant version, is that of Olivetan, assisted by Calvin.
It contains the whole Bible, and was finished in 1537,--the year 1535, (which is the date mentioned in the title page) beivg the year in which it was first committed to the
press. This version had been preceded, ist. by the French version of the New Testament, by Julian, an Augustinian Monk, printed in 1477 ; 2ndly. by the French version of the whole Bible, by Guyards des Moulins, printed in 1490; and 3rdly. by that of Estaples, the New Testament of whose version was printed in 1523, and the Old in 1528. The last of these editions was particularly used by Olivetan.
3. The earliest printed Itulian Protestant version appeared in 1562.
It had been preceded, ist. by Malermis, printed in 1471 ; and 2ndly. by Brucciolis, in 1532, which last version the Protestant translator generally followed.
4. The first printed Protestant Belgic version was made from Luther's, and appeared in 1527.
It had been preceded by a version of the Four Gospels,