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It is very certain these rolls were of very different sizes ; the prophet Isaiah was commanded to prepare a great roll, chap. viii. I. and Jeremiah prepared such a one, as contained all the prophecies God had spoke by him against Israel and Judah, from the days of yofiah unto that time, chap. xxxvi. 2. i. e. as many as he had received in the space of twenty-three years, as appears by the chronology, and chap. xxv. 3. Jofephus, when he had finished his history of the Jewish Antiquities, says, it was Bebriors per eixoos nepiecopérnv, folded up in twenty volumes or books. The expression (if I do not mistake it) seems to imply, that each of these books was a distinct volume ; and so every one of them was of a larger size, than the whole of St. Matthew's Gospel would have made. He adds further, that these twenty books contained fixty thousand sixou or lines; and since these books were most of them contrived by the author to be pretty near of a lize, we inay conclude that, one with another, each of thefe volumes contained about three thousand lines; and such volumes must needs a contain a great many skins of parchment,
Maimonides out of the Talmud tells us, that the parchments, on which the Jews wrote their bibles, were to be fix hands in breadth, and fix in length; and so the present Jews, retaining the old custom of their nation, write the law which they use in their fynagogues, in one such large volume “. And if Father Simon is to be believed, the Jews have not al. tered the antient custom, but have just such volumes in their fynagogues now, as formerly they had. There is a controversy between that Father and the learned Isaac Voffius on that head; the former contending, that “the Pentateuch, or five « books of Mofes, did all make but one volume;" the latter, « that they were as many volumes as books." The former
· After a computation of the number of lines in one of the closest of our printed editions in folio, in which the Greek taketh the whole breadth of the page, I find the number of lines in the print, does not amount to very much above a third part of the number of lines, that
were in Jofephus's own manuscript.
Vide Leusden. Differt. 34. de Pentateuch. Manuscriptis, p: 399, and Dr. Prideaux's Connection of the Hift. of the Old and New Test. Part 1. b. s.
c Vid. Leusden. loc. cit.
afferts, “ they were one volume in the time of Chrift;" the latter says; “ the contrary is evident from the history of Ari« ftæas, which mentions the law as written in several vo« lumes;" and adds, “ that of the infinite number of books « there are in the world divided into volumes, there is not
one in all antiquity which can be evidenced to have been $ as big a volume, as half the Pentateuch would have made.” He concludes afferting the present fynagogue books to be more for shew, than for use, &c. : It does not seem very material, which of these learned gentlemen was in the right: either of their opinions being supposed true, fufficiently evidences the absurdity of imagining St. Matthew to have wrote so small a part of his Gospel, on so many pieces of paper as have been mentioned.
Thus I have endeavoured to shew the unreasonableness of fuppofing St. Matthew to have wrote after that manner, which Mr. Whiston fupposes : after the closest consideration of the matter, I am not able to conceive of any thing, which could be the motive or reason of St. Matthew's writing thus. Perhaps it may
be faid, he wrote down his accounts of matters as they came to pass, left they should flip his memory; but this fuppofition is upon many accounts groundless and false, several of these things having come to pass before St. Matthew was called, and almost all the parts or periods so introduced, as to imply a connection (though not in point of time) with the preceding and following parts of the history. But a fuller answer to this opinion I do not think myself yet obliged to make ; only would refer the reader to the foregoing table.
As to the hints, which Mr. Whiston proposes, to restore these difordered parts to their true order again, I cannot think, that, besides what has been already said, they require any particular consideration. I would only make this one remark
a Cum infiniti superfint libri in volumina distincti, vel unum in tota antiquitate oftendatur volumen,quod ad tantam excrefcat molem, ut vel dimidiam librorum Moylis partem
exæquet. Voff. Refponf. ad iterat. P. Simon. Object. p. 371, et ejufdem Refponf. ad 'tertias Simon,
Object. p. 95.
from them, viz. that he, who did transpose-them, must be one that was very well acquainted with the Gospel history, and fuch a one could not possibly make such blunders as these. But I leave this, and the more particular consideration of this "matter, to those who shall judge it nécessary.
CH A P. XVII.
Mr. IV histon's Observation, that our present Greek Copies of
this Gospel are a Transation out of Hebrew, and for that Reason more liable to the Disorder, which he supposes, confdered. St. Matthew did not write his Gospel in Hebrew, though it is asserted by all the Fathers. The Fathers have frequently (one after another) fallen into the fame Miftake in Matters of Fact. How they came to fall into this Miftake, viz. by taking the Gospel of the Nazarenes and Ebionites for the true authentick Gospel of St. Matthew. The Fathers
were under a Sort of Necessity of believing this Mistake. THE remaining part of what Mr. Whiston says, to estab.
lish his proposition, consists of an observation or two, which he imagined would make it appear more probable, and give some light in this matter to some future inquiries; and a vindication of himself from fisch censures, as the strangeness of the proposition would occasion *.
The two obfervations which Mr. Whiston makes, are, he says, instead of some conjectures which he once designed to have offered, how these sections came to be so strangely tranfposed. It is to be lamented, that any thing should have been the unhappy means of preventing so good a design. Mr. Whiston's zeal for truth, and his indefatigable endeavours to find it out, persuade me, that nothing but the imposibility of
accomplishing his design, would have prevented him in pursuing it. For my pirt (as I have already faid) I cannot see any other way of accounting for the disorder, than that which Mr. Whifton and Mr. Toinard have taken, and which has been confidered in the two foregoing chapters.
I proceed now to confider Mr. Whiston's two observations; the first is this, viz. “ The present copies of St. Mat“ thew are only a translation from the Hebrew (in which lan
guage all antiquity affirm that Gospel was written), and
may therefore more probably have been subject to some « confusion and disorder than any of the rest, whose own co“ pies we still have in the fame language wherein they were
originally written by their authors."
This observation of Mr. Whiston's will appear to be no support to his hypothesis, when the two following propositions are duly considered.
I. That St. Matthew's Gospel, in our present copies, is not a translation out of Hebrew, but the original Greek itself, in which that Evangelift wrote.
2. Supposing our present Greek copies are a translation out of Hebrew, yet they were not, for that reason, at all the more likely to suffer any such dislocations or disorder, as Mr. Whilton Supposes.
1. St. Matthezo's Gospel, in our present copies, is not a translation out of Hebrew, but the original Greek itself, in which that Evangelift wrote. I own indeed with Mr. Whifton, that all antiquity hath afirmed this: I cannot find, that so much as any one of the antients did believe this Gospel originally wrote in Greek. Papias“, Irenæus , Origen", Jerome, Austin, Eusebius', Theophylacts, and several others ", do all agree
Apud Euseb. Hift. Eccl. l. 3. e De Consens. Evang. I 1. c. 2. c. 39
f Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 24. 6 Adv. Hæref. 1. 3. C. I.
8 Præfat, in Matth. Apud Euleb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 6. h There are feveral others, (viz. C, 25.
Cyril of Jerufalem, Chryfoftem, & Proem. in Comment. Sup. &c.) cited by Du Pin in his Hiit. Matth. et in Catalog. Scriptor.Eccl. of the Cinon of the New Test. ad voc. Matth.
vol.ii.c.2.9. 3. but I have them not. Vol. III, T
to assure us, that this Gospel was originally wrote in Hebrew, I lhall not go about particularly to consider each of these testimonies; Dr. Whitby has already done this, as to the most considerable of them “, in his Prefatory Discourse to the Four Evangelists : instead of this, I will make a few observations, which may help to give some light into this matter.
1. It is certain, that a great many of the Fathers have fallen into the fame mistake, not only in matters of mere speculation (which was very common), but also in matters of fact. Every one, who is at all acquainted with the Popish controversial writings, will easily admit this observation to be
It is common in them to meet with a great body of Fathers, cited to support the most apparent falsehoods. A persuasion that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were corrupted by the Jews, prevailed very much among the Fathers, though a notorious falsehood : and Dr. Whitby, in his Treatise of Traditions, has shewed, that “the Fathers have been “ imposed upon by the Jews, in other things, received from " them by tradition, and asserted by more testimonies of an" tient Fathers, than are vouched to prove that the Gospel « according to St. Matthew was first written in Hebrew. « So, for instance, they do a great many of them relate the « story, of the seventy translators of the Greek Bible making “ their translation in so many cells, which is a mere fable.” For a further confirmation of this matter, I shall think it fufficient to refer the reader to that excellent treatise of Mr. Daillé, Concerning the Right Use of the Fathers 6.
It may here be objected, that I myself have made use of their testimony, to prove the manner in which St. Mark's Gospel was wrotec.
To this I only answer, that in such cases, where there can be no objection made against any particular testimony, nor any probable reason assigned, why they should fall into fuch mistake, we ought certainly to believe them. The former was the case in respect of the writing of St. Mark's Gospel;
c Pi 50
a Sect. 5.