Imágenes de páginas

could hardly be desired: if not a contemporary of the Apostles, or rather, if not known to them, a contemporary of their disciples, and who had been a hearer of two men, Aristion, and John the elder, whom he calls disciples of the Lord. He was one, therefore, who had it in his power to be certified of any fact relating to the ministry of the Apostles, and that by persons who had been intimately acquainted with them. Now, by the character transmitted to us of Papias, he was particularly inquisitive about the sayings and actions of our Lord; and, for this purpose, cultivated an acquaintance with those who had seen and heard him, and could give him the fullest information of all that he did and taught. "I took no delight," says he, "as most people do, "in those who talk much, but in those who teach “the truth; nor in those who relate strange pre

[ocr errors]

cepts, but in those who relate the precepts which "the Lord hath entrusted us with, and which pro"ceed from the truth itself." It would not be easy for me to imagine what could be objected to so clear an evidence, in so plain a case, a matter of fact which falls within the reach, even of the lowest understanding; for this is one of those points, on which, if the simplest man alive should deviate from truth, every man of sense would impute his deviation to a defect of a very different kind from that of understanding. Yet this is the only resource to which those who controvert the testimony of Papias, have betaken themselves.

[ocr errors]

5. EUSEBIUS had said of Papias", that "he was a man of slender parts, as may be discovered "from his writings." This the historian mentions, in order to account for the sentiments of that ancient writer concerning the millennium, who, in the opinion of Eusebius, interpreted too literally and grossly, what the Apostles had seen meet to veil under figurative language. But, not to enter here into the nature of Christ's reign for a thousand years on the earth, before the general resurrection (a question foreign to the present purpose; and on which, if Papias erred, he erred along with many not deficient in understanding,) a man may be very unfit for judging rightly of a theological or critical question, who would be allowed, by every person of common sense, a competent witness in questions of plain fact, which had fallen under his observation; as whether Matthew had been accounted, from the beginning, the writer of such a Gospel, and whether he wrote it in Hebrew or in Greek.

§ 6. Ir seems to be another objection to the testimony of Papias, that he adds, "which every one interpreted as he was able:" as if he could be understood to mean, that every one was able to interpret Hebrew. This clause is an elliptical idiom of that sort, to which something similar, in familiar conversation, will be found to occur in most lan

11 Σφόδρα γαρ τοι σμικρος ων τον νεν, ώς αν εκ των αυτό λόγων, TEXμпρæμEVOV HTH palvetal. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. 39.

guages. Nobody is at a loss to perceive the meaning to be, 'For some time there was no interpretation ' in common use, but every one who attempted in'terpreting, did it the best way he could.' The manner in which this addition is made is, to me, on the contrary, a confirmation of the testimony; as it leads me to think (but in this I may be deceived,) that Papias had not from testimony this part of the information he gives; but that it was what he himself remembered, when there was no version of Matthew's Gospel generally received, but every one who could read it in its own language, Hebrew, and either in writing, or in speaking, had recourse to it, translated it as well as he could. Thus, our Scottish Highlanders may say, at this moment, that, till very lately, they had no translation of the Bible into their mother-tongue, that they had only the English Bible, which every one interpreted to them as he was able. Could a reasonable person, on hearing such a declaration, imagine that any thing had been advanced, which could be called either absurd or unintelligible?

§ 7. THE next authority I shall recur to is that of Irenæus bishop of Lyons in Gaul, who in his youth had been a disciple of Polycarp. He says 12, 12, in the

12 Ο μεν δη Ματθαιος εν τοις Εβραιοις τη ίδια διαλεκτω αυτών,

και γραφην εξηνεγκεν ευαγγελι8, το Πετρ8 και ευαγγελιζομένων, και θεμελιώντων την εκκλησίαν. lib. v. cap. 8.

το Παυλό εν Ρώμη

Euseb. Hist. Eccl.

only book of his extant, that "Matthew, among the "Hebrews, wrote a Gospel in their own language, "whilst Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel "at Rome, and founding the church there." And in a fragment of the same author, which Grabe and others have published, it is said, "The Gospel according to Matthew was written to the Jews; for


[ocr errors]

they earnestly desired a Messiah of the posterity of "David. Matthew, in order to satisfy them on this point, began his Gospel with the genealogy of "Jesus."

§ 8. THE third witness to be adduced is Origen, who flourished in 'the former part of the third century. He is quoted by Eusebius, in a chapter 13 wherein he specially treats of Origen's account of the sacred canon. "As I have learnt," says Origen, "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, who delivered it to the Jewish be"lievers, composed in the Hebrew language. Exdeσε δώκοτα αυτο τοις απο ιδδαισμο πιςεύσασι, γραμμασιν Εβραικοις συντεταγμένον.” In another place he says, "We begin with Matthew, who, ac

[ocr errors]


13 Hist. lib. vi. cap. 25.

Αρξάμενοι απο το Ματθαις ός και παραδίδοται πρωτο λοιπων τοις Εβραιοις εκδεδομεναι το ευαγγελιον τοῖς εκ περιτομης πιςεύεσιν. Comment, in Johan.

"cording to tradition, wrote first, publishing his Gos

[ocr errors]

pel to the Hebrews, or the believers who were of the "circumcision." Again ", " Matthew, writing for "the Hebrews, who expected him who was to de"scend from Abraham and David, says, The lineage of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abra"ham." Let it here be observed, by the way, that the word naρadoois, as used by ancient writers, and sometimes by the sacred penmen, does not entirely coincide in meaning with our word tradition. I have here, however, employed this word with the common run of interpreters, that I might not be thought desirous of saying more in the version than the original warrants. The word tradition, with us, imports, as the English lexicographer rightly explains it, "any thing delivered orally from age to age:" whereas napadoσis properly implies, "any thing handed down from former ages, in whatever it has been transmitted, whether by oral or "by written testimony; or even any instruction conveyed to others, either by word or by writ"ing." In this last acceptation we find it used in Scripture 16: Hold the traditions, τας παραδόσεις, which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our Epistle. It is only when the epithet aypapos, unwritten, is added to napadoσis, that it answers exactly to the English word; whereas all historical evi

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


15 Ματθαι μεν γαρ τοις προσδοκώσι τον εξ Αβρααμ και Δαβίδ, Εβραίοις γράφων, ΒιβλΘ, φησί, γενέσεως Ιησε Χριςε υιε Δαβίδ, υις Αβρααμ.

16 2 Thess. ii. 15.

« AnteriorContinuar »