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THE CODEX ALEXANDRINUS.
The two most celebrated manuscripts of this version are the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Vaticanus. The latter is in the library of the Vatican at Rome. It was probably written towards the close of the fourth century; is on parchment, in uncial or capital letters, three columns to a page, without any division of chapters, verses, or words. Its history is not known. The Codex Alexandrinus is now in the British Museum, and is reckoned one of the richest treasures of that noble collection. The work consists of four volumes in small folio, and was presented by Cyril Lucar, the Greek patriarch of Constantinople in the seventeenth century, to sir Thomas Roe, ambassador from Charles I., as a present to his master. It was deposited in the Museum in 1753. The patriarch brought it with him from Alexandria, and gives the following account of its history. “This manuscript," says he, “was transcribed by Thecla, an Egyptian lady of distinction, upwards of thirteen hundred years ago. She lived not long after the council of Nice. Her name was heretofore at the end of the book, but when Christianity was subverted by the errors of Mohammed, the books of Christians were likewise persecuted, and the name of Thecla was expunged ; however, it has been transmitted to us by tradition.” On the manuscript itself is written in Arabic, in a later hand than the original, “ It is reported that Thecla wrote this book with her own hand." The style of writing in the manuscript corre
40 THE SEVENTY; AND THE JEWS. sponds with this account. It was evidently executed by a lady, and from internal evidence of various kinds it is concluded that the whole was written not later than the beginning of the fifth century. Both the Old and New Testaments have been printed in type cast for the purpose, line for line, as in the original, at the expense of the British government.
The version of the Seventy, therefore, was in use in the commencement of the Christian era from Italy to Babylon. But two distinct influences were soon at work to diminish its popularity, and to make it necessary that a new version should be prepared. The religion of the gospel, though a religion of peace, divided the world ; Jew against Gentile, and Gentile against Jew. To the Bible both parties appealed, and to the version of the Seventy. The Jews, however, pressed with arguments taken from it, began to deny that it agreed with the original Hebrew. Consistency required that denial in such a case should become abhorrence. In process of time the fast which the Jews in Palestine had instituted to execrate the memory of the version, was observed by the rest of the nation. This denial, moreover, required proof. Accordingly, Jerome says that the Jews of his day had altered the text of the Seventy, and expunged passages which they could not alter. At last they gave it up entirely, adopting in its stead the version of Aquila, a renegade Christian, who had turned Jew, and been admitted into the school of
JEROME AND THE VULGATE.
R. Abiba, one of their most celebrated teachers. This feeling in relation to the Seventy suggested to Origen the importance of a revised version in Greek, a work which he executed with great care. His version, in fifty volumes, six columns to a page, must have presented a curious contrast to the compact one-volumed quartos of modern days. This was the first polyglot Bible ever made, and was destroyed by the Saracens at the destruction of Cæsarea.
Added to this influence was another. Greek was beginning to lose its hold upon the nations. The language of imperial Rome was taking its place, especially in Africa and Italy, where Christians were already a numerous party. In that language, as Augustine complained, every controversialist attempted a version of his own, making it generally, not from the Hebrew, but from the Seventy. It became increasingly im portant, therefore, to provide a version adapted to this large class of readers. To meet this want, Jerome (382) turned his thoughts to examine existing versions, and to compare them with the original Scriptures. What Latin versions he found, it is not easy now to ascertain ; whether one or more. Several fragments had been published before his day, and he himself refers to the labours of his predecessors in that department; so that it is at least clear that there existed in Italy from the second century some versions of Scripture into the vernacular tongue. At the request of Damatus, the bishop of Rome, Jerome com
42 JEROME AND THE VULGATE. menced his labours with the New Testament; and in 382 A.D. executed a version into Latin, using the old Latin texts then in use as a basis. He then translated tbe book of Psalms, though this version was superseded by one made subsequently, when his knowledge of Hebrew had enabled him to do fuller justice to the original. He next turned his attention to the Old Testament. To fit himself more thoroughly for this work, he retired to Judæa, and spent several years at Bethlehem. Here he acquired a knowledge of Hebrew, and, at the suggestion of several friends, commenced to translate successive portions of the Old Testament. To these labours he devoted twenty years, and at last published the whole Bible. At first his work was regarded with much suspicion. The existing version of the Seventy was still deemed by many to be of Divine authority, and Jerome was charged with unsettling the faith of the church. Within a hundred years of his death, however, his version of both Testaments was generally received. Written in what was then the common or vulgar tongue, and adapted, therefore, for all readers, it came to be called the Vulgate, and has exercised very great in. fluence over the religious progress of Europe, and on modern versions. Two of the chief revisions of this version were executed by countrymen of our own-Alcuin, the friend of Charlemagne (802,) and Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury. There is now a beautiful manuscript of Alcuin's revision in the British Museum. THE VULGATE : MODERN VERSIONS. 43 There is a strong tendency in some minds to appeal in matters of religious faith to antiquity, and to antiquity Protestants also love to appeal, only they make their appeal on two conditions. It must be more ancient than the time which now so often usurps the name. Let us go back as nearly as we can to apostolic times : that is the first condition: and then we must take antiquity, not as authority, but as evidence. It is a fair help to the meaning of Scripture, but no substitute for Scripture itself: that is the second. Subject to these conditions, we have no fear of any appeal to antiquity, and the great principles of our Protestantism, we believe, will be found to be at least as old as the Gospels. To antiquity, however, the church of Rome appeals, and justifies on this ground, in part, her practice of withholding from the people the New Testament in the vernacular tongues. The Vulgate, says she, is the only authoritative standard of faith, and in no other language may men read the wonderful works of God, “ without special license from ourselves." This assumption is met by the very version she recommends.
That version belongs in part to the earliest age of the church. It was made by one of the most eminent of the fathers—in order to meet the wants of the people, and render Scripture accessible to all readers. Would Rome but do what the translators of the Vulgate did, give the Bible to the people in the language most intelligible to them, she would copy the fathers, and confer a boon upon the nations such as the