Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

did quarto edition of the Greek text, with Latin translation, apparatus, fragments of Ctesias, etc., issued by Firmin Didot at Paris in 1855.

We are glad to see Herodotus thus honored. Scarcely any writer of classical antiquity so takes hold on the heart of the scholar like a dear, familiar, gossipping, household friend. To the student of the Bible he is especially valuable. His position in society, and his wealth, gave him easy and safe access, in his extensive travels, to all the nations of antiquity which are most connected with the Bible history; while his untiring curiosity, his insatiable thirst for knowledge, his easy, genial temper, and his fine poetic taste, fitted him admirably for the position which he assumed as the historiographer of the old world. Of the several versions of any story which he heard in his travels, he generally adopts that one which is the most interesting, and sets it forth with a simplicity and beauty rarely approached except by the historical writers of the Old Testament. No doubt his good nature was sometimes imposed upon by -those who amused them* selves by taxing the credulity of the inquisitive, and doubtless sometimes rather troublesome, traveller; but he had a solid basis of good sense and sound judgment notwithstanding, and all thorough-going investigation tends to confirm his reliability as a historian. He comes much nearer the Bible narratives than either Ctesias or Xenophon ; and all the recent discoveries of Layard, Rawlinson, Wilkinson, and others, establish the substantial truthfulness of the Bible and Herodotus, and show that the actual romancing is with Ctesias and Xenophon and those who rely upon them.

The illustrations in these volumes, by Sir Henry Rawlinson from Western Asia, and by Sir J. G. Wilkinson from Egypt, are invaluable to the biblical student. By some of them we are a little startled, and inclined to hesitate before we yield our full belief. Nearly forty years ago Sir Robert Ker Porter brought from Mesopotamia to England an antique cylinder with an inscription which no one was then able to read. Sir Henry Rawlinson now deciphers it and finds it to be the identical signet of Urukh, king of Elam, the great-grandfather of Chedorlaomer, the chief of the confederate kings mentioned in the 14th chapter of Genesis (vol. I. p. 485-6). He also finds inscriptions of Chedorlaomer himself. He moreover suggests the identity of this ancient oriental conqueror, to whom Abraham first taught the lesson of defeat, with the hero of Arabic tradition, Kedar-el-Ahmar, or Kedar the Red; a red-haired hero, therefore, like Frederick Barbarossa or William Rufus. We have also, in these volumes, a sort of autobiography of Nebuchadnezzar corresponding with the Book of Daniel, and perhaps a notice of the haughty monarch's seven years' Lycanthropy (vol. I p. 516. vol. II. p. 585 cf.). Whatever credence we may give or withhold in respect to details like these, to every classical and biblical scholar the whole work is full of interest and instruction.

[ocr errors]

2. — Riggs's Manual Of The Chaldee Language.'

Ave hail, with great pleasure, the appearance of the second edition of Dr. Riggs's Chaldee Manual. The author has availed himself, he tells us, of" whatever seemed to be improvements in Prof.-Winer's second edition" of his Chaldee Grammar, and has also incorporated numerous manuscript notes of his own, made during an interval of more than a quarter of a century. To the Appendix of the first edition, containing a brief view of the Rabbinic dialect, is added, in the present edition, a similar view of the Samaritan, with full references, in both cases, to the authors who have written on these dialects.

The Manual before us unites brevity with accuracy and sufficient fulness for all students who an; well grounded in the knowledge of the Hebrew. A Chaldee Chrcstomathy is appended to it, containing notes on all the Biblical Chaldee, with extracts from the Targums, accompanied by notes. To these is added a Chaldee Vocabulary. Thus the Hebrew student is furnished with the means of introducing himself to the knowledge of a cognate dialect, which will richly repay the moderate amount of labor and expense required to master it. The typographical execution of the work is of a high order, and we must heartily wish it may have the effect of giving a new impulse to the pursuit of this important branch of Biblical Literature.

3. — Bush's Notes On Numbers.

We have examined with care the specimen pages that have been s>xt us of Prof. Bush's forth-coming Notes on Numbers. If we may judge from these, they fully sustain the reputation which he acquired many years since by his Notes on Genesis. They exhibit the same copiousness and thoroughness of research, and are, like them, free from all leaven of modern rationalism. Though one may not be able to assent to every particular interpretation (which is more than could reasonably be expected in any commentary on the writings of Moses), he is sure to find everywhere much interesting and instructive matter. We find in these pages no traces of Prof Bush's peculiar views as a New Churchman; and we are assured that his plan throughout is to deal exclusively with the letter and its moral suggestions, without any infusion of the leaven of the peculiar doctrines just referred to. In this matter he has acted wisely. We trust that the present volume will have, like those which have preceded it, an extensive circulation; and we hope the author will be enabled to add notes on the remaining book of Deuteronomy in the same general style.

1 A Manual of the Chiildcc Language: containing a Chaldee Grammar, chiefly from the German of Professor G. B. Winer; a Chrcstomathy, consisting of selections from the Targums, nnd including Notes on the Biblical Chahlcr; and a Vocabulary, adapted to the Chrestomathy. With an Appendix on the Rabbinic and Samaritan Dialects. By Elias Riggs. D. D. Second edition, revised. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph, 683 Broadway. London: Sampson Low and Son. 1858. 8vo. pp.152.

THE

BIBLIOTIIECA SACRA,

No. r, x.

AND

BIBLICAL REPOSITORY.

No. XCII.

OCTOBER, 1858.

ARTICLE I.
MESHAKAH ON SCEPTICISM.1

Introduction.

The old records of Assyria are being disentombed and read by Biblical scholars with eager interest; but the buried intellect of the East, also, being raised from the grave of centuries, is no less worthy of our regard. As Christians, we have a special interest in the converts brought to Jesus by our missionaries; and it is a duty we owe no less to ourselves than to them, that we become acquainted with the living stones there built up a spiritual house, and their agency in still further advancing the kingdom of our Lord. It may benefit, also, any surviving remnants of that class who used to think any one fit to be a missionary, to take the measure of one of the minds with which they have to deal;

1 A Treatise entitled: An Argument on the Weakness of Man, written by Mikhael Mcshaknh of Damascus. Prov. 3: 7 and 5: "Be not wise in thine own eyes, and lean not unto thine own understanding." Job 38:33: "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?7' Beirut, 1853. — The date is inserted here for convenience of reference. In the original, as in Arabic generally, it is placed at the foot of the last page in the book.

Vol. XV. No. 60. 59

and it may do no harm to young America to learn that there is some intellect in the world besides the Anglo-Saxon.

The writer of the following treatise, Mikhael (Michael), son of Joorjis (George), son of Ibrahim (Abraham), Meshakah the Lcbanonite, or, more briefly, Mikhael Meshakah, was born in Damascus in the year 1800, and by birth and baptism was a member of the Greek Catholic church, which is the name of that portion of the ancient Eastern church that has given in its adhesion to the pope of Rome. He was descended from a noble family, and his father held an honorable office under the government of Mount Lebanon. At the age of fourteen, under the tuition of a relative who had been taught by the French, in Egypt, under Bonaparte, he made considerable proficiency in algebra, geometry, astronomy, and the natural sciences.

This education, while it elevated his views of the Creator, led him to despise the unscriptural practices and traditionary errors of his sect; and, as he knew nothing of a spiritual Christianity, he learned to look upon all religion as a contrivance of the more intelligent to secure the control of the ignorant masses. The result of an examination of the books of the various sects around him, was the conviction that all were alike corrupt, and that nothing more was required of him than that, rising above the empty show got up to impress the vulgar, he should be upright and benevolent according to the light of nature. Still, to avoid offence, he attended church and conformed externally to ecclesiastical requirements.

In 1821 Jonas King, D. D. was the guest of his father, in Deir el komr, the capital of Mount Lebanon; but though the missionary conversed much with others, he seems to have overlooked our author, who did not dare to bring forward his own difficulties lest he should be shunned as an infidel by the bigots of the town. While the arguments addressed to them wholly failed to meet his case, still the intelligence and kind forbearance of the missionary with their ignorance and rudeness, as compared with the spirit of the native priests, did not fail to be observed and to leave a good impression.

It was some time after this, and when he had again returned to Damascus, where he has since been engaged in the practice of medicine with great success, that among other issues of the mission presses at Malta, a translation of Keith on the Prophecies fell into his hands. At first he was disposed to laugh at the idea of any one soberly undertaking to defend a system so full of falsehood and folly as that which he had hitherto known as the Christian religion. The preface, however, disposed him to read the book with candor; and, with his Bible lying open before him, constantly turning to every passage referred to, he studied the book through three times in the course of a single month. Nor did he leave it till he was fully satisfied that the Bible was an inspired revelation from God. He now saw the danger of the path in which he had been straying, and thanked God that, instead of cutting him off in his unbelief, he had, by means of this book, rescued him forever from its power. He longed also to see the author, that he might tell him in person how much he owed him. This last wish was gratified when, in a subsequent visit to Syria, Dr. Keith became his guest in Damascus.

But, though satisfied that the Christian religion was from God, he was still at a loss to know precisely what that religion was. Like many others, he was much perplexed by the multiplicity of sects, though the difficulty presented itself to him in a different light from that in which it usually appears with us. He saw one part of the papal church selecting a saint to be its special intercessor with God, who was counted a son of perdition by another portion of the same church. Different sects, too, claimed the authority of the same Fathers of the church, for opinions and practices very far apart, if not directly opposed to one another.

In this state of mind, desiring light from all quarters, he providentially became acquainted with some of our missionaries; and, having collected the publications of our mission press, that had been removed from Malta to Beirut, he carefully compared them with papal works written on the other side. The result was, that he found everything which had for

« AnteriorContinuar »