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thefe Epistles; Jerome indeed seems to refer to the history in his Comment on Matthew ch. x. as does Darius Comes in an Epistle to Austin“; and Pope Gelasius o rejects among the spua rious and Apocryphal books the Epistle under the name of Christ to Abgarus. In the following centuries there is more frequent mention of it. Procopius Cæsarienfis, who wrote about the year of Christ DXXX. (whether a Christian or Pa. gan is not certain) in his history of the Persian war, relates, " That Abgarus had been long afflicted with the gout, and
finding no relief from his Physicians, but hearing of the « miracles of Christ, fent to him, desired he would come and “ live with him ; and that upon his receiving an answer from “ Christ, he was instantly cured. He adds, that our Saviour “ in the end of his letter gave Abgarus assurance that his city « should never be taken by enemies, though he himself
questions the truth of this.” Euagrius, an ecclefiaftical writer in the latter end of the sixth century, appeals to this account of Procopius, and confirms the story of the city's never being to be taken, by some instances, “ as particularly “ when Chofroes King of Persia, not crediting the common
rumour, that this city was impregnable, besieged it, but " that he failed in his attempt by means of a miracle which
was wrought by a picture of Christ's face, which himself “impreffed upon a handkerchief, and sent to Abgarus at his “ earnest request." Cedrenus adds to all the reft", that Christ sealed his letter with a seal consisting of seven Hebrew letters, the interpretation of which, says he, is in Greek, Oeð orkev, Saõpece Deñor, i. e. The divine miracle of God is seen. Thus much concerning the antient accounts. I proceed,
II. To give some account of the sentiments of later writers concerning it. And in collecting these I obferve, that the whole story, as well as the Epistles themselves, are generally reckoned by Protestants and Papists to be spurious and Apocryphal.
a Edit. Lovan. Epist. 263. • Apud Grab. Spicileg. Patr.
• In Decret. See Part II. of t. 1. p. 8. The same is in the end this work. Chap. VI.
of an antient Manuscript copy of c Lib. 2. c. 12.
this Epistle in the Bodleian LiHift. Eccl. l. 4. Co 26.
hrary at Oxford. B 4
There are indeed some few Romish writers, and three or four divines of the Church of England, who have entertained more favourable thoughts of the matter.
Dr. Parker, though he would not, as he says, lay any great stress upon the story or letters, yet adds, that he could see no ground to suspect it of forgery; and the weightiest objections that are made against it are too light to weigh any thing with him; and elsewhere, “ I cannot find any thing that may in the « leaft shake or impair the credit of the story. Nay, the contents
of our Saviour's letter agree fo exactly with the whole design “ of his life in the Gospels, as by that alone to give itself confi“derable authority, viz. to put off the exercise of his power, and
obscure the reputation of his glory as much as he could, till “after his refurrection." Accordingly he endeavours in both the places referred to, to answer the objections which are urged against the Epistles, and to offer arguments for their genuineness.
Dr. Cave declares it as his opinion,“ That fo antient a mo“nument of Christianity ought not to be rejected, which as it con“ tains no evidences of an impofture, nor any thing unworthy of
Chrift, so also is delivered down to us as genuine by Eusebius, "and several others of the antients.” He adds, that all the arguments against it are trifling, and endeavours to answer them.
Dr. Grabe urges several arguments for the Epistle', and proposes to answer all that is said against it, though, says he, I do not hereby own that they are undoubtedly genuine, but leave the matter in doubt.
On the other hand Cocuse, Rivet", Chemnitius, Ofi
a Demonstrat. of the Law of Nature and the Christian Religion, in the Preface, p. 34, &c.
• Part II. $.16. p. 235, &c.
c Hist. Liter. in Christ. p. 2, 3. Vol. I."
Spicileg. Patr. t. 1. p. 4. et
in notis, præcipue p. 319.
e Censur. Vet. Scriptor. p. 2.
f Vid. Critic. Sacr. l. 3. c. 2. et alibi.
8 Exam. Conc. Trid. Vol. IV, p. 44.
andera, Walther", Father Simono, Du Pin', the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr. Spanheim the younger ", Mr. Fabritius®, and Mr. Le Clerc“, besides many others, have judged the whole story and the Epistles spurious, and have several of them by good arguments demonstrated them to be so.
CH A P. II.
The Epistles and History of our Saviour and Abgarus proved
Spurious by several Arguments, viz. Because there is no Intimation nor Mention of them by the Apostles or Writers of the first three Centuries. Christ's Epiftle Spurious, because after its Publication by Eufebius, it was universally rejected; and because it contains several Things later than the time of our Saviour ; because it contains somewhat contrary to Christ's Character, and mentions Christ's Ascension. AVING in the former Chapter proposed the opinions
of several learned men concerning these Epistles and History, I proceed now,
III. To offer that which seems to me most probable in the matter, and without a prolix and tedious repetition of what has been already faid, to discuss the subject in as clear and compendious a manner as I can.
That the above-mentioned Letters and history were in the archives or records of Edessa, cannot, I think, be reasonably doubted by any who are acquainted with the character of Eu.
• Epitom. Hist. Cent. I. 1. 2. c.9.
Ó Officin. Biblic. §. 1440. p. 1215
c Crit. Hist, of the New Test. Part I. c. 3.
d Hift. of the Canon. Vol. II. c. 6. g. 1.
e Preface to his Tranflation of the Apoftolick Fathers, Ch. IX.
f Hiftor. Christ. Secul. p. 578, 579.
6 Cod. Apocr. Nov. Teftam. Par. 1. p. 379:
h Hiftor. Ecclef. ad Ann. 29.
febius, and the impartiality of his history. He positively as, ferts, that he bimfelf received them out of the Archives of that city, από των αρχείων ημίν ληφθείσων (unlefs for αρχείων perhaps we should rather read azzeciwn, and so Eufebius only mean, that they of his time received them from the primitive or elder Chriftians) though it does not so evidently appear, as it is presumed always, that Eusebius was at Edessa, and there transcribed them, much less that he translated them into Greek out of Syriack, as Dr. Cave, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, and most who have lately wrote on this subject have supposed, being led into the mistake by following the Latin Translation of Valefius, without due regard to the original of Eufebius. That which is most probable is, that Eufebius himself never was at Edeffa, becaufe he does not assert it, which he would very probably have done, if he really had been there; and that he did not translate these Epiftles himself out of Syriack into Greek, becaufe it is, I think, very evident, that he did not un. derstand that language a. This being premised, I shall offer the following arguments against the genuineness of these Epistles and history, viz.
ARG. I. The Epistles and History of our Saviour and Abgarus are fpurious and Apocryphal, because they are not res ferred to, or mentioned, either in the now received Gospels, or by any writer or writers of the three first centuries after Chrift, It is true indeed, there were many transactions in the life of Christ not mentioned in our prefent Gospels, nor was it the intention of the Authors to publish every thing he faid and did; but it is on the other hand as disagreeable to their design to omit a history fo very remarkable as this, than which nothing, if true, could have a greater tendency to raise men's opinion of our Saviour: but that which seems to make this argument undeniable, is, that there was the most urgent necessity for the Apostles to have published this history, because a controversy was arose not only between them and the believing Jews, but even between themselves, Whether the Gospel was to be
2 Vid. Cleric. jam cit.
preached to the Gentiles at all, or whether it was not only to be confined to the Jews? Now, if this history were true, and known to the Apostles, as there could not have been any foundation for this controversy, so, if it had arose, this Epistle of Christ muft foon have ended it, seeing he there expressly appoints the preaching of the Gospel to this Gentile king and his city. I conclude it therefore a forgery after Christ's time, and consequently Apocryphal. Add to all this the prevailing opinion among the antients, that Christ himself never wrote any thing. Thus Origen“, Jerome, and Austin', in so many words assure us; and the last particularly writing against an Epistle under the name of Christ, which the Manichees boasted of, thus reasons “; “ If there really be any such letter, “ how comes it to pass, that it is not publickly read, and received « in the Church with the highest regard by those who are the “fucceffors of the Apostles?” The Epistle therefore of Christ to Abgarus, and consequently the whole history, not being mentioned by our Evangelists, nor any of the primitive writers till Eusebius, and expressly rejected by Pope Gelasius, I conclude to be Apocryphal by Prop. IV, V, VI. Part I.
ARG. 2. I argue against this Epiftle under the name of Christ, viz. that it was a spurious piece, because even after the publication of it by Eufebius, it was universally rejected. It does not appear that the credit and zeal of that historian procured it any respect, but on the contrary, as it was not known in the three preceding centuries, so it was as much disregarded in the fourth, no one writer of that century having made any mention of it, except only Ephraem Syrus, and Da. rius Comes, though I much question, whether that Epistle under his name to Austin be genuine, because that Father (as in the place now cited) knew nothing of any letter under the name of Christ, of which that Epistle, if there had been
. Contr. Cell. 1. 1. p. 34
• De Confenf. Evang. lib. I. 6.7. t. opp. 4•
d Contr. Fauft. Manich. 1. 28. c. 4. t. opp. 6. See the partage at large above, Part II. Chap. XV.