This post will look at 5 examples that the paptist Bellarmine offered as proof against the purity of the Hebrew text and the refutation of William Whitaker. The importance of these is relevant due to the claim of Reformed Ruckmanites that the Hebrew text should be corrected from the Septuagint. From A Disputation on Holy Scripture. pg 158-161
In order, then, to shew that the Hebrew originals are not absolutely pure, Bellarmine proposes five places, which he thinks undoubtedly corrupt. The first place is Is. ix. 6, where he says that we should read, ” He shall be called Wonderful ;” as Calvin also contends. But the Hebrew text not only does not exhibit jikkare, “he shall be called,” but does exhibit jikra, “he shall call.” I answer;—first, as to the sense, it makes no difference whether we read, ” His name shall be called Wonderful,” or ” He shall call (i. e. God the Father shall call) his name Wonderful.” So Junius and Tremellius have rendered it, in conformity with the present Hebrew reading, “vocat ;” which they would not have done, if they had supposed that there was any important difference in the sense. Secondly, the opinion of some, that we should rather read in the passive than in the active, does not prove the originals to be corrupted. The points indeed require the latter reading, but the letters will bear either. Thirdly, the Hebrew doctors tell us, as Vatablus observes upon this place, that verbs of the third person are often used impersonally by the Hebrews, as “he shall call ” [one shall call], for ” he shall be called.”
The second place is Jerem. xxiii. 6, in which we should read, as Calvin thinks also, ” This is his Name, whereby they shall call him, The Lord our Righteousness.” But the Hebrew text reads constantly in the singular, ” he shall call,” not ” they shall call.” I answer, in the first place. That we plainly perceive this place not to be corrupt from the circumstance, that of old in Jerome’s time it was read exactly as it is read at present. For Jerome left it optional with us to read it either in the singular or the plural ; and the Seventy, before Jerome, rendered the word KrxXeaei, ” he shall call.” Secondly, the Hebrew word may be rendered, ” they shall call,” as Vatablus, Pagninus, and Arias Montanus have translated it. Thirdly, if we read ” He shall call,” as our Hebrew text invites us, the sense will be neither impious nor unsuitable, as is plain from the annotations of Junius and Tremellius.
The third place is Ps. xxii. 17. All Christians read, ” They pierced my hands and my feet.” But the Hebrew MSS. have not Cam, [nS] “they pierced,” but Caari, “as a Lion.” I answer, that this is the only specious indication of corruption in the Hebrew original ; yet it is easy to protect this place also from their reproaches. For, first, learned men testify that many Hebrew copies are found in which the reading in Caru ; Andradius, Defens. Trid. Lib. iv., and Galatinus, Lib. viii. c. 17. And John Isaac writes that he had himself seen such a copy, in his book against Lindanus, Lib. ii. ; and the Masorites themselves affirm that it was so written in some corrected copies 2. Secondly, in those books which have this reading, the Masorites tell us that it is not to be taken in the common acceptation : whence it plainly appears that nothing was farther from their minds than a design to corrupt the passage. Thirdly, the place is now no otherwise read than it was formerly before Jerome’s time. For the Chaldee Paraphrast hath conjoined both readings*, and the Masorites testify that there is a twofold reading of this place. Jerome, too, in his Psalter read in the Hebrew Caari, as our books have it, though he rendered it “fixerunt.” So that it can never be proved, at least from this place, that the Hebrew originals were corrupted after the time of Jerome.
The fourth place is Ps. xix. 5, where the Hebrew copies have, “‘ their line went into all the earth ;” whereas the Septuagint render it, “their sound;” and Paul hath approved that reading, Rom. x. 18. I answer with Genebrard, in his Scholia upon the passage, that the Hebrew term does indeed denote a line, but the Septuagint regarded the general sense, and were followed by the apostle. For that line, or (as Tremellius translates it) delineation of the heavens, —that is, that frame and structure of the heavenly orbs, smoothed as it were by the rule, proclaims the infinite power and wisdom of the divine artist.
The fifth place is Exod. chap, ii., in which this whole sentence is wanting : ” He begat another also, and called his name Eliezer, saying, The God of my father hath helped me, and delivered me from the hand of Pharaoh 2.” 1 answer, that in this place it is the Latin rather than the Hebrew copies that are corrupt. For the asterisk which the Latin editions, even that of Louvain, prefix to these words, is a brand which shews that the whole sentence should be removed from the Latin books ; and this the more learned and candid of the papists themselves confess. For so Cajetan writes in his commentary upon that place : ” This whole paragraph about the second son is superfluous.”
These then are the passages which Bellarmine was able to find fault with in the originals ; and yet in these there is really nothing to require either blame or correction. But, even though we should allow (which we are so far from doing, that we have proved the contrary), that these were faulty in the original, what could our adversaries conclude from such an admission? Would it follow that the Hebrew fountain was more corrupt than the Latin streamlets, or that the Latin edition was authentic? Not, surely, unless it were previously assumed, either that canonical books of scripture cannot be erroneously copied sometimes by transcribers, or that it is not very easy for us to discover many more errors in the Latin edition which ought not, and cannot be defended, as we shall hear presently.