« ZurückWeiter »
up in all churches, and several editions of it were issued under Cranmer's auspices.
When Edward came to the throne (in 1547) it is said that, on receiving the three swords as signs of his ruling over three kingdoms, he asked for another, namely, the Bible, which is the sword of the Spirit. There had been a reaction against the Bible in the latter part of Henry's reign, but now it was at once ordered “ that all beneficed persons provide one book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English”; and “that they shall discourage no man (authorized and licensed thereto) from the reading of any part of the Bible, either in Latin or in English, but shall rather conform and exhort every person to read the same as the very lively word of God, and the special food of man's soul, that all Christians are bound to embrace, believe, and follow, if they look to be saved."
No revision, however, was attempted during Edward's short reign; and in the following reign darkness came over the land again. Among those who fled from the Marian persecutions was Wittingham, the brother-in-law of Calvin, and to him, with the help of friends, we owe first the Geneva New Testament (1557), and afterwards the Geneva Bible (1560). The New Testament was printed in the verse form, for the first time. Great help was derived, in the preparation of this version, from Beza's Latin Testament; and the Calvinistic bias of the translators is marked by at least one passage transplanted from this version into our present Bible.*
On the accession of Elizabeth, critical students of the Bible began to multiply in England; and in 1568 came forth the Bishops' Bible, which was prepared under the superintendence of Archbishop Parker. This was a revision of the Great Bible, and at least eight of those who were engaged upon it were bishops. The Genevan version, however, was deservedly popular, and it was not easy to supersede it. The two Bibles ran side by side for some time, the one being “authorized,” and the other honoured and respected by the people.
We now come to the reign of James I., and to the Authorized Version of the present day. There is some diversity in the accounts of the origin of the revision which then took place, but certainly the king gave order that it should be taken in hand, and a list of scholars was drawn up by Bancroft, and submitted to him for approval. The whole Bible was divided into six portions, each of which was assigned to a committee of learned men; rules were drawn up for their guidance, probably by Bancroft; and the Bishops' Bible was given them as their
* We refer to the translation of Heb. x. 38. The history of this passage" if any man draw back," &c.-is given by Dr. Turton at some length in his work on the printed text of the Authorised Version. Vol. 68.-No. 379.
day of the provedardly beat and the ops Bibleia
basis, and to be altered as little as the truth of the original would permit.
In 1611, the Bible was published in folio, in black letter, with a Dedication, Preface, and Genealogical Tables at the beginning, together with several marginal references and readings at the sides of the pages, also with the supplementary words, which we now print in italics, printed in Roman character. As to the legal authority of the book, much question has arisen. There is neither Act of Parliament, Royal Proclamation, nor Act of Convocation, authorizing the version; but having been begun at the King's command, and having been completed under the superintendence of the heads of the Church, by the most learned men in the land, it was tacitly accepted as the national translation ;-and such it has remained ever since.
The two versions which contributed most largely to aid the revisers in their work of improving the Bishops' Bible were, according to Mr. Westcott, the Douay and the Genevan. Two more opposite books can hardly be conceived; and yet their combined influence proved most valuable. Mr. Westcott speaks highly of the Douay translation, although it contains so many unintelligible words. He also shows that whilst, in the fervour of early Protestantism, the Vulgate had been regarded with suspicion, a calmer judgment was now prevailing, and there was no hesitation in accepting critical aid from that quarter.
« Thus,” says Mr. Westcott, “step by step and in slow degrees, under every variety of influence, the English Bible assumed its present shape. The other great vernacular versions of Europe are the works of single men, definitely stamped with their impress, and bearing their names. Our version is the work of a Church, and not of a man. Or rather it is a growth, and not a work. Countless external influences, independent of the actual translators, contributed to mould it; and when it was fashioned, the Christian instinct of the nation, touched, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, decided on its authority. But at the same time, as if to save us from that worship of the letter, which is the counterfeit of true and implicit devotion to the sacred text, the same original words are offered to us in other forms in our Prayer Book.” The Offertory sentences are from the Vulgate; the Venite, Jubilate, Cantate, Deus misereatur, are almost word for word from the Great Bible; the Psalms are from Coverdale's version, and the Epistles and Gospels from the Authorized Version.
We cannot conclude this notice of the English Bible better than in the words of Cranmer in reference to the one issued in his day. “Every man,” says he, “that cometh to the reading of this Holy Book, ought to bring with him first and foremost
the fear of Almighty God, and then next a firm and stable purpose to reform his own self according thereunto, and so to continue, proceed, and prosper from time to time, showing himself to be a sober and a fruitful hearer and learner, which if he shall do, he shall prove at length well able to teach, though not with his mouth, yet with his living and good example, which is sure the most lively and effectual form and manner of teaching."
MODERN IGNORANCE OF THE BIBLE IN FRANCE. Histoire Sacrée, ou Précis Historique de la Bible, par Emile de
Bonnechose. 3me Edition. Paris : Didot. 1869. ELEVEN hundred years have elapsed since Pepin le Bref, at the instigation of Pope Stephen, crossed the Alps, and, making over the Exarchate of Ravenna to the Holy See as the patri. mony of St. Peter, laid the foundations of the temporal power of the Pope. It was a fatal gift for France to bestow. The chivalrous donors, from that time forward, have felt it in. cumbent upon them to maintain the powers in possession where they had placed them, and the best blood and the most costly treasures of the nation have, time after time, been lavished in this ungrateful task. At this very hour it is a source of difficulty and embarrassment. The nation which has broken the “sainte ampoule'' in pieces, and substituted the tricolour for the oriflamme, clings with tenacity, because they fancy honour is involved, to the tradition of the temporal power of the Papacy, which has cost them more, and is of less worth to them, at any rate in the times in which we are living, than all the paraphernalia which they have so thoroughly discarded.
And what has been the return which Rome has made to France ? A very sorry one, we think. Admitting that in the earliest times the two powers may have mutually aided and supported each other, and derived reciprocal benefit in a political point of view; yet even in such matters no attentive student of history can fail of perceiving, that, in later periods, the profit has been to Rome—the toil, the waste, the loss has been, and is, the portion of France. In dealing, however, with a spiritual power, spiritual benefit might be anticipated ; and if realized, would be a compensation for much political and worldly complication and embarrassment.
How far have these results followed ? Here again, we think, a few barren titles of honour and precedence have been a poor
compensation for ecclesiastical liberties overthrown, degrading superstitions fostered, and the Word of God silenced in the midst of the fair realms of France. Writing, as we are now, in a land which owns no allegiance to Rome, and looking on as outside spectators of the approaching Council, when
“incedent victæ longo ordine gentes
Quam variæ linguis habitu tam vestis et armis,” we cannot help watching with interest, we might say anxiety, what will be the attitude of France, and whether henceforward the Seine, like the Euphrates of old,
“Ibit jam mollior undis," will surrender the last shred of her Gallican liberties, and become more subservient than ever to the arrogant claims put forward by the Vatican.
These thoughts have been suggested to us while perusing the Preface to Mons. de Bonnechose's “ Histoire Sacrée, which seems to point so clearly to what is the real weakness of France in dealing with these haughty pretensions, and is so touching a picture of the calamity which has overtaken that noble country,- for what country can be sorer than when, as the prophet Amos says, God sends “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord,” that we have thought it well worth translating, by permission, into our pages, feeling sure that it will interest our readers?
The author, Mons. Emile de Bonnechose, is a distinguished literary man, brother of the Cardinal of the same name, but himself a Protestant. The book from which our extract is made is an admirable specimen of the superior order of books used in French Schools and Colleges. The author's history of France, which has passed through fourteen editions, is a standard work of education, and indeed may well prefer, as it does, higher claims. He is, therefore, on all accounts, a thoroughly well-informed and competent witness; and, as an ardent patriot, could not have given utterance to such statements, had there not been strong conviction in his soul that they ought to be proclaimed, and a remedy found. We feel assured many will sympathise in his lament. His statement is as follows:
“It is now-a-days a fact too real and unmistakeable, that men who have been most carefully educated in the knowledge of profane antiquity, continue almost entire strangers to sacred history. The names of some of the chief patriarchs, and a few incidents in their history, are known; but the affecting scenes displayed in their lives, in tents in the wilderness under an eastern sky, the noble simplicity of their manners, the majesty of their intercourse with the Eternal One in the midst of soli.
tude, and face to face with the wonders of creation, are not known. Men are aware that the Hebrews were afflicted in Egypt; that God raised up Moses to break the yoke off their necks, and to be the Mediator for the transmission to them of His law, that Solomon the son of David built the Temple. But they do not know the events which happened during those long wanderings in the wilderness; the sublime character of Moses; the spirit and scope of his laws; the fortunes of the people of Israel under their first rulers; the pious humility which, even on the throne, exalted yet higher kings like David and Hezekiah ; the surpassing grandeur wherewithal prophets like Elijah, Micah, and Jeremiah were clothed under sackcloth and ashes; the succession of miraculous events by which God bore witness to Himself in the midst of His people. Again, men know that at the time appointed Christ Jesus came into the world; and they can recall several incidents of His life and death, as well as some of His sublime sayings which have become proverbial among all people: but men of the present age know nothing of the marvellous succession of prophecy which kept ever announcing the Saviour of the world, they know nothing of the overflowings of His love and tender compassion-of the words which He actually spake to His disciples, to the poor and to the sick, to the rich and to the mighty of this world, nor of the life of His Church in the time of His Apostles as related by themselves; in short, they are ignorant of all that gives to Holy Scripture its unique character of beauty and power, and greatness and majesty.
Never, perhaps, at any period, in all ranks of social life, with the exception of the clergy, has the knowledge of the Bible in France been, I will not say so limited, but so actually nonexistent, as it is at the present time; and never has there been a period when such knowledge would be more needed to arrest the progress of impiety, to stem the torrent of materialism which is overflowing and reaching the masses of the people, to contend with a criticism disintegrating and unbridled, peculiarly powerful against the Gospel of Christ from the ignorance which men are in of its contents. It has been said a hundred times, and with truth, that the most assured defence of the Gospel is the Gospel itself—the savour of purity, of truth and holiness, which it emits, the divine inspiration which gives life to its pages, its language so simple and so adequate, so full of unction and of power, more calculated to carry conviction to the souls which it elevates and touches than the most powerful arguments of science: it is all this which makes it a book sui generis among all human writings, a work wholly divine, and as it were an echo from celestial spheres.
But in order to know a book, however divine it may be, and whatever may be the treasure which it contains, it must be opened; and I repeat it, that it is a book closed and sealed to