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We find ourselves in possession of a book, called the Bible, claiming to be inspired truth. As we have held this book in our possession from our earliest recollections, we may naturally inquire for its origin. Certainly, it was not originated by our own minds, neither was it coeval with the world's existence.
For all information of this character, we must resort to human testimony, though by so doing we are not to relinquish our own judgment, since it is our judgment that determines what testimony is worthy of credence, and what is not.
Our own reason determines that the general accounts we have of England, and that Bancroft's History of the United States are substantially true, and the same faculty determines that fictitious histories of fairy lands are not
true. A reliance upon human testimony does not, therefore, imply a renunciation of our own rational faculties, which we must ever regard as the standard by which we are to examine all subjects.
If we consider any department of knowledge, we shall find ourselves greatly indebted to our predecessors. The Phænecians were the inventors of alphabetic writing, the Arabians of figures, and the Chaldeans of astronomical tables; and this book, which purports to be a revelation from heaven, has been handed down to us by our ancestors.
Now if in showing how we have come into possession of the Bible, we give only such proofs as no sane mind would think of rejecting in any other case, we shall sufficiently refer it to the tribunal of the individual judgments of its readers. *
Let us now proceed to trace the Bible back to its original source.
1. Our first step in the process, is this; Our Bible is the self-same book, which was first printed under that
The Latin Bible, called the Vulgate, from the fact of its being translated into the language of the common people, was translated by Jerome A. D. 405, and was printed A. D. 1450–55. This was the first printed edition of the Bible.
The Bible was printed in Spanish, in 1478; German, 1522; French, 1535; Sweedish, 1541; Danish, 1550 ; Dutch, 1560; Russian, 1581; Hungarian, 1589; Polish, 1596.
* See Lecture in the Standard by which the Bible is to be examined.
The Bible was first translated into English by John Wickliffe, A. D. 1360. The Old Testament of this translation was never printed.
The first entire Bible, printed in English, was by Tyndal A. D. 1532. This Bible was revised by Coverdale and John Rogers, the martyr, and published A. D. 1537, being dedicated to Henry VII., and printed at Hamburgh. This is known by the name of Mather's Bible. It was printed by authority in England A. D. 1540; two years after which it was suppressed by the popish bishops, restored by Edward the VI., suppressed again by Mary, and again restored by Elizabeth.
Some English exiles at Geneva, made a new translation of the Bible, and published it A. D. 1560. This is called the Geneva Bible.
Archbishop Parker engaged learned men to make a translation of the Bible, which was published A. D. 1568. This is called the bishop's Bible.
The Roman Catholics published a translation of the New Testament Vulgate at Rheims A. D. 1584, and a translation of the Old Testament Vulgate A. D. 1609, at Doway. This is called the Doway Bible.
The last English Bible emanated from Hampton Court, under the patronage of James I., A. D. 1611. Fifty-four learned men were appointed by the King for this work A. D. 1604, but forty-seven of them, however, entered upon the work A. D. 1607, and their translation was published A. D. 1611. This is allowed by the learned of all countries to be one of the best, and most correct versions of the Bible.
Now many of these first printed Bibles are extant, and