Edward Evanson.

The dissonance of the four generally received evangelists, and the evidence of their respective authenticity, examined; with that of some other scriptures deemed canonical online

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Online LibraryEdward EvansonThe dissonance of the four generally received evangelists, and the evidence of their respective authenticity, examined; with that of some other scriptures deemed canonical → online text (page 1 of 18)
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ived -September-,- ...i88&.

Accessions No.^-^> i~<J<T- Shelf No... ^ 5"-







Evidence of their respective Authenticity!





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In which many Arguments are considerably improved and strengthened,



" I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid btfore me. 1 *
f< As for /tes, I hate and abhor them; but thy Law do I love."

PSALM cxix. 30. 163.






And Sold by J. JOHNSON, 72, St. Paul's Church-yard ; W. VIDLER,
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GELISTS, in reply to the Objections of Dr. Priestley and
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4. SECOND THOUGHTS on the TRINITY, recommended to
the Bishop of Gloucester. Price Is. 6d.

JN both the general spirit and particular
precepts of the religion of Jesus Christ,
there is something so amiable, so obviously
conducing to the diminution* of misery, and
thediffusion of comfort and happiness amount
mankind, that, it may reasonably be presumed,
no man duly acquainted with that beautiful,
that perfect system of morality, can be/so un-
feeling for the concerns of his fellow-creatures,
and so little a real friend to himself, as not to"
wish the truth of the Gospel Revelation could
be so satisfactorily demonstrated, as to con-
vince the minds of men of all degrees a: id
stations, and induce them, not merely ' to
profess to receive it, -for that -alone can answer
no desirable purpose, but conscientiously to
make it the rule of their lives and conduct at
all times, and on all occasions, both; ia:>pubiic
and in private. To accomplish this,' it is, in
the first* place, absolutely necessary; that its
celestial origin and authenticity should he
fully and clearly ascertained, and no jus>t


cause left for doubt and uncertainty about it;
for the least room for doubting in such a case,
throws so considerable a weight into the scale
of immediate self-interest, and our natural ap-
petites and infirmities, as renders it next to
impossible that its precepts should have any
valuable efficacy upon him who doubts ; not-
withstanding all the prudential suggestions of
modern preachers, that he who walketh religi-
ously, walketh surely; and that the truest wis-
dom is to act upon the supposition of the truth
of the Christian Revelation. Men sometimes
act upon uncertain > dubious prospects, in the
trifling concerns of the present life; but the
views of futurity, opened to us by revelation,
are too vast, too important for the calculation
of chances, or the principles of commercial
speculation: if they are not indisputably
certain, they are nothing.

The Apostles and primitive Christians acted
under a full conviction of the infallible cer-
tainty of the doctrines which they believed
and taught. And if satisfactory proofs of the
truth and divine authority of the Gospel, and
a complete knowledge and understanding of
its intent and doctrines, be really attainable
to the ordinary faculties of the human mind,
and easy to be comprehended by children and


the most illiterate of the people, it is then
like what it was represented to be when it vMC$**
first preached to the unlearned and the poor;
worthy of the impartial benevolence of the
common father of the human race; and fit to
be an universal rule of life, and source of re*
ligious information, to every rational indivi-
dual of all the nations of the earth. If, on the
contrary, its own truth, and the authenticity
of the scriptures which teach it, rest solely
upon the plurality of the voices of corrupt
and erring men, of no authority from heaven,
and supported only by the power of earthly
magistrates; if its most important, because its
fundamental, doctrines are to be interpreted
only by the critical sagacity of the learned,
respecting the meaning of a few controverted
words or sentences of Greek or Hebrew, it is
then involved in endless doubt and uncer-
tainty ; is totally unlike the Gospel preached
originally by Jesus and his Apostles; abso-
lutely useless, because unintelligible, to the
great bulk of mankind; and, in every way,
unbecoming that eternal fountain of wisdom
and intelligence from which it is said to be

Under this dilemma, thinking the certainty
of either the truth or falsehood of a revelation

A 3



of the will of God to be of the highest im-


portanee, the Author of the following disqui-
sition, at once to satisfy his own mind, and to
qualify himself for a faithful and beneficial
performance of the duties of the Christian
ministry, for which he had been educated,
many years ago determined to study the scrip-
tures diligently, with no other illustration than
what they reflect upon each other; and more
especially those prophetic parts of them
which, if duly fulfilled, must afford the strong-
est and most convincing evidence of the di-
vine authority of the revelation itself; and
almost necessarily lead to a right understand-
ing of the nature of that religious Covenant
to \vhich they bear a supernatural attestation.
He had remarked, indeed, that amongst its
professional teachers all the ablest advocates
.for the truth and divine authority of the Go>>
.pel, as if they knew of no certain, demon-
str^tive proof which could be adduced in a
case of so much importance, seemed to con-
,tent themselves, ,anrl expect their readers
should bq satisfied, with an accumulation of
probable arguments in its .favour. And the
Author has even been told, that the case ad-
mits of nq other kiwi of proof He is happy,
however, to have ieunied, from the. only in-


fallible authority, the direct contrary. And
he begs all professed Christians of that per-
suasion to consider, whether it could be re-
conciled to any just ideas of wisdom in an
earthly Potentate, if he should send an am-
bassador to a foreign state to mediate a nego-
ciation of the greatest importance, without
furnishing him with certain indubitable cre-
dentials of the truth and authenticity of his
mission. And to consider further, whether
it be just or seemly to attribute to the omni-
scient, omnipotent Deity, a degree of weak-
ness and folly which was never yet imputed
to any of his human creatures : for unless men
are impious and hardy enough to pass so
gross an affront upon the tremendous Ma-
jesty of Heaven, the improbability that God
should delegate the Mediator of a most im^
portant Covenant to be proposed to all man-*
kind, without enabling him to give them clear
and indisputable proof of the divine authority
of his mission, must ever infinitely outweigh
the aggregate sum of all the probabilities
which can be accumulated in the opposite
scale of the balance. So that to all those who
know of no other, proof of the divine autho-
rity of the Gospel, no rational proof of it ex-
ists. Mere human testimony, Avhetber re-



Corded in written history, or deduced to us
by oral tradition, is manifestly incompetent
to afford satisfaction to any unprejudiced
n:!iid respecting communications of a super-
natural kind. And with regard to miracles,
under the Old Covenant, God himself, by his
prophet Moses, cautioned the Jews against
receiving the religious doctrines of any pre-
tended prophet, though he should even work
miracles to convince them, because they
would be liable to be deluded and deceived
by such evidence:* and under the New Cove-
nant he has "warned us, by his prophet Jesus,
in the persons of his Apostles Paul and John,
that the false and fabulous superstition, which
would for so manj r centuries supplant the true
religion of the Gospel, would be embraced
by the people, in consequence of their delu-
sion by u sig?is and lying wonders^]- and all the
" deceivcibkness of unrighteousness" This be-
ing the case with miracles considered in
themselves alone, God, by his prophets both
of the Old Covenant and the New, hath given
us another, an infallible criterion by which to
distinguish the true from a false religion, and,
as 1 have shewn in the following pages, refer

* Deut xiii. 1 5.
4 Thcss ii, P, 10: Apoc. xiii. *3, 14,- and xix. 70.


us solely to the testimony of completed pro-
phecy, which he would not have done, if any
other had been necessary, or to be depended
upon with equal certainty and satisfaction of

In religion, as in every other science found-
ed in truth, if we recur to its first principles, we
shall find them self-evident propositions, by
means of which the truth of all its doctrines -
maybe clearly and satisfactorily demonstrated.
For instance, that the whole is greater than
any of its parts, is not a more unquestionable
truth than the proposition, that no effect can.
exist without some adequate producing cause.
And on tins axiom is founde.d, that certain,
satisfactory demonstration, which the visible
structure of the universe, and all it contains,

affords us of the being of a God. From the


very same axiom if predictions of any men
exist, respecting events that were not to take
place till many ages after the deaths of those
men themselves; which predictions are known
to have been promulged to the world several
centuries before their completion, and which
history and our own experience inform us
have been punctually accomplished a sure
demonstrative proof arises, that the prophets
rould have received their information only


through a revelation, communicated to them
by the Deity, of his will and decrees concern-
ing the events of futurity ; for such prophe-
cies are effects which no other cause is com-
petent to produce.

In the course of an investigation formed
upon this plan, and pursued upon these
grounds, the Author soon found himself con-
vinced of the truth of Christianity, as taught
by its first preachers; but was led also to re-
mark many obvious inconsistencies and im-
probabilities in several of the canonical
scriptures of the New Covenant, which he
could not account for, on a supposition that
the authors were men of that veracity and in-
formation of their subject, which must be ex-
pected from the Apostles and other miracu-
lously gifted disciples of Jesus Christ. He
therefore resolved to examine thoroughly into
the nature of those proofs of the genuine au-
thenticity of the books of the New Testament,
xvhich, till then, he had taken for granted, and
supposed to be uncontrqvertibly demonstrat-
ed; and was astonished to find, upon what
slight and unsatisfactory grounds scriptures
of the greatest consequence have been univer-
sally received by professed Christians, as the
infallible word ol God.. From his studious


attention to the prophetic parts of those scrip-
tures, which alone carry certain evidence of
their own divine authority along with them,
he could not fail also to observe, that the
chief and almost only argument in favour of
the present canon of scripture, which does not
rest upon mere human authority of the most
suspicious kind, is manifestly fallacious; he
means the argument which urges, that both
the wisdom and goodness of God required
the interposition of his povidence, to preserve
pure and uncorrnpt the genuine authentic
records of that Gospel which he had thought
fit, at the expence of so many miracles and
prophecies, to publish to the world. For
having, by his prophet Paul, declared that
Christians, of times succeeding the apos-
tolic age, would apostatize from the original
faith and doctrines of the Gospel; that some
with hardened hypocrisy would publish lies;*
and that professed Christians in general, would
turn away their ears from the truth, and be
turned unio fables ;~\~ the veracity of the God
of truth plainly demanded, that lying fictions
and fabulous scriptures should, at least, be
joined with the true and genuine records of
the religion of the New Covenant, or it would

* 1 Tim. iv. 2. -j- 2 Tim. iv. 4.


have been impossible for the apostate Church
to fulfil those prophecies, by disregarding the
latter and paying devout attention to the for-
mer. That many therefore of those scrip-
tures, which form the most essential part of
the canon of the apostate Church, must be
fabulous and false, seems as certain, as that
the word of God is true.

Strongly impressed with this apparently
inevitable consequence from those prophecies,
and dissatisfied with all the external evidence
which the case admits, he turned his attention
more particularly to those internal marks of
authenticity or spuriousness, which genuine
or fictitious scriptures must always necessarily
contain. And that attentive examination
brought him to tfie conclusions which he
here submits to public consideration. He
docs this the more cheerfully, because the
subjects of discussion, like the Gospel of
Christ itself, are level to common capacities,
and intelligible to every person who will exert
his rational faculties about them: for where
the detection of forgery and falsehood de-
pends upon gross and palpable inconsistencies
and contradictions, it is not peculiarly the
province of that critical skill which requires a
knowledge of the original language of the


scriptures attainable to few ; but, when those
contradictions are pointed out, becomes the
proper business of the common sense of every
reader of even the vulgar translations. He
is fully persuaded, that nothing can so effectu-
ally amend and bless mankind, as a general,
rational comprehension and well-grounded
belief of the Gospel Covenant; and that
nothing can so much promote the cause of
Christian truth and piety, as the distinguish-
ing them from fabulous falsehood and impious
superstition. Unconnected for near thirty
years with any religious sect or party what*
soever, disapproving in every point of view
of the office of a teacher of so plain a thing
as Christianity, considered as a lucrative oc-
cupation, and much too far advanced in
life to have any temporal interest in view,
the Author trusts his mind has be^n per-
fectly unbiassed and impartial in its inves-
tigations. But if he should liave deceived
himself, and be judged by others to be in the
wrong, still his errors, if found to be such,
may most easily be exposed and refuted ; and
no one will be better pleased than himself
with their just and candid refutation. Should
this, however, be attempted, he hopes it will
be effected in a more manly, rational manner,


than was adopted by the only two gentlemen
who thought proper to make any public at^
tack upon the first edition, by clearly recon-
ciling -the several objectionable passages, as
the scriptures really exist, without recurring
either to &ny human authority, or to a fanci-
ful transposition of paragraphs, or to hypo-
thetical systems unwarranted by the Gospels
themselves; for* by such means, a man of a
fertile imagination may possibly frame an
ideal . history of Jesus, which may comprehend
the most incongruousr circumstances, as geo-
metricians can contrive to draw a circle of
some diatoieter 'or other through any three
points which lie not in a right line; but, if
such modes of interpreting scripture may be
allowed, the mofet ingenious novel-writer will
make the ablest commentator; and in removing
the difficulties of the evangelical histories,
will far surpass the eiforts of the most learned
doctors of Christendom.



I. General remarks upon the contents of the Evangelical His-

tories, and the historical evidence of their authenticity. 17
II. The only certain evidence of the truth of any Divine Re-

velation ................ ......................... 21

III. Reasons why the testimony of those writers whom the Church

call Orthodox, cannot afford us satisfaction ............ 6

IV. Further reasons for not admitting the testimony of the Fa-

thers of the Church, of the second and third centuries. . 30
V. Still greater defects in their testimony, derived from the re-
ceived maxim of those schools of Philosophy in which
they had all been educated .................. ..... S3

VI. Reasons for preferring the Histories of Luke, and making
them the standard of comparison between the Evangelical
Histories .......... ....... .^ ............ ......,,

CHAP. I. Gospel according to Luke*

I. Remarks on the style and composition of this Gospel Cor-
rupted with sundry interpolations The story of the herd
of swine .......................................... 44

II. Interpolations in the Lord's Prayer Baptism of Jesus

Temptation And Transfiguration ................. *53

HI. One of greater importance in the two first chapters Seme

others of less moment .............................. *57

CHAP. II. Gospel according to Luke continued.

I. Agreement between the internal and external evidence in
favour of Luke's Histories Supernatural testimony also
necessary to prove the truth" of ' any historian of a 'divine
revelation ...... . . . ............ ... - - ............. 03

II. Miracles recorded m this Gospel ...... ..... ......... . . 85

The Sections in xhe pages marked-thus (*},.were omitted in .the printing;
but the fresh paragraph in each, denote* where they ought to have keen in-



III. Prophecies Two of the Baptist -Of fattingOf the death

and resurrection of Jesus Of the kingdom of God .... 89
IV. Destruction of Jerusalem Parable of the mustard-seed and
leaven Doctrine of atonement Whether few shall be
saved Answer .of Jesus to those who counselled him to

quit Galilee ' *101

V. The suddenness of the Jewish destruction The unjust
Judge General want of faith at Christ's coming Para-
ble of the ten pounds Lamentation over Jerusalem*
Why these predictions could not be written after Jerusa-
lem was destroyed The husbandmen and vineyard
Promise of baptism with the Holy Ghost Important

observations 116

VI. Review of the evidence in favour of this <5ospel Silas,
the real author of this History, and of the Acts of the
Apostles Reflections on the evidence of the authenticity,
accuracy, and credibility of the two Histories of Silas or
Xuke 132

CHAP. III. Gospel according to Matthew.

1. General remarks Not a translation from another language
Not written till after Luke's Nor before the second

century 145

51. Observation respecting the two first chapters The Au-
thor's genealogy of Jesus Its inconsistency with his own
purpose Misapplication of the celebrated prophecy of
Isaiah Ditto of the prophecy of Micah Fable of the
magi and star Ditto of Herod's massacre of the inno-
cents Perversion of a prophecy of Hosea Ditto of one
of Jeremiah A fictitious prophecy not to be found The

return from Egypt 14S

III. Remarks on the history of John's baptism The author
ignorant of the meaning of the kingdom of God Direct
contradiction to Silas or Luke Our Lord's forty days
fast and temptation 161

IV. Instance of the author's imperfect knowledge of Palestine

Contradiction to Luke Decapolis No such country-
Distribution of the Jewish territory by the Romans Con-
cluding remarks ,,...,.., 1G3


CitAp. IV. -Gospel according to Matthew continued.

I. The Sermon upon the Mount Improbable that it was de-
liVered at such time and place Its assertion respecting
the L:iw contradictory to the Prophets of both Covenants

That the Lord's Prayer was taught at this time, incon-
sistent with Luke's History Inconsistency of the direc-
tions given Tor fasting Casting pearls before swine li

kl. Miracle of healing the Centurion's servant Of the demons
in the herd of swine Enumeration of the names of the
twelve Apostles Kingdom of Heaven suffering violence,
and taken forcibly by violent men Another misapplica-
tion of this writer of one of the old prophecies The au-
thor ignorant of the meaning of the sign which Jonah was
to the Ninevites ........... i .......;. i ............ 18^

ill. Remarks on the parables of this writer compared with those
of Luke Parable of the sower Ditto of the man who
sowed good seed in his field Two ditto transcribed from
Luke Ditto of the merchant seeking goodly pearls Pa.- .
table of the net cast into the sea . ; ................ 199

IV. Cause of the death of John the Baptist That man is defiled,
riot by that which goeth into his mouth, but that which
eometh out Parable of the king that took account of his
servants Different kinds of eunuchs .......... . ..... 208

V. Parable of the householder hiring labourers into his vineyard

Misapprehension, of the writer of Zechariah's meaning in
the words, *< an ass and a colt; the foal of an ass" Para-
ble of the man who had two sons Parable of the house-
holder who planted a vineyard and let it out Parable of
the king tvho made a marriage for his son ..... 7 ...... 20$

VI. Inconsistency df this writer with Luke, in the time as-
signed for our 'Lord's making Bis pathetic ejaculation
over Jerusalem Parable of the ten virginsDitto' of the
talents- Tftis writer's description of the day of judgment

History of the institution of the L6rd 4 s Supper, and its
inconsistency with that of Luke . ................... 218

$11. Subsequent contradictions betweeh this writer and Luke,
to the conclusion of his (Gospel, which infallibly prove
that one, of them is fabulous and fake .....,,.,..,... , 307




VIII. Miracles of Jesus recorded by this jvriter Testimony of
the prophecies recorded in this Gospel Prophecy of
the destruction of Jerusalem .......... o.jf

CHAP. V."*~Gospcl according to Mark.

I. General remarks Style in which it is written Its man-
ner of beginning And contradictory conclusion
Enumeration of the names of the Apostles Parable

of the sower ' .....,,... >2^Q

JI. That the Apostles anointed the sick they healed with oil-
Origin of extreme unction Jesus curing a person deaf
and dumb Inconsistency of this Gospel with both the
preceding, respecting the sign of the Prophet Jonas-
Jesus giving sight to a blind man Prophecy of the re-
corhpehse of persecuted Christians, even in the present
Jife Prediction respecting Peter's denying his Master 2(3^

CHAP. VL ^Gospel according to John.

I. Remarks on the style in which this Gospel is written
Contradiction between this writer and Matthew, re-
specting John the Baptist This writer's inconsistency
with Luke in his account of the first disciples of Jesus,
and of their motives for following him Similar incon-
sistency respecting our Lord's driving the traders out

of the temple %67

IT. The writer's assertion that Jesus by his disciples baptized
more persons than John, before John was cast into pri-
son The discourse of Jesus with the woman of Sa-
jnaria Assertion of our Lord, that other men labour-
ed, and that his disciples reaped the fruits of their
labour The writer's confused account of the feasts of
the Jews His ignorance that one of the Apostles was
the brother of Jesus Inconsistency of this writer's ac-
count of the places of our Lord's residence with that

given us by Luke 274

lit. His contradiction to Luke, in the circumstances which
preceded, accompanied, and followed our Lord's cru-
cifixion r : M * 284-


JLV. Miracles and extraordinary acts of our Saviour, peculiar to
tliis writer The changing water into wine Healing the
nobleman's son at Capernaum Miraculous efficacy of the
pool of Bethesda Story of the woman taken in adultery
Giving sight to a man born blind The resurrection of
Lazarus ............ ....... .................... 288

V. Nothing in this Gospel that can be deemed a prophecy, but
a few short sentences which seem to refer to futurity
" Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryEdward EvansonThe dissonance of the four generally received evangelists, and the evidence of their respective authenticity, examined; with that of some other scriptures deemed canonical → online text (page 1 of 18)