صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

of the definite article. Here again it was necessary to consider the peculiarities of English idiom, as well as the general tenor of each passage. Sometimes we have felt it enough to prefix the article to the first of a series of words to all of which it is prefixed in the Greek, and thus, as it were, to impart the idea of definiteness to the whole series, without running the risk of overloading the sentence. Sometimes, conversely, we have had to tolerate the presence of the definite article in our Version, when it is absent from the Greek, and perhaps not even grammatically latent; simply because English idiom would not allow the noun to stand alone, and because the introduction of the indefinite article might have introduced an idea of oneness or individuality, which was not in any degree traceable in the original. In a word, we have been careful to observe the use of the article wherever it seemed to be idiomatically possible: where it did not seem to be possible, we have yielded to necessity.

As to the pronouns and the place they occupy in the sentence, a subject often overlooked by our predecessors, we have been particularly careful; but here again we have frequently been bafHed by structural or idiomatical peculiarities of the English language which precluded changes otherwise desirable.

In the case of the particles we have met with less difficulty, and have been able to maintain a reasonable amount of consistency. The particles in the Greek Testament are, as is well known, comparatively few, and they are commonly used with precision. It has therefore been the more necessary here to preserve a general uniformity of rendering, especially in the case of the particles of casuality and inference, so far as English idiom would allow.

Lastly, many changes have been introduced in the rendering of the prepositions, especially where ideas of instrumentality or of mediate agency, distinctly marked in the original, had been confused or obscured in the translation. We have however borne in mind the comprehensive character of such prepositions as 'of and 'by,' the one in reference to agency and the other in reference to means, especially in the English of the seventeenth century; arid have rarely made any change where the true meaning of the original as expressed in the Authorised Version would be apparent to a reader of ordinary intelligence.

3. We now come to the subject of Language.

The second of the rules, by which the work has been governed, prescribed that the alterations to be introduced should be expressed, as far as possible, in the language of the Authorised Version or of the Versions that preceded it.

To this rule we have faithfully adhered. We have habitually consulted the earlier Versions; and in our sparing introduction of words not found in them or in the Authorised Version we have usually satisfied ourselves that such words were employed by standard writers of nearly the same date, and had also that general hue which justified their introduction into a Version which has held the highest place in the classical literature of our language. We have never removed any archaisms, whether in structure or in words, except where we were persuaded either that the meaning of the words was not generally understood, or that the nature of the expression led to some misconception of the true sense of the passage. The frequent inversions of the strict order of the words, which add much to the strength and variety of the Authorised Version, and give an archaic colour to many felicities of diction, have been seldom modified. Indeed, we have often adopted the same arrangement in our own alterations; and in this, as in other particulars, we have sought to assimilate the new work to the old.

In a few exceptional cases we have failed to find any word in the older stratum of our language that appeared to convey the precise meaning of the original. There, and there only, we have used words of a later date; but not without having first assured ourselves that they are to be found in the writings of the best authors of the period to which they belong.

In regard of Proper Names no rule was prescribed to us. In the case of names of frequent occurrence we have deemed it best to follow generally the rule laid down for our predecessors. That rule, it may be remembered, was to this effect, 'The names of the prophets and the holy writers, with the other names oi the text, to be retained, as nigh as may be, accordingly as they were vulgarly used.' Some difficulty has been felt in dealing with names less familiarly known. Here our general practice has been to follow the Greek form of names, except in the case of persons and places mentioned in the Old Testament: in this case we have followed the Hebrew.

4. The subject of the Marginal Noter deserves special attention. They represent the results of a large amount of careful and elaborate discussion, and will, perhaps, by their very presence, indicate to some extent the intricacy of many of the questions that have almost daily come before us for decision. These Notes fall into four main groups .first, notes specifying such differences of reading as were judged to be of sufficient importance to require a particular notice; secondly, notes indicating the exact rendering of words to which for the sake of English idiom, we were obliged to give a less exact rendering in the text; thirdly, notes, very few in number, affording some explanation which the original appeared to require; fourthly, alternative renderings in difficult or debateable passages. The notes of this last group are numerous, and largely in excess of those which were admitted by our predecessors. In the 270 years that have passed away since their labours were concluded, the Sacred Text has been minutely examined, discussed in every detail, and analysed with a grammatical precision unknown in the days of the last Revision. There has thus been accumulated a large amount of materials that have prepared the way for different renderings, which necessarily came under discussion. We have therefore placed before the reader in the margin other renderings than those which were adopted in the text, wherever such renderings seemed to deserve consideration. The rendering in the text, where it agrees with the Authorised Version, was supported by at. least one third, and, where it differs from the Authorised Version by at least two thirds of those who were present at the second revision of the passage in question.

A few supplementary matters have yet to be mentioned. These may be thus enumerated,—the use of Italics, the arrangement in Paragraphs, the mode of printing Quotations from the Poetical Books of the Old Testament, the Punctuation, and, last of all, the Titles of the different Books that make up the New Testament,—all of them particulars on which it seems desirable to add a few explanatory remarks.

(a) The determination, in each place, of the words to be printed in italics has not been by any means easy; nor can we hope to be found in all cases perfectly consistent. In the earliest editions of the Authorised Version the use of a different type to indicate supplementary words not contained in the original was not very frequent, and cannot easily be reconciled with any settled principle. A review of the words so printed was made, after a lapse of some years, for the editions of the Authorised Version published at Cambridge in 1629 and 1638. Further, though slight, modifications were introduced at intervals between 1638 and the more systematic revisions undertaken respectively by Dr. Paris in the Cambridge Edition of 1762, and by Dr. Blayney in the Oxford Edition of 1769. None of them however rest on any higher authority than that of the persons who from time to time superintended the publication. The last attempt to bring the use of italics into uniformity and consistency was made by Dr. Scrivener in the Paragraph Bible published at Cambridge in 1870-73. In succeeding to these labours, we have acted on the general principle of printing in italics words which did not appear to be necessarily involved in the Greek. Our tendency has been to diminish rather than to increase the amount of italic printing; though, in the case of difference of readings, we have usually marked the absence of any words in the original which the sense might nevertheless require to be present in the Version; and again, in the case of inserted pronouns, where the reference did not appear to be perfectly certain, we have similarly had recourse to italics. Some of these cases, especially when there are slight differences of reading, are of singular intricacy, and make it impossible to maintain rigid uniformity.

(i) We have arranged the Sacred Text in paragraphs, after the precedent of the earliest English Versions, so as to assist the general reader in following the current of narrative or argument. The present arrangement will be found, we trust, to have preserved the due mean between a system of long portions which must often include several separate topics, and a system of frequent breaks which, though they may correctly indicate the separate movements of thought in the writer, often seriously impede a just perception of the true continuity of the passage. The traditional division into chapters, which the Authorized Version inherited from Latin Bibles of the later middle ages, is an illustration of the former method. These paragraphs, for such in fact they are, frequently include several distinct subjects. Moreover they sometimes, though rarely, end where there is no sufficient break in the sense. The division of chapters into verses, which was introduced into the New Testament for the first time in 1551, is an exaggeration of the latter method, with its accompanying inconveniences. The serious obstacles to the right understanding of Holy Scripture, which are interposed by minute subdivision, are often overlooked; but if any one will consider for a moment the injurious effect that would be produced by breaking up a portion of some great standard work into separate verses, he will at once perceive how necessary has been an alteration in this particular. The arrangement by chapters and verses undoubtedly affords facilities for reference: but this advantage we have been able to retain by placing the numerals on the inside margin of each page.

(c) A few words will suffice as to the mode of printing quotations from the Poetical Books of the Old Testament. Wherever the quotation extends to two or more lines, our practice has been to recognise the parallelism of their structure by arranging the lines in a manner that appears to agree with the metrical divisions of the Hebrew original. Such an arrangement will be found helpful to the reader; not only as directing his attention to the poetical character of the quotation, but as also tending to make its force and pertinence more fully felt. We have treated in the same way the hymns in the first two chapters of the Gospel according to St. Luke.

(t2) Great care has been bestowed upon the punctuation. Our practice has been to maintain what is sometimes called the heavier system of stopping, or, in other words, that system which, especially for convenience in reading aloud, suggests such pauses as will best insure a clear and intelligent setting forth of the true meaning of the words. This course has rendered necessary, especially in the Epistles, a larger use of colons and semicolons than is customary in modern English printing.

(e) We may in the last place notice one particular to which we were not expressly directed to extend our revision, namely, the titles of the Books of the New Testament. These titles are no part of the original text; and the titles found in the most ancient manuscripts are of too short a form to be convenient for use. Under these circumstances, we have deemed it best to leave unchanged the titles which are given in the Authorised Version as printed in 1611.

We now conclude, humbly commending our labours to Almighty God, and praying that his favor and blessing may be vouchsafed to that which has been done in his name. We recognize from the first the responsibility of the undertaking; and through our manifold experience of its abounding difficulties we have felt more and more, as we went onward, that such a work can never be accomplished by organised efforts of scholarship and criticism, unless assisted by Divine help.

We know full well that defects must have their place in a work so long and so arduous as this which has now come to an end. Blemishes and imperfections there are in the noble Translation /which we have been called upon to revise; blemishes and imperfections will assuredly be found in our own Revision. All endeavours to translate the Holy Scriptures into another tongue must fall short of their aim, when the obligation is imposed of producing a Version that shall be alike literal and idiomatic, faithful to each thought of the original, and yet, in the expression of it, harmonious and free. While we dare to hope that in places not a few of the New Testament the introduction of slight changes has cast a new light upon much that was difficult and obscure, we cannot forget how often we have failed in expressing some finer shade of meaning which we recognised in the original, how often idiom has stood in the way of a perfect rendering, and how often the attempt to preserve a familiar form of words, or even a familiar cadence, has only added another perplexity to those which already beset us.

Thus, in the review of the work which we have been permitted to complete, our closing words must be words of mingled thanksgiving, humility, and prayer. Of thanksgiving, for the many blessings vouchsafed to us throughout the unbroken progress of our corporate labours; of humility, for our failings and imperfections in the fulfilment of our task; and of prayer to Almighty God, that the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be more clearly and more freshly shewn forth to all who shall be readers of this Book.

Jerusalem Chamber,

Westminster Abbet.
11th November 188tt

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »