The Hexaglot Bible.


[*Biblia Hexaglotta, etc. The Hexaglot Bible; comprising the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in the original tongues, together with the Septuagint, the Syriac (of the New Testament), the Vulgate, the Authorised English, and German, and the most approved French versions, arranged in parallel columns, edited by the Rev. Edward Riches de Levante, MA., Ph.D., assisted by competent Biblical scholars. In six volumes royal 4to, half-morocco, cloth sides, gilt edges (or with the top edge alone gilt). It has the added Prolegomenon.]

1874 222 It is proposed to give a very concise description of the main features of this noble and admirable book; in the hope that the attention of Biblical students, and others who are interested in that revelation of the mind and purposes and grace of God which, always most precious, is surely more so than ever in these last and perilous days, may be directed to its great merits. It may indeed be fairly expected that the diligent use of the work by such as are in any degree competent to appreciate its value, will tend, not only to shed clearer and brighter light for themselves on many passages of holy scripture, but also enable them thus to be more helpful as teachers or expositors, to the church of God at large.

As its name implies, the work presents the inspired books in six languages, in the following order: for the Old Testament, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, German, and French; for the New Testament, Greek, Syriac, Latin, English, German and French.

The Hebrew text is that of Van der Hooght, corrected as regards accents, by comparison with the editions of Letteris, Vienna, 1852, and of S. D. Luzzatto, Trieste, 1858-61.

With regard to the ancient and important Greek version of the Old Testament, commonly called that of the Seventy, it is stated (Prolegomenon, p. xii.), that "The translation was begun about B.C. 280, and was probably not finished for several centuries. The dialect is Macedonic, mingled with a number of Hebraisms, being similar in style to the Greek of the New Testament." The following remarks are worthy of attention. "The Septuagint translation is the connecting link between the original texts. While it often explains and illustrates, sometimes even corrects and supplies the Hebrew of the Old Testament, it not infrequently enables its to understand the peculiar sense in which words or phrases are employed in the Greek of the New Testament. Like all works which are merely human, the Greek translation has its defects as well as its merits, and some or both of these will be pointed out by us in due course, in the main it agrees with the Hebrew text as we have it this day; and the fact that it has always boon received in the Jewish as well as in the christian church, ands no little weight to its authority."

The learned Editor shows, by a variety of instances too extensive to be more than referred to here, that the Septuagint Version "was made from an unpointed text, or from a text pointed differently from the present."

Although the Septuagint presents many variations from the Hebrew, and in the Book of Job particularly the translators have occasionally given Hebrew words without an attempt at translation, in Greek character, still there are a number of passages introduced, either verbatim or nearly so, into the text of the New Testament, sufficient to prove that a divine sanction has been given, in these instances, to a translation which, as a whole, cannot be regarded as an exact representation of the original.

One remarkable example may be referred to here. In Deuteronomy xxxii. 43, there appears to be a double rendering, thus: Euphranthete ouranoi hama autoi, "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him," kai proskunesatosan autoi pantes aggeloi theou, "and let all the angels of God worship him." This is followed, as a second or alternative rendering, by the words, Euphranthete ethne meta tou laou autou, "Rejoice, ye nations, with his people," kai enischusatosan autoi pantes huioi theou, "and let all the sons of God be strong in him." Now, the words kai proskunesatosan autoi pantes aggeloi theou are quoted verbatim in Hebrews i. 6, the reference usually given being to Psalm xcvii. 7. "Worship him, all ye gods." But the corresponding Psalm in the Septuagint (Ps. xcvi. 7), has, proskunesate autoi pantes aggeloi autou, "worship him, all ye his angels." So that the words, "And let all the angels of God worship him" appear to be directly taken from the clause in the Septuagint just cited (Deut. xxxii. 43), unless it can be shown that the same words exist in any other passage of the Old Testament according to the Septuagint.

In this brief notice of so great a work no more can be done than to invite a diligent study of the very careful, and, as it appears, masterly examination of a large number of passages, forming a considerable part of the Prolegomenon, and which is worthy of and will amply repay an attentive perusal. Some of these passages elucidate obscurities in the Hebrew original, and one at least, though well-known, may be noted as adopted (albeit an interpretation, and not a translation of the original words) into the text of the New Testament, Hebrews x. 5, (Sept. Ps. xxxix. 7) soma de katertiso moi, "but a body hast thou prepared me." In English Version, Psalm xl. 6, "mine ears hast thou opened," (or, digged), to be compared with Exodus xxi. 6.

While, however, there are many quotations verbally exact, and many more with some variation, transferred from the Septuagint to the text of the New Testament, it must be admitted that there are also not a few discrepancies from the original Hebrew. As to these the reader must be reminded that, as before stated, this ancient version appears to have been made from a text either without points, or differently pointed from the more modern copies of the Hebrew Scriptures.

The edition of the Septuagint adopted in the Hexaglot Bible is that of Tischendorf, founded on the Vatican Edition, with a notice of some interpolations, and the insertion, within brackets, of a good many important omissions.

Finally, notwithstanding the instances of double rendering, interpolation, and even occasional error in translation, which are pointed out at some length and with evident care in the Prolegomenon, the Septuagint Version must always be one of much importance and interest to the student, as being the work probably of many minds, engaged on the Sacred Books at different intervals of time, but, we may fairly conclude, with honest and conscientious desire to represent the sense of the originals as faithfully as the knowledge of the several translators permitted.

The Latin Version is substantially that of Hieronymus (Jerome), the greatest of ancient translators, though Bishop Walton asserts that the book of Psalms in the Vulgate was rendered by Jerome, not from the Hebrew, but from the Septuagint version according to the emendation of Lucian Martyr; and it is also alleged that the New Testament was not re-translated by him, but simply revised. The editor says, (Prolog. p. liii.), "In the Old Testament of the Hexaglot Bible, we have reproduced the Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti V. Pontificis Maximi jussu recognita et Clementis VIII. auctoritate edita. Parisiis, Jouby et Roger, Editores."

"In the New Testament, out of deference to the opinion and advice of friends, we have adopted the Codex Amiatinus, Novum Testamentum Latino, Inteprete Hieronymo. Ex celeberrimo Codice Amiatino omnium et antiquissimo et praestantissimo, edidit Constantinus Tischendorf. Lipsiae, Avenarius et Mendelsohn, 1854."

After a very extensive list of variations between the Clementine Edition of the (New Testament) Vulgate and the Codex Amiatinus as edited by Tischendorf, we have the following important remarks. "In the above list of different readings, those words the spelling of which has been modified in the Hexaglot Bible are marked thus, †; some words and phrases which find place in the Clementine Edition and not in the Codex Amiatinus, are marked with an asterisk. This is intended to denote that those words or phrases have been introduced within brackets into the Hexaglot text. We wish it to be observed that, as a rule, those words only have been supplied which occur in the Greek as well as in the Syriac. A very few passages, wanting in both Latin Editions, have been supplied from other sources."

A very interesting critical notice of nearly sixty instances of "omissions, additions, and variations, in order of the books of the New Testament," most of which are admitted, while a few, on apparently sufficient grounds, are rejected, concludes the account of the Latin Vulgate in the Hexaglot Bible.

On the all important subject of "the Greek of the New Testament," it is stated, (Proleg. p. xcv.) — "The text of the justly renowned Dr. Tischendorf (eighth edition) has been adopted in its integrity. Moreover, the suggestion of Dean Alford, as to one taking the trouble to compare his text with that of Tischendorf, has been acted upon. Every word of the one has been carefully collated with every word of the other. The differences which the Dean pronounces both numerous and important have been faithfully noted down."

The omissions in Tischendorfs edition "have been supplied from various sources, where possible from Alford; those which Alford also rejects have been supplied from the Textus Receptus." This arrangement does not impair Tischendorfs text, since, as he "never employs a bracket, therefore, whenever a word or a clause or a whole passage is introduced within brackets, into the Greek text of the Hexaglot New Testament, the reader will at once infer that the word, clause, or passage does not find place in Tischendorfs text; so that the simple omission of the bracketed portions leaves Tischendorfs text intact."

"We shall proceed now (Proleg. xcvi.) to point out
1. the MSS from which Alford and Tischendorf obtained their texts.
2. the discrepancies in spelling between the two Editors.
3. Different readings, comprising: 1, Words in Tischendorf not in Alford; 2, Words in Alford not in Tischendorf, those introduced into our text being marked thus; 3, Differing words and phrases; 4, Transpositions. 5, Words admitted into the text of Alford, within brackets, some of which form part of Tischendorfs text; others which do not find place in the text of Tischendorf, but which have, nevertheless, been admitted into the text of the Hexaglot, because they exist in the whole or in the majority of the other versions. 6, Words and passages, neither in Alford nor in Tischendorf, supplied in the Hexaglot text from the Textus Receptus."

1.  Of the lists of MSS of the Greek Testament given by Alford and Tischendorf, that of the latter is selected, as the more concise. These MSS amount to fifty-two, followed by the ancient Latin authorities, (Itala), mostly of the Vth and VIth centuries (a few probably earlier), numbering about eighteen. Then many of the Vulgate, varying from the IVth to the VIIIth century. And, lastly, versions in various languages, as AEthiopic, Armenian, Arabic, Memphitic, Sahidic, Syriac, Persic, Gothic, etc., etc. II.

2. With regard to spelling, accentuation, and punctuation, the system of Tischendorf is almost uniformly followed. A list is given of words differently spelt by the two editors, amounting though not in most cases of any real importance, to rather more than 300. As to these the orthography of Tischendorf is almost universally preferred, and this remark applies also to the spelling of proper names.

3. Different readings.

1. Words in Tischendorf not in Alford. Of these, in Matthew xxiv. 36, the words oude ho uios  "not even the Son," Mark xiii. 22; pseudochristoi, "false Christs," and Luke x. 21, en toi pneumati toi hagioi, "in the Holy Spirit," are found in the ancient Codex Sinaiticus. "About sixteen passages, of greater or less importance, are found in Tischendorfs text which are not found in the text of Alford."

2. Of words in Alford not in Tischendorf, Matthew xvii. 21, touto de to genos, k, t, l., xviii. 11, elthe gar ho huios tou anthropou sosai to apololos, xx. 16, polloi gar eisi kletoi oligoi de eklektoi, are not found in the Codex Sinaiticus, to which reference is here made as being one of the most ancient, and, in many respects, most valuable copies of the Greek New Testament.

On the other hand, Matthew xxi. 44, kai ho peson epi ton lithon touton sunthlasthesetai eph hon d an pese, likmesei auton, rejected by Tischendorf, occurs in Codex Sinaiticus. Several passages in Mark and Luke, rejected by Tischendorf, are wanting also in Codex Sinaiticus. But Luke xxiii, 17, anagken de eichen apoluein autois kata heorten hena, and xxiv. 12, ho de Petros anastas edramen epi to mnemeion, kai parakupsas . . . . thaumadzon to gegonos, and, ib. 36, kai legei autois Eirene humin, and, ib. 40, kai touto eipon epedeixen (edeixen) autois tas cheiras kai tous podas, though not found in Tischendorf appear in Codex Sinaiticus, while the important clause 51 kai anephereto eis ton ouranon, is wanting in both.

3. Differing words and phrases. Very numerous, (about 640), but very few of importance.

4. Transpositions, in which the order of words in Tischendorf differs from that in Alford, about 249.

5. Words bracketed in Alford's edition. Of the list given it may be remarked that the words which are not found in Tischendorfs text, but admitted, because sanctioned by the whole or the majority of the other versions, are placed within brackets in the Hexaglot text.

6. "Words neither in Tischendorf nor in Alford, which, being for the most part in the Syriac and other versions, have been introduced within brackets into the Hexaglot text, generally from the Textus Receptus." These words or passages amount to about 250.

The Syriac text of the Hexaglot New Testament is said to have been most carefully prepared by a comparison of the editions: 1, of Bishop Walton, 1667; 2, of the edition printed at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and edited by the conjoint labours of Dr. Buchanan and Professor Lee, the former of whom corrected for the press as far as the Acts of the Apostles, the latter completed the work; 3, of the Paris edition of 1824, being a revision of the edition in Le Jay's Polyglot Bible, 1645; 4, of the Hamburg edition of 1669 (occasionally). The result of a collation of the Hexaglot Syriac text with those of Walton, the Paris edition, and that of the Bible Society appears to be that the different readings are both few and very unimportant. "It will be found that in every instance of any moment the Hexaglot is in accord with Walton." (Proleg. cxxvi.)

Of the three modern versions the English, of both the Old and New Testaments, is the authorised translation, or King James's Bible, 1611.

The German is Luther's, "commenced in 1517, and completed and published in 1530. The Old Testament translation was made directly from the Hebrew (Biblia Hebrsica, Gerson, Brescia, 1494.) The New Testament translation was also made directly from the Greek."

"The first Protestant French version of the Old and New Testaments was published by R. V. Olivetan, with the assistance of the illustrious John Calvin, at Neuchatel in 1535, and at Geneva in 1540. Another edition of this appeared in 1588, called the (Geneva Bible, because revised by the College of Professors at Geneva. The edition of David Martin is a recension of the Genevan version, and of this the whole Bible was published at Amsterdam in 1707. This text as revised by Bishop Luscombe has been adopted in the Hexaglot Bible."

A series of examples showing the interest and value of the modern versions as occasional aids to interpretation, and some reflections which indicate a proper reverence for and love of the inspired word of God, conclude the Prolegomenon, or Introduction to this beautiful book, of which it may not be too much to say that its publication is an honour to the present century, and likely to prove a signal benefit, immediately and indirectly, in this and in other countries to the church and servants of God. C. P.