The controversies which exist in the Christian Church are a source of trouble and perplexity to every thoughtful mind. It might naturally be supposed that those who profess to follow one and the same Master, to venerate one and the same Book as the final court of appeal in matters pertaining to religion, would agree on all questions of faith and ecclesiastical order; but this is far from being the case. Roman Catholic theologians have sometimes asserted that Protestantism is the real source of religious dissensions, inasmuch as it exposes the Scripture to the private judgment of the individual; and they tell us that there would be no differences of opinion among Christians if all were to abide by the teaching of the Papal Church. There are many reasons, however, which may fairly lead us to doubt the propriety of such a solution. In the first place, controversy did not spring up with the Reformation. There were nearly a hundred shades of opinion, more or less erroneous, which had to he contended against in the earliest ages of the Church; and there were as hot discussions on theological questions in the Middle Ages as there are now. Secondly, there are far greater divergences of thought in religious matters among the adherents of the Papacy than the world generally suspects.Thirdly, it is to be observed, that though the modern Church of Rome has laid down in the decrees of the Council of Trent a scheme or basis of doctrine according to which all Scripture is to be interpreted, yet she has never ventured to publish an infallible commentary which should explain all the hard passages of Scripture. Thus even under Roman rule the door of controversy is practically left open. There were expositors of the Scripture in the Church long before Christians were divided into Roman Catholics, Greek Church, and Protestants. Which of them shall we follow Shall it be Origen or Chrysostom? Jerome or Augustine? The answer which the Church of Rome, in common with all other Churches, has to give is, that no interpretations of Scripture by an individual, however learned, are to be regarded as infallible; all that can be done by the authorised leaders of the Church is to indicate a certain line of faith, ecclesiastical order, and practice, according to which the Bible ought to be interpreted, and by which all commentators ought to be guided and tested.
In accordance with this view, one of the most learned of Roman Catholic divines, Cardinal Cajetan, says, that if a new sense be discovered for a text, though it is opposed to the interpretation of a whole torrent of sacred doctors, it may be accepted, provided it be in accordance with the rest of Scripture, and with the teaching of the Church. Cajetan, Praef. in Pent. The original passage is as follows:—'Si quando occurrerit novus sensus Textui consonus, nec a Sacra Scriptura nec ab Ecclesiae doctrina dissonus, quamvis a torrente Doctorum sacrorum alienus, aequos se praebeant censores. Meminerint jus suum unicuique. Solis Scripturae Sacrae autoribus reservata est haec autoritas, ut ideo credamus sic esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt: alios autem, inquit Augustinus, ita lego, ut quantalibet sanctitate doctrinaque praepolleant, non ideo credam sic esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt. Nullus itaque detestatur novum Scriptures sensum, ex hoc quod dissonat a priscis Doctoribus; sed scrutetur perspicacius Textum ac contextual Scripturae; et si quadrare invenerit, laudet Deum, qui non alligavit expositionem Scripturarum Sacrarum priscorum Doctorum sensibus, sed Scripturae integrae sub Catholicae Ecclesiae censura.' Cardinal Pallavicini (Hist. Conc. Trid. vi. 18) discusses the view thus boldly enunciated by his brother Cardinal—a view by no means generally approved of—and says that it is not contrary to the decrees of the Council of Trent, as they simply declare heretical any doctrine or exposition which is opposed to the universal teaching of Fathers, Popes, and Councils. and says that it is not contrary to the decrees of the Council of Trent, as they simply declare heretical any doctrine or exposition which is opposed to the universal teaching of Fathers, Popes, and Councils. To Scripture alone, he adds, do we reserve this authority, that we believe a thing to be so because it is written so.
The conclusion is, that the more thoroughly we study the Bible in a right spirit and on just principles of interpretation, so much the more closely shall we draw near to one another in faith and life.
The Bible is to be regarded in two aspects. It has its use for the unlearned, and its use for the teacher. The O. T. tells the story of God's dealings with man in language which is plain to the most unlettered. The N. T. likewise unfolds the truth concerning the Lord Jesus in terms which come home to every heart. The little child and the untaught man will find many hard words, many puzzling arguments, many allusions to Eastern customs and to points of contemporary history of which they know nothing; but they will also find certain solid facts which they can grasp, and they will meet with living words which will arrest their attention and cause them to regard God in a new light. The simple student may thus become a theologian in the true old sense of the word, though ignorant of what modern writers sometimes call theology: he may attain that loving and reverential disposition towards his Maker and Redeemer which is described as 'the beginning of wisdom,' though knowing nothing of the Early Fathers or of the German School of Thought.
It has been held in all ages of the Church that the humble and devout reading of the Scriptures is one of the most profitable sources of growth in godliness; and nothing but the exigencies of controversy can have led the authorities of the Church of Rome to discourage the study of the Bible by the laity.
Jerome, the prince of translators, and a 'churchman' of the highest order, speaks soundly on this point. So does Augustine; and so do Chrysostom, "Ambrose, Basil, and the leading Fathers of the Early Church. They knew that 'as the body is made lean by hunger and want of food, so is the soul which neglects to fortify itself by the Word of God rendered weak and incapable of every good work.' Augustine. Compare the words of Ambrose, 'Omnes aedificat scriptura divina.' The acrimony with which the circulation of the Scriptures has been opposed by the Popes and their subordinates since the days of the Reformation presents a painful contrast with the earnest exhortations of such men as Jerome and Augustine.
It may, however, be said that the reading of the Bible should at any rate be confined to those who are previously instructed in Christianity. But there is nothing in its pages which calls for such restriction. Practically also it is found that the Scriptures in the mother tongue have penetrated further than the living voice of the missionary, and in hundreds—nay, probably thousands—of instances they have been the means of leading men to the knowledge of God.
'Missionaries and others,' says Sir Bartle Frere in his essay on Missions, 'are frequently startled by discovering persons, and even communities, who have hardly ever seen, and perhaps never heard, an ordained missionary, and who have nevertheless made considerable progress in Christian knowledge, obtained through the medium of an almost haphazard circulation of tracts and portions of Scripture.' The Reports of the British and Foreign Bible Society and the records of the various Missionary Societies abundantly testify to this point.
But the Bible is also the text-book for the theological teacher, and the final court of appeal on all religious questions. Even the Church of Rome, though putting her ecclesiastical traditions on a level with the Scripture, generally seeks to obtain the sanction of God's Word for her teaching, and never professedly holds any doctrine which, according to her interpretation, is positively opposed to the Bible. To this Book, then, all churches and denominations turn for support; and whatever our view of inspiration may be, we practically take its words as the basis of our teaching and as the standard of our orthodoxy.
It would be quite beside the present purpose to discuss theories of inspiration, to attempt a solution of the various questions which relate to the Canon, or to weigh the authority of different texts, MSS., and readings. Suffice it to say that, with regard to the O. T., the text as now received, with the punctuation and accentuation By punctuation is here signified, not the marking of pauses in the sense, but the determination of the vowel sounds. Supposing that in some old English inscription we met with the abbreviated word brd, we might have to determine whether it stood for bread, bird, bard, beard or board. This we could usually do by means of the context; but there might be doubtful cases, and if such existed we should be glad to know how the word had been understood by others in past times. Thus tradition would come in to aid our reasoning powers, though, after all, tradition itself might sometimes be at fault. This just illustrates the case of the Hebrew points. They were added to MSS. somewhere about the fifth century after Christ, in order to perpetuate the traditional mode in which the Hebrew words of the Bible used to be pronounced. Generally speaking, they are undoubtedly right; but they are not infallible, and sometimes they are capable of correction by means of MSS. and early versions. The case of the word bed for staff, in Gen. 47:31, is the most familiar sample of the existence of two traditional modes of giving vowel sounds for a word whose consonants are the same.
The accents mark the tones, the emphasis, and the pauses in Hebrew, and thus they too at times affect the sense and even the division of the verses. which represent the traditional way of reading it in early times, may be taken as substantially the same as that which existed when our Lord gave the weight of His authority to 'the Scriptures.' Several hundred Hebrew MSS. have been brought to light in modern times, and by their aid the Received text might be considerably amended; but the changes thus introduced, though very numerous, and often of the deepest interest, would not affect the body of the book. The same is true in the case of the N. T., in which we have substantially (whether in the Received or the Revised Text) the writings which were regarded as authoritative in the early church.
The more closely we study the Hebrew Bible, the more we shall be struck with the uniform precision with which doctrinal terms are used throughout its pages. However we may choose to account for this fact, its practical bearing is manifest. If the Hebrew Scriptures use theological terms with marked exactitude, translations made from them are plainly missing something of Divine truth unless they do the same.
There are some 1860 Hebrew roots in the O. T., many of which represent theological, moral, and ceremonial ideas, and our first business must be to find out their exact meaning. The opinion formerly held by some scholars, that all Hebrew words are equivocal, is now generally regarded as an exaggeration; and, although there are differences of opinion as to the meaning of some words, the dictionaries of such men as Gesenius and Fürst, being the embodiment of Jewish tradition confirmed and checked by investigations into cognate languages, give us a fair general idea of the meaning of the roots. This, however, is not enough. The Bible being regarded as a statute-book among Christians, the exact shade of meaning to be given to each Hebrew word ought, if possible, to be ascertained; and this can only be effected by an induction of instances leading to a definite conception of the sacred usage in each case. When this has been discovered, the student is naturally led to inquire how far the sense thus arrived at has been, or can be, represented in other languages.
In making a translation of the Bible, it is impossible at first to find adequate words for some of the ideas which it contains; and there must always be a risk of considerable misunderstanding for a time. It is only gradually that the Biblical usage of a word becomes engrafted into a national language; and it has been noticed that the more fixed a language is at the time the translation is made into it, the greater is the difficulty of diverting words from their general use to the sacred purposes of the Bible. The Hebrew language, though poor in some respects, e.g. in tenses, is rich in others; and probably no better language could have been selected for the purpose of preparing the way for Christ. Its variations of Voice give shades of meaning which cannot be found in the Indo-European languages. Its definite article, the way in which genders are marked in the verb as well as in the noun, its mode of marking emphasis and comparison, the gravity and solemnity of its structure, the massive dignity of its style, the picturesqueness of its idiom— these make it peculiarly fitting for the expression of sacred truth. Indeed, it is often a lesson in moral philosophy to take a Hebrew dictionary and trace the gradual growth of meaning in certain words as their signification advances from things which are seen and temporal to those which are not seen and eternal. Persons who have made this point a study can well sympathise with the saying of Luther, that he would not part with his knowledge of Hebrew for untold gold.
But how is it possible that a translation (unless it be in a cognate language such as Arabic) should bring out all the shades of thought which are to be found in the Hebrew Bible? Thus the play upon words, which is so frequent in the original, as in the naming of Jacob's sons or in the blessing pronounced upon them by their father, can rarely be reproduced in another language. Such distinctions as exist between the rest which means cessation and that which signifies quietness, or between the fear which signifies terror and that which marks respect, are often left unnoticed by translators. Again, who would have supposed that three Hebrew words are rendered window in the account of the Deluge, three rendered sack in the story of Joseph's brethren in Egypt, three rendered leaven in the account of the Passover, three rendered ship in the first chapter of Jonah, and five rendered lion in two consecutive verses of Job (4:10, 11)? There are many other curiosities in Hebrew which cannot be reproduced, such as the strange fact that the same word is sometimes used not only in different senses, but even with flatly contradictory meanings. For example, one word signifies both to bless and to curse; the same is the case with words signifying to redeem and to pollute; to join and to separate; to afflict and to honour; to know and to be strange; to lend and to borrow; to sin and to purge; to, desire and to abhor; to hurt and to heal. Again, how much significance lies in the circumstance that a common word for buying and selling also means corn, that a name for money also means a lamb, that the general word for cattle is adopted to signify possession, and that the common name for a merchant was Canaanite.
As an illustration of the richness and variety of the Hebrew language, it may be mentioned that seven different words are rendered black in the A. V.; there are eight words for an axe, for an archer, for a hook; nine are rendered wine; twelve words stand for beauty, and the same number for body; thirteen for light, for bough, and for hand; fourteen are rendered dark; sixteen are rendered anger and chief; eighteen are rendered fear; twenty are rendered bind and cry. The words afraid or affrighted stand for twenty-one Hebrew words; branch for twenty-two; deliver for twenty-five; cover for twenty-six; gather for thirty-five; cut for forty-two; come for forty-seven; destroy for fifty-five; break for sixty; cast for sixty-one; bring for sixty-six; go for sixty-eight; and take for seventy-four.
We now pass from the Hebrew original to the ancient Greek version, commonly called the Septuagint (LXX); and we may take as our starting-point the remark of a late scholar, that the Christian revelation must be regarded as Hebrew thought in Greek clothing. No human language is capable of setting forth adequately the truth about the Divine Being; but it is a great help that the Scripture is written in two languages, one of a Semitic type and the other Aryan, the latter being not mere ordinary Greek, such as might be found in Plato or Demosthenes, but Greek of a peculiar kind, the leading words of which conveyed to the Jewish mind ideas which the Hebrew O. T. had originated.
Very different estimates have been formed respecting the value of the LXX by various writers. In the early days of Christianity both Jews and Christians were inclined to regard it as a work of inspiration; and most of the early versions of the O. T. were made from it. But when the Jews found that it was so freely quoted and so much used by Christians, they took refuge in the assertion that it was not a faithful translation; and on this account the Greek versions of Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus were made. It was too late, however, to disparage a version which had been prepared before the days of controversy between Jew and Christian had begun; and the charges made against it were really the means of confirming its value, for Jerome was led to make his version from the Hebrew, partly at least that Christians might see that both Hebrew and Greek practically taught the same truth.
Modern critics have sometimes run to extremes in dealing with the LXX. Isaac Voss held that it was inspired; Cappellus, Munster, and Buxtorf attached but little value to it; Morinus respected it highly, but was inclined to correct it by the Latin Vulgate. Perhaps the fairest estimate of its value is to be found in the work of Hody on early versions, and in the criticisms of Kennicott.
This early Greek translation is, indeed, of the greatest value to the Biblical student, partly because it contains certain readings of importance which are not to be found in the existing Hebrew Bibles; partly also, because its renderings, though often free and paraphrastic, and sometimes even illiterate and unintelligible, frequently represent the traditional sense attached to the sacred text among the Alexandrian Jews. But, after all, the main value of the LXX lies in this, that it represents in a great measure the Greek religious language of many of the Jews of our Lord's time, and by its pages the Greek of the N. T. may be illustrated at every turn. Those who have access to Grinfield's Hellenistic Greek Testament, or any similar book, are aware that there is hardly a verse in the N. T. the phraseology of which may not be illustrated, and to some extent explained, by reference to the LXX. This fact, which is allowed by all students, has, nevertheless, hardly received that full attention from translators which it deserves. The idea that the LXX is often an indifferent authority from a literary and critical point of view, has caused them to neglect its study, whereas it ought to be regarded as a sort of dictionary in which every N. T. word and phrase ought to be looked out, in order that its usage in Judaeo-Greek might be ascertained. Philo is good, Josephus is good, but the LXX is best of all; both because of its subject-matter, and because of the influence which it has exercised over Christian theology.
It has often been remarked how much the English language now owes to the Authorised Version of the Bible. Many English words and phrases used in tracts and sermons, and other religious writings, can only be understood by reference to the Bible. The words themselves may sometimes be found in the works of authors who lived before our version was prepared, and also in the writings of many whose acquaintance with religious topics is very limited; but it is to the Bible that we turn for an explanation of such words as edify, justify, atonement, faith, and grace. These and many other words have been taken out of their ordinary secular usage, and have been adopted for Christian purposes. Little by little the new sense has eclipsed and obscured the old, so that in some cases the latter has vanished altogether. As generations succeed one another, if religious instruction and conversation continues, and if our Bible is not materially altered, Biblical language may become still more naturalised amongst us.
What is true in the case of the English language has also been perceived in many other languages;—wherever, in fact, the Bible is much studied. It often happens that missionaries gather their knowledge of a new language, not from native literature, for perhaps there is none, but from a translation of the Scriptures. This forms the basis of their vocabulary, and the standard of their idiom. Mr. Medhurst, in one of his works on China, notices that this was the case in Malacca, where 'the style of preaching and writing became in consequence very stiff and unidiomatic, and so a new and barbarous dialect sprang up among the professors of Christianity, which was in many instances barely intelligible to the Mahometan population who speak the regular Malayan tongue.' To take one other illustration of the mode in which a religious language is formed, the reader may be reminded of the vocabulary at the end of Dean Novell's Catechism. It contains a list of Latin words and modes of expression peculiar to Christians, and differing from the ordinary classical usage. Vocabula nostratia, et loquendi formae Christianorum propriae, in quibus a communi more verborum Latinorum discessum est. We find among them the words for angel, apostle, flesh, believe, create, crucify, demon, devil, elect, gospel, Gentile, idol, justify, sanctify, mediator, minister, mortify, repentance, resurrection, sacrament, scripture, temptation, tradition, and Trinity.
Applying these remarks to the influence of the LXX on Judaeo-Greek, we may cite the opinion of Father Simon, who points outthat the versions made by the Jews have been servile renderings, and that style has never been considered in them. 'The words employed in these versions are not used in the ordinary style; rather the Jews, in their desire to give a verbal rendering to the words of the Hebrew text, have formed a certain strange language, which one might call the language of the synagogue. The Greek of the Septuagint version, and even that of the N. T., is of this nature.... It is this which has led certain learned critics to call it Hellenistic, so as to distinguish it from ordinary Greek.' The late Dr. Campbell, of Aberdeen, ought to be named as having forcibly expounded the same view in his 'Preliminary Dissertations.' The LXX may thus be regarded as a linguistic bridge spanning the gulf which separated Moses from Christ. Thus, to take a single short book, in the Epistle of St. James we meet with certain Greek words rendered dispersion, temptation, trial, doubting, first-fruits, respect of persons, Lord of Sabaoth, in the last days, stablish your hearts, justify, double-minded, long-suffering, of tender mercy, faith, spirit, wisdom, the judge. A Jew trained in the use of the LXX would naturally give to these words a peculiar richness and fulness of meaning from their usage in the Law and the Prophets when they appear as the rendering of certain Hebrew words and phrases.
The same would be the case with such expressions as 'son of perdition,' 'children of wrath,' 'if they shall enter into my rest,' 'by the hand of a mediator,' 'go in peace,' 'living waters.'
It may be objected, however, that the use of the LXX was confined to a small portion of the Jews, that most of them spoke Aramaic, or (as it is called in the N. T.) Hebrew, and that therefore we must not press the resemblances between the Greek Testament and the LXX too far. The popular belief certainly is that our Lord and His disciples spoke in Aramaic, an idea which is usually based on the fact that three or four words of this dialect are found amidst the Greek of the N. T. When Diodati propounded his view that our Lord was in the habit of speaking in Greek, it met with general contempt. De Rossi, no mean critic, controverted this novel view (as it was considered) in a treatise of some learning, though of short compass. Dissertazioni della lingua propria di Cristo, Milan, 1842. Dr. Roberts, in his 'Discussions on the Gospels,' has taken up the subject again, and has upheld the views of Diodati with much skill; but his arguments do not altogether carry conviction. It is strange that there should be any uncertainty about a point of such deep interest. There is probably more to be said on each side than has yet been said. The fact is, that a large number of the Jews in our Lord's time were bilingual: they talked both Aramaic and Judaeo-Greek. We know that St. Paul's speech in Acts 22. was delivered in Hebrew, whilst that given in Acts 24. must have been delivered in Greek. Whilst, therefore, some of the discourses contained in the Greek Gospels must be considered as translations, others may possibly give us the ipsissima verba of Him who spake as never yet man spake. One thing is certain, that if the Greek Gospels do not give our Lord's original discourses, it is in vain to look to any other source for them. If they are not originals, we have no originals. The Syriac version of the N. T. bears evident traces of having been made from the Greek; so does the early Latin; so do all the other early versions; nor is there any other practical conclusion to be arrived at than this, that the Greek Gospels are to be taken as accurate accounts of the words and deeds of the Saviour, written in a tongue which was intelligible to most Jews, to all Greeks, to many Romans, and to the great bulk of people whom the Gospel could reach in the course of the first century.
The LXX had certainly received a quasi-authorisation by age and custom in our Lord's time. Father Simon considers that it may have obtained its name from the fact that it was sanctioned by the Sanhedrim, which consisted of seventy members. He remarks that the Synagogue was used not only for a place of religious service, but as a school. And whereas the Talmud prohibited the reading of the law in any language but Hebrew during divine service, the LXX and also the Chaldee Targums were the main basis of teaching during school hours. Thus the Hebrew sacred books constituted the canon, whilst the LXX, so far as its rendering of those sacred books is concerned, became what we may call the Authorised Version in daily use in the school, and to a certain extent in the family; and the style of the N. T. would naturally be accommodated to it.
The whole Bible may be regarded as written 'for the Jew first;'and its words and idioms ought to be rendered according to Hebrew usage. The shades of meaning represented in the Hebrew Voices ought to be borne in mind by the translator, the Piel or intensive being peculiarly a technical or ceremonial Voice. Where critics or theologians differ as to the sense conveyed by the original, the translator must content himself by adhering to the most literal or the most natural rendering of the text. The great danger is the tendency to paraphrase. This may be illustrated by Martin Luther's translation of δικαιοσύνη 'the righteousness which is valid before God.' Die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt. The phrase certainly needs exposition, as many similar condensed expressions do, but the translator must leave this task to the expositor.
There are about 600 quotations from the O. T. into the N. T. The great proportion of these are in accordance both with the Hebrew original and with the LXX, and where they vary it is frequently owing to textual corruption. They present us, when taken together, with a systematic key to the interpretation of the O. T. But it is curious to observe the great variety of deductions that have been made from examining the mode of citation. Father Simon, in his 'Critique' on the O. T. (lib. i. chap. 17), tells us that our Lord followed the method of interpreting the Scriptures which was adopted by the Pharisees, whilst He condemned their abuse of those traditions which had no solid foundation. 'St. Paul,' he continues, 'whilst he was one of the sect of the Pharisees, had interpreted Scripture in the light of tradition; and the Church apparently from the beginning preferred this mode of elucidating the Bible to that adopted by modern grammarians who stick to the words. Thus neither our Lord nor His apostles appear to have taken pains to cite passages of Scripture word for word; they have had more regard for the sense than for the letter of the text.' 'Their citations were made after the method of the Pharisees, who took no exact account of the words of the text when they cited it, being persuaded that religion depended more on the preconceived opinions (préjugés) obtained by tradition than on the simple words of Scripture which were capable of diverse explanations.' This bold statement, which if true would be very convenient for the Church to which Father Simon belonged, requires considerable modification. There were two schools among the Jews of our Lord's day who tampered with the letter of Scripture. There were the Pharisees, who so overlaid Scripture with legal niceties of man's invention, that the Word of God was practically made void by their traditions. And there were the Cabbalists, who applied a mystical interpretation to the very letters of which the words of Scripture were composed, and thus lost the plain sense which lay on the surface. In opposition to these two schools, our Lord generally adopted the plan of interpreting the Scripture with its context, and with a due regard both to the claims of grammar and the harmony of the Divine plan of revelation. In this respect, as in others, He left us an example that we should follow in His steps.
A few instances may be given, in conclusion, to illustrate the bearing which the language and idiom of the LXX has upon the meaning of the N. T.
(a) In 2 Thess. 3:5, we read, 'The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ.' The latter words are more literally rendered in the margin and in the R. V. 'the patience of Christ.' This expression would not convey much sense to the reader, unless he took it to signify 'the patience which Christ exhibited when he suffered,' or 'the patience which Christ bestows upon his people.' Were our translators right in departing from the literal rendering, and in giving a clear and definite meaning to the Apostle's words, and one which is in strict conformity with the context? Yes; they have doubtless hit the sense; and their view of the passage is confirmed by the Greek rendering of Ps. 39:7, which literally runs thus, 'And now what is my patience? is it not the Lord?' This answers to the rendering of the A. V. and R. V., 'And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.' It may well be supposed that if this passage from the LXX was not in the Apostle's mind as he wrote, yet the phraseology of it, which was so familiar to him, gave form to his thought.
(b) In a Greek Testament which is in the hand of every student, it is said in a note on 2 Thess. 1:11 (on the words 'fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness') that 'ἀγαθωσύνη will not refer with any propriety to God, of whom the word is never used.'Accordingly, it is altered in the R. V. But the usage of the LXX should be considered before the question be thus summarily decided. Accordingly, on turning to that book, we find that the word ἀγα-θωσύνη is used of God in at least three passages.
(c) Readers of the English Bible must have experienced some surprise at meeting twice over with the singular expression, 'thy holy child Jesus' in Acts 4:27 and 30 (see also, Acts 3:13, 26). The Greek word παῖς may certainly be rendered child, though the diminutive παιδίον is more usually adopted in the N. T. for this purpose. But why should the Christians make such special mention of 'the holy child'? The usage of the N. T. may first be consulted. The word occurs at most twenty-five times. In seven or eight of these passages it is rendered 'servant,' whilst in others it is rendered 'child.' It is first applied to our Lord in Matt. 12:18, where the prophecy of Isaiah (42:1) is referred to. Our translators here wisely allowed themselves to be guided by the Hebrew word, of which παῖς is the rendering, and to translate 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen.' In accordance with this passage the Virgin Mary sings of God, 'He hath holpen his servant (παῖς) Israel' (Luke 1:54), and Zacharias praises God for raising up a horn of salvation (i.e. a mighty Saviour) in the house or family of His servant (παῖς) David. It is natural to suppose that the Christians referred to in Acts 4:27, 30, did not mean to speak of Christ as God's child, but as His servant. This view is borne out by the fact that they had in the very same prayer in which the words occur used the same expression with reference to David's saying, 'Lord, thou art God... who by the mouth of thy servant (παῖς) David hast said, why did the heathen rage.' For these reasons it would be well to translate παῖς servant in the four passages in the Acts in which it is used of the Lord.
An examination of other passages in which David is called God's servant will greatly tend to confirm the rendering given above. See Jer. 33:15; Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25.
These samples, perhaps, are sufficient to illustrate the way in which the LXX forms a connecting link between the O. T. and the N. T. Many more will be brought to light in the course of the following pages, in which the leading Hebrew terms relating to the nature of God and man, the work of redemption, the ministrations under the law of Moses, together with other important topics, are discussed. If all difficult passages in the N. T. were dealt with in accordance with the principles thus illustrated, it does not seem too much to say that many obscurities would be removed, and the perplexities in which the plain English reader often finds himself involved would be considerably reduced.
Before closing this chapter a word must be added concerning the language in which the earliest pages of the Bible were written. It is, to say the least, possible that the records of the events which happened before Abraham's time are themselves pre-Abrahamic. If so, they may have been written in a language or dialect very different from Biblical Hebrew. The same hypothesis would hold good in a measure with reference to the records of the period between Abraham and Moses. All that we can do, however, is to. take the Book of Genesis as it stands, and to discuss its words as if they were the original, or at any rate as if they fairly represented it, just as we take the Greek of the Gospels as an adequate representation of the language in which our Lord usually spoke.