King James Translators

Letter to the Reader - pg 2

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But now what pietie without trueth? what trueth (what saving trueth) without the word of God? what word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search. Joh. 5.39. Esa. 8.20. They are commended that searched & studied them. Act. 17.11. and 8.28, 29. They are reproved that were unskilful in them, or slow to beleeve them. Mat. 22.29. Luk. 24.25. They can make us wise unto salvation. 2. Tim. 3.15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reforme us, if in heavines, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if colde, inflame us. Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege, Take up and read, take up and read the Scriptures, (for unto them was the direction) it was said unto S. Augustine by a supernaturall voyce.

Love the Scriptures, and wisedome will love thee. And S. Cyrill against Julian; Even boyes that are bred up in the Scriptures, become most religious, &c. But what mention wee three or foure uses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoever is to be beleeved or practised, or hoped for, is contained in them?
Whatsoevar is in the Scriptures, beleeve me, saith the same S. Augustine, is high and divine; there is verily trueth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of mens mindes, and truely so tempered, that every one may draw from thence that which is sufficient for him, if hee come to draw with a devout and pious minde, as true Religion requireth. Thus S. Augustine. And S. Jerome: Ana scripturas, & amabit te sapientia &c. Love the Scriptures, and wisedome will love thee. And S. Cyrill against Julian; Even boyes that are bred up in the Scriptures, become most religious, &c. But what mention wee three or foure uses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoever is to be beleeved or practised, or hoped for, is contained in them? or three or foure sentences of the Fathers, since whosoever is worthy of the name of a Father, from Christs time downeward, hath likewise written not onely of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture? I adore the fulnesse of the Scripture, saith Tertullian against Hermogenes. And againe, to Apelles an Heretike of the like stampe, he saith; I doe not admit that which thou bringest in (or concludest) of thine owne (head or store, de tuo) without Scripture. So Saint Justin Martyr before him; Wee must know by all meanes, saith hee, that it is not lawfull (or possible) to learne (any thing) of God or of right pietie, save onely out of the Prophets, who teach us by divine inspiration. So Saint Basill after Tertullian, It is a manifest falling away from the Faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reject any of those things that are written, or to bring in (upon the head of them, ) any of those things that are not written. Wee omit to cite to the same effect, S. Cyrill B. of Jerusalem in his 4. Cataches. Saint Jerome against Heludius, Saint Augustine in his 3. booke against the letters of Petilian, and in very many other places of his workes. Also we forebeare to descend to latter Fathers, because wee will not wearie the reader. The Scriptures then being acknowledged to bee so full and so perfect, how can wee excuse our selves of negligence, if we doe not studie them, of curiositie, if we be not content with them? Men talke much of , how many sweete and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the Philosphers stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of Cornu-copia, that it had all things necessary for foode in it; of Panaces the herbe, that it was good for all diseases; of Catholicon the drugge, that is in stead of all purges; of Vulcans armour, that is was an armour of proofe against all thrusts, and all blowes, &c. Well, that which they falsly or vainely attributed to these things for bodily good, wee may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture, for spirituall. It is not onely an armour, but also a whole armorie of weapons, both offensive, and defensive; whereby we may save our selves and put the enemie to flight. It is not an herbe, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring foorth fruit every moneth, and the fruit thereof is for meate, and the leaves for medicine. It is not a pot of Manna, or a cruse of oyle, which were for memorie only, or for a meales meate or two, but as it were a showre of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it never so great; and as it were a whole cellar full of oyle vessels; whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a Panary of holesome foode, against fenowed traditions; a Physions-shop (Saint Basill calleth it) of preservatives against poisoned heresies; a Pandect of profitable lawes, against rebellious spirits; a treasurie of most costly jewels, against beggarly rudiments; Finally a fountaine of most pure water springing up unto everlasting life. And what marvaile? The originall thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the authour being God, not man; the enditer, the holy spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the Pen-men such as were sanctified from the wombe, and endewed with a principall portion of Gods spirit; the matter, veritie, pietie, puritie, uprightnesse; the forme, Gods word, Gods testimonie, Gods oracles, the word of trueth, the word of salvation, &c. the effects, light of understanding, stablenesse of persuasion, repentance from dead workes, newnesse of life, holinesse, peace, joy in the holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the studie thereof, fellowship with the Saints, participation of the heavenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortall, undefiled, and that never shall fade away: Happie is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrise happie that meditateth in it day and night.

But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknowen tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voyce, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shalbe a Barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue, not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latine the finest. Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of us in those tongues which wee doe not understand, are plainely deafe; wee may turne the deafe eare unto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not understand, barbarous: so the Romane did the Syrian, and the Jew, (even S. Jerome himselfe calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike because it was strange to so many) so the Emperour of Constantinople calleth the Latine tongue, barbarous, though Pope Nicolas do storme at it: so the Jewes long before Christ, called all other nations, Lognazim, which is little better then barbarous. Therefore as one complaineth, that alwayes in the Senate of Rome, there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readinesse. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtaine, that we may looke into the most Holy place; that remooveth the cover of the well, that wee may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flockes of Laban were watered. Indeede without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacobs well (which was deepe) without a bucket or some thing to draw with: or as that person mentioned by Esau, to whom when a sealed booke was delivered, with this motion, Reade this, I pray thee, hee was faine to make this answere, I cannot, for it is sealed.

While God would be knowen onely in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideons fleece onely, and all the earth besides was drie; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrewe, one and the same originall in Hebrew was sufficient. But when the fulnesse of time drew neere, that the Sunne of righteousnesse, the Sonne of God should come into the world, whom God ordeined to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew onely, but also of the Greeke, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then loe, it pleased the Lord to stirre up the spirit of a Greeke Prince (Greeke for descent and language) even of Ptolome Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Booke of God out of Hebrew into Greeke. This is the translation of the Seventie Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jewes by vocall. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer bookes of worth to lye moulding in Kings Libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copie them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Againe, the Greeke tongue was wellknowen and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Affrike too. Therefore the word of God being set foorth in Greeke, becommeth hereby like a candle set upon a candlesticke, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded foorth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to containe the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeale unto for witnesse, and for the learners also of those times to make search and triall by. It is certaine, that the Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had bene so sufficient for this worke as the Apostles or Apostolike men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather then by making a new, in that new world and greene age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a Translation to serve their owne turne, and therefore bearing witnesse to themselves, their witnesse not to be regarded. This may be supposed to bee some cause, why the Translation of the Seventie was allowed to passe for currant. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jewes. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus: yea, there was a fift and a sixt edition the Authours wherof were not knowen. These with the Seventie made up the Hexapla, and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seventie went away with the credit, and therefore not onely was placed in the midst by Origen (for the worth and excellencie thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathereth) but also was used by the Greeke fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius above named doeth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the Authours thereof not onely for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect: and Justinian the Emperour enjoyning the Jewes his subjects to use specially the Translation of the Seventie, rendreth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlighted with propheticall grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to bee men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit: so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) that the Seventie were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to adde to the Originall, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sence thereof according to the trueth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greeke Translations of the old Testament. page 3 right arrow

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