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On The Supposed Scriptural Expression For Eternity
by [?]

Three centuries after this great epoch of the publication (for such it was) secured so providentially to the Hebrew theology, two learned Jews–viz., Josephus and Philo Judaeus–had occasion to seek a cosmopolitan utterance for that burden of truth (or what they regarded as truth) which oppressed the spirit within them. Once again they found a deliverance from the very same freezing imprisonment in an unknown language, through the very same magical key, viz., the all-pervading language of Greece, which carried their communications to the four winds of heaven, and carried them precisely amongst the class of men, viz.–the enlightened and educated class–which pre-eminently, if not exclusively, their wish was to reach. About one generation after Christ it was, when the utter prostration, and, politically speaking, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, threw these two learned Jews upon this recourse to the Greek language as their final resource, in a condition otherwise of absolute hopelessness. Pretty nearly three centuries before Christ it was (two hundred and eighty-four years, according to the common reckoning), when the first act of communication took place between the sealed-up literature of Palestine and the Greek catholic interpretation. Altogether, we may say that three hundred and twenty years, or somewhere about ten generations of men, divided these two memorable acts of intercommunication. Such a space of time allows a large range of influence and of silent, unconscious operation to the vast and potent ideas that brooded over this awful Hebrew literature. Too little weight has been allowed to the probable contagiousness, and to the preternatural shock, of such a new and strange philosophy, acting upon the jaded and exhausted intellect of the Grecian race. We must remember, that precisely this particular range of time was that in which the Greek systems of philosophy, having thoroughly completed their evolution, had suffered something of a collapse; and, having exhausted their creative energies, began to gratify the cravings for novelty by re modellings of old forms. It is remarkable, indeed, that this very city of Alexandria founded and matured this new principle of remodelling applied to poetry not less than to philosophy and criticism. And, considering the activity of this great commercial city and port, which was meant to act, and did act, as a centre of communication between the East and the West, it is probable that a far greater effect was produced by the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures, in the way of preparing the mind of nations for the apprehension of Christianity, than has ever been distinctly recognised. The silent destruction of books in those centuries has robbed us of all means for tracing innumerable revolutions, that nevertheless, by the evidence of results, must have existed. Taken, however, with or without this additional result, the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in their most important portions must be ranked amongst what are called `providential’ events. Such a king–a king whose father had been a personal friend of Alexander, the mighty civilizing conqueror, and had shared in the liberalization connected with his vast revolutionary projects for extending a higher civilization over the globe, such a king, conversing with such a language, having advantages so absolutely unrivalled, and again this king and this language concurring with a treasure so supernatural of spiritual wisdom as the subject of their ministrations, and all three concurring with political events so auspicious–the founding of a new and mighty metropolis in Egypt, and the silent advance to supreme power amongst men of a new empire, martial beyond all precedent as regarded means, but not as regarded ends–working in all things towards the unity of civilization and the unity of law, so that any new impulse, as, for instance, impulse of a new religion, was destined to find new facilities for its own propagation, resembling electric conductors, under the unity of government and of law–concurrences like these, so many and so strange, justly impress upon this translation, the most memorable, because the most influential of all that have ever been accomplished, a character of grandeur that place it on the same level of interest as the building of the first or second temple at Jerusalem.