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the rinn i. e. the Chaldee translations of the Old Testament were made in, or before, our Saviour's time.
There has been a controversy between the learned Mr. Vossius, and Father Simon, concerning the language the Jews fpake at this time. The former pretends, that Greek was a then the language of the Jews; but Father Simon has sufficiently shewn the weakness of his arguments b. It seems to me very evident, the common Jews did not at all understand Greek. It was indeed the language most known in the world (much more perhaps than either Latin or French are now); and for that reason, as has been said, the books of the New Testament were wrote in it: but the common Jews were not acquainted with it; and therefore St. Paul, when he was apprehended at Jerusalem, though he spake to the officer (who perhaps was a Roman) in Greek (Acts xxi. 37'); yet, when he made his speech to the people, he spake iv 'E@gaid diaréxtw, in the Hebrew tongue, or, which is the same (as has been proved), in the Syriack. He knew the people could not une derstand him in any other; and so we find, that, when he spake no more Greek, but in their own language, they diligently hearkened to him, ch. xxii. 2. Hence Josephus tells us, that he wrote his History first in Hebrew, or Syriack, for the use of his countrymen ; but afterwards, that it might be of more extensive use, translated it into Greek: though (as he says a little after) he was very backward to that work, because it was a language very different from that of his country.
2. This being the language of the Jews in our Saviour's time, it was very necessary a Version should be made, and consequently, likely a Version was made, of the New Testament into this language, before the Apostles' death. Although the body and greatest part of the Jews rejected Christianity, yet there were very confiderable numbers of them that em. braced it. We read, Acts xxi. 20. of many Crespiádes) ten thoue
2 Voff. Refponf. ad iterat. P. "Eis árnodaning huño xai &ivais Simon object.
dizaéxty Ourátaner. Præfat. in b Critic. Hift, of the New Test. Antiq. Jud. s. 2. Par. 1. c. 6.
sands sands of Jews that believed, and received the doctrines of Christ. There can be no reasonable doubt, but that great ado' ditions were made to their number continually, both at Jerufalem, and other parts of Judæa. And now can it be supposed, that so many thousand converts should be left so long without those inspired books, which contained the foundation of their religion ? Here, and here only, they could have a particular, exact, and authentick account of the doctrines of that religion, which they had embraced; and is it not likely they would endeavour to get these books translated into their own language? Either the Apostles, or themselves, certainly would take care to have a Version made. . 1. It may reasonably be supposed, that the Apostles, who were so much among the Jews, would take care to have the Gospel History and their own writings published among them, in their own language. Their zeal for the interest of Christianity (which was in all respects so very great) would undoubtedly influence them to take this probable method of advancing it. Add to this, the particular fondness and affection, that appeared in several of them, towards their own countrymen. Nothing less than a revelation from heaven, would serve to convince Peter, that he might leave them, and go to preach to the Gentiles. The concern St. Paul had for them and their interest, was fo tender and passionate, that he was even ready to wish himself accursed from Chrift, if so be they might be happy. And now, would not all this their zeal for Christianity in general, and their particular love to their countrymen, excite them to procure a Version of these sacred books for their use ? Nothing can be supposed, which would prevent the Apostles from doing this, unless we suppose they were of the fame mind with the Papists, viz. that the Scriptures ought not to be translated into the common languages, for the use of the people. But the Apostles were of a different opinion in this matter from their pretended successors, who for interest have made it religion, to keep the people in ignorance. Their grand employment was, to instruct men in
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the history and doctrines of Christ; and now was any way more likely to do this, than giving them the Scriptures in their own language? The same reason, which put each of them upon writing in Greek, for the universal benefit of mankind, would very probably influence those of them, who were at Jerusalem, to translate their books into the language we are fpeaking of. Well does Tremellius argue on this head a; “ It « is altogether probable” (he is speaking of the Syriack Verfion), “ that it was made in the very beginning of Christi"anity, either by the Apostles or some of their disciples; un« less we will choose rather to believe, that in writing, they “ had regard only to those of other nations, and very little, or « none at all to those of their own.” But,
2. If we suppose the Apostles thus negligent of the interest of the believing Jews, and not to have done this for them, we may with a great deal of reason suppose, that they would take care to have it done themselves. Every body knows, how prodigiously fond the Jewish nation was of the sacred books of the Old Testament, because they came from God; and would not the converted Jews be likewise fond of the books of the New Testament, which they believed also came from God? They were careful enough to get the Hebrew of the Old Testament translated into Chaldee, and may be as reafonably supposed (I mean they who were converted) to get the Greek of the New Testament translated into Syriack. Upon the whole, I think it fair to conclude, that a Version of the New Testament was made into this language in the time of the Apostles.
CH A P. xxiv. The Syriack Verfion, which we now have, is the same which
was made in the Apostles? Time. This proved by three arguments. The Syrians, from whom we had it, believed it to be the same. It is improbable the Antient Verfion pould be loft. It wants the Parts of the New Testament, which were laft written.
T HAVE attempted in the foregoing Chapter to Thew, that I a Version of the New Testament was made into Syriack in the time of the Apostles; I shaļl now. endeavour to proven
3. That the Syriack Version which we now have, is the same which was then made. In order to which, I observe;
1. That it was constantly and universally believed by the Syrians, from whom we had this Version, that it was made by St. Mark the Evangelist. The truth of this depends upon the testimony of Poftellus“, a learned man, who affifted Widmanstadius in his first edition of this Version; and avers, that he received this account from the Syrians themselves, when he travelled among them, to acquire the knowledge of their language and customs. :
2. Whether this Version was made by St. Mark or not, it is very improbable that the Church at Jerusalem or Antioch, or any other Church, for whom the Syriack Version was fisst made, would suffer it to be loft. There was no more probability of the Syrians losing their translation, than of the Greek Churches losing their original. A Church of Christians, who were in possession of so valuable a treasure, would be continually using it; its copies would be daily multiplying amongst them, and so they cannot reasonably be supposed to have lost it; they looked upon it as the word of God, though not in the language in which it was originally written, and therefore
a Guid. Fabrit. Præfat. in Syr. Test.
would be careful in preserving it. Every one knows, how exceeding fond the Jews were of their Chaldee Versions of the Old Testament. Galatinus tells us a, they paid the same respect to them, as to the original itself: and is it not likely the Christian Jews would be as careful of their translations of the New Testament, as the others were of the translations of the Old?
3. The Syriack Version, which we now have, is the same which was made in the Apostles' time, because it has not in it those books of the New Testament, which were last written, viz. The second Epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation. These indeed have been added, since this Version was brought into Europe, viz. the four Epistles by Mr. Pocock, and the Revelation by De Dieu ; but it is, I think, agreed by every body, even the editors themselves, that these are but modern translations. Now there can be but two probable reasons assigned, why they were wanting in the copy brought by Moses Meridinæus into Europe, and the other antient Syriack copies; viz. either,
1. Because they were not received into the Canon, and judged authentick, when this Version was made. It is cer. tain these books were not at first received by all, but for a long time rejected by many, as Eusebius tells us b: or
2. They are not in the Syriack copies, because they were not written when the Syriack Version was made; and this indeed seems most probable ; for had they been written then, those so useful Epistles would have been translated, for the same reason as the others. This was the argument, which, among others, convinced Tremelliuso and the learned Bp. Walton", that this Version was made in the Apostles' time. I conclude therefore, since this Version has the several periods of St. Matthew's Gospel, in the same order with our present copies, that they never have been disordered or misplaced.
a De Arcan. Cathol. Verit. I. 1. c Præfat. in Nov. Teft. Syr. 0.6.
: - Prolegom, in Bibl. Polyglot. Hift. Eccl. 1. 3. C. 24, 25. & xiii. §. 15? 1.6.c.25. & l. 7. 6. 25.