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“ things, fays Eufebius, he imagined, mistaking the Apostles' " meaning—for he was a person of a very mean genius, as ( appears from his works; yet almoft all Ecclesiastical wri“ ters were led by him into this mistake, influenced by the « antiquity of the man ; or as Valefius renders it, hominis « vetuftate fententiam fuam tuentibus, i, e. defending their
ropinion by the argument of its author's antiquity.” This now makes it more probable, that Origen and Jerome, who were able to confute it, should yet receive this common tra, dition.
Having here had occasion to mention Papias, as the first who published this opinion of St. Matthew's being written originally in Hebrew, I cannot but take notice of one thing in his testimony, which seems to invalidate it, or at least to make it very dubious and uncertain. What I mean is this : he says, that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, and that every one interpreted it as they were able, spuóveure ďaítce ws adúvato fxcesos. Now hence it follows, that in his time there was no authentick Greek Version made, if there was any at all. This Father Simon (though it be to serve a bad purpose) does justly infer b; “ If,” says he, “ there had been in his time “ (viz. Papias's) a Greek Version of the Gospel of St. Mat« thew, which had been made by some Apostle, he would not « have failed to have told us of it.” But notwithstanding this assertion of Papias, there seems to be very good reason to believe the contrary; for all the writers of that age, cotemporaries with Papias, and some of them older than he, when they cite this Gospel, do cite it as it is in our present Greek copies. Clemens Romanus, Ignatius, Barnabas, Polycarp · (an acquaintance of Papias's“), Irenæus (an acquaintance of
Polycarp's"), and Justin Martyr, do cite this Gospel in such a manner, as undeniably evidences, not only that they made use of the same copies, but also the same with our present Greek ones. This I assert upon a strict examination of this matter in each of these authors. Now this could not possibly have been, if, according to Papias, every one translated as they were able, and there was no common version. Nothing can be more absurd than to suppose, that they should all happen to make use of the fame Greek words. Besides, none of these Fathers, except Barnabas, did understand, or were able to translate at all out of the Hebrew. There must therefore (fuppofing St. Matthew to have wrote in Hebrew) been some common version at this time into Greek, and consequently Papias must be mistaken in this part of his testimony; and if so, it seems very reasonable to conclude, he was mistaken in the other part also. And thus I think we have set aside the first and most antient testimony, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, and that which, together with the tradition of the Nazarenes, seems to have led so many of the Fathers into this mistake. .
a Eufeb. Hift. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 39.
• Critic. Hift. of the New Test. Part 1. c.9. p. 79.
c Iren. Ady. Hæref. I. 5. c. 33. d Eufeb. Hift. Eccl. l. 5.6. 20.
Upon the whole, this is what I judge to be clear from what has been said : the Nazarenes made very early a translation of St. Matthew's Gospel into Hebrew, for the use of the Jews, with several additions ; this they still called, The Gospel of St. Matthew, and declared to be his original ; Papias, a filly and credulous writer, believed them; and so, in succeeding ages, the Nazarenes still declaring the same, the opinion passed from one to another without any contradiction“.
a Les Nazaréens écrivèrent leur Evangile sur les instructions ou Memoires de S. Matthieu, et ils en parlèrent comme de l'Evangile de S. Matthieu. Papias les crut de bonne foi, et cette opinion passe ainsi de
main en main. Mr. L'Enfant, Chaplain to the King of Pruslia, in his Remarks upon Dr. Mill's Teftament, in a Letter to Mr. Le Clerc, Biblioth. choisie. Tom. 16, Art. 5. p. 292.
CHA P. XIX.
Several Arguments, by which it appears probable, that St. Mat
thew did not write his Gospel in Hebrew. The Greek was the most common Language, and for that Reafon that Gospel was most likely to be useful therein. The Supposing it a Translation makes its Inspiration dubious. It is not probable, that the Original Hebrew would ever have been loft. The Hebrew one we have now, is certainly a Translation out of Grtek.
THOUGH there is not, that I know of, any one con
I fiderable argument to prove, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, besides the testimony of the Fathers; yet very great numbers of learned men have thought that of itself fufficient. The Papists almost all, and a great many among the Protestants (viz. Cafaubon, Grotius, Dr. Cave, Voffius, &c.), have submitted to the authority of the Fathers in this matter. On the other hand, the warmest advocates for the Reformation (viz. Calvin, Chemnitius, Chamier, Whitaker, Mich. Waltherus, &c.) contend, that our present Greek copies are the original in which St. Matthew wrote.
Having in the foregoing Chapter endeavoured to shew, how it carne to pass, that the Fathers so universally fell into the mistake of St. Matthew's being wrote in Hebrew, I would now offer two or three other arguments, whereby it will appear, this Gospel was originally written in Greek, and not in Hebrew.'
1. The Greek was the most proper language for St. Matthew to write in, in order to answer the ends and designs of his writing. Here I must take it for granted, that St. Matthew's design in writing, was the same as that of the other writers of the New Testament, vizi the propagating the history and doctrines of Christ, to as great a part of the world as possible.
For though St. Matthew (as well as St. Mark, and perhaps all the sacred writers of the New Testament) was more immediately influenced by some particular occasion to write ; yet there can be no doubt but that he would write his Gospel, so that it might be of the most extensive usefulness. It is hard to suppose him under the conduct of divine inspiration, and not suppose him to write so, as his Gospel should be most useful and beneficial to the world; and if so, then it was neceffary he should write in Greek. The Hebrew language was then but very little known and used, in comparison of what the Greek was. Nay the Latin, the language of the empire, was not at that time, when St. Matthew wrote, near so much in use as the Greek: the Greek language is read in all nations, but the Latin is confined within very narrow limits, says Cicero". Hence it is observable, that St. Paul, though he wrote to the Jews or Hebrews, yet, for the more extensive usefulness of that inspired Epistle, wrote in Greek. And so also did St. Peter and St. James, although their Epistles were immediately designed for, and directed to, the Jews.
2. Our present Greek copy of St. Matthew is not a translation out of Hebrew, because the supposing it to be fo, makes its authority very precarious and uncertain. This argument is founded upon the supposition of this (as well as other historical books) being wrote by the influences and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now the fuppofing it a translation, is inconfistent with that authority, and esteem, which every inspired book does necessarily demand. This is evident, because we have not the least evidence of the inspiration of the translator, nor the least reason to conclude the translation is just. The Fathers, who were imposed upon to believe it originally wrote in Hebrew, found themselves under a necessity of imputing the · transiation to some inspired person, though they can by no means agree who the person was. The Author of the Synoplis which goes under Athanafius's name, says; It was translated by James, the brother of our Lord, according to the fleßa. Theophylact attributes it to St. John the Evangelift, according to the tradition that was current in his time b. Anastafius Sinaita says it was done by St. Luke and St. Paul jointly C. Nicephorus ascribes it to Barnabas d. Such was the diversity of opinions among the antients in this matter ; but in this they all agree, that it was necessary it should be done by an inspired person. So also the more modern writers, especially the Protestants, who believe it a translation (though few, I think, except Dr. Mille pretend to fix the person), all find it necessary to conclude it done by an inspired person. So Casaubonf and many others; but the truth is, they have no just foundation for saying fo: Jerome honestly confesses, it was very uncertain, who translated it out of Hebrew into Greeks: and if so, it is impoffible it should have equal authority with the other books. For all we know to the contrary, it may be a very false and corrupt translation; it may be done by a person no way qualified for such a work; and does not this now make its authority. dubious and uncertain? For my part I freely own, if I believed it to be a translation made by a person I know nothing of, I could not yield it that same refpect, and have that same value for it, as the other parts of the facred writings. The Papifts, who are always endeavouring to lessen the authority of the Scriptures, that so they might make them depend upon their church for their authority, were very well aware of this; and hence there is not, I think, above one or two of them (viz. Cajetan, and Erasmus, if he be to be called a Papist), but have fallen in with the common error of the Fathers. Baronius, Father Simon, Du Pin, and the
· Græca leguntur in omnibus fere gentibus, Latina fuis finibus,
exiguis fane, continentur. Orat, pro Arch. Poct. $. 23.
a 'Egunveton dhe eco 'Iaxubo cã edsacs Toû Kuciou tè xata o coxa. Vid. Casaub. ad Baron. Annal. C. 16. §. 115.
6 Præfat. in Matth.
f Quæ diversitas sententiarum, ut de vero auctore certo pronuntiare nos vetat, ita illud certiflime de.
monstrat, ipsis Apoftolorum temporibus, ab uno illorum, aut illorum auspiciis, vel potius Spiritus Sanéti, cujus ipfi erant organa, Græcum textum ex Hebraico esse confectum. Exercit. ad Baron. Annal. c. 15. $. 12.
& Quod quis poftea in Græcum tranftulerit, non fatis certum est. Catal. Ecclef. Script. in voc. Matth.