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3. Ab anno post Christum 500, ad annum 1000. 4. Ab anng 1000, ad typographiam inventam, circiter 1450. 5. A typographiâ inventâ, ad hunc usque annum 1780.'
The first Jewish teftimony is that of Josephus; whose defcription of the 22 books of the Old Testament is here considered : and indeed, there was great propriety in prefixing to a Dissertation on the Hebrew Text, a description of the books constituting the Old Testament, as given by this eminent Jewish priest, soon after the time of Christ. We cannot help remarking, that the 13 books, which our accurate and learned Author fpecifies as comprehended under the second article of Jofephus, are judiciously given, and afterwards proved by authorities : particularly, that Ruth was not considered by the Jews as part of Judges; that Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles made three books; that Nehemiah was part of Ezra ; that Lamentations were added to Jeremiah ; and that the 12 minor Prophets were considered as one book, both by the Jews and in the New Testament. We shall, also, observe by the way, though we do not perceive it to be taken notice of by Dr. Kennicott (nor, indeed, did his design require it), that the Song of Solomon has no place in the list of the sacred Jewith writings drawn up by Josephus.
But because Josephus and Philo speak of the Greek version, as perfectly agreeing with the Hebrew text in their time, which was not the case, and might lead to improper deductions; our Author here asserts the corruption of the Hebrew text before the time of these Jews, and also the very great importance of the Greek verfion. For the Pentateuch of this verfion being made about 280 years before Christ, and the other books being also translated into Greek about 100 years before Christ (as is inferred from the prologue to Ecclefiafticus), this version must have had many true readings, where the Hebrew was afterwards corrupted.
Dr. Kennicott begins, therefore, with Psalm xvi. 10. where, though the word for thy holy One be now plural in the text of every copy expressed Masoretically; yet the Greek version is singular, as are no less than 180 copies, agreeably to the quotations of St. Peter and St. Paul. And because the argument of these Apostles, urged upon the Jews, just after the resurrection of Christ, depends on this word's being truly fingular, he confiders, this various reading as of greater moment than any
other which was ever drawn forth from manuscripts. As the Greek verfion thus helps to prove the Hebrew text corrupted, when it differs from it, so where the Hebrew text is corrupted, and that version agrees,
it proves the corruption to be older than the verfion-unless the version has since been assimilated to the Hebrew, Such very early corruptions our Author supposes in Deut. x. 6. Gen. xi. 32.; and Gen, xiv. 36. 31–43. In the firft of these
places, are omitted in the Hebrew text, and in all the versions, many words which are preserved only in the Samaritan text. In the second instance, the number 145 is corrupted into 205, in the Hebrew text and all the versions; and it is right in the Samaritan text only. The third instance contains 13 verses; which, not being written by Moses, were probably inserted from Chronicles, in some manuscript of Genesis, into the margin, and thence taken into the text. This interpolation is so very old, as to be found in all the versions, and likewise in the Samaritan text.
Dr. Kennicott then specifies two great corruptions: one, where the Greek version has been assimilated to the Hebrew, by addition ; and in the other, the Syriac version, by change. The first relates to 20 verses, probably interpolated, in 1 Sam. xvii.; and the second to the word for body, altered to the word for ears in Psalm xl. 7.; on which word body the argument is grounded in the oth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews : and a very old Syriac manuscript, in the Royal library at Paris, translated from the Hebrew, has preserved the true word for body.
Our able Critic having shewn, that the advocates for the integrity of the Hebrew text have allowed that the Hebrew copies used for the Greek version were sometimes erroneous; and that thefe Jewish translators erred frequently in mistaking the similar letters; he justly infers, that these Jews might so err in tranfcribing, as well as in translating. He adds likewise, express testimonies from Jews, as to corruptions in the Hebrew text, long before the time of Christ.
That the Jews altered their ancient copies wilfully, is proved, by our Author, from the Hebrew text and Greek version of Isaiah xix. 18. respecting the temple at Heliopolis ; and also from their turning Mofes into Manasses, in Judges xviii. 30.where (and it is very remarkable) the true word Moses is still preferved in several Greek manuscripts, though the Vatican and Alexandrian manuscripts agree with the corrupted Hebrew.
The Greek and Syriac versions agree also with the Hebrew, as to the transposition of 10 verses from Exodus, ch. xxvi. to ch. 30; where the true order is preserved in the Samaritan. But the Syriac version concurs with fome Hebrew manuscripts, in correcting the transposition of a verse in Lamentations, ch. ii. iii. and iv. After specifying other transpositions, Dr. Kennicott treats of the speeches in Exodus ; which are now found only once, and very irregularly in the Hebrew text; but twice in the Samaritan, and rightly, as may be demonstrated from Exodus, ch, xi. Of great consequence are some remarks, as to words anciently contracted, in writing ; such as 71779 expressed by the letter Yod; the '17 for 1997 in Psalm cvii. 3. and the final fometimes omitted and fometimes inserted. Other Rey, March 1781.
mistakes have been owing to numbers, expressed by alphabetical letters; and, also, through the improper combination of letters, when whole lines of letters were anciently divided into words. Of these mistakes Dr. Kennicott gives two curious fpecimens, both before unheard of, in a King and an Angel. For Clemens Alexandrinus now reckons among the Jewish Kings Afaman, without the years of his reign ; instead of AEA MA, Afa 41. And Eupolemus now speaks of the angel AIANAANOE, Dianathanus; instead of, AIA NAOAN, per Nathanem.
After these and other remarks on the time before Christ, our Author comes to the interval between the birth of our Saviour and the year 500. And here the first thing he takes notice of is exceedingly observable ; that though the present Masora separates our noth Commandment into two, agreeably to the division now made by the Roman Catholics ; yet the unity of this Commandment, as made by Protestants, is expressly confirmed by Philo and Josephus : and the Masoretic mark of separation (at Exodus, xx. 17.) is absent from at least 234 Hebrew copies. Josephus is farther referred to, as confirming the ancient chronology in the Greek version, against that now in the Hebrew text, and likewise, as having a number much more credible, as to the gold and silver left by David. The fame historian confirms, also, the reading in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. vii. 4. from Genesis, xiv. 20. He confirms too, the Syriac version, and the edition of Sixtus, reading 4 in 2 Sa. muel, xv. 7.; and the Vatican manuscript, reading 4 in 1 Sao muel, xvii. 4. Lastly, though the later Jews have taken Daniel out of their prophetical books, yet Josephus calls him a Prophet, in the strongest terms.
The next testimony, during this second period, is the Tal. mud; generally allowed to have been composed (text and double comment) between the years 150 and 500. And this collection of oral traditions, which some Jews formerly held in equal veneration with their Bible, contains information very ufeful to Christians. One instance, quite essential to the present inquiry, proves that the Hebrew manuscripts then differed ; and that the preference was given to that variation, which was in the greater number of manuscripts : so that three manuscripts carried it against two, and twenty always against nineteen. Very absurd as this criterion must appear, it will still be supposed by good critics, that among the multitude of Scripture passages quoted in the Talmud, there were at first many readings then true, which have been fince corrupted ; and that some of these true readings may be still found in the Talmud, as printed. This is here confirmed by several instances; particularly in Psalm xvi. A remarkable anecdote is added by Dr.
Kennicott, in the following words. : Ad finem variarum lectionum, quas in meum usum ex Talmude perhumaniter collegerat reverendus doctusque Joannes Gill, ingenue confeffus eft:
jam retractandum erit, quod egomet ipfe affirmavi, et alii ante me [nimirum, vel nullas vel perpaucas reperiri varietates a textu vulgato, in Talmude allegatis ; et hasce nullius, faltem levis, effe momenti :). quum conftet ex præcedenti collatione, discre. pantias effe tantum non MILLE.”
Under the third period, from the year 500 to 1000, the first article relates to the Keri ; a name for all those words in the margin different from those in the text; which words amount to about a thousand. As these marginal words sometimes give a fense very different from those in the text, and in general a much better sense; it must be of great consequence to know, whether they are Rabbinical conjectures, or really various readings. The latter has been of course denied by those who thought the text right; because the text must be false, wherever the margin has the true reading. The authority of these Keri is now afcertained ; since all of them, excepting fourteen, have been found in the text of manuscripts. As to the antiquity of this collection; the Rabbies ascribe it to Ezra, and the men of the great synagogue. But who can believe that Ezra and Zachariah published their own writings, with their margin differing from their text? On the contrary, our fagacious Author has shewn, that in this collection are some differences, found only in very late manuscripts ; and that one word, which is found in the text of all the manuscripts, has been thrust into the margin, on account of a blunder in the edition of 1526.
The third period includes also a collection of 216 variations between the Oriental and Occidental manuscripts. Proofs of differences are next drawn from the old Jewith books, Rabboth, Pirke Eliezer, and Cozri. And as the Rabbies Saadias and Hai Aourished about the year 1000, notice is also taken of them. Saadias is referred to, as having read differently from the printed text: and Hai followed those manuscripts which were defective in Joshua, ch. xxi. ; where two whole verses, absolutely necessary (though expelled by the Masora), have been found in 149 Hebrew copies.
The last of the ancient versions was the Arabic, generally ascribed to Rabbi Saadias ; which, therefore, is regularly men.. tioned here, near the end of the third period. This version, which has hitherto been reputed only secondary, as if always taken from the Greek or the Syriac, is honoured with the title of a primary verfion in several places; because it is found to agree with Hebrew manuscripts, where both Greek and Syriac differ from it. And this new proof is very seasonably discovered, when the Arabic version alone is shewn to have some readings
of great importance; particularly in preserving that word which expresses the cause of God's anger against Balaam; Numbers xxij. '22. This version is also important, where it is only secondary ; because it helps to determine the true reading of the Greek version, where the Greek manuscripts are now at variance : as in Psalm xviii. 14. Ixviii. 19. Micah v, 1. and Zachas riab xiii. 7.
After this testimony to the Arabic, Dr. Kennicott confirms the general evidence arising from all these versions, by one example from each of the four; and all the four examples are from Jeremiah. The firsi contains a furprifing vindication of the Greek version of Jeremiah xlvi. 15. where that version has something concerning Apis, which has been thought a shameful deviation from the Hebrew text: whereas the true reading is here happily preserved to the honour of the Greek version, partly by the assistance of 48 Hebrew manuscripts. The second instance does honour to the Syriac version of ch. vii. 21-23. ; where the great difficulty, noted by Maimonides, and by all attentive readers fince, is entirely removed by this Syriac verfion. The third example is from iv. 10. : and here, though the charge of God's deceiving the people is in the Hebrew, &c.) ascribed to Jeremiah, it itands charged by the Arabic version to the false Prophets; who faid it of God, in order to save themselves. The Vulgate also is shewn to ftand alone, in having preserved a remarkable word, omitted in the other versions, as well as in the Hebrew printed text, and yet which is preserved in twenty Hebrew manuscripts. But these verfions are not only of use, each now and then in particular, but often all together. All four agree against the Hebrew, as to the alphabetical verse lost out of the Hebrew text in Psalm cxlv. All four agree with the Samaritan against the Hebrew, in Genesis xliv. 24. ; and also in l. 25. All four agree with 30 Hebrew manuscripts, against the printed Hebrew, in 2 Samuel xiv. 4. All four correct the corruption in Ezekiel xi. 7.; as do 38 manuscripts : and likewise in xxxvi. 23. agreeably to 191 Hebrew copies. And all four agree in rejecting that monster of modern corruption, in 1 Samuel xvii. 34. 137 hic (instead of 178 agnus); a corruption not yet found in any one manuscript. Lastly, the end of this period is distinguished for introducing the Hebrew manuscripts now extant; of which the two oldest and beit, one at Oxford, and the other at Vienna, are ascribed to the interval between the years 950 and 1000.
The fourth period, from 1000 to 1450, begins with observing, that the oldest Hebrew manuscript which has a certain date (1106), though containing only 9:20 verses, has above 6000. variations. The next witnesses are Aben-Ezra, Jarchi, Mluimonides, and Kimchi; who all flourished between 1150 and