페이지 이미지

sibly, as the late Professor Hug* suggests, Irenæus took his report from Papias---a man whom he has mentioned with peculiar esteem. Origen was a practised biblical scholar ; but he only states the tradition or generally received report, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew. Eusebius also as a faithful annalist, records the current notion, but in one of his commentaries he describes Matthew as deserting the rendering of the Septuagint, and translating for himself out of the original Hebrew. The meaning of his statement plainly is, that Matthew translated the words of the Hebrew into that Greek phrase in his gospel which Eusebius quotes. The testimony of Jerome is somewhat peculiar and scarcely consistent with itself. In one place he says, that “he did not know who translated the Chaldaic Gospel of Matthew into Greek ;" but that he was permitted by the Nazarenes of Berea to take a copy. Then he says of this book which is also called the “Gospel according to the Hebrews," that he himself had lately translated it into Greek and Latin. It is manifest that Jerome had great doubts on the subject. He adds, “ the majority call this the authentic Matthew.” The case, therefore, stands thus,- Jerome possessed the Greek copy of our canonical Matthew, and had no doubt of its inspired authority ; but he had heard that many believed that this book was originally written in Aramaean, while he himself had seen the so-called original, and had even translated it into Greek. What kind of Aramaic gospel must that have been which needed a second translation into Greek ? If it had been the genuine original copy, then surely there needed no second translation, if our present Greek Matthew be an exact rendering. The inference is, that a gospel so different from our Greek Matthew, no matter whether it was named “ according to Matthew," or “according to the Hebrews," must have been a spurious and clumsy composition. That it was very different from our Greek Matthew, is not only indicated by Jerome's translation of it, but also by the quotations taken from it, and preserved in the Fathers. The only Aramaic gospel known in those centuries was this Ebionite or Nazarenef forgery, abounding in silly legends and jejune sentimentality, and so far apart from the canonical Matthew that Jerome amused himself by translating it. It appears to us that this was the only Aramaean gospel ever extant--the only one referred to among those ancient writers, and that the treatise was the work of those Jewish sects. They claimed a special interest in Matthew's gospel as

Einleitung, ii. & 8. 4th Edition, 1847. + The Nazarenes originally were a better class than the Ebionites; the former were orthodox Christians, but zealous " for the law,"—the latter were strictly socinian in creed.

[blocks in formation]

being particularly addressed to themselves, and they seem not only to have translated it into their vernacular tongue, but to have filled the version, if version it might be called, with spurious and puerile interpolations, some gathered from tradition and some created to suit and protect their doctrinal apostasy. These early Jewish factions with proverbial pride, seem to have thought that a gospel adapted to them, should have been composed in Jewish 'speech, and they quickly acted out their idea. The notion that if one wrote for Jews, he must write in their own language, was a general impression in other countries than Judea, and so the opinion gained currency that as Matthew wrote for Hebrews, therefore he wrote in the Hebrew tongue. The fact originated the fiction, and the fiction assumed probability, nay, in the eyes of many became certainty, when an Aramaic Gospel was brought into actual circulation. This the only Aramaean Gospel that seems ever to have been known, was a treatise unworthy of its title, bearing such a relation to the canonical Matthew as Marcion's impudent and heretical publication bore to the canonical Luke. So that our opinion is the more confirmed against the theory so firmly held and so learnedly argued by Professor Davidson. Our belief is, that our present Greek Matthew is the one original and genuine treatise of the Evangelist, and that the Aramaic duplicate was only a confused and translated imitation. It is not any dogmatic view of inspiration that has led us to this result, but a calin and candid investigation, whose simple results are briefly given in these preceding paragraphs. We know that we have reason to make such a disclaimer of mere deference to doctrinal theories of inspiration, because those who adopt a different view affirm that the believers in an original Greek Gospel are swayed by polemical prepossessions, and not by the fruits of genuine historical proof.

The Gospel of Mark appears, from the many brief explanations of Jewish phraseology and customs which occur in it, to have been written for foreigners. The old view, and one that has still some currency, viz.,

that Mark is the abridger or epitomator of Matthew, is palpably without shadow of foundation. Mark's treatise is shorter as a whole, but relatively longer than Matthew's. It does not contain so much matter, but its descriptions of incidents and scenes are proportionately longer and fuller than those of the first Evangelist. For example, the execution of the Baptist, with the account of the scene which led to the tragedy, occupies space in Mark nearly double of that allotted to it in Matthew. In Mark also is recorded more of the works than discourses of Jesus. The Roman mind, for which this Gospel seems to have been designed, was impressed more by deeds than opinions. It had not the Greek sense of beauty; but it could appreciate a life crowded with acts of goodness,-a career of busy enterprise, and a death of heroism and devotion. This second Gospel has, besides, all the vivid touches and natural sketches of an eye-witness. It embodies not only the descriptions of the Apostle Peter, whose "interpreter” * Mark was, but it would seem that the Evangelist was no personal stranger to many of the recorded incidents. The introduction into the narrative of the “ young man" who saw the capture of Jesus, and fled in dismay, lest his own person should be seized, has in itself no assignable end or aim, has neither an essential nor subordinate connexion with the history; and the only probable explanation is, that the panicstricken spectator was no other than the Evangelist himself.

The Gospel of Luke, basing itself on the authority of Paul, and being at the same time devoid of nationality, was intended to operate in a wide and catholic sphere. With its classical introduction and easy style, its fulness of delineation and symmetry of form, it comes nearer than its predecessors to our notions of a regular biography. It contains several sections and some beautiful parables not to be found in its two predecessors, and this matter, peculiar to itself, has an evident bearing on the relations of the new economy to the Gentile world. Theophilus, to whom the book is dedicated, and for whose instruction it was composed, seems to have been a resident in Italy; for in the “ Acts" brief geographical explanations are appended to places mentioned in Judea and the East, but all the towns referred to in Italy are simply written, without any illustrative comment.

Quite different in tone and structure is the fourth Gospel, the production of the beloved disciple. It presupposes the existence of the previous three Gospels, for it has several allusions that cannot be distinctly understood without them. In the three synoptical Gospels Jesus appears, as in ordinary circumstances, a man whose divine glory flashed occasionally through its human disguise; but in the fourth Gospel he is exhibited as on the Mount of Transfiguration, "his countenance as the sun, and his raiment as the light,” himself the “ brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” The thoughts of John cluster round the person of the Redeemer,—the eternal and almighty Word, the only-begotten Son. The object of his composition is thus stated by himself :-“These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through his name.” This object is pursued with undeviating uniformity.f It is never lost sight of with every

* The term igumveuths or "interpres," as indicating the relation in which Mark stood to Peter, seems to signify that he committed to writing the substance of the A postle's oral discourses. - Fritsche, Proleg. in Marcum.

+ Section after section occurs in which the Sonship or the Messiahship of Jesus is

The Gospel of Johnits Opponents.

439 in any section. The glory of the Only-begotten shines in every paragraph. The union of Jesus with the Father, their mutual relations, their indwelling with believers, and the promise of the Spirit, are prominent topics in this rich and radiant treatise. What fulness of meaning! You feel as if you were gazing into the unmeasured depth of the blue sky. It is lowering this Gospel to give it a narrow polemical design, as some critics have done, for it states the truth in such a manner as to come into conflict

form of error on the person and work of the Messiah. Its subjective aspect is also very remarkable. It is the Gospel of the new life, the “ hidden manna” of the spiritual existence. Looking at the blessings of the death of Christ as they exist in themselves and apart from us, we may call them pardon and holiness, but feeling them within us, as John did, we at once term them “ life," — his favourite vocable. That the Evangelist supposes his readers possessed of the three previous gospels is plain from many circumstances, such as the allusion in chapter iii. 24, &c. Much is therefore omitted which occurs in them, and the greater portion of the matter of this last and loveliest biography is supplemental. The composition of such a gospel was surely an appropriate work for him who had lain in his master's bosom and breathed his spirit, and who had, in consequence of a marked similarity of mental and spiritual constitution and susceptibility with his Lord, enjoyed the fruits of a pure and exalted friendship. Yet these characteristics of the fourth gospel—its ardour, pathos, elevation, and subjectivity, are the very reasons for which such men as Baur, Strauss, and Lützelberger, deny its authority and apostolical origin. collects its poison from the same flowers out of which the bee extracts its honey. On such a point we would far prefer the judgment of a rustic congregation in Scotland, to the united wit and wisdom of those continental destructionists. We have often heard plain men and women rise above their education and rusticity in speaking of the gospel of John, their tones mellowed, their hearts kindled, and their precious thoughts were conveyed in language of surprising elegance and power. Are not these which so speak Galileans? Yes ; their “speech bewrayeth” them. They " are drunk with new wine”—the sneering critic might exclaim;—No, but the promise of Joel has rested on them. Sympathy with the Gospel of John is not the result of learned acumen, Books cannot give it-erudition cannot implant it-classical culture cannot cominand it—and theological training cannot be

The wasp

introduced, as the belief of his friends or followers, or as his own avowal. Such is the testimony of the Baptist, of Philip, of Nathanael, the woman of Samaria, Simon Peter, and the blind man, &c. VOL. XVI. NO. XXXII.


identified with it. It is not born of earth; " babes" have it, while, alas ! “the wise and prudent” are strangers to it. Dr. Davidson's remarks on the authenticity of the fourth gospel are beyond value for their clearness and power, and we may remark generally that the correspondent portions of his “ Introduction," such as his defence of the commencing sections of Matthew, and the last chapter of John, are among the most interesting portions of the first volume.

That so large a portion of the New Testament should consist of epistolary correspondence is a striking phenomenon ; still it was natural and necessary in the circumstances. The early churches often needed counsel, warning, and instruction. They had no written oracles to appeal to, and therefore the Apostles, as the living depositaries of inspired truth, were obliged to communicate with them in the form of “doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.” These letters are, therefore, the fervent outpouring of pastoral zeal and attachment. They are not abstract impersonal treatises-mere systems of theology. Like other letters they have their peculiar charm. They are written without reserve and in unaffected simplicity. Sentiments come warm from the heart without the shaping, pruning, and punctilious arrangement of a formal discourse. There is such a fresh and familiar transcription of feeling, so frequent an introduction of colloquial idioms, and so much of conversational frankness and vivacity, that the reader associates the image of the writer with every paragraph, and his ear seems to catch and recognise the very tones of living address. These impressions must have been often deepened by the thought that the letter came from “such an one as” Paul, always a sufferer, and often a prisoner. If he could not speak he wrote; if he could not see them in person, he despatched to them those silent messengers of love.

We have alluded to Paul as the principal letter-writer in the New Testament. When that change which passed over him with the shock of a spiritual earthquake, had subsided into resolute attachment to the new religion, what ardour and heroism were seen to be united in him—what a rare combination of intellect and heart, of enthusiasm and perseverance! Still with him there was no stoical abnegation of humanity—while he lived for the world he lived in the world. He shrunk from the scourge, and declared himself a citizen of Rome, and the shuddering expectation of a Roman dungeon suggested the warmth and comfort of a “cloak.” The culture of the schools was in him “ baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Words are often anable to convey his thoughts ; they reel and stagger beneath the weight and power of his conceptions. And whether we turn to

« 이전계속 »