Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures: Together with the Practice of Prelates

Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures: Together with the Practice of Prelates

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Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures: Together with the Practice of Prelates

Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures: Together with the Practice of Prelates

Read FREE!

Excerpt

An ancient edition of the following exposition is preserved in the library of St Paul's Cathedral, and has been collated for the present editor by George Offor, Esq. Its peculiar readings will be distinguished by the letters P. C. L.; whilst those found in Day's less ancient edition of Tyndale's works will be denoted by the letter D. In the former, Tyndale is found to have systematically avoided giving the Roman pontiff the title of pope; but in Day's reprint his editor John Foxe has with like regularity substituted pope for the words 'bishop of Rome,' or for any other periphrasis to the same purport. Another difference is, that in the older copy the relative pronoun which is frequently found with the prefixed; whilst Day has modernised this idiom by omitting the. In the present edition Tyndale's manner of designating the pope will be restored; but the obsolete idiom connected with which will be relinquished, after Day's example; and these two repeatedly recurring variations will not be farther noticed at the foot of the page.

But, besides these unimportant differences, the volume in the cathedral library contains an exposition of the second and third epistles of St John, printed on the same paper and in the same type, and followed by a table, or index, with references to the expositions of all the three, as to one work; whilst the want of a title-page prevents us from knowing whether its editor announced the whole as Tyndale's, or informed the public that the exposition of the two less epistles had been 'added by another hand.' Tyndale himself has said in his prologue, 'I have taken in hand to interpret this epistle,' as though he was not intending to expound the other two; and Sir Thomas More, in the preface to his 'Confutacyon' (date 1532), has said, 'Then have we from Tyndale the first epistle of St John, in such wise expounded that I dare say that blessed apostle, rather than his holy words were in such a sense believed of all Christian people, had lever his epistle had never been put in writing.' Day's edition of Tyndale was compiled rather more than 40 years after he and More had spoken thus; and in it the reprint of the exposition of the first epistle is unaccompanied by any notice of the existence of an exposition of the other two by Tyndale: so that Foxe either did not know of its existence, or did not believe it to be Tyndale's. Indeed every known averment of his having composed an exposition of all St John's epistles is traceable to bishop Bale's introducing the words In epistolas Joannis into his enumeration of Tyndale's works, in the Scriptorum illustr. Maj. Britanniœ Catalogus.

As however Tyndale might have composed a continuation of his exposition of the first epistle, between 1531 and his death, though he had not contemplated so doing; and as Bale's frequent inaccuracy ought not to prevent his testimony from having considerable weight, inasmuch as he was nearly 30 years of age when Tyndale suffered martyrdom; it has been the present editor's duty to give the exposition of the two less epistles a careful examination. But having done so, he would not think himself justified in reproducing it, either as Tyndale's work, or as too valuable to be left in obscurity. The text of those two epistles, incorporated into their exposition, is indeed nearly identical with Tyndale's, having only such occasional verbal changes as he has introduced into the text in his other expositions; and one of those changes, viz. that of senior into elder, is such as he had, in 1530, announced his intention of making. But when sir T. More's cavils drew from him that announcement, Tyndale added, 'He rebuketh me also that I render this Greek word Agape into love, and not rather into charity. Verily charity is no known English in that sense which Agape requireth.' These words are followed by a whole section of remarks on the impropriety of using the word charity, where there is occasion to speak of that love which the scriptures commend. (Answ. to sir T. More's Dial.). But the author of the exposition of the two less epistles does not get through his second paragraph before he uses charity twice for love, in the very manner to which Tyndale thus objected: and short as the whole exposition is, he does not conclude it without employing the same word three times more, where Tyndale would have considered the word love as more plain English, and sufficient for expressing what was meant to be said.

There are also such ungrammatical and ill-constructed sentences in the exposition of the two less epistles, as Tyndale was too skilful a writer to have penned. For example, in explaining verse 12 of epistle III, the expositor has expressed himself as follows: 'It must undoubtedly have been a man of marvellous integrity and unblameable, this Demetrius, unto whom all the congregation of good men, yea, and the truth also, beside that the apostle John, a man without guile, and that had not learned to flatter, gave such verdict.' But besides these discrepancies between his words and style, and those of Tyndale, this expositor has indulged in such fancies as are not at all in harmony with Tyndale's manner of commenting upon the scriptures. Thus on verse 1 of epistle II, he says, ' John calleth the church or congregation a lady, because she is the bride of the Lord Jesus; and the members of the church he calleth children, remaining so still, in comparing and alluding.' And in concluding his exposition, he says, of both epistles, 'The shortness hath a wondrous favour; and the briefness hath also mysteries.' If Tyndale had written upon these epistles, and so thought, he would have told his readers why he imagined there was a mystery in the brevity, and what he supposed that mystery to mean. In another place, on ver. 10 of Epist. III, the expositor has said that 'it is the duty of true herdsmen, to forgive nought.' It is incredible that Tyndale would have expressed himself so rashly, or inculcated a rule of proceeding so contrary to plain scripture.

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