« PreviousContinue »
spoken. This may seem to be a small matter in so great an undertaking as a revision of the English New Testament. But it is in the rare good taste which Dr. Noyes everywhere displays in correcting or retaining the archaic and obsolescent expressions of the Common Version, not less than in the eminent Greek scholarship to which every page of the translation bears witness, that we see the marked superiority of the present version over all other attempts which have been made in the same direction.
Many of the felicitous expressions in Dr. Noyes's Translation are not original with him, but may be found in one or another of the previous revisions. The influence of Mr. Norton's Translation can be traced in many admirable renderings. A few expressions which are peculiarly clear and forcible seem to have been taken from Green's "Twofold New Testa ment," a translation into what might be called ultra Saxonism of diction. Yet no lover of a pure and dignified style would be satisfied with a single chapter of the "Twofold New Testament;" while for correct and idiomatic English, Dr. Noyes's Translation is incomparably superior to such an eccentric production; and the same may be said with equal or greater force with regard to other modern English versions, which Dr. Noyes has followed in certain passages, where, in his judgment, they give a clear and accurate rendering of the original. No one of all these translations is, as a whole, so free from objection on the score of its English, or gives such unalloyed enjoyment to the reader from the simplicity and purity of the style, as the version of Dr. Noyes. Other revisers and translators have been valued contributors to his work; but the uniform excellence of the translation is due to the superior judgment and good taste which enabled Dr. Noyes to keep clear of old errors and archaic English, and yet not run aground on a style too exclusively modern.
To criticise, in some minor particulars, a work to which we have awarded such high praise, may seem presumptuous. Indeed, we are frank to acknowledge, that in all the pas sages which we have examined, where objection may be taken to the rendering of Dr. Noyes, we have found that the trans
lation which he has given is based on a full knowledge of all the difficulties in the case. The question is not in any instance, Is the translation wrong? but, Is it the best possible? And it may well be that any substitute or alternative which can be proposed will be more objectionable than the rendering itself. We venture, however, to offer the following suggestions in reference to a few passages, claiming for them no more weight than they are fairly entitled to, as slight criticisms upon an almost faultless performance.
In Luke viii. 23, for the somewhat antiquated expression "in jeopardy," we should prefer the modern equivalent "in peril," which in 1 Cor. xv. 20 Dr. Noyes gives as translation of the same Greek verb.
In Col. iv. 8, we should translate nagaxahɛiv, strengthen or encourage. Dr. Noyes translates this verb "encourage" in the second verse of the second chapter of the same Epistle. The reason for this change from the "comfort" of the common is equally valid in both places, and is based on the fact that the English verb to comfort has, in modern usage, lost its original and old-English sense (from con and fortis) of strengthening or encouraging.
In Luke xviii. 3, the phrase, "avenge me of my adversary" is objectionable, as being an obsolete form of expression. Mr. Norton translates, "Do me justice against my adversary."
In Luke ii. 48, Dr. Noyes has rendered tέzvov, son, instead of the correct word, child. This translation is unaccountable in a version where the distinction between vios and rézvov, which the old translators so often confounded, is in most other places carefully noted.
The literal rendering of John vii. 17, is, If any one wills to do his will (not if any one will do it, as in the Common Version). If objection be taken to this translation on the ground of euphony, its equivalent would seem to be, "If any one has the purpose," &c., and not as Dr. Noyes gives it, "If any one is desirous," &c.
In Luke xviii. 42, Dr. Noyes has rendered nious oov Géoozé oe, "Thy faith hath saved thee;" while in Luke xvii. 19, the same words are translated, "Thy faith hath made thee
VOL. LXXXVII. — NEW SERIES, VOL. VIII. NO. I.
well." The explanation of this difference in the rendering of the two passages by the distinction between leprosy, a disease, and blindness, a calamity, is hardly to the point. The objection to the expression, "hath saved thee," is the unavoidable association of the word "saved" with the doctrine of "salvation through Christ." Perhaps Mr. Folsom's translation in both passages," Thy faith hath restored thee," is the best that can be substituted.
In John viii. 35, doulos is rendered by an unusual word, "bond-servant;" while in 1 Cor. vii. 21, and elsewhere, it is translated, slave. The passage in John would be more forcibly rendered by using there the word slave, a term which has become so familiar to all English readers by a thousand painful associations.
In Romans vii. 2, the Greek verb zaragyeiv, which is used by the New Testament writers with a great many shades of meaning, is translated release; while in the sixth verse of the same chapter, it is rendered deliver, where the word release, employed in v. 2, is decidedly to be preferred.
In Col. i. 13, Dr. Noyes translates tov viov tijs dɣáïns avtov “ of his beloved son," where we should prefer the more literal — i.e., word-for-word-rendering" of the son of his love" (Wickliffe had it "the son of his loving").
In Matt. xxviii. 14, ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος is rendered by Dr. Noyes, "Should the governor hear of this." (The Common Version has, "If this come to the governor's ears.") But the phrase evidently denotes a legal hearing (so Meyer in loco), and would seem to require the translation, "If this come before the governor."
In Mark vi. 20, the Greek imperfect ovvero, which, in the Common Version, is translated observed (the verb to observe having its old-English sense), Dr. Noyes renders was regardful (so Green, in the "Twofold New Testament"). But the meaning of the passage seems to be, that Herod kept John in close custody, in order to protect him against Herodias. (Wickliffe translates, and kepte him.) Mr. Folsom's translation, guarded him closely, is nearer the meaning of the Greek than was regardful, which is, besides, not a very good English phrase in such a connection.
In Matt. vi. 1, instead of the word righteousness, which as the translation of dixaocórn takes the place of the incorrect alms of the Common Version, we should prefer the translation, good deeds, which Mr. Norton gives. To do one's righteousness is not so good English, nor does it so well suit the context, as to do one's righteous, or good, deeds.
The difficult passage at the close of the second chapter of Colossians (verses 20-23) is well rendered by Dr. Noyes; but we agree with Mr. Abbot in thinking that the last clause of verse 23 is to be taken in a bad sense. To express this meaning, it would be necessary merely to insert a comma after the word "honor," and thus preserve the nervous, asyndetic character of the original.
One other instance, where the use of different words in the same chapter to translate the same Greek word seems to have been an oversight on the part of Dr. Noyes, has been pointed out in another Review, and deserves notice here. The passage occurs in the fourth and fifth chapters of Romans, in which the substantive лagáлtшμa, rendered trespass in iv. 25, is translated transgression, and also offence in v. 15, offence in v. 16, and trespass again in verses 17, 18, and 20.
We have thus indicated some of the revisions of passages and single words in Dr. Noyes's Translation, which an examination of certain parts of the work has suggested. Doubtless other desirable changes will be proposed by other readers who shall make a more thorough study of the whole work.
But such criticisms do not detract in the least from the eminent merits, the great and almost incomparable excellence over other modern translations, by which, as a whole, this Version of Dr. Noyes is characterized.
We have no space for noting the numerous passages which we had marked as displaying Dr. Noyes's erudition as a biblical scholar, his judgment and good taste as a translator, and his absolute impartiality as a critic and theologian. The changes from the Common Version in the Synoptic Gospels will perhaps attract most attention from the common reader. But those who study the New Testament, whether in English or in Greek, will derive the greatest assistance from the clear translation of the Fourth Gospel, so much of which is obscure
in the Common Version; and the rendering into intelligible English of the Epistles, whose meaning the old translators not only often missed, but oftener still expressed in language which the English reader is sorely puzzled to apprehend.
The Proem to the Fourth Gospel in Dr. Noyes's Version seems to us a masterpiece of translation. Let any one who would see how far Dr. Noyes excels all other revisers of the Common Version, both in knowledge of the original and in judgment in translating, compare the first chapter of John in this version with the perversions which some of the older Unitarians offered for translations, with the rendering in Mr. Folsom's recent translation of the Gospels, with the quasi revisions which the "Five Clergymen of the English Church" and the "American Bible Union" have made in the interests of Orthodoxy, or even with so excellent a translation as that of Professor Norton.
The Epistle to the Romans in Dr. Noyes's Translation is another signal instance of the great excellence of the work. If Dr. Noyes had translated nothing else in the New Testament, his admirable rendering of this grand Epistle of Paul would entitle him to the gratitude alike of the common reader and the biblical student.
We cannot close our extended but too meagre notice of this great work of Dr. Noyes, without a word of praise to that careful and thorough scholar, Mr. Ezra Abbot, to whose constant co-operation and assistance the translator owed many valuable criticisms and suggestions, and to whose conscientious fidelity and accuracy, as an editor, all readers of the work are largely indebted.
The times are hopeful for an appreciative reception of a revised version of the New Testament, containing so many and such great merits as the translation which these eminent scholars have given to the world. If it be too much to expect that the authorized version, with its numerous grammatical inaccuracies, its obsolete or obsolescent words and phrases, its acknowledged mistranslations, its frequent departures from what is now the received Greek text, its absurd division of chapters into verses alone, without regard to paragraphs, its unnecessary use of italics, and its constant abuse