John Ayre Thomas Hartwell Horne.

An introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 2 online

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has, however, it is fair to say, since abandoned this hypothesis. According

' Sacr. Herroeneutics, chap. xii. pp. 558, 559. Comp Birks, Hone Evang. 1852,
book L chap. vi. pp. 133, 134.

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474 Scripture Interpretatitm,

to some other writers, Oreswell, Ebrard, &c., our Lord healed one blind man
(as in Luke) on entering Jericho, and another (Bartimeus, as in Mark) on
leaving it ; and Matthew has, '* with his characteristic brevity in
relating miracles,** combined both these in one.f Archbishop New come
imagines that Christ spent some days at Jericho, in the course of which he
naturally on occasion left the city and returned to it. Tnis has been
stigmatized as mere conjecture. Granting that it is so, it is no forced
conjecture; and it is more becoming to adopt it than to represent tJie
evangelists as contradicting each other. Statements which have seemed
more decidedly at variance have been proyed, by the recovery of a few
connecting links, to be in exactest accordance.

Mr. Constable observes that the leading subject of all this part of Luke's
narrative is our Lord's last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, where he
was about to suffer. The beginning of it is mentioned ix. 51.: ''Here is
its end strong upon the mind of Christ : it is as stedfastly kept in view
by St. Luke. Very many places are visited ; but they never for a moment
hide from the narrator's view the city which was set upon a hill. From
each intervening place, he ever points us onwards, onwards, till he places
the great Victim in the temple of Zion, and on the cross of Calvary.** The
journey was a long one ; and, when, towards its close, Jerusalem was not far
off, the evangelist repeatedly uses the expression '^ he was nigh," or *' he
drew near" (xix. 11, 29, 37, 41.). In all these cases it was Jerusalem
that he was approaching, that he was near. And so, if in xviii. 35. we
interpret in the same way, and translate ''when he was come nigh (Jeru-
salem), at Jerrcho," the discrepancy is in a great measure removed.
There can be no difficulty in giving Hq the signification of "at" or "near ;"
since instances are common of such a meaning (Matt. ii. 23. ; Mark i. 9. ;
John iv. 5. compared with vv. 6, 8., xxi. 4.). It is true that, Luke xix.
1., after the healing of the blind, Jesus is said to have entered and passed
through Jericho ; but Mr. Constable supposes that, as the two narratives
of the blind man and of Zaccheus are in a degree intermingled in point
of time, Zaccheus having first tried to see Christ before he reached the
city, and then having ran on, perhaps to a point beyond where the blind
man was, the evangelist finished the story of the one, and then turned
back, as it were, to relate the other.* These suggestions are certainly
ingenious, if not quite convincing.

8. Matt XXI. 38. with Acts iii. 17., xiii. 27. and 1 Cor. li. 8.

It is futile to allege any discrepancy between the first and the other
passages. The first occurs in a parable ; and all the circumstances of a
parable must not be pressed to a literal interpretation.

9. Matt. xxvi. 1 — 13. with Mark xiv. 1 — 9. and John xiL 1 — 8.
Several discrepancies have been supposed to exist in these account<^

It is said that the time varies ; Matthew and Mark placing the circumstance
two days, John six days, before the passover. But the evangelists are not
to be taken (as indeed no historians can be) as always relating occurrences
according to their precise chronological sequence. The dean of Canterbury
remarks on Matt. xxvi. 6 — 13., ** This history of the anointing of our
Lord is here inserted out of its placed and suggests as a reason for such a
position its connection with Judas's application to the sanhedrim. He
concludes : " It certainly cannot be said of Matthew (De Wette, Neander,
Stier) that he relates the anointing as taking place two days before th^

> See dean Alfonl, The Greek Test., note on Matt. xx. 29—34.
' Evays, Critical and Theological, 1859, cHsny iv. pp. 128 — 144.

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Alleged Contradictions in the New Testament, 475

passover: of Mark it mayhQ said." It is true that the phraseologj of
Mark somewhat differs; but it ought not to be said that he fixes the
anointing to a time but two days before the pasaover. He does so fix the
consultation of the chief priests and scribes; and then narrates what
happened at Bethany, where Judas first openly displayed that covetous
tomper of which the priests took advantage, and received his Master's
rebuke. It was not at all unnatural that the evangelist, having mentioned
the consnltation, should go back to speak of the origin of that treachery
which rendered it successful. Another solution resorted to is that St.
John places together all that he intends to say about events at Bethany,
and that therefore he anticipates the day of the supper.* Perhaps,
however, this hypothesis is less satisfactory than that before-mentioned.

Then, again, Matthew and Mark describe the supper as in the house of
Simon the leper ; which fact does not appear in the gospel of John. But
there is no contradiction. It is only by inference that Martha and Mary
are supposed to be at home. And there is nothing improbable in the
hypothesis that Simon was an intimate friend, a relative, the husband,
perhaps, of Martha. Or, as Dr. Kitto ingeniously conjectures, he might
be absent from his house on account of his leprosy ; and it might thus be at
the service of his friends.* This would account for no mention being
made of Simon beyond the fact that the anointing was in his house.

Further, Matthew and Mark say that Christ's head was anointed, John
his feet. But there is no contradiction. Both head and feet were anointed.
We must not say that one evangelist was ignorant of what another records.
Both Matthew and John were present, and (as before observed) had
perfect knowledge of many things which they have not narrated.

The same remark may be made upon the fact that Matthew and Mark
mention the disapproval generally of the disciples ; John merely notes the
objection which Judas made. Doubtless both narratives are literally
true. Several of the disciples were displeased ; but Judas alone gave
expression to his discontent, and was specially touched by our Lord's
rebuke. Here was the first overt act in his treuson ; and, when the
success of that treason was to be detailed, or the conspiracy of the chief
priests touched on, it was natural for a historian to speak of what occurred
at the supper in immediate connection therewith.

10. Matt. xxvi. 17—20. with Mark xiv. 12—17. Luke xxiL 7—
16. and John xiii. 1 — 4.

There is undoubtedly considerable difficulty in reconciling the accounts
given by the different evangelists ; and yet there are minute coincidences
whichindicate that, if we had a thorough knowledge of all the circumstances,
the narratives would be found exactly to agree.

The difficulties, as stated by dean Alford, Dr. Davidson, and others, are
these. The passover was the 14th day of Nisan. Hence it would seem,
according to the first three evangelists, that Thursday, on which evening
our Lord ate the passover with his disciples, must have been the 14th of
Nisnn. But St. John gives a different account. He begins (xiii. 1.) with
saying that it was "before the feast of the passover." Also (xviii. 28) he
describes the Jews on Friday as having not yet eaten the passover; for they
would not go into the judgment-hall ** lest they should be defiled, but that

» See Kobinson, Harmony of the Four Gospels, part vii. § 131. Prof. Blunt seems to
regard John xii* 2 — II. as parenthetical, and considers that a remarkable coincidence may
be discovered in the accounts of tlie three evangelists Undesigned Coincidences (edit,
1856.), part iv. 29. pp. 307—311.

* Daily Bible Illustrations, Sec Series, thirty-ninth week, second day.

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476 Scripture Interpretation.

they might eat the passover." Then, again (xix. 14.), he speaks of the day of
the crucifixion as " the preparation of the passover." Here, however,
John coincides with the other evangelists. For they all, though they seem
to represent Christ as having eaten the passover the night before, yet call
the day of the crucifixion '* the preparation ** (Matt xxvii. 62.; Mark xv.
42. ; Luke xxilL 54.). Further, St. John (xiii. 29.) appears to speak of
the feast as yet future. And, in fine, as he represents the succeeding
sabbath as ''an high day "(xix. 31.), i. e. the first day of the feast, which
was (see Numb, xxviii. 1^ 17.) the 15th of Nisan, it would follow that
Thursday was the 13th of Nisan ; so that our Lord kept the passover
on the 13th of the month, instead of on the legal day.

Some of the difficulties are readily removed ; that, for instance, which
arises from the disciples supposing that Christ told Judas to buy things
needful for the feast. The feast^ as we have seen, began the day after
the passover. But in other respects it is harder to reconcile the several
narratives. Various solutions have been offered; that our Lord ate an
anticipatory passover; that he ate it at a time observed by some of the
Jews, but not by all ; that he did not eat the passover, but an ordinary
meal ; that St. John's expressions may be reconciled with the idea that
the supper eaten wa& really the paschal supper, &c. Dr. Alford offers some
suggestions, which he thiaks ought to enter into the consideration of the
question, (a) " That on the evening of the 13th (i. e. the beginning

of the 14th) of Nisan, the Lord ate a meal vnth his disciples

(/3) That, in some sense or other , this meal was regarded as the eating of
the passover, .... (y) That it was not the ordinary passover of the
Jews ; for (Exod. xii. 22.), when that was eaten, none might go out of the
house until morning ; whereas not only did Judas go out during the meal
(John xiii. 29.), but our Lord and the disciples went out when the meal
was finished. Also, when Judas went out, it was understood that he was
gone to buy ; which could not have been the case had it been the night of
eating the passover, which in all years ^as sabbatically hallowed. {Z)
John, who omits all mention of the paschal nature of this meal, also omits
all mention of the distribution of the symbolic bread and wine. The latter
act was anticipatory : the body was not yet broken, nor the blood shed.
Is it possible that the words in Luke xxii. 15, 16. may have been meant
by our Lord as an express declaration of the anticipatory nature of that
passover-meal likewise? May they mean, 'I have been most anxious to
eat this paschal meal with you to-night (before I suffer), for I shall not CHt
it to-morrow, I shall not eat of it any more with you ?*" * Dr. Alford's ar-
guments fail to prove that ** it was not the ordinary passover of the Jews "
which our Lord ate ; since we cannot be certain that the directions, given
(Exod. xii. 22.) for the original passover, were to be observed at every
commemoration. Indeed, so far as we can conclude by reasonable inference,
the originally-prescribed posture was not always subsequently continued.*
It must be remembered that the evening of the 13th was the beginning of
the 14th of Nisan. The Jewish day was from evening to evening. If
Thursday was the 13th of Nisan, Thursday evening was the evening
of Nisan 14. Half an hour before sunset John could properly say
** before the feast of the passover " (John xiii. 1.) ; when the sun was gone
down it was another day (the day being reckoned as twenty-four hours), it

* The Greek Testament, note on Matt, xxvi 17 — 19.

' A writer in Uie Journal of Sacred Literature, Oct. 1854, while strongly maintaininfi:
thai the supper of which our Lord partook was not a paschal feast, is disposed to think
(hat the ceremonies with which the first passover was celebrated were ever afterwards
exactly observed Scripture is hilent on this. The analogy of the eucharist is against it.
And modern Jews do uot continue the original forms.

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Alleged Contradictions in the New Testament. 477

WM tbe 14th of Nisan which lasted till sunset on Friday. At the
l^al time^, therefore, our Lord ate the passover. There is still, however,
a difficulty in regard to the Jews; and the expression used (John xviii. 28.)
would seem to show that they had not jet eaten the passover. But may
not ^ytiy ro irntrx^ have a wider sense, and intend generally passover-
' observances? It is urged, indeed, that wherever the same phrase occurs in
tiie New Testament it necessarily means eating the paschal supper. But
this 18 not conclusive: the phrase occurs Matt. xxvi. 17.; Mark xiv. 12,
14.; Lake xilIi. 8, 11, 15., and nowhere else ; and in aU these cases it is
applied exclusively to the meal which our Lord ate on the Thursday
evening ; if, then, in this case It was not, as dean Alford believes, the
ordinary paschal supper, neither can that meaning be maintained in the
other (John xviii. 28.). But not to insist on this, the instances in which
the phrase is used are too few to enable us to say with certainty that it
must have always the restricted meaning.

Perhaps, however, after all, the true solution is that offered by Dr. Fair-
bairn.* He supposes that the Jews «- understanding by the word that
comparatively-small faction who took an active part in the seizure and
trial of Christ — would have eaten the passover on Thursday night,- had not
the communication made to them by Judas hurried their proceedings.
They had before (Matt. xxvi. 5.) resolved to defer our Lord's apprehension
till the feast was over. But suddenly an opportunity presents itself.
Judas goes to the elders, and promises to lead them that very night to a
retired place where they would find their victim. Their resolvo must be
immediate : if they let slip this favourable occasion, they migbt never have
such another. And the whole business they thought might be despatched
in a few hours. They would delay their paschal supper till it was over.
And^ even though the time wore on, and morning dawned, still they did not
relinquish their intention of eating the'passover, and would keep themselves
undefiled for it. The precise legal time, indeed, was passed ; but that was
of less importance, since they would have secured the destruction of Jesus.
If this explanation — and it seems a reasonable one — be admitted, there is
perfect harmony between the evangelists. Still, in this case, we should
have to give up tbe view generally entertained, that our Lord suffered just
at the time when the passover was legally sacrificed.^

If it be objected that in this (or any other case) the proposed solution is
but hypothetical, the objector may be referred to the excellent remarks of
Dr. Chalmers on the value of conjectures for defence. " A conjecture, then,
a mere conjecture^ at once unproved and unrefuted, and alike unsusceptible
of both, may be of most effective influence in the business of argumentation.
It may be of no force in the upholding of any position, and yet be all-power-
ful in neutralizing the objection to it of adversaries. . . . Conjectures, even
mere conjectures, if only beyond the reach of positive refutation, are of
Mse in theology. When their object is demonstrative, they may well be
regarded as idle speculations. But, when their object is defensive, they
are worthy of being retained, though for no other service than to neutralize
the idle speculations of infidelity. This is their proper function ; and to

' This, however, is only on the supposition that the passoTer was to be eaten at the
beginning of the 14th (which is tbe opinion of Ranch and others) not at the end, more
generally thought to be the prescribed time.

• Hennenentical Manual, part ii sect, ix., a careful perusal of which is recoomiended to
the student

■ There are some TaUiablc remarks in Browne's discussion of the time of the crucifixion.
Ordo Sfficlorum, part i. chap. 1. sect ii. pp. 68, &c St'c also Robinson, Harmony, |>art viii.
§§ 133—158.-, and Davidson, Introduction to the New Test voL i. pp. 102— 1U9.

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478 Scripture Interpretation.

the thorough discharge of it thej are altogether adequate.** * So that it is
no unsatisfactory service, even if we cannot prove how apparent contra*
dictions must be reconciled, to point out a mode in which they may be
reconciled. This is sufficient to rescue the sacred writers from the charge
of error. *

11. Matt, xxvi 21—25. with Mark xiv. 18 — 21. and Luke xxil

Matthew and Mark intimate that Christ pointed out the traitor while
eating the passover ; Luke would seem to show that it was not till after
the institution of the eucharist. But there is no contradiction. Luke puts
together all he had to say of the passover and the eucharist before touching
on the betrayaL

12. Matt xxvi. 69—75. with Markxiv. 66—72. Luke xxiL 54 —
62. and John xviii. 15 — 27.

Dr. Alford has constructed a convenient synoptical table, to exhibit at
once the different incidents as recorded of the three denials by the four
evangelists.^ He adds some important remarks : '' Generally, supposing
the four accounts to be entirely independent of one another, we are not bound
to require accordance; nor would there, in all probability, be any such
accordance in the recognitions of Peter by different persons. These may
have been many on each occasion of denial ; and independent narrators
may have fixed on different ones among them. No reader, who is not
slavishly bound to the inspiration of the letter, will require that the actual
words spoken by Peter should in each case be identically reported. . . ."
(It might be added that Peter's words were spoken in a different languago
from that in which they are reported, and that it is very possible for two
translations to be made of the same sentence both exactly literal, and yet
in different words). *' I do not see that we are obliged to limit the nar-
rative to three sentences from Peter's mouth, each expressing a denial, and
no more. On three occasions during the night he was recognized, on
three occasions he was a denier of his Lord : such a statement may well
embrace reiterated expressions of recognition, and reiterated and importunate
denials on each occasion." There is no difficulty in respect to the first
denial ; the four accounts sufficiently harmonize : it was one person, the
porteress, who taxed him. As to the second, Peter had retreated from the
fire, as if he was altogether going away $ and this perhaps attracted more
general attention. Several persons thereupon charged him ; the porteress
again, another maid, a male servant, according to the first three evangelists.
This 18 most natural : when a group of persons are assembled, conversation
is not carried on by two interlocutors ; several generally speak at once ;
and this is brought out by St John, who uses the plural, clirov, '' they said."
Then, the third time, they that stood by recognized Peter as a G^ilean ;
his provincial accent betrayed him ; and a kinsman of Malchus, induced
to look at his features, identified him as one of those that were seen with
Jesus in the garden. The words of the denial he thereupon gave are
differently reported, but, as it said that ** he began to curse and to swear "
(Matt. xxvi. 74.), it is evident that he uttered not just a single sentence
only, but a succession of denials. Dean Alford observes upon the whole :
" What I wish to impress on the minds of my readers is that, in narratives
which have sprung from such truthful, independent accounts, they must be

* Natural Theology, book v. chap, il 18, 20. pp. 427, 429. (edit 1855).

* The Greek Testniuent, note on Matt, xxvi 69 — 75.

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Alleged Contradictions in the New Testament. 479

prepared sometimes (hs e. g, in the details of the day of the resurrection)
for discrepancies which, at our distance^ we cannot satisfactorily arrange :
now and then we may, as in this instance, be able to do so with something
like verisimilitude ; in some cases, not at all. But, whether we can thus
arrange them or not, being thoroughly persuaded of the holy truthfulness
of the evangelists, and of the divine guidance under which they wrote, our
faith is in no way shaken by such discrepancies. We value them, rather,
as testimonies to independence, and are sure that, if for one moment we
could be put in complete possession ofaUthe details as they happened, each
account would find its justification, and the reasons of all the variations
would appear. And this I firmly believe will one day be the case." *

It may be added that the three denials occurred in one place, ** the palace
of the high priest.** The explanation, John xviii. 24., would seem to have
a pluperfect meaning, introduced, as the evangelist had before said our Lord
was led to Annas, to show it was from Caiaphas that he was taken (v. 28.)
to Pilate. But, if objection be made to the so understanding of the word
&iri<rreiXcv, it is easy to suppose that Annas and Caiaphas, being nearly
related, lived, or at least transacted public business, in the same palace,
though they occupied difierent aparUnents.*

13. Matt xxvii. 5. with Acts i. 18,

Some interpreters have supposed that Judas's rope broke, and that
consequently he fell, and being, very likely, on the edge of a precipice, was
dashed to pieces. But the true solution seems to be given by a writer in
the Journal of Sacred Literature, Oct 1853. '* Hanging was generally
effected from a projecting precipice or a lofty tree. The latter being more
certain, Judas most probably selected one, and, having climbed it and
adjusted the rope, threw himself forward with great violence, from the
branch on which he stood, thus producing the precise movement implied
in the term irpjyvjjc yeyofierot. There would be the combined motion of
projection and descent, pronus et prceceps; and, this having taken place
( yevo/ievoc), the consequence would be iKaicriat filao^, &c. ; which may be
thus fairly translated : * His internal viscera were ruptured, and all his
bowels were poured forth,' not from an external wound, but simply falling
out per anum, . . . The revolting details here recorded are perfectly con-
sistent with facts. In our own day, where executions are effected with
comparative skill, criminals of large stature and bulk have, on the removal
of the drop, suffered precisely what is here recorded of Judas; the internal
viscera being suddenly shattered and ejected with great violence in the
manner above described, without any external trace of injury but in the
immediate region of the passage."

14. Matt xxvii. 32. with Mark xv. 21. Luke xxiii. 26. and John
xix. 17.

Criminals sentenced to crucifixion had ordinarily to bear their crosses.
The cross was, therefore, no doubt laid on Jesus ; and for some distance he
carried it ; but, enfeebled by the treatment he had endured, his strength
probably failed ; and the cross was transferred to Simon.

15. Matt xxvii. 34. with Mark xv. 23

Tischendorf, in Matt xxvii. 34., reads olrov fitra xoXiyc ^ffnyptrov, while
in Mark it is called iafivpyitrfiivoy olrov. The wine was a cheap acid kind,

' The dean refers to an article in the Christian Obaervcr for Feb. 1853.
* St. Peter*t denials are ably discussed in the Jonrnal of Sacred Literatme, April 1854,
pp. 84 93. Comp. Birks, Horse Kvang. book iiL chap, it pp. 415—417.

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480 Scripture Interpretation

the ordinary drink of the Roman soldiers, and was medicated with bitter
ingredients. There is no occasion to resort to the supposition of Michaelis
that the Greek translator of St. Msitthew's gospel mistook the Chaldee

16. Matt xxvii. 37. with Mark. zv. 26. Luke xxiii. 38. and John
xix. 19.

It is not improbable that the superscription varied in each of the lan-
guages in which it was written ; for both Luke v xxiii. 38.) and John
(xix. 20.) saj that it was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. We may
tlien reasonably suppose Matthew to have recited the Hebrew :

This IS
Jesus the king op the Jews.
And John the Greek :

Jesus the Nazari<:ne the king of the Jews.

Let us now view the Latin. It is not assuming much to suppose that
Pilate would not concern himself with Hebrew names, nor risk an impro-
priety in speaking or writing them. It was thought essential to the dignity
of a Roman magistrate, in the times of the republic, not to speak but in
Latin on public occasions.' Pilate, indeed, according to Matthew, asked
at our Lord's trial, Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabhas, or

Online LibraryJohn Ayre Thomas Hartwell HorneAn introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 71 of 133)