Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Quarterly Review Electronic Texts


ART. X. The Doctrine of the Greek Article, applied to the. Criticism and the Illustration of the New Testament. By T. F. Middleton, A. M. (now D. D.) 8vo. Cadell and Davies.

[pp. 187-203] [original article in PDF format]

  1. THE Greek Article has long been justly deemed the opprobrium Grammaticorum. Neither from Apollonius Dyscolus, nor from other ancient philologists, can we collect a full and satisfactory account of it; this deficiency is far from being supplied by modern grammarians; and it cannot but be thought a little extraordinary, that while a Bentley, a Brunck, a Porson, a Hermann, &c. should have employed themselves, with such persevering toil in disentangling the knots of Grecian Prosody, in—

    'Untwisting all the chains that tie
    The hidden soul of harmony,'

    none of these distinguished scholars should have directed his critical sagacity to the investigation of a part of speech, on which the meaning as well as the elegance of so large a portion of Greek composition must evidently depend. Few, perhaps, were better fitted for this difficult, though useful task, than Dr. Moor of Glasgow; but in the valuable fragment of a Greek Grammar, which the Professor has bequeathed to us, we are sorry to observe, that we discover nothing but the same vague and meagre account of the Article, which is usually inserted into treatises of a similar kind.

  2. The chagrin which we have frequently experienced on the subject of which we are speaking, has, however, at length been dissipated by the work before us; and although we may be disposed [187] to disagree with the learned and acute author of it in some points of inferior importance, yet we hesitate not to assert that it is a production of distinguished merit, and that it affords to us a most valuable, effectual, and novel aid in the just interpretation of Greek writers, both sacred and profane.

  3. Dr. Middleton's work is divided into two parts. The first contains his Doctrine of the Greek Article—The second, an application of that doctrine to the elucidation or correction of a variety of passages in the New Testament;—this part assumes the form of a perpetual commentary.

  4. The second chapter of the first part opens with the following definition of the Greek article. 'The Greek prepositive article is the pronoun relative δ, so employed that its relation is supposed to be more or less obscure; which relation, therefore, is explained in some adjunct annexed to the article, by the participle of existence expressed or understood. Hence the article may be considered as the subject, and its adjunct as the predicate of a proposition, differing from ordinary propositions only as assumption differs from assertion: for this is the only difference between the verb and the participle, between and . The adjunct annexed to the article will hereafter be called its predicate.'

  5. This definition, as Dr. M. readily admits, requires a dilated vindication. In support of the first clause of it he has recourse to the compositions of Homer. He begins by detecting, what we have long been disposed to condemn, the error of those who maintain that the ordinary use of the Greek article is not to be traced in the productions of that writer: he then continues (p.12), 'It is obvious that in such phrases as , &c. A. 183. δ and must be considered as pronouns. The pronominal nature of δ is, therefore, in some instances established beyond contradiction; and we have only to ascertain, whether this pronominal nature be ever lost. Thus we read, Iliad I. 341.


    : where the latter is a pronoun relating to Briseis, and the former, if we attend to the common distinction, is no other than the article to understood: but is not the one as much the representative of , as the other is of Briseis? Here indeed is so evidently implied, that no obscurity arises from its omission. But suppose the case otherwise, and that, though the context should afford a tolerable clue to the sense, some little obscurity were still to remain. For instance, if A. 33. we [188] had read , the sense could hardly have been mistaken, but yet would not have been absolutely certain; makes every thing clear; for though, independently of the context, δ might refer to any male already mentioned, yet must refer to the only old man hitherto spoken of: but does δ on this account lose its nature? In the former instance it is admitted on all hands to be strictly a pronoun: and how does the addition of , v. 33, or , v. 35, destroy its essence? As well might we say that the ille of the Latins ceases to be a pronoun as often as it is associated with a substantive, adjective, or participle, with all of which it is so frequently found. But there are instances by which it may be clearly proved that Homer himself entertained no idea of the difference between the pronoun and the article, for that it was an even chance, supposing a difference, which of the two he used: which could not consistently happen were the difference essential. Thus in narrating the conflict between Hector and Patroclus, II. 793, he says,

    Supposing the sentence to conclude thus, which unquestionably it might do, ‘H would, according to the vulgar distinction, be a pronoun referring to , exactly as refers to Patroclus: but so it happens, that the writer has added in the next verse . The common doctrine will teach us that this makes a prodigious difference, and though we had determined, as the writer also, to regard ‘H as a pronoun, it is at once degraded on the appearance of , and sinks into a mere article, and yet the only alteration which takes place is, that instead of relating to , as was supposed, it is made to relate to the synonymous word . It is plain, therefore, in this example, that the difference between the article and pronoun is not essential, but accidental, and consequently, when we are speaking of the nature of the article, that there is no difference at all.'

  6. By these, and by similar convincing arguments, has Dr. M. established the first clause of his definition, a clause, which we find to be farther corroborated by the authority of the Stoics.

  7. In Section II. (p. 20), the author proceeds to the elucidation of the next clause of his definition, (the nature of the relation of the article to its predicate) by attempting to shew, that it includes, in all cases, what he has chosen to denominate (from a word used by Apollonius) an anticipative reference: to this expression, we certainly feel some objection, both from its not [189] being altogether perspicuous, and from its tending rather to obstruct than to promote our conception of the transition of the pronoun relative into the definite article. We admit that Dr. has proved, in this part of his work, that the relation of the article to its predicate 'is more or less obscure,' and we should therefore have been entirely satisfied with a mere simple summary to this effect—that while the pronoun relative is so obviously connected with its antecedent as to render a repetition of it entirely unnecessary, the article is, for the most part, so obscurely connected with its antecedent, (or that to which it refers) as absolutely to require its repetition. We have, perhaps, qualified this statement (by the insertion of 'for the most part') in a manner to which Dr. M. might not be immediately disposed to assent, as he attributes an obscure anticipative reference to the article in all cases whatsoever. We must therefore explain ourselves more fully. The degree of obscurity; then, in the reference of the article to what we must be allowed to call 'its antecedent,' appears to us to vary considerably. In such phrases as—

    the second article, which immediately follows the noun, is so evidently connected with it, that the repetition of the noun itself is no more needed than if the article were actually a pronoun relative, no more than if the phrases were turned in this manner,

    Now, again, in the following passage (from Xenophon)—


    (Anab. Δ.)

    it is plain that, although all the words to which the article is prefixed had been more or less recently mentioned, yet still the relation of the article to them respectively was so obscure, or uncertain, as to enforce their repetition; while, on the other hand, the connection of the pronoun relative with its antecedent was (as usual) of such easy and certain detection, as to preclude the least necessity of repeating after .

  8. A third class of phrases may farther be adduced, in which the reference of the article to its antecedent is involved in still greater obscurity than in the last. Such phrases would fall under the division of 'hypothetic reference,' afterwards noticed by Dr. M., and they are of a kind in which no previous mention has been made of the antecedent of the article, nor in which it [190] can possibly be supposed to be at all prominent in the mind of the reader. As an instance we give the following—

    (Aristot.)

    now in this, and in similar phrases, (as we have just been observing) the article can absolutely refer to nothing in the mind of the reader; yet it undoubtedly has its reference, and that can only be to an antecedent in the mind of the writer. As a slight illustration of this use of the article we may notice a mode of description, frequently to be met with in our books of heraldry, which runs thus, "He beareth azure, &c. &c.—by the name of A." in which form, we need hardly remark, that although the person designed by the pronoun 'he' remains unknown to the reader, till the name of such person is announced, yet that it was present to the mind of the writer, from the very beginning of his description.

  9. In something of a similar manner also we might explain the ellipsis which occasionally occurs after the article, as in the phrases, , &c.—unless indeed the reference in such phrases may be deemed (from the frequent use of them) much more obvious to the reader than in the former case.

  10. Such, then, are the different degrees of obscurity which seem to us to take place in the connection of the article with its antecedent, and to none of them does the term 'anticipative reference' appear to be very advantageously, and much less necessarily applied. It may indeed be truly urged that in most of the phrases which we have noticed, an anticipation of some subsequent word or other must arise in our mind after the article is pronounced; and if this be the whole force of the expression which Dr. M. has adopted, it is hardly an object with us to contend against it longer.

  11. It is proper to remark here that our author observes, (p. 31) that when we speak of the reference of the article itself, we must not confound it with the reference of the article and its predicate conjointly; and possibly, in some of the foregoing strictures, he may deem us guilty of this confusion. We conceive, however, that the reference which we have been ascribing to the article per se, is perfectly consonant to the doctrine (so skilfully established by Dr. M. himself) of the identity of that part of speech with the pronoun relative δ, and that we may possibly have thrown a gleam of light at least upon the conversion of the latter into the former.

  12. In Sections III. and IV. Dr. M. continues his elucidation of [191] the nature of the relation which the article bears to its predicate. In these sections we can discover nothing of weight against the opinion which we have just been defending.

  13. Section V. contains a vindication of the third, or final clause of the author's definition; on this point he observes:

    'If indeed it be admitted on the proofs already given, that the article is no other than a pronoun, the subintellection of the participle becomes a necessary consequence; for else between the pronoun and its predicate there will be no more connection than if they occurred in different propositions. must signify he, or the male, being, or assumed to be, a man. The conclusion will be the same, though the reasoning will be somewhat different, if we suppose the predicate of the article to be an adjective. Thus in the proposition, is equivalent to more greek, as Gaza indeed admits—the same is evident of in Homer, and of all similar instances. Frequently indeed we find the participle of existence expressed: thus Aristotle (de Mor.), where the author's meaning would have been equally certain had the participle been omitted. In order to perceive that the conclusion will not be different when the predicate of the article is a participle, it is necessary to attend a little to the nature of propositions, and to the distinction between the participle and the verb. Logicians teach us that every proposition contains a subject and a predicate connected by a copula, and that where this copula is not marked by a distinct word, it is implied in the verb. Thus in homo EST animal the copula is manifestly est. In homo ambulat, we find it not, indeed, distinctly expressed, but we are sure that it exists in ambulat, for ambulat is equivalent to EST ambulans, ambulabit to ERIT ambulans, &c. Now if this happens invariably in the verb, what will take place in the participle? This differs from the verb, says Harris, in losing the assertion: I think he would have done still better in adding "in place of which it takes an assumption," for if in there be an assertion that Socrates writeth, in there is an assumption of the same truth. It is plain then that the participle differs from the verb in being connected with its subject by instead of in the present tense, and by the corresponding participle of existence in others ; and this will hold equally whether that subject be a noun or pronoun, which latter the article has been shewn to be. We are therefore authorised to conclude that the participle of existence is virtually employed as an assumptive copula between the article and its predicate, even when that predicate is a participle.'

    Having thus completed the vindication of his definition, the author proceeds to apply it to the solution of phenomena.

  14. These he arranges under the following divisions:—Insertions of the Article in Reference—Insertions in Hypothesis—Omissions [192] —Insertions and Omissions combined—Proper Names—Abstract Nouns—Anomalies—Usage with certain words—Position in concord.

    These heads are subdivided into the following sections:—

    Insertions in Reference.

    1. Renewed mention—besides the insertion of the article on repeating the name of a person or thing which had recently been mentioned, (a rule which is generally known) Dr. M. observes that the same circumstance takes place on the repetition of a noun synonymous with that which had previously occurred.

    2. —In establishing this use of the article (which has also been frequently noticed) Dr. M. has shewn that it does not necessarily indicate pre-eminent worth, but that, in many cases, it only refers to something which, from some cause or other, is well known.

    3. Monadic Nouns—this use of the article is nearly allied to the former.

    4. The use of the article in the sense of the pronoun possessive—its force in this respect is also familiar to us.

    6. The article prefixed to adjectives of the neuter gender, indicating some quality or attribute in its general or abstract idea.

    7. Correlatives—under this head the author shews that words in regimine either both take or both reject the article, as , or .—A similar rule is also applicable to—

    8. Partitives, between which and their respective wholes the like mutual relation subsists.—And on the same principle the author explains—

    9. The use of the article before and .

    Hypothetic use of the Article.

    With respect to which Dr. M. observes :

    'The following use of the article differs from the preceding ones, in which the article and predicate together recall some familiar idea, being here subservient to the purpose of hypothesis. In both cases the predicate explains the obscure relation of the article, but in the latter the article, even with the aid of its predicate, does not carry back the mind to any object with which it has been recently, or is frequently conversant. It is merely the representative of something, of which, whether known or unknown, an assumption is to be made,' as—

    Aristot.

    We may here be permitted to refer our readers to what we [193] have before advanced respecting the nature of the relation of the article, and of its hypothetic uses.

    Omissions.

    1. Propositions of existence—

    2. Nouns preceded by verbs, or participles, substantive or nuncupative. In the proofs adduced on this point, we observe a trifling oversight of the Author, which we merely notice with a view to its correction in a future edition. The words, which he has attributed to the Prophets of Baal, were spoken by the people of Israel (LXX. xviii. 39.) This oversight, however, in no respect affects the reasoning of Dr. M.

    3. Verbs of appointing, choosing, creating.

    4. Nouns in apposition, in certain cases.

    6. Correlatives, or nouns in regimine, of which the former is indefinite, as . Of this practice Dr. M. expresses an approbation, in which we cannot entirely sympathize. If the Greeks could only say, for instance, "the priest of the temple" () or "a priest of a temple" () we have clearly the advantage of them; for besides being able to use the same turns of phrase, we can also convey ideas by no means precisely similar to the above, by the expressions 'the priest of a temple,' and 'a priest of the temple.'

    Insertions and Omissions combined.

    1. Subject and predicate—the subject is generally found with the article, and the predicate without it, as

    Aristot.
    Joann. i. 1.

    We adduce this instance because we have seen the rendering of 'and God was the word' proposed as an emendation of our common version.

    2. When two or more attributives joined by a copulative or copulatives are assumed of the same person or thing, before the first attributive the article is inserted, before the remaining ones it is omitted, as

    Plut.

  15. To this rule the attention of the learned has lately been attracted by Mr. Granville Sharp and by Mr. Wordsworth: it appears, however, that it is not without the exceptions, 1st. of names of substances, considered as substances; 2d. of proper names; 3d. of abstract ideas, as—

    Æschin.
    Plat. [194]

    The use of the Article before Proper Names.

    The result of a very full and accurate investigation of this subject is, that the article is frequently placed before proper names of celebrity, before those which have been previously mentioned, and before those which are familiar to the hearer—before the names of deities also and of places.

    The Article before abstract Nouns.

    In his discussion of this subject the author professes to have found peculiar difficulty, and indeed there appears to be more refinement and perplexity in it than in any other part of his work. He however establishes, with some licence, that the article is usually prefixed to abstract nouns—

    When they are used in their most abstract sense,

    When they are personified,

    When the article is employed with them in the sense of a possessive pronoun, and

    When there is reference, either retrospective or anticipative.

  16. And, lastly, the Author closes his enquiry with an examination of some anomalies, (of which the most remarkable is the occasional insertion or rejection of the article after prepositions) with an investigation of the use of the article with respect to the words and with remarks on the position of it in concord.

  17. The numerous canons and discoveries which Dr. M. has announced to us are very powerfully maintained throughout by abundant quotations from the Greek classics, and by a most successful application of eminent critical acumen; and we trust that the analysis which we have now given of his very valuable treatise, will excite an inclination in our readers to study the work itself with all the care which it obviously requires, and which it will amply repay.

  18. We shall now proceed to an examination of the second part of the work before us—but in doing this we must content ourselves with bringing forward to notice a few only of those portions of it which appear to us most worthy of attention, and with observing, upon the whole, that the great impartiality with which the commentary is usually executed, the depth of theological learning which is displayed in it, and its accurate interpretation, or correction, of a variety of passages of Scripture, upon principles in a great degree novel as well as just, must infallibly render it a most secure and acceptable guide to future editors or translators of the New Testament.

  19. Before we select, however, any of the interpretations of [195] Dr. M. it may not be improper to remove from the mind of our readers any prejudices which they may entertain against the application of classical canons to the writings of the Evangelists; this we cannot better effect than by the reasoning of our author:

    'It may be asked, (p. 152), is it likely that writers who were confessedly untaught, and whose Greek style is far removed from classical purity, should pay regard to circumstances so minute as are the usages of the Greek article? In the recent controversy the negative of this question has been assumed, I will venture to affirm, without any right founded on fair reasoning, or on the nature of the case. It will not indeed be immediately conceded that all the Writers of the N. T. were illiterate persons. To St. Paul some have ascribed a considerable degree of learning, much more, probably, than he really possessed; and if the acquirements of St. Luke were not pre-eminent, his style gives us no reason to believe that his education, any more than his condition in life, was mean. If, therefore, we recollect how a large a portion of the sacred volume was written by these two, and that St. Paul is the writer from whom, principally, the controverted texts are drawn, it may well be doubted whether the known simplicity of some of the Apostles could afford any argument to Mr. Sharp's antagonists. My own concern, however, is with the New Testament in general. The objectors argue as if they imagined that the sacred writers encountered the same difficulties in acquiring Greek, which our peasants and mechanics would meet with in their attempt to learn French or Italian: but the cases are plainly dissimilar. The greater part of Englishmen pass through life without having ever heard a conversation in any language but their own: but this is not applicable to the writers of the New Testament, neither were they natives of a country where Greek was rarely spoken. The victories of Alexander and the consequent establishment of the Seleucidæ, produced a revolution in the language of Syria and Palestine. The Aramæan dialects still, indeed, continued to be in use, but the language of literature and of commerce, and in a great degree of the ordinary intercourse of life, was the Greek. In this state of things then what were we to expect à priori from the writers of the New Testament? I speak not of St. Luke and St. Paul, of whom Greek was the native language, but of the other Evangelists and Apostles. It was not indeed to be expected, if we reflect on their circumstances and habits of life, and on the remoteness of Palestine, that they should write with the elegance of learned Athenians; but I know not of any reasonable presumption against their writing with perspicuity and with grammatical correctness, and it is against these, and not against elegance, that the improper use of the Article would offend. It is not true, therefore, however prevalent may be the opinion, that the uses of the Greek Article do, for the most part, deserve to be considered as minutiæ; unless it be deemed minute in writing to adhere to the ordinary [196] construction of the language, and to employ, in nouns the case, and in verbs the mood and tense which the writer's meaning may require.'

    These remarks, we conceive, may be sufficient to procure a ready attention to Dr. Middleton's Commentary.

  20. Matthew, c. i, 18, —In investigating this text, Dr. M. takes an opportunity of discriminating, with great acuteness, six meanings of the word —1st. That of breath or wind; 2d. The intellectual part of man as opposed to his carnal part, or ; 3d. Spirit, as abstracted from body or matter (as , Luke xxiv, 39—, John iv, 24.); 4th. , the Great and pre-eminent Spirit, the Third person of the Trinity; and in this acceptation our Author shews that or is never used without the article; 5th. The influence or operation (not the Person) of the Holy Spirit, as in the expression 'being filled with the Holy Ghost'; in this sense and are always without the article (except, of course, in the case of renewed mention or reference); and 6th. The effects of the infusion of the Holy Spirit.

    'Now,' says Dr. M. 'if we put together the consequences of what has been shewn under the fourth and fifth heads, we shall perceive the futility of pretending that the Holy Spirit is, as some aver, merely an influence: the sacred writers have clearly, and in strict conformity with the analogy of language distinguished the influence from the Person of the Spirit. In like manner the Personality of the Holy Spirit is deducible by comparing the third and fourth heads: for if in the passages adduced under the third, mean a spiritual agent, , where there is no renewed mention, nor any other possible interpretation of the article but the use of it, can mean only the one Spiritual Agent of acknowledged and pre-eminent dignity. But the personality of under the third cannot be disputed unless by those who would controvert the personality of: the personality therefore of used more greek must be conceded.'

    We deem this reasoning to be equally new and convincing.

    Matth. iv, 3, —in the discussion of these words Dr. M. observes:

    'It is evident that there can be only four combinations arising from the insertion or omission of the article before and . is never found, and it would scarcely have been Greek: is common, but is allowed to be meant in the highest acceptation : we need therefore consider only and. Now there are instances (besides that which has given birth to this [197] discussion) which prove incontestably that was never meant to be taken in an inferior sense, i.e. on the supposition that Christ was ever declared to be the Son of God in the usual acceptation. Thus Mark i, 1, is spoken by the Evangelist himself of Jesus. John x, 36, this same phrase is employed by Christ himself of himself, and Matth. xxvi, 40, it is used by those who well knew Christ's pretensions. Stronger proofs derived from circumstances cannot be expected; for if Christ be admitted ever to be called the Son of God, we cannot believe that less would be affirmed of him in any of these examples. Neither iswithout either of the articles to be taken in an inferior sense: for not to examine all the places in which it occurs, we have Matth. xxvii, 43, the crime laid to Christ that he said "I am the son of God" which the high priests would hardly palliate. In Luke i, 35, the same phrase is affirmed of Christ by an angel: and Rom. i, 4, of Christ by the Apostle Paul. It is plain from these proofs that the presence or the absence of the article does not determine the phrase to be used in a higher or lower sense. Is it then to be concluded that the article may generally be used at pleasure? This is the very hypothesis that I would combat: but in this particular phrase there is a licence arising out of the nature of the word , (see on Luke i, 15) and hence it will be allowable (see Part I. p. 53) to write either or indifferently: the former however is the more common. The reason why we meet with both and is, that here two principles interfere. After verbs substantive the first article should be omitted: yet whereprecedes, it is not unfrequently inserted. (See Part I. p. 44.)'

  21. These observations (as well indeed as the foregoing ones) may serve to shew the great importance of Dr. M.'s theory of the article in the interpretation of passages in Scripture hitherto deemed of dubious meaning. 'Matth. xxvi, 26, —We refer to the Comment on these words merely for the sake of observing that Epiphanius (who flourished about the year 350) gives a testimony somewhat contradictory to the assertion made by Dr. M. in speaking accidentally of the ancient form of the sacramental bread, 'The round loaf,' says Dr. M. 'which appears in paintings of the Consecration of the Elements, is like many other things of the same sort, a violation of historical truth.' Now this loaf is called by Epiphanius (Anchoret. 57)

  22. Luke i, 32, —'Here,' says Dr. M. 'Mr. Wakefield translates 'a son of the most High God:' why he did not from regard to consistency write also 'a most High God,' I do not pretend to know; yet assuredly that rendering would have been equally defensible. If the phrase be not here meant in a pre-eminent [198] sense, the declaration of the angel amounts to very little, at the same time that it ill accords with what immediately follows: the prophecy must either be that Christ should be called the Son of God in the sense in which he afterwards so styled himself, or else that he should be merely one of the of which number is every righteous person in every age, see Rom. viii, 14. , it is true, wants the article in the original, and so it must have done allowing the sense to be the most definite: afterwould not be Greek.'

  23. John i, 1, —For entire satisfaction with respect to this much disputed text, we must refer our readers to the work itself which we are reviewing, and shall only observe here, that it is decisively proved by a canon (already established in Part I., that no stress can be laid upon the absence of the article before , as it must necessarily reject the article from being the predicate of a proposition.

  24. John iii, 10.—;—We notice these words in order to observe that we cannot acquiesce in Dr. M.'s conjecture respecting them; is undoubtedly to be rendered 'the Teacher,' but we are far from being satisfied that any such Rabbinical title was ever conferred; besides our Author has himself observed on the very same words (Luke xxii, 11.) the disciples of any particular teacher could not well have spoken of their master in another manner; this seems to render the supposition of its being a title still more improbable. We should rather be inclined to think, from the very high consideration in which Nicodemus is acknowledged to have been held, that the article might on this occasion have been merely used . Can any light be reflected on this passage from the words (art thou a [or the?] wise man of Israel?) which appears to have been proverbially used by the Jews in reproaching a Rabbi with ignorance or error; as was the case in our Saviour's address to Nicodemus above quoted?

  25. John viii, 44.—- The Commentary here is too long to be inserted, but as it affords a completely satisfactory explanation of a text hitherto uniformly misinterpreted, we have thought proper to give the result. The difficulty (as is well known) lies in the words now Dr. M. has proved by the most indubitable classical authority, that the indefinite pronoun should be understood before , which being admitted, the rendering will become abundantly easy and perfectly suitable to the context, 'It had been said, 'ye are of [199] your father the Devil,' it is here added, 'When (any of you) speaks that which is false, he speaks after the manner of his kindred; for he is a liar, and so also is his father." (). On turning to this text in the late (soi-disant) Improved Version of the N. T. we could not but regret that the Editors of it had either no opportunity, or no inclination, to consult the work before us, as it would have spared them the notable rendering of 'the father of liars.' By attending also to other remarks of Dr. M. on passages of higher importance, the Editors of the Improved Version might certainly have much increased the value, however they might have deformed the consistency, of their Socinian anthology.

  26. I. Corinth. XV, 8.— Dr. M. very forcibly contends that the meaning of the word , in this text, has been much mistaken; and that it signifies, not fœtus immaturus, avortement, 'one born out of due time' (as our common version has it), but the youngest of a brood, or, to use his own words, 'the last born offspring of multiparous animals at a given birth.' May it not be also understood to mean the youngest of a family? Quemadmodum enim Benjamin abortivus, matre moriente, minimus, atque inter duodecim Jacob filios postremus natus est; ita & hic Benjamides, moriente Synagoga. Crit. Sac. Zeger. in loco.

  27. Coloss. ii, 14.—. The translations of this text are, we think, justly deemed by our Author to have been uniformly erroneous. He has shewn that there is an ellipsis (by no means an unusual one, indeed,) of before , and he is inclined to render 'the bond, together with all its covenants' meaning by the 'covenants' the expiations, &c. prescribed by the Levitical law, and by 'the bond' the Law itself. But as the covenants are certainly a material part of the bond, and as the term cannot but be equally applicable both to the bond and to the conditions inserted into it, we would propose a variation from Dr. M.'s interpretation, by rendering (as he does) the Written Law, and the Traditions or Oral Law (the as it is usually called by the writers in the N. T.)— is used in a very similar sense in Act. Apost. xvi, 14, (præcepta) —The interpretation, which we propose, accords entirely with the context; for as the Jews valued their Traditions (as Lightfoot expresses it, Heb. & Talmud. Exer.) "above the word of God," it was natural enough in St. Paul to point out to his gentile converts the full weight of that yoke from which [200] the worshippers of the One True God were relieved by Christ. Titus ii, v. 13, —We are perfectly willing to admit the translation of these words which Dr. M. has defended ('of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ'), and to accept his opinion that and are spoken of the same person. We do not, however, think that this interpretation is solely to be rested on the application of Mr. Sharp's rule. If there be other passages in the N. T. to establish the Divinity of Christ (and such we conceive there are) Mr. Sharp's rule may be safely applied (in the case before us) as a farther corroboration of that doctrine; but on those who are not previously convinced of the unity of the Father and the Son, that rule, we apprehend, will hardly produce (on the present occasion) the effect which Dr. M. attributes to it; for might it not be urged by the persons of whom we have now been speaking, that the text before us would fall under that exception to Mr. Sharp's rule (stated by Dr. M. himself) by which it is admitted that a conjunction of proper names by the copulative does not imply their application to one and the same individual, as ? Now , it will readily be recollected, is allowed to partake of the nature of a proper name, and some authority appears (though by no means equally decisive) for attributing the like quality to the word .

  28. Hebrews ix, 1. This is another passage which has been greatly misunderstood; our common translation has 'a worldly sanctuary,' and we observe that it agrees with the Vulgate, an older Italic, and the version of Beza: but Dr. M. has abundantly satisfied us, by the application of his doctrine of the article, that such rendering is erroneous, and that , not (as is usually supposed) is here to be taken as a substantive. With this opinion the Coptic coincides, which interprets the text in question by words equivalent (according to Wilkins) to 'sanctum splendorem,' or (according to La Crose) to 'sanctum ornamentum.' Dr. M. is inclined to think that includes in its meaning 'vasa sancta, totumque apparatum Leviticum'; but we are rather disposed to adopt a conjecture, which he has noticed with some approbation, that should be rendered the 'Holy Beauty,' or (as it is expressed in the oriental idiom ('' I. Chronic, xvi, 29, and Psalm xxix, 2) 'the Beauty of Holiness,' i. e. the Temple. To this interpretation the context appears to us to be peculiarly favourable, for in the verses which immediately follow (2 and 3), St. Paul actually describes the divisions of the Temple and the sacred utensils, &c. which were contained in them. These verses are [201] immediately connected with the preceding one by , and as the word is omitted in verse 1 by a great majority of MSS. and authorities, and is understood (as by our Translators) in its place, every difficulty appears to be removed.

  29. I. John v, 7.
    8.

  30. Dr. M. has once more attracted attention to these celebrated verses by a very long, learned, and unassuming dissertation, the great object of which is to shew that the article before (in the 8th verse) must necessarily refer to the in the preceding verse, and that consequently both verses must be retained or both rejected. After the very full discussion of the authenticity of the passage in question, by some of our first theologians and scholars, we shall content ourselves with observing that we deem Dr. M.'s philological argument to be highly worthy of attention, and that we have often thought there was some weight also in the following remark of Dr. Hey (in his dissertation on the disputed clause) that if (as he decidedly proves) it might be more easily expunged unfairly than admitted unfairly, it is more easy to conceive it genuine than spurious.

  31. Revelat. x. 7.— The readers of these words would undoubtedly expect a future tense instead of the aorist, and in Beza's Ed. is accordingly inserted; this is approved by Archbishop Newcome, but Dr. M. has very clearly shewn that the phrase, as it now stands, is a Hebraism, and that it is similar to Judges iv, 18, 'If thou wilt go with me, I will go' ( ) literally "and I went," or, 'I also am gone.' Dr. M. seems not averse to the opinion of those who ascribe a Hebrew original to the Apocalypse.

  32. The Appendix to the work before us consists of a laboured and masterly Critique on the Codex Cantab. or Codex Bezæ—the result of it we shall express in the Author's own words: 'I conclude with subscribing to the opinion of Matthaï somewhat modified. I believe that no fraud was intended; but only that the critical possessor of the basis filled its margin with glosses and readings chiefly from the Latin, being a Christian of the Western Church; and that the whole collection of Latin passages was translated into Greek and substituted in the text by some one, who had a high opinion of their value, and who was, as Wetstein describes him ' quam vel Græcæ vel Latinæ linguæ peritior.' [202]

  33. In now taking leave of Dr. Middleton, we have merely to repeat the high approbation, which we have already strongly expressed, of his very elaborate production, and also to signify our hope that we have decisively shewn in the course of the preceding pages, that the application of his Doctrine of the Article to the illustration of the New Testament, is far from being confined to minutiæ of inferior importance, but that, on the contrary, it serves strongly to confirm the truth of a remark of Lord Bacon, who, in speaking of the Holy Scriptures, affirms "complecti eas non solum totaliter aut collective, sed distributive etiam in clausulis et vocabulis singulis, innumeros doctrinæ rivulos et venas, ad Ecclesiæ singulas partes, et animas fidelium irrigandas."

About this Page

Published @ RC

September 2006

City

ProvinceOrState

Country