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character and work of God and the duty and hopes of
To be unbiassed is impossible; but the writer has never wittingly evaded any text or any consideration which seemed to militate against a previously formed impression. Hence the result of the present investigations has been that his opinions on some points have been considerably modified. He has endeavoured to approach the work as a student, not as a controversialist ; and the various chapters have been worked out independently, not as parts of a system, although as a matter of fact they have thrown much light on each other. Some readers will object that too many controverted points are introduced; whilst others will complain that the writer's views on doctrinal subjects are not sufficiently pronounced. Believing that sound theology ought to be based on accurate Biblical criticism, the writer could not discuss sacred words without touching upon their doctrinal import. On the other hand, having put together the materials which could best aid in the formation of a judgment on the chief doctrines of the Bible, it seemed both unwise and unnecessary, even if there had been time and space for the undertaking, to work out the details of a theological system.
A secondary aim has not been overlooked in preparing the following pages, namely, to illustrate the importance of the study of Hebrew. The difficulties at the outset are considerable, but when they are once overcome, every hour spent on the Hebrew Bible amply repays the student.
The English translations of texts do not always follow
the A. V.", nor has elegance been aimed at in translation, the object being the greatest possible clearness. Sometimes an alternative rendering or a paraphrase has been incorporated into the text, in order to bring out the sense more clearly.
The spelling of Hebrew words in Roman characters has often been a source of perplexity, owing to the variety of forms which they assume, and the different sounds which Hebrew letters take under different circumstances. The writer fears he has not been altogether successful or consistent in this matter, but he has generally followed Ewald's system, especially in putting TH for the Hebrew o, the sound of which is neither T nor TH, but something between the two.
The chief books which have been used in the course of the preparation of the work are the Bible in various languages, Wilson's · English-Hebrew Concordance' (Macmillan), a most valuable work; Fürst's · Hebrew Concordance, the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance' (Longman), and the Greek Concordances of Kircher, Trommius, and Bruder. Buxtorf's Rabbinical Dictionary has also been referred to, in order to ascertain the (comparatively) modern usage of Hebrew terms; but Rabbinical studies, whilst deeply interesting, do not contribute nearly so much to the understanding of the Scriptures as might be supposed. The LXX is of infinitely greater importance for the present purpose than either the Targums or the Talmud.
This abbreviation signifies the English Authorised Version in the following pages; similarly, LXX signifies the early Greek translation of the 0. T., commonly called the Septuagint.
Thanks to the kindness of those friends who have criticized the sheets, verified the references throughout, and prepared the index of texts, it is hoped that the printing is tolerably accurate.
In conclusion, the author earnestly desires that readers of this book may gain—as he has gained in writing it - a deepened conviction of the truth, the unity, and the authority of the Scriptures, and that it may influence members of various parties and denominations to enter upon a critical and systematic study of the Sacred Records in their original languages. They will thus be drawn nearer to one another, and will be stimulated to live in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life,' awaiting the Master's return to reward all who have laboured in His spirit and on His side ;- and then shall every man have praise of God.'
CLAPHAM COMMON :