The Hexaglot Bible

 •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 14
1It is proposed to give a very concise description of the main features of this noble and admirable book; in the hope that the attention of Biblical students, and others who are interested in that revelation of the mind and purposes and grace of God which, always most precious, is surely more so than ever in these last and perilous days, may be directed to its great merits. It may indeed be fairly expected that the diligent use of the work by such as are in any degree competent to appreciate its value, will tend, not only to shed clearer and brighter light for themselves on many passages of holy scripture, but also enable them thus to be more helpful as teachers or expositors, to the church of God at large.
As its name implies, the work presents the inspired books in six languages, in the following order: for the Old Testament, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, German, and French; for the Now Testament, Greek, Syriac, Latin, English, German and French.
The Hebrew text is that of Van der Hooght, corrected as regards accents, by comparison with the editions of Letteris, Vienna, 1852, and of S. D. Luzzatto, Trieste, 1858-61.
With regard to the ancient and important Greek version of the Old Testament, commonly called that of the Seventy, it is stated (Prolegomenon, p. xii.), that “The translation was begun about B.C. 280, and was probably not finished for several centuries. The dialect is Macedonic, mingled with a number of Hebraisms, being similar in style to the Greek of the New Testament.” The following remarks are worthy of attention. “The Septuagint translation is the connecting link between the original texts. While it often explains and illustrates, sometimes even corrects and supplies the Hebrew of the Old Testament, it not infrequently enables us to understand the peculiar sense in which words or phrases are employed in the Greek of the New Testament. Like all works which are merely human, the Greek translation has its defects as well as its merits, and some or both of these will be pointed out by us in due course. In the main it agrees with the Hebrew text as we have it this day; and the fact that it has always been received in the Jewish as well as in the Christian church, adds no little weight to its authority.”
The learned Editor shows, by a variety of instances too extensive to be more than referred to here, that the Septuagint Version “was made from an unpointed text, or from a text pointed differently from the present.”
Although the Septuagint presents many variations from the Hebrew, and in the Book of Job particularly the translators have occasionally given Hebrew words without an attempt at translation, in Greek character, still there are a number of passages introduced, either verbatim or nearly so, into the text of the New Testament, sufficient to prove that a divine sanction has been given, in these instances, to a translation which, as a whole, cannot be regarded as an exact representation of the original.
One remarkable example may be referred to here. In Deut. 32:4848And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, (Deuteronomy 32:48), there appears to be a double rendering, thus: εὐφράνθητε οὐρανοί ἅμα αὐτῷ, “Rejoice, ye heavens, with him,” καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες υἱοὶ θεοῦ, “and let all the angels of God worship him.” This is followed, as a second or alternative rendering, by the words, εὐφράνθητε ἔθνη μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ, “Rejoice, ye nations, with his people,” καὶ ἐνισχυσάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ, “and let all the sons of God be strong in him.” Now, the words καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ are quoted verbatim in Heb. 1:66And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6), the reference usually given being to Psa. 97:77Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods. (Psalm 97:7). “Worship him, all ye gods.” But the corresponding Psalm in the Septuagint (97:7), has, προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ, “worship him, all ye his angels.” So that the words, “And let all the angels of God worship him” appear to be directly taken from the clause in the Septuagint just cited (Deut. 32:4848And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, (Deuteronomy 32:48)), unless it can be shown that the same words exist in any other passage of the Old Teatament according to the Septuagint.
In this brief notice of so great a work no more can be done than to invite a diligent study of the very careful, and, as it appears, masterly examination of a large number of passages, forming a considerable part of the Prolegomenon, and which is worthy of and will amply repay an attentive perusal. Some of these passages elucidate obscurities in the Hebrew original, and one at least, though well-known, may be noted as adopted (albeit an interpretation, and not a translation of the original words) into the text of the New Testament, Heb. 10:55Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (Hebrews 10:5), (Sept. Psa. 39:77And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. (Psalm 39:7)) σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι, “but a body hast thou prepared me.” In English Version, Psa. 40:88I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8), “mine ears hast thou opened,” (or, digged), to be compared with Ex. 21:66Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. (Exodus 21:6).
While, however, there are many quotations verbally exact, and many more with some variation, transferred from the Septuagint to the text of the New Testament, it must be admitted that there are also not a few discrepancies from the original Hebrew. As to these the reader must be reminded that, as before stated, this ancient version appears to have been made from a text either without points, or differently pointed from the more modern copies of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The edition of the Septuagint adopted in the Hexaglot Bible is that of Tischendorf, founded on the Vatican Edition, with a notice of some interpolations, and the insertion, within brackets, of a good many important omissions.
Finally, notwithstanding the instances of double rendering, interpolation, and even occasional error in translation, which are pointed out at some length and with evident care in the Prolegomenon, the Septuagint Version must always be one of much importance and interest to the student, as being the work probably of many minds, engaged on the Sacred Books at different intervals of time, but, we may fairly conclude, with honest and conscientious desire to represent the sense of the originals as faithfully as the knowledge of the several translators permitted.
The Latin Version is substantially that of Hieronymus (Jerome), the greatest of ancient translators, though Bishop Walton asserts that the book of Psalms in the Vulgate was rendered by Jerome, not from the Hebrew, but from the Septuagint version according to the emendation of Lucian Martyr; and it is also alleged that the New Testament was not re-translated by him, but simply revised. The editor says, (Proleg. p. liii.) “In the Old Testament of the Hexaglot Bible, we have reproduced the Biblia Sacra Vulgates Editionis Sixti V. Pontificia Maximi jussu recognita et Clementis VIII. auctoritate edita. Parisiis, Jouby et Roger, Editores.”
“In the New Testament, out of deference to the opinion and advice of friends, we have adopted the Codex Amiatinus, Novum Test:meat= Latino, Inter-prate Hieronymo. celeberrhno Codice Amiatino omnium at antiquissimo et pramitantiesimo, edidit—Constantinus Tischendorf. Lipsire, Avenarius et Mendelsohn, 1854.”
After a very extensive list of variations between the Clementine Edition of the (New Testament) Vulgate and the Codex Amiatinus as edited by Tischendorf, we have the following important remarks. “In the above list of different readings, those words the spelling of which has been modified in the Hexaglot Bible are marked thus; some words and phrases which find place in the Clementine Edition and not in the Codex Amiatinus, are marked with an asterisk. This is intended to denote that those words or phrases have been introduced within brackets into the Hexaglot text. We wish it to be observed that, as a rule, those words only have been supplied which occur in the Greek as Well as in the Syriac. A very few passages, wanting in both Latin Editions, have been supplied from other sources.”
A very interesting critical notice of nearly sixty instances of “omissions, additional and variations, in order, of the books of the New Testament,” most of which are admitted, while a few, on apparently sufficient grounds, are rejected, concludes the account of the Latin Vulgate in the Hexaglot Bible.
On the all important subject of “the Greek of the New Testament;” it is stated, (Proleg. p. xcv,)— “The text of the justly renowned Dr. Tischendorf (eighth Elation) has been adopted in its integrity. Moreover, the suggestion of Dean Alford, as to one taking the trouble to compare his text with that of Tischendorf, has been acted upon. Every word of the One has been carefully collated with every word of the other. The differences which the Dean pronounces both numerous and important have been faithfully noted down.”
The omission in Tischendorf’s edition “have been supplied from various sources, where possible from Alford; those which Alford also rejects have been supplied from the Textus Receptus.” This arrangement does not impair Tischendorf's text, since, as he “never employs a bracket; therefore whenever a word or a clause or a whole passage is introduced within brackets, into the Greek text of the Hexaglot New Testament, the reader will at once infer that the word, clause, or passage does not find place in Tischendorf's text; 'so that the simple omission of the bracketed portions leaves Tischendorf's text intact.”
“We shall proceed now (Prolog. xcvi.) to point out I. the MSS from which Alford and Tischendorf obtained their texts. II. the discrepancies in spelling between the two Editors. III. Different readings, comprising: 1, Words in Tischendorf not in Alford; 9, Words in Alford not in Tischendorf, those introduced into our text being marked thus; 3, Differing words and phrases; 4, Transpositions. 5, Words admitted into the text of Alford, within brackets, some of which form part of Tischendorf's text; others which do not find place in the text of Tischendorf, but which have, nevertheless, been admitted into the text of the Hexaglot, because they exist in the,whole or in the majority of the other versions. 6, Words and passages, neither in Alford nor in Tischendorf, supplied in the Hexaglot text from the Textus Receptus.”
Of the lists of MSS of the Greek Testament given by Alford and Tischendorf, that of the latter is selected, as the more concise. These MSS amount to fifty-two, followed by the ancient Latin authorities, (Itala), mostly of the 5th and 6th centuries (a few probably earlier), numbering about eighteen. Then many of the Vulgate, varying from the 4th to the 8th century. And, lastly, versions in various languages, as Ethiopic, American, Arabic, Memphitic, Sahidic, Syriac, Persic, Gothic, &c.
II. With regard to spelling, accentuation, and punctuation, the system of Tischendorf is almost uniformly followed. A list is given of words differently spelled by the two editors, amounting though not in most cases of any real importance, to rather more than 300. As to these the orthography of Tischendorf is almost universally preferred, and this remark applies also to the spelling of proper names.
III. Different readings. 1. Words in Tischendorf not in Alford. Of these, in Matt. 24:3636But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36), the words οὐδὲ ὁ υἰος, “not even the Son.” Mark 13:2222For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22); ψευδὀχριστοι, “false Christs,” and Luke 10:2121In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:21), ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀγίῳ, “in the Holy Spirit,” are found in the ancient Codex Sinaiticus. “About sixteen passages, of greater or less importance, are found in Tischendorf’s text which are not found in the text of Alford. 2. Of words in Alford not in Tischendorf, Matt. 17:2121Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21), τοῦτο δὲ τὀ γένος, κ. τ. λ., 18:11, ἦλθε γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦἀνθρὠπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός, 20:16, πολλοὶ γάρ εἐσι κλητοί, ὀλίγοι δὲίἐκλεκτοί, are not found in the Codex Sinaiticus, to which reference is here made as being one of the most ancient, and in many respects, most valuable copies of the Greek New Testament.
On the other hand, Matt. 21:4444And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matthew 21:44), καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπί τὸν λὶθον τοῦτον συνθλασθήσεται ἐφ’ὓν δ ἃν πέη, λικμήσει αὐτόν, rejected by Tischendorf, occurs in Codex Sinaiticus. Several passages in Mark and Luke rejected by Tischendorf, are wanting also in codex Sinaiticus. But Luke 23:1717(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) (Luke 23:17), ἀνἀγκην δὲ εἶχεν ἀπολύειν αὐτοῖς κατὰ ἑορτὴν ἔνα, and 24:12, ὁ δὲ Πετρος ἀναστὰς ἔδραμεν ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ παρακύψας....θανμάζω τὸ γεγονός, and, ib. 36, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν, and, ib. 40, καὶ τοῦτο εἰπῶν ἐπέδειξεν (ἔδειξεν)αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὶς πόδας, though not found in Tischendorf appear in Codex Sinaiticus, while the important clause 51, καὶ ἀνεφἐρετο εἰς τὸν οὐρανὀν, is wanting in both.
3. Differing words and phrases. Very numerous, (about 640), but very few of importance.
Transpositions, in which the order of words in Tischendorf differs from that in Alford, about 249.
Words bracketed in Alford's edition. Of the list given it may be remarked that the words which are not found in Tischendorf's text, but admitted, because sanctioned by the whole or the majority of the other versions, are placed within brackets in the Hexaglot text.
“Words neither in Tischendorf nor in Alford, which, being for the most part in the Syriac and other versions, have been introduced within brackets into the Hexaglot text, generally from the Textus Receptus.” These words or passages amount to about 250.
The Syriac text of the Hexaglot New Testament is said to have been most carefully prepared by a comparison of the editions: 1, of Bishop Walton, 1867; 2, of the edition printed at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and edited by the conjoint labors of Dr. Buchanan and Professor Lee, the former of whom corrected for the press as far as the Acts of the Apostles, the latter completed the work; 8, of the Paris edition of 1824, being a revision of the edition in Le Jay's polyglot Bible, 1645; 4, of the Hamburg edition of 1669 (occasionally). The result of a collation of the Hexaglot Syriac text with those of Walton, the Paris edition, and that of the Bible Society appears to be that the different readings are both few and very unimportant. “It will be found that in every instance of any moment the Hexaglot is in accord with Walton.” (Proleg. cxxvi.)
Of the three modern versions the English, of both the Old and New Testaments,—is the authorized translation, or King James's Bible, 1611.
The German is Luther's, “commenced in 1517, and completed and published in 1680. The Old Testament translation was made directly from the Hebrew (Biblia Hebraica, Gerson, Brescia, 1494.) The New Testament translation was also made directly from the Greek.”
“The first Protestant French version of the Old and New Testaments was published by R. V. Olivetan, with the assistance of the illustrious John Calvin, at Neuchatel in 1585, and at Geneva in 1540. Another edition of this appeared in 1588, called the Geneva Bible, because revised by the College of Professors at Geneva. The edition of David Martin is a recension of the Genevan version, and of this the whole Bible was published at Amsterdam in 1707. This text as revised by Bishop Luscombe has been adopted in the Hexaglot Bible.”
A series of examples showing the interest and value of the modern versions as occasional aids to interpretation, and some reflections which indicate a proper reverence for and love of the inspired word of God, conclude the Prolegomenon, or Introduction to this beautiful book, of which it may not be too much to say that its publication is an honor to the present century, and likely to prove a signal benefit, immediately and indirectly, in this and in other countries to the church and servants of God. C. P.