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Julian Pe- calamity, the members of the Christian Church stood in need of The Pro-
resulted from the example of their suffering Master, aud the
St. Matthew ascribes those titles of sanctity to Jerusalem,
Lastly, to omit circumstances of minor importance, Matthew's frequent mention (not fewer than nine times) of Pilate, as being then actually governor of Judea, is an additional evidence of the early date of his Gospel. For Josephus (c) informs us, that Pilale having been ordered by Vitellius, governor of Syria, to go to Rome, to answer a complaint of the Samaritans before the emperor, hastened thither, but before be arrived the emperor was dead. Now, as Tiberius died in the spring of 37, it is highly probablo that St. Matthew's Gospel was written by that time (d).
Dr. Lardner (e), however, and Bishop Percy (f ), think that they discover marks of a lower date in St. Matthew's writings. Tbey argue from the knowledge which be shows of the spiri. tuality of the Gospel, and of the excellence of the moral above the ceremonial law; and from the great clearness with which the comprehensive design of the Christian dispensation, as extending to the whole Gentile world, together with the rejection of the Jews, is unfolded in this Gospel of these topics they suppose the Evangelist not to have treated, until a course of years bad developed their meaning, removed bis Jewish prejudices, and given bim a clearer discernment of their nature.
This objection, however, carries but little force with it. For, in the first place, as Dr. Townson has justly observed, with regard to the doctrinal part of his Gospel, if St. Matthew exhibits a noble idea of pure religion and morality, he teaches no more than he had beard frequently taught, and often opposed to the maxims of the Jews, by his divine instructor. And when the Holy Spirit, the guide into all truth, had descended upon him, it seems strange to imagine that he still wanted twenty or thirty years to enlighten his mind. If he was not then furnished with knowledge to relate these things as an Evangelist, how was he qualified to preach them to the Jews as an apostle ?
In the next place, it is true that the prophetic parts of bis
ST. MATTHEW WRITES HIS GOSPEI-CHAP. IX.
83 Jalian Pe- Gospel declare the oxtent of Christ's kingdom, and the calling The Proriod, 4747. and acceptance of the Gentiles. But these events had been vince of JuValgar Æra, plainly foretold by the ancient prophets, and were expected by dea, &c.
devout Israelites to happen in the days of the Messiah (9); and
Once more, with respect to the argument deduced from this
Since, therefore, the objections to the early date by no means balance the weight of evidence in its favour, we are justified in assigning the date of this Gospel to the year of our Lord 37, or at the latest to the year 3.
The next subject of inquiry respects the language in which St. Matthew wrote his Gospel, and which has been contested among critics with no small degree of acrimony; Bellarmin, Grotius, Casaubon, Bishops Walton and Tomline, Drs. Cave, Hammond, Mill, Harwood, Owen, Campbell, and A. Clarke, Simon, Tillemont, Pritius, Du Pin, Calmet, Michaelis, and others, having supported the opinion of Papias as cited by Irenæus, Origen, Cyril, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Jerome, and other carly writers, that this Gospel was written in Hebrew, that is, in the Syro-Chaldaic dialect then spoken by the Jews. On the other hand, Erasmus, Paræus, Calvin, Le Clerc, Fabricius, Pfeiffer, Dr. Lightfoot, Beausobre, Basnage, Wetstein, Rumpæus, Whitby, Edelman, Hoffman, Moldenhawer, Viser, Harles, Jones, Drs. Jortin, Lardner, Hey, and Hales, Mr. Hewlett, and others, have strenuously vindicated the Greek original of St. Matthew's Gospel. A third opinion has been offered by Dr. Townson, and some few modern divines, that there were two orignals, one in Hebrew and the other in Greek.
Julian Pe. He thinks that there seems to be more reason for allowing two The Proriod, 4747. originals, than for contesting either ; the consent of antiquity vince of Ju. Vulgar Æra, pleading strongly for the Hebrew, and evident marks of origi- dea, &c. 34.
nality for the Greek.
The presumption, however, is unquestionably in favour of the opinion that St. Matthew wrote in Greck; for Greek was the prevailing language in the time of our Saviour and his apos. tles. Matthew, too, while be was a collector of customs, and before be was called to be an apostle, would have frequent occa. sions both to write and to speak Greek, and could not discharge his office without understanding that language. We may therefore consider it as highly probable, or even certain, that he understood Greek. Besides, as all the other evangelists and apostles wrote their Gospels and Epistles in that language for the use of Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) throughout the known world ; and as St. Matthew's Gospel, though in the first instance written for the use of Jewish and Samaritan converts, was ultimately designed for universal dissemination, it is not likely that it was written in any other language than that which was employed by all the other writers of the New Testament. This presumption is corrobora by the numerous and remarkable instances of verbal agreement between Matthew and the other Evangelists; which, on the supposition that he wrote in Hebrew, or the vernacular Syro-Chaldaic dialect, would not be credible. Even those who maintain that opinion are obliged to confess that an early Greek translation of this Gospel was in existence before Mark and Luke composed their's, which they saw and consulted. The main point in dispute is, whether the present Greek copy is entitled to the authority of an original or not: and as this is a question of real and serious importance, we sball proceed to state the principal arguments on both sides.
The modern advocates of the Hebrew Gospel, above enumerated, lay most stress upon the testimonies of Papias (Bishop of Hierapolis, A. D. 116,) of Irenæus (a. D. 178), and of Origen (A. D. 230); which testimonies have been followed by Chrysos. tom, Jerome, and otbers of the early fathers of the Christian Church. But these good men, as Wetstein has well observed, do not so properly bear testimony, as deliver their own conjectures, which we are not bound to admit, unless they are supported by good reasons. Supposing, and taking it for granted, that Matthew wrote for the Jews in Judea, they concluded that he wrote in Hebrew (k): and because the fathers formed this conclusion, modern writers, relying on their authority, have also inferred that Matthew composed his Gospel in that language. Let us now review their testimonies.
1. Papias, as cited by Eusebius, says (I), “ Matthew composed the divine oracles in the Hebrew dialect, and each interpreted them as he was able."
2. Irenæus, as quoted by the same historian (m), says, “ Matthew published also a Scripture of the Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialect.”
3. Origen, as cited by Eusebius (n), says, “ As I have learned by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are received without dispute by the whole Church of God under heaven.-The first was written by Matthew, once a publican, afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, wbo published it for the believers from Judaism, composed in Hebrew letters."
In opposition to these testimonies, it is contended by the advocates for the Greek original of the Gospel,
1. That the testimony of Papias, who was a weak and crcdulous man(o), is vague and indecisive; that he had not seen the
ST. MATTHEW WRITES HIS GOSPEL-CHAP. IX.
85 Julian Pe- Hebrew Gospel itself; that it could not have been intended for The Preriod, 4747. universal circulation by his own account, because every one vince of JuVulgar&ra, was not able to interpret it; and that the Greek Gospel was dea, &c. 34.
published before his time, as appears from the express or tacit
2. The passage of Irenæus above given, more critically trans-
3. The testimony of Origen perfectly corresponds with this: for, surely, when he cited tradition for the existence of a Hebrew Gospel, written by Matthew, for the converts from Judaism, he by no means denied, but rather presupposed his Greek Gospel, written for all classes of Christians,"composing the whole Church of God under heaven,” for whose use the Hebrew Gospel would be utterly inadequate. In fact, in bis treatise on prayer, he intimates that the Evangelist published it in Greek also : for, discoursing on the word é aloúolov, be considers it as formed by Matthew himself (9). That Origen considered the Greek as the only authentic original in his time, is evident, for the following reasons. Origen, in his Hexapla, was accustomed to correct the Greek version of the Old Testament by the Hebrew original ; but he virtually confesses that he had none by which he could correct the text of Matthew's Gospel (r); and, 2. He expressly cites (8) "a certain Gospel according to the Hebrews, if any one chooses to receive it, not as of authority, but for illustration" of the question he was then discussing. Now, if this Hebrew Gospel bad been the production of St. Matthew, he certainly would have cited it in a different manner.
4. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, as we now have it, there is certainly no appearance of its being a translation; but many considerations prove the contrary. For how can wo account for the interpretation of Hebrew names, which, by an author writing in Hebrew, was by no means necessary, (compare Matt. i. 23. xxvii. 33. 46.) Again, why should the testimonies and parallel passages of the Old Testament be cited, not from the original Hebrew, but generally from the Septuagint version, even when that differs from the Hebrew ? Laztly, how does it happen, that all the versions which are extant, such as the Latin, the Syriac, the Coptic, the Armenian, and the Ethiopic, are adapted, not to the Hebrew original, but to the Greek translation? These questions are all readily answered, if wo admit that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek (t.)
It only remains, that we briefly notice the third opinion above mentioned, viz. that there were two originals--one in Hebrew, the other in Greek, but both written by St. Matthew. This opinion, we believe, was first intimated by Dr. Whitby (x,) and is adopted by Dr. Hey, Dr. Townson, Bishop Gleig, and some other modern divines. The consent of antiquity pleads strongly for the Hebrew, and evident marks of originality for the Greek. Bishop Gleig thinks, that St. Matthew, on his departure to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, left with the
Julian Pe- Church at Jerusalem, or at least with some of its members, the The Pro-
that the Greek Gospel was written long after the apostles bad
From a review of all the arguments adduced on this much
This view of the probability that the Gospel of St. Matthew was written in both languages, appears to me, to be most correct. I have given from Mr. Horne, the arguments on both sides. The authorities which he and Dr. Lardner have col. lected, to prove that the Gospel of St. Matthew was composed in Hebrew; or that there were some documents called the Gospel of St. Matthew, compiled in that language, are so numerous, and so decisive, that I think we are hardly war. ranted in rejecting these testimonies; and there are again, on the other hand, such evident marks of originality in the present Greek Gospel of St. Matthew, that we are not justified in esteeming it, with Michaelis, a mere translation. It is possible that the real state of the case might be this. When the persecution began, or was beginning, St. Matthew, who perhaps might have already committed to writing the memorable events of Christ's history, might have distributed among his own countrymen, the converts of Jerusalem, an account of the