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however of those two learned persons I have felt myself bound to pay diligent attention, but especially to those of the latter, because he professedly follows in the track of the Archbishop, intending only to supply deficiencies, to correct errors and to defend some variations from the authorized version, to which strong objections had been made. His eminent character also, as an Hebrew critic, and more especially the circumstance of his having singled out the prophecy of Zechariah, from the circle of the minor prophets, for the subject of a separate publication, to which he had of course devoted a more than common portion of his thoughts and labour, have bound me to the application of serious and repeated consideration, before I could venture to record my dissent from him, and have also induced me to state the reasons for my dissent, at least in all such instances, as are of any importance. Unfortunately the points of difference have turned out to be more numerous, and the differences wider, than could have been wished: but I trust it will be found in every such instance, that I have not failed of the respect due to the abilities and attainments of the learned professor, especially from one, who is conscious of having no pretensions to compare with him in a critical knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, and of being indebted for much of what be bas, to the advantage of baving in early life attend ed his lectures,
The renderings of Dr. Blaney, which I have controverted, (for except where the translation is concerned, I have rarely, if ever, found it necessary to enter into any length of discussion) are, for the most part, those, in which he also has departed from our authorized English version; and many of those deviations are the result of correspondent various readings, which he has received into the Hebrew text. Of these some rest on very slight authority, and none, as it appears to me, on grounds sufficient to support them. So far therefore from thinking it allowable to follow bim therein, I have felt myself bound by duty to oppose those innovations. Except in a single instance*, in which also our translators have
before me, I have strictly adhered to the printed copy of Van der Hooght. For although I am far from maintaining the absolute integrity of the Hebrew text, a point long since abandoned by all, and am convinced, that it is capable of receiving considerable improvement from the means now in our hands, yet am I
* Cap. iv. 2, where the weight of authority prodigiously
,ויאמר instead of ואמר preponderates in favour of
fully persuaded, that there cannot be a more serious impediment to the final discovery, or even to the free investigation of the true meaning of holy writ, than the pruriency of conjecturalemendation; or, what in its effect is almost equally pernicious, the proneness to admit 'various readings into the text on slender and inadequate grounds. So little also have I been disposed to stray from our English version, that I have entitled the translation prefixed to my commentary, not a new, but a corrected one*, For although I would not follow with servile timidity, I could not allow myself lightly, and, as I feel, irreverently, to desert that pattern of general excellence, which, if all its real errors were corrected, its deficiencies supplied, and every needful improvement made, would still, as a whole, remain little affected by the changes, that would be thus introduced.
It will appear in some parts of the following pages, that I am accustomed to pay a degree of deference, at least of attention, to the vowel points. At the same time, I am not to be reckoned with those, whom Bishop Horsley, with somewhat too much of contempt, stigmatizes, as “worshippers of the Masorites.” Their system of punetuation bears evident marks of having been formed and settled at a period long after the decease of the latest of the inspired penmen, and of baving been contrived, if not merely, yet chiefly, for the purpose of forming a perpetual commentary on the sacred volume, which it limits and binds down by such numerous and complicated, such firm and positive rules, as could never have been fastened on any book written in a living tongue, Yet is it the work of successive generations of studious men, who were accurately skilled in the Hebrew language, who diligently weighed the force of every word, who preserved many valuable traditions of the sepse, in wbich some less common forms of speech were used, and some difficult passages understood, in times long anterior to the schools of Tiberias, and who have handed down to us, taken at the lowest estimation and with all its defects, an highly valuable commentary on the old testament; to which even those, who most affect to despise it, are under no slight obligations. As such I willingly receive it: but far from being bound by the indissoluble chain of tradition, or hemmed in by the insurmountable hedge of the law*, I have made no scruple of deserting its guidance, whenever I have seemed to detect error, or to discern the means of correction and improvement; I have expatiated, so to speak, “in the liberty, with which Christ hath made me free."
* It will be found that the version given in my commen: tary does not always exactly agree with the text of my translation. But the differences are not numerous, nor are they important as to the meaning. Some of them are the consequences of an alteration in my intention, which ori, ginally was to print the whole translation in the form of prose, without any regard to a metrical arrangement of the poetical parts.
Others are faults, quas ineuria fudit, and which, as such, I intreat the reader to pardon.
Archbishop Newcome and Dr. Blaney have arranged a considerable portion of the vision in the form of metre. Therein I have followed them, notwithstanding the opinion of Bishop Horsley, that in the prophets “the attempt is too much for modern criticismt.” But upon
this subject I desire to refer the reader to tbe work of Bishop Jebb on “Sacred Literatures ;” a work, which, if it could need any praise of mine, I should commend, as not less elegant and entertaining, than ingenious and learned. I have also printed in a metrical form some passages, which both Archbishop Newcome and Dr. Blaney have regarded as prose, and some, in which the latter bas not followed his predecessor. In those texts I consider the poetical character and metrical structure of the lines to be plainly dis
* The Masora is called by learned Jews 7105 a'd, the hedge of the law; and some derive the word itself from 10X, to bind, or enchain, the Aleph being dropped in contraction. Buxtorfii Tiberias, cap. 1.
+ Preface to Hosea, p. 44. The Bishop is however inclined to except Isaiah.
See particularly p. 83.