Изображения страниц

criminals, who are precipitated from some high tower or rock, (the Tarpeian rock will be readily called to mind as an example by the reader), and are dashed in pieces. But if any one should feel, that this is taking too much liberty with the language of Peter, (although cases enough of the like nature, in both the Old Testament and the New, might easily be produced), I will not dispute the point with him. There is no absolute inconsistency between the facts as stated by Luke and as stated by Matthew, if we interpret both of the statements literally. If Judas, when he hanged himself, swung himself off from a height, and was cut down, or fell in consequence of the breaking of the cord by which he was suspended, either of which events is far enough from being impossible or even improbable, then did he "fall headlong, and his bowels gush out." Certainly the latter circumstance is perfectly natural, on the supposition that he fell on pointed rocks below the precipice, or on any hard or sharp substance which might be beneath him. Peter chooses one of the circumstances to describe the manner of his end; Matthew another. That such apparent discrepancies are frequent in all parts of the three first Gospels, every one knows who has made a diligent comparison of them.

But we are met, by Mr. Norton, with another objection against the passage in Matthew, which is, that the Evangelist has, in quoting the passage from the Old Testament respecting the thirty pieces of silver, ascribed the words to Jeremiah, and not, as they should be, to Zechariah (11: 12, 13).

So it stands in our text, indeed; and the reading (Jeremiah) is approved by Griesbach, and many other critics. Yet all the sources of authority, in this case, are not agreed. An excellent Codex (No. 22 in Griesbach) and the Philoxenian Syriac Version here read Zayagiov; two Codices of good note, (Nos. 33, 157), with the Peshito or old Syriac, wholly omit the proper name, and read ῥηθὲν διὰ προφήτου. The majority of Mss. however, and the present weight of authority, seem to be in favor of the reading "ερεμίου.

Griesbach thinks the quotation before us to be a plain case of lapse of memory in Matthew. Kuinoel, on the other hand, supposes Matthew to have quoted from an apocryphal Jeremiah then extant, (which Jerome testifies he had seen), both because of the name of the prophet mentioned at the beginning of the quotation, and because the sense given to the passage by the Evangelist, is very different from the sense of Zech. 11: 12, 13.

Many other conjectures have been made, which it would be little to our purpose to mention.

In a case like this, which as to one particular is unique, (there being no other which will in all respects compare with it in the New Testament), it does not become any critic to be very confident. I have but two suggestions to make, and they are brief. (1) The ancient and well known order of the prophets among the Hebrews was, that Jeremiah should stand first or at the head of all the rest. The reasons assigned for this I need not now mention. The fact is notorious, and will not be denied. If now, as was often the practice when a general reference only was to be made to the place of a text of Scripture, we may suppose that Jeremiah was quoted as the title of the prophetic volume, (and this because he stood at the head of it), then there is, after all, no serious difficulty in the case, and (I may of course add) no serious improbability. If the reading pulov be genuine, I should incline to this solution. It does not seem to me likely that Matthew, or whoever was the author of Matt. 27: 3-10, was ignorant of the particular place where such a peculiar text of Scripture was found as that before us.

But the old Syriac, it seems, was not made from a Ms. which presented the difficulty in question. If the solution above be not admitted, I should incline to believe that the original Ms. did not contain the name of the prophet. Matthew, indeed, has frequently appealed to the prophets, particularly to Isaiah, by name; but in all cases, besides the present one, without any error. I cannot proffer positive proof that he did not commit an error, and write loeuiov here; but in the present state of disagreeing testimony, and of other circumstances, I do not feel at liberty to conclude that he has committed a mistake, certainly not such an one as Mr. Norton supposes to exist.

But passing all the difficulties about the name of the prophet quoted, Mr. Norton thinks "the words of the Old Testament perverted," as to the sense given to them. That Zechariah makes a use of the words in question in some respects different from that made by the Evangelist, I readily admit. But so it is in respect to a multitude of quotations from the Old Testament by the writers of the New. Yet the admission of this does not settle all the questions that occur in relation to this subject. One question I have to ask is, whether the action of Zechariah, described in the passage quoted from him, was symbolical?

That it was, is certain. Nearly the whole chapter from which it is taken is parabolic in a high degree, and is designed for instruction by similitudes. Another question is, whether the treatment which the prophet represents himself as receiving from the hands of the Jews, is similar to that which the Saviour received from Judas and the unbelieving Jews. And here the similitude is very striking. The services of the prophet were valued at thirty pieces of silver; the Saviour was prized at the same. The silver in the first case was given to the potter,

probably the one whose business it was to make vessels for the house of the Lord; in the second, it was appropriated in the like way, in order to purchase a burying-ground, for the poor, of a potter probably holding the same relation to the temple. I ask now: Are there not many cases of iva akŋooion in the New Testament, where the resemblances are even less striking than here? And why then should Mr. Norton speak of "a perversion" of the ancient Scriptures in this case, like that of which the Rabbies are guilty?

But Mr. Norton appeals to his friend Mr. Noyes for proof, that the word usually rendered potter here should be rendered treasury. Yet, after all, this matter is not quite so plain as it seems to be to the minds of Mr. Noyes and Mr. Norton. The Hebrew word in question, which is employed in Zech. 11: 13, is. Now that this may mean figulus (potter), there is and can be no doubt; for the verb, which means generally to form, to fashion, means also in particular to form or fashion as a potter does his vessel. Hence when God himself is called

i, creator, it is in reference to his plastic power. No instance except the controverted one in question can be produced, where is supposed to mean treasury. There is nothing either in the verb itself which is the root, or in the nature of any particular case, that would lead us to such a signification. It is only by asserting that is equivalent to, that Gesenius in his Lexicon gets at the meaning of treasury-a meaning, moreover, which only one of all the ancient Versions (the Syriac) has given. The whole matter, then, stands upon mere conjecture, and the meaning thus given has no actual authority in its favor.

Which now are we to trust, in the present case? The Hebrew usage of universal in other cases, all the ancient Versions but one, and most of the modern ones, not to mention the weight of authority given by the rendering itself in Matthew?

Or shall we trust to the guess of Gesenius, and after him of Mr. Noyes following in his track, and then of Mr. Norton, rather than to all the sources just named above?

When Mr. Norton says, that 'the words of Zechariah are applied here in so strange a way, that there is nothing else resembling it in the whole book of Matthew,'-he says what I do not think will bear the test of close examination. There are other passages whose wors is decidedly more obscure than that of the present.

I merely add here, that when Mr. Noyes translates thus: "I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them into the house of Jehovah into the treasury," he certainly takes a somewhat large liberty with the Hebrew text. Zechariah says: ONT nging-by mung nains, and I cast it [the silver], at (or in) the house of Jehovah, to the potter, i. e., as I understand the passage, to the potter who was at or in the house of Jehovah, and whose business it was to make vessels for its use. Mr. Noyes has rendered, INTO the house of Jehovah; whereas the into is wanting in the Hebrew, and the person to whom the money was given, or (if you insist on it) the place into which it was thrown, is designated by . Two places of depositing the money we cannot well suppose to be designated. Surely, then, the simple Accusative (min), after the verb, cannot be translated with propriety as Mr. Noyes has translated it. The 2, no doubt, designates the place where the transaction mentioned by the prophet occurred, but not the place into which (as Mr. Noyes has it) the money was thrown.

If what I have said is well founded, then it would seem that Mr. Norton's objections against Matt. 27: 3-10, when deliberately examined, do not amount to any thing like the sum of difficulty which he has so strongly alleged.

It is not even pretended by him, in the present case, that there is, the world over, a Ms. or a Version, ancient or modern, which omits the passage under examination. In a question of lower criticism then, are we, from mere conjecture, or at most from mere theological or exegetical difficulties, to disregard all authorities from the first century down to the present day? In theologizing, some may make this a question; in criticising respecting the genuineness of a particular text or passage, I do not see how such a question can be raised.

Another passage which Mr. Norton rejects, is found in Matthew 27: 52, 53. It respects the resurrection of the saints at the time when Jesus expired on the cross, and who are said to have gone, after his resurrection, into the holy city, and to have appeared to many.'

Here Mr. Norton finds a multitude of difficulties; they are all, however, of a like nature with those in the preceding case. He does not even pretend that any Ms. or Version favors the position, that here is an interpolation. All his objections amount to the allegation, that the thing is incredible. Who are the saints? How long had they been dead? For what purpose were they brought to life? What converts to Christianity were made by such a miracle? Did they die a second time? How could the writer forbear to tell us the consequences of a miracle more astounding than any other on sacred record? How could the other Evangelists omit the mention of such a thing?' Such are his grounds for believing that here is an interpolation.

I need not dwell on most of the allegations implied by raising questions of this nature. If one should undertake to raise questions of the like kind about the miracle of the water turned into wine, the barren fig-tree that was cursed, the swine that rushed into the lake, and other like things, he could easily outstrip Mr. Norton himself. And why, I might ask in the like spirit of suggesting difficulties, did no other Evangelist but John tell us of the resurrection of Lazarus, or of the cure of the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda, or of the man born blind whose sight was restored? These were astonishing miracles; and why then did not all the Evangelists record them? And why has even John forborne to tell us of the "consequences" of all these things, excepting merely that the multitudes were rendered the more eager to hear and see Jesus-a thing that we should of course expect and believe, without any particular information.

As to any speculations about the subsequent state or experience of those who were raised from the dead, according to the passage in Matthew, I have none to proffer, except such as seem to lie upon the face of the narration. I understand the writer as meaning plainly to impress the idea upon the reader, that this resurrection was but temporary, perhaps merely apparent, the apparitions being as it were the umbrae of the dead. I know indeed that ooμara is employed in the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »