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DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802,y or Persia or Hindostan If we may suppose then. historiographer invented his Hexhaemeron or six days. enforce more strongly the observance of the Sabbath. think much more probable may we not in like malll1er. his history of the Fall as an excellent mythologue to. for the origin of human evil and of man s antipathy to the. Regarded in this light it will require no straining effort. it it will be perfectly coherent in all its parts it will be. with no absurd consequence it will give no handle to the. of religion to turn it into ridicule The serpent will then be a. logical serpent will speak like the beasts and birds in Pilpay. will be a most crafty envious animal that seduces the woman. allegiance to GOD will be punished accordingly with. tU CLlVU from his original state and an everlasting enmity estab. h HTI i him and the woman s seed The respective punish. the woman and of the man will be in the same sense real. chapter an incomparable example of oriental mythology. dost thou dislike this mode of interpretation Embrace. that pleases thee better Be only pleased to observe that. of Scripture is by no mean weakened by this interpreta. vol I Preface p xf, passage typical enough ofDr Geddes s way of thinlGng. very everyday mamler today but it was published in 1792. tQ etJh er with much of Geddes s biblical work caused pain and. t uu w U to many orthodox Christians Catholic and Protestant. time especially coming from one who openly proclaimed. Catholic priest After publishing a Prospectus in 1786 Dr. who had been given the LL D degree by the University of. in 1780 published the first volume of his translation of the. the Hebrew with copious critical notes in 1792 and an. the Public on the Publication of the First Volu1l1e in 1793 where. p 2 It is well known that my primary motive for engag. arduous an enterprise was to give a tolerable and if could. version of the H Bible for the use of English Catholics. was never completed only one more volume bringing, L l LlU ll to the end of Chronicles appeared in 1797 and projected. volumes of Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures never. the first volume on the Pentateuch published in 1800. and handsomely lrinted books were produced mainly, patronage of Lor Petre a leading Catholic of the time. means of a subscription list published as an appendix to his. Answer 1790 which includes names from the royal family. the gentry Catholic and Protestant alike several Irish. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, Catholic bishops several Anglican bishops and many Anglican divines.
together with many other names both Catholic and Protestant. Geddes received much encouragement from several important Angli. can scholars during that time of the dawning of the new age of biblical. criticism most notabl y Dr Kennicott and Dr Lowth Prospectus. p 143f but little from his Catholic brethren except from his cousin. Bishop Geddes coadjutor to Bishop Hay in Scotland in the early. stages ibid p 145 Upon the publication of the first volume of the. Bible in 1792 it was proscribed by Dr Douglass Vicar Apostolic of. the London District in a Pastoral in these terms the church. has condemned the practice of printing the said Scriptures or. any expositions of or annotations upon the same unless such have. been severally examined and approved of by due ecclesiastical authority. hence it is incumbent upon us to warn the Faithful committed to our. care against the use and reception of a certain work of this kind as far. as it has yet appeared which is destitute of these qualities title. of Geddes s Bible follows quoted in Letter to Dr Douglass p 19. Geddes had indeed not sought an Imprimatur but he had sent his. book to Dr Douglass in July 1792 and apparently without further. reply the Pastoral was issued in December Geddes then wrote person. ally to Dr Douglass in January 1793 and published his Answer in June. Within a month he was suspended by Dr Douglass letters appended. to the Answer pp 44 6 It was a sad story of conflict embittered. by the height of the Cisalpine controversy in which Geddes was much. involved on the Cisalpine side We will refer to this again briefly. later on but before proceeding to look at Dr Geddes s biblical teaching. it would be well to outline his earlier career, Alexander Geddes was born in 1737 at Arradowl in Banffshire of. Catholic parents who were small tenant farmers At the age of. fourteen he went to the junior seminary at Scalan in the Highlands. and in I758 aged twenty one to the Scots College in Paris It was. while he was in Paris that he became interested in Hebrew studies. through attending the lectures of M l Avocat the recently appointed. professor of Hebrew at the Sorbonne He was ordained in 1764 and. sent to the mission at Dundee The following year he became chaplain. to the Earl of Traquair in Tweeddale In 1769 he was placed in charge. of the Catholic mission at Auchinhalrig in Banffshire and remained. here for eleven years He built a new chapel and repaired the presby. tery making use of his skills learnt in boyhood as a carpenter and. gardener He also erected a chapel at Fochabers and these labours. brought heavy debts About 1775 he made an ill fated attempt to. restore his finances by taking over a farm at Enzie near by but the. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802,and his troubles increased In 1779 he published a. U d LL Ja into English verse of selected Satires of Ho race. 50 copies were sold bringing him in 100 and apparently. was the immediate merit which brought him the Aberdeen. the next year besides helping to solve his financial troubles. time at Auchinhalrig and Fochabers he was distressed by the. d UTI l l Catholics and Protestants in the area and he went. to make friends with the local Presbyterian ministers. in the words of his biographer attended upon their. It appears that this and no doubt also the financial affairs. indignation of Bishop Hay who suspended Geddes in, farm at Enzie was sold up and the parishioners by extrava. d b M O helped him to payoff all his debts In 1780 he left his. rrrp ty ltl l n with much sorrow and settled in London He was. Lord Traquair and in London by Lord Petre and it was then. work on his translation He became chaplain at the, chapel until the embassy was closed and he preached. in London and celebrated privately But soon he gave up. of his priestly function though he never for a moment. a l f Y u his Catholic priesthood and he now devoted himself. his studies under the patronage of Lord Petre and the. twenty years of his life were spent in London and entirely. with writing He died of cancer on 26 February 1802. absolved by a French emigre priest M St Martin, U u IC wrote much about the task of the biblical critic and.
and he was a pioneer in setting out to make his text faith. J d jL dL U from corrected texts of the originals title page to. is to base his work upon a critical text This is so much a. JH J d today but in his time he needed to insist upon it over. again His working principles may be set out under the. heads with references to places often one of many where. the matter, establishment of the Hebrew text by the collation of. and printed texts he regarded as the first task In this he. Kennicott s collations and used de Rossi s which were. of publication as he was writing tprospectus p 20 published. was very insistent upon a proper use of the Septuagint as a. the restoration of the text and after this the other Greek. and Origen s Hexapla Prospectus p 23ff though he laments. Mason Good Memoirs of the life and Writings of the Reverend Alexander Geddes. London 1803,DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, the absence of a critical edition of the Septuagint ibid p 38 He then. considers the value of the Syriac and Arabic versions and finally the. famous Latin Vulgate ibid p 44ff where again he pleads for the. task of a critical text of the Latin Bible ibid p 53 His remarks on. the disputes between Catholics and Protestants on the merits of the. Vulgate and the original seem very irrelevant now but they must have. been unusual at the time The learned of both sides are in a fair way. of being reconciled in this one point at least for the Catholics. are ready to own that the Vulgate is not so pure a rivulet as some of. their too zealous predecessors maintained and the Protestants as readily. acknowledge that the present Hebrew text is not so untainted a source. as was long believed Thus both contribute in different ways towards. a re establishment of the true text Those without hesitation correct. the Vulgate by the original where the Vulgate is evidently faulty and. these make no scruple to make use of the V ulgate in restoring the true. text of the original when the original is evidently or probably corrupt. ibid p 52n, 3 His observations on sacred philology are important for at. the revival of letters he said all being impressed with the idea. that they had before them an original Hebrew text they could do. no more than give to the words of that text the best meanings. they could find in such faulty lexicons as then existed These indeed. were gradually improved and the true signification of many words to. which the rabbins had affixed a wrong or vague meaning was dis. covered or determined by having recourse to the Arabic and other. kindred dialects and by a more particular attention to the ancient. versions Proposals p If prefixed to the Critical Remarks And in. fact Geddes s Critical Remarks consist largely in a minute examination. of the Hebrew words and Hebrew usage which also occupies most of. his Letter to the Bishop of London Dr Lowth containing queries doubts. and difficulties published in 1787 while he was at work on his translation. His philological work is thorough thus the discussion of the word. Elohim God in the first verse of Genesis occupies over eight pages of. the Critical Remarks and his defence of his translation of ruach elohim. in v 2 as a mighty wind invokes evidence from the Targums and. the Arabic version and in a footnote there are passing philological. references to Anglo Saxon Icelandic Swedish and Danish usages of. the word for spirit, 4 Another interesting principle is his insistence on the bare. literal meaning for his humble walk is that of a mere explainer of a. laborious pioneer who endeavours to smooth the way for future. commentators and he adds I have not to my knowledge thwarted. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, a single word of Holy Writ to supp rt any one syst m of Religion.
I have not so much as attempted to dIsclose Its allegones or Its anago. but have strictly confined myself to the bare literal meaning. is in these days called the distinction of literary genres. Testament is a constant preoccupation of Geddes as the. with which this article opens shows where the genre of. is affirmed Again in dealing with the four rivers of. ai adise and the site of the garden after mentioning various theories. hea dds It may well be that we are labouring to find out a spot that. ever existed but in the creative imagination of the mythologist. Remarks p 37 And again Do I believe then that the, of Genesis is not a literally true narration or that it is in all. of its parts a pure allegory I believe neither the one nor the. hoi A YA it to be a most beautiful mythos or philosophical fiction. with great wisdom dressed up in the garb of real history. well calculated for the great and good purposes for which. namely to establish belief of one supreme God and, 6 A less satisfactory aspect of Geddes s work where the fore. going principles have often in later times been applied is his adoption. what his friend Charles Butler called the German scheme of. UUJllaLl HJC the narrative of the Old Testament Historical Memoirs. Catholics 3rd ed 1822 vol IV p 418 where there is a. Geddes pp 417 21 Thus for example he is prepared to. plagues in Egypt in terms of an extraordinary inundation. by an uncommon brood of frogs gnats or the, of the Red Sea the subject of much controversy and. drii icism during the last part of this century in terms of a pass at. Suez where at this day there are shallows fordable at low water. th nothing miraculous in the event Critical Remarles pp 212. On the subject of pentateuchal criticism it is extremely interest. read his opinions in 1792 of some modern writers such as. 1753 and Eichhorn 1787 within forty years of the birth of. theory He thinks that the distinction of two, in Genesis by Eichhorn with a third one incorporated. he ranks under the name of Interpolations although he. a list of the passages from Eichhorn to be the work of. but he adds I am not so self sufficient as to imagine that. I may not be in the wrong or that they may not be right Bible. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, vol I Preface p xixf His own opinion is interesting nowadays.
Although I am inclined to believe that the Pentateuch was reduced. into its present form in the reign of Solomon I am fully persuaded. that it was compiled from ancient documents some of which were. coeval with Moses and some even anterior to Moses Whether all. these were written records or many of them only oral traditions it. would be rash to determine ibid p xix Geddes was probably. the first writer in English to publish a discussion of the new pentateuchal. 8 Geddes discusses at length the medium of translation Two. extremes were I knew to be equally avoided a wild paraphrase and. a servile version Prospectus p 126 After discussing the various. existing English versions he concludes that the five necessary qualities. are faithfulness perspicuity elegance uniformity and a particular. attention to that diversity of style which characterises the different. Scripture writers Prospectus pp 126 128 129 136 7 At the end. of his preface he apologises for his perhaps too verbal translation. adding as it were with a sigh The fetters of long usage are not. easily broken even when that usage is tyrannical But the day may. come when the translator of the Bible will be as little shackled as the. translator of any othet ancient book Bible vol I Preface p xxii. 9 Lastly there is the question of Geddes s theory of inspiration. which he never fully worked out The point is raised in connection. with God s command to destroy the Canaanites and he sees only. one solution namely to acknowledge fairly and openly that the. Jewish historians both here and in many other places put in the mouth. of the Lord words which he never spoke But is not this at. once giving up a point for which we have been so long and strenuously. contending against the opponents of revealed religion the absolute and. universal inspiration of the Hebrew writers It is certainly in some. measure giving up that contested point Bible vol Il Preface. p iii And he refers to his own teaching of partial and putative. inspiration without fully explaining it except by his rendering of. 2 Tim 3 16 as Every Scripture which is divinely inspired is a lso. useful suggesting that this text does not mean that all Scripture. is inspired It should be noted that the Vulgate but the Greek less. easily is patient of this interpretation and this rendering appears. clearly in the margin of the RSV Douay leaves the matter open as. does the Latin From this the often quoted remark of Charles Butler. loc cit p 417 that Geddes absolutely denied the doctrine of the. divine inspiration of the sacred writings is seen to be not entirely. warranted And Geddes added The word inspiration must in the. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, of Paul have a different meaning from that which our. affixed to it and he states that with regard to the Hebrew. he cannot believe in their absolute inspiration Bible. pp xi xii It is probable however that what Geddes, to demolish was a theory of mechanical word for word. of the sacred writers and indeed such an opinion if. LH U V at his time would not be proscribed today, we should glance at Geddes s troubles with ecclesiastical. which were more closely connected with the Gallican. than with biblical problems It was the time of the problem. Oath of Allegiance of 1774 and the First Relief Act of 1778. by the Got don Riots No Popery in 1780 The question. deposing power of the Pope was being discussed and strenu. denied by Geddes and his friends of the Cisalpine Club Geddes. distinguished Catholicism and even Roman Catholicism. Popery which for him stood for papal control in political. It is not for us here to go into this aspect of Geddes s troubles. should be remembered that his Bible was proscribed together. Sir John Throckmorton s Cisalpine tract and that the greate t. s Letter to Dr Douglass is concerned with Throckmorton. in his Answer to the Bishop of Comana s Pastoral Letter Bishop. letter of 1790 written anonymously as by a Protesting. not as quoted in DNB Gillow and elsewhere as by a, t t Catholic is concerned with the question of the relationship. papal and episcopal power It is however worth quoting an. remark of Geddes commenting on the first words of the. Matthew by the grace of God and of the Apostolic See. by the grace of the Apostolic See It is a Bagrant innovation. in the Christian Church and derogatory from the episcopaJ. V L a badge of spiritual vassalage which your brethren on the. YH lH HC begin to be ashamed to wear and which many of them. shaken off The good Bishop ofPistoja and Prato has set. even in Italy and there is little doubt but his example. on followed by other good bishops Amid present discus. of coIJegiality Geddes s remark is interesting even though it is. plainly and defiantly Gallican The attitude of Geddes in this. t u does much to explain the friction between the Vicars. and himself and their readiness to find his other opinions. Moreover his refusal to seek an Imprimatur was connected. his claim to independence from papal control and it will be. U J HU LC U that the proscription of his translation was first of all on. DR ALEXANDER GEDDES 1737 1802, Another current question upon which Geddes held a view then.
illlacceptable and now common enough was on the relation of Scripture. and Tradition In one of his last works A Modest Apology for the Roman. Catholics of Great Britain published anonymously in 1800 he examines. the points in which we Roman Catholics agree with or differ from. Protestants and here he discusses the Rule of Faith Tradition only. said the Romanist is the Rule of Faith No replied the Protestant. Scripture Scripture only is the Rule of Faith p 39 But now he. says new and more tenable positions were taken up and the. Catholic language now was that the Word of God written or unwritten. that is Scripture and Traditio11 were together the Rule of Faith whilst. the Protestant still contending for Scripture alone as the only Rule. yet acknowledged that the authority of primitive and universal. Tradition was necessary to prove the Rule p 41 So both parties. were agreed that the Word of God alone was the Rule of Faith and. there have not heen wanting Roman Catholic Theologians particu. larly of the Sorbonnic school who have freely confessed that every. fundamental Article of Faith is either expressly or implicitly contained. in the written Word p 42, Lastly Geddes s views on the vernacular in the liturgy are worth. noting The point is raised in a similar context of differences with. Protestants He says that the Roman Missal which is in general as. good a model ofliturgical composition as now anywhere existedl. need not be ashamed to appear in a vernacular dress The day. however I trust is not at a great distance when every National. Church will open her eyes to reason and perform every part of the. Divine offiCe in the language of her own country ibid. There is a sadness about the story of Alexander Geddes Many. writers have written disparagingly of him None has denied his. learning His many friends loved him though they admitted his. eccentricity He himself wrote I am not ill natured those who. know me know the contrary Animated and irascible I am but I am. neither malevolent nor resentful I may safely say that the sun never. set upon my wrath Preamble addressed to the English Catholics. prefixed to his Letter to Dr DOllg1ass p iii,SEBASTIAN BULLOUGH O P.


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