Imágenes de páginas

said to contain many errors-perhaps on account of the haste with which it was issued. About the year 1535, Tyndall himself printed a second edition. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London soon gave out their orders to the people, to bring in all the New Testaments which had been translated into the English tongue, that they might all be reduced to ashes. They also forbade the reading of them, except by their gracious permission. In 1523, King Henry VIII, ordered all the translations by William Tyndall, “to be utterly expelled, rejected and put away out of the hands of his people, and not to go abroad among his subjects.” Tyndall was charged by the king and the priests, with having corrupted the Scriptures in his translations. But in a letter which he wrote to one John Frith, he solemnly disclaimed ever having been guilty of any thing of the kind. His words were as follows:-"I call God to record, against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God's word against my conscience; nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given

Moreover, I take God to witness to my conscience, that I desire of God to myself, in this world, no more than that without which I cannot keep his laws.”

Finding that Tyndall's translation continued to be circulated and read, a command was issued by the sovereign, directing the bishops to call together the most learned men that they might prepare a new version.


Whether this was a mere subterfuge to blind the people's eyes, and make them believe there was in reality, on the part of the crown, a desire to spread knowledge in their midst; and to impress them with the idea that the sacred text had actually been interpolated,

or whatever was the object of the royal command, one fact should be left to speak for itself, on this point: no new translation was made, nor was any thing done towards promoting any such result. And as the people would read Tyn, dall's edition, the king and his council devised a plan to

remove him from their way. They employed a man named Henry Phillips to seize him by treachery and stratagem, and deliver him into their hands. After remaining in prison a year and a half, he was tried, and condemned to death. In fulfilment of his sentence, he was first strangled by the executioner, crying out to the last, in the agonies of death, “Lord, open the king of England's eyes!”-and his body was then burned to ashes. I know of scarcely any more touching incident than this, in all English history. Tyndall was evidently a very amiable man, his enemies being judges; for the attorney-general who was instrumental in procuring his conviction, and others who conversed with him while he was confined in the castle, declared that "if he were not a good Christian man, they could not tell whom to trust."

The first complete edition of the whole Bible printed in English, was issued by Myles Coverdale, and bore the date of 1535. A copy of it is still preserved in the British Museum, It is raluable as a curious relic of the


time in which the publisher lived, and as affording an illustration of the peculiar orthography then currently in

Its spelling, in many instances, is so quaint, com. pared with our present mode of writing the same words, that we should find it difficult to read mnny pages without considerable hesitation. To mention one or two specimens, the phrase “Holy Ghost” is spelt Holye Gooste; the word “spirit,” spiryte; "something," som thynge ; “plain,” playne,—with several other words and expressions, to us alike singular in their construction.

About two years after this edition was published, another translation was issued, bearing upon the titlepage the name of Thomas Matthew, which is said to have been fictitious—the real editor, who was no less & personage than John Rogers the Martyr, being fearful of the king.

Many other versions were prepared at various times, and circulated more or less ;--but if I were to attempt to specify them, in minute detail, this lecture would be unnecessarily encumbered, and so rendered tedious. One of them, however, I will just mention, which was called the Bishop's Bible, from the circumstance of its being translated and published by a company of Bishops, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and by her order ; which continued to be the principally authorized translar tion until, with others, it was superseded by the edition published under the patronage and by command of King James,-of which I shall speak more particularly, in a few moments.

It is a fact, which must have suggested itself to the mind of every one who has read the Bible understandingly, and to any considerable extent, that as respects the continuation of subjects and the beginning and ending of chapters, it is in a great many places wrongly divided. The reason of this is, that the division of the several books into chapters was made, not with regard to the different topics treated of, but solely for convenience' sake, to assist the reader in referring to any par. ticular portion. By some, it is attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury; while others believe it to have been the work of Hugo St. Caro, a Dominican monk; both of whom lived in the thirteenth century.

The division of chapters into verses, as we find them in the editions now in general use among us, is supposed to have been made in the Old Testament, by Mordecai Nathan, a Jewish rabbi, about the year 1445; and in the New, by Robert Stephens, a French printer, in 1551,

The punctuation is considered to have been a gradual workcommenced, it is thought, by Jerome, in the fourth century, and not completed till the ninth.

Some account now remains to be given of the origin of the present standard English Version the translation used in our public schools, and read in the Protestant Churches of this country and Great Britain--a copy of which may be found, with comparatively few exceptions, in each dwelling throughout New-England,

About the commencement of the seventeenth century, very shortly after James I. ascended the throne of England, so many complaints were made to him of the alleged inaccuracy of all the translations then current, that he forthwith adopted measures to procure a new, and, as far as possible, correct one. Fifty-four of the most learned men in the kingdom were by him appointed to take the whole matter under their special charge and supervision. Among the books placed in their hands were those forming the Apocrypha, which they translated with the others. Three years elapsed between the issuing of this appointment and the commencement of the undertaking; during which time seven of the number are supposed to have died, as we have no account of more than forty-seven being actually engaged upon the work. These were divided into separate companies, and stationed at different universities-some at Westminster, some at Cambridge, some at Oxford; and others, perhaps, at places not mentioned. To each company was assigned, for translation, a separate portion, which was divided into minor parts, one being assigned, for the same purpose, to each individual. And, in regular turn, each of these several portions, even the smallest, was submitted, for examination, to each and every other member of the whole company; and after faithfully scrutinizing the allotted parts, the members of each division met and decided what should be rejected and what should be incorporated into the Version. This labor occupied nearly three years. A committee of six was then chosen,

« AnteriorContinuar »