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the vulgate edition. This being the case, it cannot be thought strange, that the errors and obscurities of the vulgate have entered more or less into all the ancient versions of the new testament, and that from them they have crept into many of the modlern versions likewise*.
of the modern versions of the new testament; and particularly of the En
glish translations of the greatest note. As the author does not pretend to be acquainted with all the vernacular translations of the scriptures, used at present by the different nations of Europe, he will not take upon him to say how far they have copied the vulgate. But this he may affirm, that most of the vernacular versions of the scriptures made by the Roman Catholics since the reformation, are translations of the vulgate. And with respect to the protestants, though Luther and Olivetan gave out that they made their versions from the Hebrew, they must be understood with some limitation, if F. Simon's opinion be true, namely, that neither the one nor the other understood Hebrew so well as to be able to translate the scriptures from that language. Be that, however, as it will, this is known, that all the vernacular versions now used by the Lutherans are translations of Luther's German bible, and that most of those used by the Calvinists are translations either from Olivetan’s version, as corrected by Calvin, or from Beza's Latin new testament; consequently, neither the Lutheran nor the Calvinist vernacular versions can be supposed as exact as they should be. But without insisting on this, the author supposes the utility of a new English translation of the apostolical epistles will be sufficiently evinced, if it can be shewn that the first English translators made their versions from the vulgate, and that the sub
To prove what is asserted above, the following examples are produced : Matth. X. 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ? and one of them shall net fall on the ground without your F&ther. This translation implies, that the other might fall without their Father. The same error is found in the Syriac and vulgate versions, and in Beza, and most of the Latin translations, not excepting Erasmus, and in all the old English versions, and in the Geneva bible. But the ab. surdity may easily be removed, by construing the negative particle with the word (év) one, thus: Yet not one of them falleth on the ground, tc. Luke xxiii. 32. Ducebantur autem, et alii duo nequam, cum eo, ut interfuerentur. This translation most falsely represents Jesus as a malefactor ; and being found in the first Syriac and Vulgate versions, the Arabic, Ethiopic, &c. derived it either from the Syriac or the vulgate. Wickliffalso, Erasmus, Castalio, the Rhemish, and even our English translators, have all followed the vulgate in this gross error. Yet the original, Hgorro do και έτεροι δυο κακεργοι συν αυτο αναιρεθηναι by supplying the word oντες, 2s Thomson hath done, may justly be rendered; Now with him also two others who were malefactors were led to be put to death; or rather, without any addition, thus: Now, there were led also two others, maiofactors, with him to be put to death: and so the shocking absurdity will be avoided.
sequent translators, by copying them, have retained a number of the errors of that ancient version.
Wickliff's NEW TESTAMENT.-If we except the Saxon translation of the four gospels mentioned, p. 5. the most ancient English version of the new testament now remaining, is that which was made by John Wickliff, a fellow of Merton college, Oxford. Such a change had taken place in the language since the Norman conquest, that the Anglo-saxon, the only English version of the scriptures then extant, was in Wickliff's time become unintelligible to the common people, who neither understood a number of the words, nor the spelling, nor even the letters in which it was written. This excellent person, therefore, with a view to expose the errors of popery, and to spread the knowledge of religion among his countrymen, employed himself in making a translation of the new testament into the English language, as it was then spoken, and finished it about the year 1367. But because, by translating the scriptures, Wickliff put it in the power of every one who could read, to compare the doctrines of Rome with the doctrines of Christ, his translation was universally condemned as heretical by the Romish clergy, and a bill was brought into the house of lords anno 1390, for suppressing it. But the duke of Lancaster, a favourer of Wickliff, and uncle to king Richard II. opposing the bill, it was thrown out. After Wickliff's death, by a constitution of the convocation at Oxford, the reading of his translation was prohibited, and some, for using it, suffered death.
Wickliff did not make his translation of the new testament from the Greek, which it is thought he did not understand, but from the Latin bible then read in the churches, which he rendered verbatim, without regarding the idiom of the languages. A translation of the new testament, made in that manner, from such an incorrect copy as the Latin bible then was, could not miss to be both erroneous and obscure. Nevertheless, being anxiously sought after, and much read by persons of all ranks, it was of great use in opening the eyes of the nation to the errors of popery: and the rather, as to the books of the new testament, Wickliff had prefixed a translation of Jerome's prologues, with some additions of his own, tending to expose the Romish superstitions. Afterwards, the faults of Wickliff's translation being discovered, some of his followers, as Lewis informs us, (p. 29.) revised it; or rather made another translation, not 80 strictly literal as his, and more according to the sense. Of this
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revised translation, the MS. copies are more rare, though some of them are still preserved in the public libraries. In the advocates library at Edinburgh, there is a beautiful MS. of Wickliff's translation, on vellum. But whether it is of the first, or of the revised translation, the author does not know.
TYNDAL'S TRANSLATION.—The next English translation of the new testament which merits attention, was made in the reign of Henry VIII. by William Tyndal, a Welchman, educated in Magdalen-hall, Oxford, where he read lectures in divinity. But after a while, becoming sensible of the errors of popery, to shew their opposition to the word of God, he formed the design of translating the new testament into English, and of publishing it from the press; a measure at that time necessary, as both the language and orthography of Wicklift''s translation was become in a great measure obsolete. While Tyndal was cxecuting his pious intention, he fell under the suspicion of heresy, and was obliged to flee to Antwerp, where, with the assistance of one John Frith, he finished his translation of the new testament, and published it either at Antwerp or Hamburgh, in the year 1526.-When the copies of Tyndal's translation were imported into England, and dispersed, the Romish clergy were exceedingly provoked. Some of them said it was impossible to translate the scriptures into English; others, that it was not lawful for the people to have them in their mother tongue; others, that it would make them all heretics. They were displeased, likewise, because Tyndal, like Wickliff, had interpreted the sacred words, (see p. 9.) whose meaning they wished to hide from the people; because, having appropriated these words to themselves, as long as they were not understood, the clergy were at liberty to affix to them any sense they pleased, for aggrandizing their own order. Wherefore, when they found that Tyndal, in his translation, had put the word senior for priest, congregation for church, love for charity, repentance for penance, &c. they were so enraged, that, by various constitutions, they condemned the whole of his translation as heretical, forbade the people to read it, made strict search after the copies of it, and all that they found they burnt publicly. But the more Tyndal's translation was condemned, the more it was sought after and read, insomuch that the Dutch booksellers printed four editions of it, before Tyndal thought fit to reprint it. Concerning these Dutch editions, it is to be observed, that as the editors did not understand the English language themselves, and had no per
son skilled in it to correct their presses, three of their editions are extremely erroneous.
While the foreign booksellers were making gain of Tyndal's labours, he was employed in translating the five books of Moses into English, with an intention to publish them likewise. In this part of his work he was assisted by Myles Coverdale, a native of Yorkshire, and one of the Austin friars in Cambridge, who, being suspected of heresy, had fled to the continent. Having finished his translation, Tyndal printed it at Malborrow (Marpurg), in the land of Hesse, in the year 1530. To each of the books of Moses he prefixed a prologue, and on the margin placed notes, and added ten wooden cuts, representing the ark, the candlestick, &c. About this time, likewise, he translated the prophesy of Jonah, and some other books of scripture.
In the year 1534, the Dutch booksellers having resolved to print a fourth edition of Tyndal's new testament, they hired one George Joye, (a Bedfordshire man, bred in Peterhouse, Cambridge,) to correct the press. But as Joye tells us in his preface, He not only corrected the errors of the press ; but when he came to some dark sentences, having the Latin text by him, he made them plainer, and gave many words their native signification, which they had not before. This edition was printed at Antwerp, in August 1534.
In November 1534, the papal dominion was abolished in England, and the king's supremacy established by act of Parliament; so that a way was opened for the reformation of religion, to the unspeakable advantage of the English nation.
This year, Tyndal published his new testament a second time; because, in his former edition, as he acknowledges in the preface, There were many faults, which the lack of help, and oversight had occasioned. The title of this edition is, The Newe testament, diligently corrected, and printed in the year of our Lord 1534, in November. And at the end : Printed at Antwerp, by Marten Emperour. But the Dutch booksellers had made such haste, that, as was just now mentioned, their edition was published in August, three months before Tyndal's.
It hath been commonly said, that Tyndal made his translation of the new testament from the Greek : but no such thing is said in the titles of any of the editions published by himself,* or
• If, as Lewis informs us, Tyndal translated an oration of Isocrates, he must have had some knowledge of the Greek: but as that language was very little studied in these days, it may be doubted whether he understood it so well as to be able to translate the new testament from the Greek. The Hebrew being still less studied in England, it is generally believed, that neitber be
by Joye. In the library of St. Paul's church, London, there is an edition with this title : The Newe testament, diligently corrected and compared wyth the Greke, by William Tyndal, and finished in the yere of our Lord God 1534, in the moneth of November. But this edition was not published by Tyndal. For, in a later edition, mentioned by Lewis, which was printed in 1536, the title is, The Newe testament, yet once agayne corrected by William Tindale. This, with other circumstances, to be mentioned afterwards, shews, that Tyndal's translation was made from the vulgate Latin, as most of the vernacular translations of the new testament, made in that age, undoubtedly were.
Before Tyndal finished the printing of his second edition, in 1534, he was imprisoned in the castle of Antwerp, where he remained till he was strangled and burnt as an heretic, in the year 1536. Hall tells us, that after the publication of the first edition of his new testament, Tyndal prosecuted his design of translating the old testament, with such diligence, that before he was put to death, he had finished his translation, not only of the pentateuch, and of Jonah, but of all the other books to Nehemiah. These translations, according to Johnson, he made not from the Hebrew, but from the vulgate Latin; or, as the popish writers affirm, from Luther's German translation.
Tyndals translation of the books of the old testament, to Nehemiah, together with his translation of Jonah, and of the books of the new testament, make what is called Tyndal’s bible.
COVERDALE'S BIBLE.-While Tyndal was in prison, the whole bible, translated into English, was finished at the press, in the year 1535, with a dedication to Henry VIII. subscribed by Myles Coverdale. In this dedication, Coverdale speaks with great bitterness against the bishop of Rome, and his usurpations, and tells the king, that he took upon him to set forth this special translation, not as a checker, reprover, or despiser of other men's translations, but lowly and faithfully following his interpreters, and that under correction. Of these, he said, he made use of five differ
nor Coverdale understood that language. Besides, the short time they spent in finishing their translations of the books of the old testament, renders it more than probable that they did not make their translations from the Hebrew, but from the Latin bible. Perhaps they compared their translations with the originals. For, with a very slender knowledge of the languages, they may have done what Olivetan says he did, when he made his French translation from the Hebrew. 'On meeting with any difficult text, which he did not understand, or which he doubted of, he consulted the translations and commentaries of others, and took what he judged best.' (Simon, Crit. Hist. du V. T L ii. c. 24.) This, I suppose, is all that the learned men meant, who, in the title of the bible which they published in the year 1539, say, they translated it truely after hic verite of the Hebrew and Greek textes. See page 20.