« AnteriorContinuar »
(Continued from p. 160.)
HAVING laid before our readers an abstract of Dr. Middleton's doctrine of the Greek article, we now proceed to the more important part of his work-the application of that doctrine to the criticism and the illustration of the New Testament. This subject occupies much the larger part of the volume, which contains a regular comment on the books of the New Testament in order, so far as their interpretation depends upon the article. But it seems necessary previously to remove a prejudice, which is entertained by many scholars, against applying the nicer rules of grammatical construction to the writings of the apostles and evangelists. For this purpose we extract from Dr. Middleton the following passage:
"It may be asked, Is it likely that writers, who were confessedly untaught, and whose Greek style is far ren ved from classical purity, should pay regard to circumstances so minute, as are the uses of the Greek article? In the recent controversy [occasioned by Mr. Granville Sharp's publication] the negative of this question has been assumed, I will venture to affirm with out any right founded on fair rea, soning, or on the nature of the case. It will not, indeed, be immediately conceded, that all the writers of the New Testament were illiterate persons. To St. Paul some have ascribed a considerable degree of learning.......and if the acquirements of St. Luke were not pre-eminent, his style gives us no reason to be lieve, that his education, any more than his condition in life, was mean.
If, therefore, it be recollected, how large a portion of the sacred volume was written by these two, and that St. Paul is the writer from whom principally the controverted texts are drawn, it may well be doubted, whether the known simplicity of some of the apostles could afford any argument to Mr. Sharp's antagonists. My own concern, however, is with the New Testament generally I shall therefore consider the writers under one general character, as being, if the reader so please to call them, illiterate men: to admit that they were illiterate, is not to concede that they were not competently skilled in the use of the Greek tongue.
"The objectors argue as if they imagined that the sacred writers encountered the same difficulties in acquiring Greek, which our peasants and mechanics would meet with in their attempt to learn French or Italian: but the cases are plainly dissimilar. The greater part of Englishmen pass through life without having. ever heard a conversation in any other language than their own: and even of those who have acquired some knowledge of the continental tongues, there are but few who made the acquisition in their childhood, by residing in the countries where those languages are respectively used. But this is not applicable to the writers of the New Testament, Neither were they natives of a country where Greek was rarely spoken; nor is it probable that any of them made the acquisition late in life...... The language of literature and of commerce, and in a great degree even of the ordinary intercourse of life, was the Greek. Greek, says Michaelis, wasthe current language in all the cities to the west of the Euphrates: and Josephus expressly declares, that he had written, in his vernacular idiom, a work on the Jewish war, of which the Greek work, still preserved, is a translation, in order that Parthians, Babylonians, Arabians, and the Jews who dwelt be yond the Euphrates, might be in
formed of what had happened. It is then manifest, that, westward of the Euphrates, a knowledge of Greek was not an accomplishment, confined exclusively to the learned and polite; but that it was generally understood, and commonly used, by people of all ranks, and must have been acquired in their childhood. In this state of things, therefore, what were we to expect, à priori, from the writers of the New Testament? I speak not of St. Luke and St. Paul, of whom Greek was the native language, but of the other evangelists and apostles. It was not, indeed, to be expected, if we reflect on their circumstances and habits of life, and the remoteness of Palestine, that they should write with the elegance of learned Athenians: but I know not of any reasonable presumption against their writing with perspicuity and with grammatical correctness; and it is against these, and not against elegance, that the improper use of the article would offend-to insert it gratuitously, will in most instances alter, and in many destroy, the sense: to omit it, indeed, is not unfrequently the licence of poetry; but no one will suspect that the style of St. John was corrupted by a too familiar acquaintance with Pindar and the tragic choruses, especially when such writers as Xenophon and Plato escaped the contamination. In most cases, also, the improper insertion or omission of the article would be a breach of grammatical correctness; since, as has been demonstrated, the uses are not arbitrary, but are subject to rules, the reasons of which are apparent. It is not true, therefore, however prevalent may be the opinion, that the uses of the Greek article do for the most part deserve to be considered as minutia; unless it be deemed minute in writing to adhere to the ordinary construction of the language, and to employ, in Downs the case, and in verbs the mood and tense, which the writer's meaning may require.'
reader to expect, what upon examination he will find to be true, that the rules deduced from the clas sical writers are observed by the writers of the New Testament. Of this he will not fail to be convinced, if he will follow the author through the numerous passages in which he has successfully applied his doctrine. of the Greek article to the explanation of the New Testament. From these passages I shall extract such as are distinguished by their originality and importance.
Matt. iv. 3. Εἰ υιος εἶ τα Θε8: if thou be the Son of God,' according to the authorized version; but according to Campbell and Wakefield, if thou be a son of God' and one reason for this innovation seems to be the absence of the article before 105. On this reason Dr. Middleton has the following remarks: "It is evident, that there can be only four combinations arising from the insertion or omission of the article before vios and 9ɛov.
see is never found, and it would scarcely have been Greek: & ios TU Sea is common, but is allowed to be meant in the highest acceptation: we need, therefore, consider only
ios 78 8, and ios 8. Now there are instances, besides that which has given birth to this discussion, which prove incontestably, that vios T8 88 was never meant to be taken in an inferior sensei.e. on the supposition that Christ was ever declared to be the Son of God, in the usual acceptation; which Campbell does not dispute. Thus Mark i. 1, los T8 98 is spoken, by the evangelist himself, of Jesus. John x. 36, the same phrase is employed by Christ himself, of himself. And Matt. xxvii. 40, it is used by those who well knew Christ's pretensions ......If Christ be admitted ever to be called the Son of God, we cannot believe that less would be affirmed of him in any of these examples.
"Neither is dog See, without either of the articles, to be taken in an inferior sense: for, not to exaThese observations prepare the mine all the places in which it oc
curs, we have, Matt. xxvii, 43, the crime, laid to Christ that he said, I am the Son of God; which the high priests would hardly palliate. In Luke i. 35, the same phrase is affirmed of Christ by an angel: and Rom. i. 4, by the apostle Paul. It is plain from these proofs, that the presence or the absence of the article does not determine the phrase to be used in a higher or lower sense.
"Is it, then, to be concluded, that the article may generally be used at pleasure? This is the very hypothesis which I would combat. The reason why we meet with both συ ει ο υιος το θες, and συ ει υιος τα 988, is, that here two principles in terfere after verbs substantive, the first article should be omitted; yet where u precedes, it is not unfrequently inserted.......In Luke i. 35, the phrase could not be ὁ υιος το Se8, because of the verb nuncupative, after which the rule is strictly observed."
In John xix. 7, the charge against Christ is, that he made himself the Son of God.' But the Greek is lov S88, without either of the articles, as is usual in such cases, however definite be the sense. Yet Mr. Wakefield, qualis ab incepto, goes on translating a son of God; thus at once disregarding the idiom, and the obvious sense, of the passage: for that the Jews should talk of putting Christ to death, for pretending merely to sanctity of character, which is all that "he made himself a son of God" can mean, (see Rom. viii. 14), is unnatural and absurd, and is contrary to what we learn from the other evangelists. The charge was evidently not of hypocrisy, but blasphemy: and Christ, in affirming that he was the Son of God, did, in fact, affirm his Messiahship....... But the bigotry of heterodoxy seems to be to the full as blind, as the orthodoxy which it professes to enlighten."
original, translates a son of the most high God:' why he did not, from a regard to consistency, write also a most high god, I do not pretend to know; yet assuredly that rendering would have been equally defensible.......dios, it is true, wants the articie in the original; and so it must have done, allowing the sense to be the most definite; for 105, after xeral, would not be Greek."
In John v. 27, For he is the Son of man'-r los avows 851-both the articles are omitted. "The termos T8 avSpwne has already occurred seventy times, but now, for the first time, without either of the articles: and on this circumstance some stress has been laid by Beza, Michaelis, Campbell, and others. They contend that the articles are here purposely omitted, for that our Saviour meant only to assert, that the person to whom power was thus given, was himself a man.......The question is, How came the articles, in the phrase vos TOT av pwπE, ever to be employed? Obviously because our Saviour assumed to himself this appellation: and the very assumption forbad him to use the phrase otherwise than as dos TE apme. He was to be designated ass, for otherwise he would not have been distinguished from any other individual of the human race; and ifs, then ra avSpurs, for
vios avρwe would offend against regimen. Hence it is plain that the article before av pwne is not, if I may say so, naturally and essentially necessary, but is so only acciden tally; and consequently it will not be admitted, unless where regimen requires it-i. e. where & vos precedes. Now, in the present instance, vios, and not vios, properly follows Es and therefore the phrase could not be other than ύιος ανθρώπου. We find, indeed, such phrases as U EI υιος τε θε8, or even ὁ υιος τε SEB, as was explained above, Matt. iv. 3: but the reader will recollect, that the word a commonly takes the article, even where regimen does not
make it necessary, besides that the pronoun ou contributes to give the predicate a definite form......If it be thought remarkable, and therefore unfavourable to the foregoing interpretation, that is avSpams, as apphed to Christ, now first occurs without the articles, it is sufficient to answer, that now, for the first time, has Christ asserted his claim to the title: in all other places he has assumed it. It is moreover to be observed, that the fathers, in similar cases, appear always to use the phrase ios apшT8-I mean where the canons require vos to be without the article. On the whole, I am convinced that the rendering of our common English version, the Son of man,' is correct, contrary to the opinion of those who would contorm with the letter, rather than with the spirit, of the original. The import of the passage is, indeed, as they contend, that God hath made Christ the Judge of man, for that he, having taken our nature, is acquainted with our infirmities.' But the same meaning will be deducible from the comtnon version, if we consider that the very title Son of man' has every where a reference to the incarnation of Christ, and is therefore significant of his acquaintance with human weakness. I have indeed observed, that, in a majority of the places in which our Saviour calls himself the Son of Man, the allusion is either to his present humiliation or to his future glory and, if this remark be true, we have an indirect, yet a strong and perpetual declaration, that the human nature did not originally belong to him, and was not properly his own. He who shail examine the passages throughBut with a view to this observation, will be able duly to estimate its valae: for myself, I scruple not to aver, that I consider this single phrase, so employed, as an irrefragable proof of the pre-existence and divinity of Christ."
in John i. 5, The Word was God - Seos no Moyos-the article is not inserted before sos, and hence it
has been inferred, that beg is used in a subordinate sense. Dr. Middleton observes, "It has been satisfactorily answered, that, in whatever acceptation Jeos is to be taken, it properly rejects the article, being here the predicate of the proposi tion: and Bengel instances the LXX. 1 Kings xviii. 24, 870s Deos, as similar to the present passage. It may be added, that, if we had read, in John i. 5, & eos, the proposition would have assumed the convertible form, and the meaning would have been, that whatever may be affirmed or denied of God the Father, may also be affirmed or denied of the Logos;-a position which would ac cord as little with the Trinitarian as with the Socinian hypothesis. It is therefore unreasonable to infer, that the word 905 is here used in a lower sense, for the writer could not have writen eos without manifest absurdity. The meaning of that clause in the Athanasian Creed, which af firms that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, is adequately expressed by beos Παλης, Θεος ο Υιος, θεος το Πνευμα το yo nor will the most zealous Trinitarian, if he understand Greek, be dissatisfied with this interpretation of his belief."
On the much-controverted text, Rom. ix. 5, our author has thrown new light, by applying his doctrine of the article. Wetstein had objected to the common translation, who is over all, God blessed for ever,' that if such had been St. Paul's meaning he would have written wy 'O επTI παντών. "In the opinion of Michaelis," says Dr. Middleton, " Wetstein was the most learned of the opponents of the divinity of Christ: it may therefore be thought incredible that he should have expressed the received interpretation in false Greek: yet such, I fear, is the case. O v 'O, so intended that the latter article shall be predicated of the former, is, I am persuaded, a form of expression not to be met with in the uncorrupted remains of Greek literature, whether sacred or pro
fane: for wv 'O, would in fact amount to o wy o wy: accordingly, throughout the New Testament, even in cases where the sense of the noun following wv is the most definite, we always find the article omitted. Thus John x. 12, ex v Touy, though a particular shepherd is meant-viz. of the sheep in question :-xi. 49, apxiepeus wv, de clared immediately to be the high priest of that year: --Heb. v. 8. wv Dios, the Son, who is always, where no rule interferes, called los:— Acts v. 17, ή ούσα αίρεσις των ΣαδJouxziwy, not alperis:-2 Cor. xi. 31, 6 wy euhoyylos, though, in Mar. xiv. 61, we find the Father called κατ' εξοχήν, ὁ εὐλογητος.”
Some commentators have attempted to elude the force of the argument for the divinity of Christ, derived from this passage, by their construction, which makes the whole, or part of the clause, to be a doxology in praise of the Father: " God, who is over all, be blessed for ever;" or beginning at 9E05," God be blessed for ever." On the first of these constructions Dr.Middleton remarks, "that in all the doxologies, both of the LXX and of the New Testament, in which evλoylos is used, it is placed at the beginning of the sentence in the New Testament there are five instances, all conspiring to prove this usage; and in the LXX about forty....The reading then would, on this construction, rather have been, ευλογητος ὁ ως επί πανίων θεος εις τες αιώνας. Against the other supposed doxology, which was approved by Locke, the objection is still stronger, since that would require us not only to transpose suλoylos, but to read O 90s. This word, Jeos, though it have some latitude, in taking or rejecting the article, never uses its licence so as to create the least possible ambiguity: thus it can make no difference whether we write θεω οι τω θεω αρεσαι. but ευλογητος θεος will appear to signify, not blessed be God, but that the words are to be taken in immediate concord which each other: ac
cordingly, in all instances, where a doxology is meant, we find ɛuhayqłog & Deos....... For these reasons I conclude that both the proposed constructions are inadmissible."
From these specimens, all relating to the divinity of Christ, the reader will perceive the great importance of the doctrine of the article in confuting many of the erroneous interpretations of the Socinians.
We now proceed to texts relating to the Holy Spirit; who is first mentioned in Matt. i. 18, She was
found with child of the Holy Ghost," as it is rendered in our translation. In Mr. Wakefield's New Testament, 1795, it is a holy spirit,' probably because the article is omittedεκ πνευματος άγιου — for he seems net to have adverted to the anomaly, when a noun used xal oxy, and therefore requiring an article, be comes, after a preposition, anarthrous.
The phrases πνευμα and πνευμα dyov, both with and without the in the article, frequently occur The meaning@ New Testament. which they bear, and the occasions on which the article is taken or re jected, are the subject of the follow ing acute and learned inquiry.
1. The primitive signification of vauua, is breath' or wind in which senses, however, it is not often found in the New Testament In the sense of breath, Eupa takes or rejects the article, as the circon stance may require. Thus Matt xxvii. 50, αφηνε Το πνεύμα, και breath,' or life; but Apoc. xii. 15 we have douva veuμ, to give life; where To would be inconsisten with the sense; for that which wa possessed already could not first be given. In the meaning wind, we find John iii. 8, TO vε orou Seλel, where the article i requisite. Chap. iii. Sect. 1. § 5, d the Doctrine of the Article,
«2. Hence we pass, by an easy transition, το πνεύμα, the intellectui or spiritual part of man, as opposed to his carnal part. Thus it is fre quently contradistinguished from