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 15 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 15 of 18)
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us bring the whole, therefore, to the proposed
test; observing, by the way, a gross contra-
diction between this writer and the pretended
Matthew, at the very outset: for, c, i. v. 32,
he tells us, that John the Baptist declared he
did not know Jesus to be the destined Mes-
siah, till he saw the Holy Spirit descending
on him; whereas the Gospel of Matthew,
c. iii. v. 14, informs us that he knew him as
soon as he came to him; and, at first, refused
to baptize him, " saying, I have need to be
" baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?"
Yet still the orthodox receive both these Go>-


pels for the genuine works of Apostles; and
believe both these contradictory assertions
to be truth, and even the inspired word of

Luke informs us, that, previous to our
Lord s having any particularly attached dis-
ciples, he wrought many miracles in the dif-
ferent cities of Galilee, especially at Caper-
naum, where he healed Simon's mother-in-
law of a fever ; and, since not the least hint
is given of his being a different person of the
same name, from the situation of Capernaum,
from his so readily receiving our Lord on
board his fishing boat, and letting down his
net again at his command, contrary to his
own opinion and inclination, it is natural to
conclude, that it was the same Simon of
Capernaum who, with the sons of Zebedee,
struck with the wonderful draught of fishes,
superadded to the cure of his wife's mother,
immediately forsook their former occupation
and their homes, and became the first faithful
followers of Jesus. This writer, on the con-
trary, with whom, if he was the Apostle John,
Luke long lived, and must have frequently
conversed upon the subject at Jerusalem,
after our Saviour's death, informs us, c. i. v.
35, &c. that before our Lord had worked any


miracle, two of the Baptists disciples, one of
whom was Andrew, whom he also makes Si-
mon Peters brother, without any call from
Jesus, being told by John that he was the
Lamb of God, followed him and attached
themselves to him ; and that Andrew induced
his brother Simon to do the same, by telling
him they had found the Messiah or Christ.
So that Simon Peter instead of being the
first, as Luke represents him, according to
this Gospel, was only the third of our Lord's
disciples ; and none of them were induced
by any such motive as the miraculous cure
of a disease or the extraordinary draught of
fishes ; and far from telling us, like Luke, that
Zebedee's sons, John and James, commenced
disciples and followers of Jesus at the same
time with Simon, the pretended John gives
no account at all of the time or manner of
their becoming disciples; but telling us that
Simon and Andrew were not citizens of Ca-
pernaum, but of Bethsaida ; that Philip of
the same city was called to be the fifth, and
Nathaniel the sixth disciple, who, though de-
clared by our Lord to be without guile, was
not one of his Apostles, nor is ever once men-
tioned in any other history the author goes
on to inform us, that the beginning of our Sa*


riour's miracles was his turning water into
wine, at a marriage feast in Cana, to which
he, and his mother, and his disciples, were int-
vitecl. How others can^ with satisfaction to
their own minds, receive both these contra-
dictory histories for truth, I know not; to rne
it appears incontestable that one of them is
fictitious and false.

According to Luke, our Saviour never
went out of Galilee from the commencement
of his public ministry till the feast of the
Passover, at which he was crucified; and,
upon his going to Jerusalem on that oc-
casion, after entering the city amidst the ac-
clamations of the multitude, who proclaimed
him their promised king, he began (i. e. at-
tempted) to eject those out of the temple,
who indecently, as predicted by Jeremiah,
c. vii. v. 11, made that house of prayer a
place of traffic and unjust gain; a circum-
stance which, it is by no means probable,
should have occurred to him twice. This
writer, on the contrary, tells us, that a few
days after his miracle at Cana, he went up to
Jerusalem, to the feast of the Passover; and
that there, in what would appear a sudden
paroxysm of frantic zeal, if he were not re-
presented as deliberately cool enough to plat


and prepare a scourge of small cords for the
purpose, he drove all the traders and animals
out of the temple,, overthrew the tables of
the money-changers, and scattered all their
money about, with a violence as unbecoming
the meek and benevolent Jesus, as it is impro-
bable it would hav been tamely submitted
to by the other parties. It is to be observed
also, that this supposed Apostle, in recording
the instrument of violence, constructed and
Vised by our Saviour, in this extraordinary
manner, expresses it by a word, neither of
Greek nor Hebrew origin, but by a Latin
Avord, barbarously written in Greek charac-
ters, which, as I have observed in the case
of the two preceding Evangelists^ of itself
affords strong grounds of presumption, that
whoever the writer may be said to be, he did
not live till after the beginning of the second
century ; and, when corroborated by other
circumstances, so highly improbable in them-
selves, and so directly contradictory to the
history of Luke, is a very satisfactory proof
that he was no Apostle, nor any Jew, nor
even a respectable Greek convert of the
Apostolic age ; but one of the many com-
posers of spurious and fabulous writings of


the second century ; and that he deserves
not the least credit or attention.

II. WHEN our Saviour had staid some
time at Jerusalem, this author informs us,
c. iii. v. 22, still in contradiction to the whole
tenor of the Gospel according to Luke, that
he dwelt with his disciples in the land of Judea ;
and that, by his disciples, as it is explained,
e. iv. v. 2, he baptized there greater numbers
than John, at the same time that John bap-
tized in Enon 9 for tliat John was not yet cast
into prison. This passage is so replete with
the most palpable falsehood, that it is asto-
nishing how any kind of delusion should have
induced creatures, endowed with reason, so
long to have received it as the word of truth,
and the work of an Apostle of Jesus Christ,
In the first place, the two writers called Mat-
thew and Mark both positively assert, that
Jesus did not enter upon his public ministry,
nor was followed by a single disciple, till af-
ter John was cast into prison ; and though, for
reasojis already stated, if Luke's history did
not more than insinuate the sanae thing, their
testimony would hayQ ; $o weight with me, yet
, gross coutmdictiou ought to convince


(lie most orthodox, that there must be false-
hood on one side or the other, if not on both ;
and thiit. therefore, common sense and reason
require them, at Itast, to reject as false and
spurious, either this Gospel attributed to
John, or both the Gospels attributed to the
otMet two. In the next place, from the two
respectable histories of Luke, confirmed by
the very nature and circumstances of the Gos-
pel, we know for certain, that baptism was
never used by the disciples of Jesus, till after
the memorable clay of Pentecost, and then
only for the same purpose, for which it had
been always used by the Jews, as a form of
admitting proselytes to their religion; a reli-
gion they then preached for the first time,
and which, during their toaster's life, they did
not themselves understand. When the twelve,
and afterwards the seventy, were sent forth to
excite the attention of the people, by mira-
culous acts of kindness and compassion, and
to announce to them the approaching pro-
mulgation of the New Covenant of the king-
dom of God, baptizing made no part of their
commission ; and they returned without any
addition to their numbers ; nay, so far were all
fncn from coming to Jesus as disciples, as is as-
serted v. 26, that tvhen the Apostles and the

s 2


whole society of Christians were assembled
together, after his ascension, the number
amounted but to one hundred and twenty,
that is, only about forty more than those ori-
ginal disciples, who had been deputed on the
two commissions ; whereas the Baptist's dis-
ciples were so numerous, that Josephus attri-
butes his death to Herod's jealousy of him on
that very account.

In the fourth chapter, this historian relates
our Lord's removal from his dwelling in Ju-
dea to Galilee; and, as the road lay through
Samaria, he entertains us with an episode
concerning our Saviour and a libidinous wo-
man of Samaria, who, having had no less than
five husbands, was then living as the concu-
bine of a sixth man. This woman expresses
her surprise, that he, who was a Jew, should
ask drink of a Samaritan, which the author
explains by informing us, that the Jews have
no dealings with the Samaritans; though, to
account for our Lord's being left alone, he
had just told us, that all his disciples, who, a
few verses before, are represented to be so
numerous, " were gone away into the Sama-
" ritan city Sychar," (a city never heard of
by any one else) " to buy meat." On their
return with the meat, whilst the womau went


into the city to tell the people she had found
the Messiah or Christ, in a conversation with
his disciples, he observes that it was then
four months to the time of harvest, which
fixes the time of year to be about our Ja-
nuary ; so that this writer makes our Lord
continue in Judea, after the preceding Pass-
over, baptizing and making disciples, during
John's baptizing and preaching, as long a
time as the three other Gospels allot to the
duration of his whole public ministry; which
they assure us did not begin till John's mi-
nistry was ended by his imprisonment. From
the natural harvest, he takes occasion to sug-
gest the spiritual harvest, which then presented
itself in the ripeness of the Samaritans for
conversion ; who, if this account be true,
were wonderfully more mature than their
neighbours the Jews, though, as is re-
marked, v. 22, they were far more ignorant
in affairs of the true religion; and though,
according to Luke's histories, the Samaritans
refused to receive him, when he was going to
the feast of the Passover, at which he died ;
and no Samaritan city was converted to the
Gospel, till Philip preached it in Samaria, af-
ter the death of Stephen. In the words of
this writer, our Lord adds, " Herein is that

s 3


" saying true, one soweth and another rcapeth*
" I sent you to reap that whereon ye be-
" stowed no labour ; other men laboured, and
Ci , ye are entered into their labour." Luke in-
forms us, that after our Saviour had preached
$nd performed many miracles throughout all
Galilee, that is, long after the period here re-
qorucd, because the wviter tells us the second
qf his miracles in Galilee was not done till af-
ter this conversation, he sent out two different
deputations of his disciples, to precede him,
in announcing to the Jews the approaching
establishment of God's New Cpnvenant with
them and all the world ; that, after his death,
they were commissioned and miraculously
qualified to preach Christ and the New Cove-
nant of the kingdom of Go4, first to the Jew-
ish nation, and afterwards to the Samaritans
and Gentiles of the whole world; this preach-
ing, we find, they called planting, and sowing
the seed of the Gospel, in allusion to their
Lord's parable qf the sower ; and the only
harvest intended and hoped for by them was
the fruits of moral virtue, in the lives of their
converts ; as for themselves, they knew they
were to receive no recompense nor advantage
from their own labour, till after death. Who
the,n were these sowers of the word of God,


prior to the disciples of Christ ? When
were his disciples sent to reap and no't to
sow ? What did they ever reap, about which
they had bestowed no labour ? And who were
those other men, into whose labours they en-
tered ? Surely, a writer so little consistent
with the best confirmed truth, and with com-
mon sense, is very unjustly accounted an
Apostle of Jesus Christ ! In the same strain
of fictitious jargon, this writer continues to
inform us, that our Lord taught and con-
vinced both the woman and the Samaritans of
that city, that he was the Christ, the Saviour
of the world ; though, according to Luke, he
never announced himself in that character,
to the Jews, in his life-time ; but checked his
own disciples, and forbad them to call him
so to any man ; and, after his resurrection,
convinced them, from the prophecies, that he
could not become the Christ, the predicted
King under theNew Covenant, till after he had
died, and been made literally the son of God,
by being his first-born from the dead to a life
of immortality.

In the fifth chapter, the author tells us, that
after the cure of the nobleman's son at Caper-
naum, which, he says, was the second of our
Saviour's miracles in Galilee, he went again to

s 4


Jerusalem, to a feast of the Jews; but doer
not say \vhat feast. According to his own
description of the time of our Lord's return to
Galilee, that it was four months before harvest,
it ought to be another feast of the Passover,
unless we suppose him to have transgressed the
injunction of the Mosaic Law. If this writer,
therefore, were a Jew, or well versed in the
customs and ordinances of the Jews, he must
mean that this was a second Passover, at which
our Saviour attended, after the commence-
ment of his public ministry; yet after his re-
turn agmn into Galilee from this feast in the
very next chapter, we are told that he crossed
the sea of Galilee, and that " the Passover, a
" feast of the Jews, was nigh." Surely this
writer is the most extraordinary chronologist
and historiographer that ever appeared in the
world ! However, he does not say, that Jesus
went up to this third approaching Passover ;
but after relating the same miraculous feeding
a large multitude, and walking upon the water*
recorded in the Gospel attributed to Matthew*
with a discourse to the multitude altogether
peculiar to himself, the author tells us, in the
seventh chapter, that Jesus continued in Gali-
lee, because the Jews of Judea sought to kill
him ; hut that, the feast of tabernacles being


, after bis brethren were gone up without
him, " he also went up to the feast secretly ;"
and yet " in the midst of the feast, he went
" up into the temple and taught" publicly.
In the fifth verse of this chapter, the author
of this gospel tells us, that the brethren of
Jesus did not believe on him ; so that he also
was ignorant that the Apostle James w r as a
brother of Jesus, and directly contradicts
both Luke's histories, the first of which in-
forms us that his mother and his brethren ac-
companied him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and
the second, that after his death, resurrection,
and ascension, they continued at Jerusalem
with the eleven Apostles. From this feast till
after the feast of Dedication, this writer tells
us our Lord continued in Jerusalem or its en-
virons; then, to avoid the attempts of the
Jews to apprehend him, he retired to the
country beyond Jordan, where John first bap-
tized ; and from thence, c. xi. upon the death
of Lazarus, he came again into Judea to Beth-
any ; that, to escape the malice of the Chief
Priests, he withdrew with his disciples, to the
city of Ephraim, adjoining the wilderness of
Judea, and continued there till he went again
to Bethany, six days before the Passover, at
which he suffered ; and from thence to Jerusa-


lem, riding on a young ass, amidst the hosarf-
nas of the people, who came forth to meet

We see then, that, according to this writer,
mir Saviour entered upon his public ministry
whilst that of John the Baptist still subsisted :
and that the Passover, at which he was cru-
cified, was the fourth from the comenceinent
of his ministry. Luke, on the contrary, plainly
intimates, as indeed is reasonable to expect,
that John's ministry had ceased in conse-
quence of his imprisonment by Herod,, before
Jesus began to teach and to make himself
conspicuous ; and assures us, that our Lord
was crucified at the very first Passover after
his entering on his ministry. This writer tells
us, that he resided chiefly, and performed most
of his miracles, at Jerusalem and in Judea;
that he was but very little in Galilee ; and that
lie made and had great numbers of disciples
in Judea : yet from the Acts of the Apostles^
c. i. v. 11, and c. ii. v. 7 ? we find, that all his
disciples were Galileans; and, from Luke's
Gospel, that almost all his miracles were
wrought in Galilee ; and that he did not quit
the jurisdiction of Herod, till he set out, with
his disciples, to travel through Samaria to
Jerusalem, in order to keep the fatal Passover;


that he did not sojourn at the city of Ephraim ;
hut kept the direct road from Jericho; and
whv n !ie came near Bethany, instead of going
t<> visit the family of Lazarus, he only sent
two of his disciples to fetch the ass's colt on
which i:e proposed to enter Jerusalem. It is
not possible, therefore, for two histories of the
life aiid actions of the same person to be more
directly contradictory to each other; conse-
quently they cannot both be true. The lan-
guage also of these two scriptures, respecting
the person of our Lord himself, is equally
irreconcilable. The supposed John begins
with representing him as the divine Logos of
Plato, under an human form, dwelling amongst
tnen; repeatedly represents him as Omnisci-
ent,* and in almost every conversation with
Samaritans, Jews, or his own disciples, makes
him declare himself to be the Christ, the son
of God, a; id never to a, knowledge any other
father but God ; though tiiis writer, c. vi. v. 42,
as well as Luke, c. iv. v. 22, informs us, that
he was known by all t.e inhabitants of Naza-
reth to be the sun of Joseph; and Luke, that
he never sp uke of himself, but under the de-
nomination of the son of man; and that he ex-
pressly forbad his being called the Christ

* See c. i, v. 48. ii. 25. iv. 18. xxi. 17.


during his life, for reasons which he suggested
in some of his discourses, before his death i
but which he explained more clearly after his
resurrection. From all which, it is abundantly
evident, that the author of this Gospel was
not the Apostle John, with whom Luke long
lived in intimacy, and from whom and the
other Apostles, he received the chief materials
of his first history ; but a convert of the second
century from the Platonic school, who did
not understand the Jewish prophecies con-
cerning the Christ or Son of God, even after
the explanation given of them by Jesus him-
self and all his Apostles : and who was one of
the earliest fathers of that apostate, anti-
christian Church, whose doctrines are a hetero-
geneous compound of Paganism, Judaism,
and Christianity.

III. LET us continue our attention, how-
ever, to the sequel of his narrative; and com-
pare his account of what preceded, accompa-
nied, and followed our Lord's crucifixion,
with that which is given us by Luke.

The last named writer, we have seen, in-
forms us, that the last supper our Saviour eat
with his Apostles was the Paschal supper,
which he told them, he had been particularly


desirous to eat with them; that at that sup-
per, after instituting the communion of bread
and wine, as a rite to be observed by his dis-
ciples, merely in grateful remembrance of him,
he declared that one of them would betray
him; but did not explain who it was. This
author, on the contrary, tells us, that the last
supper he eat with them was before the feast
of the Passover ; and, instead of the institution
of the Lord's supper, represents our Saviour
as suddenly, after supper was ended, adopting
the very unnecessary, useless, and unbecom-
ing ceremony of washing his Apostles' feet, a
species of extraordinary, unmeaning humilia-
tion, which none of them ever imitated ; that,
after this ceremony, he told them, one of
them would betray him; and intimated to one
Apostle, his favourite above the rest, that it
was Judas Iscariot, by giving him a sop,
though supper was already over. From hence,
to his being led to Pilate's judgement hall,
this author's narration differs very greatly from
that of Luke; and there it flatly contradicts
him. For persisting to say, that it was the
preparation for the Passover, though Luke
assures us the preceding day was the day on
which it was necessary to kill the Paschal
lamb; and that our Saviour accordingly


eat it with his Apostles; the author tells tis,
that the rulers of the Jews themselves, did not
go into the judgement hall* for fear they should
be defiled, so as to be prevented eating the
Passover; and that, for that reason, the Ro-
man Governor, with an amazing degree of
Condescension, went out and in from his judg-
ment seat to them, and from them to the judg-
ment seat, several times. Luke, however, in
terms as diametrically opposite as truth to
falsehood, affirms, that the Chief Priests and
Elders of the Jews were present 'at Pilate's
examination of our Saviour, and urged the
only accusation against him ; and tells us,
that after Herod had sent him back to Lin,
Pilate assembled the rulers ami people of the
Jews, and " said unta them, ye have brought
66 this man unto me, as one that pervertet'h
"the people; and behold I, having examined
" him before you, have found no fault in him.*
"When Pilate had consented to gratify them
by his crucifixion, this writer says, that Jesus
himself bare his own cross to the plaice where
he was crucified ; Luke, that the Jews com-
pel^ one Simon, a Cyrenian, to bear the
cross after Jesus. Luke tells us, that af-
ter our Lord's death, Joseph of Arimathea
took the body, and laid it m a new se-


pulchre ; that the women were present, and
saw how and where it was laid ; and went
and prepared spices and ointments to em-
balm it with, as soon as the sabbath was
ended. This writer, on the contrary, informs
us, that Joseph and Nicodemus together em-
balmed the body with an hundred pound
weight of myrrh and aloes, and other spices,
** as the manner of the Jews is to bury ;" and
then laid it ia the sepulchre. Luke assures
us, that in the evening after our Lord's resur-
rection, that is, in the beginning of the second
day of the week, he appeared to all the ele-
ven Apostles and other disciples, who were
assembled togetlier with them ; and, from
that time to his ascension, was frequently
seen by them at Jerusalem ; that lie then ex-
plained to them, the meaning of the prophe-
cies concerning himself; instructed them ia
the nature and. purport of the Gospel ; ami
bid them tarry at Jerusalem till the day of
Pentecost, when they were to receive the
Holy Ghost, or holy inspiration : that they
did so, and never returned again to dwell in
their own country, Galilee. The pmtendeti
John, in contradiction to all this, tells us,
that the evening on which the disciples saw
our Saviour, was the first day of the week,
which shews that he was no Jew, but one


who reckoned his time like the Greeks and
Romans: that all the eleven Apostles were
not present ; for that Thomas was not with
them, and did not see him till eight days af-
ter; that, instead of telling them to wait till
Pentecost for the gift of the holy inspiration,
he then " breathed on them, and said, receive
" ye the Holy Ghost;" and at the same time,
(O impious falsehood!) gave them power to
remit or to retain any person's sins ; that, after
this, instead of continuing at Jerusalem, they
all went back to Galilee; that our Lord there
appeared to them for the tltird time after his
resurrection, at the Sea of Tiberias, to reclaim
them, by a second wonderful draught of fishes,
from their old occupation to which they had
returned ; and that, after ordering Peter, if
he loved him more than the fishes he had
caught, to feed his lambs and his sheep, he
left them all in Galilee. Were such irrecon-
cilable, contradictory evidence as this to be
brought to support any cause whatever in our
own courts of justice, what would be the sen-
timents of every impartial, honest jury-man,
concerning it ?

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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 15 of 18)