Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

efficacious operation of the Holy Spirit on the soul, exciting and disposing to holy acts, is what we, and all of the old Orthodox divines, call regeneration. Conversion, consequent upon it, is man's own act. But to suppose that man is active in the first production of his own spiritual life, is, we must believe, either in the first rank of absurdities, or a virtual adoption of the Arminian doctrine of the self-determining power of the willa doctrine which we do not believe Mr. C. adopted; but which we cannot, for a moment doubt, is really the basis of some old, but newly vamped and circulated opinions, which we are aware have a plausible appearance in view of many, but which, we trust, will have only a confined and transient popularity in our country.

ART. IX.-GIBBS'S MANUAL LEXICON.

A Manual Hebrew and English Lexicon, including the

biblical Chaldee. Designed particularly for beginners. By Josiah W. Gibbs, A. M. Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological School in Yale College. Second edition, revised and enlarged. New Haven. Hezekiah Howe. 1932. 236 pp. 8vo.

WE E are heartily in favour both of manual lexicons and manual grammars, as preliminary and auxiliary to more copious works of reference. The extreme opinions upon this point will, we trust, be soon exploded, if they have not been already, by the publication of a few such books as this. Even adepts and proficients may congratulate themselves on seeing scholars like Professor Gibbs employed in this way, For ourselves, we must confess, that we are glad, now and then, to escape from the leviathans of lexicography. If there is a mental exercise which may be called laborious, it is that of threading the inextricable mazes of a first rate lexicon. After literally sweating through a few such articles as those of Wahl upon the Greek prepositions, or almost any in Barker's New Thesaurus, in quest of something which we never find, it is truly refreshing to escape into the columns of a work containing a mere statement of results. In the one case, we are treading the wine press of philology; in the other, we are quaffing the pure juice of the grape. But this is a matter of mere taste and feeling. To beginners, works of this sort are not only useful, but, in our opinion, necessary. The use of books in one stage of study, which are properly adapted to another, is not merely inconvenient; it is positively hurtful. As to grammars, we shall here say nothing. With respect to lexicons, the case seems very clear. If the student dives at once into the depths of a detailed and laborious analysis, his first impressions will be false impressions. What is clear and what is not clear will be equally mysterious. The parade of authorities and arguments on points both small and great, will lead him to suspect a difficulty every where. If, on the contrary, he enters upon study with the aid of a vocabulary, in the proper sense, he will learn to distinguish between light and darkness. What is simple and easy he will look upon as such, and where difficulties do arise, necessity will drive him to the proper source of more explicit information. This we believe to be the natural and salutary'process, which, if steadily pursued, would exterminate that misty and perplexed mode of study which is staying the chariot wheels of biblical philology.

But we must not, in discoursing upon manuals in general, forget Professor Gibbs in particular. The volume before us is a neat and accurate reprint of a work already too well known to need description. A circulation of three years among students of theology and others, has no doubt brought its merits to a decisive test. As we have not the original edition at hand, we are unable to determine, by comparison, the actual amount of the improvements promised in the titlepage. We can say, however, and we do say freely, that Professor Gibbs, here, as elsewhere, shows himself to be possessed of high qualifications as a lexicographer. It is true, the work before us is intended for beginners; but so far is this from impairing the proof of the compiler's skill, that it really enhances it; not only because it is harder to write for beginners than proficients, but because defects and errors are more glaring and offensive where results alone are given, than when allowed to lurk amidst the multiplied details of a Thesaurus. This unassuming volume certainly shows traces of that peculiar tact, precision, and acuteness, without which the richest materials and most untiring industry could only generate a shapeless mass of unprofitable erudition. On Professor Gibbs's philological taste and judgment, we have much reli

[ocr errors]

ance, and wherever he appears to have trusted them himself, there is little to desire. The only exceptions to our general commendations owe their existence to an undue deference for every high, yet fallible authority. “In this work,” says the author in his preface, “I have adhered to the philological principles of Gesenius. Only in a few instances have I found it necessary to dissent from his opinion.” The adhesion, however, is extended to particulars which can hardly be referred to philological principles, and upon one of these we make bold to animadvert. We mean what is called the alphabetical arrangement, as contradistinguished from the radical arrangement of the older lexicographers. In a case where the fresh-water current of authority sets so strong against us, we shall endeavour to avoid the imputation of presumption, by using the interrogatory form of speech. We ask, then, whether it has ever been proved, by experiment or logic, that this change is for the better? And is not the reason which is commonly assigned, to say the least, a very strange one—its convenience to the student? Is it not a convenience which aids him for a week or two, and thenceforth only serves to aggravate his difficulties? Would not the same reason justify the use of “skeleton grammars,” verbal translations, and Hamiltonian quackeries? Are they not convenient? Do not they save time?" If time is wasted in finding the root of a word, is it not wasted in finding the word itself? Does not the convenience here consist in precluding the necessity of independent effort? And if so, is not the evil supposed to be remedied, a real benefit? Will not the depth and precision of any man's acquaintance with any language be proportioned to his knowledge of its radical structure and modes of derivation? Is it not true, as a general fact, that Greek is more thoroughly studied in our schools than Latin, though a greater surface may be covered in the latter? And is it not because the genealogy of words is more clearly exhibited in Greek grammars and lexicons, and in the prevailing mode of instruction, as well as more obvious in the language itself? Will not

any

scholar who has made extensive use of works like that of Scapula, admit that the mental exercise attending that use, and the view which it affords of the multiform relations of that most majestic language, abundantly compensate for any inconvenience in consulting it? Will not any teacher who has made the experiment, acknowledge that a great change may be wrought upon a pupil by increased attention

1

to this mode of study? And can this mode be used with full success, without the synoptical view afforded by the radical arrangement? And if this is true of Greek, where the endless variety of compound forms makes the use of such a lexicon unquestionably troublesome, is it not true of Hebrew, in which a compound is an anomaly, and of which one grand characteristic is its uniform and systematic modes of derivation? How is it with the cognate tongues? Would any but a very superficial orientalist hesitate to choose between Golius and Meninski?* Moreover, does not the use of the old fashioned lexicon enable a student to use any other sort, while an exclusive use of the promiscuous arrangement almost unfits him for consulting any other? Now, if these things are so, can they all be set aside by Gesenius's authority? Is it perfectly clear that he adopted the promiscuous arrangement upon philological principle? May not another explanation be, at least, imagined? May it not possibly be part and parcel of his darling plan to devest Hebrew learning of a scholastic aspect, and to place it on a footing of genteel equality with what we palaeologists are wont, in our simplicity, to call profane literature? Is there not evidence of his desire to do away the old monastic notion of a Lingua Sacrosancta, and to place the study of this ancient tongue precisely on a par with that of German or Italian? And if so, are we bound to follow him in violating the genius of the language, and discouraging sound scholarship, in order to aid him in demolishing a prejudice which may have been excessive, but was never vicious, and is only disagreeable to him because it favours feelings which he laughs at, and a creed which he abhors?

We drop the person of the catechist to say, that we hope to see the time when every Greek and Latin lexicon intended for our schools shall, at least, be furnished with a systematic index, exhibiting the words in a radical arrangement, and when every Hebrew lexicon, both small and great, shall be

* As Meninski's famous Thesaurus Linguarum Orientalium was one chief means of giving currency to this unlucky change in Oriental lexicography, we copy here the very just remark of a late French writer. "On sait," says he, with reference to Meninski, “on sait, qu'il écrivait pour ceux qui se dévouent à la carrière qu'il avait parcourue avec tant de succès, ou pour ceux qui, pressés d'acquerir une connaissance usuelle des langues de l'Orient, n'ont qu'un léger intérêt pour la connaissance de la haute littérature.” (Biographie Universelle

. Vol. xxviii. p. 308. Paris. 1821.) We have no doubt that this was the design of that most laborious work; but we have yet to learn that such is the design of our Greek and Hebrew lexicons.

constructed wholly on that principle. Not that we wish to see the old pedantic usage of reducing all derivations to a single and invariable rule, brought back. On that point, we have no doubt that Gesenius is right. He has clearly shown that no one part of speech can be regarded as the universal root-house of the language; and if he had been contented with reforming lexicography just so far as this principle would lead him, he would certainly have done philology a great and unmixed favour. We would discard all forced deductions and fictitious roots, and exhibit primitives as primitives, deriva tives as derivatives, whether verbs, nouns, or participles, without adopting the exclusive theories of Buxtorf on the one hand, or of Lee upon the other. Because the older writer pushes the radical arrangement to extremes; Gesenius has dismissed it altogether. We are for reverting to the juste milieu which both have rashly passed. It may be asked, whether we wish to see all dictionaries of the modern languages constructed in this manner? We answer, that who. ever wishes to acquire a critical acquaintance with a language, not merely as a means to some ulterior end, but in order to investigate its own peculiarities, must, from some point or other, view the language in this systematic light. It is plain, however, that, with scarcely an exception, the modern languages are learned for other purposes. For cursory reading or colloquial intercourse, analytical research into the forms of speech is needless. If this were the maximum of Hebrew learning which the state of things among us calls for, there can be no doubt that the promiscuous arrangement would be altogether preferable. But so long as it is thought expedient to fathom the darkest depths of etymology, and to weigh the very dust and straws of criticism, in order to discover the mind of the Spirit, just so long ought the slightest tendency towards superficial study to be checked and censured. And though the point to which these observations are directed, may be thought a very trivial one, principiis obsta will be found a useful maxim even here.

There is yet another matter, in regard to which we should have been glad to see Professor Gibbs more free from foreign influence. The writings of Gesenius which have furnished his materials, not only do not recognise the inspiration of the Scriptures, but contain statements which either explicitly impugn that doctrine, or are wholly inconsistent with it. These last are, of course, rejected in the work before us.

But we VOL. IV. No. II.-2 M

« AnteriorContinuar »