Obrazy na stronie


A VERY slight inspection of the pages of the present work will disclose to the reader its general character, and enable him to juige how far it is likely to supply an existing desideratum. Little therefore need be said by way of preface. My main object has been to afford facilities for the correct understanding of the sacred text-to aid the student of the Bible in ascertaining, with the utmost practicable exactness, the genuine sense of the original. With such an object in view it was perhaps impossible to avoid giving the work an aspect predominantly critical. But an apology on this score can scarcely be requisite at the present day, when the claims of sacred philology are beginning to be so highly appreciated; when it is so generally admitted that the grand aim of the Scriptural expositor should be to fix with the most absolute precision the mind of the Spirit' in his own word ; and when it is so well understood that this end can be attained only by means of a familiar acquaintance with the original in its verbal and idiomatic peculiarities, its parallel usages, and its archæological illustrations. Besides, unless I have come wholly short of my aim, there will be found such a union of the practical with the critical, as to adapt the present and the ensuing volumes somewhat happily to popular use. Should this prove not to be the case, I shall feel that the failure has been rather in the execution, than in the plan ; for I know no reason to suppose the two departments intrinsically incompatible, or that the two-fold function of the exegetical and the ethical expositor may not be united in the same person. The idea of combining them to the extent in which it is done in the present volume is no doubt somewhat novel, nor am I sure that occasionally a transition may not be noticed from one


province to the other so abrupt, as to carry with it to the mind of the reader a momentary sensation of incongruity. But such cases.I trust will be too few to stamp the experiment as abortive.

No one at all conversant with the subject of biblical annotation but must be aware, that there is a large mass of materials accumulated by the researches or reflections of prior commentators, and constituting a kind of common property, of which each successive labourer in the field feels at liberty to avail himself. The propriety of this is universally conceded, provided he sets up no special claim to what he thus finds made ready to his hands. Indeed it is quite obvious that the credit of originality in this department cannot be secured, but at the expense of the greatest measure of ulilily-an expense which I have not seen fit to incur. I have accordingly availed myself freely of all accessible sources of Scripture elucidation that could be made subservient to my plan, and have frequently interwoven with my own remarks, phrases and sentences, and, in some cases, paragraphs from other authors, without the formality of express quotation. But however large may be my indebtedness on this score, it is but justice to myself to say, that I have generally weighed in my own scales the evidence for or against a particular rendering or interpretation, and that after every abatement much will be found in the ensuing pages not to be met with any where else. Of the intrinsic value of these portions of the work the estimate must, of course, be left to those for whose benefit it has been prepäreil.

In cases of doubtful interpretation, I have, as a general rule, con tented myself with giving what I conceived to be the right one, with the evidence in its favour, without distracting the reader's mind by an array of various and conflicting comments. Still less have I indulged the paltry propensity for introducing interpretations differing from my own, merely for the purpose of refuting them. Yet in some instances where the probabilities in favour of opposite or variant expositions were very equally balanced, it seemed but an act of justice to judicious critics to give their several constructions, and I have accordingly in such cases endeavoured to avoid the charge of undue assumption by candidly stating what might be said against as well as for a proposed interpretation. The number of passages in the compass of the sacred writings is far from small, in respec to which a positive determination of the sense is, with our presen

means of explication absolutely impossible.-An exception, however, to the above rule may be observed as it respects the ancient versions ; particularly the Septuagint, the Chaldee Targums, and the Syriac and Arabic versions. These I have adduced very frequently, not only in dubious and difficult places, where their authority might have weight, hut often in the plainer passages, in order that the reader might have the satisfaction of seeing by what shades of difference the most ancient renderings vary from our own. An account of these several versions, together with an attempted estimate of their value as tributary to the exposition of the sacred text, will be found on a subsequent page.

To some it may be an objection that the pages of the work are so thickly interspersed with words and phrases in the Hebrew and Greek character. On this head I can only say, that if the reader will acquit me, as I readily acquit myself, of the design of giving in this way a learned air to my columns, I shall be willing to submit to some exceptions from one portion of my readers for the sake of another. My settled conviction is, that these notes will go into the hands of numbers of the religious community, especially ministers and theological students, to whom this feature of the work will be a strong recommendation ; and perhaps, as the terms are almost invariably translated, besides being often given in English orthography, it is no more than a reasonable demand, that the mere vernacular reader should concede this much to the preferences of his more learned brother.

It will be matter neither of surprise nor regret to any one who bears in mind that the Bible is strictly an Eastern book, that I have drawn so largely on Oriental sources of illustration.

It is only from such sources that a large portion of the imagery, allusions, and diction of the inspired writers can be adequately explained. The works of Eastern travellers, therefore, have formed a leading department of the apparatus which I have collected together in reference to the present undertaking. Among these the 'Pictorial Bible,' recently published in London, has been a repository from which I have enriched my pages with many of their choicest contents. invaluable treasury of materials for elucidating the topography, the manners and customs, the rites, ceremonies, monuments, and costumes of the East; and this, whether we regard the Engravings or

It is an

Notes, both of which are full of new and interesting information. It is deeply to be regretted that the cost of this work is such as will be likely greatly to limit its circulation.

It is my purpose, should a favouring Providence permit, to go over all the historical books of the Old Testament on the same plan. Other indispensable engagements may make the intervals of publication somewhat wide, but if life and health are spared, the work will be continually in hand till completed; and so far as it may give presage of useful service to the cause of biblical knowledge and sound piety, I cannot hesitate to assure myself of the prayers of my readers, in conjunction with my own, for the blessing of Heaven to rest upon the enterprise.

G. B. New York, Nov. 1st, 1838.




$1. Titles, Divisions, &c.

That collection of writings which is every where regarded by Christians as containing the only true revelation made by God to man, and as the sole standard of faith and practice, is familiarly known by different appellations. Thus it is frequently lermed The Scriptures, as being the most important of all writings; the Holy or Sacred Scriptures, because composed by persons divinely inspired; and sometimes the Canonical Scriptures, from a Greek word (kavwv canon) signifying a rule, because they were regarded as an infallible rule of faith and conduct, and to distinguish them from certain books termed Apocryphal, (atroxpopih hidden, concealed,) from their being of obscure and doubtful origin, not possessing the proper testimonials to entitle them to a place among the genuine inspired writings. But the most usual appellation is The Bible (Cubicov or Bibleu biblion or biblia, Lat. liber, book, from B23128 biblos, an Egyptian reed of the bark of which paper was inade). This word in its primary import simply denotes a book, but it is applied to the writings of the prophets and apostles by way of emphasis and eminence, as being the Book of Books, infinitely superior in excellence and importance to every human composition. This title originated at a very early period, principally from the usage of the Greek Fathers, and has since been generally adopted by the Christian world.

The most common and general division of the canonical Scriptures is into the Old and New Testaments ; the former containing those revelations of the divine will which were communicated to the Hebrews, Israclites, or Jews, before the birth of Christ; the latter comprising the inspired writings of the Evangelists and Apostles. This distinction is founded on 2 Cor. 3. 6, 14. Mat. 26. 28. Gal. 3. 17. Heb. 8. 8.-9. 15-20, where the ancient Latin translators have rendered Siankn diatheke (which signifies both a covenant and a testament, but in Biblical usage always answers to the Heb. gyny berith, a covenant) by Testamentum, a testament ;' because,' says Jerome (Comment. in Mal. ch. 2. 2),

they by a Græcism attributed to this word the sense of Fædus, a covenant. Were such the usage, therefore, there would be no impropriely in terming the two main portions of the Scriptures the Old and New Covenant ; implying thereby, not two distinct and unrelated covenants, but merely the former and

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »