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have shewn, how very likely it was, the Fathers should fall into this mistake.
This is so far from being a precarious supposition, 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 fo,
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 diftant 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,
δε το κατά Ματθαίον γράμμασιν, έτι σώζεται. Ουκ οίδα Ευαγγέλιον πληρέςατον Εβραϊτί δε, ει και τας γενεαλογίας τας από παρ' αυτούς γαρ σαφως τέτο, καν το 'Αβρααμ άχρι Χρικά περιείλον. Jws 5 cigxñs bypaon ‘E6pañxcãg Hæref. 29. §. 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 sufpicious 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 Papiasd, viz. “ That he has related a great many fabulous stories of our “ Saviour, particularly that he should reign corporally on s earth, for a thousand years after the resurrection. These
: 'S25 év aupedioet uecedwo ceco well's Differt. in Iren. 1. $. 3, &c. των τεσσάρων Ευαγγελίων. Ηiftor. Σφόδρα γάρ τοι σμικρός ών Ecci. I. 6. C. 25.
τον νεν, ώς αν εκ των αυτού λόγων 0 L. 6: c. 39
τεκμηράμενον ειπείν, φαίνεται πλήν • Ταύτα δε και Γαπίας Ιωάννα
και τους μετ' αυτόν τλείσοις όσοις μεν ακους ής, Πολυκαρπε δε εταίρος των εκκλησιαςικων, της ομοίας αυτω vious, mais arr. Iren. adv. δόξης ταραίτιος γέγονε, την αρχαιHæref. l. 5. c. 33..
Concerning ότητα τ'ανδρος προσέθλημένοις. Ηift. Papias's age, and this testimony of
Eccl. 1. 3. C. 39. Irenæus, see the learned Mr. Dod.
“ things, says Eufebius, he imagined, mistaking the Apostles' “ meaning-for he was a person of a very mean genius, as “ appears from his works; yet almost 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 sententiam fuam tuentibus, i. e. defending their « opinion 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
riginally 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, ερμήνευσε δ' αύτα ως ηδύνατο fræ50s. 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 fame copies, but also the same with our present Greek ones. This I assert upon a strict examination of this
a Eufeb. Hift. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 39.
b Critic. Hift. of the New Test. Part 1. c.9. p. 79.
Iren. Adv. Häres. 1. 5. c. 33.
matter in each of these authors. Now this could not posibly 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 hap
ake use of the same 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 (suppofing 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 fo, 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 teftimony, 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.
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 fucceeding ages, the Nazarenes still declaring the same, the opinion passed from one to another without any contradiction".
a Les Nazaréens écrivèrent leur Evangile fur les instructions ou Memoires de S. Matthieu, et ils en parlèrent comme de l'Evangile de S. Matthieu. Papias les crut de bonne fui, et cette opinion passe ainsi de
main en main. Mr. L'Enfant, Chaplain to the King of Prussia, in his Remarks upon Dr. Mill's Teftament, in a Letter to Mr. Le Clerc, Biblioth. choisie. Tom. 16,
Art. 5. p. 292
CH A 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 Reason that Gospel was most likely to be useful therein. The Supposing it a Translation makes its Inspiration dubi014s. It is not probable, that the Original Hebrew would ever have been loft. The Hebrew one we have now, is certainly a Transation out of Greek.
HOUGH there is not, that I know of, any one confiderable 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. Casaubon, Grotius, Dr. Cave, Vossius, &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 Thew, how it came 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 writiig. 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.