1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Polyglott

POLYGLOTT (Gr. πολύς, many, and γλῶττα, tongue), the term for a book which contains side by side versions of the same text in several different languages; the most important polyglot ts are editions of the Bible, or its parts, in which the Hebrew and Greek originals are exhibited along with the great historical versions, which are of value for the history of the text and its interpretation. The first enterprise of this kind is the famous Hexapla of Origen in which the Old Testament Scriptures were written in six parallel columns, the first containing the Hebrew text, the second a transliteration of this in Greek letters, the third and fourth the Greek translations by Aquila and Symmachus, the fifth the Septuagint version as revised by Origen, the sixth the translation by Theodotion. Inasmuch, however, as only two languages, Hebrew and Greek, were employed the work was rather diglott than polyglot in the usual sense. After the invention of printing and the revival of philological studies, polyglot ts became a favourite means of advancing the knowledge of Eastern languages (for which no good helps were available) as well as the study of Scripture. The series began with the Complutensian printed by Arnaldus Guilielmus de Brocario at the expense of Cardinal Ximenes at the university at Alcala de Henares (Complutum). The first volume of this, containing the New Testament in Greek and Latin, was completed on the 10th of January 1514. In vols. ii.–v. (finished on July 10, 1517) the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was printed in the first column of each page, followed by the Latin Vulgate and then by the Septuagint version with an interlinear Latin translation. Below these stood the Chaldee, again with a Latin translation. The sixth volume containing an appendix is dated 1515, but the work did not receive the papal sanction till March 1520, and was apparently not issued till 1522. The chief editors were Juan de Vergara, Lopez de Zuniga (Stunica), Nuñez de Guzman (Pincianus), Antonio de Librixa (Nebrissensis), and Demetrius Ducas. About half a century after the Complutensian came the Antwerp Polyglott, printed . by Christopher Plantin (1569–1572, in 8 vols. folio). Of this the principal editor was Arias Montanus aided by Guido Fabricius Boderianus, Raphelengius, Masius, Lucas of Bruges and others. This work was under the patronage of Philip II. of Spain; it added a new language to those of the Complutensian by including the Syriac New Testament; and, while the earlier polyglot had only the Targum of Onkelos on the Pentateuch, the Antwerp Bible had also the Targum on the Prophets, and on Esther, Job, Psalms and the Salomonic writings. Next came Le Jay's Paris Polyglott (1645), which embraces the first printed texts of the Syriac Old Testament (edited by Gabriel Sionita, a Maronite, but the book of Ruth by Abraham Ecchelensis, also a Maronite) and of the Samaritan Pentateuch and version (by Morinus). It has also an Arabic version, or rather a series of various Arabic versions. The last great polyglot is Brian Walton's (London, 1657), which is much less beautiful than Le Jay's but more complete, in various ways, including, among other things, the Syriac of Esther and of several apocryphal books for which it is wanting in the Paris Bible, Persian versions of the Pentateuch and Gospels, and the Psalms and New Testament in Ethiopic. Walton was aided by able scholars, and used much new manuscript material. His prolegomena, too, and collections of various readings mark an important advance in biblical criticism. It was in connexion with this polyglot that E. Castell produced his famous Heptaglott Lexicon (2 vols. folio, London, 1669), an astounding monument of industry and erudition even when allowance is made for the fact that for the Arabic he had the great MS. lexicon compiled and left to the university of Cambridge by the almost forgotten W. Bedwell. The liberality of Cardinal Ximenes, who is said to have spent half-a million ducats on it, removed the Complutensian polyglot from the risks of commerce. The other three editions all brought their promoters to the verge of ruin. The later polyglot ts are of little scientific importance, the best recent texts having been confined to a single language; but every biblical student still uses Walton and, if he can get it, Le Jay. Of the numerous polyglot editions of parts of the Bible it may suffice to mention the Genoa psalter of 1516, edited by Giustiniani, bishop of Nebbio. This is in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Chaldee and Arabic, and is interesting from the character of the Chaldee text, being the first specimen of Western printing in the Arabic character, and from a curious note on Columbus and the discovery of America on the margin of Psalm xix.  (A. W. Po.)