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Mark; while, according to Origen, all were impelled to write, and inspired by THE HOLY SPIRIT; whom CHRIST had solemnly promised to send, to guide them into all the truth of the Gospel, John xvi. 13.
That the succeeding Evangelists did not see the Gospels of their predecessors, upon which the whole hypothesis hinges, is a negative which cannot be proved. Whereas, the affirmative, that they did, is not only highly probable, if we consider the intimate connexion and correspondence subsisting between them, but appears to be sufficiently proved, from internal evidence, namely, by the verbal agreement between the first three Evangelists: as appears by comparing, 1. Matthew and Mark together, and Matthew and Luke together; 2. Mark and Luke together; and 3. all three together.
1. Matthew and Mark agree together, verbally in several passages; especially one long passage of Matthew xxiv. 9-36; compared with Mark xiii. 13-32; and Matthew and Luke also; compare Matt. xi. 4-19, with Luke vii. 22-35. In each of these cases, the variations are so trifling, that they might easily pass, as belonging to one and the same text. At least they do not differ more from each other, than each differs from itself in different manuscripts. Marsh's Dissert. p. 4, note.
2. Mark and Luke agree together, and differ from Matthew in many places. For instance, if we compare Mark x. 14-19, with Luke xviii. 16-20, we shall find every word of the latter contained in the former, which is somewhat fuller; while both differ from the Hebrew and from the Sept. of Exod. xx. 12-17, in the order and in the enunciation of the moral commandments of the Decalogue. Dissert. p. 73.
3. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, agree word for word, in several passages; for instance, Matt. xxiv. 33-35, Mark xiii. 29— 31, Luke xxi. 31-33, &c.
And this agreement is strongly marked in several unusual words and phrases.
They all agree in the citation, ὡς κατασκευάσει την ὁδον σου EμπρоσOεv σоv, Matt. xi. 10, Mark i. 2, Luke vii. 27, which dif fers from Mal. iii. 1, both in the Hebrew and in the Sept. Diss. p. 133.
They all use the same phrase, and only once, ou un yevowvrai He had, therefore, abundant leisure and opportunity to acquire the fullest and most authentic information, at the fountain head, from the Apostles themselves.
Oavarov, though they differ from each other in the remainder of the sentence, Matt. xvi. 22, Mark ix. 1, Luke ix. 27. This expression is not found in the Old Testament; it occurs only in the Chaldee Paraphrase. Dissert. p. 69.
They all use the verb anapon, once only, and that unusually, in the passive voice, Matt. ix. 15, Mark ii. 20, Luke v. 35. p. 55.
They all use the adverb dvokoλwe, once only, and in the earlier sense of duσxepws, or xaλεπwç, “hardly" or "difficultly," with Thales; which in classical usage signifies "morosely," Matt. xix. 13, Mark x. 23, Luke xviii. 24. It is remarkable that this adverb occurs no where else, neither in the New Test. nor in the Sept. nor in the Greek Apocrypha, p. 75.
To these curious and critical instances, selected from the copious and valuable Tables of parallel and coincident passages in the first three Evangelists, given in the Dissertation, p. 44— 147, we may add,
4. That two or more independent Translators of the same common Hebrew document, who had not seen each other's translations, would not be likely to agree so often, critically, in expression. Dr. Marsh himself, p. 167, has produced the following instances of verbal disagreement in three distinct translators of Luke's foregoing introduction, ver. 1. to which a fourth is here adjoined.
1. ENGLISH BIBLE.
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us."
2. DODDRIDGE'S VERSION.
"Whereas many have undertaken to compose the history of those facts which have been confirmed among us."
3. CAMPBELL'S VERSION.
Forasmuch as many have undertaken to compose a narrative of those things which have been accomplished among us."
4. WAKEFIELD'S VERSION.
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to write an account of those things about which we have been fully satisfied.”
The foregoing translation, the fifth and latest, differs from them all. And yet all had the advantage of the common document of the English Bible; without which, we may be assured, their verbal disagreement would have been still greater.
Even in the English Bible, the same Greek text, as Dr. Marsh himself observes, p. 169, 170, is rendered differently in several places. Thus, CHRIST'S censure of the Pharisees, related nearly in the same words by Mark, xii. 38-40, and by Luke, xx. 45-47, exhibits the following variations in the translation.
"In the compass of one short sentence, (says he) we have here, not less than seven easy Greek expressions, all of which are rendered differently in two places of the same Version. Is it credible then, if our first three Gospels contained three independent translations of the same original, that they would resemble each other in the manner in which they do? The numerous and long examples of verbal coincidence, which have been produced in the preceding table, are surely proofs to the contrary.
"In translating [also] from Hebrew into Greek, there is still less probability of agreeing by mere accident, than in translating from Greek into English; because the Greek language admits of much greater variety both in the choice and in the position of the words, than the English language." Dissert. p. 170.
Thus are we indebted to the learned and ingenious author of this Dissertation, for a plain and simple refutation of his own abstruse and complicated hypothesis, in all its parts; satisfactory, as it should seem, to every unprejudiced and unbiassed critic. And we are persuaded, that should it attract his notice, it will so appear, on mature consideration, to himself, from the
Dr. Townson had before produced the same passage, and for the same purpose. Vol. I.
candour evidently pervading his Translation and Notes, which form a valuable and important accession to Biblical Literature.
The remarkable coincidence of expression between the Evangelists, especially in OUR LORD's discourses, in which it prevails most, may rather be ascribed to the uncommon attention with which his sayings were treasured up in the memories of his hearers, and to the supernatural aid promised, "to bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said unto them," John xiv. 26, while they all exercised the freedom of original historians, in the use and arrangement of their common materials, as they judged fit, to follow or to vary from their predecessors.
Of the three Evangelists, Matthew is generally allowed to have written the first. His Gospel, in all the codes or volumes of the Gospels, and most ancient manuscripts, is placed first; and the priority is given thereto in the citations of the primitive Fathers, and of the early heretics. Its precedence therefore is unquestionable.
Whether he wrote in Hebrew or in Greek, is a point one of the most litigated among critics. The presumption is strongly in favour of the latter. Greek, at that time, was the prevailing language*. And as not only the rest of the Evangelists, but also the Apostles, Peter, James, John, Jude, and Paul, wrote all their Epistles in Greek, to Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, throughout the known world; and as Matthew's Gospel was designed for universal dissemination, not less than theirs, (Matt. xxvi. 13, xxviii. 19,) it is unlikely that it was originally written in any other language than that employed by all the other writers of the New Testament.
And this is strongly confirmed by the foregoing numerous and remarkable instances of verbal agreement between him and the other Evangelists; which, on the supposition that he wrote in Hebrew, or the vernacular Syro-Chaldaic dialect, would not be credible. Even they who maintain that opinion, are forced to confess, that an early Greek translation of his Gospels, existed
This is vouched by Cicero. Græca leguntur in omnibus fere gentibus: Latina suis finibus, exiguis sane, continentur. "Greek authors are read in almost all countries: Latin are confined to their own narrow boundaries."
before Luke and Mark wrote theirs; which they saw and consulted.
The main point in dispute, after all, is, whether the present Greek copy is entitled to the authority of an original or not. And as this is a question of real and serious importance, the principal arguments on both sides deserve and require to be considered in this place.
The advocates of the Hebrew Gospel, Campbell, Michaelis, Marsh, &c. lay most stress on the testimonies of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, in Phrygia, A.D. 116, Irenæus, A.D. 178, and the learned Origen, A.D. 230, which have been followed by several of the Fathers, Jerom, &c.
1. Papias, as cited by Eusebius, says, " Matthew composed the [sacred] oracles in the Hebrew dialect, and each interpreted them as he was able *"
2. Irenæus, as cited by Eusebius, says, " Matthew published also a Scripture of the Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialect +."
3. Origen, as cited by Eusebius, says, "As I have learned by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are received, without dispute, by the whole Church of God under heaven: The first was written by Matthew, once a publican, afterwards an Apostle of JESUS CHRIST; who published it for the believers from Judaism, composed in Hebrew letters ‡."
On the other hand, their opponents, Whitby, Lardner, Jones, Jortin, &c. contend,
1. That the testimony of Papias is vague and indecisive; that he had not seen the Hebrew Gospel itself; that it could not have been intended for universal circulation by his own account, because every one was not able to interpret it; and that the Greek Gospel was published before his time, as appears from the express or tacit references thereto, of Barnabas the Apostle, A.D. 71; Clemens Romanus, A.D. 96; Hermas, A.D. 100; Ignatius, A.D. 107, and Polycarp, A.D. 108, who were all prior to Papias, who all wrote in Greek, and who, unques
• Ματθαιος μεν ουν Εβραιδι διαλεκτῳ τα λογια συνεγραψατο ἡρμηνευσε δ'αυτα ὡς ηδυνατο ἕκαστος.
† Ο μεν δη Ματθαιος εν τοις Εβραίοις, εν τη ίδια αυτων διαλεκτῳ, και γραφην εξηνεγκεν ευαγγελιου.
† Ματθαιον, εκδεδωκοτα τοις απο Ιουδαισμου πιστεύσασι γραμμασιν ̔Εβραικοις συντεταγμένον [ευαγγελιον.].