19 AUGUST 1876, Page 21

The English Bible ; an External and Critical History of

the various English Translations of Scripture. By John Eadie, D.D. 2 vols. (Macmillan and Co.)—This is an interesting book, and not one only for professed students. Mach of it is well suited for an ordinary reader, of average intelligence and education. It is the history of our English Bible, and of the processes by which our Authorised Version was gradu- ally arrived at. It has been indeed, as Dr. Eadie says, "a varied, wonderful, and suggestive history," and it is most intimately bound up with the annals of England. Tyndale and Coverdale may be said to have laid the foundation of the work, for the translation of Wycliffe was merely a translation from a translation, and was based wholly on the Vulgate. Tyndale was burnt in 1536, in the Low Countries ; and Coverdale died in Elizabeth's reign, in comparative poverty. It is to the latter that our Bible owes that beautiful rhythm which gives it such a charm, and which must be carefully retained, in any revision which is to find general acceptance. The Genevan version, made in the city in which Knox, Calvin, and Beza preached, was a special favourite with the Scotch, and was particularly distasteful to Archbishop Land. It had explanatory notes, which were extremely popular, and when it began to be suspended, the Scotch people com- plained "that they could not see into the sense of Scripture for lack of the spectacles of the Genevan annotations." Our existing version was, in fact, a revision, though one executed with the utmost care and with perpetual reference to the original languages. The propor- tion of Saxon to Latin words is, according to Dr. Eadie, 90 per cent., and it is, in his estimation, a translation of very high merit, his own country, he says, being dependent for its Bibles on foreign supplies, and with all its religions earnestness, failing to produce a native ver- sion. He gives us an interesting list of Hebrew phrases, which are now imbedded in our language, such as "Father of lights," "Son of righteousness," "Man of sorrows," &c., and notes that the familiar phrase, "Rock of Ages," ought to have been substituted for the feebler rendering, "everlasting strength," in Isaiah xxvi., 4. It appears that some American writers have imputed to the translators a wish to flatter King James by the words, "God save the king," a phrase which, they say, "is at war with all of God's revelations on kingly governments." They go so far as to suggest that the King himself was the final reviser of our Authorised Version. Unluckily for their theory, Dr. Eadie points out that the offending phrase was found both in the Bishop's Bible and the Genevan. There is not much ground, he thinks, for charging the revisers with ecclesiastical predilections or prejudices. From this point of view he regards it as a thoroughly honest piece of work. Most persons, we think, will agree with him. On the subject of revision be speaks sensibly. It is, as he says, quite in accordance with the whole history of the Bible that from time to time an emended version should be published. He gives us a multitude of specimens to show the de- sirableness of revision. He quite differs from his fellow-countryman, Dr. Cumming, who some time ago warned people against it, on the ground that "it would give the advantage to heterodox parties in the religious world." Dr. Eadie is a man of stronger faith, and asks, very pertinently,whether orthodoxy depends on mistranslation or an unrevised version. Better, he says, to have the work systematically done, than "inn spasmodic, intermittent" fashion. Hardly any part of his two volumes is without interest, and the latter part of the second, in which this subject of revision is discussed, is particularly good.