« PreviousContinue »
Apocalypse, the Tübingen theory is convicted of a gross inconsistency.
2. But even if it were established that the Apocalypse and the fourth Gospel are not from one author, the verdict must still be given in favor of the genuineness of the Gospel. Bleek agrees, on the whole, with De Wette and Baur in supposing that we are compelled to reject the Johannean authorship of one or the other, and in common with Neander and many other critics of the evangelical as well as the unbelieving school, holds the opinion that the Apocalypse is not the work of John. As we have said, provided the dilemma can be made out to exist, this is the reasonable opinion. The Apocalypse has no doubt been in the church since the date we have assigned for its composition. As early as Justin Martyr it was quoted as the work of the Apostle John; but its genuineness was also early questioned. It was questioned not only by the Alogi, but also by the Roman presbyter Caius (circa 200) who likewise ascribed it to Cerinthus. Dionysius of Alexandria, the pupil and successor of Origen, to whose opinion on the style of the Apocalypse we have adverted, endeavors to prove from internal evidence that the Apostle John did not write the work, and is inclined to attribute it to a contemporary of the apostle at Ephesus, John the presbyter. Eusebius leans to the same opinion. He, also, hesitates about placing it among the Homologoumena, or New Testament writings, which were universally received as apostolical. It was not included in the ancient Syrian version. Long after it was received universally in the Western church, doubts concerning its genuineness continued in the East. If written by John the presbyter,“ a holy and inspired man,” as Dionysius supposes him to be, the later habit of ascribing it to the apostle, may have been a mistake for which the real author was not responsible. And if the denial of its genuineness sprang from the great reaction of the church in the second century against Chiliastic views, it was supported, as we Euscb., Lib. III. 28.
? Euseb., Lib. III. 25.
have seen in the case of Dionysius by critical arguments. The evidence for the apostolic authorship of the Apocalypse is far from being equal to the accumulated weight of evidence for the Johannean authorship of the fourth Gospel. For the foriner, the main proofs of a composition by the apostle are external. In the case of the fourth Gospel, besides having all that can be asked in the way of external evidence, we are able to add the most impressive internal proofs of its genuineness.
In giving the internal evidence for the genuineness of John, it would be a great oversight to omit a notice of the proof afforded by the last chapter. Every reader of the Gospel will observe that in the last verses of the twentieth chapter the author appears to be concluding his work. It is evident that at least the last two verses of the twenty-first chapter are from another hand. One opinion is, that the whole chapter emanates from some other pen than that of the author of the Gospel, while others think that only these concluding verses constitute the addition by another. Let us first take for granted the last supposition. The whole chapter — these verses included — has been connected with the work from its first promulgation. These verses, then, are the independent testimony of one who was not himself the writer, to the fact of the composition of the work by John. If John be not the author, the writer of these verses was an accomplice in the fraud. But suppose the entire chapter to be written by him, which was the view of Grotius, and is held by many living critics on the evangelical side, as well as by Zeller and other disciples of the Tübingen school; the argument is then stronger. The statement in vs. 23, relative to the idea that the apostle was not to die, is one which could only have been required shortly after his death occured. Forty or fifty years after that event there could have been no call for such an explanation. The appendix, then, was composed soon after the death of John. Suppose it to be written by friends to whom he had deVOL. XXI. No. 82.
livered his Gospel, and from whom it went forth to the world, and the whole phenomenon is explained.
In closing up this array of evidence, we beg the reader to apprehend distinctly the position of Baur and his school. When these critics come to John's Gospel they have to give up their favorite mythical theory. We hear nothing of the unconscious working of the mythopoeic faculty. Here is no collection of tales produced from the unreflecting imagination of the early church, brooding over their departed Lord. But the ground taken is that the fourth Gospel is a stupendous fraud, most cleverly executed, deliberate invention of incidents which were known by the writer never to have occurred, but which he has framed together into a history, not scrupling to introduce an ingenious lie for the purpose of assuring the reader that John was its author! Whether the Gospel bears the marks of being the child of so much mendacity we must leave the candid reader to judge.
It is incredible that a work of the power and loftiness of the fourth Gospel should have sprung up in the second century. Let any one who would understand the difference between the apostolic and the next following age undertake to read the apostolic Fathers. He will be conscious at once that he has passed into another atmosphere. He has descended from the heights of inspiration to the level of ordinary, and often feeble, thinking. In the first half of the second century there is no writer of marked originality; none who can be called fresh or suggestive. To set a work like the fourth Gospel in that age is a literary anachronism. That a writer, towering so above all his contemporaries, should stoop to wear a mask, and gain his end by a hateful, jesuitical contrivance, is a supposition burdened with difficulties. The irrational character of this hypothesis, Neander has well shown in a passage with which we conclude the present essay.
“ The whole development of the church from Justin Martyr onward testifies to the presence of such a Gospel, which
operated powerfully on men's minds. It cannot be explained from any succeeding mental tendency in the following age, nor from the amalgamation of several. To be sure, this production existed as a representation of a higher unity, as a reconciling element with reference to the contrarieties of that age, and could exert an attractive power over minds of so opposite a kind as a Heracleon, a Clement of Alexandria, an Irenaeus, and a Tertullian. Where should we be able to find in that age a man, who was elevated above its contrarieties (gegensätze), by which everything is more or less swayed? And a man of so superior a Christian soul, must needs skulk in the dark, avail himself of such a mask, instead of appearing openly in the consciousness of allconquering truth and in the feeling of his mental preeminence! Such a man, so exalted above all the church Fathers of that century, had no need, forsooth, to shrink from the conflict. He must certainly have put more confidence in the might of truth than in these arts of darkness and falsehood. And how can it be shown that such a man, when he is contemplated from the point of view of his own age, would have been restrained by no reverence for sacred history, by no scruples, from falsifying a history, the contents of which were holy to him, through arbitrary fictions, manufactured in the interest of a given dogmatic tendency, through lies, in fact, which were to find their justification in the end to be attained by means of them ? And how unskilfully would he have proceeded if, in order to attain his end, he presented the history of Christ in a way that was in absolute contrast with the universally accepted tradition! Nay, only from such an apostle, who stood in such a relation to Christ as a John stood, who had thus taken up into his own being the impression and image of that unique personality, could proceed a work which stands in such a relation to the contrarieties of the post-apostolic age. It is a work out of one gush, original throughout. The Divine in its own nature has this power of composing differences, but never could a product so fresh, so original
in its power (urkräftiges) proceed from a contrived, shrewdly planned, reconciliation of differences. This Gospel, if it do not emanate from the Apostle John and point to that Christ, the intution of whom, on the part of the writer, gave birth to it, is the greatest of enigmas."
CHARLES WESLEY AND METHODIST HYMNS.
BY REV. FREDERIC M. BIRD, PHILADELPHIA.
(Continued from No. 81, p. 162.) We are now at liberty to glance over whatever may be most striking and important among the various poetical publications of the Wesleys. Their earlier volumes bear the names of both brothers, with nothing to distinguish the respective authorship of the separate poems; but it has been generally agreed by those who best understand the matter, to ascribe all the translations to John, and all the original poems except in a very few cases, where there is some
Neander's Ges. d. Pflanz, u. Leit. d. Kirche, 4 A. B. 2. s. 637. The genuineness of the fourth Gospel has found an unexpected supporter in the person of M. Renan. In his recent Life of Jesus, he holds that the existence of this Gospel is presupposed, just as we have attempted to prove, in the controversies of the first half of the second century. By the force of the external evidence, and also hy the historical truth which he is compelled to recognize in passages of the narrative, he is led to believe in the genuineness of at least the narrative parts of the work
The embarrassment into which Renan is thrown by conceding that this history of Jesus is the work of an eyewitness, while he is yet unprepared to believe in miracles, is no concern of ours. We leave him to settle this matter with his disturbed friends of the Westminster Review. We simply record it as a very significant fact, that a writer who in treating of the Life of Christ plants himself on a theory of naturalism, is yet obliged in candor to allow that this Gospel is genuine. Strauss himself was for a time inclined to adopt the same view, and was finally kept from doing so only by seeing the fatal consequences that would ensue to his entire theory.