Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

CHAPTER I

THE BIBLE'S GENERALITIES

 

GENERAL BIBLE FACTS. GENERAL REMARKS ON IT AS LITERATURE. GENERAL REMARKS ON THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. GENERAL REMARKS ON THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

 

THE WORD Bible is derived from the Greek word biblia, a neuter plural diminutive noun [literally, little books] which, among other senses, is used in Greek to designate, among other writings, the books of the Old and New Testaments. Chrysostom, who was one of the four Greek church fathers, and who died in 407 A.D., appears to have been the first to use this term as the appellation of the Holy Scriptures. This word, biblia, is derived from the Greek word biblos, which primarily means the inner bark of the papyrus, whence it came to mean book. The Septuagint uses the expression ta [the] biblia [books] in translating the corresponding expression in the Hebrew of Dan. 9: 2, where the expression is used of the Old Testament Scriptures already then written. There is a partial allusion to this name in the Prologue to the (Apocryphal) book of Jesus, the son of Sirach [Ecclesiasticus], about 200 B.C., where the third division of the Hebrew Old Testament is called "the rest of the books." In another Apocryphal book (1 Macc. 12: 9) the whole of the Old Testament is called "the holy books." This name for the Old Testament was early adopted by Christian writers (2 Clement 14: 2); and from the time of Chrysostom onward it came to cover both of the Testaments combined. The Western Church adopted this Greek word as the name of both Testaments; and until the thirteenth century they were, accordingly, called Biblia, "the books." During the thirteenth century this neuter plural Greek word, Biblia, by a grammatical mistake became used in the Latin as a feminine singular noun, and thus "the

 

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Books" were called "the Book"; and this usage, which we think is a most happy one, entered into the living languages of Europe, among others, into English, whence we have our name Bible, not Bibles, for one copy. It first appeared in English about the time of Wyclif, who died December 31, 1384. Thus we see that the name has in part a Biblical and in part an extra-Biblical origin.

 

Taking the initial Hebrew letters of the names of the three divisions of the Hebrew Old Testament: Torah (Law), Nebiim (Prophets) and Kethubim (Writings), the Hebrews have formed a meaningless word as a name for the Old Testament-Tanach. Self-evidently the New Testament does not give itself in its entirety any name at all; but St. Peter does imply that St. Paul's epistles had an equally authoritative standing with the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Pet. 3: 16). The most common name that the New Testament, both by Jesus and the Apostles, gives the Old Testament books is "The Scripture," i.e., The Writing, and "The Scriptures," i.e., The Writings, sometimes with the word "Holy" added. The following is a complete list of these: Matt. 21: 42; 22: 29; 26: 54, 56; Mark 12: 10, 24; 14: 49; 15: 28; Luke 4: 21; 24: 27, 32, 45; John 2: 22; 5: 39; 7: 38, 42; 10: 35; 13: 18; 17: 12; 19: 24, 28, 36, 37; 20: 9; Acts 1: 16; 8: 32, 35; 17: 2, 11; 18: 24, 28; Rom. 1: 2; 4: 3; 9: 17; 10: 11; 11: 2; 15: 4; 16: 26; 1 Cor. 15: 3, 4; Gal. 3: 8, 22; 4: 30; 1 Tim. 5: 18; 2 Tim. 3: 15, 16; Jas. 2: 8, 23; 4: 5; 1 Pet. 2: 6; 2 Pet. 1: 20; 3: 16. In the A.R.V. of 2 Tim. 3: 15, we have as a better translation the word sacred instead of holy, in the expression, "holy Scriptures." Luke (Luke 24: 44) refers to the threefold division of the Hebrew Old Testament by the expression, "the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms" (the first book of the third division here is made to stand for all the books of that division). But Jesus more frequently abbreviates the expression into that of "the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 5: 17; 7: 12;

 

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11: 13; 22: 40; Luke 16: 16, 29, 31; 24: 27; John 1: 45). Other New Testament uses of this expression are: Acts 13: 15; 24: 14; 26: 22; Rom. 3: 21. In some passages the word "Law" is used with reference to the entire Old Testament, and that because the books of Moses, being the most important, give their name to the whole—the most important part standing for the whole (Luke 5: 17; John 7: 49; 10: 34; 12: 34; 15: 25; Acts 5: 34; 6: 13; 22: 12; 23: 29; 1 Cor. 14: 21; Gal. 4: 21). The New Testament uses the word "oracles" to designate the Old Testament, as the following passages prove: Acts 7: 38; Rom. 3: 2; Heb. 5: 12; 1 Pet. 4: 11. There are other Biblical expressions that designate the Old Testament. It is called: the Book (Ps. 40: 7; Heb. 10: 7), the Law of the Lord (Ps. 1: 2; here the New Testament is also included), the Book of the Lord (Is. 34: 16), the Law and the Testimony, which also includes the New Testament (Is. 8: 20) and the Scripture of Truth (Dan. 10: 21). The contents of the whole Bible, rather than the Bible as such, are referred to in expressions like the following: Good Word of God (Heb. 6: 5), Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6: 17), the Word (Jas. 1: 21-23; 1 Pet. 2: 2), the Word of God (Luke 11: 28; Heb. 4: 12), the Word of Christ (Col. 3: 16), the Word of Life (Phil. 2: 16) and the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2: 15; Jas. 1: 18). And from the standpoint of putting the container for the thing contained, we may properly apply these names to the Bible as such. If we so do, we are to remember that this is done by metonymy (the container for the thing contained), and not as the names Scripturally given to the Bible by direct appellation.

 

It has become customary in English to call the two parts of the Bible the Old Testament and the New Testament, the word testament ordinarily in English means a will; but such is not the sense attached to the two names current as to the two parts of the Bible. The Bible nowhere calls these two the Old and New Testaments. In these names the word testament means

 

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covenant; and with this meaning in mind the misleading character of these names becomes apparent to the instructed; for the pre-Gospel-Age revelation of God, while it contains the Mosaic Covenant, which St. Paul (2 Cor. 3: 14, 15) properly calls the Old Covenant (see A.R.V.; improperly rendered testament here and in v. 6 in the A.V.), contains much matter (more than three-fourths of it) which is not a part of the Mosaic or Old Covenant, even as St. Peter tells us, very much of it pertains to Christ and the Church, i.e., belongs to the Sarah Covenant (1 Pet. 1: 10-12), and as our study has in part of it proven. Furthermore, the Gospel-Age revelation of God treats in almost its entirety of the Sarah Covenant, and has very little to say of the New Covenant, which is to operate Millennially and post-Millennially and does not operate now. This name, New Testament, Covenant, given to the Gospel-Age revelation of God is more responsible for the popular error that the New Covenant has been operating since Calvary and Pentecost than anything else, as it is a most effective hiding of the truth that the covenant now operating is the Sarah Covenant. The above considerations prove that the names Old Testament and New Testament, especially the latter, are misnomers. But, as names, they are so deeply rooted in the speech of the masses that it would be useless to attempt to agitate a change of names for these two parts of the Bible. At least this palliates the error: that most people do not associate the meaning of the word covenant with that of testament, and that, accordingly, they use these names not to mean two covenants, but the two parts of the Bible, without especially associating the idea of covenant with them. The A.R.V. and the R.V. have set aside the word Testament and substituted the word Covenant in the names of these two parts of the Bible, an unfortunate change, as the above remarks prove.

 

This brings us to a consideration of the divisions of the Bible. Of course, these two Testaments are its

 

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primary divisions. But each of these is also subdivided. In our English Bibles the Old Testament is usually divided into four parts: (1) Legal Books, (2) Historical Books, (3) Devotional-Didactic Books and (4) Prophetic Books, while the English New Testament is usually divided into three parts: (1) Historical Books, (2) Didactic Books and (3) A Prophetic Book. These divisions are not the most desirable, because, e.g., there is much history in the legal books, since Genesis is entirely historical, Exodus and Numbers mainly so and Leviticus and Deuteronomy subordinately so. The Didactic is found somewhat in judges (Deborah's song) and 1 and 2 Samuel, the historical somewhat in Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Again, there is much of the didactic in the Gospels and Acts, and somewhat of the autobiographical and personal in some Epistles, e.g., 2 Cor., Gal., Phil., Phile., 2 Pet., 2 and 3 John. But the Lord Himself has given us a division of the Old Testament in the three Hebrew names given above: (1) Torah, (2) Nebiim and (3) Kethubim. By the Torah (Law in a wide sense) the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, are meant. By the Nebiim (Prophets) the books written by men belonging to the prophet order or profession are meant. And by the Kethubim the books that were written by men not belonging to the prophet order are meant. God has not by name given us a way of dividing the New Testament books. The following is a way of dividing them, but it does not divide them according to their thought matter: (1) The Gospels, (2) the Acts, (3) the Epistles and (4) Revelation.

 

The order in which many books of both Testaments are found in the originals and in the English is different. Fortunately, for the Old Testament the Lord gave us the order. This is the same from Genesis up to and including 2 Kings in the original and in the English. From there on the order changes. While in the English the Old Testament books proceed from 2 Kings with 1 and 2 Chron., Ezra, Neh., Esther, Job,

 

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Ps., Prov., Eccl., Cant., Is., Jer., Lam., Ezek., Dan. and the twelve Minor Prophets, in the Hebrew original 2 Kings is followed by Is., Jer., Lam., Ezek. and the twelve Minor Prophets. These, beginning with Joshua and ending with Malachi, constitute the Nebiim (Prophets). The Kethubim consist of the following books: Ps., Prov., Job, Cant., Eccl., Esther, Dan., Ezra, Neh. and 1 and 2 Chron., this being the order in the Hebrew original. As for the New Testament, the order for the first five books is the same in the Greek and the English; thereafter the order varies. Unlike the English order, wherein the Pauline Epistles follow immediately after the Acts, the so-called general Epistles follow immediately after the Acts—viz., Jas. 1 and 2 Pet., 1, 2 and 3 John and Jude. Then follow Rom., 1 and 2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil., Col. and 1 and 2 Thes. Thereafter again a break in the order occurs. Whereas in the English the order of the next books is: 1 and 2 Tim., Tit., Phile. and Heb., in the Greek the order is Heb., 1 and 2 Tim., Tit. and Phile. Then, all agree in placing Rev. last. It should be added that all Greek MSS. do not in all particulars follow the above-given order for the New Testament books; but the better and older ones do so give it.

 

While we do not have a Divinely-arranged order for the books of the New Testament, we do have a Divinely-arranged order for the books of the Old Testament. It is that given in the preceding paragraph, under the three divisions: Torah, Nebiim and Kethubim. The second division, Nebiim, is subdivided into two parts: (1) the Former Prophets (Josh., Judg., Ruth, 1 and 2 Sam. and 1 and 2 Kings); and (2) the Later Prophets (Is., Jer., Lam., Ezek. and the twelve Minor Prophets). Especially noteworthy is the absence of the book of Dan. from the second division, the Prophets of the Old Testament; for we find it among the Kethubim, the Writings. This fact raises the question, Why are Ps., written mainly by David, and Dan., written by Daniel, both being called prophets

 

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in the New Testament (Acts 2: 30; Matt. 24: 15), not placed among the books called the Prophets, instead of being placed among the Writings? The answer to this question will enable us to see that principle of division was followed by God in giving us the threefold division of the Old Testament as Torah, Nebiim and Kethubim. The books were by God assigned to their respective divisions on the basis of the official relation of their writers to God: Moses having a thoroughly unique office before God as Lawgiver, the books that he wrote (Gen., Ex., Lev., Num. and Deut.) stand by themselves, alone, as unique—the Torah. The writers of the books that compose the second division of the Hebrew Scriptures being by profession Prophets, i.e., they belonged to the order of prophets, their books are grouped as separate and distinct from all others. E.g., Samuel, who wrote Josh, Judg. and Ruth (Acts 3: 24), was by profession a prophet, and not a king, husbandman or shepherd by profession. The same is true of all the other writers of this second division of the Hebrew Scriptures, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (priests) and Amos (a shepherd) are no exceptions to this rule; for God directly says that He called them to the prophet office (Jer. 1: 1-10; Ezek. 1: 3; 2: 3; 3: 4-17; Amos 1: 1; 7: 14). The writers of the Kethubim were: for Ps.—mainly David, a king, not a prophet, by profession; for Prov., Eccl. and Cant.—Solomon, a king by profession; for Job—quite likely Solomon; for God placed this book immediately after Prov., and just before Cant. and Eccl.; for Dan.—Daniel, a statesman by profession; for Esther, Ezra and 1 and 2 Chron.—Ezra, a priest; and for Neh.—Nehemiah, a governor by profession. Thus none of the writers of the Kethubim belonged to the order of prophets, which fact makes their writings occupy a part of the Old Testament separate and distinct from the Torah and Nebiim.

 

The English Old Testament contains 39 books and the English New Testament contains 27 books, thus

 

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totaling 66 for the entire Bible. The number 39 as that of the Old Testament is also indicated in the Hebrew Scriptures because of their being so printed. The number 66 is also shown in the types of the Bible, e.g., the two piles of shewbread, each of six loaves, standing side by side, 6 and 6, represent the 66 books of the Bible, which are the special food of the true priesthood. Then, the tabernacle's boards, pillars and bars—the bars as they were constructed over against, and in relation to one another, are also 66 in number, to symbolize the 66 books of the Bible; and in the cases of the pillars they symbolize also certain New Testament writers. But anciently the Hebrew Bible had 24 books, the reduction occurring by making one book out of each of the following sets of two books: 1 and 2 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron., and Ezra and Nehemiah, and in making one book out of the twelve Minor Prophets. This reduction of the 39 Old Testament books of 24 God Himself approved, as we will bring out in another connection. Artificially the scribes of Jesus' day, as Josephus shows (Against Apion, 1: 8), reduced the number to 22, by combining Ruth with Judges and Lamentations with Jeremiah. Their doing this was in order to have as many books in their Scriptures as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet—surely an artificial reason and something in harmony with the characters of those whom Jesus charged with burdening the people with their man-made doctrines as Divinely obligatory commands (Matt. 15: 9). Modern editions of the Hebrew Scriptures usually place Ruth and Lamentations among the Kethubim; but this is contrary to the Lord's plan of making the divisions depend on the official relations of the writers to Him. The change came about as follows: There are five books (Esther, Ruth, Cant., Lam. and Eccl.) that the Jews often put in a separate scroll for convenience of use, for reading at certain festivals. When they did not put them together in a separate scroll, in order to have them together, the majority of them belonging to

 

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the Kethubim, they took Ruth and Lam. out of the Nebiim (Prophets) and placed them among the other three, so that they could conveniently turn the scroll to them without much rolling of the scroll. When these books are in a scroll by themselves the Jews call them the Migilloth, a detached scroll.

 

The original language of the Old Testament is, with small exceptions, Hebrew. These exceptions are Jer. 10: 11; Ezra 4: 8—6: 18; 7: 12-26; Dan. 2: 4—7: 28. These exceptions are in the Aramaic language, sometimes called Chaldee, a Semitic language that is closely related to Hebrew, and that supplanted the Hebrew language as the spoken language of the Jews in Palestine several centuries B.C. It and Greek were the main languages of ordinary intercourse in Palestine in the days of our Lord. Apart from a few archeological finds of very small compass, until recently the original Old Testament Scriptures were the only examples of pure Hebrew literature. These have been added to by several translations of the New Testament into Hebrew, beginning with that of Delitzsch in 1878, and immensely added to during the last fifty years, since when the Hebrew language has gradually become again a living language, with an ever-growing literature. The New Testament was originally written in Greek—not the Greek of the classical Greek period, but the Greek of the educated people of the first century of our era, called the koine (the general or communal speech). But the New Testament Greek, while representative of the good Greek of the first Christian century, contains quite a number of Hebrew idioms, called Hebraisms, literally translated into Greek, for which reason an interpreter of the Greek New Testament finds a knowledge of Hebrew a great help to an understanding of the New Testament Greek. Formerly most scholars, steeped in the Greek of the classic period—550 to 325 B.C., looked askance at the New Testament Greek as barbarous; but since the nineties of the last century, when the discoveries of the Greek

 

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papyri, especially in Egypt, began to be made, it has been found that the New Testament Greek was the Greek of the educated Greek-speaking people of that day, barring its Hebraisms. However, these idioms, the peculiar forms of the Septuagint's Greek, which influenced the New Testament Greek, the peculiarities of its writers and, above all, the new meanings that the Holy Spirit breathed into many New Testament Greek words, make its Greek require a special study by itself, somewhat different from that of the classic Greek. Hence the need of specialized study thereon.

 

The original MSS. of the Hebrew Scriptures—those that came from the hands of its original writers—are, of course, lost, due to the ravages of time. Many copies of these suffered the same fate. Additionally, many of them were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus Epiphanes. But they were held in such reverence by the Jews that they would have died to preserve them. Hence the Hebrew Scriptures have come down to us in greater purity than any other examples of ancient written literature, excepting the New Testament in the original Greek. One reason why we do not have more ancient MSS. of the Hebrew Scriptures is due to the course of the Massoretes. The Massoretes were Hebrew scholars who, from about 450 to 900 A.D., worked on the editing of as pure a text of the Hebrew Scriptures as it was possible for them to prepare. They undertook this work because of the immense number of variant readings in the various copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. When they had completed their work, by common consent all Hebrew copies not conforming to their text were destroyed. Hence it is that our oldest MS. of the Hebrew Old Testament dates from about 925 A.D. It is now in the British Museum. Originally and for many centuries afterward the written Hebrew text was entirely in consonants. It was the Massoretes who supplied these consonants with points that stand for vowels. The work of the Massoretes has prevented there being

 

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many variant readings in the Hebrew Scriptures, though in certain cases they, unwilling to alter the text from what they found it, gave in the margin better readings than some of those that they found in the text—probably not more than 200 of such in all in the margin. However, in their notes (Massorah) and in other commentaries, etc., tens of thousands of such have been preserved. And Dr. C. D. Ginsburg in his Hebrew Bible has published many thousands of these, as he has published even more in his Massorah.

 

While our ancient MSS. of the Hebrew Scriptures are comparatively few and comparatively recent, the oldest being about 1,000 years old, our MSS. of the New Testament are decidedly older and more numerous. The oldest of these, complete or nearly complete, are the Vatican and the Sinaitic, which date from about 325 A.D. The MS. Ephraemi, though more or less incomplete, dates from the fifth century. The Alexandrian also dates from the fifth century. This is also true of Beza's MS., containing the Gospels and the Acts. Thence New Testament MSS. increase rapidly in number. In 1909 Gregory listed 4,070 Greek MSS. for the New Testament in whole or in part. These MSS. are written in two forms: (1) entirely in capital letters with no spaces between the words, which MSS. are called uncials; and (2) in small letters, which MSS. are called cursives. The more ancient MSS. are uncials. With one probable exception, no other MS. is so ancient as those of the Greek New Testament, and certainly we have more examples of them than examples of any other MSS. of ancient books that have come down to us. And in proportion there are less variant readings in these than in those of other ancient books. Indeed, there are no variant readings materially affecting a doctrine of the Bible on which there is a reasonable doubt as to which are the correct ones. In this fact, amid the multiplicity of New Testament Greek MSS. and the consequent increased possibilities of variant readings,

 

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we have a striking evidence of God's watchcare over the purity of the Bible text, which was exercised, however, not coercively, but in line with overruling the effects of the human factor for error.

 

Before printing came into existence, about the middle of the fifteenth century A. D., like all other MSS., Bible MSS. were re-written, i.e., copied by hand, usually in the New Testament (Greek) by monks, generally on finely prepared skins called parchments, and later on paper made from the leaves of the papyrus plant. In the Hebrew they were generally made on scrolls so that they could be rolled from one of its rolls to the other as one turned from one book or passage to another book or passage. Each end of the parchment was rolled around a cylindrical stick that passed for about six inches from its ends through the center of carved disk-like pieces of wood varying from four to ten inches in diameter, dependent on the size of the parchment, and about three-quarters of an inch thick. These served as "book-ends" to hold the MSS. securely between them, while the six inches of the projected sticks served for the scroll rests, handles and means of rolling and unrolling the scrolls. These scrolls can be seen in any synagogue when they are taken out of the "ark" about the middle of the morning service on Saturdays. We suggest that our readers visit such a synagogue in order to see one of these scrolls. The skins of these parchments are firmly and artistically attached to one another; and some of these parchments, especially those containing the entire Hebrew Old Testament, are perhaps one hundred yards long; hence the need of rolling the MSS. from one to the other roll. Additionally, long after the days of Christ, the Hebrew MSS. were often written on leaves and bound together at one end by leather cords, and thus formed a book somewhat like our books, but without the "bone backs" of our more modern books. The scrolls were written in side-by-side columns, often twenty inches deep from top to bottom, and from three

 

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to five inches wide. Being Hebrew, the words were written from right to left, and not, like our scripts or prints, from left to right. Their text was not originally, nor for many centuries afterward, divided into chapters or verses, nor were there breaks for these and for the separation of words, sentences and paragraphs from one another. To illustrate how writing or printing from right to left in Hebrew is done, we will here give part of John 1: 1-3, with the letters and words reversed and unspaced, as was done in Hebrew, and at the same time illustrate the Hebrew column formation, which looks strange to an English eye.

 

COLUMN TWO                            COLUMN ONE

 

gninnigebehtnisawemas                ehtsawgninnigebehtnI

 

ybedamerewsgnihtlladoghtiw        htiwsawdrowehtdnadrow

 

ynatonsawmihtuohtiwdnamih        ehtdogsawdrowehtdnadog

 

In English style these verses read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any." How different the two methods are!

 

The art of printing having been discovered about 1440 A.D., and all copies of the Bible previous to that data having been written by hand, usually in the New Testament Greek, and in translations of both Testaments by monks, and in the Hebrew Old Testament by Jewish scribes, the first book ever printed naturally had to come after that date, and fittingly was a Bible (in Latin), printed by Johann Gutenberg, at Mainz, Germany. The first Hebrew Old Testament appeared in print earlier than the first Greek Testament. The former was printed in parts. The Torah (Pentateuch) first appeared in print at Bologna, Italy, in 1482, ten years before Columbus discovered San Salvador, as an American outpost; the Earlier Nebiim (Prophets) in 1485 and the Later Nebiim in 1486, both at Soncino, Italy; and the Kethubim (Writings, or Hagiographa) in 1486 and 1487, at Naples, Italy. The first printed edition of the entire Old Testament appeared in 1488, at Soncino, edited by Abraham Ben (son of) Chayim

 

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de Trutore; the second at Naples, about 1491-1493; the third at Brescia, Italy, in 1494; the fourth at Pesaro, Italy, in 1511-1517. The first edition of the Rabbinic Bible, edited by Felix Pratensis, and published by Bomberg, Venice, appeared in four volumes folio, 1517; the second at Venice, 1524-1525. The best edition of the Hebrew Old Testament, edited with perhaps 10,000 variants by C. D. Ginsburg, a converted rabbi, appeared at London, England, in 1894, and the next best, edited by R. Kittel, appeared at Leipzig, Germany, 1905-1906. The first printed edition of the Greek New Testament is that of Erasmus; it appeared at Basel, 1516, since which time many editions of the Greek New Testament have appeared, particularly during the 19th and 20th centuries, when the multiplicity of MSS. of the Greek New Testament gave the text critics better helps for reconstructing a purer text, on which Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, Weiss, Souter, Gregory and Von Soden did monumental work. The first printed edition of the entire Hebrew and Greek Bible appeared in six folio volumes, 1514-1520, at Complutum (Latin name for Alcala, Spain), and is called Complutensian Polyglott (Greek for many-tongued), from the name of the town where it was printed and from its appearing in four languages: The Septuagint being printed in columns beside the Hebrew, and the Vulgate in columns beside the Greek. Thus it was a polyglott.

 

A few words additional to those above on the Greek MSS. of the New Testament would, we trust, prove not unwelcome. The Vatican MS. is so called, because it is kept in the Vatican Library, Rome, Italy, and that as its richest treasure. It contains almost the entire New Testament, but stops in Heb. 9: 14, lacking the rest of that book, the two Timothies, Titus, Philemon and Revelation. So far as it goes, it is the best of all Greek MSS. of the New Testament. In 1889 at Rome a facsimile edition of 100 copies was printed. Like all the other most ancient MSS. of the

 

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Greek New Testament, it is an uncial. The Sinaitic MS. was discovered in parts, the first in 1844 and the rest in 1859, at the Monastery of St. Catherine, on Mt. Sinai, by C. Tischendorf. He brought it to St. Petersburg, Russia, where it remained until 1935, when it was bought by the British public and deposited in the British Museum, where also is the Alexandrian MS., which dates from the fifth century, and which is the third most ancient and best of the fuller New Testament Greek MSS. The last named MS. was brought to England in 1628 by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, and presented by him to King Charles I. Cyril Lucar had brought it to Constantinople from Alexandria, where he had been patriarch. Hence its name. While it lacks Matt. 1: 1—25: 6; John 6: 50—8: 52; 2 Cor. 4: 13—12: 6, thus like the Vatican MS. is incomplete, the Sinaitic MS. contains the entire New Testament, as well as the entire Septuagint. Besides the other uncials mentioned previously, a large number of papyri of still earlier date than the above-mentioned MSS. have in the last 55 years come to light, one of them dating early in the second century; however they are in all but small parts of the Scriptures. Because of the purer text that our many Greek MSS. have enabled the text critics above-mentioned to construct, the versions based on these texts' more recent recensions are nearer approaches to the text left by the New Testament writers. Hence translations like the E.R.V., A.R.V., Rotherham, Moffatt, Panin, Baptist Version, Goodspeed, Diaglott, Ballantine, etc., bring us nearer to the original sense of the New Testament writers than earlier translations.

 

This brings us to make a few remarks on some of the Bible Versions. By January, 1927, according to the report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Bible, either in whole or in part, had been translated into 820 languages and dialects. At that time new versions of the whole or of part of the Bible were being made at the rate of one for each six and a half

 

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weeks. At that rate 152 more have been added to the above total by January, 1946, making a grand total of 972 languages and dialects into which the Bible, in whole or in part, has been translated. This by far outdoes any other five books in existence combined; and the Bible has, by far and large, remained for the centuries since printing was invented, about 1440, "the best seller," as it has appeared and is appearing in more numerous and varied editions than any other five books combined. The Targums, while for the most part not strictly so much translations as paraphrases of the Hebrew text into Aramaic, are among the oldest versions of parts of the Bible. These originated after Israel's return from Babylon, following the decay of the Hebrew language among the common people, and the substitution of the Aramaic in its place in popular use. Through these the common people who no more were familiar with Hebrew received most of their knowledge of the contents of the Bible. The word Targum means interpretation, which may stand for a translation or a paraphrase. The best of these is that of Onkelos, on the Pentateuch. It partakes very much of the nature of a literal translation.

 

The most valuable of all translations is the Septuagint, which is a Greek version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. It is said to have been made by 72 (for which 70 has been made to stand as a round number, hence the name Septuagint, from the Latin, septuaginta, 70) learned Hebrews at Alexandria, Egypt, begun in 285 B. C. at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who desired it for the Alexandrine library. It has many and wrong peculiarities, e.g., its Genesis chronological periods are much longer than those of the Hebrew text. It often reads very differently from what a literal translation of the Hebrew should read. What gives this translation its unique place among Bible versions is that it was the Old Testament of Christ and the New Testament writers and of the bulk of Christians for over four centuries.

 

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The New Testament quotations from the Old Testament are usually taken from it. But when it misrendered, and when a correction was necessary for their purpose, the Apostles did not hesitate to correct its translation, as can be seen from St. Paul's quotation in Heb. 8: 8-12 of the New Covenant passage from Jer. 31: 31-34, which he rendered literally and in about a dozen details differently from, and in correction of the Septuagint, in order to emphasize the pertinent truth. If, however, its misrenderings did not affect the matter in proof of which it was quoted, the New Testament writers usually did not correct it, even as we often quote a not strictly correct rendering of the A.V. without correction, if the point at issue is not thereby affected. Another famous and very influential version of the whole Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek, made in its first form, about 170 A. D., into Syriac, is the Peshito (simple, or plain). It is the oldest translation of the whole Bible and was very influential for five centuries, after which the Mohammedan conquest of Syria limited its influence. It and the Sinaitic MS. are the oldest witnesses that the words in Rev. 20: 5. "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished," are an interpolation. Thus the oldest Greek MS. and the oldest translation lack this part of that verse, a weighty proof of its fraudulent character, as the following statement, "This is the first resurrection," also shows the unfitness of the interpolation in that place.

 

Next to the Septuagint the most influential Bible version is Jerome's translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek (385-405 A. D.) into Latin, called the Vulgate, because of its use by all in common in the Occident. Throughout more than a thousand years it reigned supreme in the Occidental Church. Wyclif made it the basis of his, the first translation of the whole Bible into English, as it is the basis of most Romanist translations into the European languages. The Council of Trent (Romanist) in 1563 officially

 

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declared it the authentic Bible text, thus exalting it above the Hebrew and Greek originals. Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the most learned of the Romanist Church fathers, to make this translation. Jerome excluded the apocryphal books from his translation, as not a part of the oracles of God. While Damasus agreed with him that they were not such, yet on account of their widespread use as edifying, though not inspired writings, he prevailed upon the unwilling Jerome to translate them. The Council of Trent, desirous of having an alleged Bible proof of praying for the dead, as a basis for its doctrine of purgatory, because one of the books of Maccabees contained a text on praying for the dead, declared it a Romanist doctrine that the apocrypha is a part of the Bible. How little that passage proves that the Romanist dead are suffering in purgatory is manifest from the fact that every time we offer the petition, Thy Kingdom come, we pray for the dead, yet we do not believe the dead to be conscious, much less now suffering in purgatory, as Catholics do.

 

The two most influential translations into modern European languages are Luther's Version of the whole Bible from Hebrew and Greek into German and the A.V. of the entire Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. Luther rendered his New Testament into German in 1521 and 1522 at the Wartburg, where the Elector of Saxony gave him a refuge immediately after he was put under the ban of the Empire at the Diet of Worms; and it was published in September, 1522. His Old Testament came out in four parts: Part I, the Pentateuch, in 1523; Part II and Part III, the historical and poetical books in 1524 and Part IV, the prophets, in 1532. His complete Bible appeared in 1534. For the Old Testament he used the Brescia edition of the Hebrew Old Testament of 1494, and for the New Testament the second edition of Erasmus' Greek New Testament. He, of course, consulted the Vulgate; and for the Old Testament he had the help

 

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of Melanchthon, Bugenhagen and Cruciger. Luther's was not the day of great Hebrew and Greek dictionaries; but he availed himself industriously of the meager helps at his disposal. He consulted many a rabbi and Jewish merchant, etc., in the market-place at Wittenburg on the meanings of obscure and seldom-occurring Hebrew words. He even had a cow slaughtered and dissected in his presence, and had learned Jews name every part of it in Hebrew, in his attempts to find out the meanings of some words in the Pentateuch used in connection with the sacrifices. His translation aimed more at giving the sense in German understandable to the unlearned, rather than as a literal translation. And when one considers his handicaps, he produced a version that for its noble simplicity, deep spirituality and fine versatility ranks among the highest works of human genius. Through his Bible he literally created the High German language, the reigning language of the German people. Nor was its influence limited to German-speaking people. It became the basis of the Dano-Norwegian (1524), the Dutch (1526), the Swedish (1526), and the Icelandic (1540) versions, and through Tyndale influenced the A.V. in 1611.

 

The A.V. is even a finer translation than Luther's. It was proposed at the Hampton Court Conference, January, 1604. And the same year witnessed its beginning by forty-seven of the ablest Biblical scholars of Great Britain. King James I invited them to undertake the work as a revision of former English translations. They based their work upon the Hebrew and Greek MSS. They had more Greek MSS. available than Luther had, besides having the advantage of his and nine previously published English translations and the progress of nearly a century in the study of Greek and Hebrew. The above-mentioned forty-seven scholars formed themselves into six groups and started forthwith to work. They met from time to time, compared and revised one another's work and

 

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produced in 1611 an epoch-making version of the Bible. As a piece of literature there is nothing that surpasses it in English. It is even doubtful if Shakespeare equals it. For sublimity and simplicity, for beauty and clearness, for combining literality of translation within nativity of English idiom, it is the admiration of the scholarly, the treasure of the commonality and the despair of rivalry. While the E.R.V. and the A.R.V. are more accurate translations, as should be expected from the fact that there were nearly three centuries of progress in the study of Hebrew and Greek and of advancement in textual purity due to the possession of recensions based on better and more MSS., they are distinctly inferior to it in the excellencies mentioned above. While for exact work scholars will prefer later translations, for the purposes of devout study, meditation and reading, they are at one with the unlearned in preferring our good old A.V., which with the average English-speaking Christian is inseparably and sacredly linked as the Bible and his religious experience.

 

Above we mentioned the fact that the AN. stood on the shoulders of nine other English versions. A brief description of these will fit in with our discussing the generalities of the Bible, at least of the English Bible. Wyclif's Version is the first translation of the entire Bible into English, or into any other modern tongue, though before his time there were translations of parts of it, like the Psalms, the four Gospels, etc. This is even true of the Saxon period in England, e.g., Alfred the Great translated the Psalms, etc., into the Anglo-Saxon speech of his day. The first theologian of his time, yea, of his century, Wyclif recognized that the Bible was the greatest opponent of the Roman hierarchy, which he had fought for years, especially since 1378. He made his translation (1380), not from the Greek and Hebrew, of which he seems to have been ignorant, but from Jerome's Vulgate. Like Luther at the Wartburg, he undertook this work when