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date of the other; and it was certainly more natural to give the date at the beginning than at the end of the work.
Now it is universally acknowledged that, had no other gospel than that of Luke been extant, it must have been taken for granted, that the whole history, from the commencement of the preaching of John to the death of Christ, was comprehended within the space of less than two years, no mention of passovers, or any other marks of time, indicating the contrary.
3. If ever any weight ought to be allowed to a negative argument, I think we may safely conclude, from what Irenæus says on the duration of Christ's ministry,* that he had not seen any copy of the Gospel of John that contained the word Taxa in the 4th verse of the 6th chapter. For though it is evident he was most eagerly bent upon collecting all the evidence he possibly could against the opinion of the Valentinians, viz. that Christ preached only one year; and he particularly remarks all the passages in the Gospel of John where he imagined a passover was intended, though not expressed; he makes no mention of this in the 6th chapter, but dwells upon that feast of which mention is made in the 5th chapter, on which Jesus cured the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda.
His commentator Mr. Grabe acknowledges that his author must have been mistaken in his inference; but says that, in the chapter following (which Irenæus had quoted in some other place) there was express mention made of another passover. Had Irenæus ever seen that passage, as we now read it, he would, I doubt not, have preferred it (as infinitely better adapted to his purpose) to the feast mentioned in the 5th chapter, concerning which not the least hint can be collected that it was a passover. It is remarkable, however, that, even with the help of this groundless assumption, Irenæus is not able to extend the ministry of Christ beyond the space of two years, by any evidence from the gospel history.
But to shew how little credit is to be given to this writer upon this subject, and how far his zeal against what he deemed to be heresy was capable of carrying him, he, in the same chapter, extends the life of Christ to a period beyond fifty years; partly on the supposition of the necessity of his being an example to persons of every age, and partly on the
* L. ii. C. xxxix. (P.)
evidence, as he says, of all the ancients who had conversed with the apostle John in Asia, and of others who had the same account from other apostles.
But it does not appear that Irenæus made many converts to his opinion. It is mentioned, indeed, by Austin, but only as the opinion of persons unskilled in history; and we find the most learned fathers who immediately followed Irenæus, as Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Origen, &c. had embraced the reprobated opinion of Valentinus, without the least mention of any contrary opinion deserving the least notice.
Lastly, it will be found, upon examination, that Eusebius could not have had a copy of the Gospel of John which had the word Taoya in the sixth chapter, and have supposed, as he did, that all the events mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, were comprised within the space of one year.
Additional Arguments in support of the Hypothesis that Christ preached only one Year and a few Months. *
To these remarks relating to some of the arguments alleged by Mr. Mann, I would suggest the following distinct additional arguments in favour of the period which he has assigned to the public ministry of Christ.
1. Some very short periods of our Lord's public ministry appear, according to the accounts of all the evangelists, to have been very full of business. He seems to have been almost incessantly employed in teaching, in healing great numbers of diseased persons, and performing other miraculous works; and from the manner in which the evangelists describe his usual way of life, it should seem that the greatest part of his time was thus fully employed. He continually went about doing good, making it his meat and his drink to do the will of his heavenly Father.
If, now, our Lord had passed three or four years in this manner, and the twelve apostles had also been teaching and working miracles in six different places for the space of a year or more, in that small country, and the seventy also in thirty-five places more, for the same space of time, as is generally supposed; such a number of miracles would have been performed, as we cannot but think must have exceeded every
*This Section, and the following, to the end of No. VII, formed Essay II. in Theol. Repos. II. pp. 47-59. See infra, p. 62.
proper purpose of them. Either there could have been no unbelievers left in Judea; or, if the tendency of the miracles had been to exasperate, such a resentment would have been raised in the minds of the Jewish rulers, as, without a greater miracle than any of the rest, could not but have terminated in his death long before. For my own part, instead of thinking a single year not to have been sufficient for the purpose of our Lord's mission, I rather wonder, considering in what manner he spent his time, that the incredulity of the people could hold out, or that the malice of his enemies could be restrained so long as one year.
Considering the violent prejudices that such a people as the Jews must have had against the pretensions of a Messiah who made the appearance that Jesus did, one may indeed imagine, that the bulk, or the more depraved and worldlyminded of them, might withstand the evidence of miracles performed in one year; but hardly any degree of incredulity can be supposed to have stood out against the thousands and ten thousands of miracles that must have been wrought upon the common hypothesis.
2. It is also more easy to account for the prejudices of the apostles, and their ignorance of the true nature of Christ's kingdom, even at, and after our Lord's death, on the supposition that his ministry was of a short, than that it was of a long duration.
3. If our Lord really preached three or four years; and, consequently, if the evangelists have sometimes passed over all the events of whole years at a time, is it not surprising that none of them should ever connect those very distant parts of their narrative by such phrases as the year following ; after one, or after two years, &c. &c.? The seasons of the year are sometimes particularly distinguished, and we find the exact number of days that intervened between two events carefully noted; but nothing that implies such chasms as are commonly supposed to be in the evangelical history. Their usual transition, after these things, or afterwards, cannot be construed to mean after a year or two.
4. If Jesus had been preaching and working miracles, both in Judea and in Galilee, almost a year before the death of John the Baptist, agreeable to the common hypothesis, Herod, who reigned in Galilee, could not but have heard of him; and therefore could not but have known that he was not John that was risen from the dead, as in Matt. xiv. 1. Whereas, if we suppose that Jesus had preached only a few weeks before the death of John, we may imagine, that, en
gaged as Herod was in a multiplicity of business and pleasure, he might not have heard of him till that time; and therefore might, with some plausibility, conjecture, as he did, that he was John risen from the dead. This argument appears to me to be almost conclusive against the common hypothesis.
5. All our Lord's journeys that the evangelists give us any account of, agree in so many circumstances, that they are evidently the same, and are supposed to be so by all harmonists. Now since these four historians have selected very different events in our Saviour's life, is it not surprising, that all his journeys to Jerusalem make no more than four; three of which, at least, every pious Jew was obliged to make in the compass of every year? Our Lord must have made that journey three or four times as often, in three or four years, and it may well be supposed that something remarkable must have happened in several of them, besides those four. John, who supplies many of the deficiences of the other evangelists, only makes up the number of them to four. He supplies many new discourses, and new incidents, but no more journeys to Jerusalem than those abovementioned.
If we read the history of the evangelists with attention, we shall find several small periods of time, as was observed before, exceedingly crowded with business, particularly a week or two after his appearance in Galilee, after the first passover, and a week before his death. If only a month or two of the year were spent in this manner, all the business that is recorded in all the evangelists might have been transacted in it; so that, even upon this hypothesis, we must suppose great omissions in our Lord's history according to the testimony of John.
Objections to the preceding Hypothesis considered.
Ir may be objected to the hypothesis I am maintaining, that though it is possible that all the events that are expressly mentioned in the history of our Lord, might have been comprehended within the compass of one year, yet that several circumstances and expressions also lead us to suppose, that more is suppressed than could be brought within that space of time; particularly our Lord's tarrying and making disciples in Judea before he went to Galilee, after the first pass
over, John iii. 22; his dwelling "in Capernaum," Matt. iv. 13; and his going "about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues," (verse 23,)" on the sabbath-days," Luke iv. 31. is also said, that the missions of the twelve and of the seventy, must have taken up more time than can be allowed for them on this hypothesis. I shall therefore consider all these cases a little particularly; and the illustration I shall give of them may perhaps assist us to understand the force of similar expressions, when they occur elsewhere.
I. Though John (iii. 22) speaks of our Lord's tarrying in Judea, after the first passover, and before his going into Galilee, and making more disciples there than John did at the same time, yet several circumstances make it evident, that his stay in Judea at that time could not have been long. For not only do the other evangelists make no mention of this stay in Judea; but the manner in which they all relate the history of the first transactions in Galilee, shews that they had no idea of any thing considerable having been done before.
Matthew (iv. 17) says, that it was after his coming to Capernaum that "Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Mark (i. 28) represents the great fame of Jesus in Galilee to have arisen from the miracle which he performed in the synagogue at Capernaum, on the day that he healed Peter's wife's mother.
Luke closely connects his account of the temptation with that of his preaching in Galilee, saying, (iv. 14,) “ And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.'
From the history of the transactions at the first passover, it is evident that the Pharisees were, at that time, very attentive to our Lord's conduct; so that his making disciples in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem cannot be supposed to have escaped their notice many days: from which we may conclude, that whatever effect our Lord's apprehensions from the Jews could have had, must have been produced very soon, probably in less than a week. Having been baptized in that country, having been distinguished by a voice from heaven, and having been so particularly pointed out by John there, he could not be long in making disciples enow to alarm the Jews. Besides, it is probable that most of the disciples that Jesus made, (at which the Jews took umbrage,) were made before the passover; so that a few days after