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moral virtue, or righteousness and true holiness, above the righteousñess of the Scribes and Pharisees, his censures of the pride and covetousness, false maxims, and hypocritical conduct of the same men, will be useful to all people so long as the world stands. As our Lord was a Jew, and his ministry was employed among those people in Judea ; it is no wonder, that in his discourses, recorded by St. Matthew, whenever he wrote, there should be frequent allusions to their laws, customs, and worship. The like are in the other two first evangelists: and in St. John's gospel, the last of the four are as long discourses with the cavilling Jews, as in any of the rest.
I therefore readily assent to those who think that this gospel was written in the time of the Emperor Nero, not till about thirty years after our Saviour's ascension. I am not able to assign the year in which it was written; but I am somewhat inclined to the year 63, 64, or 65, of the vulgar epoch. This is agreeable not only to the testimony of Irenæus, and some other ancients, but to the circumstances
of things. At the year 64, or thereabout, the gospel had been propagated in many Gentile countries, the times were troublesome in Judea, and the war was coming on: several of the apostles were dead, others of them, who survived, were gone, or going abroad, and many of the Jewish believers were about to seek shelter elsewhere : now was a proper time to write a history of Christ and his miracles. Moreover in this gospel are recorded divers plain predictions of the miseries and desolations of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the temple, and the Jewish state, beside many other figurative intimations of the same things in many of our Lord's discourses and parables. . Which could not be well published to all the world in writing, till about this time. The suitableness of St. Matthew's gospel to the state of the christian religion, and of the Jewish people, about the year 64, or 65, leads to that time. And however unwillingly, from private apprehensions and prejudices, we may admit the thought of protracting so long the writing the history of our Lord's ministry, the circumstances of things will constrain us to acquiesce in this season, as the most likely.
IV. This leads me now to observe some characters of time in the gospel itself.
It is well known, and allowed by all, that for a while our Lord's disciples laboured under Jewish prejudices: and that they did not fully understand all his discourses at the time when they were spoken. They did not, they could not clearly discern the comprehensive design of the evangelical dispensation, till after Peter had been at the house of Cornelius, and there received into the church Gentile converts, without circumcision : nor till after the gospel had been preached abroad in foreign countries by Paul, and other apostles and ministers. "Let us therefore now. observe the book itself of St. Matthew, and see what knowledge he appears to have had of the scheme of the gospel.
1. His account of the commission which our Lord gave to the twelve apostles is in ch. xxviii. 19. “Go ye therefore into all the world, and teach all nations.” Matthew did not then think that the apostles of Jesus were to teach Jews only, but that they were required to teach all people, and all nations in general.
2. I suppose that he fully understood our Lord's doctrine, when he recorded that summary account of it which is in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of his gospel. The beatitudes at the beginning are a proof of it. And at the conclusion, they who “ heard and did those sayings," are compared to " a man that built his house upon a rock;" though there had been nothing said to enforce the rituals of the Mosaic law.
3. And that he well understood the spirituality, and the freedom of the gospel, appears from what he has recorded ch, xy. 10-20.
4. His clear discernment of the design of the gospel dispensation appears even in his account of our Saviour's nativity, particularly, in what he says ch. i. 21. of the message of the angel to Joseph. ." And thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins."
5. If he had not known that our Saviour was designed to be, or was already become a blessing to Gentiles, he would scarcely have thought of inserting the history of the Magi coming from the east to Jerusalem, to inquire after the birth of the King of the Jews, chap. ii.
: When Mr. Wetstein speaks of the many discourses about ware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or Hero. Jewish superstitions, which are in St. Matthew's gospel, I dians,"
as well as Matthew xvi. 6–12. Not now to mention imagine he may particularly refer to Matt. xxiii. 1-30. any other like things. Nevertheless divers of those things occur also in the gospels • There are many proofs of this in the gospels. See partiof St. Mark and St. Luke. See Mark xii. 38–40. Luke xi
. cularly John xvi. 7-14, and likewise the history in the Acts, 42_52. and xx. 46, 47. And both Mark viii. 14-21. and Luke xii. 1, 2. bave recorded our Lord's injunctions, ' to bo.
6. It is also very likely, that he understood those words of John the Baptist, recorded by him ch. iii. 9. “ God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”
7. St. Matthew's knowledge of the calling of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews, may be concluded from many things recorded by him. In the history of our Lord's healing the Cena turion's servant at Capernaum he inserts our Lord's commendation of his faith, and that declaration : "Many shall come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven : but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out," ch. viii. 10-12.
8. The admission of the Gentiles to equal privileges with the Jews must be intimated in the parable of the labourers hired into the vineyard at several hours of the day. ch. xx. 1-16.
9. The calling and acceptance of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jewish people, and even their overthrow, are plainly declared in the parable of the vineyard, let out to husbandmen, and the discourse which follows. ch. xxi. 33-46. The same things are intimated in the parable of the king that made a wedding feast for his son, which is at the beginning of the next chapter. ch. xxii. 1-14.
10. I might likewise take notice of the history of our Lord's curing the daughter of the woman of Canaan. eh. xv. 21-28.
11. It is also very likely that St. Matthew had some good knowledge, and a distinçt apprehension of the extent of our Lord's kingdom, and the progress of his doctrine, when he recorded those parables in the thirteenth chapter of his gospel: where our Lord has compared the kingdom of heaven, or the preaching his gospel, to a grain of mustard-seed, the least of all seeds, but becomes a tree : to leaven, by which a large lump is leavened: to a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. And, explaining the parable of the tares, our Lord says, ver. 37, 38.
“ He that soweth the good seed is the son of Man. The field is the world.” And what follows.
12. It is probable, that this evangelist had some knowledge of the gospel having been preached out of Judea, when he put down that declaration of our Lord concerning the woman, that poured the rich ointment upon his head: “Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall this also, that this woman has done, be told for a memorial of her," ch. xxfi. 13.
13. In his account of the institution of the eucharist, ch. xxvi. 28. our Lord says: “ This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many,” that is, for all men, “ for the remis. , sion of sins.” And in ch. xx. 28. our Lord says: “ The Son of man came...to give his life a ransom for many."
14. There is also an expression used by him once or twice, intimating, that it was some considerable space, since the time of the event and his writing about it. Ch. xxviii
. 8. “Wherefore that field was called the field of blood to this day.”. Having related the affair of the soldiers, and the directions given to them by the Jewish council to say, that “ his disciples came by night, and stole him away,” he adds: “ And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day,” ver. 15. Such an expression does not denote any certain period: but one would think, that, in this case, thereby must be intended a considerable space of time, more than eight, or ten, or fifteen years.
15. I formerly · shewed divers advantages of the late publication of the gospels. The life of Jesus could not be forgotten in thirty, or forty years. His life and death were very public, así well as very extraordinary. His resurrection and ascension were most publicly attested by his apostles, and others, as we know from the book of the Acts. And from that time forward there were many, who were continually speaking of the things said and done by him, and of the evidences of his resurrection and exaltation. They were soon known to multitudes of people, small and great, and men of all ranks and characters. As St. Paul says to Festus, in a very great assembly. Acts xxvi. 26. “ For the king knoweth of these things,
before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded, that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” And was it not the cry at Thessalonica? Acts xvii. 6. “ These that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also.” The account of St. Paul's manner of living at Rome, about the years 61, and 62, is, that “ he dwelt two whole years in his own hired house,
and received all that came in unto him,...teaching those things, which concern the Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts xxviii. 30, 31. Whilst there were men, who at the hazard of their lives taught; and others that embraced, the things concerning the Lord Jesus, they could not be forgotten. And if about thirty years after our Lord's ascension, his history was written by eye-witnesses, or their companions, it was soon enough: yea, it was the fittest time of all. At the year sixty of our Lord's nativity, according to the vulgar æra, and later, there certainly were enough such persons, as those just mentioned, still living, to record his words and works, and more, who were willing, and desirous to read written histories of him, than before: and also more to transcribe and copy out those histories for their own use, and for the use and benefit of others, than in any preceding time.
V. It remains, that we consider in what language this gospel was written: because many of the ancients, whose testimonies have been lately recited, though they allow the other gospels to have been written in Greek, have delivered it as their opinion, that this gospel was written in Hebrew.
Of this I have already spoken several times, particularly, in the chapter of Papias, and in the chapter of Origen, and of Eusebius of Cæsarea; where also the opinions of divers learned moderns were alleged, who think it was written in Greek. . To them I now add Le Clerc, who has an argument upon this head, proper to be consulted by those who have leisure, but too long to be inserted here: and his learned successor Mr. Wetstein, who says, . Here we are of
opinion, that the Fathers do not so properly bear testimony, as deliver their own conjecture: · which needs not to be admitted, if it be not supported by good reasons, or may be refuted by • probable arguments. Supposing, and taking it for granted, that Matthew wrote for the Jews • in Judea, they concluded that he wrote in Hebrew. But there is no weight in that 6 reason. The Greek language was at that time much used throughout the whole Roman
empire, and particularly in Judea. Papias, who first advanced this opinion, was a weak and « credulous man. Nor are there in our Greek gospel any marks of its being a translation from 6 another language.'
Mr. Jones' has a long argument, well deserving to be read, showing, that this gospel was originally written in Greek.
Mr. Basnage 3 is of the same side, and has argued exceeding well for it: I should transcribe him if I had room; as I have not I refer to him.
Says “ Dr. Jortin: . In the time of Christ and his apostles the Greek was really the univer• sal language: the New Testament is a proof of it, if proof were wanting. And this is one • reason amongst many others, why. St. Matthew probably wrote his gospel in Greek.” See Wetstein's N. T. p. 224. St. Matthew, ch. v. 47, 48, says: "O Telwa OUTW 701801. "Έσεσθε εν υμεις τελειοι...that is, be not τελωναι, but τελειοι. Videtur autem Matthæus vocem TENELOi hic adhibuisse, ut tedaveis opponeret. Wetstein. Add to this, that Telwins and teens are both derived from the same word, Tedos. So again, ch. vi. 16, we find an antithesis in the words, a Davideoi TU TEPOOWTA, otws Qawwor. Eleganter dicitur: Tegunt faciem, ut appareant, &c. Wetstein.
And many others of the same sentiment might be mentioned, who are men of great learning and good judgment.
I shall now propose some observations relating to this point.
1. If St. Matthew did not write till about thirty years after our Lord's ascension, we must be led to think, he would use the Greek language. That he did not write sooner, I suppose to have been shown to be very probable. If indeed there were good reasons to think his gospel
a Vol. i.
perium Romanum, et in Judæå præsertim, in usu fuisse. ... • Vol. ii. p. 390, 391.
Videntur ergo vetustissimi Patres, et inter eos Papias, homo d Diss. iii. De iv. Evangeliis.
simplex et credulus, re non exploratà, inani Nazaræorum e Neque tam facile assentimur sententiae eorumdem Patrum jactantiæ fidem habuisse. ... Nullum sane in nostro Matthæo statuentium, Matthæum scripsisse Hebraïce, hoc est, Syriace, reperitur indicium, unde colligi possit, ex aliâ in aliam linsive Chaldaïce, quâ linguâ tunc temporis Judæi in Palæstina guam fuisse conversum. Plurima vero aliud suadent. Wetsten. utebantur. . . . Existimamus enim Patres hic jam non testimo-, N. T. tom. I. p. 224. nium dicere, sed conjecturam suam in medium proferre, non See his Vindication of the former part of St. Matthew's admittendam, si aut idoneis rationibus non sit fulta, aut veri- gospel, ch. 17-19. p. 180-186. similibus argumentis refutari possit. Quod enim putant necesse $ Ann. 64, p. xiii. fuisse ut Hebræis scribens Hebraïce scriberet, verum non est ;. h See his Discourses concerning the Christian Religion, cum constet eo tempore linguam Græcam per totum In- p. 176. note (o) the third edition.
was written within the space of eight years after Christ's ascension, we might well conclude, that he wrote in Hebrew. But to me it seems, that we may be fully satisfied, that Matthew did not write within that space, nor so soon as fifteen years after our Lord's ascension, nor till some good while afterwards. St. James, residing at Jerusalem, writes an epistle about the year of Christ 60, as is supposed: it is addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad;" and he writes in Greek, as is allowed. Why, then, should not St. Matthew use the same language ?
2. There was very early a Greek gospel of St. Matthew. It is quoted, or referred to by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, not now to mention any others: none of whom intimate, that they made use of a translation.
3. Though many of the ancients say, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, they seem not to have fully believed it: for they have shown very little regard for the Hebrew edition of it. This has been particularly shown in the chapters of Origen, Eusebius of Cæsarea, and · Jerom, the most likely of any of the ancients to make use of that edition, if they had been persuaded, that it was authentic and original.
4. There are not in our Greek gospel of St. Matthew, any marks of a translation: so said Mr. Wetstein in the passage just transcribed; and this observation was before made by us in the chapter of Papias.
5. There is no where any probable account, who translated this gospel into Greek. No particular translator was mentioned by Papias, as may be concluded from the accounts given of his books by Eusebius. Nor is any translator of this gospel named by Irenæus, Eusebius, or any of the writers of the first three centuries, that are come down to us. Nor is there any reason to think, that he was named in any other: forasmuch as no notice is taken of him by Eusebius, or Jerom, who saw many writings of ancients now lost, both catholics and heretics. "Jerom having said, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, presently adds: “Who afterwards translated him into • Greek, is uncertain.' And all the accounts of a translator, since given, are too late to be credited, and are likewise very improbable. In the Synopsis, ascribed to Athanasius, but not written till long after his time, it is said, “That' Matthew's gospel was translated into Greek by James, the first bishop of Jerusalem.' Which is very improbable. It would be more reasonable to imagine, that he translated it out of Greek into Hebrew. But as that is not said by the ancients, so neither have we reason to say it. Moreover, the same reasons, as one may think, which would induce James to make a Greek translation, should have induced Matthew to write in Greek. Nevertheless Dr. Mill has pitched upon that person for the translator, and formed an argument thereupon: which only serves to shew, that there is nothing, for which something may not be said by those, who indulge themselves in suppositions without ground. Theophylact informs us, that " in his time it was said, that John translated this gospel inte Greek: but it was only a common report; and indeed it could be no more. However, out of a regard to such reports and testimonies, Mr. Lampe ' has very properly reckoned a translation of this gospel among the works falsely ascribed to St. John.
6. Once more, I apprehend, we may discern the origin of this opinion, that St. Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew. There was soon made a translation of his Greek gospel into Hebrew. We have seen proofs, that * in very early days of Christianity there was a Hebrew gospel : and many, not examining it particularly, nor indeed being able to do it, for want of understanding the language, imagined that it was first written in Hebrew. Jerom expressly tells us, that' by many in his time the gospel according to the Hebrews was reckoned the true and authentic gospel of Matthew.
'c P. 569.
· Vol. i. p. 573-574. • Vol. ii. p. 390, 391.
» Μετεφρασε δε τετι Ιωαννης απο της Εβραϊδος γλωττης εις d Vol. i. p. 338.
την Ελληνιδα, ως λεγεσι. Τheoph. Ρr. in Μatt. p. 2. D. • Vol. ii. p. 551. * P. 405.
Matthæi Evangelium Græce a Joanne Evangelista versum Quis in Græcum transfuderit, incertum est. Papias de esse, refert Eutychius, tom. I. Annalium, p. 328, et Nicetas hoc nihil ab Aristone aut Joanne presbytero accepit, aut tra- præfatione ad Catenam in Matthæum. Lampe Prolegom. in didit. Auctor Synopseos S. Scripturæ Jacobo fratri Domini Joan. 1. i. cap. 7. num. 31. diserte adscribit hanc versionem ; Theophylactus, ex fama
* See Vol. i. p. 357. duntaxat, Joanni Evangelistæ. Ego ad priorem illam sen- | In evangelio, quo utuntur Nazareni et Ebionitæ, quod tentiam, ceu magis verisimilem, accedo. Satis enim proba- nuper in Græcum de Hebræo sermone transtựlimus, et quod bile est, Evangelium in Hebræorum usum linguâ ipsorumi vocatur a plerisque Matthæi authenticum. Hier. in Matth. patriâ primum exaratum, ab ipsorum episcopo primario cap. xii. T. iv. P. i. p. 47. Jacobo, episcopo Hierosolymitano, in sermonem Græcum, In Evangelio juxta Hebræos....quo utuntur usque hodie per provincias, in quas dispersi erant ex gente istà plurimi, Nazareni, secundum Apostolos, sive, ut plerique, justs Judæis pariter ac aliis in usu familiari, translatum fuisse, &c. Matthæum. Adv. Pelag. 1. 3. sub in T. iv. p. 533. Proleg. num. 66.
To this Hebrew translation of St. Matthew's gospel, possibly, are owing divers things said by the ancients: as that Matthew published his gospel at Jerusalem, or in Judea, for the Jewish believers, and at their request, before he went abroad to other people: I say, I do suspect the truth of these, and some other like things, said of St. Matthew, and his gospel: all which may have had their rise from the Hebrew edition of his gospel, which they imagined to be the original. For I think, that St. Matthew's, and all the other gospels were written, and intended, for believers of all nations. His gospel was written for the Jews, but not for them only, but for Gentiles also: as manifestly appears from the gospel itself, or the things contained in it.
I am also ready to say, with * Mr. Basnage, that I do not know where it was published, whether in Judea, or somewhere else. But as I think the Nazarene gospel to be St. Matthew's gospel translated from Greek, with the addition of some other things, taken from the other gospels, and from tradition: so I reckon, that the gospel of Matthew, written in Greek, was the gospel which came first into their hands, and which they gladly received, and made use of it. I say again, the notion of St. Matthew's writing in Hebrew, probably had its rise from the Hebrew edition of his gospel. For allowing that date of his gospel which to me appears most probable, I cannot conceive the reason, why Matthew should write in Hebrew any more than any of the other evangelists. For it may be reckoned highly probable, or even certain, that he understood Greek, before he was called by Christ to be an apostle. Whilst a publican, he would have frequent occasions both to write and speak Greek; and could not discharge his office without understanding that language.
This Hebrew gospel may likewise have been the cause, why so many ancient christian writers say, that Matthew wrote first. This may be true: but I do not think it was said upon the ground of any certain knowledge, or good information. I apprehend it not to be easy to say, which gospel was first written; for all the first three gospels were written about the same time: and St. Luke's, for any thing that I know, may have been written first; which was the opinion of Mr. Basnage.
C H A P. VI.
Of the Time when the Apostles left Judea to go and preach the Gospel in other countries.
many ancient christian writers, whom we have lately quoted, say, that St. Matthew, having preached some while in Judea, was desired by the believers, there to leave with them in writing, before he went away, a history of what he had taught by word of mouth: this may not be an improper place to inquire, how long it was after the ascension of Jesus, before Matthew, and the other apostles left Judea, to go abroad into foreign countries. : And first of all, we will observe some remarkable passages of ancient writers, relating to this matter. And then, secondly, we will consider what light the book of the Acts may afford upon this subject.
Clement of Alexandria, about 194, quotes from a work, entitled the Preaching of Peter, this
passage: • Therefore • Peter says, that the Lord said to the apostles; if any Israelite will
· Annum tamen perinde atque locum, ubi a Matthæo con
c Ann. 60. num. 31. ditum est, in incerto esse, facile patimur. Ann. 64. num. xii. « Δια τ8το φησιν ο Πετρος ειρηκεναι τον κυριον τοις απoσoλoις"
► Distinguendum enim inter hoc evangelium, quale initio Εαν μεν 8ν τις θεληση το Ισραηλ μετανοησαι [forte μετανοηfuit, et illud, quale paullatim fiebat, Nazaræis varía addenti- σας] δια το ονοματος με πισευειν εις τον θεον, αφεθησονται bus. ... Primitus nihil habuit, nisi quod in Græco nunc legi- αυτω αμαρτιαι. Μετα δωδεκα ετη εξελθετε εις κοσμον, μη τις mus. ... Porro Nazaraei .pluscula suis locis interseruerunt, EITIT
ηκώσαμεν. Clem. Str. 1. 6. p. 636. Conf. Cav. quæ ab Apostolis vel Apostolicis viris fando accepissent. G.J. H. L. T. 1. -.5.'et Grabe Spic. T. I. p. 777 Voss. De Geneal. J. C. cap. ii, num. i.