« ZurückWeiter »
with the British and German of Lower Saxony, &c. Although these languages have in progress of time become distinct, yet, in many respects, they may all be considered as similar, from the connexion
be traced between them." The principal cognate dialects or languages are the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic.
I. The Chaldee, we have already seen, was a dialect of the Aramæan language : it was acquired by the Jews during the Babylonian captivity, and was currently spoken at the time our Saviour appeared in Judæa. Besides the parts already stated as being written in this tongue, numerous Chaldaic words occur in the book of Job, the Proverbs, and other parts of the Sacred Writings, for the correct understanding of which the knowledge of Chaldee is necessary. It is further of great use for enabling us to read the Chaldee paraphrases which show the sense put by the Jews themselves on the words of Scripture.
II. The Syriac, though written in a different character, is also a dialect of the Aramean language : it was vernacular in Galilee. Hence, though several of the sacred writers of the New Testament expressed themselves in Greek, their ideas were Syriac; and they consequently used many Syriac idioms, and a few Syriac words:3 The chief difference between the Syriac and Chaldee consists in the vowel-points or mode of pronunciation; and, notwithstanding the forms of their respective letters are very dissimilar, yet the correspondence between the two dialects is so close, that if the Chaldee be written in Syriac characters without points it becomes Syriac, with the exception of a single inflexion in the formation of the verbs. The great assistance, which a knowledge of this dialect affords to the critical understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures, is illustrated at considerable length by the elder Michaelis, in a pluilological dissertation, originally published in 1756, and reprinted in the first volume of M. M. Pott's and Ruperti's Sylloge Commenationum Theologicarum.5
III.. Though more remotely allied to the Hebrew than either of the preceding dialects, the Arabic language possesses sufficient analogy to explain and illustrate the former, and is not perhaps inferior in importance to the Chaldee or the Syriac; particularly as it is a living language, in which almost every subject has been discussed, and has received the minutest investigation from native writers and lexicographers. The learned Jews who flourished in Spain from the tenth to the twelfth century under the dominion of the Moors, were the first who applied Arabic to the illustration of the Hebrew language : and subsequent Christian writers, as Bochart, the elder Schultens, Olaus
1 Morus, vol. i. p. 174. 2 Walton's Prolegomena, c. xii, Ø 2, 3. (pp. 559—562. edit. Dathii.) 3 Masclef, Gramm. Hebr. vol. ii. p. 114. Wotton's Misna, vol. i. præf. p. xviii. 4 Walton, Prol. c. xiii. Ø 2, 3, 4, 5. (pp. 594—603.)
5 D. Christiani Benedicti Michaelis Dissertatio Philologica, quâ Lumina Syriaca pro illustrando Ebraismo Sacro exhibentur (Halæ, 1756), in Pott's & Ruperti's Sylloge, tom. i. pp. 170--244. The editors have inserted in the notes some additional observations from Michelis's own copy.
Celsius, and others, have diligently and successfully applied the Arabian historians, geographers, and authors on natural history, to the explanation of the Bible.
IV. The Ethiopic language, which is immediately derived from the Arabic, has been applied with great advantage to the illustration of the Scriptures by Bochart, De Dieu, Hottinger, and Ludolph (to whom we are indebted for an Ethiopic grammar and Lexicon) : and Pfeiffer has explained a few passages in the books of Ezra and Da. niel, by the aid of the Persian language.3
v. The Rabbinical Hebrew is a mixture of several languages, which cannot be of great use for illustrating the Holy Scriptures; though it ought not perhaps to be wholly despised. Dr. Gill has applied the Rabbinical Hebrew to the elucidation of the Bible more than any other modern commentator. The Latin is nearly allied to the Greek, which, however, requires but little illustration from it.
VI. The cognate or kindred languages are of considerable use in sacred criticism. They may lead us to discover the occasions of such false readings as transcribers unskilled in the Hebrew, but accustomed to some of the other dialects, have made by writing words in the form of that dialect instead of the Hebrew form. Further, the knowledge of these languages will frequently serve to prevent illgrounded conjectures that a passage is corrupted, by shewing that the common reading is susceptible of the very sense which such passage requires: and when different readings are found in copies of the Bible, these languages may sometimes assist us in determining which of them ought to be preferred. *
1 Baner, Herm. Sacr. pp. 82, 83. 106, 107. Welton, Prol. c. xiv. 52–7. 14. (pp. 635_641. 649.) Bishop Marsh's Divinity Lectures, part iii. p. 28.
Bauer, Herm. Sacr. p. 107. Walton, Prol. c. xvi. 96.8(pp. 674-678.) 3 Dubia Verata, cent. iv. no. 66. (Op. tom. i. pp. 420-422.and Herm. Sacra. c. vi. 99. (Ibid. tom. ii. p. 648.) Walton, Prol. c. xvi. 05. (pp. 691, 692.)
Gerard's Institutes of Biblical Criticism, p. 63. – For Bibliographical Notices of the principal Grammars and Lexicons of the Cognate Languages, see the Appendix to this Volume, No. III. VOL. 1.
ON THE MANUSCRIPTS OF THE BIBLE.
ON THE HEBREW MANUSCRIPTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. 1. Different classes of Hebrew Manuscripts. - II. The rolled Manu
scripts of the synagogues. - III. The square Manuscripts used by the Jews in private life. - IV. Antient recensions or editions of Hebrew Manuscripts. – V. Age of Hebrew Manuscripts. - VI. Of the order in which the Sacred Books are arranged in Manuscripts. - Number of Books contained in different Manuscripts. - VII. Modern Families or Recensions of Hebrew Manuscripts.
VIII. Notice of the most antient Manuscripts. — IX. Brief notice of the Manuscripts of the Indian Jews. 1. ALTHOUGH, as we have already seen, the Hebrew text of the Old Testament has descended to our times uncorrupted, yet, with all the care which the antient copyists could bestow, it was impossible to preserve it free from mistakes, arising from the interchanging of the similar letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and other circumstances incident to the transcription of antient manuscripts. The Rabbins boldly asserted, and, through a credulity rarely to be paralleled, it was implicitly believed, that the Hebrew text was absolutely free from error, and that in all the manuscripts of the Old Testament not a single various reading of importance could be produced. Father Morin was the first person who ventured to impugn this notion in his Exercitationes in utrumque Samaritanorum Pentateuchum, published at Paris in 1631 ; and he grounded his opinion of the incorrectness of the Hebrew manuscripts on the differences between the Hebrew and the Samaritan texts in the Pentateuch, and on the differences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint in other parts of the Bible. Morinus was soon after followed by Louis Cappel, (whose Critica Sacra was published in 1650,) who pointed out a great number of errors in the printed Hebrew, and shewed how they might be corrected by the antient versions and the common rules of criticism. He did not, however, advert to the most obvious and effectual means of emendation, namely, a collation of Hebrew manuscripts; and, valuable as his labours unquestionably are, it is certain that he neither used them himself, nor invited others to have recourse to them, in order to correct the sacred text. Cappel was assailed by various opponents, but chiefly by the younger Buxtorf in his Anticritica, published at Basil in 1653, who attempted, but in vain, to refute the principles he had established. In 1657 Bishop Walton, in his Prolegomena to the London Polyglott Bible, declared in favour of the principles asserted by Cappel, acknowledged the necessity of forming a critical apparatus for the purpose of obtaining a more correct text of the Hebrew Bible, and materially contributed to the formation of one by his own
exertions. Subsequent biblical critics acceded to the propriety of their arguments, and since the middle of the seventeenth century, the importance and necessity of collating Hebrew manuscripts have been generally acknowledged.?
Hebrew manuscripts are divided into two classes, viz. autographs, or those written by the inspired penmen themselves, which have long since perished; and apographs, or copies made from the originals, and multiplied by repeated transcription. These apographs are also divided into the more antient, which formerly enjoyed the highest authority among the Jews, but have in like manner perished long ago; and into the more modern, which are found dispersed in various public and private libraries. The manuscripts which are still extant, are subdivided into the rolled manuscripts used in the synagogues, and into the square manuscripts which are used by private individuals among the Jews.
11. The Pentateuch was read in the Jewish synagogues from the earliest times; and, though the public reading of it was intermitted during the Babylonish captivity, it was resumed shortly after the return of the Jews. Hence numerous copies were made from time to time; and as they held the books of Moses in the most superstitious veneration, various regulations were made for the guidance of the transcribers, who were obliged to conform to them in copying the rolls destined for the use of the synagogue. The date of these regulations is not known, but they are long posterior to the Talmud; and though many of them are the most ridiculous and useless that can be well conceived, yet the religious observance of them, which has continued for many centuries, has certainly contributed in a great degree to preserve the purity of the Pentateuch. The following are a few of the principal of these regulations.
The copies of the law must be transcribed from antient manuscripts of approved character only, with pure ink, on parchment prepared from the hide of a clean animal
, for this express purpose, by a Jew, and fastened together by the strings of clean animals; every skin must contain a certain number of columns of prescribed length and breadth, each column comprising a given number of lines and words; no word must be written by heart or with points, or without being first orally pronounced by the copyist; the name of God is not to be written but with the utmost devotion and attention, and previously to writing it, he must wash his pen. The want of a single letter, or the redundance of a single letter, the writing of prose as verse, or verse as prose, respectively, vitiates a manuscript : and when a copy has been completed, it must be examined and corrected within thirty days after the writing has been finished, in order to determine whether it is to be approved or rejected. These rules, it is said, are observed to the present day by the persons who transcribe the sacred writings for the use of the synagogue.
1 Bishop Marsh's Lectures, part ii. p. 99.