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tated sacrifice of the Jews in the Hippodrome, that Herod, now
in a dying condition and sinking under a most loathsome
disease, formed a design of great atrocity,' it would have been
not only contrary to a manner of writing from which he never
deviates, and therefore unnatural; but it would have been in
violation of that spirit of forbearance which is one of the ape.
propriate excellencies of the Gospels, and not the least of the
many indirect evidences of their authenticity. The murder of
John the Baptist was a most atrocious deed; yet the Evangelists
who have noticed it, put it on record without a single exclama
tion of reproach.

We agree with Mr. Benson, that the time into which Herod so diligently inquired, was not the time of Christ's birth, which he could not have learned from the Magi, who were then prosecuting their journey to Bethlehem, but, the time of the first appearance of the star to those sages, which they might have seen for a considerable time before the birth of Christ and their own departure for Judea; and that, therefore, Herod's order for the destruction of the infants might include children of two years and under, though Jesus were born but a short time before the arrival of the Magi at Jerusalem. And we think with him, that the known character of Herod warrants our belief of the fact of the massacre related by Matthew: the cruelty at BethJehem, how useless or how wanton soever, is not incredible. Mr. Benson, too, has made it probable, that the presentation in the Temple took place between the arrival of the Magi at Jeru salem and their arrival at Bethlehem; but we cannot perceive any absurdity in the belief, that the predictions and benedictions pronounced in the Temple at the presentation of Jesus were unknown to Herod. The principal circumstances included in the discussions of this chapter, are thus arranged by Mr. Benson.

A little before the presentation of Jesus, the Magi arrived at Jerusalem in special search for the new-born King of the Jews. Herod, struck with the motive of their mission, and its coincidence with the general expectation then entertained of the coming of the Messiah, enquires of the learned and religious in what place the Messiah should be born. Having ascertained this point, he next enquires of the Magi the probable time of his birth as deducible from the appearance of the star, (an enquiry quite needless if he was already acquainted with the presentation,) and for this purpose he privately and particularly examines them, and commands them, when they had found the object of their search, to return and give him information. In the mean time, perhaps during the very period of this interview, Joseph brings his wife for purification, and his son for presentation to the temple, and then returns to Bethlehem, a distance of but six miles. Having received in the evening the offerings of the Magi, he is warned to fly from Herod, and sets off with his family for Egypt by night. In the morning, Herod, not finding the Magi return,

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in order completely to relieve his suspicions, sends forth his emissaries to slay every child within the sphere of his suspicions, both as to place and time. But learning afterwards, from the report made to him relative to the transactions which on the preceding day had attended the presentation of Jesus, that he was the object of whom he was afraid, and from the names of the children destroyed, that he had not been cut off in the general massacre, he continued seeking the child's life to the very day of his death. (Matth. ii. 20.)* pp. 79, 80.

Mr. Benson supposes that the massacre of Bethlehem preceded, not only the execution of the Rabbis, but the very commencement of Herod's illness; because the last disease of Herod was attributed, as Josephus states, to the visitation of his crimes by the justice of God, and because he imagines, that it is difficult for any one who believes the Gospel, to suppose that so signala cruelty had not a considerable share in the formation of that opinion. He therefore assigns the arrival of the Magi to a date preceding the commencement of Herod's illness, which may be referred to the 13th of February J. P. 4710. The presentation in the Temple took place on the forty-first day after the birth of Jesus reckoning, therefore, forty days back from the time when the Magi are supposed to have arrived at Jerusalem, on or before the 13th of February, the birth of Jesus is to be fixed either on or before the 3d of January, J. P. 4710; that is, he must have been born at least one year before the death of Herod, supposing him to have died about the beginning of J. P. 4711. Such are the Author's conclusions; but it is obvious to remark, that the premises from which they are deduced, are founded on reasonings which must be considered as somewhat precarious in their nature. From other calculations, Mr. Benson endeavours to shew, that the month of April or May, J. P. 4709, may with probability be assigned as the time of Christ's birth. In this computation, he rejects the hypotheses of Mann and others, and is guided by the traditions of antiquity.

The Fourth Chapter of his work contains a review of the difficulties attending the probable date of the birth of Christ as fixed to the Spring of J. P. 4709; that is, about two years before the death of Herod; and the four sections into which it is divided, comprise considerations on the Taxing mentioned by Luke, Chap. ii. verses 1 and 2, negative and affirmative. This is a most difficult and perplexing subject of discussion. The resources of criticism have been tried, we might say almost to exhaustion, and yet, the passage Luke, Chap. ii. verses 1 and 2, presents to a Biblical critic a trial of his strength. In the construction and interpretation of the sentence-Aurayan πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος της Συρίας Κυρηνίου, there is, says Valckenar, nodus, qui Homines literatos a renatis literis valde habuit • exercitatos, quique difficulter solvi, secari facile poterit ;'



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and those persons who have perused the accumulated opinions of expositors on the text, will perhaps judge with that distinguished Scholar, Si quis pleraque legerit ad h. 1. collata, ab illa lectione incertior redibit quam accesserat, The reading of the Common Version-"This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria," does seem the obvious and direct sense of the words; but Cyrenius did not enter upon the government of Syria before J. P. 4720; and a taxing made in the year of Christ's birth must, therefore, have been made several years before Cyrenius was governor of Syria. To remove the historical difficulty, such renderings of the passage: have been proposed as, in strict consistency with the rules of grammar and the genius of the Greek language, are altogether! 'inadmissible.' After passing this sentence upon all the attempts of his predecessors, Mr. Benson endeavours to make out a construction and meaning which, we fear, will only addo one more to the numerous instances of the ingenious, but unɖ{ successful' application of criticism to this vexatious passage.or

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Amongst the various instances brought forward to prove that" πρώτος is sometimes taken in a sense of priority, is the following from i 2 Sam. xix. 43. πρωτοτοκος εγω Ησν. Now if there is any part of the verse in question in which might naturally be conceived to have been omitted, and to which if it be restored, the construction wille be easy, and the meaning unexceptionable, it will at least be a probased ble argument for supplying it in that place, and supposing it to have been inadvertently left out by some careless transcriber. But it is evident that nothing could be more easy than the omission of the par-14 ticle between eyevero and nyeμovevonTos, because the latter word begin ning with the same letter, the eye of the copyist might glide from the one to the other, without his ever stopping to consider the meaning of what he wrote: nay, had he even paid the deepest attention to the sense of his author, he might nevertheless, with the very best intentions, have purposely made the alteration; for there is no necessity for supposing a transcriber to be perfectly acquainted with the history of the period to which the work he was copying related. Perceiving, therefore, that the expression was peculiar and uncommonjitb and perhaps considering from this peculiarity that it was erroneous;-box? perceiving also that by the omission of the single letter a sense per tod fectly plain and obvious would be obtained, and considering that, as the following word began with the same letter, it might probably I have been added by the former transcriber, perceiving and consider ing, I say, all these things, it is by no means unnatural to suppose, that some early copyist intentionally omitted the particle to avoid the peculiarity. These arguments will acquire additional force if we adopt the reading of the Cambridge manuscript. In that M:S. the arrangement of the words is this :- αὕτη ἡ ἀπογραφή έγινε το πρώτη ηγεμο ανευοντός, ORONTOS, X. T. 1.-where every one must perceive that an ending, and mysμovevotos beginning with an ", had a third been inserted between these two, nothing could have been more easy than for a careless va

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transcriber to have passed it unobserved, or for an ignorant or eon. ceited one to have considered it an interpolation. Having now proHaving now proposed one of the slightest possible alterations, and, slight as it is, having produced several circumstances which render it not altogether incredible, I shall next proceed to shew, that, presuming it to be as just as it is necessary, it fully resolves every doubt, and gives to the passage a sense easy and unembarrassed žurn ʼn aroypaço fern Εγένετο και απογραφή ή έγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος της Συρίας Κυρηνίου. This taxing took place before that. which took place when Cyrenius was governor of Syria." pp. 128-130.

This proposed correction is liable to several objections. In the first place, it is purely conjectural. Next, it is not so evident as Mr. Benson imagines, that the passage in Luke is in sufficient conformity, both in construction and meaning, to the passage in 2 Sam. to be justified by the resemblance: the ocdinal in the compound protons is there used in its common acceptation, and is the predicate of the proposition, of which y or is the subject. An ellipsis of yo might be allowed, perhaps; but the ellipsis which Mr. B. would supply, is not, we apprehend, to be admitted. The insertion of the would require the insertion of the word which it connects with the preceding noun, and therefore, the addition of to the text, is not all that is necessary to the grammatical form of the sentence. The reading of the Codex Bezæ is not correctly given by Mr. Benson, but the amendment which he suggests, founded on the text of that manuscript, p. 127, is more eligible than the one which he has adopted. αυτή ή απογραφη πρωτη εγένετο ΤΗΣ (απο ypans) n. T. 2. K. is at least in better Greek construction. Of all the interpretations given of this very difficult passage, that which Campbell, after Calvin and others, has adopted, appears to us the most eligible, though it must be granted that it is not perfectly satisfactory. Probable solution is all that we can hope to obtain as the result of our investigations of a passage, the precise meaning of the author in which cannot for a moment be supposed to have been, what the most obvious construction of the words would express; namely, that an enrolment about the time of Christ's birth, was made when Cyrenius was the governor of Syria. There are difficulties attending the opinion of Calvin, Wetstein, Chandler, Campbell, Middleton, and others; but it may perhaps not be remote from the original purpose of Luke, to state, as that opinion would make him state, that the enrolment made about the time of Christ's birth, was carried into effect at a subsequent period under the presidency of Cyrenius. Mr. Benson does not refer to this interpretation, though he has noticed several of the explanations offered by other writers; nor does he seem to regard his own amended

version with much confidence, since he concludes his consideration of the case with the following excellent remarks.

* I confess then, that, without an alteration, I cannot reconcile the statement of this passage with the historical records which remain to us of that age; but there may be those who will deem this mode of solution to be equally, if not more objectionable, than those distorted translations which we have ventured to condemn. We must therefore see whether there is reason to suppose that the Writer himself was under a mistake.

To settle this matter at once in the negative, and give an answer which may apply not only to the present, but also to every other similar difficulty, it may be useful and sufficient to observe, that the dates of St. Luke are of such a character as to preclude the possibility of our supposing that the Evangelist was either an impostor by design, or mistaken through ignorance. It is the custom with deceivers to dwell upon broad and general facts alone, to take those leading and universally acknowledged characters and dates which every one will perceive, and no one doubt. This they do because, as I have before observed, their object is immediate success, which would be checked rather than promoted by a contrary mode of proceeding. Examine then the Gospel of St. Luke by this rule, and mark the difference. Instead of loosely stating that it was in the reign of Tiberius that the word of the Lord came unto John, he discriminates the very year of that reign, and leads us to the very portion of the year by coupling it with the government of Pontius Pilate: instead of recording only who was the Roman Emperor at the time, of which no one could be in ignorance, he adds the insignificant tetrarchy of Lysanias and Abilene; a ruler and a dominion which it has demanded the scrutinizing enquiries of learning to elicit from the scanty documents of the history of that age. Instead of contenting himself with one undisputed fact, he has drawn together several from different sources, and of different kinds. But the most unequivocal mark of his veracity is in the notice which he has taken of two Jewish High Priests. That there was one, and one only, in every period of the Jewish Commonwealth, who was in the actual possession of that high and important office, is notorious to every reader of the Holy Scriptures; yet St. Luke has bestowed the title equally upon two. Why he has done so, it is not my present purpose to decide; but I ask, whether, if his intention had been like that of every impostor, to conciliate the belief of his readers, he could have ventured upon the assertion of such an anomalous fact, even though aware that the statement was perfectly correct But St. Luke has simply stated the circumstance with the confidence of a man at once acquainted with the truth, and conscious of his own honesty; and by that proceeding has established his claims, with every candid mind, to the title of a contemporaneous and faithful historian.

If St. Luke was not an intentional deceiver, he was not an ignorant writer. What is the declaration of his preface? That he had enquired diligently into the subject of his history. This, under our present hypothesis, is the testimony of an honest man; and we know

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