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magistri quoque habebat ætatem . . . illi autem, ut figmentum suum, de eo quod est scriptum, vocare annum Domini acceptum, affirment, dicunt uno anno eum prædicasse, et duodecimo mense passum..... ...quomodo autem docebat, magistri ætatem non habens?.... et si (ita leg.) a baptismate uno tantum anno prædicavit, complens trigesimum annum passus est, adhuc juvenis existens, et qui necdum provectiorem haberet ætatem. quia autem triginta annorum ætas prima indolis est juvenis, et extenditur usque ad quadragesimum annum, omnis quilibet confitebitur: a quadragesimo autem et quinquagesimo anno declinat jam in ætatem seniorem: quam habens Dominus noster docebat, sicut Evangelium, καὶ πάντες οἱ πρεσβύτεροι μαρτυροῦσιν, οἱ κατὰ τὴν ̓Ασίαν Ἰωάννῃ τῷ τοῦ Κυρίου μαθητῇ συμβεβληκότες, παραδεδωκέναι ταῦτα τὸν Ἰωάννην. παρέμεινε γὰρ αὐτοῖς μέχρι τῶν Τραϊανοῦ χρόνων. quidam autem eorum non solum Joannem, sed et alios apostolos viderunt, et hæc eadem ab ipsis audierunt, et testantur de hujus
Notwithstanding the traditionary authority to which he appeals in support of this opinion, it is so improbable, that no one can hesitate to reject it. Nor would I be understood to say that there was no traditionary authority for the substance of the above statement in general; but only, that in all probability, the testimony of St. John and of the other apostles, to which it refers, went no further than this; viz. that when our Lord entered on his ministry, he had, what Irenæus calls, the perfecta magistri ætas: which among the Jews was thirty: he was in the full possession of all the natural powers both of mind and of body2.
It is clear, from the reasoning of Irenæus, that he himself understood the perfect age of a master or z See Dissertation xi. vol. i. 374-380.
teacher to begin at forty, not at thirty; in which respect there is no doubt, that his opinion was opposed to that of the Jews. If then his traditionary testimony had been given simply to this effect, that when our Saviour entered upon the work of teaching he was of the full age for a master or teacher-though that in reality might mean no more than that he was of the full age of thirty—it is morally certain that Irenæus would understand it of the age of forty. In a word, that our Lord was of the perfect age of a master when he entered on his ministry, might be truly said to have been traditionally handed down from St. John, through the elders; that he was consequently forty, and not merely thirty, at the same time, is an inference from this fact, or a gloss upon the traditions of Irenæus' time, which is not to be received as sanctioned by the same authority, but to be rejected as inconsistent with it.
In support of the same opinion, he lays some stress in the next chapter, upon the implicit testimony of John viii. 57: πεντήκοντα ἔτη οὔπω ἔχεις· καὶ ̓Αβραὰμ Epakas; which he thinks would not have been said to Jesus, if he had not been more than forty, and known to be so by the speakers. But Irenæus mistook the meaning of this text: which has nothing to do with the absolute age of our Lord at the time; with his personal appearance, as looking older than he really might be, or the like: but was, as I should understand it, simply intended to remind him he was still a young man; he was not yet of an age even to be called old -how then could he have seen Abraham? The age of fifty is mentioned, because that was the first age at which men began properly to be considered old. Irenæus himself proves this: Quinque ætates transit
a Lib. ii. xlii. 166. 22.
humanum genus: primum infans, deinde puer, deinde parvulus, (μepákov,) et posthæc juvenis, sic deinde senior and the age of juvenis he fixes above to begin at thirty, and to end at forty. The Persians placed the beginning of old age at fifty-two: the Roman law at fifty b. Jerome, in Is. iii. observes: Tuli senem et quinquagenarium, et admirabilem consiliarium, et sapientem architectum, et prudentem conditorem, etc., from which it appears that senex and quinquagenarius were convertible terms. Cf. on this subject, the passages collected, Dissertation xi. vol. i. 377-379 *.
Lastly, we may observe, that after the commencement of our Lord's ministry, whether at thirty or forty years of age, Irenæus reckons three passovers d; the first, John ii. 13: the second, the controverted one of John v. 1: Quando paralyticum qui juxta natatoriam jacebat xxxviii annos, curavit: of which, however, he speaks without any hesitation, as of a Passover. The third Passover, is the last; when Jesus came to Bethany, six days before it, and is represented in the Gospels as, Manducans Pascha, et sequenti die passus. With respect to any other Passover, though he men
* In some ancient references to it, the above text is quoted with the reading of τεσσαράκοντα, instead of πεντήκοντα : for instance, Chrysostom, Operum i. 505. A. Homilia vii. 3: and viii. 324. A. in Joannem Homilia lv. 2. The latter is no doubt the true reading-but the former might easily get substituted for itwith a view perhaps to bring
the statement within the bounds of probability, supposing our Lord's true age at the time to have been thirty and upwards. "Thou art not yet forty," referred to the true state of the case, would be an observation, on the principle of a general, indefinite and conjectural mode of speaking, much more tolerable than, "Thou art not yet fifty."
b Xenophon, Cyropædia, i. ii. §. 12, 13. Cf. Zonaras, iii. xv. 147. D. Pliny, Epp. iv. 23. Seneca, de Brevitate Vitæ, xx. 3. Seneca Pater, Controversiæ, i. viii. 138. Aulus Gellius, x. 28. Suidas, voce AiaithTas, and 'Epéral, will shew that the same thing held good at Athens. c Hieronymus, iii. 36. ad principium. Cf. Josephus, Ant. Jud. iii. viii. 2. xii. 4. Numbers iv. 3, &c. d Lib. ii. xxxix. 160.
tions our Lord's departure over the sea of Galilee, and his feeding the five thousand, he says nothing of the Passover's being near at hand: whether because he did not read this circumstance in his copy of St. John's Gospel, or because he overlooked it, I do not undertake to say.
That others besides Irenæus, entertained the same opinions respecting the age of our Lord, appears from a passage of Augustin, which I have produced elsewhere. It appears also from the avτikeiμeva of Stephen Gobarus, of which Photius has given us an abstract e; ὅτι ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστὸς λ ́. ἐνιαυτῶν ὑπάρχων ἐσταυρώθη· καὶ ὅτι οὐ λ'. ἀλλὰ γ. καὶ λ'· καὶ ὅτι οὐ γ ́. καὶ λ ́. ἀλλὰ μ'· καὶ ὅτι οὔτε λ'. ἐτῶν οὔτε μ'. μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πλέον, οὐ πολὺ τῶν ν. ἀφεστηκώς.
It is observable that this writer, whose work consisted of a collection of contrary opinions upon questions of fact or of doctrine-knew of no opinion, except the last two, which did not suppose our Saviour to be either thirty, or thirty-three, years old at his death; and therefore his ministry, between his baptism and his death, to have been of one year's, or of three years', duration.
The same writer, loc. cit. 1. 42, mentions an opinion that Christ ascended into heaven on the day after his resurrection from the dead, upon the sixteenth day of the month which may render it less extraordinary that others on the contrary, like the Valentinians, should have thought there was even more than a forty days' interval between those two events.
Epiphanius, quoting from one of these Valentinian authors, (though the passage in the original is exceed
d Opera, iii. 36. De Doctrina Christiana, lib. ii. 42. Vide Dissertation iv. vol. i. 245. e Photius, Codex, 232. page 290. l. 14.
ingly corrupt,) writes thus f: The everlasting Word of God was born about the fortieth of Augustus. The same author added, he says, On the XII of the Kalends of July or June, I cannot tell which, in the consulship of Sulpicius Camerinus, and Buteo Pompeianus.
The fortieth of Augustus bears date from U. C. 711: and the birth of Christ would thus be placed May 21. or June 20. U. C. 750 or U. C. 751. The important circumstance in this tradition is that the nativity is supposed to have taken place in the spring quarter of the year: an opinion which Epiphanius does not attempt to controvert, except by considering it possible that it might have confounded the nativity with the annunciation; and if, as some persons had thought, Christ was born at the end of seven months, instead of nine, the nativity might yet take place on the 6th of January; which is his own date for it.
As to the two consuls, in whose year the nativity is said to have happened, it is in vain to search for them in the Fasti, U. C. 750 or U. C. 751. Yet that Epiphanius had some real foundation for the statement which he has made, is proved by the following references. Syncellus tells us that our Lord was born on the twenty-fifth of Chasleu or December, in the fortythird (leg. 42.) of Augustus, év vатeia ZovλTIKίov Kaμeρίνου, καὶ Γαΐου Ποππαίου, ὡς ἐν ἀκριβέσι καὶ παλαιοῖς ἀνTiуρápois pépeтal. The forty-second of Augustus, it τιγράφοις φέρεται. is true, would be U. C. 752: and these two were consuls U. C. 762. On the same authority Syncellus asserts that our Saviour suffered, coss. Nerone iii. et Valerio Messala ", U. C. 811.
Perhaps the source of these traditions is indicated in the fragment published by Muratori, and ascribed to Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem about the end of the
f Opera, i. 450. D. Alogi, xxviii. xxix.
gi. 597. 5.
h i. 607. 9.