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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 necessary 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 so, 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 infuences and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now the supposing it a translation, is inconsistent 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 neceflity of imputing the transiation to some inspired person, though they can by no means agree who the person was. The Author of the Synopsis which goes under Athanafius's name, says; It was translated by James, the brother of our Lord, according to the
a Græca leguntur in omnibus fere gentibus, Latina fuis finibus,
exiguis fane, continentur. Orat, pro Arch. Poct. §. 23.
flesha. Theophylact attributes it to St. John the Evangelist, according to the tradition that was current in his time b. Anastasius Sinaita says it was done by St. Luke and St. Paul jointly e 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 Casaubon 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 Greek&: 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 perfon I know nothing of, I could not yield it that same respect, and have that same value for it, as the other parts of the facred writings. The Papists, 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
Ερμηνεύθη δε υπό Ιακώβε τα monstrat, ipsis Apoftolorum temadencē tū Kupiou tò rata osfr.c. poribus, ab uno illoruin, aut illorum Vid. Casaub. ad Baron. Annal. auspiciis, vel potius Spiritus Sancti, C. 16. §. 115.
cujus ipfi erant organa, Græcum 6 Præfat. in Matth.
textum ex Hebraico esse confectum. Apud Casaub, ibid.
Exercit. ad Baron. Annal. c. 15. d Hift. Eccl. l. 16. c. 37.
$. 12. Prolegoin. in Nov. Telt. 5. 66. & Quod quis poftea in Græcum f Quæ diversitas sententiarum, ut
tranftulerit, non fatis certum est. de vero auctore certo pronuntiare
Catal. Ecclef. Script. in voc. Matth. nos vetat, ita illud certiffime de.
rest of the Popish writers, have been of this opinion, and being so, have not failed to draw the consequence I am now speaking of, from it, viz. that our present Greek copies are of very dubious, authority. “I affirm it,” says Baronius“, “ that “the authority of the Greek text is very uncertain, unless we “ had the original Hebrew to compare with it.” The learned Casaubon in his answer to Baronius (though he believed St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew) was very unwilling to allow the Cardinal's confequence; "If,” says he," the Greek “ text of this Gospel depends upon the Hebrew, then this
Gospel, as we have it now, is of no authority;" and adds a little after; "then the faith of the true Catholick Church must “ depend upon the faith or credit of Hereticks (he means the “ Roman Church), which God forbid b.” To this Father Simon answers, heartily espousing the cause of Baronius, and says in so many words; “ There is nothing, but the authority « of the church alone, that gives authority to this Version, and " that can oblige us to prefer it before the Hebrew or Chal“ daick copy of the Nazarenes.” However Casaubon and other Protestants may seem to shuffle off, and elude these consequences, they seem to be inevitable. Hence it was justly remarked by Mr. L'Enfant in his letter to Le Clerc 4; “ It
appears to me very probable, that St. Matthew wrote his
Gospel in Greek, as the other Apostles did, and with the « same design. For I can think of nothing that sounds more “ like a Papist, than to talk of the work of an Apostle trans« lated into Greek, by I do not know who, nor I do not know “ how.” As we would therefore avoid this consequence of
making the authority of this Gospel uncertain, we must conclude it not to be a translation. I would only add further on this head, that not only the Papists, but the Jews, and other enemies of Christianity, will be very likely to improve this assertion to the dishonour of this Gospel, so far as to make them reject as uncertain one of the most valuable parts of sacred History. This is not only what might be reasonably expected, but what has been really matter of fact. So the learned Jew, with whom Limborch disputes, argues against this Gospel ; “ They fay,” says he, “ that Matthew wrote in “ Hebrew, but the original is loft; afterwards his Gospel ap“peared in Greek, but no body knows who translated it b.
3. St. Matthew's Gospel was not wrote originally in Hebrew, but in Greek; because, if so, the original Gospel is entirely loft, which cannot be supposed. If it was wrote in Hebrew, it is very certain that which we now have in that language under St. Matthew's name, is not it. For this was first published by Munster, and he owns he received it from the Jews tattered, torn, and very imperfeet, and that he himself added what he thought necessary : so that it is very strange, that Quinquarboreus, in his preface to this Hebrew Gospel, should imagine it to be the very fame Gospel which St. Matthew wrote, although he had observed what Munfter faid. I need not be at the pains to confute this opinion: it is evidently a Version of our present Greek; it has here and there a few words added, and sometimes a few omitted; yet it is (as far as I have observed) a pretty good Version, though I dare affirm it is but a late one. If St. Matthew therefore wrote in Hebrew, the original is loft; but this cannot be supposed, without also supposing the first Christians and primitive churches guilty of unpardonable negligence. Is it likely a treasure of so much value, would be no more regarded ? If it
a Vid. Sixt. Senenf. 1. 7. de Limborch. de Verit. Christ. Relig. Evang. Matth. Hærer.
quæí. 4. num. 8. b Matthæus fertur Hebraico in Quod autem hoc ipfum fit Ediomate scripsiffe; fed quod, eo vangelium, quod D. Matthæus autographo deperdito, Giæco fer Hebraice scripsit, ambigere quis mone poftea translatum apparuit, ab poflit. Edit. Parif. A. D. 1551. incerto autore ea lingua donatum.
was wrote in Hebrew, it was wrote for the Jews, and the Jews were not wont to be so careless of their facred books.
The Bishop and Church at Jerufalem would, no doubt, have safelyi preserved a book fo valuable. ". Surely,” fays Chamier', " the negligence of the Universal Church, or even the « Church at Jerusalem, would not be so great as to let the « original of St. Matthew be lost, that there is not the least « of it to be found; nay that it should not only now' be not a extant, but even utterly unknown in the second century." There were, no doubt, copies of this Gospel taken as soon as it was published, and spread among the Jews every where ; and is it likely that all these copies should be so entirely lost? This is hard to be conceived, and therefore it is very improbable that St. Matthew wrote firftia Hebrew.
Though St. Matthew's Gospel be fupposed a Translation out of
Hebrew, yet it was not for that Reafon more liable to Difica cation or Diforder.
Sit is probable, that our present Greek copies of St.
Matthew are not a translation out of Hebrew ; so 2. It is certain that if they were, they would not have been at all upon that account more liable to the confusion and disorder Mr. Whifton supposes. I confess I am not able to guess, how the translation (lupposing it to be so) could any way influence, or occasion these dislocations. It were to be wished that Mr. Whiston had told us, how the translating it could have had this bad influenge, or that he had produced one single instance of any one book in the world, that has thus suffered by its being translated. Of the vast number of Versions, that have
a Non fuisse tantam five Ecclefiæ Univerlälis, five etiam Hierosolymitanæ, negligentiam, ut ejus Edie
tionis nullum fit omnino vestigiun conservatum, &c. Panítrat. Cathol. I, 11. . 8. §. 8.