« PreviousContinue »
Object and Form of the Work.
erted on Germany herself. A more healthful tone will pervade her theological literature. More caution will be exhibited in propounding startling theories, and some respect for the views of scholars of other nations will be cherished. Hitherto, the Germans have had the field of biblical criticism, with few exceptions, to themselves, much, as we conceive, to their own disadvantage.
We may add, in the third place, that it will be impossible to exclude German biblical criticism, either from England or from the United States. The attempt to lay an embargo on any species of foreign literature is preposterous. Strauss's Life of Jesus has been translated in England, and is in the process of diffusion there and in this country. Another book, which makes sad havoc with the Old Testament, De Wette's Introduction to the Old Testament, has been brought out in two large and handsome .volumes in Boston. Other translations might be named, which contain more or less of what is rightly named destructive criticism. Many of the evangelical theologians have not wholly escaped the neological influences so rife around them. Besides, the knowlege of the German language is greatly extending. Twenty scholars now read German commentaries in the original, where one scholar used them twenty years ago. The theological publishers in Germany have, for some years, looked to this country as one of their most important foreign customers. The German emigration hitherward will open another door for the influx of good and of bad German books. So that the evils of German literature, whatever they may be, will find an introduction and currency, just as it has been impossible to exclude a pernicious French literature. The only safeguard is that which Dr. Davidson bas adopted—to meet learning with learning, argument with argument, and if possible, before the poison is introduced, prepare an effectual remedy.
We will now proceed to give some account of Dr. Davidson's work. It is entitled an “ Introduction to the New Testament; containing an examination of the most important questions relating to the authority, interpretation and integrity of the canonical books, with reference to the latest inquiries." It is printed in the most finished style of London typography by Samuel Bagster and Sons. The first volume contains the Four Gospels in 430 pages 8vo. The second volume will be published about the first of July next, and will probably end with the Pastoral Epistles. The third volume will include the remainder of the New Testament. In the first volume the matter is distributed as follows: 137 pages to Matthew, 32 to Mark, 50 to Luke, and 148 to John. This proportion is a pretty good indication of the relative importance of the questions which have been started in relation to the several gospels, or the nature and number of the attacks which have been lately inade upon them. The conluding pages are devoted to a consideration of the correspondences in the first three gospels. One part of what is commonly embraced in Introductions is omitted in this work, viz. the criticism of the text. This topic the author proposes to take up at large in a new edition of his Lectures on Biblical Criticism. The following topics are treated, at more or less length, in relation to each of the gospels : Some notices of the writer, the persons for whose use it was designed in the first instance, the apostolic origin or authenticity, integrity, time and place in which it was written, characteristic peculiarities and contents. In addition, there is a discussion on the language in which Matthew's gospel was originally written, relation of Mark's gospel to Peter, and the language in which it was written, Luke's preface and relation of his gospel to Paul, the immediate occasion and object of John's gospel, and a comparison of its contents with those of the synoptical gospels.
The question in relation to the language in which Matthew's gospel was first composed, is very elaborately and learnedly discussed. The conclusion is, that it was written in the Aramaean or Syro-Chaldaic, “the ancient historical testimony being unanimous” in favor of this position. The evidence of Papias, the earliest witness, whom Irenaeus terms "a hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp," is patiently examined, and“ on the whole it would appear that small as his abilities were, he was a credible and competent witness in the matter before us.” “Great stress too must be laid on the testimony of Pantaenus, because it is unquestionably independent of Papias.” In addition to the evidence of antiquity, Dr. D. argues that as the gospel was written for the Jews in Palestine, it would be more natural for Matthew to write in Syro-Chaldaic, as it was the vernacular tongue and especially dear to the Jews, even allowing that the Greek had attained great currency. Special stress is laid on the circuinstance that Josephus terms the Syro-Chaldaic rúrgios y.doon as contrasted with the Greek which he terms ξένη και αλλοδαπή διάλεκτος. . Besides, the Hebraisms of the first gospel are favorable to the hypothesis of a Hebrew original. The mode of quotation is also urged on the same side, though many quotations very nearly coincide with the Septuagint. The strongest arguments against a Hebrew original may be reduced to four.” The first is, that the old Syriac version, the Peschito, was made from the Greek, not the Hebrew. It would certainly be very strange for a Syriac translator to prefer a Greek copy instead of a Syro-Chaldaic original, especially, since from the 1849.] Authenticity of the first two Chapters in Mattthew.
relation of the latter to Syriac, a large part of the work would be done to his hand. It is attempted to weaken the force of this reasoning by showing that Christianity was diffused in the north-eastern parts of Syria, not directly from Palestine, but from Antioch, where the Greek edition of Matthew was perhaps the only one known, the Syro-Chaldaic not having travelled out of Palestine. It is said, again, that there are no characteristics of a translation in the Greek. 66 This is merely a proof of its excellence. It bears the marks of an original. The author was so fully conpetent to his task, as to produce a version, having all the appearance and character of an original.” Again, paronomasias occur in the Greek gospel. “ This fact is neutralized by the circumstance, that they are also found in the Septuagint.” Lastly, the Greek gospel only is quoted or referred to by the early fathers. The Hebrew document must bave been unaccountably neglected. “But if we reflect on the fortunes of the Jewish Christians in Palestine till the time of Hadrian, we cannot be surprised at the paucity of copies which must necessarily have been made, nor the neglect on the part of the Gentile Christians of a Hebrew gospel which they were unable to read.”
We confess that we are not quite prepared to accede to this conclusion. The external evidence is in favor of a Syro-Chaldaic original; the internal evidence is against it. The Greek gospel certainly bears all the marks of an original. And if Matthew wrote a Syro-Chaldaic gospel, possessing of course apostolical authority, a trustworthy history of our Lord, from an eye-witness, it is very remarkable that this gospel should perish so suddenly, that there should be no hint in regard to its fortunes in the fathers, that they should fail to quote it, that there should be no legend whatever in regard to its fate. Then if some other person had translated the Syro-Chaldaic original into Greek, either with or without Matthew's sanction, why is there no allusion to it? The fathers are quite careful to report the sanction which Mark's gospel receives from his connection with Peter, and Luke's from his relation to Paul. But there is a profound silence in relation to Matthew and his translator.
Dr. Davidson vindicates the authenticity of the first two chapters of Matthew against the attacks of Schleiermacher, De Wette, Norton and others. The reasons alleged against this passage are of a subjective kind, and are entitled to little weight. They amount to this : that we cannot reconcile all the discrepancies between Matthew's chronology and Luke's, nor understand the nature of the star that appeared to the Magi, nor perfectly comprehend the different repreVOL. VI. No. 22.
sentations in the two gospels in respect to Joseph's abode at Bethlehem and Nazareth.
One point discussed in the Introduction to Mark, is the relation of this gospel to Peter. It may be inferred from the varying notices of some of the fathers, with some degree of probability, that Peter was not with Mark when the latter undertook to write the gospel.” “ If the gospel contain a faithful abstract of Peter's discourses, the writer having been exceedingly careful to omit nothing of what he had heard from the lips of his spiritual master, and to set down nothing falsely, as John the presbyter assures us, we may safely rely on it as ultimately based on apostolical authority.” The integrity of the last eleven verses of the gospel is discussed at considerable length, and the conclusion is adopted that they were added by another person after Mark's death. We think, however, that this decision is not borne out by the facts, and that the preponderance of arguments is in favor of the genuineness. Dr. D. says that “on the whole the external arguments in favor of the paragraph outweigh those on the other side." In our opinion, they greatly outweigh them. The passage is found in all the existing Greek MSS., except B, in all the ancient versions, the Syriac of Jerusalem included, in all the Evangelistaria and Synaxaria, and is sanctioned by nearly all the fathers. There is some reason to suppose that the objections to the passage had their origin in exegetical difficulties. Some of the internal arguments alleged against it, seem to us to have but little weight; e. g. 66 the desire of the miraculous is too great for Mark, vs. 17, 18. The kind of miracles indicated, and the power of performing them attributed to all believers, are adverse to the supposition of the evangelist being the writer.” But was this promise more comprehensive, or has it an air of greater strangeness than the performance ? Thus Acts 5: 15, “ They brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Acts 2: 4, " And they were all (believers) filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues." So from Acts 5: 17, it would seem as if the great body of the Samaritan believers received the power of working miracles. The same general diffusion of miraculous power, we infer from the first epistle to the Corinthians. Again, the words “ he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, are very suspicious. They remind us of the post-apostolic period when a greater efficacy was attributed to baptism than it was intended to have.” But has the insertion of this second condition in this place, an aspect more strange than Peter's summons, Acts 2: 38, “ Repent and be baptized every one of you," or than our 1849.]
Gospels of Luke and John.
Lord's declaration that men must be born of water and of the spirit ? “ The style of the whole piece is unlike that of the gospel. Its manner resembles that of brief notices, extracted from larger accounts and loosely linked together.” But it has to our mind no more of this fragmentary and summary manner than other passages in Mark, e. g. 1: 9—21, where four or five important events are crowded into a few verses. « Instead of εκβάλλειν από, Mark uses εκβάλλειν εκ.” Yet he does this only in one place, 7: 26. ó zuoros is used in the 19th and 20th verses, instead of 'Ingous. Mark nowhere employs this appellation.” But perhaps it was natural to apply the term Lord to Jesus after his resurrection, as before his crucifixion, Jesus had applied it to himself as recorded in Mark. On the whole, though there is weight in some of the internal objections, yet they do not throw so much doubt over the passage as to outweigh the strong external testimony in its favor. The introduction of a number of arces heyóueva into a passage would not be a circumstance so extraordinary as the abrupt closing of the gospel at ch. 16: 8.
The author comes to the conclusion that Luke's gospel is not of canonical authority because of the special influence which Paul had upon it. Its credibility and authority must be placed on another basis equally secure. That it fully deserves its present position among the gospels is unquestionable ; but it does not deserve it by virtue of any truth in the ancient tradition.” The internal objections against the authenticity of Luke, viz. in the matter of the census, 2: 12, and in the alleged false chronology in regard to Lysanias, 3:1, are examined, and shown to be capable of fair, if not of perfectly satisfactory explanation. The integrity of Luke seems to be unimpeachable. Vv. 13, 14 of chap. 22, have been assailed, but without adequate reason.
On John's gospel our author lays out his strength, as it has been pertinaciously assailed and with not a little acuteness by numerous recent critics. The time and place in which this gospel was written are uncertain. The place was probably Ephesus. The early external evidence establishes the apostolic origin of John's gospel. Yet it has been assailed by various writers on historic grounds. A recent critic, Lützelberger, ("* The Church Tradition on the apostle John, 1840") has produced a work which Bleek characterizes as the most important attack made upon the gospel in modern times, and which has had no little influence on the later productions of Baur and Schwegler. It has been assumed as an indisputable fact that John the apostle lived and labored in Asia Minor during the latter part of his life. Lützelberger attempts to destroy the credit of the ecclesiastical tradition on which the fact rests. The acute reasonings and