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NUMBER OF VERSIONS.
127 of the library of the king of Würtemberg, as published by Adler. That library was formed by him with inuch care, and contained upwards of nine thousand different editions of the Scriptures. The date of the publication of this list is 1787. There were then in his library,
This enumeration, which is confessedly imperfect, comprises near'y three thousand different editions of Scriptu e in languages spoken on the continent;* and though by no means giving a complete view of all that was done, it may be regarded as accurately representing the comparative prevalence of copies of Scripture
* See Townley's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 280.
in the various languages which it includes. Had the Reformation done no more for the progress of religion and learning than put into these various tongues the great truths and lessons of the Bible, it would have deserved the everlasting gratitude of our race.
While these efforts were made for the translation of Scripture into the vernacular languages of Europe, the learned were busy revising the sacred text, printing versions in ancient tongues, and in writing commentaries on the meaning of the inspired volume. A threefold work had in truth to be done. It was necessary first of all to settle the text both of the Old and of the New Testament; then to ascertain the meaning of words; and lastly, to give the general sense.
Criticism is the first process, exegesis the second, and exposition the third.
At first all parties engaged in every department of this work with equal zeal. The first editions of the Greek Testament were published by Roman Catholics, and of the Hebrew Bible by Jews; though, in both cases, after a very imperfect examination of authorities. The text of the “Complutersian Polyglot” (printed at Alcalá-anciently Complutum-in Spain,) was founded on a partial examination of four manuscripts only; while the text of Erasmus (1516) was based on a similar examination of sixteen. The “London Polyglot” greatly extended these examinations; and through the successive
129 labours of Fell, Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, Griesbach, Matthæi, Scholz, Hahn, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, the Greek text has been brought to its present state. A similar work was carried on for the Hebrew text by the “ London Polyglot," Athias, a Jewish rabbi and printer, Van der Hooght, Michaelis, Hloubigant, Kennicott, De Rossi, Jahn, and Boothroyd. The majority of those critical editors were Protestants ; but, in fact, Protestants agree with Roman Catholics in the text of the New Testament, and Christians with Jews in the text of the Old. No statement can better illustrate the satisfactoriness of the results of these protracted inquiries.
One most important means of fixing the text of the sacred volume, and of ascertaining its meaning, has been the publication of ancient versions. Dr. Adam Clarke, indeed, ascribes to the publication of these versions much of the taste for sacred literature and for general knowledge which has been diffused through Europe during the seventeenth century; and it is certain that Polyglot Bibles—that is, Bibles in many tongues--have excited great interest among all classes of literary men. The earliest of these noble works was the Polyglot printed at Alcalá, or Complutum, by cardinal Ximenes, of Toledo. “Dreading the spread of false doctrines, with captious interpretations of the Scripture, which, whilst they deluded the simple, might appear unanswerable to the learned,” he devoted much time and large sums to this
180 COMPLUTENSIAN : ANTWERP. work. It contained the Hebrew, Greek, and Chaldee of the Old Testament, with a Latin version of each ; and the Greek and Latin Vulgate of the New. The whole was printed in 1517; but the cardinal dying soon after, it was daubted whether it ought to be circulated ; nor was it till the year 1522 that copies were distributed to the world at large. It is a curious instance of human weakness, that on the conversion of the Moors of Spain, Xiinenes strenuously and successfully opposed the translation of the Bible in Arabic, It was beșt, he said, that the Scripture should be kept in the three languages consecrated by the inscription over the head of the dying Saviour-Hebrew, Greek, and Latin !
The next polyglot was published at Antwerp, under the patronage of the king of Spain. It was executed between the years 1568 and 1573. In addition to the versions given in the Complutensian Polyglot, it contains the Syriac version of the New Testament, and a version into Latin by Pagninus, with a large apparatus of grammars and lexicons at the close. The London Polyglot (1654–7) was prepared and printed by Brian Walton, afterwards bishop of Chester. It added to the versions given by Ximenes, the Samaritan, the Syriac, the Arabic, the Ethiopic, and the Persic, with a Latin version of each, and various Targums. Lexicons were added by Dr. Castell. In 1628–45, the French Polyglot appeared under the editorship of Le Jay. It contained all that had been
POLYGLOTS : LONDON : PARIS. 131 printed in the Complutensian edition, and, for the first time, the Samaritan Pentateuch, besides Syriac and Arabic ; but without the grammars and lexicons which gave so much value to the editions of Antwerp and London. Ximenes, Castell, and Le Jay, all spent in these works sums which were never repaid them. Le Jay's edition cost him a hundred thousand crowns ; Castell spent all his fortune of twelve thousand pounds upon his two volumes ; and through the incessant labour required in the preparation of them, he became nearly blind. Various simila: works were published during the centuries just named. Hutter printed the New Testament in 1599, in twelve languages; Wolder, of Hamburg, the whole Bible in four ; Schindler, extraets from Scripture in six. At Wittemberg, in 1578, five different German versions appeared in a Pentaglot Bible, published in 1710, at Wansbeck ; and the Leipsic Polyglot, in four languages, appeared in 1713. Early in the present century, Dr. A. Clarke and the rev. J. Pratt proposed to reprint Walton's Polyglot, but they did not meet with sufficient encouragement. The modern Polyglot Bibles of Bagster, and of Tauchnitz of Leipsic, are well known, and universally admired.
The number of editions of single versions of Scripture in ancient languages published during this period, shows what attention Scripture was receiving among all classes. Between 1500 and 1536, Panzer enumerates as printed, eleven