Preface to the Five Books of Moses
TO MY READERS.
THE very favourable reception given by the most eminent Scholars, Divines, and the general Public, to my translations of St. Paul's Epistles, the New Testament, and the Book of Job into Modern English, has removed all need for my making any apology for this First Volume of The Bible in Modern English, containing the Five Books of Moses. The sale of the preceding portions has been extensive, St. Paul's Epistles having reached a Sixth Edition, the Gospels two large issues, one of 3,000 and the second of 6,000 copies, and the Book of Job two editions.
In the Books of Moses now presented I have followed my plan of making a translation direct from the Hebrew into English without any other version before me. I do not consequently claim my work to be free from error, the more so as, owing to the severe illness of a very learned friend who had intended to revise it, I have had to make the translation single-handed, and not with the valuable assistance he gave me in my former portions of the Sacred Scriptures. The loss of his help, however, has been partially supplied by the aid of that ripe Hebrew Scholar, the Rev. John Bowen, B.D., Rector of St. Lawrence, Wolfs Castle, Pembrokeshire, whose critical knowledge of Oriental tongues, and all the Authorities upon Hebrew, has been of vital assistance to me, especially in the Books of Genesis and Deuteronomy.
But in so entirely a new plan of Translation and Criticism as I have adopted many errors will no doubt be found, and if my readers will point out to me any parts where errors or omission of words may be discovered, I shall be grateful, and record them in my interleaved copy for a future edition.
I am now old; but in my youth I pledged a resolve to God to use my talents and acquirements to establish the authenticity of the Sacred Scriptures as a Revelation from Him to Man, by making them intelligible, through the use of Modern English, to my Countrymen in all parts of the earth; and although I have been engaged in active commercial affairs for over forty years, I never ceased my studies to that end, and the progressive execution of it, in spite of conducting a business that extended to all parts of the world. The Almighty has blessed my work so far, and I hope will enable me to accomplish the whole, and enjoy the pleasure of attaining the chief object of my existence,—to make the Books of the Bible as intelligible to my Race in the British Empire, and the great American Commonwealth, in spoken English, as they are to myself in the Oriental tongues, in return for His inspiration, through those Sacred Scriptures, having in early manhood taken me from the Mental Hell of Sceptical Doubt, to the Home of assured Rest in a knowledge of His Eternal Laws, which He revealed first in them, and is again in our days confirming by His fresh Revelation of them through thesciencesofPhysicalResearch. Upon this fact the reader should consult my Introduction to St. Paul's Epistles, in their sixth edition. 1
Finally, I must note as to my spelling of the proper names of localities and men. As I made my translation from the Hebrew without any English version open before me, I have followed the now general plan of Oriental scholars, and simply transliterated those names, except a few, such as "Moses," "Joshua," etc., which are too fixed by popular use to be altered. The Geographical Names I invariably retain in transliterated form; because the attempt of my predecessors in translation from the Septuagint and Vulgate, and their versionists, to render them into their supposed Greek equivalents territorially, has made such wild misplacing of Nations and Towns as to remind one of the dreams of a mapmaker gone mad; whole kingdoms often having been put thousands of miles away from their actual localities and these blunders have been incorporated in all our literature.
Hoping for the Divine blessing on my work, I remain, My Readers' servant,
345, City Road, London, E.C., England, 1901.
- Published by Horace Marshall & Son,Temple House,E.C.