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THE EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT: Containing the original Greek Text of what is commonly styled the New Testament, (according to the Recension of Dr. J. J. Griesbach,) with an interlineary word for word English translation; a new Emphatic version, based on the interlinear translation, on the renderings of eminent critics, and the various readings of the Vatican Manuscript, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library, together with Illustrative and. Explanatory Foot Notes, and a copious selection of references: to the whole of which is added a valuable Alphabetical Appendix. By Benjamin Wilson. New York: Fowler & Wells. 1865.
The author very properly claims very little for his translation. Though it may be exceedingly useful in some points, it would be a very poor substitute, as a whole, for the common version. True, as he says, obsolete words in that version, uncouth phrases, bad grammar and punctuation, all require alteration, and, we add, most habitual readers of the Bible do, mentally at least, change these things. But most of the new versions are not perfect in these very respects, while, as a whole, they are almost universally inferior to the common version. This is true, we believe, in some particulars, with the best of all recent translations, that of the Bible Union.
But despite all objections and all difficulties in the way of securing a translation which is so completely superior to the common version as to supplant that, we certainly do not think it a wholesome reverence for the Word of God knowingly to perpetuate from generation to generation glaring mistakes of translators and printers. This we say, while we have not the first particle of sympathy with the spirit that is constantly depreciating the common version as altogether inadequate to the wants of the candid reader.
The author claims for this Work the following particulars, as stated in his preface to it:—“An approved Greek text, with the various readings of the Vatican manuscript, No. 1209, an Interlinear—literal word for word English translation; a new version with the signs of emphasis; a copious selection of references; many appropriate, illustrative, and exegetical foot-notes, and a valuable alphabetical appendix. This combination of important items cannot be found in any other book.”
Certainly this is a rare combination, and that, too, in a volume of small size scarcely larger in area than the common English pocket Bible, while it is much thinner. Of course the value of the book depends upon the manner of executing the plan, though it is something to have a good plan.
We have noticed in some contemporary, remarks partaking of pleasantry, and meant to be at the expense of the author; but to our minds, so far as the plan and much of the execution are concerned, it has been decidedly to the damage of the too hasty critics. We have not the least doubt but that the plan will ultimately be very useful and very successful. It may be varied in some particulars, as, for instance, the emphasizing may be changed according to the ideas of the meaning as held by others, or it may be abandoned altogether; it may also be found that some part as references may be abridged or omitted and a larger type employed; but substantially this plan must commend itself to the teachers of Bible classes, critical readers, who are not acquainted with the Greek; and, above all, to those who are anxious to know a little about the Greek if they cannot have the advantages of a thorough course of study. We do not hesitate for a moment to say that there is not one college graduate in a hundred but that might say with entire truthfulness that the word for word translation is a decided help to him. When the real test is applied, much fancied scholarship often shrinks into very small proportions.
We have no hesitation in saying that we think this word for word translation, awkward and uncomely as it is and must be, though we have the vanity to think it might be done much better than it is, will prove to be the most important feature of the book to persons at all grades of culture except the highest. lf a man knows not one word of the Greek, we believe it is worth his while quite as much as it is for the scholar, to look over his text in various translations. That we believe primarily of as much use to him as to look at various commentaries. It will give him new stand-points and new imagery by which the more forcibly, as well as more accurately, to communicate the divine thought of the holy book. But this word for word translation is better for even the mere English reader on many passages than any other kind.
We confess to a strong liking to all these forms of studies and Bible expositions which keep the attention directed to the letter of the inspired books even for the common reader, but especially for the preacher. We believe it is through that letter that the Spirit is most likely to enter the mind. It is certain that this form of study develops independent thought much more than ordinary commentaries, and consequently gives more strength and freshness, and we add, though not precisely in logical connection, variety. This book, therefore, we believe will prove a valuable assistance to many of our preachers, though we wish its scholarship in some parts had been of a higher order, and that the author had been under the influence of some different views from some that appear through both his version and emphatic signs.
But to the reader who has not seen the work, we can do a better service than by following these general remarks further, by giving him a brief specimen, or rather a more definite idea of it, than we have communicated in the foregoing observations.
We open to John 1: 1—5, and copy the word for word translation:--“In a beginning was the word, and the Word was with the God, and a God was the word. This was in a beginning with the God. All through it was done: and without it was done not even one, that has been done. In it life was, and the life was the light of the men; and the light in the darkness shines, and the darkness it not apprehended.”
The new version reads as follows:—“In the beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with GOD, and the LOGOS was God. This was in the beginning with GOD. Through it everything was done; and without it not even one thing was done which has been done. In it was Life; and the LIFE was the LIGHT of MEN. And the LIGHT shone in the DARKNESS, and the DARKNESS apprehended it not.”
In a foot note it is stated that here and in the 14th verse the term Logos is transferred rather than translated, and the reasoning of Dr. Adam Clarke in behalf of that view is also quoted. In a third note it is also stated that the word translated done is used upwards of seven hundred times in the New Testament; but never in the sense of create; that it occurs fifty-three times in this gospel of to be, to become, &c. Various other illustrations are given by references, and especially some to the use of the term Logos in the Septuagint.
This translation is rather an unfavorable specimen, perhaps, still we opened almost at random. We trust that enough has been said to induce many of our readers to examine the work for themselves.
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