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

. (page 10 of 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 10 of 18)
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without specifying which of the ten cities is
meant, is to use a language devoid of mean-
ing and perfectly unintelligible: and to speak
of it as a province, like Galilee or Trachoni-
tis, and as being situated north-west of the
Sea of Galilee, is to betray an ignorance of
the geography of Palestine too gross to be
attributed to any native of that country; and
shews that the authors were not primitive
disciples of Jesus Christ, but writers of a
much later date, who, being personally unac-
quainted with the country, adopted a term
they had heard applied to it, whose significa-
tion they did not understand.




fifth and two following chapters con-
tain what is commonly called, our Lord's
sermon upon the mount, a desultory, uncon-
nected harangue, composed of many passages,
taken, almost verbatim, from the discourses
which Luke has related to us, as held upon
many different occasions, with additions either
deduced from the writings of the Old Testa-
ment, or according with the author's own ideas
of Christianity. Concerning the first circum-
stance, as well as all the other parts of this
Gospel, which are expressed exactly, or very
nearly, in the words of Luke, I have only to
observe, that either Luke must have copied
them from this book, or this Avriter must have
adopted them from Luke; but as Luke in
both his histories has shewn himself to be a
good and elegant writer of the Greek language,


whilst this writer's language, wherever it does
not verbally correspond with Luke, is bad,
abounding with barbarous idioms, no impartial
person can doubt but that it was written after
Luke's; and that the bad writer borrowed
from the good one, the only flowers which
adorn his work, and not the good from the

That such a discourse as this was delivered
by our Saviour, at such a time and in such a
place, is in the highest degree improbable ; for
being addressed particularly to his disciples, if
it was delivered at all, it must have been in-
tended as a lesson of instruction in Christian
ethics, to them in general, and especially to his
Apostles, who were to teach the same doc-
trines to the world : it is but reasonable, there-
fore, to suppose that so full and ample a moral
lecture would have been postponed, at Ieast 9
till all those who were to be his Apostles, were
called to be his disciples, and actually ap*
pointed to their office. Accordingly, Luke in-
forms us this really was the case; and that the
first moral lesson given to his disciples particu-
larly, but in the audience of a great multitude
of people, was delivered after he had chosen
the twelve Apostles. That instructive dis-
course is recorded by Luke, c. vi. v. 20, &c.


and, what is worthy of notice, begins, like this
we are considering, with beatitudes of encou-
ragement to his followers; and though this
writer has greatly altered their sense and im-
port, and added several to the number, and has
omitted the woes entirely, yet from the first
and last beatitude he has given us, as well as
from many entire passages of Luke interwoven
in different parts of this sermon, it is evident
he had Luke's Gospel before him. So incon-
sistent, however, is this writer, not with Luke
only, but with himself, that from his ninth
chapter, v. 9? we find that Matthew, the very
Apostle who is supposed to be the author of
this book, and to have so circumstantially
recorded this Jong, incoherent, moral lecture,
was not so much as called to follow our
Saviour, till some time after it was delivered,
and consequently the Apostles were chosen
still later, as mentioned, c. x. So much for
the time when this sermon is said to have been
preached. Respecting the place of its deli-
very, I beg leave to observe, that, as Luke
explicitly assures us was the case, though our
Lord addressed himself in the first place to his
disciples, yet he intended his instructions also
for the whole multitude of auditors, with which
he was surrounded; indeed, if he had not, .he


would have acted directly contrary to his own
doctrine, and instead of displaying the moral
light of his religion to tiie people, would have
covered it with a bushel: and since this writer
himself tells us, that " when Jesus had ended
" these sayings, the people were astonished at
" his doctrine," and that when he descended
from his mountainous pulpit "great multitudes
" followed him/' we must conclude that this
discourse was intended to be, and actually was,
heard by the surrounding multitude. Now
let any man, who knows what it is to speak
to a crowd of people, conceive what situa*
tion a speaker* who wished to be heard by as
many as possible, would choose for himself
on such an occasion. If the people were in
an open plain, he would endeavour to take
the advantage of some small rise in the
ground, or other mode of elevating himself,
so as to be seen by his audience ; or, if an
hill were adjoining, he would ascend the slope
of the hill a little way, so as to answer that
purpose, whilst the people remained in the
plain, or if they ascended the side of the hill,
he would accomplish the same effect* by re-
maining himself at the foot of it, in the plain:
but would any man in his senses, so circum*
stanced, and intending to be heard by the


crowd, go up to the top of the hill, which
from its convex form, must necessarily pre-
vent, all but those who immediately surrounded
him, from either seeing or hearing him, and
even there set himself down before he began
to teach them ? Yet precisely such is the si-
tuation in which the author of this history
makes our Saviour place himself to instruct
the people, in the moral duties of the Gospel.
Luke, on the contrary, informs us, that when
he gave his disciples and the whole multitude
that instructive lesson, after the choice of his
Apostles, " he came down and stood in the
" plain;" and that, on another previous occa-
sion, on the banks of the lake<pf Gennesareth,
he went into a fishing-boat, and, being at a
little distance from the land, he sat down
and taught the people who stood on the shore.
In the seventeenth verse of the fifth chap-
ter, our Lord is represented as saying, " Think
" not that I am come to destroy the Law ; I
" am not come to destroy, but to fulfil ;" an
assertion which flatly contradicts the pro-
phets of the Old Testament, as also Luke
and Paul, and the whole scope and intent of
the Gospel Covenant.

At the time when Moses administered to
the Jews the Old Covenant of the Law, he


informed them it was to continue only till
coming of that prophet of a New Covenant,
whom the Lord their God would raise up
up unto them, from amongst their brethren,
like unto himself; for says he,* "unto him
" shall ye hearken, and whosoever will not
" hearken unto my words, which he shall
" speak in my name, (saith the Lord God) 1
" will require it of him/' By the prophet
Jeremiah, God says,-f " Behold the days
" come, when I will make a New Covenant:
" with Israel and Judah, not according to the"
" Covenant which I made with their fathers,
" when I brought them out of Egypt; but
" (instead of a* Law written upon tables of
" stone) I will put my Law in their inward
" parts, and write it in their hearts/' Ac-
cordingly, Jesus Christ declares of the New
Covenant,^ that the kingdom of God intended
to be established by it, is not an object of
external observation, but is within those who
receive it. He affirms also, that the Law
of Moses ended with John the Baptist; and
that, since the time of his imprisonment, the
New Covenant of the kingdom of God is
preached to the whole world. In confirma-

* Dewt. c. xviii. v. 15, Sec. f Jer. e. xxxi. v. 31, Sec.

I Luke c, xvii. v. 20 & 21. Luke c.'xvi. v. 16.


tion of this assertion, he denounced the
speedy destruction of that temple, the exist-
ence of which was absolutely necessary for
the ritual observances of theMosaicLaw ; and,
without any suggestion that it would ever be
rebuilt, declares that Jerusalem itself " shall
" be trodden down of the Gentiles,*' until
the new covenant of his Gospel is actually
established in the nations of the earth. That
such was the doctrine also of the disciples of
Jesus, immediately after their miraculous de-
legation to preach the Gospel covenant, is
evident from the history of Stephen's death;
for though he was falsely accused of blas-
pheming the temple and the law of Moses, we
find that the sole ground of this accusation
was, his having said that " Jesus of Nazareth
would destroy their temple, and change the
customs which Moses delivered them :" and
in his answer, he is so far from denying or
retracting that doctrine which was the same
that his master had always taught, that his
whole discourse to the council of the Jews
is calculated to prove the truth of it. Pie
reminds them, that the covenant made with
Abraham preceded that of Moses, and was
to continue till the object of it was accom-
plished in the appearance of that promised



seed of the Patriarch, in whom all the kin-
dreds of the earth are to be blessed ; that
when Moses established the covenant of the
Law, he assured them it would be superseded
by a future prophet, whom they were to obey,
and whom he then predicted to them ; and
that under the new covenant of this promised
prophet whom they had just crucified, tem-
ples according to the "prophecy of Isaiah
relating to the very same period, were of no
kind of use ; and that it was mere superstition
to imagine that the Almighty inhabited tem-
ples of human structure; " heaven is my
throne and earth is my footstool ; what house
will ye build me ? saith the Lord, or where is
>the place of my rest r" At such instruction
as this, Luke informs us, the Jews were highly
enraged; and, upon Stephen's extatic excla-
niation, that he beheld Jesus exalted to the
station of the predicted Messiah, at the right
hand of God, consequently endued with
power to vanquish all his foes, and to ac-
complish, according to his own prophecies,
the destruction of their city and temple, and
with it, the abolition of the Mosaic Co*, o.a^t,
they ran upon him finioosly, vj-^etcd Hn; iom
the city, and stoned hi-n, as bi . faUv con-
victed of the charge whicU ' s had


alleged against hind. Paul, likewise, who had
himself consented to the death of Stephen as
just and legal, afterwards, in his discourse to
the Athenians, urged this same doctrine of
Isaiah, that the use of temples, and the wor-
shipping God with external rites and cere-
monies, were abolished under the Gospel dis-
pensation : and, in the third chapter of his
Epistle to the Galatians, he adduces the very
same arguments suggested by Stephen, re-
specting the two Old Covenants, and ex-
pressly declares, that the covenant of the
Law of Moses was only added to the cove-
nant made with Abraham " till the seed
should come to whom the promise was made ;"
that, therefore, the Law was only the School-
master of the Jewish nation, to educate them
for a manly maturity in the rational religion
of Jesus Christ ; and that, now the Christian
faith is come, " they are no longer under a
Schoolmaster/' Indeed common sense as-
sures us, that the declarations which God
made to the Jews by their prophets, that,
in "time to come, he would give them a new
law, and make a new covenant with them,
must imply the abolition of the old ; for the
subsistence of an- old covenant, with only
some new additions made to it, can with no
M 2


more propriety be called a new covenant,
than an old garment, upon the addition of
lace or fringes, could be called a new gar-
ment : and from Paul's argument to the Ga-
latians it plainly appears, that, under the new
covenant of the Gospel, it were as unreason-
able even for the Jews themselves to recur to
the ritual observances of the Mosaic Law, as
it would be for men arrived at the maturity of
manhood, again to subject themselves to
the circumstances of childhood, and submit
to the discipline of the ferula and rod.
So gross a contradiction of the uniform doc-
trine of the best authenticated scriptures, both
of the Old Testameut and the New, can never
t>e justly nor reasonably attributed to an
Apostle of Jesus Christ, but must be the com-
position of a much later writer, who himself
did not understand either the genius or the
doctrines of the religion he hath presumed to,

To the same ignorance or misapprehension,
.respecting jfche abolition of temples under the
New Covenant, must be iascribed also what
the author puts into our Lord's mouth, in
the following verses, about altars, and gifts to
be offered upon -them, all which are peculiar
to this writer, Indeed, it would be both cu-


rious and useful to extract from this sermon,
and other parts of his book, all the unsup-
ported doctrines that are to be met with only
in this writer: but my present intent is merely
to advert to such passages as are absolutely
irreconcilable to better authenticated scrip-

In this lecture to his disciples, c. vi. v. 5
13, our Saviour is made to give them ample
directions for the manner of offering up their
prayers to God, and to teach them the very
formulary he would have them use, which is
commonly known by the name of the Lord's
Prayer. Their so early instruction, however,
in the use of this prayer, is directly contra-
dictory to the account given us by Luke, who
informs us, that long after the time allotted
to the sermon on the mount, even some time
after the return of the seventy disciples, they
were so far from having already received this
instruction, that, observing their master in
prayer to God, when he had finished, one of
them entreated him to teach them to pray, as
John the Baptist had taught his disciples;
and immediately, without reminding them or
upbraiding them for not remembering what
he had taught them before, he began to teach
them, as for the first time, this very form of

M 3


prayer. Here one of these two writers must
certainly have given us a false account. It is.
to be observed, that the Doxology which closes
this prayer* according to the supposed Mat-
thew, is not found in any copy of the prayer
recorded by Luke; and if 1 thought it had
been inserted by the writer himself, I should
urge it as another proof that he did not un-
derstand the Gospel meaning of the phrase
kingdom of God; and that, by the addition of
this Doxology, he has made nonsense of the
prayer; but, though the orthodox church
still continues to make use of it, the best cri-
tics have veiy satisfactorily shewn that it did
not exist in the original copies of even this
work ;* and, therefore, it must be the addi-
tion of some later copyist, who understood

* Of this the Reformers, of the English Church were so well
convinced, that, from the time of Elizabeth, to the rebellion in the
j'eign of Charles I. in the established Book of Common Prayer, the
Doxology is not once printed. And whoever will look into that
edition of the Liturgy, which was printed so- late as the year 16'40,
will see that this vica& not an accidental omission, but the result of
mature deliberation : because, where the Lord's Prayer is abbreviated
in the printing, thus, " 6ur Father, &CV* the abbreviation is htirdly
ever carried on to the end. But the 4 c- w followed by the last peti-
tion, " And lead us not into temptation ; but deliver us from evil.
Amen.'"' Yet ever sinte the jera of the Restoration, so much more
unskilled in biblical history, or. so much less attentive to propriety,
have the lea 1 ting English Clergy heen than their predecessors at th&
#eform:uioh, that the Doxology has ever since been printed in mcsu
place* where Prayer occurs, and continues to be jr, general us^f


not what Jesus meant by " thy kingdom
" come/' and whose weak mind supposed the
Almighty Lord of heaven and earth, like hu-
man sovereigns, to be pleased with fawning,
flattering expressions, and superfluous, verbal
acknowledgments of his power and greatness.

In the sixteenth, and following verses, the
pretended Matthew represents our Lord as
teaching his disciples in what manner they
should fast; a doctrine quite inconsistent,
not only with what Luke assures us, but even
with what this writer himself, c. ix. v. 14, &c.
has copied from Luke, viz. that his disciples
did not fast at all; and that such formal, car-
nal observances of the Jewish ritual, were by
no means suited to the genius of that new
religion, which he came to establish in the

In chapter vii. verse 6, we find a vulgar
proverb, antecedent to the mission of Jesus
Christ, converted into a precept of the Gos-
pel " Give not that which is holy unto the
" dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before
" swine, lest they trample them under their
" feet, and turn again and rent you." If these
words have any meaning in this place, it must
be to prohibit the teaching his holy religion,
and propounding the valuable doctrines of the

M 4


Gospel to such profligate, profane, and brutal
characters, as it was probable would only
treat their instructions with scorn and con-
tempt, and reward their zeal with persecution
and personal violence. Yet such a precept is
directly contrary to the well-known constant
practice of our Lord himself, and all his Apos-
tles, and utterly repugnant to the most ex-
plicit, repeated lessons of duty urged upon
his disciples on other occasions; the uniform
tenor of which is, that in preaching the Gos-
pel they must expect and be prepared to en-
dure odium, contempt, and ignominy, and
the most cruel persecutions of every kind,
even unto death.

II. IN the eighth chapter, this writer re-
cords the story of the healing the Centurion's
servant, but with circumstances directly con-
tradictory to Luke's account of the same mi-
racle; for he tells us that the centurion came
to .our Lord himself, and conversed with him
in person; whereas Luke informs us, that he
only sent a deputation to him of the Elders
of the Jews, and declared that he did not
think himself worthy to come to him, and
for that reason did not come himself. Here
again one of these historians must relate a


falsehood. It is observable also, that, accord-
ing to this Gospel called Matthew's, this mira-
cle, in order of time, preceded the healing of
Peter's mother-in-law, the calling of Matthew
himself, and the choice of the twelve Apostles;
whereas Luke tells us that it was subsequent
to all the three. Yet Luke assures Theophi-
lus, that having attained perfect information
of every - thing from the very first, he had
written him an account of every transaction
in order. Now, he could have received his
information only from the Apostles he lived
with at Jerusalem, of whom Matthew was
one; and, as it is impossible but Matthew
musft have known whether he was himself
with Jesus, when this miracle was wrought,
or not, he could not have written that he
was not, and have informed Luke that he
was; and therefore the writer of this Gospel
could not be Matthew, nor any other of the
Apostles. To avoid unnecessary repetitions,
the reader is desired to consider this as a ge-
neral remark upon the many instances of con-
tradiction, in the order of the narration, be-
tween this writer and Luke, which are both
numerous, and obvious to the least degree of


In the conclusion of this chapter, the au-
thor has introduced also the miracle of the
Demons and the herd of Swine ; but having
in the second chapter literally out-heroded
Herod, he was determined here to out-do the
interpolate!' himself; for he makes two de-
moniacs instead of one, and, of course, two
legions of devils.

In the enumeration of the names of the
twelve Apostles in the tenth chapter, the first
remarkable circumstance is the author's re-
presenting the Apostle Andrew as Simon Pe-
ter's brother, which indeed he had prepared us
for in the fourth, by telling us expressly that
lie was so, and that he was called to be an Apos-
tle at the same time, and in the same terms,
with Peter. Luke, on the contrary, informs us,
that no such person as Andrew was with Peter
at the time of his call; that James and John,
the sons of Zcbedee, were his only partners ;
and that his destination to be an Apostle >
implied in the words, " from henceforth thou
shalt catch men," was announced to him
alone in the singular number, and not in the
plural, as this author relates it. Indeed, from
both Luke's Histories, as no brother of Peter
is once spoken of, it is most obvious, that he


bad no brother; and since in the enumeration
of the names of the Apostles, in Acts i, James
and John intervene before Andrew, it appears
that there was no family connexion between
him and Peter. The next circumstance de-
serving our observation* is, that the Apostles
James and John are said to be brothers, and
.sons of Zebedee. Yet, irom Luke's Histories,
and, from Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, it
plainly appears, that James the Apostle was
the brother of the Lord Jesus, and that the
two sons of Zebedee, were not Apostles,but are
the brothers mentioned, Acts xii. v.2 ; of whom
James was put to death by Herod, and the
other brother, John, was most probably the
game whose surname was Mark. Nothing can
be more express than Paul's assertion, that
the Apostle James was the Lord's brother; who
consequently could not be James, the son of
Alpheus. And Luke clearly informs us of
the same thing, when telling us, c. xxiii. v, 55,
that the women, who came with him from
Galilee, beheld the sepulchre, and how his

* For this remark of the ignorance, not only of this writer, but also
of the pretended Mark and John, respecting the relationship of the
Apostle J<ames to the Lord Jesus, which affords such a decisive proof
of the spuriousness of these three Gospels, the Author is obliged to
Mr. Richard Foster, of Dalton, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, who,
in 1796, favoured him with a letter upon the subject, but who, he is
sorry to say, in other respects, still remains an entire stranger 'to him.


body was laid, and prepared spices to Cm-
balm it ; and, mentioning their names in
c. xxiv. v. 10, to be Mary Magdalene, and
Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, tells
us also that James was brother of the Lord
Jesus; for, from Lukeviii. 2,3, 19, it ap-
pears, that no other Mary, but Mary Mag-
dalene, came with Jesus out of Galilee,
except his own mother, Mho accompanied
him with all her children. And Luke calls
her, in c. xxiv. the mother of James, because
Jesus hinlself was no longer living. But in
Acts i. where the history informs us Jesus
was alive again, the same Mary is again called
the mother of Jesus. Now, if the author of
this Gospel had himself been an Apostle, he
could not possibly have called his brother
Apostles, James and John, sons of Zebedee,
when he must have known that they never
were Apostles, and that the Apostle James
was the brother of Jesus. A circumstance,
which satisfactorily accounts for James being
made the President of the Council of the
Apostles resident at Jerusalem.

In proceeding with this Author's enumera-
tion, instead of Judas the Son, or, as our
translators chose to render it, the brother of
James, mentioned by Luke, we read " Leb-


beus surnamed Thaddeus;" to account for
this seeming contradiction, commentators ob-
serve, that Thaddeus is a Syrian word of much
the same signification with Judas : but if Mat-
thew wrote any Gospel, he wrote it in He-
brew, not in Syriac; and had he adopted a
Syrian, instead of the Hebrew name of his
brother-apostle, still any consistent writer
would have repeated the same Syrian denomi-
nation for the same name, and the last of the
twelve also would have been called Thaddeus
Iscarriot. As Luke conversed and lived long
with all the Apostles, he could not be ignorant
of the name by which they called the son of
James; and therefore this writer cannot be
one of them, because he would then, as usual,
have called him Judas, not Thaddeus, and still
less Lebbeus.

In chapter xi. v. 12, not to remark upon
the confused jumble of two distinct conversa-

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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 10 of 18)