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THE TYPICAL CONFESSOR.
came the representative or ideal Christian confessor. In view of this, Jesus says to him: Now thou art Peter; thou art become a living stone, the type and representative of the multitude of living stones upon which I will build
my Church. The change from the masculine trétpos to the feminine métpa fittingly indicates that it is not so much on Peter, the man, the single and separate individual, as on Peter considered as the confessor, the type and representative of all other Christian confessors, who are to be “builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (Eph. ii, 22).
In the light of all these Scriptures we may see the impropriety and irrelevancy of what has been the prevailing Prot- Error of the estant interpretation, namely, making the trépa, rock, common Protto be Peter's confession. Every building,” says Nast, pretation
must have foundation stones. What is the founda- mérpa. tion of the Christian Church on the part of man? Is it not what Peter exhibited-a faith wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, and a confession with the mouth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? But this believing with the heart and confessing with the mouth is something personal; it cannot be separated from the living personality that believes and confesses. The Church consists of living men, and its foundation cannot be a mere abstract truth or doctrine apart from the living personality in which it is embodied. This is in accordance with the whole New Testament language, in which not doctrines or confessions, but men, are uniformly called pillars or foundations of the spiritual building."
It is well known how large a portion of the three synoptic Gospels consists of parallel narratives of the words and works of
1 Commentary on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, in loco. To the Roman Catholic interpretation, which explains these words as investing Peter and his successors with a permanent primacy at Rome, Schaff opposes the following insuperable objections: (1) It obliterates the distinction between petros and petra ; (2) it is inconsistent with the true nature of the architectural figure: the foundation of a building is one and abiding, and not constantly renewed and changed; (3) it confounds priority of time with permanent superiority of rank;(4) it confounds the apostolate, which, strictly speaking, is not transferable, but confined to the original personal disciples of Christ and inspired organs of the Holy Spirit, with the post-apostolic episcopate; (5) it involves an injustice to the other apostles, who, as a body, are expressly called the foundation or foundation-stones of the Church ; (6) it contradicts the whole spirit of Peter's epistles, which is strongly antihierarchical, and disclaims any superiority over his ‘fellow-presbyters;' (7) finally, it rests on gratuitous assumptions which can never be proven either exegetically or historically, viz., the transferability of Peter's primacy, and its actual transfer upon the bishop, not of Jerusalem, nor of Antioch (where Peter certainly was), but of Rome exclusively." See Lange's Matthew, in loco, page 297.
Jesus. St. Paul's account of the appearances of Jesus after the
resurrection (xv, 4-7), and of the institution of the Large portions
Scripture Lord's Supper (xi, 23–26), are well worthy of comparison parallel.
with the several Gospel narratives.' The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and to the Galatians, being each so largely devoted to the doctrine of righteousness through faith, should be studied together, for they have many parallels which help to illustrate each other. Not a few parallel passages of the Ephesian and Colossian Epistles throw light upon each other. The second and third chapters of 2 Peter should be studied and expounded in connexion with the Epistle of Jude. The genealogies of Genesis, Chronicles, and Matthew and Luke, should be compared, as also large sections of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. We have in the Acts of the Apostles three separate accounts of Paul's conversion (chaps. ix, xxii, and xxvi), and all these illustrate and supplement each other. The many passages of the Old Testament which are quoted or referred to in the New, are also parallels; but they are so specific in their nature as to call for special treatment in a future chapter.
* More than common discretion must be exercised by the interpreter of the New Testament with regard to the parallel passages in the Gospels, particularly in the synoptical Gospels. With respect to the latter chiefly, they often relate the same thing, sometimes they communicate the same conversation or saying of Jesus, but not in the same words. We have here, then, different accounts of the same occurrence or thing. But now the interpreter has no right to conclude from one evangelist to another without any limitation, and e. g. to explain and supplement the words of the Saviour, as recorded by one narrator, out of the account of another. For, in any difference in the accounts, the question is, what Jesus actually said. We must commence there, by making a distinction between what was actually said and what is communicated concerning it; and with this last the interpreter has to deal. For instance, according to Matt. vi, 11, Jesus taught them to pray in the “Lord's Prayer: Give us “ this day” our daily bread; according to Luke xi, 3: Give us “ day by day," etc. Now we have no right to say: therefore, this day day by day. In the same prayer Matthew has it:
as we forgive," etc. (thus, standard); Luke: “for we also forgive,” etc. (thus, reason for hearing the prayer). Now we may not say that the one is equal to the other. In like manner, also, we may not explain 1 Cor. xiv and Acts ii, 4-13 out of each other, and so confound them with each other. In the latter passage there is indeed mention of other (strange) languages (étépai yawojai), in the former, on the contrary, not a word is said of “other” languages, but of tongues (ywooai); and in Acts ii the context of the narrative compels us quite as much to think of strange languages, as the context in 1 Cor. xiv decidedly forbids it.Doedes, Manual of Hermeneutics, pp. 100, 101.
THE HISTORICAL STANDPOINT.
It is of the first importance, in interpreting a written document, to ascertain who the author was, and to determine the
Importance of time, the place, and the circumstances of his writing. the historical The interpreter should, therefore, endeavour to take standpoint. himself from the present, and to transport himself into the historical position of his author, look through his eyes, note his surroundings, feel with his heart, and catch his emotion. Herein we note the import of the term grammatico-historical interpretation. We are not only to grasp the grammatical import of words and sentences, but also to feel the force and bearing of the historical circumstances which may in any way have affected the writer. Hence, too, it will be seen how intimately connected may be the object or design of a writing and the occasion which prompted its composition. The individuality of the writer, his local surroundings, his wants and desires, his relation to those for whom he wrote, his nationality and theirs, the character of the times when he wrote—all these matters are of the first importance to a thorough interpretation of the several books of Scripture.
A knowledge of geography, history, chronology, and antiquities, has already been mentioned as an essential qualification of the biblical interpreter. Especially should he have torical knowl
edge necessary. a clear conception of the order of events connected with the whole course of sacred history, such as the contemporaneous history, so far as it may be known, of the great nations and tribes of patriarchal times; the great world-powers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, with which the Israelites at various times came in contact; the Macedonian Empire, with its later Ptolemaic and Seleucidaic branches, from which the Jewish people suffered many woes, and the subsequent conquest and dominion of the Romans. The exegete should be able to take his standpoint anywhere along this line of history wherever he may find the age of his author, and thence vividly grasp the outlying circumstances. He should seek a familiarity with the customs, life, spirit, ideas, and pursuits of these different times and different tribes and
1 See above, pp. 26, 27.
nations, so as to distinguish readily what belonged to one and what to another. By such knowledge he will be able not only to transport himself into any given age, but also to avoid confounding the ideas of one age or race with those of another.
It is not an easy task for one to disengage himself from the livTo transfer one- ing present, and thus transport himself into a past age. self, vividly in. As we advance in general knowledge, and attain a past not easy. higher civilization, we unconsciously grow out of old habits and ideas. We lose the spirit of the olden times, and become filled with the broader generalization and more scientific procedures of modern thought. The immensity of the universe, the vast accumulations of human study and research, the influence of great civil and ecclesiastical institutions, and the power of traditional sentiment and opinions, govern and shape our modes of thought to an extent we hardly know. To tear oneself away from these, and go back in spirit to the age of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Ezra, or of Matthew and Paul, and assume the historic standpoint of any of those writers, so as to see and feel as they did--this surely is no easy task. Yet, if we truly catch the spirit and feel the living force of the ancient oracles of God, we need to apprehend them somewhat as they first thrilled the hearts of those for whom they were immediately given.
Not a few devout readers of the Bible are so impressed with exUndue exalta- alted ideas of the glory and sanctity of the ancient
worthies, that they are liable to take the record of their
lives in an unnatural light. To some it is difficult to believe that Moses and Paul were not acquainted with the events of modern times. The wisdom of Solomon, they imagine, must have comprehended all that man can know. Isaiah and Daniel must have discerned all future events as clearly as if they had already occurred. The writers of the New Testament must have known what a history and an influence their lifework would possess in after ages. To such minds the names of Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Jephthah, and Samson, are 80 associated with holy thoughts and supernatural revelations that they half forget that they were men of like passions with ourselves. Such an undua exaltation of the sanctity of the biblical saints will be likely to interfere with a true historical exposition. The divine call and inspiration of prophets and apostles did not nullify or set aside their natural human powers, and the biblical interpreter should not allow his vision to be so dazzled by the glory of their divine mission as to make him blind to facts of their history. Abraham's cunning and deceit, conspicuous also in Isaac and Jacob, Moses'
tion of biblical saints to be avoided.
OCCASION OF PSALMS.
hasty passions, and the barbarous brutality of most of the judges and kings of Israel, are not to be explained away. They are facts which the interpreter must fully recognize; and the more fully and vividly all such facts are realized and set in their true light and bearing, the more accurately shall we apprehend the real import of the Scriptures.
In the exposition of the Psalms, one of the first things to inquire after is the personal standpoint of the author. “The historical occasions of the Psalıns,” says Hibbard,“have casions of the ever been regarded, by judicious commentators, as important aids to their interpretation, and the full exhibition of their beauty and power. In the explanation of a work on exact science, or of a metaphysical essay, no importance is attached to the external circumstances and place of the author at the time of writing. In such a case the work has no relation to passing events, but to the abstract and essential relations of things. Very different is the language of poetry, and indeed of almost all such books as the sacred Scriptures are, which were at first addressed to a particular people, or to particular individuals, for their moral benefit, and much of them occupied with the personal experiences of their authors. Here occasion, contact with outward things, the influence of external circumstances and of passing events, play a conspicuous part in giving mould and fashion to the thoughts and feelings of the writer, scope and design to his subject, and meaning and pertinency to his words. It may be said of the Hebrew poets, as of those of all other nations, that the interpretation of their poetry is less dependent on verbal criticism than on sympathy with the feelings of the author, knowledge of his circumstances, and attention to the scope and drift of his utterances. You must place yourself in his condition, adopt his sentiments, and be floated onward with the current of his feelings, soothed by his consolations, or agitated by the storm of his emotions.” 1
Of many of the Psalms it is impossible now to determine the historical standpoint; but not a few of them are so clear in their allusions as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the occasion on which they were composed. There is, for example, no good reason for doubting the genuineness of the inscription to the third psalm, which refers the composition to David when he fled from the face of his son Absalom. “From verse 5 we gather," says Perowne, “ that the psalm is a morning hymn. With returning day there comes back on the monarch's heart the recollection of
* The Psalms, Chronologically Arranged, with Historical Introductions, General In. troduction, page 12. New York, 1856.