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PRINCETON, N. J. /j



Serf ion .



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,^ JAN 23 1911



A



DISCUSSIONS
ON THE GOSPELS.



Hui \vi^



IN TWO PARTS.



BY y/'

THE REV. ALEXANDER ROBERTS, M.A.

MINISTEU OF THE PKESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ST JOHn's WOUD, LONDON.



'O ovpavos Ku\ J] yrj irapeKfvcrovTM,
((/' 8e Xoyoi Mow ov fif) napfXdaai.

8t Matt. xxiv. 35; St Mark xiii, 31 ; St Luke xxi. 33.



LONDON:

JAMES NISBET AND CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.



M.DCCC.LXII.



[The rlijltl af translation is rcaei'ved.'\



edinburoii :

printed by bal.lantvne and company,

Paul's wouk.



PREFACE.



The principal argument developed in the following
pages was briefly illustrated in a work which I pub-
lished about three years ago on the Original Lan-
guage of St Matthew's Gosjoel. The substance of that
work, revised and corrected, will be found engrossed
in the present volume. I have also taken this oppor-
tunity of referring to some of those criticisms upon it
which seemed to deserve or to demand special atten-
tion. And during the interval which has elapsed
since its publication, 1 have continued to investigate,
as fully as lay within my power, the important ques-
tions to which it referred ; and without having found
reason to modify, in any material point, the views
which were formerly expressed, I now present them,
in a much more extended form, to the consideration
of biblical scholars.

I had the pleasure of ascertaining that, even as



IV PREFACE.

before set forth, my argument in behalf of the general
employment of Greek by our Lord and His disciples
went far to satisfy some of the acutest reasouers and
ablest critics of whom our country can at present
boast. But, as was to be expected, it also encoun-
tered not a little opposition, and was in some quarters
treated with utter contempt. I am inclined to believe
that this may have been due to the very imperfect
manner in which it was then presented, and to hope
that in its present form it may be attended with
better success.

It is needless to detain the reader with any lengthy
observations on the interest or importance of the
points about to be submitted to his consideration.
Few will doubt, that, if my argument is successful, the
conclusions reached must have no small influence on
some momentous questions connected with the Gos-
pels. But all depends on the success of the argument.
I therefore say nothing here respecting either the
interest or importance of the points discussed, but
reserve any remarks of that kind for the concluding-
chapter of the work.

I only add, that I have not had the advantage of
abundant leisure in pursuing those researches of which
the result is now given to the world, and that, al-
though there were no other reason than the interrupted
and occasional manner in which my work has l)een
composed, I am deeply sensible it will l^e found
marked by many imperfections. But I humbly con-



PREFACE. V

ceive that it is fitted to be of some service to the
cause of Divine truth, and that it may especially tend
to impart a fresh interest to one of the most precious
portions of Holy Scripture — that which contains a
record of the words and works of our adorable Ke-
deemer.

A. R.



St John's Wood, London,
March 20, 1862.



CONTENTS.



PART I.

ON THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED BY OUR LORD AND
HIS DISCIPLES.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION STATEMENT OF THESIS.

PAGE

Proposition of this Work, ...... 1

Different Views which have been held on the Question, . 5

Preliminary Observations, ...... 9

Sources of Evidence, ....... 19



CHAPTER II.

HISTORICAL PROOFS OF THE PREVALENCE OF GREEK IN PALESTINE IN
THE TIMES OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.

General Diffusion of the Greek Language at the commence-
ment of the Christian Era, ..... 25

Causes which led to the Prevalence of Greek in Palestine, 34

Various Proofs of this Prevalence, ..... 38

Greek Inscriptions, ....... 45

Numismatic Evidence, ....... ih.

The Mischna, 47



Vlll



CONTENTS.



The Works of Philo,
The Works of Josciihus,
The Apociyphal Books,



PAGE

48
49
54



CHAPTER III.

PROOF FROM A GENERAL SURVEY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT
GREEK WAS THE PREVAILING LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE IN THE
TIMES OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.



Statement of the Argument, .
General Proof from the Epistles,
General Proof from the Gospels,



65

57

78



CHAPTER IV.

SPECIAL PROOFS FROM THE GOSPELS THAT GREEK WAS THE PREVAIL-
ING LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE IN THE TIMES OF CHRIST AND HIS
APOSTLES.



The Sermon on the IVIount, .....

Quotations from the Old Testament in the Gospels,
Conversation of Christ with the Woman of Samaria,
Discourse delivered by Christ in Jerusalem,
Intercourse held by Pilate with Christ and the People of
the Jews, .......

Incident connected with the Crucifixion,
Conversation of Christ with ^Mary INIagdalene, .
Recapitulation, .......



95

104
IIG
119

122
12G
131
133



CHAPTER V.

SPECIAL PROOFS FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES THAT GREEK WAS
THE PREVAILING LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE IN THE TIMES OF
CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.

Narrative of Events on the Day of Pentecost, . . 137

Succceduig Speeches of the Apostles, . . . . 143

Mammg oi the Tcniifi JJellenists and Hebrews, . . 145

Different Opinions regarding the Hellenists and Hebrews, . 14G



CONTENTS.



IX



Discussion of the Question,
Conclusion regarding the Question, .
Speech of St Stephen before the Sanhedrim,
Succeeding Chapters,
Council of Jerusalem,
Tumult excited against St Paul,
Concluding Chapters of the Acts, .
Recapitulation, ....



PAGE

149
164
166
108
170
174
178
182



CHAPTER VI.



PROOF FROM THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREAVS OF THE PREVALENCE
OF GREEK IN PALESTINE IN THE TIMES OF CHRIST AND HIS
APOSTLES.



Questions agitated respecting the Epistle to the Hebrews,
Authorship of the Epistle, .....

Hypothesis of the exclusively Pauline Authorship,
Hypothesis of the exclusively non-Pauline Authorship,
Hypothesis of a Twofold Authorship of the Epistle, .
To what Readers the Epistle was originally Addressed,
Different Opinions regarding this Point, .
Conclusion and Inference, .....



184
188
195
200
206
213
220
227



CHAPTER VII.



FURTHER PROOFS FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT GREEK WAS THE
PREVAILING LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE IN THE TIMES OF CHRIST
AND HIS APOSTLES.

Style of the Epistle of James, ...... 230

All Records of Christ's Teaching are in Greek, . . . 235

Existence and Origin of Hellenistic Greek, . . . 241

Use of the Septuagint by the Writers of the New Testament, 247

Hymn of the Virgin ]Mar}^, ...... 254

Intercourse of the Soldiers with John the Baptist, . . 255

Narrative of St Paul's Conversion, . . . . . 256

Use of the terms Alpha and Omega by Christ, . . . 258

Conclusion, . . . . . . . . 259



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VIII.

CONSIDERATION OF OBJECTIONS TO THE VIEW THAT GREEK WAS THE
PREVALENT LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE IN THE TIMES OF CHRIST
AND HIS APOSTLES.

PAGE

A p7'iori Objection, . . . . . . . 261

Objection from tlie Existence and Employment of Aramaic

among the Jews, . . . . . . . 268

Objections from the Writings of Josephus, . . . 270
Objection based on the Assertion that the Jews of Palestine

did not use the Translation of the LXX., . . . 277
Objection from the Existence of the Targums of Onkelos

and Jonathan, . . . . . . . 283

Objections from the New Testament, . . . . 284

Conclusion, ......... 298



PART 11.

ON THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF ST MATTHEW'S
GOSPEL, AND THE ORIGIN OF THE GOSPELS.

CHAPTER L

STATEMENT OP THE QUESTION RESPECTING ST MATTHEW's GOSPEL,
AND OF THE METHOD IN WHICH THE INQUIRY SHOirLD BE CON-
DUCTED.

The Diifcrent Opinions stated, ..... 302

First Principle of Inquiry stated and iUustrated, . . 312

Second Principle of Inquiry st.atcd and illustrated, . 321

Third Principle of Impiiry stated and ilhistratcd, 327
Bearing of the Conclusion formerly reached on the Present

Question, . . . .'^34



CONTENTS. XI



CHAPTER II.

INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE ORIGINALITY OF ST MATTHEW's GOSPEL.

PAGE

Its General Character, ....... 340

Mode in wliich Quotations from the Old Testament are

made in it, . . . . . . . . 349

Explanations of Hebrew Words and Phrases which occur in it, 353
Latinistic Forms which often appear in it, . . . 357
Frequent and Significant Employment of the Imperfect Tense, 359
Occurrence of unusual Greek Expressions which could be
expressed in Hebrew only by means of a Circumlocu-
tion, 361



CHAPTER III.

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE ORIGINALITY OF THE EXISTING GREEK
GOSPEL OF ST MATTHEW.

Unfounded Assertions of the Advocates of the Hebrew

Original on this Point, . . . . . . 3G4

Proof of the Divine Authority of the existing Greek Gospel, 368

Proof of its Authorship by St Matthew, . . . . 369

Manner in which we should deal with the Statements of

the Fathers, 371

The GreeTc Gospel of St Matthew, the only one we are sure

he ever wrote, ....... 373

St John saw and sanctioned the Three Synoptical Gospels, 375



CHAPTER IV.

STATEMENTS OF ANCIENT WRITERS IN SUPPORT OF THE HEBREW
ORIGINAL OF ST MATTHEW's GOSPEL.

Reference to the Fact already Established, . . 381

That Fact beujg admitted, what the Statements made by

the Fathers may prove, . . . . . . 383

Nature of the Evidence derived from tlie Assertions of early

Ecclesiastical Writers, ...... 384



Xll



CONTENTS.



Statement of Papias as to the Original Language of St

Matthew's Gospel, .
Testimony of Irenjeus,
Testimony of Pantsenus, .
Testimony of Origen,
Testimony of Eusebius, .
Testimony of Jerome,
Explanation of the Manner in which the Error of Papias

pi'obably arose,
Origin of the Gospel of the Hebrews,



385
390
393
395
397
399

402
403



CHAPTER V.

OTHER HYPOTHESES RESPECTING ST MATTHEW's GOSPEL.

Fancied Discoveries of the Hebrew Original of St Matthew's

Gospel, 40G

Curetou's Syriac Gospels, ...... 407

Method of Dr Cureton's Argument, ..... 410

His Syriac Gospel of St Matthew derived from the Greek, 412

Its Unauthorised Additions, . . . . . . 413

Its Unauthorised Omissions, . . . . . . 415

Mistaken and Inexact Renderings, . . . . . 416

Its Orighi, 420

Hypothesis of a Twofold Original of St Matthew's Gospel, 422

Destitute of Evidence, ....... 423

Opposed to Phenomena existing in the Greek Gospel, . 426



CHAPTER VI.



ORIGIN OF THE GOSPELS.

Difficulties of the Question,
Eichhorn's Hypothesis, .
Bishop Marsh's Hypothesis,
Eichhorn's Amended Hypothesis,
Hypothesis of this Work,
Explains the Coincidences,
Other Suppositions made in order to Accomplish this
Object, ........



429
431
433
435
437
444

449



CONTENTS. Xlll



PACE



Unsatisfactory Character of the Ur-Evangelium Hypothesis, 452
Hypothesis of this Work also explains the Diversities, . 453
Impossibility of doing this on the Theory that the Evan-
gelists cojiied from each othei", ..... 454
Defects of the Theories of Norton and Davidson, . . 45G
Course followed by Dr Tregelles, ..... 461
Only Satisfactory Explanation of all the Phenomena, . 464

CHAPTER VII.

CONCLUSION APPLICATIONS AND RESULTS.

Consideration of the First Point established, . . . 4G6
Interest of the Conclusion that Christ made use of the Greek

Language, . . . . . . . 4GS

Illustrations of its Practical Importance, . . . 472
Application of it to the Question concerning the Author-
ship of the Apocalypse, . . . . . 476

Its Bearing on the Interpretation of the Gospels generally, 480

Consideration of the Second Point established, . . 483

Its bearing on the General Question of Inspii-ation, . . 486

Its Importance in respect to the existing Gospel of St Matthew, 490

Its Influence on the Authority of the whole New Testament, 492

Consideration of the Third Point established, . . 496

It removes Difficulties hitherto felt Insuperable, , . 497

It confirms the Divine Authority of the Gospels, . . 499

Preciousness of the Inspired Word of God, . . . 502

Conclusion, ......... 503



PAET I.

ON THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED BY OUR LORD AND
HIS DISCIPLES.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION — STATEMENT OF THESIS.

The object of tlie First Part of this Treatise is to
prove, chiefly from the New Testament itself, that
Greek was widely difiiised, well understood, and com-
monly employed for all public purposes in Palestine,
during the period spent on earth by our Lord and His
apostles.

In maintaining this proposition, I do not mean to
deny that the Hebrew language, in the form of Ara-
maean, also existed throughout the country, and was,
to a considerable extent, made use of among the
people. The real state of matters I believe to have
been this — that almost all the Jews, both in and beyond
Palestine, were then hilingues, that is, they understood
Greek, the common language of the civilised world,
and their own vernacular dialect, the proper national
tongue of the region in which they lived. In this
view of the case, the two languages, Ijoth commonly
made use of by the Jews of Palestine, (though, as we
shall see, generally for different purposes), would be
the Hebrew, in its modernised and corrupted form,
their true ancestral dialect, and the Greek, which had,
through the force of circumstances, been introduced

A



2 INTRODUCTION.

into their country, and flourished side l)y side with
their mother-tonmie/'"'

The condition of the Palestinian Jews at the date
refeiTed to, when regarded in this light, appears to
have been quite analogous to that of some of our
English colonies at the present day. In several of
these, we find two or more different languages simul-
taneously existing, one of which is the language of the
conquerors, and the other of which is a form, more or
less corrupted, of the ancient vernacular language of
the country. '* In Canada," for example, as Latham
writes, " the English language first took root after the
taking of Quebec in the reign of George the Second.
As Canada, how^ever, had been previously a French
colony, the European language that was first spoken
there was not the English, but the French. Hence,
when Quebec was taken, the language of the country
fell into two divisions. There were the different dia-
lects of the original Indians, and there was the French
of the first European colonists. At the present mo-
ment both these languages maintain their ground ; so
that the English is spoken only partially in Canada,
the French and the Indian existing by the side of it.

" At the Cape of Good Hope, the English is spoken
in a similar manner ; that is, it is spoken partially.
The original inhabitants were the Caffre and Hottentot
tribes of Africa, and the earliest European colonists
were the Dutch. For these reasons, Dutch and En-
glish, conjointly with the Hottentot and Caffrarian



* To prevent misconception, it may be well to observe here, once
for all, that by Hebreio is invariably meant, throughout this work, the
Aramccan or Syro-Chaldaic language, except where it is plainly stated
that the ancieyit Hebrew is intended.



STATEMENT OF THESIS. 3

dialects, form the language of the Cape t)f Good Hope.
In Guiana, too, in South America, English and Dutch
are spoken in the neighbourhood of each other, for the
same reason as at the Cape.'^ *

Or, as perhaps still more accurately and clearly
representing the state of things which is conceived to
have then existed in Palestine, I may briefly refer to
the linguistic peculiarity observable at the present day
in the islands of the English Channel. In these islands
— Guernsey, for instance — almost all the inhabitants
understand and employ English ; but, side by side
with that language, there exists a kind of impure
or antiquated French, which, being the old Norman
tongue partially corrupted, is still largely made use of
by the lower orders of the people. An Englishman,
mixing only among the educated classes in the island,
would perhaps never suspect that any other language
than his own was in common use among its popula-
tion ; but if he penetrate a mile or two into the in-
terior, and accost any of the peasantry in their homes
or at their labours, he will soon hear the tones of a
foreign tongue, and will find that it is generally pre-
ferred, in familiar intercourse, to the language of Eng-
land. Hence it comes to pass, that both English and
French, the one language, in many instances, greatly
influenced by the other, are known by almost all the
natives of the island ; and while the educated classes
generally make use of the former, the lower orders as
generally prefer the latter.

Many similar examples might be referred to, of the
ancient vernacular language of a country having been
overlaid, so to speak, by that of its conquerors. A

* Latham on the English Language, vol. i., p. 376.



4 INTRODUCTION.

strikino- adclitTonal illustration is furnished in tlie fate

o

of the Greek language itself, as employed by the in-
habitants of the Ionian Islands. During the supre-
macy of the Venetians in these islands, the Italian
almost entirely superseded the Greek, as the language
of education and general public intercourse. At the
same time, Greek continued to hold its place as the
mother-tongue of the whole native population, and
was commonly employed by them in familiar conver-
sation. The ancient vernacular language Avas never
altogether uprooted ; but it w^as, for a lengthened
period, entirely deprived of the position which it had
formerly occupied, as the medium of polite and public
intercourse ; while it speedily, of course, became greatly
corrupted, from being left to be principally employed
by the uneducated classes among the people. ■^''"

Now, these two cases, of the Ionian Islands formerly,
and the Channel Islands at the present day, very nearly
represent what is here maintained to have been the
state of matters in Palestine in the days of Christ.
The Greek language I believe to have been almost
universally prevalent, and to have been understood
and employed, more or less, by all classes in the com-
munity. But I also believe that the Greek, though
thus generally used, was attended by the Aramoean,
which was frequently spoken by all ranks of the native
population — was made use of by such, at times, on
public as well as private occasions ; but was, for the

* " The language of the country people in the islands has always been
Greek, more or less corrujited. That employed in good society, and in
commerce, as well as in legislation and official business, was Italian,
till the recent adoption of Greek as the language of the legislature,
courts of law, and all public departments." — Ency. Brit.y 8th edit.. Art,
Ionian Islands.



STATEMENT OF THESIS. 5

most part, employed only in homely and familiar in-
tercourse ; and might still be said, though with diffi-
culty, and, amid many exceptions, to maintain its
position as the mother-tongue of the inhabitants of
the country.

It will be observed, then, and I desire it to be spe-
cially noticed, that I put in no claim for the Greek, as
having been the only language in common use among
the Jews in the time of Christ. That claim, though,
as we shall immediately see, it has been made, seems
to me both paradoxical in itself, and opposed to in-
dubitable facts. But what I maintain, and shall
endeavour to prove, is, that Greek was, in several
important respects, the then prevailing language of
Palestine ; — that it was, in particular, the language of
literature and commerce ; the language generally em-
ployed in public intercourse ; the language which a
religious teacher would have no hesitation in selecting
and making use of, for the most part, as the vehicle
of conveying his instructions, whether orally or in
writing ; and the language, accordingly, which was
thus employed both by our Saviour and His apostles.

Some have taken much higher, and others greatly
lower ground upon this question. About a century
ago, a treatise '" was published, at Naples, by Diodati,

* The title of the excellent little treatise here refen-ed to is as fol-
lows : — "Dominici Diodati J. C. Neapolitani, de Christo Greece loqueute,"
8vo, Neapoli, 1767. It had become so rare, that Hug states he could
not procure a copy of it, even at Naples ; but it is now accessible to all
scholars in a neat and convenient form, having been republished in this
country some years ago by Dr Dobbin of Trinity College, Dublin.
Diodati was a civilian, and not an ecclesiastic, as he is sometimes
natm-ally but erroneously called. In the licence to print the work,
which is appended to the original edition, the censor having stated that
he had found nothing in it " contrary to sound morals, or the Catholic



6 INTRODUCTION.

ill which the learned and ingenious author labours
to prove that Greek had, in the days of our Lord,
entirely supplanted the old Palestinian dialect, and
was, in fact, the only language then generally known
among the people. In this particular object, I think,
it must be admitted that the author fails. And it is
to be regretted that he should have pushed his reason-
ings to such an extent ; as the fact of his having done
so has greatly prejudiced his whole argument. His
work excited much attention when it w^as published ;
but, from the extreme ground which it assumed, soon
gave rise to a powerful reaction in the opposite direc-
tion. We shall have occasion to notice afterwards
some of the forced, and almost, at times, ridiculous
interpretations to which he has recourse, in order to
make good his position. But though his conclusions
are of much too sweeping and trenchant a character,
and though he uses several bad arguments, while he
overlooks many more that are good, it will be ad-
mitted by every candid reader of his work, that he
collects much and varied information bearing uj)on
the general question, and that his discussion of the

faith," proceeds as follows : — " Quia gratulandum huic juveni est, quern
licet non sit ex Ecclesiasticorum online, cum juris scientia socias fecisse
sanctorum voluminum scientiam, atque orientalium linguarum peritiam,
atque ad communem Christianorum utilitatem, ac qurestum tot ssccu-
lorum iutercapedine ignotam hanc sacra) historiaj potissimam, ac jjrin-
cipem pai'tem sane quam erudito commentario, et evidentissimorum
monumentonmi ac rationum ope asseruisse, ingentemque uomini suo
famam conquisivisse." Other similar laudations follow ; and when
the work was published, " it excited," says Dr Dobbin, " the liveliest
interest throughout the learned world, and procured for the author
enrolment, by acclaim, among the members of several Academies, and
other literary institutions. Royalty itself condescended to express its
approbation of the genius and ability of Diodati, and Catherine II. of
Russia forwarded to Naples tokens of her imperial regard."



STATEMENT OF THESIS. 7

subject is conducted throughout with a lucidity of
statement and a liveliness of style, which render it
extremely interesting and attractive.

On the other side, it has been maintained that the
Greek language was scarcely used at all, in ordinary
intercourse, by the Jews of our Saviour's day ; and
that, accordingly, Aramaic was the language which He
generally or exclusively employed. Among the sup-
porters of this view, Dr Pfannkuche may perhaps be
referred to as chief. This writer had never himself
seen the work of Diodati ; but his treatise may never-
theless be regarded as a formal reply to that of the
Neapolitan scholar, inasmuch as he made use of the
previous reply of De Eossi, which had been published
at Parma in 1772. Respecting De Rossi, the learned
Professor Hug observes that he " sometimes confounds
different periods, often uses poor weapons, but is a
stout combatant;" and in all these respects he found
in Dr Pfannkuche a not unworthy successor. There
is, as every reader must feel, a most irritating want of
method, clearness, and logical coherence, in the work
of the learned German. In these particulars, no less
than in his special object, his treatise is the very
antithesis of Diodati's ; and were the question in
debate to be settled by an appeal to the literary ability
displayed by the respective champions, there could be
little doubt in whose favour judgment would instantly
be pronounced."^^"

* The work of Pfannkuche was translated and published in this
country in Vol. II. of Clark's Cabinet Library. We shall have occa-
sion in the sequel to advert to some of the halting conclusions of this
writer ; meanwhile, in illustration of what is said above, I may simply
refer to page 15 of the translation, where we find the translator naively



Online LibraryAlexander RobertsThe growth of the Gospels as shown by structural criticism → online text (page 1 of 39)