slowly away. He sat down on the curb-stone, faint and despairing,

Now, if any one thinks that is easy, or only a matter of course, he plainly shows that he has never been a theologian or a scholar in a contested field. Ask any lawyer whether it is easy to handle his authorities with entire impartiality, whether it is a matter of course that he will let them say just what they meant to say when his case is involved. Of course, he will seek to do it as an honest lawyer, but equally, of course, he will have to keep close watch on himself or he will fail in doing it. Ask any historian whether it is easy to handle the original documents in a field in which he has firm and announced opinions, and to let those documents speak exactly what they mean to say, whether they support him or not. The greater historians will always do it, but they will sometimes do it with a bit of a wrench.

slowly away. He sat down on the curb-stone, faint and despairing,

Even a scholar is human, and these men sitting in their six companies would all have to meet this Book afterward, would have their opinions tried by it. There must have been times when some of them would be inclined to salt the mine a little, to see that it would yield what they would want it to yield later. So far as these men were able to do it, they made it say in English just what it said in Hebrew and Greek. They showed no inclination to use it as a weapon in their personal warfare.

slowly away. He sat down on the curb-stone, faint and despairing,

One line of that honest effort is worth observing more closely. When points were open to fair discussion, and scholarship had not settled them, they were careful not to let their version take sides when it could be avoided. On some mooted words they did not try translation, but transliteration instead. That is, they brought the Greek or Hebrew word over into English, letter by letter. Suppose scholars differed as to the exact meaning in English of a word in the Greek. Some said it has this meaning, and some that it has that. Now, if the version committed itself to one of those meanings, it became an argument at once against the other and helped to settle a question on which scholarship was not yet agreed. They could avoid making a partisan Book by the simple device of bringing the word which was disputed over into the new translation. That left the discussion just where it was before, but it saved the work from being partisan. The method of transliteration did not always work to advantage, as we shall see, but it was intended throughout to save the Book from taking sides on any question where honest men might differ as to the meaning of words.

slowly away. He sat down on the curb-stone, faint and despairing,

They did that with all proper names, and that was notable in the Old Testament, because most Old Testament proper names can be translated. They all mean something in themselves. Adam is the Hebrew word for man; Abraham means Father of a Great Multitude; David is the Hebrew word for Beloved; Malachi means My Messenger. Yet as proper names they do not mean any of those things. It is impossible to translate a proper name into another tongue without absurdity. It must be transliterated. Yet there is constant fascination for translators in the work of translating these proper names, trying to make them seem more vivid. It is quite likely, though it is disputed, that proper names do all go back to simple meanings. But by the time they become proper names they no longer have those meanings. The only proper treatment of them is by transliteration.

The King James translators follow that same practice of transliteration rather than translation with another word which is full of controversial. possibility. I mean the word "baptism." There was dispute then as now about the method of that ordinance in early Christian history. There were many who held that the classical meaning which involved immersion had been taken over bodily into the Christian faith, and that all baptism was by immersion. There were others who held that while that might be the classical meaning of the word, yet in early Christian custom baptism was not by immersion, but might be by sprinkling or pouring, and who insisted that no pressure on the mode was wise or necessary. That dispute continues to this day. Early versions of the Bible already figured in the discussion, and for a while there was question whether this King James version should take sides in that controversy, about which men equally loyal to truth and early Christian history could honestly differ. The translators avoided taking sides by bringing the Greek word which was under discussion over into English, letter by letter. Our word "baptism" is not an English word nor a Saxon word; it is a purely Greek word. The controversy has been brought over into the English language; but the King James version avoided becoming a controversial book. A number of years ago the convictions of some were so strong that another version of the Bible was made, in which the word baptism was carefully replaced by what was believed to be the English translation, "immersion," but the version never had wide influence.

In this connection it is well to notice the effort of the King James translators at a fair statement of the divine name. It will be remembered that it appears in the Old Testament ordinarily as "LORD," printed in small capitals. A very interesting bit of verbal history lies back of that word. The word which represents the divine name in Hebrew consists of four consonants, J or Y, H, V, and H. There are no vowels; indeed, there were no vowels in the early Hebrew at all. Those that we now have were added not far from the time of Christ. No one knows the original pronunciation of that sacred name consisting of four letters. At a very early day it had become too sacred to pronounce, so that when men came to it in reading or in speech, they simply used another word which is, translated into English, Lord, a word of high dignity. When the time came that vowels were to be added to the consonants, the vowels of this other word Lord were placed under the consonants of the sacred name, so that in the word Jehovah, where the J H V H occur, there are the consonants of one word whose vowels are unknown and the vowels of another word whose consonants are not used.

Illustrate it by imagining that in American literature the name Lincoln gathered to itself such sacredness that it was never pronounced and only its consonants were ever printed. Suppose that whenever readers came to it they simply said Washington, thinking Lincoln all the while. Then think of the displacement of the vowels of Lincoln by the vowels of Washington. You have a word that looks like Lancilon or Lanicoln; but a reader would never pronounce so strange a word. He would always say Washington, yet he would always think the other meaning. And while he would retain the meaning in some degree, he would soon forget the original word, retaining only his awe of it. Which is just what happened with the divine name. The Hebrews knew it was not Lord, yet they always said Lord when they came to the four letters that stood for the sacred word. The word Jehovah, made up of the consonants of an unknown word and the vowels of a familiar word, is in itself meaningless. Scholarship is not yet sure what was the original meaning of the sacred name with its four consonants.

These translators had to face that problem. It was a peculiar problem at that time. How should they put into English the august name of God when they did not know what the true vowels were? There was dispute among scholars. They did not take sides as our later American Revision has done, some of us think quite unwisely. They chose to retain the Hebrew usage, and print the divine name in unmistakable type so that its personal meaning could not be mistaken.

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