« PreviousContinue »
lystranslated by the Seventy, and that the sense of both was not justly expressed by the phrase which our translators had employed in the version of the Prophets, they had no reason for adopting a different, though it were a synonymous phrase, in rendering the passage when quoted in the New. What shall we say then of their employing an expression which conveys a very different meaning ?
§ 6. I shall produce one example, which, though no quotation, yet, having a direct reference to a promise often mentioned in the Old Testament, and made originally to the Patriarchs, ought to have been interpreted in the most comprehensive way. Our translators, by not attending to this, have rendered a passage otherwise perspicuous perfectly unintelligible. Και γαρ εσμεν ευηγγελισμενοι, καθαπερ KAXELVOL ; in the common version, For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them "'. He had been speaking of the Israelites under Moses in the wilderness. This sounds strangely in Christian ears. That the Gospel has been preached to us, needs no affirmation to convince us : our only difficulty is, to understand in what sense the Gospel, or religious institution of Jesus Christ, was preached to those who lived and died before his incarnation. Yet it seems here to be supposed that we all know that the Gospel was preached to them, but need to be informed that it has ever been preached to our
19 Heb. iv, 2.
selves. Had it been said, For unto them was the gospel preached as well as unto us, we should have discovered a meaning in the sentence, though we might have been at a loss to conceive in what respect it is defensible. But, as it stands, we are no less puzzled about the meaning, than about the truth of the observation. Now, the literal and proper translation of the word evayyeni šouai, in an instant, removes every difficulty. For unto us the good tid. ings are published which were published to them. What these good tidings are, is evident from the context. It is the promise of rest to God's people. It had been shown by the Apostle, in the preceding chapter, that the promise first made to the patriarchs was not, if I may so express myself, exhausted by the admission of the Israelites into the land of Canaan : that, on the contrary, we learn, from a threat in the Psalms against the rebellious, that there was still a nobler country and superior happiness men had to look for, of which the earthly Canaan was but a figure ; that therefore we ought to take warning, from the example of those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, to beware lest we also forfeit, through unbelief, that glorious inheritance, the rest that yet remains for the people of God. Now, as the promises conveying the good news of rest, were originally made to the fathers, and to Israel, according to the flesh, it was pertinent to take notice that we are equally interested in them, and that this good news of rest in a happy country afterwards to be enjoyed, is declared to us as fully as ever it was to them. This sense, though
clearly the Apostle's, is totally effaced by the misinterpretation of the word evnyye Quevol, The Vulgate has, in this place, kept clear of the glaring impropriety in the English version. It has simply, Etenim et nobis nuntiatum est quemadmodum et illis. Their common way, however, is different.
ģ7. In other places, most modern translators have been misled, in this article, by implicitly following the Vulgate, which first set the bad example of translating those passages differently, in the Old Testament, and in the New. In the passage quoted from Paul, and by him from Isaiah, Erasmus has very well preserved both the import of the word, and the conformity to the way in which it had been always justly rendered in the Prophet, Quam speciosi pedes annuntiantium pacem, annuntiantium bona! To the same purpose Castalio, who has taken this way, which Erasmus had not done, of rendering also the words read by our Lord in the synagogue, Me ad læta pauperibus nuntianda misit. In the other places above referred to, Castalio follows the common method. Pauperes evangelium docentur. Erasmus, in rendering the passage quoted from Matthew, has endeavoured to comprehend both ways. Pauperes lætum accipiunt evangelii nuntium. He has in this been copied by the translator of Zuric. This method is quite paraphrastical. It does not savour of the simplicity of the evangelical style. If evayyeziov mean lætum nuncium, why did he add evangelii ? And if it do not mean lætum
nuncium, what had these words to do in the version ? And if the Latin evangelium is of the same import with the Greek ευαγγελιoν, the sentence is a mere tautology; as if he should say, The poor receive the good news of glad tidings. And, if the import of the adoptive Latin word evangelium be different, which is in fact the case, from that of the Greek, which is fully interpreted by the two words lætum nuntium, evangelii is a mere interpolation. The words of the original are general, and have equal latitude of signification with the Latin lætum nuncium, or the English good news. The addition of the word evangelii limits the sense in a way which the Prophet's expression does not warrant. Nor does an interpreter's opinion concerning the completion of the prophecy (however true, nay, however certain, that opinion be) entitle him to express the prediction with greater speciality of meaning than has been done by his author. Erasmus does not seem himself to have been entirely satisfied with this circumlocution, as he has rendered the same words in Luke in the cominon way, and in this also has been followed by the Tigurine translator. Beza has in all the passages above referred to, (except that in which the Vulgate was right,) followed the Vulgate, and has been followed by most of the early Protestant translators.
| 8. Some may imagine, that I am here pleading for what, on other occasions, I have shown no partiality to, a translation of the words servilely li
teral or etymological. But, let it be observed, that I am never for tracing in the translation, the etymology of the words of the original, when the etymology does not give the just import of the words, according to the received use at the time when the speeches or dialogues related were spoken, or when the book was composed. The Greek verb evayyeniša, when first used by the Evangelists, or the Hebrew 72 bashar, when used by the Prophets, or the Syriac 720 sabar, as most probably used by our Lord and his Apostles, conveyed to their countrymen only one and the same idea, which is precisely what the phrase to bring good tidings conveys to us. The appropri. ation of the word to the religious institution called the Gospel, is of a later date, and has gradually arisen out of the former usage. When etymology and use entirely coincide, as they often do, we cannot be too literal in our interpretations ; when they differ, which does not seldom happen, the latter is to be followed, and not the former.
In some respects, similar, though apparently, contrary, to the above objection, is that of those who urge that our term gospel, in its Saxon etymology, is an exact counterpart to the Greek ευαγγελιoν, being compounded of two words, which conjoined denote good news. But, the only pertinent question is, in this case, Is this the present meaning of the English word gospel? The first objectors would assign to the Greek word ευαγγελιον, a sense which it had not during our Lord's ministry, but which it acquir