Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ephesus.

A.D.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

97.

of the Antient Jewish Church, has proved, by an astonishing
number of references to the Targums and Talmuds of the Jews,
that the general term which was applied to the divine per-
sonage who is called by this name in the Old Testament, was
“ the Word of God," “ *892.n." Before we can deduce,
however, any argument from this remarkable circumstance, we
must enquire into the authority of the several Targums and
Jewish writings which give this interpretation of the above
passages of Scripture. Though our Saviour, as Archdeacon
Blomtield has well observed (h), censured on all occasions the
multiplied and unauthorized traditions of the Jews, he still
appealed to their own expositions of Scripture, as furnish-
ing irrefragable arguments in proof of his divine mission. It
was no new interpretation to the Jews, that it was the Word of
God which was revealed in their Scriptures as the Creator of
the world. By the reading of the Paraphrase, or the interpre-
tation of the Ilebrew text, written in the Chaldee language, the
people were constantly taught that the Word of God was the
same with God, and that, by that Word all things were made.

“I conceive this Chaldee Paraphrase," says Bishop Pearson,(i).
« which was read in the Jewish synagogues in the time of
Christ, to express the sense of the Jews of that age, as being
their public interpretation of the Scripture. Wherefore, what
we find common and frequent in it, we cannot bnt think the
vulgar and general opinion of that nation. Now it is certain
that this Paraphrast doth use *7 *90p, the Word of God, for
077, God himself, and that especially with relation to the crea-
tion of the world. As Isa. xlv. 12. ngoby POX Tuy 'JJR 1873,
I made the earth, and created man upon it-which the

, “by
the earth, and created man upon it. So also Jer. xxvii. 15.
Isa. xlviii. 13. Gen. iii. 8. and many others. The action as-
cribed to Jehovah in the sacred text is given in the Chaldee
Paraphrase to the Word."

We should be careful to distinguish between the multiplied and fanciful refinements which the Jews, from the time of the Seleucidæ, had built upon the law of Moses, and the more antient and traditionary interpretations of the prophetical parts of Scripture; the origin of which may be with probability dated from the Babylonish captivity. By the former, as our Saviour told them, they made the word of God of none effect; but the latter are no where made the object of his censure: on the contrary, both our Lord and his Apostles very frequently refer to them, as sound and legitimate expositions of God's word. St. Paul, wbo had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, scruples not to allude, in some instances covertly, in others openly, to the traditions of the elders, and in his Epistle to the Ho brews he assumes throughout, that the comments of the Rabbins upon the prophetical parts of the Bible were in the main founded upon truth (j).

After the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, their native language had undergone a change so considerable, on account of their adoption of numerous words from the vernacular languages of the countries in which they were settled, that when the Scriptures were appointed by Ezra to be read, they was utterly unintelligible to the greater part assembled. on this account Ezra commanded the Levites to interpret the ori. ginal to the people, by rendering it into Chaidee. These interpretations, or paraphrases, were originally merely oral.

A.D. - 3 All things were made by him ; and without him was written at not any thing made that made.

Ephesus.

97.

was

There is no proof that there were any collected written para-
phrases, till the Targums, or Paraphrases, or Explanations, of
Onkelos and Jonathan were compiled. These Targumists are
supposed to have lived about the time of our Saviour : though, in
the opinion of Eichhorn, the Targum of Onkelos was not com-
pleted till 300 years after that period, in consequence of the
interpolations that continued to be made in it. Ten Targums
are handed down to us, of which those of Onkelos apd of Jo-
nathan ben Uzziel are the most highly esteemed, and considered
by the Jews as the authorized and infallible expositions of the
sacred text (k).
These Paraphrases then, in innumerable instances, translate the
Hebrew word Jehovah by “the word of the Lord.” Some, it is
true, have maintained that this implies a personal existence of the
Word, in some sense distinct from the personal existence of the
Supreme Father-that the Word of the Old Testament is the
same as the Logos of the New Testament, and that this coinci-
dence is a proof of the belief among the Jews of the pre-
existence, personal operations, and Godhead of the Messiah.
Others again argue, that these words are to be regarded as a
mere idiom, implying the person's self who speaks. The latest
writer (l) on this point, after examining the different opinions
at great length, comes to these general conclusions, that from
the mere use of the phrase, “the word of the Lord,” in these
paraphrases, no certain information can be deduced on the doc-
trine of the Jews with respect to the Messiah during the inter-
val of the Old and New Testament, and this opinion is further
corroborated by a celebrated critic. But though such may be our
conclusion with regard to the Chaldee Paraphrases, it will not fol-
low that the Jews of the same age, or a little after, did not employ
the term “Word" with a personal reference, and that reference to
the Messiah. The use of this term by Philo, and by the Christian
Evangelist St. Jobn, appears unaccountable, except on the sup-
position that it had grown up to the acceptation supposed, at least
among the Jews who used the Greek language. Such an extension
of meaning and reference, agreeably to the ordinary progress of
language, would flow from the primary signification, or medium
of rational communication, and thus it would be a rational de-
signation of a Mediator between God and Man. We have also
another evidence, which is entitled to the greater weight, as it
comes from a quarter the most hostile to the Christian religion (m).
Celsus, whose words are recited by Origen, reproaches the
Christians with absurdity and folly, for imagining that such a
mean and contemned person as Jesus could be the pure and
holy Word, the Son of God; and, personating a Jew, which is
his manner in the construction of his work, he declares their
belief that the Word was the Son of God, though they rejected
the claims of Jesus to that honour.

The authority, however, most to be depended upon, with re-
gard to our attempts to ascertain the opinions of the Jews con-
cerning the Logos at the time of Christ, is that transmitted to
us by the celebrated Philo, who was born at Alexandria, of

wish parents, and was the contemporary of our Lord and his Apostles. Some years before St.Jobn wrote his Gospel, this celebrated man, being then about sixty years of age, was sent on an embassy from Alexandria to the emperor at Rome, to lay before him a petition, praying for protection to bis countrymed

A. D. 64.

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from Written in

Achaia,

chief advocate in later times has been the present learned Bishop
of Peterborough (I). He supposes that St. Luke in this pre-
face alludes to the common document in question, which was
known by the title Διήγησις περί των πεπληροφορημένων εν ημίν
πραγμάτων, καθώς παρέδοσαν ημίν οι απ' αρχής, αυτόπται, και
υπηρεται γενόμενοι του λόγου-a narrative of those things which
are most firmly believed among us, even as they, who from the
beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word deli-
vered them unto us. The omission, however, of the article rhy
before diñynoiv, is considered by the late lamented Bishop of
Calcutta (9) to be fatal to this supposition. His rule is, “When
a title to a book is prefixed to the book itself, the article may
be omitted, but when the book is mentioned, or referred to, the
article should be inserted." The hypothesis itself, although
very ingenious, is attended with so many difficulties, that it is
seldom adopted. The third hypothesis is that of Mr. Veysie (h),
who supposes that many of the hearers of the discourses of Christ,
and the witnesses of his actions, committed to writing an account
of what they had heard and seen; and from the most authenti-
cated of these sources the Gospels were compiled. This theory
indeed seems to solve the difficulty, but Bishop Gleig (i), in
his excellent edition of Stackhouse, prefers the more obvious
and general opinion, and therefore perhaps the least discussed,
that the only common document which may be called the foun-
dation of the four Gospels, was the preaching of our Lord Him-
self. Lightfoot (k), by a singular coincidence, bas given the
same idea. The loarned bishop quotes the valuable tract of the
late Bishop Randolph. Bishop Gleig's illustration of the mode
in which many of our Lord's miracles and doctrines might have
been recorded, from the manner in which the extempore lee-
tures of a Professor at Edinburgh were preserved by his pupils,
is very curious, and deserves attention. “ In looking up to
Him, as the author of our faith and mission, and to the
very words in which he was wont to dictate to them, which
not only yet sounded in their ears, but were also recalled
by the aid of his Holy Spirit promised (John xiv. 26.) for
that very purpose, they have given us three Gospels, often
agreeing in words, though not without much diversifica-
tion, and always in sense.” With this hypothesis, the proface
of St. Luke seems to agree. St. Luke, originally a physician,
probably one of the seventy, was a native of Antioch, and
according to Bishop Pearson, a companion of St. Paul in his
travels from the year 43, attending that Apostle through Phry-
gia, Galatia, and Mysia, to Troas (2). He accompanied him
also to Samothrace, Neapolis, and Philippi. He was one of
those who went with him, and remained with him at Jerusalem ;
sailed with him in the same ship from Cesarea to Rome, and
continued with him during the whole of the two years imprison-
ment, with the account of which he concludes his book of the
Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke therefore must have had abun-
dant opportunity of conversing with the eye-witnesses and
hearers of our Lord's actions and discourses, and of making
himself acquainted from the most undeniable evidence with
every circumstance which had not passed under his own imme-
diato observation. Perhaps, as Dr. Townson judiciously re-
marks, he enjoyed the additional advantages of seeing the Gos-
pels of St. Matthew and St. Mark at Rome, the former of whom
was an undoubted eye-witness; and that it is probable he left
that city after the release of St. Paul from his two years' impri-

A. D. 64.

the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Written in word;

Achaia.

sonment, and went to Achaia, where he is generally supposed
either to have finished or written his Gospel, and the Acts, for
the use of the Gentile converts.

It is my wish to point out in these notes the peculiar pro-
priety of the various actions recorded of our Lord, according to
the several situations and circumstances in which he was placed.
In order to do this, it will be sometimes necessary to shew the
unimpeachable nature of the evidence on which the narrative
rests. Religion is an appeal to faith. Its truth was at first
established by an appeal to the senses and judgment of the first
witnesses and converts, and their testimony, with every other
evidence, has been handed down for the examination and be-
nefit of all succeeding ages.

The Gospel of St. Luke was always, from the very moment of its publication, received as inspired as well as authentic. It was published during the lives of St. John, St. Peter, and St. Paul, and was approved and sanctioned by them as inspired ; and recoived as such by the Churches, in conformity to the Jewish canon, which decided on the genuineness or spuriousness of the inspired books of their own Church, by receiving him as a Prophet, who was acknowledged as such by the testimony of an established Prophet (m). On the same grounds, St. Luke must be considered as a true Evangelist ; his Gospel being dictated by, and approved of, by an Apostle, of whose authority there can be no question. There is likewise sufficient evidence to warrant the conclusions of Whitby (n), that both St. Mark and St. Luke were of the number of the seventy, who had a commission from Christ to preach the Gospel not to the Jews only, but to the other nations--that the Holy Ghost fell on them, among the numbers of the seventy, who formed a part of the hundred and twenty assembled on the day of Pentecost, and from that time they were guided by the influences of the Holy Spirit in writing or preaching the Gospel. And if the Universal Church from the first ages received this Gospel as divinely inspired on these satisfactory grounds, distance of time cannot weaken the evidences of truth, and we are required to receive it on the same testimony. That which satisfied those who had so much better means of judging, should certainly satisfy us at this time. The necessity of inspiration rests on the necessity of Revelation itself. Without Revelation the mercy of God to man had not been complete, and it was abso. lutely necessary that this Revelation should not only be divine, but that it should be clearly proved to have been so. And of the pooks of the New, as well as of the Old Testament, therefore, (for the inspiration of the latter is here taken for granted) we may justly say with Mr. Rennell (o), “ We believe that Holy Scripture was written by men, who were under the superintendance and controul of the Spirit of God; but we believe also, that whether in writing, speaking, or acting, they were left in full possession and use of their own natural faculties. The Spirit of God directed, elevated, and purified their souls; all that was necessary He supplied, all that was erroneous He corrected. Every line, therefore, of the New Testament we believe to be stamped with unerring truth; and to be the voice of God, speaking in the language of man."

(a) Vide Gill's Comment. in loc.--Jones's Full and new Method of setuing the Canonical Authority of the New Testament, 8vo. 3 vols. 1726, Vol. i. p. 29, &c, and col. iii. p. 102, &c. Rennell's Proofs of

A.D. 64.

3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect under- Written in standing of all things from the very first, to write unto

Achaia. thee in order, most excellent Theophilus“,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.

Inspiration, written in reply to the insidious work of Mr. Hone, enti-
tled, The Apocryphal New Testament. See particularly page vi. of
Mr. Rennell's Introduction. (6) Lightfoot's Works, vol. i. p. 201,
more especially p. 391. (c) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. part 1. p. 271.
The next opinion is that of Diodati, the favourite commentator of our
great poet, who represents St. Luke as desirous of following the ex-
ample of the true Evangelists, &c. Vide Diodati's Annotations in loc.
3d edit. 1651, folio. The third is that of Dr. Gill, and Mr. Jones above
alluded to. Mr. Jones, after Dr. Grabe, thinks that St. Luke particu-
larly referred to the Gospel of the Egyptians, and Nazarenes; Mi-
chaelis to a false account of Christ, still circulated in Arabia in the time
of Mohammed. (d) Vide Dr. Townson's work on the Gospels, vol. i.
particularly pages 39 to 71; and for a very satisfactory account of these
hypotheses, Horne's Critical Introduction, 2d edit. vol. iv. p. 310, &c.
(é) Vol. iii. part ii. p. 12, &c. () Vide Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii.
part 2, p. 186, &c. and the dissertation at the end of the same volume,
on the Origin of the three first Gospels.. (9) Treatise on the Greek
Article, p. 289. (h) Vide the account of this

hypothesis in Horne, vol.
iv. p. 319. () Gleig's Stackhouse, vol. iii. p. 105. (k) Fol. edit. vol. ii.
p. 375. () For an account of St. Luke, see Whitby's Preface, and
the Prefaces of the Commentators in general ; or more particularly
Lardner, Michaelis, Horne, Cave, and Bishop Tomline. (m) I bave
borrowed this remark from Whitby's Preface to St. Mark's Gospel,
fol. edit. p. 257. (n) Michaelis, like other writers on the continent of
a subsequent period, seems to pay too little attention to the

authority of the earlier writers, who lived near the Apostolic age. The testimony of Origin and Epiphanius, of Theophylact, Euthymius, and Nicephorus Callistu, that si. Luke was one of the seventy disciples, is not overthrown by the opposite testimony of Chrysostom and Augustine, (vide Lardner, Supplement to the Credibility, Works, 4to. vol. ii. p. 190.) For though much weight will necessarily be attached to the arguments which ingenious men discover in the internal evidence contained in the New Testament, yet many of their conjectures are uncertain, and it may be doubted if the evidence of antient writers is not better authority. (c) Rennell's Proofs Inspiration, p. 17.

3 Macknight, in the notes to his Harmony, (4to. London, 1763, p. 2,)

quotes Gomarus, Cameron, Capellus, Witsius, and Wolf, as referring this expression “ of the word” to Christ, one of whose titles is Aóyos toŨ Oɛ00, A poc i. 2. xix. 13. Archdeacon Nares has adopted the same opinion, (Nares, Veracity of the Evangelists, p. 40–43.) Should this remark be correct, it will prove, wbat many will consider a material point, that our Lord was distinguished by the word Logos before it was applied in the same sense by St. Jobn. See the notes to the next section.

* These simple coincidences confirm Whitby that the Theophilus here mentioned was a real personage. Lardner does not venture to decide. A passage from Josephus, quoted by Ligbtfoot, has escaped the attention of both these writers: “ King Agrippa, removing Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, from the high priesthood, gave it to Matthias, the son of Theophilusέδωκεν αυτήν Ματθία τω Θεοφίλου.» Αntig. lib. XX. cap. 8.-It proves that a man of high rank among the Jews, of the name of Theophilus, was cotemporary with St. Luke, and might possibly be the person whom he addressed. The supposition That he was a real person, whether at Antioch or Jerusalem, strengthens the authenticity of the narrative.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »