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The Portable Commentary.
OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS,
REV. ROBERT JAMIESON, D.D., ST. PAUL'S, GLASGOW ;
101. f. 13
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS AND ACTS.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO S. MATTHEW.
T HE author of this Groepel was a publican or tax-gatherer, residing at Capernaum, on the western shore of the sea of 1 Gallee. As to his identity with the "Levi" of the Second and Third Gospels, and other particulars, see on Matthew,
& Hardly anything is known of his apostolic labours. That, after preaching to his countrymen in Palestine, he went to the East, is the genernl testimony of antiquity; but the precise scene or scenes of his ministry cannot be determined. That he died a natural death may be concluded from the belief of the best informed of the Fathers--that of the apostles
ly three, James the greater, Peter, and Paul, suffered martyrdom. That the first Gospel was written by this apostle is the testimony of all antiquity.
For the date of this Gospel we have only internal evidence, and that far from decisive. Accordingly, opinion is much disided. That it was the first issued of all the Gospels was universally believed. Hence, although in the order of the Gepels, those by the two apostles were placed first in the oldest MSS. of the Old Latin version, while in all the Greek kas. vith sesreely an exception, the order is the same as in our Bibles, the Gospel according to Matthew is in every caso ploed first. And as this Gospel is of all the four the one which bears the most evident marks of having been prepared and
ostrocted with a special view to the Jewg-who certainly first required a written Gospel, and would be the first to make Ese of it there can be no doubt that it was issued before any of the others. That it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is equally certain; for, as Hug observes (Introduction to the New Testament, p. 316, Fosdick's translation), when be reports our Lord's prophecy of that awful event, on coming to the warning about " the abomination of desolation" which they should "see standing in the holy place," he interposes (contrary to his invariable practice, which is to relate without remark) a call to his readers to read intelligently-" Whoso readeth, let him understand" (Matthew, 24. 15)--a call to attend to the divine signal for flight which could be intended only for those who lived before the event. But how long before that event this Gospel was written is not so clear. Some internal evidences seem to imply a very early date. Since the Jewish Christians were, for five or six years, exposed to persecution from their own countrymen-until the Jews, being penroosted by the Romans, had to look to themselves-it is not likely (it is argued) that they should be left so long without Some ritten Gospel to reassure and sustain them, and Matthew's Gospel was eminently fitted for that purpose. But the digests to which Luke refers in his Introduction (see on Luke, 1. 1-4) would be sufficient for a time, especially as the living price of the "eye-witnesses and ministers of the word "was yet sounding abroad. Other considerations in favour of a very arty date-ach as the tender way in which the author seems studiously to speak of Herod Antipas, as if still reigning,
his riting of Pilate apparently as if still in power-seem to have no foundation in fact, and cannot therefore be made the groand of reasoning as to the date of this Gospel. Its Hebraic structure and hue, though they prove, as we think,
xt this Gospel must have been published at a period considerably anterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, are no evitence in favour of so early a date as A.D. 37 or 38-according to some of the Fathers, and, of the moderns, Tillemont, Terenson, Owen, Birks, Tregelles. On the other hand, the date suggested by the statement of Irenaeus (3. 1), that Matthew a forth his Gospel while Peter and Paul were at Rome preaching and founding the Church-or after A.D. 60-though toals the majority of critics are in favour of it, would seem rather too late, especially as the Second and Third Gospels, which were doubtless published, as well as this one, before the destruction of Jerusalem, had still to be issued. Certainly, nch statements as the following. * Wherefore that field is called the field of blood unto this day; "And this saying is
only reported among the Jews until this day" (Matthew, 27. 8, and 28.16), bespeak a date considerably later than the ats recorded. We incline, therefore, to a date intermediate between the earlier and the later dates assigned to this Gospel, without pretending to greater precision.
We have adverted to the strikingly Jewish character and colouring of this Gospel. The facts which it selects, the points to which it gives prominence, the cast of thought and phraseology-all bespeak the Jewish point of view from
ich it was written and to which it was directed. This has been noticed from the beginning, and is universally acknow. How It is of the greatest consequence to the right interpretation of it; but the tendency among some even of the best of the Gemasne to infer, from this special design of the First Gospel, a certain laxity on the part of the Evangelist in the treatment of his faets must be guarded against.
Det by far the most interesting and important point connected with this Gospel is the language in which it was atten. It is believed by a formidable number of critics that this Gospel was originally written in what is loosely called Here, but more correctly Aramaie, or Syro-Chaldaie, the native tongue of the country at the time of our Lord; and that the Greek Matthes which we now possess is a translation of that work, either by the Evangelist himself or some unknown kod Ide evidence on which this opinion is grounded is wholly external. But it has been deemed conclusive by Grotius, Michael, (and his translator) Marsh, Townson, Campbell, Olshausen, Greswell, Meyer, Ebrard, Lange, Davidson, Cureton. irogas, Vector and Wilkinson, &c. The evidence referred to cannot be given here, but will be found, with remarks on in matisfactory character, in the 'Introduction to the Gospels' prefixed to our larger Commentary, pp. xxviii-xxxi.
Bat bos stand the facts as to our Greek Gospel? We have not & tittle of historical evidence that it is a Translation, athe by Matthew himself or any one else. All antiquity refers to it as the work of Matthew the publican and apostle, est as the other Gospels are ascribed to their respective authors. This Greek Gospel was from the first received by the Clacha ag an integral part of the one Quadriform Gospel. And while the Fathers often advert to the two Gospels which we are frota apostles, and the two which we have from men not apostles-in order to show that as that of Mark leans so tirely go Peter, and that of Luke on Paui, these are really no less apostolical than the other two-though we attach less
s to this circumstance than they did, we cannot but think it striking that, in thus speaking, they never drop a hint that the fall apostolio authority of the Greek Matthew had ever been questioned on the ground of its not being the original.
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS AND ACTS.
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 decisive 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 language 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 extremes on both sides of it. The old idea, that our Lord hardly ever spoke anything but Syro-Chaldaic, is 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-so improbable as to outweigh the evidence that he did so. And when we think of the number of Digests or short Narra. tives 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 speaks 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, Besa, Light foot, Wetstein, Lardner, Hug, Fritosche, Credner, 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 been 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 linguistio peculiarities of each of the Gospels have been handled most closely and ably by Credner (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.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO S. MARK.
THAT the Second Gospel was written by Mark is universally agreed ; though by what Mark, not 80. The great
1 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" (Colossians, 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 granted by Wetstein, Hug. Meyer, Ebrard, Lange, Ellicott, Davidson, Trecelles, &c. Alford goes the length of saying it has been universally believed
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS AND ACTS,
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 GOSPEL ACCORDING TO S. LUKE.
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