Page:The Holy Scripture (Myles Coverdale).djvu/5

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A prologue

Myles Couerdale Unto the Chriſten reader

COnſiderynge how excellent knowlege and lernynge an interpreter of ſcripture oughte to haue in the tongues, and ponderyng alſo myne owne inſufficiency therin, & how weake I am to perfourme ye office of a tranſlatoure, I was the more lothe to medle with this worke Nothwhſtondynge whan I cōſydered how greate pytie it was that we ſhulde wante it ſo longe, & called to my remembraunce ye aduerſite of them, which were not onely of rype knowlege, but wolde alſo with all theyr hertes haue perfourmed yt they beganne, yf they had not had impediment: conſiderynge(I ſaye) that by reaſon of theyr aduerſyte it coulde not ſo ſoone haue bene broughte to an ende, as oure moſt proſperous nacyon wolde fayne haue had it: the ſe and other reaſonable cauſes conſydered, I was the more bolde to take it in hande. And to helpe me herto, I haue had ſondrye tranſlations, not onely in latyn, but alſo of the Douche interpreters: whom(becauſe of theyr ſynguler gyftes & ſpeciall diligence in the Bible) I haue ben the more glad to folowe for the moſt parte, accordynge as I was required. But to ſaye the trueth before God, it was nether my laboure ner deſyre, to haue this worke put in my hande: neuertheles it greued me yt other nacyōs ſhulde be more plenteouſly prouyded for with ye ſcripture in theyr mother tongue, then we: therfore whan I was inſtantly requyred, though I coulde not do ſo well as I wolde, I thought it yet my dewtye to do my beſt, and that with a good wyll.

whereas ſome men thynke now yt many tranſlacyons make diuiſyon in ye fayth and in the people of God, yt is not ſo: for it was neuer better with the congregacion of god, then whan euery church allmoſt had ye Byble of a ſondrye trāſlacion. Amonge the Grekes had not Origen a ſpecyall tranſlacyon? Had not Wulgarus one peculyar, & lykewyſe Chryſoſtom? Beſyde the ſeuentye interpreters, is there not the tranſlacyon of Aqilla, of Theodoro, of Symachus, and of ſondrye other? Agayne, amonge the Latyn men, thou findeſt yt euery one allmoſt vſed a ſpecyall a ſondrye tranſlacyoon: for in ſo moch as euery byſſhoppe had the knowlege of ye tongues, he gaue his diligence to haue the Byble of his awne tranſlacion. The doctours, as Hetreneus, Cyprtanus, Tertullian, S. Jherome, S.Auguſtine, Hylatius & S. Ambroſe vpon dyuerſe places of the ſcripture, reade not ye texte all alyke.

Therfore oughte it not to be taken as euel yt ſoch men as haue vnderſtondynge now in oure tyme, exercyſe them ſelues in ye tongues, & geue their diligence to tranſlate out of one language into another. Yee we ought rather to geue god hye thankes therfore, which thorow his ſprete ſtereth vp mēs myndes, ſo to exerciſe them ſelues therin. wolde god it had neuer bene left of after ye tyme of S. Auguſtine, then ſhulde we neuer haue come in to ſoch blindnes & ignoraūce, in to ſoch erroures & deluſyons. For as ſoone as the Byble was caſt aſyde, & nomore put in exercyſe, then beganne euery one of his awne heade to wryte what ſo euer came in to his brayne and yt ſemed to be good in his awne eyes and ſo grewe ye darknes of mēs tradiciōs And this ſame is ye cauſe yt we haue had ſo many wryters, which ſeldome made mēcyon of ye ſcripture of the Byble: + though they ſome tyme aleged it, yet was it done ſo farre out of ſeaſon + ſo wyde from yt purpoſe, that a mā maye well perceaue, how that they neuer ſawe the oryginall.

Seynge then yt this diligent exercyſe of tranſlatynge doth ſo moch good a edifyeth in other languages, why ſhulde it do euell in oures? Doutles Iyke as all nacyons in ye dyuerſite of ſpeaches maye knowe one God in the vnyte of faith, and be one in loue euen ſo maye dyuerſe tranſlacyons vnderſtonde one another, + that in the head articles & grounde of oure moſt bleſſed faith, though they vſe ſondrye wordes. wherfore me thynke we haue greate occaſyon to geue thankes vnto God, that he hath opened vnto his church the gyfte of interpretacyon + of pryntyng, and that there are now at this tyme ſo many: which with ſoch diligēce and faithfulnes interprete ye ſcripture to the honoure of god and edifyenge of his people, whereas(Iyke as whan many are ſhutynge together) euery one doth his beſt to be nyeſt the marke. And though they can not all attayne therto, yet ſhuteth one nyer then another and hytteth it better then another, yee one can do it better thē another, who is now then ſo vnreaſonable, ſo deſpytefull, or enuyous, asto abhore him yt doth all his diligence to hytte ye prycke, and to ſhute nyeſt it, though he myſſe & come not nyeſt the mark. Ought not ſoch one rather to be commēded, and to be helped forwarde, that he maye exercyſe himſelfe the more therine.

For the which cauſe (acordyng as I was deſyred)I toke the more vpon me to ſet forth this ſpeciall tranſlacyon, not as a checker, not as a reprouer, or deſpyſer of other mens tranſlacyons(for amonge many as yet I haue founde none with out occaſyon of greate thankeſgeuynge vnto god)but lowly & faythfully haue I folowed myne interpreters, & that vnder correccyon. So though I haue fayled eny where (as there is noman but he myſſeth in ſome thynge) loue ſhall conſtyrre all to ye beſt without eny peruerſe iudgment. There is noman Iyuynge yt can ſe all thynges, ne that hath god geuen eny man to knowe euery thynge. One ſeyth more clearly then another, one hath more vnderſtondyng then another, one can vtter a thynge better then another, but noman ought to enuye, or diſpyſe another. He that can do better then another, ſhulde not ſet him at naught yt vnderſtondeth leſſe: yee he that hath ye more vnderſtondyng, ought to remembre that the ſame gyfte is not hys but Gods, and yt God hath geuē it him to teach & enfourme the ignoraunt. Yf thou hath knowlege therfore to iudge where eny faut is made, I doute not but thou wilt helpe to amende it, yf loue be ioyned with thy knowlege. Nowhere wher in ſo euer I can yet ceaſe by my ſelfe, or by the informacyon of other, that I haue fayled (as it is no wonder)I ſhall now by the helpe of God ouerloke it better & amende it.

Now wil I exhorte the(who ſo euer thou be yt readeſt ſcripture)yf thou fyndest oughte therin yt thou vnderſtondeſt not, or that apeareth to be repuguaunt, geue no temerarious ner hayſtye iudgmēt therof, but aſcrybe it to thyne awne ignoraunce, not to the ſcrypture thynkeſt yt thou vnderſondeſt it not, or yt it hath ſome other meanynge, or yt it is happlye ouerſene of ye interpreters, or wronge prynted. I gay ne, it ſhall greately helpe ye to vntherſtonde ſcripture, yf thou marke not onely what is ſpoken or wrytten, but of whom, & vnto whom, with what wordes, at what tyme where, to what entent, with what circumſtaunce, canſyderynge what goeth before, and what foloweth after. For there be ſome thynges which are done & wrytte, to the intente yt we ſhulde do lykewyſe: as whan Abraham beleueth God, is obedient vnto his worde, & defendeth Loth his kynſman from violent wronge. There be ſome thynges alſo which are wryttē, to the intente yt we ſhulde eſchue ſoch lyke. As whan Dauid lyeth with Urias wyfe, + cauſeth him to be ſlayne, Therfore(I ſaye) whan thou readeſt ſcripture, be wyſe & circumſpecte + whan thou commeſt to ſoch ſtraunge maners of ſpeakynge + darke ſentences, to ſoch parables & ſimilitudes, to ſoch dreames or vyſions as are hyd from thy vnderſtondynge, cōmytte them vnto God or to the gyfte of his holy ſprete in them yt are better lerned then thou.

As for the commendacyon of Gods holy ſcripture, I wolde fayne magnifye it as it is worthy, but I am farre vnſufficiēt therto, & therfore I thoughte it better for me in holde my tonge, then with few wordes to prayſe or commēde it: exhortynge ye (moſt deare reader)ſo to loue it, ſo to cleue vnto it, + ſo to folowe it in thy daylye conuerſacyon, yt other men ſeynge thy good workes & the frutes of ye holy gooſt in the, maye prayſe the father of heauen, & geue his worde a good reporte: for to lyue after the lawe of God, & to leade a vertuous conuerſacyon, is the greateſt prayſe yt thou canſt geue onto his doctryne.

But as touerhynge the euell reporte and diſprayſe that the good worde of God hath by the corrupte and euell conuerſacyon of ſome, yt daylye hear it and profeſſe it outwardly with theyr mouthes, I exhorte ye(moſt deare reader) let not yt offende the ner withdrawe thy mynde frō the loue of ye trueth, nether moue ye to be partaker in lyke

+ v.