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The Books of the New Testament
by Leighton Pullan
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Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of that section.



THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

by the

REV. LEIGHTON PULLAN

Fellow and Tutor of St. John Baptist's College, Oxford.



"If you choose to obey your Bibles, you will never care who attacks them."—RUSKIN.



Fourth Edition Revised

Rivingtons 34 King Street, Covent Garden London 1912



{v}

PREFACE

This book is intended to meet the widely prevalent need of an introduction to the New Testament which is neither a mere hand-book nor an elaborate treatise for specialists. It is written in a conservative spirit, and at the same time an ample use has been made of recent critical investigation.

It has been impossible to give an exhaustive proof of the position maintained, but no matter of great importance has been overlooked. The arguments will be intelligible to educated persons who are unacquainted with the Greek language.

The author has sometimes derived much help from the articles in Dr. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. The dates which have been adopted are in most cases those adopted in {vi} that Dictionary by Dr. Sanday and Mr. C. H. Turner.

His best thanks are due to the Rev. E. W. Pullan, Mr. J. F. Briscoe, and Mr. E. W. Corbett, for the kind help which they have given him in the preparation of the book.



{vii}

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

TABLE OF APPROXIMATE DATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . x I. THE NEW TESTAMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 II. THE GOSPELS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 III. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW . . . . . . . . 33 IV. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK . . . . . . . . . . 49 V. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE . . . . . . . . . . 64 VI. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN . . . . . . . . . . 80 VII. THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 VIII. THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 IX. 1 AND 2 THESSALONIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 X. THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 XI. THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 XII. THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS . . 150 XIII. THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE ROMANS . . . 158 XIV. THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS—THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO PHILEMON . . . 170 XV. THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE EPHESIANS . . 180 XVI. THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS 188 XVII. THE PASTORAL EPISTLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195 XVIII. THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208 XIX. THE CATHOLIC EPISTLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219 XX. THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES . . . . . . . . . . . . 223 XXI. THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER . . . . . . . . . 235 XXII. THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER . . . . . . . . 246 XXIII. THE EPISTLES OF ST. JOHN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255 XXIV. THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JUDE . . . . . . . . . . . . 265 XXV. THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE . . . . . . . 270

APPENDIX A.—RATIONALIST CRITICISM ON ST. JOHN'S WRITINGS 284 APPENDIX B.—PAPIAS AND JOHN THE PRESBYTER . . . . . . . . 285 APPENDIX C.—THE MURATORIAN FRAGMENT . . . . . . . . . . . 288 APPENDIX D.—SOME EARLY WITNESSES TO NEW TESTAMENT WRITINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291 APPENDIX E.—BOOKS RECOMMENDED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293

INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297



{x}

TABLE OF APPROXIMATE DATES

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW . . . . . A.D. 69 " " ST. MARK . . . . . . . A.D. 62 " " ST. LUKE . . . . . . . A.D. 70-75 " " ST. JOHN . . . . . . . A.D. 80-90 ACTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 75-80 ROMANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 56 1 CORINTHIANS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 55 2 CORINTHIANS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 55 GALATIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 56 EPHESIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 60 PHILIPPIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 61 COLOSSIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 60 1 THESSALONIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 51 2 THESSALONIANS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 51 1 TIMOTHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 63 2 TIMOTHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 64 TITUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 63 PHILEMON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 60 HEBREWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 66 JAMES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 50 1 PETER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 64 2 PETER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 65 1, 2, 3 JOHN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 80-90 JUDE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 63 REVELATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A.D. 96



{1}

CHAPTER I

THE NEW TESTAMENT

[Sidenote: Its Name.]

After the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself, we may justly reckon the New Testament as the most precious gift which our Lord Jesus Christ has given since His Ascension to those who believe on His Name. The word "testament," which is in Latin testamentum, corresponds with our word "covenant," and the phrase "New Testament" signifies the record of that new covenant in which God bound man to Himself by the death of His Son. The truth that this was a new covenant, distinct from the covenant which God made with Abraham, was taught by our Lord when He instituted the memorial of His death and said, "This cup is the new covenant in My Blood." We do not know precisely at what date the Christians began to call this record "the New Testament," but we do know that they used this name before A.D. 200.

[Sidenote: Its Language.]

In the time of our Lord the popular language of Palestine was Aramaic, a language which was akin to Hebrew and borrowed some words from Hebrew. Hebrew was known by learned people, but the language which the Son of God learned from His blessed mother and His foster father was Aramaic, and He spoke the Galilean dialect of that language. From a few words preserved in the Gospels, it is plain that the gospel was first preached in that tongue. In the 7th century after Christ, the Mohammedan conquerors, who spoke Arabic, began to supplant {2} Aramaic by Arabic, and this is now the ordinary language of Palestine. As many people who spoke Aramaic were at one time heathen, both the Jews and the Christians adopted the habit of calling their language Syriac rather than Aramaic. The great centre of Christian Syriac literature was Edessa, and in the eastern part of the Roman Empire Syriac was the most important and most elegant language next to Greek. It is still used in the Church services of many Oriental Christians, and it is spoken in ordinary conversation in parts of North Mesopotamia and Kurdistan. Further west it is only spoken in a few villages of Anti-Libanus. In the course of this book it will be necessary to refer occasionally to the Aramaic language.

It is highly probable that some of the earliest Christian writings were in Aramaic, but all the books of the New Testament which we now possess are in Greek. The Greek language was known by many people in Palestine, and it was splendidly fitted to be the medium of God's revelation. It was widely known among the civilized nations of the time, and it is so rich and expressive that religious ideas are better conveyed in Greek than in almost any other tongue. Whereas it was essential that the gospel should be preached first in Aramaic, it was equally essential that it should be written in Greek, for the benefit of people who did not live in Palestine or who lived there as strangers.

[Sidenote: The Canon.]

The New Testament Scriptures consist of twenty-seven different books, written by nine different authors. Each book has some special characteristics corresponding with the mind of the writer and the circumstances under which it was written. Yet these books exhibit a manifest unity of purpose and doctrine. Under many differences of dialect and expression there is an internal unity such as we do not find in any secular literature, and this unity is due to inspiration. The whole collection of books is called the CANON of the New Testament. This Greek word "canon" originally meant a straight rod, such as could be used for {3} ruling or measuring, then it was employed to signify a rule or law, and finally it meant a list or catalogue. As applied to the New Testament, the word "canon" means the books which fit the Church's rule of faith, and which themselves become a rule that measures forgeries and finds them wanting. The Church set these genuine books apart as having their origin in inspiration which came from God. They were all either written by the apostles or by men who were trained by the apostles, and thus they contain a unique account of the sayings of the Lord Jesus and the teaching of those who received their commission from Him. They are therefore documents to which the Church can refer, as a final court of appeal, in all questions of faith and conduct.

It was only by degrees that the Church realized the importance of placing all these twenty-seven books in the canon. This was finally done in the western Churches of Christendom in A.D. 382, by a Council held at Rome.[1]

The disciples first endeavoured to collect the sayings of our Lord and the record of His life. Thus the four Gospels constitute the first layer of the New Testament canon. The canon of our four Gospels existed by A.D. 150, as is shown by Hermas and Justin Martyr.

The next layer of the canon consists of the thirteen Epistles of St. Paul and the Acts. To these the Epistle to the Hebrews was generally attached in the east, though not in the west. This layer of the canon was universally recognized towards the close of the 2nd century, and perhaps some years earlier, for the books composing it were used and quoted throughout the 2nd century.

The third layer of the canon gained its place more slowly. It consists of what are called the "Catholic Epistles," viz. those of St. James, St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, together with the Revelation or Apocalypse of St. John.

A crowd of works circulated among the Christians of the {4} and century, including some forged Gospels and Apocalypses, the Epistle of St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, written about A.D. 95, and the allegory known as the Shepherd of Hermas, written about A.D. 140. Several of these works appear to have enjoyed a popularity in excess of that which attached to some of the books now included in the canon. Nevertheless they were rejected when they were examined. It was not merely a wonderful intellectual feat on the part of the Church to have sifted out this mass of literature; it was an action in which the Christian cannot fail to see the hand of God.

One question remains to be asked after drawing this small sketch of the history of the canon. Why is it that for several generations the canon of the New Testament varied in different countries, containing fewer books in one place than in another? Two reasons may be given: (i.) Certain books at first enjoyed only a local popularity; thus "Hebrews was saved by the value set upon it by the scholars of Alexandria, and the Epistle of St. James by the attachment of certain Churches in the East." (ii.) The books of the New Testament, when translated into other languages, were not all translated together. The Gospels were naturally translated first, as containing the words of our Lord. The other books followed gradually. Interesting information is given us with regard to the latter fact by the Doctrine of Addai, a Syriac book of which the present form dates from about A.D. 400, but which appears to describe the condition of the Syrian Church in the 3rd century. The writings of Aphraates, a Syrian writer, A.D. 338, supplement this information. We find from these books that about A.D. 160 the Syrian Christians possessed a translation of the Gospels. Early in the 3rd century they used a harmony of the Gospels with Acts and the Epistles of St. Paul. In the 4th century they used also the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is fairly evident, from the Doctrine of Addai, that only the Old Testament and the Gospels were at first used by the Syrian Christians, and that St. Paul's Epistles and Acts arrived later. And as late as {5} A.D. 338 they knew nothing of the Catholic Epistles and Revelation, though these books were well known by the Christians who spoke Greek and Latin.

[Sidenote: Ancient Versions.]

The most ancient versions or translations of the New Testament were in those three great languages spoken by people who touched the borders of the districts where Greek was spoken. These were Latin, Syriac, and the Coptic language spoken by the Egyptians. It seems probable that a large part of the New Testament was translated into these languages within about a hundred years after the time of the apostles. The oldest version in any language closely akin to English was that made by Ulphilas, the celebrated bishop of the Goths, who translated the Bible from Greek into Gothic about A.D. 350. There is a most beautiful manuscript of this version preserved at Upsala, in Sweden. The Goths were then settled in the country between the Danube and the Dnieper. As late as the 17th century their language was still spoken in part of the south of Russia. A carefully revised translation of the Latin Bible was made by St. Jerome between A.D. 382 and 404, and this version came to be used by the Church throughout the west of Europe.

[Sidenote: English Versions.]

The Gospel of St. John and perhaps the other Gospels were translated by the patient historian and monk, the Venerable Bede, who was buried at Durham in A.D. 731. Parts of the Bible, especially the Psalms, were soon fairly well known through translations. King Alfred was translating the Psalms when he died, in A.D. 901; and soon after A.D. 1000, Archbishop Aelfric translated large portions of the Bible. As the language of England gradually changed, new versions of the Psalms were made, and most of the Bible was known in a version made before 1360. But perhaps there was no complete version of the Bible in English until the time of John Wyclif (1380). Wyclif translated most of the New Testament of this version, and a priest named Hereford translated the Old Testament. Wyclif held various {6} opinions which the Church of England at that time condemned, and some of which she still rightly condemns. The result was that in 1412 Archbishop Arundel denounced Wyclif's version, but it seems to have been revised and to have come into common use. All these versions or partial versions in the English language were made from the Latin. But after the Turks captured Constantinople from the Greeks in 1453, a number of learned Greeks fled for refuge to the west of Europe. The result was that Greek books began to be studied again, and the New Testament began to be read once more in the original language. Three important editions were printed in 1514, 1516, and 1550 respectively. The first was printed under the direction of the Spanish Cardinal Ximenes, but owing to various causes was not published until 1522. The edition of 1516 was printed under the direction of the great Dutch scholar Erasmus. That of 1550 is important as being substantially the "received text" which has appeared in the ordinary Greek Testaments printed in England until the present day, and as being the foundation of our English Authorised Version. This "received text" was printed by Robert Estienne (or Stephanus), a great printer of Paris. About the same time a desire for a reformation of abuses in the Church caused a deeper interest to be taken in the Word of God. The first English translation of the New Testament shows a desire for a reformation of a somewhat extreme kind. It was the version of William Tyndale, which was printed at Worms in Germany, in 1525. In 1534 the Convocation or Church Parliament of England made a petition to King Henry VIII. to allow a better version to be made. The work of translation was interrupted by an order to have an English Bible in every church. As the Church version was not completed, a version made in 1535 by Miles Coverdale had to be used instead. Two other versions, also somewhat inferior, appeared in 1537 and 1539, and then a slightly improved version called the Great Bible appeared in April, 1539. It is {7} also called Cranmer's Bible, because Archbishop Cranmer wrote a preface to the second edition. Three other important versions were published before the end of the 16th century. The Calvinists, who were the predecessors of the modern Presbyterians, published a New Testament at Geneva in 1557, followed by the whole Bible in 1560. The English bishops published what is called the Bishops' Bible in 1568, and the Roman Catholics published an English New Testament at Rheims in France, in 1582. We cannot fail to be impressed by the eager desire felt at that time by the people of Great Britain, of all religious parties, to study the Holy Scriptures, a desire to which these various translations bear witness.

All previous English versions were thrown into the shade by the brilliant Authorised Version, which was commenced in 1604 and published in 1611. Its beauty and accuracy are so great that even the Presbyterians, both in England and Scotland, gradually gave up the use of their Genevan Bible in favour of this translation. But since 1611 hundreds of manuscripts have been discovered and examined. "Textual criticism," by which an endeavour is made to discover the precise words written by the writers of the New Testament, where discrepancies exist in the manuscripts, has become a science. Many results of this criticism have been embodied in the Revised Version, published in 1881. The English of the Revised Version is not so musical as that of the Authorised Version, and it seems probable that a deeper knowledge of the ancient versions will before long enable us to advance even beyond the verbal accuracy attained in 1881. But at the same time we know that both our modern English versions give us a noble and trustworthy interpretation of the Greek. And criticism has made it certain that the earliest Greek manuscripts are essentially the same as the original books written by the apostles and their companions. The manuscripts are almost utterly free from wilful corruptions. And concerning the small variations which they contain, we {8} can fitly quote the words of a fine old English scholar, Bentley: "Even put them into the hands of a knave or a fool, and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any one chapter, nor so disguise Christianity but that every feature of it will still be the same."

For the sake of space the works of the evangelists are often referred to in an abbreviated form; e.g. "Matt." has been written for "the Gospel according to St. Matthew," and "Mark" for "the Gospel according to St. Mark." But when the writers themselves are mentioned, their names are usually given in full, with the title which Christian reverence has bestowed upon these "holy men of old."



[1] See Mr. C. H. Turner, Journal of Theological Studies, July, 1900.



{9}

CHAPTER II

THE GOSPELS

[Sidenote: Their Name.]

The modern English word "Gospel" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Godspell, which means "God story," the story about the life of God in human flesh. It does not, therefore, exactly correspond with the Greek name euaggelion, which means "good tidings." In the earliest times the Greek name meant the good tidings proclaimed by our Lord about the Kingdom of God which He had come to establish. And, as our Lord Himself rules over this kingdom, the tidings about the kingdom included tidings about Himself. So Christ Himself says, "for My sake and the gospel's" (Mark viii. 35). After the Ascension of our Lord and the disappearance of His visible presence, the euaggelion came to mean the good tidings about Christ, rather than the good tidings brought by Christ (see 1 Cor. ix. 14 and 2 Cor. iv. 4). So St. Paul generally means by euaggelion the good news, coming from God, of salvation freely given to man through Christ. When he speaks of "My gospel" (Rom. ii. 16), he means "my explanation of the gospel;" and when he says, "I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision" (Gal. ii. 7), he means that he had been appointed by God to preach the good tidings to the Gentiles, with special emphasis on the points most necessary for their instruction.

The word euaggellon, in the sense of a written gospel, is first found in the ancient Christian manual called the Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, in ch. xv.: "Reprove one {10} another, not in anger but in peace, as ye have it in the gospel." This book was probably composed about A.D. 100. The word seems to have been still more definitely applied to a written account of the life of Christ in the time of the great heretic Marcion, A.D. 140. The plural word euaggelia, signifying the Four Gospels, is first found in a writing of Justin Martyr,[1] about A.D. 152. It is important to notice that he also calls them "Memoirs of the Apostles," and that he refers to them collectively as "the Gospel," inasmuch as they were, in reference to their distinctive value as records of Christ, one book.

[Sidenote: Their Genuineness.]

The first three Gospels do not contain the name of the writers in any connection which can be used to prove conclusively that they were written by the men whose names they bear. On the other hand, the fourth Gospel in a concluding passage (John xxi. 24) contains an obvious claim to have been written by that intimate friend of Jesus to whom the Church has always attributed it. But the titles, "according to Matthew," "according to Mark," "according to Luke," rest on excellent authority. And they imply that each book contains the good news brought by Christ and recorded in the teaching of the evangelist specified. These titles must, at the very least, signify that the Christians who first gave these titles to these books, meant that each Gospel was connected with one particular person who lived in the apostolic age, and that it contained nothing contrary to what that person taught. The titles, taken by themselves, are therefore compatible with the theory that the first three Gospels were perhaps written by friends or disciples of the men whose names they bear. But we shall afterwards see that there is overwhelming evidence to show that the connection between each book and the specified person is much closer than that theory would suggest.

Speaking of the four Gospels generally, we may first observe that it is impossible to place any one of them as late as A.D. 100, {11} and that the first three Gospels must have been written long before that date. This is shown by the internal evidence, of which proof will be given in detail in the chapters dealing with the separate Gospels. The external evidence of the use of all the four Gospels by Christians, and to some extent by non-Christians, supports the internal evidence. Let us begin by noting facts which are part of undoubted history, and then work back to facts of earlier date. It is now undisputed that between the years 170 and 200 after Christ our four Gospels were known and regarded as genuine products of the apostolic age. St. Irenaeus, who became Bishop of Lyons in France in A.D. 177, and was the pupil of Polycarp, who had actually been a disciple of St. John, uses and quotes the four Gospels. He shows that various semi-Christian sects appeal severally to one of the four Gospels as supporting their peculiar views, but that the Christian Church accepts all four. He lays great stress on the fact that the teaching of the Church has always been the same, and he was personally acquainted with the state of Christianity in Asia Minor, Rome, and France. His evidence must therefore be considered as carrying great weight. Equally important is the evidence of Tatian. This remarkable Syrian wrote a harmony of the Gospels near A.D. 160. Allusions to this harmony, called the Diatessaron, were known to exist in several ancient writers, but until recently it was strenuously maintained by sceptical writers that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the Diatessaron was composed of our present Gospels. It was suggested that it might have been drawn from other Gospels more or less resembling those which we now possess. This idea has now been dispelled. A great Syrian father, Ephraim, who died in 373, wrote a commentary on the Diatessaron. This was preserved in an Armenian translation which was made known to the world in 1876. The discovery proved that the Diatessaron had been drawn from our four Gospels. In 1886 an Arabic version of the Diatessaron itself was found, and it {12} proved conclusively that Tatian's Diatessaron was simply a combination of our four canonical Gospels. About the same date as Tatian, a famous Gnostic writer named Heracleon wrote commentaries on Luke and John, and it can also be shown that he was acquainted with Matt. There can therefore be no doubt that all our four Gospels were well known by A.D. 170.

Between A.D. 130 and 170 our Gospels were also in use. The most important evidence is furnished by Justin Martyr, who was born near Samaria, and lectured in Rome about A.D. 152. He says "the apostles handed down in the Memoirs made by them, which are called Gospels;" he shows that these Memoirs were used in Christian worship, and he says that "they were compiled by Christ's apostles and those who companied with them." This exactly agrees with the fact that the first and the fourth of our Gospels are attributed by the tradition of the Church to apostles, while the second and the third are attributed to companions of the apostles. The quotations which Justin makes show that these Memoirs were our four Gospels. It has been thought that Justin perhaps used some apocryphal Gospel in addition to our Gospels, but there is no sufficient proof of this. We may explain that he uses the term "Memoirs" in order to make himself intelligible to non-Christian readers who would not understand the word "Gospel."

The Shepherd of Hermas, which was written at Rome, probably about A.D. 140, but perhaps earlier, uses expressions which imply an acquaintance with all our Gospels, though none of them are directly quoted. Moreover, the Shepherd, in depicting the Christian Church as seated on a bench with four feet, probably refers to the four Gospels. This would be in agreement with the allegorical style of the book, and it gains support from the language of Origen and Irenaeus.

The testimony rendered to the authenticity of the Gospels by the heretics who flourished between A.D. 130 and 170 is of importance. At the beginning of this period, Basilides, the {13} great Gnostic of Alexandria, who tried to replace Christianity by a semi-Christian Pantheism, appears to have used Matt., Luke, and John. The fact that they contain nothing which really supports his peculiar tenets, forms an argument which shows that the genuineness of these documents was then too well established for it to be worth his while to dispute it. Marcion, whose teaching was half Gnostic and half Catholic, endeavoured to revive what he imagined to be the Christianity of St. Paul, whom he regarded as the only true apostle. He believed that Judaism was the work of an inferior god, and he therefore rejected the whole of the Old Testament, and retained only the Gospel written by St. Luke, the friend of St. Paul, and ten of St. Paul's Epistles. Modern writers have sometimes urged that Marcion's list of New Testament books proves that all other parts of the New Testament were regarded as doubtful about A.D. 140. But it is quite evident that Marcion, unlike those Gnostics who adapted uncongenial books to their own systems by means of allegorical explanations, cut out the books and verses which would not correspond with his own dogma. In spite of his pretended fidelity to St. Paul, he mutilated not only St. Luke's Gospel, but even the Epistle to the Galatians. So whereas it is certain that he used our Luke, there is no indication to show that he did not admit that the other Gospels were really the work of the writers whose names they bear.

In the period between A.D. 98, when the death of St. John probably took place, and A.D. 130, we find several signs of acquaintance with the Gospels. About A.D. 130, Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, wrote a book called Expositions of the Oracles of the Lord. It may be regarded as almost certain that the word "Oracles" signifies written Gospels, just as in the New Testament the word signifies the written documents of the Old Testament. He mentions Gospels written by St. Matthew and St. Mark, and we know from Eusebius that he made use of 1 John. It is deeply to be regretted that we only have {14} a few remaining fragments of the writings of this early bishop, who was acquainted with men who knew our Lord's disciples. In the letters of St. Ignatius, the martyred Bishop of Antioch, A.D. 110, we find signs of acquaintance with Matt. and John. The Epistle written by St. Polycarp to the Philippians soon after the death of St. Ignatius contains quotations from Matt. and Luke, and the quotations in it from 1 John almost certainly imply the authenticity of St. John's Gospel, as it is impossible to attribute the Epistles to any writer except the writer of the Gospel. The Didache, about A.D. 100, shows acquaintance with Matt. and Luke, and contains early Eucharistic prayers of which the language closely resembles the language of St. John. The Epistle of Barnabas, probably about A.D. 98, contains what is probably the oldest remaining quotation from a book of the New Testament. It says, "It is written, Many called, but few chosen," which appears to be a quotation from Matt. xxii. 14. The Epistle of St. Clement of Rome, written to the Christians of Corinth about A.D. 95, is full of the phraseology of St. Paul's Epistles, but contains nothing that can be called a direct quotation from our Gospels. But it does contain what are possibly traces of the first three Gospels, though these passages are perhaps quoted from an oral Gospel employed in the instruction of catechumens.

We must conclude that, considering what a large amount of early Christian literature has perished, the external evidence for the authenticity of our Gospels is remarkably strong. They are genuine writings of the apostolic age, and were received by men whose lifetime overlapped the lifetime of some of the apostles. In the early Christian literature which remains, there is much which lends support to the authenticity of the Gospels, and nothing which injures a belief in that authenticity. And there are strong reasons for thinking that in the early Christian literature which has perished, there was much which would have made a belief in their authenticity quite inevitable.

It would be an aid to modern study if we could be certain {15} when and where the four Gospels were put together in one canon. In the 4th and 5th centuries it was believed by some Christians that the collection had been made at Ephesus by St. John himself, and that he had prefixed the names of the writers to the Gospels when he published his own Gospel. It is at present impossible to discover how far this supposed fact is legendary or not, but modern criticism has done something to corroborate the idea that the Gospels were really collected first in Asia Minor, and if St. John did not make the collection himself, it was probably made by his disciples soon after his death.

[Sidenote: Their Diversity.]

If we compare the four Gospels together, it is as plain as daylight that there is a marked difference between the first three Gospels on the one hand and the fourth Gospel on the other hand. The first three Gospels are usually called the Synoptic Gospels, because they give us one synopsis or common view of our Lord's work. To a great extent they record the same events and the same discourses, and in many passages they express themselves in almost identical words. The account which they give of our Lord's work is mostly confined to His ministry in Galilee, the birthplace of our religion, and it includes only one visit to Jerusalem. But St. John's Gospel differs widely in language from the other Gospels, and also gives an account of no less than five visits to Jerusalem, and chiefly describes the scenes connected with our Lord's ministry in Judaea. Whereas our first three Gospels can be appropriately printed in three parallel columns, the greater part of St. John's Gospel cannot be appropriately placed by the side of the other three. Another most important difference is that St. John's Gospel is marked by a tone and teaching which are seldom to be found in the Synoptic Gospels. The difference was well expressed by Clement of Alexandria, who calls the Synoptic Gospels bodily and St. John's Gospel spiritual; and by Theodore of Mopsuestia, who says that St. John declared that "doubtless it was not right to omit {16} the facts told with regard to the sojourn of Christ in the flesh, but neither was it right to omit the words relating to His Divinity." For the Synoptic Gospels relate the outward events connected with our Lord's ministry, while St. John records the discourses and works which reveal our Lord's heavenly origin and divine authority. Again, the Synoptic Gospels report Christ's addresses to simple Galilean people, addresses consisting largely of parables; while St. John reports discourses, frequently expressed in the language of allegory, and uttered to the Jews of Jerusalem or to His own intimate disciples.

[Sidenote: The Synoptic problem.]

The Synoptic problem consists in the difficulties raised by the fact that the Synoptic Gospels show both a remarkable similarity and a remarkable dissimilarity. It is just because the similarity is often so astonishing that we find it all the more difficult to explain the dissimilarity when it exists. A study of the Synoptic problem is valuable for the Christian student, inasmuch as it directs our attention to the sources employed by the evangelists, and thus leads us nearer to the actual events connected with the rise of Christianity.

The RESEMBLANCES between the Synoptic Gospels may be observed in the following points:—

(a) A common plan.—The general view of the course of events is almost identical. St. Matthew and St. Luke give separate accounts of the infancy of our Lord, but they then join with St. Mark in their account of St. John the Baptist, the baptism and temptation of Christ, and the beginning of His ministry. Later all three direct their attention mainly to Christ's work in Galilee, while St. John describes much that took place in Judaea and Samaria. They pass rapidly over some considerable space of time until they come to the last week of His life, where all three give a detailed account.

(b) A common selection of facts.—By far the larger number of both events and discourses are found in all three Gospels. If anything is recorded in Mark it is generally to be found in {17} Matt. and Luke, and almost always in either Matt. or Luke. If the whole number of incidents in the Synoptic Gospels be reckoned as eighty-eight, the distribution of the incidents shared by at least two Gospels is as follows:—

In all three Gospels . . . . . . . 42 In Mark and Matt. . . . . . . . . 12 In Mark and Luke . . . . . . . . . 5 In Matt. and Luke . . . . . . . . 12

If we add the above together, we realize that seventy-one incidents out of a total of eighty-eight are to be found in more than one Gospel. Of the remaining seventeen incidents, three are peculiar to Mark, five to Matt., and nine to Luke.

(c) Similar groups of incidents.—Not only is there a common selection of facts, but detached events which happened at different times are sometimes grouped together in the same way in all of the Synoptic Gospels or in two of the three. Thus in all three we find together the cure of the paralytic, the call of Levi, and the question of fasting (Matt. ix. 1-17; Mark ii. 1-22; Luke v. 17-39); so also the plucking of the ears of corn and the cure of the withered hand—events separated by at least a week (Matt. xii. 1-21; Mark ii. 23-iii. 6; Luke vi. 1-11). Thus also the death of John the Baptist is introduced both in Matt. xiv. 3 and in Mark vi. 17 to explain the fear felt by Herod Antipas that he had risen from the dead. In fact, when a parallel passage is found in all three Synoptic Gospels, it is never immediately followed in both Matt. and Luke by a whole separate incident which is not in Mark.[2] There is a general tendency in Matt. and Luke to narrate the same facts as Mark in the order of Mark. And therefore it is difficult to think that the original basis of the Synoptic Gospels, whether written or unwritten, did not coincide closely with Mark in the order of events.

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(d) Similarity of language.—The Synoptic Gospels often agree verbally. And this agreement is not merely found in the reports of the sayings of our Lord, but even in the narrative of events. It extends even to rare Greek words and phrases. The clauses are often remarkably similar. Sometimes quotations from the Old Testament are found in two or three Gospels with the same variations from the original. Matt. iii. 3, Mark i. 3, and Luke iii. 4 have the same quotation from Isa. xl. 3, in which they agree in every word, although at the end they depart in the same way from both the Hebrew and the Greek version of the Old Testament, for they put "His paths" instead of "the paths of our God." Another interesting instance is to be found in Matt. xxvi. 47, Mark xiv. 43, and Luke xxii. 47, where all three evangelists, apparently without any necessity, explain that Judas was one of the twelve. Again in Matt. xxiv. 15, 16, and Mark xiii. 14, we have the note or parenthesis "let him that readeth understand," which one evangelist seems to have copied from the other.

The DIFFERENCES between the Synoptic Gospels may be observed in the following facts:—

(a) Facts peculiar to one or two Gospels.—There is a wide difference between the account of the birth and infancy of our Lord given in Matt. and that given in Luke. In Matt. we have recorded an angelic communication to St. Joseph concerning the future birth of Jesus. In Luke, an earlier and fuller annunciation to St. Mary is recorded. In Matt. the story of the infancy is centred at Bethlehem, in Luke at Nazareth. The accounts given of the appearances of our Lord after the Resurrection record different events. In Matt. and Mark Galilee is the scene of His appearances, in Luke the scene is laid in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood. There is not the least reason for regarding these accounts as contradictory, but there is reason for inquiring why the different writers selected different appearances.

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(b) Different accounts of the same facts.—The three distinct incidents of the temptation of our Lord are recorded in a different order in Matt. and Luke, and the temptation is recorded without these incidents in Mark. St. Luke's version of the Beatitudes is reduced in number, and is followed by corresponding denunciations. In Mark x. 46 and Matt. x. 29 we have the cure of Bartimaeus on the departure from Jericho, in Luke xviii. 35, xix. 1 at the entrance of the city. In Matt. viii. 28 there are two demoniacs, while in Mark v. 2 and Luke viii. 27, which seem to narrate the same event, only one demoniac is mentioned. All the Synoptic Gospels give slightly different accounts of the inscription on the cross, and the words spoken by the centurion at the death of Jesus vary in Luke from the words in Matt. and Mark.

(c) Differences in the order of words and sentences.—Although Matt. and Luke do not combine against Mark in narrating a whole incident in an order different from Mark, it is important to notice that there are some cases in which Matt. and Mark agree against Luke, or Mark and Luke agree against Matt. And we must not omit a significant instance where Matt. and Luke agree against Mark in the order of part of an incident. In Matt. iii. 11, 12 and Luke iii. 16, "I indeed baptize you with water," etc., comes before, in Mark i. 7, 8 it comes after, the description of Jesus as "He that is mightier than I." No doubt one author who copies another may often omit something stated by the first author. But, surely, he is not very likely to invert the order of the materials before him, especially when no obvious purpose can be served by such an inversion. Another instance of inversion is this: in Mark ix. 12, 13 the rejection of the Son of Man is mentioned by our Lord between two statements of His about Ehas, in Matt. xvii. 12 it is mentioned after both statements. Such inversions would naturally take place in the case of oral transmission of the sacred story, but they would be less likely in the case of one writer copying another.

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(d) Verbal differences.—Striking verbal differences occur even when the general resemblance is most close. In Matt. ix. 1-17, Mark ii. 1-22, Luke v. 17-39, there are verbal changes even where the sentences closely coincide. Other instances might be quoted. All three evangelists have a style of their own, and show a marked preference for particular idioms and words. In narrating the sayings of our Lord, they narrate them with some verbal differences, and in the case of the history of His ministry, they narrate it with numerous verbal differences. It is therefore evident that St. Matthew and St. Luke, if they used St. Mark's work, felt themselves at liberty to deal with it very freely.

The above brief account of the chief resemblances and differences between the first three Gospels is an attempt to give a fair though condensed statement of certain facts which appeal with different force to different minds. "How came these Gospels to be so alike and yet so different?" This is the "Synoptic problem," and great divergence of opinion exists as to the solution.

[Sidenote: Possible solutions.]

The most important views propounded to solve the problem are—

(1) Both St. Matthew and St. Luke copied the Gospel of St. Mark, while not omitting to make use of other documents. In the case of St. Luke, his acquaintance with earlier written stories about our Lord is rendered indisputable by his own statement. Sometimes it has been thought that St. Luke made use of the Gospel according to St. Matthew as well as the Gospel according to St. Mark. This theory is most appropriately called the theory of the mutual dependence of the documents.

(2) The three Synoptic Gospels put down in writing different, but closely similar forms of an oral tradition concerning the teaching of our Lord. It is thought that the statements made by the apostles about Christ were repeated by them and occasionally added to, and treasured up in faithful memories. {21} The idea of a literary connection between the Gospels is dismissed, and it is held that the methods of teaching employed among the Jews, and the probable existence of a school of trained catechists, will account sufficiently for the fixed form of the tradition. According to this hypothesis the differences between the Synoptic Gospels are to be explained by the necessity of teaching different aspects of the truth among different classes of inquirers, and by the fluctuating memories of the teachers. This theory is known as the oral theory.[3]

(3) The three Synoptic Gospels are based upon one original Gospel written in the Aramaic language. A large number of verbal variations can thus be accounted for. They might have sprung from different renderings of the same Aramaic original, and various passages derived from oral tradition might have been added to the original Gospel when it was translated. It has been held by some that there was at least an Aramaic document behind Mark, if there was not an Aramaic original employed by all the Synoptics. The different forms of this hypothesis can be described as the theory of an Aramaic original.

It is now generally believed that the three evangelists did not employ one original Aramaic Gospel. The agreement between the Greek words of the Synoptic Gospels is too close to be explained by the use of an Aramaic original. The real controversy, therefore, lies between the scholars who support theory (1) or theory (2).

[Sidenote: Probable conclusions.]

On the whole, it appears that a general agreement is being arrived at. It is becoming evident that the theory of the mutual dependence of the documents and the oral theory are both partly true, and that neither of them can be held in an extreme form. In the first place, the resemblances between the first three Gospels make it extremely probable that St. Matthew and St. Luke {22} employed the work of St. Mark. In England, Germany, and France the opinion of scholars seems steadily tending towards this conclusion. The chief reasons for it are undoubtedly that (i.) the order of facts in Mark is the normal order of the whole narrative of the Synoptists, and (ii.) in the main, the language of Mark explains the verbal agreements between Matt. and Luke. Therefore among the probable conclusions with regard to the Synoptic problem we must reckon the fact that Mark is earlier than Matt. and Luke, and was employed in the composition of them both. This is the first important conclusion.

But we must also allow room for the influence of oral tradition.

We have already noticed many differences between the Synoptists, all of which more or less suggest that the Gospels are largely based on oral tradition. We may now mention a few other facts which point in the same direction. There are cases in which Matt. or Luke has a more decided appearance of originality than Mark. These cases include words, phrases, and even sections. For instance, Matt. employs several times the phrase "the Father who is in heaven," a phrase which our Lord must certainly have used, but which in Mark only occurs once (xi. 25). Mark i. 40-45, ii. 1-12, iii. 1-6, x. 35, appear less original than the parallel passages in the other Synoptic Gospels. Moreover, there are statements in Matt. of a striking kind, which are not at all likely to have been invented, but which are entirely absent from Mark. We may notice the texts, "Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. x. 5, 6); and again, "I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. xv. 24). In both cases the context has a parallel in Mark, but the verses in question do not occur in those parallels.

Also there are certain passages to be found in Mark which are in neither Luke nor Matt. If we believe that the Gospels {23} are largely based on oral tradition, it is easy to account for the absence of a passage in one or two of the three Synoptic Gospels. An incident which was remembered in one place might be forgotten in another. But if we exclude the influence of oral tradition, there are only two solutions of the problem raised by these passages. Either (a) St. Matthew and St. Luke were ignorant of them, because they were added to Mark later than the date when they used Mark; or (b) they knew them and omitted them. In other words, we have to ask, Did they use an original form of the second Gospel, a form to which German scholars apply the name Ur-Marcus and French scholars apply the name Proto-Marc, or did they omit passages in Mark which suggested difficulties or appeared unnecessary? The main argument against the existence of a Proto-Mark is that neither Papias nor any known Father of the Church preserves the least recollection of it. It has simply been invented to account for the difficulties of the Synoptic problem. If, on the other hand, St. Matthew and St. Luke deliberately abbreviated or altered the narrative of St. Mark, we must naturally inquire why they did so. The authors who maintain that they did alter the material which lay before them, account for some of the changes as having been made from a mere desire to abbreviate, or to remove a few verses which might prove "hard sayings" to Jewish or Gentile Christians respectively. Some think that other passages in Mark were emitted because St. Matthew and St. Luke considered them to be derogatory to our Lord's power or the character of His apostles. For instance, St. Matthew omits the rebuke administered to the apostles in Mark viii. 17, 18, and he does not mention our Lord's use of spittle as a means of healing. He also in ch. xiii. 55 represents the Jews as calling our Lord "the carpenter's son," whereas in Mark vi. 3 they call Him "the carpenter."

This latter line of argument is often hazardous and occasionally profane. And in special reference to the points just {24} described, we may remark that St. Matthew in ch. xiv. 28-33 does not hesitate to record the weakness of even St. Peter's faith; and that St. John, although he gives the greatest prominence to the majesty of our Lord, does in ch. ix. 6 record His use of spittle in healing. And if St. Matthew thought it irreverent to record the fact that the Jews called Jesus "the carpenter," he might have naturally shrunk far more from saying, as he does, that they named Him "the carpenter's son," a title which might seem to imply an ignoring of His miraculous birth.

It seems, therefore, that we must be content to acknowledge that we cannot always determine the reasons which influenced St. Matthew and St. Luke, but we can say that in some cases they were probably influenced by the mere desire to abbreviate, and that they were also influenced by the forms which the oral teaching of the Gospel had assumed. We may also regard it as almost certain that St. Luke sometimes altered words in St. Mark's narrative simply because he preferred a more elegant and less homely form of Greek. The textual criticism of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament also points to the fact that for a few generations, when reminiscences of our Lord and His apostles were still handed down, writers occasionally tried to make room for these reminiscences when they copied the books of the New Testament. A famous instance of this is John vii. 53-viii. 11, which was almost certainly not written by St. John, and is almost certainly a genuine story which the apostle knew, and which Christians afterwards inserted in his Gospel. We believe, then, that all the Synoptic Gospels are influenced by oral tradition. This is the second important conclusion.

Thirdly, it seems that Matt. and Luke, and perhaps Mark, made use of written collections of Logia, or sayings of our Lord. Evidence of one such collection comes to us on the high authority of Papias. He says—

Matthew then composed the Logia in the Hebrew tongue, and every one interpreted them as he was able.

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An equally important statement which Papias makes with regard to the composition of Mark, is made on the authority of John the Presbyter who had been a personal follower of the Lord and was an elder contemporary of Papias. It is at least possible that Papias derived his information about Matt. from the same authority. It is almost inconceivable that between the time of Papias and that of Irenaeus, whose life probably overlapped that of Papias, the name of Matthew became wrongly affixed to our first Gospel. We may therefore regard it as certain that in our first Gospel is contained the book of sayings, which St. Matthew himself wrote. In our third Gospel we find that St. Luke has inserted much information with regard to our Lord's teaching which is apparently derived from a version of the Logia. The order of the sayings is more original in Luke than in Matt. The reason for this assertion is the following:—

The two evangelists arrange the sayings of our Lord differently. In more than two-thirds of the instances in which they seem to employ some collection of Logia, they place their materials in a different setting. It has often been remarked that St. Matthew places the discourses of our Lord together in large blocks, while St. Luke records them separately, and in many cases records the circumstances which led up to them. Instances of this are—The Lord's Prayer (Matt. vi. 9-13 and Luke xi. 1-4); the treasure and the heart (Matt. vi. 19-21 and Luke xii. 33, 34); God and Mammon (Matt. vi. 24 and Luke xvi. 13). It would therefore seem plain that either one evangelist or the other altered the places of these discourses. Examination makes it equally plain that the alteration was made in Matt. Much of Matt. is arranged in numerical forms, and this is especially true of those passages which are not derived from Mark. The numbers 5, 10, and 7 are used as helps to memory. Thus in Matt. we find five chapters (called by the Jews "Pereqs") of the sayings of our Lord, ending respectively at vii. 28; xi. 1; xiii. 53, xix. 1; xxvi. 1. The {26} number five was a favourite number with the Jews in such cases; thus we have five books of the Pentateuch, five books of the Psalms, the five Megilloth or festival volumes, and the five parts of the Pirqe Aboth. In chs. viii. and ix. we have a collection of ten miracles, in spite of the fact that three of these miracles are placed elsewhere by St. Mark and St. Luke. The petitions of the Lord's Prayer are arranged as seven, there are seven parables in ch. xiii., seven woes in ch. xxiii., and the genealogy of our Lord is arranged in three fourteens. As these numerical arrangements are specially characteristic of Matt., and certainly appear to be caused by a desire to aid oral repetition, we are led to the conclusion that the Logia are to be found in a less artificial and therefore earlier form in Luke. We are also led once more to the conclusion that though we cannot say that the whole of Matt. owes its form to oral teaching, yet many sections of it are moulded by oral teaching.

It must lastly be noted that although the collection of Logia employed in Luke contained much material which is also found in Matt., the parallel passages vary considerably in style and language. Examination of these passages seldom enables us to prove what expressions were specially characteristic of the Logia. But we can assert with a fair amount of confidence that the version, or versions, of the Logia so employed, had a simple and Hebraic style; and that whereas Luke has kept the order of the Logia better than Matt., the latter preserves the style more faithfully.

In addition to Mark and collections of the Logia, St. Matthew and St. Luke employed other sources now unknown to us. The narratives of the infancy and the Resurrection are independent, and are so different that they point both to the fact that the two evangelists were here employing different sources, and that each was unacquainted with the Gospel written by the other. Also, St. Luke's account of our Lord's ministry in Peraea and elsewhere, contained in ix. 51-xix. 28, is peculiar to his Gospel.

[Sidenote: The relation of St. John's Gospel to the Synoptic Gospels.]

The difference between the theological tone of St. John's Gospel and that which we find in the Synoptists is mentioned {27} in our account of the separate Gospels. Besides this difference of tone, there is a decided difference in the march of the events which are recorded and some difference in the narrative of passages which are parallel. The first rough impression which we gather from the Synoptists is that our Lord did not visit Jerusalem until shortly before the Crucifixion. Matthew and Mark refer to one Passover only for which Jesus comes to Jerusalem. The scene of His ministry is Galilee. On the other hand, the centre of interest in John is not Galilee, but Jerusalem and Judaea. But a minute examination proves that the narrative of St. John fits that of the Synoptists in a remarkable manner. In the first place, the Synoptists give us hints of our Lord's earlier visits to Judaea and Jerusalem. In Luke iv. 44 (see margin R.V.) we find Him preaching in the synagogues of Judaea (cf. Acts x. 37). In Luke v. 17 the presence in Galilee of Pharisees from Jerusalem is a testimony to the impression which Christ had produced in the holy city. Both Matt. (xxiii. 37) and Luke (xiii. 34) record the lament of our Lord, "O Jerusalem, . . . how often would I," etc. So from John iv. 3, 43 we learn of our Lord returning to Galilee after His first visit to Jerusalem. This second journey into Galilee recorded by St. John brings us to a point corresponding with the early days of the ministry in Galilee described by the Synoptists. In John vi.-vii. 9 we have narratives connected with Galilee, and this section belongs to an interval of time between the approach of Passover in March A.D. 28 and the feast of Tabernacles in September A.D. 28. Of this period the Synoptists give a much fuller account.

The question of the length of our Lord's ministry is thus intimately connected with that of the scene of His ministry. St. John marks the length of our Lord's ministry, not by ordinary chronology, but by the mention of various Jewish feasts. The dates of these feasts show that His ministry lasted two years and a half. The absence of dates in the Synoptists {28} has led to the opinion that they represent our Lord's ministry as only extending over one year. This opinion may be summarily dismissed. The mention of ripe corn in Mark ii. 23, and green grass in vi. 39, implies two spring-times before the last Passover. It is impossible to compress the teaching which the Synoptic Gospels relate into the period of one year, and they show a hostility towards Christ on the part of the ruling classes in Jerusalem which could not have sufficiently fermented in the space of a few months. We may also notice that there is a close agreement between the Synoptists and St. John with regard to the points on which the conflict between Christ and the Jews turned (cf. Matt. xvi. 1-4, Mark viii. 11-13, Luke xi. 16, 29-32, with John ii. 18). The Jews specially charged Him with being possessed by a devil (cf. Matt. xii. 24, Mark iii. 22, Luke xi. 15, with John viii. 48 and x. 19), and also with breaking the sabbath (cf. Matt. xii. 9, Mark iii. 1, Luke vi. 6, xiii. 10, with John v. 10, vii. 22, ix. 14).

The dates of two important incidents have been the subjects of much discussion. A cleansing of the temple by our Lord is related by the Synoptists at the close of our Lord's ministry (Mark xi. 15). John ii. 14 places a cleansing of the temple at the very beginning of our Lord's ministry. If we have to choose between one record and the other, we should perhaps be inclined to say that the narrative in John is the more probable. But there is no good reason for making such a choice. No one who is at all familiar with the history of the abuses which took place in some mediaeval churches would find a difficulty in believing that the temple needed a second cleansing by our Lord. The first cleansing is the natural outcome of His righteous indignation in beholding for the first time the holiest place in the world given up to common traffic, the second cleansing is appropriate in Him who had then openly proclaimed His divine authority and Messiahship.

The day of our Lord's death is a date about which there is an apparent discrepancy between the Synoptists and St. John. {29} The discrepancy has been elevated into momentous importance by the sceptics of the last sixty years, and has been employed as one of the most formidable arguments against the authenticity of St. John's Gospel. The argument employed by these critics is as follows:—(1) The Synoptic Gospels contain the original apostolic tradition, and they agree in stating that Jesus celebrated the ordinary Jewish passover on the evening between the 14th and 15th of the month Nisan; they therefore represent the crucifixion as taking place on the 15th, after the passover had been eaten. (2) The fourth Gospel places the Last Supper on the evening between the 13th and the 14th of Nisan. It therefore represents the crucifixion as taking place on the 14th, and tacitly denies that Christ ate the usual Jewish passover. (3) The Churches of the province of Asia, which were founded by St. John, were accustomed in the 2nd century to keep their passover on the 14th of Nisan, and declared that they derived their custom from St. John. They consequently believed that Christ died on the 15th, and that He ate the usual Jewish Passover. (4) Therefore the fourth Gospel was not written by St. John, but by a forger who wished to emphasize the break between Judaism and Christianity.

This argument can be turned with fatal force against the critics who made it. It is no doubt true that St. John by numerous indications (xiii. 1; xviii. 28; xix. 14, 31) implies that the Last Supper was eaten the day before the usual passover, and that Christ died on Nisan 14. But the usage of the Christians of the Asiatic Churches in the 2nd century absolutely corroborates these indications. These Churches when they celebrated the passover were not celebrating the anniversary of the Last Supper, but the anniversary of the death of Christ, the true Paschal Lamb. By doing this on Nisan 14, they showed that they believed that Christ died on that day, and there is particularly strong evidence of a belief among the early Christians that our Lord did die on Nisan 14. Moreover, although the account of the Synoptists is not free from {30} ambiguity, it bears many testimonies to St. John's chronology. They record as happening on the day of Christ's death several actions which the Jewish law did not permit on a feast day such as Nisan 15, and which must presumably have taken place on Nisan 14. The Synoptists make the Sanhedrim say that they will not arrest Jesus "on the feast day," the guards and St. Peter carry arms, the trial is held, Simon the Cyrenian comes from work, Joseph of Arimathaea buys a linen cloth, the holy women prepare spices, all of which works would have been forbidden on Nisan 15. Finally, the day is itself called the "preparation," a name which would not be given to Nisan 15. The conclusion is irresistible. It is that our Lord died on Nisan 14, that St. John is correct, and that the Synoptists in most of the passages concerned corroborate St. John. The only real difficulty is raised by Mark xiv. 12 (cf. Matt. xxvi. 17; Luke xxii. 7), which seems to imply that the Paschal lamb was sacrificed on the day before Christ died. If so, this verse implies that Christ died on Nisan 15. But we must observe that not one of the Synoptists says that the disciples ate a lamb at the Last Supper, and also that, for all ceremonial purposes, the day for killing the lamb began on the evening of Nisan 13. It is therefore doubtful whether there is even as much as one verbal contradiction on this point between the Synoptists and St. John.

The omission of events which are of importance in the Synoptic Gospels is a striking feature in St. John's Gospel. But these instances of omission can be more reasonably explained by the hypothesis that the author was content to omit facts with which the Christians around him were well acquainted, than by the hypothesis that he was a spiritualistic writer of the 2nd century who wished to make his Gospel fit some fanciful theory of his own. In fact, the latter hypothesis has proved a signal failure. The critics who say that the writer omitted the story of our Lord's painful temptation as incompatible with the majesty of the Divine Word, may be asked {31} why the writer gives no fuller account of the glorious transfiguration than the hint in i. 14. Those who say that sentimental superstition induced the writer to omit the agony the garden, may be asked why the writer records the weariness of Christ at Samaria and His tears at the grave, of Lazarus. There are gaps in the evangelist's narrative, but we cannot argue that the Gospel is therefore a forgery. The evangelist is acquainted with the Ascension (vi. 62), though he does not record it; and he knows that Nazareth was the early home of Christ (i. 46), though he does not narrate the story of the sacred infancy. The Gospel of St. John is none the less genuine for being of the nature of a treatise, intended to bring certain aspects of the life of our Lord to bear upon the intellectual life of Ephesus. Much has been made of the fact that he says nothing of the institution of the Eucharist. Nor does he record the command of Jesus to baptize. Are we to suppose that a writer who has told us how "the Word was made flesh" so shrank from believing material things to be connected with a spiritual efficacy that he rejected the sacraments? Is it not more probable that among people who were perfectly familiar with both Baptism and the Eucharist he preferred to tell what Christ had said about being born again (iii.), and about the assimilation of His life by the believer (vi.)? This seems to us more reasonable. The fourth Gospel, though it has a character and purpose of its own, and might even have been written if there had been no other Gospel, yet was intended to supplement either the Synoptic Gospels or else a body of teaching corresponding with that contained in those Gospels.

The facts which St. John records in common with the Synoptists before the Last Supper, the Passion, and the Resurrection are—the Baptism of John (i. 26), the Feeding of the 5000 (vi. 10), the Walking on the Sea (vi. 19), the Anointing at Bethany, with the action of Judas (xii. 1), the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (xii. 12). Even in connection with these incidents St. John gives his additional details, and {32} therefore the character of his work is here, as elsewhere, both independent and supplemental.

It remains to ask whether any words used by St. John seem to show that he borrowed expressions from the Synoptic Gospels.

The following passages may be noticed: John v. 8 f. (Mark ii. 11 f.), vi. 7, 10, 19 f. (Mark vi. 37, 40, 49 f.), xii. 3, 5, 7 f. (Mark xiv. 3-6), xiii. 21 (Mark xiv. 18), xviii. 18, 17 (Mark xiv. 54, 69), xviii. 22 (Mark xiv. 65). For the quotation from Zechariah in xii. 15, cf. Matt. xxi. 5. The words of our Lord in John xv. 18-xvi. 2 have been compared with those in Matt. x. 17-22. Sometimes John has more points of contact with Luke than with the other Synoptists; e.g. there is the journey of Christ to Galilee before the death of John the Baptist, the fact that the scourging of Christ by Pilate was intended to restrain the Jews from demanding His death, and the visit of St. Peter to the sepulchre. It has been thought that John xii. 3 is based upon Luke vii. 38. The anointing of our Lord's feet in both is certainly remarkable. Sometimes John agrees with Matt. and Mark and not Luke, as in recording the binding of Jesus, the crown of thorns, the purple robe, and the custom of releasing a malefactor at the feast. Such coincidences between John and the Synoptic Gospels are so slight and disconnected that it seems doubtful whether the former uses any material drawn from the latter. Nevertheless, the story contained in the Synoptic Gospels, though not quoted, is presupposed. A good instance is in John vi. 5, where St. John does not stop to explain that the hour was late and the people therefore hungry.



[1] Apol. i. 66.

[2] The longest instance of a passage in Matt. and Luke being parallel in these Gospels and without a parallel in Mark is the short passage, Matt. iii. 7-10, Luke iii. 7-9.

[3] This theory was first clearly expounded in 1818 by Gieseler, a celebrated German Protestant Church historian. It has been more popular in England than in Germany.



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CHAPTER III

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW

[Sidenote: The Author.]

St. Matthew is one of the least known of the Apostles. He was first called Levi the son of Alphaeus, and was a "publican" or collector of customs at Capernaum. At the call of Jesus, "he forsook all, and rose up and followed Him." He then made a great feast, to which he invited his old companions, no doubt that they too might come under the influence of the Lord. After the appointment of the twelve Apostles, he was put in the second of the three groups of Apostles. The New Testament gives us no further information concerning him. An early tradition narrates that the Apostles remained at Jerusalem until twelve years after the Ascension, and certainly St. Paul does not seem to have found any of the Apostles at Jerusalem when he was there in A.D. 56 (Acts xxi. 17). According to Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 190, St. Matthew led a rigorously ascetic life, such as is also recorded of St. James. Nothing certain is known of his missionary labours. Parthia, Ethiopia, and India were believed in the 4th and 5th centuries to have been visited by St. Matthew. We learn from Clement of Alexandria that he did not suffer martyrdom.[1] The fact that he disappears almost completely from the realm of history is an additional reason for believing the tradition which connects our first Gospel with his name. A false tradition would have probably connected it with one of the more favourite figures of early Christian story.

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It is repeatedly asserted by the Fathers that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, which may either mean the sacred language of the synagogues, or the popular language of Palestine which we now call Aramaic. It should, however, be remembered that Papias, our earliest authority, describes St. Matthew's composition by the word Logia, which seems to point to a list of sacred sayings or "oracles" of our Lord, rather than to a historical narrative. About A.D. 125, Papias writes: "Matthew then composed the Logia in the Hebrew tongue, and every one interpreted them as he was able." [2] About A.D. 185, St. Irenaeus writes: "Matthew published a Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect." [3] Origen and Eusebius make similar statements. St. Jerome, in A.D. 392, writes: "Matthew, also called Levi, who from being a publican became an apostle, first wrote a Gospel of Christ in Judaea, and in Hebrew letters and words for the benefit of those of the circumcision who believed. Who afterwards translated it into Greek is not quite certain." [4] We naturally inquire what became of this Hebrew Gospel?

St. Jerome, in A.D. 392, believed that he had found it. He says that it was still preserved at Caesarea, and that the Nazarenes, a Jewish Christian sect of Palestine, allowed him to transcribe a copy of it at Beroea (now Aleppo). In A.D. 398, he says that he had translated this Gospel into Greek and Latin. It is known that it was used by the Nazarenes and by the Ebionites, a Jewish sect which admitted that Jesus was the Messiah, but denied that He was divine. Lastly, we find St. Epiphanius, about the same time as St. Jerome, describing the Hebrew "Gospel according to the Hebrews" as the Gospel written by St. Matthew.

So at the end of the 4th century it was generally believed that the Gospel used by the Nazarenes, and ordinarily known as "the Gospel according to the Hebrews," was the original {35} Hebrew version of Matt. The opinion arose from the two simple facts that it was known that (1) St. Matthew originally wrote in Hebrew, and that (2) the Nazarenes possessed a Gospel in Hebrew. The conclusion was natural, but it was false. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, who quote the Gospel according to the Hebrews, do not represent it as the work of St. Matthew. St. Jerome himself felt doubts. When he first discovered the Hebrew Gospel, he felt the enthusiasm of a critic who has made an important find. He believed that he had discovered the original Gospel. He afterwards became more cautious. His later allusions to the Gospel say that "it is called by most the original Matthew," [5] and that it is "the Gospel according to the Apostles or, as most suppose, according to Matthew." [6] In fact, this Hebrew Gospel, which bore sometimes the title of "the Hebrews," sometimes "the Apostles," sometimes "St. Matthew," was not the Hebrew original of our present Matthew, nor could it have been written by an Apostle. The fragments of it which now remain come from two versions. Both versions show traces of a mixed Jewish and Gnostic heresy, and are plainly apocryphal. The Holy Spirit is called the "mother" of Jesus, and represented as transporting Him by a hair of His head to Mount Tabor, and our Lord is represented as handing His grave-clothes to the servant of the high-priest as soon as He was risen from the dead. The Gospel certainly seems not only to be a forgery, but to betray a knowledge both of our Greek Gospel according to St. Matthew and that according to St. John.[7] We are obliged to conclude that it throws no light on the origin of our Matt., and that the original Hebrew Matt. was lost at an early date.

On the other hand, it is certain that our Greek Matt. was {36} regarded as authentic in the 2nd century, and it is plain that it records the sayings of Christ with peculiar fulness.

We must now return to what was stated in our previous chapter when dealing with the Synoptic problem. We there saw that there is a great mass of common material in all three Synoptic Gospels, and saw that Mark was probably used as a groundwork for Matt. and Luke. We therefore are led to the conclusion that the Gospel according to St. Matthew is a combination of a Greek version of St. Matthew's original Hebrew Logia—St. Matthew possibly wrote a Greek version of it as well as the Hebrew—with the Gospel written by St. Mark. The combination was apparently made either by the apostle himself, or by a disciple of the apostle as the result of his directions. The Catholic Jewish Christians, knowing that the Gospel contained St. Matthew's own Logia, and that the rest of the Gospel was in accordance with his teaching as delivered to them, called it "the Gospel according to Matthew." The less orthodox Jewish Christians, as we have seen, invented a Gospel of their own.

A little help is given us by the internal evidence afforded by Matt. The author appears to be writing for Greek-speaking converts from Judaism, who need to have Hebrew words interpreted to them. Thus he interprets "Immanuel" (i. 23), "Golgotha" (xxvii. 33), and the words of our Lord on the cross (xxvii. 46). The numerous quotations from the Old Testament have for a long time exercised the ingenuity of scholars, who have believed that they enable us to determine how the Gospel was written. On the whole these quotations suggest two conclusions: (1) That the evangelist knew both Greek and Aramaic, (2) that the Gospel is not a mere translation from the Aramaic or Hebrew. Roughly speaking, the quotations which St. Matthew has in common with the other Synoptists are from the Greek (Septuagint) version of the Old Testament, while those which are peculiar to his {37} Gospel show that the Hebrew has been consulted. Altogether the quotations number 45. Of these there are 11 which are texts quoted by the evangelist himself to illustrate the Messianic work of our Lord, and 9 of the 11 seem to imply a knowledge of Hebrew. They are i. 23; ii. 15, iv. 15-16, viii. 17, xii. 18-21; xiii. 14-15; xiii. 35b; xxi. 5; xxvii. 9, 10. The other 34 texts comprise the quotations which are made in the discourses of our Lord, and they are sometimes called context-quotations or cyclic quotations, as coming in the cycle of discourses. Perhaps 6 or 7 of these 34 texts imply a knowledge of the Hebrew. But it is certain that this class of quotations is far nearer to the Septuagint than the other class. This conclusion remains good in spite of the fact that even the Messianic quotations show the influence of the Septuagint, e.g. in i. 23 the writer uses the Septuagint, inasmuch as the Greek word translated "virgin" necessarily implies the unique condition of the mother of our Lord, whereas the corresponding Hebrew word does not necessarily imply the same condition. Now, it is plain that if the Gospel had been translated from the Hebrew, the context-quotations would probably have been as near to the Hebrew as the quotations made by the evangelist himself. This is not the case. The quotations in Matt. show that the writer knew Hebrew but wrote in Greek, and based part of his work on a Greek document.

The fact that the Gospel was written in Greek does not prove that it was not written in Palestine. It has been urged that it cannot have been written in Palestine, because in ix. 26, 31 we find Palestine called "that land," but the phrase may refer only to a part of Palestine, and therefore can hardly be urged as proving anything. It is well known that educated persons in Palestine were acquainted with Greek, although the majority spoke Aramaic. The two languages existed side by side, very much as Welsh and English exist side by side in North Wales. If the Gospel was not written in Palestine, it was probably written in South Syria.

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[Sidenote: Date.]

The date must be shortly before A.D. 70. A favourite argument of modern sceptics is that it contains a reference (xxii. 7) to the burning of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, and therefore must have been written after that event. The argument rests upon the assumption that our Lord could not have foreseen the event predicted—an assumption which no Christian can accept. Even the favoured servants of God in later ages have sometimes possessed the gift of prophecy. Savonarola certainly foretold the fall of Rome, which took place in A.D. 1527, and the prophecy was printed long before the event seemed credible. Much more might the Son of God have foretold the fall of that city which had so signally neglected His summons. Such expressions as "the holy city," "the holy place," "the city of the great King," suggest that when the Gospel was written it had not yet become the home of "the abomination of desolation." And a far stronger proof is afforded by the caution of the writer in xxiv. 15, "let him that readeth understand." This is an editorial note inserted by the evangelist, as by St. Mark, before our Lord's warning to flee from Judaea. We learn from the early historians of the Church that the Jewish Christians took warning from this statement to flee from Judaea to Peraea before the Romans invested the holy city in A.D. 70. Now, it would have been absurd for the evangelist to insert this note after the Roman forces had begun the siege, as absurd as it would have been to warn the Parisians to flee to England after Paris had been surrounded by the Prussians in 1870, or to warn the English to leave Ladysmith in 1900 after it was surrounded by the Boers. Another and final proof that the Gospel was written before A.D. 70 is given by the form in which the evangelist has recorded our Lord's prophecy of the end of the world (the so-called "eschatological discourse" in chs. xxiv.-xxv.). The prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and that of the last coming of the Lord are placed side by side with no perceptible break. Ch. xxiv. 29-31 refers to the {39} last coming of Christ, whereas the verses which immediately precede it refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, and so do vers. 32-34. It is impossible to resist the conclusion that the evangelist believed that the judgment upon Jerusalem would be immediately followed by the last judgment of the world. He knows that our Lord foretold both, and both events loom large in his mind. As a traveller in a valley sees before him two great mountains which appear close to one another, though really separated by many miles, so the evangelist sees these two events together. After the fall of Jerusalem he would almost certainly have made a definite break between the two subjects.

[Sidenote: Literary Style.]

We have already noticed in ch. ii. the fondness for numerical arrangement, which is a marked characteristic of the style of this Gospel. There are other proofs of the fact that this Gospel is more Hebrew in tone than the others. In the other Gospels we find the expression "the kingdom of God," but here we find it called "the kingdom of heaven," an instance of the peculiarly Jewish reverence which shrank from uttering the name of God. There are a few Aramaic words found in this Gospel—raca (v. 22), gehenna (v. 22), mammon (vi. 24); and we should add the peculiar use of "righteousness" in vi. 1, where the word is used in the sense of "alms" in accordance with a Jewish idiom. But the Greek phrases are often neat and clear-cut. They sometimes seem to imply a play upon words, e.g. in vi. 16 and xxiv. 30. This is another indication that the Gospel, as it stands, was first written in Greek. The Greek is smoother than that of St. Mark, though not so vivid. The evangelist writes with a joyous interest in his work. The historical parts of it are full of beauty, but he uses them mainly as a framework for the discourses of Jesus, which he preserves with loving fidelity.

In St. Matthew's Gospel the Old Testament is frequently quoted, that the reader may see that Jesus is the realization of {40} the hopes of the Jewish prophets. With set purpose the fair picture of the Servant of Jehovah drawn by Isaiah is placed in the middle of the Gospel (xii. 18-21), that we may recognize it as the true portrait of Christ. Close to it on either side the blasphemies of the Pharisees are skilfully depicted as a foil to His divine beauty. We have already noticed the bearing of these quotations on the origin of the Gospel, but we must speak further of their bearing on the evangelist's view of the Old Testament. His Messianic quotations are introduced by such phrases as "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet," or, "then was fulfilled," etc. The tendency of modern scepticism to ridicule the supernatural element in prophecy has caused some writers to depreciate this method of quotation. And we find even a thoughtful Roman Catholic writer speaking of it as "giving the impression that the supple and living story of the life of Jesus is only a chain of debts which fall due, and fulfilments which cannot be avoided." [8] In particular, it has been alleged that the Greek word translated "that," or "in order that," and prefixed to these quotations, implies this fatalistic necessity. But this particular argument is mistaken. In later Greek the use of the word was vaguer than it had been formerly.[9] It cannot be narrowed down so as to prove that the evangelist thought that events in the Old Testament only took place in order to be types which the Son of God constrained Himself to fulfil. And, speaking more generally, we may say that the evangelist shows an exquisite taste in his selection of Messianic quotations. Convinced that Jesus sums up the history of Israel, he does not hesitate to quote passages in the Old Testament, whether they directly refer to the Messianic King, or only call up some picture which has a counterpart in the life of Christ.

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Thus the quotations in i. 23 and ii. 6 directly refer to one who is the expected King, that in viii. 17 to one who is the ideal martyred Servant, that in ii. 15 to Israel conceived of as the peculiar child of God and so a type of Christ. In ii. 23 the evangelist finds in the name of Nazareth an echo of the ancient Messianic title Netzer (a branch). In ii. 18 we see that the tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem reminds him of the mothers of Israel weeping over the death of their children at the hands of the Babylonians; and as Jeremiah poetically conceived of Rachel weeping with the mothers of his own day, so St. Matthew conceives of her as finding her crowning sorrow in the massacre of the Holy Innocents.

Three other quotations deserve special notice: (1) That in xxvii. 9, which the evangelist quotes from "Jeremiah." It is often said that this is a mere mistake for Zechariah. But it is a quotation combined, according to the Jewish method known as the Charaz, or "string of pearls," from Zech. xi. 12 and Jer. xix. 1, 2, 6, the valley of the son of Hinnom being regarded as typical of "the field of blood." (2) That in xxvii. 34, from Ps. lxix. 21. It is said that the evangelist, in order to make our Lord's action correspond with the words of the Psalmist, makes Him drink "gall" instead of "myrrh" (Mark xv. 23), and thus represents the soldiers as cruelly giving Him a nauseating draught instead of a draught to dull His pain. The argument will hardly hold good, for the Greek word translated "gall" can also signify a stupefying drug, and thus Matt. and Mark agree. (3) That in xxi. 2-7, where our Lord is represented as making use of both an ass and a colt for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The other Synoptists mention a colt only, and it is supposed that the evangelist altered his narrative of the fact in order to make it agree with a too literal interpretation of Zech. ix. 9. It must be admitted that the account in Mark and Luke has an air of greater probability, and it has the support of the brief account in John. But there is not a decisive contradiction between Matt. and the other Gospels, and it is therefore unreasonable to pass an unfavourable verdict on any of them. The story in Matt. cannot be discredited as containing an apocryphal miracle, and the mere fact that it is so independent of the other Gospels suggests that it is really primitive.

[Sidenote: Character and Contents.]

The chief characteristic of this Gospel is the representation of Jesus as the Messiah in whom was fulfilled the {42} Law and the prophets. It was probably placed first in the New Testament because this Messianic doctrine is the point of union between the old covenant and the new. St. Matthew's representation of the Messiah is the result of very careful reflection, and it shows that the evangelist wrote in a spirit which was philosophical and in one sense controversial. He is philosophic because he is not a mere annalist. He groups incidents and discourses together in a manner which brings out their significance as illustrating the Messiahship of Jesus and the majestic forward movement of the kingdom of God. He is in one sense controversial because he wishes his picture of Christ to correct that false idea of the Messiah and His reign which was ruining the Jewish people. The best kind of controversy is that which is intent upon explaining the truth rather than eager to expose and ridicule what is false. So the evangelist presents to his readers Jesus as the Lord's Anointed with inspired powers of persuasion. The manner in which he records our Lord's urgent warnings against going after false Jewish Messiahs at the time when the destruction of Jerusalem should draw near, is a witness to the depth of his convictions. Like the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who wrote shortly before him, he cannot endure the thought of any waverers or deserters. The Jewish Christian must be loyal to Jesus, even although the invasion of the holy land by Gentiles may sorely tempt him to throw in his lot with his patriotic but unbelieving kinsmen.

The very first verse suggests the nature of the Gospel—"The book of the generation" (i.e. the genealogical tree) "of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." This "book" includes the first 17 verses of the Gospel. While St. Luke traces the genealogy of our Lord back to Adam, the head of the human race, St. Matthew desires to show that our Lord, as the son of Abraham, is the child of promise in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed, and, as the son of David, {43} is heir to the kingdom of spiritual Israel. The genealogy is partly based on that of the Greek version of 1 Chron. i.-iii., and is intended to teach certain special truths. It is arranged so as to be a kind of summary of the history of the people of God, each group of 14 names ending with a crisis. Jesus is the flower and fulfilment of that history. It furnishes a reply to Jewish critics. They would say that Jesus could not be Messiah unless Joseph, his supposed father, was descended from David. St. Matthew shows that St. Joseph was of Davidic descent. Again, the Jews would say that in any case the Messiah would not be likely to be connected with a humble carpenter and his folk. The evangelist's reply is that David himself was descended from comparatively undistinguished men and from women who were despised. Thus St. Matthew meets both points raised by the Jews.

Of recent years another criticism has been passed on this pedigree of our Lord. A copy of the Old Syriac version of the Gospels, discovered at Sinai and published in 1894, says that Joseph begat Jesus, and in this way denies that Jesus was born of a pure virgin. Some writers who wish to believe that our Lord was brought into the world in the same manner as ourselves, have said that this Syriac version represents what was actually the fact. There is, however, no reason for believing anything of the kind. There is no ground for the notion that the Syriac genealogy was taken from a primitive Jewish register. It is merely a translation of the Greek, probably from some Western Greek manuscript which had "Joseph begat Jesus." When the evangelist wrote the genealogy, he can only have meant that Joseph was by Jewish law regarded as the father of Jesus; for his whole narrative of our Lord's infancy assumes that He was born of a virgin mother. The truth that our Lord was born miraculously is asserted by St. Luke as well as by St. Matthew. It is assumed by St. Paul, when he argues that the second Adam was free from the taint of sin which affected the rest of the first Adam's descendants. It {44} was also cherished from the earliest times in every part of the Christian world where the teaching of the apostles was retained, and was only denied by a few heretics who had openly rejected the teaching of the New Testament on other subjects.

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