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thus explained, the variations between them would only stand out in more troublesome relief. But that which cannot be effected by a single hypothesis, can be by that in conjunction with others
. Here we may see the solution of a problem which has so long occupied the attention of theologians. But, whatever opinion may be entertained on this point, the investigation of it must always be kept aloof from the question of the genuineness of the gospels, which should first be established or denied on historical grounds. Thus will the collection of the gospels be secure from all danger.
The individual Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Of the four gospels, that of Matthew holds the first place in the canon. The author of this first gospel, besides the name of Matthew, bore also that of Levi (Matt. 9: 9. Mark 2: 14), and was the son of a certain Alpheus, of whom we know nothing further
. Of the history of Matthew very little is known in addition to the accounts in the New Testament. After our Saviour called him from his station as receiver of customs, he followed him with fidelity, and was one of the twelve whom Jesus sent forth. His labors as an apostle, however, seem to have been wholly confined to Palestine ; for, what is related of Matthew's travels in foreign countries is very doubtful, resting only on the authority of later ecclesiastical writers. But the information respecting him which is of most importance to our purpose is given with perfect unanimity by the oldest ecclesiastical writers, who declare that Matthew wrote a gospel. It is true that they likewise subjuin, equally without exception, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew at Jerusalem and for believing Jews; and that this account must be correct, we know from the fact, that the Jewish Christians in Palestine, who spoke Hebrew, all made use of a gospel which they referred to Matthew. This Hebrew gospel did, indeed, differ from our Greek gospel of Matthew, for it contained many things wanting in our gospel ; but still it was in general so exactly like the latter, that a father of the fourth century, the celebrated Jerome, felt himself entitled to treat of the Hebrew gospel expressly as Matthew's. It is a
singular circumstance, however, that, while all the fathers of the church declare Matthew to have written in Hebrew, they all, notwithstanding, make use of the Greek text as of genuine apostolic origin without remarking what relation the Hebrew Natthew bore to our Greek gospel ; for that the oldest fathers of the church did not possess Matthew's gospel in any other form than that in which we now have it, is fully settled. That we have no definite information on this point is undoubtedly owing to accidental causes ; but, since it is so, that we want any certain account, we can only resort to conjecture concerning the mutual relation of the Greek and Hebrew Matthew. Existing statements and indications, however, enable us to form conjectures which, it is in the highest degree probable, are essentially correct. The idea that some unknown individual translated the Hebrew gospel of Matthew, and that this translation is our canonical gospel is contradicted by the circumstance of the universal diffusion of this same Greek Matthew, which makes it absolutely necessary to suppose that the translation was executed by some one of acknowledged influence in the church, indeed of apostolic authority. In any other case, would not objections to this gospel have been urged in some quarter or other, particularly in the country where Matthew himself labored, and where his writings were familiarly known? There is not, however, the slightest trace of any such opposition to it. Besides; our Greek Matthew is of such a peculiar character that it is impossible for us to regard it as a mere version. Does a man, who is translating an important work from one language into another, allow himself to make alterations in the book he is translating, to change the ideas it presents ? Something of the kind must be supposed to have been done in the Greek gospel of Matthew with relation to the Hebrew. This is beyond denial if it be considered merely how the quotations from the Old Testament are treated.
These do not coincide either with the Hebrew text of the Old Testament or with the version in common use at the time of the apostles, viz. the Septuagint (which was executed by some learned Jews at Alexandria several centuries before the birth of Christ ;) but rather exhibited an independent text of their own. Now, as sometimes the argument is wholly based on this independent character of the text in the citations from the books of the Old Testament, and cannot have occurred at all with a Hebrew gospel of Matthew, it is clear that our Greek Matthew must be something else than a mere version.
It is rather an independent work, though closely allied to the Hebrew gospel of the apostle. Since this same work is universally regarded as an apostolic production, written by Matthew, there is no more simple and effectual mode of solving all the characteristics of the gospel of Matthew, than to suppose that Matthew himself, when he had composed the Hebrew gospel, executed likewise a free translation or new composition of it in the Greek language. It makes no essential difference, if we suppose that a friend of Matthew wrote the Greek work under his direction and authority ; but Matthew's authority must necessarily be supposed to have been the means of the diffusion of the gospel, as otherwise it is inexplicable that there does not appear the faintest trace of any opposition to it.
No definite objection can be made against our supposition that Matthew wrote a Greek gospel besides his Hebrew one. A single circumstance may appear strange ; viz. that Papias the ancient bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia whom we have before mentioned, who was conversant with persons that had themselves seen and heard our Lord, states that every one endeavored to translate the Hebrew gospel of Matthew as well as he was able. Thus, according to this passage, the universally received Greek transformation of the Hebrew gospel was not commonly known in Phrygia; so that persons who did not very well understand Hebrew did as well as they could with the Hebrew gospel. But the circumstance that in the immediate vicinity of Papias the Greek Matthew was not yet current is no proof at all that it was not yet in existence. For, as Matthew's work was already diffused throughout the church in the Hebrew language, and the Greek Matthew corresponded with the Hebrew in every essential point, it was very natural that the Greek gospel should be circulated in a more dilatory manner, and by some accident it was particularly tardy in reaching Phrygia. As, however, in the west generally, very few understood Hebrew, when the Greek Matthew was once procured, that only was circulated, and thus the Hebrew gospel was completely lost in Europe. In Palestine alone, as the Hebrew was better understood, it continued in use, though it was encumbered with divers foreign additions by the Jewish Christians.
Thus, the genuineness of the gospel of Matthew is fully confirmed on historical grounds, aside from its position in the collection of the gospels. Recent investigators have raised doubts in regard to its genuineness from internal considerations. They Vol. IX. No. 25.
say, in particular, that if the statements of Matthew in the character of eye-witness (for he was one of the twelve apostles), be compared with the descriptions of Mark who does not write as an eye-witness, it will be evident that the advantage is on the side of the latter. Every thing which Mark narrates is represented in so graphic a manner that it is plain he derived his accounts from eye-witnesses; while the narrative of Matthew, whom we are to regard as himself an eye-witness in respect to most of his relations, is dry and without the least vivacity. This remark is perfectly correct. Comparison of a few passages will at once show how much more minute and graphic are Mark's descriptions than those of Matthew. This is particularly the case as to the accounts of cures, In these Mark frequently describes the circumstances of the sick person, before and after the cure, in so lively a manner as to make us imagine the scene really before us; while Matthew, on the contrary, describes the occurrence only in very general terms. Let a comparison be made in this view between the following accounts given by Matthew and Mark of the same occurrences.
Matt. 8: 28-34.
MARK 5: 1-19.
" And wben he was come to “And they came over unto the the other side into the country of other side of the sea, into the the Gergesenes, there met him country of the Gadarenes. (This two possessed with devils, coming is another reading for Gergesenes.) out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, And, when lie was come out of the so that no man might pass by that ship, immediately there met him way. And, behold, they cried out of the tombs a man with an out saying,” etc.
unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no mun could bind him, no, not with chains : because that he had been oslen bound, with sellers and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the felters broken in pieces : neither could any man lame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and culting himself with stones. · But, when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice and said," etc.
Respecting their cure Matthew | Respecting his cure Mark says merely says (v. 32): “And he said (v. 13 and onward): “ And forthunto them, Go. And when they with Jesus gave them leave. were come out they went into the And the unclean spirits went out herd of swine, and behold, the and entered into the swine,” etc. whole herd of swine," etc.
And they (that were in the city and in the country) went out to see what it was that was done, And they come to Jesus and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting,
and clothed, and in his right mind : and they were afraid.”
Matt. 9: 18_26.
MARK 5: 21-43.
20. “ And, behold, a
25. “And a certain woman, which was diseased with an issue which had an issue of blood of blood twelve years, came be- twelve years, and had suffered mahind him, and touched the hem of ny things of many physicians, and his garment."
had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she bad heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment."
Moreover, the whole account contained in verses 29–33 is in Mark only.
Account of the execution of The whole narrative is given John the Baptist by Herod. in Mark with much more minute
ness and vivacity.
Such a difference in the style of narration runs throughout Matthew and Mark; and it cannot well be denied that at first view there is something surprising in it. But careful examination of the object of the two gospels plainly shows whence this manner of narration in Matthew and Mark takes it rise, and thus does away with all the inferences which have been deduced therefrom in opposition to the apostolic origin of Matthew. The reason why Mark describes the outward relations of our Lord's life in so vivid and graphic a manner is, that it was his special design to portray Christ's performance of the outward