« PreviousContinue »
knowledged. xal' vuās, viz. Greeks in distinction from Jews; not Athenians in distinction from other Greeks. Του γαρ – εσμέν, For his offspring also are we. Derivation implies dependence. The creature cannot exist apart from the Creator. The apostle brings forward the citation correctly, therefore, as parallel in sentiment to év avro ¿quér. Here toū stands for the pronoun. Win. $ 20. 2. St. $ 94. 1. The words form the first half of a hexameter, and are found in Aratus, a Cilician poet, who flourished about 270 B. C. The celebrated hymn of Cleanthes to Jupiter, l. 5, contains almost the same words, viz. &x coở yao yévos équér. The same idea, variously expressed, occurs in several other Greek writers. The form of the citation the apostle took, undoubtedly, from Aratus, but says tivès signxcol, because, as some affirm, he had distinctly in mind, some of the other passages where the thought is found; or, according to others, because he inferred that so obvious a remark must be a common one; or, finally, because he would generalize the idea, i. e. the categorical plural: The truth is so plain, that even your poetry recognizes it. See the grammatical references in the note on v. 18. I am inclined to think that the last is the true explanation. yào xai, as Meyer observes correctly, has no logical connection with Paul's speech, but is to be viewed merely as a part of the citation, which it was necessary to retain on account of the verse.
V. 29. révos ovv, etc., since, therefore, we are the offspring of God. The inference drawn here is, that idolatry is supremely absurd inasmuch as it makes that which is destitute of life, motion, intelligence, the source of these attributes to others. Comp. Isa. 44: 9 sq. yapayuarı stands in apposition with the nouns which precede, i. e. the state or form of the materials just enumerated, artificially wrought.
V. 30. The relation of this verse and the one following to the preceding one is this: Since such is the nature of idolatry, you
must therefore-oủv—repent of it, because God now lays upon you his command to this effect, in view of the retributions of a judgment to come. The most important word here is únepidav. It does not occur further in the N. Test., but is found often in the Septuagint, where it signifies to neglect, which is its proper classical sense, then to despise, but especially to sutfer to pass as if unnoticed, to withhold the proof of noticing something which is, at the same time, a matter of distinct knowledge, i. e. in the sense of aby Hiph., and Hithp., comp. Deut. 22: 3, 4, etc. In this last signification, the verb represents perfectly the apostle's meaning here. God had hitherto permitted the heathen to pursue
way, without manifesting his sense of their conduct, either by sending to them special messengers to testify against it, as he did to the Jews, or by inflict
855 ing upon them at once the punishment deserved. The idea is virtually the same, therefore, as that of £ïdoe Acts 14:16, and rapedoxev Rom. 1: 24. To understand úrepidav as meaning that God would not judge or punish the heathen for the sins committed in their state of idolatry, would be at variance with Paul's theology on this subject as he has unfolded it Rom. 1: 20. 2: 11 sq. Not only so, but the repentance which the apostle now calls upon them to exercise, presupposes their guilt.
V. 31. diótı, because, states the reason why the heathen also, as well as others, must repent; they could not, without this preparation, be safe in the day of righteous judgment, which awaited them. év avdpi, etc., by the man whom he has appointed. av&gí omits the article because a definite clause follows. Win. $19. 4. St. $ 89.3. Q stands, by attraction, for the accusative. ríotiv napao/Wv nãouv, having afforded assurance, confirmation, to all, viz. of a judgment to come. The sentence being left incomplete, it is impossible to say just how much the apostle intended to represent as proved by the resurrection of Christ. He himself referred to it, undoubtedly, in the first place, as establishing the possibility of such a resurrection of all men from the dead as was involved in his doctrine of a general judgment; but whether he had yet developed this doctrine so far that the Athenians perceived already this bearing of the fact, is uncertain. It was enough to excite their scorn to hear of a single instance of resurrection. Again, the resurrection of Christ from the dead confirms the truth of all his claims; and one of these was that he was to be the judge of men; see John 5: 28, 29. But whether the apostle meant to extend the argument to these and other points, we cannot decide, as he was so abruptly silenced.
Effect of the Discourse on the Athenians. Vv. 32–34. Paul is interrupted in his speech and leaves the place. V. 32. The apostle was heard with attention until he came to speak of the resurrection ; when, at the announcement of a doctrine which sounded so strangely to the ears of the Athenians, some of them broke forth into expressions of open contempt. It is altogether incredible that a judicial process, in the highest court of Athens, should have terminated in this manner. ανάστασιν νεκρών, αresurrection of the dead. As we do not know how much of Paul's idea the Athenians had apprehended, it is doubtful whether we are to take the plural bere as generic or numerical, i. e. whether Christ merely be meant, or men in general. vengoi is one of a class of words in the New Testament which Auctuate as to the use of the article. Win. 18. 1. 'Axovgóus a - nepi tourov. It is disputed whether we are to understand this as said seriously, or as a courteous refusal to hear anything farther on the subject. The latter is the more common view ; Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Meyer, Hemsen, Lisco, De Wette, Bloomfield, and others adopt it. The manner in which Paul now left the assembly, and the termination of his labors, immediately after this, at Athens, favor this interpretation. Such a mode of speaking, too, was entirely consonant to the Athenian character. See, besides, the first remark on v. 34. Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Rosenmüller, are among those who would impute a serious meaning to the language. That sense lies nearer to the literal form of the words, it is true ; unless one might think that nahiv itself casts some suspicion upon their sincerity. Compare this with the answer of Felix, 24: 25.
Vv. 33, 34. xai oúros, and thus, after such an experience, with such à result; comp. 20: 11. V. 34. rives dé. This notice seems to be introduced, but certain, as if it stood contrasted, in the mind of the writer, with what is stated respecting the effect of Paul's address, in the preceding verse-a contrast between what was unfavorable in the result on the one hand, and what was favorable on the other. Yet dè may be taken as continuative. xodina évres avroộ, not adhering, but inchoatively joining, attaching themselves to him. ó 'Agonaylıns, the Areopagite, i. e. one of the judges in the court of the Areopagus. Of the number of these judges, nothing certain is known, except that it appears to have varied at different times. See Pauly's Real-Encyclopädie, Vol. I. p. 700 sq. Eusebius and other ancient writers say that this Dionysius became afterward bishop of the church at Athens, and ended his life as a martyr. και γυνή, αnd a woman, not the wife of Dionysius, as some have said, for the article and pronoun would then have been added, comp. 5: 1; or at least the article, comp. 24: 24. It has been inferred, from her being singled out thus by name, that she was a woman of rank, but beyond this, nothing is known of her.
Having delivered this speech with such a result, Paul appears to bave left Athens at once, to return no more. Although he spent the most of the next two years in Corinth and the vicinity, he did not (so far as any notice exists) direct his steps again to this city. On his third missionary tour, he came once more into this general part of Greece, but at this time passed by Athens, certainly once and again, without repeating his visit thither.
NOTICE OF DAVIDSON'S INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TES.
The value of this elaborate work will depend, in part, on the answer to the following question, Is it wise to bring before the British and American public objections to the genuineness and authenticity of the canonical books, which have been urged only in Germany, and which may possibly never be heard of in any other country, even if these objections are met by able and satisfactory replies ? Shall the antidote be furnished where the disease is unknown? We are disposed to answer this question in the affirmative. Some of these cavils, indeed, for they are not worthy of the name of objections, are so trivial that they will not repay the time and talent necessary to describe them. Not a few of the allegations of such writers as Schwegler against the Gospel of John, might be suffered quietly to float into the limbo that speedily awaits them. It is degrading to an honorable man to try to discuss them. It is true, also, that objections which have weight or plausibility with a German, may find no favor with an Englishman or an American. They rest on a German basis only, are fitted to a German idiosyncrasy. One, who has a tolerable measure of common sense, even if inclined to skepticism, would perceive no special pertinence in them. One educated under the influence of the views on mental philosophy prevalent wherever the English language is spoken, finds it difficult to understand fully either the objections or the answers to them. Accordingly, to discuss biblical topics in the German method, requires caution, sound judgment, acquaintance with the peculiar character and tendencies of the English and American mind. In our well-meant but ill-advised efforts, we may perplex and unsettle the faith of Christians; the objection may occasion an injury which the answer can never repair.
Still, we are disposed to welcome a treatise like that of Dr. Davidson, which goes so thoroughly into the recent German criticism on the Gospels, adducing and overthrowing the most plausible objections to the truth of the evangelical history, which the latest form” of German neology has brought forward. In the first place, in the final result, the Gospel will stand on a firmer basis. Every new assault only reveals its impregnable position. Every fresh trial only shows the sterling character of the gold. An attempt to degrade Shakspeare or Milton from the position which they now occupy, only excites wonder or contempt, and is sure to recoil on the head of the assailant. So it will soon be in relation to the Gospels, ultimately, even in Germany. Books that can outlive such an array of learning and ingenuity as has been directed against the evangelists within the last twenty years, must be divine. The effect of the unsuccessful, reiterated attacks which are made upon them, will be to place them on that high eminence where the mere critic and scholar shall be content to let them remain, open indeed to still profounder investigation and ever widening illustration, but in trustworthiness no longer assailable. It is coming to this result even in Germany, if we understand the signs of the times. Most of those who have impugned the authority of the Gospels, or parts of them, since the days of Strauss, are but his feeble imitators. Even the wavering critics, as De Wette, seem almost ashamed to refer to B. B., as they abbreviate Bruno Bauer.1 Writers of the stamp of Schweizer, Schwegler, and Zeller, are left to gather up the crumbs which fall from their master Strauss's table. Really, some of the difficulties and hypotheses which they adduce, would have subjected a member of college, one hundred years ago, to discipline. Schweizer, e. g., undertakes to separate the spiritual substance of John's Gospel from a Galilean interpolation, of a different character! As a proof of a gradual return to sounder views, we may mention that De Wette complains, in one of his late Prefaces, that the younger scholars are coming back to the “old orthodoxy.” The persons to whom he refers, we suppose, are Ebrard, Wieseler, Stier, J. P. Lange, etc. Meyer, in the second edition of his Gospels, is returning to “conservatismus." The tendency in the late edition of Winer's Bible Dictionary, is in the same direction. Even De Wette himself, in the preface to his Apocalypse, appears to be much alarmed at the progress which the “young Hegelianism” is making in Germany.
Again, a promptitude in meeting the ablest and most learned of the opponents of the Gospel, may not be unattended with good results, even if much of the German skepticism is not transferred to English soil. It reveals a confidence in the power of truth, a vigilance in guarding the fortress, a keen vision in detecting coming danger, and a learning and ability which must command respect. If German criticism is to be subjected to a criticism as sharp, and a learning as acute in England and the United States, joined to a judgment and common sense much more trustworthy, a reflex influence may be ex
Of De Wette's opinion of Von Baur, see a note on p. 348.