Page images

so learned Christ. We have gone to His word for our views of truth and order. On that we rest ; leaving it to others to answer their own conscience, and to enjoy their belief without let or molestation from us, on the ground which we have examined and proved we stand fast. If our views of faith and order should be assailed, we shall nevertheless remember, that we have examined and proved them ;—and, with much prayer and with solemn, and full conviction, have found that they rest broadly and solidly upon the eternal word of God.





Says Professor Robinson, in his preface to his Lexicon of the New Testament:

"A Lexicon of the New Testament, at the present day, presupposes the fact, that the language of the New Testament exhibits in many points a departure from the idiom of the Attic Greek. This great question, which so long agitated the learned philologists of Europe, would seem at present to be put entirely at rest.” The plan of his lexicon, he says, is, “ In defining words, those significations are placed first which accord with Greek usage ;" " Then follow those significations which depart from Greek usage, and which are either to be illustrated from the Greek of the Septuagint, as compared with the Hebrew, OR DEPEND SOLELY ON THE USUS LOQUENDI” (customary use of words), "OF THE NEW TESTAMENT writers."

Dr. George Campbell, whom our Baptist brethren are fond of complimenting as one of the most finished Greek scholars of modern times, maintains that many of the idioms of the New Testament Greek would not have been more intelligible to a classic Greek author than Arabic

[ocr errors]

66 These pas

or Persian. “Take,” says he, “the two following for examples. Ουκ αδυνατησει παρα τω Θεω παν ρημα, , Luke i. 37; and oux av gowon naoa 000$, Matt. xxiv. 22.” (In English, “ With God nothing shall be impossible,” and “ There should no flesh be saved.") sages in the New Testament Greek are,” says Campbell, “phrases which, in my apprehension, would not have been more intelligible to a Greek author than Arabic or Persian would have been. Pnua for thing, and traou oux for no one, or none, cap for person, &c., would to him, I suspect, have proved insurmountable obstacles." * * “This," says he, “is but a small specimen—not the hundredth part of what might be produced on this subject.” (Prelim. Dis. I., vol. i., p. 30.)

“ It is true,” says Campbell (Prelim. Dis. I., Part 2), " that as the New Testament is written in Greek, it must be of consequence that we be able to enter critically into the ordinary import of the words of that tongue.” “But from what has been observed, it is evident, that though in several cases this knowledge may be eminently useful, it will not suffice; nay, in many cases, it will be of little or no significancy.” “Classical use, both in Greek and in Latin, is not only, in this study, sometimes unavailable, but MAY EVEN MISLEAD. The sacred use and the classical are OFTEN VERY DIFFERENT." The Biblical Repository, for April, 1841, has an article

The Bible and its Literature,” by Professor Edward Robinson. In this article Professor Robinson says, “ The language of the New Testament is the latter Greek, as spoken by foreigners of the Hebrew stock, and applied by them to subjects on which it had never been employed by native Greeks. After the disuse of the ancient Hebrew


in Palestine, and the irruption of Western conquerors, the Jews adopted the Greek language from necessity ;partly as a conquered people, and partly from intercourse of life and commerce, in colonies, in cities, founded like Alexandria, and others, which were peopled with throngs of Jews. It was, therefore, the spoken language of ordinary life which they learned, not the classic style of books which have elsewhere come down to us. But they spoke it as foreigners, whose native tongue was the later Aramean; and it therefore could not fail to acquire from their lips a strong Semitic character and coloring. When to this we add, that they spoke in Greek on the things of the true God, and the relations of mankind to Jehovah and to a Saviour-subjects to which no native Greek had ever applied his beautiful language, it will be obvious that an APPEAL MERELY TO CLASSIC GREEK AND ITS PHILOLOGY WILL NOT SUFFICE FOR THE INTERPRETER OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. The Jewish-Greek must be studied almost as an independent dialect, &c.

The change of meaning in many words of the Greek language, upon adapting it to the ideas and observances of a revealed religion, was a matter of necessity : and that aside from the natural influence of the Hebraic idiom. Carry the Gospel to China, or Hindostan, or among the tribes of our American Indians; it brings them a multitude of ideas which are peculiar to revealed religion. To express these ideas, the old words of their language must receive a new meaning; or they must coin new words; or they must adopt words from the language of those who brought them the new religion, or from some other quarter.* * Said David BRAINERD, “There are no words in the Indian

If, instead of a new religion, a new language is carried among a people professing the true religion, the words of that new language receive a new meaning the moment they are applied to the religious ideas and observances to which the language was before a stranger. Carry any heathen language into a Gospel land, or into a land of Hebrew rites, and of Hebrew ideas concerning the true God and revealed religion, and it is impossible that the meaning of such words as are applied to these new ideas should not be even more changed than is the idiom of the language in the construction of phrases. Such is the fact with regard to the New Testament Greek as compared with the classic, or even with the common dialect which prevailed after the conquests of Alexander.

A Baptist writer has attempted to explain this matter by referring to the “ Irish-English" of an Irishman, after having become acquainted with our language and able to speak it with fluency, yet you can detect them using phrases and words peculiar to their own vernacular tongue, and dissimilar to ours. ." This by no means meets the case, but is calculated entirely to mislead. The Irishman has religious ideas, to a great extent, common with us. An African or an Indian might learn our language, and yet speak it in a manner peculiar to himself. But what would be the effect

own language, when the Christian religion was once completely established among them ? New ideas fill the mind of the benighted pagan, and lift up his thoughts to angels-to


language to answer to our English words, Lord, Saviour, salvation, sinner, justice, condemnation, faith, adoption, glory, with scores of like importance."

« PreviousContinue »