« ForrigeFortsæt »
“ new; and the doctrines contained in them fo pera
fectly remote from the notions that mankind had “ been previously acquainted with, that most of the “ important terms in them have quite a different sig“ nification from what they bear in other disc courses."
It is, indeed, obvious that Greek, in what is termed its classical purity, could not furnish words to convey just ideas of religious subjects, especially where the Christian dispensation contained doctrines entirely new, or such as were derived from the Jewish religion, to be explained only by a reference to the doctrines and the rites of the Mosaic law, or the writings of the Jewish prophets; hence the writers of the New Teftament were compelled to borrow their expressions from the law and the prophets; to employ Greek words, whose meaning would be determined, rather by their analogy to the Hebrew terms, to which they most nearly corresponded, than by their original derivation; and to combine them according to the idioms of the Hebrew and Syriac languages, rather than the natural construction of Grecian phraseology : but surely the obscurity which may arise from this cause, bears no resemblance to that which attends the
mysticism of incoherent fanatics.
I Vid. Dr. Macknight, in his general preface to his new translation of St. Paul's epistles, 3-vol. 1. p. 26, of the edition in 4 vols.
It is, indeed, peculiarly worthy of remark, that this is one of the many instances in which those very circumstances, which the rafhness of infidelity has presumed to arraign, as inconsistent with the supposition of a divine interference in the promulgation of Christianity, are found, on sober enquiry, to contribute materially to strengthen the evidence of those facts, on which the proof of that interference des pends.
Thus, in the present case, if we suppose this cause of obscurity in the sacred writings, removed by the total absence of all Hebrew and Syriac phrases and idioms, and that the divine Spirit, which actuated the apostles and evangelists, had suffered no phrase to drop from them, which did not conform to the strictest purity of the Grecian dialect, as some * fcorners have required it should; what would be the effect (other circumstances remaining the same ?) undoubtedly we should lose the very
« first and principal mark of authenticity in the New Testament;" even its language. This, as the celebrated Michaelis obferves, is “ distinguished by Hebraisms 6 and Syriasms, which afford the strongest presump" tion in its favour, as they fhew it to have been 6 written by men of Hebrew origin, a production " therefore of the first century; since, after the de“ cease of the first Jewish converts to Christianity,
m Lord Shaftsbury in his characteristics.
* Vid. Michaelis's introduction to the New Testament, translated by Marsh, chap. ii. Ø 10. vol. 1. p. 45–
we find hardly any instance of Jews who turned preachers of the gospel, and the Christian fathers
were, for the most part, totally ignorant of He“ brew. This distinguishing mark is to be found " in all the books of the New Testament, though in “ different degrees, even in the epistles of St. Paul, " and the Acts of the apostles; though the former
sufficiently evince that the author was master of " the Greek, and the latter contains various exam
ples, not only of pure, but elegant language; nor " have these idioms the appearance of art or design, “ being exactly such as might be expected from per“ fons, who used a language spoken indeed where “ they lived, but not the dialect of their country.”
But to this eminent writer himself I refer my reader, for further illustration of this important argu. ment. It is sufficient, for my present purpose, to observe, that the obfcurity from this cause must
pe. culiarly affe& St. Paul's " epistles, because the subject, they treat of, were very frequently connected with the Jewish religion; and still more, because several of these epistles were designed principally for the perufal of the Jews. Thụs, the whole epistle to the Galatians, the argumentative part of the epistle to the Romans, many passages in the epistles to the Corinthians, the Colossians, and the Philippians, to Timo
. Michaelis, ch. iv. § 4, p. 118.
thy and Titus, are employed in discussing the controversy, concerning the 'obligation of the Mosaic law on the converts to Christianity, or in reprehending and calming the diffentions it had raised. add the epistle to the Hebrews, this is principally occupied in explaining the priesthood and intercession of Christ, by its analogy to the Jewish priesthood and worship. Hence the language which the apostle would naturally use, was also best adapted to his purpose" P born at Tarsus, his native language was “ Greek; but being a Jew, and accustomed from “ his childhood to read the Septuagint translation, " from the Old Testament into Greek, it was nå. “ tural to suppose, his language would be tinctured " by Hebraisms-nor has he ever studied to avoid " the air of a Jew or a Cilician ; indeed, the half “ of his readers would have thought it a token of
contempt, if he had rejected a language which " he spake in common with themselves. Thus the “ fear of giving offence to the Jews, to whom he “ wisely accommodated, whenever it was allowable, " both his doctrine and his manner, in order to win “ them to his party, and the seeming impropriety “ of deviating from a language, that was already “ consecrated to the service of religion, might have “ determined him to neglect a style that would have “ been more elegant and more fashionable ; but on " the subject which St. Paul discussed, endued per
P Michaelis, ch. iv. Ø. 8. p. 152, 155, and 156.
haps 6 haps with less 9
energy and precifion, the venera“ ble expressions of the bible, and the terms of reli
gion, which had acquired a prescriptive right from " the practice of the synagogue, were highly proper, “ and even necessary, in delivering the doctrines of 4 Christianity; and when once admitted into the 6. dogmatical parts of his discourse an attick elegance a would have made a useless. contrast in the re66 .mainder of his epistles.”
Thus does, an eminent.' critic. defend the apostle, for those deviations from the purity of the Greek style, which have been the subject of so much obloquy from the adversaries of Christianity, and which have probably rendered it more difficult to interpret the
It is the observation of Blackwall, which I think he fup: ports by striking examples, that the Hebraisms which are ad. mitted into the New Testament, and the allusions to oriental customs, frequently expressed the ideas of the writer, with more vigor than any other idiom would admit. He further remarks, that even in these, regard has been had to the genuine analogy, and true propriety of Grammar; so that we may find expressions fimilar to the Hebraifms of the New Telta. ment in Plato, Herodotus, and the best Greek writers, while other Hebrew forms of expression, though scarce bolder or harsher than these, are never used by the sacred writers, because they would have been violations of the analogy and custom of the Greek and Roman languages, as never, admitted into them, or used by their approved writers. Of such Hebraifms as these he gives many instances ; vid. Bļackwall's sacred claf. ficks, defended and illustrated, part i. paslim, and part ii. chap. i. fect. !. Michaelis, ch. iv. g. 8. p. 155, 156