The Project Gutenberg EBook of Companion to the Bible, by E. P. Barrows

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Title: Companion to the Bible

Author: E. P. Barrows

Release Date: December 9, 2005 [EBook #17265]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by John Hagerson, Juliet Sutherland, David King,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team






The design of the present work, as its title indicates, is to assist in the study of God's word. The author has had special reference to teachers of Bible classes and Sabbath-schools; ministers of the gospel who wish to have ready at hand the results of biblical investigation in a convenient and condensed form; and, in general, the large body of intelligent laymen and women in our land who desire to pursue the study of Scripture in a thorough and systematic way.

The First Part contains a concise view of the Evidences of Revealed Religion. Here, since Christianity rests on a basis of historic facts, special prominence has been given to the historic side of these evidences; those, namely, which relate to the genuineness, integrity, authenticity, and inspiration of the several books of the Bible. A brief view is added of the evidences which are of an internal and experimental character.

In the Introductions to the Old and New Testament which follow in the Second and Third Parts, the general facts are first given; then an account of the several divisions of each, with their office and mutual relations, and such a notice of each particular book as will prepare the reader to study it intelligently and profitably.

The Fourth Part is devoted to the Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Here the plan is to consider the Scriptures, first, on the human side, as addressed to men in human language and according to human modes of thinking and speaking; then, on the divine side, as containing a true revelation from God, and differing in this respect from all other writings. To this twofold view the author attaches great importance. To the human side belong the ordinary principles of interpretation, {4} which apply alike to all writings; to the divine side, the question of the unity of revelation, and the interpretation of types and prophecies.

In each of the abovenamed divisions the author has endeavored to keep prominently in view the unity of revelation and the inseparable connection of all its parts. It is only when we thus contemplate it as a glorious whole, having beginning, progress, and consummation, that we can truly understand it. Most of the popular objections to the Old Testament have their foundation in an isolated and fragmentary way of viewing its facts and doctrines; and they can be fairly met only by showing the relation which these hold to the entire plan of redemption.

The plan of the present work required brevity and condensation. The constant endeavor has been to state the several facts and principles as concisely as could be done consistently with a true presentation of them in an intelligible form. It may be objected that some topics, those particularly which relate to the Pentateuch, are handled in too cursory a way. The author feels the difficulty; but to go into details on this subject would require a volume. He has endeavored to do the best that was consistent with the general plan of the work. The point of primary importance to be maintained is the divine authority and inspiration of the Pentateuch—the whole Pentateuch as it existed in our Saviour's day and exists now. There are difficult questions connected with both its form and the interpretation of certain parts of it in respect to which devout believers may honestly differ. For the discussion of these the reader must be referred to the works professedly devoted to the subject.

The present volume is complete in itself; yet it does not exhaust the circle of topics immediately connected with the study of the Bible. It is the author's purpose to add another volume on Biblical Geography and Antiquities, with a brief survey of the historic relations of the covenant people to the Gentile world.






Introductory Remarks. 1. Christianity rests on a Basis of Historic Facts inseparably connected from First to Last—2. This Basis to be maintained against Unbelievers—3. General Plan of Inquiry—Christ's Advent the Central Point—From this We look forward and backward to the Beginning—4. Importance of viewing Revelation as a Whole—5. Fragmentary Method of Objectors—Particular Order of the Parts in this Investigation


Genuineness of the Gospel Narratives. 1. Terms defined—Necessity of knowing the Authors of the Gospels—2. Remarks on their Origin—They were not written immediately, but successively at Intervals—Earlier Documents noticed by Luke—3. Manner of Quotation by the Early Church Fathers—4. External Evidences traced upward from the Close of the Second Century—Testimony of Irenæus—Of Tertullian—Of Clement of Alexandria—Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne—5. Comprehensiveness and Force of these Testimonies—Freedom of Judgment in the Primitive Churches—This shown by the History of the Disputed Books—6. Public Character and Use of the Gospels—7. Earlier Testimonies—Justin Martyr—His Designation of the Gospels—They are Our Canonical Gospels—Explanation of his Variations and Additions—His References to the Gospel of John—8. Testimony of Papias—9. Epistle to Diognetus—10. The Apostolic Fathers—Clement of Rome—Ignatius Polycarp—The So-called Epistle of Barnabas—11. The Ancient Versions and Muratorian Canon—Syriac Peshito—Old Latin—12. Testimony of the Heretical Sects—Marcion—Valentinus—Tatian—13. Conclusiveness of the above External Testimony—14. Internal Evidences—Relation of the First Three Gospels to the Last—They differ in Time—The First Three written before the Destruction of Jerusalem; the Fourth after that Event—They differ in Character and Contents—Yet were all alike received by the Churches—15. Relation of the First Three Gospels to Each Other—They have Remarkable Agreements and Differences—These and their General Reception explained by their Genuineness—16. The Gospels contain no Trace of Later Events—17. Or Later Modes of Thought. 18. From the Character of the Language



Uncorrupt Preservation of the Gospel Narratives. 1. What is meant by an Uncorrupt Text—2. Ancient Materials for Writing—Palimpsests—Uncial and Cursive Manuscripts—3. The Apostolic Autographs have perished, but We have their Contents—This shown from the Agreement of Manuscripts—From the Quotations of the Fathers—From Ancient Versions—Character of the "Various Readings"—They do not affect the Substance of the Gospel—4. The Ancient Versions made from a Pure Text—This shown from the Public Reading of the Gospels from the Beginning—From the Multiplication of Copies—From the High Value attached to the Gospels—From the Want of Time for Essential Corruptions—From the Absence of all Proof of such Corruptions—5. The Above Remarks apply essentially to the other New Testament Books


Authenticity and Credibility of the Gospel Narratives. 1. General Remarks—2. Their Authors Sincere and Truthful—3. Competent as Men—4. And as Witnesses—5. Character of the Works which they record—Supernatural Character of our Lord's Miracles—They were very Numerous and Diversified, and performed openly—6. And in the Presence of His Enemies—7. The Resurrection of Jesus—Its Vital Importance—8. The Character of Jesus proves the Truth of the Record—Its Originality and Symmetry—It unites Tranquillity with Fervor—Wisdom with Freedom from Guile—Prudence with Boldness—Tenderness with Severity—Humility with the Loftiest Claims—He is Heavenly-minded without Asceticism—His Perfect Purity—His Virtues Imitable for All alike—Our Lord's Character as a Teacher—His Freedom from the Errors of His Age and Nation—His Religion One for All Men and Ages—This explained by its Divine Origin—Our Lord's Manner of Teaching—His Divine Mission—Divinity of His Person—Originality of its Manifestations—God His Father in a Peculiar Sense—He is the Source of Light and Life—He has Inward Dominion over the Soul—He dwells in Believers, and they in Him—The Inference—His Power over the Human Heart—Supernatural Character of the Gospel—A Word on Objections


The Acts of the Apostles and the Acknowledged Epistles. 1. These Books a Natural Sequel to the Gospels—2. The Acts of the Apostles—External Testimonies—3. Internal Evidence—4. Credibility—5. Date of Composition—6. The Acknowledged Epistles—Distinction of Acknowledged and Disputed Books—7. First Group of Pauline Epistles—Second Group, or the Pastoral Epistles—Their Date—Their Peculiar Character—8. First Epistles of Peter and First of John—9. Mutual Relation between the Gospels and Later Books—10. Argument from Undesigned Coincidences


The Disputed Books. 1. The Question here simply concerning the Extent of the Canon—2. The Primitive Age One of Free Inquiry—3. Its Diversity of {7} Judgment no Decisive Argument against a Given Book—4. The Caution of the Early Churches gives Weight to their Judgment—This Judgment Negative as well as Positive


Inspiration and the Canon. General Remarks—1. Rule of Judgment determined—It is the Writer's Relation to Christ—2. Christ Himself Infallible—3. The Apostles—They held the nearest Relation to Him—Their Infallibility as Teachers shown—From the Necessity of the Case—From Christ's Express Promises—From their Own Declarations—Summary of the Argument in Respect to the Apostles—4. Inspiration of the Apostolic Men—5. Argument from the Character of the Books of the New Testament—6. The Inspiration of the Sacred Writers Plenary—7. Principles on which the Canon is formed


Inseparable Connection Between the Old and the New Testament. General Remarks—1. Previous Revelations implied in Christ's Advent—2. In the Character of the Jewish People—3. Proved from the New Testament—Christ's Explicit Declarations—4. The New Testament based on the Facts of the Old—The Fall of Man—The Abrahamic Covenant, which was conditioned on Faith alone, and fulfilled in Christ—Christ the End of the Mosaic Economy—In its Prophetical Order—In its Kingly Office—In its Priestly Office—5. The New Testament Writers the Interpreters of the Old


Authorship of the Pentateuch. Meaning of the Term—1. It existed in its Present Form from Ezra's Day—2. "The Law" ascribed to Moses in the New Testament—How Much is included in this Term—3. Force of the New Testament Testimony—4. The Law of Moses at the Restoration—5. Jewish Tradition that Ezra settled the Canon of the Old Testament—He left the Pentateuch essentially as he found it—References to the Law in the Books of Kings and Chronicles—6. The Book of Deuteronomy—Its Mosaic Authorship Certain—7. The Inference Certain that he wrote the Preceding Laws—8. This corroborated by their Form—9. By References in the New Testament—And the Old also—10. Relation of Deuteronomy to the Earlier Precepts—In Respect to Time—And Design—Change in Moses' Personal Relation to the People—Peculiarities of Deuteronomy explained from the Above Considerations—Meaning of "the Words of this Law" in Deuteronomy—11. Mosaic Authorship of Genesis shown—From Antecedent Probability—From its Connection with the Following Books—Objections considered—Supposed Marks of a Later Age—And of Different Authors—12. Unity of the Pentateuch


Authenticity and Credibility of the Pentateuch. 1. Its Historic Truth assumed in the New Testament—This shown by Examples—2. It was the Foundation of the Whole Jewish Polity—And could not have been imposed {8} upon the People by Fraud—Contrast between Mohammed and Moses—3. Scientific Difficulties connected with the Pentateuch—4. Alleged Moral Difficulties—Exclusiveness of the Mosaic Economy—Its Restrictions on Intercourse with Other Nations—5. Its Numerous Ordinances—The Mosaic Laws required Spiritual Obedience—6. Objections from the Toleration of Certain Usages—7. Extirpation of the Canaanites—8. The Mosaic Economy a Blessing to the Whole World


Remaining Books of the Old Testament. 1. General Remarks—2. The New Testament assumes their Divine Authority—Historical Books—3. Books not strictly Historical or Prophetical—4. Prophetical Books—Argument from Prophecy for the Divine Origin of the Old Testament—5. Christ the Fulfilment of Prophecy—In his Office as a Prophet—as a King—as a Priest—6. The Jewish Institutions and History a Perpetual Adumbration of Christ preparatory to His Advent—7. Remarks on the Canon of the Old Testament—8. Principle of its Formation—9. Inspiration of the Old Testament


Evidences Internal and Experimental. 1. External Evidences Important, but not Indispensable to True Faith—2. Internal Evidences—View which the Bible gives of God's Character—3. Code of Morals in the Bible—It is Spiritual, Reasonable, and Comprehensive—Obedience to It the Sum of all Goodness—4. All Parts of the Bible in Harmony with Each Other—5. Power of the Bible over the Conscience—6. Argument from Personal Experience—7. From the Character of Jesus—8. From General Experience—The Love of Jesus the Mightiest Principle of Action—Persecution first winnows, then strengthens the Church—The Church corrupted and weakened by Worldly Alliances—9. The Gospel gives an Inward Victory over Sin—It purifies and elevates Society—10. Its Self-purifying Power—11. The Argument summed up





Names and External Form of the Old Testament. 1. Origin and Meaning of the Word Bible—Jewish Designations of the Old Testament—2. Origin of the Terms Old and New Testament—Earlier Latin Term—2. The Unity—Scripture has its Ground in Divine Inspiration—Its Great Diversity in Respect to Human Composition—4. Classification and Arrangement of the Old {9} Testament Books—Classification of the Hebrew: of the Greek Version of the Seventy; of the Latin Vulgate—No One of these follows entirely the Order of Time—5. Original Mode of Writing called Continuous—6. Ancient Sections—Open and Closed; Larger Sections called Parshiyoth and Haphtaroth—7. Chapters and Verses—Caution in Respect to our Modern Chapters


The Original Text and its History. 1. Chaldee Passages in the Hebrew Scriptures—Divisions of the Hebrew and Cognate Languages—2. The Assyrian or Square Character not Primitive—Jewish Tradition respecting its Origin—3. The Hebrew Alphabet and its Character—4. Change in the Language of the Hebrew Nation—5. Introduction of the Vowel-Points and Accents—The Question of their Antiquity—6. Jewish Rules for the Guidance of Copyists—Their Deep Reverence for the Sacred Text—Its Uncorrupt Transmission to Us—7. Age and Character of Hebrew Manuscripts—8. Form of Hebrew Manuscripts—the Public in Rolls, the Private in the Book Form, Poetical Passages, Columns, Pen and Ink Accompaniments—9. The Samaritan Pentateuch


Formation and History of the Hebrew Canon. I. Meaning of the Word "Canon"—Gradual Formation of the Hebrew Canon—Its Main Divisions—1. The Pentateuch—2. General Remark on its Hebrew Name—3. The Pentateuch forms the Nucleus of the Old Testament Canon—It was given by Divine Authority, committed to the Charge of the Priests, kept by the Side of the Ark, and to be publicly read at Stated Times—II. The Historical Books—4. The Authors and Exact Date of Many of them Unknown—Important Historical Documents were deposited in the Sanctuary—5. The Authors of the Books of Joshua and Judges made Use of such Documents—6. The Author of the Books of Samuel also—7. Original Sources for the Books of Kings and Chronicles—8. These Two Works refer not to Each Other, but to a Larger Collection of Original Documents—9. Character of these Documents—They were written, in Part at Least, by Prophets, and they all come to us with the Stamp of Prophetic Authority.—10. The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther—III. The Prophetical Books—11. The Books enumerated—Paucity of Prophets before Samuel—Schools of the Prophets established by him—The Prophets a Distinct Order of Men in the Theocracy from his Day onward—12. The Era of Written Prophecy—IV. The Poetical Books—13. Their General Character—The Book of Job—14. The Book of Psalms—15. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles—Completion of the Canon—16. Preservation of the Sacred Books to the Time of Ezra—The Law; the Prophetical Books; the Psalms and other Canonical Writings—17. The Completion of the Canon ascribed by the Jews to Ezra and his Coadjutors—This Tradition True for Substance.—No Psalms written in the Maccabean Age—18. Contents of the Hebrew Canon—as given by Jesus the Son of Sirach, by Josephus, by Origen and Eusebius, by Jerome—19. The Apocryphal Books



Ancient Versions of the Old Testament. I. The Greek Version called the Septuagint—1. Its Antiquity; its Great Influence on the Language of the New Testament—2. Jewish Account of its Origin—3. Judgment of Biblical Scholars on this Account—4. Time occupied in the Completion of the Work—5. Inequalities of this Version—Its Importance to the Biblical Student—6. Its Close Connection with the New Testament—Quotations from it by New Testament Writers—Their Manner and Spirit—7. Hebrew Text from which this Version was made—II. Other Greek Versions—8. The Septuagint originally in High Esteem among the Jews—Change in their Feelings in Regard to it, and Rise of New Versions—9. Aquila's Version—10. Theodotion—11. Symniachus—12. Origen's Labors on the Text of the Septuagint—the Tetrapla and Hexapla—III. The Chaldee Targums—13. General Remarks on these—14. The Targum of Onkelos—Its General Fidelity and Excellence—Its Peculiarities—Jewish Tradition respecting Onkelos—15. The Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel—16. Of Pseudo-Jonathan and Jerusalem—17. Other Targums—The Samaritan Version of the Samaritan Pentateuch—IV. 18. The Syriac Peshito—Its Age and Character


Criticism of the Sacred Text. 1. The Object to ascertain its Primitive Form—2. Means at Our Disposal—Ancient Hebrew Manuscripts—Remarks on their Quality and Age—3. Ancient Versions—4. Primary Printed Editions—5. Parallel Passages—6. Quotations from the Old Testament in the New—7. Quotations in the Talmud and by Rabbinical Writers—8. Critical Conjecture



The Books of the Old Testament as a Whole. 1. Province of Particular Introduction—The Necessity of Understanding the Unity of Divine Revelation—2. Relation of the Old Testament as a Whole to the System of Revelation—It is a Preparatory, Introductory to a Final Revelation, of which the Gospel everywhere avails itself—the Unity of God; Vicarious Sacrifice; General Principles; Well-developed State of Civilization—Connection of the Hebrews with the Great World Powers—Their Dispersion through the Nations at our Lord's Advent—Relation of the Gospel to Civilization—3. A Knowledge of the Preparatory Character of the Old Testament Revelations enables us to judge correctly concerning them—Severity of the Mosaic Laws; Their Burdensome Multiplicity; Objection from their Exclusive Character answered—4. Office of each Division of the Old Testament Revelations—the Pentateuch; the Historical Books; the Prophetical Books—Character and Officers of the Hebrew Prophets—Era of Written Prophecy—The Poetical Books—5. Each Particular Book has its Office—6. The Old Testament was a Revelation for the Men of its Own Age, as well as for those of Future Ages—the Promise {11} made to Abraham; the Deliverance from Egypt; the Mosaic Law; the Words of the Prophets; the Psalms of David: the Wisdom of Solomon—7. Value of the Old Testament Revelations to us—the System of Divine Revelation can be understood only as a Whole; Constant Reference of the New Testament to the Old; the Old Testament a Record of God's Dealings with Men; the Principles embodied in the Theocracy Eternal; the Manifold Wisdom of God seen only when the Whole System of Revelation is studied


The Pentateuch. I. Its Unity—Its Fivefold Division—1. Genesis—2. Its Hebrew Name—Its Greek Name—3. Its Office—It is the Introductory Book of the Pentateuch—Its Connection with the Following Books—4. Divisions of the Book of Genesis—First Part and its Contents; Second Part and its Contents—5. Its Mosaic Authorship—Supposed Traces of a Later Hand—6. Difficulties connected with the Pentateuch—Scientific Difficulties: the Six Days of Creation; the Age of the Antediluvian Patriarchs; the Unity of the Human Race; the Deluge—Historical Difficulties: the Two Accounts of the Creation; Cain's Wife—Chronological Difficulties: Discrepancies between the Masoretic Hebrew, the Samaritan Hebrew, and the Septuagint, in Respect to (1) the Antediluvian Genealogy; (2) the Genealogy from Noah to Abraham—Remarks on these Discrepancies—II. Exodus—7. Hebrew Name of this Book—Its Unity—Its Two Chief Divisions—Contents of the First Division; of the Second Division—8. Time of the Sojourn in Egypt—Sojourn in the Wilderness—III. Leviticus—9. Its Character and Contents—10. The Priestly Office and Sacrifices the Central Part of the Mosaic Law—IV. Numbers—11. Office and Contents of this Book—The Three Epochs of its History: the Departure from Sinai, the Rebellion of the People upon the Report of the Twelve Spies, the Second Arrival of Israel at Kadesh with the Events that followed—V. Deuteronomy—12. Its Peculiar Character, Divisions, and Contents—13. It brings the Whole Pentateuch to a Suitable Close


The Historical Books. 1 and 2. Their Office to Unfold the History of God's Dealings with the Covenant People—General Remarks on the Character of this History—I. Joshua—3. Contents of this Book. Its Immediate Connection with the Pentateuch—Its Two Divisions with their Contents—4. Its Authorship—5. Its Authenticity and Credibility—The Miracle of the Arrest of the Sun and Moon in their Course—II. Judges and Ruth—6. Name of this Book—Office of the Judges whose History it records—Condition of the Hebrew Nation during the Administration of the Judges—Office of this Book in the General Plan of Redemption—7. Arrangement of its Materials—its Twofold Introduction; the Body of its History; its Two Appendixes—8. Its Date and Authorship—9. Uncertainty of its Chronology—10. The Book of Ruth. Its Place in the History of Redemption—III. The Books of Samuel—11. The Two Books of Samuel originally One Work—Their Name—12. Their Office in the History of Redemption—Eventful Character of the Period whose History they record—Change to the Kingly Form of Government—God's {12} Design in this—The Kingly Office Typical of Christ—13. Contents of the Books of Samuel—Introductory Division; Second Division; Third Division—14. Authorship and Date of their Composition—IV. The Books of Kings—15. They Originally constituted a Single Book—Their Names and Office—Their Manner of Execution—Their Main Divisions—16. The First Period—17. The Second Period—18. The Third Period—19. Chronology of the Books of Kings. Their Date and Authorship—V. The Books of Chronicles—20. They originally constituted One Work—Their Various Names—They constitute an Independent Work—Their Office different from that of the Books of Kings—Peculiarities which distinguish them from these Books—Particular Attention to the Matter of Genealogy; Fullness of Detail in Respect to the Temple Service; Omission of the History of the Kingdom of Israel; other Omissions—21. Position of the Chronicles in the Hebrew Canon—Their Authorship and Date—Their Relation to the Books of Kings—22. Difficulties connected with these Books—VI. Ezra and Nehemiah—23. General Remarks on these Books—Change in the Relation of the Hebrews to the Gentile Nations—Gradual Withdrawal of Supernatural Manifestations—24. While the Theocracy went steadily forward to the Accomplishment of its End—The Jews reclaimed from Idolatry in Connection with the Captivity—Establishment of the Synagogue Service and its Great Influence—25. The Book of Ezra—Its Authorship—Parts written in Chaldee—Persian Monarchs mentioned by Ezra and Nehemiah—26. The Book of Nehemiah—Its Contents and Divisions—First Division; Second Division; Third Division—27. Authorship and Date of the Book—VII. Esther—28. Contents of this Book—Feast of Purim—29. The Ahasuerus of this Book—Remarks on its History


The Poetical Books (Including Also Ecclesiastes and Canticles). 1. Books reckoned as Poetical by the Hebrews—Hebrew System of Accentuation—A. Characteristics of Hebrew PoetryIts Spirit—Harmony with the Spirit of the Theocracy; Vivid Consciousness of God's Presence; Originality; Freshness and Simplicity of Thought; Variety—Job and Isaiah. David, Solomon; Diversity of Themes; Oriental Imagery; Theocratic Imagery—Form of Hebrew Poetry—3. Its Rhythm that of Clauses—Antithetic Parallelism; Synonymous Parallelism; Synthetic Parallelism—Combinations of the above Forms—Freedom of Hebrew Poetry—Peculiarities of Diction—Office of Hebrew Poetry—4. The Celebration of God's Interpositions in Behalf of the Covenant People; Song for the Sanctuary Service; Didactic Poetry; Prophetic Poetry—B. The Several Poetical Books—I. Job—1. Survey of its Plan—6. Its Design to Show the Nature of God's Providential Government over Men—7. Age to which Job belonged—Age and Authorship of the Book—8. Its Historic Character—II. The Book of Psalms—9. Its Office—Authors of the Psalms—Date of their Composition—10. External Division of the Psalms into five Books—First Book; Second Book; Third Book; Fourth Book; Fifth Book—Subscription appended to the Second Book—Principle of Arrangement—Attempted Classification of the Psalms—Frequent Quotation of the Psalms in the New Testament—11. Titles of the Psalms—the Dedicatory Title; Titles relating to the Character of the Composition to the Musical {13} Instruments, or the Mode of Musical Performance—These Titles very Ancient, but not in all Cases Original—III. The Proverbs of Solomon—12. Place of this Book in the System of Divine Revelation—13. Its Outward Form—First Part; Second Part; Third Part; Fourth Part—14. Arrangement of the Book in its Present Form—IV. Ecclesiastes—15. Authorship of this Book and its View of Life—16. Summary of its Contents—V. The Song of Solomon—17. Meaning of the Title. Ancient Jewish and Christian View of this Song—18. It is not a Drama, but a Series of Descripture Pictures—Its Great Theme—Caution in Respect to the Spiritual Interpretation of it


The Greater Prophets. 1. General Remarks on the Prophetical Writings—2. Different Offices of the Prophets under the Theocracy—Their Office as Reprovers—3. As Expounders of the Mosaic Law in its Spirituality—4. And of its End, which was Salvation through the Future Redeemer—They wrote in the Decline of the Theocracy—Their Promises fulfilled only in Christ—I. Isaiah—5. He is the First in Order, but not the Earliest of the Prophets—His Private History almost wholly Unknown—Jewish Tradition Concerning him—Period of his Prophetic Activity—6. Two Great Divisions of his Prophecies—Plans for Classifying the Contents of the First Part—Analysis of these Contents—General Character of the Second Part, and View of its Contents—7. Objections to the Genuineness of the Last Part of Isaiah and Certain Other Parts—General Principle on which these Objections are to be met—Previous Preparation for the Revelations contained in this Part—True Significance of the Promises which it contains—Form of these Promises—Mention of Cyrus by Name—Objection from the Character of the Style considered—8. Direct Arguments for the Genuineness of this Part—External Testimony; Internal Evidences—9. Genuineness of the Disputed Passages of the First Part—II. Jeremiah—10. Contrast between Isaiah and Jeremiah in Personal Character and Circumstances—Our Full Knowledge of his Outward Personal History and Inward Conflicts—11. His Priestly Descent—His Native Place—Period of his Prophetic Activity—Degeneracy of the Age—Persecutions to which his Fidelity subjected him—He is more occupied than Isaiah with the Present—His Mission is emphatically to unfold the Connection between National Profligacy and National Ruin; yet he sometimes describes the Glory of the Latter Days—12. The Chronological Order not always followed in his Prophecies—General Divisions of them—First Division; Second Division; Appendix—Attempts to disprove the Genuineness of Certain Parts of Jeremiah—The Book of Lamentations—13. Its Hebrew Name—Its Authorship and the Time of its Composition—14. Structure of its Poetry—III. Ezekiel—15. His Priestly Descent and Residence—Notices of his Personal History—Period of his Prophetic Activity—16. Peculiarities of his Style—17. His Allegoric and Symbolic Representations—General Remarks on the Nature of Allegories and Symbols—18. The Two Divisions of the Book—Contents of the First Part; of the Second Part—Prophecies against Foreign Nations—Promises relating to the Glory of the Latter Days—Ezekiel's Vision of a New Jerusalem with its Temple—Meaning of this Vision and Principles according to which it is to be interpreted—IV. Daniel—19. Its Place in the Hebrew Canon—Notices of Daniel's Personal History—20. Arrangement and Contents of the Book—First {14} Series of Prophecies; Second Series—Intimate Connection between the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse—21. Assaults made upon the Book of Daniel in Respect to its Genuineness and Credibility—Grounds on which it is received as a Part of the Sacred Canon—Its Unity; Uniform Tradition of the Jews and its Reliability; Testimony of Josephus; of the Saviour; Language and Style; Intimate Acquaintance with the Historical Relations and Manners and Customs of the Age—22. Insufficiency of the Various Objections urged against the Book—Chronological and Historical Difficulties; Difficulties connected with the Identification of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede; Silence of Jesus the Son of Sirach respecting Daniel; Alleged Linguistic Difficulties; Commendations bestowed upon Daniel—The Real Objection to the Book on the Part of its Opponents lies in the Supernatural Character of the Events which it records—Remarks on this Objection


The Twelve Minor Prophets.—1. Jewish Arrangement of these Books—Their Order in the Masoretic Text and in the Alexandrine Version—2. General Remarks on their Character I. Hosea—3. Period of his Prophecying and its Character—4. Peculiarly of his Style—Contents of the Book II. Joel—5. Place and Date of his Prophecies—6. Character and Contents of his Book—III. Amos—7. Date of his Prophecies—Notices of his Person—He was a Jew, not trained in any Prophetical School, and sent to prophesy against Israel—Character and Contents of his Writings—IV. Obadiah—8. Date and Contents of his Prophecy—V. Jonah—9. His Age—10. Remarks on the History of the Book—11. Authorship and Historic Truth of the Book—VI. Micah—12. His Residence and the Time of his Prophetic Activity—His Prophecies directed against both Israel and Judah—13. Divisions of the Book with the Contents of Each—Passages Common to Micah and Isaiah—General Agreement between the Two Prophets—VII. Nahum—14. His Prophecy directed against Nineveh—Its Probable Date—15. Contents of the Book—VIII. Habakkuk—16. Date of the Book and its Contents—Remarks on the Ode contained in the Third Chapter—IX. Zephaniah—17. Date and Contents of his Book—X. Haggai—18. Date and Scope of the Book—19. Its Different Messages—XI. Zechariah—20. His Priestly Descent—Date of his Prophecies—21. The Three Divisions of the Book—First Division; Second Division; Third Division—22. Remarks on the Character of Zechariah's Prophecies—XII. Malachi—23. Name of this Prophet—Date of his Prophecies, and Condition of the Jewish People—24 Contents of the Book


The Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament—1. The Term Apocrypha and its Origin—2. Remarks on the Date of the Apocryphal Books—Their Reception by the Alexandrine Jews—3. History of these Books in the Christian Church—4. Their Uses—I. The Two Books of Esdras—5. Name of this Book—Its Contents—Its Date—6. The Second Book of Esdras found only in Versions—Remarks on these Versions—7. Its Contents and Date—II. Tobit—8. Accounts of the Contents of this Book—9. Various Texts in which this Book {15} is Extant—Its General Scope—III. Judith—10. Contents of the Book—11. Remarks on its Character, Date, and Design—IV. Additions to the Book of Esther—12. Account of these—V. The Wisdom of Solomon—13. Its Divisions and their Contents—14. Authorship of the Book—Its Merits and Defects—VI. Ecclesiasticus—15. Its Titles and Contents—16. Date of the Book and of its Translation—VII. Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah—17. Character and Contents of the Book of Baruch—18. Second, or Syriac Book of Baruch—19. So-called Epistle of Jeremiah—VIII. Additions to the Book of Daniel—20. Enumeration of these—Their Authorship and Date—IX. The Prayer of Manasses—21. Remarks on this Composition—X. The Books of the Maccabees—22. Number of these Books—Remarks on their Historic Order—Origin of the Name Maccabee—23. First Book—Its Genuineness and Credibility—Its Authorship and Date—Original Language—24. Second Book—Its Character and Contents—25. Third Book—Its Contents and Character—Fourth Book—Its Stoical Character—Its Contents—Fifth Book—Its Original Language and Contents





Language of the New Testament—1. God's Providence as seen in the Languages of the Old and New Testaments—Fitness of the Hebrew for its Office in History, Poetry, and Prophecy—2. Adaptation of the Greek to the Wants of the New Testament Writers—3. Providential Preparation for a Change in the Language of the Inspired Writings—Cessation of the Hebrew as the Vernacular of the Jews, and Withdrawal of the Spirit of Prophecy Contemporaneous—4. Introduction of the Greek Language into Asia and Egypt—Its Use among the Jews, especially in Egypt—Its General Use in our Lord's Day—5. Character of the New Testament Greek—Its Basis the Common Hellenic Dialect, with an Hebraic Coloring received from the Septuagint, and an Aramaic Tinge also—The Writers of the New Testament Jews using the Language of Greece for the Expression of Christian Ideas—Technical Terms in the New Testament—6. Adaptation of the New Testament Greek to its Office


External Form of the New Testament—1. The Three Main Divisions of the New Testament Writings: Historical, Epistolary, Prophetical—2. Natural Order of these Divisions—3. Subdivisions—In the Historic Part—In the Epistolary Part—Diversity of Arrangement in Manuscripts—4. Arrangement of the New Testament Writings not Chronological—Importance of Knowing {16} this—5. Continuous Writing of the Ancient Uncial Manuscripts—Stichometrical Mode of Writing—This led gradually to the Present System of Interpunction Cursive Manuscripts—7. Ancient Divisions in the Contents of the Sacred Text—Ammonian Sections and Eusebian Canons—8. Divisions called Titles—9. Divisions of the Other New Testament Books—10. Chapters and Verses—Church Lessons—11. Remarks on the above Divisions—Paragraph Bibles—12. Titles and Subscriptions


The New Testament Text and its History—I. The Manuscript Text—1 and 2. General Remarks—3. Origin of Various Readings and their Classification—Substitutions, Insertions, Omissions—Arising from Inadvertence, or Unskilful Criticism—Wilful Falsifications cannot be imputed to the Copyists—4. Materials for Textual Criticism—General Results—5. Notice of some Manuscripts—The Vatican, Sinai, Alexandrine, Ephraem, Palimpsest, Dublin Palimpsest, Beza or Cambridge (Bilingual), Purple. Cursive Manuscripts—II. The Printed Text—6. Primary Editions and their Sources—Complutensian Polyglott, Erasmian, Stephens', Beza's, Elzevir Editions—7. Remarks on the Received Text—III. Principles of Textual Criticism—8. Its End—Sources of Evidence—Greek Manuscripts—Their varying Value—9. Ancient Versions and their Value—10. Citations of the Church Fathers—11. Canons of Criticism


Formation and History of the New Testament Canon—1. General Remarks—2. Different Periods to be noticed—3. Apostolic Age—4. Age of the Apostolic Fathers—Remarks on their Quotations—5. Age of Transition—Events of this Age which awakened the Christian Church to a Full Consciousness of the Divine Authority of the Apostolic Writings—Execution of Versions—6. Age of the Early Church Fathers—They recognized a Canon, though not yet Complete—Canon of the Syriac Peshito, Muratorian Canon—Canon of the Councils of Laodicea and Carthage—7. Closing Remarks


Ancient Versions of the New Testament—I. Latin Versions—1. Interest attaching to these Versions—2. The Ante-Hieronymian or Old Latin Version—3. Its Canon—Remarks on its Text—Manuscripts containing it—4. Jerome's Revision of the Old Latin Version—5. Jerome's New Version of the Old Testament—Books left untranslated—The Vulgate and its Diversified Character—Remarks on the History of the Vulgate—II. Syriac Versions—6. The Peshito—It comprises the Old and New Testaments—Its Date—Its Name—7. Character of the Peshito—The Curetonian Syriac—Its Relation to the Peshito—Its high Critical Value—8. The Philoxenian Syriac—Its extremely Literal Character—Hexaplar Syriac—Remarks on these Versions—Jerusalem Syriac Lectionary—III. Egyptian and Ethiopic Versions—Memphitic Version, Thebaic, Bashmuric—10. Ethiopic Version—IV. Gothic and other Versions—11. Gothic Version of Ulphilas—12. Palimpsest Manuscripts of this Version—13. Ancient Armenian Version




The Historical Books—1. The New Testament a Necessary Sequel to the Old—The Two Testaments interpret Each Other, and can be truly understood only as an Organic Whole—2. Remarks on the Use Made of the Old Testament by the Writers of the New—Fundamental Character of the Gospel Narratives—I. The Gospel as a Whole—3. Signification of the Word "Gospel"—Its Primary and Secondary Application—4. General Remarks on the Relation of the Gospels to Each Other—5. Agreements of the Synoptic Gospels—6. Differences—7. Theories of the Origin of these Three Gospels: That of Mutual Dependence; That of Original Documents; That of Oral Apostolic Tradition—Remarks on this Tradition—Its Distinction from Tradition in the Modern Sense—8. No One of the Gospels gives the Entire History of our Lord, nor always observes the Strict Chronological Order of Events—Remarks on our Lord's Life before his Baptism—9. Remarks on the Peculiar Character of the Fourth Gospel—This and the other Three mutually Supplementary to Each Other—10. Harmonies of the Gospels—Relative Size of the Gospels—II. Matthew—11. Personal Notices of Matthew—12. Original Language of his Gospel—The Problem stated—13. Testimony of the Ancients on this Point—14. Various Hypotheses considered—15. Primary Design of this Gospel to show that Jesus of Nazareth was the Promised Messiah—16. He is also exhibited as the Saviour of the World—17. Fulness of Matthew's Record in Respect to our Lord's Discourses—18. He does not always follow the Exact Order of Time—19. Place and Date—20. Integrity—Genuineness of the First Two Chapters—III. Mark—21. Personal Notices of Mark—Intimate Relation of Mark to Peter and Paul—22. Place—Date—Language—23. Design of this Gospel to exhibit Jesus as the Son of God—He makes the Works of Jesus more Prominent than his Discourses—24. Characteristics of Mark as a Historian—25. Closing Passage in Mark's Gospel—IV. Luke—26. Notices of Luke in the New Testament—27. Sources of his Gospel—His Relation to Paul—28. Date and Place of Writing—29. Universal Aspect of Luke's Gospel—30. Its Character and Plan—Comparison of the Gospels in Respect to Peculiar Matter and Concordances—31. Integrity of Luke's Gospel—The Two Genealogies of Matthew and Luke—V. John—32. John's Manner of indicating himself—33. Personal Notices of him—34. Late Composition of his Gospel and Place of Writing—35. Peculiarity of this Gospel in Respect to Subject-Matter—Its Relation to the First Three Gospels—36. General Design of this Gospel—It is peculiarly the Gospel of Christ's Person—VI. Acts of the Apostles—37. Author of this Book—38. Plan of the Book—Its First Division; Second Division—Notices of Antioch—39. Office of this Book—Portraiture of the Apostolic Age of Christianity; Cursory View of the Inauguration of the Christian Church; Various Steps by which the Abolition of the Middle Wall of Partition between Jews and Gentiles was effected—40. Concluding Remarks



The Epistles of Paul—1. General Remarks on the Epistles—2. Paul's Epistles all written in the Prosecution of his Work as the Apostle to the Gentiles—Nature of this Work—3. Paul's Peculiar Qualifications for this Work—His Mode of Procedure—Union in him of Firmness and Flexibility—4. Character of the Apostle's Style—5. Points to be noticed in the Separate Epistles—Notices of Paul's Labors in the Acts of the Apostles—6. Present Arrangement of Paul's Epistles and of the Epistles generally—Chronological Order of Paul's Epistles—Four Groups of these Epistles—I. Epistle to the Romans—7. Date and Place of this Epistle—8. Composition of the Roman Church—9. Occasion and Design of the Epistle—Its General Outlines—10. Special Office of this Epistle—II. Epistles to the CorinthiansFirst Epistle—11. Place and Time of its Composition—12. Notices of the Corinthian Church—Occasion of the Apostle's Writing—13. General Tone of the Epistle as contrasted with that to the Galatians—Second Epistle—14. Place and Time of its Composition—15. Its Occasion—Prominence of the Apostle's Personality in this Epistle and its Ground—Peculiarities of its Diction—Its Office in the Economy of Revelation—III. Epistle to the Galatians—16. Historical Notice of Galatia—Missionary Visits of the Apostle to that Province—Date of the Present Epistle and Place of Composition—17. Occasion and Design—18. Outlines of the Epistle—The Historic Part, the Argumentative, the Practical—IV. Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon—19. Contemporaneousness of these Epistles—20. Place and Date—21. Chronological Order of the First Two—Epistle to the Colossians—22. Notices of Colosse and the Church there—Occasion of this Epistle—Character of the False Teachers at Colosse—23. Outlines of the Epistle—Its Argumentative Part, its Practical—The Epistle from Laodicca—Epistle to the Ephesians—24. Notices of Ephesus—Labors of Paul at Ephesus—Occasion of the Present Epistle—Its General Character—Various Hypotheses respecting it—25. Its Outlines—Its Argumentative Part, its Practical—Epistle to Philemon—26. Its Occasion and Design—V. Epistle to the Philippians—27. Notices of Philippi and the Formation of the Church there—28. Occasion of this Epistle—Place and Date of its Composition—29. Its Character—General View of its Contents—VI. Epistles to the Thessalonians—30. Notices of Thessalonica and the Apostle's Labors there—First Epistle to the Thessalonians—31. Date and Place of its Composition—32. Its Occasion and Design—Outlines of the Epistle—Second Epistle—33. Place of Writing and Date—Its Design—Its General Outlines—34. Comparison between the Epistles to the Thessalonians and that to the Philippians—VII. The Pastoral Epistles—35. The Date of these Epistles and Related Questions—36. Character of the False Teachers referred to in these Epistles—37. Genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles—38. Their Office—First Epistle to Timothy—39. Its Date and Place of Composition—Its Occasion and Design—Its Contents—Scriptural Notices of Timothy—Epistle to Titus—40. Its Agreement with the Preceding Epistle—The Cretan Church and Titus—Second Epistle, to Timothy—41. Its Occasion and Character in Contrast with the Two Preceding Epistles—Its Office—Epistle to the Hebrews—42. Question of its Authorship—How it was regarded in the Eastern Church—How in the Western—General Remark—43. Persons addressed {19} in this Epistle—Time and Place of its Composition—Manner of Reference to the Levitical Priesthood and Temple Services—44. Central Theme of this Epistle—Dignity of Christ's Person in Contrast with the Ancient Prophets, with Angels, and with Moses—Divine Efficacy of his Priesthood in Contrast with that of the Sons of Aaron—Design of the Epistle—Its Office in the System of Revelation


The Catholic Epistles—1. Origin of the Name "Catholic"—1. Epistle of James—2. Question respecting the Person of James—3. Place of Writing this Epistle—Persons addressed—4. Question of its Date—5. Its Genuineness and Canonical Authority—6. Its Practical Character—Alleged Disagreement between Paul and James without Foundation—II. Epistles of PeterFirst Epistle—7. Its Canonical Authority always acknowledged—8. Persons addressed—9. Place of its Composition—Its Occasion and Date—Traditions respecting Peter—10. Outline of the Epistle—Second Epistle—11. Persons addressed—Time of Writing—12. Question respecting the Genuineness of this Epistle—External Testimonies—Internal Evidence—General Result—13. Object of the Present Epistle—Peculiar Character of the Second Chapter—Its Agreement with the Epistle of Jude—III. Epistles of JohnFirst Epistle of John—14. Its Acknowledged Canonicity—Time and Place of its Composition—Persons addressed—15. General View of its Contents—Second and Third Epistles—16. Their Common Authorship—Their Genuineness—17. The Occasion and Office of Each—IV. Epistle of Jude—18. Question respecting Jude's Person—Time of the Epistle, and Persons addressed—19. Its Canonical Authority—Its Design


The Apocalypse—1. Meaning of the Word "Apocalypse"—Abundance of External Testimonies to this Book—2. Internal Arguments considered—Use of the Apostle's Name, Devotional Views, Spirit of the Writer, Style and Diction—Here must be taken into Account the Difference between this Book and John's other Writings in Subject-Matter, in the Mode of Divine Revelation, in the Writer's Mental State and Circumstances; also its Poetic Diction—General Results—3. Date of the Apocalypse and Place of Writing—4. Different Schemes of Interpretation—The Generic—The Historic—5. Symbolic Import of the Numbers in this Book—The number Seven, Half of Seven, Six; The Number Four, a Third and Fourth Part; the Number Twelve; the Number Ten—6. Office of the Apocalypse in the System of Revelation


Writings of the Apostolic Fathers, With Some Notices of the Apocryphal New Testament Writings—1. The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers distinguished from the Proper New Testament Apocrypha—Some Remarks on the Character of these Writings


I. Writings of Clement of Rome—2. His Epistle to the Romans—Its Genuineness Character, and Age—3. Its Occasion, with a Notice of its Contents—4. The so-called Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians—Its Genuineness not admitted—Vague and General Character of its Contents—5. Notice of some Other Writings falsely ascribed to Clement—Recognitions of Clement, and the Clementines, with their Plan and Contents; Constitutions of Clement, and their Contents; Apostolic Canons

II. Epistles of Ignatius—6. Notices of Ignatius—The Seven Genuine Epistles that bear his Name—Unsatisfactory State of the Text—Syriac and Armenian Versions—Enumeration of these Epistles—Their Character—Strong Ecclesiastical Spirit that pervades them—His Letter to the Romans—The Undue Desire of Martyrdom which it manifests—His Letter to Polycarp—7. Spurious Epistles ascribed to Ignatius, and their Character

III. Epistle of Polycarp—8. Notices of Polycarp—His Epistle to the Philippians—Its Character and Contents—Time and Occasion of its Composition

IV. Writings of Barnabas and Hermas—9. Their Doubtful Authority—10. The So-called Epistle of Barnabas—Tischendorf's Discovery of the Original Greek Text—The Author and Date of the Work—Notice of its Contents—Its Fanciful Method of Interpretation—11. The Shepherd of Hernias—Outward Form of the Work—Its Internal Character—Its Author and Age

V. The Apostle's Creed—12. In what Sense it belongs to the Apostolic Fathers—Apostolic Character of its Contents

VI. Apocryphal Gospels and Acts—13. Their Number—Their Worthless Character in Contrast with that of the Canonical Gospels and Acts




Introductory Remarks—1. Definition of Certain Terms—Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Epexegesis—2. The Expositor's Office—Parallel between his Work and that of the Textual Critic—3. Qualifications of the Biblical Interpreter—A Supreme Regard for Truth—4. A Sound Judgment with the Power of Vivid Conception—Office of Each of these Qualities and their Relation to Each Other—5. Sympathy with Divine Truth—6. Extensive and Varied Acquirements—The Original Languages of the Bible; Sacred Geography and Natural History; Biblical Antiquities; Ancient History and Chronology—7. General Remarks on the above Qualifications—8. The Human and Divine Side to Biblical Interpretation—The Importance of observing Both




General Principles of Interpretation—1. Signification of the Terms employed how ascertained, with some Superadded Remarks—2. On Ascertaining the Sense of Scripture—3. The Scope General and Special—Its Supreme Importance illustrated—How the Scope is to be ascertained—The Author's Statements; Inferential Remarks; Historical Circumstances—Important Help derived from the Repeated and Careful Perusal of a Work—4. The Context defined and distinguished from the Scope—Indispensable Necessity of attending to it—This illustrated by Examples—Question respecting the Limits of the Context—In some Cases no Context exists—On the Use of Biblical Texts as Mottoes—Various Applications of the Principle contained in a Given Passage a Legitimate Mode of Exposition—5. Parallelisms Verbal and Real—Help derived from the Former—Subdivision of Real Parallelisms into Doctrinal and Historic—Importance of Doctrinal Parallelisms with Illustrations—Value of Historic Parallelisms illustrated—Difficulties arising from them, and the Principle of their Adjustment—Illustration—6. External Acquirements—Various Illustrations of the Importance of these—7. Sound Judgment—Office of this Quality illustrated—Inept Interpretations: Interpretations Contrary to the Nature of the Subject; Necessary Limitations of an Author's Meaning; Reconciliation of Apparent Contradictions; Forced and Unnatural Explanations and the Rejection of Well-established Facts—8. Remarks on the Proper Office of Reason in Interpretation


Figurative Language of Scripture—1. Figurative Language defined and illustrated—General Remarks respecting it—2. Rules for the Ascertaining of Figurative Language—Nature of the Subject; Scope, Context, and Analogy of Scripture—Error of understanding Literal Language figuratively—Remark on the Interpretation of Prophecy—3. Different Kinds of Figures—The Trope in its Varieties of Metonymy, Synecdoche, and Metaphor—Remarks on Comparisons—The Allegory—Its Definition and Distinction from the Metaphor—Distinction between True Allegory and the Allegorical Interpretation of History—The Parable—How distinguished from the Allegory—The Fable—The Symbol—Its Various Forms—The Proverb—It always embodies a General Truth—Its Various Forms—Signification of the Word "Myth"—It does not come within the Sphere of Scriptural Interpretation—4. General Remarks on the Interpretation of the Figurative Language of Scripture—5. Its Certainty and Truthfulness—6. Key to the Interpretation of the Allegory—Examples: The Vine Transplanted from Egypt, Psa. 80; the two Eagles and the Cedar Bough, Ezek. 17:3-10; The Song of Solomon; the Two Allegories of Ezekiel, chaps., 16 and 23-7. The Interpretation of the Parable—How it differs from that of the Allegory—Point of Primary Importance—How far the Details are significant—Examples: The Sower, Matt. 13:3-8, 19-23; the Tares in the Field {22} Matt. 13:24-30, 37-43; the Ten Virgins, Matt, 25:1-13—Remark respecting the Personages introduced in Parables with Illustrations—The Unforgiving Servant, Matt. 18: 23-35; the Importunate Friend, Luke 11:5-8; the Unjust Judge, Luke 18:1-8; the Unfaithful Steward, Luke 16:1-9—8. Scriptural Symbols-How to determine whether they are Real or Seen in Prophetic Vision—Principles on which they are to be interpreted—Examples—9. Remarks on the Interpretation of Numerical Symbols



Unity of Revelation—1. Essential Unity between the Old and the New Testament—2. This Unity one that coexists with Great Diversity—Illustrations from the Analogy of God's Works—3. Unity in Diversity in Respect to the Form of God's Kingdom—4. The Forms of Public Worship—5. Forms of Religious Labor—6. Spirit of Revelation—7. Way of Salvation—8. Sternness of the Mosaic Dispensation explained from its Preparatory Character—9. Inferences from the Unity of Revelation—9. Each Particular Revelation Perfect in its Measure—10. The Later Revelations the Exponents of the Earlier; Christ and his Apostles in a Special Sense the Expositors of the New Testament—11. The Extent of Meaning in a Given Revelation that which the Holy Spirit intended—12. The Obscure Declarations of Scripture to be interpreted from the Clear, with Illustrations—13. Remarks on the Analogy of Faith—The Term Defined—Rules for its Use


Scriptural Types—1. Types distinguished from Analogy—2. And from the Foreshadowing of Future Events by the Present—3. The Type defined in its Three Essential Characters

I. Historical Types—4. In Respect to these Two Extremes to be avoided—Typical History has a Proper Significance of its Own—This illustrated by Examples: The Kingly Office; the Prophetical Office; Typical Transactions—Remarks on the Inadequacy of All Types

II. Ritual Types—5. The Sacrifices the Essential Part of the Mosaic Ritual—What is implied in them—The Sanctuary God's Visible Dwelling-place where alone they could be offered—6. The Mosaic Tabernacle described—7. Its General Typical Import—8. Significance of its Different Parts and Appointments—Preciousness of the Materials; Gradation in this Respect—9. The Inner Sanctuary with its Appointments—10. The Outer Sanctuary with its Appointments—11. The Brazen Altar with its Laver—The Levitical Priests typified Christ—12. The Levitical Sacrifices typified Christ's Offering of Himself for the Sins of the World—This shown from Scripture—General Remark respecting Christ's Propitiatory Sacrifice—13. Characteristics of the Types {23} Themselves—The Levitical Priests had a Common Human Nature with those for whom they officiated; were appointed to their Office by God; were Mediators between God and the People; and Mediators through Propitiatory Sacrifices—Points of Dissimilarity between the Type and the Antitype—Remarks on the Central Idea of Priesthood—14. Scriptural Idea of Sacrifice the Offering of One Life in Behalf of Another—Classification of the Levitical Sacrifices with the Ideas belonging to Each: Sin and Trespass Offerings; Burnt Offerings; Peace-Offerings—Sacrificial Nature of the Passover—Other Sacrifices of a Special Character—All Sacrificial Victims to be without Blemish—The Unbloody Offerings and their Signification—15. Typical Transactions connected with the Sacrifices and Oblations: The Laying of the Offerer's Hands on the Head of the Victim; the Waving and Heaving of Offerings; the Sprinkling of the Victim's Blood; the Burning of the Offering—16. Typical Meaning of the Tabernacle as a Whole—The Several Points of Adumbration considered: Adumbration of God's Presence with Men; Impossibility of approaching God without a Mediator; Adumbration of Christ's Expiatory Sacrifice and Heavenly Intercession on the Great Day of Atonement; Burning of the Victim without the Camp—17. Distinctions between Clean and Unclean—Levitical View of Bodily Infirmities


Interpretation of Prophecy—1. General Remarks

I. Prophecies relating to the Near Future—2. Their Specific Character—Examples

II. Prophecies relating to the Last Days—3. Meaning of the Term "Last Days," and its Equivalents—General Character of this Class of Prophecies—4. Prophecies in which the Order of Events is indicated—Daniel's Fourth Monarchy; the Great Red Dragon of Revelation, the Two Beasts that succeeded to his Power, and the Woman riding a Scarlet-Colored Beast—5. Prophecies which give General Views of the Future—Examples—6. The Prophets give an Inward View of the Vital Forces which sustain and extend God's Kingdom—Unity of the Plan of Redemption; its Continual Progress; Indications of the End towards which it is tending; the End Itself the Chief Object of Interest—Great Crisis in the Church's History—Spirit that should actuate the Interpreter of Prophecy

III. Question of Double Sense—7. The Term defined—8. Examples of Literal and Typical Sense—Melchizedek's Priesthood; the Rest of Canaan—9. The Messianic Psalms—Different Principles on which they are interpreted: Exclusive Application to Christ; Reference to an Ideal Personage; Christ the Head and his Body the Church; Typical View—10. The Principle of Progressive Fulfilment

IV. Question of Literal and Figurative Meaning—11. General Remarks—12. Representative Use in Prophecy of Past Events—13. Of the Institutions of the Mosaic Economy—14. The Principle of Figurative Interpretation not to be pressed as Exclusive—15. Question of the Literal Restoration of the Jews to the Land of Canaan—16. Question of our Lord's Personal Reign on Earth during the Millennium



Quotations From The Old Testament in the New—1. General Remarks on the Authority of the New Testament Writers—2. Outward Form of their Quotations—Its very Free Spirit—This illustrated by Example—3. Contents of the New Testament Quotations—The So-called Principle of Accommodation; in what Sense True, and in what Sense to be rejected—4. Quotations by Way of Argument—5. Quotations as Prophecies of Christ and his Kingdom—Remarks on the Formula: "That it might be fulfilled"—6. Prophecies referring immediately to Christ—7. Prophecies referring to Christ under a Type—Closing Remark






Many thousands of persons have a full and joyous conviction of the truth of Christianity from their own experience, who yet feel a reasonable desire to examine the historic evidence by which it is confirmed, if not for the strengthening of their own faith, yet for the purpose of silencing gainsayers, and guarding the young against the cavils of infidelity. It is our duty to give to those who ask us a reason of the hope that is in us; and although our own personal experience may be to ourselves a satisfactory ground of assurance, we cannot ask others to take the gospel on our testimony alone. It is highly desirable that we understand and be able to set forth with clearness and convincing power the proofs that this plan of salvation has God for its author.

Then there is a class of earnest inquirers who find themselves perplexed with the difficulties which they hear urged against the gospel, and which they find themselves unable to solve in a satisfactory way. It is of the highest importance that such persons be met in a candid spirit; that the immense mass of evidence by which the Christian religion is sustained be clearly set before them; and that they understand that a religion thus supported is not to be rejected on the ground that there are difficulties connected with it which have not yet been solved—perhaps never can be solved here below.

Are you, reader, such an earnest inquirer after truth? We {28} present to you in the following pages a brief summary of the historic evidence by which the Bible, with the plan of salvation which it reveals, is shown to be the word of God; and we wish, here at the outset, to suggest to you some cautions respecting the state of mind with which this great inquiry is to be pursued.

First of all, we remind you that, whatever else may be uncertain, you know that you must soon die, and try for yourself the realities of the unseen world. The question now before you is, Whether God has spoken from heaven, and made any revelations concerning that world. If so, they are more precious than gold; for in the decisive hour of death you will wish to know not what man, the sinner, has reasoned and conjectured concerning a future judgment, forgiveness of sin, and the life to come; but what God, the Judge, has declared. Now the Bible claims to contain such a message from God. If its claims are valid, it will not flatter you and speak to you smooth things, but will tell you the truth. And you must be prepared to receive the truth, though it condemn you. Sooner or later you must meet the truth face to face: be ready to do so now; you have no interest in error; falsehood and delusion cannot help you, but will destroy you.

Do not come to the examination of this great question with the idea that you must clear away all mysteries connected with the gospel before you believe it. The world in which you live is full of mysteries. One would think that if any thing could be fully comprehended, it must be the acts of which we are ourselves the authors. By a volition you raise your hand to your head; but how is the act performed? True, there is in your body an apparatus of nerves, muscles, joints, and the like; but in what way does the human will have power over this apparatus? No man can answer this question: it is wrapped {29} in deep mystery. Why be offended, then, because the way of salvation revealed in the Bible has like mysteries—mysteries concerning not your duty, but God's secret and inscrutable methods of acting?

And since the question now before you is not one of mere speculation, but one that concerns your immediate duty, be on your guard against the seductive influence of sinful passion and sinful habit. There is a deep and solemn meaning in the words of Jesus: "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Corrupt feeling in the heart and corrupt practice in the life have a terrible power to blind the mind. The man who comes to the examination of the Bible with a determination to persist in doing what he knows to be wrong, or in omitting what he knows to be right, will certainly err from the truth; for he is not in a proper state of mind to love it and welcome it to his soul.

Remember also that it is not the grosser passions and forms of vice alone that darken the understanding and alienate the heart from the truth. Pride, vanity, ambition, avarice—in a word, the spirit of self-seeking and self-exaltation in every form—will effectually hinder the man in whose bosom they bear sway from coming to the knowledge of the truth; for they will incline him to seek a religion which flatters him and promises him impunity in sin, and will fatally prejudice him against a system of doctrines and duties so holy and humbling as that contained in the Bible. Take, as a comprehensive rule for the investigation of this weighty question, the words of the Saviour: "If any man will do his will"—the will of God—"he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." So far as you already know the will of God, do it; do it sincerely, earnestly, and prayerfully, and God will give {30} you more light. He loves the truth, and sympathizes with all earnest and sincere inquirers after it. He never leaves to fatal error and delusion any but those who love falsehood rather than truth, because they have pleasure in unrighteousness. Open your heart to the light of heaven, and God will shine into it from above; so that, in the beautiful words of our Saviour, "the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."





I. The Christian religion is not a mere system of ideas, like the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle. It rests on a basis of historic facts. The great central fact of the gospel is thus expressed by Jesus himself: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16; and by the apostle Paul thus: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim. 1:15. With the appearance of God's Son in human nature were connected a series of mighty works, a body of divine teachings, the appointment of apostles and the establishment of the visible Christian church; all which are matters of historic record.

Nor is this all. It is the constant doctrine of Christ and his apostles that he came in accordance with the scriptures of the Old Testament, and that his religion is the fulfilment of the types and prophecies therein contained: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Matt. 5:17. "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, {32} and in the psalms concerning me." Luke 24:44. The facts of the New Testament connect themselves, therefore, immediately with those of the Old, so that the whole series constitutes an indivisible whole. The Bible is, from beginning to end, the record of a supernatural revelation made by God to men. As such, it embraces not only supernatural teachings, but supernatural facts also; and the teachings rest on the facts in such a way that both must stand or fall together.

II. This basis of supernatural facts, then, must be firmly maintained against unbelievers whose grand aim is to destroy the historic foundation of the gospel, at least so far as it contains supernatural manifestations of God to men. Thus they would rob it of its divine authority, and reduce it to a mere system of human doctrines, like the teachings of Socrates or Confucius, which men are at liberty to receive or reject as they think best. Could they accomplish this, they would be very willing to eulogize the character of Jesus, and extol the purity and excellence of his precepts. Indeed, it is the fashion of modern unbelievers, after doing what lies in their power to make the gospel a mass of "cunningly-devised fables" of human origin, to expatiate on the majesty and beauty of the Saviour's character, the excellence of his moral precepts, and the benign influence of his religion. But the transcendent glory of our Lord's character is inseparable from his being what he claimed to be—the Son of God, coming from God to men with supreme authority; and all the power of his gospel lies in its being received as a message from God. To make the gospel human, is to annihilate it, and with it the hope of the world.

III. When the inquiry is concerning a long series of events intimately connected together so as to constitute one inseparable whole, two methods of investigation are open to us. We may look at the train of events in the order of time from beginning to end; or we may select some one great event of especial prominence and importance as the central point of inquiry, and from that position look forward and backward. The latter of {33} these two methods has some peculiar advantages, and will be followed in the present brief treatise. We begin with the great central fact of revelation already referred to, that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." 1 John 4:14. When this is shown to rest on a foundation that cannot be shaken, the remainder of the work is comparatively easy. From the supernatural appearance and works of the Son of God, as recorded in the four gospels, the supernatural endowment and works of his apostles, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and their authoritative teachings, as contained in their epistles, follow as a natural and even necessary sequel. Since, moreover, the universal rule of God's government and works is, "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear," (Mark 4:28,) it is most reasonable to suppose that such a full and perfect revelation as that which God has made to us by his Son, which is certainly "the full corn in the ear," must have been preceded by exactly such preparatory revelations as we find recorded in the Old Testament. Now Jesus of Nazareth appeared among the Jews, the very people that had the scriptures of the Old Testament, and had been prepared for his advent by the events recorded in them as no other nation was prepared. He came, too, as he and his apostles ever taught, to carry out the plan of redemption begun in them. From the position, then, of Christ's advent, as the grand central fact of redemption, we look backward and forward with great advantage upon the whole line of revelation.

IV. We cannot too earnestly inculcate upon the youthful inquirer the necessity of thus looking at revelation as a whole. Strong as are the evidences for the truth of the gospel narratives considered separately, they gain new strength, on the one side, from the mighty revelations that preceded them and prepared the way for the advent of the Son of God; and on the other, from the mighty events that followed his advent in the apostolic age, and have been following ever since in the history of the Christian church. The divine origin of the Mosaic institutions can be shown on solid grounds, independently of the {34} New Testament; but on how much broader and deeper a foundation are they seen to rest, when we find (as will be shown hereafter, chap. 8) that they were preparatory to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As in a burning mass, the heat and flame of each separate piece of fuel are increased by the surrounding fire, so in the plan of redemption, each separate revelation receives new light and glory from the revelations which precede and follow it. It is only when we view the revelations of the Bible as thus progressing "from glory to glory," that we can estimate aright the proofs of their divine origin. If it were even possible to impose upon men as miraculous a particular event, as, for example, the giving of the Mosaic law on Sinai, or the stones of the day of Pentecost, the idea that there could have been imposed on the world a series of such events, extending through many ages, and yet so connected together as to constitute a harmonious and consistent whole, is a simple absurdity. There is no explanation of the unity that pervades the supernatural facts of revelation, but that of their divine origin.

V. In strong contrast with this rational way of viewing the facts of revelation as a grand whole, is the fragmentary method of objectors. A doubt here, a cavil there, an insinuation yonder; a difficulty with this statement, an objection to that, a discrepancy here—this is their favorite way of assailing the gospel. If one chooses to treat the Bible in this narrow and uncandid way, he will soon plunge himself into the mire of unbelief. Difficulties and objections should be candidly considered, and allowed their due weight; but they must not be suffered to override irrefragable proof, else we shall soon land in universal skepticism: for difficulties, and some of them too insoluble, can be urged against the great facts of nature and natural religion, as well as of revelation. To reject a series of events supported by an overwhelming weight of evidence, on the ground of unexplained difficulties connected with them, involves the absurdity of running into a hundred difficulties for the sake of avoiding five. If we are willing to examine the {35} claims of revelation as a whole, its divine origin will shine forth upon us like the sun in the firmament. Our difficulties we can then calmly reserve for further investigation here, or for solution in the world to come.

VI. When we institute an examination concerning the facts of revelation, the first question is that of the genuineness and uncorrupt preservation of the books in which they are recorded; the next, that of their authenticity and credibility. We may then conveniently consider the question of their inspiration. In accordance with the plan marked out above, (No. III.,) the gospel narratives will be considered first of all; then the remaining books of the New Testament. After this will be shown the inseparable connection between the facts of revelation recorded in the Old Testament and those of the New; and finally, the genuineness of the books which constitute the canon of the Old Testament, with their authenticity and inspiration. The whole treatise will be closed by a brief view of the internal and experimental evidences which commend the Bible to the human understanding and conscience as the word of God.




I. Preliminary Remarks. 1. A book is genuine if written by the man whose name it bears, or to whom it is ascribed; or when, as in the case of several books of the Old Testament, the author is unknown, it is genuine if written in the age and country to which it is ascribed. A book is authentic which is a record of facts as opposed to what is false or fictitious; and we call it credible when the record of facts which it professes to give is worthy of belief. Authenticity and credibility are, therefore, only different views of the same quality.

In the case of a book that deals mainly with principles, the question of authorship is of subordinate importance. Thus the book of Job, with the exception of the brief narratives with which it opens and closes, and which may belong to any one of several centuries, is occupied with the question of Divine providence. It is not necessary that we know what particular man was its author, or at what precise period he wrote. We only need reasonable evidence (as will be shown hereafter) that he was a prophetical man, writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But the case of the gospel narratives is wholly different. They contain a record of the supernatural appearance and works of the Son of God, on the truth of which rests our faith in the gospel. So the apostle Paul reasons: "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." 1 Cor. 15:14. It is, then, of vital importance that we know the relation which the authors of these narratives held to Christ. If they were not apostles or apostolic men, that is, associates of the apostles, laboring with them, enjoying their full confidence, and in circumstances to obtain their information directly from them—but, instead of this, wrote after the apostolic age—their testimony is not worthy of the unlimited faith which the church in all ages has reposed in it. The question, then, of the genuineness of the gospel narratives and that of their authenticity and credibility must stand or fall together.

2. In respect to the origin of the gospels, as also of the other books of the New Testament, the following things should be carefully remembered:


First. There was a period, extending, perhaps, through some years from the day of Pentecost, when there were no written gospels, their place being supplied by the living presence and teachings of the apostles and other disciples of our Lord.

Secondly. When the need of written documents began to be felt, they were produced, one after another, as occasion suggested them. Thus the composition of the books of the New Testament extended through a considerable period of years.

Thirdly. Besides the gospels universally received by the churches, other narratives of our Lord's life were attempted, as we learn from the evangelist Luke (1:1); but those never obtained general currency. The churches everywhere received the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, because of the clear evidence which they had of their apostolic origin and trustworthiness; and because, also, these gospels, though not professing to give a complete account of our Lord's life and teachings, were nevertheless sufficiently full to answer the end for which they were composed, being not fragmentary sketches, but orderly narratives, each of them extending over the whole course of our Lord's ministry. The other narratives meanwhile gradually passed into oblivion. The general reception of these four gospels did not, however, come from any formal concert of action on the part of the churches, (as, for example, from the authoritative decision of a general council, since no such thing as a general council of the churches was known till long after this period;) but simply from the common perception everywhere of the unimpeachable evidence by which their apostolic authority was sustained.

The narratives referred to by Luke were earlier than his gospel. They were not spurious, nor, so far as we know, unauthentic; but rather imperfect. They must not be confounded with the apocryphal gospels of a later age.

3. In respect to the quotations of Scripture by the early fathers of the church, it is important to notice their habit of {38} quoting anonymously, and often in a loose and general way. They frequently cite from memory, blending together the words of different authors, and sometimes intermingling with them their own words. In citing the prophecies of the Old Testament in an argumentative way, they are, as might have been expected, more exact, particularly when addressing Jews; yet even here they often content themselves with the scope of the passages referred to, without being particular as to the exact words.

With the above preliminary remarks, we proceed to consider the evidences, external and internal, for the genuineness of the gospel narratives.

II. External Evidences. 4. Here we need not begin at a later date than the last quarter of the second century. This is the age of Irenæus in Gaul, of Tertullian in North Africa, of Clement of Alexandria in Egypt, and of some other writers. Their testimony to the apostolic origin and universal reception of our four canonical gospels is as full as can be desired. They give the names of the authors, two of them—Matthew and John—apostles, and the other two—Mark and Luke—companions of apostles and fellow-laborers with them, always associating Mark with Peter, and Luke with Paul; they affirm the universal and undisputed reception of these four gospels from the beginning by all the churches; and deny the apostolic authority of other pretended gospels. In all this, they give not their individual opinions, but the common belief of the churches. It is conceded on all hands that in their day these four gospels were universally received by the churches as genuine and authoritative records of our Lord's life and works, to the exclusion of all others.

Irenæus was a native of Asia Minor, of Greek descent; but the seat of his labors was Lyons and Vienne in Gaul, of the former of which places he became bishop after the martyrdom of Pothinus, about A.D. 177. He was born about A.D. 140, and suffered martyrdom under Septimius Severus A.D. 202. In his youth he was a disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of the apostle John. In a letter to one Florinus, which Eusebius has preserved, (Hist. Eccl., 5. 20,) he gives, in glowing language, his {39} recollections of the person and teachings of Polycarp, and tells with what interest he listened as this man related his intercourse with the apostle John and the others who had seen the Lord, "how he recounted their words, and the things which he had heard from them concerning the Lord, and concerning his miracles and teaching." And he adds that these things which Polycarp had received from eye-witnesses he related "all in agreement with the Scriptures;" that is, obviously, with the gospel narratives. Pothinus, the predecessor of Irenæus at Lyons, was ninety years old at the time of his martyrdom, and must have been acquainted with many who belonged to the latter part of the apostolic age. Under such circumstances, it is inconceivable that Irenæus, who knew the Christian traditions of both the East and the West, should not have known the truth respecting the reception of the gospels by the churches, and the grounds on which this reception rested, more especially in the case of the gospel of John. Tischendorf, after mentioning the relation of Irenæus to Polycarp the disciple of John, asks, with reason: "Are we, nevertheless, to cherish the supposition that Irenæus never heard a word from Polycarp respecting the gospel of John, and yet gave it his unconditional confidence—this man Irenæus, who in his controversies with heretics, the men of falsification and apocryphal works, employs against them, before all other things, the pure Scripture as a holy weapon?" (Essay, When were Our Gospels Written, p. 8.) The testimony of Irenæus is justly regarded as of the most weighty character. The fact that he gives several fanciful reasons why there should be only four gospels, (Against Heresies, 3. 11,) does not invalidate his statement of the fact that the churches had always received four, and no more. We always distinguish between men's testimony to facts of which they are competent witnesses, and their philosophical explanations of these facts.

Tertullian was born in Carthage about A.D. 160, and died between A.D. 220 and 240. About A.D. 202 he joined the sect of the Montanists; but this does not affect his testimony respecting the origin and universal reception of the four canonical gospels. His works are very numerous, and in them all he insists with great earnestness that the gospel narratives, as also the other apostolic writings, have been received without corruption, as a sacred inheritance, from the apostolic churches. His work against Marcion, whom he accuses of employing a mutilated gospel of Luke, is particularly instructive as showing how deep and settled was the conviction of the early Christians that nothing could be a gospel which did not proceed from apostles or apostolic men; and how watchful they were against all attempts to mutilate or corrupt the primitive apostolic records. In defending the true gospel of Luke against the mutilated form of it employed by Marcion, he says: "I affirm that not in the apostolic churches alone, but in all which are joined with them in the bond of fellowship, {40} that gospel of Luke which we most firmly maintain, has been valid from its first publication; but Marcion's gospel is unknown to most of them, and known to none, except to be condemned." This testimony of Tertullian is very important, as showing his full conviction that Marcion could not deny the universal reception, from the beginning, of the genuine gospel of Luke. And a little afterwards he adds: "The same authority of the apostolic churches will defend the other gospels also, which we have in like manner through them, and according to them," (Against Marcion, 4. 5.) Many more quotations of like purport might be added.

Clement of Alexandria was a pupil of Pantænus, and his successor as head of the catechetical school at Alexandria in Egypt. He was of heathen origin, born probably about the middle of the second century, and died about A.D. 220. He had a philosophical turn of mind, and after his conversion to Christianity made extensive researches under various teachers, as he himself tells us, in Greece, in Italy, in Palestine, and other parts of the East. At last he met with Pantænus in Egypt, whom he preferred to all his other guides, and in whose instructions he rested. The testimony of Clement to the universal and undisputed reception by the churches of the four canonical gospels as the writings of apostles or apostolic men, agrees with that of Tertullian. And it has the more weight, not only on account of his wide investigations, but because, also, it virtually contains the testimony of his several teachers, some of whom must have known, if not the apostles themselves, those who had listened to their teachings.

In connection with the testimony of the above-named writers, we may consider that of the churches of Lyons and Vienne in Gaul, in a letter addressed by them to "the churches of Asia and Phrygia," which Eusebius has preserved for us, (Hist. Eccl., 5. 1,) and which describes a severe persecution through which they passed in the reign of Antoninus Verus, about A.D. 177. In this they say: "So was fulfilled that which was spoken by our Lord, 'The time shall come in which whosoever killeth you shall think that he doeth God service.'" In speaking again of a certain youthful martyr, they first compare him to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, affirming, in the very words of Luke, that he "had walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," (Luke 1:6;) and then go on to describe him as "having the Comforter in himself, the Spirit, more abundantly than Zacharias," where they apply to the Holy Spirit a term peculiar to the apostle John. Here, then, we have indubitable testimony to the fact that the gospel of John, as well as of Luke, was known to the churches of Gaul in the west and Asia Minor in the east in the days of Pothinus, bishop of these churches, who suffered martyrdom in this persecution. But Pothinus was ninety years old, so that his knowledge of these gospels must have reached back to the first quarter of the second century, when many who had known the apostles were yet living.


5. These testimonies, let it be carefully remembered, apply not to one part of Christendom alone, but to all its different and distant divisions; and that, too, long before there was any attempt to bring the judgment of the churches into harmony by means of general councils. The orthodox churches planted in the different provinces of the Roman empire, though in substantial harmony with each other, had nevertheless their minor differences, which were sometimes discussed with much warmth. In their relation to each other, they were jealous of their freedom and independence. The history of the so-called Antilegomena (Disputed Books of the New Testament, chap. 6) shows that the reception of a writing as apostolic in one division of Christendom, did not insure its reception elsewhere. Had it been possible that a spurious book should be imposed as genuine on the churches of one region, it would certainly have met with opposition in other regions; but our four canonical gospels were everywhere received without dispute as the writings of apostles or apostolic men. This fact admits of but one explanation: the churches had from their first appearance indubitable evidence of their genuineness.

6. Let it be further remembered that this testimony relates not to books of a private character, that might have lain for years hidden in some corner; but to the public writings of the churches, on which their faith was founded, of which they all had copies, and which it was the custom, from the apostolic age, to read in their assemblies along with the law and the prophets. (Justin Martyr Apol., 1. 67.) Earnestness and sincerity are traits which will not be denied to the primitive Christians, and they were certainly not wanting in common discernment. Let any man show, if he can, how a spurious gospel, suddenly appearing somewhere after the apostolic days, could have been imposed upon the churches as genuine, not only where it originated, but everywhere else in Christendom. The difficulty with which some of the genuine books of the New Testament gained universal currency sufficiently refutes such an absurd supposition.

7. We are now prepared to consider the testimonies of an {42} earlier period. Here Justin Martyr is a very weighty witness, since he lived so near the apostolic age, and had every facility for investigating the history of the gospel narratives. He was born near the beginning of the second century, and his extant works date from about the middle of the same century. Before his conversion to Christianity he was a heathen philosopher earnestly seeking for the truth among the different systems of the age. Of his undoubtedly genuine works, there remain to us two Apologies (defences of Christianity) and a Dialogue with Trypho a Jew, designed to defend the Christian religion against its Jewish opponents. In these he quotes the gospel of Matthew very abundantly; next in number are his quotations from Luke. His references to Mark and John are much fewer, but enough to show his acquaintance with them. He never quotes the evangelists by name, but designates their writings as "The Memoirs of the Apostles;" and more fully, "The memoirs which I affirm to have been composed by his"—our Lord's—"apostles and their followers," Dialog., ch. 103, "which," he elsewhere says, "are called gospels," Apol. 1. 66, and in a collective sense, "the gospel," Dialog., ch. 10. It should be carefully noticed that he speaks in the plural number both of the apostles who composed the gospels and their followers. This description applies exactly to our canonical gospels—two written by apostles, and two by their followers.

The attempt has been made in modern times to set aside Justin's testimony, on the alleged ground that he quotes not from our canonical gospels, but from some other writings. The groundlessness of this supposition is manifest at first sight. Justin had visited the three principal churches of Rome, Alexandria, and Ephesus. It is certain that he knew what gospels were received by them in his day as authentic, and that these are the very gospels which he quotes, affirming that they were the writings of apostles and their followers. Now, that the gospels which Justin used should have been wholly supplanted by others in the days of Irenæus, who was of full age at the time of Justin's death, is incredible. But Irenæus, in common with Clement, Tertullian, and others, quotes our four canonical gospels as alone possessing apostolic authority, and as having been always received by the churches. It follows that the "Memoirs" of Justin must be the same gospels. We cannot conceive that in this brief period {43} an entire change of gospels should have been made throughout all the different and distant provinces of the Roman empire, at a time when concerted action through general councils was unknown; and that, too, in so silent a manner that no record of it remains in the history of the church. The supposition that the gospels known to Justin were different from those received by Irenæus ought not to be entertained without irrefragable proof. But no such proof exists. "An accurate examination in detail of his citations," says Semisch, Life of Justin Martyr, 4. 1, "has led to the result that this title"—the Memoirs of the Apostles—"designates the canonical gospels—a result in no way less certain because again called in question in modern days."

The agreement of his quotations with our present gospels is of such a character and extent as can be explained only from his use of them. The variations are mainly due to his habit of quoting loosely from memory. "Many of these citations," says Kirchhofer, "agree, word for word, with the gospels; others with the substance, but with alterations and additions of words, with transpositions and omissions; others give the thought only in a general way; others still condense together the contents of several passages and different sayings, in which case the historic quotations are yet more free, and blend together, in part, the accounts of Matthew and Luke. But some quotations are not found at all in our canonical gospels," (see immediately below;) "some, on the contrary, occur twice or thrice." Quellensammlung, p. 89. note. Two or three more important variations are, perhaps, due to the readings in the manuscripts employed by Justin, since the later church fathers, who, as we know, employed the canonical gospels, give the same variations. Finally, Justin gives a few incidents and sayings not recorded in our present gospels. As he lived so near the apostolic times he may well have received these from tradition; but if in any case he took them from written documents, there is no proof that he ascribed to such documents apostolic authority. In one passage, he accurately distinguishes between what he gives from tradition or other written sources, and what from the apostolic records. "When Jesus came," he says, "to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, as he descended to the water, both was a fire kindled in the Jordan, and as he ascended from the water, the apostles of this very Christ of ours have written that the Holy Spirit as a dove lighted upon him." Dial., ch. 88.

It has been doubted whether certain references to the gospel of John can be found in Justin's writings; but it seems plain that the following is a free quotation from chapter 3:3-5: "For Christ said, Except ye be born again, ye shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven. But that it is impossible that they who have once been born should enter into the wombs of those who bare them is manifest to all." Apol. 1. 61. To affirm that a passage so peculiar as this was borrowed by both the evangelist {44} John and Justin from a common tradition, is to substitute a very improbable for a very natural explanation. Besides, Justin uses phraseology peculiar to John, repeatedly calling our Saviour "the Word of God," and "the Word made flesh;" affirming that he "was in a peculiar sense begotten the only Son of God," "an only begotten One to the Father of all things, being in a peculiar sense begotten of him as Word and Power, and afterwards made man through the Virgin;" and calling him "the good Rock that sends forth (literally, causes to bubble forth—compare John 4:14) living waters into the hearts of those who through him have loved the Father of all things, and that gives to all who will the water of life to drink." These and other references to John may be seen in Kirchhofer's Quellensammlung, pp. 146, 147.

8. Another early witness is Papias, who was bishop of Hierapolis, in Phrygia, in the first half of the second century. He wrote "An Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord," in five books. This work has perished; but fragments of it, with notices of its contents, are preserved to us by Eusebius and other writers. As Papias, according to his own express testimony, gathered his materials, if not from apostles themselves, yet from their immediate disciples, his statements are invested with great interest. Of Matthew he says, Eusebius Hist. Eccl., 5. 39, that he "wrote the oracles in the Hebrew dialect, and every one interpreted them as he could." He speaks of this interpretation by each one as he could as something past, implying that in his day our present Greek gospel of Matthew (of the apostolic authority of which there was never any doubt in the early churches) was in circulation, whether it was or was not originally composed in Hebrew, a question on which learned men are not agreed. Of Mark he affirms that, "having become Peter's interpreter, he wrote down accurately as many things as he remembered; not recording in order the things that were said or done by Christ, since he was not a hearer or follower of the Lord, but afterwards"—after our Lord's ascension—"of Peter, who imparted his teachings as occasion required, but not as making an orderly narrative of the Lord's discourses." Hist. Eccl., 3. 39. The fact that Eusebius gives no statement of Papias respecting the other {45} two gospels is of little account, since his notices of the authors to whom he refers, and of their works, are confessedly imperfect.

Eusebius notices, for example, Hist. Eccl. 4. 14, the fact that Polycarp, in his letter to the Philippians, "has used certain testimonies from the First Epistle of Peter;" but says nothing of his many references, in the same letter, to the epistles of Paul, in some of which he quotes the apostle by name. We have, nevertheless, through Eusebius, an indirect but valid testimony from Papias to the authorship of the fourth gospel, resting upon the admitted identity of the author of this gospel with the author of the first of the epistles ascribed to John. Speaking of Papias, Eusebius says: "But the same man used testimonies from the First Epistle of John." Hist. Eccl., 3. 39, end. The ascription to John of this epistle, is virtually the ascription to him of the fourth gospel also. Eusebius speaks of Papias as a man "of very small mind." The correctness of this judgment is manifest from the specimens which he gives of his writings; but it cannot invalidate the evidence we have from the above passages of the existence, in Papias' day, of the gospels to which he refers. As to the question whether these were our present canonical gospels of Matthew and Mark, it is sufficient to say that neither Eusebius nor any of the church fathers understood them differently.

9. A very interesting relic of antiquity is the Epistle to Diognetus, of which the authorship is uncertain. Its date cannot be later than the age of Justin Martyr, to whom it is ascribed by some. It is, notwithstanding some erroneous views, a noble defence of Christianity, in which the author shows his acquaintance with the gospel of John by the use of terms and phrases peculiar to him. Thus he calls Christ "the Word," and "the only begotten Son," whom God sent to men. In the words, "not to take thought about raiment and food," section 9, there is an apparent reference to Matt. 6:25, 31.

In addition to the above testimonies might be adduced some fragments of early Christian writers which have been preserved to us by those of a later day; but for brevity's sake they are omitted.

10. Following up the stream of testimony, we come now to that of the so-called apostolic fathers; that is, of men who were disciples of apostles, and wrote in the age next following them. {46} Holding, as they do, such a near relation to the apostles, and familiar with the oral traditions of the apostolic age, we cannot expect to find in them such frequent and formal references to the books of the New Testament as characterize the works of later writers. They quote, for the most part, anonymously, interweaving with their own words those of the sacred writers.

One of the earliest among the apostolic fathers is Clement of Rome, who died about A.D. 100. Of the numerous writings anciently ascribed to him, his First Epistle to the Corinthians is admitted, upon good evidence, to be genuine. In this we find words which imply a knowledge of the first three gospels. Citing evidently from memory, in a loose way, he says: "For thus he"—the Lord Jesus—"spake, 'Be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that ye may be forgiven; as ye do, so shall it be done to you; as ye give, so shall it be given to you; as ye judge, so shall ye receive judgment; as ye are kind, so shall ye receive kindness; with what measure ye measure, with that it shall be measured to you.'" And again: "For he said, 'Woe unto that man; it were better for him that he had not been born, than that he should offend one of my elect.'"

Ignatius was bishop of the church at Antioch, and suffered martyrdom A.D. 107, or according to some accounts, 116. In his epistles, which are received as genuine, are manifest quotations from the gospel of Matthew, and some apparent though not entirely certain allusions to the gospel of John.

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of the apostle John. He suffered martyrdom about the year 166. Of his writings, only one short epistle, addressed to the Philippians, remains to us; but this abounds in references to the books of the New Testament, especially the epistles of Paul. Of quotations from the gospel of Matthew, the following are examples: "Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." "Blessed are the poor in spirit, and those that suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." For the gospel of John, Polycarp's testimony, though indirect, is decisive. In his letter to the Philippians, he quotes from the First Epistle of John, "For every one who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist." 1 John 4:3. But that the gospel of John and this first epistle both proceeded from the same author, is a conceded fact.

The recently discovered Sinai Codex, the oldest known codex in the world, contains the entire Epistle of Barnabas in the original Greek. In {47} this we find, among other references to the first three gospels, one to the written gospel of Matthew of the most decisive character: "Let us be mindful, therefore, lest perchance we be found as it is written, 'Many are called, but few are chosen.'" Matt. 20:16; 22:14. The form of quotation, "as it is written," is employed by the writers of the New Testament only of citations from Scripture. In these words the writer places the gospel of Matthew in the same rank as the Scriptures of the Old Testament. That he was the Barnabas mentioned in the New Testament as the companion of Paul cannot be maintained; but the composition of the epistle is assigned, with probability, to the beginning of the second century, though some place it as late as its close.

The testimony of other apocryphal writings of early date might be adduced, but for the sake of brevity it is here omitted. It may be seen in the essay of Tischendorf, already referred to.

11. A different class of witnesses will next be considered—the ancient Syriac version, the old Latin version, and the Muratorian fragment on the canon of the New Testament—all of which bear testimony to our canonical gospels.

The ancient Syriac version, commonly called the Peshito—simple, that is, expressing simply the meaning of the original, without allegorical additions and explanations, after the manner of the Jewish Targums—is admitted by all to be of very high antiquity. Learned men are agreed that this version cannot well be referred to a later date than the close of the second century, and some assign it to the middle of the second century, at which time the Syrian churches were in a very flourishing condition, and cannot well be supposed to have been without a version of the Holy Scriptures. The Peshito contains all the books of the New Testament, except the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second and Third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. It testifies to the existence of our four gospels, not only when it was made, but at an earlier date; since we must, in all probability, assume that some considerable time elapsed after the composition, one by one, of the books of the New Testament, before they were collected into a volume, as in this Syriac version.

Respecting the Old Latin version, (in distinction from Jerome's revision, commonly called the Vulgate, which belongs to the fourth century,) various opinions have been maintained. Some have assumed the existence of several independent Latin versions of the New Testament, or of some of its books; but the preferable opinion is that there were various recensions, all having for their foundation a single version, namely, the Old Latin; which, says Westcott, Canon of the New Testament, ch. 3, "can be traced back {48} as far as the earliest records of Latin Christianity. Every circumstance connected with it indicates the most remote antiquity." It was current in north Africa, at least soon after the middle of the second century. Though it has not come down to us in a perfect form, it contains, along with most of the other books of the New Testament, our four canonical gospels; and its testimony is of the greatest weight.

The Muratorian Fragment on the Canon is the name given to a Latin fragment discovered by the Italian scholar, Muratori, in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, in a manuscript bearing the marks of great antiquity. Its date is determined by its reference to the shepherd of Hermas, which, says the Fragment, Hermas "wrote very recently in our times, while the bishop Pius, his brother, occupied the chair of the church at Rome." The later of the two dates given for the death of Pius is A.D. 157. The composition of the Fragment must have followed soon afterwards. Though mutilated at the beginning, as well as the end, its testimony to the existence of the four canonical gospels is decisive. In its present form, it opens with the end of a sentence, the beginning of which is lost. It then goes on to say, "The third gospel according to Luke." After mentioning various particulars concerning Luke, as that he was a physician whom Paul had taken with him, that he did not himself see the Lord in the flesh, etc., it adds, "The fourth of the gospels, that of John, of the number of the disciples," to which it appends a traditional account of the circumstances of its composition. With the truth or falsehood of this account we have at present no concern; the important fact is that this very ancient canon recognizes the existence of our four canonical gospels.

12. The heretical sects of the second century furnish testimony to the genuineness of our canonical gospels which is of the most weighty and decisive character. Though some of them rejected certain books of the New Testament and mutilated others, it was on doctrinal, not on critical grounds. Had they attempted to disprove on historic grounds the genuineness of the rejected portions of Scripture, it is certain that the church fathers, who wrote against them at such length, would have noticed their arguments. The fact that they did not, is conclusive proof that no such attempt was made; but from the position which the leaders of these heretical sects occupied, it is certain that, could the genuineness of the canonical gospels, or any one of them, have been denied on historic grounds, the denial would have been made.


Marcion, one of the most distinguished leaders of those who separated themselves from the orthodox church, came to Rome in the second quarter of the second century. He separated Christianity from all connection with Judaism, making the Jehovah of the Old Testament a different being from the God of the New Testament. His gospel, called by the ancients the gospel of Marcion, is admitted to have been a mutilated copy of Luke's gospel. Of course it became necessary that he should reject the first two chapters of this gospel, (which alone he received,) since they contain our Lord's genealogy in the line of Abraham and David, and should otherwise alter it to suit his views. On the same grounds, he altered the epistles of Paul also. That Marcion was not ignorant of the other three gospels, but rejected them, is plain from the words of Tertullian, who accuses him, Against Marcion, 4. 3, of attempting "to destroy the credit of those gospels which are properly such, and are published under the name of apostles, or also of apostolic men; that he may invest his own gospel with the confidence which he withdraws from them." His real ground for rejecting some books of the New Testament and mutilating others was that he could judge better of the truth than the writers themselves, whom he represented to have been misled by the influences of Jewish prejudices. Accordingly Irenæus well says of the liberties taken by Marcion, Against Heresies, 1. 27: "He persuaded his disciples that he was himself more trustworthy than the apostles who have delivered to us the gospel; while he gave to them not the gospel, but a fragment of the gospel."

A distinguished leader of the Gnostics was Valentinus, who came to Rome about A.D. 140, and continued there till the time of Anicetus. His testimony and that of his followers is, if possible, more weighty than even that of Marcion. His method, according to the testimony of Tertullian, was not to reject and mutilate the Scriptures, but to pervert their meaning by false interpretations. Tertullian says, Against Heretics, ch. 38: "For though Valentinus seems to use the entire instrument, he has done violence to the truth with a more artful mind than Marcion." "The entire instrument"—Latin, integro instrumento—includes our four canonical gospels. Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus have preserved quotations from Valentinus in which he refers to the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. See Westcott, Canon of the New Testament, 4. 5. Respecting the gospel of John in particular, Irenæus says, Against Heresies, 3. 11, that "the Valentinians make the most abundant use of it." Heracleon, whom Origen represents as having been a familiar friend of Valentinus, wrote a commentary on John, from which Origen frequently quotes; but if Valentinus and his followers, in the second quarter of the second century, used "the entire instrument," they must have found its apostolic authority established upon a firm foundation before their day. This carries us back to the age immediately succeeding that of the apostles, when Polycarp and others {50} who had known them personally were yet living. The testimony of the Valentinians, then, is of the most decisive character.

Another prominent man among the heretical writers was Tatian, a contemporary and pupil of Justin Martyr, who, according to the testimony of Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Theodoret, composed a Diatessaron, that is, a four-fold gospel; which can be understood only as a harmony of the four gospels which, as has been shown, were used by Justin; or of such parts of these gospels as suited his purpose; for Tatian, like Marcion, omitted all that relates to our Lord's human descent. With this Diatessaron, Theodoret was well acquainted; for he found among his churches more than two hundred copies, which he caused to be removed, and their places supplied by the four canonical gospels.

As to other gospels of the second century, which are occasionally mentioned by later writers, as "The Gospel of Truth," "The Gospel of Basilides," etc., there is no evidence that they professed to be connected histories of our Lord's life and teachings. They were rather, as Norton has shown, Genuineness of the Gospels, vol. 3, chap. 4, doctrinal works embodying the views of the sectaries that used them.

13. We have seen how full and satisfactory is the external evidence for our four canonical gospels. Considering how scanty are the remains of Christian writings that have come down to us from the first half of the same century, we have all the external evidence for that period also that could be reasonably demanded, and it is met by no rebutting testimony that rests on historic grounds. The authorship of no ancient classical work is sustained by a mass of evidence so great and varied, and the candid mind can rest in it with entire satisfaction.

III. Internal Evidences. 14. Here we may begin with considering the relation of the first three gospels to the last, in respect to both time of composition and character.

And first, with respect to time. The first three gospels—frequently called the synoptical gospels, or the synoptics, because from the general similarity of their plan and materials their contents are capable of being summed up in a synopsis—record our Lord's prophecy of the overthrow of Jerusalem. The three records of this prediction wear throughout the costume of a true prophecy, not of a prophecy written after the event. They are occupied, almost exclusively, with the various signs by {51} which the approach of that great catastrophe might be known, and with admonitions to the disciples to hold themselves in readiness for it. Matthew, for example, devotes fifty verses to the account of the prophecy and the admonitions connected with it. Of these, only four, chap. 24:19-22, describe the calamities of the scene, and that in the most general terms. Now, upon the supposition that the evangelist wrote before the event, all this is natural. Our Lord's design in uttering the prophecy was not to gratify the idle curiosity of the disciples, but to warn them beforehand in such a way that they might escape the horrors of the impending catastrophe. He dwelt, therefore, mainly on the signs of its approach; and with these, as having a chief interest for the readers, the record of the prediction is mostly occupied. It is impossible, on the other hand, to conceive that one who wrote years after the destruction of the city and temple should not have dwelt in more detail on the bloody scenes connected with their overthrow, and have given in other ways also a historic coloring to his account. We may safely say that to write a prophecy after the event in such a form as that which we have in either of the first three gospels, transcends the power of any uninspired man; and as to inspired narratives, the objectors with whom we are now dealing deny them altogether.

But there are, in the record of this prophecy, some special indications of the time when the evangelists wrote. According to Matthew, the disciples asked, ver. 3: "When shall these things"—the destruction of the buildings of the temple—"be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?" These questions our Lord proceeded to answer in such a way that the impression on the minds of the hearers (to be rectified only by the course of future events) must have been that the overthrow of the temple and city would be connected with his second coming and the end of the world. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days," says Matthew, "shall the sun be darkened," etc. The probable explanation of this peculiar form of the prophecy is that it does actually include {52} all three events; the fulfilment which it had in the destruction of the city and temple by the Romans being only an earnest of a higher fulfilment hereafter. But however this may be, it is important to notice that the evangelists, in their record of the prophecy, are evidently unconscious of any discrepancy, real or apparent, that needs explanation; which could not have been the case had they written years after the event predicted. "It may be safely held," says Professor Fisher, Supernatural Origin of Christianity, p. 172, "that had the evangelist been writing at a later time, some explanation would have been thrown in to remove the seeming discrepancy between prophecy and fulfilment."

It should be further noticed that the evangelists Matthew and Mark, in reference to "the abomination of desolation" standing in the holy place, throw in the admonitory words, "Let him that readeth understand." These are not the Saviour's words, but those of the narrators calling the attention of believers to a most important sign requiring their immediate flight to the mountains. Before the overthrow of the city these words had a weighty office; after its overthrow they would have been utterly superfluous. Their presence in such a connection is proof that the record was written before the event to which it refers.

Admitting the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Acts, (which will be considered hereafter,) we have a special proof of the early composition of the gospel according to Luke. The book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul's two years residence at Rome, which brings us down to A.D. 65, five years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The only natural explanation of this fact is that here the composition of the book of Acts was brought to a close. The date of the gospel which preceded, Acts 1:1, must therefore be placed still earlier.

If, now, we examine the gospel of John, we find its internal character agreeing with the ancient tradition that it was written at Ephesus late in the apostle's life. That it was composed {53} at a distance from Judea, in a Gentile region, is manifest from his careful explanation of Jewish terms and usages, which among his countrymen would have needed no explanation. No man writing in Judea, or among the Galileans who habitually attended the national feasts at Jerusalem, would have said, "And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh," 6:4; "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand," 7:2, etc. The absence of all reference to the overthrow of the Jewish polity, civil and ecclesiastical, may be naturally explained upon the supposition that the apostle wrote some years after that event, when his mind had now become familiar with the great truth that the Mosaic institutions had forever passed away to make room for the universal dispensation of Christianity; and that he wrote, too, among Gentiles for whom the abolition of these institutions had no special interest. In general style and spirit, moreover, the gospel of John is closely allied to his first epistle, and cannot well be separated from it by a great interval of time; but the epistle undoubtedly belongs to a later period of the apostle's life.

From the language of John, chap. 5:2, "Now there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue, Bethesda, having five porches,"—it has been argued that, when John wrote, the city must have been still standing. But Eusebius speaks of the pool as remaining in his day, and why may not the porches, as useful to the Roman conquerors, have been preserved, at least for a season?

We have seen the relation of John's gospel to the other three in respect to time. It must have been written several years later than the last of them; perhaps not less than fifteen years. If, now, we look to its relation in regard to character, we must say that it differs from them as widely as it well could while presenting to our view the same divine and loving Saviour. Its general plan is different. For reasons not known to us, the synoptical gospels are mainly occupied with our Lord's ministry in Galilee. They record only his last journey to Jerusalem, and the momentous incidents connected with it. John, on the contrary, notices his visits to Jerusalem year by year. {54} Hence his materials are, to a great extent, different from theirs; and even where he records the same events—as, for example, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and the last supper—he connects with them long discourses, which the other evangelists have omitted. Particularly noticeable are our Lord's oft-repeated discussions with the unbelieving Jews respecting his Messiahship, and his confidential intercourse with his disciples, in both of which we have such treasures of divine truth and love. How strikingly this gospel differs from the others in its general style and manner every reader feels at once. It bears throughout the impress of John's individuality, and by this it is immediately connected with the epistles that bear his name. It should be added that in respect to the time when our Lord ate the passover with his disciples there is an apparent disagreement with the other three gospels, which the harmonists have explained in various ways.

The essential point of the above comparison is this: Notwithstanding the striking difference between the later fourth gospel and the earlier three, it was at once received by all the churches as of apostolic authority. Now upon the supposition of its genuineness, both its peculiar character and its undisputed reception everywhere are easily explained. John, the bosom disciple of our Lord, wrote with the full consciousness of his apostolic authority and his competency as a witness of what he had himself seen and heard. He therefore gave his testimony in his own independent and original way. How far he may have been influenced in his selection of materials by a purpose to supply what was wanting in the earlier gospels, according to an old tradition, it is not necessary here to inquire; it is sufficient to say that, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, he marked out that particular plan which we have in his gospel, and carried it out in his own peculiar manner, thus opening to the churches new mines, so to speak, of the inexhaustible fulness of truth and love contained in him in whom "dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily." And when this original gospel, so different in its general plan and {55} style from those that preceded, made its appearance, the apostolic authority of its author secured its immediate and universal reception by the churches. All this is very plain and intelligible.

But upon the supposition that the gospel of John is a spurious production of the age succeeding that of the apostles, let any one explain, if he can, how it could have obtained universal and unquestioned apostolic authority. Its very difference from the earlier gospels must have provoked inquiry and examination, and these must have led to its rejection, especially at a time when some who had known the apostle yet survived; and no one now pretends to assign to it a later period.

15. We will next consider the relation of the first three gospels to each other. Here we have remarkable agreements with remarkable differences. The general plan of all three is the same. It is manifest also, at first sight, that there lies at the foundation of each a basis of common matter—common not in substance alone, but to a great extent in form also. Equally manifest is it that the three evangelists write independently of each other. Matthew, for example, did not draw his materials from Luke; for there is his genealogy of our Lord, and his full account of the sermon on the mount, not to mention other particulars. Nor did Luke take his materials from Matthew; for there is his genealogy also, with large sections of matter peculiar to himself. Mark has but little matter that is absolutely new; but where he and the other two evangelists record the same events, if one compares his narratives with theirs, he finds numerous little incidents peculiar to this gospel woven into them in a very vivid and graphic manner. They come in also in the most natural and artless way, as might be expected from one who, if not himself an eye-witness, received his information immediately from eye-witnesses. The three writers, moreover, do not always agree as to the order in which they record events; yet, notwithstanding the diversities which they exhibit, they were all received from the first as of equal authority.


The natural explanation of this is that all three wrote in the apostolic age, and consequently had access, each of them independently of the other two, to the most authentic sources of information. These sources (so far as the evangelists were not themselves eye-witnesses) lay partly, perhaps, in written documents like those referred to by Luke, 1:1, partly in the unwritten traditions current in the apostolic churches, and partly in personal inquiry from eye-witnesses, especially, in the case of Mark and Luke, from apostles themselves. From these materials each selected as suited his purposes, and the churches everywhere unhesitatingly received each of the three gospels, notwithstanding the above-named variations between them, because they had undoubted evidence of their apostolic authority. We cannot suppose that after the apostolic age three gospels, bearing to each other the relation which these do, could have been imposed upon the churches as all of them equally authentic. We know from the history of Marcion's gospel how fully alive they were to the character of their sacred records. On apostolic authority they could receive—to mention a single example—both Matthew's and Luke's account of our Lord's genealogy; but it is certain that they would not have received the two on the authority of men who lived after the apostolic age.

16. In the gospel narratives are numerous incidental allusions to passing events without the proper sphere of our Lord's labors, to social customs, and to the present posture of public affairs, civil and ecclesiastical. In all these the severest scrutiny has been able to detect no trace of a later age. This is a weighty testimony to the apostolic origin of the gospels. Had their authors lived in a later age, the fact must have manifested itself in some of these references. The most artless writer can allude in a natural and truthful way to present events, usages, and circumstances; but it transcends the power of the most skilful author to multiply incidental and minute references to a past age without betraying the fact that he does not belong to it.


17. Every age has, also, its peculiar impress of thought and reasoning in religious, not less than in secular matters. Although the gospel itself remains always the same, and those who sincerely embrace it have also substantially the same character from age to age, there is, nevertheless, continual progress and change in men's apprehension of the gospel and its institutions, and consequently in their manner of reasoning concerning them. No man, for example, could write a treatise on Christianity at the present day without making it manifest that he did not belong to the first quarter of the present century. The primitive age of Christianity is no exception to this universal law. Under the auspices of the apostles it began to move forward, and it continued to move after their decease. The pastoral epistles of Paul bear internal marks of having been written in the later period of his life, because they are adapted to the state of the Christian church and its institutions that belonged to that, and not to an earlier period. If, now, we examine the writings of the so-called apostolic fathers—disciples of the apostles, who wrote after their death—we find in them circles of thought and reasoning not belonging to the canonical writings of the New Testament, least of all to the canonical gospels, though they are evidently derived from hints contained in these writings, whether rightly or wrongly apprehended. In this respect, the works of the apostolic fathers are distinguished in a very marked way from those which bear the names of the apostles themselves or their associates.

18. Another decisive argument lies in the character of the Greek employed by the evangelists, in common with the other writers of the New Testament. It is the Greek language employed by Jews, (or, in the case of Luke, if his Jewish origin be doubted—see Col. 4:11, 16—by one who had received a Jewish training under the influence of the Greek version of the Old Testament,) and therefore pervaded and colored by Hebrew idioms. This peculiar form of the Greek language belongs to the apostolic age, when the teachers and writers of the church {58} were Jews. After the overthrow of Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jewish nation, and the death of the apostles and their associates, it rapidly disappeared. Thenceforward the writers of the church were of Gentile origin and training, in accordance with the Saviour's memorable words: "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."

These internal proofs, coinciding as they do with a mass of external evidences so great and varied, place the genuineness of the four canonical gospels on a foundation that cannot be shaken.




1. It is necessary, first of all, to define what is meant in the present connection by the uncorrupt preservation of the gospel narratives. When a man, whose business it is to examine and compare manuscripts or editions of a work, speaks of a given text as corrupt, he means one thing; in a question concerning the truth of the Christian system as given in the writings of the New Testament, a corrupt text means something very different. The collator of manuscripts understands by a corrupt text one that has been marred by the carelessness or bad judgment of transcribers, whence have arisen so many "various readings," though these do not change, or essentially obscure the facts and doctrines of Christianity, as has been most conclusively shown by the results of modern textual criticism; but in an inquiry whether we have in our canonical gospels the account of our Lord's life and teachings as it was originally written by the evangelists in all essential particulars, we have to do with the question, not of various readings, such as are incident to all manuscripts, but of essential additions, alterations, or mutilations—like those, for example, which Marcion attempted—by which the facts and doctrines themselves are changed or obscured. It is against the charge of such essential corruptions that we maintain the integrity of the text in the gospels, as in the other books of the New Testament.

2. The most important materials for writing in ancient times were the paper made of the Egyptian papyrus plant—whence the word paper—and parchment, prepared from the skins of animals, the finer kinds of which are called vellum. {60} Both are of high antiquity. The use of the above-mentioned paper was very common in the apostolic age; and from an incidental notice in the New Testament, (2 John 12 compared with 3 John 13,) it appears to have been the material employed by the apostles themselves. But the use of parchment became more common in the following centuries, while that of papyrus-paper gradually ceased. To this circumstance we owe, in a great measure, the preservation of our oldest manuscripts; for the papyrus-paper was of a very perishable nature, and the manuscripts written upon it that have come down to us from high antiquity have been kept in specially favorable circumstances, as, for example, in the ancient Egyptian tombs. With the disuse of papyrus-paper ceased also the ancient form of the roll. All manuscripts written on parchment are in the form of books with leaves. From about the eleventh century, paper made from cotton or linen came into common use.

The costliness of writing materials gave rise to a peculiar usage. From the leaves of an ancient work the original writing was erased, more or less perfectly. They were then employed as the material for another work, the latter being written over the former. Such manuscripts are called palimpsestswritten again after erasure. The original writing, which is very often the sacred text, can in general be deciphered, especially by the aid of certain chemical applications. Some of our most precious manuscripts are of this character.

The existing manuscripts of the New Testament are of two kinds. First, the uncial, that is, those written in capital letters. Here belong all the most ancient and valuable. The writing is generally in columns, from two to four to a page; sometimes in a single column. There is no division of the text into words; the marks of interpunction are few and simple; and till the seventh century there were no accents, and breathings only in special cases. Secondly, the cursive, or those written in running-hand, with division of the text into words, capitals only for initial letters, accents, breathings, etc., and often with many contractions. This is the common form of manuscripts after {61} the tenth century, the uncial being retained for some ages afterwards only in books designed for use in the church service. In both the uncial and the cursive manuscripts, each century has its peculiar style of writing. From this, as well as from the quality of the materials, expert judges can determine the age of a given manuscript with a good degree of accuracy.

The details pertaining to the form of ancient manuscripts, their number, character, etc., belong to the department of textual criticism. The above brief notices are given to prepare the way for a statement of the evidence that we have the gospel narratives, as also the other books of the New Testament, without corruption in the form in which they were originally written. See the PLATES at the beginning of this book.

3. Of the autograph manuscripts proceeding immediately from the inspired authors we find no trace after the apostolic age. Here, as elsewhere, the wisdom of God has carefully guarded the church against a superstitious veneration for the merely outward instruments of redemption. We do not need the wood of the true cross that we may have redemption through the blood of Christ; nor do we need the identical manuscripts that proceeded from the apostles and their companions, since we have the contents of these manuscripts handed down to us without corruption in any essential particular. This appears from various considerations.

First. Several hundred manuscripts of the gospels, or of portions of them, (to confine our attention at present to these,) have been examined, two of them belonging to the fourth century and two, with some fragments, to the fifth. All these, though written in different centuries and coming from widely different regions, contain essentially the same text. In them, not one of the great facts or doctrines of the gospel history is mutilated or obscured.

Secondly. The quotations of the church fathers from the last part of the second to the end of the fourth century are so copious, that from them almost the entire text of our present gospels could be reconstructed. These quotations agree substantially {62} with each other and with the text of our existing manuscripts; only that the earlier fathers, as already noticed, chap. 2. 3, often quote loosely from memory, blend together different narratives, and interweave with the words of Scripture their own explanatory remarks.

Thirdly. We have two versions of the New Testament—the Old Latin or Italic, and the Syriac called Peshito—which learned men are agreed in placing somewhere in the last half of the second century. The testimony of these witnesses to the uncorrupt preservation of the sacred text, from the time when they first appeared to the present, is decisive; for they also agree essentially with the Greek text of the gospel as we now possess it. Nor is this all. Davidson affirms of the Old Latin version, that "the more ancient the Greek manuscripts, the closer is their agreement with it." And Tischendorf says of the oldest known manuscript of the Bible—the Greek Sinai Codex, brought by him from the convent of St. Catharine, Mount Sinai, in 1859—that its agreement, in the New Testament portion, with the Old Latin version, is remarkable. Through the joint testimony, then, on the one hand, of the most ancient Greek manuscripts, especially the Sinai Codex, which is the oldest of them all; and on the other, of the Old Latin version which belongs to the last half of the second century, we are carried back to a very ancient and pure form of the Greek text prevalent before the execution of this version, that is, about the middle of the second century. Tischendorf adds arguments to show that the Syriac Peshito version, the text of which has not come down to us in so pure a state, had for its basis substantially the same form of text as the Old Latin and the Sinai Codex.

The substantial identity of the sacred text, as we now have it, with that which has existed since about the middle of the second century, is thus shown to be a matter not of probable conjecture, but of certain knowledge. Here, then, we have a sure criterion by which to measure and interpret the complaints which textual critics, ancient or modern, have made, sometimes in very strong language, concerning the corruptions that have found {63} their way into the text of the New Testament. These writers have reference to what are called "various readings," not to mutilations and alterations, such as those charged by the ancients upon Marcion, by which he sought to change the facts and doctrines of the gospel. That this must be their meaning we know; for there are the manuscripts by hundreds as witnesses, all of which, the most corrupt as textual critics would call them, as well as the purest, give in the gospel narratives the same facts and doctrines without essential variation.

Let not the inexperienced inquirer be misled into any wrong conclusion by the number of "various readings," amounting to many thousands, which textual criticism has brought to light. The greater the number of manuscripts collated, the greater will be the number of these readings; while, at the same time, we are continually making a nearer approach to the purity of the primitive text. As a general rule these variations relate to trifling particulars; as, for example, whether the conjunction and shall be inserted or omitted; whether but or for is the true reading; whether this or that order of words giving the same sense shall have the preference, etc. A few of the variations are of a more important character. Thus, in John 1:18, some manuscripts and fathers instead of only begotten Son, read only begotten God. But even here we may decide either way without changing or obscuring the great truths of the gospel narratives; for these are not dependent on particular words or phrases, but pervade and vivify the New Testament, as the vital blood does the body. The same may be said of certain passages which, on purely critical grounds—that is, the authority of ancient manuscripts—some have thought doubtful; as, for example, John 5:4, and the narrative recorded in the beginning of the eighth chapter of the same gospel. The insertion or omission of the passages concerning which any reasonable doubts can be entertained on critical grounds, will not affect in the least the great truths of the gospel narratives.

4. But it may be asked, Was the text from which the Old Latin version was made, and with which, as we have seen, the oldest manuscripts have a close agreement, substantially the same as that which proceeded from the inspired authors? Here we must discard all groundless suppositions, and adhere strictly to the known facts in the premises.

The first fact to be noticed is the public reading of the gospels in the Christian churches, a custom which prevailed from the earliest times. Justin Martyr, writing before the middle of the second century, says of the memoirs written by the apostles or their followers and called gospels (which have been {64} shown to be our canonical gospels, chap. 2:7) that either these or the writings of the Jewish prophets were read in the Christian churches on the first day of every week. This is a fact of the highest importance; for it shows that the witnesses and guardians of the sacred text were not a few individuals, but the great body of believers, and that no systematic corruption of their contents could have taken place without their knowledge and consent, which would never have been given.

Intimately connected with the above is a second fact, that of the great multiplication of copies of the books of the New Testament, especially of the gospel narratives, since these contain the great facts that lie at the foundation of the Christian system. Every church would, as a matter of course, be anxious to possess a copy, and Christians who possessed the requisite means would furnish themselves with additional copies for their own private use. If, now, we suppose one or more of these copies to have been essentially changed, the corruption would not, as in the case of a printed work, extend to many hundreds of copies. It would be confined to the manuscript or manuscripts into which it had been introduced and the copies made therefrom, while the numerous uncorrupt copies would remain as witnesses of the fraud; for the supposition of a very early corruption during the apostolic age, before copies of the gospels had been to any considerable extent multiplied, is utterly absurd.

A third fact is the high value attached by the primitive churches to the gospel narratives, and their consequent zeal for their uncorrupt preservation. No one will deny to them the qualities of earnestness and sincerity. To them the gospels were the record of their redemption through the blood of Christ. For the truths contained in them they steadfastly endured persecution in every form, and death itself. Could we even suppose, contrary to evidence, that private transcribers altered at pleasure their copies of the gospels, it is certain that the churches would never have allowed their public copies to be tampered with. The resistance which Marcion met with in {65} his attempt to alter the sacred text, shows how watchful was their jealousy for its uncorrupt preservation.

A still further fact is the want of time for essential corruptions, like those now under consideration. That such corruptions could have taken place during the apostolic age, no one will maintain. Equally certain is it that they could not have happened during the age next succeeding, while many presbyters and private Christians yet survived who had listened to the apostles, and knew the history of the gospels written by them or their companions. But this brings us down into the first part of the second century.

Leaving out of view the apostle John, who probably died near the close of the first century, and assuming the martyrdom of Peter and Paul to have taken place somewhere between A.D. 64 and 67, we may place the beginning of the age now under consideration at A.D. 65. Of the numerous Christians who were then thirty years or less of age many must have survived till A.D. 110, and even later. Polycarp, a disciple of John, suffered martyrdom A.D. 167, and doubtless many others of his hearers survived till the middle of the second century. The time, then, during which such a corruption as that now under consideration can be supposed to have taken place is so narrowed down that it amounts to well-nigh nothing; and it is, moreover, the very time during which Justin Martyr wrote his Apologies, and Marcion made his unsuccessful attempt to mutilate the gospel history.

Finally, no evidence exists that the text of the gospel narratives has been essentially corrupted. Of Marcion's abortive attempt we have abundant notices in the writings of the early fathers. Their silence in respect to other like attempts is conclusive proof that they were never made. Had we the autographs of the evangelists, we should, with reason, attach to them a high value; but there is no ground for supposing that their text would differ in any essential particular from that which we now possess. They would present to our view the same Saviour and the same gospel.

5. What has been said respecting the uncorrupt preservation of the gospel narratives applies essentially to the other books of the New Testament; so that in the consideration of them the above arguments will not need to be repeated.




1. The genuineness and uncorrupt preservation of our four canonical gospels having been established, the presumption in favor of their authenticity and credibility is exceedingly strong. In truth, few can be found who, admitting their apostolic origin in essentially their present form, will venture to deny that they contain an authentic and reliable record of facts. We may dismiss at once the modern theory which converts the gospels into myths—pure ideas embodied in allegorical narratives which have no historic foundation. Myths do not turn the world upside down, as did the preaching of Christ and his apostles. Myths do not inspire the souls of men and women by thousands and tens of thousands with heroic zeal and courage, enabling them steadfastly to endure persecution and death for the truth's sake. It was love towards a crucified and risen Saviour in deed and in truth, not towards the mythical idea of such a Saviour, that made the primitive Christians victorious alike over inward sinful affection and outward persecution. To every one who reads the gospel narratives in the exercise of his sober judgment, it is manifest that they are intended to be plain unvarnished statements of facts. The question is, Are these statements reliable? Here new arguments can hardly be expected; the old are abundantly sufficient. Reserving for another place those general arguments which apply to the gospel system as a whole, let us here briefly consider the character of the authors and their records; of the events which they record with the surrounding circumstances; and especially of Jesus, their great theme.


2. It is natural to ask, in the first place, Were these men sincere and truthful? Here we need not long delay. Their sincerity, with that of their contemporaries who received their narratives as true, shines forth like the sun in the firmament. With reference to them, the Saviour's argument applies in all its force: "How can Satan cast out Satan?" "If Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end." The life-long work of the evangelists and their associates was to cast out of the world all fraud and falsehood. If now they attempted to do this by the perpetration of a most astounding fraud, we have the case of Satan casting out Satan. But we need not argue the matter at length. By what they did and suffered in behalf of their doctrines, as well as by the artless simplicity of their narratives, they give full proof of their sincerity and truthfulness.

3. We next inquire: Were they competent as men? that is, were they men of sober judgment, able correctly to see and record the facts that came under their observation, and not visionary enthusiasts who mistook dreams for realities? This question admits of a short and satisfactory answer. No proof whatever exists that they were visionary men, but abundant proof to the contrary. Their narratives are calm, unimpassioned, and straightforward, without expatiation on the greatness of Christ's character and works and the wickedness of his enemies, as is the way of all excited enthusiasts. What Paul said to Festus applies in its full force to them and their writings: "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." If any one will condemn them as visionary, it must be on the sole ground that all belief in the supernatural is visionary—a position that will be noticed hereafter.

4. A further inquiry is, Were these men competent as witnesses? that is, had they the requisite means of knowing the facts which they record? With regard to the apostles Matthew and John, this matter need not be argued. With regard to the other two, Luke states very fairly the position which they occupied: {68} "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things," ("having accurately traced out all things," as the original signifies,) "from the very beginning, to write to thee, in order," etc. Luke had in abundance the means of accurately tracing out all things relating to our Lord's life and works, for he was the companion of apostles and others who "from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word;" and from them, according to his own statement, he drew his information. The same is true of Mark also.

5. We come now to consider the character of the works which they record, and the circumstances in which they were performed. Here it may be remarked in the outset that it is not necessary to examine in detail all the miracles recorded in the gospel history. Though they all proceeded alike from the direct agency of God, they are not all alike open to human inspection. If upon examination we find the supernatural origin of many of them raised above all possibility of doubt, it is a legitimate inference that the rest of them had the same divine origin. Not to insist then upon the miracles ascribed to our Lord within the sphere of inanimate nature, such as the conversion of water into wine, the feeding of many thousands with a few loaves and fishes, and walking upon the sea, all of which were done in such circumstances that there is no room for questioning their reality, let us examine some that were performed upon the persons of men. Palsy, dropsy, withered limbs, blindness, the want of hearing and speech, leprosy, confirmed lunacy—all these were as well known in their outward symptoms eighteen hundred years ago as they are to-day. Persons could not be afflicted with such maladies in a corner. The neighbors must have known then, as they do now, the particulars of such cases, and have been unexceptionable witnesses to their reality. Persons may feign blindness and other infirmities among strangers, but no man can pass himself off as palsied, deaf and dumb, blind, (especially blind from birth,) halt, withered, in his own community. The reality of the maladies then is beyond all question; and so is also the reality of their {69} instantaneous removal by the immediate power of the Saviour. Here we must not fail to take into account the immense number of our Lord's miracles, their diversified character, and the fact that they were performed everywhere, as well without as with previous notice, and in the most open and public manner. Modern pretenders to miraculous power have a select circle of marvellous feats, the exhibition of which is restricted to particular places. No one of them would venture to undertake the cure of a man born blind, or that had a withered limb, or that had been a paralytic for thirty-eight years. But Jesus of Nazareth went about the cities and villages of Judea for the space of three years, healing all manner of disease. With him there was no distinction of easy and difficult, since to Divine power nothing is hard. With the same word he rebuked a raging fever, cleansed from leprosy, gave strength to the paralytic, healed the withered limb, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the dumb, and raised the dead to life. The same voice that said to the man at Bethesda, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk," said also to Lazarus, who had lain four days in the grave, "Come forth."

6. It is with reason that we lay special stress upon the fact that Christ performed many of his greatest miracles in the presence of his enemies, who had both the means and the will to institute a searching investigation concerning them, and who would have denied their reality had it been in their power to do so. Sad indeed is the record of the perverse opposition and calumny which our Lord encountered on the part of the Jewish rulers. But even this has a bright side. It shows us that the Saviour's miracles could endure the severest scrutiny—that after every means which power and wealth and patronage and official influence could command had been used for their disparagement, their divine origin still shone forth like the unclouded sun at noon-day. If any one doubts this, let him read attentively the ninth chapter of John's gospel, which records the investigation instituted by the Jewish rulers respecting the miracle of healing a man blind from his birth. In no {70} modern court of justice was a question of fact ever subjected to a severer scrutiny. And the result was that they could not deny the miracle, but said in their blind hatred of the Redeemer, "Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner." So when they could not deny that Jesus cast out devils, they alleged that he did it by the help of Satan; when it was manifest that he had by a word healed a man that had lain thirty-and-eight years a helpless paralytic, they blamed him for working on the Sabbath-day; when Lazarus had been called out of his grave in the presence of all the people, they said, "What do we? for this man doeth many miracles." And then they consulted not to disprove these miracles, but to put both him and Lazarus to death. Thus, in the good providence of God, we have for the reality of our Lord's miracles the testimony of his enemies and persecutors.

7. The resurrection of Jesus is the miracle of miracles, of which we may say with truth that it comprehends in itself all the other mighty works recorded in the gospel history. We cannot but notice the condescending care with which our Lord himself certified to his disciples its reality. When he had suddenly appeared in the midst of them, "they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." To convince them of the reality of his bodily presence, he said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet," that they might see in them the prints of the nails. Finding them still incredulous, "believing not for joy and wondering," he added another conclusive proof that he was not a spirit, but a true man: he asked for meat; "and they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb; and he took it, and did eat before them." Luke 24:36-43. To the unbelieving Thomas he offered the further proof which he had demanded: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing." The certainty of this great event {71} the evangelist Luke sets forth in his introduction to the Acts of the Apostles: "To whom also," (to the apostles,) "he showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." The apostle Peter, in his address to Cornelius and his friends, says: "Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." Acts 10:40, 41. The apostle Paul, in his enumeration of our Lord's appearances to his disciples after his resurrection, 1 Cor. 5-8, mentions that on one occasion "he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom," he says, "the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."

It was not the greatness of the miracle, considered simply by itself, but its relation to the gospel, that made our Lord's resurrection from the dead the central fact of the apostles' testimony. It was, so to speak, the hinge on which the whole work of redemption turned. Our Lord's expiatory death for the sins of the world and his resurrection from the dead were both alike parts of one indivisible whole. It was not his claim to be the promised Messiah alone that was involved in the fact of his resurrection. His completion, as the Messiah, of the work of man's redemption was also dependent on that great event. "If Christ be not risen," says the apostle, "then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain;" and again, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." 1 Cor. 15:14, 17. We need not wonder then that the apostles, in their testimony to the people, insisted so earnestly on this one great fact in our Lord's history; for by it God sealed him as the Prince of life.

8. The character of Jesus of Nazareth, as drawn by the four evangelists, is the highest possible proof of the authenticity and credibility of the gospel narratives. Of this it has been justly said, "The character is possible to be conceived, because it was actualized in a living example." (Nature and the Supernatural, {72} p. 324.) The inapproachable excellence of Christ's character places it high above all human praise. The reverent mind shrinks instinctively from the idea of attempting to eulogize it, as from something profane and presumptuous. We do not eulogize the sun shining in his strength, but we put a screen over our eyes when we would look at him, lest we should be blinded by the brightness of his beams. So must every man look at Jesus of Nazareth with reverence and awe, who has any true sense of what is great and excellent. What is now to be said of this character is not eulogy. It is part of an argument for the reality of the events recorded in the gospel history. Here it is important to notice not only the character itself, but the manner of the portraiture, and its power over the human heart.

The character of Jesus is perfectly original. Nothing like it was ever conceived of by the loftiest minds of antiquity. Nothing like it has appeared since his day, in actual life, or even in the conceptions of the most gifted writers. As there is one sun in the firmament, so there is one Jesus Christ in the history of the world. His character has a human and a divine element; and these two interpenetrate each other, so as to constitute together one indivisible and glorious whole. Jesus could not be, even in idea, what he is as man, unless he were God also. And what he is as God, he is as God made flesh, and dwelling as man among men. It is the God-man which the gospel narratives present to us. If we consider the qualities which belong to our Saviour as man, we notice the union in full measure and just proportion of all those qualities which belong to perfect humanity. In the case of mere men, the abundant possession of one quality implies almost of necessity deficiency elsewhere, and consequently one-sidedness of character. Not so in the case of Jesus. He has all the attributes of a perfect man in perfect fulness and in perfect harmony with each other. Let us reverently look at some particulars.

His character unites the deepest tranquillity with the deepest {73} fervor of spirit. Our Lord's tranquillity shines forth through the whole course of his ministry, and manifests itself alike in great things and small. It is evident to all who read the narratives of the evangelists that he performed his mighty works as one conscious that divine power belonged to him of right, and that the exercise of it, even in its highest forms, was nothing new nor strange. In connection with his greatest miracles he calmly gave directions, as if they had been ordinary occurrences. When he had fed many thousands with a few loaves and fishes, he said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." When he had raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus, "he commanded that something should be given her to eat." When he had called out of the grave one who had lain there four days, he directed, "Loose him and let him go." Even in Gethsemane, when oppressed with agony too great for human endurance, his self-possession remained as perfect as his submission to his Father's will. That his serenity never left him for a moment during the process of his arrest, trial, sentence, and lingering death on the cross, is a truth which shines forth from the sacred narrative as his own raiment did on the mount of transfiguration, "white and glistering." Any attempt to describe it would be but mockery. And yet this deep composure of spirit is not that of indifference or of a cold temperament. It is the composure of one in whose bosom burns a steady and intense flame of zeal for the glory of God and good will towards men, by which he is borne forward with untiring energy in the work committed to him from above. It is the composure of a spirit whose depth of emotion none can measure.

We notice again the union in our Lord of perfect wisdom with perfect freedom from guile and double dealing. That his wisdom was never at fault all must admit. He was surrounded by crafty adversaries, who contrived all manner of plans to entangle him in his talk. Yet in the twinkling of an eye he turned their wiles against themselves, and they found themselves taken in their own net. Meanwhile he always pursued {74} the straightforward course of sincerity and truth. Not the slightest trace of deceit or cunning artifice appeared in his ministry from first to last.

Closely allied to the above-named qualities are prudence and boldness, both of which met in full measure in our Lord's character. That he feared no man and shrank from no peril when it was his duty to encounter it, is too obvious to be insisted on. Yet he never needlessly encountered opposition and danger. He was never bold for the purpose of making a show of boldness. When the Jews sought to kill him, he "walked in Galilee" to avoid their enmity. When his brethren went up to the feast in Jerusalem, he would not go up with them, but afterwards went up, "not openly, but as it were in secret." When, at a later day, after the resurrection of Lazarus, the Jews sought his life, he "walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence into a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples." Not until the time had come that he should die for the sins of the world did he expose himself to the rage of his enemies; and then he went boldly into Jerusalem at the head of his disciples. His own precept, "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves," he perfectly exemplified throughout his ministry.

We cannot but notice once more the union in our Lord's character of the greatest tenderness with unbending severity whenever the cause of truth demanded severity. He opened his ministry at Nazareth by reading from the prophet Isaiah a portraiture of his own character: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Isa. 61:1, 2. The execution of this mission required a tender and forbearing spirit, that would not break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax; and such was the spirit of his whole ministry. For the penitent, though publicans and sinners, he had only words of kindness. {75} Towards the infirmities and mistakes of his sincere disciples he was wonderfully forbearing. When a strife had arisen among the apostles which of them should be the greatest, instead of denouncing in severe terms their foolish ambition, he called to himself a little child and set him in the midst, and from him gave them a lesson on the duty of humility. Yet this tender and compassionate Jesus of Nazareth, who took little children in his arms and blessed them, who stood and cried, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," and who wept at the grave of Lazarus—this same Jesus could say to Peter when he would deter Him from the path of duty, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" and could denounce in the presence of all the people the scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses' seat. In truth, the most severe denunciations of hypocrisy and wickedness contained in the New Testament and the most awful descriptions of the future punishment of the impenitent fell from our Saviour's lips. In his tenderness there was no element of weakness.

Our Lord's perfect meekness and humility need no human comment. They shine forth with serene brightness through all his words and actions. He described himself as "meek and lowly in heart," and his life was a perpetual illustration of these qualities. "When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." But the point to be particularly noticed is the wonderful harmony of this meek and lowly mind with claims more lofty than were ever conceived of by any man before him—claims everywhere boldly asserted, and which, as we shall see hereafter, implied the possession of a divine nature. It is not that he claimed and exercised power over nature or outward power over men, even power to raise the dead, that fills us with awe and amazement; but that he went within the spirit, and offered inward life, light, strength, peace—in a word, life eternal—to all who would come to him; and that he asserted, in a way as decisive as it was calm, his absolute control over the everlasting destinies of all men. When we read the {76} account of these superhuman claims, we have no feeling that they were incongruous or extravagant. On the contrary, they seem to us altogether legitimate and proper. And yet, as has been often remarked, were any other person to advance a tithe of these pretensions, he would be justly regarded as a madman. The only possible explanation is, that this meek and lowly Jesus made good his claim to be the Son of God by what he was and by what he did.

Another quality very conspicuous in our Lord's character is his perfect elevation above this world. "Ye are from beneath," said he to the Jews; "I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world." It was not in his origin alone, but in his spirit also that he was from above. As he was from heaven, so was he heavenly in all his affections. His own precept to his disciples, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," was the law of his own life. He had no treasures here below but the souls of men; and these are not earthly, but heavenly treasures. Satan plied him in vain with the offer of "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them." In him "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" could find no place for a single moment. He kept the world always and perfectly under his feet. Yet this perfect elevation above the world had in it no tinge of stoicism or asceticism. He made no war upon the genuine passions and affections of human nature, but simply subjected them all to his higher spiritual nature; in other words to the law of God. Except temporarily for meditation and prayer, he never withdrew himself, nor encouraged his disciples to withdraw themselves from the cares and temptations of an active life, under the false idea of thus rising to a state of superhuman communion with God. He did not fast himself systematically, nor enjoin upon his disciples systematic fastings, but left fastings for special emergencies. In a word, he ate and drank like other men. His heavenly mind lay not in the renunciation of God's gifts, but in maintaining his affections constantly raised above the gifts themselves to {77} the divine Giver. It took on a human, and therefore an imitable form.

And what shall we say of our Lord's spotless purity of heart and life? We cannot eulogize it, for it is above all human praise. But we can refresh the eyes of our understanding by gazing upon it, as upon a glorious sun, until we feel its vivifying and transforming power in our own souls.

In contemplating the above qualities, it is of the highest importance to notice that, though they exist in such fulness and perfection, they are yet human, and therefore imitable. They are not the virtues of an angel in heaven, or of a king on the throne, or of a philosopher in his school, or of a monk in his cell; but of a man moving among men in the sphere of common life, and filling out common life with all the duties appropriate to it. His example then is available for the imitation of the lowest not less than the highest. It offers itself to all classes of men as a model of all that is good in human nature. We may boldly affirm that such a character as this could never have been conceived of, if it had not actually existed.

If now we look at our Lord's character as a teacher, we find it equally original and wonderful. Writers on the gospel history have with reason laid great stress on the fact that he stood high above the errors and prejudices, not only of his own age and nation, but of all ages and nations. He saw intuitively and perfectly what God is, what man is, and what are man's relations to God and to his fellow-men; and was therefore able to establish a religion for men, as men, that needs no change for any age, or nation, or condition of life. He has sometimes been called a "Galilean peasant." The phrase sounds unpleasantly in the ears of those who adore him as their divine Lord and Master. Nevertheless it is in an important sense true. He was educated among the common people of Galilee, and had no special human training. It was an age of narrowness and formalism. The scribes and Pharisees, who sat in Moses' seat, had covered up the true meaning and spirit {78} of the Old Testament beneath a mass of human traditions that substituted "mint, and anise, and cummin" for "the weightier matters of the law." Yet in such an age Jesus came forth a perfect teacher of divine truth. He swept away at once the glosses of the Jewish doctors, unfolded to the people the true meaning of the law and the prophets as preparatory to his coming, and gave to the world a religion that meets the wants of all classes and conditions of men in all ages and nations. Considered as the good leaven which Christ cast into the lump of humanity, the gospel has continual progress. But considered as the plan of salvation which he revealed, it cannot have progress, for it is perfect. It needs no amendment or change, that it may be adapted to our age or any other age. As air and water and light meet the wants of all men in all ages, so the gospel, when freed from human additions and received in its original purity, is all that fallen humanity needs. Here is a great fact to be explained. The only reasonable explanation is that given by the Saviour himself. When the Jews marvelled at his teaching, saying, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" he answered, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." Such a religion as that described in the gospels could not have been conceived of unless it had actually existed; and it could not have existed without God for its author. Gifted men may be in advance of their own age; that is, they may see before others what is the next thing indicated by the present progress of society. But mere men do not rise at once above all the errors and prejudices by which they are surrounded into the region of pure light and truth. All the work that men do is imperfect, and needs emendation by those who come after them. A religion that remains from age to age as perfectly adapted to the wants of all men as it was at the beginning, must be from God, not from man.

Our Saviour's manner of teaching was also as original as the teaching itself. He saw through the world of nature and mind at a glance, and it stood always ready at hand to furnish him with arguments and illustrations—arguments and illustrations {79} as simple and natural as they were profound, and by means of which he unfolded the deepest truths in the plainest and most intelligible forms. Take, for example, the parables of the mustard-seed and the leaven. They contain within themselves the whole history of Christ's kingdom in its inward principle. They unfold views of its steady progress from age to age, as a growth from an inward vital force, on which the most philosophical minds especially love to dwell; and yet they are perfectly intelligible to the most unlettered man. To teach by parables, without any false analogies, and in a way that interested and instructed alike the learned and the ignorant, this was a wonderful characteristic of our Lord's ministry. In this respect no one of his apostles, not even the bosom disciple, attempted to imitate him. Yet in the great fact that his teaching was not for a select few, but for the masses of mankind, so that "the common people heard him gladly," all his servants can and ought to imitate him.

Thus far we have considered mainly the human side of our Lord's character, though through it all his divinity shines forth. Let us now look more particularly at his divine mission and character. On the fact that his mission was from God we need not dwell. Nicodemus expressed the judgment of every candid mind when he said, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." If there is one truth which our Lord asserted more frequently than any other, it is that he came from God: "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me."

But Jesus had not only a divine mission, but a divine person also; and the manner in which he manifested his divinity is, if possible, more original than any thing else in his history, and bears in itself the impress of reality. A company of men who should attempt to give a portraiture of a divine being {80} simply from their own conceptions would doubtless put into his lips many direct assertions of his deity, and make his life abound in stupendous miracles. But it is not in any such crude way that our Saviour's divinity manifests itself in the gospel narratives. It is true indeed that in the manner of his miracles he everywhere makes the impression that he performs them by virtue of a power residing in himself; that while the commission to do them comes from the Father, the power to do them belongs to his own person. In this respect the contrast is very sharp between his manner and that of the prophets before him and the apostles after him. In their case the power, as well as the commission, was wholly from God, as they were careful to teach the people: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." "Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" "His name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know." "Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." But not to dwell on this, let us look at some very remarkable ways in which our Saviour manifested his divine nature.

He called God his Father in a peculiar and incommunicable sense. He never said, "Our Father," by which he would have classed himself with other men, but always, "My Father," showing that thus he stood alone in his relation to God. As the son has the same nature with the father, and when acting under his authority, the same prerogatives also; so Jesus, as the Son of God, claimed the power and right to do whatever his Father did, and to receive the same honor as his Father: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." This the Jews rightly understood to be an assertion of equality with the Father; for they "sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his own Father, (so the original reads,) making himself equal with God." To this the Saviour answered: "The Son can do nothing of himself"—acting in his own name, and without the concurrence of the Father's will—"but what he seeth the Father {81} do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent him." John 5:17-23. Here the Son, though acting under the Father's commission, claims equality with the Father; for without this he could neither share all the Father's counsels, nor do all the Father's works, nor receive from the Father authority to judge all men—an office which plainly implies omniscience—nor be entitled to the same honor as the Father. The point to be especially noticed in the present connection is the originality of the way in which our Lord here asserts his divine nature. We cannot for a moment suppose that such a way would have occurred to one who was writing from his own invention. The only possible explanation of the existence of such a passage in the gospel of John, (and the same is true of many other passages,) is that it is a true record of what actually took place in our Lord's history.

Again: our Lord represents himself as the source of light and life to all mankind. To the Jews he said: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. In comparison with what he here claims for himself, the outward work of opening men's bodily eyes dwindles into nothing. That was only the seal of his divine mission. But in these and other like words, he does, as it were, draw aside the veil of his humanity, and give us a glimpse of the glory of the Godhead that dwells within. So too he says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51. {82} The resurrection of Lazarus, stupendous as that miracle was, does not fill us with such awe and amazement as the mighty words which he uttered to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die," John 11:25, 26; for in these words he represents himself as being to the whole human family the author of all life, natural, spiritual, and eternal. He connects the particular act of giving life which he is about to perform with the final resurrection, "when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28, 29. These utterances, so calm, so lofty, so original, do not sound like the inventions of man. They wear a heavenly costume. When we read them, we feel that the only explanation of their existence in the gospel narrative is the fact that they were actually uttered by our Lord.

And the same is true of another kindred class of passages, in which the Saviour asserts his inward dominion over the human spirit. Hear him, as he stands and proclaims: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." John 14:27. The world gives peace at best outwardly, and often only in empty words; but Jesus has direct access to the inmost fountains of feeling. He gives peace inwardly and efficaciously. When he turned into songs of joy the tears of the widow of Nain by raising her son to life, that was a wonderful instance of his giving peace; but far greater and more glorious is the work when, by his inward presence in the soul, he makes it victorious over all "the sufferings of this present time." This is what he meant when he said to his disciples: "These things have I spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." John 16:33. In his name, apostles {83} raised the dead to life; but no apostle—no mere man—would have ventured to say, "In me ye shall have peace."

These last words naturally lead to the consideration of another very peculiar form of speech first introduced by our Lord, and passing from him to the church; that of the mutual indwelling of himself and his disciples: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." John 15:1-7. It is a vital union of the believer's soul with Jesus, through which he receives from Jesus life and fruitfulness, as the branch from its union with the vine. Here is an assertion of deity. The Jews regarded Moses with the highest reverence; but no one of them ever spoke of abiding in Moses, or having Moses abiding in himself. Had any Christian disciple represented himself as dwelling in Peter or Paul, the apostle would have rent his clothes at the blasphemy of the words.

Other peculiar ways in which our Lord manifested his deity could be specified, but the above will suffice as examples. Let any candid man consider all these examples in their connection, each of them so original and so majestic, so simple and natural, and yet so far removed from anything that could have occurred to one sitting down to draw from his own imagination the picture of a divine person; and he will be convinced that such a record as that contained in our four canonical gospels was possible only because it is a simple and truthful history of what Jesus of Nazareth was and did. Plain men can give a straightforward account of what they have seen or learned from eye-witnesses; but it transcends the genius of any man to invent such narratives of such a character. The gospel narratives are marked throughout by artless simplicity. Each of the writers goes straightforward with his story, never thinking for a moment of what his own genius is to accomplish, but intent only on exhibiting his Lord and Master as the Saviour of the world. The apostle John, in giving the design of his own gospel, gives that also of the other evangelists: "And many other signs {84} truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:30, 31.

And because this glorious and divine person is a living reality, he possesses from age to age an undying power over the human heart. Love towards him is the mightiest principle on earth, both for doing and for suffering. It makes the soul of which it has taken full possession invincible. When Jesus of Nazareth is enthroned in the castle of the human heart, not all the powers of earth and hell can overcome it. See farther, chap. 12:8.

9. Since, as we have seen, the gospel narratives are an authentic record of facts, it follows that in the person and life of Jesus of Nazareth we have a supernatural revelation from God in the fullest sense of the words. That his origin was both superhuman and supernatural, the gospels teach us in the most explicit terms. He says of himself: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father." John 16:28. "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5. That the appearance on earth of One who dwelt with the Father in glory before the world was, and after the fulfilment of his mission returned to the Father again, was supernatural, is self-evident. His person was, as has been shown, divine. He was God manifest in the flesh; and wherever he went, his supernatural power displayed itself. The miraculous element is so interwoven into the very substance of the gospel history, that there is no possibility of setting it aside, except by rejecting the history itself. It is the fashion with a certain class of writers, after denying our Lord's divine nature and explaining away his supernatural works, to be profuse in their eulogies of his character. If they can first rid themselves of the obligation to believe on him and obey him as their divine Lord, they are willing to bestow upon him, as a man like themselves, the highest commendations. {85} But the attempt is hopeless. What will they do with the fact of his resurrection from the dead—the most certain as well as the greatest miracle in his history, and which includes in itself all the rest? Had Jesus not risen from the dead, as he so often affirmed that he should, then he would have been what the Jewish rulers called him—a deceiver, and no Saviour; but since the miracle of his resurrection must be admitted by all who do not reject the whole gospel history as a fable, why deny the lesser miracles connected with his history? The assumption that miracles are impossible can only go with the denial of God's personality; and this, by whatever name it is called, is atheism. If there is a personal God, who is before nature, above nature, and the author of nature in its inmost essence, he can manifest himself within the sphere of nature in a supernatural way, whenever he chooses to do so. If God who made us cares for us, and is indeed our Father in heaven, it is reasonable to suppose that he may reveal himself to us in supernatural forms, when the end is our deliverance from the bondage of sin, and our preparation for an eternity of holiness and happiness. To deny this, would be to make nature the highest end of God—to put the world of God's intelligent creatures under nature, instead of making nature their servant and minister.

10. The objections that have been urged against the gospel history are of two kinds. The first class relates to its doctrines, as, for example, that of demoniacal possessions, that of eternal punishment, etc. To enlarge on this subject would be out of place here. It is sufficient to say that the only reasonable rule is to argue from the certainty of the record to the truth of the doctrines in question. He who first assumes that a certain doctrine cannot be true, and then, on the ground of this assumption, sets aside a history sustained by overwhelming evidence, exalts his own finite understanding to be the supreme rule of faith; and to him an authoritative revelation becomes an impossibility. The second class of objections relates to alleged contradictions and inconsistencies between the different {86} writers. The explanation and reconciliation of these is the work of the harmonist. We need not wait, however, for the result of his labors, that we may rest confidently on the truth of the record. These apparent disagreements do not affect a single doctrine or duty of Christianity. They all relate to incidental matters, such as the time and order of the events recorded, the accompanying circumstances, etc. Had we all the missing links of the evangelical history, we might reconcile all these differences; but without them, it is not in all cases possible. Nor is it necessary; since, where different writers record the same transactions, substantial agreement, with diversity in respect to the details, is everywhere the characteristic of authentic history.




1. The genuineness, uncorrupt preservation, and credibility of the gospel narratives having been shown to rest on a firm foundation, the principal part of our work is accomplished, so far as the New Testament is concerned. We are prepared beforehand to expect some record of the labors of the apostles, like that contained in the Acts of the Apostles; and also discussions and instructions relating to the doctrines and duties of Christianity, such as we find in the apostolic epistles. Our Saviour established his church only in its fundamental principles and ordinances. The work of publishing his gospel and organizing churches among Jews and Gentiles he committed to his apostles. Before his crucifixion he taught them that the Holy Ghost could not come (that is, in his special and full influences as the administrator of the new covenant) till after his departure to the Father: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you." John 16:7. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." John 15:26, 27. Now we have, in the Acts of the Apostles, first an account of the fulfilment by the Saviour of his promise that he would send the Holy Ghost; then a record how the apostles, thus qualified, obeyed the Saviour's command to preach the gospel to Jews and Gentiles—a record not, indeed, complete, but sufficient to show the manner and spirit in which the work {88} was performed. Some truths, moreover, of the highest importance the Saviour gave only in outline, because the time for their full revelation had not yet come. John 16:12, 13. Such were especially the doctrine of his atoning sacrifice on Calvary with the connected doctrine of justification by faith; and the divine purpose to abolish the Mosaic economy, and with it the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. We have, partly in the Acts and partly in the epistles, an account of the unfolding of these great truths by the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and of the commotions and contentions that naturally accompanied this work. The practical application of the gospel to the manifold relations of life, domestic, social, and civil, with the solution of various difficult questions arising therefrom, was another work necessarily devolved on the apostles, and performed by them with divine wisdom for the instruction of all coming ages. The book of Acts and the epistles ascribed to the apostles being such a natural sequel to the Redeemer's work, as recorded by the four evangelists, a briefer statement of the evidence for their genuineness and authenticity will be sufficient.

I. The Acts of the Apostles. 2. According to Chrysostom, First Homily on Acts, this book was not so abundantly read by the early Christians as the gospels. The explanation of this comparative neglect is found in the fact that it is occupied with the doings of the apostles, not of the Lord himself. Passing by some uncertain allusions to the work in the writings of the apostolic fathers, the first explicit quotation from it is contained in the letter heretofore noticed, chap. 2:4, from the churches of Vienne and Lyons in Gaul, written about A.D. 177, in which they say: "Moreover they prayed, after the example of Stephen the perfect martyr, for those who inflicted upon them cruel torments, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.'" Irenæus, in the last part of the second century, Tertullian in the last part of the same century and the beginning of the third, Clement of Alexandria about the end of the second century and onwards—all these bear explicit testimony to the book of {89} Acts, ascribing it to Luke as its author; and from their day onward the notices of the work are abundant. We may add the concurrent testimony of the Muratorian canon and the Syriac version, called the Peshito, which belong to the last quarter of the second century, and the still earlier testimony of the Old Latin version. In a word, the book is placed by Eusebius among those that were universally acknowledged by the churches.

The rejection of the book by certain heretical sects, as the Ebionites, Marcionites, Manichæans, etc., is of no weight, as their objections rested not on historical, but on doctrinal grounds. As to the statement of Photius that "some call Clement of Rome the author, some Barnabas, and some Luke the evangelist," it is to be remarked that he is giving not his own judgment, for he expressly ascribes it to Luke, but the arbitrary opinions of certain persons; and these are contradicted by the obvious fact that the third gospel, which proceeded from the same hand as the Acts of the Apostles, was never ascribed to any other person than Luke.

3. The internal testimony to Luke's authorship is decisive. The writer himself, in dedicating it to the same Theophilus, expressly identifies himself with the author of the third gospel: "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." Acts 1:1. Then there is a remarkable agreement in style and diction between the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, as any one may learn who peruses them both together in the original Greek. Davidson, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 8, has collected forty-seven examples of "terms that occur in both, but nowhere else in the New Testament." Luke, moreover, as the travelling companion of Paul, had all needed facilities for composing such a work. With regard to the latter portion of the book, this is denied by none. His use of the first person plural, "we endeavored," "the Lord had called us," "we came," etc.—which first appears, chap. 16:10, and continues, with certain interruptions, through the remainder of the book—admits of but one natural and reasonable explanation, namely, that when he thus joins himself with the apostle he was actually {90} in his company. As it respects the first part of the book, we notice that he visited Cæsarea with Paul's company, and "tarried there many days," chap. 21:8-10; afterwards he went up with him to Jerusalem, chap. 21:15. We find him again with Paul at Cæsarea when he sets out for Rome. Chap. 27:1. Now at such centres as Jerusalem and Cæsarea he must have had abundant opportunities to learn all the facts recorded in the present book which could not be gathered from Paul's own lips.

4. For the credibility of this book we have, in general, the same arguments which apply to the gospel narratives, especially to the gospel of Luke. Its author is evidently a sincere and earnest man, who goes straight forward with his narrative; and where he does not write as an eye-witness, he had, as we have seen, abundant means of ascertaining the truth concerning the facts which he records. His narrative is, moreover, corroborated in a very special way, as will be shown hereafter—No. 8, below—by its many undesigned coincidences with the events alluded to in the epistle of Paul. To admit the credibility of the gospel of Luke and to deny that of this work would be altogether inconsistent. In truth, there is no ground for doubting the credibility of the Acts of the Apostles other than that which lies in the assumption that no record of miraculous events can be credible, and this is no ground at all.

To some modern writers the narrative of the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost has seemed to present an insuperable difficulty. Undoubtedly it is above our comprehension how a man should suddenly become possessed of the ability to speak in a language before unknown to him; but why should we doubt God's power to bestow such a gift? Can any one suppose for a moment that when our Saviour met with a person deaf and dumb from birth, he had, for the first time, a case beyond his healing power? The gospel narrative plainly indicates the contrary. Mark 7:32-37, upon which passage see Meyer and Alford.

The account of the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira, chap. 5:1-11, is not contrary to the spirit of the gospel. They died by the immediate act of God. His wisdom judged such an example of severity to be necessary in the beginning of the gospel, as a solemn warning against hypocrisy and {91} falsehood in his service. Though the gospel is a system of mercy, it takes, as all admit, a severe attitude towards those who reject it; why not, then, towards those who make a hypocritical profession of it? As Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire from heaven at the beginning of the Mosaic economy, so the death of Ananias and his wife came early in the dispensation of the Holy Ghost, as a testimony to all future ages of Christ's abhorrence of hypocrisy, and consequently of the doom which hypocrites will receive from him at the last day. Matt. 7:21-23.

The fact that Luke has omitted some events in the history of Paul, as, for example, his journey into Arabia, which occurred during the three years that intervened between his conversion and his first visit to Jerusalem, Acts 9:22-26 compared with Gal. 1:15-18, is no argument against the credibility of his narrative. Difficulties that arise simply from a writer's brevity must not be allowed to set aside satisfactory evidence of his competency and truthfulness. The historical difficulties connected with Stephen's address do not concern Luke's credibility as a historian, and the discussion of them belongs to the commentator.

5. The book of Acts closes with a notice that "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." As it adds no notice of the issue of his imprisonment, or of what afterwards befell him, we naturally infer that the book was written at Rome about this time, that is, about A.D. 63.

II. The Acknowledged Epistles, 6. It is well known that doubts existed, to a greater or less extent, in the primitive churches before the fourth century, respecting the apostolic origin and authority of certain books which now constitute a part of the New Testament canon. Hence the distinction made by Eusebius between the acknowledged books, (homologoumena) that is, those that were universally received from the first, and the disputed books, (antilegomena,) books respecting which some entertained doubts. The acknowledged books are, the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the thirteen epistles of Paul which bear his name at the beginning, the first epistle of Peter, and the first epistle of John; twenty in all. The disputed books {92} are, the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of James, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of Revelation; seven in all. The gospels and the Acts have been already considered, and the disputed books are reserved for the following chapter. Some remarks will here be made on the fifteen acknowledged epistles.

7. The epistles of Paul may be conveniently distributed into two groups, of which the second or smaller contains the three pastoral epistles, and the former or larger, the remaining ten. Of the apostolic origin of the larger group little needs to be said. They bear throughout the impress of genuineness and authenticity. No doubts were ever entertained concerning them in the ancient churches. There is, indeed, some ground for suspecting that a few ancient copies of the epistle to the Ephesians omitted the words at Ephesus—more literally in Ephesus—chap. 1:1. But the genuineness of these words is sustained by an overwhelming weight of evidence, and that Paul was the author of the epistle was never once doubted by the ancient churches. The arguments of some modern writers against its apostolic origin have no real weight, as will be shown hereafter in the introduction to the epistle.

Respecting the apostolic authorship of the three pastoral epistles, two to Timothy and one to Titus, there was never any doubt in the ancient churches. They are supported by the testimony of the Peshito-Syriac version, of the Muratorian canon, also, (as appears from Jerome's letter to Marcella and the quotations of the church fathers before him,) of the Old Latin version; of Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and a multitude of later writers. There are also some allusions to these epistles in the apostolic fathers, which seem to be decisive.

Such are the following: "Let us therefore approach to him in holiness of soul, lifting up to him holy and unpolluted hands." Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. 29. "But the beginning of all mischief is the love of money. Knowing, therefore, that we brought nothing into the world neither have power to carry any thing out, let us arm ourselves {93} with the armor of righteousness." Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, chap. 4. The student may see other supposed allusions in Kirchhofer, Quellensammlung; Lardner, 2:39; Davidson's Introduction, 3, p. 101 seq.; Alford's New Testament, Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles, etc.

Respecting the date of the pastoral epistles very different opinions are held. The whole discussion turns on the question whether they were written before or after Paul's imprisonment at Rome, which is recorded in the last chapter of the Acts of the Apostles; and this again is connected with the further question whether he underwent a second imprisonment at Rome, concerning which learned men are not agreed. The full discussion of this matter belongs to the introduction to the pastoral epistles. It may be simply remarked, however, that the internal arguments in favor of a late date are very strong, and that its assumption accounts for the development of such a state of things at Ephesus as appears in the two pastoral epistles to Timothy—a state very different from that which existed when the epistle to the Ephesians was written, between A.D. 60 and 64, and which makes it necessary to separate the first epistle to Timothy from that to the Ephesians by a considerable interval of time.

The theme of the pastoral epistles is peculiar. It is the affectionate counsel of an aged apostle to two young preachers and rulers in the church respecting the duties of their office. From the peculiarity of the subject-matter naturally arises, to some extent, a peculiarity in the diction of these epistles; yet the style and costume is throughout that of the apostle Paul.

8. The testimony of the ancient church to the first epistle of Peter and the first of John is very ample. Besides that of the Peshito-Syriac version, and of the church fathers Irenæus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, they have in addition that of Papias and the apostolic father Polycarp. The first epistle of John is also included in the Muratorian canon. It scarcely needs, however, any external testimony. The identity of its author with that of the fourth gospel is so manifest from its whole tone and style, that it has been always conceded that {94} if one of these writings came from the pen of the apostle John, the other did also.

The testimony of Papias to these two epistles, though indirect, is conclusive. Eusebius says, Hist. Eccl. 3. 39, "The same Papias has employed testimonies from the first epistle of John, and in like manner of Peter." Polycarp says, Epistle to the Philippians, ch. 7, "For every one who confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is anti-Christ," with evident reference to 1 John 4:3. Eusebius says also, Hist. Eccl. 4. 14, that in the same epistle to the Philippians Polycarp "has employed certain testimonies from the first epistle of Peter;" and when we examine the epistle we find several certain references to it, among which are the following: "In whom, though ye see him not, ye believe; and believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." Chap. 1 compared with 1 Pet. 1:8. "Believing in him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave him glory, and a seat at his right hand." Chap. 2 compared with 1 Pet. 1:21.

9. The relation of the gospel history to the writings now under consideration—the book of Acts and the apostolic epistles—is of the most intimate and weighty character. The truth of the earlier narratives contained in the gospels implies the truth of these later works; for, as already remarked, they are the natural sequel of the events there recorded. On the other hand, the truth of these later writings implies the truth of the gospel history; for in that history they find their full explanation, and without it they are, and must ever remain, inexplicable. All the parts of the New Testament constitute one inseparable whole, and they all shed light upon each other. Like a chain of fortresses in war, they mutually command each other. Unless the whole can be overthrown, no one part can be successfully assailed. But to overthrow the whole is beyond the power of man; for God has guarded it on every side by impregnable bulwarks of evidence.

10. A special argument for the truth of the Scripture history of the apostle Paul may be drawn from the numerous undesigned coincidences between the events recorded in the book of Acts and those referred to in the epistles. This work has been accomplished with great ability and skill by Paley in his {95} Horæ Paulinæ, to which the reader is referred. The argument is very conclusive; for when we consider the "particularity of St. Paul's epistles, the perpetual recurrence of names of persons and places, the frequent allusions to the incidents of his private life, and the circumstances of his condition and history, and the connection and parallelism of these with the same circumstances in the Acts of the Apostles, so as to enable us, for the most part, to confront them one with another," we must be satisfied that the truth of the history can alone explain such a multitude of coincidences, many of them of a minute character, and all of them manifestly undesigned.




The grounds on which each of the disputed books—Antilegomena, chap. 5, No. 6—is received into the canon of the New Testament, will be considered in the introduction to these books. In the present chapter some general suggestions will be made which apply to them as a whole.

1. This is not a question concerning the truth of Christianity, but concerning the extent of the canon; a distinction which is of the highest importance. Some persons, when they learn that doubts existed in the early churches, to a greater or less extent, respecting certain books of the New Testament, are troubled in mind, as if a shade of uncertainty were thereby cast over the whole collection of books. But this is a very erroneous view of the matter. The books of the New Testament, like those of the Old, were written one after another, as occasion required; and the churches received each of them separately on the evidence they had of its apostolic origin and authority. At length collections of these books, that is, canons, began to be formed. Such collections translators would of necessity make, unless they found them ready at hand. The earliest canons of which we have any knowledge are contained in the old Latin version, the Syriac version called Peshito, and the Muratorian canon; each of which represented the prevailing judgment of the churches in the region where it was formed. As this judgment differed in the different provinces of Christendom in respect to the books in question, so also do these canons. The Peshito contains the epistle to the Hebrews and that of James, but omits the other five books. The Muratorian canon omits the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of {97} James, and the second epistle of Peter; but contains the epistle of Jude, the book of Revelation, and apparently also the second and third of John, though in respect to them its language is obscure and of doubtful interpretation. The old Latin version, so far as we can judge from the quotations of the church fathers, agreed in general with the Muratorian canon. It contained, however, the epistle of James, (Codex Corbeiensis, ff,) and that to the Hebrews; and if, as has been supposed, this latter was a later addition, it was yet earlier than the time of Tertullian. See Westcott on the Canon, pp. 282, 283. Now this diversity of judgment with regard to particular books does not affect in the least the remaining books of the New Testament, which are sustained by the authority of all the above-named witnesses, as well as by the undivided testimony of the ancient churches. Did the New Testament claim to be the work of a single author, the case would be different. We should then have but one witness; and if certain parts of his testimony could be successfully assailed, this would throw a measure of suspicion on the whole. But now we have in the separate books of the New Testament a large number of witnesses, most of whom are entirely independent of each other. Doubts respecting the testimony of one do not affect that of another. We receive the seven books in question as a part of God's revelation on grounds which we judge adequate, as will be shown in the introductions to the several books. But if any one feels under the necessity of suspending his judgment with respect to one or more of these books, let him follow the teachings of the other books, which are above all doubt. He will find in them all the truth essential to the salvation of his soul; and he will then be in a position calmly to investigate the evidence for the canonical authority of the so-called disputed books.

2. The diversity of judgment which prevailed in the early churches in respect to certain books of the New Testament, is in harmony with all that we know of their character and spirit. It was an age of free inquiry. General councils were not then known, nor was there any central power to impose its decisions {98} on all the churches. In the essential doctrines of the gospel there was everywhere an agreement, especially in receiving the writings acknowledged to be apostolic, as the supreme rule of faith and practice. But this did not exclude differences on minor points in the different provinces of Christendom; and with respect to these the churches of each particular region were tenacious then, as they have been in all ages since, of their peculiar opinions and practices. It is well known, for example, that the churches of Asia Minor differed from those of Rome in the last half of the second century respecting the day on which the Christian festival of the Passover, with the communion service connected with it, should be celebrated; the former placing it on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, the latter on the anniversary of the resurrection Sunday. Nor could the conference between Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, and Anicetus, bishop of Rome, about A.D. 162, avail to change the usage of either party, though it did not at that time break the bond of brotherhood between them. We need not be surprised therefore to find a like diversity in different regions respecting certain books of the New Testament. The unanimous belief of the Eastern and Alexandrine churches ascribed to Paul the authorship of the epistle to the Hebrews; but in the Western churches its Pauline authorship was not generally admitted till the fourth century. The Apocalypse, on the contrary, found most favor with the Western or Latin churches. It has in its favor the testimony of the Muratorian canon, which is of Latin origin, and also—as appears from the citations contained in the commentaries of Primasius—that of the old Latin version. Other examples see above, No. 1.

3. Although we cannot account for the universal and undisputed reception of the acknowledged books by all the churches, except on the assumption of their genuineness, the non-reception of a given book by some of the early churches is no conclusive argument against its apostolic origin. From the influence of circumstances unknown to us, it may have remained for a considerable period of time in comparative obscurity. {99} We have good ground for believing that some apostolic writings are utterly lost. To deny the possibility of this would be to prejudge the wisdom of God. As the apostles delivered many inspired discourses which it did not please the Holy Ghost to have recorded, so they may have written letters which he did not judge needful to make the sacred volume complete. The question is one of fact, not of theory. The most obvious interpretation of 1 Cor. 5:9 and Col. 4:16 is that Paul refers in each case to an epistle which has not come down to us. And if an inspired epistle might be lost, much more might the knowledge and use of it be restricted for a time to a narrow circle of churches. When such an epistle—for example, the second of Peter—began to be more extensively known, the general reception and use of it would be a slow process, not only from the difficulty of communication in ancient as compared with modern times, but also from the slowness with which the churches of one region received any thing new from those of other regions.

Then again, if a book were known, there might be in some regions hesitancy in respect to receiving it, from doubts in regard to its author, as in the case of the epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse; or from the peculiarity of its contents also, as in the case of the latter book. In the influence of causes like the above named, we find a reasonable explanation of the fact that some books, which the mature judgment of the churches received into the canon of the New Testament, did not find at first a universal reception.

4. In the caution and hesitation of the early churches with respect to the books in question, we have satisfactory evidence that, in settling the canon of the New Testament, they acted with great deliberation and conscientiousness, their rule being that no book should be received whose apostolic origin could not be established on solid grounds. Did the early history of the Christian church present no such phenomenon as that of the distinction between acknowledged and disputed books, we might naturally infer that all books that professed to have emanated {100} from the apostles, or to have had their sanction, were received without discrimination. But now the mature and final judgment of the churches is entitled to great consideration. This judgment, let it be remembered, was not affirmative only, but also negative. While it admitted to the canon the seven books now under consideration, it excluded others which were highly valued and publicly read in many of the churches. On this ground it is entitled to still higher regard. It is not, however, of binding authority, for it is not the decision of inspired men. We have a right to go behind it, and to examine the facts on which it is based, so far as they can be ascertained from existing documents. But this work belongs to the introduction to the several books.

Three books alone "obtained a partial ecclesiastical currency, through which they were not clearly separated at first from the disputed writings of the New Testament." Westcott on the Canon, Appendix B, p. 550. This was on the ground that they were written, or supposed to be written, by the immediate successors of the apostles. The oldest known codex of the Bible is the Sinaitic, discovered at mount Sinai by Tischendorf in 1859, and which belongs to the fourth century. This contains the whole of the epistle of Barnabas, and the first part of the work called the Shepherd of Hermas. The Alexandrine codex, belonging to the fifth century, has appended to it the first epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, the genuineness of which is admitted, and also a portion of the second or apocryphal epistle, the remainder of it being lost. The explanation is, that these three books were read in some at least of the churches when these codices were formed. But they never obtained any permanent authority as canonical writings, and were excluded from the New Testament "by every council of the churches, catholic or schismatic." Tertullian, as quoted by Westcott, p. 551.




By the word inspiration, when used in a theological sense, we understand such an illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit as raises a speaker or writer above error, and thus gives to his teachings a divine authority. If we attempt to investigate the interior nature of this superhuman influence, its different degrees and modes of operation, and the relation which the human mind holds to the divine in the case of those who receive it, we find ourselves involved in many difficulties, some of which at least are to our finite minds insuperable. But if we look at it from a practical point of view, restricting our inquiries to the end proposed by God in inspiration, which is to furnish his church with an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice, we find no difficulty in understanding the subject so far as our duty and welfare are concerned. From such a practical position the question of inspiration will now be discussed; and the inquiry will be, at present, restricted to the writings of the New Testament. In connection with this discussion will also be considered the subject of the canon, not in its particular extent, but in the principle upon which it is formed.

1. It is necessary, first of all, to find a sure rule by which we can try the claims of a given book to be inspired, and consequently to be admitted into the canon of the New Testament. It cannot be simply the writer's own declaration. It will be shown hereafter that, in connection with other evidence, his testimony concerning himself is of the highest importance. But the point now is, that no man's inspiration is to be acknowledged simply on his own word. Nor can we decide simply {102} from the contents of the book. Very important indeed is the question concerning the contents of any book which claims to be a revelation from God. Yet we cannot take the naked ground that a given book is inspired because its contents are of a given character. This would be virtually to set up our own reason as the supreme arbiter of divine truth, which is the very position of rationalism. Nor can we receive a book as inspired on the so-called authority of the church, whether this mean the authority of a man who claims to be its infallible head, or the authority of a general council of the churches. Admitting for a moment the Romish doctrine of the infallibility of the church, we could know this infallibility not from the declaration of any man or body of men in the church, but from Scripture alone. But this is assuming at the outset the infallibility of Scripture, and therefore its inspiration, which is the very point at issue. Looking at the question on all sides, we shall find for a given book of the New Testament no valid test of the writer's inspiration except his relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. This presupposes our Lord's divine mission and character, and his supreme authority in the church. It is necessary therefore to begin with the great central fact of the gospel, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, and that through him God has made to men a revelation of his own character and will for their salvation. This fact is to be first established according to the ordinary rules of human evidence, as has been attempted in the preceding chapters. After that we come naturally to the inspiration of the record, and can establish it also on a sure foundation.

2. The great fundamental truth that Jesus is the Son of God, who dwelt from eternity with the Father, knew all his counsels, and was sent by him to this fallen world on a mission of love and mercy, being established on an immovable foundation, we have a sure point of departure from which to proceed in our inquiries respecting inspiration. It becomes at once a self-evident proposition—the great axiom of Christianity, we may call it—that the teaching of Jesus Christ, when he was on {103} earth, was truth unmixed with error. This he himself asserted in the most explicit terms: "The Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth." John 5:20. "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. "He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him." John 8:26. "I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." John 12:49, 50. Proceeding then from the position of our Lord's infallibility, let us inquire whether any of his disciples, and if so, who among them, were divinely qualified to teach, and consequently to record, without error, the facts and doctrines of his gospel. There are but two grades of relationship to Christ with which we can connect such a high endowment: that of apostles, and that of their companions and fellow-laborers. Let us consider each of these in order.

3. Early in our Lord's ministry he chose twelve apostles, "that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils." Mark 3:14, 15. In this brief notice we have all the distinguishing marks of an apostle. He was chosen that he might be with Christ from the beginning, and thus be to the people an eye-witness of his whole public life. When an apostle was to be chosen in the place of Judas, Peter laid particular stress on this qualification: "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." Acts 1:21, 22. In the case of Paul alone was this condition of apostleship wanting; and this want was made up to him by the special revelation of Jesus Christ. Gal. 1:11, 12. An apostle, again, was one who received his commission to preach {104} immediately from the Saviour, a qualification which Paul strenuously asserted in his own behalf: "Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead." Gal. 1:1. An apostle, once more, was one who received directly from Christ the power of working miracles. This was the seal of his apostleship before the world. In the three particulars that have been named the apostles held to Christ the nearest possible relation, and were by this relation distinguished from all other men. Have we evidence that they were divinely qualified, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to preach and record the facts and doctrines of the gospel without error?

That they must have been thus qualified, we have, in the first place, a strong presumption from the necessity of the case. Though our Lord finished the work which the Father gave him to do on earth, he did not finish the revelation of his gospel. On the contrary, he said to his disciples just before his crucifixion, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:12, 13. Let us look at some of these things which were reserved for future revelation. The purely spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom was not understood by the apostles till after the day of Pentecost, for we find them asking, just before his ascension, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" a question which he did not answer, but referred them to the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:6-8. Another of the things which they could not bear was the abolition, through Christ's propitiatory sacrifice, of the Mosaic law, and with it, of the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles. This great truth was reserved to be revealed practically in the progress of the gospel, as recorded in the book of Acts, and doctrinally in the epistles of Paul. Then what a rich unfolding we have in the apostolic epistles of the meaning of our Lord's death on Calvary, and in connection with this, of the doctrine of justification by faith—faith not simply in Christ, but in Christ crucified. {105} Faith in Christ's person the disciples had before his death; but faith in him as crucified for the sins of the world they could not have till after his resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God. The abovenamed truths—not to specify others, as, for example, what Paul says of the resurrection, 1 Cor., ch. 15; 1. Thess. 4:13-18—enter into the very substance of the gospel. They are, in fact, integral parts of it. Can we suppose that our Lord began the revelation of his gospel by his own infallible wisdom, and then left it to be completed by the fallible wisdom of men? If Augustine and Jerome in the latter period of the Roman empire, if Anselm and Bernard in the middle ages, if Luther and Calvin at the era of the Reformation, if Wesley and Edwards in later days, commit errors, the mischief is comparatively small; for, upon the supposition that the apostles were qualified by the Holy Ghost to teach and write without error, we have in their writings an infallible standard by which to try the doctrines of later uninspired men. But if the apostles whom Christ himself appointed to finish the revelation which he had begun, and whom he endowed with miraculous powers, as the seal of their commission, had been left without a sure guarantee against error, then there would be no standard of truth to which the church in later ages could appeal. No man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he came into the world to make to men a perfect revelation of the way of life, can admit such an absurd supposition.

In the second place, we have Christ's express promises to his apostles that they should be divinely qualified for their work through the gift of the Holy Ghost: "But when they deliver you up, take no thought"—be not solicitous, as the original signifies—"how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Matt. 10:19, 20. "But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you {106} in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost." Mark 13:11. "And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." Luke 12:11, 12. "Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." Luke 21:14, 15. The above promises are perfectly explicit; and although they refer primarily to a particular emergency, in which the apostles would especially feel their need of divine guidance, they cover, in their spirit, all other emergencies. We cannot read them without the conviction that they contain the promise to the apostles of all needed help and guidance in the work committed to them. If they were divinely qualified to defend the gospel before their adversaries without error—"I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist"—so were they also to record the facts of the gospel, and to unfold in their epistles its doctrines.

The promises recorded in the gospel of John are more general and comprehensive in their character. It will be sufficient to adduce two of them: "These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:25, 26. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." John 16:12-15. In the former of these passages the special promise is that the Holy {107} Spirit shall bring to the remembrance of the apostles and unfold to their understanding all Christ's personal teachings; so that they shall thus have a fuller apprehension of their meaning than they could while he was yet with them. The second promise is introduced with the declaration that the Saviour has yet many things to say to his apostles which they cannot now bear. Of course these things are reserved for the ministration of the Spirit, as he immediately proceeds to show: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." The Spirit shall glorify Christ; for he shall take of the things which are Christ's, and reveal them to the apostles. And what are the things which are Christ's? "All that the Father hath;" for the Father has given all things into the hands of the Son. John 13:3. Among these "all things" are included all the Father's counsels pertaining to the way of salvation through the Son. These are given to the Son; and the Holy Ghost shall take of them and reveal to the church, through the apostles, as much as it is needful for the church to know. In these remarkable words we have at once a proof of our Lord's deity, and a sure guarantee to the apostles of supernatural illumination and guidance in the work committed to them—all the illumination and guidance which they needed, that they might be qualified to finish without error the revelation of the gospel which Christ had begun.

The question is often asked: Were these promises given to the apostles alone, or through them to the church at large? The answer is at hand. They were given primarily and in a special sense to the apostles; for they had reference to a special work committed to them, which required for its performance special divine illumination and guidance. They were also given, in an important sense, to the church at large; since all believers enjoy, through the teaching of the apostles, the benefit of these revelations of the Holy Spirit. They are not, however, made to all believers personally; but were given, once for all, through the apostles to the church. The gift of the Holy Spirit is indeed made to all believers personally: through his enlightening and sanctifying power they have all needed help and guidance. But they are not called, as were the apostles, to lay the foundations of the Christian faith, and have therefore no promise of new {108} revelations from the Spirit or of elevation above all error, any more than they have of miraculous gifts.

We are now prepared to consider, in the third place, the claims which the apostles themselves made to speak and write with divine authority. Although their simple word as men could avail nothing, yet this same word, taken in connection with their known relation to Christ, with the work committed to them, and with the promises made to them, is of the most weighty import. It was not indeed their custom to assert gratuitously their superhuman guidance and authority. Yet when occasions arose, from the nature of the subject under discussion, or from the opposition of false teachers, they did so in unambiguous terms. Thus the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says, "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual," 1 Cor. 2:12, 13: and writing to the Thessalonians concerning the resurrection, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep," etc. 1 Thess. 4:15. And again, in writing to the Galatians, among whom his apostolic standing had been called in question by certain Judaizing teachers, he says, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man: for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal. 1:11, 12. This language is explicit enough. It could have been used only by one who was conscious of having been divinely qualified to teach the gospel without error. Accordingly, in the same epistle, he opposes his apostolic authority to these false teachers: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing." Gal. 5:2. In the memorable letter of the apostles and elders to the Gentile churches, Acts 15:23-29, they say, "It seemed good to the {109} Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things." "To the Holy Ghost and to us" can mean only, to us under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Besides such explicit assertions as the above, there is a tone of authority running through the apostolic writings which can be explained only from their claim to speak with divine authority. They assert the weightiest truths and make the weightiest revelations concerning the future, as men who know that they have a right to be implicitly believed and obeyed. What majesty of authority, for example, shines through Paul's discussion of the doctrine of the resurrection, 1 Cor., ch. 15, where he announces truths that lie wholly beyond the ken of human reason. "Behold," says he, "I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," as one who has perfect assurance that he speaks from God. The same tone of certainty runs through all the remarks which the apostle John interweaves into his gospel, as well as through his epistles, and through the other apostolic writings.

To sum up in a single sentence what has been said respecting the apostles: When we consider the strong presumption, arising from the necessity of the case, that they must have been divinely qualified to teach and write without error, the explicit promises of Christ that they should be thus qualified, and their explicit claims under these promises, we have full evidence that they wrote, as well as spoke, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and consequently that their writings are of divine authority.

4. In the second grade of relationship to Christ stand men who, like Mark and Luke, were not themselves apostles, but were the companions of apostles, and their associates in the work of preaching the gospel. We are not authorized to place them in the same rank with the apostles. Yet they had the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was always given in connection with ordination at the hands of the apostles. If, in addition to this, their connection with some of the apostles was of such an intimate nature that we cannot suppose them to have written {110} without their knowledge and approbation, we have for their writings all the apostolic authority that is needed. The intimate relation of Luke to the apostle Paul has been already sufficiently shown. We have good ground for believing that he was with him when he wrote both the gospel and the book of Acts. The intimate connection of Mark with the apostle Peter is shown by the unanimous testimony of the primitive churches, and is confirmed, moreover, by an examination of the peculiarities of his gospel. In entire harmony with the position of these two evangelists is the character of their writings. They never assume the office of independent teachers, but restrict themselves to a careful record of the works and words of Christ and his apostles.

5. A final argument for the inspiration of the books of the New Testament, whether written by apostles or their companions, may be drawn from their general character, as contrasted with that of the writings which remain to us from the age next succeeding that of the apostles. The more one studies the two classes of writings in connection, the deeper will be his conviction of the distance by which they are separated from each other. The descent from the majesty and power of the apostolic writings to the best of those which belong to the following age is sudden and very great. Only by a slow process did Christian literature afterwards rise to a higher position through the leavening influence of the gospel upon Christian society, and especially upon Christian education. The contrast now under consideration is particularly important in our judgment of those books which, like the second epistle of Peter, are sustained by a less amount of external evidence. Though we cannot decide on the inspiration of a book simply from the character of its contents, we may be helped in our judgment by comparing these, on the one hand, with writings acknowledged to be apostolic, and on the other, with writings which we know to be of the following age.

6. The inspiration of the sacred writers was plenary in the sense that they received from the Holy Spirit all the illumination {111} and guidance which they needed to preserve them from error in the work committed to them. With regard to the degree and mode of this influence in the case of different books, it is not necessary to raise any abstract questions. That Paul might make to the Galatians a statement of his visits to Jerusalem and the discussions connected with them, Galatians, chaps. 1, 2, or might give an account of his conversion before king Agrippa, Acts, ch. 26, it was not necessary that he should receive the same kind and measure of divine help as when he unfolded to the Corinthians the doctrine of the resurrection, 1 Cor., ch. 15. And so in regard to the other inspired penmen. Whatever assistance each of them needed, he received. If his judgment needed divine illumination for the selection of his materials, it was given him. If he needed to be raised above narrowness and prejudice, or to have the Saviour's instructions unfolded to his understanding, or to receive new revelations concerning the way of salvation or the future history of Christ's kingdom—whatever divine aid was necessary in all these cases, was granted. Thus the books of the New Testament, being written under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, become to the Christian church an infallible rule of faith and practice.

If there be any limitation connected with the inspiration of the sacred writers, it is one of which the Holy Spirit is himself the author, and which cannot therefore injuriously affect their testimony. It did not please God, for example, that the exact order of time should always be kept in the gospel narratives; nor that the identical forms of expression employed by the Saviour on given occasions should always be preserved; nor that the accompanying circumstances should in all cases be fully stated; for in all these respects the evangelists frequently differ among themselves. Had the wisdom of God judged it best, minute accuracy in these particulars might have been secured. But the result would probably have been injurious, by leading men to exalt the letter above the spirit of the gospel. We should be glad to know with certainty which, if any, of the different ways that have been proposed for reconciling John's narrative with those of the other evangelists in respect to the day of the month on which our Lord ate his last passover with his disciples, is the true one. It would give us pleasure were we able to arrange all the incidents connected with our Lord's resurrection, as recorded by the four evangelists, in the exact order of their {112} occurrence. Had we a full record of all the circumstances pertaining to these two transactions, this might be accomplished. But it would not make any essential addition to our knowledge of the gospel. We should have, in every jot and tittle, the same way of salvation that we have now, and the same duties in respect to it. To all who, on grounds like these, find difficulty with the doctrine of plenary inspiration, we may say, in the words of the apostle, "Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."

7. The extent of the canon is determined by the extent of inspiration. The question to be settled respecting each book of the New Testament is, Was it written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? or, which amounts to the same thing, Has it apostolic authority? If it has, it is to be received; if not, it is to be rejected. There is no middle ground—no division of the canon into books of primary and of secondary authority.




Although the great central truth of redemption, that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," and that we have in the New Testament a true record of this mission, rests, as has been shown, upon an immovable foundation, we have as yet seen the argument in only half its strength. Not until we consider the advent of Christ in connection with the bright train of revelations that preceded and prepared the way for his coming, do we see it in its full glory, or comprehend the amount of divine testimony by which it is certified to us. We have already seen, chap. 5. 1, how the events recorded in the Acts of the Apostles follow, as a natural sequel, from the truth of the gospel history; how, if we admit the former, we ought, for very consistency, to admit the latter also, since the two cling together as inseparable parts of one great plan. It is now proposed to look backward from the Saviour's advent to the preceding series of revelations, and show how naturally in the plan of God they preceded that great event, and how inseparably they were connected with it as parts of one great whole.

1. The supernatural mission of Christ furnishes, in and of itself, a very strong presumption in favor of previous supernatural revelations. That such a mighty event as this should have burst upon the world abruptly, without any previous preparation, is contrary to the whole order of providence as well as of nature, which is, "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." And since the advent of Christ was miraculous in the fullest sense of the term, why should not the way for it have been prepared by miraculous revelations as {114} well as by providential movements? The natural sun does not emerge suddenly from the darkness of night: his approach is preceded by the day-star and the dawn. So were the revelations which God made to men from Adam to Malachi, with the mighty movements of his providence that accompanied them, the day-star and the dawn that ushered in upon the world the glorious sun of righteousness.

2. We have the great fact that the Jewish people, among whom our Lord appeared, and from among whom he chose the primitive preachers of the gospel, possessed a firm and deeply-rooted belief in the unity of God and his infinite perfections. That such a belief was a necessary foundation for the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, all of which are underlaid by that of trinity in unity, is self-evident. Now, this belief was peculiar to the Jews, as contrasted with other nations; and it was held, moreover, not simply by a few philosophers and learned men among them, but by the mass of the people. No other example of a whole nation receiving and holding firmly this fundamental doctrine of religion existed then, or had ever existed; and no adequate explanation of this great fact has ever been given, except that contained in the revelation of God to this people recorded in the Old Testament. It was not by chance, but in accordance with the eternal plan of redemption, that the Messiah appeared where as well as when he did; not in Egypt in the days of Pharaoh, nor in Nineveh, or Babylon, or Greece, or Rome; but among the Jewish people, when now "the fulness of time was come."

3. The impossibility of any attempt to dissever the revelations of the Old Testament from those of the New appears most clearly when we consider the explicit declarations of our Saviour, and after him the apostles, on this point. If we know any thing whatever concerning the doctrines of our Lord Jesus, we know that he constantly taught his disciples that he had come in accordance with the prophecies of the Old Testament. If there were found in his discourses only one or two remote allusions to these prophecies, there would be more show of reason in the {115} favorite hypothesis of rationalists, that the disciples misapprehended their Lord's meaning. But his teachings are so numerous and explicit on this point that, even aside from the inspiration of the writers, such an explanation is not to be thought of for a moment. It was with two of them a matter of personal knowledge that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself," Luke 24:27; and with all of them that he said, after his resurrection, in reference to his past teachings: "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me." Luke 24:44. That in Christ were fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, appears in every variety of form in the gospel narratives. It constituted, so to speak, the warp into which the Saviour wove his web of daily instruction. Now if a single thread, unlike all the rest in substance and color, had found its way into this warp, we might, perhaps, regard it as foreign and accidental; but to dissever from our Lord's words all his references to the prophecies concerning himself in the Old Testament, would be to take out of the web all the threads of the warp, and then the web itself would be gone. No unbiased reader ever did, or ever could gain from the words of Christ and his apostles any other idea than that Jesus of Nazareth came in accordance with a bright train of supernatural revelations going before and preparing the way for his advent. This idea is so incorporated into the very substance of the New Testament that it must stand or fall with it.

4. Having contemplated the indivisible nature of revelation from the position of the New Testament, we are now prepared to go back and look at it from the platform of the Old Testament. We shall find this thickly sown with those great principles which underlie the plan of redemption, and bind it together as one glorious whole.

First of all, we have in the narrative of Adam's fall and the consequences thence proceeding to the race, the substratum, so {116} to speak, on which the plan of redemption is built. From this we learn that alienation from God and wickedness is not the original condition of the race. Man was made upright and placed in communion with God. From that condition he fell, in the manner recorded in the Old Testament; and to restore him, through Christ, to his primitive state is the work which the gospel proposes to accomplish. The great historic event of redemption is that "the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil;" and these are the very works described in the narrative now under consideration, namely, the seduction of man from his allegiance to God, with the misery and death that followed. The primitive history of man's apostacy contains, then, the very key to the plan of redemption. So it is plainly regarded by the apostle Paul. He builds upon it arguments relating not to the outworks of redemption, but to its inward nature. He makes the universality of man's fallen condition through the sin of Adam the platform on which is built the universality of the provisions of salvation through Christ. "As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Rom. 5:18, 19. "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:21, 22. How could the original transaction of the fall, through the wiles of the devil, and the manifestation of God's Son to destroy the works of the devil, be more indissolubly bound together as parts of one great whole than in these words of an inspired apostle?

Secondly, the Abrahamic covenant connects itself immediately with the mission and work of Christ. It was made with Abraham, not for himself and his posterity alone, but for all mankind: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Gen. 22:18. And if the Abrahamic covenant had respect to the whole human family, the same must be true of {117} the Mosaic economy in its ultimate design; since this did not abrogate the covenant made with Abraham, as the apostle Paul expressly shows, Gal. 3:17, but rather came in as subordinate to it, and with a view of preparing the way for the accomplishment of its rich provisions of mercy for "all families of the earth." The Mosaic economy was then a partial subservient to a universal dispensation.

The Abrahamic covenant was also purely spiritual in its character, the condition of its blessings being nothing else than faith. The apostle Paul urges the fact that this covenant was made with Abraham before his circumcision, lest any should say that it was conditioned wholly or in part upon a carnal ordinance: "He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised." Rom. 4:11. The seal of circumcision, then, did not make the covenant valid, for the covenant existed many years before the rite of circumcision was instituted. Faith was the only condition of Abraham's justification. "He believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness." Gen. 15:6.

And if we look at the promise contained in the Abrahamic covenant, "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed," we find it to be the very substance of the gospel, as the apostle Paul says: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Gal. 3:8. The incarnation and work of Christ are, according to the uniform representation of the New Testament, nothing else but the carrying out of the covenant made with Abraham, for this covenant was made for all mankind, was purely spiritual, being conditioned on faith alone, and its substance is Christ, in whom all nations are blessed.

And while God has thus indissolubly linked to the incarnation of his Son this high transaction with Abraham, we see how he has at the same time connected it with the first promise made in Eden, and thus with the fall of man through the {118} subtilty of Satan. The promise in Eden is that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. The promise to Abraham is that in his seed, which is also the seed of the woman, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Now it is by the bruising of the serpent's head, or, in New Testament language, by destroying the works of the devil, that Abraham's seed blesses all the families of the earth. The two promises, then, are in their inmost nature one and the same, and their fulfilment constitutes the work of Christ.

Thirdly, the end of the Mosaic economy is Christ. Its general scope is thus briefly summed up by Paul: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." Gal. 3:25. But not to insist on this, let us contemplate its three great institutions—the prophetic, the kingly, and the priestly order.

The mode of communication which God employed on Sinai the people could not endure, and they besought him, through Moses, that it might be discontinued: "Speak them with us," they said, "and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." Ex. 20:19. Of this request God approved, and promised: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee." Deut. 18:18. The point of special emphasis is, that the great Prophet here promised, who is Christ, should be one of their brethren, as Moses was. His personal advent was for many ages delayed; but in the meantime his office was foreshadowed by the prophetical order in Israel, consisting of men sent by God to address their brethren. Thus the old dispensation and the new are linked together by the great fundamental principle—that God should address man through man—which runs through both. The whole series of Old Testament prophecies, moreover, point to Christ as their end and fulfilment; "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rev. 19:10.

The kingly office of the Old Testament connects itself with that of Christ in a special way. Not only did the headship given to David and his successors over the covenant people of {119} God adumbrate the higher headship of Christ, but David had from God the promise: "Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." 2 Sam. 7:16. This promise is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, "the seed of David according to the flesh," according to the express declaration of the New Testament: "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:32, 33.

The priestly office, with the blood of the sacrifices connected with it, prefigured Christ, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." By the stream of sacrificial blood that flowed for so many ages was set forth that great fundamental truth of redemption, that "without shedding of blood is no remission." Heb. 9:22. The sacrifices of the Mosaic law were continually repeated, because "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Heb. 10:4. But when Christ had offered his own blood on Calvary for the sins of the world, the typical sacrifices of the law ceased for ever, having been fulfilled in the great Antitype, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Ephes. 1:7.

5. Since the Old Testament and the New are thus inseparably connected as parts of one grand system of revelation, of which the end is Christ, it follows that the later revelations of the New Testament are the true interpreters of the earlier, which are contained in the Old. This is only saying that the Holy Ghost is the true and proper expositor of his own communications to man. From the interpretations of Christ and his apostles, fairly ascertained, there is no appeal. And they are fairly ascertained when we have learned in what sense they must have been understood by their hearers. All expositions of the Old Testament that set aside, either openly or in a covert way, the supreme authority of Christ and his apostles, are false, and only lead men away from the truth as it is in Jesus.




The term Pentateuch is composed of the two Greek words, pente, five, and teuchos, which in later Alexandrine usage signified book. It denotes, therefore, the collection of five books; or, the five books of the law considered as a whole.

1. In our inquiries respecting the authorship of the Pentateuch, we begin with the undisputed fact that it existed in its present form in the days of Christ and his apostles, and had so existed from the time of Ezra. When the translators of the Greek version, called the Septuagint, began their work, about 280 B.C., they found the Pentateuch as we now have it, and no one pretends that it had undergone any change between their day and that of Ezra, about 460 B.C. It was universally ascribed to Moses as its author, and was called in common usage the law, or the law of Moses.

2. That the authorship of the law in its written form is ascribed to Moses in the New Testament every one knows. "The law was given by Moses;" "Did not Moses give you the law?" "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me;" "For the hardness of your heart he," Moses, "wrote you this precept;" "Master, Moses wrote unto us;" "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" etc. Since now the whole collection of books was familiarly known to the people as the law, or the law of Moses, it is reasonable to infer that our Saviour and his apostles use these terms in the same comprehensive sense, unless there is a limitation given in the context. Such a limitation the apostle Paul makes when he opposes to the Mosaic law the previous promise to Abraham: "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in {121} Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect." Gal. 3:17, and compare the following verses. But in the following chapter Paul manifestly employs the words the law of the whole Pentateuch, to every part of which he, in common with the Jewish people, ascribed equal and divine authority: "Tell me, ye that desire to be under law"—under a system of law, the article being wanting in the original—"do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman," etc., Gal. 4:21, seq., where the reference is to the narrative recorded in Genesis, as a part of the law. So also in the following passage: "Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath-day," Acts 15:21; the term Moses necessarily means the law of Moses, as comprehending the whole Pentateuch, for it was that which was read in the synagogues. Compare the words of Luke: "After the reading of the law and the prophets," Acts 13:15. And in general, when Christ and his apostles speak of Moses or the law, without any limitation arising from the context, thus, "The law was given by Moses;" "They have Moses and the prophets," etc., we are to understand them as referring to the Pentateuch as a whole, for such was the common usage of the Jewish people, and such must have been their apprehension of the meaning of the terms.

3. But it may be said, Christ and his apostles did not speak as critics, but only in a popular way. That they did not speak of the Pentateuch as critics, is certain. They had no occasion for doing so, since no Jew doubted either its divine authority or its Mosaic authorship. But when we consider, on the one side, with what unsparing severity our Lord set aside the traditions of the Pharisees as "the commandments of men," and on the other, how he and his apostles ascribed equal divine authority to every part of the Pentateuch, as will be shown in the next chapter, and how unequivocally they sanctioned the universal belief that Moses was its author, we must acknowledge that we {122} have the entire authority of the New Testament for its Mosaic authorship in every essential respect. This is entirely consistent with the belief that inspired men, like Ezra, and perhaps also prophetical men of an earlier age, in setting forth revised copies of the Pentateuch, that is, copies which aimed to give the true text with as much accuracy as possible, may have added here and there explanatory clauses for the benefit of the readers of their day. Such incidental clauses, added by men of God under the guidance of his Spirit, would not affect in the least the substance of the Pentateuch. It would still remain in every practical sense the work of Moses, and be so regarded in the New Testament.

Whether there are, or are not, in the Pentateuch, such clauses added by a later hand, and not affecting either its essential contents or its Mosaic authorship, is an open question to be determined by impartial criticism. At the present day editors carefully indicate their explanatory notes; but this was not the usage of high antiquity. At the close of the book of Deuteronomy, for example, there is immediately added, without any explanatory remark, a notice of Moses' death. We are at liberty to assume, if we have cogent reasons for so doing, that brief explanatory clauses were sometimes interwoven into the Mosaic text; as, for example, the remark in Gen. 36:31, which is repeated in 1 Chron. 1:43, a book ascribed to Ezra; Exod. 16:35, 36, etc.

4. Going back now to the days of the Restoration under Zerubbabel and his associates, about 536 B.C., we find that the very first act of the restored captives was to set up "the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God." The narrative goes on to specify that "they offered burnt-offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt-offerings morning and evening. They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt-offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; and afterwards offered the continual burnt-offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a free-will offering unto the Lord." Ezra 3:1-5. About ninety years afterwards, upon {123} the completion of the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, about 445 B.C., we find Ezra the priest—"a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given," Ezra 7:6—on the occasion of the feast of tabernacles bringing forth "the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel," and reading in it "from the morning unto midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand." In this work he was assisted by a body of men, who "caused the people to understand the law;" and the reading was continued through the seven days of the feast: "day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God." Neh. ch. 8. It was not the book of Deuteronomy alone that they read. We might infer this from the extent of the reading, which was sufficient for all the preceptive parts of the Pentateuch. But here we are not left to mere inference. On the second day "they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month;" and that they should "fetch olive-branches, and pine-branches, and myrtle-branches, and palm-branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written." Neh. 8:13-17. The precept concerning booths with boughs of trees occurs in Lev. 23:40-43, a passage which they might naturally enough reach on the second day.

Ezra's assistants gave the sense not by labored expositions, but by interpreting the Hebrew in the Chaldee vernacular of the people. This would about double the time devoted to a given section. All that pertained to the structure of the tabernacle was superseded by the first temple, which served the returned captives as their model in the erection of the second. We may well suppose that this was omitted. There would then remain only four or five chapters in the book of Exodus. Thus the passage in question would naturally fall on the second day.

5. Jewish tradition ascribes to Ezra the work of settling the canon of the Old Testament, and setting forth a corrected edition of the same. Though some things included in this tradition are fabulous, the part of it now under consideration is {124} corroborated by all the scriptural statements concerning him, nor is there any reasonable ground for doubting its correctness. Be this as it may, it is admitted that from Ezra's day onward the Pentateuch existed in its present form. We are sure, therefore, that "the book of the law of Moses," out of which he read to the people, was the book as we now have it—the whole Pentateuch, written, according to uniform Jewish usage, on a single roll. Ezra belonged to the priestly order that had in charge the keeping of the sacred books, Deut. 31:25, 26, compared with 2 Kings 22:8, and was moreover "a ready scribe in the law of Moses." His zeal for the reëstablishment of the Mosaic law in its purity shines forth in his whole history. In his competency and fidelity we have satisfactory evidence that the law of Moses which he set forth was the very law which had been handed down from ancient times, and of which we have frequent notices in the books of Kings and Chronicles.

It is generally supposed that Ezra himself wrote the books of Chronicles. They were certainly composed about his time. To admit, as all do, that in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah the law of Moses means the Pentateuch as a whole, and to deny that it has the same meaning in the books of Chronicles, is very inconsistent. Certainly the book which Ezra set forth was the book which he found ready at hand, and therefore the book referred to in the Chronicles, and the Kings also. Any explanatory additions which he may have made did not affect its substance. It remains for the objector to show why it was not, in all essential respects, the book which Hilkiah found in the temple, 2 Chron. 34:14, and to which David referred in his dying charge to Solomon, 1 Kings 2:3.

6. Passing by, for the present, the notices of the law of Moses contained in the book of Joshua, we come to the testimony of the book of Deuteronomy. We have seen that the Mosaic authorship of the book, as a part of the Pentateuch, is everywhere assumed by the writers of the New Testament. But, in addition to this, they make quotations from it under the forms, "Moses wrote," "Moses truly said unto the fathers," etc. Mark 10:3-5; Acts 3:22; Rom. 10:19. If we examine the book itself, its own testimony is equally explicit. In chap. {125} 17:24 Moses directs that when the Israelites shall appoint a king, "he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites." In the opinion of some, this language refers to the whole law of Moses, while others would restrict it to the book of Deuteronomy; but all are agreed that it includes the whole of the latter work, with the exception of the closing sections. By a comparison of this passage with chaps. 28:58; 31:9, 24-26, the evidence is complete that Moses wrote this law, and delivered it to the priests, to be laid up by the side of the ark in the tabernacle. If this testimony needed any corroboration, we should have it in the character of the work itself. It is the solemn farewell of the aged lawgiver to the people whose leader he had been for the space of forty years. In perfect harmony with this are the grandeur and dignity of its style, its hortatory character, and the exquisite tenderness and pathos that pervade every part of it. It is every way worthy of Moses; nor can we conceive of any other Hebrew who was in a position to write such a book.

7. The book of Deuteronomy contains a renewal of the covenant which God made with the children of Israel at Sinai. Chap. 29:10-15. Moses himself distinguishes between the former and the latter covenant. "These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." Chap. 29:1. With each covenant was connected a series of laws; those belonging to the latter being mainly, but not entirely, a repetition of laws given with the first covenant. We have seen that Moses wrote the second covenant, and all the laws connected with it. From Exodus, ch. 24, we learn that he wrote also the book of the first covenant containing, we may reasonably suppose, all of God's legislation up to that time. The inference is irresistible that he wrote also the laws that followed in connection with the first covenant. It is an undeniable fact that these laws underlie the whole constitution of the Israelitish nation, religious, {126} civil, and social. They cannot, then, have been the invention of a later age; for no such fraud can be imposed, or was ever imposed upon a whole people. They are their own witness also that they were given by the hand of Moses, for they are all prefaced by the words, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying." When we consider their fundamental character, their extent, and the number and minuteness of their details, we cannot for a moment suppose that they were left unwritten by such a man as Moses, who had all the qualifications for writing them. Why should not the man who received them from the Lord have also recorded them—this man educated at the court of Egypt, and learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, who had already written "the book of the covenant," and afterwards wrote the journeyings of the Israelites, Numb. ch. 23, and the book of Deuteronomy? An express statement from Moses himself is not needed. The fact is to be understood from the nature of the case, and to call it in question is gratuitous skepticism.

8. The form of the Mosaic laws that precede the book of Deuteronomy is in perfect harmony with the assumption that Moses himself not only received them, but wrote them. They bear the impress of having been recorded not continuously, but from time to time, as they were communicated to him. In this way the historical notices which are woven into them—the matter of the golden calf, Exodus, ch. 32, the death of Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus, ch. 10, the blasphemy of Shelomith's son, Leviticus, ch. 24, and the numerous incidents recorded in the book of Numbers—all these narratives find a perfectly natural explanation. Some of these incidents—as, for example, the blasphemy of Shelomith's son—come in abruptly, without any connection in the context; and their position can be accounted for only upon the assumption that they were recorded as they happened. In this peculiar feature of the Mosaic code before Deuteronomy, we have at once a proof that Moses was the writer, and that the historical notices connected with it were also recorded by him. The result at which we arrive is that the whole record from God's appearance to Moses and {127} his mission to Pharaoh has Moses himself for its author. The authorship of the preceding part of the Pentateuch will be considered separately.

9. The above result in reference to that part of the law which precedes Deuteronomy, is confirmed by the testimony of the New Testament. In disputing with the Sadducees, our Lord appealed to the writings of Moses, which they acknowledged: "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Luke 20:37. It was by recording the words of God, as given in Exodus 3:6, that Moses called the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The apostle Paul, again, referring to Lev. 18:5, says: "Moses describeth"—literally, writeth—"the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them." Rom. 10:5. Here also belong certain passages that speak of precepts in "the law of Moses," as Luke 2:22-24, where the reference is to various precepts in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers—Exod. 13:2; 22:29; 34:19; Lev. 12:2, seq.; Numb. 3:13; 8:17; 18:15—John 7:22, 23, where the reference is to Lev. 12:2; for with the New Testament writers "the law of Moses" means the law written by Moses. In like manner we find references in the Old Testament to the books of the law of Moses that precede Deuteronomy—2 Chron. 23:18 compared with Numb. 28:2, seq.; 2 Chron. 24:6 compared with Exod. 30:12, seq.; Ezra 3:2-5 compared with Numb. 28:2, seq., and 29:12, seq.; Neh. 8:15 compared with Lev. 23:40.

10. The relation of the book of Deuteronomy to the earlier portions of the law deserves a careful consideration. And, first, in regard to time. All that portion of the law which precedes the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers was given in the first and second years after the exodus; consequently thirty-eight years before the composition of the book of Deuteronomy. The four chapters of Numbers that follow, chaps. 16-19, are generally dated about twenty years later—that is, about eighteen years before the composition of Deuteronomy. {128} Only the last seventeen chapters of Numbers, which are mostly occupied with historical notices, were written in the preceding year.

Then, as it respects general design. At Horeb the entire constitution of the theocracy was to be established. This part of the law is, therefore, more formal and circumstantial. It gives minute directions for the celebration of the passover; for the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture; for the dress, consecration, duties, and perquisites of the priesthood and Levitical order; for the entire system of sacrifices; for the distinction between clean and unclean animals; for all those duties that were especially of a priestly character, as judgment in the case of leprosy, and purification from ceremonial uncleanness; for the order of journeying and encamping in the wilderness, etc. In a word, it gives more prominence to the forms of the law, and the duties of those to whom its administration was committed. Not so on the plains of Moab. The theocracy had then been long in operation. The details of its service were well understood, and there was no need of formal and circumstantial repetition. The work of Moses now was not to give a new law, but to enforce the law of Horeb, with such subordinate modifications and additions as were required by the new circumstances of the people, now about to take possession of the promised land and change their wandering life for fixed abodes. He had to do, therefore, more prominently not with the administrators of law, but with the people; and accordingly his precepts assume a hortatory character, and his style becomes more diffuse and flowing.

The personal relation of Moses to the people was also greatly changed. At Horeb he had the great work of his life before him, but now it is behind him. He is about to leave his beloved Israel, whom he has borne on his heart and guided by his counsels for forty years. Hence the inimitable tenderness and pathos that pervade the book of Deuteronomy.

When now we take into account all these altered circumstances, we have a full explanation of the peculiarities which {129} mark the book of Deuteronomy as compared with the preceding books. Were these peculiarities wanting, we should miss a main proof of its genuineness. Nevertheless the book is thoroughly Mosaic in its style, and the scholar who reads it in the original Hebrew can detect peculiar forms of expression belonging only to the Pentateuch. As to alleged disagreements between some of its statements and those of the earlier books, it is sufficient to remark that upon a candid examination they mostly disappear; and even where we cannot fully explain them, this furnishes no valid ground for denying the genuineness of either portion of the law. Such seeming discrepancies are not uncommon when a writer of acknowledged credibility repeats what he has before written. Compare, for example, the three narratives of the apostle Paul's conversion which are recorded in the book of Acts.

The question as to the extent of meaning which should be given in Deuteronomy to the expressions, "a copy of this law," "the words of this law," "this book of the law," is one upon which expositors are not agreed, nor is it essential; since, as we have seen, the Mosaic authorship of the former part of the law rests upon broader grounds.

In Deut. 27:3, 8, it seems necessary to understand the expression, "all the words of this law," which were to be written upon tables of stone set up on mount Ebal, of the blessings and curses—ver. 12, 13—contained in this and the following chapter. But elsewhere, chs. 17:18; 31:9, 24-26, we must certainly include at least the whole of Deuteronomy. If we suppose that it was Moses' custom to write out the precepts of the law with the historical notices pertaining to them in a continuous roll, which was enlarged from time to time, and that he added to this roll the book of Deuteronomy, then the words in question must be understood of the entire body of precepts from the beginning. But if, as seems to be intimated in Deut. 31:24, he wrote Deuteronomy in a separate book, ("in a book," without the article,) the words naturally refer to Deuteronomy alone. This work, as containing a summary of the law—a second law, as the word Deuteronomy signifies—might well be spoken of as "this law," without any denial of an earlier law; just as the covenant made with the people at this time is called "this covenant," ch. 29:14, without any denial of an earlier covenant. The reverent scholar will be careful not to be wise above what {130} is written. It might gratify our curiosity to know exactly in what outward form Moses left the Law with the historical notices woven into it; whether in one continuous roll, or in several rolls which were afterwards arranged by some prophet, perhaps with connecting and explanatory clauses; but it could add nothing to our knowledge of the way of salvation. In either case it would be alike the law of Moses and the law which Moses wrote, invested with full divine authority.

11. It being established that Moses wrote the whole law with the historical notices appertaining to it, we naturally infer that he must have written the book of Genesis also, which is introductory to the law. For this work he had every qualification, and we know of no other man that had the like qualifications. On this ground alone the Mosaic authorship of the book might be reasonably assumed, unless decided proofs to the contrary could be adduced. But we find, upon examination, that the book of Genesis is so connected with the following books that without the knowledge of its contents they cannot be rightly understood. The very first appearance of God to Moses is introduced by the remark that he "remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." In addressing Moses he calls the children of Israel "my people," Exod. 3:6-10; and sends Moses to Pharaoh with the message, "Let my people go." All this implies a knowledge of the covenant which God made with Abraham and his seed after him, by virtue of which the Israelites became his peculiar people. It is not simply as an oppressed people that God undertakes to deliver them and give them possession of the land of Canaan, but as his people. Again and again does Moses describe the promised land as "the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them." With the book of Genesis these declarations are plain; but without it they are unintelligible. The Abrahamic covenant, which is recorded in the book of Genesis, is not a subordinate, but an essential part of the history of the Israelites. It underlies the whole plan of redemption, and upon it the Mosaic economy, as a part of that plan, is erected. {131} Why should any one suppose that Moses, who recorded the establishment of this economy with all its details, omitted to record the great transactions with the patriarchs which lie at its foundation? There are other references to the book of Genesis in the law of Moses. The institution of the Sabbath is expressly based on the order of creation recorded in the first two chapters; and when the people leave Egypt they carry with them the bones of Joseph, in accordance with the oath which he had exacted of them. Gen. 50:25, compared with Exod. 13:19.

To the Mosaic authorship of Genesis it has been objected, that it contains marks of a later age. But these marks, so far as they have any real existence, belong not to the substance of the book. They are restricted to a few explanatory notices, which may well have been added by Ezra or some prophetical man before him, in setting forth a revised copy of the law. See No. 3, above. The passages which can, with any show of probability, be referred to a later age, are, taken all together, very inconsiderable, and they refer only to incidental matters, while the book, as a whole, bears all the marks of high antiquity.

To the Mosaic authorship of this book it has been objected again, that it contains the writings of different authors. This is especially argued from the diversity of usage in respect to the divine name, some passages employing the word Elohim, God, others the word Jehovah, or a combination of the two terms. Whatever force there may be in this argument, the validity of which is denied by many who think that the inspired writer designedly varied his usage between the general term God and the special covenant name Jehovah, it goes only to show that Moses may have made use of previously existing documents; a supposition which we need not hesitate to admit, provided we have cogent reasons for so doing. Whatever may have been the origin of these documents, they received through Moses the seal of God's authority, and thus became a part of his inspired word.


Several writers have attempted to distinguish throughout the book of Genesis the parts which they would assign to different authors; but beyond the first chapters they are not able to agree among themselves. All attempts to carry the distinction of different authors into the later books rest on fanciful grounds.

12. That the Pentateuch, as a whole, proceeded from a single author, is shown by the unity of plan that pervades the whole work. The book of Genesis constitutes, as has been shown, a general introduction to the account which follows of the establishment of the theocracy; and it is indispensable to the true understanding of it. In the first part of the book of Exodus we have a special introduction to the giving of the law; for it records the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, and their journey to Sinai. The Mosaic institutions presuppose a sanctuary as their visible material centre. The last part of Exodus, after the promulgation of the ten commandments and the precepts connected with them, is accordingly occupied with the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture, and the dress and consecration of the priests who ministered there. In Leviticus, the central book of the Pentateuch, we have the central institution of the Mosaic economy, namely, the system of sacrifices belonging to the priesthood, and also, in general, the body of ordinances intrusted to their administration. The theocracy having been founded at Sinai, it was necessary that arrangements should be made for the orderly march of the people to the land of Canaan. With these the book of Numbers opens, and then proceeds to narrate the various incidents that befell the people in the wilderness, with a record of their encampments, and also the addition from time to time of new ordinances. The book of Deuteronomy contains the grand farewell address of Moses to the Israelites, into which is woven a summary of the precepts already given which concerned particularly the people at large, with various modifications and additions suited to their new circumstances and the new duties about to be devolved upon them. We see then that the Pentateuch constitutes a consistent whole. Unity of {133} design, harmony of parts, continual progress from beginning to end—these are its grand characteristics; and they prove that it is not a heterogeneous collection of writings put together without order, but the work of a single master-spirit, writing under God's immediate direction, according to the uniform testimony of the New Testament.




1. The historic truth of the Pentateuch is everywhere assumed by the writers of the New Testament in the most absolute and unqualified manner. They do not simply allude to it and make quotations from it, as one might do in the case of Homer's poems, but they build upon the facts which it records arguments of the weightiest character, and pertaining to the essential doctrines and duties of religion. This is alike true of the Mosaic laws and of the narratives that precede them or are interwoven with them. In truth, the writers of the New Testament know no distinction, as it respects divine authority, between one part of the Pentateuch and another. They receive the whole as an authentic and inspired record of God's dealings with men. A few examples, taken mostly from the book of Genesis, will set this in a clear light.

In reasoning with the Pharisees on the question of divorce, our Lord appeals to the primitive record: "Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." And when, upon this, the Pharisees ask, "Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" Deut. 24:1, he answers in such a way as to recognize both the authority of the Mosaic legislation and the validity of the ante-Mosaic record: "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." He then proceeds to {135} enforce the marriage covenant as it was "from the beginning." Matt. 19:3-9, compared with Gen. 2:23, 24. In like manner the apostle Paul establishes the headship of the man over the woman: "He is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." 1 Cor. 11:7-9, compared with Gen. 2:18-22. And again: "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 1 Tim. 2:12-14, compared with Gen. 2:18-22; 3:l-6, 13. So also he argues from the primitive record that, as by one man sin and death came upon the whole human race, so by Christ Jesus life and immortality are procured for all. Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, compared with Gen. 2:17; 3:19, 22. The story of Cain and Abel, Gen. 4:3-12, is repeatedly referred to by the Saviour and his apostles as a historic truth: Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11. So also the narrative of the deluge: Gen. chs. 6-8, compared with Matt. 14:37-39; Luke 17:26, 27; Heb. 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; and of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Gen. ch. 19, compared with Luke 17:28, 29; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7. It is useless to adduce further quotations. No man can read the New Testament without the profound conviction that the authenticity and credibility of the Pentateuch are attested in every conceivable way by the Saviour and his apostles. To reject the authority of the former is to deny that of the latter also.

2. For the authenticity and credibility of the Pentateuch we have an independent argument in the fact that it lay at the foundation of the whole Jewish polity, civil, religious, and social. From the time of Moses and onward, the Israelitish nation unanimously acknowledged its divine authority, even when, through the force of sinful passion, they disobeyed its commands. The whole life of the people was moulded and {136} shaped by its institutions; so that they became, in a good sense, a peculiar people, with "laws diverse from all people." They alone, of all the nations of the earth, held the doctrine of God's unity and personality, in opposition to all forms of polytheism and pantheism; and thus they alone were prepared to receive and propagate the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. Chap. 8, No. 2. If now we admit the truth of the Mosaic record, all this becomes perfectly plain and intelligible; but if we deny it, we involve ourselves at once in the grossest absurdities. How could the Jewish people have been induced to accept with undoubting faith such a body of laws as that contained in the Pentateuch—so burdensome in their multiplicity, so opposed to all the beliefs and practices of the surrounding nations, and imposing such severe restraints upon their corrupt passions—except upon the clearest evidence of their divine authority? Such evidence they had in the stupendous miracles connected with their deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the law on Sinai. The fact that Moses constantly appeals to these miracles, as well known to the whole body of the people, is irrefragable proof of their reality. None but a madman would thus appeal to miracles which had no existence; and if he did, his appeal would be met only by derision. Mohammed needed not the help of miracles, for his appeal was to the sword and to the corrupt passions of the human heart; and he never attempted to rest his pretended divine mission on the evidence of miracles. He knew that to do so would be to overthrow at once his authority as the prophet of God. But the Mosaic economy needed and received the seal of miracles, to which Moses continually appeals as to undeniable realities. But if the miracles recorded in the Pentateuch are real, then it contains a revelation from God, and is entitled to our unwavering faith. Then too we can explain how, in the providence of God, the Mosaic institutions prepared the way for the advent of "Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." Thus we connect the old dispensation with the new, and see both together as one whole.


Other arguments might be adduced; but upon these two great pillars—the authority, on the one side, of the New Testament, and, on the other, the fact that the Pentateuch contains the entire body of laws by which the Jewish nation was moulded and formed, and that its character and history can be explained only upon the assumption of its truth—on these two great pillars the authenticity and credibility of the Pentateuch rest, as upon an immovable basis.

3. The difficulties connected with the Pentateuch, so far as its contents are concerned, rest mainly on two grounds, scientific and historical, or moral. The nature of the scientific difficulties forbids their discussion within the restricted limits of the present work. It may be said, however, generally, that so far as they are real, they relate not so much to the truth of the Mosaic record, as to the manner in which certain parts of it should be understood.

How long, for example, that state of things continued which is described in Gen. 1:2, or what particular results were produced by the operation of the divine Spirit there recorded, we do not know. What extent of meaning should be assigned to the six days of creation—whether they should be understood literally or in a symbolical way, like the prophetical days of Daniel and Revelation—Dan. 7:25; 9:24-27; Rev. 9:15; 11:3, etc.—is a question on which devout believers have differed ever since the days of Augustine. See Prof. Tayler Lewis' Six Days of Creation, ch. 14. But all who receive the Bible as containing a revelation from God agree in holding the truth of the narrative. So also in regard to the Deluge and other events involving scientific questions which are recorded in the book of Genesis. Some of these questions may perhaps be satisfactorily solved by further inquiry. Others will probably remain shrouded in mystery till the consummation of all things. To the class of historical difficulties belong several chronological questions, as, for example, that of the duration of the Israelitish residence in Egypt. It is sufficient to say that however these shall be settled—if settled at all—they cannot with any reasonable man affect the divine authority of the Pentateuch which is certified to us by so many sure proofs.

4. The difficulties which are urged against the Pentateuch on moral grounds rest partly on misapprehension, and are partly of such a character that, when rightly considered, they {138} turn against the objectors themselves. This will be illustrated by a few examples.

A common objection to the Mosaic economy is drawn from its exclusiveness. It contains, it is alleged, a religion not for all mankind, but for a single nation. The answer is at hand. That this economy may be rightly understood, it must be considered not separately and independently, but as one part of a great plan. It was, as we have seen, subordinate to the covenant made with Abraham, which had respect to "all the families of the earth." Chap. 8, No. 4. It came in temporarily to prepare the way for the advent of Christ, through whom the Abrahamic covenant was to be carried into effect. It was a partial, preparatory to a universal dispensation, and looked, therefore, ultimately to the salvation of the entire race. So far then as the benevolent design of God is concerned, the objection drawn from the exclusiveness of the Mosaic economy falls to the ground. It remains for the objector to show how a universal dispensation, like Christianity, could have been wisely introduced, without a previous work of preparation, or how any better plan of preparation could have been adopted than that contained in the Mosaic economy.

If the laws of Moses interposed, as they certainly did, many obstacles to the intercourse of the Israelites with other nations, the design was not to encourage in them a spirit of national pride and contempt of other nations, but to preserve them from the contagious influence of the heathen practices by which they were surrounded. On this ground the Mosaic laws everywhere rest the restrictions which they impose upon the Israelites: "Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take to thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods." Deut. 7:3, 4. How necessary were these restrictions was made manifest by the whole subsequent history of the people. So far was the Mosaic law from countenancing hatred towards the persons of foreigners, that it expressly enjoined kindness: "If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. {139} But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Lev. 19:34.

5. Another ground of objection to the Mosaic law has been the number and minuteness of its ordinances. That this feature of the theocracy was, absolutely considered, an imperfection, is boldly asserted in the New Testament. The apostle Peter calls it "a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear." Acts 15:10. Nevertheless the wisdom of God judged it necessary in the infancy of the nation, that it might thus be trained, and through it the world, for the future inheritance of the gospel. It is in this very aspect that the apostle Paul says: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Gal. 3:24, 25. The divine plan was to prescribe minutely all the institutions of the Mosaic economy, leaving nothing to human discretion, apparently to prevent the intermixture with them of heathenish rites and usages; perhaps also that in this body of outward forms the faith of the Israelites might have a needful resting-place, until the way should be prepared for the introduction of a simpler and more spiritual system.

We must be careful, however, that we do not fall into the error of supposing that the Mosaic law prescribed a religion of mere outward forms. On the contrary, it was pervaded throughout by an evangelical principle. It knew nothing of heartless forms in which the religion of the heart is wanting. The observance of all its numerous ordinances it enjoined on the spiritual ground of love, gratitude, and humility. If any one would understand in what a variety of forms these inward graces of the soul, which constitute the essence of religion, are inculcated in the Pentateuch, he has but to read the book of Deuteronomy; there he will see how the law of Moses aimed to make men religious not in the letter, but in the spirit; how, in a word, it rested the observance of the letter on the good foundation of inward devotion to God. The summary which {140} our Saviour gave of the Mosaic law, and in it of all religion, he expressed in the very words of the law: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," Deut. 6:4, 5; "this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Lev. 19:18. Nor is this love towards our neighbor restricted to a narrow circle; for it is said of the stranger also sojourning in Israel, "Thou shalt love him as thyself." Lev. 19:34.

6. Of one usage which the Mosaic law tolerated, our Saviour himself gives the true explanation when he says: "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." Matt. 19:8. This general principle applies also to polygamy and the modified form of servitude which prevailed among the Hebrew people. That the Mosaic economy suffered, for the time being, certain usages not good in themselves, is no valid objection to it, but rather a proof of the divine wisdom of its author. Though it was his purpose to root out of human society every organic evil, he would not attempt it by premature legislation, any more than he would send his Son into the world until the way was prepared for his advent.

7. The extirpation of the Canaanitish nations by the sword of the Israelites was contemplated by the Mosaic economy. The names of these nations were carefully specified, and they were peremptorily forbidden to molest other nations; as, for example, the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. Deut. 2:4, 5, 8, 9, 18, 19. The whole transaction is to be regarded as a sovereign act of Jehovah, which had in view the manifestation of his infinite perfections for the advancement of the cause of truth and righteousness in this fallen world. Though we may not presume to fathom all the divine counsels, we can yet see how God, by the manner in which he gave Israel possession of the promised land, displayed his awful holiness, his almighty power, and his absolute supremacy over the nations of the earth, not only to the covenant people, but also to the surrounding {141} heathen world. Had the Canaanites perished by famine, pestilence, earthquake, or fire from heaven, it might have remained doubtful to the heathen by whose anger their destruction had been effected, that of the Canaanitish gods, or of the God of Israel. But now that God went forth with his people, dividing the Jordan before them, overthrowing the walls of Jericho, arresting the sun and the moon in their course, and raining down upon their enemies great hailstones from heaven, it was manifest to all that the God of Israel was the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, and that the gods of the gentile nations were vanity. This was one of the great lessons which the Theocracy was destined to teach the human family. At the same time the Israelites, who executed God's vengeance on the Canaanites, were carefully instructed that it was for their sins that the land spewed out its inhabitants, and that if they imitated them in their abominations, they should in like manner perish.

8. The Mosaic economy was but the scaffolding of the gospel. God took it down ages ago by the hand of the Romans. It perished amid fire and sword and blood, but not till it had accomplished the great work for which it was established. It bequeathed to Christianity, and through Christianity to "all the families of the earth," a glorious body of truth, which makes an inseparable part of the plan of redemption, and has thus blessed the world ever since, and shall continue to bless it to the end of time.




1. The divine authority of the Pentateuch having been established, it is not necessary to dwell at length on the historical books which follow. The events which they record are a natural and necessary sequel to the establishment of the theocracy, as given in the five books of Moses. The Pentateuch is occupied mainly with the founding of the theocracy; the following historical books describe the settlement of the Israelitish nation under this theocracy in the promised land, and its practical operation there for the space of a thousand years. There is no history in the world so full of God's presence and providence. It sets forth with divine clearness and power, on the one side, God's faithfulness in the fulfilment of the promises and threatenings contained in the Mosaic law; and on the other, the perverseness and rebellion of the people, and their perpetual relapses into idolatry, with the mighty conflict thus inaugurated between the pure monotheism of the theocracy, and the polytheism and image-worship of the surrounding heathen nations—a conflict which lasted through many ages, which enlisted on both sides the great and mighty men of the world, and which resulted in the complete triumph of the Mosaic law, at least so far as its outward form was concerned, thus preparing the way for the advent of that great Prophet in whom the theocracy had its end and its fulfilment.

2. How fully the divine authority of these books is recognized by Christ and his apostles, every reader of the New Testament understands. It is not necessary to establish this point by the quotation of particular passages. Though the writers of the historical books which follow the Pentateuch are for the most part unknown, the books themselves are put in the New {143} Testament on the same basis as the Pentateuch. To those who deny Christ, the Mosaic economy, with the history that follows, is a mystery; for when they read it "the veil is upon their heart." But to those who receive Christ as the Son of God, and the New Testament as containing a true record of his heavenly mission, Moses and the historical books that follow are luminous with divine wisdom and glory, for they contain the record of the way in which God prepared the world for the manifestation of his Son Jesus Christ.

3. The Old Testament contains a body of writings which are not historical; neither are they prophetical, in the restricted sense of the term, although some of them contain prophecy. The enumeration of these books, prominent among which are Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, with an account of their contents and the place which each of them holds in the plan of revelation, belongs to the Introduction to the Old Testament. It is sufficient to say here, that they are precious offshoots of the Mosaic economy, that they contain rich and varied treasures of divine truth for the instruction and encouragement of God's people in all ages, and that they are, as a whole, recognized in the New Testament as part of God's revelation to men. The book of Psalms, in particular, is perpetually quoted by the writers of the New Testament as containing prophecies which had their fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth.

4. The prophetical books—according to our classification, the Jews having a different arrangement—are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets. The vast body of prophecies contained in these books—the prophetical portions of the other books being also included—may be contemplated in different points of view.

Many of these prophecies, considered independently of the New Testament, afford conclusive proof that the Old Testament is the word of God, for they bear on their front the signet of their divine origin. They contain predictions of the distant future which lie altogether beyond the range of human sagacity and foresight. Such is the wonderful prophecy of {144} Moses respecting the history of the Israelitish people through all coming ages, Lev. ch. 26; Deut. ch. 28, a prophecy which defies the assaults of skepticism, and which, taken in connection with our Lord's solemn declaration, "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," Luke 21:24, marks both the Old Testament and the New as given by the same omniscient God, who declares the end from the beginning. Such also are the predictions of the utter and perpetual desolation of Babylon, uttered ages beforehand, and which presuppose a divine foresight of the course of human affairs to the end of time: "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation." "I will also make it a possession for the bittern and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts." Isa. 13:19, 20; 14:23. See also the prophecy of the overthrow of Nineveh, Nahum, chs. 2, 3, and of Tyre: "I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea." "I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more." Ezek. 26:4, 5, 14. On all the above prophecies, and many more that might be quoted, the descriptions of modern travellers furnish a perfect comment.

5. But it is preëminently in Christ that the prophecies of the Old Testament have their fulfilment. As the rays of the sun in a burning-glass all converge to one bright focus, so all the different lines of prophecy in the Old Testament centre in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Separated from him they have neither unity nor harmony; but are, like the primitive chaos, "without form and void." But in him predictions, apparently contradictory to each other, meet with divine unity and harmony.


He is a great Prophet, like Moses; the Mediator, therefore, of the new economy, as Moses was of the old, and revealing to the people the whole will of God. As a Prophet, the Spirit of the Lord rests upon him, "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." Isa. 11:2. As a Prophet, he receives from God the tongue of the learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Isa. 50:4. As a Prophet, "the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider." Isaiah 52:15.

He is also a mighty King, to whom God has given the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. He breaks the nations with a rod of iron; he dashes them in pieces as a potter's vessel, Psa. 2:8, 9; and yet "he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth." Isa. 42:2, 3. "All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him," Psa. 72:11; and yet "he is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:" "he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Isa. 53:3, 7. Many other like contrasts could be added.

With the kingly he unites the priestly office. Sitting as a king "upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever," Isa. 9:7, he is yet "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Nor is his priestly office any thing of subordinate importance, for he is inducted into it by the solemn oath of Jehovah: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Psa. 110:4. As a priest he offers up himself "an offering for sin:" "he was wounded for our transgressions, he {146} was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isa., ch. 53. When we find a key that opens all the intricate wards of a lock, we know that the key and the lock have one and the same author, and are parts of one whole. The history of Jesus of Nazareth is the key which unlocks all the wards of Old Testament prophecy. With this key Moses and the prophets open to the plainest reader; without it, they remain closed and hidden from human apprehension. We know, therefore, that he who sent his Son Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world, sent also his prophets to testify beforehand of his coming, and of the offices which he bears for our redemption.

6. To sum up all in a word, we take the deepest, and therefore the most scriptural view of the Jewish institutions and history, when we consider the whole as a perpetual adumbration of Christ—not Christ in his simple personality, but Christ in his body the church. It is not meant by this that the Mosaic economy was nothing but type. Apart from all reference to the salvation of the gospel, it was to the Israelitish people before the Saviour's advent a present reality meeting a present want. The deliverance of the people from the bondage of Egypt, their passage through the Red sea, the cloud which guided them, the manna which fed them, the water out of the rock which they drank—all these things were to them a true manifestation of God's presence and favor, aside from their typical import, the apprehension of which indeed was reserved for future ages. So also the Mosaic institutions were to them a true body of laws for the regulation of their commonwealth, and in their judges, kings, and prophets they had true rulers and teachers.

But while all this is important to be remembered, it is also true that the Mosaic economy was thickly sown by God's own hand with the seeds of higher principles—those very principles which Christ and his apostles unfolded out of the law and the prophets. {147} Thus it constituted a divine training by which the people were prepared for that spiritual kingdom of heaven which "in the fulness of time" the Saviour established. "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John"—not the prophets and the law in certain separate passages alone, but the prophets and the law as a whole. They prophesied of Christ, and in Christ their prophecy has its fulfilment.

7. The consideration of the extent of the canon of the Old Testament does not properly belong here. It is sufficient to say that we have no valid reason for doubting the truth of the Jewish tradition, which assigns to Ezra and "the great synagogue" the work of setting forth the Hebrew canon as we now have it. That this tradition is embellished with fictions must be conceded; but we ought not, on such a ground, to deny its substantial truth, confirmed as it is by all the scriptural notices of Ezra's qualifications and labors. It is certain that the canon of the Jews in Palestine was the same in our Lord's day that it is now. The Greek version of the Septuagint contains indeed certain apocryphal books not extant in the Hebrew. These seem to have been in use, more or less, among the Alexandrine Jews; but there is no evidence that any canonical authority was ascribed to them, and it is certain that the Jews of Palestine adhered strictly to the Hebrew canon, which is identical with our own.

8. The principle upon which the canon of the Old Testament was formed is not doubtful. No books were admitted into it but those written by prophets or prophetical men. As under the New Testament the reception or rejection of a book as canonical was determined by the writer's relation to Christ, so was it under the Old by his relation to the theocracy. The highest relation was held by Moses, its mediator. He accordingly had the prophetical spirit in the fullest measure: "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and {148} not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold." Numb. 12:6-8. The next place was held by prophets expressly called and commissioned by God, some of whom also, as Samuel, administered the affairs of the theocracy. Finally, there were the pious rulers whom God placed at the head of the covenant people, and endowed with the spirit of prophecy, such as David, Solomon, and Ezra. To no class of men besides those just mentioned do the Jewish rabbins ascribe the authorship of any book of the Old Testament, and in this respect their judgment is undoubtedly right.

9. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament is everywhere assumed by our Lord and his apostles; for they argue from them as possessing divine authority. "What is written in the law?" "What saith the scripture?" "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me;" "This scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before concerning Judas;" "The scripture cannot be broken"—all these and other similar forms of expression contain the full testimony of our Lord and his apostles to the truth elsewhere expressly affirmed of the Old Testament, that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God," 2 Tim. 3:16, and that "the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21. When the Saviour asks the Pharisees in reference to Psalm 110, "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord?" he manifestly does not mean that this particular psalm alone was written "in spirit," that is, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; but he ascribes to it the character which belongs to the entire book, in common with the rest of Scripture, in accordance with the express testimony of David: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." 2 Sam. 23:2.




1. The external evidences of revealed religion are, in their proper place and sphere, of the highest importance. Christianity rests not upon theory, but upon historical facts sustained by an overwhelming mass of testimony. It is desirable that every Christian, so far as he has opportunity, should make himself acquainted with this testimony for the strengthening of his own faith and the refutation of gainsayers. Nevertheless, many thousands of Christians are fully established in the faith of the gospel who have but a very limited knowledge of the historical proofs by which its divine origin is supported. To them the Bible commends itself as the word of God by its internal character, and the gospel as God's plan of salvation by their inward experience of its divine power, and their outward observation of its power over the hearts and lives of all who truly receive it. This is in accordance with the general analogy of God's works. We might be assured beforehand that a system of religion having God for its author, would shine by its own light, and thus commend itself at once to the human understanding and conscience, irrespective of all outward testimony to its truth. Although the internal evidences of Christianity have already been considered to some extent in connection with those that are outward and historical, it is desirable in the present closing chapter to offer some suggestions pertaining to the internal character of the Bible as a whole, and also to the testimony of Christian experience, individual and general.

2. To every unperverted mind the Bible commends itself at once as the word of God by the wonderful view which it gives {150} of his character and providence. It exhibits one personal God who made and governs the world, without the least trace of polytheism on the one hand, or pantheism on the other—the two rocks of error upon which every other system of religion in the world has made shipwreck. And this great Spirit, "infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth," is not removed to a distance from us, but is ever nigh to each one of his creatures. He is our Father in heaven, who cares for us and can hear and answer our prayers. His providence extends to all things, great and small. He directs alike the sparrow's flight, and the rise and fall of empires. To the perfect view of God's character and government which the pages of the Bible unfold, no man can add anything, and whoever takes any thing away only mars and mutilates it. How now shall we explain the great fact that the Hebrew people, some thousands of years ago, had this true knowledge of God and his providence, while it was hidden from all other nations? The Bible gives the only reasonable answer: God himself revealed it to them.

The superficial view which accounts for the pure monotheism of the Hebrews from their peculiar national character, is sufficiently refuted by their history. Notwithstanding the severe penalties with which the Mosaic code of laws visited idolatrous practices in every form, the people were perpetually relapsing into the idolatry of the surrounding nations, and could be cured of this propensity only by the oft-repeated judgments of their covenant God.

3. Next we have the wonderful code of morals contained in the Bible. Of its perfection, we in Christian lands have but a dim apprehension, because it is the only system of morals with which we are familiar; but the moment we compare it with any code outside of Christendom, its supreme excellence at once appears.

It is a spiritual code, made for the heart. It proposes to regulate the inward affections of the soul, and through them the outward life. Thus it lays the axe at the root of all sin.

It is a reasonable code, giving to God the first place in the {151} human heart, and to man only a subordinate place. Its first and great commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;" its second, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Thus it lays broad and deep the foundations of a righteous character. If any moral proposition is self-evident, it is that such a code as this, which exalts God to the throne of the human soul and humbles man beneath his feet, is not the offspring of human self-love. If any one would know the difference between the Bible and a human code of morals, let him read Cicero's treatise on Duties, perhaps the best system of ethics which pure heathenism ever produced, but from which man's relation to deity is virtually left out.

It is a comprehensive code, not insisting upon one or two favorite virtues, but upon all virtues. Just as the light of the sun is white and glistering because it contains in itself, in due proportion, all the different sorts of rays, so the morality of the Bible shines forth, like the sun, with a pure and dazzling brightness, because it unites in itself, in just proportion, all the duties which men owe to God and each other.

Many who outwardly profess Christianity do not make the precepts of the Bible their rule of life, or they do so only in a very imperfect way, and thus scandal is brought upon the name of Christ, whose servants they profess to be. But it is self-evident that he who obeys the Bible in sincerity and truth is thus made a thoroughly good man; good in his inward principles and feelings, and good in his outward life; good in his relations to God and man; good in prosperity and adversity, in honor and dishonor, in life and death; a good husband and father, a good neighbor, a good citizen. If there is ever to be a perfect state of society on earth, it must come from simple obedience to the precepts of the Bible, obedience full and universal. No man can conceive of any thing more glorious and excellent than this. We may boldly challenge the unbeliever to name a corrupt passion in the heart or a vicious practice in the life that could remain. Let every man love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, and bolts and bars, {152} prisons and penitentiaries, would be unnecessary. One might safely journey around the world unarmed and unattended, for every man would be a friend and brother. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men," would reign from pole to pole. The whole earth would be at rest and be quiet: it would break forth into singing. That such a glorious result would certainly come from simple obedience to the precepts of the Bible is undeniable. And can any man persuade himself that this perfect code of morals comes not from heaven, but from sinful man?

4. We have, once more, the wonderful harmony between the different parts of the Bible, written as it was in different and distant ages, and by men who differed widely from each other in natural character and education, and lived in very different states of society. In outward form and institutions the manifestation of God has indeed undergone great changes; for it has existed successively under the patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian dispensations. But if we look beneath the surface to the substance of religion in these different dispensations, we shall find it always the same. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, Samuel, and David, is also the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. While he changes from time to time the outward ordinances of his people, he remains himself "the same yesterday and to-day and for ever." Under the Old Testament, not less than under the New, he is "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." Exod. 34:6, 7, etc. Under the New Testament, not less than under the Old, he is to all the despisers of his grace "a consuming fire," Heb. 12:29; and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent to save the world, will be revealed hereafter "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 1:7, 8. If the New Testament insists on the obedience of the heart, and not of the outward {153} letter alone, the Old Testament teaches the same doctrine: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." 1 Sam. 15:22. "Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psa. 51:16, 17. "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs." Psa. 69:30, 31. "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." Amos 5:23, 24. If the Old Testament insists on obedience to all God's commandments as an indispensable condition of salvation, so does the New: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and offend in one point, he is guilty of all," James 2:10; "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Matt. 5:29, etc. The Old Testament, as well as the New, teaches the doctrine of regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Ghost: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me," Psa. 51:10. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." Ezek. 36:25-27. The Old Testament, as well as the New, denounces self-righteousness in every form, and teaches men that they are saved not for the merit of their good works, but through God's free mercy: "Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart dost thou go in to possess their land," Deut. 9:5; "Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and {154} confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel." Ezekiel 36:32. When the holy men of the Old Testament so often beseech God to hear and answer their prayers for his name's sake, they renounce all claim to be heard on the ground of their own merit. Faith that works by love and purifies the heart from sin—this is the substance of the religion taught in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This wonderful unity of doctrine and spirit that pervades the books of the Bible from first to last, finds its natural explanation in the fact that they were all written "by inspiration of God."

5. The Bible is distinguished from all other books by its power over the human conscience. The apostle says: "The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," Heb. 4:12; and this declaration is confirmed by the experience of every thoughtful reader. Whoever studies the pages of the Bible in an earnest spirit, feels that in them One speaks who has a perfect understanding of his heart in its inmost workings; one who knows not only what he is, but also what he ought to be, and who therefore speaks to him with authority. The young are sometimes advised to study certain authors, that they may thus gain "a knowledge of men." It cannot be denied that, within the sphere of this world, the knowledge of men which some of these writers possess is admirable. But the Bible contains not only all this knowledge in its most complete and practical form, but also, what is wanting in the authors referred to, a perfect knowledge of men in their higher relation to God. With wonderful accuracy does the Bible describe men's character and conduct as citizens of this world. But here it does not stop. It regards them as subjects of God's everlasting government, and thus as citizens of eternity also; and it portrays in vivid and truthful colors the way in which they harden their hearts, blind their minds, and stupefy their consciences by their continued wilful resistance of God's claim to their supreme love and obedience. {155} In a word, it describes men in their relation to God as well as to their fellow-men; and every man who reads the description, hears within his soul the still small voice of conscience saying, "Thou art the man." Whence this all-comprehensive knowledge of man contained in the Bible? The answer is: He who made man has described man in his own word with infallible accuracy; "because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man."

6. We come now to the argument from personal experience. To receive Christ in sincerity and truth, is to know that his salvation is from God. Many thousands have thus a full and joyous conviction of the truth of Christianity. They were oppressed with a deep consciousness of guilt, which no tears of sorrow or supposed good works could remove. But they read in the Holy Scriptures that Jesus is "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." They put their trust in his atoning sacrifice, and thus obtained peace of conscience, and joyous access in prayer to God as their Father in heaven. They were earthly in their affections, and able therefore to render to God's holy and spiritual law only an obedience of the letter, which they knew would not be acceptable. But through faith in Christ they have been lifted up to a holy and blessed communion with God, and thus enabled to render to God's law an obedience of love "in the spirit and not in the letter." They were oppressed with a painful sense of the empty and unsatisfying nature of every thing earthly; but they have found in Christ and his glorious service an all-sufficient portion. In a word, they are assured that the gospel is from God, because it meets all their wants as sinners. They have the same evidence that God made the gospel for the immortal soul, as that he made bread for the stomach, air for the lungs, and light for the eyes. The sincere believer has in himself the witness that the gospel is from heaven, for he is daily experiencing its healing, strengthening, and purifying power. To tell him that the Bible is a cunningly devised fable, is like telling a man who daily feeds on "the finest of the wheat," and is nourished and {156} strengthened by it, that the field of golden grain which waves before his door is only wormwood and gall; or that the pure water from the bosom of the earth which daily quenches his thirst is a deadly poison; or that the blessed air of heaven which fans his lungs is a pestilential vapor. Not until error becomes the nutriment of the soul and truth its destruction, can this argument from personal experience be set aside or gainsaid.

7. The argument from the character of Jesus has already been considered at length in chap, 4, No. 8. It is sufficient to repeat here that the very description of such a character, so gloriously perfect, so far above all that the greatest minds of antiquity ever conceived, is itself a proof of its reality. Very plain men may describe what they have actually seen and heard. But that any man left to himself—and God would not help in a work of error and delusion—should have conceived of such a character as that of Jesus of Nazareth, without the reality before him, is impossible; how much more that four unlettered men should have consistently carried out the conception in such a life as that recorded by the four evangelists.

8. Passing now from individual to general experience, we find another proof of the divine origin of the Bible in the power of the gospel—which includes in itself the whole word of God—over the human heart. This is closely connected with the preceding head, since the Christian's religion takes the shape of personal love towards the Saviour—love which is awakened in the sinner's soul, as the New Testament teaches, by the Holy Spirit revealing to him his lost condition and the character and offices of the Redeemer, whereby he is drawn into an inward spiritual union with him. This love of Jesus is the mightiest principle on earth for both doing and suffering. The man of whose soul it has taken full possession is invincible, not in his own strength, but in the strength of Him to whom he has given his supreme confidence and affection. No hardships, privations, or dangers can deter him from Christ's service; no persecutions can drive him from it. In the early days of Christianity, {157} at the period of the Reformation, in many missionary fields in our own time, not only strong men, but tender women and children, have steadfastly endured shame and suffering in every form—banishment and the spoiling of their goods, imprisonment, torture, and death—for Christ's sake. In times of worldly peace and prosperity, the power of this principle is dimly seen; but were the Christians of this day required, under penalty of imprisonment, confiscation, and death, to deny Christ, it would at once manifest itself. Many would apostatize, because they are believers only in name; but true believers would remain steadfast, as in the days of old. It is a fact worthy of special notice, that persecution not only fails to conquer those who love Jesus, but it fails also to hinder others from embracing his religion. It has first a winnowing power. It separates from the body of the faithful those who are Christians only in name. Then the manifestation of Christian faith and patience by those who remain steadfast, draws men from the world without to Christ. Hence the maxim, as true as trite, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." The Christian religion at the beginning had no worldly advantages, and it was opposed by all the power of imperial Rome in alliance with the heathen priesthood. Had it been possible that any combination of men should crush it, it must have perished at the outset; but it only grew stronger in the midst of its fierce and powerful enemies. It went through ten bloody persecutions, "conquering and to conquer," until it overthrew paganism, and became the established religion of the Roman empire. Then it was not strengthened by its alliance with the state, but only corrupted and shorn of its true power. And so it has been ever since. The gospel has always shown itself mightiest to subdue men to Christ, when it has been compelled to rely most exclusively on its own divinely furnished strength. What the apostle said of himself personally, the gospel which he preached can say with equal truth: "When I am weak, then am I strong." How shall we account for this fact? The only reasonable explanation is, that God is the author of the gospel, {158} and his power is in it, so that it is able to overcome the world without any help from without. Were it the invention of man, we might reasonably expect that it would be greatly strengthened by an alliance with the kings and rulers of the world, instead of being thereby corrupted and weakened, as we find to be the invariable result. Because God made the gospel, and not men, when it is left free to work according to his appointment, it is mighty in its power over the human heart; but the moment worldly men take it under their patronage, that they may make it subservient to their worldly ends, they bind it in fetters, and would kill it, had it not a divine and indestructible life.

9. We notice, further, that the same love of Jesus which makes men invincible to the world without, also enables them to conquer their own corrupt passions, and this is the greater victory of the two. It is easy to declaim on the sins and inconsistencies of visible Christians. The church of Christ, like every thing administered by men, is imperfect. Unworthy men find their way into it, making it, as the great Master foretold, a field in which wheat and tares grow together. Nevertheless, wherever the gospel is preached in its purity, bright examples are found of its power to reclaim the vicious, to make the proud humble, and the earthly-minded heavenly. It draws all who truly receive it, by a gradual but certain process, into a likeness to Christ, which is the sum of all goodness. In proportion also as the principles of the gospel gain ground in any community, they ennoble it, purify it, and inspire it with the spirit of truth and justice. Very imperfectly is our country pervaded by this good leaven. Yet it is this, small as is its measure, which makes the difference between the state of society here at home and in India or China. Many thousands who do not personally receive the gospel thus experience its elevating power. They receive at its hand innumerable precious gifts without understanding or acknowledging the source from which they come.

10. As a final argument, may be named the power of the {159} Christian religion to purify itself from the corruptions introduced into it by men. It is not alone from the world without that Christ's church has been assailed. Corrupt men have arisen within her pale who have set themselves to deny or explain away her essential doctrines, to change her holy practice, or to crush and overlay her with a load of superstitious observances. But the gospel cannot be destroyed by inward any more than by outward enemies. From time to time it asserts its divine origin and invincible power, by bursting the bands imposed on it by men, and throwing off their human additions, thus reappearing in its native purity and strength. So it did on a broad scale at the era of the Reformation, and so it has often done since in narrower fields.

10. Let now the candid inquirer ask himself whether a book which gives such gloriously perfect views of God's character and government; whose code of morals is so spotlessly pure that simple obedience to it is the sum of all goodness, and would, if full and universal, make this world a moral paradise; all whose parts, though written in different and distant ages by men of such diversified character and training, are in perfect harmony with each other; which displays such a wonderful knowledge of man in all his relations to God and his fellow-men, and therefore speaks with such authority and power to his conscience; which reveals a religion that satisfies all the wants of those who embrace it, that makes them victorious alike over outward persecution and inward sinful passion, and that asserts its invincible power by throwing off from itself the corrupt additions of men—whether such a book can possibly have man for its author. Assuredly in character it resembles not sinful man, but the holy God. It must be from heaven, for it is heavenly in all its features.






To consider at length all the questions which the spirit of modern inquiry has raised concerning the books of the Old Testament—their genuineness, integrity, date, chronology, and credibility; their relation to science, to profane history, to each other, and to the New Testament—would far exceed the limits allowed by the plan of the present work. To the Pentateuch alone, or even a single book of it, as Genesis or Deuteronomy; to the books of Chronicles; to Isaiah or Daniel, a whole volume might be devoted without exhausting the subject. In the present Introduction to the books of the Old Testament, the aim has been to give the results of biblical research, ancient and modern, with a concise statement of the lines of argument employed, wherever this could be done without involving discussions intelligible only to those who are familiar with the original languages of Scripture and the ancient versions. For such discussions the biblical student is referred to the more extended Introductions which abound at the present day. The author has endeavored, first of all, to direct the reader's attention to the unity of Scripture. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." The plan of Redemption is the very highest of these works, and it constitutes a gloriously perfect whole, gradually unfolding itself from age to age. The earliest revelations have reference to all that follow. The later revelations shed light on the earlier, and receive {164} light from them in return. It is only when the Scriptures are thus studied as a whole, that any one part of them can be truly comprehended. The effort has accordingly been made to show the relation of the Old Testament, considered as a whole, to the New; then, the relation of the several great divisions of the Old Testament—the law, the historical books, the prophets, the poetical books—to each other, and the place which each holds in the system of revelation; and finally, the office of each particular book, with such notices of its authorship, date, general plan, and contents, as will prepare the reader to study it intelligently and profitably. To all who would have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the New Testament, the diligent study of the preparatory revelation contained in the Old, is earnestly commended. The present Introduction will be followed by one to the New Testament on the same general plan. It is hardly necessary to add that for much of the materials employed, in these two parts, particularly what relates to ancient manuscripts, the author is dependent on the statements of those who have had the opportunity of making original investigations.






1. The word Bible comes to us from the Greek (ta biblia, the books; that is, emphatically, the sacred canonical books) through the Latin and Norman French. In the ancient Greek and Latin churches, its use, as a plural noun applied to the whole collection of sacred books of the Old and New Testaments, can be traced as far back as the fifth century. In the English, as in all the modern languages of Europe, it has become a singular noun, and thus signifies the Book—the one book containing in itself all the particular books of the sacred canon.

In very ancient usage, the word Law (Heb. Torah) was applied to the five books of Moses; but there was no general term to denote the whole collection of inspired writings till after the completion of the canon of the Old Testament, when they were known in Jewish usage as: The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (see below, No. 5). In accordance with the same usage, the writers of the New Testament speak of the "law and the prophets," and more fully, "the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms," Luke 24:44. And they apply to {166} the collected writings of the Old Testament, as well as to particular passages, the term the Scripture, that is, the writings, thus: "The Scripture saith," John 7:38, etc. Or they employ the plural number: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures," Matt. 22:29, etc. Once the epithet holy is added, 2 Tim. 3:15.

In 2 Pet. 3:16, the term Scriptures is applied to at least the epistles of Paul; apparently also to the other canonical writings of the New Testament then extant. In the usage of Christian writers, the application of this term to the books of the New Testament soon became well established; but the above is the only example of such an application that occurs in the New Testament itself.

2. The terms Old and New Testament arose in the following way: God's dealings with the Israelitish people, under both the patriarchs and Moses, took the form of a covenant; that is, not a mutual agreement as between two equal parties, but an arrangement or dispensation, in which God himself, as the sovereign Lord, propounded to the chosen people certain terms, and bound himself, upon condition of the fulfilment of these terms, to bestow upon them blessings temporal and spiritual. Now the Greek word diatheke, by which the Septuagint renders the Hebrew word for covenant, signifies both covenant, in the general sense above given, and testament, as being the final disposition which a man makes of his worldly estate. The new covenant introduced by Christ is, in a sense, a testament, as being ratified by his bloody death. Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20. So it is expressly called in the epistle to the Hebrews, 9:15-17, where the new covenant, considered in the light of a testament, is contrasted with the old. It was probably in connection with this view that the Old Latin version of the Bible (made in the Old Testament not from the original Hebrew, but from the Greek Septuagint) everywhere rendered the Greek word diatheke by the Latin testamentum. When Jerome undertook the work of correcting this version, he did not everywhere pursue the same plan. The books of the Old Testament he rendered in general from the Hebrew; and here he employed for the Hebrew word denoting covenant the appropriate Latin {167} words foedus and pactum. But in the Psalms, and the whole New Testament, from deference to established usage, he gave simply a revision of the Old Latin, leaving the word testamentum, by which that version had rendered the word diatheke, covenant, untouched. Hence in Latin usage we have in the New Testament the two covenants, the old and the new, expressed by the terms old testament (vetus testamentum, prius or primum testamentum) and new testament (novum testamentum), and sometimes in immediate contrast with each other, as in 2 Cor. 3:6, 14; Heb. 9:15-18. The transfer of these terms from the covenants themselves to the writings which give an account of them was easy, and soon became established in general usage. Hence the terms Old and New Testament for the two great divisions of the Bible.

Another Latin term for the two great divisions of the Bible was instrumentum, instrument, document; a term applied to the documents or body of records relating to the Roman empire, and very appropriate, therefore, to the records of God's dealings with men. But as early as the time of Tertullian, about the close of the second century, the word testamentum, testament, was more in use. See Tertullian against Marcion, 4. 1. A striking example of the superior accuracy of Jerome's independent version above his simple revision of the old Latin is the passage Jer. 31:31-33 as compared with the quotation of the same, Heb. 8:8-10. In the former, where the translation is made immediately from the Hebrew, we read: "Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, that I will make for the house of Israel and the house of Judah a new covenant (foedus): not according to the covenant (pactum) which I made with their fathers," etc. In the same passage, as quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews, where we have only a revision of the old Latin, we read: "Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, that I will accomplish for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah a new testament (testamentum): not according to the testament (testamentum) which I made for their fathers," etc.

3. The unity of the Bible has its ground only in divine inspiration. So far as human composition is concerned, both parts of it have a great variety of authors. The writers of the Old Testament, especially, lived in different, and some of them in very distant ages. They were widely separated from each other in native character and endowments, in education, and {168} in their outward circumstances and position in life. It is of the highest importance that the student of Scripture not only know these facts, but ponder them long and carefully, till he fully understands their deep significance. He has been accustomed from childhood to see all the books of the Bible comprised within the covers of a single volume. He can hardly divest himself of the idea that their authors, if not exactly contemporary, must yet somehow have understood each other's views and plans, and acted in mutual concert. It is only by long contemplation that he is able to apprehend the true position which these writers held to each other, separated from each other, as they often were, by centuries of time, during which great changes took place in the social and political condition of the Hebrew people. Then, for the first time, he begins to discern, in the wonderful harmony that pervades the writings of the Old Testament, taken as a whole, the clear proofs of a superintending divine Spirit; and learns to refer this harmony to its true ground, that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21.

According to the received chronology, Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy about 1451 B.C, and Malachi, the last of the prophets, wrote about 397 B.C. The difference, then, between the time of these two authors is 1054 years; or say, in round numbers, about 1000 years. From Moses to the anointing of David is, according to the shorter chronology, 388 years; and from Moses to the composition of the books of Kings, nearly nine centuries. From Joel to Malachi we must assume a period of about 400 years, within which space our present prophetical books were composed. The earlier of the psalms written by David differ in time from those composed at the close of the captivity by about 530 years. Let the reader who has been in the habit of passing from one book of the Bible to another, as if both belonged to the same age, ponder well the meaning of these figures. They confirm the arguments already adduced (ch. 12, No. 4) that the unity of Scripture has its ground not in human concert, but in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

4. The books of the Old Testament have been differently classified and arranged. But in no system of distribution has the chronological order been strictly observed.


(A.) The Jewish classification and arrangement is as follows. They first distribute the books of the Old Testament into three great classes, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings; that is, the canonical writings not included in the other two divisions—the Hagiographa (holy writings), as they are commonly designated at the present day.

The Law is then subdivided into five books, as we now have them; for the names of which see the introduction to the Pentateuch. Chap. 19, No. 1.

With reference to this five-fold division of the Law, the Rabbins call it the five-fifths of the Law, each book being reckoned as one-fifth. This term answers to the word Pentateuch, that is, the five-fold book. Chap. 9, beginning.

The second great class consists of the so-called Prophets. These are first divided into the former and the latter Prophets. The former Prophets consist of the historical books: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, in the order named. The latter comprise the prophetical books in the stricter sense of the word, with the exception of Daniel; and these are subdivided into the greater and the less. The greater Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The less are the twelve Minor Prophets from Hosea to Malachi, in the same order as that followed in our English version.

The remaining books of the Old Testament constitute the third great class, under the name of Writings, Hagiographa; and they are commonly arranged in the following order: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles. These books naturally fall into three groups. First, devotional and didactic—the three so-called poetical books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, which have in Hebrew a stricter rhythm; secondly, the five rolls—Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther; so called because written on five separate rolls for use in the synagogue service on the occasion of special festivals; thirdly, books that are chiefly of an historical character—Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles.


The Talmud arranges the Greater Prophets thus: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah. Of the Hagiographa, various other arrangements, Masoretic and Talmudic, are given, which it is not necessary here to specify.

That the writing of sacred history belonged to the prophetical office is clear from various scriptural notices. Compare 1 Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron, 9:29; 12:15; 20:34; 26:22; 32:32, 33:19. The narrative concerning Sennacherib inserted in the second book of Kings (18:13-19:37) is manifestly from the pen of Isaiah. The Rabbins rightly ascribed the composition of the historical as well as the other books which compose, according to their division, the Prophets, to prophetical men. But the grounds upon which they separated from these certain books, as, for example, Daniel, and placed them among the Hagiographa, are not clear. Some of the rabbins made the distinction to lie in the degree of inspiration, Moses enjoying it in the fullest measure (Numb. 12:6-8), the authors of the books which are classed among the prophets having the Spirit of prophecy, and those of the books belonging to the Hagiographa simply the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit, but not in the degree necessary for prophetic revelation). But this distinction is untenable. Who had the spirit of prophecy if not Daniel? In the opinion of some modern scholars, they reckoned to the Prophets only books written by men who were prophets in the stricter sense of the term; that is, men trained to the prophetical office, and exercising it as their profession; while the writings of men like David, Solomon, and Daniel, who though they had the Spirit of prophecy, were yet in their office not prophets, but rulers and statesmen, were assigned to the Hagiographa. But this is inconsistent with the fact that the book of Ruth (which in respect to authorship must go with that of Judges) and also the book of Lamentations are in the Hagiographa. Others, with more probability, find the main ground of classification in the character of the writings themselves—the Law, as the foundation of the Theocracy; the Prophets, that record the history of the Theocracy and make prophetic revelations concerning it; the sacred Writings, occupied with the personal appropriation of the truths of revelation, and as such exhibiting the religious life of the covenant people in its inward and outward form. But even here we do not find perfect consistency.

(B.) Classification of the Greek Version of the Seventy. The ancient Greek version of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint (Latin Septuaginta, seventy), because, according to Jewish tradition, it was the work of seventy men, interweaves the apocryphal with the canonical books. Its arrangement is as follows, the apocryphal books and parts of books being indicated by italic letters. We follow the edition of Van Ess from the {171} Vatican manuscript, which omits the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh:

1. Genesis.
2. Exodus.
3. Leviticus.
4. Numbers.
5. Deuteronomy.
6. Joshua.
7. Judges.
8. Ruth.
9. 1 Kings (our 1 Samuel).
10. 2 Kings (our 2 Samuel).
11. 3 Kings (our 1 Kings).
12. 4 Kings (our 2 Kings).
13. 1 Chronicles.
14. 2 Chronicles.
15. 1 Esdras.
16. 2 Esdras (our Ezra).
17. Nehemiah.
18. Tobit.
19. Judith.
20. Esther, with apocryphal additions.
21. Job.
22. Psalms.
23. Proverbs.
24. Ecclesiastes.
25. Canticles.
26. Wisdom of Solomon.
27. Ecclesiasticus.
28. Hosea.
29. Amos.
30. Micah.
31. Joel.
32. Obadiah.
33. Jonah.
34. Nahum.
35. Habakkuk.
36. Zephaniah.
37. Haggai.
38. Zechariah.
39. Malachi.
40. Isaiah.
41. Jeremiah.
42. Baruch.
43. Lamentations.
44. Epistle of Jeremiah.
45. Ezekiel.
46. Daniel, with apocryphal additionsSong of the Three Children in the Furnace, History of Susannah, Story of Bel and the Dragon.
47. 1 Maccabees.
48. 2 Maccabees.
49. 3 Maccabees.

The arrangement of books in the Latin Vulgate agrees with that of the Septuagint with the following exceptions: the two canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah appear together, as in the Septuagint, but under the titles of 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras. Next follow the two apocryphal books of Esdras (the latter wanting in the Septuagint), under the titles of 3 Esdras and 4 Esdras. The Greater Prophets, with Lamentations after Jeremiah and Daniel after Ezekiel, are inserted before the twelve Minor Prophets, which last stand in the order followed in our version. Throwing out of account, therefore, the apocryphal {172} books, the order of the Vulgate is that followed by our English Bible.

From the above it is manifest that in neither the Hebrew, the Greek, nor the Latin arrangement is the order of time strictly followed. The Hebrew, for example, to say nothing of the Psalms, which were written in different ages, throws into the Hagiographa Ruth, Job, Proverbs, etc., which are older than any of the so-called latter prophets. The Hebrew places the books of Kings, and the Greek and Latin not only these, but also the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, before all the proper prophetical books, though it is well known that several of these were much earlier. In the Hebrew arrangement, the three Greater Prophets precede all the Minor Prophets, though several of the latter were earlier than Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and even Isaiah. In the Greek, on the contrary, Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel, are placed after even the prophets of the Restoration. The biblical student should carefully remember these facts. He must not hastily assume that the books of the Old Testament stand in the order in which they were written, but must determine the age of each for itself, according to the best light that he can obtain. See further in the introductions to the several books.

5. In high antiquity, the continuous mode of writing, (scriptio continua,) without divisions between the words, was common. We cannot indeed infer, from the continuous writing of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament, that the same method prevailed in the ancient Hebrew writing; for in very ancient inscriptions and manuscripts, belonging to different languages, the words are distinguished from each other more or less completely by points. Yet the neglect of these is common. In most Greek and Phoenician inscriptions there is no division of words. The translators of the Septuagint may be reasonably supposed to have employed the best manuscripts at their command. Yet their version shows that in these the words were either not separated at all, or only partially. The complete separation of words by intervening spaces did not take place till after the introduction of the Assyrian, or square character. Ch. 14, No. 2. With the separation is connected the use of the so-called final letters, that is, forms of certain letters employed exclusively at the ends of words.

6. A very ancient Jewish division of the sacred text is into {173} open and closed sections. The former, which are the larger of the two, are so named because in the Hebrew manuscripts, and in some printed editions, the remainder of the line at their close is left open, the next section beginning with a new line. The closed sections, on the contrary, are separated from each other only by a space in the middle of a line—shut in on either hand. The origin of these sections is obscure. They answer in a general way to our sections and paragraphs, and are older than the Talmud, which contains several references to them, belonging at least to the earliest time when the sacred books were read in public. Davidson, Biblical Criticism, vol. 1, ch. 5.

Different from these, and later in their origin, are the larger sections of the Law, called Parshiyoth (from the singular Parashah, section), which have exclusive reference to the reading of the Law in the synagogue service. These are fifty-four in number, one for each Sabbath of the Jewish intercalary year, while on common years two of the smaller sections are united. Corresponding to these sections of the Law are sections from the Prophets, (the former and latter, according to the Jewish classification,) called Haphtaroth, embracing, however, only selections from the prophets, and not the whole, as do the sections of the Law. The Jewish tradition is that this custom was first introduced during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, (about 167 B.C.,) because the reading of the Law had been prohibited by him. But this account of the matter is doubted by many.

In the Pentateuch, the smaller sections called open and closed are indicated, the former by the Hebrew letter [Hebrew: P], that is, P, the initial letter of the word pethuhah, open; the latter by the Hebrew letter [Hebrew: S]=S, the first letter of the word sethumah, closed. The larger sections, arranged for the reading of the Law in the synagogues, are indicated by three [Hebrew: P]'s or three [Hebrew: S]'s, according as they coincide at their beginning with an open or closed section. In the other portions of the sacred text these divisions are simply indicated by the appropriate spaces. But some printed editions do not observe the distinction between the two in respect to space, so that the open and closed sections are confounded with each other.

7. Chapters and Verses. The division of the poetical books and passages of the Old Testament into separate lines, Hebrew, {174} pesukim, (answering in general to our half-verses, sometimes to the third of a verse,) is very ancient, if not primitive. It is found in the poetical passages of the Law and the historical books, (Exod., ch. 15; Deut., ch. 32; Judges, ch. 5; 2 Sam. ch. 22,) and belonged originally to the three books of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, which alone the Hebrews reckon as poetical. See below, Ch. 21, No. 1. The division of the whole Old Testament into verses, (likewise called by the Hebrews pesukim,) is also the work of Jewish scholars. It existed in its completeness in the ninth century, and must have had its origin much earlier in the necessity that grew out of the public reading and interpretation of the sacred books in the synagogue service.

In the Hebrew text the verses are distinguished by two points called soph-pasuk (:), except in the synagogue rolls, where, according to ancient usage, this mark of distinction is omitted.

The present division into chapters is much later, and is the work of Christian scholars. By some it is ascribed to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1227; by others to Cardinal Hugo de St. Cher of the same century. The Jews transferred it from the Latin Vulgate to the Hebrew text. There are, however, some discrepancies between the chapters of the Hebrew text and those of the Vulgate and our English version.

The division of the sacred text into chapters and verses is indispensable for convenience of reference. But the student should remember that these distinctions are wholly of human origin, and sometimes separate passages closely connected in meaning. The first verse, for example, of Isaiah, ch. 4, is immediately connected in sense with the threatenings against "the daughters of Zion" contained in the close of the preceding chapter In the beginning of ch. 11 of the same book, the words: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots," contrast the Branch of the Messiah with the Assyrian bough, the lopping off of which has just been foretold; chap. 10:33, 34. The last three verses, again, of Isaiah, ch. 52, evidently belong to the following chapter. The connections of the sacred text, therefore, must be determined independently of these human distinctions.




1. The original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew, with the exception of certain portions of Ezra and Daniel and a single verse of Jeremiah, (Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan. 2:4, from the middle of the verse to end of chap. 7; Jer. 10:11,) which are written in the cognate Chaldee language. The Hebrew belongs to a stock of related languages commonly called Shemitic, because spoken mainly by the descendants of Shem. Its main divisions are: (1,) the Arabic, having its original seat in the southeastern part of the Shemitic territory, and of which the Æthiopic is a branch; (2,) the Aramæan in the north and northeast, comprising the eastern Aramæan or Chaldee, and the western or Syriac; (3,) the Hebrew, occupying a middle place between the two. The Samaritan is essentially Aramæan, but with an intermixture of Hebrew forms; the Phoenician, or Punic, on the other hand, is most closely allied to the Hebrew. All these languages, with the exception of the Æthiopic, are written from right to left, and exhibit many peculiarities of orthography and grammatical forms and structure.

2. The Hebrew characters in present use, called the Assyrian, or square writing, are not those originally employed. The earlier form is undoubtedly represented by the inscriptions on the coins struck by the Maccabees, of which the letters bear a strong resemblance to the Samaritan and Phoenician characters. The Jewish tradition is that the present square character was introduced by Ezra, and that it was of Assyrian origin. The question of the correctness of this tradition has been much discussed. Some wholly reject it, and hold that the present square writing came by a gradual process of change from a more ancient type. See Davidson's Bib. Crit., vol. I, ch. 3.


That the present square writing existed in our Saviour's day has been argued with much force from Matth. 5:18, where the Saviour says: "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot (iota) or one tittle (keraia) shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." The iota (Hebrew yod) is the letter i or y, which in the square writing is the smallest in the alphabet ([Hebrew: y]), but not in the ancient Hebrew, Ph[oe]nician, or Samaritan. The keraia, little turn, is that which distinguishes one letter from another; as [Hebrew: d], d, from [Hebrew: r], r; or [Hebrew: b], b, from [Hebrew: k], k. See Alford on Matth. 5:18. (The recent discovery in the Crimea of inscriptions on the tombs of Caraite Jews, some of them dating back, it is alleged, to the first century, proves that the Assyrian or square character was then in use. In these inscriptions the Yod (iota) is represented by a simple point. See Alexander's Kitto, vol. 3, p. 1173.)

The Rabbinic is a modification of the Assyrian or square writing, for the purpose of giving it a more cursive character.

3. The Hebrew alphabet, like all the other Shemitic alphabets—with the exception of the Æthiopic, which is syllabic, the vowels being indicated by certain modifications in the forms of the consonants—was originally a skeleton alphabet, an alphabet of consonants, in which, however, certain letters, called vowel-letters, performed in a measure the office of vowels. The Shemite did not separate the vowels from the consonants, and express them, as we do, by separate signs. He rather conceived of the vowels as inhering in the consonants—as modifications in the utterance of the consonants, which the reader could make for himself. Various particulars in respect to the pronunciation of certain consonants were, in like manner, left to the reader's own knowledge. For example, the three Hebrew letters, [Hebrew: sh], sh; [Hebrew: m], m; [Hebrew: r], r, ([Hebrew: shmr], to be read from right to left,) might be pronounced, shamar, he kept; shemor, keep thou; shomer, keeping—the reader determining from the connection which of these forms should be used, just as we decide in English between the different pronunciations of the word bow. As long as the Hebrew remained a living language, that is, the language of the masses of the people, this outline alphabet was sufficient for all practical purposes. The modern Arabs read without difficulty their ordinary books, which omit, in like manner, the signs for the vowels. The regularity of structure {177} which belongs to the Shemitic languages generally, makes this omission less inconvenient for them than a like omission would be for us in our western tongues.

4. During the long Babylonish captivity the mass of the Jewish people, who were born and educated in Babylon and the adjacent regions, adopted of necessity the language of the country; that is, the Aramæan or Chaldee language. After the exile, the Hebrew was indeed spoken and written by the prophets and learned men, but not by the people at large. In Nehemiah 8:8 we are told that "they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." This has been explained by some as meaning simply that they expounded to them the sense. But the more natural meaning is that they interpreted to the people the words read from the law. We find, soon after the captivity at least, the old Hebrew supplanted as a living language among the people at large by the Aramæan or Chaldee. Why not date the change from the latter part of the captivity itself?

It was natural that the prophets and historians, all of whom wrote soon after the exile, should employ the sacred language of their fathers. This fact cannot be adduced as a valid argument that the body of the people continued to speak Hebrew. The incorporation, on the other hand, of long passages in Chaldee into the books of Daniel and Ezra implies at least that this language was known to the people at large. As to the children spoken of in Neh. 13:24, who "could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people"—the people, to wit, to which their mothers belonged—"the Jews' language" here is probably the language used by the Jews, as distinguished from that used by the people of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Keil, Introduction to Old Testament, § 18.

5. After the Hebrew had ceased to be the language of the common people, its traditional pronunciation was carefully preserved for many successive centuries in the synagogue-reading. It was not till several centuries after Christ (somewhere between the sixth and the tenth centuries) that the vowel-signs and other marks of distinction were added in order to perpetuate, {178} with all possible accuracy, the solemn traditional pronunciation of the synagogue. This work is ascribed to learned Jews of Tiberias, called Masoretes, from Masora, tradition; and the Hebrew text thus furnished by them is called the Masoretic, in distinction from the unpointed text, which latter is, according to Jewish usage, retained in the synagogue-rolls. From reverence to the word of God, the punctuators (as these men are also called) left the primitive text in all cases undisturbed, simply superadding to it their marks of distinction. After giving with great minuteness the different vowel-signs and marks (commonly called diacritical) for the varying pronunciation of the consonants, they superadded a complicated system of accents. These serve the threefold office of guides in cantillating the sacred text (according to ancient usage in the synagogue-reading); of indicating the connection in meaning among the words and clauses; and of marking, though with certain exceptions, the tone-syllables of words. In addition to all the above, they added a mass of notes, partly of a critical and partly of a grammatical character, relating to various readings, grammatical forms and connections, modes of orthography, and the like. These are called collectively the Masorah, of which there is a fuller Masorah called the greater (found only in Rabbinical Bibles), and a briefer, called the less, the main part of which is found in common editions of the Hebrew Bible. To illustrate the Masoretic as contrasted with the unpointed text, we give the first verse of Genesis, first, in its simple unpointed form; secondly, with the vowel-signs and diacritical marks for the consonants; thirdly, with both these and the accents, the last being the complete Masoretic text.

[Hebrew: br'shit br' 'lhim et hshmym vet h'rts]

[Hebrew: bere'shit bara' 'elohim et hashamayim veet ha'arets]

[Hebrew: o bere'shit bara' 'elohim et hashamayim veet ha'arets]

ha-arets. ve-eth hasshamayim eth elohim bara Bereshith

the-earth. and-it the heavens them God created In-the-beginning


The round circle above the initial letter in the third line refers to a marginal note of the Masorah indicating that it is to be written large.

Respecting the origin and antiquity of the Hebrew points a warm controversy existed in former times. Some maintained that they were coeval with the language itself; others that they were first introduced by Ezra after the Babylonish captivity. But their later origin—somewhere between the sixth and tenth centuries—is now generally conceded. It is further agreed that their inventors were able scholars, thoroughly acquainted as well with the genius and structure of the language as with the traditional pronunciation of the synagogue; and that they have given a faithful representation of this pronunciation, as it existed in their day. Their judgment, therefore, though not invested with any divine authority, is very valuable. "It represents a tradition, it is true; but a tradition of the oldest and most important character." Horne's Introduction, vol. 2, p. 15, edition of 1860.

6. The deep reverence of the Jews for their sacred books manifests itself in their numerous rules for the guidance of copyists in the transcription of the rolls designed for use in the synagogue service. They extend to every minute particular—the quality of the ink and the parchment (which latter must always be prepared by a Jew from the skin of a clean animal, and fastened by strings made from the skins of clean animals); the number, length, and breadth of the columns; the number of lines in each column, and the number of words in each line. No word must be written till the copyist has first inspected it in the example before him, and pronounced it aloud; before writing the name of God he must wash his pen; all redundance or defect of letters must be carefully avoided: prose must not be written as verse, or verse as prose; and when the copy has been completed, it must be examined for approval or rejection within thirty days. Superstitious, and even ridiculous, as these rules are, we have in them a satisfactory assurance of the fidelity with which the sacred text has been perpetuated. Though their date may be posterior to the age of the Talmudists (between 200 and 500 after Christ), the spirit of reverence for the divine word which they manifest goes far back beyond this age. We see it, free from these later superstitious observances, in the transactions recorded in the eighth chapter of {180} Nehemiah, when Ezra opened the book of the law in the sight of all the people, "and when he opened it, all the people stood up." The early history of the sacred text is confessedly involved in great obscurity; but in the profound reverence with which the Jews have ever regarded it since the captivity, we have satisfactory proof that it has come down to us, in all essential particulars, as Ezra left it. Of the primitive text before the days of Ezra and his associates we have but a few brief notices in the historical books. But in the fidelity and skill of Ezra, who was "a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given," as well as in the intelligence and deep earnestness of the men associated with him, we have a reasonable ground of assurance that the sacred books which have come down to us through their hands contain, in all essential particulars, the primitive text in a pure and uncorrupt form.

7. As to the age of Hebrew manuscripts, it is to be noticed that not many have come down to us from an earlier century than the twelfth. In this respect there is a striking difference between them and the Greek and Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, a few of which are as old as the fourth and fifth centuries, and quite a number anterior to the tenth. The oldest known Hebrew manuscript, on the contrary, is a Pentateuch roll on leather, now at Odessa, which, if the subscription stating that it was corrected in the year 580 can be relied on, belongs to the sixth century. One of De Rossi's manuscripts is supposed to belong to the eighth century, and there are a few of the ninth and tenth, and several of the eleventh. Bishop Walton supposes that after the Masoretic text was fully settled, the Jewish rulers condemned, as profane and illegitimate, all the older manuscripts not conformed to this: whence, after a few ages, the rejected copies mostly perished. The existing Hebrew manuscripts give the Masoretic text with but little variation from each other.

Earnest effort has been made to find a reliable ante-Masoretic text, but to no purpose. The search in China has thus far been fruitless. When {181} Dr. Buchanan in 1806 brought from India a synagogue-roll which he found among the Jews of Malabar, high expectations were raised. But it is now conceded to be a Masoretic roll, probably of European origin. Respecting the manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch, see below, No. 9.

(A synagogue-roll has recently been discovered in the Crimea of the date answering to A.D. 489. See Alexander's Kitto, vol. 3, pp. 1172-5.)

8. In respect to form, Hebrew manuscripts fall into two great divisions, public and private. The public manuscripts consist of synagogue-rolls carefully written out on parchment, as already described, without vowel-points or divisions of verses. The Law is written on a single roll; the sections from the prophets (Haphtaroth, ch. 12. 6) and the Five Rolls—Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther (ch. 12. 4)—each on separate rolls. The private manuscripts are written with leaves in book form—folio, quarto, octavo, and duodecimo; mostly on parchment, but some of the later on paper. The poetical passages are generally arranged in hemistichs; the rest is in columns which vary according to the size of the page. The text and points were always written separately; the former with a heavier, the latter with a lighter pen, and generally with different ink. The square or Assyrian character is employed as a rule, but a few are written in the rabbinic character. The Chaldee paraphrase (less frequently some other version) may be added. The margin contains more or less of the Masorah; sometimes prayers, psalms, rabbinical commentaries, etc.

9. There is also a Samaritan Pentateuch; that is, a Hebrew Pentateuch written in the ancient Samaritan characters, and first brought to light in 1616, respecting the origin of which very different opinions are held. Some suppose that the Samaritans received it as an inheritance from the ten tribes; others that it was introduced at the time of the founding of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim; others that it was brought by the Israelitish priest sent to instruct the Samaritans in the knowledge of God, 2 Kings 17:27, 28. It is agreed among biblical scholars that its text has been subjected to many alterations which greatly impair its critical authority. These, however, {182} are not sufficient to account for its remarkable agreement with the Septuagint version against the Masoretic text, in numerous readings, some of them of importance. The explanation of this phenomenon must be the agreement of the original Samaritan codex with the manuscripts from which the Alexandrine version was executed. Probably both were of Egyptian origin. See Alexander's Kitto, art. Samaritan Pentateuch.

In a brief compend, like the present work, it is not thought necessary to notice particularly the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. The reader will find an account of them in the "Bibliographical List" appended to the fourth volume of Horne's Introduction, edition of 1860. The text of Van der Hooght's Hebrew Bible, (Amsterdam and Utrecht, 1705,) which was chiefly based on the earlier text of Athias, (Amsterdam, 1667,) is generally followed at the present day, and may be regarded as the received text of the Hebrew Scriptures.




1. The Greek word canon (originally a straight rod or pole, measuring-rod, then rule) denotes that collection of books which the churches receive as given by inspiration of God, and therefore as constituting for them a divine rule of faith and practice. To the books included in it the term canonical is applied. The Canon of the Old Testament, considered in reference to its constituent parts, was formed gradually; formed under divine superintendence by a process of growth extending through many centuries. The history of its formation may be conveniently considered under the following divisions: (1,) the Pentateuch; (2,) the historical books; (3,) the prophetical books in the stricter sense of the term; (4,) a somewhat miscellaneous collection of books which may be designated in a general way as poetical.


2. In the name applied to the Pentateuch—"the book of the law," and more fully, "the book of the law of Moses," "the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel"—we have from the beginning the general idea of the canon. A canonical writing is one that contains a communication from God to men, and has therefore the impress of divine authority. In its outward form it may be preceptive, historical, or meditative. But in all these different modes it still reveals to men God's character, and the duties which he requires of them. The Hebrews never admitted to the number of their sacred books a writing that was secular in its character. Even those who deny the canonical authority of certain parts of the {184} Old Testament acknowledge that the Jews received these parts because they believed them to be of a sacred character.

3. In Deut. 31:9-13, 24-26; 17:18, 19, we read: "And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it:" "and it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side" (that is, not within, but by the side. Compare Josh. 12:9; Ruth 2:14; 1 Sam. 20:25; Psa. 91:7; where the same word is used in the original) "of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee;" "and it shall be when he"—the king whom the Israelites in some future age shall set over themselves—"sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and the statutes, to do them." These passages are of the weightiest import; for they teach us how the nucleus of the canon of the Old Testament was formed, and give us all the particulars that enter into the idea of a canonical writing. It is given by God as an authoritative rule of faith {185} and practice; it is committed to the custody of his people through their recognized officers, and that for all future time; it is to be published to the people at large, and diligently studied by the rulers, that they and the people together may know and do the will of God. It is not necessary to decide the question how much is included in the words "this book of the law," Deut. 31:26, whether the whole Pentateuch, or only the book of Deuteronomy. The arguments to show that the four preceding books came, in all essential respects, from the pen of Moses have been already given (Ch. 9, Nos. 7-9), and need not be here repeated. We only add that even if the reference is to Deuteronomy alone, as some suppose, the rule for this book would naturally be the rule for all the previous writings. They also would be laid up by the side of the ark; for it is plain that the priests and Levites, who had charge of the sanctuary, were made the keepers of the sacred writings generally.

As a matter of simple convenience the book of Deuteronomy was written on a separate roll ("in a book," Deut. 31:24). But if this book, when finished, was laid up with the earlier portions of the law at the side of the ark, so as to constitute with them a single collection, and if, as we may reasonably suppose, Moses, in writing the book of Deuteronomy, contemplated such a collection of all the parts of the law into one whole; then, when the law is mentioned, whether in Deuteronomy or in the later books, we are to understand the whole law, unless there be something in the context to limit its meaning, as there is, for example, in Joshua 8:32 compared with Deut. 27:1-8. The command to "read this law before all Israel in their hearing," "at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles," was understood in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah of the whole law, and not of Deuteronomy alone (Ch. 9, No. 4); and so Josephus plainly understood it: "But when the multitude is assembled in the holy city at the septennial sacrifices on the occasion of the feast of tabernacles, let the high priest, standing on a lofty stage whence he can be plainly heard, read the laws to all." Antiq. 4.8, 12. "The laws," in the usage of Josephus, naturally mean the whole collection of laws.


4. The history of these is involved in obscurity. In respect to most of them we know not the authors, nor the exact date of {186} their composition. There are, however, two notices that shed much light on the general history of the earlier historical books. In the last chapter of the book of Joshua, after an account of the renewal of the covenant at Shechem, it is added: "And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord." Josh. 24:26. Again, upon the occasion of the establishment of the kingdom under Saul, we are told that "Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord." 1 Sam. 10:25. From the first of these passages we learn that a theocratic man after Moses, who had the spirit of prophecy, connected his writings (or at least one portion of them) with the law. This addition by Joshua, though never formally regarded as a part of the law, virtually belonged to it, since it contained a renewal of the covenant between God and his people. From the second passage we learn that the place for other important documents pertaining to the theocracy was "before the Lord," where the law was deposited. Hence we infer with much probability that, besides the addition made to "the book of the law of God," important historical writings, proceeding from prophetical men, like Joshua and Samuel, were in process of collection at the sanctuary all the time from Moses to Samuel.

5. If now we examine the books of Joshua and Judges, we must be satisfied that the men who compiled them made use of such materials. In the book of Joshua is recorded, with much detail, the allotment of the land of Canaan among the several tribes. A document of this nature must have been written at the time, and by Joshua himself, or under his immediate direction. The same may be reasonably supposed of other portions of the book. If then it was put into its present form after the death of Joshua, as some suppose, the materials must still have been furnished by him to a great extent. The book of Judges covers a period of more than three centuries. Who composed it we do not know, but the materials employed by him must {187} have existed, in part at least, in a written form. The book of Ruth may be regarded as an appendix to that of the Judges.

6. The two books of Samuel (which originally constituted one whole) bring down the history of the Theocracy from the birth of Samuel to the close of David's reign—a period of about a century and a half. The author, therefore, can have been, upon any supposition, only in part contemporary with the events which he records. Yet if we examine the biographical sketches of Saul, Samuel, and David contained in these books, the conviction forces itself upon us that they must have been written by contemporaries. Their freshness, minute accuracy of detail, and graphic vividness of style mark them as coming from eye-witnesses, or from writers who had received their accounts from eye-witnesses. Who were authors of these original documents we cannot determine. It is certain that Samuel was one of them. 1 Chron. 29:29. Who composed the books, again, is a question that we are unable to answer. It was probably a prophet living not very long after the separation of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. From the days of Samuel and onward there was a flourishing school of the prophets at hand which could furnish, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, both the writers of the original materials and the author of the books in their present form.

The attempt has been made to set aside the evidence that the writer of the books of Samuel made use of earlier documents, from the example of such men as Swift and Defoe, who composed works of fiction with all the simplicity and circumstantial detail of those who write authentic history as eye-witnesses. But, unless the design be to class the books of Samuel with "Gulliver's Travels" and "Robinson Crusoe," the argument is wholly irrelevant. With Swift and Defoe simplicity and minuteness of detail were a matter of conscious effort—a work of art, for which they naturally chose the region of fiction; and here they, and other men of genius, have been eminently successful. Shakespeare has portrayed ideal scenes in the life of Julius Cæsar with more vividness and circumstantiality than any authentic historian of Cæsar's age. But real history, written simply in the interest of truth, never has the graphic character, artless simplicity, and circumstantiality of detail which belong to these inimitable narratives, unless the writer be either an eye-witness, or draw his materials from eye-witnesses.


7. We come next to the books of Kings and Chronicles, the writers of which confessedly employed previously existing materials. In the two books of Kings (which, like the two of Samuel and of Chronicles, originally constituted one work) reference is made to the following sources: For the reign of Solomon, "the book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41); for the kingdom of Judah after the revolt of the twelve tribes from Rehoboam to Jehoiakim, "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah;" for the kingdom of Israel, "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel." In the books of Chronicles we have: For the reign of David, "the book" (history) "of Samuel the seer, the book of Nathan the prophet, and the book of Gad the seer" (1 Chron. 29:29); for the reign of Solomon, "the book of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite," and "the vision of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (2 Chron. 9:29); for the reign of Rehoboam, "the book of Shemaiah the prophet," and "of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies," that is, in the manner of a genealogical record (2 Chron. 12:15); for the reign of Abijah, "the story" (commentary) "of the prophet Iddo" (2 Chron. 13:22); for the reign of Jehoshaphat, "the book of Jehu the son of Hanani," who is mentioned (rather, who is inserted, i.e., as an author) in the book of the kings of Israel (2 Chron. 20:34); for the reign of Uzziah, "the prophet Isaiah" (2 Chron. 26:22); for the reign of Hezekiah in part, "the vision of Isaiah the prophet" (2 Chron. 32:32); for the reign of Manasseh in part, "the sayings of the seers," or, as many prefer to render, "the words of Hosai" (2 Chron. 33:18). Besides the above, reference is made to "the book of the kings of Judah and Israel," "the book of the kings of Israel and Judah," "the story of the book of the kings;" "the book of the kings of Israel." These last are probably only different titles of the same collection of annals, embracing in its contents the history of both kingdoms; since the references to the book of the kings of Israel are for the affairs of the kingdom of Judah (2 Chron. 20:34; 33:18).

8. With regard to the above original sources, it should be {189} carefully noticed that the references in the books of Kings are not to our present books of Chronicles, which did not exist when the books of Kings were written. Chap. 20, No. 21. Neither can the allusions in the books of Chronicles be restricted to our present books of Kings; for (1) they refer to matters not recorded in those books—for example, to the wars of Jotham, 2 Chron. 27:7; (2) they refer to the book of the kings of Judah and Israel for a full account of the acts of a given monarch "first and last," while the history of the same monarch in our present books of Kings refers for further information to the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah. It is plain that both writers had access to a larger collection of original documents, which were in great part the same. The chief difference in outward form is that, when the books of Chronicles were written, the annals of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel seem to have constituted a single collection, whereas in the books of Kings they are always mentioned as two separate works. In making his selections from these annals, each writer proceeded independently. Hence the remarkable agreements, where both used the same materials; and the remarkable differences, where one employed documents, or parts of documents, which the other omitted to use.

9. As to the character of these original documents, it is plain that a portion of them were written by prophets. By some the books of the kings of Israel and Judah so often referred to, have been regarded as simply the public annals of the two kingdoms written by the official annalists, the "scribes" or "recorders" so often spoken of. No doubt such annals existed, and entered largely into the documents in question. But the right interpretation of 2 Chron. 20:34, shows that, in some cases at least, the writings of prophets were incorporated into these annals. The extended history of Elijah and Elisha cannot have been the work of the public scribes of the kingdom of Israel, but of prophets, writing from the prophetic point of view. The question, however, is not one of practical importance, since, whatever may have been the source or character {190} of the materials employed, the writers of the books now under consideration, used them at their discretion under the guidance of the Spirit of God. To us, therefore, they come with the weight of prophetic authority. The further consideration of the relation between the books of Kings and Chronicles is reserved for the special introductions to these books. It may be added here that the probable date of the former is the first half of the Babylonish captivity; of the latter, the time of Ezra under the Persian rule.

10. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah constitute a continuation of the books of Chronicles, and need not be particularly noticed in the present connection. For their authorship and date, as also for the book of Esther, see the particular introductions to these books.


11. Under the prophetical books, in the stricter sense of the word, may be included the three Greater prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—Daniel (though largely historical), and the twelve Minor prophets. These will all come up hereafter for separate consideration. At present we view them simply with reference to the growth of the Old Testament Canon. From the settlement of the Israelities in the land of Canaan to the time of Samuel, a period of several centuries (according to the chronology followed by the apostle Paul, Acts 13:20, four hundred and fifty years), we read of several appearances of the "angel of the Lord." Judges 2:1; 6:11; 13:3. The notices of prophets during the same period are only three in number. Judges 4:4; 6:8; 1 Sam. 2:27. But with Samuel began a new era. He was himself one of the greatest of the prophets, and he established a school of the prophets over which he himself presided. 1 Sam. 10:5, 10; 19:20. From his day onward such schools seem to have flourished as a theocratic institution throughout the whole period of the kings, though more vigorously at certain times. 1 Kings 18:4; 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, 5; {191} 4:1, 38, 43; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1. So far as we have notices of these schools, they were under the instruction of eminent prophets; and "the sons of the prophets" assembled in them received such a training as fitted them, so far as human instrumentality is concerned, for the exercise of the prophetical office, as well as for being, in a more general sense, the religious instructors of the people. From these schools came, apparently, most of those whom God called to be his messengers to the rulers and people, though with exceptions according to his sovereign wisdom. Amos 1:1; 7:14. We find, accordingly, that from the days of Samuel and onward the prophets were recognized as a distinct order of men in the Jewish theocracy, who derived their authority immediately from God, and spoke by direct inspiration of his Spirit, as they themselves indicate by the standing formula: "Thus saith the Lord."

12. It is a remarkable fact, however, that from Samuel to about the reign of Uzziah, a period of some three centuries, we have no books of prophecy written by these men, if we except, perhaps, the book of Jonah. Their writings seem to have been mainly historical (like the historical notices incorporated into the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel); and what remains to us of them is preserved in the historical books of the Old Testament. See above, Nos. 6 and 7. But about the time of Uzziah begins a new era, that of written prophecy. During his reign appeared Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and probably Jonah, Joel, and Obadiah. Micah followed immediately afterwards, being contemporary in part with Isaiah; and then, in succession, the rest of the prophets whose writings have come down to us. When the theocracy was now on its decline, waxing old and destined to pass away for ever, they felt themselves called to put on record, for the instruction of all coming ages, their words of warning and encouragement. Thus arose gradually our present collection of prophetical books; that of Lamentations included, which is but an appendix to the writings of Jeremiah.



13. These are a precious outgrowth of the theocratic spirit, in which the elements of meditation and reflection predominate. Concerning the date and authorship of the book of Job, which stands first in order in our arrangement, we have no certain information. Learned men vary between the ante-Mosaic age and that of Solomon. Its theme is divine providence, as viewed from the position of the Old Testament. See further in the introduction to this book.

14. With the call of David to the throne of Israel began a new and glorious era in the history of public worship, that of "the service of song in the house of the Lord." 1 Chron. 6:31. As when Moses smote the rock in the wilderness the water gushed forth in refreshing streams, so the soul of David, touched by the spirit of inspiration, poured forth a rich and copious flood of divine song, which has in all ages refreshed and strengthened God's people in their journey heavenward "through this dark vale of tears." Nor was the fountain of sacred poetry confined to him alone. God opened it also in the souls of such men as Asaph, Ethan, Heman, and the sons of Korah; nor did its flow wholly cease till after the captivity. The Psalms of David and his coadjutors were from the first dedicated to the service of the sanctuary; and thus arose our canonical book of Psalms, although (as will be hereafter shown) it did not receive its present form and arrangement till the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

15. After David came Solomon in the sphere of practical wisdom. This, according to the divine record, he received as a special endowment from God, though doubtless he had in a peculiar measure a natural capacity for such an endowment. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to him in a dream by night, and said: "Ask what I shall give thee." Passing by wealth, long life, and the death of his enemies, the youthful monarch besought God to give him "an understanding heart," that he might be qualified to judge the great people committed to his care. The answer was: "Behold, I have done according to thy word: {193} lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee." 1 Kings 3:5-12. Thus divinely qualified, he embodied, in a vast collection of proverbs, his observations on human life, and the course of human affairs. Our canonical book of Proverbs is a selection from these, with some additions at the end from other sources. For notices respecting the arrangement of these proverbs in their present form, as well as respecting the books of Ecclesiastes and Canticles, which are also ascribed to Solomon, the reader may consult the introductions to these books.


The subject thus far before us has been the growth of the materials which constitute our canonical books. The question of their preservation and final embodiment in their present form remains to be considered.

16. Respecting the preservation of the sacred books till the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, our information is very scanty. Each king was required to have at hand for his own personal use a transcript of the law of Moses (Deut. 17:18), the original writing being carefully laid up in the inner sanctuary, where Hilkiah, the high priest, found it in the reign of Josiah. 2 Kings 22:8. We cannot doubt that such kings as David, Solomon, Asa, and Hezekiah complied with this law: though after the disorders connected with the reign of Manasseh and his captivity, the good king Josiah neglected it. Jehoshaphat, we are expressly told, sent men to teach in the cities of Judah, who had "the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people." 2 Chron. 17:7-9. Of course it was a copy, and not the original autograph, which might not be removed from the sanctuary. It is a natural supposition that other transcripts of the law were made under the direction of the high priest, for {194} the use of pious men, especially pious prophets, princes, and Levites, who needed its directions for the right discharge of their official duties, though on this point we can affirm nothing positively. As to the prophetical books, we know that Jeremiah had access to the writings of Isaiah, for in repeated instances he borrowed his language. We know again that Daniel had at hand the prophecies of Jeremiah; for he understood "by books" (literally "by the books," which may be well understood to mean that collection of sacred books of which the prophecies of Jeremiah formed a part) "the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Dan. 9:2. The consecration of the Psalms of David and his coadjutors to the public service of the sanctuary must have insured their careful preservation by the Levites who had charge of the temple music; and, in general, the deep reverence of the Jews for their sacred writings is to us a reasonable evidence that they preserved them from loss and mutilation to the captivity, and through that calamitous period.

17. To Ezra and his coadjutors, the men of the Great Synagogue, the Jews ascribe the completion of the canon of the Old Testament. Their traditions concerning him are embellished with extravagant fictions; yet we cannot reasonably deny that they are underlaid by a basis of truth. All the scriptural notices of Ezra attest both his zeal and his ability as "a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel," a man who "had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezra 7:10, 11. The work in which he and his associates were engaged was the reëstablishment of the Theocracy on its old foundation, the law of Moses, with the ordinances pertaining to the sanctuary-service afterwards added by David; and that too in the vivid consciousness of the fact that disobedience to the divine law had brought upon the nation the calamities of the captivity. In such circumstances their first {195} solicitude must have been that the people might have the inspired oracles given to their fathers, and be thoroughly instructed in them. The work, therefore, which Jewish tradition ascribes to Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue was altogether appropriate to their situation, nor do we know of any man or body of men afterwards so well qualified for its performance, or upon whom it would so naturally have devolved.

That they arranged the inspired volume in substantially its present form, we have no good reason for doubting. But we should not, perhaps, be warranted in saying that they brought the canon of the Old Testament absolutely and formally to a close. Josephus (against Apion 1. 8) affirms that no book belongs to the sacred writings of his nation "which are justly believed to be divine," that had its origin after the reign of Artaxerxes, Xerxes' son (Artaxerxes Longimanus, under whom Ezra led forth his colony, Ezra, chap. 7); and that on the ground that from this time onward "the exact succession of the prophets" was wanting. This declaration of the Jewish historian is in all essential respects worthy of full credence. We cannot, however, affirm with confidence that all the later historical books were put by Ezra and his contemporaries into the exact form in which we now have them. The book of Nehemiah, for example, contains some genealogical notices (chap. 12:11, 22) which, according to any fair interpretation, are of a later date. We are at liberty to suppose that these were afterwards added officially and in good faith, as matters of public interest; or, as some think, that the book itself is an arrangement by a later hand of writings left by Nehemiah, perhaps also by Ezra; so that while its contents belong, in every essential respect, to them, it received its present form after their death. Respecting the question when the canon of the Old Testament received its finishing stroke, a question which the wisdom of God has left in obscurity, we must speak with diffidence. We know with certainty that our present Hebrew canon is identical with that collection of sacred writings to which our Saviour and his apostles constantly appealed as {196} invested throughout with divine authority, and this is a firm basis for our faith.

The attempt has been made, but without success, to show that a portion of the Psalms belongs to the Maccabean age. The words of the Psalmist (Psa. 74:8) rendered in our version: "They have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land," have no reference to the synagogues of a later age, as is now generally admitted. The Hebrew word denotes places of assembly, and was never applied by the later Jews to their synagogues. The Psalmist wrote, moreover, in immediate connection with the burning of the temple—"they have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling-place of thy name to the ground"—and this fixes the date of the Psalm to the Chaldean invasion (2 Kings 25:9); for the temple was not burned, but only profaned, in the days of the Maccabees. By "the assemblies of God," we are probably to understand the ancient sacred places, such as Ramah, Bethel, and Gilgal, where the people were accustomed to meet, though in a somewhat irregular way, for the worship of God. But whether this interpretation be correct or not, the words have no reference to the buildings of a later age called synagogues.

Some of the apocryphal writings, as, for example, the book of Wisdom, the book of Ecclesiasticus, the first book of Maccabees, were highly valued by the ancient Jews. But they were never received into the Hebrew canon, because their authors lived after "the exact succession of the prophets," which ended with Malachi. They knew how to make the just distinction between books of human wisdom and books written "by inspiration of God."

18. The earliest notice of the contents of the Hebrew Canon is that contained in the prologue to the Greek translation of Ecclesiasticus, where it is described as "the law, the prophets, and the other national books," "the law, and the prophecies, and the rest of the books," according to the three-fold division already considered. Chap. 18, No. 4. Josephus, in the passage already referred to (against Apion, 1. 8), says: "We have not among us innumerable books discordant and contrary to each other, but only two-and-twenty, containing the history of all time, which are justly believed to be divine. And of these five belong to Moses, which contain the laws and the transmission of human genealogy to the time of his death. This period of time wants but little of three thousand years" (the longer chronology followed by him). "But from the death of Moses {197} to the reign of Artaxerxes, who was king of the Persians after Xerxes, the prophets after Moses wrote the history of their times in thirteen books. The remaining four contain hymns to God and precepts for human life. From Artaxerxes to our time various books have been written; but they have not been esteemed worthy of credence like that given to the books before them, because the exact succession of the prophets has been wanting." In this list the books of the Old Testament are artificially arranged to agree with the number two-and-twenty, that of the Hebrew alphabet. The four that contain "hymns to God and precepts for human life" are, in all probability: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles; and the thirteen prophetical books (see below) are: (1) Joshua, (2) Judges and Ruth, (3) the two books of Samuel, (4) the two books of Kings, (5) the two books of Chronicles, (6) Ezra and Nehemiah, (7) Esther, (8) Isaiah, (9) Jeremiah and Lamentations, (10) Ezekiel, (11) Daniel, (12) the book of the twelve Minor Prophets, (13) Job. See Oehler in Hertzog's Encyclopædia, Art. Canon of the Old Testament. Origen, as quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 6.25), and Jerome (both of whom drew their information concerning the Hebrew Canon immediately from Jewish scholars, and may, therefore, be regarded as in a certain sense the expositors of the above list of Josephus) make mention of the same number, twenty-two. Origen's list unites Ruth with Judges, puts together the first and second of Samuel, the first and second of Kings, the first and second of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah (under the names of the first and second of Ezra), and Jeremiah and Lamentations (with the addition of the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah—an inconsistency, or rather oversight, to be explained from his constant habit of using the Septuagint version). In the present text of Eusebius, the book of the twelve Minor Prophets is wanting. But this is simply an old error of the scribe, since it is necessary to complete the number of twenty-two. Jerome's list (Prologus galeatus) is the same, only that he gives the contents of the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa in accordance with the {198} Hebrew arrangement, placing Daniel in the last class, and adding that whatever is without the number of these must be placed among the Apocryphal writings. Smith's Dict. of the Bible, Art. Canon. The catalogue of these two distinguished Christian scholars—Origen of the Eastern church, and Jerome of the Western, both of whom drew their information immediately from Hebrew scholars—is decisive, and we need add nothing further.

19. The Apocryphal books of the Old Testament were incorporated into the Alexandrine version called the Septuagint; but they were never received by the Jews of Palestine as a part of the sacred volume. Concerning them and their history, see further in the Appendix to this part.




In the present chapter only those versions of the Old Testament are noticed which were made independently of the New. Versions of the whole Bible, made in the interest of Christianity, are considered in the following part.


1. This is worthy of special notice as the oldest existing version of the holy Scriptures, or any part of them, in any language; and also as the version which exerted a very large influence on the language and style of the New Testament; for it was extensively used in our Lord's day not only in Egypt, where it originated, and in the Roman provinces generally, but also in Palestine; and the quotations in the New Testament are made more commonly from it than from the Hebrew.

2. The Jewish account of its origin, first noticed briefly by Aristobulus, a Jew (as quoted by Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius), then given at great length in a letter which professes to have been written by one Aristeas, a heathen and a special friend of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and the main part of which Josephus has copied (Antiq. 12. 2), is for substance as follows: Ptolemy Philadelphus (who reigned from B.C. 285 to 247), at the suggestion of his librarian Demetrius Phalereus, after having first liberated all the Jewish captives found in his kingdom, sent an embassy with costly gifts to Eleazar the high priest at Jerusalem, requesting that he would send him chosen men, six from each of the twelve tribes, with a copy of the Jewish law, that it might be interpreted from the Hebrew into the Greek and laid up in the royal library at Alexandria. {200} Eleazar accordingly sent the seventy-two elders with a copy of the laws written on parchments in letters of gold, who were received by the king with high honors, sumptuously feasted, and afterwards lodged in a palace on an island (apparently Pharos in the harbor of Alexandria), where they completed their work in seventy-two days, and were then sent home with munificent gifts. The story that they were shut up in seventy-two separate cells (according to another legend two by two in thirty-six cells), where they had no communication with each other and yet produced as many versions agreeing with each other word for word, was a later embellishment designed (as indeed were all the legends respecting the origin of this version) to exalt its character in the apprehension of the people, and to gain for it an authority equal to that of the inspired original.

3. The letter ascribed to Aristeas is now generally admitted to be spurious. It purports to have been written by a heathen scholar, yet it bears throughout marks of a Jewish origin. It represents the translators as Jewish elders sent by the high priest from Jerusalem. Yet the version is acknowledged to be in the Alexandrine Greek dialect. For these and other reasons learned men ascribe its authorship to a Jew whose object was to exalt the merits of the Alexandrine version in the estimation of his nation. But we are not, for this reason, warranted to pronounce the whole account a pure fable, as many have done. We may well believe that the work was executed under the auspices of Ptolemy, and for the purpose of enriching his library. But we must believe that it was executed by Jews born in Egypt to whom the Greek language was vernacular, and probably from manuscripts of Egyptian origin. Thus much is manifest from the face of the version, that it was made by different men, and with different degrees of ability and fidelity.

The name Septuagint (Latin, Septuaginta), seventy, a round number for the more exact seventy-two, probably arose from this tradition of the execution of the work by seventy-two elders in seventy-two days. The story {201} of the parchments sent from Jerusalem for the use of the translators (with the request that they might be returned with them) has been rejected on the ground that the text used by them differs too widely from the Palestinian text. See further on this subject in No. 5, below. It has been further affirmed that Demetrius Phalereus did not belong to the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, but to that of his father Ptolemy Soter, the son having banished him from court in the beginning of his reign. For this reason some have proposed to assign the founding of the Alexandrian library to the father and not the son. But whatever be our judgment in respect to Demetrius and his relation to the two Ptolemies, the voice of history is decisive in favor of the son and not the father, as the patron of learning.

4. It has been a question whether the Hebrew Scriptures were translated at one time, or in successive portions. The tradition above considered speaks only of the law, or, in the plural, the laws. These might, perhaps, be understood as comprehensive terms for the whole Old Testament, but they probably mean the Pentateuch alone, in which both the Egyptian king and the Jews of his realm would feel a special interest. It is probable that the Pentateuch—the Law in the proper sense of the term—was first translated, and afterwards the remaining books. But how long a period of time was thus occupied cannot be determined. Respecting the incorporation into this version of the apocryphal book, see in the appendix to this Part, No. 2.

When the translator of the Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), says in his prologue, in immediate connection with his residence and labors in Egypt, that "the law itself and the prophets, and the rest of the books have no small difference [as to force] when read in their own tongue," he plainly refers to the Septuagint version as complete in his day. He visited Egypt "under Euergetes." But to which of the two monarchs who bore that title he refers is uncertain. If to the former, it was between 246-221 B.C.; if to the latter, between 145-116 B.C.

5. The version varies so much in its different parts that it is not easy to give its character as a whole. It is agreed among biblical scholars that the translators of the Pentateuch excelled in ability and fidelity, according to the well-known judgment of {202} Jerome—"which [the books of Moses] we also acknowledge to agree more than the others with the Hebrew." Among the historical books the translations of Samuel and Kings are the most faulty. Those of the prophets are in general poor, especially that of Isaiah. That of Daniel was so faulty that the Christians in later times substituted for it the translation of Theodotion. See below, No. 10. Among the poetical books that of Proverbs is the best. As a whole the Septuagint version cannot for a moment enter into competition with the Hebrew original. Yet, as the most ancient of versions and one which also represents a text much older than the Masoretic, its use is indispensable to every scholar who would study the Old Testament in the original language.

6. Independently of its critical value, the Septuagint must be regarded with deep interest from its close connection with the New Testament. In the days of Christ and his apostles it was known and read throughout the whole Roman empire by the Hellenists; that is, by those Jews and Jewish proselytes who had the Greek civilization and spoke the Greek language. As the Alexandrine Greek, in which this version was made, was itself pervaded throughout with the Hebrew spirit, and to a great extent also with Hebrew idioms and forms of thought, so was the language of the New Testament, in turn, moulded and shaped by the dialect of the Septuagint, nor can the former be successfully studied except in connection with the latter. Then again the greatest number of quotations in the New Testament from the Old is made from the Septuagint. According to Mr. Greenfield (quoted in Smith's Bible Dict., art. Septuagint) "the number of direct quotations from the Old Testament in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, may be estimated at three hundred and fifty, of which not more than fifty materially differ from the seventy. But the indirect verbal allusions would swell the number to a far greater amount." The discussion of the principles upon which the writers of the New Testament quote from the Old belongs to another part of this work. It may be briefly remarked here that they quote in a free spirit, {203} not in that of servile adherence to the letter, aiming to give the substance of the sacred writers' thoughts, rather than an exactly literal rendering of the original word for word.

The prophecy of Isaiah, for example (6:9, 10), is six times quoted in the New Testament, wholly or in part, with very free variations of language. Matt. 13:14, 15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28: 26, 27; Rom. 11:8. From neither of these quotations, nor from all of them combined, could we draw a critical argument respecting either the Hebrew or Greek text of the passage quoted. Neither can we argue from the exact agreement of a quotation in the New Testament with the Septuagint where that differs from the Hebrew, that the Hebrew text has been corrupted. The New Testament writers are occupied with the spirit of the passages to which they refer, rather than with the letter.

7. The Hebrew text from which the Septuagint version was executed was unpointed and much older than the Masoretic text. Were the version more literal and faithful, and had its text come down to us in a purer form (see below, Chap. 17, No. 2), it would be of great service in settling the exact text of the original Hebrew. With its present character, and in the present condition of its text, it is of but comparatively small value in this respect. Yet its striking agreement with the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch (Ch. 13, No. 8) is a phenomenon worthy of special notice. Biblical scholars affirm that the two agree in more than a thousand places where they differ from the Hebrew. For the probable explanation of this see above, Ch. 14, No. 9.

The reader must be on his guard against the error of supposing that these more than a thousand variations from the Hebrew text are of such a nature as to affect seriously the system of doctrines and duties taught in the Pentateuch. They are rather of a critical and grammatical character, changes which leave the substance of revelation untouched. See on this point Ch. 3. There is one striking agreement between the Samaritan text and that of the Septuagint in which many biblical scholars think that the true ancient reading has been preserved. It is that of Gen. 4:8: "And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go out into the field. And it came to pass when they were in the field." etc.


8. In the beginning of Christianity the Septuagint enjoyed, as we have seen, a high reputation among the Jews; and as a {204} natural consequence, among the Jewish converts also, as well as the Gentile Christians. To the great body of Gentile believers it was for the Old Testament the only source of knowledge, as they were ignorant of the Hebrew original. They studied it diligently, and used it efficiently against the unbelieving Jews. Hence there naturally arose in the minds of the latter a feeling of opposition to this version which became very bitter. They began to disparage its authority, and to accuse it of misrepresenting the Hebrew. The next step was to oppose to it another version made by Aquila, which was soon followed by two others, those of Theodotion and Symmachus.

9. Aquila is represented to have been a Jewish proselyte of Pontus, and to have lived in the second century. His version was slavishly literal, following the Hebrew idiom even where it is contrary to that of the Greek. For this very reason, not withstanding all the barbarisms thus introduced, the Jews highly valued it, calling it the Hebrew verity. All that remains of it to us is contained in the fragments of Origen's Hexapla. See below, No. 12. Had we the whole work, its extremely literal character would give it great value in a critical point of view, as it would shed much light on the state of the Hebrew text when it was executed.

10. Theodotion was, according to Irenæus, an Ephesian. Jerome calls him and Symmachus Ebionites, Judaizing heretics, and semi-Christians. He is supposed to have made his version in the last half of the second century. According to the testimony of the ancients, it had a close resemblance in character to the Septuagint. He seems to have had this version before him, and to have made a free use of it. Of the three later versions, that of Theodotion was most esteemed by the Christians, and they substituted his translation of the book of Daniel for that of the Seventy.

11. Symmachus, called by the church fathers an Ebionite, but by some a Samaritan, seems to have flourished not far from the close of the second century. His version was free, aiming to give the sense rather than the words. His idiom was Hellenistic, {205} and in this respect resembled the Septuagint, from the author's familiarity with which, indeed, it probably took its complexion.

Of other ancient Greek versions discovered by Origen in his Eastern travels and made by unknown authors it is not necessary to speak.

12. The text of the Septuagint was never preserved so carefully as that of the Hebrew, and in the days of Origen it had fallen into great confusion. To meet the objections of the Jews, as well as to help believers in their study of the Old Testament, Origen undertook first the work called the Tetrapla (Greek, fourfold), which was followed by the Hexapla (Greek, sixfold). To prepare himself he spent twenty-eight years, travelling extensively and collecting materials. In the Tetrapla, the text of the Septuagint (corrected by manuscripts of itself), and those of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus were arranged side by side in four parallel columns. In the Hexapla there were six columns—(1) the Hebrew in Hebrew characters; (2) the Hebrew expressed in Greek letters; (3) Aquila; (4) Symmachus; (5) the Septuagint; (6) Theodotion. See Davidson's Bib. Crit., 1, p. 203; Smith's Bib. Diet., 2, p. 1202. In some books he used two other Greek versions, and occasionally even a third, giving in the first case eight, in the second, nine columns.

"The great work," says Davidson, "consisting of nearly fifty volumes; on which he had spent the best years of his life, does not seem to have been transcribed—probably in consequence of its magnitude and the great expense necessarily attending a transcript. It lay unused as a whole fifty years after it was finished, till Eusebius and Pamphilus drew it forth from its concealment in Tyre, and placed it in the library of the latter in Cæsarea. It is thought to have perished there when Cæsarea was taken and plundered by the Saracens, A.D. 653." Bib. Criticism, 1, p. 206. Well did Origen merit by his vast researches and labors the epithet Adamantinus [Adamantine] bestowed on him by the ancients. Fragments of the Hexapla, consisting of extracts made from it by the ancients, have been collected and published in two folio volumes by Montfauçon, Paris, 1713, and reprinted by Bahrdt in two volumes octavo, Leipzig and Lubeck, 1769, 1770. It is the hope of biblical scholars that these may be enriched from the Nitrian manuscripts. See further, Chap. 28, No. 8.


For the four "Standard Text Editions" of the Septuagint Greek version, with the principal editions founded on them, the reader may consult the Bibliographical List appended to the fourth volume of Home's Introduction, edition of 1860.


13. The Chaldee word Targum means interpretation, and is applied to the translations or paraphrases of the Old Testament in the Chaldee language. When, after the captivity, the Chaldee had supplanted the Hebrew as the language of common life, it was natural that the Jews should desire to have their sacred writings in the language which was to them vernacular. Thus we account, in a natural way, for the origin of these Targums, of which there is a considerable number now extant differing widely in age as well as character. No one of them extends to the whole Old Testament.

The question has been raised whether the Targums have for their authors single individuals, or are the embodiment of traditional interpretations collected and revised by one or more persons. Many biblical scholars of the present day incline strongly to the latter view, which is not in itself improbable. But the decision of the question, in the case of each Targum, rests not on theory, but on the character of its contents, as ascertained by careful examination.

14. The first place in worth, and probably in time also, belongs to the Targum on the Pentateuch which bears the name of Onkelos. It is a literal and, upon the whole, an able and faithful version (not paraphrase) of the Hebrew text, written in good Aramæan, and approaching in style to the Chaldee parts of Daniel and Ezra. In those passages which describe God in language borrowed from human attributes (anthropomorphic, describing God in human forms, as having eyes, hands, etc.; anthropopathic, ascribing to God human affections, as repenting, grieving, etc.), the author is inclined to use paraphrases; thus: "And Jehovah smelled a sweet savor" (Gen. 8:21) becomes in this Targum: "And Jehovah received the sacrifice with favor;" and "Jehovah went down to see" (Gen. 11:5), "Jehovah revealed himself." So also strong expressions discreditable {207} to the ancient patriarchs are softened, as: "Rachel took" instead of "Rachel stole." Gen. 31:19. In the poetical passages, moreover, the Targum allows itself more liberty, and is consequently less satisfactory.

According to a Jewish tradition, Onkelos was a proselyte and nephew of the emperor Titus, so that he must have flourished about the time of the destruction of the second temple. But all the notices we have of his person are very uncertain. There is even ground for the suspicion that the above tradition respecting Onkelos relates, by a confusion of persons, to Aquila (Chaldee Akilas), the author of the Greek version already considered. In this case the real author of the Targum is unknown, and we can only say that it should not probably be assigned to a later date than the close of the second century.

15. Next in age and value is the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Prophets; that is, according to the Jewish classification (Chap. 13, No. 4), Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets. In the historical books, this Targum is in the main literal; but in the prophets (in the stricter sense of the term) paraphrastic and allegorical.

The Jewish tradition represents that Jonathan wrote the paraphrase of the prophets from the mouth of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; a mere fable. Who was the real author cannot be determined with certainty, only that he lived after the so-called Onkelos.

16. There are two other Targums on the Pentateuch, one of them commonly known as the Targum of the Pseudo-Jonathan (because falsely ascribed to the author of the preceding Targum) and the Jerusalem Targum. The latter is of a fragmentary character; and its agreement with the corresponding passages of the former is so remarkable that it is generally considered as consisting of extracts taken from it with free variations. But according to Davidson (in Alexander's Kitto): "The Jerusalem Targum formed the basis of that of Jonathan; and its own basis was that of Onkelos. Jonathan used both his predecessors' paraphrases; the author of the Jerusalem Targum that of Onkelos alone." The style of Pseudo-Jonathan is barbarous, {208} abounding in foreign words, with the introduction of many legends, fables, and ideas of a later age. He is assigned to the seventh century. Keil, Introduc. to Old Testament, § 189.

17. The Targums on the Hagiographa are all of late date. There is one on Psalms, Job, and Proverbs, the last tolerably accurate and free from legendary and paraphrastic additions; one on the five rolls—Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Canticles; which is not a translation, but rather a commentary in the Talmudic style; two on Esther, one on Chronicles.

In the present connection, though not belonging properly to the Targums, may be named the Samaritan version of the Samaritan Pentateuch, printed with the originals in the Paris and London Polyglotts. It is a literal translation executed in the spirit of the Targum of Onkelos, and admitting the same class of variations from the letter of the original.


18. This is the oldest version made by Christians from the original Hebrew. The word Peshito signifies simple, indicating that it gives the simple meaning of the original, without paraphrastic and allegorical additions. It is upon the whole an able and faithful version. It often exhibits a resemblance to the Alexandrine version. We may readily suppose that the translator, though rendering from the original Hebrew, was familiar with the Septuagint, and that this exerted upon his work a certain degree of influence. The Peshito was the standard version for the Syriac Christians, being used alike by all parties; a fact which is naturally explained by its high antiquity. If it be of the same date as the New Testament Peshito, it may be placed not far from the close of the second century.

The Old Latin, and in connection with this, the Vulgate of Jerome, with some other ancient versions of the Old Testament, will be considered in connection with the New Testament.




1. The only legitimate criticism of the sacred text is that which has for its object to restore it, as far as possible, to its primitive form. Had we the autograph of Moses in the exact form in which he deposited it in the sanctuary (Deut. 31:26), this would be a perfect text; and so of any other book of the Old Testament. In the absence of the autographs, which have all perished, we are still able to establish the form of their text with a reasonable degree of certainty for all purposes of faith and practice. The means of accomplishing this are now to be considered.

2. Here ancient manuscripts hold the first place. It is obvious, however, that in settling the true reading of a given passage we cannot look simply to the number of manuscript testimonies. The quality of the manuscripts must also be taken into account. Here age is of primary importance. Other things being equal, the oldest are the most worthy of credence, as being nearest to the original sources. But, in estimating the testimony of a manuscript, there are other qualities besides age that must be carefully considered—the care of the transcriber; its freedom from interpolations by later hands (which can, however, as a general rule, be easily detected); and especially its independence, that is, its independence as compared with other manuscripts. We may have a group of manuscripts whose peculiar readings mark them as having come from a single source. Properly speaking, their testimony is valid only for the text of their source. The authority of a single independent manuscript may be equal in weight to their combined testimony. Then, again, the character of the different readings must be considered. The easiest reading—that which most {210} naturally suggests itself to the scribe—has less presumption in its favor than a more difficult reading; and that on the simple ground that it is more likely that an easy should have been substituted for a difficult reading than the reverse. There are many other points which would need discussion in a work designed for biblical critics; but for the purposes of this work the above brief hints are sufficient.

The Masoretic manuscripts have a great degree of uniformity, and are all comparatively recent. Chap. 14, No. 7. We have reason to believe that the Hebrew text which they exhibit has a good degree of purity. But we cannot consider these manuscripts as so many independent witnesses. The text of the Samaritan Pentateuch is independent of the Masoretic text. Could we believe that we possess it in a tolerably pure form, its critical value would be very great. But, according to the judgment of the best biblical scholars, it has been subjected to so many alterations, that its critical authority is of small account.

3. Next in order come ancient versions, the value of which for critical purposes depends on their character as literal or free, and also upon the state of their text as we possess it. Other things being equal, the authority of a version is manifestly inferior to that of a manuscript of the original. But a version may have been made from a more ancient form of the original text than any which we have in existing manuscripts; and thus it may be indirectly a witness of great value. The extremely literal version of Aquila (Chap. 16, No. 9) was made in the second century. Could we recover it, its testimony to the Hebrew text, as it then existed, would be of great value. The Septuagint version was made (at least begun) in the third century before Christ. But its free character diminishes, and the impure state of its text greatly injures its critical authority. Of the Targums, those of Onkelos and Jonathan alone are capable of rendering any service in the line of sacred criticism, and this is not of much account.

4. We have also primary-printed editions of the Hebrew Bible—those printed from Hebrew manuscripts, which the reader may see noticed in Horne's Bibliographical List, Appendix {211} to vol. 4. The critical authority of these depends on that of the manuscripts used, which were all of the Masoretic recension.

5. Parallel passages—parallel in a critical and not simply in a historical respect—are passages which profess not merely to give an account of the same transaction, but to repeat the same text. Well known examples are: the song of David recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the second book of Samuel, and repeated as the eighteenth psalm; the fourteenth and fifty-third psalms, etc. Such repetitions possess for every biblical student a high interest. But in the critical use of them great caution is necessary. It must be ascertained, first of all, whether they proceed from the same, or from a different writer. In the latter case they are only historical imitations. If, as in the case of the above-named passages, they manifestly have the same author, the inquiry still remains how the differences arose. They may be different recensions of the same writer (in this case, of David himself), or of another inspired writer, who thus sought to adapt them more perfectly—the fifty-third psalm, for example—to the circumstances of his own day. The gift of inspiration made the later writer, in this respect, coördinate in authority with the earlier.

Historical parallelism, such as those in the books of Chronicles, as compared with the earlier historical books, do not properly belong here. Yet these also sometimes furnish critical help, especially in respect to names and dates.

6. The quotations from the Old Testament in the New have for every believer the highest authority; more, however, in a hermeneutical than a critical respect. For, as already remarked (Chap. 16, No. 6), the New Testament writers quote mostly from the Septuagint, and in a very free way. The whole subject of these quotations will come up hereafter under the head of Biblical Interpretation.

7. Quotations from the Old Testament in the Talmud and later rabbinical writers are another source of sacred criticism. {212} The Talmud, embodying the ecclesiastical and civil law of the Jews according to their traditions, consists of two parts, the Mishna, or text, generally referred to the last half of the second century, and the Gemara, or commentary on the Mishna. The Mishna is one; but connected with this are two Gemaras of later origin; the more copious Babylonian, and the briefer Jerusalem Gemara; whence the distinction of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud. Whether because the Hebrew text was rigidly settled in its present form in the days of the Talmudists, or because their quotations have been made to agree with the Masorah, an examination of the Talmud furnishes few various readings that are of any importance. Most of them relate to trifling particulars. The quotations of later rabbinical writers are of small account in a critical respect.

8. It remains to speak of critical conjecture. Of this a wise and reverent scholar will make a very cautious use. He will content himself with offering to the public his suggestions, without venturing to incorporate them into the text itself. The recklessness of some modern critics, who make an abundance of conjectural emendations, and then embody them in their versions, with only a brief note, deserves severe condemnation. Had the ancient critics generally adopted this uncritical method, the sacred text would long ago have fallen into irretrievable confusion.

We add an example where critical conjecture is in place, though it may not venture to alter the established reading. In Psalm 42, the last clause of verse 6 and the beginning of verse 7, written continuously without a division of words (Chap. 13, No. 5), would read thus:

[Hebrew: ky'od'odnu'sho'tpnyu'lhy'lynpshytshtvhh]

With the present division of words:

[Hebrew: ky 'od 'odnu 'sho't pnyu 'lhy 'ly npshy tshtvhh]

the clauses are to be translated, as in our version:

For I shall yet praise him [for] the salvation of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me.

Divided as follows (by the transfer of a single letter to the following word).


[Hebrew: ky 'od 'odnu 'sho't pny u'lhy 'ly npshy tshtvhh]

the rendering would be:

For I shall yet praise him, [who is] the salvation of my countenance and my God. My soul is cast down within me.

Thus the refrain would agree exactly with the two that follow (ver. 11 and 43:5). Yet this conjecture, however plausible, is uncertain, since we do not know that the sacred writer sought exact uniformity in the three refrains.

9. General remark on the various readings of the sacred text. As a general rule, the various readings with which textual criticism is occupied have respect to minor points—for the most part points of a trivial nature; and even where the variations are of more importance, they are not of such a character as to obscure, much less change, the truths of revelation in any essential respect. Biblical critics tell us, for example, that the Samaritan Pentateuch agrees with the Septuagint version in more than a thousand places where they differ from the Masoretic Hebrew text. Chap. 16, No. 7. Yet these three texts all exhibit the same God, and the same system of doctrines and duties. Revelation does not lie in letters and syllables and grammatical forms, but in the deep and pure and strong and broad current of truth "given by inspiration of God." Reverence for the inspired word makes us anxious to possess the sacred text in all possible purity. Yet if we cannot attain to absolute perfection in this respect, we have reasonable assurance that God, who gave the revelation contained in the Old Testament, has preserved it to us unchanged in any essential particular. The point on which most obscurity and uncertainty rests is that of scriptural chronology; and this is not one that affects Christian faith or practice.





1. The province of Particular Introduction is to consider the books of the Bible separately, in respect to their authorship, date, contents, and the place which each of them holds in the system of divine truth. Here it is above all things important that we begin with the idea of the unity of divine revelation—that all the parts of the Bible constitute a gloriously perfect whole, of which God and not man is the author. No amount of study devoted to a given book or section of the Old Testament, with all the help that modern scholarship can furnish, will give a true comprehension of it, until we understand it in its relations to the rest of Scripture, We cannot, for example, understand the book of Genesis out of connection with the four books that follow, nor the book of Deuteronomy separated from the four that precede. Nor can we fully understand the Pentateuch as a whole except in the light of the historical and prophetical books which follow; for these unfold the divine purpose in the establishment of the Theocracy as recorded in the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch itself gives us only the constitution of the Theocracy. The books that follow, taken in connection with, the New Testament, reveal its office in the plan of redemption; and not till we know this can we be said to have an intelligent comprehension of the theocratic system. The same is true of every other part of revelation.

The words of the apostle: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7), apply to many learned commentaries. Their authors have brought to them much accurate scholarship {215} and research; but they have not seen the unity of divine truth. They have written mainly in an antiquarian spirit and interest, regarding the work under consideration simply as an ancient and venerable record. They have diligently sought for connections in philology, in antiquities, and in history. In these respects they have thrown much light on the sacred text. But they have never once thought of inquiring what place the book which they have undertaken to interpret holds in the divine system of revelation—perhaps have had no faith in such a system. Consequently they cannot unfold to others that which they do not themselves apprehend. On a hundred particulars they may give valuable information, but that which constitutes the very life and substance of the book remains hidden from their view.

2. It is necessary that we understand, first of all, the relation of the Old Testament as a whole to the system of revealed truth. It is a preparatory revelation introductory to one that is final. This the New Testament teaches in explicit terms. "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son." Gal. 4:4. Christ could not have come in the days of Enoch before the flood, nor of Abraham after the flood, because "the fulness of the time" had not yet arrived. Nor was the way for his advent prepared in the age of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Ezra. The gospel everywhere assumes that when the Saviour appeared, men had attained to a state of comparative maturity in respect to both the knowledge of God and the progress of human society. The attentive reader of the New Testament cannot fail to notice how fully its writers avail themselves of all the revelations which God had made in the Old Testament of himself, of the course of his providence, and of his purposes towards the human family. The unity of God, especially, is assumed as a truth so firmly established in the national faith of the Jews, that the doctrine of our Lord's deity, and that of the Holy Spirit, can be taught without the danger of its being misunderstood in a polytheistic sense—as if the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three gods. It is certain that this could not have been done any time before the Babylonish captivity. The idea of vicarious sacrifice, moreover—that great fundamental idea of the gospel that "without shedding of blood there is no remission"—the writers of the {216} New Testament found ready at hand, and in its light they interpreted the mission of Christ. Upon his very first appearance, John the Baptist, his forerunner, exclaimed to the assembled multitudes: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." To the Jew, with his training under the Mosaic system of sacrifices, how significant were these words! Without such a previous training, how meaningless to him and to the world for which Christ died! Then again the gospel, in strong contrast with the Mosaic law, deals in general principles. Herein it assumes a comparative maturity of human thought—a capacity to include many particulars under one general idea. A beautiful illustration of this is our Lord's summary of social duties; "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matt. 7:12. We may add (what is indeed implied in the preceding remark) that the gospel required for its introduction a well-developed state of civilization and culture, as contrasted with one of rude barbarism. Now the Hebrews were introduced, in the beginning of their national existence, to the civilization of Egypt; which, with all its defects, was perhaps as good a type as then existed in the world. Afterwards they were brought successively into intimate connection with Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman civilization; particularly with the last two. This was, moreover, at a time when their national training under the Mosaic institutions had given them such maturity of religious character that they were not in danger of being seduced into the idolatrous worship of these nations. Dispersed throughout all the provinces of the Roman empire, they still maintained firmly the religion of their fathers; and their synagogues everywhere constituted central points for the introduction of the gospel, and its diffusion through the Gentile world. Such are some of the many ways in which the world was prepared for the Redeemer's advent. This is a vast theme, on which volumes could be written. The plan of the present work will only admit of the above brief hints.


Our Lord's command is: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The history of missions shows that the gospel can be preached with success to the most degraded tribes—to the Hottentots of South Africa and the cannibals of the South sea islands, and that this is the only remedy for their barbarism. But the gospel did not begin among savages, nor does it have its centres of power and influence among them. Christ came at the culminating point of ancient civilization and culture; not that he might conform his gospel to existing institutions and ideas, but that he might through his gospel infuse into them (as far as they contained elements of truth) the purifying and transforming leaven of divine truth. As the gospel began in the midst of civilization, so does its introduction among barbarous tribes always bring civilization in its train.

3. When we have learned to regard the revelation of which we have a record in the Old Testament as preparatory to the gospel, we see it in its true light. This view furnishes both the key to its character and the answer to the objections commonly urged against it. It is not a revelation of abstract truths. These would neither have excited the interest of the people, nor have been apprehended by them. God made known to the covenant people his character and the duties which he required of them by a series of mighty acts and a system of positive laws. The Old Testament, is, therefore, in an eminent degree documentary—a record not simply of opinions, but rather of actions and institutions. Of these actions and institutions we are to judge from the character of the people and the age in connection with the great end proposed by God. This end was not the material prosperity of Israel, but the preparation of the nation for its high office as the medium through which the gospel should afterwards be given to the world. The people were rebellious and stiff-necked, and surrounded by polytheism and idolatry. Their training required severity, and all the severity employed by God brought forth at last its appropriate fruits. The laws imposed upon them were stern and burdensome from their multiplicity. But no one can show that in either of these respects they could have been wisely modified; for the nation was then in its childhood and pupilage (Gal. 4:1-3), and needed to be treated accordingly.


An objection much insisted on by some is the exclusive character of the Mosaic institutions—a religion, it is alleged, for only one nation, while all the other nations were left in ignorance. To this a summary answer can be given. In selecting Israel as his covenant people, God had in view the salvation of the whole world: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3)—such was the tenor of the covenant from the beginning. His plan was to bring one nation into special relation to himself, establish in it the true religion, prepare it for the advent of Christ, and then propagate the gospel from it as a centre throughout all nations. If men are to be dealt with in a moral way, as free, responsible subjects of law (and this is the only way in which God deals with men under a system of either natural or revealed religion), can the objector propose any better way? He might as well object to the procedure of a military commander that, instead of spreading his army over a whole province, he concentrates it on one strong point. Let him wait patiently, and he will find that in gaining this point the commander gains the whole country.

4. Having seen the relation of the Old Testament as a whole to the system of divine revelation, we are now prepared to consider the place occupied by its several divisions.

(1.) To prepare the way for our Lord's advent, one nation was to be selected and trained up under a system of divine laws and ordinances—the theocracy established under Moses. The Pentateuch records the establishment of the theocracy, with the previous steps that led to it, and the historical events immediately connected with. it. Hence the five books of Moses are called emphatically the Law; and as such, their province in the Old Testament is clear and well defined.

(2.) The end of the Mosaic law being the preparation of the Israelitish people, and through them the world, for Christ's advent, it was not the purpose of God that it should be hidden as a dead letter beside the ark in the inner sanctuary. It was a code for practice, not for theory. It contained the constitution of the state, civil as well as religious; and {219} God's almighty power and faithfulness were pledged that it should accomplish in a thorough way the office assigned to it. The theocracy must therefore have a history; and with the record of this the historical books are occupied.

(3.) God did not leave the development of this history to itself. He watched over it from the beginning, and directed its course, interposing from time to time, not only in a providential way, but also by direct revelation. Sometimes, for specific ends, he revealed himself immediately to particular individuals, as to Gideon, and Manoah and his wife. But more commonly his revelations were made to the rulers or people at large through persons selected as the organs of his Spirit; that is, through prophets. The prophet held his commission immediately from God. Since God is the author, not of confusion, but of order, he came to the people under the Law, not above it; and his messages were to be tried by the Law. Deut. 13:1-5. No prophet after Moses enjoyed the same fulness of access to God which was vouchsafed to him, or received the same extent of revelation. Numb. 12:6-8; Deut. 34:10-12. Nevertheless, the prophet came to rulers and people, like Moses, with an authority derived immediately from God, introducing his messages with the words: "Thus saith the Lord." In God's name he rebuked the people for their sins; explained to them the true cause of the calamities that befell them; recalled them to God's service as ordained in the Law, unfolding to them at the same time its true nature as consisting in the spirit, and not in the letter only—1 Sam. 15:22; Isa. 1:11-20; 57:15; 66:2; Jer. 4:4; Ezek. 18:31; Hosea 10:12; 14:2; Joel 2:12, 13; Amos 5: 21-24; Micah 6: 6-8—denounced upon them the awful judgments of God as the punishment of continued disobedience; and promised them the restoration of his favor upon condition of hearty repentance. In the decline of the Theocracy, it was the special province of the prophets to comfort the pious remnant of God's people by unfolding to them the future glory of Zion—the true "Israel of God," and her dominion over all the earth. From about the reign of Uzziah and onward, as {220} already remarked (ch. 15. 12), the prophets began, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to reduce their prophecies to writing, and thus arose the series of prophetical books that form a prominent part of the Old Testament canon. Their office is at once recognized by every reader as distinct from that of either the Pentateuch or the historical books; although these latter were, as a general rule, written by prophets also.

(4.) There is a class, more miscellaneous in character, that may be described in general terms as the poetical books, in which the elements of meditation and reflection predominate. It includes the book of Job, which has for its theme divine providence, as viewed from the position of the Old Testament; the book of Psalms, that wonderful treasury of holy thought and feeling embodied in sacred song for the use of God's people in all ages; the book of Proverbs, with its inexhaustible treasures of practical wisdom; the book of Ecclesiastes, having for its theme the vanity of this world when sought as a satisfying good; and the book of Canticles, which the church has always regarded as a mystical song having for its ground-idea, under the Old Testament, that God is the husband of Zion, and under the New, that the church is the bride of Christ. How high a place this division of the canon holds in the system of divine revelation every pious heart feels instinctively. Without it, the revelation of the Old Testament could not have been complete for the work assigned to it.

5. We have seen the relation of the Old Testament as a whole to the entire system of revelation, and also the place occupied by its several divisions. It will further appear, as we proceed, that each particular book in these divisions contributes its share to the perfection of the whole.

6. Although the revelation contained in the Old Testament was preparatory to the fuller revelation of the New, we must guard against the error of supposing that it had not a proper significance and use for the men of its own time. "Unto us," says the apostle, "was the gospel preached, as well as unto them." Heb. 4:2. And again: "These all died in faith, not {221} having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better tiling for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:13, 39, 40. They had a part of the truth, but not its fulness; and the measure of revelation vouchsafed to them was given for their personal salvation, as well as to prepare the way for further revelations. The promise made to Abraham—"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"—was fulfilled in Christ. In this respect Abraham "received not the promise." Nevertheless, it was a promise made for his benefit, as well as for that of future ages. Into the bosom of the patriarch it brought light and joy and salvation. "Your father Abraham," said Jesus, "rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad." John 8:56. "He believed in the Lord," says the inspired record, "and he counted it to him for righteousness." Gen. 15:6. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt typified the redemption of Christ; and it was, moreover, one of the grand movements that prepared the way for his advent. But it was neither all type nor all preparation. To the covenant people of that day it was a true deliverance; and to the believing portion of them, a deliverance of soul as well as of body. "The law," says Paul, "was our school-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." Gal. 3:24. But while it had this preparatory office, it was to the Israelitish nation a true rule of life; and under it many, through faith, anticipated its end. The prophets prophesied for the men of their own age, as well as for distant generations. The sweet psalmist of Israel, while he foreshadowed the Messiah's reign, sung for the comfort and edification of himself and his contemporaries; and Solomon gave rules of practical wisdom as valid for his day as for ours. The revelation of the Old Testament was not complete, like that which we now possess; but it was sufficient for the salvation of every sincere inquirer after truth. {222} When the rich man in hell besought Abraham that Lazarus might be sent to warn his five brethren on the ground that, if one went to them from the dead they would repent, Abraham answered: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."

7. There is another practical error against which Christians of the present day need to be warned. It is the idea that the full revelation of the New Testament supersedes in a great measure the necessity of studying the previous revelation contained in the Old Testament. Few will openly avow this, but too many inwardly cherish the delusion in a vague and undefined form; and it exerts a pernicious influence upon them, leading them to undervalue and neglect the Old Testament Scriptures. Even if the idea under consideration were in accordance with truth, it would still be to every earnest Christian a matter of deep historical interest to study the way by which God prepared the world for the full light of the gospel. But it is not true. It rests on a foundation of error and delusion. For, (1.) The system of divine revelation constitutes a whole, all the parts of which are connected, from beginning to end, so that no single part can be truly understood without a knowledge of all the rest. The impenetrable darkness that rests on some portions of Scripture has its ground in the fact that the plan of redemption is not yet completed. The mighty disclosures of the future can alone dissipate this darkness.

"God is his own interpreter,

And he will make it plain."

(2.) We know that the writers of the New Testament constantly refer to the Old for arguments and illustrations. A knowledge of the Old Testament is necessary, therefore, for a full comprehension of their meaning. How can the reader, for example, understand the epistles to the Romans and Galatians, or that to the Hebrews, without a thorough acquaintance with "Moses and the prophets," to which these epistles have such constant reference? (3.) The Old Testament is occupied with the record of God's dealings with men. Such a record must {223} be a perpetual revelation of God's infinite attributes, and of human character also, and the course of human society, every part of which is luminous with instruction. (4.) Although the old theocracy, with its particular laws and forms of worship, has passed away, yet the principles on which it rested, which interpenetrated it in every part, and which shone forth with a clear light throughout its whole history—these principles are eternal verities, as valid for us as for the ancient patriarchs. Some of these principles—for example, God's unity, personality, and infinite perfections; his universal providence; his supremacy over all nations; the tendency of nations to degeneracy, and the stern judgments employed by God to reclaim them—are so fully unfolded in the Old Testament that they needed no repetition in the New. There they became axioms rather than doctrines. (5.) "The manifold wisdom of God" in adapting his dealings with men to the different stages of human progress cannot be seen without a diligent study of the Old Testament as well as the New. Whoever neglects the former, will want breadth and comprehensiveness of Christian culture. All profound Christian writers have been well versed in "the whole instrument of each Testament," as Tertullian calls the two parts of revelation. Chap. 13, No. 2.

Modern skepticism begins with disparaging the Old Testament, and ends with denying the divine authority of both the Old and the New. In this work it often unites a vast amount of learning in regard to particulars with principles that are superficial and false.




1. The unity of the Pentateuch has already been considered (Ch. 9, No. 12), and will appear more fully as we proceed with the examination of the separate books included in it. Even if we leave out of view the authority of the New Testament, this unity is too deep and fundamental to allow of the idea that it is a patchwork of later ages. Under divine guidance the writer goes steadily forward from beginning to end, and his work when finished is a symmetrical whole. Even its apparent incongruities, like the interweaving of historical notices with the laws, are marks of its genuineness; for they prove that, in those parts at least, events were recorded as they transpired. Such a blending of history with revelation does not impair the unity of the work; for it is a unity which has its ground not in severe logical arrangement and classification, but in a divine plan historically developed. Whether the division of the Pentateuch into five books (whence its Greek name Pentateuchos, fivefold book) was original, proceeding from the author himself, or the work of a later age, is a question on which biblical scholars are not agreed. It is admitted by all that the division is natural and appropriate. The Hebrew titles of the several books are taken from prominent words standing at or near the beginning of each. The Greek names are expressive of their prominent contents; and these are followed in the Latin Vulgate and in our English version, only that the name of the fourth book is translated.


2. The Hebrews name this book Bereshith, in the beginning, from the first word. Its Greek name Genesis signifies generation, {225} genealogy. As the genealogical records with which the book abounds contain historical notices, and are, in truth, the earliest form of history, the word is applied to the history of the creation, and of the ancient patriarchs, as well as to the genealogical lists of their families. Gen. 2:4; 25:19; 37:2 etc. In the same wide sense is it applied to the book itself.

3. Genesis is the introductory book to the Pentateuch, without which our understanding of the following books would be incomplete. Let us suppose for a moment that we had not this book. We open the book of Exodus and read of "the children of Israel which came into Egypt;" that "Joseph was in Egypt already," and that "there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." Who were these children of Israel? we at once ask; and how did they come to be in Egypt? Who was Joseph? and what is the meaning of the notice that the new king knew not Joseph? All these particulars are explained in the book of Genesis, and without them we must remain in darkness. But the connection of this book with the following is not simply explanatory; it is organic also, entering into the very substance of the Pentateuch. We are told (Ex. 2:24, 25) that God heard the groaning of his people in Egypt, and "God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; and God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." The remembrance of his covenant with their fathers is specified as the ground of his interposition. Now the covenant made with Abraham, and afterwards renewed to Isaac and Jacob, was not a mere incidental event in the history of the patriarchs and their posterity. It constituted the very essence of God's peculiar relation to Israel; and, as such, it was the platform on which the whole theocracy was afterwards erected. The nation received the law at Sinai in pursuance of the original covenant made with their fathers; and unless we understand the nature of this covenant, we fail to understand the meaning and end of the law itself. The very information which we need is contained in Genesis; for from {226} the twelfth chapter onward this book is occupied with an account of this covenant, and of God's dealings with the patriarchs in connection with it. The story of Joseph, which unites such perfect simplicity with such deep pathos, is not thrown in as a pleasing episode. Its end is to show how God accomplished his purpose, long before announced to Abraham (ch. 15:13), that the Israelites should be "a stranger in a land not theirs."

But the Abrahamic covenant itself finds its explanation in the previous history. For two thousand years God had administered the government of the world without a visible church. And what was the result? Before the flood the degeneracy of the human family was universal. God, therefore, swept them all away, and began anew with Noah and his family. But the terrible judgment of the deluge was not efficacious to prevent the new world from following the example of the old. In the days of Abraham the worship of God had been corrupted through polytheism and idolatry, and ignorance and wickedness were again universal. The time had manifestly come for the adoption of a new economy, in which God should, for the time being, concentrate his special labors upon a single nation but with ultimate reference to the salvation of the whole world. Thus we have in the book of Genesis in a certain measure (for we may not presume to speak of God's counsels as fully apprehended by us) an explanation of the Abrahamic covenant, and, in this, of the Mosaic economy also.

4. In accordance with the above view, the book of Genesis falls into two unequal, but natural divisions. The first part extends through eleven chapters, and is occupied with the history of the human family as a whole. It is the oldest record in existence, and its contents are perfectly unique. It describes in brief terms: the order of creation; the institution of the Sabbath and marriage; the probation to which man was subjected, with its disastrous result in his fall and expulsion from Eden; the murder of Abel by Cain, and, in connection with this, the division of mankind into two families; man's universal {227} degeneracy; the deluge; the covenant made by God with the earth through Noah, and the law of murder; the confusion of tongues at Babel, and the consequent dispersion of the different families of men, a particular account of which is given by way of anticipation in the tenth chapter. In addition to these notices there are two genealogical tables; the first from Adam to Noah (ch. 5), the second from Shem to Abraham (ch. 11).

The second part comprises the remainder of the book. In this we have no longer a history of the whole race, but of Abraham's family, with only incidental notices of the nations into connection with whom Abraham and his posterity were brought. It opens with an account of the call of Abraham and the covenant made with him; notices the repeated renewal of this covenant to Abraham, with the institution of the rite of circumcision; its subsequent renewal to Isaac and Jacob; and the exclusion, first of Ishmael and afterwards of Esau, from a share in its privileges. In immediate connection with the covenant relation into which God took Abraham and his family, we have the history of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sometimes with much detail, but always with reference to the peculiar prerogative conferred upon them. The book closes with an account of the wonderful train of providences by which Israel was brought into Egypt.

Though Ishmael and Esau were excluded from the covenant, yet, apparently in consequence of their near relation to the patriarchs, genealogical tables are devoted to them; to Ishmael, ch. 25:12-18; to Esau, the whole of ch. 36.

5. The Mosaic authorship of Genesis has already been considered; and, in connection with this, the question whether the Pentateuch, and especially Genesis, contains any clauses of a later date, Ch. 9, No. 11. Some, as Hengstenberg and his followers, deny the existence of such clauses; but others think that a few must be admitted, which were afterwards added, as needful explanations, by prophetical men. We are at liberty {228} to decide either way concerning them according to the evidence before us. On the question whether Moses made use of earlier written documents, see Ch. 9, No. 11.

The clauses for which a later date can with any show of reason be claimed are few in number, and none of them enter essentially into the texture of the book. They are just such extraneous remarks as the necessities of a later age required; for example, Gen. 36:31; Ex. 16:35. On the last of these, Graves, who considers it "plainly a passage inserted by a later hand," says: "I contend that the insertion of such notes rather confirms than impeaches the integrity of the original narrative. If this were a compilation long subsequent to the events it records" (according to the false assumption of some respecting the origin of the Pentateuch), "such additions would not have been plainly distinguishable, as they now are, from the main substance of the original." On the Pentateuch, Appendix, sec. 1, No. 13.

6. The contents of the first part of this book are peculiar. It is not strange, therefore, that we should encounter difficulties in the attempt to interpret them. To consider these difficulties in detail would be to write a commentary on the first eleven chapters. Only some general remarks can here be offered. Some difficulties are imaginary, the inventions of special pleading. In these the commentaries of modern rationalists abound. They are to be set aside by fair interpretation. But other difficulties are real, and should not be denied or ignored by the honest expositor. If he can give a valid explanation of them, well and good; but if not, let him reverently wait for more light, in the calm assurance that the divine authority of the Pentateuch rests on a foundation that cannot be shaken. To deny a well-authenticated narrative of facts on the ground of unexplained difficulties connected with it is to build on a foundation of error.

(A.) Of the difficulties connected with the first part of Genesis some are scientific. Such is the narrative of the creation of the world in six days. Respecting this it has already been remarked (Ch. 10, No. 3) that with all who believe in the reality of divine revelation the question is not respecting the truth of this narrative, but respecting the interpretation of it. As long ago as the time of Augustine the question was raised whether these days {229} are to be understood literally, or symbolically of long periods of time. The latter was his view, and it is strengthened by the analogy of the prophetic days of prophecy.

Another difficulty relates to the age of the antediluvian patriarchs, which was about tenfold the present term of life for robust and healthful men. According to the laws of physiology we must suppose that the period of childhood and youth was protracted in a corresponding manner; since in man, as in all the higher animals, the time of physical growth—physical growth in the widest sense, the process of arriving at physical maturity—has a fixed relation to the whole term of existence. After the deluge, in some way not understood by us, the whole course of human life began to be gradually quickened—to run its round in a shorter time—till the age of man was at last reduced to its present measure. All that we can say here is that we do not know how God accomplished this result. He accomplished it in a secret and invisible way, as he does so many other of his operations in nature. On the discrepancy between the Masoretic Hebrew text, the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and that of the Septuagint, in respect to the genealogical tables in Genesis, see below.

The unity of the human race is everywhere assumed in Scripture. Some modern scientific men have denied this, but their arguments for a diversity of origin do not amount to positive proof. They are theoretic rather than demonstrative, and the weight of evidence is against them. We must remember, moreover, that man lives under a supernatural dispensation. The narrative in the eleventh chapter of Genesis seems to imply that God interposed miraculously to confound human speech, in accordance with his plan to scatter men "abroad upon the face of all the earth." In like manner he may have interposed in a secret way to intensify the diversity in the different races of men. It does not appear certain, however, on physiological grounds, that any miraculous interposition was needed; and we may leave the question of the manner in which the present diversity among the children of Adam was produced among the secret things of which it is not necessary that we should have an explanation.

The question of the universality of the deluge is with believers in revelation one of words only, on which it is hardly necessary to waste time. The end of the deluge was the complete destruction of the human race, all but Noah and his family. This it accomplished, and why need we raise any further inquiries; as, for example, whether the polar lands, where no man has ever trod, were submerged also? "All the high hills under the whole heaven" doubtless included all the high hills where man lived, and which, therefore, were known to man.

(B.) Another class of difficulties is historical, consisting in alleged inconsistencies and disagreements between different parts of the narrative. For the details of these, the reader must be referred to the commentaries. {230} One or two only can be noticed as specimens of the whole. It is said that the second account of the creation (Gen. 2:4-25) is inconsistent with the first; the order of creation in the first being animals, then man; in the second, man, then animals. But the answer is obvious. In the first account, the order of succession in the several parts of creation is one of the main features. It distinctly announces that, after God had finished the rest of his works, he made man in his own image. The second account, on the other hand, which is introductory to the narrative of man's sin and expulsion from Eden, takes no notice of the order of creation in its several parts. In this, man is the central object, and other things are mentioned incidentally in their relation to man. The writer has no occasion to speak of trees good for food till a home is sought for Adam; nor of beasts and birds till a companion is needed for him. Then each of these things is mentioned in connection with him. No candid interpreter can infer from this that the second account means to give, as the veritable order of creation—man, the garden of Eden, beasts and birds!

A difficulty has been alleged, also, in regard to Cain's wife. But this grows simply out of the brevity of the sacred narrative. The children of Adam must have intermarried, brothers and sisters. The fact that no daughter is mentioned as born to Adam before Seth, is no evidence against the birth of daughters long before. In the fourth chapter no individuals are mentioned except for special reasons—Cain and Abel, with a genealogical list of Cain's family to Lamech, because he was the head of one branch of the human race before the deluge. In the fifth chapter none are named but sons in the line of Noah, with the standing formula of "sons and daughters" born afterwards. We are not to infer from this that no sons or daughters were born before; otherwise we should exclude Cain and Abel themselves. At the time of the murder of Abel, the two brothers were adult men. What was their age we cannot tell. It may have been a hundred years or more; for our first parents were created not infants, but in the maturity of their powers, and Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when the next son after Abel's murder was born. Gen. 4:25. At all events, the interval between Abel's birth and death must have been long, and we cannot reasonably suppose that during this period no daughters were born to Adam.

(C.) The chronology of the book of Genesis involves, as is well known, some difficult questions. In the genealogical tables contained in the fifth and eleventh chapters, the texts of the Masoretic Hebrew (which is followed in our version), Hebrew-Samaritan, and Septuagint, differ in a remarkable manner.

(1.) Antediluvian Genealogy. According to the Septuagint, no patriarch has a son before the age of one hundred years. It adds to the age of each of the five patriarchs that preceded Jared, and also to the age of Enoch, {231} one hundred years before the birth of his son, deducting the same from his life afterwards. To the age of Lamech it adds six years before the birth of Noah, deducting thirty years afterwards. In respect to the age of Methuselah when Lamech was born, there is a difference of twenty years between the Vatican and the Alexandrine manuscripts. The latter agrees with the Masoretic text: the former gives one hundred and sixty-seven instead of one hundred and eighty-seven. Thus the Septuagint makes the period from the creation to the deluge 2262 years (according to the Vatican manuscript 2242 years) against the 1656 of our Masoretic text.

The Samaritan-Hebrew text agrees with the Masoretic for the first five patriarchs and for Enoch. From the age of Jared it deducts one hundred years; from that of Methuselah one hundred and twenty (one hundred according to the Vatican manuscript of the Septuagint); and from that of Lamech, one hundred and twenty-nine—three hundred and forty-nine years in all—before the birth of their respective sons. This places the deluge in the year of the world 1307.

(2.) Genealogy from Noah to Abraham. Chap. 11. Here the Samaritan-Hebrew and the Septuagint (which Josephus follows with some variations) give a much longer period than the Masoretic text. They both add to the age of each of the six patriarchs after Shem one hundred years before the birth of his son. To the age of Nahor the Samaritan-Hebrew adds fifty, and the Septuagint one hundred and fifty years. The latter also inserts after Arphaxad a Cainan who was one hundred and thirty years old at the birth of Salah.

In respect to the variations in these two genealogical tables (chaps. 5 and 11) it is to be remarked: (1) that the authority of the Masoretic text is, on general grounds, higher than that of the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch; (2) that in the present case there is reason to suspect systematic change in these two latter texts; strong external corroboration alone could warrant us in adopting the longer chronology of the Septuagint; (3) that any uncertainty which may rest on the details of numbers in the Pentateuch ought not to affect our confidence in the Mosaic record as a whole, for here, as it is well known, there is a peculiar liability to variations. With these brief remarks we must dismiss this subject. The reader will find the question of scriptural chronology discussed at large in the treatises devoted to the subject. For more compendious views, see in Alexander's Kitto and Smith's Dictionary of the Bible the articles entitled Chronology.


7. The Hebrew name of this book is: Ve-elle shemoth, Now these [are] the names; or more briefly: Shemoth, names. The {232} word Exodus (Greek Exodos, whence the Latin Exodus) signifies going forth, departure, namely, of Israel from Egypt. With the book of Exodus begins the history of Israel as a nation. It has perfect unity of plan and steady progress from beginning to end. The narrative of the golden calf is no exception; for this records in its true order an interruption of the divine legislation. The book consists of two parts essentially connected with each other. The contents of the first part (chaps. 1-18) are briefly the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their journey to Sinai, as preparatory to their national covenant with God there. More particularly this part contains: (1) an account of the multiplication of the people in Egypt; their oppression by the Egyptians; the birth and education of Moses, his abortive attempt to interpose in behalf of his people, his flight to Midian, and his residence there forty years (chaps. 1, 2); (2) God's miraculous appearance to Moses at Horeb under the name JEHOVAH; his mission to Pharaoh for the release of Israel, in which Aaron his brother was associated with him; the execution of this mission, in the progress of which the Egyptians were visited with a succession of plagues, ending in the death of all the first-born of man and beast in Egypt; the final expulsion of the people, and in connection with this the establishment of the feast of the passover and the law respecting the first-born of man and beast (chaps. 3-13); (3) the journey of the Israelites to the Red sea under the guidance of a cloudy pillar; their passage through it, with the overthrow of Pharaoh's host; the miraculous supply of manna and of water; the fight with Amalek, and Jethro's visit to Moses.

The second part contains the establishment of the Mosaic economy with its tabernacle and priesthood. At Sinai God enters into a national covenant with the people, grounded on the preceding Abrahamic covenant; promulgates in awful majesty the ten commandments, which he afterwards writes on two tables of stone, and adds a code of civil regulations. Chaps. 19-23. The covenant is then written and solemnly ratified by the blood of sacrifices. Chap. 24. After this follows a direction which {233} contains in itself the whole idea of the sanctuary: "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." Chap. 25:8. The remainder of the book is mainly occupied with the structure of the tabernacle and its furniture, and the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. Directions are given for the priestly garments, and the mode of inauguration is prescribed; but the inauguration itself belongs to the following book. The narrative is interrupted by the sin of the people in the matter of the golden calf, with the various incidents and precepts connected with it (chaps. 32-34), and a repetition of the law of the Sabbath is added. Chap. 31:12-17. The office, then, which the book of Exodus holds in the Pentateuch is definite and clear.

8. With regard to the time of the sojourn in Egypt, two opinions are held among biblical scholars. The words of God to Abraham: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years," "but in the fourth generation they shall come hither again" (Gen. 15:13, 16); and also the statement of Moses: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years" (Exod. 12:40), seem to imply that they spent four hundred and thirty years in Egypt (a round number being put in the former passage for the more exact specification of the latter). It has been thought, also, that the vast increase of the people in Egypt—to six hundred thousand men (Exod. 12:37), which shows that the whole number of souls was over two millions—required a sojourn of this length. On the other hand, the apostle Paul speaks of the law as given "four hundred and thirty years after" the promise to Abraham. Gal. 3:17. In this he follows the Jewish chronology, which is also that of the Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch, for they read in Exod. 12:40: "who dwelt in Egypt and in the land of Canaan." The words, "in the land of Canaan," are undoubtedly an added gloss; but the question still remains whether they are not a correct gloss. The genealogy of Levi's family (Exod. 6:16-20) {234} decidedly favors the interpretation, which divides the period of four hundred and thirty years between Egypt and the land of Canaan. To make this table consistent with a sojourn of four hundred and thirty years in Egypt, it would be necessary to assume, with some, that it is an epitome, not a full list, which does not seem probable.

Before we can draw any certain argument from the increase of the people in Egypt, we must know the basis of calculation. It certainly includes not only the seventy male members of Jacob's family, with their wives and children, but also the families of their male-servants (circumcised according to the law, Gen. 17:12, 13, and therefore incorporated with the covenant people). From the notices contained in Genesis, we learn that the families of the patriarchs were very numerous. Gen. 14:14; 26:14; 32:10; 36:6, 7. If Abraham was able to arm three hundred and eighteen "trained servants born in his own house," how large an aggregate may we reasonably assume for the servants connected with Jacob's family, now increased to seventy male souls? We must not think of Jacob going into Egypt as a humble personage. He was a rich and prosperous emir, with his children and grandchildren, and a great train of servants. With the special blessing of God upon his children and all connected with them, we need find no insuperable difficulty in their increase to the number mentioned at the exodus.

Provision was made in a miraculous way for the sustenance of the Israelites in the wilderness. The question has been raised: How were their flocks and herds provided for? In answer to this, the following remarks are in point: (1.) We are not to understand the word "wilderness" of an absolutely desolate region. It affords pasturage in patches. Robinson describes Wady Feiran, northwest of Sinai, as well watered, with gardens of fruit and palm trees; and he was assured by the Arabs that in rainy seasons grass springs up over the whole face of the desert. The whole northeastern part of the wilderness, where the Israelites seem to have dwelt much of the thirty-eight years, is capable of cultivation, and is still cultivated by the Arabs in patches. (2.) The Israelites undoubtedly marched not in a direct line, but from pasture to pasture, as the modern Arabs do, and spreading themselves out over the adjacent region. When Moses besought his father-in-law not to leave him, but to go with him that he might be to the people instead of eyes (Numb. 10:31), we may well suppose that he had in view Hobab's knowledge of the places where water and pasturage were to be found. (3.) There is decisive evidence that this region was once better watered than it is now, and more fruitful. The planks of acacia-wood, the shittim-wood, which were employed in the construction {235} of the tabernacle, were a cubit and a half in width; that is, in English measure, something more than two and a half feet. No acacia-trees of this size are now found in that region. The cutting away of the primitive forests seems to have been followed, as elsewhere, by a decrease in the amount of rain. But, however this may be, we know that, for some reason, this part of Arabia was once more fertile and populous. In its northeastern part are extensive ruins of former habitations, and enclosed fields. The same is true of the region around Beersheba and south of it. Here Robinson found ruins of former cities, as Eboda and Elusa. Of the latter place he says: "Once, as we judged upon the spot, this must have been a city of not less than twelve or fifteen thousand inhabitants. Now, it is a perfect field of ruins, a scene of unutterable desolation; across which the passing stranger can with difficulty find his way." Vol. 1, p. 197. And of Eboda, farther south: "The large church marks a numerous Christian population." "But the desert has resumed its rights; the intrusive hand of cultivation has been driven back; the race that dwelt here have perished; and their works now look abroad in loneliness and silence over the mighty waste." Vol. 1, p. 194. Ritter, the most accomplished of modern geographers, affirms that from the present number of the thin and negligent population, we can draw no certain conclusion respecting the former condition of the country. Erdkunde, vol. 14, p. 927.

Of the numerous objections urged by Colenso against the Pentateuch, and the book of Exodus in particular, many are imaginary, and vanish upon the fair interpretation of the passages in question. Others, again, rest on false assumptions in regard to facts. For the details, the reader is referred to the works written in reply.


9. The Hebrews call this book Vayyikra, and [God] called. Later Jewish designations are, the law of priests, and the law of offerings. The Latin name Leviticus (from the Greek Leuitikon, Levitical, pertaining to the Levites) indicates that its contents relate to the duties of the Levites, in which body are included all the priests. The book of Leviticus is immediately connected with that which precedes, and follows in the most natural order. The tabernacle having been reared up and its furniture arranged, the services pertaining to it are next ordained, and in connection with these, various regulations, most of which come within the sphere of the priestly office. Hence we have (1) the law for the various offerings, followed by an account of the {236} anointing of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priestly office, with the death of Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire before the Lord (chaps. 1-10); (2) precepts concerning clean and unclean beasts, and cleanness and uncleanness in men from whatever source, followed by directions for the annual hallowing of the sanctuary on the great day of atonement, and also in respect to the place where animals must be slain, and the disposition to be made of their blood (chaps. 11-17); (3) laws against sundry crimes, which admitted, in general, of no expiation, but must be visited with the penalty of the law (chaps. 18-20); (4) various ordinances pertaining to the purity of the priestly office, the character of the sacrifices, the yearly festivals, the arrangements for the sanctuary, etc., with the law for the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee (chaps. 22-26:2); (5) a wonderful prophetic chapter, announcing for all coming ages the blessings that should follow obedience, and the curses which disobedience should bring upon the people (chap. 26:3-46). There is added, as a sort of appendix, a chapter concerning vows and tithes. Chap. 27.

10. The priestly office, with its sacrifices, was the central part of the Mosaic economy, for it prefigured Christ our great High Priest, with his all-perfect sacrifice on Calvary for the sins of the world. On this great theme much remains to be said in another place. It is sufficient to remark here that the book of Leviticus gives the divine view of expiation. If the expiations of the Levitical law were typical, the types were true figures of the great Antitype, which is Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God. which taketh away the sin of the world." No view of his death can be true which makes these types empty and unmeaning.


11. Bemidhbar, in the wilderness, is the Hebrew name of this book, taken from the fifth word in the original. It is also called from the first word Vayyedhabber, and [God] spake. The {237} English version, after the example of the Latin, translates the Greek name Arithmoi, numbers, a title derived from the numbering of the people at Sinai, with which the book opens, and which is repeated on the plains of Moab. Chap. 26. This book records the journeyings of the Israelites from Sinai to the borders of the promised land, and their sojourn in the wilderness of Arabia, with the various incidents that befell them, and the new ordinances that were from time to time added, as occasion required. It embraces a period of thirty-eight years, and its contents are necessarily of a very miscellaneous character. The unity of the book is chronological, history and legislation alternating with each other in the order of time. A full enumeration of the numerous incidents which it records, and of the new ordinances from time to time enacted, is not necessary. In the history of these thirty-eight years we notice three salient points or epochs. The first is that of the departure from Sinai. Of the preparations for this, with the order of the march and whatever pertained to it, a full account is given. Then follow the incidents of the journey to the wilderness of Paran, with some additional laws. Chaps. 1-12. The second epoch is that of the rebellion of the people upon the report of the twelve spies whom Moses had sent to search out the land, for which sin the whole generation that came out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, was rejected and doomed to perish in the wilderness. Chaps. 13, 14. This was in the second year of the exodus. Of the events that followed to the thirty-eighth year of the exodus, we have only a brief notice. With the exception of the punishment of the Sabbath-breaker, Korah's rebellion and the history connected with it, and also a few laws (chaps. 15-19), this period is passed by in silence. The nation was under the divine rebuke, and could fulfil its part in the plan of God only by dying for its sins with an unrecorded history. The third epoch begins with the second arrival of Israel at Kadesh, and this is crowded with great events—the death of Miriam, the exclusion of Moses and Aaron from the promised land, with the death of the latter at Mount Hor, the {238} refusal of Edom to allow a passage through his territory, the wearisome journey of the people "to compass the land of Edom," with their sins and sufferings, the conquest of Arad, Sihon, and Og, and thus the arrival of the people at the plains of Moab opposite Jericho. Chaps. 20-22:1. Then follows the history of Balaam and his prophecies, the idolatry and punishment of the people, a second numbering of the people, the appointment of Joshua as the leader of the people, the conquest of the Midianites, the division of the region beyond Jordan to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and a review of the journeyings of the people. With all this are intermingled various additional ordinances.


12. The Jewish name of this book is Elle haddebharim, these are the words. The Greek name Deuteronomion, whence the Latin Deuteronomium and the English Deuteronomy, signifies second law, or repetition of the law, as it is also called by the later Jews. The book consists of discourses delivered by Moses to Israel in the plains of Moab over against Jericho, in the eleventh month of the fortieth year of the exodus. Deut. 1:1, 3. The peculiar character of this book and its relation to the preceding books have been already considered in the first part of the present work (Chap. 9, No. 10), to which the reader is referred. It is generally divided into three parts. The first is mainly a recapitulation of the past history of Israel under Moses, with appropriate warnings and exhortations, followed by a notice of the appointment of three cities of refuge on the east side of Jordan. Chaps. 1-4. The second discourse begins with a restatement of the law given on Sinai. Exhortations to hearty obedience follow, which are full of fatherly love and tenderness. Various precepts of the law are then added, with some modifications and additions, such as the altered circumstances of the people required. Chaps. 5-26. In the third part the blessings and the curses of the law are prominently set forth as motives to obedience. Chaps. 27-30. The remainder of the book is occupied {239} with Moses' charge to Joshua, his direction for depositing the law in the sanctuary by the side of the ark, his song written by divine direction, his blessing upon the twelve tribes, and the account of his death and burial on mount Nebo.

13. As the book of Genesis constitutes a suitable introduction to the Pentateuch, without which its very existence, as a part of the divine plan, would be unintelligible, so does the book of Deuteronomy bring it to a sublime close. From the goodness and faithfulness of God, from his special favor bestowed upon Israel, from the excellence of his service, from the glorious rewards of obedience and the terrible penalties of disobedience, it draws motives for a deep and evangelical obedience—an obedience of the spirit and not of the letter only. Thus it adds the corner-stone to the whole system of legislation, completing it on the side of the motives by which it challenges obedience, and investing it with radiant glory. The Pentateuch, then, is a whole. The first book is inseparable from it as an introduction; the last as a close. The three intermediate books contain the legislation itself, and in this each of them has its appropriate province.




1. In the Pentateuch we have the establishment of the Theocracy, with the preparatory and accompanying history pertaining to it. The province of the historical books is to unfold its practiced working, and to show how, under the divine superintendence and guidance, it accomplished the end for which it was given. They contain, therefore, primarily, a history of God's dealings with the covenant people under the economy which he had imposed upon them. They look at the course of human events on the divine rather than the human side, and in this respect they differ widely from all other historical writings. Human histories abound with the endless details of court intrigues, of alliances and wars, of material civilization and progress, and whatever else pertains to the welfare of men considered simply as the inhabitants of this world. But the historical books of the Old Testament, written by prophetical men illumined by the Holy Spirit, unfold with wonderful clearness the mighty movements of God's providence, by which the divine plan proposed in the Mosaic economy was steadily carried forward, alike through outward prosperity and adversity, towards the fulfilment of its high office. After a long series of bloody struggles, the Theocracy attained to its zenith of outward power and splendor under David and Solomon. From that time onward the power of the Israelitish people declined, till they were at last deprived of their national independence, and subjected to the yoke of foreign conquerors. But in both the growth of the national power under the Theocracy, and its decline, the presence of God and his supremacy, as well over the covenant people as over the surrounding nations, were gloriously manifested, and their training for the {241} future advent of the Messiah was steadily carried forward. Thus we have in these historical books a wonderful diversity of divine manifestations, which alike charm and instruct the pious mind.

2. It has already been shown (Chap. 15, No. 7) that the books of Kings and Chronicles contain only selections from a large mass of materials. The same is probably true of the books of Judges and Samuel. The sacred writers did not propose to give a detailed account of all the events belonging to the periods over which their histories extended, but only of those which were specially adapted to manifest God's presence and guidance in the affairs of the covenant people. The history of some persons is given very fully; of others with extreme brevity. But we may say, in general, that this divine history, extending over a period of a thousand years, is the most condensed in the world, as well as the most luminous with the divine glory. The student rises from the perusal of it with such clear views of God's presence and supremacy in the course of human affairs, as cannot be gained from all the ponderous tomes of secular history. Each book, moreover, presents some special phase of God's providential movements, and contains, therefore, its special lessons of instruction. With few exceptions, the authors of the historical books are unknown. We only know that they were prophetical men, who wrote under the illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


3. This book records the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites under Joshua, and its distribution by lot among the tribes that received their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan. It connects itself, therefore, immediately with the Pentateuch; for it shows how God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that he would give to his posterity the land of Canaan for an inheritance (Gen. 17:8), a promise often repeated afterwards, and kept constantly in view in the whole series of Mosaic legislation. The book naturally falls into two parts. {242} The first twelve chapters contain the history of the conquest itself, with the movements preparatory thereto. Joshua, who had been previously designated as the leader of the people (Numb. 27:15-23), receives a solemn charge to pass over the Jordan and take possession of the promised land; the people prepare themselves accordingly; two spies are sent out to take a survey of Jericho; the Israelites pass over the Jordan dry-shod, its waters having been miraculously divided; they encamp at Gilgal, and are there subjected to the rite of circumcision. Chaps. 1-5. Then follows an account of the overthrow of Jericho, the trespass of Achan with the calamity which it brought upon the people, the conquest of Ai, the ratification of the law at mount Ebal with the erection of the stones on which the law was written, the artifice of the Gibeonites by which they saved their lives, the overthrow of the combined kings of the Canaanites at Gibeon, and the conquest, first of the southern and afterwards of the northern kings of Canaan. Chaps. 6-12.

The second part gives an account of the division of the land by lot among the several tribes. This work was begun as is described in chapters 13-17, and after an interruption through the dilatoriness of the people, for which Joshua rebuked them, was continued and completed at Shiloh. Chaps. 18, 19. Six cities of refuge were then appointed, three on each side of the Jordan; forty-eight cities were assigned by lot to the Levites; and the two and a half tribes that had received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan (Numb., chap. 32) were sent home. Chaps. 20-22. The twenty-third chapter contains Joshua's charge to the elders of Israel, and the twenty-fourth his final charge at Shechem to the assembled tribes, on which occasion there was a solemn renewal of the national covenant. The whole book is brought to a close by a brief notice of the death of Joshua and Eleazar, and the interment of the bones of Joseph in Shechem. This brief survey of the contents of the book reveals at once its unity, its orderly plan, and the place which it holds in the history of the Theocracy.


4. The authorship of the book cannot be determined from the title alone, any more than that of the two books which bear the name of Samuel. Jewish tradition ascribes it to Joshua himself, except the last five verses. But it records some transactions which, according to the most obvious interpretation of them, occurred after Joshua's death. Among these are the conquest of Hebron (chap. 15:16-19, compared with Judges 1:12-15), and especially the excursion of the Danites (chap. 19:47), which must be regarded as identical with that described in the eighteenth chapter of the book of Judges. Unless we assume that this notice of the Danites is an addition made by a later hand, we must suppose that the book was written by some unknown prophetical man after Joshua's death. He may well have been one of the elders who overlived Joshua, since at the time of his writing Rahab was yet living among the Israelites. Chap. 6:25.

The eighteenth chapter of the book of Judges, which records the invasion of the Danites, is evidently an appendix, introduced by the words: "In those days there was no king in Israel;" and that this invasion took place not long after the settlement of the people in Canaan, is manifest from the object proposed by it. Judges 18:1. At the time of the conquest, Rahab was a young woman, and may well have survived that event forty years or more. The only apparent indication of a still later composition of the book is that found in the reference to the book of Jasher, chap. 10:13. From 2 Sam. 1:18, we learn (according to the most approved interpretation of the passage) that David's elegy on the death of Saul and Jonathan was written in the book of Jasher. But we are not warranted in affirming that this title was applied to a book of definitely determined contents. It may have been a collection of national songs, enlarged from age to age.

Though Joshua does not appear to have been the author of the book in its present form, we may well suppose that the writer employed, in part at least, materials that came from Joshua's pen. When the land was divided by lot among the several tribes, the boundaries of each inheritance, with the cities pertaining to it, must have been carefully described in writing by Joshua himself, or by persons acting under his direction. It is probable that these descriptions were copied by the author of the book of Joshua; and this is sufficient to account for any diversity of diction that may exist in this part of the book as compared with the purely historic {244} parts. Nothing in the style and diction of this book, or in that of the two following books of Judges and Ruth, indicates that they belong to a later age of Hebrew literature. Certain peculiarities of expression which occasionally appear in them may be naturally explained as provincialisms, or as belonging to the language of conversation and common life.

5. The book of Joshua bears every internal mark of authentícity and credibility. The main transaction which it records—the extirpation of the Canaanites by the immediate help of Jehovah, and the gift of their country to the Israelites—was contemplated from the very first by the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 13:14, 15; 15:18-21; 17:8, etc.), and also by the entire body of the Mosaic laws. Why God chose to accomplish this by the sword of his covenant people, has been already sufficiently considered. Chap. 10, No. 7. The stupendous miracles recorded in the book of Joshua are in harmony with the entire plan of redemption, the great and decisive movements of which have been especially marked by signal manifestations of God's presence and power. The man who denies the credibility of this book on the ground of these miracles, must, for consistency's sake, go much farther, and deny altogether the supernatural manifestations of God recorded in the Bible, including the mission, miraculous works, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

In chap. 10:12-14 we read that, at the word of Joshua, the sun stood still and the moon stayed in the midst of heaven about a whole day, so that "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man." Some have sought to explain the whole passage as a quotation from "the book of Jasher" expressed in the language of poetic hyperbole; and they have compared with it such poetic amplifications as those contained in Psa. 18:7-16; Hab., chap. 3, etc. But this interpretation is forced and unnatural; and besides this, there remains the analogous event of which we have a double record in 2 Kings 20:8-11; Isa. 38: 7, 8, and which is expressly ascribed to divine power: "Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward." Here it is manifest that to human vision the sun, and with it the shadow, went backward ten degrees. How this was accomplished we need not attempt to determine. We are not shut up to the supposition that the earth was turned back on her axis {245} ten degrees, nor that the rays of the sun were miraculously deflected ten degrees (which would change his apparent position in the heavens ten degrees), nor to any other particular hypothesis. If God chose that the sun should to human vision go backward ten degrees, he could accomplish it by means inscrutable to us; and so also if he chose that it should stand still in the midst of heaven about a whole day.


6. The book of Judges is so called because it is occupied with the history of the Israelites during the period when they were under the general administration of Judges. These men are not to be confounded with the ordinary judges under the Theocracy, of the appointment of which we have an account in Exodus, chap. 18. They were men specially raised up by God and endowed by him with extraordinary qualifications for their office, which was general and political rather than municipal. Many of them were military leaders, called to their work in times of national calamity. In times of peace they stood at the head of public affairs, although with regard to some of them it is generally thought that their jurisdiction extended to only a part of the Israelitish people. Thus Jephthah and the three succeeding judges seem to have exercised their office in northeastern Israel, while the scene of Samson's exploits was southwestern Israel, and he was, in the opinion of many, contemporary with Eli, who judged Israel at Shiloh. The condition of the nation during the period of the Judges is described as one in which "there was no king in Israel." Chap. 18:1; 19:1. There was no regularly organized central power which could give unity to the movements of the people. The tribes seem to have acted in a great measure independently of each other, as in the expedition of the Danites. Chap. 18. It was only on special occasions, like that of the sin and punishment of the Benjamites (chaps. 19-21), that there was a general concert among them. This state of affairs was not favorable to the development of the military power of the nation, but it was well suited to the high moral and religious ends which the Theocracy had in view; for it compelled the people to feel {246} their constant dependence on God's presence and help for defence against their enemies. Sin, and oppression by the surrounding nations; repentance, and deliverance by God's immediate interposition—this is the oft-repeated story of the book of Judges. All this was in accordance with the promises and threatenings of the Law, and it illustrated alike the perverseness of the nation and God's faithfulness in the fulfilment of his covenant. The incidents recorded in this book are of a peculiarly checkered character, and many of them are full of romantic interest. In the history of redemption, the book of Judges has a well-defined place. It unfolds to our view the operation of the Theocracy in the first stage of the nation's existence, and under its first outward form of government.

7. As it respects the arrangement of materials, the book of Judges opens with a two-fold introduction, giving, first, a brief notice of the wars carried on against the Canaanites by certain tribes after Joshua's death, of the failure of the people to effect a complete extirpation of the Canaanites, and of the reproof administered to them by an angel of the Lord (chap. 1-2:5); secondly, a survey of the course of events during the time of the judges, with especial reference to God's faithfulness in the fulfilment of his promises and threatenings. Chap. 2:6-3:6. Then follows the body of the work, giving an account of the seven servitudes to which the people were subjected for their sins, and of the judges raised up by God for their deliverance, with some incidental notices, as the history of Abimelech, (chap. 9) and the quarrel of the men of Ephraim with Jephthah. Chap. 12:1-6. The book closes with a two-fold appendix, recording, first, the conquest of Laish by the Danites, and in connection with this the story of Micah and his idolatrous establishment (chaps. 17, 18); secondly, the punishment of the Benjamites for espousing the cause of the wicked men of Gibeah (chaps. 19-21). These events are not to be conceived of as subsequent to those recorded in the body of the book, but as contemporaneous with them.

8. The remark: "In those days there was no king in Israel" {247} (chaps. 18:1; 19:1) plainly implies that the date of the book of Judges must be assigned to a period after the establishment of the kingdom. The statement, on the other hand, that the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem, "but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day" (chap. 1:21), limits the time of its composition to the period before David's conquest of the city. 2 Sam. 5:6-9. The author of the book is unknown. Jewish tradition ascribes it to Samuel. It may well have been written during his life, and possibly under his supervision, though on this point we can affirm nothing positively. The writer must have availed himself of earlier written documents. See Chap. 15, No. 5.

9. The chronology of the book of Judges is a matter of debate among biblical scholars. Some contend for a longer period, in accordance with the reckoning of the apostle Paul, who says that after God had divided to the people the land of Canaan by lot, "he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet." Acts 13:20. Others seek to reduce the period so as to bring it into harmony with the statement in 1 Kings 6:1, that Solomon began to build the temple "in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt."

If we suppose that the oppression of the Israelites by the Philistines, described in the beginning of the first book of Samuel, is the same as the forty years' oppression mentioned in the book of Judges, and that the judgeship of Samson falls within the same period (Judges 15:20), it is easy to make out the four hundred and fifty years of the apostle's reckoning. From the beginning of the first servitude under Cushan-rishathaim to the close of the last under the Philistines, we have, reckoning the years of servitude and rest in succession, and allowing three years for the reign of Abimelech, three hundred and ninety years. For the remaining sixty years we have (1) the time from the division of the land by lot to the death of the elders who overlived Joshua; (2) the time from the close of the last servitude to the establishment of the kingdom; and possibly (3) a further period for Shamgar's judgeship, though it is more probable that this falls within the eighty years of rest after the oppression of the Moabites. Those {248} who adopt a shorter chronology, assume that the forty years' dominion of the Philistines was contemporaneous with the oppression of the northeastern tribes by the Ammonites and the period during which Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judged Israel; their jurisdiction being, as they suppose, restricted to the northeastern part of the land. For both the longer and shorter chronology, there are several variously modified schemes, the details of which the student can find in works devoted to the subject of biblical chronology.

10. The incidents of the book of Ruth belong to the period of the Judges, so that it may be regarded as in some sort an appendix to the book of Judges, though probably not written by the same author. It contains a beautiful sketch of domestic life in the early period of the Theocracy, written with charming simplicity and graphic vividness. Yet it is not on this ground alone or chiefly that it has a place in the sacred canon. It records also the sublime faith of Ruth the Moabitess, which led her to forsake her own country and kindred to trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel (ch. 2:12), and which was rewarded by her being made the ancestress of David and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the book connects itself immediately with "the house and lineage of David," and may be regarded as supplementary to the history of his family. It was evidently written after David was established on the throne. Further than this we have no certain knowledge respecting its date; nor can its author be determined.


11. The two books of Samuel constituted originally one work. The division was made by the Greek translators as a matter of convenience, so as to close the first book with the death of Saul, and begin the second with David's accession to the throne. This division was followed by the Vulgate, and was introduced by Daniel Bomberg into the printed Hebrew text. To the original whole work the name of Samuel was appropriately given; for he is not only the central personage in the history which it records to the establishment of the {249} kingdom, but it was also through him, as the acknowledged prophet of the Theocracy, that both Saul and David were designated and anointed for the kingly office. The Greek Septuagint designates these books from their contents, First and Second of the Kingdoms, and the Vulgate, First and Second of Kings.

12. In the history of the plan of redemption these two books have a well-defined province. They are occupied with the establishment, under God's direction and guidance, of the kingly form of government in the Theocracy. All the events recorded before the inauguration of Saul were preparatory to that event and explanatory of it. Since, moreover, Saul was afterwards rejected with his family on account of his disobedience, and David and his family were chosen in his stead, it was in the person of David that the kingdom was first fully established, and with the close of his reign the work accordingly ends. The period included in this history, though comparatively brief, was most eventful. Samuel, himself one of the greatest of the prophets, established a school of the prophets, and from his day onward the prophetical order assumed an importance and permanency in the Theocracy that was before unknown. See above, Ch. 15, No. 11. The change to the kingly form of government constituted a new era in the Hebrew commonwealth. Although the motives which led the people to desire a king were low and unworthy, being grounded in worldliness and unbelief, yet God, for the accomplishment of his own purposes, was pleased to grant their request. The adumbration in the Theocracy of the kingly office of the future Messiah, not less than of his priestly and prophetical office, was originally contemplated in its establishment; and now the full time for this had come. While David and his successors on the throne were true civil and military leaders in a secular and earthly sense, their headship over God's people also shadowed forth the higher headship of the long promised Redeemer, the great Antitype in whom all the types contained in the Mosaic economy find at once their explanation and their fulfilment. Under David the Hebrew commonwealth was rescued from the oppression {250} of the surrounding nations, and speedily attained to its zenith of outward power and splendor.

13. The contents of the books of Samuel naturally fall under three main divisions. The introductory part takes up the history of the commonwealth under Eli and continues it to the time when the people demanded of Samuel a king. 1 Sam. chaps. 1-7. This period properly belongs to that of the judges, but its history is given here because of its intimate connection with the events that follow. It describes the birth and education of Samuel; the disorders that prevailed under Eli's administration, for which God denounced upon his family severe judgments; the invasion of the land by the Philistines, with the capture and restoration of the ark; Samuel's administration, and the deliverance of the people under him from the oppression of the Philistines. The second part, extending through the remainder of the first book, opens with an account of the abuses which led the people to desire a king, and then gives an account of the selection, anointing, and inauguration of Saul as king of Israel, with a notice of his exploit in delivering the people of Jabesh-gilead from the Ammonites. Chaps 8-12. It then gives an account of his first sin at Gilgal, for which Samuel threatened him with the loss of his kingdom, and of his victory over the Philistines, with a general summary of the events of his reign. Chaps. 13, 14. For his second sin in the matter of the Amalekites Saul is rejected, and David is anointed by Samuel as his successor; the Spirit of the Lord forsakes Saul, and an evil spirit from God troubles him; David becomes his minstrel, is in high favor with him, slays Goliath in the presence of the two armies of Israel and the Philistines, returns in triumph to the camp of Saul, marries Michal his daughter, but becomes an object of his jealousy and hatred because he has supplanted him in the affections of the people. Chaps. 15-18:9. The remainder of the first book is mainly occupied with an account of the persecutions to which David was subjected on the part of Saul, and of the wonderful way in which God delivered him. It closes with an account of {251} Saul's distress through the invasion of the Philistines, of his resort in trouble to a woman that had a familiar spirit, of the terrible message that he received at the lips of the risen Samuel, of the defeat of the armies of Israel by the Philistines, and of the death of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. The third part occupies the whole of the second book. It records the reign of David, first at Hebron over the tribe of Judah, with the accompanying war between the house of Saul and the house of David, and then, after Ishbosheth's death, over all Israel at Jerusalem. With the fidelity of truth the sacred historian describes not only David's many victories over the enemies of Israel, but also his grievous sin in the matter of Uriah, with the terrible chastisements that it brought upon him and his kingdom—Amnon's incest, the murder of Amnon by Absalom, Absalom's rebellion, pollution of his father's concubines, and death in battle. The closing years of David's reign were saddened also by David's sin in numbering the people, for which there fell in pestilence seventy thousand of his subjects.

14. For the evidence that the author of these books availed himself of the writings of the prophets contemporary with the events described, see above, Chap. 15, No. 6. In 1 Chron. 29:29 we read: "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer." If, as some think, our present books of Samuel were composed shortly after David's death, the author may well have been one of the last two of the above-named prophets; but there are some indications that he lived after the division of the Israelitish people into the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

In 1 Sam. 27:6 we read that Achish gave Ziklag to David; "wheretofore," adds the sacred historian, "Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day." The only natural interpretation of these words is that the kings of Judah—not any particular king of Judah, but the kings of Judah as a line—are named in contrast with the kings of Israel. In {252} several other passages, where he is speaking of events that occurred before the separation of the two kingdoms, he puts Judah and Israel together. 1 Sam. 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 2 Sam. 3:10; 24:1. But this can, perhaps, be explained from the fact that during the seven years of David's reign at Hebron there was an actual separation of Judah from the other tribes. It is a remarkable fact that while the full term of David's reign is given (2 Sam. 5:4, 5), which implies that the writer lived after its close, no notice is taken of his death. The reason of this omission cannot be known. As the first book of Kings opens with an account of David's last days and death, some have conjectured that it was designedly omitted from the books of Samuel as superfluous, when the historical books were arranged in the sacred canon.


15. These two books, like the two of Samuel, originally constituted a single work. The division was first made by the Greek translators, was followed by the Vulgate, and was finally admitted by Daniel Bomberg into the printed Hebrew text. The Greek version of the Seventy and the Latin version, having called the books of Samuel, the former, First and Second of the Kingdoms, the latter, First and Second of the Kings, designate these books as Third and Fourth of the Kingdoms or Kings. Each of the historical books presents the covenant people under a new aspect, and imparts new lessons of instruction. In the book of Joshua we see them taking triumphant possession of the promised land through the mighty assistance of Jehovah; the book of Judges describes the course of affairs in the Hebrew commonwealth before the existence of a central kingly government; in the books of Samuel we learn how such a central government was established, and how under the reign of David the nation was raised from the deep degradation of servitude to the summit of worldly power. But the Theocracy was only a preparatory, and therefore a temporary form of God's visible earthly kingdom. From the days of David and Solomon it began to decline in outward power and splendor, and it is with the history of this decline that the books of Kings are occupied. In the view which they present of the {253} divine plan they are in perfect harmony with the preceding books of Samuel; but in respect to the manner of execution they differ widely. The books of Samuel give the history of Samuel, Saul, and David, with great fulness of detail, and never refer the reader to other sources of information. The books of Kings, on the contrary, give professedly only certain portions of the history of the people under the successive kings, always adding, at the close of each monarch's reign after Solomon, that the rest of his acts may be found, for the kings of Judah, in "the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah;" and, for the kings of Israel, in "the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel." The Chronicles referred to are not our present books of Chronicles, as has been already shown, Chap. 15, No. 8, but a larger collection of writings, from which the authors both of the books of Kings and Chronicles drew materials, in part at least, for their respective works. The history contained in the books of Kings may be conveniently divided into three periods—(1) the reign of Solomon over all Israel; (2) the history of the coexisting kingdoms of Judah and Israel; (3) the history of the kingdom of Judah after the extinction of the kingdom of Israel.

16. The history of the first period opens with the reign of Solomon, which excelled that of David in outward magnificence, as it did that of every succeeding king. 1 Kings 3:13. The great event of his reign, constituting an epoch in the history of the Theocracy, was the erection of the temple on Mount Moriah, which took the place of the ancient tabernacle constructed by divine direction in the wilderness. Thus Solomon added to the public services of the sanctuary an outward splendor and dignity corresponding with the increased wealth and glory of the nation. But in the case of his kingdom, as often elsewhere, the zenith of magnificence came after the zenith of true power. Had his profuse expenditures ceased with the erection of the temple and his own house, it would have been well; but the maintenance of such a household as his, embracing "seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred {254} concubines," corrupted his religion and that of the nation, burdened the people with heavy taxes, and thus prepared the way for the division of his kingdom that followed immediately after his death, as recorded in 1 Kings 12.

17. With the division of Solomon's kingdom under his son Rehoboam into two hostile nations begins the second period of the history. This division was brought about by God's appointment as a chastisement for Solomon's sins, and in it the national power received a blow from which it never recovered. The religious effect also was unspeakably calamitous so far as the kingdom of the ten tribes was concerned; for Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, established idolatry as a matter of state policy, thus corrupting the religion of his whole kingdom with a view to the establishment of his own power, a sin in which he was followed by every one of his successors. The sacred historian carries forward the history of these two kingdoms together with wonderful brevity and power. Sometimes, as in the days of Elijah and Elisha, the history of the ten tribes assumes the greater prominence, because it furnishes the fuller illustrations of God's presence and power; but as a general fact it is kept in subordination to that of Judah. It is a sad record of wicked dynasties, each established in blood and ending in blood, until the overthrow of the kingdom by the Assyrians about two hundred and fifty-four years after its establishment. Meanwhile there was in Judah an alternation of pious with idolatrous kings, and a corresponding struggle between the true religion and the idolatry of the surrounding nations, which the sacred writer also describes briefly but vividly.

18. It was during the reign of the good king Hezekiah that the extinction of the kingdom of Israel took place, and the third period of the history began. Hezekiah's efforts for the restoration of the true religion were vigorous and for the time successful. But after his death the nation relapsed again into idolatry and wickedness. The efforts of Josiah, the only pious monarch that occupied the throne after Hezekiah, could not avail to stay the progress of national degeneracy, and the kingdom {255} of Judah was, in its turn, overthrown by the Chaldeans, and the people carried captive to Babylon.

19. The chronology of certain parts of the history embraced in the books of Kings is perplexed and uncertain. But the beginning of the Babylonish captivity is generally placed B.C. 588, three hundred and eighty-seven years after the beginning of Rehoboam's reign, and one hundred and thirty-three years after the extinction of the kingdom of Israel. Reckoning in the forty years of Solomon's reign, we have for the period included in the books of Kings to the beginning of the captivity four hundred and twenty-seven years. To this must be added twenty-six more years for the thirty-seventh year of Jehoiachin's captivity (2 Kings 25:27), the last date given by the sacred historian. The author of the books of Kings is unknown. Jewish tradition ascribes them to Jeremiah, perhaps on the ground that the last chapter of Jeremiah is mostly a repetition of 2 Kings from chap. 24:18 to the end of the book. But Jeremiah and the author of these books may both have made use of common documents. We only know that the writer lived after the accession of Evil-merodach to the throne of Babylon (2 Kings 25:27), and during the full pressure of the Babylonish captivity, since he nowhere gives any intimation of its approaching close.


20. These books, which originally constituted a single work, are called by the Hebrews: Words of the Days; that is, History of the Events of the Times, or Chronicles, as they were first called by Jerome. The Greek name Paraleipomena, things omitted, has its ground in the false supposition that they were designed to be supplementary to the books of Kings, whereas they constitute an independent work having its own plan and end. The author of the books of Kings doubtless looked forward to the future restoration of his nation; but the time for that joyous event was yet distant, and he could have no immediate reference to the wants of the returning exiles. His aim {256} was simply to set forth the course of events under the Theocracy from Solomon to the captivity as an illustration of God's faithfulness in the fulfilment of both his promises and his threatenings. But the author of the books of Chronicles wrote, as all agree, during the process of the restoration. In addition to the common aim of all the historical writers, he had a particular object in view, which was to furnish the restored captives with such information as would be especially interesting and important to them, engaged as they were in the reëstablishment of the commonwealth. Hence we may naturally explain the peculiarities of these books as compared with the books of Kings.

(1.) The writer gives particular attention to the matter of genealogy. The first nine chapters are occupied with genealogical tables interspersed with short historical notices, which the author took, for the most part at least, from documents that have long since perished. To the returning exiles the lineage of their ancestors must have been a matter of general interest. A knowledge of the descent of the families of the different tribes would greatly facilitate the people in regaining their former inheritances. To the priests and Levites, especially, it was of the highest importance that they should be able to show their lineage, since upon this depended their right to minister in holy things. Ezra 2:61-63.

(2.) The books of Chronicles are very full on all that pertains to the temple service. The writer devotes, for example, eight chapters to an account of David's preparations for the erection of the temple, and of his elaborate arrangements for all the different parts of the service pertaining to the sanctuary. 1 Chron. chaps. 22-29. He gives a particular description of the solemn covenant made by the people with Jehovah under Asa's direction, 2 Chron. 15:1-15; of the reformatory labors and faith of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 19, 20; of Hezekiah, 2 Chron. chaps. 29-31; and he adds to the account of Josiah's efforts against the idolatrous practices of his day, a notice of his solemn observance of the passover, 2 Chron. 35:1-19.


(3.) He omits, on the other hand, the history of the kingdom of Israel, giving only a notice of its establishment, and of certain parts of its history which were connected with that of the kingdom of Judah. The apparent ground of this is, that the kingdom of the ten tribes furnished no example which could be available to the people in the work of reëstablishing the commonwealth. It is to be noticed, moreover, that he passes over in silence the adultery of David with its calamitous consequences, and the idolatry of Solomon. This is, perhaps, due to the brevity of the history before the division of the kingdom; for he does not spare the sins of the pious monarchs that followed. See 2 Chron. 16:7-12; 19:2; 32:25, 31; 35:21, 22.

21. In the Hebrew canon the books of Chronicles stand last in order. It is generally agreed that they were written, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, by Ezra, who had all the qualifications for such a work. Whatever use he may have made of the earlier books of Samuel and Kings, it is plain that these were not his chief sources, for he records many things not found in them. He and the author of the books of Kings had access to the same public records, and each of them made such selections from them as suited his purposes. Hence the matter contained in the two works agrees in part, and is partly different. See above, Chap. 15, Nos. 7, 8.

22. That there are some discrepancies between the books of Samuel and Kings and the books of Chronicles, arising from errors in transcribing, is generally admitted. These relate, however, mainly to dates, and do not affect the general integrity of the works. But most of the disagreements between the earlier and later histories are only apparent, arising from their brevity, and from the fact that their authors frequently select from the same reign different events, the one passing by in silence what the other records; or that, where they record the same events, various accompanying circumstances are omitted.

An example of apparent error in transcription is 2 Sam. 24:13 compared with 1 Chron. 21:12; the former passage specifying seven years of famine, the latter three years. For other examples see 2 Sam. 8:4 compared {258} with 1 Chron. 18:4; 2 Sam. 23:8 with 1 Chron. 11:11; 1 Kings 4:26 with 2 Chron. 9:25. We are not to infer, however, that all cases of apparent disagreement involve error in one or the other of the records. When the events of a whole campaign, for example, are crowded into single sentences, it is not surprising that the different narratives should contain seeming discrepancies which a full knowledge of the details would enable us to reconcile. The separate discussion of the difficulties presented by the books of Chronicles, as compared with the earlier histories, belongs to the commentator. It is sufficient to remark here, that independent parallel histories always exhibit, with substantial agreement, minor diversities which it is sometimes not easy to harmonize. It has not pleased God that in this respect the sacred narratives of either the Old or the New Testament should constitute an exception to the general rule. The parallel narratives of our Lord's life contain as many and as great diversities as those of the old Hebrew commonwealth. Though we may not always be able to show how these are to be brought into harmony, they constitute no valid objection to the authenticity of the histories in the one case any more than in the other.


23. In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which record the most important events connected with the restoration of the Hebrew commonwealth, we have unfolded to our view a new era in the history of the Theocracy. The contrast between the relation of the Israelitish people to the heathen world in the days of Joshua, and of Ezra and Nehemiah is as great as possible. Under Joshua the people marched, sword in hand, as invincible conquerors, to the possession of the promised land, while the hearts of their enemies melted before them. After the captivity they returned in weakness and fear, by the permission of their heathen rulers and under their patronage and protection. But in the latter case, not less than in the former, the Theocracy was steadily advancing under God's guidance towards the accomplishment of its high end, which was the preparation of the Jewish people, and through them the world, for the advent of the promised Messiah. In the beginning of the Mosaic economy, and during the earlier part of its course, it was altogether appropriate that God should make stupendous supernatural manifestations of his infinite perfections and {259} of his supreme power over the nations of the world. Thus he revealed himself as the only living and true God in the sight of all men. But as the history of the covenant people went forward, there was a gradual return to the ordinary providential administration of the divine government. God's miraculous interventions were never made for mere display. They always had in view a high religious end. As that end approached its accomplishment, they were more and more withdrawn, and soon after the captivity they ceased altogether until the final and perfect manifestation of God in Christ. From Malachi to Christ was the last stage of the Theocracy, when, in the language of the New Testament, it was waxing old and ready to vanish away. Heb. 8:13. It was neither needful nor proper that its history should be dignified by such displays of God's miraculous power as marked its earlier periods.

24. But, although the age of miracles ceased after the Babylonish captivity, the Theocracy went steadily forward in the accomplishment of its divine mission. In truth it was now that it secured for the first time, as a permanent result, the high end proposed by it from the beginning, that of rescuing a whole nation from idolatrous practices and making it steadfast in the worship of the true God, at least so far as the outward life is concerned. By the permanent subjection of the Jewish people to heathen rulers, their national pride was humbled, and they were placed in such a relation to heathenism as inclined them to abhor rather than imitate its rites. The fulfilment of the terrible threatenings contained in the law of Moses in the complete overthrow, first of the kingdom of Israel, and afterwards of that of Judah, and their long and bitter bondage in Babylon, administered to them severe but salutary lessons of instruction, under the influence of which they were, by God's blessing, finally reclaimed from idolatrous practices. In connection with the restoration, the synagogue service was established, in which the law and the prophets were regularly read and expounded to the people throughout the land. To this, {260} more than to any other human instrumentality, was due that steadfastness which the Jewish people ever afterwards manifested in the worship of the true God. Thus, while the outward glory of the Theocracy declined, it continued to accomplish the true spiritual end for which it was established.

25. The book of Ezra embraces a period of about seventy-nine years, from the accession of Cyrus to the throne of Persia to the close of Ezra's administration, or at least to the last transaction under it of which we have a record. The first six chapters give a brief sketch of the course of events among the restored captives before Ezra's arrival at Jerusalem, especially their activity in rebuilding the temple, the formidable opposition which they encountered from the neighboring people, and how that opposition was finally overcome. The last four chapters contain the history of Ezra's administration, the chief event of which was the putting away by the princes and people of the heathen wives whom they had married. That Ezra was the author of this book is generally acknowledged. The first three verses are a repetition, with some unessential variations, of the last two verses of Chronicles, of which he is also believed, on good grounds, to have been the author. In certain passages he speaks of himself in the third person; Ch. 7:1-26; ch. 10; but there is no reason to deny, on this ground, that he was their author. Jeremiah changes, in like manner, employing sometimes the first and sometimes the third person. Certain parts of this book, which are mainly occupied with public documents respecting the building of the temple and the orderly arrangement of its services, are written in the Chaldee language, namely: chaps. 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26.

In respect to the Persian monarchs mentioned in this and the two following books, there is not an entire agreement among biblical scholars. The following table, formed in accordance with the views that seem to be best supported, will be useful to the reader. It contains, arranged in three parallel columns, first the names of the Persian kings in their order of succession, as given by profane historians; secondly, their scriptural names; thirdly, the dates of their accession to the throne, according to the received chronology.

Cyrus, Cyrus, Ezra 1:1, etc., B.C. 536.
Cambyses, Ahasuerus, Ezra 4:6, " 529.
Smerdis,1 Artaxerxes, Ezra 4:7-23, " 522.
Darius Hystaspis, Darius, Ezra 4:24-6:15,2 " 521.
Xerxes, Ahasuerus, Esther throughout,3 " 485.
Artaxerxes Longimanus,    Artaxerxes, Ezra 7:1, etc.; Neh. 2:1, etc.    " 464.
Footnote 1:(return)

He was a usurper who reigned less than a year.

Footnote 2:(return)

But in Neh. 12:22, Darius Nothus or Darius Codomanus must be referred to.

Footnote 3:(return)

Some suppose Darius, others Artaxerxes, to have been the Ahasuerus of Esther.

26. The book of Nehemiah continues the history of the Jewish people after the restoration, beginning with the commission which Nehemiah received from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, in the twentieth year of his reign (B.C. 446), to go to Jerusalem in the capacity of Tirshatha, or civil governor, for the purpose of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and setting in order the affairs of the commonwealth. The book naturally falls into three divisions. The first division contains the history of his labors in rebuilding the walls of the city and putting an end to the practice of usury, and of the violent opposition and intrigues of the surrounding people. Chaps. 1-7:4. To this is appended a genealogical list, which is the same for substance as that contained in the second chapter of Ezra. Ch. 7:5-73.

Upon a comparison of the two catalogues, we find various differences in respect to names and numbers. The differences of names may be explained from the fact that it was common for men to bear different titles, particularly if they were persons of distinction; as, for example, Daniel and Belteshazzar, Zerubbabel and Sheshbazzar. It is not certain upon what principle the differences in numbers are to be explained. The sum total of both catalogues is the same, namely, 42,360; from which it is plain that the lists are in both cases partial, since neither of them amounts to this sum. We add the following suggestion from Grey's Key as quoted by Scott: "The sum of the numbers, as separately detailed, will correspond, if to the 29,818 specified by Ezra, we add the 1,765 persons reckoned by Nehemiah which Ezra has omitted; and, on the other hand, to the 31,089 enumerated by Nehemiah, add the 494, which is an overplus in Ezra, not noticed by Nehemiah; both writers including in the sum total 10,777 of the mixed multitude, not particularized in the individual detail."


In the second division we have an account of the solemn public reading of the law of Moses at the feast of tabernacles, and, in connection with this, of the renewal of the national covenant with Jehovah through the signature and seal of the princes, Levites, and priests, in their own behalf and that of the people. Chaps. 8-10. In this religious and ecclesiastical transaction, Ezra the priest was the leader; Nehemiah, as the Tirshatha, or civil governor, simply taking the lead of the princes in the act of sealing.

The third division contains, along with some genealogical lists, an account of the measures taken by Nehemiah and the princes to increase the number of residents in Jerusalem, of the solemn dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the rectification of various abuses which had crept in partly during Nehemiah's absence at the court of Persia. Chaps. 11-13.

The date of Nehemiah's commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem is important on account of its connection with the seventy prophetic weeks of Daniel, which are reckoned "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." Dan. 9:25. It cannot be considered as exactly ascertained, but may be placed somewhere from B.C. 454 to B.C. 446. See the commentators on Dan. 9:24-27. How long Nehemiah's administration continued after his visit to the court of Persia, in the twelfth year of his rule, is not known.

27. The book, as its title testifies, was written by Nehemiah, not earlier than his return from the court of Persia (ch. 13:6; 5:14); how much later cannot be known. From the general character of style and diction which belongs to the second division (chaps. 8-10), as well as from the absence of Nehemiah's peculiar forms of speech, some have thought that Ezra, as the chief actor in the reading of the law and renewal of the national covenant, wrote the account of the transaction, and that Nehemiah incorporated it into his work. To this supposition there is no serious objection. We must remember, however, that arguments based on supposed differences of style cannot amount to much where the materials from which a conclusion is to be drawn are so scanty.


The genealogical notice in ch. 12:10, 11, which gives the lineage of the high priests from Joshua to Jaddua, who is apparently the high priest described by Josephus as having met Alexander the Great on his march to Jerusalem, is thought by many to be an addition made after Nehemiah's death as a matter of public interest. See above, Chap. 15, No. 17. The same judgment is passed by some on 1 Chron. 3:19-24. But the interpretation of this latter passage is very uncertain.


28. This book, the author of which is unknown, records the wonderful manner in which the plot of Haman the Agagite to destroy the Jews was not only overthrown, but turned to their enlargement and honor. It is remarkable that the author refrains throughout from mentioning the name of God, although he manifestly designs to represent this deliverance as effected by his providence, and that too in answer to the fervent prayers of the Jews in connection with a fast of three days' continuance. He prefers, as it would seem, to let the facts speak for themselves. The book closes with an account of the establishment, under the auspices of Mordecai and Esther, of the feast of Purim, in commemoration of the deliverance which it records; and we are perhaps warranted in saying that the immediate occasion of writing the book was to show the historic origin of that festival—a festival mentioned in the second book of Maccabees, under the title of Mordecai's day (chap. 15:36), and observed, according to Josephus, by the Jews throughout the whole world. Antiq., 11, 6. 13.

29. Among the various opinions respecting the Ahasuerus of this book, the best sustained is that which identifies him with the celebrated Xerxes of profane history. With this agrees all that is said of the splendor and extent of his dominions, extending "from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces" (1:1), and of his passionate, capricious, and sensual character.

To us, who are accustomed to a government of law, in which the rulers are restrained from the exercise of arbitrary power, and are kept under constant restraint by popular opinion, the incidents recorded in this book {264} seem very strange. But it gives a true and faithful portraiture of the course of affairs at the court of a Persian despot, where the monarch knows no law but his own arbitrary will, suddenly elevates his favorites to the highest places of power and trust, as suddenly consigns them to the hand of the executioner, and gives himself up to the unbridled indulgence of his passions. The history of Haman's sudden rise and fall is that of many an oriental courtier since his day. The Jews, we are told, "slew of their foes seventy and five thousand." This was a very great slaughter; but we must remember that it was distributed through all the provinces of the kingdom. Ch. 9:16. The permission which they had received was "in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life; to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey" (ch. 8:11); all which, except the last clause, seems to have been carried into execution. We are not required to vindicate the wisdom of this severe decree, or to deny that the Jews may have used to excess the terrible power thus conferred upon them. On the side of God's providence, the vengeance that fell upon the Jews' enemies was righteous; but on the side of the human instrumentalities employed by him, there may have been much imperfection, or even folly and wickedness. So it has ever been in the history of human affairs, and so it is at the present day.




1. The Hebrews reckon but three books as poetical, namely: Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, which are distinguished from the rest by a stricter rhythm—the rhythm not of feet, but of clauses (see below, No. 3)—and a peculiar system of accentuation. It is obvious to every reader that the poetry of the Old Testament, in the usual sense of the word, is not restricted to these three books. But they are called poetical in a special and technical sense. In any natural classification of the books of the Old Testament, those of Ecclesiastes and Canticles will fall into the division which contains the books of Job, Psalms, and Proverbs.

The Hebrew system of accentuation is very subtle and complicated, and there is nothing corresponding to it in our western languages. These so-called accents are quite numerous, one of them resting, as a general rule, upon each word. Certain of them are peculiar to the poetical books, and are called poetical accents. They serve a threefold office. (1.) They guide the modulated flow of the voice in cantillation, thus serving, in a certain sense, as musical notes. Some think that this was their primary office. (2.) They indicate the logical relation to each other of the words and clauses, thus performing the office of marks of interpunction. (3.) They rest, with certain exceptions, on the tone syllable, and thus serve as accents in our restricted sense of the word.

In the first division of the present chapter, the characteristics of Hebrew poetry will be briefly considered in respect to its spirit, its form, and its offices. Then will follow, in the second division, a notice of the contents of the several books.



2. As it respects the spirit of Hebrew poetry, we notice, first of all, its perfect harmony with the spirit of the Theocracy. It is, in truth, an outgrowth of the Theocracy in the souls of holy men educated under its influence and thoroughly imbued with its spirit. The God of Moses and Aaron is also the God of David, Asaph, and Solomon; of Hosea, Isaiah, and Habakkuk. In his boldest flights the Hebrew poet always remains loyal to the institutions of Moses, not in their letter alone, but much more in their spirit, of which he is the inspired interpreter. The same Jehovah who thundered from Sinai and spake to the people by Moses, speaks also by the sweet psalmist of Israel, by the wisdom of Solomon, and by the whole succession of the prophets. Hence the poetry of the Hebrews is radiant throughout with the pure monotheism of the Theocracy. It exhibits God in his infinite perfections, as the Creator and sovereign Ruler of the world, without a single taint of pantheism or polytheism, and that in an age when pantheism and polytheism were the reigning forms of religion without the pale of the covenant people.

Another distinguishing mark of Hebrew poetry is the vivid consciousness of God's presence by which it is pervaded. In this respect it runs entirely parallel with Hebrew history. It has already been remarked (Ch. 20, No. 1) that Hebrew history differs widely from all other historical writings in its habit of looking at the course of human events from the Divine side, rather than the human; that while secular history is mainly occupied with the endless details of human combinations and alliances, and the progress of material civilization, the historical books of the Old Testament unfold to us with wonderful clearness God's presence and power as shaping the course of human events in the interest of his great plan of redemption. Take, for example, that small section of Hebrew history comprehended under the title, Affinity with Ahab. No Christian can read it without feelings of holy awe, for it is radiant throughout {267} with the presence of that righteous God who renders to every man according to his works, and visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. In it the retributive justice of God shines forth, like the lightning, from one end of heaven to the other. Just so is Hebrew poetry also filled with the presence and glory of God. When the Hebrew bard sweeps his lyre, all nature gives signs of her Maker's presence. The heavens rejoice before him, the earth is glad, the sea roars, the mountains and hills break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands. He looks on the earth, and it trembles; he touches the hills, and they smoke. Nor less conspicuous is his presence in providence and in the human soul. He is seen in awful majesty high above the tumult of the nations, directing their movements to the accomplishment of his own infinitely wise purposes; making the wrath of man to praise him, and restraining the remainder of it. Meanwhile his presence shines in the believer's soul, like the sun in his strength, filling it with strength, light, and gladness. In a word, over the whole domain of Hebrew poesy, whether its theme be God or nature or human society or the human spirit, is heard continually the solemn cry of the seraphim: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."

Originality is another feature of Hebrew poetry. It cannot indeed be said that this quality belongs to all the Hebrew poets. With such divinely perfect models as the later writers had before them, models with which they had been familiar from childhood, it was natural that they should imitate them. The spirit of inspiration did not prevent this, for it was not necessary to the ends of revelation that it should be prevented. Set even among the later poets we have some striking examples of originality; and Hebrew poetry, taken as a whole, is original in the fullest sense of the word, borrowing nothing that we know of from any other nation. Not to anticipate the question of the age to which the book of Job belongs, and passing by some gems of poetry contained in the book of Genesis, {268} we may say that the oldest recorded song of certain date which the world possesses is that of the Israelites upon their deliverance at the Red sea. Exod., ch. 15. Next in order (to pass by the poetic effusions of Balaam, and some other fragments, Numb., chaps. 21-24) come the song which Moses wrote for the children of Israel just before his death (Deut., ch. 32), and (according to the title, the genuineness of which there is no valid reason for doubting) "the prayer of Moses the man of God," contained in the ninetieth psalm. In the period of the judges we have only the song of Deborah and Barak. The perfect originality of all these primitive songs is acknowledged by all. It constitutes indeed one of their chief charms. With "the sweet psalmist of Israel" began the era of lyric song; with Solomon that of didactic, and with Hosea, Joel, Isaiah, and their contemporaries, that of prophetic poetry. The poets to whom, under the illumination of the Holy Ghost, these different forms of Hebrew poetry owe their origin, are all distinguished for their originality. So is also the book of Job, that great didactic song so perfectly unique in its character.

The wonderful freshness and simplicity of thought in Hebrew poetry is inseparably connected with its originality. A thought is fresh when it bursts forth directly from the inner fountain of the soul just as it was conceived there. But the moment the man pauses to remould it and shape it to some artificial standard of propriety, it loses its originality and its freshness together. It is no longer the living, glowing conception as it existed in his bosom, but rather what he thinks it ought to have been. In the process of working it over he has killed, if not its life, at least its power. But the Hebrew poet opens, so to speak, the floodgates of his heart, and pours forth the stream of his thoughts and emotions just as they have sprung into being there. Because he is under the sanctifying and illuminating influence of the divine Spirit, they are high and holy thoughts. Because they come forth in their primitive form, they are natural and fresh; and for this reason the lapse of ages does not diminish their power over the human spirit.


Intimately connected also with the originality of Hebrew poetry is its charming variety. The Hebrew poets are exceedingly unlike each other in native character, in training, in surrounding circumstances, and in the nature of the work laid upon them by the Spirit of inspiration. And as they all write in a natural and appropriate way, it follows that their writings must exhibit great diversities. No two writers can well be more unlike each other than Isaiah and the author of the book of Job. With Isaiah the central object of thought is always Zion, in whose interest he sees God governing the world, and whose future glory is revealed to him in prophetic vision. But Zion is not an individual. She is a divine organization which God has destined to universal victory, and around which revolve, under his almighty guidance, the great movements of the heathen nations. The prophet, accordingly, has to do not so much with particular persons, as with the destiny of society, which is involved in that of Zion. He describes her present conflicts and her future triumphs in his own peculiar and gorgeous imagery. But the problem before the author of the book of Job is God's providence towards individuals, as viewed from the position of the Old Testament before the fuller revelations of the New. He is occupied with the destiny of particular persons, rather than of nations or of human society at large. To the solution of the question of God's justice towards individual man he directs all his energy, and he discusses this great theme in a manner as effective as it is original. His imagery is as forcible as that of Isaiah, but how different, and how powerfully adapted to his end! A few passages from each of these great poets, set side by side, will exhibit the contrast between them in a striking manner.

He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Ch. 5:19-26. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders, but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time. Ch. 60:18-22.
He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him. All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him. The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath. Ch. 20:24-28. For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. Ch. 26:5, 6. For I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob. Ch. 49:25, 26

If now we open the book of Psalms, we find ourselves in a new world of poetry, as different from that of Isaiah as it is from that of the book of Job. David was anointed by God to {271} be the head and leader of Israel. As such he had a perpetual outward conflict with powerful, crafty, and malicious foes, who sought his life and his kingdom. This brought to him a perpetual inward conflict with doubts and fears. Under the pressure of this double conflict he penned those wonderful psalms, which are the embodiment of his whole religious life. And since heart answers to heart, as face to face in water, they are the embodiment of religious life in all ages. The songs of David and his illustrious collaborators, Asaph and the sons of Korah, are emphatically the poetry of religious experience. As such they can never grow old. They are as fresh to-day as when they were written. God has given them to his church as a rich treasury for "the service of song in the house of the Lord," in the family, and in the closet. If we turn from the book of Psalms to the book of Proverbs, we have still another type of poetry, unlike any one of the forms hitherto considered. It is the poetry of reflection on the course of human life, as seen in the light of God's law and God's providence. It is, therefore, didactic in the highest sense of the word—the poetry of practical life. The maxims of heavenly wisdom embodied in the book of Proverbs will make all who study them, believe them, and obey them, prosperous in this life and happy in the life to come. This contrast between the great Hebrew poets might be carried through the whole galaxy, but the above hints must suffice.

Diversity of themes often coincides with difference in the character of the poets. Where the theme is the same, each writer will still pursue his own peculiar method. If that theme be the vengeance of God on the wicked, the style will naturally be rugged and abrupt. Yet the ruggedness and abruptness of David will not be that of Hosea or Nahum. But where both the theme and the character of the poet differ, there the diversity of style becomes very striking. To illustrate this, take the two following passages:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psa. 23. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies. Nahum 1:5-8.

The passage from Nahum is like a pent-up mountain stream leaping from precipice to precipice. The psalm is like the same stream escaped to the plain, and winding its way gently and placidly through green meadows and shady groves vocal with the songs of birds. This subject might be pursued to an indefinite extent. Suffice it to say that Hebrew poetry has the charm of endless variety, always with graceful adaptation to the nature of the theme.

The oriental imagery in which Hebrew poetry abounds imparts to it a peculiar and striking costume. Palestine was, in an emphatic sense, the Hebrew poet's world. It was the land given by God to his fathers for an everlasting possession; about which all his warm affections clustered; with whose peculiar scenery and climate, employments and associations, all his thoughts and feelings had been blended from childhood. It followed of necessity that these must all wear an oriental costume. As soon as he opens his mouth there comes forth a stream of eastern imagery, very natural and appropriate to {273} him, but much of it very strange to us of these western regions. To understand the extent of this characteristic one has only to peruse the Song of Solomon. The bride is black but comely as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. She is a dove in the clefts of the rock; her hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Mount Gilead; her teeth are like a flock of sheep which come from the washing; her lips are like a thread of scarlet; her temples are like a piece of a pomegranate; her stature is like a palm tree, and her breasts like clusters of grapes—all thoroughly oriental. So also the bridegroom is like a roe or a young hart leaping upon the mountains; his eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters; his cheeks are as a bed of spices; his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, and his countenance as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. So also if we open the book of Isaiah, we find the Messiah described as "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land"—a figure which could not well occur to an Englishman or an American, but was perfectly natural in the mouth of a Hebrew familiar with the terrible sun of the Asiatic deserts, where neither tree nor cloud offers a shelter to the thirsty and fainting traveller. Precisely here lies much of the obscurity of which the expounders of Hebrew poetry complain. True, there are other difficulties of a formidable character. The theme is often vast, stretching into the distant and dimly-revealed future; the language rugged with abrupt transitions, the historic allusions obscure, and the meaning of the terms employed doubtful. But aside from all these considerations the western scholar encounters a perpetual difficulty in the fact that he is not of oriental birth, and can enter but imperfectly into the spirit and force of oriental imagery. What costs him days of laborious investigation would open itself like a flash of lightning to his apprehension—all except that which remains dark from the nature of the prophetic themes—could he but have that perfect apprehension of the language, the historic allusions, the imagery employed, and the modes of thought, which was possessed by the contemporaries of the Hebrew poet.


It remains that we notice in the last place what may be called the theocratic imagery of the Hebrew poets; that is, imagery borrowed from the institutions of the Mosaic law. The intense loyalty of the Hebrew poets to the Mosaic law has already been noticed. They were its divinely-appointed expositors and defenders, and their whole religious life was moulded by it. No wonder, then, that their writings abound with allusions to its rites and usages. The sweet psalmist of Israel will abide in God's tabernacle for ever, and trust in the covert of his wings, the literal tabernacle on Zion representing God's spiritual presence here and his beatific presence hereafter (Psa. 61:4 and elsewhere); he will have his prayer set forth before God as incense, and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice (Psa. 141:2); he will be purged with hyssop that he may be clean, and washed that he may be whiter than snow (Psa. 51: 7); he will offer to God the sacrifice of a broken spirit (Psa. 51:17); the people promise to render to God the calves of their lips (Hosea 14:2); the vengeance of God upon Edom is described as "a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea," in which the Lord's sword shall be filled with the blood of lambs and goats and the fat of the kidneys of rams (Isa. 34: 6); with allusions to the Levitical sprinklings God promises that he will sprinkle upon his penitent and restored people clean water that they may be clean (Ezek. 36: 25); and with allusion to the sacrificial flocks assembled at Jerusalem on the occasion of her great festivals, that he will increase them with men like a flock—"as the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men" (Ezek. 36:37, 38). How full the book of Psalms is of allusions to the solemn songs of the sanctuary with their accompaniment of psaltery and harp, trumpet and cornet, every reader understands. This subject might be expanded indefinitely, but the above hints must suffice.

3. We come now to the form of Hebrew poetry. This is distinguished from the classic poetry of Greece and Rome, as {275} well as from all modern poetry by the absence of metrical feet. Its rhythm is that of clauses which correspond to each other in a sort of free parallelism, as was long ago shown by Bishop Lowth in his Prelections on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, the matter of which has been revised and expanded in later treatises. Herein, as elsewhere, Hebrew poetry asserts its originality and independence. Biblical scholars recognize three fundamental forms of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, which will be briefly considered, first separately, and then in their combinations.

The first is the antithetic form, where two parallel members are contrasted in meaning, a form peculiarly adapted to didactic poetry, and therefore occurring most abundantly in the book of Proverbs. The following are examples of it:

The memory of the just is blessed:

But the name of the wicked shall rot (Prov. 10:7);

where, in the original Hebrew, each clause consists of three words. In such an antithetic parallelism the words of one couplet, at least, must correspond in meaning, as here memory and name; while the others are in contrast—just and wicked, is blessed and shall rot. Sometimes the two clauses are to be mutually supplied from each other, thus:

A wise son maketh a glad father:

But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (Prov. 10:1);

where the reader understands that a wise son is the joy, and a foolish son the grief of both father and mother.

The second form is the synonymous, where the same general thought is repeated in two or more clauses. It is found abundantly in the whole range of Hebrew poetry, but is peculiarly adapted to that which is of a placid and contemplative character. Sometimes the parallel clauses simply repeat the same thought in different words; in other cases there is only a general resemblance. Examples are the following:

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:

The Lord shall have them in derision. Psa. 2:4.


For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous:

With favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield. Psa. 5:12.

Perish the day wherein I was born;

And the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

Job 3:3.

Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom:

Give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. Isa. 1:10.

In the following example we have a compound synonymous couplet:

Give them according to their deeds,

According to the wickedness of their endeavors:

Give them after the work of their hands,

Render to them their desert. Psa. 28:4

Sometimes three or more parallel clauses occur, thus:

When your fear cometh as desolation,

And your destruction cometh as a whirlwind;

When distress and anguish cometh upon you. Prov. 1:27.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;

Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;

Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psa. 103:3-5.

In the preceding example, synonymous parallelism passes into simple enumeration. So often with a succession of short clauses, or shorter and longer clauses, where the poetry of the Hebrews assumes the freedom of prose, thus:

Who hath woe?

Who hath sorrow?

Who hath contentions?

Who hath babbling?

Who hath wounds without cause?

Who hath redness of eyes? Prov. 23:39.

A sinful nation;

A people laden with iniquity;


A seed of evil-doers;

Corrupt children:

They have forsaken the Lord;

They have despised the Holy One of Israel;

They have gone away backward. Isa. 1:4.

The parallel clauses are frequently introduced or followed by a single clause, thus:

Blessed is the man

Who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly;

And standeth not in the way of sinners;

And sitteth not in the seat of scorners. Psa. 1:1.

Hear, O heavens;

Give ear, O earth;

For the Lord hath spoken. Isa. 1:2.

The third form of parallelism is called synthetic (Greek synthesis, a putting together), where one clause is necessary to complete the sense of the other, as in the following examples:

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,

Than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Prov. 15:16.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes;

But the Lord pondereth the hearts. Prov. 21:2.

Whoso curseth his father and his mother,

His lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. Prov. 20:20.

The connection between the two clauses may be that of comparison, cause, effect, etc. Sometimes it is not expressed, but simply implied, as in the following:

A whip for the horse,

A bridle for the ass,

And a rod for the fool's back. Prov. 26:3.

The combinations of the above forms in Hebrew poetry are exceedingly varied and graceful. Here are examples of two synonymous couplets that are antithetic to each other:

The ox knoweth his owner,

And the ass his master's crib:

Israel doth not know,

My people doth not consider. Isa. 1:3.


The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught;

He maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever;

The thoughts of his heart to all generations. Psa. 33:10, 11.

In the following example, two synonymous couplets constitute together a synthetic parallelism:

Because they regard not the works of the Lord,

Nor the operation of his hands,

He shall destroy them,

And not build them up. Psa. 28:5.

In the following, three synthetic parallelisms make a synonymous triplet:

For as the heaven is high above the earth,

So great is his mercy toward them that fear him:

As far as the east is from the west,

So far hath he removed our transgressions from us:

Like as a father pitieth his children,

So the Lord pitieth them that fear him. Psa. 103:11-13.

But our limits will not allow us to pursue this subject farther. The freedom of the Hebrew poet is one of his high prerogatives. He is not a slave to form, but uses form as it suits his purposes. He blends together the different kinds of parallelism as he pleases. Often he breaks through all parallelism to the freedom of prose. But he soon returns again, because this measured rhythm of clauses is to him the natural costume of poetic thought, which always seeks to embody itself in some form of rhythm.

To the form of Hebrew poetry belongs also its peculiar diction. To one who reads the Hebrew poets in the original, this is a striking characteristic. He meets with words, and sometimes with grammatical forms, that do not occur in the prose writers. Many of these peculiar words are Aramean; that is, they are words current in the Aramean branch of the Shemitic languages. Chap. 14, No. 1. They are to be regarded as archaisms—old words that were once common alike to the Hebrew and the kindred Aramean, but which have been {279} dropped out of prose usage in Hebrew. They must not be confounded, as has too often been done, with true Aramaisms, that is, Aramean words and forms borrowed by later Hebrew writers from their intercourse with those who spoke Aramean.

4. As it respects the office of Hebrew poetry, it is throughout subservient to the interests of revealed religion. This is implied in what has been already said of the loyalty of the Hebrew poets to the institutions of the Theocracy. It follows that the poetry of the Bible is all sacred in its character. It contains no examples of purely secular poetry except here and there a short passage which comes in as a part of history; for example, the words of "those that speak in proverbs," Numb. 21:27-30; perhaps also the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan. 2 Sam. 1:19-27. It is certain that the song contained in the forty-fifth psalm and that of the Canticles were received into the canon solely on the ground that they celebrate the mutual love between God and the covenant people, considered as his bride; or, in New Testament language, between Christ and "the bride, the Lamb's wife."

But sacred poetry has various uses. One of its earliest offices was to celebrate the praises of God for his interposition in behalf of his covenant people, as in the song of the Israelites at the Red sea, and that of Deborah and Barak. But when David was raised to the throne of Israel, the time had now come for introducing lyric poetry as a permanent part of the sanctuary service. God accordingly bestowed upon this monarch the needful inward gifts, and placed him in the appropriate outward circumstances; when at once there gushed forth from his bosom, smit by the spirit of inspiration, that noble stream of lyric song, which the congregation of the faithful immediately consecrated to the public service of the sanctuary, and which, augmented by the contributions of Asaph, the sons of Korah, and other inspired poets, has been the rich inheritance of the church ever since. In the book of Job, sacred poetry occupies itself with the mighty problem of the justice of God's providential government over men. It is, therefore, {280} essentially didactic in its character. In the Proverbs of Solomon, it becomes didactic in the fullest sense; for here it moves in the sphere of practical life and morals. The book of Ecclesiastes has for its theme the vanity of this world, considered as a satisfying portion of the soul; and this it discusses in a poetic form. Finally, the prophets of the Old Testament exhaust all the wealth of Hebrew poetry in rebuking the sins of the present time, foretelling the mighty judgments of God upon the wicked, lamenting the present sorrows of Zion, and portraying her future glories in connection with the advent of the promised Messiah. The Hebrew harp—whoever sweeps it, and whether its strains be jubilant or sad, didactic or emotional, is ever consecrated to God and the cause of righteousness.



5. The design of the book of Job will best appear if we first take a brief survey of its plan. Job, a man eminent above all others for his piety and uprightness, is accused by Satan as serving God from mercenary motives. To show the falsehood of this charge, God permits Satan to take from the patriarch his property and his children, and afterwards to smite him with a loathsome and distressing disease. Thus stripped of every thing that could make life valuable, he still holds fast his integrity, and returns to his wife, who counsels him to "curse God and die," the discreet and pious answer: "Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" His three friends, who have come to comfort him, amazed and confounded at the greatness of his calamities, sit down with him in silence for seven days. At last Job opens his mouth with vehement expressions of grief and impatience, and curses the day of his birth. The three friends sharply rebuke him, and in a threefold round of addresses (only that the third time Zophar fails to speak), enter into an earnest controversy with him assuming the false ground that the administration {281} of God's government over this world is strictly retributive, so that special calamity comes only as a punishment for special wickedness, and is therefore itself a proof of such wickedness. They accordingly exhort him to repent of his sins, and seek God's forgiveness, as the sure means of removing his present misfortunes. Conscious of his integrity, Job, with much warmth and asperity, repels their unjust charges, and refutes their false arguments by an appeal to facts. The ground he takes is that, by some inscrutable plan of God, calamity comes alike upon good and bad men. He passionately beseeches God to show him why he thus deals with him; and, according as faith or despondency prevails in his soul, he sometimes expresses the hope that he shall come out of his troubles like gold tried in the fire; and then, again, the fear that he shall speedily sink down to the grave under the weight of his sorrows, and nevermore see good. Having put to silence his three friends by an array of facts to which they can make no reply, he freely expresses the belief that the hypocrite's end shall be destruction (chap. 27); shows that the wisdom by which God governs the world is above man's comprehension, whose true wisdom lies in fearing and obeying his Maker (chap. 28); contrasts his present calamities with his former prosperity (chaps. 29, 30); and closes with a solemn protestation of his integrity (chap. 31).

Elihu, a young man who has hitherto been a silent witness of the controversy, now takes up the argument on the ground that trouble is sent by God upon men as a discipline, that by it they may be made aware of their errors and infirmities; and that, if they make a right improvement of it, by bearing it with patient submission and looking to God in penitence and prayer for its removal, it will end in renewed and higher prosperity. To show the unreasonableness of charging upon God injustice, he dwells at length upon his infinite majesty and greatness. The special ground of Job's trial, as given in the first two chapters, Elihu could not of course understand. But his general position in regard to human afflictions is right; and it should be carefully noticed that their issue as described by him in the {282} case of a good man—an imperfectly good man under a system of grace—is precisely what happens to Job when he humbles himself before his Maker.

As Elihu's discourse was drawing towards a close, the signs of God's approach had already began to manifest themselves (chap. 37). Now he addresses Job out of the whirlwind, rebuking him for his presumptuous language, and setting before him His infinite perfections, manifested in the creation and government of the world, as a sufficient proof that to arraign His justice at the bar of human reason is folly and presumption. Job now humbles himself unconditionally before his Maker. Upon this God publicly justifies him to his three friends, while He condemns them, declaring that he has spoken of Him the thing which is right (42:8). This is to be understood as referring not to the spirit manifested by Job, which God had sharply rebuked, but rather to the ground taken by him in respect to God's dealings with men. By God's direction the three friends now offer sacrifices for their folly, which are accepted in answer to Job's prayer in their behalf, and his former prosperity is restored to him in double measure.

6. From the above sketch of the plan of the book its design is manifest. It unfolds the nature of God's providential government over men. It is not simply retributive, as the three friends had maintained, so that the measure of a man's outward sufferings is the measure of his sins; nor is it simply incomprehensible, so that there can be no reasoning about it; but it is disciplinary, in such a way that sorrow, though always the fruit of sin, comes upon good men as well as upon the wicked, being a fatherly chastisement intended for their benefit, and which, if properly improved, will in the end conduct them to a higher degree of holiness, and therefore of true prosperity and happiness. The three friends were right in maintaining God's justice; but with respect to the manner of its manifestation their error was fundamental. Job's view was right, but inadequate. A disciplinary government, administered over a world in which the wicked and the imperfectly {283} good live together, must be incomprehensible as it respects the particular distribution of good and evil. Elihu was right in the main position, but he wanted authority. The question was settled by God's interposition not before the human discussion, nor without it, but after it; an interposition in which the three friends were condemned, Job approved, and the argument of Elihu left in its full force.

It has been the fashion with a certain class of critics to disparage Elihu as a self-conceited young man, and to deny the authenticity of his discourses. But thus the plan of the book is fatally broken, as must be evident from the account given of it above. It was not necessary that Elihu should be named in the prologue. It is enough that he is described when he takes a part in the argument. Why he is not named in the closing chapter has been already indicated. There was nothing in his argument to be censured. As to the attacks made on other parts of the book as not authentic, for example, what is said of Behemoth and Leviathan, they rest on no valid foundation. They are only judgments of modern critics as to how and what the author of the book before us ought to have written. The attempt to resolve into disconnected parts a book so perfect in its plan, and which has come down to us by the unanimous testimony of antiquity in its present form, is a most uncritical procedure.

7. Job plainly belonged to the patriarchal period. This appears from his longevity. He lived after his trial a hundred and forty years (42:16), and must have been then considerably advanced in life. This points to a period as early as that of Abraham. To the same conclusion we are brought by the fact that no form of idolatry is mentioned in the book, but only the worship of the heavenly bodies. The simplicity of the patriarchal age appears, moreover, in all its descriptions. But we need not from this infer that the book was written in the patriarchal age, for the author may have received from the past the facts which he records. The book is written in pure Hebrew, with all the freedom of an original work, and by one intimately acquainted with both Arabic and Egyptian scenery. Some have supposed Moses to be the author, but this is very uncertain. The prevailing opinion of the present day is that it was written not far from the age of Solomon.


8. There is no ground for denying that the book of Job has a foundation of true history. He is mentioned by Ezekiel with Noah and Daniel as a real person. Ezek. 14:14, 20. The apostle James also refers to the happy issue of his trials as a historic event calculated to encourage God's suffering children. Jas. 5:11. But we need not suppose that all the details of the book are historic. The inspired poet takes up the great facts of Job's history and the great arguments connected with them, and gives them in his own language; probably also, to a certain extent, according to his own arrangement. The scene of the first two chapters is laid in heaven. Undoubtedly they record a real transaction; but it may be a transaction revealed to the author in an allegorical form, like Micaiah's vision (1 Kings 22:19-22), that it might be thus made level to human apprehension.


9. We have seen the office of the Book of Job in the system of divine revelation. Very different, but not less important, is that of the book of Psalms. It is a collection of sacred lyrics: that is, of poems expressive of religious feeling and adapted to the public worship of God. In respect to subjects, the Psalms exhibit a wonderful diversity. They cover the whole field of religious experience, and furnish to the churches an inexhaustible treasury of sacred song for all ages. Seventy-three of the psalms are ascribed to David in their titles, and the whole book, as referred to in the New Testament, bears his name. Of the remaining psalms, Asaph is named as the author of twelve; to the sons of Korah eleven are ascribed; to Solomon two (Psalms 72 and 127); to Moses one (Psalm 90); to Ethan one (Psalm 89). The remaining fifty are anonymous. Of these, some appear from their contents to have been written as late as the era of the captivity and restoration. Some writers have referred certain psalms to the Maccabean age. But there is nothing in the contents of these psalms which makes such a reference necessary, and we have decisive evidence {285} that the Hebrew canon was closed long before this period. See below, Chap. 22, No. 21.

10. In regard to the external arrangement of the Psalms, which is generally ascribed to Ezra, and cannot be earlier than his day, they are divided in the Hebrew Bible into five books, each closing with a doxology except the last, to which, as well as to the whole collection, the final psalm serves as a doxology.

The first book contains Psalms 1-41. Of these forty-one psalms, thirty-seven bear the name of David. Of the remaining four, the second and tenth undoubtedly belong to him, and in all probability the first and thirty-third also. The psalms of this book are remarkable for the predominance of the name Jehovah over Elohim, God.

The second book includes Psalms 42-72. Of these, eighteen bear the name of David; the first eight (including Psa. 43, which is manifestly connected with the preceding psalm) are ascribed to the sons of Korah; one to Asaph (Psa. 50); one to Solomon (Psa. 72); and the remaining three are without titles. In this book the divine name Elohim, God, greatly predominates over the name Jehovah.

The third book includes Psalms 73-89, seventeen in all. Of these, the first eleven are ascribed to Asaph; four to the sons of Korah; one to David (Psa. 86); and one to Ethan the Ezrahite (Psa. 89). In the psalms of Asaph the divine name Elohim, God, predominates; in the remainder of the book the name Jehovah.

The fourth book includes Psalms 90-106. Of these seventeen psalms, only three bear titles; the ninetieth being referred to Moses, the hundred and first and hundred and third to David. This book is therefore emphatically one of anonymous psalms, which are for the most part of a very general character, being evidently arranged with reference to the service of song in the sanctuary. Throughout this book the divine name Jehovah prevails; the name Elohim, God, being rarely used except in connection with a pronoun or some epithet—my God, God of Jacob, etc.


The fifth book contains the remaining forty-four psalms. Of these, fifteen are ascribed to David; one to Solomon (Psa. 127); and twenty-eight are anonymous. In this book also the divine name Jehovah prevails almost exclusively.

It is probable that these five books were arranged not simultaneously but successively, with considerable intervals between some of them. The subscription appended to the second book: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended," may possibly be explained, upon this supposition. It may have been added as a subscription to the first two books, before the others were arranged for the temple service.

Although the psalms belonging to the respective books are not classified upon any strict principle, yet their arrangement is not altogether fortuitous. We find psalms with the same title grouped together—eleven psalms of Asaph. (73-83); eight of the sons of Korah (42-49); eight of David (139-145 separated from his other psalms); three psalms inscribed Al-taschith (57-59); the fifteen songs of degrees (120-134), etc. Also we find psalms of similar contents grouped together—Psa. 79, 80; 88, 89; 91-100; 105-107; etc.

Various attempts have been made to classify the psalms according to their subjects. But their very richness and variety makes this a very difficult undertaking. They cover the whole field of religious experience for both individual believers and the church at large. Many of them—the so-called Messianic psalms—are prophetic of the Saviour's offices and work. We need not wonder, therefore, that the Psalms are quoted in the New Testament oftener than any other book of the Old Testament, Isaiah not excepted.

11. Besides the names of the authors, or the occasion of their composition, many of the psalms bear other inscriptions. Of these the principal are the following:

(1.) The dedicatory title: To the chief musician, prefixed to fifty-three psalms, signifies that the psalm is assigned to him, as the leader of the choir at the tabernacle or temple, to be used in the public worship of God. The title rendered in our {287} version: For the sons of Korah, is better translated, as in the margin: Of the sons of Korah; that is, written by one of their number.

(2.) Titles expressing the character of the composition. Here we have, as the most common and general, Psalm, a lyric poem to be sung; Song, a title borne by sixteen psalms, generally in connection with the word psalm, where the rendering should be: a psalm, a song; or, a song, a psalm. All the psalms thus designated except two (Psa. 83, 88) are of a joyous character, that is, songs of praise; Song of degrees, a title the meaning of which is disputed. Many render: A song of ascents, and suppose that the fifteen psalms which bear this title (120-134) were so called because they were arranged to be sung on the occasion of the ascent of the people to Jerusalem to keep the yearly festivals. For other explanations, the reader is referred to the commentaries. The titles: Prayer (Psa. 17, 90, 102, 142), and Praise (Psa. 145) need no explanation. Besides these titles, there are several others left untranslated in our version, as: Maschil, teaching, that is, a didactic psalm; Michtam (Psa. 16, 56-60) either a writing, that is, poem, or a golden psalm.

(3.) Titles relating to the musical performance. Of these, the most common is the much disputed word Selah. It is generally agreed that it signifies a rest, either in singing for the purpose of an instrumental interlude, or an entire rest in the performance. As a general rule, this title closes a division of a psalm. Of the titles supposed to indicate either musical instruments or modes of musical performance, the following are examples: Neginath (Psa. 61), elsewhere Neginoth, stringed instruments; Nehiloth, probably flutes (Psa. 5); Gittith (Psa. 8, 81, 84), from the word Gath, which denotes a Philistine city, and also a wine-press. Gittith has been accordingly interpreted to mean (1) a musical instrument or a melody brought from Gath; (2) a musical instrument in the form of a winepress, or a melody used in treading the wine-press; Shoshannim, lilies (Psa. 45, 69); Shushan-eduth, lily of the testimony (Psa. 60); {288} Shoshannim-eduth, lilies of the testimony (Psa. 80), either a musical instrument so named from its shape, or a particular melody, or, as some think, an emblematic term referring to the contents of the psalm; Sheminith, the eighth, or octave, perhaps a musical key (Psa. 6, 12); Alamoth, virgins, probably denoting treble voices (Psa. 46); Al-taschith, destroy not (Psa. 57, 58, 59, 75), according to some, the name of an air taken from a well-known poem; according to others, an indication of the contents of the psalm. For other titles, occurring but once or twice, the reader must be referred to the commentaries.

Whether the titles constitute a part of the psalms; that is, whether they were prefixed by the writers themselves, is a question that has been much debated, and answered differently by different writers. That they are very ancient—so ancient that the meaning of the terms employed had passed into oblivion when the Alexandrine version was made—must be admitted. But it would be too much to affirm that they are a part of the inspired word. The correctness of some of them is doubtful. If we admit their general correctness, reserving for critical investigation the question of the historical validity of particular titles, it is as far as we need go.


12. The place of the book of Proverbs in the system of divine revelation is obvious at first sight. It contains a complete code of practical rules for the regulation of life—rules that have a divine breadth and fulness, and can make men wise not for time alone, but also for eternity. The principles embodied in them admit of endlessly varied applications, so that the study of a life cannot exhaust them. The more they are pondered, and prayed over, and reduced to practice, the more are their hidden treasures of wisdom brought to light. Solomon lived himself in the sphere of practical life. He had constantly to deal with men of all classes, and he knew men and the course of human events most thoroughly. His maxims are therefore adapted to the actual world, not to some imaginary state of things; and they contain those broad principles of action which meet the wants of all men in all circumstances {289} and conditions of life. Whoever gives himself, in the fear of God, to the study of these proverbs, and conforms his life to the principles which they set forth, will be a truly happy and prosperous man. Whoever shapes his conduct by different principles will be compelled in the end to acknowledge his folly. To the young, for whose instruction they were especially intended, they are affectionately commended as their manual of action.

13. In respect to outward form, the book of Proverbs naturally falls into four parts. Of these, the first nine chapters, consisting of earnest and fatherly exhortations addressed to the young in a series of discourses, of which the parts are more or less connected with each other, constitute the first part. The title prefixed to this part, giving both the author's name and the end which he proposes (1:1-6) refers perhaps to the book considered as a whole. The second part, introduced by the title: "The proverbs of Solomon," extends to the end of the twenty-fourth chapter. Of this, the first section (chaps. 10-22:16) consists of proverbs properly so called, each verse constituting a separate maxim of heavenly wisdom for the regulation of the heart and life. Between the different verses there is either no connection, or one of a slight and casual character, consisting frequently in the common occurrence of the same word. In the remaining section (chap. 22:17-24:34) the method of exhortation in discourse more or less connected is resumed. To the third part (chaps. 25-29) is prefixed the superscription: "These are also the proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah copied out." The proverbs of this part are, in general, expressed in detached maxims, as in the first section of the second part; but occasionally there is a connection between adjacent verses. There is also an effort to bring together related proverbs, as those concerning rulers (25:1-8); concerning fools (26:1-12); concerning sluggards (26:13-16); concerning busybodies and tale-bearers (chap. 26:17-28). In this part also a number of proverbs are repeated that have occurred elsewhere. Finally, the fourth part, which may be {290} considered as a sort of appendix, contains the words of Agur (chap. 30), and of King Lemuel (chap. 31).

According to the most natural interpretation of the words prefixed to chap. 24:23—"these [maxims] also belong to the wise"—the verses that follow to the end of the chapter contain also a short appendix of proverbs not belonging to Solomon.

14. From the above it is manifest that the book of Proverbs was arranged in its present form as late, at least, as the days of Hezekiah. It contains not the whole of the three thousand proverbs which Solomon spake (1 Kings 4:32), but only selections from them, such as the wisdom of God judged needful for the edification of his people. Whether the proverbs contained in the first and second parts were arranged in their present form by Solomon himself or by some other person, we do not know; but that all the proverbs of the book belong to him as their author, except those which are expressly ascribed to others, there is no valid reason for doubting.


15. The Hebrew name of this book is Koheleth, respecting the meaning of which there has been much discussion. The Alexandrine rendering of this word, Ecclesiastes, one who gathers or addresses an assembly, and the English rendering, Preacher, express for substance its probable meaning; or rather, since the form of the word is feminine, it is Wisdom as a preacher, Solomon being regarded as her impersonation. The uniform belief of the ancient church was that Solomon wrote this book in his old age, when brought to repentance for the idolatrous practices into which his heathen wives had seduced him. He had thoroughly tried the world in all its forms of honor, wealth, pleasure, and the pursuit of wisdom—speculative wisdom—and found it only "vanity and vexation of spirit," when sought as the supreme good. The conclusion to which he comes is that in such an empty and unsatisfying world, where disappointment and trouble cannot be avoided, the cheerful enjoyment {291} of God's present gifts is the part of wisdom, for thus we make the best of things as we find them. But this enjoyment must be in the fear of God, who will bring all our works into judgment; and accompanied, moreover, by deeds of love and charity, as we have opportunity. He explicitly asserts a judgment to come; yet his general view of life is that expressed in the Saviour's words: "The night cometh, when no man can work;" words which imply that God's earthly service, as well as the enjoyment of his earthly gifts, will come to a close at death. This view of the Preacher is not a denial of the future life, as some have wrongly maintained, but implies rather a less full revelation of it than is given in the New Testament.

Many evangelical men, as Hengstenberg, Keil, and others, interpret the first verse of this book as meaning not that Solomon was himself the author, or that the writer meant to pass himself off as Solomon, but simply that he wrote in Solomon's name, as assuming his character; that monarch being to the ancient Hebrews the impersonation of wisdom. Their reasons for this view are chiefly two: First, that the state of things described in the book of Ecclesiastes does not suit Solomon's age, the picture being too dark and sombre for his reign; secondly, that the language differs widely from that of the book of Proverbs and of the Canticles. Whether we adopt this view, or that above given, the canonical authority of the book of Ecclesiastes remains as a well-established fact. It always held a place in the Hebrew canon, and existed there in its present form in the days of Christ and his apostles.

16. The following summary of the Preacher's argument is condensed from Scott. He had evidently two objects in view. First, to show where happiness could not be found; and secondly, where it might. The first six chapters are principally employed on the former part of the argument, yet with counsels interspersed tending to show how the vanity, or at least the vexation of earthly pursuits may be abated. The remaining six chapters gradually unfold the latter part of the argument, teaching us how to make the best of things as we find them, how to live comfortably and usefully in this evil world, and how to derive benefit from the changing events of life. In respect to outward things, the sacred writer inculcates a cheerful, {292} liberal, and charitable use of them, without expecting from them permanent or satisfying delight. He counsels us to take the transient pleasure which agreeable circumstances can afford, as far as consists with the fear of God; to be patient under unavoidable evil; not to aim at impracticable results; to fill up our allotted station in a peaceable, equitable, and prudent manner; to be contented, meek, and affectionate; and to do good abundantly as we have opportunity, in the expectation of a gracious reward. These general rules are interspersed with warnings and counsels to princes and great men, and to subjects in respect to their rulers.


17. The title of this book: The Song of songs, that is, the most excellent of songs, indicates its application to the heavenly Solomon, and his spouse the church. So the Jews from the most ancient times have interpreted it. Looking at this song from the position of the Old Testament, its ground-idea is: "Thy Maker is thy husband." Identical with this is the New Testament idea: "The bride, the Lamb's wife." The germ of this representation exists in the Pentateuch, where idolatry is regarded as spiritual adultery. Exod. 34:15; Deut. 31:16. We find it fully developed in the forty-fifth Psalm, which probably belongs to Solomon's age, and which is expressly quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews as a description of the Messiah. The same figure occurs in many passages of the prophets who lived after Solomon's day. Isa. 54:5; 62:5; Jer. 2:2; 3:14; Hos. 2:16, 19, 20. In the book of Revelation this imagery is repeated and amplified.

18. This song is not a dramatic representation, in which the action steadily advances to the end, but a series of descriptive pictures, the great theme of which is the separation of the bride from her beloved—the heavenly Bridegroom—for her sins, and her reunion with him by repentance. In the spiritual application of its rich and gorgeous imagery we should confine ourselves to the main scope, rather than dwell on particulars. {293} Thus the fruitfulness of the church is set forth under the image of a garden filled with spices and precious fruits. But we are not to seek for a hidden meaning in each particular spice or fruit—the saffron, the spikenard, the myrrh, the pomegranate, the apple, the nut; and the same is true with respect to the descriptions of the bride and bridegroom with which the book abounds.

The book has always constituted a part of the Hebrew canon.

The language of this book is pure and elegant, with all the freshness and energy of the best age of Hebrew poetry. Its most striking peculiarity is the uniform use (except once in the title) of the abbreviated form of the relative pronoun as a prefix—shekkullam for asher kullam; shehammelek for asher hammelek, etc.—which is manifestly a dialectic peculiarity of the living Hebrew adopted by Solomon for the purpose of giving to his song a unique costume.




1. We have already seen (Chap. 15, Nos. 11 and 12) that from Moses to Samuel the appearances of prophets were infrequent; that with Samuel and the prophetical school established by him there began a new era, in which the prophets were recognized as a distinct order of men in the Theocracy; and that the age of written prophecy did not begin till about the reign of Uzziah, some three centuries after Samuel. The Jewish division of the latter prophets—prophets in the more restricted sense of the word—into the greater, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, chronologically arranged; and the less, or twelve Minor Prophets, arranged also, in all probability, according to their view of their order in time, has also been explained. Chap. 13, No. 4. Respecting the nature of prophecy and the principles upon which it is to be interpreted, much remains to be said in another place. In the present connection, a brief account will be given of the place which the prophets held in the Theocracy, followed by a notice, in this and the following chapter, of the separate books of prophecy belonging to the Hebrew canon, according to the order in our English version, Daniel being reckoned with the greater prophets, Lamentations considered as an appendix to Jeremiah, and the minor prophets arranged by themselves.

2. The office of the prophets under the Theocracy, which we first notice, was that of bold reprovers. They came to rulers and people with an immediate commission from God to rebuke them for their sins; and as the contents of their messages were received from God himself, they exposed the hypocrisy and wickedness of their times in the pure sunlight of truth, denouncing upon great and small alike the awful judgments of Jehovah if they persisted in their impenitence. If we except the {295} preaching of Christ and his apostles, the history of the world furnishes no such bright examples of faithful dealing with men's consciences. They never spare kings and princes from fear of their power and patronage. They never go round about men's sins, but declare them directly and faithfully. With what majesty of severity did Samuel reprove Saul, and Nathan David, and Elijah Ahab, and Elisha Jehoram, and Jehu Jehoshaphat! And if we open the books of Hebrew prophecy which have come down to us from distant ages and from a very different civil and social order, we find them not in the least antiquated, but fresh as yesterday, instinct with life and power. They are a mirror of terrible brightness in which we may see reflected our pride, self-sufficiency, vain ostentation, and worldliness; our avarice, fraud, overreaching artifices, breaches of trust, bribery, oppression of the weak, and corrupt combinations for the amassing of filthy lucre; our ambition, slander, falsehood, intrigues, hypocrisy, and vain pretensions; our luxury, prodigality, sensuality, and intemperance; our profaneness, Sabbath-breaking, neglect of God's ordinances and contempt of his written word—a mirror too in which we can see in the background dark clouds of judgment, big with awful thunder, such as have already come forth upon our land from the inexhaustible storehouse of divine justice, and are ready to come forth again, but over which hangs the rainbow of mercy for all that will repent and humble themselves before God.

3. We may next consider the office of the Hebrew prophets as expounders of the Mosaic law—the Mosaic law in its substance, as distinguished from its outward form. They never undervalued the letter of the law, since that too was of divine appointment; but they taught men that true obedience must rise above the letter to its spirit. When Saul excused himself to Samuel for disobeying God's command on the ground that the people had spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord, the prophet indignantly answered: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better {296} than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." 1 Sam. 15:22. "Bring no more vain oblations," says God to the Jews whose hands were full of oppression and blood; "incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them." And his direction is: "Wash you, make you clean: put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:13-17. "I hate," says God to the covenant people through Amos, "I despise your feast-days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." Amos 5:21-24. "Wherewith," says Micah, "shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:6-8. Under the Old Testament, outward forms of divine service were required, and they are necessary, to a certain extent, under the New also. But if any man puts his trust for salvation in these, to the neglect of inward faith, love, and obedience, he stands condemned at the bar of Moses and the prophets, not less than at the bar of Christ and his apostles, Under the Mosaic economy, both the rites of divine service and the succession of the priesthood were definitively prescribed by God himself, and therefore to all of binding {297} authority. But the man who placed his religion in these outward observances, to the neglect of his heart and life, was to God an object of abhorrence, and the severest judgments were denounced against him. It cannot be, then, that under the gospel any system of outward forms, however right and proper in itself, can bring salvation to the soul, where inward faith, love, and obedience are wanting.

4. The last and highest office of the prophets was to direct men's thoughts to the end of the Mosaic economy, which was the salvation of the world through the promised Messiah. The Spirit of Christ that spoke through them, "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." 1 Pet. 1:11. It does not appear that they understood the divine purpose to abolish the Mosaic economy, and with it "the middle wall of partition" between Jews and Gentiles—that great mystery, the revelation of which was reserved for the days of the apostles; but they did have glorious visions of the latter days, when the law should go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, to all nations; when the whole world should submit itself to Jehovah under the administration of the Messiah; and the earth should be "filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea." Their glowing descriptions of the future enlargement and glory of Zion have been the stay and solace of God's people in all succeeding ages. The student of the Bible should not fail to notice that these bright visions of the future were vouchsafed to the Hebrew prophets, and through them to the church universal, not when the Theocracy was in the zenith of its outward power and splendor, as in the days of David and Solomon, but in the time of its decline and humiliation. The hopes so ardently cherished by the covenant people of a return of the outward glory of Solomon's reign were destined to utter and final disappointment. It was not to feed their national pride, but to prepare the way for Christ's advent, that God established the Theocracy. Now that its outward glory was departing, it was suitable that the hopes of the pious should be turned from the {298} darkness of the present to the brightness of "the last days" that awaited Zion in the distant future. When Isaiah began his prophecies, the kingdom of Israel was tottering to its fall, and before he had finished them it had suffered an utter overthrow. The invasion of Judah by the allied kings of Israel and Syria, in the reign of Ahaz, and by Sennacherib king of Assyria, in the reign of Hezekiah, furnished an occasion for predicting not only the present deliverance of God's people, but also the future triumph of Zion over all her enemies, and the extension of her dominion over all the earth. In his present interpositions in behalf of Zion, God mirrored forth his purpose to give her a final and universal victory. And so it was with all the other prophets. With their backs towards the gloom and distraction of the present, and their faces steadfastly turned towards the glory of the latter days, they uttered words of promise and comfort that can have their fulfilment only in Christ's kingdom, which is the true heir to all the promises made to the ancient Zion. Out of Christ these promises are vain and delusory. In Christ their fulfilment has been begun, and shall be completed in the appointed time. Out of Christ no amount of learning will enable a man to understand the Hebrew prophets; for the veil is on his face, which can be done away only in Christ. What if more than eighteen centuries have elapsed since our Lord's advent, and the domain of his kingdom is yet very limited? In the divine reckoning, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." If it took four of these days to prepare the world for Christ's advent, can we not allow two days and more for the complete establishment of his kingdom?

We add a notice of each separate book of the Greater prophets.


5. According to the Hebrew arrangement already noticed (No. 1, above), the book of Isaiah, as the first of those belonging {299} to the greater prophets, stands at the head of the whole collection of prophetical books; although Hosea, Amos, and Jonah, and in all probability Joel also, entered upon their prophetical office before him. Micah was contemporary with him. Of the private history of Isaiah we know almost nothing, except that he was the son of Amoz (chap. 1:1), and that he was married and had sons (chap. 8:1-4). The Jewish tradition is that he was sawn asunder under the reign of Manasseh, to which it has been supposed that there is a reference in the epistle to the Hebrews (chap. 11:37); but all such traditions are uncertain. Isaiah prophesied "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." Chap. 1:1. If, with many, we suppose him to have entered upon his office in the last year of Uzziah, we have sixty-two years to the close of Hezekiah's reign. He certainly exercised the prophetical office to the fifteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, and possibly through the remaining fourteen years. As the superscription is silent respecting any prophecies uttered in Manasseh's reign, we are not warranted to extend the period of his activity beyond that of Hezekiah, although he may have survived him, and have perished in the way indicated by the Jewish tradition.

6. The book of Isaiah naturally falls into two great divisions. The first, after an introductory chapter, contains a great variety of prophetic messages, delivered on special occasions. Chaps. 2-39. The second division, comprising the remaining twenty-seven chapters, seems to have had no special occasion, but to have been written after the overthrow of Sennacherib's army, probably in the old age of the prophet, for the comfort and encouragement of God's people in all coming ages. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God"—this is its great theme as expressed in the introductory verse. Of the various plans for classifying the contents of the first part, all that rest upon the rationalistic view that the book is a collection of writings belonging to different authors and ages are false and groundless. Among evangelical men, who hold the unity of the book and its authorship by Isaiah, there have been {300} various schemes of classification. It has been proposed by Drechsler and others to arrange all of Isaiah's prophecies around two great central events in the history of his times; namely, the invasion of Judah in the reign of Ahaz by the allied forces of Israel and Syria (chap. 7), and in Hezekiah's reign by Sennacherib, king of Assyria (chaps. 36, 37). That these were the two great crises of Isaiah's age, and that many of his prophecies had reference to them directly or indirectly, cannot be denied; but to affirm that all his prophecies, extending over a period of from forty-eight to sixty-two years, were connected with those two events, either directly or by way of anticipation beforehand and natural sequence afterwards, is more than can be established by any probable arguments. We must be careful not to thrust upon the prophet a systematic arrangement beyond any that ever existed in his own consciousness. The following brief analysis will be sufficient for the general reader.

The title prefixed to the first chapter refers certainly to the first part, and probably to the whole book. The contents of the first chapter are well suited to constitute a general introduction to the book, and there is much ground for the opinion that the prophet prefixed them, as such an introduction, to the whole collection of prophecies. The four chapters that follow were evidently written during a period of great worldly prosperity. They contain visions against Judah and Jerusalem of a threatening character, but interspersed with glorious promises to the true Israel. The sixth chapter records a vision which the prophet had of Jehovah in the temple, with the awful message to the people which he received from His lips. Many regard this as the prophet's inauguration to his office, and consequently as the first of his prophecies in order of time. The four preceding chapters will then naturally fall into the reign of Jotham. There is no decisive ground, however, for understanding the words, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (verse 8,) as containing the original call of Isaiah to the prophetical office. They may have reference to the {301} special message which he immediately receives; a message of the most weighty import, and often quoted in the New Testament. The confession of Isaiah, moreover, that he is "a man of unclean lips," may be very naturally referred to his previous exercise of the prophetic office. According to this view, the preceding four chapters belong to the latter part of Uzziah's reign.

The series of prophecies that follows (chaps. 7-12) is connected with the invasion of Judah by the allied kings of Israel and Syria. In this emergency Ahaz, instead of seeking help from Jehovah, had hired the Assyrians to defend him against the confederate forces. The prophet predicts the overrunning of the land by these same Assyrians in whom the Jews had reposed their confidence; and afterwards the overthrow of the Assyrians themselves, and the universal establishment of the Messiah's kingdom, who is foretold under the name of Immanuel. The series closes with the millennial song of Zion.

Next we have a series of prophecies relating mainly to the heathen world (chaps. 13-23), through all of which the prophet keeps prominently in view the great truth that the nation which will not acknowledge Jehovah and minister to the welfare of his people must perish. He begins with Babylon, and passes in order to Philistia, Moab, Syria (with which as a confederate nation Ephraim is joined), Ethiopia and Egypt (first separately and then conjointly), Babylon again under the enigmatical name of "the desert of the sea," Edom, and Arabia. Next follows a prophecy against "the valley of vision," that is, Jerusalem, to which is appended one against Shebna. The prophet then passes to Tyre, and so he brings this series to a close.

The four chapters that follow (24-27) are general in their character. They exhibit Jehovah as the avenger and deliverer of his people, who abases the proud and destroys sinners as well within the pale of Zion as without in the heathen world, while he exalts his true worshippers to honor and salvation.

The next series of prophecies (chaps. 28-35) was apparently delivered in view of the approaching invasion of the Assyrians, {302} by which the destruction of the kingdom of Israel was completed, and Judah was overrun and desolated; but which ended in the overthrow of the invading army, and the deliverance of Hezekiah and his kingdom. The prophet denounces, first upon Ephraim and then upon Judah and Jerusalem, God's heavy judgments for their iniquities, especially for the sin of making Egypt instead of Jehovah their confidence; foretells the utter and perpetual desolation of Edom, which here represents all the powers that array themselves in hostility against God's people; and describes in glowing language the glory and peace of Zion under the future reign of the Messiah.

Next follows the history of Sennacherib's invasion and overthrow; of Hezekiah's sickness and miraculous recovery, and of his sin in connection with the mission of Merodach-baladan's servants. Chaps. 36-39.

In the second part of Isaiah, which includes the last twenty-seven chapters, the prophet is occupied with the future redemption and glory of Zion. In the clear light of inspiration, and in accordance with the explicit prophecy that has just been quoted, he takes his stand in the future of Babylon's supremacy, and of the captivity of Zion and the dispersion of her children; and he comforts the true Israel by the promise of restoration and elevation to a greater than the former glory, when all nations shall submit themselves to Jehovah, and shall minister to the peace and welfare of Zion. If we divide these twenty-seven chapters into three equal sections of nine chapters each, the first and second close with the words: "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (chaps. 48:22; 57:21); while the third ends with a more extended, threatening against the wicked (chap. 66:24). The prominent characteristics of these three sections are thus given by Keil:

"The first of these sections (chaps. 40-48) portrays the relation of Israel to the heathen nations; and from the redemption of Israel effected through Cyrus, the servant of God, it unfolds the certain victory of the Theocracy over the gods and powers of the heathen world. The second section (chaps. 49-57) {303} exhibits Israel as the seat of salvation for the world. This it does by carrying out the thought that, just as Cyrus is to redeem Israel from the Babylonish captivity, so must the true servant of Jehovah, by his vicarious suffering and death, make expiation for sin, raise the covenant people to true glory, and make them, through the establishment of 'the sure mercies of David' (55:3), the centre of salvation for the whole world. Finally in the third section (chaps. 58-66), after an exhortation in which the sins of the people are acknowledged and rebuked (chaps. 58, 59), the prophet foretells, in a series of majestic images, how the Theocracy shall be glorified when it shall become, in connection with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, the perfected kingdom of God." Introduction to the Old Testament, § 65. This view of the glorification of the Theocracy in the latter days is preëminently just, provided only that we do not understand the Theocracy in a gross literal sense. It is the true kingdom of God, once embodied in the old Theocracy, but now existing under the freer forms of Christianity, that is heir to all this glory.

7. As Isaiah holds the first place among the Hebrew prophets in the canon, in the extent of his writings, and in the fulness of his prophecies concerning the Messiah and his kingdom, so has he been first also in receiving the assaults of those who deny the supernatural character of revelation. Since the last quarter of the last century persistent attempts have been made to show that the whole of the second part (chaps. 40-66) and various sections of the first part, particularly all those that relate to the overthrow of Babylon, belong not to Isaiah, but to an unknown prophet who lived about the close of the exile. In support of this view many arguments have been adduced; but the real argument which lies at the foundation of the whole is the belief that no such insight into the future is possible as that which this part of the book manifests, upon the supposition that Isaiah was himself the author of it. The denial of the genuineness of the chapters in question began and has always gone hand in hand with the denial of the reality {304} of prophetic inspiration. In the view of rationalists prophecy is no revelation of the future through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. It is only anticipation and shrewd conjecture of the future from the course of the present. The possibility of prophecy, therefore, is limited by the possibility of human foresight. Reasoning from this false position, the critic first assumes that Isaiah cannot have been the author of the last part of the book which bears his name, and then proceeds to find arguments against its genuineness. To meet him we must plant our feet firmly on the great historic truth that God has made to men a supernatural revelation, of which prophecy in the proper sense of the word—the revelation of the future by his Spirit—constitutes an important part. We do indeed find that in the matter of prophecy, as in all other parts of God's operations, the great law is: "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." The way for the fuller revelations is prepared by previous intimations of a more general character. Precisely so was it in the present case. Moses himself had more than once predicted the captivity of the covenant people and the desolation of their land as the punishment of their foreseen apostacy from God's service, and also the preservation of a remnant and its restoration upon repentance. Lev., chap. 26; Deut., chaps. 28-32. When Solomon had dedicated the temple, and his kingdom was at the zenith of its glory, he received from the mouth of God himself the solemn warning: "If ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them; then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a by-word among all people." 1 Kings 9:6, 7. When the prophet wrote, these awful threatenings had been fulfilled upon the kingdom of the ten tribes, and he had been commissioned to announce their approaching fulfilment upon Judah also, and that in the form of a captivity {305} in Babylon: "Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons which shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" (39:6, 7). Micah also had foretold, in express terms, both the Babylonish captivity, and the subsequent delivery of God's people (4:10). We see, then, what a full preparation had been made for the revelations vouchsafed to Isaiah in the chapters now under consideration. They relate not to something new and unheard of, but to a captivity which he had himself foretold in accordance with the threatenings of God by former prophets. Under the illumination of the Holy Spirit he is carried into the future of Zion. In prophetic vision he sees her land wasted, her temple burned, and her children groaning in captivity. As the nearest interposition of God in her behalf, he foretells her liberation by Cyrus, the anointed of the Lord, and her restoration to the promised land. But this is only the earnest and pledge of a higher redemption through the Messiah, the true servant of Jehovah, under whom she shall be glorified with a perpetual salvation, and her dominion extended over all the earth. To limit the prophet's vision to the deliverance from Babylon would be to make him a messenger of glad tidings which mocked the hopes of the covenant people; for this deliverance did not fulfil the just expectations which his lofty promises awakened in the bosoms of the pious remnant of Israel. No; it is in Christ's redemption alone, of which that of Cyrus was only a shadow, that Zion receives in full measure the glorious promises which shine forth in this part of Isaiah.

If now we consider the form of these promises, we find that they bear throughout the stamp of true prophecy, as distinguished from history. They have neither the dress of prose history, with its dates and circumstantial details, such as we find in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, nor of historic poetry, like the song of Deborah and Barak; like the seventy-eighth {306} hundred and fifth, and hundred and sixth psalms. They are expressed in a series of poetic images, in which, with the exception of the name of Cyrus, all is general; images, moreover, drawn for the most part, not from the great events connected with the conquests of Cyrus, but from the earlier history of Israel. Let any one read, for example, the forty-sixth and forty-seventh chapters of Isaiah, and ask himself whether a writer who lived in Cyrus' day could have described the fall of Babylon without specific allusions to the agencies by which it was brought to pass. As to the historic references which some find to the march of the Jewish caravans of returning captives through the desert that lay between Babylon and Palestine, whoever reads the passages in question without a previously formed conclusion, must be satisfied that they are poetic descriptions of the redemption and restoration of God's people borrowed mainly from the primitive journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan through the wilderness of Arabia. God, as then, goes before his people, opening for them in their extremity "rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys;" making "the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." Even Cyrus is mentioned not as the king of Persia, but as a man raised up from the east to execute God's vengeance on the oppressors of his people.

According to Ctesias and Plutarch, the name Cyrus signifies sun. Strabo says that his name, before ascending the throne of Persia, was Agradales. Some are of opinion that the word Cyrus (Heb. Koresh) was an appellation common to the kings of Persia. We do not need, however, the help of this hypothesis. God himself explains the ground on which he is mentioned by name: "For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, have I even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me" (45:4). According to Josephus (Antiq. 11. 1, 2), Cyrus was moved to issue his decree for the liberation of the Jews by a knowledge of the prophecies of Isaiah in which he is mentioned by name. With this agree the terms of the edict: "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah." Ezra 1:2, compared with Isa. 44:28. If this view be correct, the mention of Cyrus by name was a part of God's plan for the restoration of the covenant people.


It is not true, as has been asserted, that the prophet follows Cyrus in the details of his conquests. On the contrary, his notices of him are few and general. As to the sins of the people which he rebukes, they may be all naturally referred to the times of Isaiah, while some of them, as the neglect of the established sacrifices and oblations (43:23, 24), and the offering of sacrifices in connection with an impure heart and life (66:3), presuppose the existence of the temple and altar at Jerusalem, where alone sacrifices could be lawfully offered. The sin of seeking heathen alliances (57:9) points also unmistakably to the same period. Although the prophet is carried forward in vision to the future of the covenant people, he does not wholly forget the men of his own generation, but occasionally administers to them severe rebukes, thus mingling the present with the future, after the manner of all the prophets.

The other arguments which have been urged against the genuineness of this part of Isaiah are only of secondary importance, and can readily be answered. It is said that the style is more diffuse and flowing than in the first part. The answer is that this agrees well with both the altered circumstances of the prophet and the altered character of his theme. Most of his earlier prophecies were delivered under the pressure and excitement of public life, when he went before rulers and people charged with specific messages from Jehovah, and these, too, mostly of a denunciatory character. But the part now under consideration was written in the serenity of retirement, with the general purpose of comforting God's people by a view of the future glory in reserve for them. It is entirely natural, then, that the style of the first part should be more concise and abrupt, that of the latter more diffuse and flowing; even if we do not make allowance for the influence of age. But notwithstanding this difference between the two parts, both have the same general costume, and the same peculiar expressions and turns of thought, by which they are sufficiently marked as the productions of the same pen. It should be added that the Hebrew of this second part of Isaiah is in general as pure as that of the first part. The few Chaldaisms which it exhibits may be explained as belonging to the poetic diction. Such Chaldaisms exist, moreover, in the earlier books. "Some words, as seganim (princes, 41:25), may be explained by the intercourse {308} of the Jews with the Assyrians in the days of Isaiah." Davidson's Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 857.

8. It has been shown that the arguments against the genuineness of this part of Isaiah (and by parity of reason against certain sections of the first part) have their ground in the denial of prophetic inspiration, and cannot endure the test of sober criticism. The evidence, then, for the genuineness of these chapters remains in its full force, and it is of the most weighty character. If we look to external testimony, there is the undeniable fact that, as far back as we can trace the history of the book of Isaiah, they have constituted an integral part of it. They are recognized as such by Josephus (Antiq. 11. 1, 2); by Jesus the son of Sirach, in the book called Ecclesiasticus (48:24, 25); and always in the New Testament when quotations are made from them—Matt. 3:3; 8:17; 12:17-21; Luke 3:4; 4:17-19; John 1:23; 12:38-41, where a quotation from the last part of Isaiah is joined with one from the first part; Acts 8:28-33; Rom. 10:16, 20, 21. That they were appended by fraud and forgery no one pretends to affirm. The character of this part of the book, not less than the character of those who had the Jewish canon in custody, is a sufficient protection against such a supposition. That they should have been appended through ignorance is inconceivable. How can the name of so great a prophet have remained unknown? According to the hypothesis in question, he lived about the close of the Babylonish captivity. He was contemporary, therefore, with Daniel; with Zerubbabel also, Jeshua, and the other chiefs of the restoration. Did no one of these know who was the man that prophesied so abundantly of the work which they had so much at heart? And did his name indeed escape the knowledge of the learned scribe Ezra? And if they did not know his name, why did they append his writings to those of the true Isaiah, thus tacitly ascribing to him their authorship? Why did they not leave them without a name, as they did the books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles? That these chapters have always constituted a part of the book of {309} Isaiah, and been acknowledged as such, is a fact which admits of but one explanation; that, namely, of their genuineness. The Great Unknown, as he is called, is no other than Isaiah himself, whom the principles of certain critics do not allow them to acknowledge as Isaiah.

The internal evidence for the genuineness of these chapters has already been partly considered in an incidental way. It is found in the purity of the Hebrew, which belongs to the age of Isaiah, not of Cyrus; in the undeniable allusions to the temple sacrifices and oblations as then existing (43:23, 24), and to the sin of seeking heathen alliances (57:9); and especially in the fact that a writer living near the close of the exile must have referred in a more particular and historic way to the great events connected with Cyrus' conquests. It may be added that there are in the later prophets some clear allusions to this part of Isaiah. Jeremiah, who undeniably made use of prophecies contained in the first part of Isaiah, was acquainted with the second part also. Compare Jer. 10:3,4, with Isa. 40:19, 20; 41:7; Jer. 31:35, with Isa. 51:15, where a whole clause is repeated from Isaiah, which agrees in the Hebrew to every letter; Jer. 50:2, with Isa. 46:1, 2. Compare also Zeph. 2:15, with Isa. 47:8; Nah. 1:15, with Isa. 52:7.

9. The arguments urged against the genuineness of certain sections of the first part of Isaiah are for substance the same as these that have now been examined, and need not a separate consideration. We come on solid grounds to the conclusion that Isaiah was the author of the whole collection of prophecies which bear his name, and that the arrangement of these prophecies in their present form also proceeded from him.


10. In passing from Isaiah to Jeremiah, the contrast is as great as it can well be; and yet it is a contrast necessary to the completeness of divine revelation, which employs men of all characters and temperaments, and living in every variety of outward circumstances. Isaiah, like the apostle John, seems {310} to have lived above his personal relations in the sphere of divine truth. He never alludes to his private history, except where the nature of a given narrative requires it. It is not probable that he was subjected to such an ordeal of persecution as that through which Jeremiah passed. However this may be, we gain almost no knowledge of his private life from the book of his prophecies. But Jeremiah, like the apostle Paul, unfolds to us very fully the history of his inward and outward life. With his peculiarly tender and sensitive mind it could not have been otherwise. If he had not woven into his prophecies his own inner and outer life, he would not have written naturally, and therefore truthfully. Through this interweaving of biography with revelation, God has given in the case of Jeremiah, as in that of the great apostle to the Gentiles, a rich storehouse of truth for the instruction and comfort of his persecuted and suffering servants in all ages. With the simplicity of truth, the prophet informs us how the men of Anathoth, his native place, conspired to take away his life (11:18-23; 12:6); how Pashur, the son of Immer, smote him and put him in the stocks (20:1-6); how in the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign he was accused before the princes by the priests and false prophets as a man worthy of death, but acquitted by them (chap. 26); how afterwards he and Baruch were hidden by Jehovah (chap 36); how under Zedekiah he was repeatedly imprisoned (chaps. 32:2; 33:1), and thrust into dungeons (chaps. 37, 38); how upon the conquest of the city by the Chaldeans he was released from his fetters and honorably treated (chs. 39:11-14; 40:1-4); and how afterwards he was forced to go into Egypt with the fugitive Jews (chaps. 42, 43).

In connection with this external history, we have a vivid portraiture of his inward conflicts. Most deeply does he sympathize with his countrymen in the calamities which their sins have brought upon them; yet he is rewarded only with curses, because he faithfully forewarns them of the judgments of heaven which are fast approaching, and which can be averted only by hearty repentance and reformation. "Woe is me, my mother," {311} he cries out in his anguish, "that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me" (15:10); and like Job he loses all composure under the pressure of his sorrows, and bitterly curses the day of his birth (20:14-18). Again we see him in the hands of his persecutors serenely committing himself to God, and calmly warning them against the guilt of shedding his blood (26:12-15). In such alternations of impatience and faith we have a true portraiture of the struggle of grace against the weakness of nature; and it is this which gives it especial value as a part of revelation, which never exhibits good men in a fictitious light, but always in the sober livery of truth.

11. Jeremiah was of priestly descent (1:1); but that Hilkiah, his father, was identical with the high priest who found in the temple the book of the law (2 Kings 22:8), rests upon mere conjecture. Anathoth, his native place, was in the land of Benjamin, about four miles north of Jerusalem. He was called to the prophetical office in his youth, and exercised it in his native land from the thirteenth year of Josiah to the close of Zedekiah's reign, through a period of about forty-one years (chap. 1:3); and afterwards in Egypt, whither he was carried by the rebellious remnant of the people (chaps. 43, 44). His first appearance, therefore, was about one hundred and thirty-one years after that of Isaiah, if we reckon from the last year of Uzziah, and some seventy or more after the close of Isaiah's prophecies. During all this time the religious and moral condition of the Jewish nation had been steadily changing for the worse under such kings as Manasseh and Amon; nor could the zealous efforts of Josiah avail to check the swelling tide of idolatry and profligacy. Sent by Jehovah in such a degenerate age to rebuke the wicked rulers and people for their sins, and to forewarn them of God's impending judgments, he was necessarily subjected to much persecution. Isaiah had administered stern rebukes to Ahaz and his people, but he had encouraged {312} them with the hope of successful resistance to the Assyrian power. But from the Chaldeans, who had succeeded the Assyrians as the ruling monarchy of the world, Jeremiah could promise no deliverance. In the name of the Lord he counselled submission, solemnly assuring the kings and princes of Judah that their reliance on Egyptian help would end in shame and disappointment (37:5-10). This brought upon him a load of calumny, insult, and persecution, which he keenly felt, but bore with fortitude, never swerving from the path of strict fidelity towards God. The prophecies of Jeremiah do not contain so many animating visions of the distant future as are found in Isaiah. He is more occupied with the sins of his own age, and the heavy judgments of God that impend over his countrymen. His mission is emphatically to unfold the connection between national profligacy and national ruin. This he does with a masterly hand, holding up to the world, in the character and fate, of his countrymen, a mirror for all time, in which wicked nations may see themselves and the ruin which awaits them. The whole compass of profane history does not contain so much clear instruction on this point as is crowded into the few pages of "the weeping prophet." If the book of God's revelation could not have been complete without the ecstatic visions of Isaiah, so neither could it have spared Jeremiah's vivid delineation of a profligate nation plunging itself into remediless ruin by its iniquities. At times, however, we find in Jeremiah also joyous anticipations of the good reserved for God's people in the latter days. He predicted not only the Babylonish captivity, but its termination at the end of seventy years, and the perpetual overthrow of Babylon and the Chaldean power (25:12-14; 29:10-14). See also chapters 30-33, where he describes, after the manner of Isaiah, the glory of the latter days.

In Jeremiah we have an illustrious example of one whose reputation after death became as high and lasting, as the reproach which he endured before death was deep and protracted. The men of his generation could not appreciate his worth. His messages they treated with scorn, and him with contumely. Through a long life of faithful labor it was his lot to {313} endure reproach and calumny. But neither their unbelief, nor the burning of the roll of his prophecies by Jehoiakim could hinder the fulfilment of his words. When the captivity had come, as he had predicted, and especially when God's promise through him that it should end after seventy years had been fulfilled, he was honored as among the greatest of the prophets, and from that day onward his name became as ointment poured forth. The history of Jeremiah is also peculiarly encouraging to God's faithful servants who labor on for years amid difficulties and discouragements, and see no fruits of their toils. When he died it seemed as if all his solemn messages had been wasted upon that ungodly generation. But they were not lost to the Jews who lived to witness the fulfilment of his predictions in their captivity. In connection with the labors of Ezekiel and Daniel they contributed greatly to bring about that change for the better which took place during the exile. Through them, moreover, God provided a treasury of instruction and comfort for his people in all coming ages. How forcible a comment are his life and labors upon the apostolic declaration made many centuries afterwards: "Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."

12. Of the prophecies of Jeremiah some are without date, and where the date is given the chronological order is not always observed. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the prophet, by God's direction, dictated to Baruch, and he wrote in a roll of a book all the prophecies which God had communicated to him from the days of Josiah to that time (36:1-4). When the king had destroyed this roll, he was directed to prepare another containing the same prophecies, and "there were added besides unto them many like words" (36:27-32). Whatever use may have been made of this manuscript in the compilation of our present book, it is plain that it has not come down to us in its original form as a constituent part of Jeremiah's prophecies; since in these, as we now have them, there is an intermingling of messages before and after the fourth year of Jehoiakim. We cannot tell the origin of the present order, nor is it a matter of importance, so far as the instructions to be derived from Jeremiah's writings are concerned. Following the Hebrew order (see below) we have the following general divisions:

(1.) Prophecies addressed to Judah, with which are connected {314} many notices of Jeremiah's personal history, and at the close of which stands a message to Baruch. Chaps. 1-45.

(2.) Prophecies against foreign nations.

(3.) An appendix taken almost verbatim from 2 Kings 24:18-20 and chap. 25, and which seems to have been added by some later writer, as Ezra (chap. 52.)

It is not necessary to consider particularly the attempt made to disprove the genuineness of certain parts of Jeremiah's prophecies, since they all rest, not on critical grounds, but on the false principle that has been already considered—the denial of the reality of prophetic inspiration. Men who deny that Isaiah could foresee the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, must deny also that Jeremiah could limit the duration of that captivity to seventy years. But with those who believe that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," such arguments cannot have weight. It is well known that Jeremiah, particularly in his prophecies against foreign nations, made use of earlier prophecies, as those of Isaiah and Obadiah. Compare Isa. chaps. 15, 16 with Jer. chap. 48; Obadiah with Jer. 49:7-17.

The Alexandrine version differs unaccountably from the Hebrew text in its arrangement of the prophecies of Jeremiah. Those against foreign nations come after chap. 25:13, and also follow a very different order. Besides this, the Alexandrine exhibits a number of variations larger and smaller from the Hebrew text. The explanation of these differences in arrangement and in the text is a matter of uncertain conjecture.

13. The book of Lamentations is designated in Hebrew by the opening word Echa, how. The unanimous voice of antiquity ascribes it to Jeremiah, and with this tradition agree its internal character and style. It was written in view of the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, by an eye-witness of all the unutterable miseries connected with that catastrophe. While it laments, in strains of the deepest anguish, the desolation of Jerusalem with the slaughter and captivity of its inhabitants, and heaps together images of horror, it ascribes righteousness to God, and acknowledges the manifold {315} sins of the rulers and people as the cause of the overwhelming calamities that had come upon them. We see throughout the feelings of a tender-hearted and compassionate man, of a sincere patriot, and of a devout worshipper of Jehovah beautifully blended together. Sad as is the picture, it is to us who contemplate it in the light of history, not without its lessons of comfort as well as of warning. It teaches us that in the midnight of Zion's adversity her covenant God is with her, and that she has an indestructible life. The prerogative which the Roman bard applied to his country: "Plunge her in the deep, she comes out the stronger"—this high prerogative belongs to the true spiritual Jerusalem, which no fire can destroy, nor floods overwhelm.

The structure of this book is peculiar. Its five chapters constitute five poetical compositions, each complete in itself so far as outward form is concerned, but the whole inwardly bound together as parts of one great theme. The first and second chapters consist each of twenty-two verses, arranged in the order of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; that is, the first verse beginning with the first letter, the second with the second, and so on. Each of the verses, moreover, contains as a rule three clauses. The third chapter contains sixty-six short verses of one clause each, the first three beginning with the first letter of the alphabet, the next three with the second, and so throughout. In this central chapter, therefore, the alphabetic structure reaches its culmination. The fourth chapter is like the first and second, with the exception that the verses generally consist of two clauses each. The fifth chapter contains twenty-two short verses of one clause each, like those of the third, but not arranged alphabetically.

The more artificial structure of the third chapter marks it at once as peculiar. In this the prophet, as the representative of the pious part of the nation, bewails the calamities that have come upon himself and his country, expresses his firm confidence in God and his purpose to wait for deliverance in patient submission to his will, exhorts his countrymen to repentance, and offers up his fervent prayer to God that he would remember {316} his suffering people and punish their persecutors. The fifth chapter is a complaint of Zion in prayer to God in view of the terrible calamities that have come upon her. The other three chapters (the first, second, and fourth) are occupied mainly with a description of these calamities.


15. Ezekiel was especially the prophet of the captivity. Daniel, his contemporary, received in Babylon glorious revelations respecting the future history of God's kingdom; but he was a statesman, exercising the prophetical office, like David, only in an incidental way. Ezekiel, on the contrary, was expressly called and consecrated, like his predecessors Isaiah and Jeremiah, to the prophetical office. Like Isaiah, he has given us but few particulars concerning his personal history. He was the son of Buzi, and of priestly descent (1:3); belonged to that company of captives of the better class of the people who had been carried away with Jehoiachin by the king of Babylon when he made Zedekiah king in his stead (2 Kings 24:8-16); and lived with other captives at Tell-abib on the Chebar (perhaps the ancient Chaboras, a branch of the Euphrates), where he had a house and was married (1:1-3; 3:15; 8:1; 24:15-18). That he was held in high honor by his fellow-captives, as a true prophet of God, is manifest from the manner in which they assembled at his house to inquire of the Lord through him (8:1; 14:1; 20:1). Of his personal standing and reputation, as well as of the character of his hearers, we have an interesting notice in chap. 33:30-32, where instead of "talking against thee" (verse 30) we may better render, as in the margin of our English version, "talking of thee:" "Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people are still talking of thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show {317} much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not." Ezekiel was called to the prophetical office "in the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity" (1:2), from which date he constantly reckons. Jeremiah's activity as a prophet continued not only through the eleven years of Zedekiah's reign, but for a considerable period afterwards; so that the two prophets were for some time contemporary, the one prophesying in Jerusalem and afterwards in Egypt, the other among the captives in Mesopotamia. The latest date which the prophecies of Ezekiel furnish is the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin's captivity, about twenty-two years from the time when he was called to his office. How much longer he prophesied we have no means of determining.

The date with which the book of Ezekiel opens is "the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month," which was also "the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity" (verse 2), or five hundred and ninety-five years before Christ. Reckoning back from this date thirty years, we come to the eighteenth year of Josiah, when he repaired the temple, and solemnly renewed the worship of God; and also to the first year of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, who made Babylon independent of the Assyrian monarchy, and thus established a new era. Some have assumed the former of these two eras as that from which the prophet reckons; but the latter is more probable. Writing, as he does, under the Chaldean monarchy, it is natural that he should give, at the outset, a date by which the chronology of the whole series of his prophecies may be determined in reference to Chaldean history. Elsewhere he dates from Jehoiachin's captivity.

16. It is not worth while to raise any questions concerning the purity of Ezekiel's Hebrew, as compared with that of the earlier writers. The Holy Spirit is not concerned about the classic style of a prophet. He selects men whose natural qualities, providential training, and sanctified hearts fit them for the work assigned to them; and under his inspiration they speak and write in the dialect to which they and their hearers {318} are accustomed. Ezekiel's style is marked by Chaldaisms, as might have been expected from the circumstances in which he wrote. At the same time it is as forcible as it is peculiar, a style every way adapted to the work laid upon him. He was sent to "a rebellious nation;" to "impudent children and stiff-hearted," with the charge: "Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house" (2:3, 4, 6). How well he fulfilled his mission his prophecies show, in which there is a wonderful fire and vehemence, joined with a wonderful variety of representation and imagery. Proverbs, parables, riddles, symbolic actions, vivid portraitures of human wickedness, terrible denunciations of God's approaching judgments, and glorious visions of future peace and prosperity in reserve for the true Israel—these are all familiar to him, and are set forth often with an exuberant fulness of imagery. When summoned by God to judge "the bloody city" of Jerusalem, ripe for the judgments of heaven, he heaps one upon another the black crimes of which she is guilty (22:6-12). The repetitions so remarkably characteristic of his style are those of energy, not of weakness. They are the repetitions of a battering-ram that gives blow upon blow till the wall crumbles before it. The same may be said of his amplifications, as in chaps. 1, 16, 23, 27, etc. He had a remarkable adaptation to his office; and his influence must have been very great in bringing about the reformation of the nation which took place during the captivity.

17. Ezekiel abounds in allegoric and symbolic representations. These give to many of his prophecies a dark and mysterious character, and make them difficult of interpretation. Jerome long ago called the book "an ocean and labyrinth of the mysteries of God." Nevertheless, the common reader finds in him much that is plain of apprehension, and full of weighty instruction. Reserving the general subject of the interpretation of prophecy for another place, we add here a few words {319} respecting the nature of allegories and symbols, and the principles upon which they are to be interpreted.

An allegory is a narrative of a real event expressed in figurative language; that is, where one historic transaction is described under the image of another. Thus in chap. 17:1-10, the two great eagles are Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh; the highest branch of the cedar is Jehoiachin; the cropping off and carrying away of this branch is his removal by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, etc. So also the extended descriptions of Jerusalem in chap. 16, and of Jerusalem and Samaria in chap. 23, under the figure of lewd women. For other beautiful examples of allegory see Judges 9:8-15; Isa. 5:1-6; Psa. 80; Mark 12:1-9.

In scriptural usage parables are not always distinguished from allegories. But properly speaking parables are narratives of supposed incidents—at least of incidents the reality of which is of no consequence—for the purpose of illustrating important truths; while allegories are figurative descriptions of actual events.

A symbol represents some great truth or event of the future under the form of an action, or some material structure or arrangement. Prophetic symbols take the form of actions, and are of two kinds:

First, actual, where the prophet himself performs some action before the eyes of his countrymen; as in chap. 24:18, where Ezekiel, in obedience to God's command, refrains from all expressions of grief at the death of his wife; and chap, 37:16, 17, where he joins together two sticks to represent the reunion of the ten tribes with Judah and Benjamin. See also Jer. 27:2 compared with 28:10.

Secondly, ideal; that is, seen only in vision; like Ezekiel's prophecy upon the dry bones, chap. 37:1-10, and his measurements of the New Jerusalem with its temple, porches, etc. Chaps. 40-48.

It is often difficult to determine to which of these two classes a given symbol belongs. Did Jeremiah, for example, actually {320} go to Euphrates to bury the linen girdle there, or only in prophetic ecstacy? Jer. 13:1-11. Did Ezekiel perform the acts recorded in chap. 4 in reality or in vision? The answer to such questions is not of great importance, since either way the meaning of the symbols and the instructions which they furnish are the same.

18. If we divide the book of Ezekiel into two equal parts of twenty-four chapters each, the first part contains prophecies delivered before the overthrow of Jerusalem. These are arranged in chronological order. After an introductory chapter describing the vision of the glory of God which the prophet had when called to his office, there follows, in the form of visions, allegories, symbolic actions, and direct addresses, a series of vivid descriptions of the sins of Jerusalem and the judgments of heaven that are about to fall upon her. With these are interspersed denunciations of the false prophets that flatter the people in their sins, and fervent addresses to his fellow-captives remarkable for their plainness and evangelical spirit. The second part opens with a series of prophecies against seven foreign nations, in which the order of time is not observed—first, short prophecies against the four neighboring nations, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia (chap. 25); secondly, a series of prophecies against Tyre, to which is appended a short prophecy against Sidon (chaps. 26-28); thirdly, a like series of prophecies against Egypt (chaps. 29-32). These prophecies were fulfilled through the same Chaldean power that executed God's righteous vengeance on the covenant people. As the number seven is made out by separating Sidon from Tyre to which it properly belonged, it is rightly held to be a symbolic number, as in the book of Revelation and elsewhere, seven being the well-known symbol of completeness. With the announcement of the fall of Jerusalem (33:21) the thunders of God's wrath that had so long rolled over her die away; and the series of prophecies that follows is mainly occupied, like the last part of Isaiah, with predictions of the future glory of Zion, in connection with God's awful judgments upon the wicked within {321} and without her borders. Of these the last nine chapters contain a description of the vision which God vouchsafed to the prophet of a new Jerusalem, with its temple, priests and altars, rising out of the ruins of the former, of larger extent and in a more glorious form. He sees the land of Canaan also divided out to the returning captives by lot, as it was in the days of Joshua, but upon an entirely different plan.

The general plan of the temple is after the model of Solomon's; yet this vision is not to be understood as a mere prophecy of the rebuilding of Solomon's temple with the city in which it stood, and of the repossession of the land after the Babylonish captivity. Several particulars in the description make it plain that it was not intended to be literally understood. See chaps. 42:15-20; 45:1-8; 47:1-12; and the whole of chap. 48. It is rather a symbolical representation of the coming deliverance and enlargement of the true spiritual Zion, which is God's church, the same in all ages. The resettlement of the land of Canaan, and the rebuilding of the temple and city after the captivity, were a part indeed, but only a very small part of the "good things to come" which the vision shadowed forth. Its fulfilment belongs to the entire history of the church from Ezekiel's day onward, and it will be completed only in her final triumph over the kingdom of Satan, and her establishment in permanent peace and holiness.

As the time had not yet come for the old covenant to pass away, Ezekiel, who was himself a priest under the law of Moses, saw the future enlargement of God's kingdom under the forms of this covenant. The New Jerusalem which God revealed to him had its temple, priests, altar, and sacrifices. All these were shadows of Christ's perfect priesthood, of the spiritual temple of which he is the chief corner-stone, and of the spiritual priesthood of his people. 1 Peter 2:5-9. The literal priesthood, altar, and sacrifices are for ever done away in Christ's one perfect offering for the sins of the world on Calvary. Heb. chaps. 9, 10.

In interpreting the vision before us we should not curiously {322} inquire after the meaning of every particular chamber and pillar and door, but rather look to the general meaning of the whole. The angel measures, and the prophet records all the parts of the building. This signifies, in general, that God's care extends to all parts of his spiritual temple, and that he will see that they are in due time made perfect. The New Jerusalem described by the apostle John has much in common with this. It is, in truth, a vision of the same spiritual city, "whose builder and maker is God." But it differs from Ezekiel's vision in two respects. First, it belongs apparently to the glorified state of the church after the resurrection; secondly, it has nothing Jewish in it, neither temple nor altar. These shadows have for ever passed away.


19. The book of Daniel is assigned in the Hebrew canon to the third division, called Hagiographa. For the supposed grounds of this, see above, Chap. 13, No. 4. Daniel, like Jeremiah, has interwoven into his writings so many biographical notices of himself, that we gather from them a pretty full history of his life. He belonged to the royal family of Judah, being one of the number "of the king's seed and of the princes," whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried captive to Babylon in an invasion not recorded in the books of Kings or Chronicles (1:1-3). Thus was fulfilled the prophecy recorded in Isa. 39:7. But God graciously turned this into a rich blessing to the Hebrew nation; for Daniel, having been educated with his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "in the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans," and having "understanding in all visions and dreams," a remarkable proof of which he gave by relating to Nebuchadnezzar the dream which had gone from him, with its interpretation, was made "ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon," and at his request his three companions were also set over the affairs of the province of Babylon (chaps. 1, 2). He continued in high {323} honor at the court of Babylon as a wise and incorruptible statesman, and a prophet who had the gift of interpreting dreams, till the overthrow of the Chaldean empire by the Medes and Persians. By Darius the Mede he was treated with like honor (perhaps in connection with his interpretation of Belshazzar's dream, chap. 5), being made chief of the three presidents whom he set over his whole realm, and a plot formed to destroy him was frustrated through God's miraculous interposition and turned to the increase of his honor and influence; so that he continued to prosper "in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian" (chap. 6). He lived, therefore, to see the release of his countrymen from their long captivity, though it does not appear that he himself returned to his native land. Probably he continued in the service of the Persian court to the day of his death.

20. The first chapter is introductory to the whole book, giving an account of the selection and education of Daniel and his three companions by direction of the king of Babylon. The prophecies that follow naturally fall into two series. The first, occupying chaps. 2-7, is written in Chaldee from the middle of the fourth verse of chap. 2. It unfolds the relation which God's kingdom holds to the heathen powers as seen (1,) in a twofold vision of the four great monarchies of the world, in the form first of an image consisting of four parts, and then of four great beasts rising up out of the sea, the last monarchy being succeeded by the kingdom of the God of heaven, which shall never be destroyed (chaps. 2, 7); (2,) in the protection and deliverance of God's faithful servants from the persecution of heathen kings and princes (chaps. 3, 6); (3,) in the humbling of heathen monarchs for their pride, idolatry, and profanation of the sacred vessels belonging to the sanctuary (chaps. 4, 5). Thus we see that the first three of these six chapters (2-7) correspond to the last three taken in an inverse order—the second to the seventh, the third to the sixth, and the fourth to the fifth. The second series, consisting of the remaining five chapters, is written in Hebrew. This also exhibits the conflict between God's {324} kingdom and the heathen world, taking up the second and third monarchies under the images of a ram and a he-goat. Chap. 8. There follow some special details relating to the nearer future, with some very remarkable revelations respecting the time of the Messiah's advent, the destruction of the holy city by the Romans, the last great conflict between the kingdom of God and its enemies, and the final resurrection.

The intimate connection between the book of Daniel and the Revelation of John must strike every reader of the holy Scriptures. They mutually interpret each other, and together constitute one grand system of prophecy extending down to the end of the world. Both also contain predictions, the exact interpretation of which is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, till the mystery of God shall be finished.

21. That they who deny the reality of miracles and prophecy should receive the book of Daniel as genuine and authentic is impossible. To review the history of the assaults made by them upon it, or of the volumes written in reply, is foreign to the plan of the present work. A brief summary only will be given of the grounds on which its claim to a place in the canon of the Old Testament is vindicated.

(1.) The unity of the book of Daniel is now conceded. "The two leading divisions are so related that the one implies the existence of the other. Both have the same characteristics of manner and style, though a considerable portion of the book is in Chaldee, and the remainder in Hebrew." Davidson after Keil and others, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 916. This being admitted, the book as a whole claims Daniel for its author; for in it he often speaks in the first person, and in the last chapter the book is manifestly ascribed to him (12:4, 9).

(2.) The uniform tradition of the Jews ascribed the book to Daniel. It was on this ground that they received it into the canon of the Old Testament. The objection that they did not class Daniel with the prophets, but with the Hagiographa (see above, Chap. 13, No. 4) is of no account. Had the {325} book belonged, as the objectors claim, to the Maccabean age, it would not have found a place in the Hagiographa any more than in the prophets. The first book of Maccabees, which contains authentic history, was never received into the Hebrew canon, because, as the Jews rightly judged, it was written after the withdrawal of the spirit of prophecy. Much less would they have received, under the illustrious name of Daniel, a book written as late as the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, more than three centuries and a half after Daniel. That they should have done this through ignorance is inconceivable; that they could have done it through fraud is a supposition not to be admitted for a moment, for it is contrary to all that we know of their conscientious care with regard to the sacred text.

It may be added that the book of Baruch, which cannot be placed later than the Maccabean age, and is perhaps earlier, makes abundant use of the book of Daniel; and that the author of the first book of Maccabees had this book in the Alexandrine version, as is plain from the peculiar expressions employed by him in chap. 1:54—"they built the abomination of desolation upon the altar." Compare Dan. 9:27 of the Alexandrine version.

(3.) Josephus relates, Antiq. 11. 8. 5, among the other particulars of the visit which Alexander the Great made to Jerusalem, that the high priest Jaddus (Jaddua) showed him the book of Daniel "in which he signified that a certain one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians;" and that this, in connection with other extraordinary circumstances narrated by Josephus, had the effect of assuaging the king's wrath which had been excited against the Jewish high priest and people by their refusal to render him assistance against Darius, and of disposing him to bestow upon them great favors. Respecting the authenticity of this narrative there has been much discussion; but there is no ground for denying its substantial truth. It bears the stamp of reality, and it accounts, moreover, for the extraordinary privileges conferred upon the Jews by Alexander, which otherwise remain inexplicable.

(4.) Christ himself recognizes Daniel as a true prophet. He {326} refers to the future fulfilment of one of his prophecies as a most important sign for his disciples: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." Matt. 24:15, 16; Mark 13:14. De Wette says indeed: "In the nature of the case Christ neither would nor could be a critical authority." That our Lord did not assume to be a critical authority in the ordinary sense of the term is evident; for in this very case he referred to the Alexandrine version, without pausing to notice its variation from the Hebrew. But our Lord knew whether the book of Daniel is a collection of real prophecies, or a spurious work composed several centuries after Daniel, imposing upon the world in Daniel's name pretended prophecies written after the events. Far be it from any one who believes in the reality of Christ's supernatural mission thus to make him set the seal of his divine authority to the work of an impostor. Heb. 11:33, 34 also refers undeniably to Daniel, chaps. 6 and 3.

(5.) The language of the book agrees with the age of Daniel. The writer employs both Hebrew and Chaldee, thus indicating that he lives during the period of transition from the former to the latter language. His Chaldee, moreover, like that of Ezra, contains Hebrew forms such as do not occur in the earliest of the Targums. His Hebrew, on the other hand, agrees in its general character with that of Ezekiel and Ezra. Though the Hebrew survived as the language of the learned for some time after the captivity, we cannot suppose that so late as the age of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees a Jewish author could have employed either such Hebrew as Daniel uses, or such Chaldee.

(6.) The author manifests intimate acquaintance with the historical relations, manners, and customs belonging to Daniel's time. Under this head writers have specified the custom of giving new names to those taken into the king's service (1:7); the threat that the houses of the magi should be made {327} a dunghill (2:5); the different forms of capital punishment in use among the Chaldeans and Medo-Persians; the dress of Daniel's companions (3:21); the presence of women at the royal banquet (5:2), etc. See Davidson's Introduction, p. 920, who sums up the argument thus: "It is improbable that an author in the Maccabean times should have been so uniformly accurate in his narrative, without having been in Babylon itself."

22. The objections urged against the book of Daniel are not of a nature to overthrow the mass of evidence in its favor. They may be considered under the following heads:

(1.) Various chronological and historical difficulties. It is said that Jewish history knows no expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim. The answer is that an expedition which apparently fell about this time is mentioned in 2 Kings 24:1. The actual capture of the city, however, seems not to have taken place before the fourth year of Jehoiakim; for Jeremiah, in a prophecy dated in this fourth year, speaks in terms which imply that the threatened blow had not yet fallen. Jer. 25:9. Perhaps Daniel, chap. 1:1, dates from the beginning of the expedition, so that it fell partly in the third and partly in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. It was in connection with this expedition of Nebuchadnezzar that he overthrew the army of Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish on the Euphrates; for that event also took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Jer. 46:2.

We learn from Berosus, as quoted by Josephus (Antiq. 10. 11. 1), that when Nebuchadnezzar was engaged in this expedition, and had already conquered the Egyptians, he received tidings that the throne of Babylon was made vacant by the death of his father. Upon this he hastened with his light troops across the desert to Babylon, leaving the body of his army to return by the ordinary route.

It is said again that the dates given in Jer. 25:1 and Dan, 2:1 cannot be reconciled with each other. In the former of these the first year of Nebuchadnezzar is the fourth of Jehoiakim, in which year, or at all events in the preceding year, {328} Daniel with his three companions was taken captive. Yet after they have been transported to Babylon and received an education there extending through three years (Dan. 1:5), we find Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream in the second year of his reign. To this it can be answered in part that in the second book of Kings and in Jeremiah the years of Nebuchadnezzar are obviously reckoned from the time when he was placed by his father, who was now old and infirm, at the head of his army, the title of king being applied to him by way of anticipation. 2 Kings 24:12; 25:8; Jer. 25:1. In the book of Daniel, on the contrary, his years are reckoned from his actual accession to the throne. But even then it is necessary to assume a considerable delay between his return from his Egyptian expedition and his formal investiture with the kingdom.

The grounds of such a delay we can only conjecture. It may have been connected with the settlement of the affairs of the realm, which he found, Berosus tells us, administered by the Chaldeans, the kingdom being kept for him by the chief man among them; or the statement of Berosus may be wanting in fulness and accuracy. An argument from our ignorance cannot be urged against the authenticity of Daniel any more than in its favor.

As to the acknowledged difficulties connected with the identification of Belshazzar and Darius the Median (chap. 5), it is sufficient to say that the notices which we have of the Chaldean monarchy after Nebuchadnezzar are so fragmentary and contradictory that no valid argument can be drawn from such difficulties against the authenticity of the book of Daniel.

An old opinion identifies Belshazzar with Nabonnedus, who was either a son of Nebuchadnezzar or a grandson—called his son, Dan. 5:22, in the sense of his descendant. But Rawlinson (as quoted in Smith's Bible Dictionary) informs us that from inscriptions deciphered by him it appears that the eldest son of Nabonnedus was called Bel-shar-ezer=Belshazzar. He thinks that as joint king with his father he may have been governor of Babylon, when the city was taken by the Medes and Persians, and have perished in the assault, while, in accordance with the statements of Berosus, Nabonnedus himself survived. Upon either of the above suppositions, {329} Darius the Median will be Cyaxares II., son of Astyages and uncle to Cyrus, who succeeded to the title of king—"took the kingdom" (Dan 5:31 and chap. 6)—though the conquest of Babylon was due to Cyrus himself, who not long afterwards ascended the throne of the united kingdoms of Media and Persia. Another view makes Belshazzar the same as Evil-merodach, son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar, and identifies Darius the Median with Astyages. It is not necessary to decide which, if either of these two views, is correct.

(2.) An argument has been drawn from the fact that Jesus, the son of Sirach, does not mention the name of Daniel in the catalogue of his worthies (chap. 49). Such negative arguments are at best weak, and this loses all its force from the circumstance that he omits others, as Ezra and Mordecai (the twelve minor prophets also, since chap. 49:10 is regarded as spurious).

(3.) The alleged linguistic difficulties have been reduced, so far as the date of the book is concerned, to three or four Greek names of musical instruments; all of which—the instruments and their names—may naturally enough have been brought from Greece, the home of musical art, in the way of ordinary commercial intercourse. We are not called upon to defend the classic purity of Daniel's style. A Hebrew and educated at the court of Babylon, it was natural that his Chaldee should be colored with Hebrew forms, and his Hebrew with Chaldaisms. The argument from the general style of the book is in favor of its genuineness, not against it.

(4.) The commendations bestowed upon Daniel are thought to be inconsistent with his being the author of the book. Some, who admit its authenticity and its right to a place in the sacred canon, have been led by this consideration to adopt the opinion that Daniel, though essentially the author of the book, did not himself put it into its present form, but that some one of his countrymen put together his prophecies, prefixing to them introductory notices respecting the author. So far as the canonical authority of the book is concerned there are no serious objections to this hypothesis; but we may well ask whether undue weight is not given to the objection under {330} consideration. Throughout the whole book these commendatory notices are underlaid by the idea that Daniel's wisdom is not his own, but is given him by God, and for purposes connected with the welfare of the covenant people. By revealing to his servant secrets beyond the ken of all the wise men of Babylon, he manifests at once his own infinite perfections and the vanity of the Chaldean gods; and this Daniel records to the glory of the God of Israel.

(5.) The real objection to the book lies, as already intimated, in the supernatural character of its contents—in the remarkable miracles and prophecies which it records. The miracles of this book are of a very imposing character, especially adapted to strike the minds of the beholders with awe and wonder. But so are those also recorded in the beginning of the book of Exodus. In both cases they were alike fitted to make upon the minds of the heathen, in whose presence they were performed, the impression of God's power to save and deliver in all possible circumstances. The prophecies are mostly in the form of dreams and visions; and they are in wonderful harmony with Daniel's position as a minister of state at the court of Babylon, and also with the relation of Judaism to the heathen world. In the providence of God, the history of his covenant people, and through them of the visible kingdom of heaven, had become inseparably connected with that of the great monarchies of the world. How appropriate, then, that God should reveal, in its grand outlines, the course of these monarchies to the final and complete establishment of the kingdom of heaven (2:44, 45; 7:26, 27). In all this we find nothing against the general analogy of prophecy, but every thing in strict conformity with it. In the seventh chapter there appears, for the first time, an interpreting angel communicating to the prophet, in connected discourse, the meaning of the vision which he has just seen. So also in the eighth chapter and onward. Such a mode of revelation is peculiarly adapted to the communication of details, and in the eleventh chapter these are given to an unparalleled extent. But this constitutes no {331} ground for denying the reality of the prophecy. Though the spirit of prophecy does not, as a general rule, give future events in their succession, this is sometimes done. So it is in God's announcement to Abraham of the bondage of his posterity (Gen. 15:13-16); and also in our Lord's prophecy of the overthrow of Jerusalem (Matt., chap. 24). In this respect it does not become us to prescribe rules for the wisdom of God.

We need not pursue this subject any farther. No one of the above difficulties, nor all combined, can outweigh the evidence we have for the genuineness and authenticity of the book of Daniel. On the contrary, the hypothesis that it belongs to so late an age as that of the Maccabees is beset with difficulties inconceivably greater. It has for its foundation not sober criticism, but the denial of the supernatural.




1. By the Jewish arrangement, which places together the twelve minor prophets in a single volume, the chronological order of the prophets as a whole is broken up. The three greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, stand in the true order of time. Daniel began to prophesy before Ezekiel, but continued, many years after him. The Jewish arrangement of the twelve minor prophets is in a sense chronological; that is, they put the earlier prophets at the beginning, and the later at the end of the collection. It does not appear, however, that they intended to follow the order of time with exactness. If they did, then in the judgment of many they committed errors. The particulars must be discussed as the books come up separately for consideration.

In regard to the first six, the arrangement of the Septuagint differs from the Masoretic, which is followed in our version, as follows:

1. Hosea. 1. Hosea.
2. Joel. 2. Amos.
3. Amos. 3. Micah.
4. Obadiah. 4. Joel.
5. Jonah. 5. Obadiah.
6. Micah. 6. Jonah.

2. This precious collection contains the earliest as well as the latest writings of the Hebrew prophets, except such as are embodied in the historical books; for Hosea, Joel, and Amos, at least, are older than Isaiah, and the three prophets of the restoration are younger than Ezekiel and Daniel. The minor prophets exhibit a great diversity of manner and style—the rugged and sententious, the full and flowing, the oratorical, and the simple and unadorned. In them are passages attaining to {333} the sublimity of Isaiah, to the tenderness and pathos of Jeremiah, and to the vehemence of Ezekiel. Nowhere do we find sin rebuked with more awful severity, the true meaning of the law more clearly expounded, or the future glory of Zion more confidently predicted. That some of these writings are obscure and of difficult interpretation cannot be denied. This arises partly from the character of the style, as in the case of Hosea and others; partly from the nature of the themes discussed, as in Zechariah; partly from our ignorance of the times and circumstances of the writers. Nevertheless the prayerful student will find in them a rich treasury of divine truth, which will abundantly reward the labor bestowed upon it.


3. The prophecies of Hosea were addressed immediately to the kingdom of the ten tribes, yet so that he did not overlook Judah; for he considered the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel as constituting together the covenant people of God. Of his personal history we know nothing except that he was the son of Beeri, for the transactions of the first three chapters may be best understood as symbolic acts seen only in vision. See above, Chap. 22, No. 17. For any thing that appears to the contrary, he was of Israelitish descent. As it is generally agreed that Isaiah began to prophesy in the last year of Uzziah's reign, or but a few years before his death, while Hosea prophesied in the reign of Jeroboam II., the great-grandson of Jehu (2 Kings 14:23), who died about twenty-six years before Uzziah, it follows that Hosea, though partly contemporary with Isaiah, was called to the prophetical work at an earlier period. If we suppose him to have commenced prophesying two years before the death of Jeroboam, and then add the twenty-six remaining years of Uzziah's reign, the sixteen of Jotham, the sixteen of Ahaz, and two of the first years of Hezekiah, we shall have a period of sixty-two years. To Israel this was a calamitous period, embracing four usurpations and murders of the reigning sovereigns, and three invasions of the Assyrians. {334} See the history in 2 Kings 15:8-31, and 17:1-6. In the last of these Hosea, king of Israel, became tributary to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria; but he proved unfaithful to his master, and sought the alliance of So, king of Egypt. 2 Kings 17:4. For this the Assyrian king besieged him in Samaria, and after a siege of three years, took him with the city, and put an end to the kingdom of Israel in the fifth year of Hezekiah, king of Judah. Hosea seems to have closed his writings when Hoshea was seeking the help of Egypt, while he had at the same time a covenant with Assyria (12:1), consequently somewhere early in Hezekiah's reign.

4. Hosea's style is very concise and sententious, and his diction impresses even the casual reader as original and peculiar. A remarkable feature of his book is the constancy with which he sets forth the relation of Israel to Jehovah under the figure of the marriage-covenant; thus making unfaithfulness to God, and especially idolatry and idolatrous alliances, to be spiritual adultery and whoredom. This fact affords a key to the interpretation of the first three chapters, where the nature of the transactions requires that we understand them not as historic events, but as prophetic symbols occurring only in vision. The remaining eleven chapters contain perhaps a summary of the prophet's discourses to the people, written by himself near the close of his ministry. The prophecies of Hosea are repeatedly referred to in the New Testament as a part of the oracles of God. Matt. 2:15; 9:13; 12:7; Rom. 9:25, 26; and an allusion in 1 Cor. 15:55. The prophet brings his book to a close with a delightful and refreshing view of the future prosperity and peace of the true Israel, chap. 14.


5. The prophecies of Joel, the son of Pethuel, give no specifications of place or time. But all the internal indications of the book point to Judea—probably Jerusalem, with its temple, altar, priesthood, and solemn assemblies—as the sphere of his labors, and to the date as among the earliest of those belonging {335} to written prophecy. The coincidences between Joel and Amos cannot well be regarded as accidental. Compare Joel 3:16 with Amos 1:2; Joel 3:18 with Amos 9:13; and notice the striking similarity in the close of the two prophecies. If we may assume that one of these prophets borrowed expressions from the other, the priority will naturally be given to Joel, from whose closing address (3:16) Amos takes the opening words of his prophecies. He must then be placed as early, at least, as the reign of Uzziah, and perhaps earlier.

From the fact that Joel does not mention as among the enemies of Judah the Syrians who invaded Judah in the reign of Joash, the grandfather of Uzziah, some have placed him as early as the reign of Joash before this Syrian invasion. There is no ground for placing him after Uzziah; for his writings contain no allusion to the Assyrian power, which became so formidable soon after Uzziah's time.

6. The writings of Joel bear the full impress of culture in a prophetic school. His Hebrew is of the purest kind; his style is easy, flowing, elegant, and adorned with magnificent imagery; and for vividness and power of description he is not surpassed by any of the prophets. The immediate occasion of his prophecies is a double plague of drought and locusts, which has already invaded the land, and whose desolating progress he describes in poetic strains of matchless elegance and power. He summons the people of all classes to repentance, and promises, upon this condition, not only the restoration of the land to its former fruitfulness, but also the outpouring of God's Spirit upon all flesh, the triumph of the covenant people over all their foes, and an era of universal holiness and peace. In this respect he is a model for all the prophets that come after him. They all with one accord look forward beyond the calamities of the present time, and the heavier impending calamities which they are commissioned to foretell in the near future, to the glory of the latter days, when Zion shall be made triumphant over all her foes, and the whole earth shall be given her for her inheritance. The apostle Peter, in his address on the day {336} of Pentecost, quotes a remarkable prophecy of Joel (2:28-32, compared with Acts 2:16-21).

The opinion of some commentators, that under the figure of locusts are represented simply hostile armies, must be regarded as forced and unnatural. More probable is the opinion of Henderson and others, that the prophet uses an actual invasion of the land by locusts as the type of a more formidable invasion of foreign foes. But there does not seem to be any valid reason for departing from the simple interpretation above given.


7. Amos prophesied "concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake" (1:1). The time of this earthquake, which is simply mentioned by Zechariah (14:5) as occurring in Uzziah's reign, cannot be determined. We only know that Amos must have prophesied somewhere during the last part of the reign of Jeroboam II., when he was contemporary with Uzziah. Amos was thus contemporary with Hosea, and was a considerable number of years earlier than Isaiah, who began to prophesy near the close of Uzziah's long reign of fifty-two years. The very specific date "two years before the earthquake" indicates that his whole mission to Israel was executed within a single year, perhaps within a few months. It seems to have been after his return to Judah, when at least two years had elapsed, that he collected his prophecies and put them into their present form.

Amos describes himself as one of "the herdmen of Tekoa," a small town southeast of Bethlehem on the border of the wilderness of Judah. 2 Chron. 20:20. It belonged to Judah, whence we infer that Amos was himself a Jew, a supposition which agrees well with the advice of Amaziah: "O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there" (7:12). He speaks of himself as "no prophet, neither a prophet's son" (7:14); which means that he had not been trained up for the prophetical office in any school of the prophets, as were "the sons of the prophets." 1 Kings {337} 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, etc. God took him from following the herd, and gave him a commission to prophesy to His people Israel, an office which he executed at Bethel, where one of the golden calves erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat was worshipped (7:10-17 compared with 1 Kings 12:29). In entire harmony with this historical notice is the character of his prophecies. His style has not the flowing fulness of Joel, but charms the reader by its freshness and simplicity. His writings abound in images taken from rural scenes and employments, some of which are very unique and striking in their character. See chaps. 2:13; 3:12; 5:19; 6:12; 9:2, 3, 9. He opens his prophecies by a solemn annunciation of the approaching judgments of heaven upon the nations bordering on Israel, specifying in each case the sin which has provoked God's wrath. The storm passes, without pausing in its course, over Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, till at last it reaches Israel. Here it rests, gathers blackness, and thunders long and loud. The reign of Jeroboam II was one of much outward prosperity. 2 Kings 14:25-28. The vices which Amos rebukes are those which belong to such a period—avarice, violence, oppression of the poor, perversion of justice, luxury, lewdness—all these joined with the idolatrous worship established by Jeroboam the son of Nebat. For such multiplied transgressions God will cause the sun to go down at noon, and darken the earth in the clear day. Their feasts shall be turned into mourning, their songs into lamentation, and they shall go into captivity beyond Damascus. But while all the sinners among God's people thus perish by the sword, he will remember his true Israel for good. He will rear up again the fallen tabernacle of David, bring again the captivity of his people of Israel, and plant them for ever in their own land in peace and prosperity. Thus do the visions of Amos, like those of Hosea and Joel, close with a cheering view of the future glory of Zion. Amos is twice quoted in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 7:42, 43; 15:16, 17).



8. The short prophecy of Obadiah is directed against Edom. The Edomites were conspicuous for their hatred of the covenant people. See Ezek. 25:12; 35:5-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11, and the parallel prophecy of Jer. 49:7-22. Accordingly they stand here, in respect to both their guilt and punishment, as the representatives of Zion's enemies in all ages. In like manner the promised victory of God's people over them shadows forth the universal triumph of the kingdom of heaven which is reserved for "the last days."

Concerning the date of Obadiah's prophecy expositors are not agreed. The whole question turns upon the interpretation of verses 11-14. That these contain an historic allusion to the exultation of the Edomites over the capture and plunder of Jerusalem cannot well be doubted. If this was the final capture of the city by the Chaldeans, then Obadiah's place will be after the beginning of the Babylonish captivity. But since no mention is made of the burning of Jerusalem, some suppose that the prophet refers to an earlier capture, as that by the Philistines and Arabians under Jehoram. 2 Chron. 21:16, 17. In favor of this view is urged the fact that Jeremiah, who was in the habit of using the writings of the earlier prophets, has much in common with Obadiah.

That Jeremiah borrowed the language of Obadiah is far more probable than that both prophets availed themselves of an older document, as some have conjectured. Since, however, Jerusalem was taken more than once by the Chaldeans before its final overthrow (2 Kings chap. 24; Dan. 1:1), Obadiah may have referred to one of these earlier captures, and yet have written before Jeremiah penned his prophecy against Edom.


9. We learn from 2 Kings 14:25 that Jonah, the son of Amittai, was of Gath-hepher, which is undoubtedly the same as Gittah-hepher, a town of the tribe of Zebulun in the northern part of Palestine (Josh. 19:13); and that he predicted the {339} successes of Jeroboam II. According to the general analogy of Scripture, prophecies like this, relating to one particular event, are not separated by any great space of time from their fulfilment. He belongs, therefore, in all probability, to the days of Jeroboam II, when Amos also flourished. There is no valid reason for assigning him, as some do, to an earlier date.

10. The story of the book of Jonah is too simple to need any analysis. His act in fleeing from God's presence, when commissioned to go to Nineveh with a threatening message, is very extraordinary; but such is the inconsistency and folly of human passion. The conduct of the mariners when overtaken by a tempest is not wonderful: it is in harmony with all that we know of ancient habits of thinking and acting. But what befell Jonah, when cast into the sea, is more than wonderful: it is miraculous. That there exist in the Mediterranean fish capable of swallowing a man entire is a well-attested fact. The original Hebrew mentions only, "a great fish." The Alexandrine version, and after that the New Testament, use the word whale apparently in the sense of any great sea monster. But whatever the fish may have been, his preservation alive in its body for the space of three days, and his subsequent ejection upon the dry land, can be accounted for only by reference to the immediate power of God, with whom nothing is impossible. The effect of his preaching upon the Ninevites was remarkable; but much more so was his grief at its success, whereby God was moved to spare the city. The common opinion is that he feared for his reputation as a true prophet; but a deeper ground of his anger may have been that he rightly understood the design of his mission to the Ninevites to be that through repentance they might be saved from impending destruction; while he regarded them as the enemies of God's people, and unworthy of his mercy. However this may be, Jonah's mission to the Ninevites foreshadowed God's purposes of mercy towards the heathen world, and that too at a very suitable time, when the history of the covenant people, and {340} through them of God's visible earthly kingdom, was about passing into lasting connection with that of the great monarchies of the earth.

11. The authorship of the book of Jonah is not expressly given; but may be most naturally referred to the prophet himself. The few alleged Chaldaisims found in it may be explained as belonging to the provincial dialect of the prophet; since we have but an imperfect knowledge of the variations which the living Hebrew language admitted in this respect. In Matt. 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32 the Saviour refers in explicit terms to events recorded in this book as being true history; nor can the historic character of the narrative as a whole be denied except on the ground that all records of the supernatural are unhistoric.


12. Micah is called the Morasthite, probably because he was a native of Moresheth-gath, a small town of Judea, which, according to Eusebius and Jerome, lay in a southwesterly direction from Jerusalem, not far from Eleutheropolis on the plain, near the border of the Philistine territory. With this agrees the connection in which it is named (1:13-15); for Lachish, Mareshah, and Adullam also lay in that direction. He prophesied "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." His prophetic activity began, therefore, soon after that of Isaiah, and he was contemporary with him, as well as with Hosea and Amos. His prophecies related to Samaria, the capital city of the kingdom of Israel, and to Jerusalem (1:1). We find accordingly denunciations against Samaria intermingled with his prophecies concerning Judah and Jerusalem. The people, moreover, are spoken of under the name of Jacob and Israel where, sometimes at least, as in chap. 3:9, Judah must be included. It is generally thought that the book of Micah contains only a summary of his prophecies, prepared perhaps in the days of Hezekiah. But this is not certain; for the reference in Jeremiah 26:18 obviously relates only to the particular prophecy quoted there.


13. The book is commonly distributed into three sections: chaps. 1 and 2; chaps. 3, 4, and 5; and chaps. 6 and 7. Each of these opens with a summons to hear God's message, and then proceeds with expostulations and threatenings, which are succeeded by glorious promises. The second of these sections, which is the largest and contains the most extended promises, is addressed more particularly to the rulers of the people. The style of Micah is bold, vehement, and abrupt. His sudden transitions sometimes make his writings difficult of interpretation. He abounds in striking images, taken to a great extent, like those of Amos, from pastoral and rural life. Micah has one remarkable prophecy common to him with Isaiah. Chap. 4:1-3 compared with Isaiah 2:2-4. From the connection of the context the passage in Micah is generally thought to be the original. Besides this there is a general agreement between the two prophets in their representations; and especially in the manner in which they perpetually mingle stern rebukes and threatenings with glorious promises relating to the Messiah and his kingdom. The remarkable prophecy concerning the Messiah's birth (chap. 5:2) is quoted with some variations in Matt. 2:5, 6, and referred to in John 7:42. The Saviour's words, as recorded in Matt. 10:35, 36; Mark 13:12; Luke 12:53 contain an obvious reference to Micah 7:6.


14. Nahum is called "the Elkoshite," probably from Elkosh, a village of Galilee, which Jerome (Introduction to Nahum) mentions as pointed out to him by his guide. The tradition which assigns for the place of his birth and residence the modern Alkush, an Assyrian village on the east side of the Tigris, a few miles above the site of the ancient Nineveh, rests on no good foundation. The prophecy of Nahum is directed against Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. When the prophet wrote, this city was still in the height of its power (chap. 1:12; 2:8); oppressing the nations and purposing the conquest of Judah (chap. 1:9, 11; 3:1, 4). From chap. 1:12, 13 it appears {342} that the Assyrians had already afflicted Judah, and laid their yoke upon her. All these particulars point to the reign of Hezekiah as the probable date of the book.

15. The first chapter opens with a description of God's awful majesty and power, which nothing created can withstand. These attributes shall be directed to the utter and perpetual overthrow of Nineveh and the salvation of God's afflicted people. The second chapter begins a sublime description of the process of this destruction by the invasion of foreign armies. The third continues the account of the desolation of Nineveh by her foes. For her innumerable sins she shall be brought to shame before the nations of the earth, and made like populous No, that is, No-amon, the celebrated metropolis of upper Egypt, also called Thebes, whose children were dashed in pieces and her great men laid in chains. The present condition of Nineveh, a mass of uninhabitable ruins, is a solemn comment upon the closing words of the prophecy; "There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the report of thee shall clap their hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?"


16. Respecting Habakkuk's personal history we have no information. The apocryphal notices of him are unworthy of credence. From the fifth and sixth verses of the first chapter it is evident that he prophesied not long before that series of invasions by the Chaldeans which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people; that is, somewhere between 640 and 610 years before Christ, so that he was contemporary with Jeremiah and Zephaniah. The theme of his prophecy is, first, the overthrow of Judea by the Chaldeans, and then the overthrow in turn of the Chaldean monarchy, each power in turn for its sins. In the first chapter he predicts in a dramatic form—that of expostulation with God on the part of the prophet, and God's answer—the approaching desolation of the land by the Chaldean armies, whose resistless power he {343} describes in bold and striking imagery. In the second chapter the prophet appears standing on his watch to see what answer Jehovah will give to the expostulation with which the preceding chapter closes. He receives a comforting message, but one that will try the faith of God's people by its delay. Verse 3. It is an announcement of the overthrow of the Chaldean oppressor, carried out in a series of bold and vivid descriptions in which woe upon woe is pronounced against him for his rapine, covetousness, iniquitous oppression, and idolatry. The third chapter is a lyric ode in which the prophet, in view of both the judgments that God is about to execute on his countrymen through the Chaldeans (chap. 1), and the promised deliverance from them at a future period (chap. 2), supplicates and celebrates the future interposition of Jehovah for the redemption of his people in language borrowed from their past history. Thus this sublime song is both a prayer for the renewal of God's wondrous works in the days of old and a prophecy of such a renewal. The apostle Paul quotes the words of Habakkuk: "The just shall live by his faith" (2:4), and applies them to all believers (Rom. 1:17).

The language of chap. 1:5 implies that the desolation of the land by the Chaldeans would be a surprising event, which could not have been the case after the victory of Nebuchadnezzar over the Egyptians and his capture of Jerusalem in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, B.C. 606. It was also to be in the day of that generation—"in your days." Consequently we cannot date the prophecy earlier than B.C. 640, probably not before B.C. 630.

The dedication of Habakkuk's ode (3:19) "to the chief musician"—the Hebrew word is the same that so often occurs in the titles of the Psalms—implies that this ode was to be used in the solemn worship of God. The added words, "on my stringed instruments," are most naturally understood of those under his charge as a leader in the service of song in the sanctuary. Hence we infer with probability that Habakkuk was a Levite.


17. Zephaniah prophesied in the reign of Josiah (1:1), apparently while his work of reformation was in progress and {344} not yet completed (1:4-6, 8, 9); that is, somewhere between his twelfth and his eighteenth year (2 Chron. 34:3-13).

In the first chapter he predicts the utter desolation of Judah, and with it the destruction of all the patrons of idolatry and the rich and presumptuous sinners in Jerusalem. In the second chapter he exhorts the covenant people to repentance in view of the judgments that are coming upon them (verses 1-3), threatens the surrounding nations—Philistia, Moab, and Ammon—with desolation (verses 4-11), and denounces the judgments of God upon the Ethiopians and Assyrians (verses 12-15). In the third chapter, after a severe rebuke of Jerusalem for her incorrigible rebellion against God (verses 1-7), he foretells in glowing language the future purification and enlargement of Zion, and the destruction of all her enemies (verses 8-20). The style of Zephaniah is clear and flowing, having a general resemblance to that of Jeremiah. He has frequent allusions to the earlier prophets. Chap. 1:7 compared with Isa. 34:6; chap. 2:13-15 compared with Isa. 13:21, 22; 34:13-15; chap. 1:14, 15 with Joel 2:1, 2; chap. 1:13 with Amos 5:11, etc.

The genealogy of Zephaniah is given through Cushi, Gedaliah, and Amariah to Hezekiah; for in the original Hebrew the words Hizkiah and Hezekiah are the same. As it is not usual that the descent of prophets should be given with such particularity, it has been assumed, with some probability, that this Hezekiah was the king of that name; though in this case we should have expected the addition "king of Judah." The "chemarim," verse 4, are the idol-priests; that is, priests devoted to idol worship. In 2 Kings 33:5, where the writer is speaking of the reformation under Josiah, the word is translated "idolatrous priests;" in Hosea 10:5 simply "priests," which is its meaning in the Syriac language. Some have maintained that the invasion of Judah to which Zephaniah refers was that of the Scythians described by Herodotus, 1. 105; but this is very improbable. From the fact that "the king's children" are included in the threatened visitation—in the Hebrew, "I will visit upon the princes and the king's children" (1:8)—some have inferred that they must have been already grown and addicted to idolatrous practices; consequently that Zephaniah wrote later than the eighteenth year of Josiah. But, as Keil and others have remarked, the mention of the king's children may have been added simply to indicate the universality of the approaching {345} visitation; not to say that the prophetic vision of Zephaniah may have anticipated the sin and punishment of these king's children—Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim.


18. Haggai is the first of the three prophets after the captivity, who are commonly called Prophets of the Restoration. His four short messages to the people were all delivered in the space of three months, and they all had reference to the rebuilding of the temple. By the slanderous representations of the Jews' enemies this work had been interrupted, as we learn from the fourth chapter of Ezra. Meanwhile the Jews, having yielded to the spirit of unbelief, had lost their zeal for God's cause and grown cold and indifferent. For this the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were sent to reprove them, while at the same time they encouraged them to resume the work, a mission which they successfully accomplished. Ezra 5:1, 2.

19. The first message is dated "in the second year of Darius the king"—Darius Hystaspes, who ascended the throne of Persia B.C. 521—"in the sixth month, in the first day of the month." Chap. 1:1. In this message the prophet sharply reproves the people for their indifference to the cause of God's house and their selfish devotion to their own private interests, which have brought upon them the divine rebuke. Chap. 1:2-11. The effect of his words in exciting both rulers and people to renew the work upon the temple is added. Chap. 1:12-15. The second message "in the one and twentieth day" of the same month is throughout of an encouraging character. The elders who had seen the first house in its glory, were despondent in view of the comparative meanness of the new edifice. Jehovah promises them that "the Desire of all nations" shall come, that he will fill this house with glory, so that "the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former" (2:1-9). This promise was fulfilled in a material way in the second temple as renewed by Herod the Great. But the real reference is to its spiritual glory. It was honored by the presence of the Son of God, who is the brightness of the Father's {346} glory. In the third message, "in the four and twentieth day of the ninth month," the prophet in a sort of parable, rebukes the people for their heartless formality, which, like the touch of a dead body, defiles all their offerings and services, yet promises them God's blessing upon their repentance. Chap. 2:10-19. The last message, which was delivered on the same day, is wholly occupied with the future. Amid commotions and overturnings God will destroy the power of the heathen nations, and make Zerubbabel as a signet.

The reference is to a seal-ring, and the promise is that God will preserve Zerubbabel from all the assaults of the wicked. Zerubbabel was one of the Messiah's ancestors (Matt. 1:12; Luke 3:27), and since the prophecy reached far beyond his day, the promise made to him extends to all faithful rulers whom God sets over his church but can have its perfect fulfilment only in the Messiah himself, of whom Zerubbabel was a type.


20. Zechariah, the second and greatest prophet of the Restoration, calls himself the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo (1:1). But in Ezra the name of the father is omitted, perhaps as being less known, and he is called simply the son of Iddo (chaps. 5:1; 6:14), the word son being used in the general sense of descendant. There is no reason to doubt the identity of this Iddo with the priest of that name who went up from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Neh. 12:4); so that Zechariah, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was of priestly descent. He began to prophesy two months after Haggai (chap. 1:1 compared with Hag. 1:1), and the two prophets were contemporary, at least for a short time.

21. The book of Zechariah may be naturally divided, according to its contents, into three parts. The first six chapters constitute the first of these parts. After a short introductory message (1:1-6) there follows a very remarkable series of visions relating to the reëstablishment of the Jews in their own land, and the future dispensations of God towards them; the whole being closed by a symbolic prophecy of Christ as both priest and king upon the throne of David. To the second part {347} belong the prophecies contained in the seventh and eighth chapters. The occasion of the first of these was a question proposed to the prophet concerning the observance of a certain fast. He first rebukes the people for their formality, and then proceeds to encourage them in the way of duty, adding glorious promises respecting the future prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem. The remaining six chapters, constituting the third part, appear to have been written at a later time. They all relate to the future destinies of the covenant people, and, through them, of the visible kingdom of God on earth. But the first three of these chapters are mainly occupied with the nearer future, yet with glimpses at the final consummation in the latter days. They are generally understood to predict the conquests of Alexander the Great (9:1-8), the conflict of the Jews with their enemies in the Maccabean age (9:13-16), the advent of Christ (9:9), the corrupt and rapacious character of the Jewish rulers at that era, their rejection of Christ, and the consequent rejection of the nation by God (chap. 11). They also contain a prediction of the final reunion and restoration of "the house of Judah" and "the house of Joseph" (ch. 10). The remaining three chapters are occupied with the great and decisive conflict of the last days, which is to usher in the era of millennial glory.

22. The prophecies of Zechariah, containing as they do a portraiture of the destiny of God's people to the end of time, and comprehending so many mighty events which yet await their fulfilment, present to the interpreter many difficulties, some of which have hitherto been found insoluble, and will probably remain unsolved till the mystery of God contained in them shall have been fulfilled. One thing, however, they clearly reveal to us: that the future triumph of God's kingdom is certain, and that all the great movements in the history of the nations, however unpropitious they may seem at the time, are parts of the mighty plan of divine providence which shall end in making the kingdoms of this world the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.


In Matt. 27:9, 10, there is a quotation for substance of the words of Zechariah 11:13, but they are ascribed to "Jeremiah the prophet." Of this discrepancy various explanations have been proposed. Some have suspected an early error in the manuscript of Matthew's gospel; but of this there is no satisfactory proof. Others have thought that the part of our present book of Zechariah which contains the prophecy in question actually belongs to Jeremiah; but upon this hypothesis it remains a mystery how it should have been attached to the writings of Zechariah.

Upon the ground of diversity of style and other alleged internal marks, it has been maintained by some biblical scholars that the whole of the last part of Zechariah belongs to an earlier age; but the validity of this conclusion is denied by others. To give even a summary of the opposing arguments would exceed the limits of the present work. The internal proofs being very nearly balanced against each other, the fact that these chapters have always been connected with the writings of Zechariah ought to be allowed a decisive influence in favor of their genuineness.


23. In Hebrew Malachi signifies my messenger, being the very word employed in chap. 3:1. Hence some have supposed that this is not the prophet's name, but a description of his office. Such a supposition, however, is contrary to scriptural usage, which in every other case prefixes to each of the prophetical books the author's proper name. Malachi has not given the date of his prophecies, but it can be determined with a good degree of certainty from their contents. The people had been reinstated in the land, the temple rebuilt, and its regular services reëstablished. Yet they were in a depressed condition, dispirited, and disposed to complain of the severity of God's dealings towards them. Their ardently cherished expectation of seeing the Theocracy restored to its former glory was not realized. Instead of driving their enemies before them sword in hand, as in the days of Joshua, or reigning triumphantly over them in peace, as in the days of Solomon, they found themselves a handful of weak colonists under the dominion of foreigners, and returning to the land of their fathers solely by their permission. All this was extremely humiliating to their worldly pride, and a bitter disappointment of their worldly hopes. Hence they had fallen into a desponding and {349} complaining state of mind. While rendering to God a service that was not cheerful but grudging, complaining of its wearisomeness, withholding the tithes required by the law of Moses, and offering in sacrifice the lame and the blind, they yet complained that he did not notice and requite these heartless services, and talked as if he favored the proud and wicked. "Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and walked mournfully before him? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered" (3:14, 15). To these sins they had added that of putting away their Hebrew wives, that they might marry foreign women (2:10-16). All these circumstances point to the administration of Nehemiah, probably the latter part of it; for after his visit to Babylon in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (Neh. 13:6), he found upon his return, and has described in the last chapter of his book precisely the same state of affairs. Malachi is thus the last of all the prophets.

24. He opens his prophecies by reminding the people of God's great and distinguishing love towards them and their fathers, which they were so slow to acknowledge. He then reproves them sharply for the sins above referred to, and forewarns them that the Lord, of whose delay they complain, will suddenly come to his temple to sit in judgment there—an advent which they will not be able to endure; for it will consume the wicked root and branch, while it brings salvation to the righteous (3:1-5; 4:1-3). In view of the fact that the revelations of the Old Testament are now closing, he admonishes the people to remember the law of Moses, and closes with a promise of the mission of "Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (4:5, 6). This promise, with that contained in chap. 3:1, is repeatedly referred to in the New Testament, and applied to the coming of John the Baptist as our Lord's forerunner. The opening words of the prophecy, chap. 1:2, are quoted by the apostle Paul (Rom. 9:13).




1. The Greek word Apocrypha, hidden, that is, hidden or secret books, was early applied by the fathers of the Christian church to anonymous or spurious books that falsely laid claim to be a part of the inspired word. By some, as Jerome, the term was extended to all the books incorporated by the Alexandrine Jews, in their Greek version, into the proper canon of the Old Testament, a few of which books, though not inspired, are undoubtedly genuine. Another designation of the books in question was ecclesiastical, books to be read in the churches for edification, but not as possessing authority in matters of faith. But at the era of the Reformation, when these books were separated by the Protestant churches from the true canon, and placed by themselves between the books of the Old and the New Testament, Jerome's old epithet Apocrypha, or the Apocryphal books, was applied to the entire collection.

How the term Apocrypha, hidden, became associated with the idea of spurious or anonymous is doubtful. According to Augustine, it was because the origin of these books was not clear to the church fathers. A later conjecture, expressed by the translators of the English Bible, is "because they were wont to be read not openly and in common, but as it were in secret and apart." Still more probable is the opinion that they were so called from their close relation to the secret books containing the mysteries—secret doctrines—of certain heretical sects.

2. The date of several of the apocryphal books is very uncertain; but none of them can well be placed as early as the beginning of the third century before Christ. Though some of them were originally written in Hebrew or Aramean, they have been preserved to us only in Greek or other versions. None of them were ever admitted into the Hebrew canon. The ground of their rejection is well stated by Josephus (Against Apion 1, 8), namely, that from the time of Artaxerxes, Xerxes' son (Artaxerxes Longimanus, under whom Ezra led forth his colony, Ezra 7:1, 8), "the exact succession of the prophets" was wanting. The Alexandrine Jews, however, who were very loose in their ideas of the canon, incorporated them into their version of the Hebrew Scriptures. How far the mass of the people distinguished between their authority and that of the books belonging to the Hebrew canon is a question not easily determined. But {351} Josephus, as we have seen, clearly recognized their true character. Philo also, as those who have examined the matter inform us, though acquainted with these books, never cites any one of them as of divine authority. The judgment of these two men doubtless represents that of all the better informed among the Alexandrine Jews, as it does that of the Saviour and his apostles, who never quote them as a part of the inspired word.

3. During the first three centuries of the Christian era very few of the church fathers had any knowledge of Hebrew. The churches received the Scriptures of the Old Testament through the medium of the Alexandrine Greek version, which contained the apocryphal books. It is not surprising, therefore, that the distinction between these and the canonical books was not clearly maintained, and that we find in the writings of the church fathers quotations from them even under the name of "divine scripture." But Jerome, who translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew, understood perfectly the distinction between the canonical and the apocryphal books. The canon which he has given agrees with that of the Palestine Jews. He says (Prologus Galeatus) of the apocryphal books Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, and Maccabees, that the church reads these "for the edification of the people, not for authority in establishing church doctrines." The same distinction is made by Rufinus, the contemporary and antagonist of Jerome. The language of Augustine was more wavering and uncertain. At the Council of Hippo, A.D. 393, at which he was present, the "ecclesiastical books," as the apocryphal books are called, were included in the catalogue of sacred books; and from that day to the time of the Reformation the extent of the Old Testament canon was regarded as an open question. But the Romish Council of Trent included the apocryphal books in the canon of the Old Testament, with the exception of Esdras and the prayer of Manasseh, pronouncing an anathema on all who should hold a contrary opinion. The Protestant churches, on the other hand, unanimously adhered to the Hebrew canon, separating from this the apocryphal books as useful for reading, but of no authority in matters of faith.

4. Although the Protestant churches rightly reject the apocryphal books as not belonging to the inspired word, the knowledge of their contents is nevertheless a matter of deep interest to the biblical scholar. The first book of Maccabees is in the main authentic, and it covers an important crisis of Jewish history. All of the apocryphal books, moreover, throw much light on the progress of Jewish thought, especially in the two directions of Grecian culture and a rigid adherence to the forms of the Mosaic law. Keil divides the apocryphal books into historical, didactic, and prophetic, but with the remark that this division cannot be rigidly carried out. In the following brief notice of the several books the arrangement of the English Bible is followed.



5. The first two in order of the apocryphal books in the English version bear the title of Esdras, that is, Ezra. The Greek Bible has only the first, which stands sometimes before our canonical book of Ezra, and sometimes after Nehemiah. In the former case it is called the first book of Esdras, that is, Ezra; in the latter the third, Nehemiah being reckoned as the continuation of Ezra, and called the second book of Ezra. It gives the history of the temple and its service from Josiah to Ezra—its restoration by Josiah, destruction by the Chaldees, rebuilding and reëstablishment through Zerubbabel and Ezra. Its original and central part is a legend from an unknown source respecting a trial of wisdom between Zerubbabel and two other young men, made in the presence of Darius, king of Persia, which resulted in Zerubbabel's favor, and so pleased the king that he issued letters for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and conferred many other favors on the Jews. Chaps. 3, 4. The preceding and following parts are made up of extracts from 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, in which the compiler has made a free use of his biblical sources, at one time abridging the narrative, at another making explanatory additions, and again transposing the order of events contrary to historical truth. Some, as Keil, think that the writer made use of the Alexandrine version; others, that he drew from the original Hebrew. His design was to exhibit the liberality of Cyrus and Darius towards the Jews as a pattern for the heathen rulers of Judea in his own day. (Keil.) Neither the author nor the date of the book is known, but it cannot be placed earlier than the second century before Christ.

6. The second book of Esdras (called also the fourth, when the first is reckoned as the third) is extant in a Latin, an Arabic, and an Ethiopic version. The Greek original has not thus far been found. The Arabic and Ethiopic are thought to represent the primitive text more correctly than the Latin: as they want the two introductory and closing chapters of the latter, which are generally admitted to be spurious additions by a later hand; and contain, on the contrary, a long passage after chap. 7:35, which is not found in the Latin, and is thought to be genuine.

7. If we reject the first two and last two chapters of the Latin version, which do not belong to the original work, the remainder of the book has entire unity from beginning to end. It consists of a series of pretended visions vouchsafed to Ezra through the angel Uriel in the thirtieth year after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldees, while he mourned over the desolate and distressed condition of the covenant people with fasting and prayer. Of these visions, the first six, which are preparatory to the last, pertain mainly to the method of God's dealing with men, the end of the present age, the introduction of the coming age, and the glorification {353} of Zion, with the heavy judgments of God that shall accompany these events. Many of these revelations are made through the medium of symbols. In the seventh and last revelation, a voice addresses Ezra out of a bush, as it did Moses of old. Upon his complaining that the law has been burnt, he is directed to take five ready scribes, with a promise that the holy writings which are lost shall be restored to his people. The next day the voice calls to him again, commanding him to open his mouth and drink the cup which is offered to him, "full as it were with water, but the color of it was like fire." Upon this he is filled with the spirit of inspiration, and dictates to his five scribes in forty days 204 books (according to some 94). Of these the last 70 are secret, to be delivered only "to such as be wise among the people." The rest are to be published openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read them. The historic truth underlying this fabulous revelation seems to be the revision of the canon of the Old Testament by Ezra and his associates. Chap. 15, No. 17. It is agreed that this book is the production of a Jew, but the date of its composition is a disputed point. Some assign it to the first century after Christ; others to the century preceding our Lord's advent, but with interpolations that manifestly belong to the Christian era.


8. The book of Tobit contains a narrative of the piety, misfortunes, and final prosperity of Tobit, an Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali, who was among the captives brought to Assyria by Enemessar (Shalmaneser) king of Assyria. With Enemessar he was in favor, became his purveyor, and was able to deposit ten talents of silver with Gabael at Rages, a city of Media. But Sennacherib, the successor of Enemessar, persecuted him, especially for his pious care in burying the bodies of his Jewish brethren whom that king had slain, and he was obliged to flee with his wife Anna and his son Tobias, leaving all his goods as plunder to the Assyrian king. Under Sarchedonus (Esarhaddon) he returned again to his home, but soon a new misfortune overtook him. As he lay one night by the wall of his courtyard, being unclean from the burial of a Jew whom his son had found strangled in the market-place, "the sparrows muted warm dung" into his eyes, which deprived him of sight. Wishing now to send his son Tobias for the ten talents of silver deposited with Gabael at Rages in Media, he directs him to seek a guide for the way; when the angel Raphael offers himself under the name of Azarias the son of Ananias the great, one of Tobit's brethren. As the angel and Tobias journey together, they come one evening to the river Tigris. As the young man goes down to the river to bathe, a fish assaults him; but by the angel's direction he seizes him, drags him on shore, and takes for future use his heart, liver, and gall. On their way to Rages they come to Ecbatane, a city of Media, where resides {354} Raguel, the cousin of Tobias, whose only daughter, Sara, has lost seven husbands on the night of their marriage, through the power of Asmodeus, an evil spirit. Tobias being her nearest surviving kinsman, marries her according to the law of Moses. By the angel's direction, upon entering the marriage-chamber, he lays the heart and liver of the fish upon embers. The evil spirit, at the smell of the smoke, flees away into the utmost parts of Egypt, where the angel binds him. The angel goes to Rages and brings the ten talents and Gabael himself to the wedding feast; the wedded pair return in safety to Tobit with the silver, and also the half of Raguel's goods, which Sara receives as her wedding portion. Finally Tobias, by the angel's direction, anoints his father's eyes with the gall of the fish; whereupon he recovers his sight, and lives in honor and prosperity to a good old age. Such is a brief outline of the story, which is told in an interesting and attractive style. How much historic truth lies at its foundation, it is impossible to determine. The introduction of the angelic guide may well be regarded as a mythical embellishment.

9. The book of Tobit is extant in various texts—Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Hebrew, the Hebrew forms being all translations from the Greek or Latin. These texts differ in minor details, but have all sprung directly or indirectly from one original, which was probably Hebrew or Aramaic, though some maintain that it was Greek. The book is thoroughly Jewish in its spirit. The date of its composition is uncertain. The common opinion of biblical scholars is that it was composed about 250-200 B.C. In its general scope the book has a resemblance to that of Job. A good man encounters suffering in the way of piety, but is finally delivered, lives in prosperity, and dies in a good old age. The portraiture which it gives of domestic piety is very pleasing, and affords an instructive insight into the spirit of the age in which it was written. It gives great prominence to deeds of charity; but the alms on which it insists so earnestly flow from inward faith and love. In this respect they are distinguished from the dead works of the late Scribes and Pharisees.


10. This book relates the exploit of Judith, a Jewish widow distinguished alike for beauty, courage, and devotion to her country. When Holofernes, one of Nebuchadnezzar's generals, was besieging Bethulia, a city of Judea, she went over to his camp with her maid in the character of a deserter, promised to guide him to Jerusalem, and by her flattery and artful representations so insinuated herself into his favor that he entertained her with high honor. At last, being left alone with him at night in his tent, she beheaded him with his own falchion as he lay asleep and intoxicated, and going forth gave his head to her maid, who put it in her bag, and they two passed the guards in safety under the pretext of going {355} out for prayer, as had been their nightly custom. The head of Holofernes was suspended from the wall of the city, and when the warriors within sallied forth, the besieging army fled in consternation. Judith receives as a reward all the stuff of Holofernes, lives at Bethulia as a widow in high honor, and dies at the age of one hundred and five.

11. The historical and geographical contradictions of this book are too many and grave to allow the supposition that it contains an authentic narrative of facts. It was manifestly written after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity and the rebuilding of the city and temple (chaps. 4:3; 5:18, 19), when the nation was governed, not by a king, but by a high priest and Sanhedrim. Chap. 4:6, 8; 15:8. Yet it makes Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned in Babylon long before, king in Nineveh in the eighth year of his reign, whereas his father had destroyed Nineveh. The attempts that have been made to reconcile these and other inconsistencies with true history are forced and unnatural. Whatever historical truth may lie at the basis of the story, it is so interwoven with fiction that the two elements cannot be separated from each other. It was probably written by a Palestinian Jew in Hebrew or Aramaic somewhere about the second century before Christ. The design of the book is to excite the people to faith and courage in their severe conflicts with foreign persecutors; but its morality is of a very questionable character. Judith, its heroine, while she adheres with great punctiliousness to the Mosaic ritual, does not scruple to employ hypocrisy and falsehood that she may prepare the way for assassination, being evidently persuaded that in the service of the covenant people the end sanctifies the means.


12. These are printed by themselves in our English version, and entitled: "The rest of the chapters of the Book of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew, nor in the Chaldee;" but in the Septuagint and old Latin they are dispersed through the canonical book so as to form with it a consistent whole. They profess to supply deficiencies in the canonical Esther—a dream of Mordecai with its interpretation; an account of the conspiracy of the two eunuchs to destroy Ahasuerus; a pretended copy of the king's edict for the destruction of the Jews; the prayer of Mordecai and of Esther in view of this edict; various details of Esther's visit to the king; and the pretended edict of Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus) revoking the former edict, and giving the Jews liberty to destroy all who should assault them—into which the name of God, which nowhere appears in the genuine book of Esther, is abundantly introduced. The origin of these legends is unknown.



13. The author of this book personages Solomon, and speaks in his name, Solomon being to the ancient Jews the representative of all wisdom. Keil gives the summary of its contents in three divisions, as follows; (1.) "The book begins with a forcible exhortation to the rulers of the earth to strive after wisdom as the fountain of righteousness and the guide to immortality and happiness. With this it connects a warning against the folly of unbelieving men who rebel against the law, oppress the righteous, and thus bring upon themselves just punishment, distraction, and everlasting shame. Chaps. 1-6. (2.) After the example of King Solomon, who is introduced as speaking, the way to obtain wisdom is next pointed out, and she is described in her nature as the spirit that formed and sustains the world, and is the author of all that is good, true, and great. Chaps. 7-9. (3.) Then follows a long historical discourse (interrupted in chaps. 13-15 by a copious discussion concerning the origin and nature of idolatry), in which the blessed effects of wisdom and the fear of God, and the unhappy consequences that come from the folly of idolatry are illustrated by the opposite fortunes of the righteous and the wicked of past ages, especially of the people of God as contrasted with the idolatrous Canaanites and Egyptians." The different parts of the book constitute a well connected whole.

14. The book was originally composed in Greek by an Alexandrine Jew, who is generally placed by biblical scholars somewhere in the second century before Christ. Though possessing no canonical authority, it is very interesting and valuable for the view which it gives of the progress of Jewish thought in both religion and philosophy. This writer is the first who expressly identifies the serpent that deceived Eve with the devil: "Through envy of the devil came death into the world." Chap. 2:24. He teaches also the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and of a future judgment. In a passage of great beauty he personifies Wisdom, after the example of the book of Proverbs, as the worker of all things, and the teacher and guide, of men. "She is the breath of the power of God, and a pure efflux from the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled can find entrance into her. For she is the effulgence of the everlasting light, and the unspotted mirror of the divine might, and the image of his goodness. And being but one she can do all things; and remaining in herself [unchanged] she makes all things new. From age to age entering into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and prophets." Chap. 7:25-27. But along with this true development of doctrine on the basis of the Old Testament he holds the unscriptural doctrine of the preëxistence of souls (chap. 8:20), whether borrowed from the Platonists, or taken from some other source. Some have thought that he also holds matter to be eternal. {357} But when he speaks of God's almighty hand as having "created the world out of formless matter" (chap. 11:17), he may have reference simply to the chaotic state described in Gen. 1:2.

Jerome left the Latin translation of this book unrevised. The text, therefore, of our Latin Bibles is that of the "Old Latin" version, as it existed before his day.


15. The Greek title of this book is, The Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach, or more briefly: The Wisdom of Sirach. The Latin title, Ecclesiasticus, that is, Ecclesiastical book, designates it as a book that was read for edification in the churches, though not included in the Hebrew canon. We give, mainly from Keil, the summary of its contents: This copious book is rich in its contents, embracing the whole domain of practical wisdom, and, what is inseparable from this, the fear of God. These virtues it describes, commends, and inculcates according to their origin and nature, their characteristics and results, and their realization in life, in a rich collection of proverbs, with rules and counsels for the regulation of life in all its manifold relations. The whole is after the manner of the Proverbs of Solomon, only with much greater particularity of details, extending to all the spheres of religious, civil, and domestic life, and giving rules of conduct for the regulation of the same. This collection of wise maxims, moral precepts, and rules of life constitutes a united whole, in which the particular proverbs, counsels, and warnings are strung together in accordance with an association of ideas that is often quite loose. Interwoven with these are a number of connected discussions and prayers. The author closes his instructions with two extended discourses, in the former of which he celebrates the works of God in creation (chaps. 42:15-43:33); in the latter, the praises of the famous men of Scripture from Enoch to Simon the high priest, the son of Onias (chaps. 44-50). He then adds in the final chapter a thanksgiving and prayer (chap. 51). This book, like that of Wisdom, is of great value for the insight which it gives into the theology and ethics of the Jews at the time of its composition.

16. It is undoubtedly genuine, having been written in Hebrew by the man whose name it bears, and translated into Greek in Egypt by his grandson, as stated in the prologue. But the age of the translator, and consequently of the author, is a matter of dispute. The last of the worthies described by him is "Simon, the son of Onias, the high priest." There were two high priests of this name, both sons of Onias, but the author's eulogy is applicable only to the former, who flourished about 310-290 B.C. It is a natural inference that Jesus, the son of Sirach, wrote not many years afterwards. The translator, again, speaks of himself as coming into Egypt "in the eight and thirtieth year, when Euergetes {358} was king." Does he mean the eight and thirtieth year of his own life, or of Euergetes' reign? If the latter, then of the two kings that bore the surname Euergetes the latter only (B.C. 170-117) can be understood, since the former reigned only twenty-five years. If the former, as is most probable, then we naturally understand Euergetes I., who reigned B.C. 217-222, during which period the translation must have been executed.

The Greek text, as exhibited in manuscripts, is in a very corrupt and confused state, with many variations and transpositions. The Latin text is that of the "Old Latin," which Jerome left, as he did that of the book of Wisdom, without revision.


17. This is the only apocryphal book which assumes the character of prophecy. It is formed after the model of Jeremiah, and ascribed to Baruch his friend. But its spuriousness is generally admitted. Besides historical inaccuracies, such as are not conceivable in the case of Baruch, the fact that its author employed the Septuagint translation of Jeremiah and Daniel mark it as of a later date. Keil assigns it to about the middle of the second century B.C. The book professes to be a letter written by Baruch in the name of the captive Jews in Babylon to their brethren at Jerusalem, and consists of two well-marked divisions, the first of which, extending to chap. 3:8, is, in the opinion of some, a translation from an original Hebrew document. This part contains, after an introductory notice, a confession of sin with prayer for deliverance. The second part begins with an address to the covenant people, in which they are rebuked for neglecting the teachings of divine wisdom, and encouraged with the hope of returning prosperity when they shall obey her voice. Chaps. 3:9-4:8. Zion is then introduced lamenting over the desolations which God has brought upon her and her children (chap. 4:9-4:29), and afterwards comforting them with the hope of certain deliverance and enlargement (chaps. 4:30-5:9). It is generally agreed that the second part was originally written in Greek, and some think that the same is true of the first part also.

18. There is another Epistle of Baruch preserved to us in the Syriac, which is inserted in the London and Paris Polyglotts. It is addressed to the nine and a half tribes, and "made up of commonplaces of warning, encouragement, and exhortation." Smith's Bib. Dict., Art. Baruch.

19. There is a spurious Epistle of Jeremiah which appears in the Vulgate and our English version as the sixth chapter of Baruch. It is entitled: "Copy of an epistle which Jeremiah sent to those who were to be led captives into Babylon by the king of the Babylonians to make announcement to them, as it was commanded him by God." It purports to be a {359} warning to these captives against the idolatrous practices which they shall witness in Babylon, and is made up of a long discourse on the impotence of the idols which the heathen worship, written in a rhetorical style, in imitation of Jer. 10:1-16. Its author is supposed to have been a Hellenistic Jew who lived towards the end of the Maccabean period.


20. The Greek version of the book of Daniel, besides many departures from the Hebrew and Chaldee original, contains three large additions. The first of these is: The Prayer of Azarias, and the Song of the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace, which is appended to the third chapter. The second is: The History of Susanna, who is exhibited as a pattern of chastity, and was delivered from the machinations of her enemies through the wisdom of Daniel. This is placed sometimes before the first chapter of Daniel, and sometimes after chapter 12. The third addition is: The Story of Bel and the Dragon, which stands at the end of the book, and is falsely ascribed in the Septuagint to the prophet Habakkuk. Its design is to show the folly of idolatry. According to Keil, these three pieces were composed in Egypt towards the end of the third, or the beginning of the second century before Christ.


21. A genuine prayer of Manasseh, king of Judah, existed at the time when the books of Chronicles were composed. 2 Chron. 33:18, 19. But the existing prayer of the Apocrypha, though upon the whole beautiful and appropriate, cannot claim to be a true representative of that prayer. "The author," says Keil, "was a pious Jew who lived at all events before Christ, though his age cannot be more accurately determined."


22. These are five in number. The first two passed from the Greek into the early Latin versions, and thence into the Vulgate and the English versions, and were received as canonical by the Council of Trent. Two others are found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint. The fifth exists only in Arabic. "If the historic order were observed, the so-called third book would come first, the fourth would be an appendix to the second, which would retain its place, and the first would come last; but it will be more convenient to examine the books in the order in which they are found in the MSS., which was probably decided by some vague tradition of their relative antiquity." Smith's Bible Dict., Art. Maccabees. The name Maccabees is applied to the family and posterity of the illustrious Jewish priest Mattathias, who maintained a long and successful struggle {360} with the Syrian kings, and finally succeeded in establishing for a period the independence of the Jews. The origin of the term has been variously explained; but the most common account of it is, that it comes from a Hebrew word signifying hammer, so that the adjective Maccabee (Greek [Greek: Makkabaios]) will denote Hammerer. According to Josephus (Antiq. 12, 6, 1) Mattathias was descended from one Asmonaeus: Hence the family of the Maccabees are also called Asmoneans.

23. The first book of the Maccabees. This is one of the most important of all the apocryphal books. It contains a narrative of the long and bloody struggle of the Jews, under their Maccabean leaders, for the preservation of their religion, and the deliverance of the nation from the yoke of their Syrian oppressors. The history bears the internal marks of authenticity and credibility, being distinguished by simplicity and candor. It is only when speaking of foreign nations that the writer falls into some inaccuracies. These do not detract from his trustworthiness in relating the affairs of his own nation through a period of forty years of the most eventful character (B.C. 175-135). The book is pervaded throughout by the Jewish spirit, and must have been written by a Palestinian Jew. Its date is uncertain, but may probably be placed somewhere during the government of the high priest John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-106). According to the testimony of Origen, the book was originally written in Hebrew. With this agrees its internal character; for the Greek version of it contains many Hebraisms, as well as difficulties which are readily accounted for upon the supposition of a Hebrew original.

21. The second book of Maccabees. This book opens with two letters purporting to have been written by the Jews of Palestine to their brethren in Egypt, in which the former invite the latter to join with them in the celebration of "the feast of tabernacles in the month Caslen," that is, the feast of dedication established to commemorate the purification of the temple after its pollution by Antiochus Epiphanes. To the latter of these is appended an epitome of the five books of Jason of Cyrene, containing the history of the Maccabean struggle, beginning with Heliodorus' attempt to plunder the temple, about B.C. 180, and ending with the victory of Judas Maccabeus over Nicanor, B.C. 161. Both of the letters are regarded as spurious. The second of them abounds in marvellous legends—how, upon the destruction of the first temple, the sacred fire of the altar was hid in a hollow pit without water; how, at the close of the captivity, it was found in the form of thick water, which being by the command of Nehemiah sprinkled on the wood of the altar and the sacrifices, there was kindled, when the sun shone upon it, a great fire, so that all men marvelled; how Jeremiah, at God's command, carried the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense to the mountain "which Moses ascended and saw the heritage of God," that is, mount Nebo (Deut. 34:1), and hid them there in a {361} hollow cave, where they are to remain until the time that God shall gather his people together again, and be gracious to them.

The epitome of Jason's history begins some five years earlier than the history contained in the first book, and covers a period of about nineteen years; so that it is partly anterior to that history, partly supplementary, and partly parallel. Alexander's Kitto, Art. Maccabees. The two books are entirely independent in their sources of information; and although the second cannot lay claim to the same degree of trustworthiness as the first, yet the general judgment of biblical scholars is that it is, in its main facts, authentic. But these are set forth with embellishments and exaggerations, in which the author manifests his love for the marvellous. Where the history of the two books is parallel, it agrees in its general outlines, but the details are almost always different, and sometimes they present irreconcilable discrepancies. In its religious aspect this book is very interesting. In the account of the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons for their refusal to eat swine's flesh (chap. 7) the doctrine of the resurrection is plainly announced: "It is a thing to be desired," says the fourth son to the king Antiochus, "that one being put to death by men should wait for the hope of God that he shall be again raised up by him; but for thee there is no resurrection unto life" (v. 14). Where Jason composed his work cannot be determined. He cannot have lived long after the events which he describes, else he would have taken notice of the important events that followed. The author of the epitome contained in this book is believed to have been a Hellenistic Jew living in Palestine, who probably wrote in the first century before Christ.

25. The third book of Maccabees. This book does not belong to the Maccabean age, but to the earlier time of Ptolemy Philopator (B.C. 221-204). Its title seems to have come simply from the similarity of its contents. It relates in a pompous and oratorical style how Ptolemy Philopator, being enraged at his failure to enter the sanctuary at Jerusalem, determined to wreak his vengeance on the Jews in Egypt, and assembled them for this purpose in the circus, that they might be trampled under foot by drunken elephants, but was hindered by the miraculous interposition of God; whereupon the king liberated the Jews, prepared for them a sumptuous feast, and gave them permission to take vengeance on their apostate countrymen. The narrative probably has a groundwork of truth with legendary embellishments, after the manner of the later Jews. Its author is believed to have been an Alexandrine Jew, but his age cannot be determined. It was never admitted into the Romish canon.

26. The fourth book of Maccabees opens with a philosophical discussion respecting the supremacy of devout reason over the passions, which is then illustrated by the history of the martyrdom of Eleazar and the mother with her seven sons, an account of which we have in 2 Macc., chaps. 6 and 7. {362} The author of this book was a Jew imbued with the spirit of the stoical philosophy. It has been falsely ascribed to Josephus.

27. The fifth book of Maccabees exists only in Arabic. We draw our notice of it from Alexander's Kitto, according to which "it contains the history of the Jews from Heliodorus' attempt to plunder the treasury at Jerusalem till the time when Herod revelled in the noblest blood of the Jews;" that is, from 184-86 B.C., thus embracing a period of 98 years. The book is a compilation made in Hebrew, by a Jew who lived after the destruction of Jerusalem, from ancient Hebrew memoirs or chronicles, which were written shortly after the events transpired. In the absence of the original Hebrew, the Arabic versions of it, printed in the Paris and London Polyglotts, give the text upon which we must rely.








1. In the character of the original languages of the Bible, as in every thing else pertaining to the plan of redemption, God's hand is to be reverently acknowledged. It was not by chance, but through the provident care of Him who sees the end from the beginning, that the writers of the Old Testament found the Hebrew, and those of the New Testament the Greek language ready at hand, each of them so singularly adapted to the high office assigned to it. The stately majesty, the noble simplicity, and the graphic vividness of the Hebrew fitted it admirably for the historical portions of the Old Testament, in which, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the direct intuition of God's purposes and of the deep springs of human action superseded the necessity of philosophical argument and deduction. The historians of the Old Testament did not pause to argue concerning their statements of men's motives and God's designs. They saw both with wonderful clearness of vision; and they found in the simplicity and directness of the Hebrew syntax, {366} so far removed from all that is involved and complex, a suitable vehicle for their simple and direct statements of truth. How congenial the Hebrew language is to poetic composition, as well in its rugged and sublime forms as in its tender and pathetic strains, every reader of the Old Testament in the original understands. The soul is not more at home in the body than is sacred poetry in the language of the covenant people. As the living spirit of the cherubim animated and directed the wheels of the chariot in Ezekiel's vision, so does the spirit of inspired poesy animate and direct the words and sentences of the Hebrew language: "When the cherubim went, the wheels went by them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creatures was in them." Ezek. 10:16, 17. The same characteristics fitted the Hebrew language most perfectly for prophetic vision, in which the poetic element so largely prevails.

2. Turning now from the Hebrew of the Old Testament to the Greek of the New, we have a language very different in its structure; elaborate in its inflections and syntax, delicate and subtle in its distinctions, rich in its vocabulary, highly cultivated in every department of writing, and flexible in an eminent degree; being thus equally adapted to every variety of style—plain unadorned narrative, impassioned oratory, poetry of every form, philosophical discussion, and severe logical reasoning: in a word, a language every way fitted to the wants of the gospel, which is given not for the infancy of the world but for its mature age, and which deals not so much with the details of particulars as with great principles, which require for their full comprehension the capacity of abstraction and generalization. In the historical records of the Old Testament, and in its poetic and prophetic parts, the Hebrew language was altogether at home. But for such compositions as the epistle to the Romans the Greek offered a more perfect medium; and here, as everywhere else God's providence took care that the founders of the {367} Christian church should be furnished in the most complete manner.

3. We find, accordingly, that centuries before our Lord's advent, preparation began to be made in the providence of God for this change in the language of the inspired writings. One result of the Babylonish captivity was that Hebrew ceased to be the vernacular of the masses of the people, and a form of Aramaean took its place. Chap. 14, No. 4. After the return of the Jews from this same captivity and their reëstablishment in their own land, the spirit of prophecy was also withdrawn, and the canon of the Old Testament brought to a close. Thus the cessation of Hebrew as the spoken language of the people, and the withdrawal of the spirit of prophecy were contemporaneous events. The canon was locked up in the sacred language, and the interpreter took the place of the prophet. "The providential change of language suggested a general limit within which the voice of inspiration might be heard, as the fearful chastisements of the captivity turned men's minds to the old Scriptures with a devotion unknown before." Westcott's Introduc. to the Study of the Gospels, chap. 1.

4. But the conquests of Alexander the Great (B.C. 334-323) brought the Greek language and the Greek civilization into Asia and Egypt, as a sure leaven destined to leaven the whole mass. To this influence the Jews could not remain insensible. It reached even Palestine, where they naturally clung most tenaciously to the Aramaean language and to the customs of their fathers. But out of Palestine, where the Jews were dispersed in immense numbers, it operated more immediately; especially in Egypt, whose metropolis Alexandria was, after the age of Alexander its founder, one of the chief seats of Grecian learning. To the Jews of Alexandria the Greek language was vernacular. By them was executed, as we have seen, under the patronage of the Egyptian king, the first version ever made of the Hebrew Scriptures, namely, that called the Septuagint (Chap. 16, Nos. 1-7), which was begun, if not completed, in the latter part of the third century before Christ. Though {368} this version encountered bitter opposition on the part of the unbelieving Jews after the establishment of the Christian church, in consequence of the effective use made of it against them by Christian writers, it was received from its first appearance and onward with general favor. The Hellenistic Jews—those using the Greek language and conforming themselves to Grecian civilization—made constant use of it, and the knowledge of it was very widely diffused beyond the boundaries of Egypt. In our Saviour's day it was in very general use, as the abundant quotations from it in the New Testament show; and it must have contributed largely to the spread of the knowledge of the Greek language among the Jewish people in and out of Palestine. Though the Roman empire succeeded to that of the Greeks, the Roman could not supplant the more polished Greek tongue, with its immense and varied literature. On the contrary, the Greek language penetrated into Italy, and especially into Rome, the metropolis of the civilized world, where, in our Saviour's day, Greek literature was in high repute, and the Greek language was very generally understood. Thus, in the good providence of God, the writers of the New Testament, also, found ready at hand a language singularly adapted to their service.

Biblical scholars have noticed the significant fact that of the long list of names in the sixteenth chapter of Romans, the greater number belongs to the Greek language, not to the Latin. "The flexibility of the Greek language gained for it in ancient time a general currency similar to that which French enjoys in modern Europe; but with this important difference, that Greek was not only the language of educated men, but also the language of the masses in the great centres of commerce." Westcott in Smith's Bible Dict., Art. Hellenist.

5. Respecting the character of the New Testament Greek there was in former times much controversy, often accompanied with unnecessary heat and bitterness. One class of writers seemed to think that the honor of the New Testament was involved in their ability to show the classic purity and elegance of its style; as if, forsooth, the Spirit of inspiration could only {369} address men through the medium of language conformed to the classic standard of propriety. Another class went to the opposite extreme, speaking in exaggerated terms of the Hebraisms and solecisms of the New Testament writers. The truth lies between these extremes. The style of the New Testament is neither classical nor barbarous. Its characteristics are strictly conformable to the history of its origin. (1.) Its basis is not the Greek of Plato and Xenophon, but the so-called Hellenic or common dialect which arose in the age of Alexander the Great, when "the previously distinct dialects, spoken by the various sections of the Hellenic nation, were blended into a popular spoken language." Winer, Gram, of the New Test., sec. 2. The Alexandrine Jews doubtless learned it not so much from books as from the daily intercourse of life, and it probably had its provincial peculiarities in Alexandria and the adjacent region. (2.) In Jewish usage this common Greek dialect received an Hebraic coloring from the constant use of the Septuagint version, which is a literal rendering of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, of course with the retention of many Hebrew idioms. Only such thorough Greek scholars as Josephus and Philo could rise above this influence. The New Testament writers manifest its power in different degrees; for, as it respects Hebraisms, they do not by any means stand on a common level. (3.) As the Aramaic—the so-called Syro-Chaldaic—was the language of the mass of the people, the style of the New Testament writers received a tinge from this also. (4.) More than all, the style of the New Testament receives a peculiar impress from the fact that the authors were Jews writing under the full influence of a Jewish education and a Jewish faith, with the superadded element of Christianity. It is the phenomenon of the spirit and thoughts of Jewish Christians embodied in the language of Greece; and this at once separates the writings of the New Testament by a wide interval from all purely classic compositions. The apostolic writers imposed on the Greek language an arduous task, that of expressing ideas foreign to the conceptions of the most cultivated {370} among the pagan authors; ideas partly common to the old Jewish and the Christian religions, partly peculiar to Christianity. This could only be done by giving to existing terms a new and higher meaning, whereby they assumed a technical character wholly unknown to the classic writers.

"Compare particularly the words: works (to work, Rom. 4:4), faith, to believe in Christ, or to believe absolutely, confession, righteousness, to be justified, to be chosen, the called, the chosen, the saints (for Christians), edification and to edify in a figurative sense, apostle, to publish the good tidings and to publish absolutely for Christian preaching, the adoption of baptisma, baptism, for Christian baptism, perhaps to break bread for the holy repast (the Agape with the communion), the world, the flesh, fleshly, in the known theological sense," etc. Winer's Gram, of the New Test., sec. 3.

6. From all the abovenamed causes the language of the New Testament received a form differing widely from the classic style, but admirably adapted to the high office assigned to it. To those who study the New Testament in the original, the peculiarities of its language offer a wide and interesting field of inquiry. But for the common reader the above hints will be sufficient.




1. The writings of the New Testament fall into three main divisions; the historical, the epistolary, and the prophetical, the latter including only the Apocalypse. This distinction is not to be understood in an absolute sense; since, as every reader knows, there are prophetical passages in the historical books, and both historical and prophetical in the epistles; but it gives with accuracy the general character of each division. In outward form the Apocalypse is epistolary, being addressed, with the apostolic greeting, to the seven churches of Asia, and containing messages to each. But its contents, after the first three chapters, are so wholly prophetical, that it is entitled to stand by itself in any general division.

2. The order of these main divisions is natural and appropriate. The gospel, as was remarked at the outset (Chap. 1, No. 1), is not a mere system of philosophy or ethics, but rests on a basis of historic facts. On these its whole system of doctrines and duties is built; so that to destroy the foundation would be to destroy the superstructure also. It is suitable, therefore, that the record of the facts should hold the first place. The apostolic epistles, which unfold the doctrines and duties involved in the gospel, and make a practical application of them to all the manifold relations of life, naturally follow the historic record. The mighty system of prophecies contained in the book of Revelation, which stretches over the whole future history of the church to the end of time, forms an appropriate close to the entire collection of writings.

3. Equally appropriate is the order of the two subdivisions of the historic part—first, the four Gospels, containing the history of our Lord's life; secondly, the Acts of the Apostles. In the general arrangement of the epistles, the thirteen which bear {372} the name of Paul stand first in order. The seven so-called catholic epistles occupy the last place. Intermediate between these two subdivisions stands the epistle to the Hebrews, which is anonymous, though generally ascribed to Paul. The epistles which bear the name of Paul fall into two groups—nine addressed to Christian churches, which occupy the first place; then four to particular persons. Of these last, the first three, being addressed to Timothy and Titus, the apostle's companions in travel and in the gospel ministry, are appropriately named from their contents the pastoral epistles. The letter to Philemon, a private member of the church in Colosse, naturally stands last of all.

We add from Bleek (Introduc. to New Test., secs. 18 and 254) the following additional notices:

The present order of the Gospels is very ancient. Only in some manuscripts of the Old Latin version, in one Greco-Latin manuscript (the so-called Codex Bezae or Cambridge Codex), and in the manuscript of the Gothic version, the two apostles Matthew and John stand first; then the two companions of apostles, Luke and Mark, or sometimes Mark and Luke. In the very ancient Curetonian-Syrian manuscript the order is Matthew, Mark, John, Luke.

The Acts of the Apostles stand in some manuscripts after the Pauline or after the catholic epistles.

In the oldest Greek manuscripts, and generally in the greatest number of Greek manuscripts which contain the whole New Testament, the catholic epistles stand before the Pauline; an arrangement which some modern editors, as Lachmann and Tischendorf, have followed. In many manuscripts, the oldest Greek included, the epistle to the Hebrews stands after 2 Thessalonians, immediately before the pastoral epistles. Luther placed together, at the end of his version, the epistles to the Hebrews, the epistles of James and Jude, and the Apocalypse. But this arrangement rested on no authority of manuscripts. It was only an expression of his private judgment respecting their canonical authority, which he placed below that of the other books of the New Testament.

4. We have seen (Chap. 13, No. 4) that in the arrangement of the books of the Old Testament, the order of time is followed only very partially. The same is true respecting the order of books in the New Testament, a fact which the biblical student ought always {373} to bear in mind. If we look to the several divisions and subdivisions of the New Testament writings, it is obvious that the arrangement is not chronological. It is generally admitted that the Gospel according to John was written after the death of Peter and Paul; consequently, after the Acts of the Apostles (which were written during the life of Paul, Chap. 5, No. 5), after all the Pauline epistles, and probably after all the Catholic epistles except those which are ascribed to John himself. The Acts of the Apostles, again, are of later date than several of Paul's epistles. Finally, neither the Pauline nor the catholic epistles are arranged in chronological order. See below, Chap. 30, No. 6. The intelligent student of the New Testament will avail himself of all the means at his command to ascertain the date, proximately at least, of each particular book; that he may thus connect it with the development of Christianity in the threefold line of doctrine, practice, and polity.

5. The present distinction of large letters (capitals) and small did not come into use before the ninth century. In conformity with ancient usage, the manuscripts executed before this period are written in large disconnected letters (the so-called uncial), without any marks of interpunction, or even division of words. This is called the continuous writing (scriptio continua), in which it is left to the reader's discretion to make the necessary division of words and sentences; as if the beginning of the Gospel according to John were written thus in Latin and English:

Latin. English.

Writers before our Saviour's time do indeed speak of signs of interpunction; but they seem to have been in use only in the grammatical schools, and with a limited application to certain doubtful passages in the ancient writers. That they were unknown in the older manuscripts of the New Testament is evident from the discussions that arose among the church fathers respecting the right division of certain passages, in which they never appeal to the authority of manuscripts, but argue solely from the nature of {374} the connection. The reader may see a collection of examples in Hug's Introduction to the New Testament, § 43, where are also some curious examples of the wrong division of words.

6. To obviate the inconvenience of this continuous mode of writing, there was introduced, about the middle of the fifth century, what is called the stichometrical mode (Greek stichos, a row or line, and metron, a measure). This consisted in arranging in a single line only so many words as could be read, consistently with the sense, at a single inspiration.

The invention of stichometry has been generally ascribed to Euthalius, a deacon in Alexandria, who, in the year 458, set forth a copy of Paul's epistles stichometrically arranged; but Tregelles is inclined to the opinion that he borrowed the system from an earlier writer, Pamphilus the martyr. However this may be, the original conception doubtless came from the stichometry of Hebrew poetry. Hug (§ 44) and Tregelles (Horne's Introduct., vol. 4, chap. 4) give an example in Greek from a fragment of the Pauline epistles. This example (Titus 2:2, 3), when literally translated into English according to the Greek order of words, reads as follows:


Though the design of stichometry was not interpunction according to the connection of thought, yet it seems to have led to this result. The expensiveness of this mode of writing, owing to the waste of parchment, naturally suggested the idea of separating the lines by a simple point, thus:



As these divisions were mainly rhythmical, and often broke the true connection of thought, men sought to introduce a more logical system of interpunction. Thus was laid the foundation of our present system; which, however, was not perfected till after the invention of the art of printing.

In the opinion of some, the use of the dot, at least to some extent, was earlier than stichometry. From the eighth or ninth century punctuation in manuscripts became more common and systematic. In cursive manuscripts—those that employ the running hand with large and small letters and the separation of the words, a style of writing that became the common one from the ninth century and onward—punctuation also prevails, though not according to any one established system. Tregelles, ubi sup. Various other particulars interesting to those who study the Greek text in the original, as those relating to the accents, the smooth and rough breathing, and the iota subscript, are here omitted.

7. We come next to consider the ancient divisions made in the contents of the sacred text. Chapters are very early mentioned, as by Tertullian and Dionysius of Alexandria. But it is uncertain whether any thing more is meant than parts or sections of given contents. The earliest formal division of the four gospels that has come down to us consists of the Ammonian sections (Greek kephalaia, heads or chapters), so named from Ammonius of Alexandria, who, about the middle of the third century, prepared a harmony of the four gospels—the Gospel by four, as Eusebius calls it. His plan was, to arrange in the order of Matthew the parallel passages side by side, interpolating those that were wanting in Matthew. To this end, he divided each of the gospels into sections the length of which was very various, being wholly determined by the parallelisms of the other gospels. Of these sections Matthew contained {376} 355; Mark, 234 (in Wordsworth's Greek Testament, 236 are given); Luke, 342; John, 231 (in Wordsworth's Greek Testament, 232). The infelicity of this arrangement was that, with the exception of the first gospel, the true order of the evangelists was broken up—"The train of sequence of the three was destroyed in respect to the orderly course of reading," as Eusebius says (Letter to Carpianus, given in Wordsworth's Greek Testament).

To remedy this evil, Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, in the following century connected with these Ammonian sections his ten canons. These are ten tables, arranged according to the order of Matthew, or where sections are wanting in Matthew, according to the order of the next evangelist that contains them, in such a way as to show at a glance what sections of the other evangelists answer to any given section of that gospel which stands first in order in each canon.

Numbering the four gospels in order—1, 2, 3, 4—the ten canons of Eusebius contain as follows:

I. Sections common to 1, 2, 3, 4.
II. 1, 2, 3.
III. 1, 3, 4.
IV. 1, 2, 4.
V. 1, 3.
VI. 1, 2.
VII. 1, 4.
VIII. 2, 3.
IX. 3, 4.
X. Sections peculiar to one.

A couple of examples will make this matter plain. Turning to what is now the beginning of the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, we find (the Greek numerals being exchanged for those in common use) the sign 131/II that is, the 131st Ammonian section of Matthew with the second canon of Eusebius. Turning to the table of the second canon, we find, corresponding to the 131st section of Matthew, the 36th of Mark and the 76th of Luke, which contain the parallel passages concerning the sower. Again, connected with Mark 1:23, is the sign, 14/VIII whence we learn, by reference to the eighth canon, that the fourteenth section of Mark answers to the 25th of Luke. By a repetition of the canons as often as necessary, so as to allow each gospel in turn to take the lead, Wordsworth has greatly facilitated the work of comparing parallel passages.

"The Codex Vaticanus B, contains a distribution into sections wholly peculiar. Of these, St. Matthew contains 170, St. Mark 61, etc. The length of these divisions is very unequal; the sense being the reason of the {377} breaks occurring when they do. In the gospels, at least, the sections are perhaps the best that were ever devised; and this system of capitulary division is probably the earliest of which we have the means of knowing any thing." Horne's Introduction, vol. 4, chap. 4, revised edition, 1860.

8. Different from the Ammonian-Eusebian sections, and later in their origin, are the divisions of the gospels called titles, because each of them received a title from one of the first or principal subjects mentioned in it. They are thought to have been connected with the public reading of the gospels. Of these, Matthew contains 68; Mark, 48; Luke, 83; John, 18. They are, therefore, larger than the Ammonian sections, and resemble more nearly our modern chapters.

These titles are called by the Latins briefs (breves), and the tables of their contents breviaries (breviaria). They did not come into common use before the fifth century, and are commonly annexed to manuscripts along with the Ammonian-Eusebian sections. But they are the only divisions known to some of the church fathers, as Euthymius and Theophylact.

9. The divisions of the other books of the New Testament are thought to be of later origin. Euthalius introduced into a copy, which he sent to Athanasius the younger, divisions called chapters. He has sometimes been considered the author of those in the Acts and catholic epistles; but he probably took them from an older source. Those in the Pauline epistles he expressly ascribed to "one of the wisest and most Christ-loving of our fathers." He also gave headings to the chapters, descriptive of their contents, but collected from previous sources. The Apocalypse was divided into twenty-four larger sections and seventy-two smaller—a work ascribed to Andreas of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. Tregelles, in Horne's Introduction, vol. 4, chap. 4.

10. Our present division of chapters was made in the thirteenth century, by Cardinal Hugo, from whom proceeded also that in the Old Testament. It was first introduced into the Latin copies, and afterwards into the Greek. Our present division of verses was made by Robert Stephens, in 1551. It {378} was preceded by some earlier divisions, as that of Pagninus, in which the verses were longer than those of Stephens.

Distinct from all the above divisions are the church-lessons, made very early, in imitation of the Jewish Haphtaroth, or sections from the prophets. Chap. 13, No. 6. The beginning of these seems to have been in special selections for the church festivals. But the usage was afterwards extended so as to include selections for all the Sabbaths and feast-days of the year. Hence from the fifth century and onward the whole New Testament was no longer publicly read, as in the primitive days of Christianity, according to the free judgment of those who conducted the church-services; but these selected sections (pericopae). Collections of these lessons were called by the general name of lectionaries (lectionaria). Those from the gospels or Acts and epistles received special names indicative of their contents. See Bleek, § 265; Horne's Introduction, vol. 4, chap. 4, end.

11. From the above brief survey, it is manifest that none of the external divisions of the sacred text rest on any divine authority. They are the work of uninspired men, and are to be treated accordingly. For convenience of reference, a division of the Scriptures into chapters and verses is indispensable; and we may well rest contented with that which now prevails, though it cannot claim perfection. But in the interpretation of the inspired word we must go behind human divisions, carefully inquiring after the true connection of thought, according to the acknowledged laws of interpretation. To give one example out of many, we must not infer that the last verse of the eleventh chapter of the book of Revelation belongs to the preceding and not the following context, because of its separation from the latter in the division of chapters; but we must determine its true connection independently of this division.

A very good arrangement is that of Paragraph Bibles, in which the distinctions of chapter and verse are thrown into the margin, the text being broken into longer or shorter sections according to the true course of thought. Yet this mode of division also is human, and cannot be infallible.

12. The titles of the several books of the New Testament did not proceed immediately from the authors themselves. In form {379} they present some diversity; for example: The Gospel according to Matthew; according to Matthew; the holy Gospel according to Matthew, etc., the shorter and simpler titles being, as a rule, the more ancient. For substance, however, the different forms are the same. They represent the ancient church tradition, and are of very high authority. The subscriptions, on the other hand, which stand at the end of the epistles of Paul, that to the Hebrews included—are confessedly the work of later copyists. They are of no authority, and are sometimes manifestly incorrect.




The history of the New Testament text naturally falls into two main divisions, that of the manuscript text, and that of the printed text. A few remarks will be added on the principles of textual criticism. See PLATES at the beginning of this book.

[Transcriber's Note: The Plates are at the end of this e-book.]


1. The preservation of the primitive text of the gospels from all essential corruptions, additions, and mutilations has already been shown at some length (Part 1, Chap. 3). The same line of argument applies substantially to the other books of the New Testament. Though the text of different books varies in respect to purity, there is no ground for supposing that if we had the autographs of the evangelists and other sacred writers, they would present to us a gospel differing in any essential particular from that which we now possess. We should see in them the same glorious Saviour, and the same holy system of doctrines and duties.

2. But it has not pleased God to interpose in a miraculous way for the purpose of keeping the primitive text in a state of immaculate purity. He has left it subject to those common influences which produce what are called various readings in all works that are perpetuated from age to age by transcription. Compared indeed with any other ancient writings, the text of the New Testament has immensely the advantage in regard to uncorruptness of preservation and means of verification. This arises from the early multiplication of copies, as well as from the high value attached by the primitive churches to their sacred books, and their consequent zeal for their uncorrupt preservation. But the same multiplication of copies which constitutes a sure guarantee against essential mutilations and {381} corruptions increases also the number of various readings. Suppose, for example, that of two books equal in size the second has been, from the first, copied a hundred-fold oftener than the first. It is plain that, while the means of ascertaining and verifying the true text of the second will abound, the number of variations among the different manuscripts will abound also. The greater the number of copies, the greater will be the number of various readings, but this will make the true text not more but less uncertain; for by diligent collation a text may be produced which, though not absolutely immaculate, is very near to the primitive autograph, and which can be certainly known to agree with it in every essential respect. God does not rain down upon men bread and raiment from heaven, as he could do with infinite ease; but he imposes upon them the necessity of gaining both by hard labor. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" is the stern law. God does not miraculously communicate to the missionary who goes to Syria or India or China a knowledge of the vernacular in his field of labor; but he must learn it by years of patient study. And when he begins the work of translating, God does not keep him in a supernatural way from all errors. He must find out and correct his errors by the diligent use of the means at his disposal. Just so it is the will of God that we should have a pure text of the New Testament—pure in a critical sense—not without hard labor, but by years of patient toil in the study and collation of the abundant materials which his good providence has preserved for us.

3. Various readings have arisen in the manuscripts of the New Testament, as elsewhere, from the mistakes, and sometimes from the unskilful corrections of the copyists and those subsequently employed to compare and correct the copies. They are commonly divided into the three classes of substitutions, insertions, and omissions.

Substitutions from similarity of sound would naturally arise among the vowels when, as was sometimes the case, the copyist wrote from dictation, being guided by the ear instead of the {382} eye. Most of these, however, are mere matters of orthography. It is only when they affect the sense that they come under the head of various readings. Synonymous words, or those of kindred meaning, are frequently put for one another, or the order of words is altered; sometimes a different word is made through inadvertence by the change of a single letter or a couple of letters; compound words are interchanged with simple; contracted words are confounded with each other; plainer or more grammatical readings are substituted for those that are difficult or less grammatical, etc. Especially are parallel passages in one writer altered, so as to be brought into conformity with the same in another.

Insertions are the most frequent mode of variation. The copyist fills out the text of his author from a parallel passage, inserts marginal notations in the text, repeats clauses through inadvertence, etc.

Of amplification from parallel passages many undoubted examples could be given. A single one must suffice. In Acts 9:5, the words, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks, have been added from Acts 26:14.

The most fruitful source of omissions is the similar termination of two adjacent words, lines, or sentences, causing the eye of the copyist to overlook the word, line, or sentence intervening between the two similar endings. The same error may be caused by the circumstance of two sentences beginning in the same way. It should be remembered that in the ancient manuscripts the text was written continuously in uncial—that is, capital—letters, without any division between the words, which made it more difficult for the copyist to follow the manuscript before him, and for both the copyist and collater to discover the errors made in transcription.

By far the greatest number of various readings had their origin in simple inadvertence. Some of them, however, are due to unskilful criticism; as when the copyist or the corrector sought to bring a passage in one writer into more exact agreement with the corresponding passage in another, to supply {383} supposed deficiencies or correct supposed errors in his copy, or to substitute smoother and more grammatical forms of expression. Wilful falsifications in the interest of a particular sect or party cannot with any show of justice be imputed to the men who have perpetuated to us the text of the New Testament.

4. The materials for textual criticism are much more abundant in the case of the New Testament than of the Old. A vast mass of manuscripts has been collected from different and distant regions, dating from the fourth century and onward. Of these, part are in the original Greek, part in ancient versions, or bilingual, that is, containing the original and a version of it side by side. In addition to these are the quotations of the early fathers, which are so abundant that a large part of the New Testament text might be collected from them alone. The question of the history of the text, as gathered from this rich mass of materials, is very interesting, but is foreign to the plan of the present work. To give even a history of the controversies respecting the proper classification of the manuscripts of the New Testament according to their characteristic readings would require a volume, and the question must be regarded as yet unsettled. There are, however, some general results, a few of the more important of which are here given from Tregelles (in Horne, vol. 4, chap: 8).

The variations in the form of the sacred text are not due to any general recensions or revisions by ecclesiastical authority, but arose gradually from the causes above considered (No. 3). These variations exhibit such gradations of text that it is impossible to draw definite lines of classification, without admitting so many exceptions as almost to destroy the application of such a system.

There is a general difference in characteristic readings between the more ancient manuscripts, versions, and citations, and the copies of general circulation in more recent times. This gives rise to the general line of demarcation between the more ancient and the more recent texts; each of these two classes, however, having, in turn, its own points of difference among the texts belonging to it.

The more ancient manuscripts, versions, and citations which we possess range themselves under what we know from their combined testimony {384} to be the more ancient text. Among the manuscripts and documents so allied there are such shades of difference and characteristic peculiarities, that the versions and manuscripts might be easily contemplated as ramifying into two subclasses.

The most ancient documents in general are sufficiently dissimilar to enable us to regard their testimony, when combined, as cumulative.

5. Respecting the materials for writing in ancient times—papyrus and parchment, afterwards paper made from linen or cotton; the form of manuscripts—the roll with papyrus, and the book-form with leaves when parchment was used; the use of palimpsests; the uncial and cursive styles of writing; and the means of determining the age of manuscripts, see in Chap. 3, No. 2. The existing manuscripts have been all numbered and catalogued. The custom since the time of Wetstein has been to mark the uncial manuscripts by capital letters, and the cursives by numbers or small letters. We append a brief notice of a few of the more celebrated manuscripts.

There are four very ancient and important manuscripts, all of which originally contained the entire Greek Bible of the Old and New Testament, and which belong to a time when the arrangements of Euthalius, especially his stichometrical mode of writing (Chap. 25, Nos. 6-9), had either not been introduced or not come into common use. These are the following:

(1.) The Codex Vaticanus, Vatican manuscript, marked by the letter B, and so called from the Vatican library at Rome to which it belongs. It is written continuously (without any division of words) on very fine vellum—one of the marks of high antiquity—in small but neat uncial letters, very much like those of the manuscript rolls of Herculaneum, and has three columns to the page, which is of the quarto size. Originally it had at the end of particular sections a small empty space of the breadth of a letter or half a letter, but no ornamental capitals, marks of punctuation, or accents, though some of these have been added by later hands. The divisions into sections made by the empty spaces above named are peculiar to this codex, not agreeing with those of any other system. Of these Matthew has 170; Mark, 62 (so says Cardinal Mai, but others say 72 or 61); Luke, 152; John, 80. Most of the books have also brief titles and subscriptions. The manuscript contained originally the whole Bible, the Apocrypha included, as also the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. The order of the books in the New Testament, if entire, would be the same as in the Alexandrine manuscript, the Catholic epistles preceding the Pauline, and the epistle to the Hebrews coming in between 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy. See {385} below. At present the Old Testament wants the greater part of Genesis and a part of the Psalms. In the New Testament the epistle to Philemon, the three pastoral epistles, the latter part of the epistle to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse are wanting. This manuscript is generally referred to the fourth century. Its authority is very high, but through the jealousy of its Roman conservators it has been of late years, for all practical purposes, inaccessible to biblical scholars. Cardinal Mai's edition of it in 1858, and the revision of this in 1859, are unreliable. Tischendorf has published an edition of the New Testament part of it. No. (3) PLATE II.

(2.) The Codex Sinaiticus, Sinai manuscript, designated by Tischendorf, its discoverer, by the Hebrew letter aleph ([Hebrew: A]). One of the most interesting events of the present century, in the department of biblical science, is the very unexpected discovery of a complete manuscript of the New Testament, belonging, as is generally agreed, to the fourth century; therefore as old, at least, as the Vatican manuscript, perhaps older, and of very high authority in biblical criticism. In a visit to Mount Sinai in 1844, Tischendorf had found at the convent of St. Catharine on Mount Sinai forty-three beautiful parchment leaves belonging to a manuscript of the Septuagint not before known to biblical scholars. In a subsequent visit to the same convent in February, 1859, it was his high privilege to find of the same manuscript all the Greek New Testament entire, part of the Old, the so-called epistle of Barnabas, and part of the writing called the Shepherd of Hermas, the whole contained in one hundred and thirty-two thousand columnar lines, written on three hundred and forty-six leaves. This precious manuscript Tischendorf managed to obtain for the emperor Alexander of Russia as the great patron of the Greek church, and it is now at St. Petersburg. It is written on parchment of a fine quality in large plain uncial letters, with four columns to a page. It contains, as is commonly the case with ancient manuscripts, revisions and so-called corrections by a later hand; but, as it proceeded from the pen of the original writer, it had neither ornamented capitals, accents, nor divisions of words or sentences. The style of writing is plain, and every thing about it bears the marks of high antiquity. The order of the books is as follows: (1) the gospels; (2) the epistles of Paul, that to the Hebrews included, which stands after 2 Thessalonians; (3) the Acts of the Apostles; (4) the Catholic epistles; (5) the Apocalypse. It has the Ammonian sections and Eusebian canons, but whether from the first or a subsequent hand is doubtful. A splendid edition of this Codex was published at St. Petersburg in 1862, which seeks to preserve with the greatest possible accuracy the form of writing, columns, corrections, etc. The Leipsic edition is adapted to popular use. See No. (1), PLATE I.

(3.) We will consider next in order the Codex Alexandrinus, Alexandrine manuscript, placed first in the list of uncial manuscripts, and accordingly {386} marked A. It is now in the British Museum, London. In the year 1628 it was sent as a present to Charles I., king of England, by Cyrillus Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, by whom it was brought from Alexandria in Egypt, where Cyrillus had formerly held the same office. Hence the name Alexandrine. Cyrillus himself, in a notice attached to it, says that tradition represented a noble Egyptian woman of the fourth century named Thecla as the writer of it (an Arabic subscription makes her to have been Thecla the martyr). These external notices are not so reliable as the internal marks, all of which show it to be of a great age. Some assign it to the fourth century, but it is more commonly assigned to the fifth, and Egypt is generally regarded as the place where it was written. It is on parchment in uncial letters, without divisions of words, accents, or breathings, and with only occasional marks of interpunction—a dot to indicate a division in the sense. The lines are arranged in two columns, and the sections begin with large letters, placed a little to the left of the column—outside the measure of the column. The order of the books is: (1) the gospels; (2) the Acts of the Apostles; (3) the Catholic epistles; (4) the epistles of Paul, with that to the Hebrews between 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy; (5) the Apocalypse. In the gospels, the Ammonian sections with the Eusebian canons are indicated, and at the top of the pages the larger sections or titles. In the Old Testament it is defective in part of the Psalms. In the New it wants all of Matthew as far as chap. 25:6; also from John 6:50 to 8:52; and from 2 Cor. 4:13 to 12:6. It has appended at the end the genuine letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, and a fragment of a second spurious letter. To these apocryphal additions we owe the preservation of the Apocalypse in an entire state. Until the discovery of the Sinai codex, the Alexandrine exhibited the text of the New Testament in far the most entire state of all the uncial manuscripts. See No. (2), PLATE I.

(4) The fourth manuscript of this group is the celebrated palimpsest called Codex Ephraemi, Ephraem manuscript, preserved in the Imperial library of Paris, and marked in the list of uncials with the letter C. Originally it contained the whole of the New Testament, and apparently the Old also, elegantly written on thin vellum, with a single column to a page. The writing is continuous, without accents or breathings, and the letters are rather larger than in the Alexandrian manuscript, the first letter of each section being of larger size than the rest, and standing, as in that manuscript, a little to the left of the column. The Ammonian sections stand in the margin, but without the Eusebian canons. The gospels were preceded by the list of titles, or larger sections, of which those of Luke and John alone are preserved. The titles and subscriptions are short and simple. The date of the manuscript is supposed to be the first half of the fifth century. It has undergone corrections at the hand of at least two persons, {387} possibly a third. These can be readily distinguished from the original writing. The critical authority of this codex is very high. Tregelles (in Horne, vol. 4, chap. 13) places it next to the Vatican manuscript.

A few words on its history. About the thirteenth century, being regarded as a worn-out and obsolete manuscript, the vellum on which it was written was taken for a new purpose, that of receiving the Greek works of Ephraem the Syrian saint, a celebrated theologian of the old Syrian church, who flourished in the fourth century. "For this purpose the leaves were taken promiscuously, without any regard to their proper original order, and sewed together at hap-hazard, sometimes top end down, and front side behind, just as if they had been mere blanks, the sermons of Ephraem being the only matter regarded in the book." Stowe, Hist. of the Books of the Bible, p. 75. In the latter part of the seventeenth century, Allix first observed the older writing under the works of Ephraem. It was very illegible, but a chemical preparation applied in 1834-5 revivified it to a certain extent. It has been diligently collated by eminent scholars, and in 1842 Tischendorf printed an edition of it page for page and line for line. Of the two hundred and nine leaves contained in this manuscript, one hundred and forty-five belong to the New Testament, containing not quite two-thirds of the sacred text. The order of the books is the same as in the Alexandrine codex. See No. (4), PLATE III.

Besides the abovenamed four manuscripts, a few others may be briefly noticed.

An interesting palimpsest of great critical value is the Codex Dublinensis rescriptus, Dublin palimpsest manuscript, in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, designated by the letter Z. It contains with other writings thirty-two leaves of the gospel by Matthew. They were edited, as far as legible, in 1801, by Dr. John Barrett, Fellow of Trinity College. In 1853 Dr. Tregelles made a new and thorough examination of the manuscript, and, by the aid of a chemical process, brought all that exists of the gospel text to a legible condition. This manuscript is assigned to the sixth century. Its letters are written in a singularly bold style, which unites the three qualities of ease, elegance, and symmetry.

A celebrated bilingual manuscript (in this case Graeco-Latin, containing the Greek and Latin texts) is the Codex Bezae, Beza's manuscript, called also Codex Cantabrigiensis, Cambridge manuscript, from the place of its deposit, which is the public library of the University of Cambridge, England. It is designated by the letter D, and contains the four gospels and Acts of the Apostles in Greek and Latin on opposite pages, stichometrically written. The account of Theodore Beza, its former possessor, was that he found it during the French civil wars in 1562, in the monastery of St. Irenæus, at Lyons. In 1581 he sent it as a present to the University {388} of Cambridge. The interest felt in this manuscript arises in great part from the very peculiar character of its readings. "The text of this codex," says Bleek (Introduc. to New Test., sec. 270), "presents much that is peculiar—many additions and alterations that have even an apocryphal character, but are yet not uninteresting. Its native country is the West, and more definitely the south of Gaul." See No. (5), PLATE IV.

Among the fragments of manuscripts of high antiquity is one called Codex purpureus, Purple manuscript. Four leaves of this are in the Cotton Library in the British Museum, six in the Vatican, two in the Imperial Library at Vienna. The manuscript to which they belonged was written in silver letters (the names of God and Christ in gold) on purple vellum. The writing is in two columns with large and round letters. It is referred to the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century.

Many other uncial manuscripts, or fragments of manuscripts, some of them of great critical value, might be described; but the above brief notices must suffice. Of those which contain ancient versions, a few of the more important will be noticed in the following chapter.

The cursive manuscripts of the Now Testament are numbered by hundreds. In general their authority is less than that of the more ancient uncials. But a cursive manuscript may give indirectly a very ancient text. There are some cursives which, from their characteristic readings, were manifestly executed from codices of high antiquity, and are for this reason very valuable. As such Tregelles specifies those numbered 1 and 33. For further notices of these, as also of the lectionaries, containing selections for church readings, the reader may consult the works devoted to biblical criticism.


6. The primary editions of the Greek New Testament, whence is derived what is called the received text (Textus receptus) are the following: (1) the Complutensian; (2) the Erasmian; (3) those of Robert Stephens; (4) those of Beza and Elzevir. Their authority in textual criticism depends wholly upon that of the manuscripts from which their text was formed. As no stream can rise higher than its fountains, so no printed text can obtain a just weight of influence above that of its manuscript sources. It becomes, then, a matter of interest to inquire what was the basis of these early printed editions.


(1.) The entire New Testament was printed for the first time in Greek in the fifth volume of the Complutensian Polyglott (so called from Complutum, that is Alcala in Spain, where it was printed under the patronage of Cardinal Ximenes). It bears the date of 1514, but was not published until 1522, when Erasmus had already printed three editions of his Greek Testament. Its editors professed to have formed their text from manuscripts sent to them from the papal library at Rome. What these manuscripts were cannot now be ascertained; but that they were very ancient and correct, as alleged by these editors, is contradicted by the character of the text, which agrees with the modern in opposition to the most ancient manuscripts.

(2.) At the request of Froben, a celebrated printer and publisher of Basle, Erasmus, who was then in England, where he had devoted some time to a revised Latin translation of the New Testament with annotations, went to Basle in 1515, and began the work of editing a Greek New Testament. "By the beginning of March, 1516," says Tregelles, "the whole volume, including the annotations as well as the Greek and Latin texts, was complete; in less, in fact, than six months from the time that the first sheet was begun." The design of this haste was to anticipate the publication of the Complutensian edition. The critical apparatus in Erasmus' possession was quite slender. It consisted of such manuscripts as he found at Basle, with the help of the revised Latin translation already prepared in England and Brabant. For the Apocalypse he had but one manuscript, and that defective at the end. In his four subsequent editions—1519, 1522, 1527, 1535—he made many corrections. In that of 1527 he availed himself of the Complutensian text. This edition, from which the fifth and last published during his life differs but slightly, is the basis of the common text now in use.

(3.) In 1546, 1549, 1550, appeared the three editions of Robert Stephens, the celebrated Parisian printer. In the first two of these the text is said to have been formed from the Complutensian and Erasmian. In the third edition, although he had the aid of thirteen Greek manuscripts, his text is almost identical with that of Erasmus' fifth edition.

(4.) In 1565, Theodore Beza published at Geneva his first edition of the Greek Testament with his own Latin version, and also the Vulgate with annotations. Three other editions followed in 1576, 1582, 1588-9. He had the use of the Codex Bezae above described, the Codex Claromontanus (an ancient Graeco-Latin manuscript of the Pauline epistles), the Syriac version then recently published by Tremellius, with a close Latin translation, and Stephens' collations. But he is said not to have made much use of these helps.

The first of the Elzevir editions, so celebrated for their typographical beauty, was issued in 1624, its text being mainly copied from that of Beza. This is the text that has acquired the name of Textus receptus, the Received Text, {390} as it was for more than a century the basis of almost all subsequent editions. The genealogy of this Textus receptus is thus succinctly given by Bishop Marsh: "The Textus receptus, therefore, or the text in common use, was copied, with a few exceptions, from the text of Beza. Beza himself closely followed Stephens; and Stephens (namely, in his third and chief edition) copied solely from the fifth edition of Erasmus, except in the Revelation, where he followed sometimes Erasmus, sometimes the Complutensian edition. The text, therefore, in daily use, resolves itself at last into the Complutensian and the Erasmian editions." Divinity Lectures, part I, p. 111.

7. It requires but a moderate acquaintance with the history of textual criticism to understand that the Elzevir text is not only not perfect, but is more imperfect than that which has been elaborated by the help of the abundant manuscripts, versions, and citations of the early fathers, of which modern criticism has availed itself. It is no reproach to the editors of the primary editions that, with their comparatively scanty materials, they could not accomplish as much as we can with the rich and varied means at our disposal. The essential integrity of the received text, we do indeed thankfully acknowledge and firmly maintain. Our fathers had presented to them in this text the same divine and glorious Saviour, the same way of salvation, the same holy system of doctrines and duties, as we now find in the most carefully revised modern text. Nevertheless, a true reverence for the inspired word must impel us to the diligent use of all the means at our command for setting forth a pure text, that is, a text conformed as nearly as possible to that of the original autographs. Viewed in this light the modern critical editions of the New Testament must possess a deep interest for all who are able to read it in the original tongue. But to discuss the merits of these would be foreign to the design of the present work.

Examples of the more important various readings occur in John 1:18; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:16. The passage 1 John 5:7, 8, in heaven—in earth, is generally rejected on the testimony of the manuscripts (see the full discussion in Horne, vol. 4, ch. 36). Among the passages which are regarded as more or less doubtful may be mentioned John 5:4; 8:3-11; {391} Acts 8:37. In regard to all these the biblical scholar must be referred to the critical commentaries. So also for the questions connected with the text of Mark 16:9-20, which are of a peculiar character.


8. The end proposed by textual criticism is to restore the sacred text as nearly as possible to its primitive purity (Chap. 7, No. 1). To this work the biblical scholar should come in a candid and reverential spirit, prepared to weigh carefully all the evidence which is accessible to him, and decide, not as an advocate, but as a judge, in the simple interest of truth. The three great sources of evidence for the original text of the New Testament are Greek manuscripts, versions, and the citations of the fathers. Of these, Greek manuscripts hold the first place. But all manuscripts are not of equal value. Other things being equal, the oldest manuscripts have the highest authority. "If the multiplication of copies of the New Testament had been uniform, it is evident that the number of later copies preserved from the accidents of time would have far exceeded that of the earlier, yet no one would have preferred the fuller testimony of the thirteenth to the scantier documents of the fourth century. Some changes are necessarily introduced in the most careful copying, and these are rapidly multiplied." Westcott in Smith's Bible Dict.; Art. New Test. Yet, as the same writer remarks, we may have evidence that a recent manuscript has been copied from one of great antiquity, and thus has preserved to us very ancient readings. Revisions and corrections by a later hand are to be carefully distinguished from the primitive writing. Yet these may be valuable, as testifying to the prevailing reading of the age to which they belong. The general class or family to which a given manuscript belongs is also to be taken into the account. In a word, so many elements of judgment are to be taken into account in determining the relative weight of authority that belongs to a given manuscript, that the right decision of the question requires large observation combined with much critical tact.


9. Ancient versions are of great value in textual criticism; for some of them, as the old Latin and Syriac, to which may be added the old Egyptian versions, are based on a text more ancient than that preserved to us in any manuscript. In textual criticism, the testimony of a version is valuable in proportion to its antiquity, its fidelity—not its elegance or even its correctness of interpretation, but its literal closeness—and the purity of its text. Versions are liable to all the corruptions of text incident to Greek manuscripts, and far more liable to interpolations by explanatory glosses. The difference of idiom, moreover, frequently prevents such a literal rendering as shall be a sure indication of the form belonging to the original text.

10. The citations of the church fathers, which are immensely numerous, constitute another source of testimony. But less authority belongs in general to these, because they are often made loosely from memory alone. Their testimony is chiefly valuable as corroborative. "Patristic citations alone have very little weight; such citations, even when in accordance with a version, have but little more; but when a citation is in accordance with some ancient MSS. and translations, it possesses great corroborative value. It is as confirming a reading known independently to exist, that citations are of the utmost importance. If alone, or nearly alone, they may be looked at as mere casual adaptations of the words of the New Testament." Tregelles in Horne, vol. 4, ch. 34.

11. The application of the above sources of criticism to the sacred text demands very extensive research and much sound judgment. "Canons of criticism," as they are called are valuable in their proper sphere; but, as Westcott remarks (ubi supra), "they are intended only to guide and not to dispense with the exercise of tact and scholarship. The student will judge for himself how far they are applicable in every particular case; and no exhibition of general principles can supersede the necessity of a careful examination of the characteristics of separate witnesses, and of groups of witnesses."


We bring this subject to a close by an enumeration of the last six of the thirteen rules laid down by Westcott.

8. "The agreement of ancient MSS., or of MSS. containing an ancient text, with all the ancient versions and citations marks a certain reading."

9. "The disagreement of the most ancient authorities often marks the existence of a corruption anterior to them."

10. "The argument from internal evidence is always precarious." This canon he illustrates by several examples: "If a reading is in accordance with the general style of the writer, it may be said on the one side that this fact is in its favor, and on the other that an acute copyist probably changed the exceptional expression for the more usual one," &c.

11. "The more difficult reading is preferable to the simpler." This canon rests on the obvious ground that a copyist would be more apt to substitute an easy reading for a difficult than the reverse.

12. "The shorter reading is generally preferable to the longer." Because of all corruptions of the text, additions from parallel passages, or to meet its supposed wants, are the most common.

13. "That reading is preferable which explains the origin of the others."




1. Respecting the canon of the New Testament there are two distinct but related fields of inquiry. The first has reference to the origin and gradual accumulation, of the materials which enter into the canon; the second, to the collection of these materials into a volume or series of volumes possessing coördinate authority with the books of the Old Testament, and constituting with them the sum of written revelation. The first of these questions has been already discussed in great measure. In Chs. 2-4, the genuineness, uncorrupt preservation, authenticity, and credibility of the four gospels were shown at some length; in Ch. 5 the same was done in respect to the Acts of the Apostles and the acknowledged epistles; in Ch. 6 was considered the position of the disputed books in respect to the canon; and in Ch. 7 the inspiration of the canon was demonstrated. Connected with these inquiries were some general notices respecting the date of the several books of the New Testament; but the fuller consideration of this latter question is reserved for the second division of the present Part—that of Particular Introduction. It will be sufficient to state here in a general way that, if we leave out of account the writings of the Apostle John, the remaining books of the New Testament were written somewhere between A.D. 45-70 (according to the commonly received opinion, between A.D. 50-70); while the most probable date of John's writings is A.D. 70-100. The composition of the books of the New Testament, then, spreads itself over a period of about half a century.

2. Turning our attention, now, to the second question, that of the collection and arrangement of these writings in a volume or series of volumes coördinate in authority with the books of {395} the Old Testament, we have a succession of periods, not sharply separated from each other, but each of them possessing, nevertheless, its prominent characteristics in relation to the canonical writings.

3. First in order is the apostolic age, extending to about A.D. 100, especially the first half of it when many of the apostles still survived. This is the period of the composition of the books of the New Testament, but we have no certain evidence that they were then collected into a whole. The writings of apostles and apostolic men had of course the same authority as their spoken word: that is, an authority that was supreme and decisive, according to the principle laid down by the Saviour: "He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me." Matt. 10:40. But so long as the churches had the presence of the apostles they could not feel, as we do now, the need of an authoritative written rule of faith and practice; nor is there any proof that the apostles themselves understood in the beginning of the gospel God's purpose to add, through them, a second part to the canon of revelation that had been for so many centuries closed. A considerable number of years elapsed after the ascension before it was thought necessary to give to the churches under apostolic sanction a written account of our Lord's life and teachings. The Acts of the Apostles were not composed till about A.D. 61-63. The apostolic epistles were for the most part written on special occasions and to meet special exigencies, the greater number of them not till between A.D. 50-70, those of John still later. The Christians of this age drew their knowledge of the gospel mainly from the same sources to which Luke refers in the preface to his gospel; from oral tradition, namely, received directly or indirectly from them "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word."

4. After the death of the apostles came what may be called the age of the apostolic fathers; men who, like Ignatius, Polycarp, and others whose names have not come down to us, had been the disciples of the apostles. Ignatius suffered martyrdom at {396} Rome, A.D. 107 or 116. Polycarp survived beyond the middle of the second century. The literary remains of this period are very scanty, the genuine writings of the apostolic fathers being confined to a few epistles—one of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, seven of Ignatius, one of Polycarp to the Philippians, to which we may add the so-called epistle of Barnabas; since whoever was the author, it does not date from later than the early part of the second century. From these writings we gather in general that the gospels and apostolic epistles were in current use in the churches, but nothing definite in regard to the collection of these writings into a whole.

"With the exception of the epistles of Jude, 2 Peter and 2, 3 John, with which no coincidences occur, and 1, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Titus, and Philemon, with which the coincidences are very questionable, all the other epistles were clearly known, and used by them; but still they are not quoted with the formulas which preface citations from the Old Testament (The Scripture saith, It is written, &c.), nor is the famous phrase of Ignatius (To the Philadelphians 5: Betaking myself to the gospel, as to the flesh of Christ, and to the apostles, as the eldership of the church) sufficient to prove the existence of a collection of apostolic records as distinct from the sum of apostolic teaching. The coincidences with the gospels on the other hand are numerous and interesting, but such as cannot be referred to the exclusive use of our present written gospels." Westcott, in Smith's Bible Dict.; Art. Canon. The reason of this, as the writer goes on to show, was that "the details of the life of Christ were still too fresh to be sought for only in written records." There is, however, one remarkable passage in the epistle of Barnabas, the Greek text of which has been recently discovered appended to the Sinaitic manuscript, in which he says (ch. 4): "Let us take care that we be not found as it is written, many are called, but few are chosen." This formula, "as it is written," distinguishes the gospel from which it is quoted as a part of the inspired word; for it is the customary formula employed by Christ and his apostles in accordance with the usage of their age, when they appeal to the Old Testament as of divine authority; and is never applied to writings of mere human authority.

5. Next in order comes what may be called the period of transition between the age of the apostolic and that of the early church fathers. The most distinguished writer of this period is Justin Martyr. It is now generally conceded that the "Memoirs" of which he so often speaks were our canonical gospels. {397} Chap. 2, No. 7. Besides the abundant use of these he mentions the Apocalypse by name, and ascribes it expressly to the apostle John—"a certain man among us named John, one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied, in the revelation given him, that those who have believed in our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem," etc. Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 81. He has also some apparent allusions to the Pauline epistles, but how far he possessed and used a collection of the New Testament writings, we have no means of judging. Towards the middle of the second century, however, events occurred which had a powerful influence, not indeed, for establishing the authority of the apostolic writings (since that existed from the beginning), but for bringing home to the consciousness of the churches their supreme importance as an authoritative rule of faith and practice, and also the necessity of carefully defining their extent as well as their true interpretation. Heretical teachers arose who sowed in the Christian church the seeds of gnosticism. Of these some, as Marcion, rejected on dogmatical grounds a portion of the apostolic writings, and mutilated those which they retained; others, as Valentinus, sought by fanciful principles of interpretation to explain away their true meaning. Chap. 2, No. 12. The reaction upon the churches was immediate and effectual. They set themselves at once to define and defend the true apostolic writings as well against Marcion's false and mutilated canon, if canon it may be called, as against the false interpretations of Valentinus, Heracleon and others. The occasion had now come for the recognition of a New Testament canon coördinate in authority with that of the Old Testament, and from this time onward we find the idea of such a canon clearly developed in the writings of the church fathers. What aided essentially in this work was the execution, about this time, of versions of the New Testament books, such as the Old Latin and Syriac; for the authors of these versions must of necessity have brought together the writings, which, in their judgment, proceeded from the apostles and their companions.

6. We find, accordingly, when the age of the early church fathers {398} opens, about A.D. 170, a clearly recognized canon—sometimes described in two parts, the gospels and the apostles—which is placed on a level with that of the Old Testament as the inspired word of God, and cited in common with it as the Scriptures, the divine Scriptures, the Scriptures of the Lord, etc. Both canons are mentioned together as The entire Scriptures both prophetical and evangelical; The prophets, the gospel, and the blessed apostles; the law and the prophets, with the evangelical and apostolical writings; the Old and the New Testament; the entire instrument of each Testament, etc. Irenæus, against heresies, 2. 46; 5. 20; Letter to Florinus in Eusebius' Hist. Eccl., 5. 20: Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 7, p. 757; Tertullian, against heretics, chap. 30. 36: against Marcion, 4. 6, etc. The canon was not, however, completed in its present form; for the right of certain books—the so-called antilegomena, chap. 6. 6.—to a place in it remained for a considerable time an open question, which, in its application to particular books was answered differently in the East and the West. See chap. 6. On the other hand, certain writings of the apostolic fathers (as the so-called epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians), being read in certain of the early churches, found their way into some codices of the New Testament. Chap. 6, No. 4.

To the latter part of the second century belong two important canons, that of the Syriac Peshito, and the Muratorian canon. The former of these represents the judgment of the Eastern churches; the latter apparently that of the Western.

The canon of the Peshito has, of the seven disputed books, Hebrews and James. It wants the other five, namely, 2 Peter, 2, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.

The Muratorian canon is in such an imperfect state that its testimony on some points is doubtful. It contains Jude and Revelation; perhaps also 2, 3 John. It wants Hebrews, and 2 Peter, and it adds the apocryphal book called the Apocalypse of Peter.

Origen in the third century (as quoted by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., 6. 25) and Eusebius in the fourth, Hist. Eccl., 3. 25, give each a review of the New Testament canon with a statement of the differing judgments as to the disputed books. The details will come up hereafter in connection with the books in question.


The Synodical Council of Loadicea, which was probably held between A.D. 343-381, gives in its 60th canon (the genuineness of which, however, has been called in question by some) a list of the books of the Old and New Testaments. That of the New Testament wants the Apocalypse.

The third Council of Carthage, held A.D. 397, contains all the books of our present canon. So also the Latin fathers, as Jerome, Rufinus, etc. But the Syrian churches still adhered to the canon of the Peshito.

7. The history of Christian opinion in regard to the canon of the New Testament, of which a very brief outline has been given, has all the marks of naturalness and truthfulness. The Biblical student should carefully remember the two following important considerations:

(1.) The books of the New Testament were not received as a whole, but separately upon the evidence that each gave of its apostolic origin. Doubts in respect to certain books throw no shadow of suspicion upon the rest, the genuineness and authenticity of which were acknowledged by all from the beginning. The question, therefore, is not concerning the truth of revelation, but simply concerning the claims of certain books to be a part of the record of revelation. However it may be decided in particular cases, the apostolic authority of the universally acknowledged books, which constitute the main body of the New Testament, remains perfectly sure.

(2.) The early diversities of judgment in respect to certain books furnish satisfactory evidence of the freedom of thought and discussion among the primitive Christians, and of the sincerity and earnestness of their investigations. It was precisely because they would not accept any book without full evidence of its apostolic authority, that these diversities of judgment prevailed.




In the present chapter those versions of the Old Testament also that were made in connection with versions of the New, and in the interest of Christianity, will be briefly considered.


1. A peculiar interest attaches to the early Latin versions. The "Old Latin" translation of the New Testament, in connection with which one of the Old Testament was executed from the Septuagint, is perhaps the earliest that exists in any language. The Old Syriac alone can rival it in antiquity, and if either may claim the precedence, it is probably the Latin. This version, and afterwards the revision of it by Jerome, was the grand medium through which the Holy Scriptures were known to the Western or Latin churches for more than twelve centuries. It has exercised no small influence on the popular modern versions of Christendom, and it is the great storehouse of theological terms for both Catholic and Protestant Christianity.

The English version of Wiclif (1324-1384) is a literal translation of the current text of the Latin Vulgate. The Psalter of the English Prayer Book is taken from Cranmer's Bible called the "Great English Bible:" and the version of the Psalms follows the Gallican Psalter, the second of the revisions made by Jerome from the Old Latin. See below, No. 4.

2. How early the ante-Hieronymian Latin version (that current before the days of Hieronymus, that is, Jerome), was executed is unknown; but the writings of Tertullian furnish satisfactory proof that it was in popular use in North Africa (the place where it was made) in the last quarter of the second century. According to the testimony of the ancient church {401} fathers, its text existed in a great variety of forms, and the same variety has come down to us in the old manuscripts that contain it. Some, indeed, have maintained that several independent versions existed. But the sum of the evidence from both the early fathers and the manuscripts goes to show that there was never more than one that could be called independent. The copies of this were subjected to multiplied emendations or revisions from the Greek original, till the text had fallen in the days of Augustine and Jerome into a state of great confusion.

The language of Augustine is very strong: "The translators of the Scriptures from the Hebrew tongue into the Greek can be numbered, but the Latin interpreters can by no means be numbered. For whenever, in the first ages of Christianity, any one had gained possession of a Greek manuscript, and imagined himself to possess some little skill in the two languages, he ventured to become an interpreter." De Doct. Christ. 2. 16. According to the received opinion the so-called Itala (Italian) was not an independent version, but one of these revisions, apparently made in Italy, and as some think, under ecclesiastical auspices. This, Augustine recommends as more faithful and perspicuous than the rest.

3. The canon of the Old Latin version seems to have wanted, in the New Testament, Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter. In the Old Testament it followed the Septuagint. It contained, therefore, the apocryphal books of that version, to which was also added the second of Esdras. Appendix to Pt. 2, No. 6. The text of this version is known to us from two sources, quotations and manuscripts. For our knowledge of the Old Testament we are dependent mainly on the quotations of the early Latin fathers, since only a few fragments remain in the shape of manuscripts. The same is true of some parts of the New Testament, particularly the Apocalypse. But of the gospels as well as other parts of the New Testament, we have some very ancient manuscripts which are of high value in textual criticism. The agreement of this version in many characteristic readings with the oldest known Greek manuscripts has already been noticed. Chap. 3, No. 3. Such agreement is the strongest possible testimony {402} for the genuineness of the readings in question. Chap. 26, No. 2.

The Codex Vercellensis, belonging to the fourth century, and said to have been written by Eusebius, bishop of Vercellae (now Vercelli) in Northern Italy where the manuscript is preserved, is one of the oldest manuscripts of the sacred text in existence. The Codex Veronensis at Verona, the Graeco-Latin Codex Claromontanus in the Imperial Library at Paris, the Codex Vindobonensis at Vienna, the Codex Bobbiensis at Turin, and others that might be named, are also very ancient. Among the codices that contain what is called the Italic version, is the Brixianus of the sixth century.

4. About A.D. 388, Jerome at the solicitation of Damasus, bishop of Rome, undertook the arduous task of revising the Old Latin version by a comparison with the original Greek text. In this work he proceeded very cautiously, being well aware of the prejudices which he must encounter on the part of multitudes who could not discriminate between the authority of the original Greek text and that of the Latin version made from it. He began with the four gospels. According to his own testimony, he selected ancient Greek manuscripts, but such as did not differ much from the Latin usage; and in the use of these he so restrained his pen that, when he had corrected those things only which seemed to change the sense, he suffered the rest to remain as they were. (Preface to the four gospels addressed to Damasus.) His work of revision was afterwards extended to the remaining books of the New Testament; a revision which Tregelles describes as "less complete and uniform than that of the gospels, and in which many parts seem to have received hardly any alterations from his hand." In Horne, vol. 4, ch. 23. About the same time he turned his attention to the Latin version of the Old Testament, which had been made, not from the original Hebrew, but from the Greek Septuagint. Of this he first revised the Psalter, but not very thoroughly; in his own words, "cursorily for the most part." This first revision is known by the name of the Roman Psalter. A later and more thorough revision, executed by Jerome at Bethlehem between A.D. 384-391, is called the Gallican Psalter. {403} There is good reason to believe that Jerome's revision extended to all the remaining books of the Old Testament, though we have positive evidence in respect to only a part of them—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Chronicles.

Gregory of Tours is said to have introduced Jerome's second revision of the Psalter into the public service in France; whence its name Gallican. The Roman Psalter was retained in Italy till the time of Pius V., who introduced the Gallican generally. But three churches, one of them that of the Vatican, continued to use the Roman Psalter. Westcott in Smith's Bible Dict.; Art. Vulgate.

5. Jerome was soon convinced of the necessity of undertaking a new translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. To this arduous task he addressed himself with great earnestness, availing himself of the help of Jewish scholars to complete his knowledge of the Hebrew. The whole work occupied his time, with periods of intermission, from A.D. 385 to A.D. 405. See in Horne, vol. 2, p. 89. He did not venture, however, to make a new version from the Hebrew of the book of Psalms, the constant use of which in the church service was a barrier to the substitution of a new translation. He accordingly retained his second revision from the Septuagint, which is called the Gallican Psalter. Of the Apocryphal books he translated only two, Judith and Tobit. The remaining Apocryphal writings were retained in their old form. The Latin bible thus in part revised and in part translated by Jerome (most of the Apocryphal writings being left unrevised) is called the Vulgate, that is common or current version, although this term belonged, before the days of Jerome, to the Old Latin itself. Its diversified character is thus briefly indicated by Westcott.—"(1.) Unrevised Old Latin: Wisdom, Eccl., 1, 2 Macc., Baruch. (2.) Old Latin revised, from the LXX.: Psalter. (3.) Jerome's free translation from the original text: Judith, Tobit. (4.) Jerome's translation from the original: Old Testament except Psalter. (5.) Old Latin revised from Greek MSS.: Gospels. (6.) Old Latin cursorily revised: the remainder of New Testament." In Smith's Bible Dict.; Art. Vulgate.


It is not necessary to follow the history of the text of the Vulgate since Jerome's day. Suffice it to say that the simultaneous use of the Old Latin and Vulgate led to a corruption of both texts, which has not yet been thoroughly removed. The present standard text is that called the Clementine, from Pope Clement VIII., under whose auspices the Vulgate was edited in 1592. This is better than the preceding Sixtine edition, A.D. 1590, but not by any means the pure text of Jerome, as it might be recovered, proximately at least, by a careful collation of ancient manuscripts and quotations.

The oldest and best manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Old and New Testaments, is the Codex Amiatinus in the Laurentian Library at Florence. It belongs to the sixth century, and exhibits the text of Jerome in a very pure form, carrying us back to about 120 years from Jerome's death. The Codex Fuldensis is said to belong to the same century. There are other good manuscripts more or less complete of the eighth and ninth centuries.

Many other Latin versions have appeared in modern times, sometimes in connection with the original text, and sometimes separately, which it is not necessary to notice in detail.


6. The ancient Syriac version called the Peshito belongs, in the judgment of biblical scholars, to the second century. It comprises the Old Testament as well as the New. The version of the Old Testament was made from the original Hebrew, and thus has the honor of being the oldest translation of the Hebrew Scriptures for Christian use, the Old Latin version having been made from the Septuagint. The version of the New Testament was made in connection with that of the Old, so that both together constitute one work.

Syrian tradition makes extravagant claims in respect to the antiquity of the Peshito, telling us that it was executed by men sent to Palestine by the apostle Thaddeus (whom tradition connects with the founding of the church at Edessa), and by Abgarus, King of Edessa, a contemporary of the Saviour. The Old Testament was sometimes referred to a still earlier age—that of Solomon and Hiram, or that of the captivity of the ten tribes. Without giving credence to such traditions, we may well believe that it belongs to the earliest period of the Syrian churches, and cannot be placed later than the last part of the second century. Of the term Peshito, that is, simple, there are different explanations. The most usual is that it denotes a simple and literal version, free from glosses and allegorical interpretations. Tregelles suggests that it was called simple in contrast with the translation made by Paul of Tela from the Hexaplar text of Origen {405} (see below, No. 8), which was replete with asterisks and obeli to mark Origen's revisions, and had also marginal references. It is agreed that the Old Testament was translated from the original Hebrew and Chaldee, though the translators seem to have had before them the Greek version of the Seventy, and to have consulted it in the progress of their work.

7. The Peshito is a free, and at the same time, a faithful version of Scripture, holding the first place among the ancient versions for its general excellence, while it ranks with the Old Latin in antiquity. Its authority in both textual criticism and interpretation is deservedly high. As it regards textual criticism, however, its value is diminished by the fact that its text has not come down to us in a pure state. It has suffered in the same way as the text of the Old Latin, though not to the same extent.

Among the manuscripts brought from the Nitrian monasteries, and deposited in the British Museum, is one of great antiquity, containing large portions of the four gospels in Syriac. Dr. Cureton published in 1858 the text of this manuscript as "Remains of a very ancient Syriac recension of the four gospels in Syriac, hitherto unknown in Europe," with an English translation and preface. Its appearance was hailed with lively interest and has excited warm discussions. The manuscript itself is assigned to the fifth century, but it presents a text which, in the judgment of competent scholars, is older than the current text of the Peshito. Whether it is an older form of the Peshito version, or another and earlier version of the gospels, is a question that has been differently answered. It is maintained, on the one hand, that the Peshito is a revision of the Curetonian text, "replete with readings unknown in the second century" (Tregelles in Smith's Bible Dict.); on the other, that it is "an older version than the Peshito; which the author or authors of the latter consulted throughout." Davidson in Alexander's Kitto. Its great value for critical purposes must be acknowledged by all.

In many characteristic readings it agrees with the oldest manuscripts and quotations. It has also some erroneous readings known to be of great antiquity. In a word, the high antiquity of its text cannot be reasonably questioned. Drs. Cureton and Tregelles think that the gospel of Matthew {406} may be a translation from the apostle's Hebrew copy. But this is denied by Davidson and others.

8. The Philoxenian Syriac version was executed A.D. 508, under the auspices of Philoxenus, or Xenaias, bishop of Hierapolis or Mabug in Syria. Philoxenus belonged to the sect of the Monophysites, and it is generally thought that the version was made in the interest of that sect. The translator's name was Polycarp, one of Philoxenus' rural bishops. With the exception, perhaps, of certain books (see below), the text of this version has not come down to us in its original form. We have only a revision of it made A.D. 616 by Thomas of Harkel in a monastery of Alexandria, whence this version is also called the Harclean Syriac. The characteristic of this version is its extremely literal character. It is the translator's aim to represent every Greek word, even the article, by a corresponding Syriac word, even where the idiom of the language must thereby be violated. Hence its style is of necessity barbarous. But this very character of literalness gives to the Philoxenian version high authority in respect to textual criticism. So far as it has come down to us in its primitive form, it is, in truth, equal to the Greek text of its own time.

About the time that Thomas of Harkel revised the Philoxenian version of the New Testament, Paul of Tela, another Monophysite, executed what is called the Hexaplar Syriac version of the Old Testament, because it was made from the text of Origen's Hexaplar. Chap. 16, No. 12. It coincides with the Philoxenian version of the New Testament in respect to its character as well as the time of its appearance, being made on the principle of following the Greek text word for word as exactly as possible. Thus the Hexaplar version of the Old, and the Philoxenian version of the New, constitute together a whole of like character throughout.

After the example of Origen, Paul introduced into his version asterisks and obeli; the asterisk (*) to indicate insertions made in the text on the authority of manuscripts and other versions; the obelus (÷), to mark passages of doubtful character. Thus it supplies, as far as a version can, the Hexaplar of Origen, of which only a few fragments remain.


The Philoxenian version of the New Testament, as revised by Thomas of Harkel, contains also the same asterisks and obeli. Critical marks and marginal readings also appear in most of the manuscripts. This critical apparatus is generally thought to have proceeded from Thomas himself, in imitation of the Hexaplar Syriac of the Old Testament; but whether to indicate comparison with the Peshito, or with the Greek manuscripts employed by Thomas is not certain.

There is a version of the Catholic epistles wanting in the Peshito—2 Pet., 2, 3 John, Jude—existing in two forms, one of which is thought to be the unrevised Philoxenian text. There is a codex at Rome containing the four gospels which has also been supposed to contain the same unrevised text.

The Jerusalem Syriac Lectionary, containing simply lessons from the four gospels, is a peculiar version known to us from a single manuscript in the Vatican Library which belongs to the eleventh century. The version itself is referred by some to the sixth century, by others to a later date. Its dialect is barbarous, being a mixture of Chaldee and Syriac, but its readings are said often to coincide with the oldest and best authorities.


9. Formerly but one version was known to exist in the language of the ancient Egyptians. This, which was made in the dialect of lower Egypt, was naturally called Coptic. When it was discovered that another version existed in the dialect of upper Egypt, the Arabic term Sahidic was applied to it. But since the word Coptic is generic, applying to both dialects alike, it has been proposed to call the former version Copto-Memphitic or simply Memphitic, from Memphis, the ancient capital of lower Egypt; and the latter Copto-Thebaic or Thebaic, from Thebes, the celebrated capital of ancient upper Egypt. When these versions were executed cannot be determined with certainty. But they existed in the fourth century, and probably in the latter part of the third century. Their high antiquity gives to them great value in textual criticism. The latter of them, however, exists only in a fragmentary form. Some fragments of a third version, differing from both the Memphitic and the Thebaic, have been discovered. To this, the epithet Bashmuric has been applied, from the Arabian name Bashmur, a district of lower Egypt in the Delta to the East. But Egyptian scholars doubt whether the term is well applied, as the version is said to have stronger affinity to the Thebaic than to the Memphitic version.


The Memphitic and Thebaic versions are said to have contained the whole Bible, that of the Old Testament being made from the Septuagint. The whole Memphitic New Testament has been several times published, but never in such a manner as to meet the wants of Biblical criticism. Of the Thebaic version only some fragments have been published.

10. An Ethiopic version of the whole Bible exists in the ancient dialect of Axum. That of the Old Testament was made from the Septuagint; that of the New is a close version of the original Greek. The age to which it belongs is not known. Many of the readings of its text are said to show an affinity with the older class of Greek manuscripts, while others are of a later character. This leads to the suspicion that the version has undergone revision by the aid of later Greek manuscripts. An edition of the whole Bible is in process of publication in Germany.


11. The first information which European scholars had of the existence of a Gothic version of the New Testament was in the sixteenth century, when one Morillon copied from a Gothic manuscript in the library of the Monastery of Werden in Westphalia the Lord's Prayer and some other parts, which were afterwards published. When the Swedes, in 1648, took Prague, among the spoils sent to Stockholm was the celebrated Codex Argenteus, Silver manuscript, containing a copy of the Gothic gospels written on purple vellum in silver letters, except the beginnings of the sections which are in gold. When entire the manuscript is said to have contained 320 leaves, but when found it had but 188 in quarto size. In its present state it wants parts of all the gospels. The letters are deeply furrowed, and beautifully regular. It is thought that this manuscript was executed for the use of some Gothic king. After various changes of place, it was finally deposited in the library of the University of Upsal in Sweden, where it is now preserved enclosed in a silver case. The Gothic version, of which the Codex Argenteus is a transcript, was made in the fourth century by Ulphilas, second bishop of the Goths in Moesia (the so-called Moeso-Goths). {409} The manuscript itself belongs, it is thought, to the sixth century.

12. In 1762 a palimpsest was discovered by Knittel at Wolfenbüttel, a city of the duchy of Brunswick in Germany, containing, as the earlier writing, part of the epistle to the Romans in Gothic and Latin, the versions standing side by side. In 1817 the late Cardinal Mai discovered in the Ambrosian Library at Milan five palimpsests, from which, in connection with the Wolfenbüttel palimpsest, the Gothic text of the greater part of the Pauline epistles (that to the Hebrews not included) has been recovered, as also some fragments of the gospels, and of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. All that has been recovered of the Gothic version was edited in 1835-6 by Gabelentz and Loebe with a Latin translation, notes, and a Gothic dictionary and grammar. There are several later editions partly of the Codex Argenteus, and partly of all the Gothic remains of the Scriptures. Thus this interesting version, which represents the text of the New Testament in the fourth century as it was known to Ulphilas, is made available for the purposes of Biblical criticism.

13. There is an ancient Armenian version unaccompanied as yet by any Latin translation; and thus available for critical purposes only through the help of those who know the language. By means of such help Dr. Tregelles used it for his critical edition of the New Testament, and he speaks of its value "as a critical witness as to the general reading of certain Greek copies existing in the former half of the fifth century." In Smith's Bible Dict., Art. Armenian Version.

Other ancient versions, as the Arabic and Slavonic, we pass by; as their comparatively late date makes them of little importance for critical studies. The history of modern versions, among which is our own authorized version, presents a wide and interesting field of inquiry, but it does not come within the scope of the present work.





1. The New Testament, like the Old, is not an abstract system of doctrines and duties, but a record of facts involving doctrines and duties of the highest import. This record does not constitute an independent history, complete in itself, and to be explained in its own light. It is rather the necessary sequel to the record of the Old Testament. It interprets the Old Testament, and is itself interpreted by it. The two constitute together an organic whole, and can be truly understood only in their mutual connection. To discard the Old Testament whether formally or in practice, is to throw away the key which unlocks to us the treasures of the New; for the writers of the New Testament continually reason out of the Scriptures of the Old. If we cannot truly comprehend the Old Testament except when we view it as preparatory to the revelation contained in the New, so neither can we have a full understanding of the New except as the completion of the revelation begun in the Old. In a word, we understand revelation aright only in its unity.

2. The New Testament uses all the teachings of the Old, but it does not repeat them all. The unity, personality, and infinite perfections of God; his universal providence, and his supremacy as well over nations as individuals; the duties that men owe to God and each other, as embodied for substance in the ten commandments and expanded in the teachings of Moses and the prophets; the indissoluble connection, on the one hand, between righteousness and true prosperity, and on the other, between sin and ruin—all these great truths are so fully unfolded in the Old Testament that they need no formal repetition in the {411} New. The person and office of the Messiah—as that great prophet, like unto Moses, whom God should raise up for his people in the latter days; as that mighty king of David's line, who should sit on his throne and in his kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice forever; as that high priest after the order of Melchisedec whom God should establish forever with a solemn oath—had been prefigured in the institutions of Moses, in the Psalms, and in the writings of the prophets.

Some other important truths not so fully revealed in the Old Testament but deducible in a legitimate way either from its general scope or from some brief hints in its teachings, had become firmly established in the faith of the Jewish people during the long interval that elapsed between Malachi and Christ. Such particularly were the doctrines of the resurrection of the dead and of future rewards and punishments. These truths, also, as well as those more directly and fully taught in the Old Testament, were assumed by the Saviour and his apostles as a platform for the peculiar revelations of the gospel, the sum of which is Jesus Christ crucified for the salvation of the world. The four gospels, then, as containing the history of our Lord's appearance and works, lie at the foundation of the revelation contained in the New Testament. To these, then, our attention must first be given; after which the history of the apostolic labors, as given in the Acts of the Apostles, will naturally follow.


3. The word gospel (Anglo-Saxon, god, good, and spell, history or tidings) answers to the Greek word euangelion, good-tidings, whence comes the Latin evangelium, with the derived words in use among us, as evangelist, evangelical, etc. It properly signifies the good message itself, and it is only by a secondary usage that it is applied to the written histories of the Saviour's life, as being the embodiment of this message. The titles prefixed to these gospels from the beginning; "The Gospel according to {412} Matthew", "The Gospel according to Mark," etc., indicate that the written record is not itself the gospel, but rather an account of the gospel according to these different writers. Christ himself is the author of the gospel. It existed and was received by many thousands before a line of it was put upon record on the written page.

4. The genuineness, uncorrupt preservation, and authenticity of the four canonical gospels have already been shown at some length. Chaps. 2, 3, 4. In connection with the argument for their genuineness, their natural division into two parts—the first three, commonly called the synoptical gospels, and the gospel according to John; the remarkable agreements and differences of the three synoptical gospels among themselves; and the remarkable contrast which the fourth gospel presents to all three of the synoptical gospels, have also been considered simply as existing facts. Chap. 2, Nos. 14 and 15. But when we seek an explanation of these remarkable phenomena, we enter upon a very difficult problem, one on which the ingenuity of Biblical scholars has exhausted itself for several successive generations without reaching thus far a result that can be regarded as perfectly satisfactory. Almost all conceivable theories and combinations of theories have been proposed, some of which, however, are now generally abandoned as untenable, and need not be considered at large.

5. Looking at the three synoptical gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find a remarkable agreement not only in their general plan, but in many of their details also. With the exception of our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem and the history of his passion there, they are mainly occupied with his ministry in Galilee. The selection of incidents is also to a great extent the same. "The most remarkable differences lie in the presence of a long series of events connected with the Galilean ministry, which are peculiar to St. Matthew and St. Mark (Matt. 14:22-16:12; Mark 6:45-8:26), and a second series of events connected with the journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-18:14), which is peculiar to St. Luke." Westcott, Introduct. {413} to the Study of the Gospels, chap. 3. The coincidences of language, as well as incident, are also remarkable; and here the general law prevails that these coincidences are more common, as has been shown by Norton and others, in the recital of the words of others than in the narrative parts of the gospels, and most common when our Lord's own words are recited.

6. But with these remarkable agreements coexist equally remarkable differences. Each writer has his own peculiarities of style, which appear more distinctly in the original than they can in any version. It has been noticed also by Biblical scholars that these peculiarities are more marked in the narrative than in the recitative parts of the gospels in question. Each writer, moreover, brings in incidents peculiar to himself, not in the form of patchwork, but as parts of a self consistent whole. So far is he from exact outward conformity to either of the other gospels, in respect to arrangement and circumstantial details, that the diversity between him and them in these particulars, sometimes creates serious difficulties when we attempt to arrange the three different narratives in the form of a harmony.

7. No theory of the origin of these three gospels can be true which does not explain both their coincidences and their differences. Hence we may set aside at once the hypothesis of their mutual dependence on each other—that the later evangelists used the writings of the earlier. By the different advocates of this theory, each of the three synoptic gospels has been made in turn the primary record from which the others drew; but no one of them has been able, upon this hypothesis, to account for the omissions or insertions of the supposed later evangelists, much less for the remarkable fact already noticed, that the peculiarities of each writer appear more fully in the narrative than in the recitative part of his gospel. The later evangelists may, indeed, have been acquainted with the writings of the earlier and have consulted them, but this supposition alone does not explain their peculiar coincidences and differences.

Another hypothesis is that of an original document or documents, from which all three are supposed to have drawn. The {414} assumption of a single original written gospel, as the basis of our first three canonical gospels, is manifestly untenable. Had a primitive gospel existed of such compass and authority as to be the common source of our three synoptic gospels, it is inconceivable that the churches, which carefully preserved these three gospels, though two of them proceeded not from apostles themselves but only from their companions, should have allowed the original gospel so speedily and utterly to perish, that no traces of it remained in the days of Irenæus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. Besides, this hypothesis, as it was soon seen, does not explain the peculiar relation of these gospels to each other in respect to coincidences and differences. Hence various modifications were proposed—an original Aramaic gospel with various Greek translations, this original Aramaic gospel variously increased with new matter, etc. In a word, the form of these assumed original documents was hypothetically explained from the actual form of our three synoptic gospels; the very reverse of the true problem, which was to explain, from some reliable data, the form of the canonical gospels themselves.

The remaining hypothesis is that of oral tradition emanating from the apostles themselves, and maintained in its purity during their lives by their personal presence and teaching. That the gospel existed in this form alone for some years after the beginning of Christianity is admitted by all. The apostles were Christ's chosen witnesses of his life and teachings. From their lips proceeded the tradition which now constitutes our written gospels. The necessity of embodying this tradition in the form of permanent records was not felt at the beginning. But, as the churches were multiplied, oral tradition became liable to corruption in many ways through the multiplicity of the organs employed in its transmission. Then the need of written gospels began to manifest itself, and it was natural that the apostles should look to the supply of this need either by their own direct agency, or by that of men writing with their knowledge and approbation. How many years elapsed before the {415} appearance of the earliest of our canonical gospels, which is commonly supposed to have been that of Matthew, we have no means of ascertaining with accuracy. But we may reasonably suppose that the period was long enough to allow the apostolic tradition of our Lord's life and teachings to assume a somewhat definite shape in respect to both matter and outward form. First, in respect to matter. As their public instructions could not cover the whole of our Saviour's history (John 20:30; 21: 25), they naturally selected, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, those parts of it which embodied the spirit and meaning of the whole. Since, moreover, the apostles remained together at Jerusalem for some time after our Lord's ascension (Acts 8:1; 15:6), it is highly reasonable to suppose that in a matter of such moment they had a mutual understanding—an understanding which, while it interfered with the freedom of no one, secured a general agreement as to the points in our Lord's history and teachings which should be especially insisted on. Secondly in respect to outward form. While the apostles were preserved by the illumination of the Holy Spirit from any superstitious regard to the letter of our Lord's teachings, their reverence for him as a perfect teacher, whose words were truth unmixed with error, must have made them anxious to put the oral tradition of his sayings into as perfect a form as possible; whence the tradition of our Saviour's words would assume from the first a more fixed form than that of his life generally.

It is supposed by many that the writers of the first three gospels drew each from this common body of oral tradition such materials as suited his general plan; no one of them proposing to give the whole of our Lord's history, or even to observe a strict chronological order in the events recorded by him, any farther than such order was rendered necessary by their nature and essential connection. In the case of Matthew, who was one of the twelve apostles, it might be thought that he wrote simply from his own personal knowledge; but his gospel could not cover all the ground of our Lord's history as known to him, and we may well suppose that in the selection of his {416} materials he had regard—not a servile, but a free regard—to the common oral tradition of the apostles, which was, in fact, the embodiment of their united wisdom under the illumination of the Divine Spirit. Each evangelist, as well Mark and Luke who were not apostles, as Matthew who belonged to the number of the twelve, wrote independently of the other two. The later writers may, indeed, have been acquainted with the writings of the earlier, but a bare inspection of the three gospels shows that there was no labored effort on the part of one evangelist to adjust his work to those of the others. Hence arise apparent discrepancies, as in the two genealogies of our Lord, which it is sometimes hard to explain. But these very difficulties witness to the independent truthfulness of the writers. Had they written in concert, or borrowed systematically from each other, such difficulties would not have existed.

Although apostolic oral tradition is thus made the main source whence the writers of these gospels drew their materials, it is not necessary to affirm or deny their use, in a subordinate way, of written documents. That such documents existed in the time of Luke we know from his own words, chap. 1:1. He does not condemn them, but neither does he rely upon them. His gospel is not derived from them, but from his own accurate investigations; "It seemed good to me also, having accurately traced out all things from the beginning" (as the original Greek means), "to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus." Chap. 1:3. And if Luke, the companion of Paul, was not dependent for his materials on any previously existing writings, neither was Mark, the companion of both Peter and Paul, nor Matthew, who was himself an apostle. Nor can the incorporation of such writings into the synoptic gospels be shown with any degree of probability. If it cannot be claimed for this hypothesis of a primitive apostolic tradition, as the source whence the writers of the synoptic gospels drew their materials, that it explains all the phenomena of their mutual relation to each other, it is, nevertheless, more satisfactory than any other that has been proposed, and may be regarded as a near approximation to the actual facts in the case.


Between the traditions of which the apostle Paul speaks (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6; also, according to the original, 1 Cor. 11:2) received immediately from his mouth or pen, and the pretended traditions of later days, handed down from century to century through a succession of uninspired men, the difference is that between light and darkness, between truth and fiction. We have in the writings of the New Testament the genuine apostolic tradition, at first oral, but put into a written form during the lifetime of the apostles. These traditions are the "gold, silver, precious stones" of divine truth. All other traditions are the "wood, hay, stubble" of human origin. In settling the question respecting the genuineness of the New Testament writings, we proceed as in the case of any other writings. We avail ourselves of all the evidence within our reach, external and internal. We take the testimony of Irenæus and Tertullian, and also of Marcion and Valentinus; though none of them were inspired, and the two latter were heretical. But when we have once determined what books were written by apostles or apostolic men, these contain for us the only authoritative tradition, as defined by the apostle: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle." 2 Thess. 2:15.

8. In comparing the synoptic gospels with each other and with the fourth gospel, we must ever bear in mind that no one of them professes to give a complete history of our Lord's life, or to arrange all the incidents which he relates in the exact order of time. Under the guidance of the divine Spirit each one pursues his own course, independently of the others, here inserting what one or more of the rest have omitted, or omitting what one or more of them have inserted; and here, again, bringing in incidents without regard to their exact chronological order, with some general preface like the following: "at that time," Matt. 12:1; "and he began again," Mark 4:1; "and it came to pass as he was alone praying," Luke 9:18; "and it came to pass as they went in the way," Luke 9:57; etc. Thus the wisdom of God has given us, not all the particulars of our Lord's history, but such a selection from both the incidents of his public life and his public and private teachings as best embodies the great facts of the gospel, and the doctrines and duties connected with them. In the four canonical gospels the church has, not all of our Lord's history and teachings, but all that the Holy Ghost judged needful for her establishment and edification to the end of time.


Of our Lord's history before his baptism we have only his genealogy in a twofold form; some notices of his miraculous conception; an account of his birth and circumcision, with the visions and prophecies connected with them; a history of his preservation from Herod's attempt to destroy him; the subsequent residence of his parents in Nazareth, with a single incident of his childhood. Luke 2:40-52. All these particulars have, in one way or another, a bearing on his divine mission and work as the Son of God. The apocryphal gospels on the contrary, as, for example, the Gospel of the Infancy, and the Gospel of Nicodemus, abound in frivolous stories relating to our Lord's infancy and later life, which have no connection with the great work of redemption.

9. The peculiarities of the fourth gospel, as well as its relation to the three preceding gospels, will come up for consideration hereafter. At present we only remark that John wrote many years after the appearance of the synoptic gospels, and that, whatever reference he may have had to them, his gospel constitutes, in the plan of revelation, a true complement to the other three. For (1) if we except the narrative of our Lord's passion, it covers, for the most part, ground not occupied by them. They give mainly the history of the Saviour's ministry in Galilee (Luke also, at some length, that of his last journey to Jerusalem); the scene of much of John's gospel, on the contrary, is Jerusalem and its near vicinity. (2) John unfolds more fully the nature of our Lord's person, and his peculiar relation to the Father and to his church. This he does, more especially, in his prologue (chap. 1:1-18); in the record of the Saviour's discussions with the Jews (chaps. 3, 5-12); and in that of his discourses addressed in private to the circle of the apostles, chaps. 13-17. Thus John's gospel is emphatically that of Christ's person, as illustrated by his works and words; while the three earlier evangelists give rather the gospel of his public ministry, through which his divine person everywhere shines forth. This deeper view of our Lord's person and office which the gospel of John unfolds met the wants of the primitive church in a more advanced stage, when false teachers were already beginning to sow the seeds of those errors which, in the next generation, brought forth such a rank and poisonous {419} harvest. The same great characteristics adapt it to the wants of the church in all ages. Without the fourth gospel she could not be completely furnished to meet the assaults of error, which, from one generation to another, makes, with unerring instinct, its main assault upon the person and office of the Son of God.

But if the evangelical narrative would not be complete without the fourth gospel, neither would it be perfect for the use of the church with this alone. The record of our Lord's life and teachings as given in the first three gospels is preëminently adapted to popular instruction. It is precisely such a record as the preachers of the gospel need in their public ministrations. With it they can use the fourth gospel with effect; but without it they would want the natural preparation for and introduction to those deep and spiritual views of Christ's person and office which the bosom-disciple unfolds. It is not in the three synoptic gospels, nor in the gospel of John taken separately, that we find the complete evangelical armor, but in the perfect whole of the four.

10. Very numerous attempts have been made to construct harmonies of the four gospels. One plan is to form out of the whole, in what is supposed to be the true chronological order, a continuous narrative embracing all the matter of the four, but without repetitions of the same or similar words. Another plan is to exhibit in chronological order, the entire text of the four gospels arranged in parallel columns, so far as two or more of them cover the same ground. The idea is very imposing, but the realization of it is beset with formidable if not insurmountable difficulties. It is certain that the evangelists do not always follow the exact order of time, and it is sometimes impossible to decide between the different arrangements of events in their records. In the four narratives of the events connected with the resurrection all harmonists find themselves baffled. Had we a full account of all the particulars of that exciting scene, we might undoubtedly assign to the different parts of each narrative its true place in the order of time. {420} But with our present means of information this is impossible. Experience shows that the most profitable way of studying the evangelical narrative is to take each gospel as a whole, but with continual reference to the parallel parts of the other gospels, so far as they can be ascertained. In this work a good harmony, like that of Robinson, may render essential service, though its arrangements must in many cases be regarded only as tentative—essays at obtaining the true order, rather than the certain determination of it.

The relative number of chapters in the different gospels does not give their true relation in respect to size. The chapters are respectively 28, 16, 24, 21; which are to each other in the proportion of 7, 4, 6, 5 1/4. But estimating according to the number of pages (in an edition without breaks for the verses), it will be found that the gospel of Luke holds the first place, its size being to that of the other gospels nearly as 60 to 57, 35, 46. The relation of Matthew's gospel to that of Mark, in respect to the quantity of matter is then nearly that of 8 to 5.

In the notices of the separate gospels which follow it is not thought necessary to give an elaborate analysis of their contents. The aim will be rather to exhibit the prominent characteristics of each, and its special office in the economy of divine revelation.


11. The unanimous testimony of the ancient church is that the first gospel was written by the apostle Matthew, who is also called Levi. With his call to the apostleship he may have assumed the name of Matthew, as Saul took that of Paul. He was of Hebrew origin, the son of Alphaeus, and a tax-gatherer under the Roman government, Matt. 10:3; Mark 2:14; 3:18; Luke 5:27, 29; 6:15; Acts 1:13. He was evidently a man of some means (Luke 5:29), and his office must have required for its proper discharge a knowledge of the Greek as well as of his native Hebrew; that is, Aramaean, as the word Hebrew means in the New Testament, when applied to the vernacular of the Palestine Jews.

12. The question respecting the original language of Matthew's gospel has been, since the time of Erasmus, a matter of {421} controversy, in which eminent biblical scholars have been found on different sides. The problem is to find a solution which shall bring into harmony the following well-established facts: (1) that, according to the united testimony of the early church fathers, Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew; (2) that our present Greek gospel has all the freedom of an original work, that it has remarkable coincidences in language with the second and third gospels, and especially that the citations from the Old Testament which stand in our Lord's discourses follow as a rule the Greek version of the Seventy; (3) that all the early writers, those who testify to the Hebrew original of this gospel included, receive and use our present Greek gospel as the genuine and authoritative gospel of Matthew; (4) that the original Hebrew gospel, to the existence of which there is such abundant testimony, was allowed utterly to perish, while the Greek form of it alone was preserved and placed at the head of the canonical books of the New Testament.

13. The testimony from Papias, in the beginning of the second century, and onward to the fourth century, has often been quoted and discussed. It is not necessary to adduce it here at length. It may be found in Kirchhofer, in the critical commentaries and introductions, and also in the modern Bible dictionaries. The words of Papias, as preserved to us by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., 3. 39) are as follows: "Matthew therefore wrote the oracles in the Hebrew dialect, and every one interpreted them as he was able." If there were any ground for doubting what Papias meant by "the oracles," it would be removed by the testimony of the later writers, as Pantaenus and Origen (in Eusebius' Hist. Eccl., 5. 10; 6. 25), Irenæus (Against Heresies, 3. 1), Eusebius himself (Hist. Eccl., 3. 24), Epiphanius (Heresies, 29. 9; 30. 3), and others. They who maintain that Matthew wrote originally in Greek suppose that the early fathers confounded an apocryphal gospel, the so-called "gospel according to the Hebrews," with the true gospel of Matthew. Others think, perhaps with more reason, {422} that the gospel according to the Hebrews was a corrupted form, or, what amounts to nearly the same thing, a close imitation of the true Hebrew gospel of Matthew.

The Ebionites and Nazarenes used each apparently a different form of a Hebrew gospel which is sometimes called the gospel according to Matthew, but more properly "the gospel according to the Hebrews" (once by Jerome "the gospel according to the apostles"). According to Epiphanius that in use among the Ebionites was "not entire and full, but corrupted and abridged." Heresies, 30. 13. Jerome says: "Matthew, who is called Levi, having become from a publican an apostle, first composed in Judea, for the sake of those who had believed from among the circumcision, a gospel of Christ in Hebrew letters and words. Who was the person that afterwards translated it into Greek is not certainly known. Moreover, the Hebrew copy itself is at this day preserved in the library of Cæsarea which Pampilus the Martyr collected with much diligence. The Nazarenes, who live in Beroca, a city of Syria, and use this volume, gave me the opportunity of writing it out." De Vir. Illustr., 3. Here he certainly identifies this gospel, which, as he repeatedly informs us, he translated, with the true Hebrew gospel of Matthew. But he afterwards speaks of it more doubtfully, as "the gospel according to the Hebrews," and more fully as "the gospel according to the Hebrews, which is written indeed in the Chaldee and Syriac language, but in Hebrew letters, which the Nazarenes use to the present day, [being the gospel] according to the apostles, or, as most think, according to Matthew" (Against the Pelagians, 3); "the gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use, which we have lately translated from the Hebrew language into the Greek, and which is called by most the authentic gospel of Matthew." Comment. in Matt. 12:13. The most probable supposition is that Jerome, knowing that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew, hastily assumed at first that the copy which he obtained from the Nazarenes was this very gospel. The character of the quotations which he and Epiphanius give from it forbids the supposition that it was the true Hebrew gospel of Matthew. It may have been a corrupted form of it, or an imitation of it.

14. Of those who, in accordance with ancient testimony, believe that the original language of Matthew's gospel was Hebrew, some assume that the apostle himself afterwards gave a Greek version of it. In itself considered this hypothesis is not improbable. Matthew, writing primarily for his countrymen in Palestine, might naturally employ the language which was to them vernacular. But afterwards, when Christianity had {423} begun to spread through the Roman empire, and it became evident that the Greek language was the proper medium for believers at large; and when also, as is not improbable, some of the existing canonical books of the New Testament had appeared in that language, we might well suppose that, in view of these circumstances, the apostle himself put his gospel into the present Greek form. But it is certainly surprising that, in this case, no one of the ancient fathers should have had any knowledge of the matter. In view of their ignorance it seems to be the part of modesty as well as prudence that we also should say with Jerome: "Who was the person that afterwards translated it into Greek is not known with certainty." The universal and unhesitating reception of this gospel by the early Christians in its present Greek form can be explained only upon the supposition that it came to them with apostolic authority; that it received this form at the hand, if not of Matthew himself, yet of an apostle or an apostolic man, that is, a man standing to the apostles in the same relation as Mark and Luke.

This supposition will explain the freedom of Matthew's gospel and its coincidences in language with the gospels of Mark and Luke. An apostle or apostolic man would give a faithful, but not a servile version of the original. The oral tradition of our Lord's life and teachings from which the first three evangelists drew, as from a common fountain (see above, No. 7), must have existed in Palestine in a twofold form, Aramaean and Greek. The translator would naturally avail himself of the Greek phraseology, so far as the oral tradition coincided with that embodied in Matthew's gospel. Those who have carefully examined the subject affirm that the citations from the Old Testament adduced by Matthew himself in proof of our Lord's Messiahship are original renderings, with more or less literalness, from the Hebrew. The citations, on the contrary, embodied in the discourses of our Lord himself follow, as a rule, the Greek version of the Seventy; probably because the translator took these citations as they stood in the oral tradition of these discourses.

Meanwhile the original Hebrew form of the gospel, being superseded by the Greek in all the congregations of believers except those that used exclusively the vernacular language of {424} Palestine, gradually fell into disuse. The "gospel according to the Hebrews," noticed above, may have been a corrupted form of this gospel or an imitation of it. As Marcion chose the Greek gospel of Luke for the basis of his revision, so the Ebionites and Nazarenes would naturally use the Hebrew gospel of Matthew for their purposes.

15. The gospel of Matthew opens with the words: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." In accordance with this announcement, it traces back our Lord's lineage through David to Abraham, giving, after the manner of the Jews, an artificial arrangement of the generations from Abraham to Christ in three sets of fourteen each, chap. 1:17. To effect this, certain kings of David's line are omitted—between Joram and Ozias (the Uzziah of the Hebrews), Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah; between Josias and Jechonias, Eliakim—and David is reckoned twice; once as the last of a set of fourteen, then as the first of the following fourteen. The thoroughly Jewish form of this introduction indicates the primary design of Matthew's gospel, which was to exhibit to his countrymen Jesus of Nazareth as their long promised Messiah and king. To this he has constant reference in the facts which he relates, and which he connects with the prophecies of the Old Testament by such forms of quotation as the following: "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet," chaps. 1:22; 2:15, 23; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35; "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet," chaps. 4:11; 8:17; 12:17; "then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet," chap. 2:17; etc. His direct references to the Old Testament in proof of our Lord's Messiahship are more numerous than those of either of the other evangelists. Peculiar to him is the expression "the kingdom of heaven," to signify, in accordance with Rabbinic usage, the kingdom which the Messiah was to establish in accordance with the prophecies of the Old Testament; though he takes a spiritual view of its character, and not the earthly and political view of the Jewish {425} doctors. Another designation of the same idea, common to him with the other evangelists, is "the kingdom of God," which also was current among the Rabbins. This "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" is also the kingdom of the Messiah. Chaps. 13:41; 20:21.

16. But precisely because Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, his mission is not to the Jews only, but to all mankind, in accordance with the original promise to Abraham: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Gen. 22:18. While he records the fact that our Lord's personal ministry was restricted to the Jews (chaps. 10:5, 6; 15:24), he also shows from our Lord's own words that the unbelieving "children of the kingdom"—the Jews as the natural heirs to the Messiah's kingdom—shall be cast out, and the believing Gentiles received into it (chaps. 8:11, 12; 21:43); and he brings his gospel to a close with the great commission: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Chap. 28:19, 20.

17. A striking characteristic of this gospel is the fulness and orderly manner with which it records our Lord's discourses. Striking examples of this are the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7), his awful denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (chap. 23), and the majestic series of parables (chap. 25). Doubtless, Matthew had by nature a peculiar endowment for this work, which the Holy Spirit used to preserve for the church much of our Lord's teachings which would otherwise have been lost. The narrative part of this gospel, on the other hand, has not the circumstantial fulness of the following gospel. As already remarked, the field covered by Matthew's narrative is mainly that of our Lord's Galilean ministry, with the great events connected with his final visit to Jerusalem, though he gives indications of repeated visits to that city. Chap. 23:37-39.

18. It has been assumed by some that Matthew follows, as a {426} general rule, the order of time. But others deny this, thinking that his arrangement is according to subject-matter rather than chronological sequence, especially in the first part (Alexander's Kitto); and this appears to be the correct judgment. He follows the exact order of time only when the nature of the events recorded requires him to do so.

19. It is universally admitted that Matthew wrote his gospel in Palestine. This fact accounts for the absence of explanatory clauses relating to Jewish usages, such as are not unfrequent in the gospel of Mark. As to the interpretation of Hebrew words, as "Immanuel" (chap. 1:23); and the words on the cross (chap. 27:46), that belongs to the Greek form of the gospel. The date of this gospel is doubtful. According to the tradition of the ancient church it was written first of the four gospels. Assuming that it originally appeared in Hebrew, we may reasonably suppose that a period of some years elapsed before it was put into its present Greek form.

20. The integrity of this gospel is unquestionable. In modern times the genuineness of the first two chapters has been called in question by various writers, but the insufficiency of their arguments has been shown by many, among whom may be mentioned Davidson, Introduction to New Testament, vol. 1, pp. 111-127. In the words of this writer the chapters in question are found "in all unmutilated Greek MSS., and in all ancient versions;" "the earliest fathers had them in their copies, and received them as a part of the gospel;" "the ancient heretics and opponents of Christianity were acquainted with this portion of the first gospel;" "the commencement of the first chapter is closely connected with something preceding;" and "the diction of these two chapters bears the same impress and character which belong to the remainder of the gospel, proving that the gospel, as we now have it, proceeded from one author."


21. There is no valid ground for doubting the correctness of the ancient tradition which identifies the author of the second {427} gospel with "John whose surname was Mark" (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37), who is called simply John (Acts 13:5, 13), and Marcus or Mark (Acts 15:39; Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11; perhaps also 1 Peter 5:13). He was cousin to Barnabas (Col. 4:10, not sister's son, as in our version), which relationship may explain Barnabas' earnest defence of him (Acts 15:37-39). His mother Mary resided in Jerusalem, and it was to her house that Peter resorted immediately upon his miraculous deliverance from prison (Acts 12:12). The intimacy of Peter with Mary's family must have brought about an early acquaintance between the apostle and Mark. Ancient tradition uniformly affirms a close relation between Peter and Mark, representing the latter to have been the disciple and interpreter of the former. See below.

Papias (in Eusebius' Hist. Eccl. 3. 39) says, upon the authority of John the Presbyter, "Mark being Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he remembered; not, indeed, as giving in order the things which were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord, but, as I said, of Peter, who gave his instructions as occasion required, but not as one who was composing an orderly account of our Lord's words. Mark, therefore, committed no error when he thus wrote down certain things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, to omit nothing of the things which he heard and to make no false statements concerning them." These words of Papias are somewhat loose and indefinite. But, when fairly interpreted, they seem to mean that as Peter taught according to the necessities of each occasion, not aiming to give a full history of our Lord in chronological order, so Mark wrote not all things pertaining to our Lord's life and ministry, but certain things, those namely that he had learned from Peter's discourses, without always observing the strict order of time. We need not press the words "in order" and "certain things," as if Papias meant to say that Mark's gospel is only a loose collection of fragments. It is a connected and self-consistent whole; but it does not profess to give in all cases the exact chronological order of events, nor to be an exhaustive account of our Saviour's life and teachings. Eusebius has preserved for us in his Ecclesiastical History the testimony of Irenæus on the same point (Hist. Eccl., 5. 8); also of Clement of Alexandria (Hist. Eccl., 6.14); and of Origen (Hist. Eccl., 6. 25). He also gives his own (Hist. Eccl., 2. 5). We have besides these, the statements of Tertullian (Against Marcion, 6. 25); and Jerome (Epist. ad Hedib. Quaest., 2). All these witnesses, though not consistent among themselves in respect to several minor details, yet agree in respect to the {428} two great facts, (1) that Mark was the companion of Peter and had a special relation to him, (2) that he was the author of the gospel which bears his name. We add from Meyer (Introduction to Commentary on Mark) the following exposition of the word interpreter as applied to Mark in his relation to Peter: "No valid ground of doubt can be alleged against it, provided only we do not understand the idea contained in the word interpreter to mean that Peter, not having sufficient mastery of the Greek, delivered his discourses in Aramaean, and had them interpreted by Mark into Greek; but rather that the office of a secretary is indicated, who wrote down the oral communications of his apostle (whether from dictation, or in the freer exercise of his own activity) and so became in the way of writing his interpreter to others."

Mark's connection with the apostle Paul, though interrupted by the incident recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (15:37-39), was afterwards renewed and he restored to the apostle's confidence, as is manifest from the way in which he notices him. Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11. If, as is probable (see below, No. 22), Mark wrote between A.D. 60 and 70, his long intimacy with Peter and Paul qualified him in a special manner for his work.

22. Ancient tradition favors the idea that Mark wrote his gospel in Rome. Had he written in Egypt, as Chrysostom thinks, we can hardly suppose that Clement of Alexandria would have been ignorant of the fact, as his testimony shows that he was. In respect to date, the accounts of the ancients differ so much among themselves that it is difficult to arrive at any definite conclusion. We may probably place it between A.D. 64 and 70. The language in which Mark wrote was Greek. This is attested by the united voice of antiquity. The subscriptions annexed to some manuscripts of the Old Syriac, and that in the Philoxenian Syriac version, to the effect that Mark wrote in Roman, that is, in Latin, are of no authority. They are the conjectures of ignorant men, who inferred from the fact that Mark wrote in Rome that he must have used the Latin tongue.

The story of the pretended Latin autograph of Mark's gospel preserved in the Library of St. Mark at Venice is now exploded. The manuscript to which this high honor was assigned is part of the Codex Forojuliensis, {429} which gives the text of the Latin Vulgate. The text was edited by Blanchini in the appendix to his Evangeliarium Quadruplex, Fourfold Gospel. The gospel of Mark having been cut out and removed to Venice was exalted to be the autograph of Mark. See Tregelles in Horne, vol. 4, chap. 23. The fact that Mark wrote out of Palestine and for Gentile readers at once accounts for the numerous explanatory clauses by which his gospel is distinguished from that of Matthew. Examples are: chaps. 7:3, 4; 12:42; 13:3; 14:12; 15:42; and the frequent interpretations of Aramaean words: 3:17; 5:41; 7:11, 34; 10:46; 14:36; 15:34.

23. The opening words of Matthew's gospel are: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham," by which, as already remarked, he indicates his purpose to show that Jesus of Nazareth is the long promised Messiah of David's line, and the seed of Abraham, in whom all nations are to be blessed. Mark, on the contrary, passing by our Lord's genealogy, commences thus: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." He recognizes him, indeed as the son of David, and the promised Messiah and king of Israel. Chaps. 10:47, 48; 11:10; 15:32. But, writing among Gentiles and for Gentiles, the great fact which he is intent on setting forth is the person and character of Jesus as the Son of God. Matthew gives special attention to the Saviour's discourses. With these considerably more than a third of his gospel is occupied. Mark, on the contrary, devotes himself mainly to the narrative of our Lord's works. With this is interwoven a multitude of his sayings; since it was the Saviour's custom to teach in connection with surrounding incidents. But if we compare the set discourses of our Lord recorded by Mark with those which Matthew gives, they will hardly amount to a fifth part in quantity. Between the narrative parts of Matthew and Mark, on the contrary, there is not a very great disparity in respect to the space occupied by each.

24. Though Mark has but little matter that is absolutely new, he yet handles his materials in an original and independent way, weaving into the narratives which he gives in common with one or more of the other evangelists numerous little incidents in the most natural and artless way. His characteristics as a {430} historian are graphic vividness of description and circumstantiality of detail. If we except some striking passages of John's gospel, he brings us nearer to our Lord's person and the scenes described than either of the other evangelists. He brings before us, as in a picture, not only our Lord's words and works, but his very looks and gestures. It is he that records as has been often noticed, how the Saviour "looked round about" him with anger on the unbelieving multitudes and on Peter (chap. 3:5; 8:33); with complacency on his disciples (chap. 3:34; 10:27); and with the piercing look of inquiry (chap. 5:32); how he looked up to heaven and sighed when he healed one who was deaf and dumb (chap. 7:34); and how he sighed deeply in spirit at the perverseness of the Pharisees (chap. 8:12). He sometimes gives us the very words of the Saviour when he performed his mighty works—Talitha cumi (5:41), Ephphatha (7:34). His narratives are remarkable for bringing in little incidents which can have come from none but an eyewitness, but which add wonderfully to the naturalness as well as the vividness of his descriptions. When the storm arises he is asleep on a pillow (chap. 4:38); Jairus' daughter arises and walks, for she was of the age of twelve years (chap. 5:42); the multitudes that are to be fed sit down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties (chap. 6:40), etc. As examples of vivid description may be named the account of the demoniac (chap. 5:2-20), and the lunatic. Chap. 9:14-27. It is not necessary to assume that Mark was himself a disciple of our Lord. If, as ancient tradition asserts, he was the disciple and interpreter of Peter he could receive from his lips those circumstantial details with which his narrative abounds.

25. The closing passage of this gospel, chap. 16:9-20, is wanting in a number of important manuscripts, among which are the Vatican and Sinaitic. The same was the case also in the days of Eusebius and Jerome. But it was known to Irenæus, and quoted by him and many others after him. The reader must be referred to the critical commentaries and introductions for the discussion of the difficult questions concerning {431} it. Tregelles, who, in his account of the printed text has given a full statement of the case, thus expresses his judgment (in Horne, vol. 4, p. 436): "It is perfectly certain that from the second century and onward, these verses have been known as part of this gospel (whoever was their author)." He thinks that "the book of Mark himself extends no farther than 'for they were afraid,' chap. 16:8; but that the remaining twelve verses, by whomsoever written, have a full claim to be received as an authentic part of the second gospel, and that the full reception of early testimony on this question does not in the least involve their rejection as not being a part of canonical Scripture."


26. The unanimous voice of antiquity ascribes the third gospel with the Acts of the Apostles to Luke. He first appears as the travelling companion of Paul when he leaves Troas for Macedonia (Acts 16:10); for the use of the first person plural—"we endeavored," "the Lord had called us," "we came," etc.—which occurs from that point of Paul's history and onward, with certain interruptions, through the remainder of the Acts of the Apostles, admits of no other natural and reasonable explanation. There is good reason to believe that he is identical with "Luke, the beloved physician," who was with Paul when a prisoner at Rome. Col. 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11. From the first of these passages it has been inferred that he was not a Jew by birth, since he is apparently distinguished from those "who are of the circumcision," v. 11.

Tradition represents him to have been by birth a Syrian of Antioch (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., 3. 4; Jerome, Preface to Matt., and elsewhere), and a Jewish proselyte (Jerome, Quest. on Gen., chap. 46); and it adds various other legends which are not worth repeating.

27. The evangelist himself, in his dedicatory address to Theophilus (chap. 1:1-4), gives us clear and definite information respecting the sources of his gospel. He does not profess to have been himself an eye-witness, but has drawn his information from those "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses {432} and ministers of the word." His investigations have been accurate and thorough: "having accurately traced out all things from the beginning" (as the original words mean), he writes to Theophilus "in order;" that is, in an orderly and connected way. He proposes to give not some loose fragments, but a connected narrative; although, as we have seen above (No. 10), his order is not always that of strict chronological sequence. From the long and intimate connection of Luke with Paul it is reasonable to suppose that the latter must have exerted an influence on the composition of this gospel. Luke, however, did not draw the materials of his narrative from Paul (at least not principally), but, as he expressly states, from those "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word." He did not write from Paul's dictation, but in a free and independent way; though there is no reasonable ground for doubting that it was with Paul's knowledge and approbation.

The "eye-witnesses and ministers of the word" are those who (1) were from the beginning eye-witnesses of our Lord's public ministry; (2) were intrusted with the work of preaching the word; that is, the apostles and such of their associates as had companied with them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them. Acts 1:21. The words of Luke must not be strained; for he records some incidents of our Lord's history before his public appearance which could have been learned only from Mary and her circle.

The remarkable agreement between Luke's account of the institution of the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:9, 20), and Paul's (1 Cor. 11:28-25) has often been noticed. It is most naturally explained by the supposition that Luke recorded the transaction in the form in which he had often heard it from the lips of Paul. But there is nothing in the character of this gospel which can warrant the supposition that the apostle exercised a formal supervision over its composition. Such a procedure would be contrary to the spirit of the apostolic age. The apostle himself wrote by an amanuensis. But when one of his associates in the ministry wrote, in whom he had full confidence, he left him to the free exercise of his judgment under the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

28. In respect to the date of this gospel, if we assume that the Acts of the Apostles were written at Rome about A.D. 63-65 {433} (Chap. 5, No. 5), it is reasonable to suppose that the gospel, which is dedicated to the same personage, was composed not very long before, perhaps even during the two years of Paul's imprisonment at Rome, in which case Rome would also be the place of its composition. Whether Luke wrote before or after Mark is a question that has been differently answered, and cannot be determined with certainty. The proof that all three of the first evangelists wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem has been already given. Chap. 3, No. 14.

29. Though Luke dedicates his gospel to Theophilus (chap, 1:1-4), it is not to be supposed that it was written for his use alone. He had a more general end in view, and that is indicated by the form of our Lord's genealogy as given by him. While Matthew traces the Saviour's lineage through David to Abraham, in conformity with his design to show that he is the promised seed of Abraham and king of Israel, Luke traces it back through David and Abraham to Adam "the son of God." He identifies Jesus of Nazareth not with the Messiah alone of Abraham's and David's line, but with man as man. He is the second Adam, and as such the Saviour of the race. This universal aspect of the gospel, as a gospel not for one nation but for all mankind, shines forth indeed in all the gospels, but it appears with wonderful sweetness and power in some of the parables which are peculiar to Luke, as those of the good Samaritan (chap. 10:30-37), the lost sheep (chap. 15:3-7), the lost pieces of silver (chap. 15:8-10), the prodigal son (chap. 15:11-32); in all which Jesus is set forth as the Saviour of suffering humanity.

30. As it respects the character and plan of Luke's gospel, the following particulars are to be noticed. In the distribution of matter between the narration of events and the recital of our Lord's discourses it holds a position between the first and the second gospel; being less full in the latter respect than Matthew, but far more full than Mark. In the narrative part there is an easy and graceful style which charms every reader. In the introduction of minute incidents he goes beyond {434} Matthew, though he has not the circumstantial exactness of Mark. The agreement of Luke's gospel with the two preceding in its general plan is recognized at once by every reader. Like them it is mainly occupied with our Lord's Galilean ministry. In regard to the Saviour's infancy he is more full than Matthew, the matter of the first three chapters being in a great measure peculiar to him. He omits a long series of events recorded by the first two evangelists. Matt. 14:22-16:12; Mark 6:45-8:26. On the other hand he introduces (chap. 9:43-18:30) "a remarkable series of acts and discourses which are grouped together in connection with the last journey to Jerusalem. Some of the incidents occur in different connections in the other evangelists; and the whole section proves, by the absence of historical data and the unity of its general import, that a moral and not a temporal sequence is the law of the gospels." Westcott, Introduct. to Gospel, chap. 7. Very much of the matter in this remarkable section is peculiar to Luke, and contains passages of wonderful beauty and sweetness which would have been lost to the church but for the record of this gospel. Among these are the mission of the seventy, several miracles, some striking lessons of instruction from passing incidents, and no less than twelve parables: the good Samaritan, the unfortunate friend, the unclean spirit, the rich fool, the barren fig-tree, the lost sheep, the lost pieces of silver, the prodigal son, the unfaithful steward, the rich man and Lazarus, the unjust judge, the Pharisee and publican. While the attentive reader perceives the very near relationship of the third gospel to the first and second, he notices also the fact that it differs from both of them more than they do from each other.

"If the total contents of the several gospels be represented by 100, the following table is obtained:

Peculiarities.    Concordances.
St. Mark 7 93
St. Matthew    42 58
St. Luke 59 41
St. John 92 8

"From this it appears that the several gospels bear almost exactly an inverse relation to one another, St. Mark and St. John occupying the extreme positions, the proportion of original passages in one balancing the coincident passages in the other. If again the extent of all the coincidences be represented by 100, their proportionate distribution will be:

St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke    53
St. Matthew, St. Luke 11
St. Matthew, St. Mark 20
St. Mark, St. Luke 6"

[Westcott, after Stroud and Norton.]

Of absolutely new matter in Mark a striking example is the beautiful parable, chap. 4:26-29. The two miracles peculiar to him (chap. 7:31-37; 8:22-26) are both of a very striking character, and related with circumstantial minuteness of detail. Where his narratives coincide with those of the other evangelists, they are characterized by the addition of details, which, as already remarked, add much to the vivedness and graphic power of his descriptions.

31. The integrity of the third gospel has been recently assailed in Germany in the way of attempting to show that the gospel of Luke, as we now have it, is corrupted by interpolations, and that Marcion had it in its true form. See Chap. 2, No. 12. But the result of a voluminous discussion is that Marcion's gospel is now acknowledged to have been a mutilated form of the canonical gospel, in accordance with the testimony of the ancient fathers.

On the relation to each other of the two genealogies of our Lord given by Matthew and Luke respectively, and the different modes of bringing them into harmony with each other, many volumes have been written. Two different principles of interpretation are proposed. According to the first, the genealogies of both Matthew and Luke are those of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, and the only one that could be known in this relation in the public registers. The second view is that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary, Joseph being called the son of Heli, in the sense of son-in-law; and being perhaps also legal heir to Heli through Mary in the absence of brothers. The reader will find statements of these two views, the former in Smith's Bible Diet., the latter in Alexander's Kitto, Art. Genealogy of Jesus Christ; also in the commentaries generally. We only add that though we may not be able to determine {436} with certainty what is the true solution of the difficulty, no one can show that such a solution is impossible. The reverent believer will quietly wait for more light, if it shall please God to give it; otherwise he will be content to remain without it.


32. Though the writer of the fourth gospel everywhere refrains from mentioning his own name, he clearly indicates himself as the "bosom disciple." When he speaks of two disciples that followed Jesus, afterwards adding that "one of the two" "was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother" (chap. 1:37, 40); of "one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved" (chap. 13:23; 21:7, 20); and of "another disciple" in company with Simon Peter (chap. 18:15, 16; 20:2-8), the only natural explanation of these circumlocutions is that he refers to himself. Even if we suppose, with some, that the two closing verses of chapter 21 (the former of which ascribes this gospel directly to John) are a subscription by another hand, their authenticity is unquestionable, sustained as it is by the uniform testimony of antiquity, and by the internal character of the gospel.

33. The Scriptural notices of John are few and simple. He was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Bethsaida on the Western shore of the sea of Galilee not far from Capernaum. Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19, 20; Luke 5:10, 11. His mother's name was Salome. Matt. 27:56 compared with Mark 15:40. His parents seem to have been possessed of some property, since Zebedee had hired servants (Mark 1:20), and Salome was one of the women who followed Jesus in Galilee, and ministered to him. Mark 15:40, 41. From the order in which he and his brother James are mentioned—James and John, except Luke 9:28—he is thought to have been the younger of the two. Early in our Lord's ministry he was called to be one of his followers; was one of the three who were admitted to special intimacy with him, they alone being permitted to witness the raising of Jairus' daughter, the transfiguration, and the agony of Gethsemane (Matt 17:1; 26:37; Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33; Luke 8:51; 9:28); and of the three was, though not first in {437} place, first in the Lord's love and confidence—"the disciple whom Jesus loved," and to whose tender care he committed his mother as he was about to expire on the cross. By his natural endowments, as well as by his loving and confidential intercourse with the Saviour, he was prepared to receive and afterwards to publish to the world, those deep and spiritual views of Christ's person and office which so remarkably characterize his gospel.

So far as we have any notices of John in the Acts of the Apostles and epistles of Paul, his residence after our Lord's ascension was at Jerusalem. But, according to the unanimous testimony of antiquity, he spent the latter part of his life in Ephesus, where he died at a very advanced age, not far from the close of the first century. The subject of his banishment to the isle of Patmos will come up in connection with the Apocalypse.

There is a mass of traditions respecting the latter years of this apostle, which are, however, of a very uncertain character. Among the more striking of these are: his being taken to Rome during the persecution under Domitian, and there thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, whence he escaped unhurt; his refusal to remain under the same roof with the heretic Cerinthus, lest it should fall upon him and crush him; his successful journey on horseback into the midst of a band of robbers to reclaim a fallen member of the church who had become their leader; and especially, that during the last days of his life, he was customarily carried into the assembly of the church, where he simply repeated the words: "Little children, love one another."

34. The arguments for the late composition of this gospel—after the destruction of Jerusalem—have already been given. Chap. 2, No. 14. If we say between A.D. 70 and 100, it will be as near an approximation to the time as we can make. The place, according to Irenæus (in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 5. 8) was Ephesus, with which statement all that we know of his later life is in harmony.

35. From the beginning of our Lord's ministry John was, as we have seen, admitted to his intimate companionship and friendship. He was not therefore, dependent on tradition. {438} His gospel is the testimony of what he had himself seen and heard. Yet it covers only a part of the Saviour's ministry; and the question remains why, with the exception of the closing scenes of our Lord's life on earth, that part should be to so remarkable an extent precisely what the earlier evangelists have omitted. In answer to this question it might be said that those actions and discourses of our Lord which John selected most clearly exhibit his person and office as the son of God; and that these were especially, (1) his encounters with the Jewish rulers at Jerusalem, (2) his private confidential intercourse with his disciples. Whatever weight we may allow to this consideration, it cannot be regarded as a full explanation of the difference between John and the other evangelists in the selection of materials. With the exception of the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the incidents connected with it (chap. 6:1-21) his notices of our Lord's ministry in Galilee relate almost entirely to incidents and discourses omitted by the other evangelists. It is altogether probable that, although John did not write his gospel simply as supplementary to the earlier gospels, he yet had reference to them in the selection of his materials. His own statement: "Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name" (chap. 20:30, 31), is not inconsistent with such a supposition. The "many other signs" he may have omitted, in part at least, because he judged that a sufficient account of them had been given by the earlier evangelists, of whose writings, when we consider the time that in all probability intervened between their composition and that of his gospel, we cannot suppose him to have been ignorant. Such a reference to these writings does not in any way exclude the general design which he had, in common with the earlier evangelists, to show "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," through faith in whose name eternal life is received.


Ancient tradition represents, in a variety of forms, that John intended to complete the evangelical history, as given by the other evangelists, in the way of furnishing additional events and discourses omitted by them. The citations may be seen in Davidson's Introduct. to New Test., vol. 1, pp. 320-22. Though the statements of the fathers on this point cannot be accepted without qualification, there is no valid ground for denying the general reference above assumed.

36. In writing his gospel John had not a polemical, but a general end in view. It was not his immediate aim to refute the errors and heresies of his day; but, as he tells us, to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, in order that men, through faith in his name, may have eternal life. Yet, like every wise and practical writer, he must have had regard to the state of the churches in his day and the forms of error by which they were assailed. In the latter part of the apostolic age the seeds of those heresies which in the following century yielded such a rank and poisonous harvest, had already begun to be sown. Like all the heresies which have troubled the Christian church to the present day, they consisted essentially in false views respecting our Saviour's person and office. The beloved disciple who followed Jesus through the whole of his ministry and leaned on his bosom at the last supper, has given us an authentic record of the Redeemer's words and works, in which, as in a bright untarnished mirror, we see both the divine dignity of his person and the true nature of his office as the Redeemer of the world. Such a record was especially adapted to refute the errors of his day, as it is those of the present day. It is preëminently the gospel of our Lord's person. It opens with an account of his divine nature and eternal coëxistence with the Father; his general office as the creator of all things, and the source of light and life to all men and his special office as "the word made flesh," whom the Father sent for the salvation of the world, and by whom alone the Father is revealed to men. Equality with the Father in nature, subordination to the Father in office, union with human nature in the work of redeeming and judging men, and in all {440} these perfect union with the Father in counsel and will—such are the great doctrines that run through our Lord's discussions with the unbelieving Jews, as recorded by this evangelist. In the same discussions, but more especially in his private confidential intercourse with his disciples, he adds deep views of his relation to the world, as the only revealer of God's truth, the only source of spiritual life, and the only way of access to the Father; and to believers, as the true vine, through vital union with which they have life, nourishment, and fruitfulness. He unfolds also more fully than the other evangelists the office of the Comforter, whom the Father shall send to make good to the church the loss of his personal presence. Thus the gospel of John becomes at once an inexhaustible storehouse of spiritual food for the nourishment of the believer's own soul, and a divine armory, whence he may draw polished shafts in his warfare against error. This last record of our Lord's life and teachings owes its present form, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, partly to the peculiar character of the writer, and partly to the lateness of the period when it was composed. In both these respects we ought devoutly to recognize the superintending providence of him who sees the end from the beginning.


37. The author of the Acts of the Apostles is identical with that of the third gospel, as we learn from the dedication to the same Theophilus. Chap. 1:1. Both are ascribed to Luke by the unanimous testimony of the ancient church. The genuineness of this book, its credibility, and the time of its composition—about A.D. 63-65—have been already shown. Chap. 5, Nos. 2-5. It remains to consider its plan and its office in the system of revelation.

38. In respect to plan this book naturally falls into two main divisions, the former embracing the first twelve chapters, the latter the remainder of the work. The first division contains the history of the apostolic labors after the ascension, in Jerusalem and from Jerusalem as a centre. Here, if we except {441} the events connected with the martyrdom of Stephen (chs. 6, 7), the conversion of Saul (chap. 9:1-31), and the Ethiopian eunuch (chap. 8:26-40), Peter everywhere appears as the chief speaker and actor, being first among the twelve, though possessing no official authority over them. It is he that proposes the choice of one to supply the place of Judas, and that is the foremost speaker on the day of Pentecost, at the gate of the temple, before the Jewish Sanhedrim, and in the assembly of the church. Chaps. 1:15-22; 2:14-40; 3:4-26; 4:8-12; 5:3-11, 29-32. Associated with him we often find the apostle John. Chaps. 3:1; 4:13, 19; 8:14. When the Samaritans are to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John are sent to them from Jerusalem. Chap. 8:14-25. When the gospel is to be carried for the first time to the Gentiles, Peter is sent by the Holy Ghost to the house of Cornelius in Cesarea (chap. 10), for which mission he afterwards vindicates himself before the brethren at Jerusalem. Chap. 11:1-18. Further notices of Peter we have in chaps. 9:32-43; 12:3-19. We know that the other apostles must have been actively and successfully employed in prayer and the ministry of the word (chap. 6:4), but it does not come within the plan of this narrative to give a particular account of their labors.

The second division is occupied with the history of Paul's missionary labors among the Gentiles, from Antioch as a centre. He had already been sent from that city with Barnabas to carry alms to the brethren in Jerusalem and Judea (chaps. 11:27-30; 12:25), when "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;" and they were sent, with fasting and prayer and the solemn laying on of hands, on their great mission to the Gentiles. Chap. 13:1-3. Thenceforward the narrative is occupied with an account of the labors of Paul among the Gentiles. The fifteenth chapter is no exception; for the convocation of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem was occasioned by the missionary labors of Paul, and had especial reference to them.


Two cities are mentioned in the New Testament which have the name of AntiochAntioch of Pisidia so-called, though situated in the southern part of Phrygia near the border of Pisidia (Acts 13:14; 14:19, 21; 2 Tim. 3:11); and Antioch of Syria, situated on the southern bank of the Orontes about fifteen miles from its mouth. Acts 11:19-27; 13:1; 14:26; 15:22-35; 18:22; Gal. 2:11. The latter city was the centre of Gentile Christianity. It was the metropolis of Syria, the residence of the Syrian kings, and afterwards the capital of the Roman provinces in Asia. Here the first Gentile church was gathered, and the disciples first received the name of Christians. Acts 11:19-26. Hence Barnabas and Saul were sent to Jerusalem to bear alms (Acts 11:29, 30; 12:25); and afterwards to consult the apostles and elders at Jerusalem on the question of imposing the Mosaic law on the Gentile converts. From this city also the apostle started on his three missionary journeys, and to it he returned from his first and second journey. Acts 13:1-3; 14:26; 15:36, 40; 18:22, 23. From the time that Barnabas first brought the apostle to Antioch (Acts 11:26) to that of his seizure at Jerusalem and subsequent imprisonment, most of his time not occupied in missionary journeys was spent at Antioch. Acts 11:26; 12:25; 14:26-28; 15:30, 35; 18:22, 23. As Jerusalem was the centre for the apostles of the circumcision, so was Antioch in Syria for the apostle of the Gentiles.

39. This brief survey of the plan of this book gives us also an insight into its office. First of all it gives us a fresh and vivid portraiture of the apostolic labors and the spirit of the apostolic church, as pervaded and quickened by the presence of the promised Comforter. On the side of the apostles, we see a boldness and ardor that no persecution can check, united with simplicity and godly sincerity. On the side of the brethren, we see a whole-hearted devotion to the Saviour, under the mighty impulse of faith and love, which opens their hearts in liberality and causes them to have all things in common. On the side of both the apostles and the brethren, we see untiring activity and patient endurance in the Master's service, such as make the primitive church a bright illustration of the promise: "Thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that be of thee shall build the old waste places." Isa. 58:11,12. On the side of the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, on the contrary, we behold, as ever since, a series of unsuccessful efforts to hinder {443} the work of God; the very ringleader of the persecutors being called, in the midst of his heat and fury against Christianity, to be the "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." Such an authentic record of apostolic times is of immense value to the church in all ages. It gives the true standard of enlightened Christian zeal and activity, and the true exhibition of what constitutes the real strength and prosperity of the Christian church.

The Acts of the Apostles give also a cursory view of the inauguration of the Christian church, by the descent of the Holy Spirit in his plenary influences (chap. 2), by the appointment of deacons (chap. 6), and the ordination of elders, though these last are only mentioned incidentally (chaps. 14:23; 20:17), the office being understood of itself from the usages of the Jewish Synagogue. The scantiness of the information which we have on this matter of church organization is a part of the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, and is full of instruction to the church in all ages.

Once more, the Acts of the Apostles give a most interesting and instructive account of the way in which "the middle wall of partition" between Jews and Gentiles was gradually broken down. The full import of the Saviour's last command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," seems to have been at first but dimly apprehended by the apostles. For some time their labors were restricted to their own countrymen. But when, upon the dispersion of the disciples in the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen's martyrdom, the gospel had been preached to the Samaritans, the apostles Peter and John were sent to them, and they in common with the Jews received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Chap. 8:5-25. This was an intermediate step. Afterwards Peter was sent among the Gentiles proper, and they also received the Holy Spirit, to the astonishment of the Jewish brethren who had accompanied Peter. Chap. 10. The same thing happened also at Antioch (chap. 11:20), where the true reading is Hellenas, Greeks, that is, Gentiles, not Hellenistas, {444} Hellenists. But the work was not yet finished. It remained that the believing Gentiles should be, by the solemn and formal judgment of the assembled apostles and elders, released from the yoke of the Jewish law. Of this we have an account in the fifteenth chapter. Thus was the demolition of the middle wall of partition completed. Of the greatness of this work and the formidable difficulties by which it was beset—difficulties having their ground in the exclusive spirit of Judaism in connection with the false idea that the Mosaic law was to remain in force under the Messiah's reign—we who live so many centuries after its accomplishment can form but a feeble conception.

40. Brief and imperfect as is the sketch which Luke has given us, it is sufficient for the instruction of the churches in subsequent ages. God deals with them not as with children, to whom the command, "Touch not, taste not, handle not," must continually be repeated; but as with full-grown men, who need general principles rather than specific and minute directions. The facts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles are of a representative character. They embody the spirit of apostolic times, and the great principles upon which the cause of Christ must ever be conducted. Fuller information in respect to details might gratify our curiosity, but it is not necessary for our edification.




1. The apostolic epistles are a natural sequence of the office and work committed by the Saviour to the apostles. They were the primitive preachers of the gospel, and, under Christ, the founders of the Christian church. From the necessity of the case they had a general supervision of all the local churches, and their authority in them was supreme in matters of both faith and practice. It was to be expected, therefore, that they should teach by writing, as well as by oral instruction. It does not appear, however, that epistolary correspondence entered originally into their plan of labor. Their great Master taught by word of mouth only, and they followed his example. "We," said the twelve, "will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." Acts 6:4. It was only when circumstances made it necessary, that some of them took up the pen to write to the churches. Passing by for the present the disputed question of the time when the epistle of James was written, and assuming that the conversion of Paul took place about A.D. 36, we have an interval of at least sixteen years between this event and the date of his earliest epistles, those to the Thessalonians, written about A.D. 53. The apostles did not regard themselves as letter-writers, but as preachers of the word. They took up the pen only when some special occasion made it necessary. The apostolic epistles are incidental; and for this very reason they are eminently life-like and practical. In respect to themes, and the manner of handling them, they present a rich variety. All the great questions of faith and practice that have agitated the Christian church since the apostolic age come up for discussion in these letters, not indeed, in their ever-varying outward forms, but in their great underlying {446} principles. Thus the providence of God has provided in them a rich storehouse of truths for the instruction and edification of believers to the end of time.

2. Of the twenty-one epistles contained in the New Testament fourteen belong to Paul (if we include the anonymous letter to the Hebrews), all written in the prosecution of his great work as the apostle to the Gentiles. The Saviour's personal ministry was restricted to the Jews, and so was that of the twelve apostles and the seventy disciples whom he sent forth before his crucifixion. Matt. 10:5, 6; 15:24; Luke 10:1. But his last command was: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matt. 28:19. In carrying into execution this command, which involved such an immense change in the outward form of God's visible earthly kingdom, it was necessary—

(1) That the apostles should insist very earnestly and fully on the great fundamental doctrine of the gospel, that men have justification and eternal life, not through the law of Moses, or any other possible system of works, but through faith in Jesus Christ; a doctrine which cuts up Pharisaism by the roots.

(2) That, since faith in Christ is the common ground of justification for Jews and Gentiles, both were to be admitted upon equal terms to all the rights and privileges of the Christian church; the ancient prerogative of the Jews above the Gentiles being done away in Christ.

(3) Still further, that since the Gentiles had justification and salvation not through the law of Moses, but through faith alone, the Mosaic law was not to be imposed upon them. This was virtually announcing its abolition, its types and shadows having been fulfilled in Christ.

(4) That this removal of "the middle wall of partition" between the Jews and Gentiles was in accordance with Moses and the prophets—not a change of God's original plan, but only the full accomplishment of it. Acts 15:15-18; Rom. 3:21, 31; 4:6-25; Gal. 3:6-9.


We have seen how this great work was begun by the gift of the Holy Spirit, in connection with the preaching of the gospel, first to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-17), and afterwards to the Gentiles (Acts 10; 11:20-26, etc.); and how it was completed, so far as concerns the principles involved in it, by the solemn decree of the apostles and the elders (Acts 15:1-29).

3. But for the realization of these principles in the actual preaching of the gospel to the Gentile nations, and the establishment of Christian churches among them which should embrace on equal terms Jews and Gentiles, a man of very peculiar qualifications was raised up in the providence of God. Saul of Tarsus was a Jew, brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in the law and the prophets, and able therefore to speak with authority concerning the Old Testament to both Jews and Gentiles. His indomitable energy and fiery zeal, united with rare practical wisdom, had made him the foremost man in persecuting the Christians. When the proper time had come Jesus met him on the road to Damascus with converting power, and all his superior education and endowments were thenceforth consecrated to the work of preaching the faith which once he destroyed, especially to the Gentile world. But in this matter he felt and acted as a Jew. He did not separate himself abruptly from his countrymen. Cherishing towards them the tenderest affection, they were everywhere the first objects of his Christian effort. Into whatever city he went, he first sought the Jewish synagogue, and there he "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures," Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:8. It was only when they persisted in opposing and blaspheming, that he desisted from further effort among them and turned to the Gentiles. Acts 13:45-47; 18:6; 19:9. Wherever he went he encountered the bitterest persecution on the part of his own countrymen, because of the prominence which he gave to the great evangelical principles above considered—that men have justification not wholly or in part through the Mosaic law, but simply through faith in Christ, and that in him the distinction between Jews {448} and Gentiles is abolished. Even the believing Jews found it hard to apprehend these truths in their fullness. In the narrowness of their Jewish prejudices they were anxious to impose on the Gentile converts the yoke of the Mosaic law. This, Paul steadfastly resisted, and it is to his defence of Gentile liberty that we owe, in great measure, those masterly discussions on the ground of justification, and the unity of Jews and Gentiles in Christ, which are so prominent in his epistles. Yet with his uncompromising firmness of principle he united remarkable flexibility in regard to the means of success. To those who would impose circumcision on the Gentiles he "gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour." Gal. 2:5. But where no great principle was concerned, he was willing to circumcise Timothy, out of regard to the feelings of the Jews; thus becoming, in his own words, "all things to all men." 1 Cor. 9:22.

4. The peculiar character of the apostle's style is obvious to every reader. It is in an eminent degree argumentative. He "reasoned with them," says Luke, "out of the Scriptures." These words describe accurately the character of both his epistles and his addresses to the Jews as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. In addressing a Gentile audience at Athens, he still "reasoned with them;" but it was now from the inscription on one of their altars, from certain of their own poets, and from the manifestations in nature of God's power and Godhead. His reasoning takes occasionally the form of an argument within an argument. He pauses by the way to expand some thought, and does not return again to complete in grammatical form the sentence which he had begun; so that his style sometimes becomes complex and obscure. The versatility of the apostle's mind, which made him equally at home in discussing subjects the most varied, appears in his style also. It naturally takes the complexion of his themes. To understand this one has only to compare the epistle to the Romans with those to the Corinthians; the epistle to the Galatians with that to the Ephesians; and all these with the epistles to the Philippians and Thessalonians. His style may be compared {449} to a clear window, which shows with fidelity the ever varying forms and scenes that pass before it.

5. The commentaries that have been written on the epistles of Paul would themselves constitute a large library. Our own century has been very fruitful in them, and some of them are accessible to every reader. For this reason our notice of the separate epistles may well be brief. Our aim will be to give the occasion of each, its chronological order in the series, its connection with the apostle's missionary labors, its scope, and the office which it accomplishes in the plan of revelation.

In connection with Paul's epistles the reader should carefully study the history of his life and labors, as given in the Acts of the Apostles. From Acts 9:23-26 compared with Gal. 1:16-18, we learn that the first three years after Paul's conversion were spent at Damascus and in Arabia. Then he went up to Jerusalem, but after a short sojourn there was driven away by the persecution of the Jews, and retired to his native city, Tarsus in Cilicia. Acts 9:29, 30. After an interval of some time, which he spent "in the regions of Syria and Cilicia" (Gal. 1:21), "Barnabas departed to Tarsus, for to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch." Acts 11:25, 26. This is supposed to have been about A.D. 43, seven or eight years after his conversion.

Here begins his recorded public ministry in Antioch and from Antioch as a centre. See above, Chap. 29, No. 38. It embraces three great missionary tours (Acts 13:1, etc.; 15:36, etc.; 18:23, etc.), and four visits to Jerusalem besides that already noticed. Acts 11:27-30 compared with 12:25; 15:2; 18:22; 21:15. The last of these ended in his captivity and imprisonment, first at Cesarea and afterwards at Rome, with an intervening perilous voyage and shipwreck. Acts chap. 21-28. See the incidents of Paul's life chronologically arranged in Davidson's Introduct. to New Test., vol. 2, pp. 110-112, with the annexed table; in Horne's Introduct., vol. 4, pp. 490-495; in Conybeare and Howson, vol. 2, Appendix 2; and in the commentaries of Hackett, Alford, Wordsworth, etc.

6. As the epistles of Paul stand in the New Testament, they are not arranged in chronological order. The principle of arrangement seems to have been, first, those to churches, then, those to individuals; the further order being that of relative size, with this modification; that two epistles addressed to the same church should stand together, and that the last of {450} them, which is always the shorter, should determine their place in the series. Where the epistles are about equal in size, it seems to have been the design to arrange them chronologically. The catholic epistles are arranged upon the same plan. The epistle to the Hebrews, as being anonymous, now stands after those which bear the name of Paul. But in many Greek manuscripts it is placed after 2 Thessalonians, consequently between the epistles addressed to churches and those to individuals.

The student of these epistles should carefully note the chronological order, because, as Wordsworth remarks (Preface to Commentary on the Epistles), the mutual illustration which the Acts of the Apostles and the apostolic epistles receive from each other "is much impaired if the apostolic epistles are not studied in connection with and in the order of the apostolic history." The following is the chronological order of the epistles, as far as it can be ascertained, though (as will hereafter appear) some uncertainty exists in respect to several of them:

1 Thessalonians    about A.D. 53
2 Thessalonians about A.D. 53
Galatians about A.D. 56 or 57
1 Corinthians about A.D. 57
2 Corinthians about A.D. 57
Romans about A.D. 58
Ephesians about A.D. 62
Colossians about A.D. 62
Philemon about A.D. 62
Philippians about A.D. 63
Hebrews uncertain.
1 Timothy about A.D. 65
Titus about A.D. 65
2 Timothy about A.D. 66

Arranged according to the order of time the thirteen epistles which bear the name of Paul naturally fall into four groups: (1) the two epistles to the Thessalonians, written during the apostle's second missionary journey recorded Acts 15:36-18:22; (2) the epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans, written during his third missionary journey, Acts 18:23-21:15; (3) the epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians, written during Paul's imprisonment in Rome, Acts 28:16-31 (some suppose the first three to have been written during his imprisonment at Cesarea, Acts 23:35-26:32); (4) the pastoral epistles, the first and third probably written after his recorded imprisonment in Rome, and the second during a second imprisonment after the publication of the Acts of the Apostles, and which ended in his martyrdom A.D. 67 or 68.

The epistles of Paul will now be considered in the usual order, except that the three to the Ephesians, Colossians. and Philemon, which are contemporaneous, will be taken together.



7. The date of the epistle to the Romans, as well as the place where it was written, can be gathered with much certainty from the epistle itself, taken in connection with other notices respecting Paul found in the Acts of the Apostles. He was about to bear alms to his brethren in Judea from Macedonia and Achaia. Chap. 15:25, 26. He had previously exhorted the church of Corinth in Achaia to make this very collection, which he was to receive of them when he came to them through Macedonia. 1 Cor. 16:1-6. That he was also to bring with him a collection from the Macedonian churches is manifest from 2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:1-4. He wrote, moreover, from Corinth; for among the greetings at the close of the epistle is one from "Gaius mine host" (chap. 16:23), a Corinthian whom he had baptized (1 Cor. 1:14); he commends to them Phebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, chap. 16:1; and he speaks of "the city" where he is as well known (chap. 16:23), which can be no other than Corinth. Now by comparing Acts 19:21; 20:1-3; 24:17, we find that he was then on his way to Jerusalem through Macedonia and Greece, for the last time recorded in the New Testament. The epistle to the Romans, then, was written from Corinth during the apostle's third missionary tour and second abode in that city, about A.D. 58. It is the sixth of his epistles in the order of time, and stands in near connection with those to the Galatians and Corinthians, which were apparently written during the previous year.

8. Concerning the founding of the church at Rome we have no information. At the date of this epistle Paul had not visited it. Chaps. 1:10-15; 15:23, 24. Of its composition, however, we have more certain knowledge. Founded in the metropolis of the Roman empire, where, as we know from many notices of ancient writers, many Jews resided, it must have been of a mixed character, embracing both Jews and Gentiles; with this agree the contents of the present epistle. That the {452} Gentile element largely predominated in the church at Rome appears from the general tenor of the epistle. Chaps. 1:13; 11:13-25, 30, 31; 15:16. That it had also a Jewish element is plain from the whole of chap 2, and the precepts in chap. 14.

9. The occasion of writing seems to have been of a general character. The apostle had often purposed to visit Rome, but had been as often hindered. Chap. 1:13. To compensate in part for this failure, he wrote the present epistle, having, as it appears, an opportunity to send it by Phebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea. Chap. 16:1. The apostle's design, like the occasion of his writing, was general. It was natural that, in addressing a church which he had long desired to visit, he should lay himself out to unfold the gospel of Christ in its deep foundation principles, as a plan of salvation provided for the whole world, and designed to unite Jews and Gentiles in one harmonious body, on the common platform of faith in Christ. He first shows that the Gentiles are under the dominion of sin (chap. 1:18-32), and the Jews also (chap. 2), so that both alike are shut up to salvation by grace. Chap. 3. He connects the gospel plan of salvation immediately with the Old Testament by showing that Abraham, the father of the Israelitish people, was justified by faith, not by the works of the law or any outward rite; so that he is the father of all who walk in the steps of his faith, whether Jews or Gentiles. Chap. 4. He then sets forth the love of God in Christ, who is the second Adam, sent to restore the race from the ruin into which it was brought by the sin of the first Adam (chap. 5); and shows that to fallen sinful men the law cannot give deliverance from either its condemnatory sentence or the reigning power of sin, so that its only effect is to work wrath, while the righteousness which God gives through faith in Christ sets men free from both the curse of the law and the inward power of sin, thus bringing them into a blessed state of justification, sanctification, and holy communion with God here, with the hope of eternal glory hereafter. Chaps. 6-8. Since the doctrine of the admission of the Gentiles to equal privileges with the Jews, and the rejection {453} of the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation, was exceedingly offensive to his countrymen, the apostle devotes three entire chapters to the discussion of this momentous theme. Chaps. 9-11. He then proceeds to draw from the whole subject, as he has unfolded it, such practical exhortations in respect to daily life and conduct as were adapted to the particular wants of the Roman Christians—entire consecration of soul and body to God in each believer's particular sphere (chap. 12); obedience to magistrates (chap. 13:1-7); love and purity (chap. 13:8-14); mutual respect and forbearance (chaps. 14:1-15:7). He then returns to the great theme with which he began, that Christ is the common Saviour of Jews and Gentiles, in connection with which he refers to his office and labors as "the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles" (chap. 15:8-21), and closes with miscellaneous notices and salutations (chaps. 15:22-16:27).

10. From the above brief survey the special office of the epistle to the Romans is manifest. In no book of the New Testament is the great doctrine of justification by faith so fully unfolded. The apostle sets it in vivid contrast with the Pharisaical idea of justification by the Mosaic law, and, by parity of reason, of justification by every other system of legalism; showing that it is only by grace through Christ that men can be delivered from either the guilt of sin or its reigning power in the soul, while the effect of the law is only to excite and irritate men's corrupt passions without the power to subdue them. The place, therefore, which this epistle holds in the understandings a