Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

spears in Epiphat he expresie Gospelte cand

shows that hebius and Jeros, will rather becospel in het

1851. All Accounts reducible to one or two Sources. 39 tradition becomes clear beyond all doubt. The combination of the two traditions appears in Epiphanius, another of Mr. Alford's authorities — strangely enough! as he expressly identifies the • Hebrew' Gospel of St. Matthew with the Gospel ka' EBpalovs, which he asserts to be used by the Ebionite and Corinthian heretics; - s ảanon Šotly sitelv őtMarlaios μόνος Εβραϊστί και Εβραϊκοίς γράμμασιν, κ. τ.λ.

These are the only authorities brought by Mr. Alford which, properly speaking, can be said to exist for the puzzling statement of St. Matthew having written his Gospel in Hebrew. The others on which he relies, will rather help us to explain it. These are Eusebius and Jerome. The former, says Mr. Alford, shows that he himself believed St. Matthew's Gospel to have • been written in Hebrew.' He undoubtedly states incidentally that such was the case, and that the expression of toll caßBátov (Matt. xxviii. 1.) came from the translator. But it seems pretty plain that in saying this, he did no more than acquiesce in the opinion current at Cæsarea, his native city, that the SyroChaldaie gospel in the library of his friend Pamphilus there, was the original of St. Matthew. Now this, it is positively certain, was nothing more than a version from the Greek of the Gospel καθ Εβραίους. Jerome himself at first thought that it was the authentic Matthew, and translated it into both Greek and Latin from a copy which he obtained at Bercea in Syria. This appears from his Catalogue of Illustrious Men, written in the year 392. Six years later, in his Commentary on Matthew, he spoke more doubtfully about it, - quod vocatur a plerisque · Matthæi authenticum. Later still, in his book on the Pelagian heresy, written in the year 415, he modifies this account still further, describing the work as the • Evangelium

juxta Hebræos, quod Chaldaico quidem Syroque sermone, sed · Hebraicis literis scriptum est, quo utuntur usque hodie • Nazareni, secundum Apostolos, sive, ut plerique autumant, • juxta Matthæum, quod et in Cæsariensi habetur bibliotheca.' Few persons will doubt that this Syro-Chaldaic document, written in Hebrew letters, was what Pantænus found among the • Indi," which are to be looked for far west of what we understand by India ; and that its existence, combined with the vague report of Papias, constitutes the sole foundation for the assertion of Eusebius. Thus the casual remark of a professed anecdotecollector, whose judgment is entirely disabled by the historian who records it, is, after all, the sole foundation for the statement that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew. So little is Mr. Alford justified in terming this opinion one in accordance

with the testimony of the early Church, unanimous as it is, and derived from so many independent sources.

The external testimony to the influence of St. Peter on St. Mark's Gospel may or may not be deserving of implicit credit, but it is unquestionably much fuller than that to the Hebrew original of the Gospel of St. Matthew. The testimony of Irenæus is the same for both facts. That of Papias himself is exceeded by the statement of John the Presbyter, expressly cited by Papias. Besides this there is the evidence of the African, Tertullian, as regards St. Mark. And finally, (a passage which has escaped Mr. Alford's notice,) Justin Martyr, in one of the very few passages in which he distinctly refers to St. Mark's Gospel, actually quotes it as the citrouvnuoveúuara of Peter. (Mark, xii. 16–18., quoted in the Dial. c. Tryph. $. 106.) Any conclusion from internal evidence as to what, under such circumstances, would have been contained, or what omitted, must be extremely uncertain, even if the original structural character were more accurately ascertained than is at present the case. It is a curious circumstance that a passage (xvi. 7.) which Mr. Alford points out as a remarkable proof that St. Peter cannot have superintended the composition, is put forward by another ingenious writer † among the evidences that he did.

The final paragraph of the Gospel of St. Mark, xvi. 9–20., is deficient in the Vatican Codex, and did not find a place in

* The haste which necessarily results from undertaking too comprehensive a task, shows itself in this part of Mr. Alford's work very palpably. Thus a passage from Clement of Alexandria, referring to the existing Greek Gospel, is combined with one from Irenæus, which relates to the hypothetical Hebrew one (p. 26.). Again, Jerome is produced as an authority for the Hebrew Matthew, as existing in the library at Cæsarea, in a passage where he positively identifies the Cæsarean Gospel with the Gospel according to the Hebrews (p. 24.); and yet, at the same time that he does this, Mr Alford quotes a German writer, Ebrard, as plainly showing, that whatever similarity these . documents may have had to the Gospel of Matthew, they were always regarded as distinct from it' (p. 23.). We are not acquainted with Ebrard's work, but cannot conceive him to rest on any stronger ground than the many passages in Jerome (e. g. Comm. in Matth. xii. 10., Id. in Matth. xxvii. 54.), in which their distinctness is shown plainly enough; but it is a distinctness from the existing Greck, not the imaginary Hebrew Gospel.

† Townson, Discourses on the Four Gospels, p. 146. It is almost mortifying to find so many positions of this acute and agreeable writer break down, as is the case when the various readings are considered.

The difthat there was

doubtedly datements contain a times.

1851. Final Paragraph of St. Mark uncertain. 41 the Eusebian Canons. In the Catenæ, no commentary exists upon it. In one of the MSS., a note states that an alternative reading of about seven or eight lines exists in some copies. Another mentions that although omitted as spurious in the greater number of copies, the writer found it in some accurate gnes, among which was 'the Palestine Gospel,' and accordingly preserved it. In an ante-Hieronymian VS. there is an alternative for verse 19. Jerome in one place asserts that the paragraph is wanting in almost all the Greek copies (ad Hedib. 9. iv.); but in another place maintains the opposite opinion (c. Pelag. ii. c. 15.). It is said to be deficient in the Sahidic Version, but to be found in every other except the Arabic. In the Armenian, however, it is separated from what goes before. The 19th verse is quoted by the Latin Irenæus, expressly, as in the end of St. Mark's Gospel. But several ancient ecclesiastical writers (which may be seen in Wetstein's note) show that there was a great diversity in very early times. The difficulty of reconciling the statements contained in it with those of Matthew, undoubtedly disposed some of the Fathers to wish to be rid of it. On the other hand, the style is no doubt somewhat different from the rest of the Gospel, and presents the appearance rather of an epitome of events than a narrative. Mr. Alford points out some of these peculiarities, and after weighing all the evidence, comes to the conclusion that the probability is against its being the genuine production of the Evangelist, but that its authenticity and authority are beyond any question, and that it possesses just the same claim to reception and reverence as the rest of the Gospels. On the contrary, Cardinal Cajetan considers that the suspicions entertained of the passage by the early writers, prevent its use for doctrinal purposes. And if it be remembered that the issue is not only between its rejection and retention, but involves the further question of the value of several alternative readings (a point which Mr. Alford does not take into account), it seems rash to regard it as standing on so firm a basis as what precedes it.

We do not think Mr. Alford fails so much in any point, as in bis criticism of the statements made by the carly Ecclesiastical writers respecting the authorship of the Gospels. His arbitrary assumption of the Hebrew original of St. Matthew, and his equally arbitrary rejection of the account which makes the narrative of St. Mark rest on the authority of the Apostle Peter, we have already noticed. He also throws over the statement (certainly not in itself improbable) of Irenæus, Tertallian, and Origen, that St. Luke's Gospel reposes on the authority of St. Paul, with the bold assertion, that this is contradicted by the express assertion of the Evangelist himself in his preface, that the Gospel was compiled and arranged by • himself from the testimony of those who år' ápxñs, from the

beginning of his history, were eye-witnesses or ministers of the sword, among whom it is not, of course, possible to reckon Paul.' We would not assert that these were not St. Luke's sources of information : but he certainly does not say they were. What he says is, that the accounts which had already been framed by many rested on the authority of those who had been eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word from the beginning of our Lord's ministry), as Mr. Alford himself (in his note on the passage) properly interprets the preface. He then says that

he, having carefully followed up every thing from the very first,' (i. e. the annunciation of the birth of our Lord's precursor, the Baptist), determined to add a regular history of his own. Surely nothing but extreme haste can explain the summary rejection of a fairly authenticated tradition on really no grounds at all. And it cannot be said that the tradition looks like a fiction to account for any notice either in the Gospel or the Book of Acts which suggests who was their common author. If we were left entirely to the internal evidence of the case, it would be at least as likely, perhaps more so, to infer that Timothy was the author, as Luke. We cannot help, therefore, contending that Mr. Alford has here been guilty of a piece of most gratuitous injustice to the commonly received account. Neither is he (we think) more happy when he strives to make up by internal evidence for the external evidence which he has rejected. Two of the passages which he cites (Gal. i. 12.; Ephes. iii. 3.), surely relate not to a communication of historical facts, — which must have undoubtedly been familiar to Paul while he was a persecutor, — but to a spiritual enlightenment which interpreted all the facts, and showed them to him in their true bearing, working in him the intuition that the Divine Dispensation which he was resisting was the fulfilment of the hope

of Israel.' In Cor. xi. 23. the variations útrò TOÛ Kuplov, trapà Toll κυρίου, and από θεού throw a great suspicion on the genuineness of any one; and the examination of the MSS. in Luc. xxii. 19. seqq. will, we think, incontestably show that the correspondence of that passage with the account in the First Epistle to the Corinthians is due (in those codices where it appears) to a later hand than the Evangelist. The only remaining passage urged by Mr. Alford (1 Cor. xv. 4.) proves nothing at all, except that the fact mentioned in it occurred, and was of course notorious. If St. Luke had derived his knowledge of it merely from St. Paul, how is it that he does not also relate the appearance of

of Pation which Heing in him and shoved'y

1851.

Supplementary Theory of St. John's Gospel.

the Lord to the five hundred brethren at once, and that to * James.' The argument derived from the observation of a

similar cast of mind and feeling' in the Apostle and the Evangelist, and some others even more fine-drawn, we do not choose to enter into. They appear to us infinitely more uncertain than the vaguest statement which the credulity of a Papias or a Hegesippus ever indulged in: and we think that the castigation which Mr. Alford is, in the course of his commentary, somewhat too much in the habit of inflicting, either by words or bitterer notes of admiration, upon his German predecessors in philological matters, would be no less well bestowed now and then upon some of their didactic interpretations, of which he entertains a more favourable opinion.

We have occupied so much space in examining Mr. Alford's views respecting the composition of the Synoptic Gospels, that we can spare very little for that of St. John. In fact, we are disposed to go along with him here in most of his opinions, even in that one in which he differs from the prevalent view, which regards the fourth Gospel as written with the object of furnishing a supplement to the other three. We so far agree with Mr. Alford, as to think that the tradition to this effect arose out of an imagined suitableness (although he is in error in saying that Origen and Clement do not appeal to a tradition): but, at the same time, we are not sure that, when the text of the four Gospels has been restored as near to its primitive form as we believe to be possible, the phenomena, which seem opposed to this theory, may not in some degree disappear. As to the genuineness of the book, the arguments against it are, for the most part, so futile, as hardly to require a serious refutation. The view which he gives from Luecke of its relation to the other three, and of the character of the age and section of the Church in which the Evangelist lived, is so clear and luminous, as in itself to furnish every reader with a reply to possible objections.

We will conclude with the notice of one other point, which will be suggested to the English reader by the views which Mr. Alford puts forward relative to the oral accounts, which he considers to form the basis of the sacred histories. These oral narratives have nothing in common with the Oral Tradition,' with which the public has of late been dosed usque ad nauseam, - a fictitious abstraction, originally taken up by Gnostic heretics in order, coute qui coute, to reconcile their absurd philosophy with the plain and simple statements of the Apostolic writings. The problem of the Origin of Evil made them desire to combine the profession of Christianity with the notion that the Creator

« AnteriorContinuar »