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George R. Noyes, The New Testament: Translated from the Greek text of Tischendorf, by George R. Noyes, D.D. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1869. Reprinted several times by the same publisher, and made available on the internet at archive.org in 2009.
George Rapall Noyes (1798-1868) was a Professor of Hebrew and Lecturer on Biblical Literature at Harvard University. He published annotated translations of many Old Testament books prior to the publication of his New Testament: Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles appeared in 1828, Psalms and Proverbs in 1830, and the Prophets in 1833. Afterwards he published revised editions of all these. His version of the New Testament was at the printer when he died in 1868, and it was seen through the press with some editorial alterations by a Harvard colleague, Ezra Abbott.
His New Testament is not a fresh translation, but a revision of the King James Version, in which he has conformed the version to the latest editions of Tischendorf’s Greek text, and has made a number of small alterations in the rendering. The revision is somewhat less literal than the King James, and a bit more interpretation is worked into the text, but it is not what we would call a paraphrase. It is more literal than most versions published in the twentieth century, including the Revised Standard Version, but less literal than the English Revised Version of 1881 or the American Standard Version of 1901. The revision is very conservative. Probably most scholars of his day would have made many more changes than he did.
It is said that Noyes was a Unitarian, but we do not find an obvious Unitarian bias in the version. Unlike some other Unitarian translators in the early nineteenth century (e.g. Belsham and Kneeland), it was evidently not his purpose to promote Unitarian opinions and interpretations, but simply to provide a scholarly revision of the KJV that is “more intelligible” and “more critically accurate,” as he says in his Preface. Overall we must say that this is an honest and helpful revision. It is in a few places needlessly interpretive, and we would disagree with some of these interpretations, but the version is likely to be useful to the careful Bible students for whom it was intended.
Below we reproduce Noyes’ Preface, followed by a comparison with other versions in selected passages of dogmatic importance, and then a short review of his version published in The Baptist Quarterly in 1869.
In this translation I have strictly followed the text of Tischendorf’s eighth critical edition of the Greek Testament as far as it has been published, namely to Luke xviii. 9; then, to the end of the Gospel of John, that of the second edition of his Synopsis Evangelica, published in 1864, after he had collated the Codex Sinaiticus; and that of his seventh edition (1859) in the remainder of the New Testament. I have chosen this text in preference to that of Griesbach or Lachmann, partly because I consider it as on the whole the best, and partly because I believe that it is so considered by the majority of competent scholars throughout the world, and thus deserves, more than any other, to be regarded as the modern received text. It is fortunate that, so far as theological opinion is concerned, there is no ground of choice between the three editions which have been named. I do not speak of the splendid edition of Tregelles, because only three-fourths of it have been published.
It is hardly necessary to say that my judgment does not coincide with that of Tischendorf in regard to every reading. It cannot be expected that there should be a perfect uniformity of opinion in cases where the evidence, external and internal, is very evenly balanced. But for several reasons I have thought it best not to interpose my own judgment in regard to the Greek text in any instance. I am responsible only for the translation. Punctuation, however, is well known to be a matter of interpretation rather than of textual criticism; no punctuation marks of any consequence being found in the most ancient manuscripts. In this respect, therefore, I have occasionally used my right as translator; though I regard the punctuation of Tischendorf as in general very judicious.
I have also thought it inexpedient to depart from the Common Version in the arrangement of the General Epistles, namely, those of James, Peter, John, and Jude, which in Tischendorf’s edition come between the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul.
I request that every reader will bear in mind the Greek text which I have followed; otherwise some of my departures from the Common Version might seem to be unnecessary or arbitrary.
In regard to my translation, it is so difficult to state in few words the views and principles by which I have been guided, that I must leave it to speak for itself. I will merely say that it has been my aim to make a version more free from wholly or nearly obsolete words and phrases, more intelligible, more critically accurate, and on the whole even closer to the original than that of King James’s translators, though less incumbered with mere Greek and Hebrew idioms. I have endeavored, with what success it is not for me to say, to retain what may be called the savor and spirit of our old and familiar version, so far as is consistent with the paramount duties of a translator; and in doing this I have simply acted in conformity with my own judgment and taste.
Though mere professions of impartiality are deservedly held in light esteem, yet, as my book is published by the American Unitarian Association, it may not be wholly superfluous to state that my translation has not been supervised or corrected by any association, or by any authority whatever. Every word of it is the result of my own judgment, guided by universally acknowledged principles of scientific interpretation, without regard to creed or church. This does not mean, however, that I have not occasionally consulted with the accomplished Greek scholars of Cambridge, Professors Sophocles and Goodwin, as to the meaning of a word or a phrase. I would especially acknowledge my obligations to that thorough and accurate scholar, my friend Mr. Ezra Abbot, the assistant librarian of the University, who kindly offered his aid in looking over the proof-sheets; in the performance of which important service he also made many criticisms and suggestions, which have added much to the value of my translation. To the same gentleman I am indebted for access to a manuscript translation of the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and the Corinthians by that distinguished Biblical theologian, the late Professor Andrews Norton of our University. I have also had access to the most important translations of the whole or of parts of the New Testament in English, German, and French, and to the principal commentaries, ancient and modern.
References to the parallel passages in the four Gospels, and to those cited from the Old Testament, have been given in the margin, together with a few notes, containing some various readings, some renderings different from those in the text, and a few explanations of my own phraseology. But exposition, or interpretation, or argument, formed no part of my design. For this purpose another volume would have been required.
KJV: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Belsham: The Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
Belsham gives this note: “Jesus received a commission as a prophet of the Most High, and was invested with extraordinary miraculous powers. But, in the Jewish phraseology, they were called gods to whom the word of God came. John x. 35. So Moses is declared to be a god to Pharoah. Exod. vii. 1.”
Kneeland: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God.
Sharpe: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Noyes: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
KJV: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath decared him.
Belsham: No man hath seen God at any time; the only [Son] that is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Belsham explains the rendering of μονογενης as “only” in a note on verse 14: “This expression does not refer to any peculiar mode of derivation of existence, but is used to express merely a higher degree of affection. It is applied to Isaac, Heb. xi. 17, though Abraham had other sons. The same word in the Hebrew is translated indifferently μονογενης and αγαπητος. This word is applied to Christ by the evangelist John four times in the gospel, and once in his epistle: and by no other writer of the New Testament. In the epistle to the Hebrews it unquestionably signifies beloved or most beloved: and in this sense it is used by John, ch. i. 14, 18; iii. 16, 18; 1 John iv. 9. ‘He seems to adopt it,’ says Mr. Lindsey. (Seq. p. 139) ‘on all occasions where the other sacred writers would have said αγαπητος.’ Compare Matt. iii. 17; xvii. 5; Mark i. 11; ix. 7; xii. 6; Luke iii. 22; ix. 35. See Cappe, ibid. p. 94, and Grotius in loc. Mr. Lindsey obsenes, that ‘only begotten is most gross and improper language to be used in English, especially with respect to Deity.’ List of Wrong Translations, p. 46.”
Kneeland: No one hath seen God at any time; the well-beloved [Son] who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
For the rendering “well-beloved” Kneeland gives a note: “See the lengthy notes on this subject, in the improved version.” (i.e. in Belsham).
Sharpe: No one hath ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Noyes: No one hath ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath made him known.
KJV: And Thomas answered, and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Belsham: Thomas answered, and said unto him, My Lord, and my God!
Belsham has the note: “These words are usually understood as a confession. Beza says that they are an exclamation: q.d. My Lord! and my God! how great is thy power! Eph. 19, 20. Whitby’s Last Thoughts, 2d ed. p. 78. Newcome.”
Kneeland: Thomas answered, and said to him, “My Lord, and my God!”
Sharpe: Thomas answered and said to him; ‘My Lord, and my God!’
Noyes: Thomas answered and said to him, My Lord and my God!
KJV: … to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Belsham: … to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Belsham has this note: “The received text reads ‘God,’ upon the authority of no manuscript of note or value, nor of any version but the modern copies of the Vulgate. The Ethiopic uses an ambiguous expression; but this version is avowedly corrupted from the Vulgate; and particularly in this book. See Marsh's Michaclis, vol. ii. p. 96. The word ‘Lord’ is supported by all the most ancient and valuable manuscripts, whether of the Alexandrian or the Western edition; by the Coptic, Syriac, and other ancient versions, and by citations from the early ecclesiastical writers. See Griesbach's excellent note upon this text in his second edition.”
Kneeland: … to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Sharpe: … to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Noyes: … to feed the church of the Lord, which he purchased with his own blood.
KJV: … whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Belsham: … whose are the fathers, and of whom, by natural descent, Christ came. God, who is over all, be blessed for ever.
Belsham gives this note: “See Clarke on the Trinity, No. 539, and Mr. Lindsey's Second Address to the Students of the two Universities, p. 278. The common version here adopted by Dr. Newcome is, ‘who is over all, God blessed for ever.’ But the translation of Dr. Clarke and Mr. Lindsey equally well suits the construction. In this sense it is probable that the early Christian writers understood the words; who do not apply them to Christ, but pronounce it to be rashness and impiety to say that Christ was God over all. The word ‘God’ appears to have been wanting in Chrysostom's and some other ancient copies. See Grotius and Griesbach.…”
Kneeland: … whose are the fathers, and by whom, by natural descent, Christ came. God, who is over all, be blessed to the ages.
Sharpe: … whose are the fathers, and of whom was the Christ according to the flesh;—He that is God over all [be] blessed for ever, amen.
Noyes: … whose are the fathers, and from whom, as to the flesh, was the Christ. He who is over all, God, be blessed for ever! Amen.
On the words “was the Christ. He who is” Noyes gives the note: “Otherwise, ‘was the Christ, who is over all, God, blessed for ever’; or, ‘was the Christ, who is God over all,’ etc. The punctuation, so far as mere grammar is concerned, is ambiguous. Which is to be preferred depends on exegetical considerations; especially on the apostle's use of the name ‘God,’ and the relation in which he represents Christ as standing to God, in other parts of his writings.”
KJV: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Belsham: [For] let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus also: who, being in the form of God, did not eagerly grasp at the resemblance to God; but divested himself of it, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and, when found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
On the words “being in the form of God” Belsham gives a note: “‘being invested with extraordinary divine powers.’ Lindsey's Second Address, p. 288.” On the words “did not eagerly grasp at the resemblance to God” he gives the note: “The meaning is, he did not make an ostentatious displayof his miraculous powers. Or, if it should be translated with the public version, ‘he thought it not robbery to be as God,’ the sense would be, he did not regard it as an act of injustice to exert upon proper occasions his miraculous powers.”
Kneeland: [For] let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, did not eagerly grasp at this resemblance to God: but divested himself, taking the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
Sharpe: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought not the being as God a thing to be seized, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in condition as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Noyes: Yea, let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not regard it as a thing to be grasped at to be on an equality with God, but made himself of no consideration, taking the form of a servant, and becoming like men; and in what appertained to him appearing as a man, he humbled himself, and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
KJV: … who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers—all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Belsham: … and hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son: by whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins; and who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of the whole creation: for by him all things were created that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all these things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all these things subsist …
Belsham gives this note: “That the apostle does not here intend the creation of natural substances is evident; for, 1st, He does not say that by him were created heaven and earth, but things in heaven, and things on earth: 2dly, He does not, in descending into detail, specify things themselves, viz. celestial and terrestrial substances, but merely states of things, viz. thrones, dominions, etc. which are only ranks and orders of beings in the rational and moral world: 3dly, It is plain from comparing ver. 15 and ver. 18, that Christ is called the first-born of the whole creation, because he is the first who was raised from the dead to an immortal life: 4thly, The creation of natural objects, the heaven, the earth and sea, and all things therein, when they are plainly and unequivocally mentioned, is uniformly and invariably ascribed to the Father, both in the Old Testament and the New. Hence it follows, that the creation, which the apostle here ascribes to Christ, expresses that great change which was introduced into the moral world, and particularly into the relative situation of Jews and gentiles, by the dispensation of the gospel. This is often called creation, or the new creation, and is usually ascribed to Jesus Christ; who was the great prophet and messenger of the new covenant. See Eph. i. 10; ii. 10-15; iii. 9; iv. 24 ; Col. ii. 10; 2 Cor. v. 17. This great change the apostle here describes under the symbol of a revolution, introduced by Christ amongst certain ranks pnd orders of beings. by whom, according to the Jewish demonology, borrowed from the Oriental philosophy, the affairs of states and individuals were superintended and governed. See Mr. Lindsey's Sequel, p. 477, and Wetstein in loc.”
Kneeland: To him who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son: to him in whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of the whole creation: (for in him all things were created that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible or invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created through him, and for him: and he is before all things, and in him all things subsist …
Sharpe: And he hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath removed us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; by means of whom he have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins; who is an image of the unseen God, the firstborn of all creation; for by means of him were created all things, those in heaven and those on earth, the seen and the unseen, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all were created through him and for him; and he is before all, and by means of him all are held together …
Noyes: … who rescued us from the empire of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins; — who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of the whole creation; for in him were created all things, those in the heavens, and those on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things have been created through him and for him; and he is before all things, and in him all things subsist.
KJV: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Belsham: And, without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: He who was manifested in the flesh was justified by the spirit, seen by messengers, preached to the gentiles, believed on in the world, received in glory.
Belsham gives this note: “The Primate [Archbishop Newcome] adopts the received text, ‘God was manifested.’ But in the margin he gives the reading retained here; which is also the reading in the text of Griesbach's second edition. This is supported by the Alexandrian and Ephrem MSS. The Vatican is mutilated. The Clermont reads (ο) that which. Later copies have θεος, God. ‘All the old versions,’ says Dr. Clarke, (Doct. of Trin. No. 88, 89) ‘have who or which. And all the ancient fathers, though the copies of many of them have it now in the text itself θεος, God; yet from the tenor of their comments upon it, and from their never citing it in the Arian controversy, it appears that they always read it (ος) who, or (ο) which—Note, it must not be judged from the present copies of the text in Nyssen and others, but from their manner of commenting upon the place, how the text was read in their days.’ Abp. Newcome observes, that if we read (ος) he who, we have a construction like Mark iv. 25. Luke viii. 18. Rom. viii. 32.”
Kneeland: The pillar and firm support of the truth (and confessedly great) is this mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in flesh, justified in spirit, hath appeared to messengers, been proclaimed among nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Sharpe: And confessedly great is the mystery of godliness. One who was made manifest in flesh, was justified in spirit, was seen by preachers, was proclaimed among the Gentiles, was believed on in the world, was received up in glory.
Noyes: And confessedly great is the mystery of godliness, in him who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
KJV: … looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ …
Belsham: … looking for the happy end of our hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ …
Belsham gives no note justifying this rendering.
Kneeland: … looking for the happy end of our hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ …
Sharpe: … waiting for the blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our saviour Jesus Christ …
Noyes: … looking for the blessed hope, and appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ …
KJV: And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Belsham: And of these messengers the scripture saith, “Who maketh the winds his messengers; and flames of lightning his ministers.” But to the Son he saith, “God is thy throne for ever and ever; a sceptre of rectitude is the sceptre of thy kingdom:
Belsham explains his rendering “God is thy throne” with the following note: “Wakefield, Lindsey. ‘Thy throne, O God, is,’ etc, N. ‘God is the support of thy throne," Sykes.”
Kneeland: And concerning these messengers the scripture saith, “Who maketh his messengers spirits; and his ministers flames of fire.” But to the Son he saith, “God is thy throne to the age of the age; a sceptre of rectitude is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Sharpe: And of the angels it saith; Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire; but of the Son; Thy throne, O God, is for ages of ages; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Noyes: And of the angels he saith: “Who maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire”; but of the Son: “Thy throne, God, is for ever and ever; and the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness.
KJV: … through the righteousness of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord …
Belsham: … through the justification of our God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ: favour and peace be multiplied to you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord …
In his notes Belsham gives no explanation for this rendering.
Kneeland: … through the justification of our God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ: favour and peace be multiplied to you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord …
Sharpe: … in the righteousness of our God and of our saviour Jesus Christ; grace and peace be multiplied unto you in the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord …
Noyes: … through the righteousness of our God, and the Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord …
In the death of Dr. Noyes, which occurred in June, 1868, Biblical learning lost one of its most diligent and successful cultivators. It was his purpose, we believe, had his life been spared, to translate the entire Old and New Testaments. His translation of the Prophets was published, in two volumes, in 1866. Two more volumes were published in the following year, containing his translation of the poetical books of the Old Testament. Since his death, his translation of the New Testament has been published, under the editorial care of Mr. Ezra Abbott.
Our attention must now be confined to this last volume. In a brief preface, Dr. Noyes has clearly stated the principles by which he was guided in his work. The text adopted is that of Tischendorf’s eighth edition, as far as published, namely, to Luke xviii. 9; then, to the end of the Gospel of John, that of the second edition of his Synopsis Evangelica, published in 1864; and in the remainder of the New Testament, that of his seventh edition, published in 1859. The first two portions of Tischendorf’s text were published after he had collated the Sinaitic manuscript. And Mr. Abbott has added, in an appendix to the volume, the readings contained in the fifth part of Tischendorf’s eighth edition, extending to John vi. 23. Though differing in some cases from Prof. Tischendorf, in regard to the true reading, Dr. Noyes has strictly adhered to his plan of translating the unaltered text of the German professor. Thus, he has followed the reading, “only begotten God,” in John i. 18, a reading which Tischendorf himself has since abandoned.
Dr. Noyes thus states the ruling aim which has guided him as a translator: “It has been my aim to make a version, more free from wholly or nearly obsolete words and phrases, more intelligible, more critically accurate, and, on the whole, even closer to the original, than that of King James’ translators, though less encumbered with mere Greek and Hebrew idioms. I have endeavored, with what success it is not for me to say, to retain what may be called the savor and spirit of our old and familiar version, so far as is consistent with the paramount duties of a translator; and, in doing this, I have simply acted in conformity with my own judgment and taste.” He adds, in allusion to the fact that his book is published by the American Unitarian Association: “My translation has not been supervised or corrected by any association, or by any authority whatever. Every word of it is the result of my own judgment, guided by universally acknowledged principles of scientific interpretation, without regard to creed or church.” We take sincere pleasure in saying, that so far as we have examined this translation, we have found no occasion to accuse Dr. Noyes of unfaithfulness to this principle. He has done his work in the spirit of a scholar, and not of a sectary. We think Dr. Noyes has succeeded, also, beyond most recent translators, in preserving what he calls “the savor and spirit” of the received version. Thus, for instance, he has adhered to the graver forms of the verb, in the third person singular: “Every one that loveth hath been born of God, and knoweth God; he that loveth not hath not known God.” In this respect, his version is more to our taste than that of the Bible Union, which substitutes the more familiar and less dignified termination in s. A change like this, though very slight in itself, is so pervasive that it modifies very appreciably the whole tone of the translation, and, in our opinion, takes away not a little of its appropriate solemnity of style. In the treatment of the Greek tenses, too, we think he has been more judicious than the Bible Union revisers. While, in common with them, he has made more frequent use of the indefinite past, to represent the Greek aorist, than King James’ translators did,—a modification which, we think, all Greek scholars of the present day will agree in approving,—he has not carried this change so far as it is carried in the Bible Union revision. On a nice question of this sort, a difference of judgment and taste is to be expected. We have noted a few instances, even in Dr. Noyes’ translation, in which he has made this change, where we should prefer to retain the perfect tense, which our earlier translators give. In common with the Bible Union revisers, he translates the word “Hades,” “the underworld.” We should prefer, in this case, a simple transfer of the Greek word. In carrying out his principle, of having his version “less incumbered with mere Greek and Hebrew idioms,” than our common translation, he seems to us, sometimes, to transform his version into a paraphrase. Thus, instead of the simple “unto,” by which both the common version, and that of the Bible Union, literally render the Greek preposition in Romans vi. 16, he has, “whether of sin whose fruit is death, or of obedience whose fruit is righteousness.” In Romans i. 26, he renders the common Greek expression kata sarka, “after the fashion of the world.” In like manner, the adjective sarkikos (or sarkinos, according to some Greek Mss.), is several times translated “unspiritual,” or “not spiritual.” Usually, however, both the noun and the verb are translated literally, as in our common version. Instead of “to justify,” and “to be justified,” as the English equivalents of the active and passive forms of the Greek verb, he uses, “to accept as righteous,” and “to be accepted as righteous,” or similar periphrastic expressions. Instead of “the hope of your calling,” in Ephesians i. 18, he substitutes, “the hope belonging to his call of you,” which is both periphrastic and awkward. In I Peter i. 13, where the common version has, “hope to the end,” and the Bible Union version, “hope perfectly,” Dr. Noyes has, “hope undoubtingly.” In this instance, we prefer the more literal rendering of the Bible Union revision to either of the others. II Thessalonians ii. 7, the translation, “only there is one who now restraineth, until he be taken out of the way,” is thus justified, in a note: “If this is not a strict rendering, it conveys the meaning of the Apostle better than a verbal one.” And, again, in I Timothy iii. 16, which is translated, “and confessedly great is the mystery of godliness, in him who was manifested in the flesh,” &c, the following foot-note is added: “The words ‘in him’ are not in the Greek, but seem to be implied in the context.” There was less excuse for making this addition, as the Greek text, which the author adopts from Tischendorf, is here by no means certain. In all these cases, we should prefer a more strict adherence to the original, even at some risk of transferring a Greek or Hebrew idiom. It is in this direction, we think, that the translation, as a whole, is most open to objection. Indeed, most of the cases where we find any cause to object to the English style, are just those where the translator seems to have been influenced by the fear of allowing some Greek or Hebrew idiom to corrupt or obscure his English. Most of the cases, we say; not quite all. For we must always protest against such expressions as “are being saved,” (I Corinthians i. 18; II Corinthians ii. 15), however they may claim to be the only strictly literal rendering of the passive participle. In Acts ii. 47, Dr. Noyes avoids this objectionable rendering of the same participle, by saying, “those who were in the way of salvation.” Here the revised version has, “those who are saved,” better, in one respect, than, “those who should be saved,” of the common version, yet savoring of anachronism. If the verb in the aorist passive, in v. 40, may properly be translated, “save yourselves,” (as it is in all the three versions), why may not the present participle, which belongs to the middle voice, no less than to the passive, be fitly translated, “those who were saving themselves”? Is there not reason for supposing a designed reference, in this participle, to the verb which has been used just above?
In John i. 9, Dr. Noyes has, “the true light, which enlighteneth every man, was coming into the world.” The objection to this is, that it transposes the verb “was,” from the beginning to the end of the verse. The Bible Union revision has here, “there was the true light, which lights every man that comes into the world.” The ambiguity of the first word is a serious objection to this. We do not think that either of these have improved upon the common version. If any improvement can be made, we think it is in the direction indicated by Tischendorf’s punctuation of the text,—“he was the true light, which lighteth every man, coming into the world.” Thus the word coming is referred to the true light, and the meaning is, he was the true light, which, coming into the world, (or by its coming into the world), “lighteth every man.” The expression, “coming into the world,” does not seem a natural one to be applied to every man; but it is just in accordance with the habitual language of Scripture, when applied to Christ, the true light of the world. At least, it is much more common and natural, in the latter application, than in the former.
We have noted one more passage, in which there must have been some oversight of the translator, or blunder of the printer. In John iii. 5, we have, in the last clause, “he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” This expression is used only by Matthew. Plainly, it should be, “the kingdom of God.”
In conclusion, we can heartily recommend this translation of the New Testament, by Dr. Noyes, as a useful help to critical students, and as a valuable contribution to the work of revising our English Scriptures.
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