Page images
PDF
EPUB

Whether from reverential feeling towards Luther as the great Reformer, or to save themselves trouble, they certainly seem to have made their translation, principally if not intirely from his German translation, and like Chinese painters have faithfully copied his errors.

Whatever may have been Luther's motive, he has invariably

Luke. Chap. 10.

gave them to the Oost."

John. Chap. 12.

given to the poore."

66

Upon the next daye whan he departed he toke out two pens and

Why was not this Oyntment solde for thre hundreth pens and

But as an additional proof to show how closely Coverdale has translated from Luther, I will refer to the seventh verse of the third chapter of Genesis, where in our Bibles we read" and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons," this being in exact conformity with Coverdale's words " and sowed fygge leaves together and made them Apurns," these same words are also to be found in that which is called Matthewes Bible of 1538 being an improved Edition of that of 1537. The like expressions also appear in the other Bibles such as Taverner's, Becke's, &c. &c. But in the Biblia Hebraica of Montanus the latin words placed over each of the hebrew words run thus "Et consuerunt folia ficus et fecerunt sibi Cingulos” and in the Vulgate the words are consuerunt folia ficus et fecerunt sibi perizomata,” the plain and unaffected translation of which would naturally be " and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves girdles," this last being a word understood by every body. I was therefore not a little curious to find out why Coverdale had employed the word Apron, and suspecting from other circumstances that he had taken it from Luther, I referred to this latter's German Bible and there found the very words " und machten ihnen Schürtze” and made themselves aprons.

66

Now there could not be any reason why this deviation was made from the original text by Luther, for all the German people would have understood the word Gürtel as readily as we understand the English word Girdle, and consequently the marginal note "or things to gird about" which we find placed opposite the word aprons in many of the English Bibles published since that of Coverdale, would not have been required. Even if they had employed a general phrase such as " and they made themselves coverings" it would have been better than the word aprons, for this last seems to have suggested another reading, which by every body is regarded as truly ludicrous," and they made themselves breeches," as may be seen in the Bible called on this account the Breeches' Bible "Imprinted at London by the Deputies of Christopher Barker Printer to the Queenes most excellent Majestie. Anno 1597.

translated the latin word Denarius by the German word Groschen, which is a small German coin;* for instance in the parable of the good Samaritan he thus translates, v. 35 Luke, chap. 10-" Des andern Tages reisete er und zog heraus zween Groschen und gab sie dem Wirth," and the three hundred Denarii mentioned by St. John he translates “ Drey hundert Groschen," three hundred Groschen; perhaps he thought that the German people would not understand the meaning of the word Denarius, and he therefore substituted Groschen with which they were well acquainted; but if the English translators had adopted the word Groschen, the people of England would not have understood it, and therefore with equal inaccuracy they substituted the word Penny.

In many Editions of the English Bible there is a marginal note stating that the Roman Penny, as they chuse to call it, was the 8th part of an ounce of silver, and was worth sevenpence halfpenny of our money; this, if attended to, serves in some measure to correct the error as to value, but affords no sort of excuse for copying Luther's translation, and for attempting to translate the word Denarius, which being the specific name of a coin is not translatable. Even the Greeks did not attempt to translate it, and yet if they had thought proper to have substituted the word Drachma for Denarius, there would have been something like an approximation to the truth, for the Attic Drachma and the Roman Denarius were in weight and value so nearly alike, that the Greek Physicians when they came to practice at Rome, employed the Denarius as a weight for their medicines, in place of the Attic Drachma to which they had been accustomed when in their own country.

The Denarius was the chief silver coin of the Romans, and in

* In different parts of Germany the Groschen differs in value from, to the 36th part of a dollar varying from about two pence three farthings to one penny and a half.

с

weight was the seventh part of the Roman ounce, equal to about 62 grains 4-7ths or in round numbers sixty two grains;* this was the Denarius coined in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, but subsequent depreciations took place down to the reign of Vespasian, when eight Denarii were coined from one ounce of silver. In the time of Christ the Denarius was of the higher value, and may be estimated at not less than seven pence three farthings of our money, a pound therefore of the Ointment of Spikenard being valued at 300 Denarii, would be worth £9. 13s. 9d. a large sum in a cheap country like Palestine, where, Mr. Tillemont and other writers assert, that a person in those times might live luxuriously on one Denarius per day, and it therefore follows that the two Denarii stated in the parable to have been given by the good Samaritan, being equal to fifteen pence halfpenny of our money, were fully adequate to supply the wounded man with all requisite nourishment and comfort for more than two days, when he probably would have recovered from the injuries he had sustained and would be enabled to resume his journey.

From all that has been stated concerning the Ointment of Spikenard, it is not surprising that its price should have been great, and we accordingly always find it denominated "precious or costly" by the Ancients. The Oil as prepared by the natives of Malvah is also costly, and if the tradition preserved amongst them respecting the distillation of it can be relied upon, and there does not seem any reason why it should be doubted, we may justly suspect, that the art of distillation was known and was practised by the natives of Hindostan long before it was known by the Arabians, who have generally been supposed to have invented it, but undoubtedly the Arabians borrowed much from other nations, and especially from the people of India, without acknowledging

* Arbuthnot, Tables of Ancient Coins; and Hooper on Ancient Measures, &c.

[ocr errors]

their prior claims excepting to the invention of the game of chess and of modern arithmetic.*

It must however be allowed, that much is due to the Arabians for their eminent services in promoting the advancement of science, and Europe derived much advantage from this, for in the 13th century Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus cultivated the sciences, especially chemistry, being, as Bishop Watson observes, probably incited thereto by the perusal of some Arabic books which about that time were translated into Latin, and in fact those two monks, especially Bacon, seem to have as far exceeded the common standard of learning of the age in which they lived, as any philosophers who have appeared in any country either before their time or since.

In those dark ages the small portion of literature and science possessed by some of the European nations had taken refuge in the cloysters, but it is remarkable that whilst the people in general were plunged in gross ignorance and barbarism, a very different scene was exhibited in the residence and at the Court of the Caliphs at Bagdad.

During the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of their subjects were chiefly confined to the interpretation of the Koran and to the cultivation of eloquence and poetry, but when the Caliphate became possessed by the Abbassides, a very material change took place, and profane science as it was called was sought for, and was cherished with intense curiosity and ardor.

* Maxime Planude, moine comme Barlaam, fit quelque chose de plus utile en expliquant a ses compatriotes les principes de notre arithmetique moderne, son ouvrage qui existe manuscrit dans diverses Bibliotheques étoit intitulé Ψηφογορια κατα Ινδές, ἢ μeyaλñ deyeraι logistica secundum Indos quæ Magna dicitur ; car c'est des Indiens comme nous le remarquerons ailleurs, et par l'entremise des Arabes, que nous tenons cette ingenieuse invention.

Le Moine Planude écrivoit dans le 13me siecle.

Histoire des Mathematiques par J. F. Montucla. Toine I. pp. 344-345 and 376.

They were encouraged in these pursuits by the Caliph Almansor and by the celebrated Haroun Al-Raschid, but when, as Mr. Gibbon observes, the sceptre devolved to Al-Mamon, the Seventh Caliph of the Race of the Abbassides, "He completed the designs of his grandfather (Almansor) and invited the Muses from their ancient seats. His ambassadors at Constantinople, his agents in Armenia, Syria and Egypt, collected the volumes of Grecian Science (and we may truly say of other nations); at his command they were translated by the most skilful interpreters into the Arabic language; his subjects were exhorted assiduously to peruse these instructive writings, and the successor of Mahomet assisted with pleasure and modesty at the assemblies and disputations of the learned."

[ocr errors]

It is therefore not surprising that persons eminent for learning, invited by the liberality and affability of Al-Mamon, flocked to the court of that accomplished and amiable Sovereign.t

* "Les Mathematiques en general, et surtout l'Astronomie lui eurent des obligations particulieres. Les Arabes lui doivent la première traduction en leur langue de presque tous les Mathematiciens Grecs. Al-Mamon fut même fort versé en Astronomie, suivant les Historiens, on lui attribue une Observation de l'obliquité de l'Ecliptique. Ce fut sous ses auspices qu'on mèsura la terre avec plus d'exactitude qu'on n'avoit fait jusqu' alors. Cette belle operation fut executée dans une plaine immense sur les bords de la Mer Rouge. Des Géometres habiles mèsurerent par ses ordres la coudée a la main une étendue d'un Degré du Meridien, qu'on trouva de 56 milles dont chacun contient 4000 coudées. Quoique l'ignorance ou nous sommes du rapport de ces mèsures avec les nôtres rende ce travail infructueux pour nous, il ne laisse pas d'être memorable."-Moreri, Dictionnaire Historique.

+ "Quod ad naturam ejus (Al-Mamunis) attinet, fuit omni modo excellens, liberalis, magnæ clementiæ, et boni regiminis, neque inter Abbassidas fuit quisquam eo eruditior, nec præstantior."-Georgius El-Macin Historia Saracenica, Lib. II, p. 139.

"Mamun Ben Rasched amabat scientias et sapientes ac viros celebres: ejus tempore translati sunt multi libri ex Greca lingua in linguam Arabicam."-Rabbi Abraham Sachur, libro Inchasin, vide L'Histoire de la Philosophie Hermetique par Langlet du Fresnoy, Tom. I. p. 69.

"Ex dictis constat Philosophiæ inter Arabes cultæ vera et aperta initia ad Al

« PreviousContinue »