From the INTRODUCTION. The primary object of this work is to indicate means for constructing a clue by which scholars may systematically find their way through any Greek translation from Hebrew back to the Hebrew original. The secondary object is to demonstrate that parts of the Synoptic Gospels are based upon a common original Hebrew document, not Aramaic, but Hebrew in the strict sense, biblical Hebrew. Another object is to give specimens of the manner in which one may employ the clue so as to return from the ...
From the INTRODUCTION. The primary object of this work is to indicate means for constructing a clue by which scholars may systematically find their way through any Greek translation from Hebrew back to the Hebrew original. The secondary object is to demonstrate that parts of the Synoptic Gospels are based upon a common original Hebrew document, not Aramaic, but Hebrew in the strict sense, biblical Hebrew. Another object is to give specimens of the manner in which one may employ the clue so as to return from the Gospels to their original Hebrew. Some years ago, the notion that a Jewish Christian would write a Gospel in Hebrew, a dead language, might have been dismissed by many as absurd. But the recent discovery of the lost Hebrew of portions of Ecclesiasticus reveals a Jew, long after Hebrew had ceased to be spoken, writing with fair success in "biblical Hebrew," just as the chroniclers of the life of St. Francis might write the Saint's words (as well as his deeds) in Latin, though St. Francis spoke in Italian. This in itself - apart from the opinion of so learned and laborious a scholar as Professor Resch - ought to convince people that there is no antecedent improbability in the hypothesis that the earliest written Gospel was composed in biblical Hebrew. From this original Hebrew to ascend still further to the Galilaean Aramaic actually uttered by our Lord, is a different object - possibly attainable, and certainly not underrated by the author, but not contemplated in this treatise. On the hypothesis of a Hebrew Gospel, the differences between Aramaic and Hebrew will not be likely to affect that large portion of the Gospels in which the evangelists, speaking in their own person, describe Christ's birth, death, resurrection, and miracles. The earliest Christian ecclesiastical historian, Papias, tells us that "Matthew composed the Logia in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he could." This external evidence dissipates a good deal of the alleged improbability of a Hebrew original. However, neither external evidence nor antecedent probabilities will find much space in the following pages. For it is there maintained that the internal evidence derivable from a Greek document can as absolutely and scientifically demonstrate translation from biblical Hebrew documents, as fossils in a rock can demonstrate the action of water. The details of the demonstration will be often necessarily technical, but its fundamental principles can be made clear to the simplest intelligence. And even of the details a large number can be mastered without knowledge of any ancient language. For the scholar, the statements made in the text will be demonstrated by quotations from the Hebrew Bible and from the Greek translations of it. These the "unlearned" reader will be unable to understand. Similarly, in a Court of Justice, a juror may be unable to understand the words of a foreign witness. He depends on the interpreter. But he is not thereby excluded from giving a verdict, and his verdict is generally right. This is as it should be. It seems intolerable that, on points vitally affecting the religion and spiritual development of the multitudes, the ultimate judgment should rest with a few linguistic or theological specialists. The truth is - and to show that it is true is another object of this work - that what is called "the higher criticism" is simply scientific investigation and classification submitted to the judgment of common sense.
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