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which support this opinion, that it is scarcely possible to reject it. The author, it is evident, was acquainted with many of the persons mentioned in the gospel history, familiar with the geography of Palestine, and not wholly ignorant, perhaps completely master, of the Latin language.
14. It is not easy to determine the time and place of publication; but the gospel could scarcely have been composed much before the year 51 nor much after it. The early Church believed it to have been published at Rome, and some were of opinion that it was originally written in Latin. The latter supposition is now discarded, and the former is much doubted. It seems not altogether unlikely that it might have been completed in Cæsarea or Antioch, and a copy sent immediately to Rome, and there without much delay translated into Latin for the use of the Roman converts.
15. The structure of the narrative is extremely simple. With a brief introduction and a still more brief conclusion, it divides itself into two parts. The first contains such transactions as the evangelist saw fit to record of our Lord's public ministry in Galilee; the second gives an account of transactions after our Lord's public assumption of the dignity of Messiah, with his death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven.
16. The language also is simple, and rather rude and rough, the author disdaining any attempt at rhetorical composition or pretension to elegance and variety of diction, often repeating the same words and phrases in the course of a few sentences, and framing successive clauses and periods after the same inartificial model. With this plainness of speech the evangelist combines wonderful powers of vivid description. Endowed with great clearness of perception and acuteness of discernment, he seizes at once the prominent features of the scene, and presents them with such surprising truth, fidelity, and impressiveness that we become not readers of a narrative, but spectators of the group the writer has summoned before us, close observers of their movements, and interested listeners to their dialogue. Frequently by a single stroke, as it were, of his pen, the
, insertion of merely two or three words, he is able to give a different colouring to the picture, conveys to the mind a whole series of
new impressions, and evokes the deepest and liveliest emotions. Let the student diligently compare S. Mark's account of the miracle on the demoniac youth at the foot of the mount of transfiguration with that of S. Matthew, and he will be prepared for a proper estimate of our evangelist's powers.
17. In every aspect the narrative is true to its title, THE GOSPEL OF THE SON OF GOD.
In words not of man's wisdom, but of the teaching of the Holy Ghost, it exhibits the awful conflicts of the incarnate Redeemer with the powers and principalities of evil, His triumph over them in every form and on every fieldtheir prince in the solitudes of the wilderness, his legions in the possessed whether by madness or by malice, over him and all his host in the dread regions of death and hell; and alone of the gospels it places the Saviour for our adoring view at the right hand of the Almighty Father, carrying on there his victorious warfare to the final and complete subjugation of the adversaries of man, by the operations of the Spirit, and the administrations of His Church. Reader, try to raise your heart towards the Heaven where our
Blessed Lord sitteth, and devoutly ascribe
. Within the last week or two, Dean Alford's Greek Testament for the Use of Theological Students and Ministers has fallen into my hands. It is the first volume only, containing the gospels; 4th edition, considerably revised, London, 1859. Having read a portion of the prolegomena and some pages of the commentary, I am astonished. It seems to inculcate scepticism of the most dangerous character. If we give assent to its assertions and inferences, the history of our Blessed Lord and his ministry is involved in such obscurity that it is impossible to reduce the facts into any rational order ;—the holy gospels are imperfect, inaccurate, inconsistent with each other and even with themselves ;-the evangelists were ignorant of some of the principal events which their narratives should have embraced ; -the later of them were so indifferent to the task which they undertook, or so ill qualified for it, that they never ascertained the existence of the authentic histories published by their fellow evangelists who preceded them ;-and of course, these sacred records, the foundations of our faith, are not inspired writings in
any such sense as Christians in general attach to the term.
That the students using my little manual may be more effectually guarded from such fatal errors, and may know that in the preceding remarks no injustice is done, I quote a passage or two.
Prolegomena, p. 20.—Hardly a single instance of parallelism between the evangelists arises where they do not relate the same thing, indeed, in substance, but expressed in terms which, 'if literally taken, are incompatible with each other. To cite only one obvious instance. The title over the cross was written in Greek. According then to the verbal-inspiration theory, • each evangelist has recorded the exact words of the inscription;
not the general sense, but the inscription itself—not a letter less 'or more. This is absolutely necessary to the theory. ... • And how it will bere apply the following comparison will show:
• Matthew.—This is Jesus the king of the Jews. • Mark.—The king of the Jews.
* Luke.—The king of the Jews, this.
The inscriptions are given by Dean Alford in Greek; but the above is a literal translation. It accords with that of our authorised version, except in Luke. There the generally received text has been altered, on the authority of two or three corrupt Greek Manuscripts. The true reading corresponds with the authorised version, This is the king of the Jews.
From the manner in which Dean Alford puts his case, uninformed readers might suppose that there was only one inscription. And clearly he intends to assert that the evangelists have given four different and incompatible accounts of it. Both these propositions are false. There were three inscriptions, not one only, and the accounts of the evangelists are exactly, entirely, and perfectly true and faithful to the very letter. S. John, xix. 20, tells us that the title was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin; and S. Luke, xxiii. 38, that a superscription was written over in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew. There were, therefore, beyond all doubt three superscriptions one in Hebrew, another in Greek, and a third in Latin. Further, S. John indicates, by the order in which he mentions the superscriptions, that he has given us that which was written in Hebrew. S. Luke, in a similar manner, indicates that the superscription which he has given was that in Greek. No one who is acquainted with the three languages can for a moment doubt that what S. Mark gives was in Latin. We have every reason to believe that S. Luke has written down the Greek inscription letter for letter, and that the Hebrew and Latin have been rendered by S. John and S. Mark as closely as the Greek language permitted.
Further it is suggested that there is an inscription given by S. Matthew which cannot possibly be reconciled with any one of the other three, and that there must of necessity be falsehood in the statement of this evangelist, even if there be none in the statements of the others. But we ask where did this bold assertor of the contradictions and inconsistencies of Holy Scripture learn that S. Matthew has given, or even intended to give, any inscription at all ? Certainly not from S. Matthew himself. S. Mark and S. Luke plainly