Зображення сторінки


Further, not a trace can be discovered in this Gospel itself of its being a Translation, Michaelis tried to detect, and fancied that he had succeeded in detecting, one or two such. Other Germans since, and Davidson and Cureton among ourselves, have made the same attempt. But the entire failure of all such attempts is now generally admitted, and candid advocates of a Hebrew original are quite ready to own that none such are to be found, and that but for external testimony no one would have imagined that the Greek was not the original. This they regard as showing how perfectly the translation has been executed; but those who know best what translating from one language into another is, will be the readiest to own that this is tantamount to giving up the question. This Gospel proclaims its own originality in a number of striking points; such as its manner of quoting from the Old Testament, and its phraseology in some peculiar cases. But the close verbal coincidences of our Greek Matthew with the next two Gospels must not be quite passed over. There are but two possible ways of explaining this. Either the translator, sacrificing verbal fidelity in his version, intentionally conformed certain parts of his author's work to the Second and Third Gospels--in which case it can hardly be called Matthew's Gospel at all-or our Greek Matthew is itself the original.

Moved by these considerations, some advocates of a Hebrew original have adopted the theory of a double original; the external testimony, they think, requiring us to believe in a Hebrew original, while internal evidence is decisire in favour of the originality of the Greek. This theory is espoused by Guericke, Olshausen, Thiersch, Townson, Tregelles, &c. But, besides that this looks too like an artificial theory, invented to solve a difficulty, it is utterly void of historical support. There is not a vestige of testimony to support it in Christian antiquity. This ought to be decisive against it.

It remains, then, that our Greek Matthew is the original of that Gospel, and that no other original ever existed. It is greatly to the credit of Dean Alford, that after maintaining, in the first edition of his' Greek Testament the theory of a Hebrew original, he thus expresses himself in the second and subsequent editions: 'On the whole, then, I find myself constrained to abandon the view maintained in my first edition, and to adopt that of a Greek original.'

One argument has been adduced on the other side, on which not a little reliance has been placed; but the determination of the main question does not, in our opinion, depend upon the point which it raises. It has been very confidently affirmed that the Greek language was not sufficiently understood by the Jews of Palestine, when Matthew published his Gospel, to make it at all probable that he would write a Gospel, for their benefit in the first instance, in that language. Now, as this merely alleges the improbability of a Greek original, it is enough to place against it the evidence already adduced, which is positive, in favour of the sole originality of our Greek Matthew. It is indeed a question how far the Greek lan. guage was understood in Palestine at the time referred to. But we advise the reader not to be drawn into that question as essential to the settlement of the other one. It is an element in it, no doubt, but not an essential element. There are extremnes on both sides of it. The old idea, that our Lord hardly ever spoke anything but Syro-Chaldaic, ia now pretty nearly exploded. Many, however, will not go the length, on the other side, of Hug (in his Introduction, pp. 326, &c.) and Roberts Discussions,' &c., pp. 25, &c.). For ourselves, though we believe that our Lord, in all the more public scenes of His ministry, spoke in Greek, all we think it necessary here to say is, that there is no ground to believe that Greek was so little understood in Palestine as to make it improbable that Matthew would write his Gospel exclusively in that language

0 improbable as to outweigh the evidence that he did so. And when we think of the number of Digests or short Narratives of the principal facts of our Lord's history, which we know from Luke (1. 1-4) were floating about for some time before he wrote his Gospel, of which he speaky by no means disrespectfully and nearly all of which would be in the mother tongue, we can have no doubt that the Jewish Christians and the Jews of Palestine generally would have from the first reliable written matter sufficient to supply every necessary requirement, until the publican-apostle should leisurely draw up the First of the Four Gospels in a language to them not a strange tongue, while to the rest of the world it was the language in which the entire Quadriform Gospel was to be for all time enshrined. The following among others hold to this view, of the sole originality of the Greek Matthew :-Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Lightfoot, Westein, Lardner, Hug, Fritzsche, Crediner, de Wette, Stuart, da Costa, Fairbairn, Roberts.

On two other questions regarding this Gospel it would have been desirable to say something had not our available space heen already exhausted :-The characteristics, both in language and matter, by which it is distinguished from the other three; and its relation to the Second and Third Gospels. On the latter of these topics-whether one or more of the Evangelists made use of the materials of the other Gospels, and if so, which of the Evangelists drew from which the opinions are just as numerous as the possibilities of the case, every conceivable way of it having one or more who plead for it. The most popular opinion until within a pretty recent period-and in this country, perhaps, the most popular still-is that the Second Evangelist availed himself more or less of the materials of the First Gospel, and the Third of the materials of both the First and Second Gospels. Here we can but state our own belief, that each of the First Three Evangelists wrote independently of both the others; while the Fourth, familiar with the First Three, wrote to supplement them, and, even where he travels along the same line, wrote quite independently of them. This judgment we express, with all deference for those who think otherwise, as the result of a pretty close study of each of the Gospels in immediate juxtaposition and comparison with the others. On the former of the two topics noticed, the linguistic peculiarities of each of the Gospels have been handled most closely and ably by Credrer (Einleitung") of whose results a good summary will be found in Davidson's * Introduction. The other peculiarities of the Gospels have been most felicitously and beautifully brought out by da Costa, in his 'Four Witnesses,' to whom we must simply refer the reader, though it contains a few things in which we cannot concur.


THAT the Second Gospel was written by Mark is universally agreed; though by what Mark, not so. The great I majority of critics take the writer to be " John whose surname was Mark," of whom we read in the Acts, and who was "sister's son to Barnabas" (Colossiang, 4. 10). But no reason whatever is assigned for this opinion, for which the tradition, though ancient, is not uniform; and one cannot but wonder how it is so easily taken for gianted by Wetstein, Hug, Meyer, Ebrard, Lange, Elicott, Davidson, Tregelles, &c. Alford goes the length of saying it has been universally believed


The he was the same person with the John Mark of the Gospels.' But Grotius thought differently, and so did Schleiermacher, Camal Burton, and da Costa; and the grounds on which it is concluded that they were two different persons appear be quite unanswerable. "Of John, surnamed Mark,' says Campbell, in his Preface to this Gospel, one of the first things we learn is, that he attended Paul and Barnabas in their apostolical journeys, when these two travelled together (Acts, 12.; 13. 5. And shen afterwards there arose a dispute between them concerning him, insomuch that they separated, Hart accompanied his uncle Barnabas, and Silas attended Paul. When Paul was reconciled to Mark, which was probably

after, we find Paul azain employing Mark's assistance, recommending him, and giving him a very honourable testimany (Colossians, 4.1); 2 Timothy. 4. 11; Philemon, 24). But we hear not a syllable of his attending Peter as his minister. er assisting him in any capacity: and yet, as we shall presently see, no tradition is niore ancient, more uniform, and better metained by internal evidence, than that Mark, in his Gospel, was but the interpreter of Peter,' who, at the close of his inst Epistie, speaks of him as Marcus my son' (1 Peter, 5. 13), that is, without doubt, his son in the Gospel-converted to Barist through bis instrumentality. And when we consider how little the Apostles Peter and Paul were together-how

idom they eren met-how different were their tendencies, and how separate their spheres of labour, is there pot, in the aberace of all evidence of the fact, something approaching to violence in the supposition that the same Mark was the utamate associate of both? 'In brier,' adds Campbell, the accounts given of Paul's attendant, and those of Peter's nterpreter, concur in nothing but the name, Mark or Marcus; too slight a circumstance to conclude the sameness of the person from, especially when we consider how common the name was at Rome, and how customary it was for the Jews in that age to assume some Roman name when they went thither.'

Regarding the Erangelist Mark, then, as another person from Paul's companion in travel, all we know of his personal history is that he was a convert, as we have seen, of the apostle Peter. But as to his Gospel, the tradition regarding Peter's and in it is so scient, so uniform, and so remarkably confirmed by internal evidence, that we must regard it as an estabe fact. *Mark,' says Papias (according to the testimony of Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3. 39) becoming the inter

of Peter, wrote accurately, tbough not in order, whatever be remembered of what was either said or done by Christ; far he was neither a hearer of the Lord nor a follower of Him, but afterwards, as I said she was a follower), of Peter, who ranged the discourses for use, but not according to the order in which they were uttered by the Lord.' To the same tect Irennus (adverama Hareses, 3. 1): 'Matthew published a Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Chareb at Rome; and after their departure (or decease), Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, he also gave forth au in writing the things which were preached by Peter.' And Clement of Alexandria is still more specific, in a passage mitted to us by Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 6. 14): Peter, having publicly preached the word at Rome, and spoken

srta the Gospel by the Spirit, many of those present exhorted Mark, as having long been a follower of his, and rememdering what he had said, to write what had been spoken and that having prepared the Gospel, he delivered it to those who had saked him for it; which, when Peter came to the knowledge of, he neither decidedly forbade por encouraged him." Eurodia's own testimony, however, from other accounts, is rather different: that Peter's hearers were so penetrated by La preaching that they cave Mark, as being a follower of Peter, no rest till he consented to write his Gospel, as a memoral of his oral teaching; and that the apostle, when he knew by the revelation of the Spirit what had been done, was

unghied with the zeal of those men, and sanctioned the reading of the writing (that is, of this Gospel of Mark) in the Sharebes (Ecclesiastical History, 2. 15). And giving in another of his works a similar statement, he says that Peter, from

*oeg of humility, did not think himself qualified to write the Gospel; but Mark, his acquaintance and pupil, is said to kane recorded his relations of the actings of Jesus. And Peter testifies these things of himself ; for all things that are Forded by Mark are said to be memoirs of Peter's discourses.' It is needless to go further-to Origen, who says Mark composed his Gospel as Peter guided' or directed him, who, in his Catholic Epistle, calls him his son,' &c.; and to Jerome, The brat echoes Eusebiuk

This, certainly, is a remarkable chain of testimony; which, confirmed as it is by such striking internal evidence, may be regarded as establishing the fact that the Second Gospel was drawn up mostly from materials furnished by Peter. In

the reader will find this internal evidence detailed at length, though all the examples are not wally courincing, But if the reader will refer to our remarks on Mark, 16. 7, and John, 18. 27, he will have convincing mdence of a Petrine hand in this Gospel.

It remsing only to advert, in a word or two, to the readers for whom this Gospel was, in the first instance, designed, El the date of it. That it was not for Jews but Gentiler, is evident from the great number of explanations of Jewish Bruges, opinions, and places, which to a Jew would at that time bave been superfluous, but were highly needful to a Gentile. We here but refer to chs 2. 18; 7. 3, 4; 12. 18; 13. 3; 14. 12; 15. 42, for examples of these. Regarding the date of this wapel-about which notbing certain is known-if the tradition reported by Irenæus can be relied on, that it was written

Rone, after the departure of Peter and Paul,' and if by that word 'departure' we are to understand their death, we may date it somewhere between the years 64 and 68; but in all likelihood this is too late. It is probably nearer the truth to este ik eight or ten years earlier.


The writer of this Gospel is universally allowed to have been Lucas (an abbreviated form of Lucanus, as Silas of

Siranus), though he is not expressly named either in the Gospel or in the Acts. From Colossians, 4. 14, we learn that ** "physician;" and by comparing that verse with v. 10, 11-in which the apostle enumerates all those of the circum.

bo were then with him, but does not mention Luke, though he immediately afterwards sends a salutation from 312-Te gather that Luke was not a born Jew. Some have thought he was a freed-man (libertinus), as the Romans

oved the healing art on persons of this class and on their slaves, as an oocupation beneath themselves. His intimate quaintance with Jewish customs, and his facility in Hebraic Greek, seem to show that he was an early convert to the

su Faith ; and this is curiously confirmed by Acts, 21. 27-29, where wo find the Jewg enraged at Paul's supposed


introduction of Greeks into the temple, because they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian" with him; and as we know that Luke was with Paul on that occasion, it would seem that they had taken him for a Jew, as they made no mention of him. On the other hand, his fluency in classical Greek confirms his Gentile origin. The time when he joined Paul's company is clearly indicated in the Acts by his changing (at ch. 16. 10) from the third person singular (* he") to the first person plural ("we"). From that time he hardly ever left the apostle till near the period of his martyrdom (2 Timothy. 4, 11). Eusebius makes bim & pative of Antioch. If so, he would have every advantage for cultivating the literature of Greece, and such medical knowledge as was then possessed. That he died a natural death is generally agreed among the ancients; Gregory Nazianzen alone affirming that he died a martyr.

The time and place of the publication of his Gospel are alike uncertain. But we can approximate to it. It must at any rate have been issued before the Acts, for there the Gospel' is expressly referred to as the same author's “former treatise (Aots, 1. 1). Now the book of the Acts was not published for two whole years after Paul's arrival as a prisoner at Rome, for it concludes with a reference to this period; but probably it was published soon after that, which would appear to have been early in the year 63. Before that time, then, we have reason to believe that the Gospel of Luke was in circulation, though the majority of orities make it later. If we date it somewhere between A.D. 50 and 60, we shall probably be near the truth; but nearer it we cannot with any certainty come. Conjectures as to the place of publication are too uncertain to be mentioned here,

That it was addressed, in the first instance, to Gentile readers, is beyond doubt. This is no more, as Davidson remarks, (Introduction,' p. 186), than was to have been expected from the companion of an 'apostle of the Gentiles,' who had witnessed marvellous changes in the condition of many heathens by the reception of the Gospel. But the explanations in his Gospel of things known to every Jew, and which could only be intended for Gentile readers, make this quite plain-see chs. 1. 2; 4. 31 ; 8. 26; 21, 37; 22. 1; 24. 13. A number of other minute particulars, both of things inserted and of things omitted, confirm the conclusion that it was Gentiles whom this Evangelist had in the first instance in view.

We have already adverted to the classical style of Greek which this Evangelist writes-just what might have been ex. pected from an educated Greek and travelled physician. But we have also observed that along with this he shows a won. derful flexibility of style, 60 much so, that when he comes to relate transactions wholly Jewish, where the speakers and actors and incidents are all Jewish, he writes in such Jewish Greek as one would do who had never been out of Palestine, or mixed with any but Jews. In da Costa's Four Witnesses' will be found some traces of the beloved phyrician' in this Gospel. But far more striking and important are the traces in it of his intimate connexion with the apostle of the Gentiles, That one who was so long and so constantly in the society of that mastermind has in such a work as this shown no traces of that connexion, no stamp of that mind, is hardly to be believed. Writers of Introductions seem not to see it, and take no notice of it. But those who look into the interior of it will soon discover evidences enough in it of a Pauline cast of mind. Referring for a number of details to da Costa, we notice hero only two examples. In 1 Corinthians, 11. 23, Paul ascribes to an express revelation from Christ Himself the account of the Institution of the Lord's Supper which he there gives. Now, if we find this account differing in small yet striking particulars from the accounts given by Matthew and Mark, but agreeing to the letter with Luke's account, it can hardly admit of a doubt that the one had it from the other; and in that case, of course, it was Luke that had it from Paul. Now Matthew and Mark both way of the Cup, "This is my blood of the New Testament;" while Paul and Luke say, in identical terms, "This cup is the New Testament in My blood" Further, Luke anys, "Likewise also the cup after repper, saying," &c.; while Paul says, "After the same manner He took the cup when He had supped, saying," &c.; whereas neither Matthew nor Mark mention that this was after supper. But still more striking is another point of coincidence in this case. Matthew and Mark both say of the Bread merely this: "Take, eat; this is My body:" whereas Paul says, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you," and Luke, “This is My body, tohich is given for yote." And while Paul adds the precious clause, “ This do in remembrance of Me" Luke does the same, in identical terms. How can one who reflects on this resist the conviction of a Pauline stamp in this Gospel? The other proof of this to which we ask the reader's attention is in the fact that Paul, in enumerating the parties by whom Christ was seen after His resurrection, begins, singularly enough, with Peter_" And that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the Twelve" (1 Corinthians, 15. 4, 5)--coupled with the remarkable fact, that Luke is the only one of the Evangelists who mentions that Christ appeared to Peter at all. When the disciples had returned from Emmaus to tell their brethren how the Lord had appeared to them in the way, and how He had made Himsell known to them in the breaking of bread, they were met, as Luke relates, ere they had time to utter a word, with this wondertul piece of news, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon" (Luke, 24. 34).

Other points connected with this Gospel will be adverted to in the Commentary.


THE author of the Fourth Gospel was the younger of the two sons of Zebedee, a fisherman on the sea of Galilee, who

1 resided at Bethsaida, where were born Peter and Andrew his brother, and Philip also. His mother's name was Salome, who, though not without her imperfections (Matthew, 20, 20, &c.), was one of those dear and honoured women who Accompanied the Lord on one of His preaching circuits through Galilee, ministering to His bodily wants; who followed Him to the cross, and bought sweet spioes to anoint Him after His burial, but, on bringing them to the grave, on the morning of the First Day of the week, found their loving services gloriously superseded by His resurrection ere they arrived. His father, Zebedee, appears to have been in good circumstances, owning a vessel of his own and having hired servants (Mark, 1, 90). Our Evangelist, whose occupation was that of a fisherman with his father, was beyond doubt a disciple of the Baptist, and one of the two who had the first interview with Jesus. He was called while engaged at his secular occupation (Matthew, 21, 22), and again on a memorable occasion (Luke, 0.1-11), and finally chosen as one of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew, 10. 9). He was the youngest of the Twelve-the" Benjamin," as da Costa calls him-and he and James his brother were named in the native tougue, by Him who knew the beart, “Boanerges," which the Evangelist Mark (3. 17) explains to mean " Song of thunder;" no doubt from their natural vehemence of character. They and Peter con


tituted that select triumvirate of whom see on Luke, 9. 28. But the highest honour bestowed on this disciple was his being admitted to the bosom-place with his Lord at the table, as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John, 13. 23; 20. 2; 21. 7, 3. 54. and to have committed to him by the dying Redeemer the care of His mother (19. 28, 27). There can be no reason. shle doubt that this distinction was due to a sympathy with His own spirit and mind on the part of John which the all-penetrating Eye of their common Master beheld in none of the rest; and although this was probably never seen either in his life or in his ministry by his fellow-apostles, it is brought wonderfully out in his writings, which, in Christ-like piritaslity, heavenliness, and love, surpass, we may freely say, all the other inspired writings

After the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we find him in constant but silent company with Peter, the peat spokesman and actor in the infant Church until the accession of Paul. While his love to the Lord Jesus drew Miom spontaneously to the side of His eminent servant, and his chastened vehemence made him ready to stand courageously by him, and suffer with him, in all that his testimony to Jesus might cost him, his modest humility, as the youngest of all be apostles, made him an admiring listener and faithful supporter of his brother apostle rather than a speaker or separate actor. Ecclesiastical history is uniform in testifying that John went to Asia Minor-but it is next to certain that this could Bot bare been till after the death both of Peter and Paul; that he resided at Ephesus, whence, as from a centre, he superIntended the churches of that region, paying them occasional visits; and that he long survived the other apostles. Whether the mother of Jesus died before this, or went with John to Ephesus, where she died and was buried, is not agreed. One or

szerdotes of his later days have been handed down by tradition, one at least bearing marks of reasonable probability, Dat it is not necessary to give them here. In the reign of Domitian (A,D. 81-96) he was banished to "the isle that is called Patmog" (8 Emall rocky and then almost uninhabited island in the Ægean sea), "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation, 1. 9). Irenæus and Eusebius say that this took place about the end of Domitian's dThat he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, and miraculously delivered, is one of those legends which, though reported by Tertullian and Jerome, is entitled to no credit. His return from exile took place during the brief but tolerant tem of Nerva: he died at Ephesus in the reign of Trajan (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3. 23), at an age above 90, coording to some; according to others, 100; and even 120, according to others still. The intermediate number is generally regarded as probably the nearest to the truth.

As to the date of this Gospel, the arguments for its having been composed before the destruction of Jerusalem (though rebied on by some superior critics) are of the slenderest nature: such as the expression in ch. 5. 2, "there is at Jerusalem, by the sbeep gate, a pool," &c.; there being no allusion to Peter's martyrdom as having occurred according to the prediction a . Il 18 thing too well known to require mention. That it was composed long after the destruction of Jerusalem, med after the decease of all the other apostles, is next to certain, though the precise time cannot be determined. Probably # a before his banishment, however; and if we date it between the years 90 and 94, we shall probably be pretty near

As to the rendas for whom it was more immediately designed, that they were Gentiles we might naturally presume to the latenese of the date; but the multitude of explanations of things familiar to every Jew puts this beyond all question.

So doubt was ever thrown upon the genuineness and authenticity of this Gospel till about the close of the last century, T ere tbese embodied in any formal attack upon it till Bretschneider, in 1820, issued his famous treatise (Probabilia.' te the conclusions of which he afterwards was candid enough to admit had been satisfactorily disproved. To advert to the sould be as painful as unnecessary; consisting as they mostly do of assertions regarding the Discourses of our Lord

rded in this Gospel which are revolting to every spiritual mind. The Tubingen school did their best, on their peculiar made of reasoning, to galvanize into fresh life this theory of the post-Joannean date of the Fourth Gospel; and some Uni. tarina crities in this country still cling to it. But to use the striking language of van Ostersee regarding similar speculabeasca tbe Third Gospel, Behold, the feet of them that shall carry it out dead are already at the door' (Acts, 5. 9). Is Boere one mind of the least elevation of spiritual discernment that does not see in this Gospel marks of historical truth and i surpassing glory such as none of the other Gospels possess, brightly as they too attest their own verity; and who will

be ready to say that it not historically true, and true just as it stande, it never could have been by mortal man compored or sendeired?

or the peculiarities of this Gospel we note bere only two. The one is its reflective character. While the others are reely narrative, the Fourth Evangelist pauses, as it were, at every turn,' as da Costa says (* Four Witnesses,' p. 234), 'at

e time to give a reason, at another to fix the attention, to deduce consequences, or make applications, or to give utterance to the language of praise. See chs. 2. 20, 21, 23-25; 4, 1, 2; 7. 37-39; 11, 12, 13, 49-52 ; 21. 18, 19, 22, 23. The other peculiarity tuis Gospel is its supplementary character. By this, in the present instance, we mean something more than the studi.

esith which he omits many most important particulars in our Lord's history, for no conceivable reason but that bey sere already familiar as household words to all his readers, through the three preceding Gospels, and his substituting

place of these an immense quantity of the richest matter not found in the other Gospels. We refer here more particuriy to the nature of the additions which distinguish this Gospel; particularly the notices of the different passovers which

red daring our Lord's public ministry, and the record of His teaching at Jerusalem, without which it is not too much ny that we could have had but a most imperfect conception either of the duration of His ministry or of the plan of it. Ens another feature of these additions is quite as noticeable and not less important. We find,' to use again the words

da Costa (pp. 238, 219), slightly abridged, only six of our Lord's miracles recorded in this Gospel, but these are all of the best remarkable kind, and surpass the rest in depth, speciality of application, and fulness of meaning. Of these six Teed only one in the other three Gospels--the multiplication of the loaves. That miracle chiefly, it would seem, on account

the important instructions of which it furnished the occasion (ch. 6.), is here recorded anew. The five other tokens of Devise power are distinguished from among the many recorded in the three other Gospels, by their furnishing a still bigher ils of power and command over the ordinary laws and course of nature. Thus we find recorded here the first of all the itseies that Jesus wrought-the changing of water into wine (ch. 2.), the cure of the nobleman's son at a distance (ch. 4.);

the posterous cures of the lame and the paralytic by the word of Jesus, only one of the man impotent for thirty and eight on feb. 8.); of the many cures of the blind, one only-of the man born blind (ch. 9.); the restoration of Lazarus, not from

drfh-bed, lite Jairus daughter, nor from a bier, like the widow of Nain's son, but from the grave, and after lying there Bords, and there ginking into corruption (ch. 11.); and lastly, after his resurrection, the miraculous draught of fishes a there of Tiberias (ch. 21.). But these are all recorded chiefly to give occasion for the record of those astonishing Dis.

m od Conversations, alike with friends and with foes, with His disciples and with the multitude, which they drew forth."

Other illustrations of the peculiarities of this Gospel will occur, and other points connected with it be adverted to, in the course of the Commentary.



mais book is to the Gospels what the fruit is to the tree that bears it. In the Gospels we see the corn of wheat falling

1 into the ground and dying: in the Acts we see it bringing forth much fruit (John, 12. 24). There we see Christ purobasing the Church with His own blood : here we see the Church, 80 purchased, rising into actual existence; first among the Jews of Palestine, and next among the surrounding Gentiles, until it gains a footing in the great capital of the ancient world-sweeping majestically from Jerusalem to Rome. Nor is this book of less value as an Introduction to the Epistles which follow it, than as a Sequel to the Gospels which precede it. For without this history the Epistles of the New Testament-presupposing, as they do, the historical circumstances of the parties addressed, and deriving from these so much of their freshness, point, and force--would in no respect be what they now are, and would in a number of places be scarcely intelligible.

The genuineness, authenticity, and canonical authority of this book were never called in question within the ancient Church. It stands immediately after the Gospels, in the catalogues of the Homologoumena, or universally acknowledged books of the New Testament (see Introduction to our larger Commentary, Vol. V. pp. iv, v). It was rejected, indeed, by certain heretical sects in the second and third centuries-by the Ebionites, the Severians (see Euscbius, Ecclesiastical History, 4, 29), the Marcionites, and the Manicheaus: but the totally uncritical character of their objections (see Introduction above referred to, pp. xiii, xiv) not only deprives them of all weight, but indirectly shows on wbat solid grounds the Christian Church had all along proceeded in recognising this book,

In our day, however, its authenticity has, like that of all the leading books of the New Testament, been made in Germany the subject of keen and protracted controversy. First, de Wette, while admitting Luke to be the author of the entire work, pronounces the earlier portion of it to have been drawn up from unreliable sources (Einleitung,' 9 a and 2 C). But the Tubingen school, with Baur at their hend, have gone much further. As their fantastic theory of the postJoannean date of the Gospels could not pretend even to a hearing so long as the authenticity of the Acts of the Apostles remained unshaken, they contend that the earlier portion of this work can be shown to be unworthy of credit, while the latter portion is in flat contradiction to the Epistle to the Galatiang-whích this school regard as upassailable--and bears internal evidence of being a designed distortion of facts for the purpose of setting up the Catholic form which Paul gave to Christianity in opposition to the narrow Judaic but original form of it which Peter preached, and which after the death of the apostles was held exclusively by the sect of the Ebionites. It is painful to think that one so lately deceased should have spent so many years, and, aided by learned and acute disciples, in different parts of the argument, should have expended so much learning, research, and ingenuity, in attempting to build up a hypothesis, regarding the origination of the leading books of the New Testament, which outrages all the principles of sober criticism and legitimate evidence. As a school, this party at length broke up: its head, after living to find himself sole defender of the theory as a whole, left this earthly scene complaining of desertion; while some of his associates have abandoned such heartless studies altogether for the more congenial pursuits of philosophy, others have modified their attacks on the historical truth of the New Testa. ment records, retreating into positions into which it is not worth while to follow them, while others still have been gradually approximating to sound principles. The one compensation for all this mischief is the rich additions to the apologetical and critical literature of the books of the New Testament, and the earliest history of the Christian Church, which it has drawn from the pens of Thiersch, Ebrard, and many others. Any allusions which it may be necessary for us to make to the assertions of this school will be made in connection with the passages to wlich they relate-in Acts, 1 Corinthians. and Galatians,

The manifest connexion between this book and the Third Gospel- of which it professes to be simply the continuation by the same author-and the striking similarity which marks the style of both productions, leave no room to doubt that the early Church was right in ascribing it with one consent to Luke. The difficulty which some fastidious critics bave made about the sources of the earlier portion of the History has no solid ground. That the historian himself was an eye-witness of the earliest scenes-as Hug concludes from the circumstantiality of the narrative-is altogether improbable: but there were hundreds of eye-witnesses of some of the seenes, and enough of all the rest, to give to the historian, partly by oral, partly by written testimony, all the details which he has embodied so graphically in his History; and it will appear, we trust, from the commentary, that de Wette's complaints of confusion, contradiction, and error in this portion are without foundation. The same critic, and one or two others, would ascribe to Timothy those later portions of the book in which the historian speaks in the first person plural-" we;" supposing him to have taken potes of all that passed under his own eye, which Luke embodied in his History just as they stood. It is impossible here to refute this gratuitous hypothesis in detail; but the reader will find it done by Ebrard ("Gospel History,' sect. 110, Clark's translation ; sect 127 of the original work, 'Wissenschaftliche Kritik der Evangel. Geschichte,' 1850), and by Davidson ("Introduction to New Testament,' Vol. H., pp. 9-21).

The Undesigned Coincidences between this History and the Apostolio Epistles have been brought out and handled, as an argument for the truth of the facts thus attested, with unrivalled felicity by Paley in his Hora Paulina,' to which Mr. Birks has made a number of ingenious additions in his Hora Apostolicæ. Exception has been taken to some of these by Jowett (St. Paul's Epistles,' Vol. I. pp. 108, &c.), not without a measure of reason in certain cases--for our day, at leastthough even he admits that in this line of evidence the work of Paley, taken as a whole, is unassailable.

Much has been written about the object of this Elistory. Certainly 'the Acts of the Apostles' are but very partially recorded. But for this title the historian is not responsible. Between the two extremes-of supposing that the work has no plan at all, and that it is constructed on an elaborate and complex plan, we shall probably be as near the truth as is necessary if we take the design to be to record the diffusion of Christianity and the rise of the Christian Church, first among the Jews of Palestine, the seat of the ancient Faith, and next among the surrounding Gentiles, with Antioch for its headquarters, until, finally, it is seen waving over imperial Rome, foretokening its universal triumph. In this view of it, there is no difficulty in accounting for the almost exclusive place which it gives to the labours of Peter in the first instance, and the all but entire disappearance from the History both of him and of the rest of the Eleven after the great apostle or the Gentiles came upon the stage-like the lesser lights on the rise of the great luminary.

The chronology of the Acts is involved in great uncertainty, the notes of time which it contains being few and vague. It is only by connecting those events of secular history which it records, and the dates of which are otherwise tolerably known to us-such as the famine under Claudius Caesar (ch. 11, 28), the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the same emperor

« НазадПродовжити »