“Sacred Books Of The East” -- By: Charles W. Park

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 039:155 (Jul 1882)
Article: “Sacred Books Of The East”
Author: Charles W. Park

“Sacred Books Of The East”1

Rev. Charles W. Park

Great expectations were excited by the announcement made some six years ago, that Professor Max Müller was about to edit a series of translations of Oriental sacred books. Separate translations have indeed been put forth before, in one country and another, now of this work, now of that. But the present is the first systematic attempt to collect translations of the original records and documents of Eastern religions into one uniform series. The plan of the work is comprehensive and consistent: it is under the general supervision of one thoroughly competent mind; the details are to be wrought out by Oriental scholars whose fitness for the task all acknowledge; and it covers the entire ground of early religious thought in Asia.

We imagine that the expectations of scholars have not been disappointed. Doubtless it would be hard to find any two Orientalists who would wholly agree in the interpretation of all the dark sayings of the ancient Zend or Sanskrit; every scholar will find something to criticise in a translation made by another hand. But, on the whole, it will be agreed that the present series furnishes to the Oriental investigator, to the student of

comparative religion, or to the curious antiquarian, the best, as well as the most accessible, apparatus which can be found, apart from the original texts themselves, for the pursuit of his studies.

Yet the series is not complete, and — pardon the solecism — will not be, even when finished. The first volume, for instance, gives us Professor Max Müller’s translation of five of the Upanishads, short, speculative treatises appended to the Vedas. Supposing these five to be of average length, the translation of all the Upanishads would fill forty-seven volumes; for two hundred and thirty-five Upanishads are extant! and even then we should have but one class of works, among many which in India are embraced by the general title “Sacred Books.” So of Muhammadanism; Professor Palmer has contributed to the series a translation of the Quran (Vols. 6 and 9), which must be supposed to be more accurate than Sale’s, though we imagine it will be long before it supersedes that in the popular estimation.2 But the Quran is not the only authoritative book with the Muhammadans. The traditions relating to the prophet, which were handed down by his friends and companions, and collected, arranged, and edited by faithful divines within about two and half centuries of his death, have come to be regarded by all devout Moslems as of equal

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