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A New Translation of obscure Passages in the Bible.
To illustrate and elucidate the Classics, verbal and minute criticism, and improved translation have been applied with fine effect; and why should we not apply them to the word of God? Now, although the common, or national, translation of the Bible, be admitted to be excellent in many passages, yet every pious and intelligent reader will confess, that many hundred verses in Job, in Hosea, in all the minor Prophets, in the Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, require amendment, perspicuity, and an improved translation. These were the modest sentiments, and this was the diffident proposal, of Dr. Grey, in his
Key to the Old Testament.” This is the important subject of many sermons, and of many treatises, which have been expressly written for the purpose, by bishops, by translators, by Orientalists, and by commentators. Their arguments for a revisal of the vulgar translation receive new strength from every modern and novel translation of any individual book in the Scriptures. Their reasonings are yet more confirmed by the
Vol. IV, No. vii,
new travels and voyages into the East, or into Palestine, or even into India and China, those patriarchal, primitive, and pastoral nations ; for these voyagers cast a flood of light on the similar pastoral and patriarchal habits of the Israelites. As proficients in the Asiatic tongues and dialects, which bear an affinity to the Hebrew and the Chaldee, the moderns far excel our venerable translators in the age of either Elizabeth or James: as adepts in Rabbinical literature, and in Jewish idioms, they are enabled to detect, and to elicit, the true meaning, and the obvious sense, of many a verse, which had perplexed our early translators. I propose to copy a few instances of such verses, and of their old and their new translation; and shall submit them to the serious and profound meditation of the real Christian. The word of God is too solemn a book to be lightly altered; but every rational improvement of the sense will be eagerly adopted; for, if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, is it the “ trumpet of God?” To adopt the words of Paul, in I. Cor. xiv. 6. &c. “ Speaking in any tongue, what does it profit, except I speak to you to make you to know truths in an intelligible manner. Even inanimate instruments, a pipe, or a harp, giving out sound, except they give a distinguishable sound, how shall be known the object of the tune of that harp or pipe ? So likewise, except ye write, or utter, words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken ? for ye speak to the air. There are many tongues in the world, and none of them is without a meaning; but, if I know not the nieaning of that language, he that speaketh it is a barbarian and a foreigner to me: I had rather speak five words which were intelligible, and by them teach others, than ten thousand words, which could not be understood.” We may evidently apply these sensible remarks of the inspired St. Paul to the prophetical and poetic parts, in particular, of the Bible; parts, in truth, the most beautiful, though in the common translation, the most obscure, mistaken, and misapprehended, of all the Scriptures; for, in the class of spiritual poetry, what works of merit has England or modern Europe produced, which may be compared with the finished strains of David and Asaph, with the temporary effusions of the minor prophets, or with the magnificent visions of the greater? It is indeed a singular phenomenon, that the Jewish bards, and