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ART. VI.- PATRISTIC EVIDENCE AND THE

GOSPEL CHRONOLOGY.

1. Ordo Sæclorum: a Treatise on the Chronology of the Holy

Scriptures. By HENRY BROWNE, M.A., Principal of the

Diocesan College, Chichester. (London, 1844.) 2. The New Testament in the Original Greek, with Introduc

tion and Appendix. By B. F. WESTCOTT, D D., and F. J. A. HORT, D.D. [Note by Dr. Hort on John vi. 4]

(Cambridge and London, 1881.) 3. Die Pilatus-Acten. Kritisch untersucht von Professor Dr.

R. A. LIPSIUS. Neue vermehrte Ausgabe. (Kiel, 1886.)

Our readers may not impossibly be inclined on the threshold to ask why, in the list of books prefixed to an article dealing with the chronology of the Gospels, well-known and important treatises, such as those of Wieseler and Caspari in German, or Greswell and Lewin in English, find no place? Assuredly, if our intention had been to review exhaustively the whole bearings of the problem, books like these would have formed an indispensable starting point. But then nothing of such a sort could have been attempted, much less carried out, within the limits of a Review article ; it would have

, required a treatise to itself. Our present plan is conceived on a much humbler scale, and we do not propose to do more than sketch the general question in outline, and to fill in in detail some few corners only of the canvas. We shall call especial attention to the patristic evidence, and with that view we have named at the head of this article, first, Mr. Browne's Ordo Saclorum, of which the portion we are concerned with would certainly have created more attention from the learned world if it had had the good fortune to have been written in German, and which, considering that it bears a date nearly fifty years back when patristic studies were only beginning to revive among us, appears to us to have some quite remarkable merits ; secondly, Dr. Hort's note on John vi. 4 (pp. 77–81 of the Appendix to Westcott and Hort), in which he takes up and develops some of Mr. Browne's conclusions ; and, last, a pamphlet of Professor Lipsius devoted to one important fragment of Christian antiquity.

The treatment of the subject which we intend to adopt is to group it round the question of the chronology of Christ's ministry, so that the three points involved are the date of the commencement of the ministry, the length of its duration, and

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the moment of its close. Clearly, then, if we can settle any two of these on conclusive evidence, the third can be deduced from them, and even the entire absence of corroborative testimony to it would not vitiate the result. If we know when the ministry began and ended, we know also how long it lasted. If we can prove its duration, then when we fix its end we fix its beginning also, and vice versa. But, in fact, the phenomena are not quite so simple. For no one of the three is there proof capable of being called demonstrative; and yet no one of the three but can command presumptions of varying degrees of probability.

I. We propose for convenience sake to take the three points in their inverse chronological order, and to start from the independent evidence for the date of the Crucifixion. For this we have as finger-posts (1) the procuratorship of Pilate; (2) the high-priesthood of Caiaphas; (3) the day of the week and of the Jewish) month ; (4) an eclipse said to coincide with the darkness of Matt. xxvii. 45 ; (5) ecclesiastical tradition as to the (civil) day and month, and to the year, of the Crucifixion.

(1) Pilate's predecessor, Valerius Gratus, was appointed procurator, as we learn from Josephus,' by the Emperor Tiberius, and held office for eleven years; and since Tiberius succeeded in August A.D. 14, the earliest date for Pilate's own entry into office is consequently A.D. 25. But we also learn that Pilate spent ten years in Judæa, and reached Rome on his recall just after the death of Tiberius in March A.D. 37. He cannot, therefore, have been governor at any passover earlier than that of A.D. 27, or later than that of A.D. 36.

(2) Caiaphas, whose appointment to the high-priesthood preceded Pilate's tenure of office, was deposed by Vitellius, legate of Syria, at the time of a passover ; and as his successor Jonathan was deposed also at a passover--that at which the news of Tiberius's death arrived, obviously that of April A.D. 37-it follows that the passover of Vitellius's visit and Caiaphas's deposition cannot have been later than A.D. 36, nor that of the Crucifixion than A.D. 35.

(3) So far the ground has not been narrowed down to less than a space of nine years, from A.D. 27 to 35. But the Gospels also prove, first, that the day of the Resurrection was a Sunday, and therefore that of the Crucifixion a Friday ;?

1 The references for Pilate are Antt. xviii. ii. 2, iv. 2 ; for Caiaphas, Antt, iv. 3, . .

1. Dr. Westcott; in his Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, in an Appendix to chapter vi. (ed. 6, p. 348), strangely argues that the day of

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and secondly, that the Crucifixion took place at a Passover, although whether on the 14th or 15th of Nisan, whether the Passover by a few hours followed or preceded the Crucifixion, has always been a problem for debate, since St. John appears to imply the former, the Synoptists the latter view. Space forbids our recapitulating here the considerations which induce us, following the most ancient writers,' to accept the lucid testimony of the fourth Gospel, and to place the Crucifixion on Nisan 14. But a word may not be out of place upon one decisive argument from history. The Church of the second century was involved in controversy as to the correct time of the Paschal celebration ; for the Westerns always observed a fixed day of the week, while the Asiatics claimed St. John's authority for adhering simpiy to the day of Nisan, the 14th, whence their name of Quartodecimans. The egregious alternative propounded by the Tübingen School, that Christians should have been commemorating, not the Crucifixion, but the Last Supper, would pale in the light of common sense, even if we failed to remember that on the Jewish reckoning, since the day began at six P. M., the Last Supper fell in any case on the same day as the Crucifixion, and if the former on the 14th, then the latter also. Moreover, Christian antiquity is unanimous in seeing in the Crucifixion the exact antitype of the slaying of the paschal lamb on the afternoon of the 14th. Indeed, this interpretation, as well as that which sees in the Resurrection the antitype of the offering of the harvest firstfruits on Nisan 16, may probably claim the sanction of St. Paul."

But if we know that in the year of the Crucifixion the Crucifixion was a Thursday, on the ground of the prophecy (Matt. xii. 40) that the Son of Man should be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. But without dwelling on the unanimous tradition of the Christian Church, surely no light witness-reinforced, as it now is, as far as the Friday fast is concerned, by first-century testimony in the Didache-it may suffice to refer to Dr. Field's conclusive ncte ad loc. (Otium Norvicense, pors iii. p. 7), where an irresistible mass of quotations is adduced to show that the third day' (the usual New Testament phrase to indicate the interval between the Crucifixion and the Resurection) could to an ancient writer by no possibility mean anything else than 'the day after to-morrow.'

Apollinaris, Clement of Alexandria, Irenæus, Tertullian, Hippolytus. In the fourth century the opposite opinion began to prevail; and Photius (cod. 115, 116), recording the evidence of two anonymous writers for the earlier view, speaks of them as differing from Chrysostom and the Church, Modern critics are equally divided ; against the view here taken cf. McClellan, New Testament, p. 473; Lewin, Fasti Sacri, p. xxxi; Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, xii. 479.

* 1 Cor. v. 8; XV. 20.

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Friday fell on the 14th of Nisan-or in the less probable alternative on the 15th-the years open to our choice, which as we have seen were A.D. 27-35, will be essentially limited. We have only to find by astronomical calculation when the full moon of Nisan actually fell in each of these years, to see whether it will suit the condition as to the day of the week. The matter, however, is not so simple as it looks ; for we have no absolute certainty in some years as to which month was Nisan, or in any year as to the exact day on which Nisan commenced.

The month Nisan was originally that lunation, before the full moon of which the first ears of barley harvest were ripe (Deut. xvi. 9; Lev. xxiii. 10). When a systematic

; kalendar succeeded this empiric method, Nisan was properly that month whose full moon fell first aster the spring equinox. But we learn from Christian writers of the fourth century that it was a not uncommon thing for the Jews at least of that time to fix their equinox too early, and therefore to put Nisan and the Passover a month too soon ; nor is there anything to show that the difficulties of these astronomical calculations were felt in any less degree in the time of Christ. Nay more, if we may suppose the same process to have been already at work which we can trace in Christian times, the equinoctial limit must be pushed further and further back. The Alexandrines of the beginning of the fourth century took March 21 as their equinox; Anatolius of Laodicea, in the last half of the third century, March 19; Hippolytus, in the first half of the same century, the 18th. It must be borne in mind, then, in cases of doubt, that the month of Nisan may possibly have been kept in our Lord's time a month earlier than we should naturally place it ourselves.

Just as the commencement of each year with Nisan, so the commencement of each month with the new moon had been originally fixed by simple observation ; and since astronomy will tell us the true time of conjunction for any new moon, and some thirty hours must be added for the crescent to become visible after sunset, it would be possible to calculate when cach new month ought to have begun. But even sooner than with the year, purely empiric methods must have been modified by some permanent rules. It would surely have been impossible to keep on with the old month for an extra week simply because every night was cloudy and the moon was not visible. Very soon it must, at least, have been recognized that no month could be less than twenty-nine or more than thirty days. In particular, the month Adar, which preceded Nisan, was at some time or another definitely fixed to twenty-nine days, so that Nisan might begin rather earlier in relation to the new moon than some other months.

Now kecping these cautions in mind, and comparing the tables given in Salmon (Introd. N.T. ch. xvi. Appendix) or McClellan (N.T. p. 493), we shall see that neither the 14th nor 15th Nisan could possibly have fallen on Friday in A.D. 28, or 31, or 32, or 35, nor in A.D. 34 earlier than April 23, and this we are clear would be a month too late. In A.D. 27 Friday, April 11, in A.D. 30 Friday, April 7, might have been Nisan 14. In A.D. 33 Friday, April 3, was more

, probably Nisan 14 than 15. It results that of the nine years in question, five are impossible, three are possible. The remaining year is A.D. 29, and here, if the paschal full moon were correctly given in the authorities as Monday or Tuesday, April 18 or 19, a Friday on either Nisan 14 or 15 is out of the question. But would it not be possible to place Nisan a month earlier ? The astronomical full moon in March would seem to have fallen in this year somewhere about the first hours of the morning of the 4th (for the next new moon is calculated to April 2, at 7.30 or 8 p.m.), and remembering that Nisan might begin rather early, it would be quite reasonable to fix on Friday, March 18, as another alternative date for Nisan 14.

(4) The historian Phlegon mentioned, under the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, a very remarkable eclipse of the sun, such that it became night at midday, and (apparently at the same time) an earthquake which overthrew the greater part of Nicæa.' Those writers who, like Origen in his treatise against Celsus, and Eusebius in his Chronicle, identified this with the darkness of the Crucifixion, would obviously, if they had occasion to do so, have drawn-as Eusebius does draw-the deduction that the Crucifixion belongs to that year, the 19th of Tiberius, or A.D. 32. But Julius Africanus, the Christian chronographer of the beginning of the third century, had already shown that the identification was impossible, since eclipses of the sun cannot take place at full moon, and Origen in his commentary on St. Matthew (an almost contemporary work with the Contra Celsum) follows Africanus in asserting that the darkness must have been miraculous. There are difficulties in settling what exactly it was that Phlegon said, but since his testimony is only of interest as having suggested a false date to Eusebius and others, we may at once pass on to our last point.? 1 Lipsius, Filatus-Acten, p. 23.

Lewin, p. xlii, argues that there was no natural eclipse of the sun in

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