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of the Book of Job and of the Psalms; and was followed by those of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles. We now have these various works presented in a new and uniform edition, and increased in value by diligent revision and additional comments. Of this edition, we propose now to speak only of “the Prophets." We may have some remarks to offer on the other two volumes at a future day.
Mr. Noyes's version of the Prophets came to the world from the quiet town of Brookfield, where its author then held the pastoral office. The gentle and poetical mind of Henry Ware perceived the fitness of the scene and the employment, and expressed its thought in the following sonnet:
“In rural life, by Jordan's fertile bed,
The holy prophets learned of yore to sing;
The shepherd boy became the minstrel king;
And quaff pure thoughts from Nature's quiet spring.
And college hall might well desire to claim;
And freshly honoring their illustrious name.
The country pastorate was exchanged at length for the office of instructor in the Divinity School at Cambridge; and there the venerable translator of the ancient prophets still remains, the honored guide and model of the prophets of today.
The present edition of Dr. Noyes's Translations is far from being a mere reprint of those which preceded it. The same faithful study which was evinced in his earlier labors is ex. hibited in this reproduction of their results. We have compared the present edition of the Prophets, both in the text and notes, with the previous ones, and have everywhere found the marks of a careful revision, aided by the study of works which had appeared in the interval. A marked instance is found in the notes to the Book of Daniel, where the introductory remarks are more than doubled in length, and the comments on the famous passage of the "seventy weeks" (Dan. ix. 24–27), are greatly extended, and enriched with the renderings of eight recent critics. The author's care is observable, however, not only in passages of such marked importance, but in amendments of the translation, or additional notes, in numerous instances of less moment. We observe with satisfaction, that, in some passages where the translation has been altered, it has been by a nearer approach to a literal rendering; as in Isa. lii. 15, and liji. 8, 10. The most important addition, however, is the new Introduction, comprising more than eighty closely printed pages, and discussing, with equal learning and acuteness, the important subjects of prophetic inspiration, and the connection between the predictions of the Old Testament, and the revelation of the New.
The merit of Dr. Noyes's versions has been long and generally admitted. The pages of this periodical,* in former years, have borne testimony to the high appreciation of them by those who sympathize with the religious views of the author; and those of other sentiments have added expressions of their approval. Thus “ The New Englander," for October, 1846, says, in a notice of the volume containing the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles :
“ The other translations have been issued at earlier periods, and have been received with general favor, as in the main accurate and reliable versions of these parts of the Sacred Volume. We do not see in them the same peculiar genius for rendering the poetic parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, which is so striking in De Wette; but they are, as a whole, perhaps superior to any English version.”
The qualification which accompanies this praise can hardly be considered as diminishing its value; for an English translation cannot fairly be compared with one in German, without allowing for the advantages which the latter possesses. The German, inferior to the English in some elements of strength and beauty, is much more suitable for translations. It admits readily every variety of poetic measure, while only a master-poet can make English hexameters endurable; and it allows, far more than our tongue, the combination of words and inversion of sentences. This last advantage appears in De Wette's version, in the very beginning of Isaiah. An English translator must place the words in the order of prose: “ I have nourished and brought up children.” But De Wette can follow the vigorous order of the Hebrew, and say:
* See “ Christian Examiner” for January, 1834; January, 1838; and May, 1846.
“Kinder hab' ich auferzogen und ernähret.” In the same prophet, xl. 9, our common version renders, – “O Zion, that bringest good tidings ! get thee up into the high mountain : 0 Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings ! lift up thy voice with strength.” Dr. Noyes translates,
“ Get thee up on the high mountain,
O thou that bringest glad tidings to Zion ! Lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest glad tidings to
Jerusalem.” But De Wette can give the words in the order of the Hebrew, and translate the Hebrew participle by the single term "Friedensbotin," instead of a periphrasis of six words :
“ Auf hohen Berg steig' hinan, Friedensbotin Zion, erhebe gewaltig deine Stimme, Friedensbotin Jerusalem.”
De Wette, however, has fallen into the same error with our Common Version, in exhorting an immovable city to ascend a mountain ; while Dr. Noyes's good judgment has made his translation the best, notwithstanding all disadvantages, and restored the beauty of the prophet's imagery. We seem to see the messenger standing on the Mount of Olives, and shouting the glad tidings to the chief city of Judah stretched below. Dr. Noyes's construction is permitted, if not required, by the Hebrew, and is sustained by the Septuagint version.
But however the translations of our countryman may compare with those of the great German critic, their pre-eminence among English versions appears unquestionable. Their superiority to that in common use will be evident from the comparison of a few passages, taken almost at random.
Amos viii. 2, Common Version:
“ And he said, Amos, what seest thou ? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel ; I will not again pass by them any more.”
Here the vision appears meaningless, the resemblance between the words 72, the end, and 77, summer fruit, being lost in English. Dr. Noyes translates thus:
“And he said, Amos, what seest thou?
And I said, A basket of ripe fruits. Then said Jehovah to me, The destruction of my people Israel is ripe ;
I will not spare them any more.” In the fourteenth verse of the same chapter, the Common Version reads, –
“ They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth ; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.” Dr. Noyes renders,
“Who swear by the sin of Samaria,
And say, By the life of thy God, O Dan !
They shall fall, and shall rise po more !”
“ It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath fouuded his troop in the earth.” Dr. Noyes :
“ He that buildeth his upper rooms in the heavens,
And foundeth his arch upon the earth.” Hosea iv. 18, Common Version:
“Her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.” Dr. Noyes understands the word 727, translated" Give ye,” as a repetition, for the sake of emphasis, of the verb 279, “ love," which precedes it, and translates simply,
- Their rulers love shame.”
De Wette's Version renders the emphasis by an adverb, “ Eifrig lieben Schande ihre Fürsten;" but an adverb in Eng. lish would weaken, instead of strengthening, the expression.
Hosea x. 1, Common Version :“ Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself; according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars.” Dr. Noyes :
“ Israel is a luxuriant vine,
That bringeth forth fruit; But according to the abundance of his fruit hath he abounded in
There is one passage in this prophet, in which we doubt Dr. Noyes's translation. It is in xii. 7, which he renders,—
“ He is a Canaanite ; in his hands are the balances of deceit; he loveth to oppress.”
The Common Version translates,“ He is a merchant.” The Hebrew word admits either rendering, but the latter agrees best with the “ balances of deceit;" nor does it accord with the preceding verses that the prophet should stigmatize his nation, personified in its ancestor, as a Canaanite.
Isa. ix. 1-3, Common Version:
“ Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy : they joy before thee according to the joy of harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” Dr. Noyes :1 " But the darkness shall not remain where now is distress; Of old he brought the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali
into contempt ; In future times shall he bring the land of the sea beyond Jordan,
the circle of the gentiles, into honor.