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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT :
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of July, A.D. 1813, and in the thirty-seventh year of the Independence of the United States of America, BRADFORD & READ of the said District, have deposited in this Office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as Proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
"Evangelical History or a Narrative of the Life, Doctrines and Miracles of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Savior; and of his holy Apostles; Containing the Four Gospels and the Acts; with a General Introduction, and Prefatory Remarks to each Book; and Notes, didactic, explanatory, and critical. Designed chiefly for those who have not eisure to peruse the larger works of voluminous Commentators. By ALDEN BRADFORD. And many other miracles Jesus in fact performed which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye may have life through his name." John xx. 20.
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned ;” and also to an Act entitled, "An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, an Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other Prints."
WILLIAM S. SHAW,
Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.
Ir will be readily admitted by the intelligent Christian, that some passages of Scripture require explanation, and that in some instances the common translation needs to be corrected, for the improvement of those who are unacquainted with the language in which they were originally written, and who have not leisure to consult the larger works in the hands of the theological student. The Editor of this volume has it in view to furnish remarks, which may explain difficult texts and terms in a small compass.
He pretends not to offer any thing new to the biblical critic; nor does he expect to give satisfaction concerning all the obscure phrases and expressions, which occur in the sacred writers. He can only say, that he has read the original, and consulted learned commentators with some attention; and proposes merely to exhibit, in a less voluminous form, whatever is material as to the meaning of the writers of the evangelical narrative.
The text, in variance with the commonly received translation, he has ventured to correct in a few instances only, where fidelity seemed to require it: And in these cases even, he trusts he has obtruded no fanciful or conjectural alterations. But in the notes, he has freely inserted all emendations warranted by the criticisms of the learned; so that the reader may judge for himself, as to the force or propriety of the proposed corrections.
He is aware, that some serious persons are opposed to all alterations in the commonly received translation of the sacred volume. But it should be considered, that there have been several translations of the Bible in the English language, which succeeded one another, as it was believed the latter were more correct than the former ones. The translation now in use in England and America, was introduced in 1612. The learning and fidelity of the translators cannot be too highly appreciated. But they were not inspired. And it will not be doubted, that the researches and criticisms of learned men, since their time, have thrown much light upon difficult passages of Scripture: nor will it be denied, that some terms in the common translation are now obsolete and unintelligible.
The gospels and other books of divine reve. lation were originally written without vision into chapters and verses, as they now any diappear. They were, however, early formed into sections, for the purpose of being read in christian churches, as a part of the religious service. The division into chapters was in the thirteenth century; and is generally attributed to a Cardinal of the church of Rome. R. Stephens, who was a great biblical student, and superintended the printing of the Holy Scriptures, is said to have been the author of the division into verses, in 1551.-These divisions are arbitrary, but generally judicious ; and yet in some instances the sense and meaning of the sacred writers would more fully appear by a different arrangement.
The desire of avoiding a large work had much influence in fixing upon the plan, of giving only the GOSPELS and the Acts of the APOSTLES. But in having the volume consist only of those parts of sacred history, it was also considered, that a connected and complete relation would thus be furnished of the Life and Doctrines of our Divine Re-: deemer; of his Apostles, their labors and services; and of the first establishment and prevalence of Christianity, (embracing a period
of about seventy years from the birth of Christ,) which we derive from inspired writers. This, in fact, is the whole authentic account, of which we know the church was ever possessed, of the Founder and first teachers of our holy religion. Their story ends with the Acts, written by St. Luke. The Epistles, which compose the residue of the sacred volume, are, indeed, highly important, as they elucidate the doctrines of the Gospel, and furnish moral precepts and instructions for individuals and societies. But they are not history.
It is not intended to suggest, that any por. tion of the sacred writings are unworthy our study and attention. "All Scripture, given by inspiration, is profitable for doctrine, for, reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness." But it has been common.. to publish particular parts of Scripture in separate volumes. Thus, the writings of Moses have been published in a distinct form, without the other parts of the Bible. Thus, the Psalms, and the Prophets, the Four Gospels, and the Epistles of St. Paul, have respectively appeared in volumes by themselves, because the Editors had given greater attention to those particular books.-The present vol