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considered it rather as a drama or parable than a real history. Dr. Prideaux, however, is of opinion that it carries with it the air of a true history in most particulars, except that of the long-continued peace said to have been procured by Judith ; which according to the account given in this book, must have continued eighty years. But, as the Jews never enjoyed a peace of so long continuance since they were a nation, he is disposed to allow that circumstance to be a fiction, though he is inclined to think that the book in other respects is a true history. In opposition to this opinion, it has been contended by Heidegger, Moldenhawer, and others, that if it were a true history, some notice of the victory it records would have been taken by Josephus, who is on no occasion deficient when an opportunity presents itself of magnifying the achievements of his countrymen. Philo is equally silent concerning this book and its author. The time when and the place where he lived are totally unknown. Dr. Prideaux refers the book to the time of Manasseh ; Jahn assigns it to the age of the Maccabees, and thinks it was written to animate the Jews against the Syrians. Grotius refers it to the same period, and is of opinion that it is wholly a parabolic fiction written in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when he came into Judæa to persecute the Jewish church, and that its design was to confirm the Jews, under that persecution, in their hope that God would send them a deliverer. According to him, by Judith is intended Judæa : by Bethulia, the temple or house of God; and by the sword which went out thence, the prayers of the saints ; Nebuchadonosor denotes the devil ; Assyria his kingdom, that is, pride ; Holofernes means Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the devil's instrument in that persecution, &c. &c. such conjectures, as an able commentator remarks, however ingenious, are better calculated to exhibit the powers of fancy and the abuse of learning, than to investigate truth, or throw light on what is uncertain and obscure.
The book of Judith was originally written in Chaldee, and translated into Latin. Besides this translation there are two others, - one in Greek, and the other in Syriac; the former is attributed to Theodotion, but is certainly much older, for it is cited by Clement of Rome in this epistle to the Corinthians, who flourished sixty years before Theodotion. The Syriac version was made from the Greek, whence also our present English translation was made.?
V. “THE REST OF THE CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK OF ESTHER, which are found neither in the Hebrew nor in the Chaldee,” were originally written in Greek, whence they were translated into Latin, and formed part of the Italic or old Latin version in use before the time of Jerome. Being there annexed to the canonical book, they passed without censure, but were rejected by Jerome in his version, because he confined himself to the Hebrew Scriptures, and these chap
1 Mr. Hewlett, in his Preface to the book of Judith.
2 Grotii. Præfatio ad Annotationes in Librum Judith, apud Crit. Sacr. tom. v. p. 50. Moldenhawer, Introd. ad Vet. Test. pp. 155-158. Dr. Prideaux's Connection, vol. i. pp. 36-40. Jahn Introd. ad Vet. Fæd. pp. 554561.
son of Sirach, as well as his grandfather the author. The book was probably written about the year 232 B. C., when the author might be seventy years of age ; and it was translated about sixty years after.
This book has met with general and deserved esteem in the Western church, and was introduced into the public service by the venerable reformers and compilers of our national liturgy. It commences with an exhortation to the pursuit of wisdom ; this
1 ; is followed by numerous moral sentences or maxims, arranged in a less desultory manner than the proverbs of Solomon, as far as the fortyfourth chapter, at which the author begins his eulogy of the patriarchs, prophets, and celebrated men among the Jews, to the end of the fiftieth chapter. And the book concludes with a prayer.
The book of Ecclesiasticus was frequently cited by the fathers of the church under the titles of h Ingou Sopra, the wisdom of Jesus, IlavaGETOS Socia, wisdom, the treasure of all the virtues, or_soyos, the discourse. The Latins cite it under the appellation of Ecclesiasticus, to distinguish it from the book of Ecclesiastes. Antiently it was put into the hands of catechumens, on account of the edifying nature of its instruction ; next to the inspired writings, a collection of purer moral precepts does not exist. Besides the Greek copy of this book, and the Latin version, there are two versions of it, one in Syriac, and the other in Arabic : the Latin translation is supposed to have been executed in the first century of the Christian æra ; it closely follows the Greek, and is full of solecisms and barbarisms.
VIII. The book of Baruch is not extant in Hebrew, and only in Greek and Syriac ; but in what language it was originally written, it is now impossible to ascertain. It is equally uncertain by whom this book was written, and whether it contains any matters historically true, or whether the whole is a fiction. Grotius is of opinion that it is an entire fiction, and that it was composed by some Hellenistic Jew under the name of Baruch. It has never been considered as a canonical book, either by Jews or Christians; though, in the earliest ages of Christianity, it was cited and read as production entitled to credit. The principal subject of the book is an epistle, pretended to be sent by Jehoiakim and the captive Jews in Babylon, to their brethren in Judah and Jerusalem. The last chapter contains an epistle which falsely bears the name of Jeremiah ; there are two versions of this book extant, one in Syriac, and one in Arabic : the Latin translation in the Vulgate is prior to the time of Jerome.
IX. “The song of THE THREE CHILDREN” is placed in the Greek version of Daniel, and also in the Vulgate Latin version, between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth verses of the third chapter, It does not appear to have ever been extant in Hebrew, and although it has always been admired for the piety of its sentiments, it was never admitted to be canonical, until it was recognised by the council of Trent. The fifteenth verse contains a direci falsehood; for it asserts
l that there was no prophet at that time, when it is well known that Daniel and Ezekiel both exercised the prophetic ministry in Babylon. This apocryphal fragment is therefore most probably the production
of some Hellenistic Jew. The hymn (verses 29. et seq.) resembles the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm, and was so approved of by the compilers of our liturgy, that, in the first Common Prayer Book of King Edward VI., they appointed it to be used instead of the Te Deum during Lent, though it is now seldom used, except perhaps when the third chapter of the book of Daniel is the first lesson.
X. THE HISTORY OF Susanna has always been treated with some respect, but has never been considered as canonical, though the council of Trent admitted it into the number of sacred books. It is evidently the work of some Hellenistic Jew, and in the Vulgate version it forms the thirteenth chapter of the book of Daniel. In the Septuagint version it is placed at the beginning of that book. Lamy and some other modern critics, after Julius Africanus, and Origen, consider it to be both spurious and fabulous.
XI. “ The History of the Destruction of BEL AND THE DRAGON" was always rejected by the Jewish church ; it is not extant either in the Hebrew or the Chaldee language. Jerome gives it no better title than that of the fable of Bel and the Dragon; por has it obtained more credit with posterity, except with the fathers of the council of Trent, who determined it to be a part of the canonical Scriptures. The design of this fiction is to render idolatry ridiculous, and to exakt the true God; but the author has destroyed the illusion of his fiction by transporting to Babylon the worship of animals, which was never practised in that country. This book forms the fourteenth chapter of Daniel in the Latin Vulgate; in the Greek it was called the prophecy of Habakkuk, the son of Jesus, of the tribe of Levi : but this is evidently false, for that prophet lived before the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and the events pretended to have taken place in this fable are assigned to the time of Cyrus. There are two Greek texts of this fragment, that of the Septuagint, and that found in Theodotion's Greek version of Daniel. The former is the most antient, and has been translated into Syriac. The Latin and Arabic versions, together with another Syriac translation, have been made from the text of Theodotion.
XII. “THE PRAYER OF MANASSES, king of Judah, when he was holden captive in Babylon,” though not unworthy of the occasion on which it is pretended to have been composed, was never recognised as canonical. It is rejected as spurious even by the church of Rome. In 2 Chron. xxxiii. 18, 19. there is mention of a prayer by this king, which is said to be written in the Book of the kings of Israel," and also " among the sayings of the seers. But it is evident that this composition, which abounds with deeply pious and penitent expressions, cannot be the prayer there alluded to : for it never was extant in Hebrew, nor can it be traced to a higher source than the Vulgate Latin version. As it is mentioned by no writer more antient than the
1 Wheatley on the Common Prayer, chap. iii. sect. 12. Shepherd on the Common Prayer, p. 231. London, 1796. 8vo.
2. Of this the reader may see a proof in the paranomasia, or play upon words, which has already been noticed in p. 194. of this volume.
Pseudo-Clement, in the pretended apostolical constitutions, which were compiled in the fourth century, it is probable that this prayer was composed by some unknown person, who thought he could supply the loss of the original prayer.
XUI. The two books of 'MACCABEES are thus denominated, because they relate the patriotic and gallant exploits of Judas Macca-. beus and his brethren : they are both admitted into the canon of Scripture by the church of Rome. The first book contains the bistory of the Jews, from the beginning of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes to the death of Simon, a period of about thirty-four years. . It was originally written in the Syro-Chaldaic language, in which it was extant in the time of Jerome, who says that he saw it. The title which it then bore, was Sharlit Sar Bene El, which has been variously translated, The Scourge of the Rebels against the Lord, and The Sceptre of the Prince of the Sons of God : a title which is not unsuitable to the character of Judas, who was a valiant commander of the persecuted Israelites. The author of this book is not certainly known ; some conjecture that it was written by John Hyrcanus, the son of Simon, who was prince and high-priest of the Jews for nearly thirty years, and who commenced his government at the time when this history ends : by others it is ascribed to one of the Maccabees, and many are of opinion that it was compiled by the Great Synagogue. It is however most probable, that it was composed in the time of John Hyrcanus, when the wars of the Maccabees were terminated, either by Hyrcanus bimself, or by some persons en ployed by him. From the Syro-Chaldaic it was translated into Greeli, and thence into Latin. Our English version is made from the Greek. The first book of Maccabees is a most valuable historical monument, written with great accuracy and fidelity, on which more reliance may be placed than on the writings of Josephus, who has borrowed his materials from it, and has frequently mistaken its meaning
XIV. The SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES consists of several pieces compiled by an unknown author. It commences with two epistles sent from the Jews of Jerusalem to those of Alexandria and Egypt, exhorting them to observe the feast of the dedication of the new altar, erected by Judas Maccabeus on his purifying the temple. These epistles, which are confessedly spurious, are followed by the author's preface to his history, which is an abridgment of a larger work, compiled by one Jason, an Hellenistic Jew of Cyrene; who wrote in Greek the bistory of Judas Maccabeus and his brethren, and an account of the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes, and his son Eupator, in five books. The entire work of Jason has long since perished, and Dr. Prideaux is of opinion that the author of this second book of Maccabees was an Hellenistic Jew of Alexandria, because he makes
1 Prolog. Galeat. sive Præf. in Lib. Regum. 2 Prideaux's Connection, vol. ii. pp. 185, 186. 3 Michaelis, Introd. to the New Test. vol. i. p. 71. 4 Connection, vol. ii. pp. 186, 187.
a distinction between the temple in Egypt and that at Jerusalem, calling the latter “ the great temple." This book is by no means equal in accuracy to the first, which it contradicts in some instances ; it is not arranged in chronological order, and sometimes also it is at variance with the inspired writings. Compare 2 Macc. 1. 18. with · Ezra iü. 2, 3. and ii. 5—8. with Jer. ii. 16. The second book of Maccabees, therefore, must be read with great caution. It contains the history of about fifteen years, from the execution of the commission of Heliodorus, who was sent by Seleucus to bring away the treasures of the temple, to the victory obtained by Judas Maccabeus over Nicanor, that is, from the year of the world 3528 to 3843. Two antient translations of this book are extant, one in Syriac, the other in Latin ; both are prior to the time of Jerome, and both miserably executed. The version in our Bibles was executed from the Greek.
Besides the two books of Maccabees here noticed, there are two others which bear their names, but very improperly : neither of them has ever been reputed canonical.
The third Book of Maccabees contains the history of the persecution of the Jews in Egypt by Ptolemy Philopater, and their sufferings under it. From its style, this book appears to have been written by some Alexandrian Jew: it abounds with the most absurd fables. With regard to its subject, it ought in strictness to be called the first book of Maccabees, as the events it professes to relate occurred before the achievements of that heroic family; but as it is of less authority and repute than the other two, it is reckoned after them. It is extant in Syriac, though the translator. seems to have been but imperfectly acquainted with the Greek language ; and it is also found in most antient manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint, particularly in the Alexandrian ai:d Vatican manuscripts ; but it was never inserted in the Latin Vulgate, nor in our English Bibles.
Of the fourth Book of the Maccabees very little is known. It is destitute of every internal mark of credibility, and is supposed to be the same as the book “concerning the government, or empire of reason," ascribed to Josephus by Philostratus, Eusebius, and Jerome. It is extant in some Greek manuscripts, in which it is placed after the three books of Maccabees. Dr. Lardner thinks it is the work of some unknown Christian writer.