Imagens das páginas

It is now generally acknowledged that this story is a fable. It is surprising that critics like Ussher, Vossius, and Walton, should ever have believed it genuine ; for, not to mention its general absurdity--which would only enhance its value in some eyesmit bears obvious marks of its forgery. It contradicts the account of Demetrius, as given by Hermippas, in Diogenes Laertius. Aristeas professes to be a heathen in this story, and yet writes as a Jew. There were six translators for each tribe, but the ten tribes had perished long before. It was not probable that a man like Demetrius Phalereus would serve as a scribe to a company of Jewish translators; much less that he, whom Cicero calls a most accomplished

orator," would write a letter in such execrable Greek as this which pretends to come from him ; nor is it less improbable that Ptolemy should expend so large a sum in purchasing the freedom of the Hebrew slaves, and sending presents to Jerusalem, solely for the sake of getting a copy of the Law of Moses in the Greek tongue.

The argument for the genuineness of this document rests chiefly on the testimony of Josephus and Epiphanius, both of whom cite the originál of Aristeas, but both, and particularly the latter, have altered the text: and, besides, they wrote so long after the alleged date of the original, that their testimony has no authority to determine the point. The passage in Eusebius is of little value. “ Before the time of Demetrius Phalereus, before the dominion of Alexander and "the Persians, part of our holy books were translated, namely, those which relate

the departure of our Hebrew nation out of Egypt, and an account of all the “wonderful things that happened to them—the conquest of the land, and the recep« tion of the Law. But the whole translation of all that relates to the Law was "made under Ptolemy Philadelphus-Demetrius Phalereus taking charge of the " whole matter."

It seems probable that this fable of Aristeas was written by a Palestine Jew, who wished to exalt the honour of the Law, and of his native land. But his fiction is so clumsily executed that the imposture is seen through on all sides. Philo, an Egyptian Jew, knew nothing of this treatise; but Josephus cites it as well known and authentic. . It is possible that this fable may contain somewhat that is true respecting the occasion and date of this version ; but, in the maiu point, that learned Palestine Jews were its authors, it is refuted by the character of the version itself. This remains the most certain, that it was made by Alexandrian Jews, who were induced to undertake it by the want of such a version.

Eichhorn indulges in the following account of the origin of this version, which, in the midst of many conjectures, may contain much that is true. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Jews whom he had conducted to Egypt remained there in great numbers, especially in Alexandria. They cnjoyed their ancient usages and laws. They bad synagogues, and probably a Sanhedrim. A knowledge of Hebrew was soon lost, and a version in the vernacular tongue became needed. Both the Jews and the Samaritans claim the honour of making the translation. But, at this distance of time, it is not possible to determine, by historical testimony, which party effected what both desired to accomplish. However, since the Jews and the Samaritans had such a cordial hatred for one another at that time, it is plain each party would only translate from its own manuscripts of the Scriptures. "Now the Alexandrian version of the Pentateuch agrees with the Samaritan copy, in a multitude of passages, much better than with the Hebrew. From this and other considerations, it would seem most probable that a Samaritan manuscript was at the basis of the version. But, on the other hand, there are passages which the Hebrew, but not with the Samaritan. It is the conjecture of some scholars, that the version was originally made by Samaritans, and afterwards partially corrected by the Jews. Perhaps it was revised and improved by the Egyptian Sanhedrim, of seventy-two members, and thus a foundation laid for the story of Aristeas.

But this is purely conjecture ; and, besides, the agreement between this version and the Samaritan codex, where it has peculiar readings, is not so striking or im.

agree with

portant as Eichorn alleges, and may be accounted for on the hypothesis that the ancient Hebrew text, from which this Greek version was made, was free from some of the errors of the present llebrew text, which are not found in the Samaritan codex at this day.

Ptolemy Soter made a large collection of Greek books at Alexandria ; his successor, Philadelphus, enlarged it. From the epilogue to the Greek version of Esther, we see that it was made in the time of Ptolemy Philomater: and, from this fact, it seems probable the other books were already in the hands of the Ptolemies. Plutarch relates that Demetrius Phalereus had advised Ptolemy Soter to make a collection of all the writings of law-givers and statesmen, of course including the works of Moses. This is confirmed by the testimony of Ælian, who says, Demetrius, in company with Ptolemy, worked upon a code of laws for the Egyptians. Не would naturally apply to the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem or Egypt for a copy of these laws. Now, if there were a translation already made, it would probably come into his hands ; but, if there were none, the Sanhedrim would probably permit one to be made, or appoint competent men to make it. The version might well enough be called that of the seventy, or of the seventy-two, the number of members in the Sanhedrim. This conjecture is, in some measure, confirmed by the statement of the Talmud, that five Jews were appointed to collect the fragmentary versions of the Law into one whole, to revise and complete the work. This was, perhaps, begun under Ptolemy Soter, and completed under Philadelphus.

On the authority of some ancient writers-of Clement, Irenæus, and Eusebius, who date this version from the time of Ptolemy Soter-IIody places it in the joint administration of Ptolemy Soter and Philadelphus, about 286 or 285 B.C.

The opinion that there was an earlier fragmentary version,-made for the use of the synagogues, -which lay at the basis of the new version, is highly probable. According to the story of Aristobulus, there was a Greek version of the Pentateuch before the time of the Persians. One writer thinks it was made in the time of Amasis, contemporary with Solon; another declares it is older than Homer and Hesiod; "for they drew from the Jewish Scriptures.” Aristobulus, however, as well as later writers, had a special interest in proving the Greek philosophers were indebted to the Jews for all their divine wisdom, and therefore invents the fable. But this original version was unknown to Josephus, Philo, or even Aristeas. Walton cites the authorities who believe in the earlier version. But most of them rely chiefly on the authority of Aristobulus, or adopt this opinion to account for the “livine wisdom” of the Greeks. Walton himself thinks the Seventy made the earliest version; but still there is good reason to believe in the existence of a previous fragmentary translation.

There is a fabulous story in Abul Phataclı’s Samaritan Chronicle respecting the Alexandrian version, as follows: “In the tenth year of his reign, Ptolemy Phila

delphus directed his attention to the contradictions between the Samaritans and “the Jews respecting the Law; for the Samaritans refused to receive any of the pretended writings of the prophets, except the Law. To inform himself on this

point, the king sent for the Jews and the Samaritans, and desired to hear the “elders of both parties in this controversy. Osar came to Alexandria on the part of “the Jews, Aaron on that of the Samaritans, each attended with several assistants. Quarters were assigned them, with directions to remain separate from ore another;

a Greek servant was appointed to each person, to write down the expected trans“lation. In this way the Samaritans translated the Law and the other books.

Ptolemy examined it, and was satisfied that the Law, as the Samaritans possessed it, contained matter not to found in the Jewish copy, and that their text was

purer than that of the Jews." The Samaritans say the world was darkened for three days after the version was made.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Printed by W. Ostell, Ilart-street, Bloomsbury.

[blocks in formation]




THE RECTOR ATTENDING MANY SERVICES. ALTHOUGII, as the reader is aware, the visit of Lester to London was suddenly resolved upon, still it is not to be overlooked that he had long desired an opportunity of hearing the great metropolitan preachers, partly with the view of learning how it was they managed to influence their congregations, to the extent attributed to them in the religious journals, and partly to have his growing doubts dispelled. It had occurred to him that the great divines of the age would be able to render clear and satisfactory reasons for remaining in the Church. Lately, it frequently happened at Crosswood, that strange ministers, visiting in the neighbourhood, occupied his own and other pulpits, and when he was not officiating he invariably attended their services-devoutly listening and eagerly attending to their arguments; but none of them satisfied his cravings, or came up to his standard of excelleuce. Neither as readers, thinkers, nor orators, did they meet his demands; but the idea was constantly present to his mind, that, if he could but spend one month in London, to attend the leading churches, or even chapels, for he had no clerical pride or narrowness, he should not fail to hear men who would surpass all that he imagined possible. And now that the favourable moment had arrivedl, although his hopes had been crushed, and his heart was wracked by the threatened loss of Mary, he was delighted by the nearness of the realisation of his wishes. Probably he hoped to be reconverted— hojed to be convinced by the eloquent ones that his new ideas were false, and that those which he was fast abandoning were alone worthy of credit. His heart still clave to the thought that Mary would be his, and yet he neither hoped that she would marry him as a sceptic, nor dreamt of pretending to believe those narratives and doctrines which his reason did not approve. In a brief interview with Ella, before leaving; he had said, VOL, VI. NEW SERIES. Vol. II.

2 A

“I shall never disguise the sorrow I feel, or attempt to deny my real feelings, still, I shall not give way to mourning, neither shall I hate the world for my failure, yet if I can find my way back to the old faith I shall gladly do so, and then claim my bride ; but if that cannot be honourably done, then I shall give up all thoughts of marrying, and devote myself to such works as will contribute to the happiness of others. I will not waste my days in vain regrets, neither will I have to answer at the great inquest, that because I had been wronged I neglected to perform my duty unto others.”

Ella heard this with mingled feelings, for she knew that although the fires of grief were not seen burning, they were not extinguished. Lester had spoken firmly, almost calmly, but, as was usual with him, he felt within what could not be expressed in words, and she, who had studied him so closely, was not deceived by the seeming coolness with which he made known his plans.

To Barrington be said nothing of what had so recently occurred, so that all along the road they conversed as freely as it was their custom to do, but when at length, late the next day, they reached the great city, Lester was too much exhausted, both in mind and body, to take that walk through the leading thoroughfares which had been agreed upon. The day following he was so weak and feverish that medical aid was sought; it was, however, not within the reach of science to furnish the healing balm. That was supplied by himself, for with the flight of the hours he gradually acquired a complete mastery over his feelings, and on the third day he was sufficiently “recovered” to be able to go forth upon a rambling expedition.

The business which had drawn Barrington to London was likely to detain him not less than three weeks, yet it did not exhaust much of his tiine, seeing that on the average


gave only about one hour a day to the lawyer. Thus the two friends were free to visit all the remarkable sights, scenes, and public buildings, and, upon condition that Lester would pay a few visits to the Opera and a leading theatre, Barrington consented to be his companion in visiting those Churches and Chapels in which shone the great lights of the modern pulpit. This matter being settled, it was decided that on the following morning they should repair to a church in the city where a popular preacher was to preach a Charity Sermon. The church was already full when they arrived, but, by means of a piece of silver, they were introduced to a seat near the communion rails, where they managed to live through the painful infliction of listening to the Morning Service, which was read in a galloping style that baffles description. After this the preacher, a young and fine manly looking person, ascended the pulpit, to preach from the text,

Charity hideth a multitude of sins." There was almost a commotion in the building, for he who stood before the congregation was not the "popular man ;" that gentleman, through a throat affection, was unable to preach, but when the announcement was made there was a great rustling of silk, and many half-rose, as if it was their intention to leave. In this they were checked by the speaker, who, in a mild but firm voice, added, “Remembering that this is the house of God, and not an exhibition ; and remembering, also, that the aim of this service is to move your hearts in favour of a deserving charity, you will retain your seats, while I invite your attention to the text, and endeavour to show how it is that Charity covereth so many of our sins." He was so evidently in earnest that all stayed, and although the sermon was neither brilliantly composed, nor theatrically delivered, it was one of the finest that had been delivered in a London pulpit for many years past: In one portion of his discourse the preacher said,


“Do not be too ready to describe your actions, your subscriptions, or your donations, as charitable. Men frequently confound a just payment to the poor and distressed with what they call a loan to the Lord. Be sure that you have previously done your duty unto men before boasting of what you have given them in charity: Rich men imagine that all the money they annually subscribe to hospitals and reformatories is so much lent unto God, the gum total of which is to cover a multitude of their miserable sins in unfair bargaining, short-weight, and starvation wages. Brethren, be not ye thus far deceived. If you would know the truth, first ask yourselves if the poor who delve and spin, who fight and build, have been properly compensated for their labour. Do you, when bargaining with a workman, consider the amount he ought to have, or the sum for which you can get the job done by another workman? If the latter be your law, and I am sure it is, then the former must be evaded, and you are strictly in debt to those persons in the amounts thus reduced from their wages. How often have you discharged one man, unto whom you paid, say, one pound a week, to take on another, purely out of charity,' who would do the work for fifteen shillings? How frequently have you employed a poor man to do five shillings' worth of work for half-a-crown? This, too, you considered to be charitable, and treated the man as if you were his benefactor. But what tyranny can be greater than that of making the hunger and poverty of men the means of their depression and slavery? He who looks upon the wan face and tattered garments, upon the hunger-marked countenance and poor thin frame, as furnishing a reason for paying something more than the usual price may, without blushing, think of being charitable

, but such persons are unhappily too rare, for, as a rule, men make a profit out of the misery of their fellow mortals. Let the poor properly remunerated and there will not be half the claims upon our charity which are now so eagerly pressed. And can any of us honestly say that they who create all our means of comfort are fairly rewarded ? Have we deserved to possess them? What is it that we have done which justifies us in laying claim to the clothing, shelter, and food, which is ours, and from which they who produced them are shut out? If to-day I press you to give largely of your private stores, it is not that you may be able to walk the streets proudly saying, Behold, I have generously given medicine and food to the afflicted, but that you should have less cause to be ashamed when you see the poor and needy, and remember how much of theirs you wrongfully retain. It is justice and restitution for which I plead, and they have little to do with that charity which is to cover so many of our sins.”

What that charity consisted of the preacher did not fail to show, but it was evident, as he proceeded, that bis discourse was displeasing to the majority. And when the people were going out, a dean-hatted divine, bidding farewell to some carriage friends, said, “ Ah! all that about justice, charity, and restitution, will not help him on in the Church.”

“No,” said Barrington, loudly; " for nowadays the Church rewards dumb dogs and dandies, not earnest andhonest men.

Lester was astonished at his companion's breach of etiquette, and yet admiring it, he said, "I should like to know that man ; for, of all that I have heard, he is the master both of matter and manner.”

“Yes," said Barrington, "and, if you remain twenty years in London, I feel sure you will not meet with his equal.”

"But we can hear him again, there is that consolation." “Don't make too sure of that; he is not the man who is likely to be

« AnteriorContinuar »