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1. Objections drawn from dissimilarity of style, are often fanciful and fallacious; as we have seen already in the remarkable attestation of Josephus to CHRIST, this Vol. p. 276. On the contrary, a striking analogy may be traced between this and the rest of Paul's Epistles, in the use of singular and remarkable words and compound terms; in the mode of constructing the sentences, by long and involved parentheses, &c. with this difference however, that this being more leisurely written, and better digested in his confinement, is more compressed in its argument, and more polished in its style than the rest, which were written with all the ease and freedom of epistolary correspondence, often in haste, and on the spur of the occasion, during his travels.
The following remarkable instances of analogy, we owe to Michaelis.
"Ch. x. 33. Oεaro Louevo is an expression perfectly agreeable to St. Paul's mode of writing: as appears from 1 Cor. iv. 8. But since other writers may likewise have used the same metaphor, the application of it in the present instance, shews only that St. Paul might have written the Epistle to the Hebrews, not that he really did write it," p. 256.
But there is a propriety in its use here, that fits no other writer but St. Paul; and this, by Michaelis' own confession. It is here applied to the Apostle's public persecutions: "exposed on a theatre to public revilings and afflictions," exactly corresponding to his complaint to the Corinthians, in the parallel text, θεατρον εγεννηθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ, "We were made a theatre to the world ;" and how? the same Epistle will inform us afterwards; "after the [barbarous] custom of men, I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus," in the public theatre, 1 Cor. xv. 32, literally, not figuratively; if the remark of Benson be true, supported by Michaelis himself, who assures us, that Paul's "deliverance from the Lion's mouth" at Rome, afterwards, 2 Tim. iv. 17, was "not from suffering death by the sword, but from being exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts, as several Christians had already been, and in a very cruel manner," for which he refers to Tacitus, Annal. XV. 44, in his note, p. 176.
“ Ch. x. 30. Εμοι εκδικησις, Εγω ανταποδώσω, is a quotation from Deut. xxxii. 35, which differs both from the Hebrew text, and from the Septuagint: and this passage is again quoted
in the very same words, Rom. xii. 19.———————This agreement in a reading which has hitherto been discovered in no other place, (see the New Orient. Bibl. Vol. V. p. 231-236,) might form a presumptive argument, that both quotations were made by the same person; and consequently, that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by St. Paul. But the argument is not decisive for it is very possible, that in the first century, there were manuscripts with this reading in Deut. xxxii. 35, from which St. Paul might have copied, in Rom. xii. 19, and the translator of this Epistle in Heb. x. 38," same page, 256.
A more decided instance of scepticism, is rarely to be found. To any other, the "presumptive argument" would appear irresistible, not to be overturned by a bare possibility, but a very high improbability; since this remarkable rendering is to be found in "no other place," but in these two passages, as he himself acknowledges. The present Septuagint reading, ev ἡμερα εκδικησεως ανταποδώσω, “ In the day of vengeance, I will repay," is found in both texts, the Vatican and Alexandrine, and therefore bids fair to have been the original reading of the first century. The Apostle's rendering, in both places, is more correct and critical than the Septuagint, in the first clause, ev nμερą εkdiknσews, which is only a paraphrase, not a translation, like his eμo ekdiknots, of the Hebrew, Op, and in the second, the joint rendering, avraπodwow, is founded on a various reading,
w, supported by a parallel verse, Deut. xxxii. 41, and followed, not only by the Sept. but by the Syriac, Vulgate, and Chaldee. It is, therefore, greatly superior to the present Masorete,," and recompence," supported only by the Arabic version, and followed by the English Bible, evidently for the worse. And the Apostle has further improved upon the Septuagint, in the common term, avranоdwow, by the emphatic prefix Eyw, which makes it stronger, as appropriated to the ALMIGHTY, than even the original Hebrew, which wants the personal pronoun.
2. Michaelis asks, "Why did the author of the Syriac version translate this Epistle from the Greek, if the original was in Hebrew*?" p. 231.
• The hypothesis of the Hebrew original, was first broached by Clemens Alexandrinus, according to Eusebius. But Michaelis himself admits, that this Father did not pretend to assert it as a fact, but only to obviate the objection drawn from the difference of style,
The Syriac version was the earliest of all, written in the apostolic age, and in the days of the Apostle Adeus, Thaddeus, or Jude, according to the judicious Abulfaragi; and near the end of the first century, according to Michaelis, Vol. II. p. 30. If then, this most ancient version was translated immediately from the Greek, surely the presumption is infinitely strong, that there was then no Hebrew original. This argument, indeed, furnished by himself, seems decisive also to prove the canonical authority of the Greek Epistle, in the judgment of the Syriac translator; for why should he adopt the Epistle, unless written by the Apostle to whom the voice of the Church had assigned it? Surely John or Jude, the Apostles, would not have suffered it otherwise to have been admitted into the sacred Canon, either of the Greek or Syriac Testament.
Assuming it, however, to have been written in Hebrew, Michaelis draws the following objection from a supposed blunder of the translator into Greek, to shew that he could not possibly be St. Paul; which most completely recoils upon himself, and proves irrefragably that the Greek was the original, and written by the Apostle.
“ Ch. xii. 18. ου γαρ προσεληλυθατε ψηλαφωμενῳ ορει
22, αλλά προσεληλύθατε Σιων ορει.
"Here," (says he,)" the expression opa nλapwμɛvų, monti ορει ψηλαφωμενῳ, palpabili, which is opposed to Zwv opa, is certainly a very extraordinary one: and I am wholly unable to give a satisfactory account of it, except on the supposition that the Epistle was written in Hebrew. But on this supposition the inaccuracy may be easily assigned. Sinai, or the mountain of Moses, is that which is here opposed to Mount Sion. Now the expression to the mountain of Moses,' is in Hebrew (lehar Mosheh.) This latter word the translator misunderstood; and instead of reading, and taking it for a proper name, he either read, by mistake, vn, palpatio, or pronounced, by mistake, MD, (Mashah,) palpatio. Hence, instead of rendering, to the mountain of Moses,' he rendered, to the tangible mountain."
But this "mountain of Moses" is a creation of his own brain. For "Sinai in Arabia," the mountain here meant by the Apostle,
p. 245, 246. It was, therefore, of no intrinsic weight, and ought not to have been revived, as being suggested by an unfounded objection.
pursuing his former "allegory," Gal. iv. 24-26, is no where so styled in Scripture, but rather "the mountain of GOD," Exod. iii. 1, &c. "the mountain of THE LORD," Numb. x. 33, or "the Holy mountain," Psalm lxviii. 17, because it was honoured with the presence of the GOD OF ISRAEL. To call it, therefore, by the name of Moses, or indeed of any mortal, would have been sacrilege.
To what then, did the Apostle refer, in the remarkable term &nλapwμevų? Evidently to the divine injunction to the people and their cattle, not to ascend or touch it, beyond the prescribed limits near its foot, under pain of death, Exod xix. 12—24. Alluding to this awful command, the Apostle beautifully contrasts the terrors of the LAW, delivered on the earthly Sinai, not to be touched under pain of death; with the superabundant grace of THE GOSPEL, promising to the faithful eternal life in the Heavenly Sion: to which, by an admirable anticipation, he represents them as already come, (ToоσεληλvaTε.)
Michaelis was rather too fond of displaying his oriental learning; and never, surely, was there a more unfortunate specimen than this!
3. He is not less unfortunate in his last position.
He rested this principally on the testimony of Origen; who, according to Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiast. B. VI. ch. 25, “held that the matter of the Epistle was from St. Paul, but the construction of the words from another, who recorded the thoughts of the Apostle, and made notes, as it were, or commentaries, of what was said by his master," p. 246.
"Having delivered his own opinion, Origen adds: EL TIC ουν εκκλησία έχει ταυτην την επιστολην ὡς Παυλου, αύτη ευδοκιμείτω και επι τούτῳ, ου γαρ εικη οι αρχαιοι ανδρες ως Παυλου παραδεδω
Τις δε ὁ γραψας την επιστολην, το μεν αληθες θεος οιδεν. Ἡ δε εις ἡμας φθασασα ἱστορία, ὑπο τινων λεγοντων μεν ότι Κλημης, ὁ γενομενος επίσκοπος Ρωμαίων, έγραψε την επιστολην ὑπο τινων δε, ότι Λουκας, ὁ γράψας το ευαγγέλιον και τας πράξεις.” The following is a literal translation of this, (which Michaelis ought not to have omitted.)
"If then, any Church [or, whatsoever Church,] holds this Epistle as Paul's, it should be commended, even upon this account; for it was not without reason, the primitive worthies have handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the Epistle,
[in its present form *,] truly God indeed knows. The historical account that has reached us [is various and uncertain,] some saying that Clemens, who was Bishop of Rome, wrote the Epistle, others Luke, who wrote the Gospel, and the Acts," p. 247.
Michaelis here thinks, that by ἱστοριά εἰς ἡμας φθασασα, Orioral accounts;" and he contends, that "neither of gen these contradictory accounts can be true: for the style of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is neither that of St. Luke, nor that of Clement of Rome: and the latter especially, if we may judge from what is now extant of his works, had it not even in his power to write an Epistle so replete with Jewish learning.” p. 247.
What now is the force of Origen's evidence, supposing that his opinion is fairly and fully related by Eusebius, which may be doubted? Why surely, that Paul was the original author of the Epistle, as confirmed by primitive tradition. The oral account, upon which he founded his conjecture was vague; and Michaelis has satisfactorily shewn, that it could not be true in either case: what then remains by all the rules of right reasoning? Unquestionably, that rejecting the oral account as false, we should embrace the primitive tradition as true. And consequently admit, that no one but the Apostle himself could be the author of an Epistle so replete with Jewish learning, who was educated at the feet of Gamaliel himself, (Acts xxii. 3,) and disputed with the first Jewish Rabbis of the age, in Asia, Greece, and Rome.
By the failure, therefore, of the paradoxical hypothesis of Michaelis, in all its branches, the positive evidence is still further strengthened: we may now rest assured, that the Epistle was written in Greek, not in Hebrew, by St. Paul himself, not by any one else. The celebrity of Michaelis, as a sacred critic, and the deference paid to his authority, especially in Germany, combined with the high Biblical importance of the enquiry,
Origen says nothing of Hebrew; and Paul's usual conversation was in Greek, his mother tongue. We may reckon, therefore, that he rejected the hypothesis of Clemens
Alexandrinus, his master.
↑ Origen, in his writings still extant, expressly and repeatedly attributes this Epistle to St. Paul as the author. See Lardner's testimonies, II. p. 440, 472, 473, who thinks that Origen changed his former opinion with his riper years.