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enter thoroughly into the idiom of the New Testament, we must familiarize ourselves to that of the Septuagint; and if we would enter thoroughly into the idiom of the Septuagint, we must accustom ourselves to the study, not only of the original of the Old Testament, but of the dialect spoken in Palestine, between the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; for this last, as well as the Hebrew, has affected the language both of the old Greek translation and of the New Testament. But of this more afterwards.
0 15. Such is the origin and the character of the idiom which prevails in the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists, and the remarkable conformity of the new revelation which we have by them, though written in a different language, to the idiom of the old. It has been distinguished in the former by the name Hellenistic, not with critical accumacy, if regard be had to the derivation of the word, hat with sufficient exactness, if attention be given to the application which the Hebrews made of the term Hellenist, whereby they distinguished their Jewish brethren who lived in Grecian cities, and spoke Greek. It has been, by some of late, after father Simon of the Oratory,
every body must be sensible that if they had preserved also the other idiom in English, and said, All flesh should not be saved, the sense would have been totally altered. This is but a small specimen, not the hundredth part of what might be produced, on this subject.
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more properly termed the Greek of the synagogue. It is acknowledged that it cannot strictly be denominated a separate language, or even dialect, when the term dialect is conceived to imply peculiarities in declension and conjugation. But, with the greatest justice, it is denominated a peculiar idiom, being not only Hebrew and Chaldaic phrases put in Greek words, but even single Greek words used in senses in which they never occur in the writings of prophane authors, and which can be learnt only from the extent of signification given to some Hebrew or Chaldaic word, corresponding to the Greek, in its primitive and most ordinary sense. This difference in idiom constitutes a difficulty of another kind from that which is created by a difference in dialect ; a difficulty much harder to be surmounted, as it does not affect the form of the words, but the meaning.
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$ 16. It is pertinent, however, to observe that the above remarks on the Greek of the New Testament, do not imply that there was any thing which could be called idiomatical or vulgar in the language of our Lord himself, who taught always in his mother tongue. His apostles and Evangelists, on the contrary, who wrote in Greek, were, in writing, obliged to translate the instructions received from him into a foreign language of a very different structure,
, and for the use of people accustomed to a peculiar idiom. The apparently respectful manner in which our Saviour was accosted by all ranks of his country. men, and in which they spoke of his teaching, shows
that he was universally considered as a person of emi. nent knowledge and abilities. It was the amazing success of his discourses to the people, in commanding the attention and reverence of all who heard him, which first awaked the jealousy of the scribes and pharisees.
THE STYLE AND INSPIRATION
We are not, however, to imagine that, because all the writers of the New Testament wrote in the idiom of the synagogue, there is no discernible di. versity in their styles. As the same language admits a variety of dialects, and even of provincial and foreign idioms, so the same dialect and the same idiom is susceptible of a variety of styles. The style of Paul has something peculiar, by which, in my opinion, there would be no difficulty in distinguishing him from any other writer. A discerning reader would not readily confound the style of Luke with that of either of the evangelists who preceded him, Matthew or Mark ; and still less I imagine would he mistake the Apostle John's diction for that of any other penman of the New Testament. The same differences of style will be discovered by one who is but moderately conversant in Hebrew, in the writers of the Old Testament. In it we have still greater va
riety than in the New. Some of the books are writ. ten in prose, and some in verse: and in each, the differences between one book and another are considerable. In the book of Job, for instance, the character of the style is remarkably peculiar. What can be more dissimilar in this respect, though both are'excellent in their kind, than the towering flights of the sublime Isaiah, and the plaintive strains of the pathetic Jeremiah ? In the books of Scripture, we can specify the concise style and the copious, the elevated and the simple, the aphoristic and the diffuse.
The difference, I own, is not so remarkable in translations as in the original. The reason will be evident on a little reflection. Every man, and consequently every translator has his peculiar diction and manner, which will rarely fail to affect, not only his own compositions, but also the versions he makes from other authors. In every version of the Bible, therefore, wherein the different books have the same translator, there will be more or less of an assimilating quality, by which the works translated are brought, in point of expression, to bear some resemblance to the ordinary style of the translator. Now, by being all brought nearer the same thing, they are brought nearer one another. Translation, therefore, is a sort of leveller. By its means, generally, not always (for some can adapt themselves to different styles more easily than others), the lofty is depressed, the humble elevated, the looser strains are confined, and the laconic rendered more explicit. The learned reader will be sensible of the justness of this remark, when
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he reflects how much more distinguishable the styles of the sacred penmen above mentioned are in their own language, than even in the best translations extant. Add to this, that if, of any two sacred authors who differ greatly in their style, we compare together some passages, as they are rendered in the same translation, we shall commonly find the sameness of the translator's style more remarkable in them all, than the differences there may be of the styles of the authors. We shall be oftener at a loss to discover, in the quotations, (if the recollection of the sentiments do not assist us) Isaiah and Amos, Matthew and John, than to recognize Castalio and Beza, the Vulgate and Junius. Every translator, however, is not equally chargeable with this fault. I think none indeed so much as Castalio.
\ 2. But it may be asked, How is this diversity in the diction of the sacred penmen reconcilable with the idea of inspiration? Is not the style of all inspired writers the same, as being the style of the same Spirit by which they were alike directed ? That in some sense the style of all those writers is the style of the Holy Spirit who spoke by them, and was the same in them all, is not to be denied; but that the Holy Spirit should always employ the same style in conveying celestial truths to men, is no more necessary than that he should always use the same language. People do not sufficiently advert, when they speak on this subject, to the difference between the expression and the sentiment, but strangely confound