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SIXTEENTH EDITION OF VOL. I. TWELFTH EDITION OF VOL. II.
CHAPTER THE FIRST:
OF THE ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF
THAT it was the practice, in the early ages of the Gospel, to translate the Scriptures into the language of every country in which they were received, is evident from a variety of testimonies; but the following passage in Theodoret, who lived in the beginning of the fifth century, may be considered as alone decisive: “ We Christians are enabled to show the powers of apostolic and prophetic doctrines, which have filled all countries under heaven; for that which was formerly uttered in Hebrew is not only translated into the language of the Greeks, but also of the Romans, the Indians, Persians, Armenians, Scythians, Samaritans, Egyptians, and, in a word, into all the languages that are used by any nation (a).”—“ For the sacred Writ being the
foundation (a) Theod. ad Græc. Infid. Serm. 5. Vide Euseb. Dem. Evan. lib. 3. cap. ult. and Usser Hist. Dogm. Both the Old and New Testaments were very accuVOL. II.
foundation of the Christian religion, upon which they built the whole system of their morality and doctrine, and which the Christians were obliged to read both in public and private, the several churches of the world could not be long without such translations as might be understood by every body (b).” It is impossible to ascertain the exact time at which Christianity was introduced into this Island *; nor do we know how soon there was a translation of the Scriptures into the language of its inhabitants. The earliest of which we have any account, is a translation of the Psalms into the Saxon tongue by Adhelm, the first bishop of Sherborne, about the year 706. Egbert, bishop of Landisfern, who died in the year 721, made a Saxon version of the four Gospels ; and not long after, Bede translated the whole Bible into that language. There were other Saxon versions of the whole or parts of the Bible of a later date (c): and it appears indeed, that new translations were made, from time to time, as the language of the country varied; but when the popes of Rome had established their spiritual tyranny in this as well as in other countries of Europe, they forbad the reading of these translations, and in the fourteenth century the common people had been so long deprived of the use of the Scriptures, that the latest of the translations were become unintelligible. Wickliff(d) therefore, who was a strenuous opposer of the corruptions and usurpations of the church of Rome, and from whom we are to date the dawn of the Reformation in this kingdom, published a translation of the whole Bible in the English
year rately translated immediately from the Hebrew and Greek originals into the Syriac language, before the end of the first century. This antient version is held in very high esteem by the Learned, and is still used by many of the Christians in the East. In some of the villages near Mount Libanus, Syriac is still the vulgar tongue. There is another Syriae version of the Old Testament made from Origen's Hexapla, about 600 years after Christ, but that is not much esteemed.
(b) Johnson's Hist. Account of the English Translations of the Bible. * I desire to refer the Reader to a work
this subject, published by the Bishop of St. David's since the last edition of this book, in which he states strong reasons for the opinion that a Christian church was planted in Britain by the Apostle St. Paul,
(c) King Alfred, who died A.D.900, translated the Psalms. This translation was published by Spelman, A.D. 1640, with the Latin interlinearý text.
(d) He was born in 1324, and died in 1384. “Some writers have conceived that an English translation was made before the time of Wickliff; and there are some copies of an English translation at Oxford, Cambridge, and at Lambeth, which Usher assigns to an earlier period; but it is probable that these may be genuine, or corrected copies of Wickliff's translation.”—Gray. )