Malankara World

THE GOSPELS IN THE SECOND CENTURY

AN EXAMINATION OF THE CRITICAL PART OF A WORK ENTITLED
'SUPERNATURAL RELIGION'

By W. Sanday, M.A.


CHAPTER 3

THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS

To go at all thoroughly into all the questions that may be raised as to the date and character of the Christian writings in the early part of the second century would need a series of somewhat elaborate monographs, and, important as it is that the data should be fixed with the utmost attainable precision, the scaffolding thus raised would, in a work like the present, be out of proportion to the superstructure erected upon it. These are matters that must be decided by the authority of those who have made the provinces to which they belong a subject of special study: all we can do will be to test the value of the several authorities in passing.

In regard to Clement of Rome, whose First (genuine) Epistle to the Corinthians is the first writing that meets us, the author of 'Supernatural Religion' is quite right in saying that 'the great mass of critics ... assign the composition of the Epistle to the end of the first century (A.D. 95-100)' [Endnote 58:1]. There is as usual a right and a left wing in the array of critics. The right includes several of the older writers; among the moderns the most conspicuous figure is the Roman Catholic Bishop Hefele. Tischendorf also, though as it is pointed out somewhat inconsistently, leans to this side. According to their opinion the Epistle would be written shortly before A.D. 70. On the left, the names quoted are Volkmar, Baur, Scholten, Stap, and Schwegler [Endnote 59:1]. Baur contents himself with the remark that the Epistle to the Corinthians, 'as one of the oldest documents of Christian antiquity, might have passed without question as a writing of the Roman Clement,' had not this Clement become a legendary person and had so many spurious works palmed off upon him [Endnote 59:2]. But it is surely no argument to say that because a certain number of extravagant and spurious writings are attributed to Clement, therefore one so sober and consistent with his position, and one so well attested as this, is not likely to have been written by him. The contrary inference would be the more reasonable, for if Clement had not been an important person, and if he had left no known and acknowledged writings, divergent parties in the Church would have had no reason for making use of his name. But arguments of this kind cannot have much weight. Probably not one half of the writings attributed to Justin Martyr are genuine; but no one on that account doubts the Apologies and the Dialogue with Tryphon.

Schwegler [Endnote 59:3], as is his wont, has developed the opinion of Baur, adding some reasons of his own. Such as, that the letter shows Pauline tendencies, while 'according to the most certain traditions' Clement was a follower of St. Peter; but the evidence for the Epistle (Polycarp, Dionysius of Corinth, A.D. 165-175, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus in the most express terms) is much older and better than these 'most certain traditions' (Tertullian and Origen), even if they proved anything: 'in the Epistle of Clement use is made of the Epistle to the Hebrews;' but surely, according to any sober canons of criticism, the only light in which this argument can be regarded is as so much evidence for the Epistle to the Hebrews: the Epistle implies a development of the episcopate which 'demonstrably' (nachweislich) did not take place until during the course of the second century; what the 'demonstration' is does not appear, and indeed it is only part of the great fabric of hypothesis that makes up the Tübingen theory.

Volkmar strikes into a new vein [Endnote 60:1]. The Epistle of Clement presupposes the Book of Judith; but the Book of Judith must be dated A.D. 117-118; and therefore the Epistle of Clement will fall about A.D. 125. What is the ground for this reasoning? It consists in a theory, which Volkmar adopted and developed from Hitzig, as to the origin of the Book of Judith. That book is an allegorical or symbolical representation of events in the early part of the rising of the Jews under Barcochba; Judith is Judaea, Nebuchadnezzar Trajan; Assyria stands for Syria, Nineveh for Antioch, Arphaxad for a Parthian king Arsaces, Ecbatana for Nisibis or perhaps Batnae; Bagoas is the eunuch- service in general; Holofernes is the Moor Lucius Quietus. Out of these elements an elaborate historical theory is constructed, which Ewald and Fritzsche have taken the trouble to refute on historical grounds. To us it is very much as if Ivanhoe were made out to be an allegory of incidents in the French Revolution; or as if the 'tale of Troy divine' were, not a nature-myth or Euemeristic legend of long past ages, but a symbolical representation of events under the Pisistratidae.

Examples such as this are apt to draw from the English reader a sweeping condemnation of German criticism, and yet they are really only the sports or freaks of an exuberant activity. The long list given in 'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 61:1] of those who maintain the middle date of Clement's Epistle (A.D. 95-100) includes apparently all the English writers, and among a number of Germans the weighty names of Bleek, Ewald, Gieseler, Hilgenfeld, Köstlin, Lipsius, Laurent, Reuss, and Ritschl. From the point of view either of authority or of argument there can be little doubt which is the soundest and most judicious decision.

Now what is the bearing of the Epistle of Clement upon the question of the currency and authority of the Synoptic Gospels? There are two passages of some length which are without doubt evangelical quotations, though whether they are derived from the Canonical Gospels or not may be doubted.

The first passage occurs in c. xiii. It will be necessary to give it in full with the Synoptic parallels, in order to appreciate the exact amount of difference and resemblance which it presents.

_Matt._ v. 7, vi. 14,

_Clem. ad Cor._ c. xiii. _Luke_ vi. 36, 37, 31,
vii. 12,2. vi. 38, 37, 38.
[Especially re-
membering the word
of the Lord Jesus
which he spake ...
For thus he said:]
v. 7. Blessed are Pity ye, that ye may vi. 36. Be ye mer-
the pitiful, for they be pitied: forgive, ciful, etc. vi. 37. Ac-
shall be pitied. vi. that it may be for- quit, and ye shall be
14. For if ye for given unto you. As acquitted. vi. 3 1.
give men their tres- ye do, so shall it And as ye would
passes, etc. vii. 12. be done unto you: that they should do
All things therefore as ye give, so shall unto you, do ye
whatsoever ye would it be given. unto you: also unto them like
that men should do as ye judge, so shall wise. vi. 38. Give,
unto you, even so do it be judged unto and it shall be given
ye unto them. vii. 2. you: as ye are kind, unto you. vi. 3 7.
For with what judg- so shall kindness be And judge not, and
ment ye judge, ye shown unto you: ye shall not be
shall be judged: and judged.
with what measure with what measure For with what
ye mete, it shall be ye mete, with it shall measure ye mete, it
measured unto you. it be measured unto shall be measured
you. unto you again.
[GREEK TABLE]
_Matt._ v. 7, vi. 14, _Clem. ad Cor._ c. xiii. _Luke_ vi. 36, 37, 31,
vii. 12,2. vi. 38, 37, 38.
v.7. makarioi hoi eleeite hina eleaethaete. vi. 36. ginesthe
eleaemones hoti autoi oiktirmones, k.t.l.
eleaethaesontai.
vi. 14. ean gar aphiete hina aphethae vi. 37. apoluete kai
aphaete tois anth. ta humin. apoluthaesesthe.
paraptomata auton.
vii. 12. panta oun hos poieite houto vi. 31. kai kathos
hosa ean thelaete hina poiaethaesetai humin. thelete hina poiosin
poiosin humin hoi anth. humin hoi anthropoi kai
houtos kai humeis humeis poieite autois
homoios poieite autois.
hos didote houtos vi. 38. didote, kai
dothaesetai humin. dothaesetai humin.
vii. 2. en ho gar hos krinete houtos vi. 37. kai mae
krimati krinete krithaesetai humin. krinete kai ou mae
krithaesesthe. krithaete.
hos chraesteuesthe
houtos chraesteuthaesetai
humin.
kai en ho metro ho metro metreite en vi. 38. to gar auto
metreite auto metraethaesetai metro ho metreite
metraethaesetai humin. humin. antimetraethaesetai
humin.

We are to determine whether this quotation was taken from the Canonical Gospels. Let us try to balance the arguments on both sides as fairly as possible. Dr. Lightfoot writes in his note upon the passage as follows: 'As Clement's quotations are often very loose, we need not go beyond the Canonical Gospels for the source of this passage. The resemblance to the original is much closer here, than it is for instance in his account of Rahab above, § 12. The hypothesis therefore that Clement derived the saying from oral tradition, or from some lost Gospel, is not needed.' (1) No doubt it is true that Clement does often quote loosely. The difference of language, taking the parallel clauses one by one, is not greater than would be found in many of his quotations from the Old Testament. (2) Supposing that the order of St. Luke is followed, there will be no greater dislocation than e.g. in the quotation from Deut. ix. 12-14 and Exod. xxxii. (7, 8), 11, 31, 32 in c. liii, and the backward order of the quotation would have a parallel in Clem. Hom. xvi. 13, where the verses Deut. xiii. 1-3, 5, 9 are quoted in the order Deut. xiii. 1-3, 9, 5, 3,--and elsewhere. The composition of a passage from different places in the same book, or more often from places in different books, such as would be the case if Clement was following Matthew, frequently occurs in his quotations from the Old Testament. (3) We have no positive evidence of the presence of this passage in any non- extant Gospel. (4) Arguments from the manner of quoting the Old Testament to the manner of quoting the New must always be to a certain extent _a fortiori_, for it is undeniable that the New Testament did not as yet stand upon the same footing of respect and authority as the Old, and the scarcity of MSS. must have made it less accessible. In the case of converts from Judaism, the Old Testament would have been largely committed to memory in youth, while the knowledge of the New would be only recently acquired. These considerations seem to favour the hypothesis that Clement is quoting from our Gospels.

But on the other hand it may be urged, (1) that the parallel adduced by Dr. Lightfoot, the story of Rahab, is not quite in point, because it is narrative, and narrative both in Clement and the other writers of his time is dealt with more freely than discourse. (2) The passage before us is also of greater length than is usual in Clement's free quotations. I doubt whether as long a piece of discourse can be found treated with equal freedom, unless it is the two doubtful cases in c. viii and c. xxix. (3) It will not fail to be noticed that the passage as it stands in Clement has a roundness, a compactness, a balance of style, which give it an individual and independent appearance. Fusions effected by an unconscious process of thought are, it is true, sometimes marked by this completeness; still there is a difficulty in supposing the terse antitheses of the Clementine version to be derived from the fuller, but more lax and disconnected, sayings in our Gospels. (4) It is noticed in 'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 65:1] that the particular phrase [Greek: chraesteusthe] has at least a partial parallel in Justin [Greek: ginesthe chraestoi kai oiktirmones], though it has none in the Canonical Gospels. This may seem to point to a documentary source no longer extant.

Doubtless light would be thrown upon the question if we only knew what was the common original of the two Synoptic texts. How do they come to be so like and yet so different as they are? How do they come to be so strangely broken up? The triple synopsis, which has to do more with narrative, presents less difficulty, but the problem raised by these fragmentary parallelisms in discourse is dark and complex in the extreme; yet if it were only solved it would in all probability give us the key to a wide class of phenomena. The differences in these extra-canonical quotations do not exceed the differences between the Synoptic Gospels themselves; yet by far the larger proportion of critics regard the resemblances in the Synoptics as due to a common written source used either by all three or by two of them. The critics have not however, I believe, given any satisfactory explanation of the state of dispersion in which the fragments of this latter class are found. All that can be at present done is to point out that the solution of this problem and that of such quotations as the one discussed in Clement hang together, and that while the one remains open the other must also.

Looking at the arguments on both sides, so far as we can give them, I incline on the whole to the opinion that Clement is not quoting directly from our Gospels, but I am quite aware of the insecure ground on which this opinion rests. It is a nice balance of probabilities, and the element of ignorance is so large that the conclusion, whatever it is, must be purely provisional. Anything like confident dogmatism on the subject seems to me entirely out of place.

Very much the same is to be said of the second passage in c. xlvi compared with Matt. xxvi. 24, xviii. 6, or Luke xvii. 1, 2. It hardly seems necessary to give the passage in full, as this is already done in 'Supernatural Religion,' and it does not differ materially from that first quoted, except that it is less complicated and the supposition of a quotation from memory somewhat easier. The critic indeed dismisses the question summarily enough. He says that 'the slightest comparison of the passage with our Gospels is sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind that it is neither a combination of texts nor a quotation from memory' [Endnote 66:1]. But this very confident assertion is only the result of the hasty and superficial examination that the author has given to the facts. He has set down the impression that a modern might receive, at the first blush, without having given any more extended study to the method of the patristic quotations. I do not wish to impute blame to him for this, because we are all sure to take up some points superficially; but the misfortune is that he has spent his labour in the wrong place. He has, in a manner, revived the old ecclesiastical argument from authority by heaping together references, not always quite digested and sifted, upon points that often do not need them, and he has neglected that consecutive study of the originals which alone could imbue his mind with their spirit and place him at the proper point of view for his enquiry.

The hypothesis that Clement's quotation is made _memoriter_ from our Gospel is very far from being inadmissible. Were it not that the other passage seems to lean the other way, I should be inclined to regard it as quite the most probable solution. Such a fusion is precisely what _would_ and frequently _does_ take place in quoting from memory. It is important to notice the key phrases in the quotation. The opening phrases [Greek: ouai to anthropo ekeino; kalon aen auto ei ouk egennaethae] are found _exactly_ (though with omissions) in Matt. xxvi. 24. Clement has in common with the Synoptists all the more marked expressions but two, [Greek: skandalisai] ([Greek: -sae] Synoptics), the unusual word [Greek: mulos] (Matt., Mark), [Greek: katapontisthaenai] ([Greek: -thae] Matt.), [Greek: eis taen thalassan] (Mark, Luke), [Greek: hena ton mikron] ([Greek: mou] Clement, [Greek: touton] Synoptics). He differs from them, so far as phraseology is concerned, only in writing _once_ (the second time he agrees with the Synoptics) [Greek: ton eklekton mou] for [Greek: ton mikron touton], by an easy paraphrase, and [Greek: peritethaenai] where Mark and Luke have [Greek: perikeitai] and Matthew [Greek: kremasthae]. But on the other hand, it should be noticed that Matthew has, besides this variation, [Greek: en to pelagei taes thalassaes], where the two companion Gospels have [Greek: eis taen thalassan]; where he has [Greek: katapontisthae], Mark has [Greek: beblaetai] and Luke [Greek: erriptai]; and in the important phrase for 'it were better' all the three Gospels differ, Matthew having [Greek: sumpherei], Mark [Greek: kalon estin], and Luke [Greek: lusitelei]; so that it seems not at all too much to say that Clement does not differ from the Synoptics more than they differ from each other. The remarks that the author makes, in a general way, upon these differences lead us to ask whether he has ever definitely put to himself the question, How did they arise? He must be aware that the mass of German authorities he is so fond of quoting admit of only two alternatives, that the Synoptic writers copied either from the same original or from each other, and that the idea of a merely oral tradition is scouted in Germany. But if this is the case, if so great a freedom has been exercised in transcription, is it strange that Clement (or any other writer) should be equally free in quotation?

The author rightly notices--though he does not seem quite to appreciate its bearing--the fact that Marcion and some codices (of the Old Latin translation) insert, as Clement does, the phrase [Greek: ei ouk egennaethae ae] in the text of St. Luke. Supposing that this were the text of St. Luke's Gospel which Clement had before him, it would surely be so much easier to regard his quotation as directly taken from the Gospel; but the truer view perhaps would be that we have here an instance (and the number of such instances in the older MSS. is legion) of the tendency to interpolate by the insertion of parallel passages from the same or from the other Synoptic Gospels. Clement and Marcion (with the Old Latin) will then confirm each other, as showing that even at this early date the two passages, Matt. xxvi. 24 and Matt. xviii. 6 (Luke xvii. 2), had already begun to be combined.

There is one point more to be noticed before we leave the Epistle of Clement. There is a quotation from Isaiah in this Epistle which is common to it with the first two Synoptics. Of this Volkmar writes as follows, giving the words of Clement, c. xv, 'The Scripture says somewhere, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me,' ([Greek: houtos ho laos tois cheilesin me tima hae de kardia auton porro apestin ap' emou]). 'This "Scripture" the writer found in Mark vii. 6 (followed in Matt. xv. 8), and in that shape he could not at once remember where it stood in the Old Testament. It is indeed Mark's peculiar reproduction of Is. xxix. 13, in opposition to the original and the LXX. A further proof that the Roman Christian has here our Synoptic text in his mind, may be taken from c. xiii, where he quotes Jer. ix. 24 with equal divergence from the LXX, after the precedent of the Apostle (1 Cor. i. 31, 2 Cor. x. 17) whose letters he expressly refers to (c. xlvii) [Endnote 69:1]. It is difficult here to avoid the conclusion that Clement is quoting the Old Testament through the medium of our Gospels. The text of the LXX is this, [Greek: engizei moi ho laos houtos en to stomati autou kai en tois cheilesin auton timosin me]. Clement has the passage exactly as it is given in Mark ([Greek: ho laos houtos] Matt.), except that he writes [Greek: apestin] where both of the Gospels have [Greek: apechei] with the LXX. The passage is not Messianic, so that the variation cannot be referred to a Targum; and though A. and six other MSS. in Holmes and Parsons omit [Greek: en to stomati autou] (through wrong punctuation-- Credner), still there is no MS. authority whatever, and naturally could not be, for the omission of [Greek: engizei moi ... kai] and for the change of [Greek: timosin] to [Greek: tima]. There can be little doubt that this was a free quotation in the original of the Synoptic Gospels, and it is in a high degree probable that it has passed through them into Clement of Rome. It might perhaps be suggested that Clement was possibly quoting the earlier document, the original of our Synoptics, but this suggestion seems to be excluded both by his further deviation from the LXX in [Greek: apestin], and also by the phenomena of the last quotation we have been discussing, which are certainly of a secondary character. Altogether I cannot but regard this passage as the strongest evidence we possess for the use of the Synoptic Gospels by Clement; it seems to carry the presumption that he did use them up to a considerable degree of probability.

It is rather singular that Volkmar, whose speculations about the Book of Judith we have seen above, should be so emphatic as he is in asserting the use of all three Synoptics by Clement. We might almost, though not quite, apply with a single change to this critic a sentence originally levelled at Tischendorf, to the intent that 'he systematically adopts the latest (earliest) possible or impossible dates for all the writings of the first two centuries,' but he is able to admit the use of the first and third Synoptics (the publication of which he places respectively in 100 and 110 A.D.) by throwing forward the date of Clement's Epistle, through the Judith-hypothesis, to A.D. 125. We may however accept the assertion for what it is worth, as coming from a mind something less than impartial, while we reject the concomitant theories. For my own part I do not feel able to speak with quite the same confidence, and yet upon the whole the evidence, which on a single instance might seem to incline the other way, does appear to favour the conclusion that Clement used our present Canonical Gospels.

2.

There is not, so far as I am aware, any reason to complain of the statement of opinion in 'Supernatural Religion' as to the date of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas. Arguing then entirely from authority, we may put the _terminus ad quem_ at about 130 A.D. The only writer who is quoted as placing it later is Dr. Donaldson, who has perhaps altered his mind in the later edition of his work, as he now writes: 'Most (critics) have been inclined to place it not later than the first quarter of the second century, and all the indications of a date, though very slight, point to this period' [Endnote 71:1].

The most important issue is raised on a quotation in c. iv, 'Many are called but few chosen,' in the Greek of the Codex Sinaiticus [Greek: [prosechomen, maepote, hos gegraptai], polloi klaetoi, oligoi de eklektoi eurethomen.] This corresponds exactly with Matt. xxii. 14, [Greek: polloi gar eisin klaetoi, oligoi de eklektoi]. The passage occurs twice in our present received text of St. Matthew, but in xx. 16 it is probably an interpolation. There also occurs in 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) viii. 3 the sentence, 'Many were created but few shall be saved' [Endnote 71:2]. Our author spends several pages in the attempt to prove that this is the original of the quotation in Barnabas and not the saying in St. Matthew. We have the usual positiveness of statement: 'There can be no doubt that the sense of the reading in 4 Ezra is exactly that of the Epistle.' 'It is impossible to imagine a saying more irrelevant to its context than "Many are called but few chosen" in Matt. xx. 16,' where it is indeed spurious, though the relevancy of it might very well be maintained. In Matt. xxii. 14, where the saying is genuine, 'it is clear that the facts distinctly contradict the moral that "few are chosen."' When we come to a passage with a fixed idea it is always easy to get out of it what we wish to find. As to the relevancy or irrelevancy of the clause in Matt. xxii. 14 I shall say nothing, because it is in either case undoubtedly genuine. But it is surely a strange paradox to maintain that the words 'Many were created but few shall be saved' are nearer in meaning to 'Many are called but few chosen' than the repetition of those very words themselves. Our author has forgotten to notice that Barnabas has used the precise word [Greek: klaetoi] just before; indeed it is the very point on which his argument turns, 'because we are called do not let us therefore rest idly upon our oars; Israel was called to great privileges, yet they were abandoned by God as we see them; let us therefore also take heed, for, as it is written, many are called but few chosen.' I confess I find it difficult to conceive anything more relevant, and equally so to see any special relevancy, in the vague general statement 'Many were created but few shall be saved.'

But even if it were not so, if it were really a question between similarity of context on the one hand and identity of language on the other, there ought to be no hesitation in declaring that to be the original of the quotation in which the language was identical though the context might be somewhat different. Any one who has studied patristic quotations will know that context counts for very little indeed. What could be more to all appearance remote from the context than the quotation in Heb. i. 7, 'Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flaming fire'? where the original is certainly referring to the powers of nature, and means 'who maketh the winds his messengers and a flame of fire his minister;' with the very same sounds we have a complete inversion of the sense. This is one of the most frequent phenomena, as our author cannot but know [Endnote 73:1].

Hilgenfeld, in his edition of the Epistle of Barnabas, repels somewhat testily the imputation of Tischendorf, who criticises him as if he supposed that the saying in St. Matthew was not directly referred to [Endnote 73:2]. This Hilgenfeld denies to be the case. In regard to the use of the word [Greek: gegraptai] introducing the quotation, the same writer urges reasonably enough that it cannot surprise us at a time when we learn from Justin Martyr that the Gospels were read regularly at public worship; it ought not however to be pressed too far as involving a claim to special divine inspiration, as the same word is used in the Epistle in regard to the apocryphal book of Enoch, and it is clear also from Justin that the Canon of the Gospels was not yet formed but only forming.

The clause, 'Give to every one that asketh of thee' [Greek: panti to aitounti se didou], though admitted into the text of c. xix by Hilgenfeld and Weizsäcker, is wanting in the Sinaitic MS., and the comparison with Luke vi. 30 or Matt. v. 42 therefore cannot be insisted upon.

The passage '[in order that He might show that] He came not to call the righteous but sinners' ([Greek: hina deixae hoti ouk aelthen kalesai dikaious alla amartolous] [Endnote 74:1]) is removed by the hypothesis of an interpolation which is supported by a precarious argument from Origen, and also by the fact that [Greek: eis metanoian] has been added (clearly from Luke v. 32) by later hands both to the text of Barnabas and in Matt. ix. 13 [Endnote 74:2]. This theory of an interpolation is easily advanced, and it is drawn so entirely from our ignorance that it can seldom be positively disproved, but it ought surely to be alleged with more convincing reasons than any that are put forward here. We now possess six MSS. of the Epistle of Barnabas, including the famous Codex Sinaiticus, the accuracy of which in the Biblical portions can be amply tested, and all of these six MSS., without exception, contain the passage. The addition of the words [Greek: eis metanoian] represents much more the kind of interpolations that were at all habitual. The interpolation hypothesis, as I said, is easily advanced, but the _onus probandi_ must needs lie heavily against it. In accepting the text as it stands we simply obey the Baconian maxim _hypotheses non fingimus_, but it is strange, and must be surprising to a philosophic mind, to what an extent the more extreme representatives of the negative criticism have gone back to the most condemned parts of the scholastic method; inconvenient facts are explained away by hypotheses as imaginary and unverifiable as the 'cycles and epicycles' by which the schoolmen used to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies.

'If however,' the author continues, 'the passage 'originally formed part of the text, it is absurd to affirm that it is any proof of the use or existence of the first Gospel.' 'Absurd' is under the circumstances a rather strong word to use; but, granting that it would have been even 'absurd' to allege this passage, if it had stood alone, as a sufficient proof of the use of the Gospel, it does not follow that there can be any objection to the more guarded statement that it invests the use of the Gospel with a certain antecedent probability. No doubt the quotation _may_ have been made from a lost Gospel, but here again [Greek: eis aphanes ton muthon anenenkas ouk echei elenchon]-- there is no verifying that about which we know nothing. The critic may multiply Gospels as much as he pleases and an apologist at least will not quarrel with him, but it would be more to the point if he could prove the existence in these lost writings of matter _conflicting_ with that contained in the extant Gospels. As it is, the only result of these unverifiable hypotheses is to raise up confirmatory documents in a quarter where apologists have not hitherto claimed them.

We are delaying, however, too long upon points of quite secondary importance. Two more passages are adduced; one, an application of Ps. cx (The Lord said unto my Lord) precisely as in Matt. xxii. 44, and the other a saying assigned to our Lord, 'They who wish to see me and lay hold on my kingdom must receive me through affliction and suffering.' Of neither of these can we speak positively. There is perhaps a slight probability that the first was suggested by our Gospel, and considering the character of the verifiable quotations in Barnabas, which often follow the sense only and not the words, the second may be 'a free reminiscence of Matt. xvi. 24 compared with Acts xiv. 22,' but it is also possible that it may be a saying quoted from an apocryphal Gospel.

It should perhaps be added that Lardner and Dr. Westcott both refer to a quotation of Zech. xiii. 7 which appears in the common text of the Epistle in a form closely resembling that in which the quotation is given in Matt. xxvi. 31 and diverging from the LXX, but here again the Sinaitic Codex varies, and the text is too uncertain to lay stress upon, though perhaps the addition [Greek: taes poimnaes] may incline the balance to the view that the text of the Gospel has influenced the form of the quotation [Endnote 76:1].

The general result of our examination of the Epistle of Barnabas may perhaps be stated thus, that while not supplying by itself certain and conclusive proof of the use of our Gospels, still the phenomena accord better with the hypothesis of such a use. This Epistle stands in the second line of the evidence, and as a witness is rather confirmatory than principal.

3.

After Dr. Lightfoot's masterly exposition there is probably nothing more to be said about the genuineness, date, and origin of the Ignatian Epistles. Dr. Lightfoot has done in the most lucid and admirable manner just that which is so difficult to do, and which 'Supernatural Religion' has so signally failed in doing; he has succeeded in conveying to the reader a true and just sense of the exact weight and proportion of the different parts of the evidence. He has avoided such phrases as 'absurd,' 'impossible,' 'preposterous,' that his opponent has dealt in so freely, but he has weighed and balanced the evidence piece by piece; he has carefully guarded his language so as never to let the positiveness of his conclusion exceed what the premises will warrant; he has dealt with the subject judicially and with a full consciousness of the responsibility of his position [Endnote 77:1].

We cannot therefore, I think, do better than adopt Dr. Lightfoot's conclusion as the basis of our investigation, and treat the Curetonian (i.e. the three short Syriac) letters as (probably) 'the work of the genuine Ignatius, while the Vossian letters (i.e. the shorter Greek recension of seven Epistles) are accepted as valid testimony at all events for the middle of the second century--the question of the genuineness of the letters being waived.'

The Curetonian Epistles will then be dated either in 107 or in 115 A.D., the two alternative years assigned to the martyrdom of Ignatius. In the Epistle to Polycarp which is given in this version there is a parallel to Matt. x. 16, 'Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' The two passages may be compared thus:--

_Ign. ad Pol._ ii.

[Greek: Psronimos ginou hos ophis en apasin kai akeaios osei perisetera.]

_Matt._ x. 16.

[Greek: Ginesthe oun psronimoi hos oi opheis kai akeaioi hos ai peristerai.]

We should naturally place this quotation in the second column of our classified arrangement, as presenting a slight variation. At the same time we should have little hesitation in referring it to the passage in our Canonical Gospel. All the marked expressions are identical, especially the precise and selected words [Greek: phronimos] and [Greek: akeraios]. It is however possible that Ignatius may be quoting, not directly from our Gospel, but from one of the original documents (such as Ewald's hypothetical 'Spruch-sammlung') out of which our Gospel was composed--though it is somewhat remarkable that this particular sentence is wanting in the parallel passage in St. Luke (cf. Luke x. 3). This may be so or not; we have no means of judging. But it should at any rate be remembered that this original document, supposing it to have had a substantive existence, most probably contained repeated references to miracles. The critics who refer Matt. x. 16 to the document in question, also agree in referring to it Matt. vii. 22, x. 8, xi. 5, xii. 24 foll., &c., which speak distinctly of miracles, and precisely in that indirect manner which is the best kind of evidence. Therefore if we accept the hypothesis suggested in 'Supernatural Religion'--and it is a mere hypothesis, quite unverifiable--the evidence for miracles would not be materially weakened. The author would, I suppose, admit that it is at least equally probable that the saying was quoted from our present Gospel.

This probability would be considerably heightened if the allusion to 'the star' in the Syriac of Eph. xix has, as it appears to have, reference to the narrative of Matt. ii. In the Greek or Vossian version of the Epistle it is expanded, 'How then was He manifested to the ages? A star shone in heaven above all the stars, and the light thereof was unspeakable, and the strangeness thereof caused astonishment' ([Greek: Pos oun ephanerothae tois aoisin; Astaer en ourano elampsen huper pantas tous asteras, kai to phos autou aneklalaeton aen, kai xenismon pareichen hae kainotaes autou]). This is precisely, one would suppose, the kind of passage that might be taken as internal evidence of the genuineness of the Curetonian and later character of the Vossian version. The Syriac ([Greek: hatina en haesouchia Theou to asteri] [or [Greek: apo tou asteros]] [Greek: eprachthae]), abrupt and difficult as it is, does not look like an epitome of the Greek, and the Greek has exactly that exaggerated and apocryphal character which would seem to point to a later date. It corresponds indeed somewhat nearly to the language of the Protevangelium of James, §21, [Greek: eidomen astera pammegethae lampsanta en tois astrois tou ouranou kai amblunonta tous allous asteras hoste mae phainesthai autous]. Both in the Protevangelium and in the Vossian Ignatius we see what is clearly a developement of the narrative in St. Matthew. If the Vossian Epistles are genuine, then by showing the existence of such a developement at so early a date they will tend to throw back still further the composition of the Canonical Gospel. If the Syriac version, on the other hand, is the genuine one, it will be probable that Ignatius is directly alluding to the narrative which is peculiar to the first Evangelist.

These are (so far as I am aware) the only coincidences that are found in the Curetonian version. Their paucity cannot surprise us, as in the same Curetonian text there is not a single quotation from the Old Testament. One Old Testament quotation and two Evangelical allusions occur in the Epistle to the Ephesians, which is one of the three contained in Cureton's MS.; the fifth and sixth chapters, however, in which they are found, are wanting in the Syriac. The allusions are, in Eph. v, 'For if the prayer of one or two have such power, how much more that of the bishop and of the whole Church,' which appears to have some relation to Matt. xviii. 19 ('If two of you shall agree' &c.), and in Eph. vi, 'For all whom the master of the house sends to be over his own household we ought to receive as we should him that sent him,' which may be compared with Matt. x. 40 ('He that receiveth you' &c.). Both these allusions have some probability, though neither can be regarded as at all certain. The Epistle to the Trallians has one coincidence in c. xi, 'These are not plants of the Father' ([Greek: phyteia Patros]), which recalls the striking expression of Matt. xv. 13, 'Every plant ([Greek: pasa phyteia]) that my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.' This is a marked metaphor, and it is not found in the other Synoptics; it is therefore at least more probable that it is taken from St. Matthew. The same must be said of another remarkable phrase in the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, c. vi, [Greek: ho choron choreito] ([Greek: ho dynamenos chorein choreito], Matt. xix. 12), and also of the statement in c. i. of the same Epistle that Jesus was baptized by John 'that He might fulfil all righteousness' ([Greek: hina plaerothae pasa dikaiosynae hup' autou]). This corresponds with the language of Matt. iii. 15 ([Greek: houtos gar prepon estin haemin plaerosai pasan dikaiosynaen]), which also has no parallel in the other Gospels. The use of the phrase [Greek: plaerosai pasan dikaiosynaen] is so peculiar, and falls in so entirely with the characteristic Christian Judaizing of our first Evangelist, that it seems especially unreasonable to refer it to any one else. There is not the smallest particle of evidence to connect it with the Gospel according to the Hebrews to which our author seems to hint that it may belong; indeed all that we know of that Gospel may be said almost positively to exclude it. In this Gospel our Lord is represented as saying, when His mother and His brethren urge that He should accept baptism from John, 'What have I sinned that I should go and be baptized by him?' and it is almost by compulsion that He is at last induced to accompany them. It will be seen that this is really an _opposite_ version of the event to that of Ignatius and the first Gospel, where the objection comes from _John_ and is overruled by our Lord Himself [Endnote 81:1].

There is however one quotation, introduced as such, in this same Epistle, the source of which Eusebius did not know, but which Origen refers to the 'Preaching of Peter' and Jerome seems to have found in the Nazarene version of the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews.' This phrase is attributed to our Lord when He appeared 'to those about Peter and said to them, Handle Me and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit' ([Greek: psaelaphaesate me, kai idete, hoti ouk eimi daimonion asomaton]). But for the statement of Origen that these words occurred in the 'Preaching of Peter' they might have been referred without much difficulty to Luke xxiv. 39. The Preaching of Peter seems to have begun with the Resurrection, and to have been an offshoot rather in the direction of the Acts than the Gospels [Endnote 81:2]. It would not therefore follow from the use of it by Ignatius here, that the other quotations could also be referred to it. And, supposing it to be taken from the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews,' this would not annul what has been said above as to the reason for thinking that Ignatius (or the writer who bears his name) cannot have used that Gospel systematically and alone.

4.

Is the Epistle which purports to have been written by Polycarp to the Philippians to be accepted as genuine? It is mentioned in the most express terms by Irenaeus, who declares himself to have been a disciple of Polycarp in his early youth, and speaks enthusiastically of the teaching which he then received. Irenaeus was writing between the years 180-190 A.D., and Polycarp is generally allowed to have suffered martyrdom about 167 or 168 [Endnote 82:1]. But the way in which Irenaeus speaks of the Epistle is such as to imply, not only that it had been for some time in existence, but also that it had been copied and disseminated and had attained a somewhat wide circulation. He is appealing to the Catholic tradition in opposition to heretical teaching such as that of Valentinus and Marcion, and he says, 'There is an Epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians of great excellence [Greek: hikanotatae], from which those who wish to do so and who care for their own salvation may learn both the character of his faith and the preaching of the truth' [Endnote 82:2]. He would hardly have used such language if he had not had reason to think that the Epistle was at least fairly accessible to the Christians for whom he is writing. But allowing for the somewhat slow (not too slow) multiplication and dissemination of writings among the Christians, this will throw back the composition of the letter well into the lifetime of Polycarp himself. In any case it must have been current in circles immediately connected with Polycarp's person.

Against external evidence such as this the objections that are brought are really of very slight weight. That which is reproduced in 'Supernatural Religion' from an apparent contradiction between c. ix and c. xiii, is dismissed even by writers such as Ritschl who believe that one or both chapters are interpolated. In c. ix the martyrdom of Ignatius is upheld as an example, in c. xiii Polycarp asks for information about Ignatius 'et de his qui cum eo sunt,' apparently as if he were still living. But, apart from the easy and obvious solution which is accepted by Ritschl, following Hefele and others, [Endnote 83:1] that the sentence is extant only in the Latin translation and that the phrase 'qui cum eo sunt' is merely a paraphrase for [Greek: ton met' autou]; apart from this, even supposing the objection were valid, it would prove nothing against the genuineness of the Epistle. It might be taken to prove that the second passage is an interpolation; but a contradiction between two passages in the same writing in no way tends to show that that writing is not by its ostensible author. But surely either interpolator or forger must have had more sense than to place two such gross and absurd contradictions within about sixty lines of each other.

An argument brought by Dr. Hilgenfeld against the date dissolves away entirely on examination. He thinks that the exhortation Orate pro regibus (et potestatibus et principibus) in c. xii must needs refer to the double rule of Antoninus Pius (147 A.D.) or Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (161 A.D.). But the writer of the Epistle is only reproducing the words of St. Paul in 1 Tim. ii. 2 ([Greek: parakalo ... poieisthai deaeseis ... hyper basileon kai panton ton en hyperochae onton]). The passage is wrongly referred in 'Supernatural Religion' to 1 Pet. ii. 17 [Endnote 84:1]. It is very clear that the language of Polycarp, like that of St. Paul, is quite general. In order to limit it to the two Caesars we should have had to read [Greek: hyper ton basileon].

The allusions which Schwegler finds to the Gnostic heresies are explained when that critic at the end of his argument objects to the Epistle that it makes use of a number of writings 'the origin of which must be placed in the second century, such as the Acts, 1 Peter, the Epistles to the Philippians and to the Ephesians, and 1 Timothy.' The objection belongs to the gigantic confusion of fact and hypothesis which makes up the so-called Tübingen theory, and falls to the ground with it.

It should be noticed that those who regard the Epistle as interpolated yet maintain the genuineness of those portions which are thought to contain allusions to the Gospels. Ritschl states this [Endnote 84:2]; Dr. Donaldson confines the interpolation to c. xiii [Endnote 84:3]; and Volkmar not only affirms with his usual energy the genuineness of these portions of the Epistle, but he also asserts that the allusions are really to our Gospels [Endnote 84:4].

The first that meets us is in c. ii, 'Remembering what the Lord said teaching, judge not that ye be not judged; forgive and it shall be forgiven unto you; pity that ye may be pitied; with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you again; and that blessed are the poor and those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God' [Endnote 85:1]. This passage (if taken from our Gospels) is not a continuous quotation, but is made up from Luke vi. 36-38, 20, Matt. v. 10, or of still more _disjecta membra_ of St. Matthew. It will be seen that it covers very similar ground with the quotation in Clement, and there is also a somewhat striking point of similarity with that writer in the phrase [Greek: eleeite hina eleaetheate]. There is moreover a closer resemblance than to our Gospels in the clause [Greek: aphiete kai aphethaesetai humin]. But the order of the clauses is entirely different from that in Clement, and the first clause [Greek: mae krinete hina mae krithaete] is identical with St. Matthew and more nearly resembles the parallel in St. Luke than in Clement. These are perplexing phenomena, and seem to forbid a positive judgment. It would be natural to suppose, and all that we know of the type of doctrine in the early Church would lead us to believe, that the Sermon on the Mount would be one of the most familiar parts of Christian teaching, that it would be largely committed to memory and quoted from memory. There would be no difficulty in employing that hypothesis here if the passage stood alone. The breaking up of the order too would not surprise us when we compare the way in which the same discourse appears in St. Luke and in St. Matthew. But then comes in the strange coincidence in the single clause with Clement; and there is also another curious phenomenon, the phrase [Greek: aphiete kai aphethaesetai humin] compared with Luke's [Greek: apoluete kai apoluthaesesthe] has very much the appearance of a parallel translation from the same Aramaic original, which may perhaps be the famous 'Spruch-sammlung.' This might however be explained as the substitution of synonymous terms by the memory. There is I believe nothing in the shape of direct evidence to show the presence of a different version of the Sermon on the Mount in any of the lost Gospels, and, on the other hand, there are considerable traces of disturbance in the Canonical text (compare e.g. the various readings on Matt. v. 44). It seems on the whole difficult to construct a theory that shall meet all the facts. Perhaps a mixed hypothesis would be best. It is probable that memory has been to some extent at work (the form of the quotation naturally suggests this) and is to account for some of Polycarp's variations; at the same time I cannot but think that there has been somewhere a written version different from our Gospels to which he and Clement have had access.

There are several other sayings which seem to belong to the Sermon on the Mount; thus in c. vi, 'If we pray the Lord to forgive us we also ought to forgive' (cf. Matt. vi. 14 sq.); in c. viii, 'And if we suffer for His name let us glorify Him' (cf. Matt. v. 11 sq.); in c. xii, 'Pray for them that persecute you and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross; that your fruit may be manifest in all things, that ye may be therein perfect' (cf. Matt. v. 44, 48). All these passages give the sense, but only the sense, of the first (and partly also of the third) Gospel. There is however one quotation which coincides verbally with two of the Synoptics [Praying the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation, as the Lord said], The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak ([Greek: to men pneuma prothumon, hae de sarx asthenaes], Matt., Mark, Polycarp; with the introductory clause compare, not Matt. vi. 13, but xxvi. 41). In the cases where the sense alone is given there is no reason to think that the writer intends to give more. At the same time it will be observed that all the quotations refer either to the double or triple synopsis where we have already proof of the existence of the saying in question in more than a single form, and not to those portions that are peculiar to the individual Evangelists. The author of 'Supernatural Religion' is therefore not without reason when he says that they may be derived from other collections than our actual Gospels. The possibility cannot be excluded. It ought however to be borne in mind that if such collections did exist, and if Polycarp's allusions or quotations are to be referred to them, they are to the same extent evidence that these hypothetical collections did not materially differ from our present Gospels, but rather bore to them very much the same relation that they bear to each other. And I do not know that we can better sum up the case in regard to the Apostolic Fathers than thus; we have two alternatives to choose between, either they made use of our present Gospels, or else of writings so closely resembling our Gospels and so nearly akin to them that their existence only proves the essential unity and homogeneity of the evangelical tradition.

Table of Contents | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

eBooksHome | Inspirational Articles | General Essays | Sermons | Library - Home | Baselios Church Home

-------
Malankara World
A service of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio
Copyright © 2009-2017 - ICBS Group. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer
Website designed, built, and hosted by International Cyber Business Services, Inc., Hudson, Ohio