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plausible conjectures of this writer are met and rebutted with great ability by Dr. Davidson. “ How impotent,” he concludes, “ do these objections appear! How unlike the statements of men simply desirous of arriving at truth. If the bad cause they resolved to espouse did not appear desperate in their eyes, they have resorted at least to desperate weapons."
A group of internal objections are next considered, viz. diversity in regard to the scene and duration of Jesus' public ministry, the diversity relating to the description of his person, and that which belongs to his discourses. John's peculiar temperament, his intimacy with · his Master, the fact that he wrote at a later day, probably in Asia Minor, and for a different class of readers, may account for some of these diversities, Again, there are great resemblances between him and the Synoptists. All which is taught in the gospel of John may be found in the other gospels or in the epistles. It is not necessary to trace his doctrine of the Logos to Philo or to any extra-Palestinian source. The
of it are in the Old Testament. The geographical and archaeological difficulties in John have never been proved to be insuperable. E. g. Bethabara may be the true reading for the town called Bethany at the Jordan, or there may have been two Bethanies. The Synoptists place the principal scene of Christ's ministry in Galilee, John places it in Judea ; they appear to limit its duration to one year, he alludes to several passovers. They, however, intimate that the Saviour's ministry was not confined to Galilee, and their speaking only of his last journey to Jerusalem does not exclude similar journeys. In order that we may obtain a comprehensive view of the Messiah's person, the descriptions of all the evangelists must be combined. Xenophon's delineation of Socrates does not exclude that of Plato. That Jesus' discourses, as recorded by John, are different both in matter and form from those found in the other gospels is obvious, but it remains to be proved that the one class is inconsistent with the other.
After discussing the immediate occasion and object of the gospel, ibat its special object was not polemic, and that it was not designed, except in a subordinate sense, as a supplement to the Synoptists, the author considers briefly the characteristics of the gospel, in manner and style, and then discusses at some length the question of the genuineness of chap. 21, of the two last verses in this chapter, of chap. 7, v. 51, 8: 11, and of 5: 3, 4. We have thus referred to a few of the topics in this instructive vol
The first and the decided impression which the reader receives is, that the author has mastered his subject, has patiently threaded his way through the toilsome labyrinth of German research, and has
365 clearly presented the main questions relating to the gospels in the light of the latest and most thorough investigations. Painful as it must be in some respects for a believer in the gospels to explore the cavils and objections of modern skepticism, yet the author has not shrunk in the slightest degree from his task. The inquiry is not only thorough and extensive, but embraces the most recent literature. So far as we can judge, the author has allowed nothing of importance to escape him. We are also struck with the general candor and impartiality of the discussion. If an objection has apparent weight, it is not summarily dismissed. If the arguments of the friends of revelation appear to be more specious than solid, the author has independence enough to say so. An evident desire to arrive at the truth, without fear or bias, pervades the volume. Though this honesty of purpose may occasionally lead to results which will surprise the unreflecting reader of the gospels, yet, in the final result, the authenticity of the gospels is placed on a firm basis. One rises from the perusal of this volume with the deepest conviction, that he is not following cunningly devised fables, or honestly devised myths. A fundamental discussion like that of Dr. D's, is attended with an excellent moral effect. The sharper the scrutiny to which the evangelists are subjected, the more intelligent and the profounder is the faith which one feels in them. Thus a scientific discussion, if conducted with seriousness and dignity, becomes a means of grace, prompts to faith in God's word, and to love towards the Saviour.
This Introduction is not designed to be popular in the common acceptation of that word. It is not composed in a style which will be attractive to the mass, perhaps, of educated men.
The author is very sparing of ornament, makes no popular appeals, indulges in very few, stirring descriptions. The style is direct and perspicuous, and the entire method is scientific. Occasionally, it seems to us there is a little unnecessary dryness. E. 8.
the enunciation of the topics at the beginning of the discussion on each gospel, might be less formal and skeleton-like, and when the author is considering the characteristics of the gospels, there might have been more pleasant descriptions and a greater outflow of feeling without injury to the scientific aspect of the treatise. Still, the book is, in this respect, substantially as it should be a systematic and exact exhibition of the subject. The study of it ought not to be confined to a few biblical scholars and clergymen. It treats of a subject which surpasses every other in interest, the records of the life and atoning death of our Lord. All clergymen, all who are called to defend the gospel in these days when it is attacked from so many quarters, will here find armor on which they can rely.
NOTES ON BIBLICAL GEOGRAPHY.
By E. Robinson, D. D. Professor at New York.
I. THE A’wAJ, THE SECOND RIVER OF DAMASCUS. In the Number of this work for Nov. 1848, p. 760 sq. there are extracts from a letter of the Rev. Wm. M. Thomson of Beirút, describing some antiquities on the route to Damascus. At the close he spoke of having on his return traced to its sources the river Awaj (the crooked), probably the ancient Pharpar; and held out the hope of further information in respect to it. The following letter relates chiefly to that journey. I subjoin a few notes, comprising former notices of this stream, and the reasons for regarding it as the Pharpar of 2 Kings 5: 12.
Beirút, Nov. 29, 1848. “You were pleased to express a desire for the remainder of my burried journey to and from Damascus; and if I had supposed that the latter half led me over the region least known and therefore most interesting, I would have been more particular at the time in my observations, and inore prompt in writing.
“I will dismiss the city of Damascus with one or two remarks; as it is well known and visited by all travellers. There are more extensive remains of antiquity in it, than is generally supposed. Not far from the site of the great church of St. John, (in which also are large antique columns and foundations,) are the remains of an immense building, constructed of heavy stones and evidently very ancient. It is at present about fifty-three paces long on the west side; and, on a stone about twenty feet from the ground, is a long Greek inscription, which I copied.—The great castle is built of stones having a bevel somewhat like the Phenician. It is, however, evidently Saracenic; and has smooth cut stones mingled with the bevelled.—At the place where the Barada breaks through the mountain into the plain of Damascus, is a long Cufic inscription, thirty-five or forty feet high up in the perpendicular face of the mountain. I have got a splendid fac-simile of tbis curious relic of early Mohammedan times; the only one of the kind I have found in all my rambles. I may send a copy of this beautiful inscription, with a translation, at some future time. -Now for the ride home.
367 “ April 19, 1848. Passing out of Bab Allah, the south-western gate of Damascus, I entered at once upon the great plain which stretches away to Haurân and the desert. In an hour and a quarter came to Dârâya; where is a large square ruin, said to have been a convent (Deir), as most ruins are christened. This is the first place irrigated fiom the Nahr A’waj. In half an hour more reached a deep canal of water, in many places carried under ground by a good tunnel. Another bour brought us to Jùn; on a hill west of which is an old deserted castle named after the village. Here begins the trap rock formation, which continues throughout Haurân. Thirty-five minutes from Jún is the bridge over the great canal of the A’waj; and ju twenty-five minutes more I reached the Khàn esh-Sheikh on the bank of the river itself. The Khân is a large square caravanserai, built of black compact lava. From this to Sa'sa' is three hours. During the last hour, the perfect level of the plain is broken by low hills and abrupt gullies; and small tributaries from Jebel esh-Sheikh begin to fall into the A’waj. The river is about as large as the Barada before the junction with the fountain Fijy. The largest of these tributaries is called esSabirdny, froin a village at the base of the mountains called Beit Sàbir. Sa'sa' may be regarded as the point of union for all the tributaries of the A’waj. Various streams from the south, south-west, and west, here unite; and the river, full grown, begins jis meanderings across the vast plain, in a geveral direction north-east, towards Damascus, an endless series of windings through boundless fields of wheat, now in its glory. The great highway to Palestine and Egypt appears always to have passed along the line of our ride to Sa’sa'; and I noticed frequent traces of the Roman road. Along this road travelled caravans in the days of the Patriarchs ; and caravans to Mecca, Jerusalem, and Egypt, follow still the same track.
“Sa'sa' is a fortified town, with large Khàns all in ruins. The walls are twenty-five or thirty feet high, built of trap rock and faced with smooth cut limestone. The figure of the city is square; and the corners of the walls were strengthened and defended by round towers. The whole is less than a mile in circuit. A large ruined mosk is the most conspicuous object within the walls. The villagers are all Muslims, a sad set of villains, who would cut your throat for a piastre. They have had a bloody quarrel lately; and, living on the borders of the desert, they have frequent fights with wandering Arabs and dogged Druzes. Shibly Aryon, the famous Druze chief who repeatedly defeated the whole Egyptian army in the Ledja, took Sa’sa', killed the guards of Ibrahim Pasha, and plundered his large stores laid up bere for the army.-It must be nearly thirty miles from Damascus to Sa'sa'. We rode rapidly six and a half hours; part of the time on the gallop.
“I bad often heard of people freezing to death on this plain. Many of
the troops of Ibrahim Pasha, and many horses, are said to have perished in this way in a single night. My experience during this day removed all my scepticism on this point. When we issued from Bab Allah, a pleasant south wind barely sufficed to render the burning rays of Syria's sun endurable. As we advanced the wind rose and blew the dust, in whirling eddies, high into the air. Soon we put on our cloaks. The wind rose to a tornado. We were obliged to tie our cloaks around us with ropes, and our hats tight down with handkerchiefs. To keep warm we undertook to walk ; but could not stand against the wind. It began to rain and bail. We put our horses to the gallop; and in an hour got into Sa’da'. My Arab companions had already become stiff with cold and hardly able to speak. I had a great fire kindled; and by hot tea and friction they were restored. But had we been in the open desert, and obliged to pass the night without shelter or fire, I think some of them would have died. And this was the 19th of April.
“ April 20th. Started for Banjâs in a direction nearly west, over rolling volcanic plains well watered and clothed with wheat, extending to the great fountain of Menbej. This fountain issues from a low cave beneath a hill of pudding-stone. There is no village near it. Many years ago I heard from an Arab sheikh of Haurân, that at certain periods this fountain rose from a great depth in the earth, threw out great quantities of fish on the plain, and then subsided. In Damascus, Dr. Meshaka told me that the water came out with a loud noise, like the roar of cannon; that at certain times the water was blood-red; and that it threw out immense quantities of fish, etc. At Sa'sa', and at the fountain itself, they told me that late in autumn the fountain dries up; that after the heavy rains of December, it returns with a loud noise deep in the cave; that the water is bloody at first, and crowded with fish. I examined the cave as well as I could; it being now full of clear cold water, swarming with fish, and very deep. A man at the place told me, that even when the stream is dry they cannot go into the cave; as the descent from the very mouth is almost perpendicular. Stones rolled down appear to fall into an abyss of water.
“I suspect there are several reservoirs or pools under this puddingstone projection of Jebel esh-Sheikh ; one at least of the interior ones acting upon the principle of the syphon; which, put in play, sends its large volume of water, with sudden and noisy violence, down a succession of waterfalls, into the pool immediately below the mouth of the cave. This may account for the suddenness, violence, and noise, attending the return of the stream. When the pool at the mouth of the cave is filled up, these precipices, causing the waterfalls, are covered; and the noise ceases. Probably some of these precipices are of trap rock highly col