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labours of the ministry in this field, by affording them a partial succedaneum for many costly books, and enabling them to profit by the latest philological improvements and discoveries, without the inconveniences and even dangers which attend a direct resort to the original authorities.
What has now been said will explain a feature of the plan, which might at first sight seem to be at variance with the ultimate design of the whole work, to wit, the exclusion of the practical element, or rather of its formal exhibition in the shape of homiletical and doctrinal reflections. A work upon Isaiah so constructed as to constitute a series of lectures or expository sermons, instead of doing for the clergy what they need and what they wish, would be attempting to do for them that which they can do far better for themselves, by presenting one of the many forms in which the substance of the book may be employed for the instruction and improvement of their people. The effect of this consideration is enhanced by an impression, which the author's recent labours have distinctly made upon his mind, that much of the fanciful and allegorical interpretation heretofore current has arisen from a failure to discriminate sufficiently between the province of the critical interpreter and that of the expository lecturer or preacher, the effect of which has been to foist into the Scriptures, as a part of their original and proper sense, a host of applications and accommodations, which have no right there, however admissible and even useful in their proper place. Let the professional interpreter content himself with furnishing the raw material in a sound and merchantable state, without attempting to prescribe the texture, colour, shape, or quantity of the indefinitely varied fabrics into which it is the business of the preacher to transform it. From these considerations it will be perceived that the omission now in question has arisen, not merely from a want of room, and not at all from any disregard to practical utility, but on the contrary from a desire to promote it in the most effectual manner.
Another point, which may be here explained, is the relation of the following commentary to the authorized English Version of Isaiah. It was at first proposed to make the latter the immediate basis of the exposition, simply calling in the aid of the original to rectify the errors or clear up the obscurities of the translation.
The primary reason for abandoning this method was its tendency to generate an indirect and circuitous method of interpretation. A still higher motive for the change was afforded by its probable effect in promoting thorough biblical learning, and discouraging the sluggish disposition to regard the common version as the ultimate authority, and even to insist upon its errors or fortuitous peculiarities as parts of a divine revelation. The contrary disposition to depreciate the merits of the English Bible, by gratuitous departures from its form or substance, is comparatively rare, and where it does exist is to be corrected, not by wilful ignorance, but by profound and discriminating knowledge of the version and original. The practical conclusion, in the present case, has been to make the Hebrew text exclusively the subject of direct interpretation, but to give the common version all the prominence to which it is entitled by its intrinsic excellence and by its peculiar interest and value to the English reader. It may be thought that the shortest and easiest method of accomplishing this object would have been that adopted by Maurer, Knobel, and some other writers, who, without giving any continuous version of the text, confine their comments to its difficult expressions. It was found upon experiment, however, that much circumlocution might be spared in many cases by a simple version, or at most by an explanatory paraphrase. A literal translation of the whole text has therefore been incorporated in the present work, not as a mere appendage or accompaniment, much less as a substitute or rival of the common version, which is too completely in possession of the public ear and memory to be easily displaced even if it were desirable, but simply as a necessary and integral part of the interpretation. The grounds of this arrangement will be stated more fully in the Introduction, of which it may as well be said in this place as in any other, that it makes no pretensions to the character of an exhaustive compilation, but is simply, as its name imports, a preparation for what follows, consisting partly in preliminary statements, partly in general summaries, the particulars of which are scattered through the exposition.
Another question, which presented itself early in the progress of the work, was the question whether it should be a record of the author's individual conclusions merely, or to some extent a history
of the interpretation. The only argument in favour of the first plan was the opportunity which it afforded of including all Isaiah in a single volume. As to economy of time and labour, it was soon found that as much of these must be expended on a simple statement of the true sense as would furnish the materials for a synopsis of the different opinions. The latter method was adopted, therefore, not merely for this negative reason, but also for the sake of the additional interest imparted to the work by this enlargement of the plan, and the valuable antidote to exegetical extravagance and crudity, afforded by a knowledge of earlier opinions and even of exploded errors. These advantages were reckoned of sufficient value to be purchased even by a sacrifice of space, and it was therefore determined to confine the present publication to the Earlier Prophecies (ch. 1-xxxıx), the rest being reserved to form the subject of another volume. This separation was the more convenient as the Later Prophecies (ch. XL-Lxvı) are now universally regarded as a continuous and homogeneous composition, requiring, in relation to its authenticity, a special critical investigation.
But although it was determined that the work should be historical as well as exegetical, it was of course impossible to compass the whole range of writers on Isaiah, some of whom were inaccessible, and others wholly destitute of any thing original, and therefore without influence upon the progress of opinion. This distinction was particularly made in reference to the older writers, while a more complete exhibition was attempted of the later literature. Some recent writers were at first overlooked through accident or inadvertence, and the omission afterwards continued for the sake of uniformity, or as a simple matter of convenience. Some of these blanks it is proposed to fill in any further prosecution of the author's plan. The citation of authorities becomes less frequent and abundant, for the most part, as the work advances and the reader is supposed to have become familiar with the individual peculiarities of different interpreters, as well as with the way in which they usually group themselves in schools and parties, after which it will be generally found sufficient to refer to acknowledged leaders or the authors of particular interpretations. The prominence given to the modern German writers has arisen not from choice but from necessity, because their labours have been so
abundant, because their influence is so extensive, and because one prominent design of the whole work is to combine the valuable processes and products of the new philology with sounder principles of exegesis. Hence too the constant effort to expound the book with scrupulous adherence to the principles and usages of Hebrew syntax, as established by the latest and best writers. The reference to particular grammars was gradually discontinued and exchanged for explanations in my own words, partly for want of a conventional standard, alike familiar to my readers and myself
, partly because the latter method was soon found upon experiment to be the most effectual and satisfactory, in reference to the object which I had in view.
The appearance of the work has been delayed by various causes, but above all by a growing sense of its difficulty and of incapacity to do it justice, together with a natural reluctance to confess how little after all has been accomplished. To some it will probably be no commendation of the work to say, that the author has considered it his duty to record the failure as well as the success of exegetical attempts, and to avoid the presumption of knowing every thing as well as the disgrace of knowing nothing. His deliberate conclusion from the facts with which he has become acquainted in the prosecution of his present task, is that quite as much error has arisen from the effort to know more than is revealed, as from the failure to apply the means of illustration which are really at our disposal. As advantages arising from delay in this case may be mentioned some additional maturity of judgment and the frequent opportunity of reconsideration, with the aid of contemporary writers on Isaiah, of whom seven have appeared since this book was projected, besides several auxiliary works of great importance, such as Fürst's Concordance, Nordheimer's Grammar, Hävernick's Introduction, Robinson's Palestine, the later numbers of Gesenius's Thesaurus, and the last edition of his Manual Lexicon. It is proper to add that, although the plan was formed and the collection of materials begun more than ten years ago, the work has been wholly, and some parts of it repeatedly, reduced to writing as it passed through the press. The advantage thus secured of being able to record the last impressions and to make use of the latest helps, has this accompanying inconvenience, that changes insensibly take place in the details of the execution, tending to impair its uniformity without affecting its essential character. To such external blemishes it is of course unnecessary to invite attention by any more particular description or apology.
Since the printing of the volume was completed, the typographical errors have been found to be more numerous than was expected, although for the most part less injurious to the work than discreditable to the author, who is justly accountable for this defect, on account of the very imperfect state in which the manuscript was furnished to the printer. Instead of resorting to the usual apologies of distance from the press and inexperience in the business, or appealing to the fact that the sheets could be subjected only once to his revision, he prefers to throw himself upon the candour and indulgence of his readers, and especially of those who have experienced the same mortification. At the same time, it will not be improper to direct the attention of the reader, at the very outset, to a few of the errata, which more immediately affect the sense, or do not readily correct themselves.-P. 3, 1. 11, for verb read rest.-P. 47, 1. 7, for heard read hard. Of the errors in the Hebrew, which for the most part may be easily corrected by a reference to the Hebrew Bible, only one or two will be enumerated here. On p. 110, 1. 29, for brew read but.-P. 198, 1. 15, for his read 798.-P. 224, 1. 21, for $97? read xy.-P. 408, 1. 3, for 15777 read 15977.—P. 469, 1. 9, read yem'.-P.513, 1. 12, read Spi D.-P. 515, 1. 11, read rohhoi. The want of uniformity in the insertion or omission of the Hebrew points is certainly a blemish, but will not, it is hoped, occasion any, serious inconvenience, even to the inexperienced reader. It arose from the accidental combination of two different methods, each of which has its advantages, the one as being more convenient for beginners, the other as favouring the useful habit of deciphering the unpointed text, and rendering typographical correctness more attainable.
Princeton, April 20, 1846.