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" 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 genuine a. 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 contradict 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 spurious, for they contain a great many idle fables, which are not in ours. These interpolations or additions are in part collected by Grotius , Father Simon, and others; but very fully, and set down at large, by the learned and laborious Fabricius, in his useful book, intitled, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, &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 fame, or had there been only some little difference between this Hebrew Gospel, and the true Greek copies, which were received into the Canon of the Church, it had been very ab. surd 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
• "How do ev temos (sc. ródou) Tuyes xaÌ GÒ xa ' 'Egeaiss Eúayé. acov xaréežav. Loc. jam cit. Tuves. i. e. a paucis quibusdam. Vid.
i Millii Proleg. in N. T. §. 40.
• In Titul. Matth.
c Critic. Hift. of the New Test. par. 1. C. 7. p. 68, &c. Du Pin, vol. 2. c. 2. §. 3.
• From p. 356 to p. 371. .
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 fo many have asserted it.
CHA 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 assert St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, have cited the Gospel of the Nazarenes, except the three mentioned, who understood that Language. The Reasons aligned, why they (Epiphanius, Jerome, and Origen) fell into the fame 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 obferves), by reafon of his Antiquity. His Testimony in this Matter proved
by one part of it to be false. TT will very much add to the probability of the foregoing
I account, that of all those Fathers, who have fallen into this mistake, there were none that were able to prove it to be so, 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 so 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, Eusebius, Austin, Chryfoftom, 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 sins 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
· The ground of my 'asserting is not one cited out of any of those this, is Fabricius's collection of the Fathers. fragments of it, among which there o Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. C, 29.
have shewn, how very likely it was, the Fathers should fall into this mistake.
This is so far from being a precarious fuppofition, that it may be made very evident by that which Epiphanius tells us ; viz. “ That the Nazarenes, in his time, had the Gospel of “ Matthew very complete in Hebrew; for without doubt it “ is preserved by them till this day, as it was at first written " in Hebrew letters ; but I cannot tell whether they have « taken away the genealogies from Abraham to Christ, or “ not a.” Now from these words it is evident,
1. That he never saw the Gospel of the Nazarenes; and so,
2. He thought it to be the very fame with that which St. Matthew wrote ; wherefore,
3. He could not but believe St. Matthew wrote his Gofpel at first in Hebrew.
This was the case with Epiphanius; and if it was so with one that was a native of Palestine, that understood the Hebrew language; if, I say, he was thus imposed upon by the Nazarenes, how much more easily would those be imposed upon, who lived in distant countries, and knew nothing at all of the language.
It seems indeed a little strange, that Origen and Jerome, who both understood the language, and saw the Gospel of the Nazarenes, should fall into this error. They compared frequently the Gospel of the Nazarenes, and the Greek copies together, and cite them very often in their works ; nay, and Jerome translated this Gospel into Greek and Latin: they could not therefore be deceived, and think it the original of St. Matthew, and therefore conclude that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew.
This indeed seems to be a very considerable objection,
- "Exsor de Tè xata Matlañon Ευαγγέλιον πληρέςατον Εβραϊςί παρ' αυτούς γαρ σαφώς τέτο, και Dwi's is dexñs' sypaan 'E païxção
gypeép.com, pro cúteras. Oủx video δε, ει και τας γενεαλογίας τας από το 'Αβρααμ άχρι Χρισ σεριείλον. Hæref. 29. S. 9. .
which has not, I think, been at all taken notice of yet. In answer to it, I observe;
1. As to Origen, that he does not deliver it as his opinion, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, but only as what he received by tradition; unless he mention it somewhere else in his writings, besides that place cited by Eusebius a. But,
2. Suppose both Jerome and he had asserted this, it might perhaps proceed from a too great respect to fo universal a tradition. They found it was asserted by every body, and therefore they believed it: it is well known, how very little fufpicious the first Christians were of the traditions of the Church. But,
3. This will appear more probable, if we consider, who among the Gentile Christians was the first author of this opinion. As far as we can trace it, it owes its original to Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis b; who, though a person of a very weak genius, both credulous and fabulous, was very likely to be believed, even by Jerome and Origen. He was cotemporary with the Apostles, and passed under the specious character of being a hearer of St. John, an intimate of Polycarp, and a man of the greatest antiquity '; and this possibly might, in some measure, influence these two learned men to give into the received opinion, without making themselves a strict inquiry thereinto.
4. This conjecture is very much confirmed by a remark, which Eusebius has made concerning this Papias“, viz. “ That he has related a great many fabulous stories of our “ Saviour, particularly that he should reign corporally on s6 earth, for a thousand years after the resurrection. These
a'$25 év aapeediven Maccadu's epó των τεσσάρων Ευαγγελίων. Ηiftor. Ecci. l. 6. c. 25. OL. 6c. 39.
• Ταύτα δε και Γαπίας Ιωάννα fuiy nousis, IloAvropte détaigos gec yovus, diezaios crap. Iren. adv. Hæref. 1. 5. c. 33. Concerning Papias's age, and this teftimony of Irenæus, see the learned Mr. Dod
well's Differt. in Iren. 1. §. 3, &c.
" Σφόδρα γάρ τοι σμικρός ών τον νεν, ώς αν εκ των αυτού λόγων τεκμηράμενον ειπείν, φαίνεται πλήν και τους μετ' αυτόν σαλείσοις όσους των εκκλησιαστικων, της ομοίας αυτω δοξης παραίτιος γέγονε, την αρχαιórnta t'aropás afobefinuévoss. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 30.