Page images
PDF
EPUB

ble. They vary the form and phraseology of the Hebrew almost at pleasure, for the purpose of securing a more elegant Greek diction; they avoid the bolder figures of the oriental style and, though they seek to retain as far as possible the graces which belong to the poetic language of the Hebrews, they express for the most part entirely in the Greek way those idiomatic phrases of daily life, which are so important to a just conception of the character and genius of a foreign people. The requisite examples for supporting these positions, are presented in the proper connection. The conclusion under this head naturally is, that changes should not be hastily made in the Hebrew text on the authority of the Septuagint. There is no occasion for emending it or hav. ing our confidence in it disturbed, on account of the manner in which the Greek version differs from it. The rules which the authors of it followed in the performance of their labor, account sufficiently for most of this diversity, and evince the necessity of the utmost caution in the adoption of new readings, recommended merely by their agreement with the Greek translation. The author's own language is : Hac dissertatione videmur demonstrasse, eam esse versionis Pentateuchi Alexandrinae indolem, ut ad explicandum quidem textum Masorethicum non parum conferat, ad mutandum vero nisi magna cum temeritate adhiberi nequeat.

In the second division of the treatise, the author considers the characteristics of the Greek dialect employed by the Seventy. The inquiry here relates to the Greek basis of this dialect, as distinguished from its Hebrew coloring. With the exception of some additional examples, and a proposed modification of some minor statements, the author adopts the views already sanctioned by such men as Salmasius, Sturtz, Buttmann, Winer, and others. The Greek which the translators of the Septuagint employed, was that current at Alexandria among those for whom they wrote, without any of that striving for Attic purity, which is apparent, even in some of the later Greek authors. In addition to its other properties which are well known, this form of the Greek language was distinguished for occasional Alexandrianisms, i. e. terms having a signification peculiar to northen Africa, as well as some examples of words graecised from the old Egyptian. Of the orthography which prevailed in the Alexandrian dialect, that is, the manner of representing the pronunciation of particular words, where the Greek language furnished different signs for the same sound, the insertion or omission of the breathings, the elision or insertion of letters for the sake of euphony, etc., a much

1847.]
Its relation to classic Greek.

191 more exact account is given than is contained in the older work of Sturtz. The recent discovery of so many ancient inscriptions, of papyrus rolls and other similar documents, has illustrated the usage in these respects in a manner unknown to the earlier writers. The grammatical idioms which are mentioned, are, for the most part, the same that others have noticed. The dual number, as in modern Greek, has entirely vanished. The optative is used with much less frequency and with less precision, than in the earlier Greek. Irregularities occur in the contraction both of Doups and verbs. Some verbs which are intransitive in regular Greek, have acquired here an active sense. One instance at least of the ecbatic use of ira must be admitted, viz. Gen. 22: 14. The negatives où and un are employed almost without exception in accordance with the strictest Attic usage. In reference to syn. tactical arrangement and construction, the style of the Pentateuch presents comparatively little which is anomalous.

The third and last part of the book presents to us its most val. uable contents. The Alexandrian translators were Jews by birth; and the manner in which they employed the Greek language, must have been influenced by this circumstance. It is the object of our author to consider here the nature and extent of this influ. ence, so far as it is developed in the Pentateuch. The Hebraisms which occur in the New Testament have been distinguished by critics as perfect and imperfect—the former being those which are peculiar to the Hebrew, the latter those which are common to it with the Greek. Mr. Thiersch applies this distinction to the style of the Septuagint, and, as might be expected, finds there ex. emplifications of it in both ways. The instances however of pure or perfect Hebraism are those naturally which receive most attention ; and the results here are not only of general interest to the philologist, but capable of being applied to the study of the New Testament Greek. Some of the statements which are pre. sented in connection with this branch of the subject, are the following

The general coincidence in the laws which regulate the use of the article in Greek and Hebrew, left no occasion for any great departure from the proper Greek idiom in the manner in which the Seventy have employed this part of speech. One exception bowever must be made to this remark, in a case which does not appear to have been duly noticed. It is a well known principle in Hebrew, that the article is not prefixed to substantives which are nade definite by a following genitive or by a suffix pronoun.

In imitation of this, the article is sometimes omitted under the same circumstances in the Pentateuch, where the genuine Greek construction would have required it. It is not improbable, that this peculiarity of the Hebrew has occasioned the singular omission of the article in Acts 2: 36, though Winer has pro posed there a different explanation. Again, the influence of the Hebrew may be traced in the use of the personal pro: nouns, which is the more important to be remarked, inasmuch as the style of the New Testament has been affected in a similar manner. In strict Greek usage, the pronouns of the first and second persons are not accustomed to be expressed, unless they mark a special emphasis; and the same is true in Hebrew, with one extensive exception. The Hebrew language has a great fondness for the participle; and since the participle has no means like the proper verb, of indicating its relation to its subject by a change of termination, it became necessary to connect with it the pronoun, especially when it was of the first or second person, for the sake of distinctness. In translating such constructions, the Seventy have not always kept in view this object of the pronoun, but have sometimes expressed it in instances where the Greek would have dispensed with it. Even the still more idiomatic use of the relative in connection with a personal pronoun so as to form a single relative expression, has been retained in some passages. This construction, so entirely foreign to the pure Greek idiom, is not unknown to the New Testament.3

The Hebraizing tendency of the Seventy appears further in the manner in which they employ the noun in all its various cases. Thus the nominative absolute, at the commencement of a proposition, thongh by no means unused in Greek, occurs in the Pentateuch both with a frequency and a boldness of position, which can be explained only as an effect of that similar license practised in the Hebrew, with which the translators were so familiar.4 There is another species of independent nominative

The exainples of this adduced are Deut. 16: 15, čùv dè evi.oynon te kúpLOS εν πάσι γενήμασί σου και εν παντί έργο σου ; ib. 28. 25, εν πάσαις βασιλείαις της γής και Lev. 23. 31, εν πάσαις κατοικίαις υμών; ib. 25: 24, κατά πάσαν γήν κατασχέσεως ύμών.

2 Thus Gen. 30: 1, dós pou tékva, ei peny te hevthow éyw for Max 9?. So also Ex. 2: 14. 13: 15, etc.

3 In the Pentateuch, see Gen. 28: 13. Deut. 9: 28, etc. In the New Testa. ment, see Acts 15: 17 in a citation from Amos, Rev. 7: 2. 12: 14, etc.

• An example of this is Εx. :32: 1-ο γάρ Μωϋσής ούτος ο άνθρωπος, εξήγαγεν ημάς εκ γης Αιγύπτου- ουκ οίδαμεν, τι γέγονεν αυτώ.

[ocr errors]

1947.)
Its Hebraistic Character.

193 which they often use, which is placed not at the beginning of the sentence but after other nouns-a construction which John in the Apocalypse has imitated, but perhaps no other New Testament writer. In such instances, an oblique case would naturally be employed in Greek, or the subsequent part of the sentence be recast in some way; but the Hebrew having no declension, properly so called, and adhering more rigidly to an unbroken, uniform structure, would be very apt to lead a Hellenistic writer to ex. press himself in this irregular manner. The wide range of sig. nification to which the genitive construction was appropriated in Hebrew, has occasioned an almost corresponding latitude in the application of the genitive in the Greek style of the Seventy. The dialect of the New Testament, it is well known, abounds in illustrations of the tendency of the Hellenistic Greek to assimilate itself to the Hebrew in this respect. The relation of the Greek dative the Hebrews represented, for the most part, by making use of Lamedh; and on the whole, the Greek translators have confined themselves to the legitimate province of this case. Their use of the accusative, on the contrary, deviates widely from its office in the classic Greek writers. It expresses often, after the manner of the Hebrews, the material out of which a thing is made or the manner in which it is done, where the Greeks would have employed a preposition or some different phraseology. The double accusative which the Greek and Latin languages so often place after verbs of a certain signification, the Seventy sometimes employ correctly in their version, but sometimes they hebraize, by translating the preposition which it was customary to insert un. der such circumstances in Hebrew.3 Some other verbs they construed, not with the accusative as the Greek custom demanded, but with prepositions in conformity with the Hebrew practice.4

In comparing the use which the authors of the Greek version have made, of the verb in its various forms, with that of the He. brew verb, we have opened to us a wide field of observation,

* This may be illustrated by Deut. 4:11-Kai opoç txaleto avpi łws Toû ουρανού σκότος, γνόφος, θυέλλα. There are many bolder examples. Cornp. Numb. 20: 5. Deut. 7: 8. 10: 7, etc.

? Thus Ex. 24: 39-ταλαντον χρυσίου καθαρού ποιήσεις πάντα τα σκεύη ταύTa. Comp. Gen. 6: 1. Ex. 26: 1, etc.

· For example, noihow de eis čovos péya, Ex. 44: 18, and often where els stands for}.

• The Hebrew said bva and the Hebrew translator in accordance with it, επικαλέσατο επί τω ονοματι. The accusative in regular Greek would follow as the direct object of the verb. Vol. IV. No. 13.

17

3

which has not yet been fully explored. It may be remarked in general as the result of our author's study, that the different voices or conjugations of the Hebrew verb are in the main correctly represented in the Pentateuch, by the corresponding separate verbs in which the Greek language is so rich. The praeterite tenses in Greek they employed with propriety; but the use of the future like the New Testament writers, they extended to the expression of ideas for which the instinct of the native Grecian would have dictaled a different form. This is seen particularly when there is occasion to speak of a thing as something that is wont to be done, that ought to be done or ought not to be, that may be done or cannot be, and the like. Such conceptions the Greeks seldom present in the future tenses, but avail themselves rather of the present, of auxiliary verbs, or of the optative and imperative modes. In the Hebrew on the contrary, the future or imperfect form of the verb is the prevailing one for such purposes. It is worthy of notice also that where in Hebrew the past tense follows an imperative to which it is joined by Vav consecutive, our translators turn the former often into a future. The periphrasis of the participle with the verb of existence will scarcely ever be found to occur, unless it be justified by the nature of the thought which is to be conveyed. The infinitive absolute which is employed in so peculiar way as a qualifying or emphatic accompaniment of the simple verb, the Alexandrian interpreters express often by prefixing to such verb a participle of the same meaning in such tense as the point of time to be designated requires. Several of the leading grammarians, as Matthiae, Kühner, Winer, have regarded this as a legitimate Greek construction; and in this point of view, it would be the frequency of it only in the Septuagint, which is singular. But from this opinion Thiersch dissents; and goes into an examination of the examples upon which these scholars have relied for the correctness of their statement.

He maintains that in all the passages of this kind which have been brought forward, the participle performs in reality its ordinary office in Greek, and that in no case does it qualify the verb which it accompanies in a manner corresponding to that of the infinitive absolute in Hebrew. His conclusion is that this mode of representing the Hebrew idiom in question was peculiar to the Seventy, and was originated by them for this purpose. To this partic.

1 Thus is the oft recurring formula-λάλησον τοις υιούς Ισραήλ και έρείς αυ

. דַּבֵּר לבנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ = Totr

2 Ας βλέποντες βλέψετε.

« PreviousContinue »