Page images

Gratus, predecessor of Pontius Pilate, and was removed from his office by Vitellius, president of Syria, after Pilate was sent away out of the province of Judea. Josephus relates the advancement of Caiaphas to the high priesthood in this manner: "Gratus gave the high priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus. He, having enjoyed this honour not above a year, was succeeded by Joseph, who is also called Caiaphas 22. After this, Gratus went away for Rome, having been eleven years in Judea; and Pontius Pilate came thither as his successor." Of the removal of Caiaphas from his office, Josephus, likewise, afterwards informs us; and connects it with a circumstance which fixes the time to a date subsequent to the determination of Pilate's government:-" Vitellius," he tells us, "ordered Pilate to repair to Rome; and after that, went up himself to Jerusalem, and then gave directions concerning several matters. And having done these things, he took away the priesthood from the high priest Joseph, who is called Caiaphas 23

[ocr errors]

XXII. (Michaelis, c. xi. sect. 11). Acts, xxiii. 4. "And they that stood by, said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest." Now, upon inquiry into the history of the age, it turns out, that Ananias, of whom this is spoken, was, in truth, not the high priest, though he was sitting in judgment in that assumed capacity. The case was, that he had formerly holden the office, and had been deposed; that the person who succeeded him had been murdered; that another was not yet appointed to the station; and that during the vacancy he had, of his own authority, taken 23 Ib. lib. xvii. c. 5, sect. 3.


Antiq. lib. xviii. c. 2, sect. 2.

upon himself the discharge of the office. This singular situation of the high priesthood took place during the interval between the death of Jonathan, who was murdered by order of Felix, and the accession of Ismaël, who was invested with the high priesthood by Agrippa; and precisely in this interval it happened that St. Paul was apprehended, and brought before the Jewish council.

XXIII. [p. 323.] Matt. xxvi. 59. "Now the chief priests and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against him."

Joseph. Antiq. lib. xviii. c. 15, sect. 3, 4. "Then might be seen the high priests themselves, with ashes on their heads, and their breasts naked."

The agreement here consists in speaking of the high priests, or chief priests (for the name in the original is the same), in the plural number, when, in strictness, there was only one high priest: which may be considered as a proof that the evangelists were habituated to the manner of speaking then in use, because they retain it when it is neither accurate nor just. For the sake of brevity, I have put down, from Josephus, only a single example of the application of this title in the plural number; but it is his usual style.

Ib. [p. 871.] Luke, iii. 1. "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John." There is a passage in Josephus very nearly parallel to this, and which may at least serve to vindicate the evangelist from objection, with respect to his giving the title of high priest specifically to two persons at the same time: "Qua

[ocr errors]

24 Joseph. Antiq. 1. xx. c. 5, sect. 2;. c. 6, sect. 2; c. 9, sect. 2.


dratus sent two others of the most powerful men of the Jews, as also the high priests Jonathan and Ananias 25 " That Annas was a person in an eminent station, and possessed an authority coordinate with, or next to that of the high priest properly so called, may be inferred from St. John's Gospel, which, in the history of Christ's crucifixion, relates, that "the soldiers led him away to Annas first 26" And this might be noticed as an example of undesigned coincidence in the two evangelists.

Again [p. 870.] Acts, iv. 6. Annas is called the high priest, though Caiaphas was in the office of the high priesthood. In like manner, in Josephus 27,


Joseph, the son of Gorion, and the high priest Ananus, were chosen to be supreme governors of all things in the city." Yet Ananus, though here called the high priest Ananus, was not then in the office of the high priesthood. The truth is, there is an indeterminateness in the use of this title in the Gospel : sometimes it is applied exclusively to the person who held the office at the time; sometimes to one or two more, who probably shared with him some of the powers or functions of the office; and, sometimes, to such of the priests as were eminent by their station or character: and there is the very same indeterminateness in Josephus.

[ocr errors]

XXIV. [p. 347.] John, xix. 19, 20. “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. That such was the custom of the Romans on these occasions, appears from passages of Suetonius and Dio Cassius: "Patrem familias-canibus objecit, cum hoc titulo, Impiè locutus parmularius." Suet. Domit. cap. x. And

25 De Bell. lib. ix. c. 12, sect. 6.
27 Lib. ii. c. 20, sect. 3.

26 xviii. 13.


Mark, xiv. 53.

in Dio Cassius we have the following: "Having led him through the midst of the court or assembly with a writing signifying the cause of his death, and afterwards crucifying him." Book liv.

Ib. "And it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin." That it was also usual about this time, in Jerusalem, to set up advertisements in different languages, is gathered from the account which Josephus gives of an expostulatory message from Titus to the Jews, when the city was almost in his hands; in which he says, "Did ye not erect pillars with inscriptions on them, in the Greek and in our language, Let no one pass beyond these bounds?"

XXV. [p. 352.] Matt. xxvii. 26. "When he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified." The following passages occur in Josephus :

Being beaten, they were crucified opposite to the citadel 29."

"Whom, having first scourged with whips, he crucified 30 "

"He was burnt alive, having been first beaten 31 ̧” To which may be added one from Livy, lib. xi. c. 5, "Productique omnes, virgisque casi, ac securi percussi."

A modern example may illustrate the use we make of this instance. The preceding of a capital execution by the corporal punishment of the sufferer is a practice unknown in England, but retained, in some instances at least, as appears by the late execution of a regicide in Sweden. This circumstance, therefore, in the account of an English execution, purporting to come from an English writer, would not only bring a suspicion upon the truth of the account, but would, in

29 P. 1247, edit. 24. Huds.

31 P. 1327, edit. 43.

30 P. 1080, edit. 45.


a considerable degree, impeach its pretensions of having been written by the author whose name it bore. Whereas the same circumstance, in the account of a Swedish execution, would verify the account, and support the authenticity of the book in which it was found; or, at least, would prove that the author, whoever he was, possessed the information and the knowledge which he ought to possess.

XXVI. [p. 353.] John, xix. 16. "And they took Jesus, and led him away; and he, bearing his cross, went forth."

Plutarch, De iis qui serò puniuntur, p. 554: à Paris, 1624. "Every kind of wickedness produces its own particular torment, just as every malefactor, when he is brought forth to execution, carries his own cross."

XXVII. John, xix. 32. "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him."

Constantine abolished the punishment of the cross; in commending which edict, a heathen writer notices this very circumstance of breaking the legs: " Eò pius, ut etiam vetus veterrimumque supplicium, patibulum, et cruribus suffringendis, primus removerit.” Aur. Vict. Ces. cap. xli.

XXVIII. [p. 457.] Acts, iii. 1. "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."

Joseph. Antiq. lib. xv. c. 7, sect. 8. "Twice every day, in the morning and at the ninth hour, the priests perform their duty at the altar."

XXIX. [p. 462.] Acts, xv. 21. "For Moses, of old time, hath, in every city, them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

Joseph. contra Ap. 1. ii. "He (Moses) gave us the

« PreviousContinue »