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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 ahnooson 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 10 bis 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 nxi". Now that this may mean figulus (potter), there is and can be no doubt ; for the verb 737, 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 nxi', creator, it is in reference to bis plastic power. No instance except the controverted one in question can be produced, where *7 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 she is equivalent to *18, Gesenius in bis 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 axio 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 bim 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 nowois 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 thein into the house of Jehovah into the treasury," he certainly takes a somewhat large liberty with the Hebrew text. Zechariah says: 7N? 7x1ne7777 oz ins , 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 -17 02, 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 781975. Two places of depositing the money we cannot well suppose to be designated. Surely, then, the simple Accusative (1 n'a), after the verb 7cx, cannot be translated with propriety as Mr. Noyes has translated it. The 1717, n., 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 annount 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 bave 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 bis 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
I 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 oupata is employed in the
description. But this is perfectly natural, as the odua was all which could be deposited in the tomb. But when the writer says, that éveqavioinoav nodois, they made their appearance, or shewed themsclves, to many persons,' it would be strange indeed if the reader did not receive from this the impression, that their appearance was short and incidental. As the account in Matthew now runs, it would seem that they were raised from the dead at the tiine when the tombs were opened by the groans of the expiring Saviour, but that they did not actually appear in Jerusalem until after the resurrection of Jesus, Mazd rv 70Olv autou. This intervening time was, however, only one day and a small part of two more. Some twenty-six or twentyeight hours are all the time which it is necessary to make out, between the death and the resurrection of the Saviour. More may be supposed or conceded; but inore is unnecessary.
Now as to the facts themselves, I do not see how we can shew the impossibility, or even the improbability of them, any more than of the rending the veil of the temple, darkening the sun, cleaving the rocks, etc. That there may be difficulty in freeing the passage from all the objections which might be raised theologically, or physiologically, I would not gainsay ; but that there is any stable ground for critical objections to the genuineness of the passage,
I see no good reason to believe.
Mark 14: 8—20, i. e. the concluding paragraph of Mark's Gospel, is also regarded by Mr. Norton as an interpolation. And here it cannot be said that he is entirely destitute of any critical support; for the Codex Vaticanus, a Ms. of great age and of high authority, omits the paragraph in question. In a number of other Mss., (Mr. Norton states them to be more than forty), there are remarks of the following purport in connection with these verses, viz., “ Wanting in some copies, but found in the ancient ones;" “ in many copies ;" " considered spurious, and wanting in most copies ;” “not in the more accurate copies;" “ generally in accurate copies,” etc.
That some of the ancient fathers had doubts concerning the genuineness of this passage, is clear from what Eusebius says, in his Quaestiones ad Marioum, pp. 61, 62. Gregory of Nyssa avers, that the passage is not found in the more accurate
Greek Mss.; and Jerome, that it is wanting in many of them. Greg. Opp. III. 411. Jerome, Opp. IV. P. I. col. 172.
After all, however, only one Ms. (Cod. Vat.) is known which omits the paragraph under examination. It is in all the Versions, unless some Codices of the Armenian should be excepted, which is doubtful. No recent critic has ventured to thrust it out from the corrected text of the New Testament. I apprehend, can do so, and justify himself on grounds that are purely critical, while the state of the evidence continues to be as it now is.
As in the preceding cases, Mr. Norton here resorts to internal difficulties, and depends principally upon them. He notices the apparent discrepancy between Mark 16: 9, avuoras dd, πρωϊ πρώτη σαββάτου εφάνη πρωτον Μαρία τη Μαγδαληνή, and Μatt. 28: 1, όψσε δε σαββάτων, τη επιφωσκούση εις μίαν σαββάτων, ήλθε Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή. He admits, however, , .
, , that the difficulty here is nothing more than in appearance. Mark asserts, (if his text be rightly pointed), that Jesus, when risen, appeared early in the morning on the first day of the week (first, as the Jews counted days, for their Sabbath was the last day of their week), to Mary Magdalene. He does not say when Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew asserts, that sometime on the evening of the Sabbath, (which here means the evening that followed the Jewish Sabbath, if we so translate the passage), or (as we may translate) on the evening of the week which dawned toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, etc. Nothing more need be said than simply to explain the two passages, in order to shew that there is no contradiction between them. Both unite in the sentiment, that Jesus shewed himself to Mary Magdalene, early on the first morning which followed the Jewish Sabbath.
Mr. Norton here ingenuously declares, that “there is no ground for believing that transcribers are to be charged with omitting passages in one Evangelist, because they found, or fancied, them to be irreconcilable with those in another ;” p. Ixxiv. yet, on p. Ixix. he represents some copyist of Matthew's Gospel as having thrown in the clause in Matt. 27: 53, uera try &yepon avrov, in order to avoid contradicting another passage of Scripture, which states that Christ was the First-Born from the dead. What an inconsistent part, then, does Mr. Norton make these copyists to act! Did they not know that the penalty was the same for adding to the Scriptures, that it is for taking away from it?