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the latter is the case in the matter now under consideration, as will appear by what follows.
2. Though we suppose it a mistake that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, it was almost impossible that a great number of the fathers should not fall into it. Although it was originally wrote in Greek, it had been very strange if many of the Fathers had not believed it to be wrote in Hebrew. However like a paradox this may seem, I doubt not but to make it appear very probable by the following observations.
Obf. I. That the Nazarenes or Ebionites, two very early sects among the Christians, had a Gospel which they made use of, called The Gospel according to the Hebrews a. Though they were certainly two different sects (and not the fame persons, as Mr. Toland, according to his old way
of blundering, would have them to be ), yet the difference between their Gospels was not very great: fome difference it seems there was, for the Gospel of the Nazarenes was most full and entire in Hebrew, but the Gospel of the Ebionites was adulterated and imperfect, if Epiphanius be to be credited in this matter ; but according to Jerome, they seem to have been the same Gospel ', for he speaks of the Gospel of the Nazarenes and Ebionites as one, which, says he, I transated into Greek,
"Exovor de (fcil. Nazaræi) có Gospel according to the Hebrews; κατά Ματθαίον Ευαγγέλιον πλη
and s. 13. he speaks thus of it; pásatov 'Eeçaüsi, Epiphan. Hæref. 'Εν τω γεν παρ' αυτούς Ευαγγελία 29. §. 9.
κατά Ματθαίον ονομαζομένω, ουχ In Evangelio juxta Hebræos- όλω δε πληρεςάτω, αλλα νενοθευμένω quo utuntur usque hodie Nazareni.
ακρωτηριασμένων, Εβραϊκόν δε τεHieronym. adv. Pelag. 1. 3. c. I. To ranžoin, &c. i. e, in the Gospel Ευαγγελίω δε μόνο το καθ' 'Εβραίες which the Eliondies ufe, called the Seyouivo Xpánevoi, fcil. Ebionæi. Gospel according to St. Matthew, Eufeb. 1. 3. C. 27.
not entire, but imperfect and cor• In his late pamphlet called Na rupted. zarenus, C. 9.
In Evangelio, quo utuntur NaEpiphanius's account of the zareni et Ebionitæ, quod nuper in Gospel of the Nazarenes, fee in Hæ Græcum de Hebræo Sermone trans. ref. 29, §. 9. just now cited. Of tulimus. Comment. in Matth. the Gospel of the Ebionites, Hæref. 1. 2. C. 12. 30. g. 3. he says they call it the.
2. This their Gospel was wrote in Hebrew, or rather, that which was then the language of the Jews, Syriack or SyroChaldaick. This is evident from the passages in Jerome and Epiphanius just cited. The former of whom tells us in another place, “ that there was a Hebrew copy even in his time “ in the library at Cæsarea ;” and adds, “ that he himself had “ the liberty granted him by the Nazarenes that lived at Be
rea, to transcribe their copy.” It is thought by some that the Hebrew copy, which was at Cæsarea, was judged by Jerome to be St. Matthew's own manuscript; but there is not any foundation for this opinion in that Father's words a.
3. This Hebrew Gospel, which the Nazarenes and Ebionites made use of, they believed, and consequently declared, to be the true Gospel, which St. Matthew wrote. This is evident by their putting so great a value upon it, as to reject all the others, and to make use only of this b. Hence Eusebius tells us, “ that those Jews, who had received the faith of “ Christ, were extremely fond of this Gospel according to " the Hebrews.” By these Jews it is impoffible (as Valesius has observed) to understand any but the Nazarenes and Ebionites.
4. This opinion, which the Nazarenes and Ebionites had of their Gospel, prevailed so far, as to be believed by a great many, if not by most. Jerome expressly tells us, that, in his time, it was believed by most to be the true and authentick Gospel of Matthew d. And Eufebius tells us, that it was acknowledged to be a genuine book, by most in his time, and that it was rejeEted only by fome. His words are ; “ Among these, viz.
" the spurious books, some place the Gospel according to the “ Hebrews.” His using the word tives, and saying they were only fome, who looked upon this Gospel as fpurious and Apocryphal, is a plain intimation, that a great many believed it to be genuinea. It is not at all strange, that the Nazarenes should endeavour to persuade the world, that their Gospel was the true one; and should gain credit with those, who were not able to contradi&t them.
5. This current and commonly received opinion was most certainly false. Here I must take it for granted, that our present Greek copies are authentick and true, I mean only so far as to contain all that St. Matthew wrote; and if so, it is certain the Gospels of the Nazarenes and Ebionites were fpurious, for they contain a great many idle fables, which are not in
These interpolations or additions are in part collected by Grotius", Father Simons, and others; but very fully, and set down at large, by the learned and laborious Fabricius, in his useful book, intitled, Codex Apocryphus Novi Teftamenti, &c. d Any one, who will be at the pains to consult the places referred to, will soon perceive, that the Gospel of St. Matthew according to the Hebrews, which the Nazarenes and Ebionites made use of, was very different from our present Gofpel of St. Matthew. The same may be undeniably proved from Jerome's translating it into Greek; had it been the same, or had there been only fome little difference between this Hebrew Gospel, and the true Greek copies, which were received into the Canon of the Church, it had been very absurd for Jerome to have translated it out of the Hebrew into Greek, as he says he did. Now from the foregoing observations it is very easy to perceive, how it came to pass that so many of the antient Fathers were imposed upon, and made to believe that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew. There was a Gospel in the world, which went under St. Matthew's
name, wrote in Hebrew, and declared by those, who used it, to be the original of St. Matthew; the credulous multitude believed as the Nazarenes did, and so the mistake was spread in the world. It is not possible but the Nazarenes would gain credit with some ; nay it has been proved, that the generality did believe it; and therefore it can be no wonder, that so many have asserted it.
CH A P. XVIII.
The Fathers fell into the Mistake that St. Matthew wrote in
Hebrew, because none of them, except Origen, Jerome, and Epiphanius, understood that Language. They were, upon that Account, unable to compare the Gospel of the Nazarenes with their own Greek Copies, and discover its Spuriousness. This confirmed by a Remark, that none of the Fathers, who asert St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, have cited the Gospel of the Nazarenes, except the three mentioned, who understood that Language. The Reasons affigned, why they (Epiphanius, Jerome, and Origen) fell into the same Mistake. Papias, the first Christian Writer who asserts this, was a very fabulous and credulous Person, yet was followed by many of the Fathers in his Mistakes (as Eusebius observes), by reason of his Antiquity. His Testimony in this Matter proved by one part of it to be false. T will very much add to the probability of the foregoing
account, that of all those Fathers, who have fallen into this mistake, there were none that were able to prove it to be fo, except Origen, Epiphanius, and Jerome. They did not any of them understand the Hebrew language, and consequently not being able to compare the Gospel of the Nazarenes with their own Greek copies, could not perceive its interpolations and additions, and so were under a sort of necessity of believing the common report. Had they been able to have read
this Hebrew Gospel, and fo to have perceived the difference between it and their own, they would certainly have rejected it, as not agreeable to St. Matthew's original, and consequently have lost the foundation of their opinion, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew.
To support this, I have made the following remark, viz. That not one of all those Fathers, who have asserted the Gospel of St. Matthew to be originally wrote in Hebrew, have made any use of the Gospel of the Nazarenes in their writings, except the three above-mentioned, who understood Hebrew. There is not the least evidence that either Papias, Irenæus, Eufebius, Austin, Chrysostom, Cyril, or Theophylact, ever saw, or made use of, this Gospel. It is not so much as once referred to in all their writings a. This could only be, because they did not understand the language in which it was written: had they understood Hebrew, no doubt some of them would have used it, as well as those three Fathers who did. Indeed it has been thought by several learned men, that Papias made use of this Gospel, and cited the story of the adulterous woman out of it. So Father Simon ; “ Papias faith, that the history of “ the woman, who was accused of many fins before our Sa« viour, is to be read in the Gospel that was called According " to the Hebrews.” But this is a very great mistake, which this and other learned men are fallen into, for want of carefully observing Eusebius's words; he does not say that Papias took this out of the Gospel according to the Hebrews; but that this story was among Papias's works, and then adds in his own words, that this history is in that Gospelb. From whence it does not follow, that he, any more than Papias, had read this Gospel. If then none of those, who assert St. Matthew to have wrote in Hebrew, did understand Hebrew, and if none of them did see the Gospel of the Nazarenes; no wonder they fell in with the common report of the Nazarenes, that their Gospel was the true original one of St. Matthew. Thus I
a The ground of my 'asserting this, is Fabricius's collection of the fragments of it, among which there
is not one cited out of
any of those Fathers. b Eufeb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. C, 29.