N your Letter, which you lent me near two Months ago, you defirc to know, " Since the Greek " Septuaginty and our Englijh ,f Bible are Tranflations from €< the original Hebrew, how it comes to u pals that thefe two Tranflations have fuch c< Variations from each other? I do not " mean in Co me Words, but in whole Pe-" riods and Sentences, many being in our Englijh Tianflation, which are not to be " found in the Septuagint> and fome again A « ia
" in the Septuagint, which are not in . the « Englijh Bible:9
1 he Anfwer is eafily given. There were different Copies of the Hebrew Bible: The Septuagint was tranflated from one Copy, and the Englifh Bible from another; and as thefe Copies differed, fo have the Tranflati-ons. If you aik how fuch Differences came tP be in the fame Book by means of feveral Copies ? I anfwer, the fame will happen in all Books which have been frequently tran-fcribed by feveral Hands. And no Book whatfoever, I am periuaded, has had fo many Tranfcripts as the Bible. As the Jews had Synagogues in every City of Judea, and in fome large Cities divers Synagogues, fo had they alfo in all Countries where they were difperfed after the Babyloni/h Captivify. For they did not all return to Judea at the Reftoration. of Jerufalem and the rebuilding of the Temple j but many, I believe I may iay a greater Number of them, continued in thofe Parts of the Chaldean,, Perjian, and Grecian Empires where they had been difperfed and obtained Settlements; where they alfo increaied and multiplied. Every Synagogue had at leaft one Copy of the Bible, be-fide the many Copies written for the Ufe pi private Perfons. Every one of thefe Copies was written fingly by itfelf (the Art of Printing, by which ten Thoufand Copies coming out
. ( 3 ) . out of the fame Prefs, (hall not differ fo much as in a Letter or Point, being not then in ufe, the Invention thereof being fcarce three Hundred Years old,) and therefore could hardly fail to differ even from the Copy whence it was tranferibed, unlefs more than once reviled, compared and corre&ed; which we may reafonably believe was not always done. Thefe Copies could therefore hardly efcape making many Miftakes, and often to omit a Word, or to write one Word for another: Which laft might eafily happen in Hebrew Books when the Letters 1 and D, •J and \ n and ft, t and ], are fo near alike that one may eaiily be miftaken for the other; and the miftaking fuch a Letter changes the Word, and gives it another Signification. Copiers alfo in writing a whole Book, might alfo eafily miftake fometimes, fo far as to leave out whole Sentences, efpecially when they wrote in hafte, as no doubt many of them did, who made it their Bufinefe to copy Books for their Livelihood. Where there«.-fore the Septuagint wants a Sentence or Period which is in our Englijh Bibley we may fuppofe it was wanting in the Copy from whence the Interpreters made their Tranfla-tion : And where it has a Sentence or Period which is not,in our Englijh Bible, we may fuppofe it was in the Copy from whence that Tranilation was made, but omitted in the A 2 Copy
Copy out of which our preient Hebrew Bibles were taken, from which our Englijh was tranflated. This, I think is a natural and rational Account how theft Diverfities arofe : That is from different Copies of the Original. Which Differences could hardly be avoided, and might eaiily happen through the Carelefihefs and Overfights. of Tranfcri-bers, who could fcarce fail of being guilty of fuch Miftakes in fo long a Work; unlefs the Tranfcribers had been loipired and preferved from Error by the Spirit of God, as the Penmen of the Holy Scriptures were.
Some indeed will tell you that the Seventy in their Tranflation took great Liberties, and departed from the original Text with De-fign, adding fome Things, and leaving out others wilfully, to ferve fome private View pf their own. And others will tell you, tbi$ has been done by the Jews in the Hebrew Copies which they have preferved. But I fee 110 Occafion to charge either of them with fuch wilful Variations from the true original Text, wherever thofe Variations may be accounted for in the Manner I have ihew'd they may be. I confefs, however, that there are fome Variations which cannot be accounted for in that Manner, the Difference being fuch as could hardly proceed from Miftake or Over-fight : As particularly in the Genealogies of the Patriarchs, both before and after the
Flood» to the Time of Abrahamthey are related in the fifth and tenth Chanters of Genefis $ when, almoft every Patriaren is Jaid to have lived leo Years longer before be begat his Son according to the Septuagintt than1 is faid to have lived according to the Hebrew* as the Hebrew Copies are now. Thus Adam is iaid to have lived two hundred and thirty Years when he begat Setb, according to t!¿ Septuagint, and but one hundred and thirty according to the Hebrew $ and Setb according to the Septuagint to have lived two hundred and five Years when he begat Ews, and but one hundred and five according to the prefect Hebrew. And fo it is in moft of the reft of thefe Genealogies. Such a long regular Difference as this could not proceed from the Overfight or Careleflhefe of Tranfcribera. But we cannot 6y that the Septuagint has here wilfully varied from theOriginal Thefe,or the like Variations appear to have been in the Hi-brew Copies before the Time the Septuagint was tranflated, and at this Diftance of Time we know not bow to account for it. This is certain, that in the Chronology of thefe Genealogies, there was a Variation in the Hebrew Copies in the Time of JeJepbus, and before the Deftruftion of Jerufalem by Tttus Vejpafian. And as he was a Prieft attending, in his Courfe, on the Temple-Service, no queftion but he had an Hebrew Copy of the
Bible; and yet in thefe Genealogies he differs in his Chronology from the prefent Hebrew Text, as he does alio from the Septuagint. The Samaritan likewife (which i$ but another Copy of the original Hebrew> only written in the tnore ancient Hebrew Letter, which the Jews ufed before the Captivity of Babylon, and which after that Captivity they changed for the Cbaldee Letters) differs in this Chronology from the other three. From whence it is reafonable to believe, that the Seventy were not the Authors of this Difference, but followed that Hebrew Copy from which they tranflated.
Another- Thing which may alfo feem to have been done with defign, is the Tranfpo-iition of Chapters and Parts of Chapters, particularly towards the latter End of the Book of Exodus; where after you come to the feventh Verfe of the thirty-fixth Chapter, in the Septuagint you will find immediately following what follows not in the Hebrew, confequently in our Englijh Bible, till you come to the thirty-ninth Chapter, and fo through the 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th Chapters, you will find that to ftand in one Place of the Septuagint, which (lands in another Place in the prefent Hebrew and Englijh Bibles. .The Occafion of this, and other like Tranfpofitions, Dr Grabe, in his Difler-tation De Variis Vitus Septuagintalnterpretum>
imputes to the Careleflhefs of thofe, who joined the feveral Rolls or, Leaves after they were written, and by Miftake. placed one -Roll or Leaf where another fhould have been : Such Miftakes we find fome Bookbinders make now.
Another Occafion of various Readings, even as to whole Periods or Sentences is fup-poied to have arifen from marginal Notes, which fome Perfons made in their Bibles, and ignorant Copiers and Subfcribers put into the Text, when they tranfcribed from thofe Books. And this very probably might be done in fome Hebrew Books before the Septuagint was tranflated. Some various Readings alfo as to Words have proceeded from the Maforites, when by the Invention of Vowel Points and Paufes, they affixed a particular Reading to the Hebrew Text, different from the Reading of the Septuagint $ of which I ihall have occafion to fay more hereafter. Of this Bifhop Pearfon has given feveral Inftances in his excellent Preface.
We find like various Readings (though not fo many as to whole Sentences or Periods,) in the Greek Copies of the New-Teftament, „which Dr Mills cofle&ed from all the Ma-nufcripts he could procure the Sight of, and which he publifhed in his excellent Edition at Oxford\ 1707. To give an Inftance of one or two confiderable ones. The Doxo-
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