ページの画像
PDF
ePub

rial reign. But this leads to the conclusion, that Herod the king died in the year before the birth of Jesus.

To us, this objection does not seem formidable. For, on contrasting the great preciseness of the date in Luke üi. 1, with the laxity of the expression in ver. 23, “Jesus was at the beginning * about thirty years of age,' we cannot doubt that Luke was conscious to himself of not knowing the age very precisely. If then the ostensible authenticity of the account in Matthew ii. is on a par with that of Luke, the proper method of reconciling them is by attributing as much vagueness as requisite to the age assigned by the latter to Jesus. But that the reign of Tiberius must be computed from his real accession, appears to be a proposition that ought never to have been questioned.

It will now be expected of us to give some opinion of our own concerning the success of his attempt to settle the much vexed chronology of this period: yet it is not easy to advance any decided judgment on a matter still contested by men of consummate erudition and intelligence, and on which, in our corporate capacity as Eclectic Reviewers, it is impossible that we should hold one view. So much, however, may be said ; that Dr. C., proceeding from assumptions generally conceded, appears to have made out as strong a case as the nature of the materials will admit; that he has exhibited praiseworthy assiduity and patience in turning the subject over on all sides, and that his scheme will recommend itself to most students by its requiring fewer dislocations of the gospel narratives than those which it is intended to supersede. Yet it appears to us, that some difficulty is thrown into his way by the opening verses of the seventh chapter of John. The first verse, ' After these things,' &c., adheres indivisibly to the preceding chapter; and it seems rather harsh to make a break between the first and second verses, and to refer the second and following verses to a time which preceded the sixth chapter. For the reason seems to be given in the first verse why he deferred to go up to Jerusalem, as mentioned in verses 2–9.

But certainly he has passed by many questions, to which in these times an answer is urgently demanded. We do not speak in our own name, but in the name of an objector; who may demand satisfaction on points which have in this country been taken for granted, but cannot be so much longer. We purposely omitted to notice, that Dr. C., twice at least, lays stress on the fact, that Matthew was an eyewitness of the facts which he records, -as giving strength to the dipaschal scheme. Those who have the most superficial acquaintance with the biblical criticism of Germany, are aware that he would be closely pressed for some proof, that our first Greek gospel is identical with that Hebrew gospel

, which, we learn from antiquity, the apostle Matthew composed. The argument from external sources seems to turn chiefly

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

on the testimony of Jerom, who wrote at the end of the fourth century; since he alone of the fathers deposes that he had seen the gospel according to the Hebrews; whether,' says he, “it be

according to the apostles, or as most opine, according to Matthew.'* °In the time of Justin Martyr, it would appear, that the gospels were not generally known by their present names; often as he quotes the first, he never assigns an author to it, nor, indeed to the other evangelical narratives. Our objector might proceed to urge, that, while externally we have the broad facts, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, and our gospel is in Greek; internally, we have numerous indications that ours is not from Matthew. For (as Dr. C. remarks) our first gospel is essentially Galilean; it gives no record of the Lord's ministry in Judea, previous to the last passover. Now Matthew wrote in Hebrew for

the Hebrews,' to give them an entire acquaintance with the Lord's ministry; and neither could he calculate on another apostle writing to fill up what he omitted, nor in fact was it ever done; for John wrote in Greek, and not in Hebrew. It is hardly credible, that Matthew would have wilfully deprived the Hebrew church of instruction so valuable: yet this he did, if our Greek gospel be a true representation of that which he provided for them in Hebrew.. If Dr. C.'s chronology be correct, Matthew's call took place in the ninth month of our Lord's ministry; which ministry lasted only seventeen months. If this be assigned as a reason why he was ignorant of so many events recorded by John, does it not seem to prove, that of all the apostles he was hardly the most competent to write the history? farther: this will not at all account for his omitting the beautiful, pathetic, and most important discourses contained in John xiv.---xvii., at which all the eleven apostles were undoubtedly present. Again, on comparing the first three gospels, the similarity is so great, as to inspire the belief that all had like means of information. No one would infer that the first was from an eye-witness, the two others from secondary sources. Whereas, on contrasting John's gospel with any of the other three, strong reasons are presently found for believing that John drew almost solely froint personal acquaintance with the facts. Again, the difference of the narrative in different parts of the Acts of the apostles, remarkably evinces

'In Evangelio juxta Hebræos, quod Chaldaico quidem Syroque sermone, sed Hebraicis litteris scriptum est, quo utuntur usque hodie Nazareni ; secundum apostolos, sive, ut plerique autumant, juxta Matthæum ; quod et 'in Cæsariensi habetur bibliothecâ.' We must leave it to those who are better read in the fathers to reconcile the various statements found in Jerom on this tangled subject.

+ The most important exception is in the third chapter of John's gospel, where the phraseology which he attributes both to Jesus and to the Baptist is tinged so strongly with all that is peculiarly Johannine, as to make it evi

when the writer speaks as an eyewitness, and when from other sources : which is confirmed by the use of the word We in those passages which are most distinct and graphic, as also by the purer Hellenic phraseology apparent in the same. But in the first gospel, no analogous distinction is discoverable between the narrative which precedes, and that which follows, the call of Matthew the Publican. We forbear to say more.

It is not our object to advocate this opinion; though we do not know how to reply to these remarks. We wish, however, to express our sense that it absolutely needs to be set at rest, before we can decide on the true order of a harmony. We must know, in short, whether Matthew and John are co-ordinate authorities, so that in reconciling difficulties each must be made to yield a little to each ; or whether John, as the sole eyewitness, is to be regarded primarily. In the latter case, we apprehend that the tripaschal theory will prevail.

In conclusion, to give a specimen of his style, and of the man. ner in which he handles a difficult subject-we should be glad to extract his discussion on the Morning of the Resurrection ;' but it is too long; and to quote a part would do him injustice. He thus gives his results :

« The following scheme may contribute to elucidate the succession of visits to the sepulchre. It is framed upon the supposition that some of the women who came with Mary Magdalene saw the angel who had rolled away the stone, before they entered the sepulchre. If the reader do not see sufficient reason to adopt this supposition, he may erase the words, ' are accosted by an angel without the tomb, and then

go in.',

VISITS TO THE SEPULCHRE.
First Party.
Occurrences at the tomb.

Subsequent course.
Mary Magdalene Sees the stone removed :

Hastens to Peter and John. • The other Mary and Are accosted by an Angel with- Return towards Bethany, and

companions from Be out the tomb, and then go see Jesus when near it. thany

within. Salome and companions Are accosted by an Angel with- Return to their abode: say, on from Jerusalem in the tomb :

Mount Zion. Second Party. Joanna and her com- Are accosted by two Angels, af- Return to near Herod's palace panions

ter coming from the tomb. in Bezetha, Third Party. Peter and John Enter the sepulchre and see no Return to their abode, and per

haps afterwards to Bethany. Mary Magdalene Sees two Angels, and afterwards Returns to Bethany.

the Lord himself.
Perhaps also some other disciples may have afterwards come to the tomb.

one.

dent that he is here reporting only from second hand. Indeed, it is on the face of the narrative, that the interview of Nicodemus with Jesus was strictly private; as it is also improbable that the evangelist was present when the Baptist gave the testimony to Jesus recorded in that chapter.

Dr. Carpenter is fully sensible of the phenomenon ; but tries to account for it (unsuccessfully we think) by setting quotation-marks, so as to make the evangelist utter verses 16-21, 31–36, in his own name.

A reader who, with this scheme before him, shall study each of the four narratives in succession, will probably think with us, that no simpler method of reconciling them is to be expected. It may also give a favourable specimen of the scrupulous care with which the author endeavours to adjust all their details. Nor will it be easy to name any book in the language, giving in so small a compass so much information bearing on the subject. When a book has substantial merits, and the general style is not merely unaffected, but flowing and accurate, it may seem hypercritical to advance an objection against the good taste of certain epithets. But we cannot avoid expressing a wish that the author had expunged in numerous places the words invaluable, all-important, remarkable, stupendous, &c. &c., which, when often repeated, do not appear to us really to elevate the subject. We are also at a loss to know why he entitles his book “ An apostolical Harmony."

Art. III. Imperial Classics.-Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of

England, France, Spain, &c. Johne's Translation. New Edition, with Notes and Illustrations. 2 vols. imperial 8vo. 1839. Smith,

London. IN comparing the histories which are written in a very rude,

and in a very advanced and highly civilized state of society, one

cannot fail to be struck with the fact, that they are generally chargeable with two opposite faults, both equally at variance with the spirit which should always preside over the composition of history. In the first, the poetic spirit predominates, in the second, the philosophic; in the first, there is a

preponderance of imagination, in the second, of reason; in the first, we are apt to find little more than graphic description; in the second, we are often obliged to be contented with the most meagre and general statements of facts, while there is an excess of deduction and speculation founded upon them. The truth is, that history falls pretty equally under the dominion of imagination and reason, and it is essential to its perfection that the balance between both should be preserved, and that neither should be exercised to the detriment of the other. Imagination is necessary to give an adequate conception of the scenes and events described, to make the past present, to bring the distant near, and to impart verisimilitude to the narration; while a sagacious and comprehensive intellect is equally required, to extract from the events of history those lessons of moral wisdom, and those maxims of political science, without which it is hardly worth while to write it at all. Without imagination a narrative will not be sufficiently special and vivid; it will assume, more or less, the unimpressive

form of dry chronicle. Without philosophy, though there may be splendid description, it will be of no more value than that of a novel or romance, and indeed the gratification it imparts to the reader will be of precisely the same kind. As a perfect history demands so great a variety and nice equilibrium of all the mental powers, together with the extensive and indefatigable research which is necessary to supply materials, it is far from surprising that there should be so few works which even approximate to perfection in this most difficult species of composition.

It is not at all wonderful, that in histories composed in an early and rude state of society, the imaginative element should be found so decidedly to preponderate. The course of development which the human mind takes is the same, whether in the species or the individual. In the infancy of nations, as of men, the senses and the imagination are chiefly active, and the material and the visible are every-where predominant. Thus in early histories, as in that of Herodotus among the ancients, and Froissart among the moderns, we find little of general statement; and nothing of abstract reasoning, or philosophical disquisition. They are distinguished by minuteness and speciality in the facts related, and by the most graphic liveliness in the modes of relating them. Not only are actions and events told us, but the manner of them; battles, sieges, personal encounters, negociations, deliberations, are described with as much copiousness as if they took place under the very eye of the historian. This, though it imparts wondrous vividness to the description by filling the imagination, detracts from the value of the whole, considered as history; for there must be in every such case an intermixture of what is false with what is true, which leaves us in doubt what to receive and what to reject. Even where a fact is authentic, we cannot tell that it took place in the manner stated, nor how far the circumstances with which it stands connected are additions made for the purpose of embellishment and picturesque effect. Nor does the matter rest here. The same tendency of mind causes the historian to look at every thing not with relation to its historic value, that is, its truth, but with reference to its capabilities of being wrought up in splendid or imposing description; in a word, in relation to the picturesque. And thus it is, that in writers of this description, we meet with so large an infusion of fiction and legends. . This indeed may be partly accounted for on other grounds; the love of such things being aided by that superstition which is so prevalent in the infancy of nations. This, however, is not always necessary to account for the eager pursuit of this species of the marvellous. We have abundant reason to believe, that writers of this stamp have often inserted prodigies and fictions to which they gave no credit themselves. The wç deyovor of Herodotus seems to imply that this was sometimes the case with him, and the sly manner of Froissart is not less conspicuous.

« 前へ次へ »