Obrazy na stronie



[ocr errors]

nicate the results to each other, it cannot well be otherwise. In the translation, I have adopted, with a few slight variations, the admirable version of De Wette, which adheres most closely to the original. I have admitted nothing into the notes but what threw some light on the text, or was indispensably necessary for its criticism. Grammatical remarks on the accentuation, on the etymological derivation of forms, modes of construction, and so forth, (on all which points the commentary of Maurer supplies the fullest information,) have been omitted, unless they appeared necessary to a comprehension of the true meaning of the text ; the same may be said of the collation of ancient versions, which have only been cited where they throw light on some particular passage, or follow a different reading. A complete collection of these and other exegetic aids and explanatory comments may be found in Rosenmüller and Schumann. For the same reason I have omitted the lengthy titles of many well-known works, rather than load my book with a mass of literature which, particularly in the earlier part of primæval history, would seem interminable. With the most important works of this description I am however well acquainted. I have read many, in the vain hope of extracting from them some profit; and have perused others, of which, in a purely critical commentary, I could make but little use; as was the case, for instance, with the acute remarks of Schermer on the Original Development of the Religious and Moral Culture of the World, and others of the same class.



Finally, I have only to assure those of my opponents who resist all free inquiry, and especially those leaders of parties who once vigorously pursued the selfsame studies with myself, that this Preface is not intended to shield my work against injustice. Among such men, possibly its very title will be sufficient to decide its fate; this work can scarcely reckon, I am well aware, even on the simple custom of the desert, which enjoins the Arab Bedouin to receive the stranger and treat him kindly, before he asks, Who art thou ? whence dost thou come ? and whither dost thou go? It is only afterwards that the Arab is allowed honourably to encounter his guest in the open field, because nocturnal robbery or the secret murder of an unknown wanderer would throw an indelible disgrace upon his tribe. If, on the contrary, such critics are willing to appear fair and upright judges, let them not pass this Work in silence; this would amount only to a tacit admission of their weakness. Let them refrain from mere invective, which, far from refuting an opponent, recoils upon the head of its author; let them come forward freely and boldly, and vigorously attack each individual point, not imperfectly, not with sophisms, not with what is called the exposition of faith, but with clear and solid arguments, in order that truth may be victorious.


PROFESSOR VON Bohlen published his Historical and Critical Illustrations of Genesis* in 1835, at Königsberg. His Work comprised a general introduction, followed by a translation of Genesis, in which, as he informed the reader in his Preface t, he adopted, with a few slight variations, the admirable version of De Wette, and a commentary on the whole of the Book of Genesis.

In the English edition now submitted to the Public, the general introduction occupies the first volume, in which the learned author has given the result of his critical researches respecting the date of the publication of the Pentateuch ; and the translation and commentary, in the second volume, are limited to the opening portion of the Book of Genesis, containing the views of the Hebrews on cosmogony and primæval history I.

The portion of Scripture which relates to cosmogony

* Die Genesis historisch-kritisch erläutert, von P. Von Bohlen, ordentlicher Professor der Oriental. Sprachen und Literatur an der Universität zu Königsberg, 1835. † See above, p. xiii.

I Genesis, chap. i. 1. to xi. 9.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

and primæval history, observes the Rev. J. Kenrick*, "is remarkably free from philological difficulties. The meaning of the writer, the only thing which the interpreter has to discover or set forth, is everywhere sufficiently obvious : there is hardly in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis a doubtful construction, or a various reading of any importance, and the English reader has, in the ordinary version, a full and fair representation of the sense of the original."

Facilities for the English student of Hebrew antiquities are afforded in the present edition, by the notation of Oriental letters in European characters, thus rendering the pronunciation of Asiatic words comparatively easy to the English reader. The alphabet corresponding to the Hebrew characters, is inserted at the end of the first volume, and has been principally derived from the orthography employed by W. Greenfield, Esq., M.R.A.S., in his English Hebrew Book of Genesist.

Thanks are due to John Edward Taylor, Esq., and to a friend and former schoolfellow of the Editor, for the care and attention which have been bestowed on the translation from the original German. Mr. Taylor has also assisted by the translation of Professor Tuch's remarks on Paradise and the Flood, which the Editor has inserted in square brackets (vol. ii. pp. 61 and 161). Additional observations

. . Essay on Primæval History, by the Rev. John Kenrick, M.A., p. 14. London, Fellowes, 1846.

† The Book of Genesis, in English Hebrew, by William Greenfield, M.R.A.S. London, Taylor and Walton, 1836.




on the narrative of the Flood, by the Editor (vol. ii. p 185), and editorial illustrations on other topics, are likewise designated by square brackets.

The Editor desires to express his obligation to Professor Owen and Professor F. W. Newman, for their kind aid and counsel on various subjects presented to their consideration.

A sketch of the life of Professor Von Bohlen, from his autobiography, published at Königsberg in 1842, by his friend Professor Voigt, may here be of interest, as enabling the English reader to become in some degree acquainted with the German author of this work.

Peter von Bohlen was born at Wüppel, in the lordship of Jever and the duchy of Oldenburg, March 13th, 1796. His parents were poor; and after the death of his father, in 1806, the expense of his education at the village school was principally defrayed from voluntary contributions, collected by Drost, the worthy clergyman of the parish in which the future Oriental scholar resided.

An early taste for reading led Bohlen to wish for the profession of a schoolmaster; but his poverty prevented the realization of this project, and in 1810 he was sent with other orphan boys to the Military Depôt of the district. His stature was found to be under the regulation height for the army, and he became a domestic servant to Baron Guiton, the General of the French light cavalry in that part of Germany. His master was a kind-hearted veteran, who taught French to the young lad, and listened to his reading in dramatic authors.

« PoprzedniaDalej »