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15. I formerly showed divers advantages of the late publication of the gospels. The life of Jesus could not be forgotten in thirty or forty years. His life and death
were very public, as well as very extraordinary. His resurrection and ascension were most publicly attested by his apostles, and others, as we know from the book of the Acts. And from that time forward there were many, who were continually speaking of the things said and done by him, and of the evidences of his resurrection and exaltation. They were soon known to multitudes of people, small and great, and men of all ranks and characters. As St. Paul says to Festus, in a very great assembly, Acts xxvi. 26, "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded, that none of these things are hidden from him: for this thing was not done in a corner." And was it not the cry at Thessalonica? Acts xvii. 6, "These that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also." The account of St. Paul's manner of living at Rome, about the years 61 and 62, is, that "he dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,-teaching those things, which concern the Lord Jesus Christ," Acts xxviii. 30, 31. Whilst there were men, who at the hazard of their lives taught, and others that embraced, the things concerning the Lord Jesus, they could not be forgotten. And if about thirty years after our Lord's ascension, his history was written by eye-witnesses, or their companions, it was soon enough: yea, it was the fittest time of all. At the year sixty of our Lord's nativity, according to the vulgar æra, and later, there certainly were enough such persons, as those just mentioned, still living, to record his words and works, and more, who were willing and desirous to read written histories of him, than before; and also more to transcribe and copy out those histories for their own use, and for the use and benefit of others, than in any preceding time.
V. It remains, that we consider in what language this gospel was written because many of the ancients, whose testimonies have been lately recited, though they allow the other gospels to have been written in Greek, have delivered it as their opinion, that this gospel was written in Hebrew.
Of this I have already spoken several times, particularly, in the chapter of Papias, and in the chapter of Origen, See Vol. iv. p. 110-115. * See Vol. ii. p. 120.
and of Eusebius and Cæsarea; where also the opinions. of divers learned moderns were alleged, who think it was written in Greek. To them I now add " Le Clerc, who has an argument upon this head, proper to be consulted by those who have leisure, but too long to be inserted here: and his learned successor Mr. Wetstein, who says, "Here" we are of opinion, that the fathers do not so properly bear testimony, as deliver their own conjecture: which ' needs not to be admitted, if it be not supported by good 'reasons, or may be refuted by probable arguments. Sup'posing, and taking it for granted, that Matthew wrote for 'the Jews in Judea, they concluded that he wrote in He'brew. But there is no weight in that reason. The Greek 'language was at that time much used throughout the 'whole Roman empire, and particularly in Judea. Pa'pias, who first advanced this opinion, was a weak and credulous man. Nor are there in our Greek gospel any 'marks of its being a translation from another language.'
Mr. Jones P has a long argument, well deserving to be read, showing, that this gospel was originally written in Greek.
Mr. Basnage is of the same side, and has argued exceeding well for it: I should transcribe him if I had room; as I have not I refer to him.
Says Dr. Jortin: In the time of Christ and his apos'tles the Greek was really the universal language: the New Testament is a proof of it, if proof were wanting. And this is one reason amongst many others, why St. Matthew probably wrote his gospel in Greek.' See Wetstein's N. T. p. 224. St. Matthew, ch. v. 47, 48, says: Ἔσεσθε εν ύμεις τελειοι——that is, be
* Οι τελωναι ούτω ποιεσιν.
m Vol. iv. p. 137-139.
☐ Diss. iii. De iv. Evangeliis. • Neque tam facile assentimur sententiæ eorundem patrum statuentium, Matthæum scripsisse Hebraïce, hoc est, Syriace, sive Chaldaïce, quâ linguâ tunc temporis Judæi in Palæstinâ utebantur-Existimamus enim patres hic jam non testimonium dicere, sed conjecturam suam in medium proferre, non admittendam, si aut idoneis rationibus non sit fulta, aut verisimilibus argumentis refutari possit. Quod enim putant necesse fuisse ut Hebræis scribens Hebraïce scriberet, verum non est; cum constet eo tempore linguam Græcam per totum imperium Romanum, et in Judæâ præsertim, in usu fuisse-Videntur ergo vetustissimi Patres, et inter eos Papias, homo simplex et credulus, re non exploratâ, inani Nazaræorum jactantiæ fidem habuisse-Nullum sane in nostro Matthæo reperitur indicium, unde colligi possit, ex aliâ in aliam linguam fuisse conversum. Plurima vero aliud suadent. Wetsten. N. T. tom. I. p. 224.
P See his Vindication of the former part of St. Matthew's gospel, ch. 17— -19. p. 180-186. Ann. 64. n. xiii. See his Discourses concerning the Christian Religion, p. 176. note (o), the third edition.
not reλwvai, but TEMELOL. Videtur autem Matthæus vocem TEXELOL hic adhibuisse, ut Teλwvais opponeret. Wetstein. Add to this, that Teλwns and Teλeos are both derived from the same word, TEλos. So again, ch. vi. 16, we find an antithesis in the words, αφανίζεσι τα προσωπα, όπως φανωσι, Eleganter dicitur: Tegunt faciem, ut appareant, &c. Wetstein.
And many others of the same sentiment might be mentioned, who are men of great learning and good judg
I shall now propose some observations relating to this point.
1. If St. Matthew did not write till about thirty years after our Lord's ascension, we must be led to think, he would use the Greek language. That he did not write sooner, I suppose to have been shown to be very probable. If indeed there were good reasons to think his gospel was written within the space of eight years after Christ's ascension, we might well conclude, that he wrote in Hebrew. But to me it seems, that we may be fully satisfied, that Matthew did not write within that space, nor so soon as fifteen years after our Lord's ascension, nor till some good while afterwards. St. James, residing at Jerusalem, writes an epistle about the year of Christ 60, as is supposed: it is addressed" to the twelve tribes scattered abroad;" and he writes in Greek, as is allowed. Why, then, should not St. Matthew use the same language?
2. There was very early a Greek gospel of St. Matthew. It is quoted or referred to by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, not now to mention any others: none of whom intimate, that they made use of a translation.
3. Though many of the ancients say, that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, they seem not to have fully believed it: for they have shown very little regard to the Hebrew edition of it. This has been particularly shown in the chapters of Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, and " Jerom, the most likely of any of the ancients to make use of that edition, if they had been persuaded that it was authentic and original.
4. There are not in our Greek gospel of St. Matthew, any marks of a translation: so said Mr. Wetste'n in the passage just transcribed; and this observation was before made by us in the chapter of Papias.
• Vol. iv. p. 574-576.
Ibid. p. 477.
Vol. iv. p. 137--140.
Vol. ii. p. 120.
5. There is no where any probable account, who translated this gospel into Greek. No particular translator was mentioned by Papias, as may be concluded from the accounts given of his books by Eusebius. Nor is any translator of this gospel named by Irenæus, Eusebius, or any of the writers of the first three centuries, that are come down to us. Nor is there any reason to think, that he was named in any other forasmuch as no notice is taken of him by Eusebius, or Jerom, who saw many writings of ancients now lost, both catholics and heretics. Jerom having said, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, presently adds: Who ' afterwards translated him into Greek, is uncertain.' And all the accounts of a translator, since given, are too late to be credited, and are likewise very improbable. In the Synopsis, ascribed to Athanasius, but not written till long after his time, it is said, 'That Matthew's gospel was translated into Greek by James, the first bishop of Jerusalem.' Which is very improbable. It would be more reasonable to imagine, that he translated it out of Greek into Hebrew. But as that is not said by the ancients, so neither have we reason to say it. Moreover, the same reasons, as one may think, which would induce James to make a Greek translation, should have induced Matthew to write in Greek. Nevertheless Dr. Milly has pitched upon that person for the translator, and formed an argument thereupon: which only serves to show, that there is nothing, for which something may not be said by those who indulge themselves in suppositions without ground. Theophylact informs us, that in his time it was said, that John translated this gospel into Greek but it was only a common report; and indeed it could be no more. However, out of a regard to such reports and testimonies, Mr Lampe has very properly
* Ibid. p. 165.
w Vol. iv. ch. cxiv. num. viii. 1. y Quis in Græcum transfuderit, incertum est. Papias de hoc nihil ab Aristione aut Joanne presbytero accepit, aut tradidit. Auctor Synopseos S. Scripturæ Jacobo fratri Domini diserte adscribit hanc versionem; Theophylactus, ex famâ duntaxat, Joanni evangelistæ. Ego ad priorem illam sententiam, ceu magis verisimilem, accedo. Satis enim probabile est, evangelium in Hebræorum usum linguâ ipsorum patriâ primum exaratum, ab ipsorum episcopo primario Jacobo, episcopo Hierosolymitano, in sermonem Græcum per provincias, in quas dispersi erant ex gente istà plurimi, Judæis pariter ac aliis in usu familiari, translatum fuisse, &c. Proleg. num. 66.
* Μετέφρασε δε τετο Ιωάννης απο της Εβραϊδος γλωττης εις την 'Ελληνίδα, we λey8o. Theoph. Pr. in Matt. p. 2. D.
Matthæi evangelium Græce a Joanne evangelistâ versum esse, refert Eutychius, tom. I. Annalium, p. 328. et Nicetas præfatione ad Catenam in Matthæum. Lampe, Prolegom. in Joan. 1. i. cap. 7. num. 31.
reckoned a translation of this gospel among the works falsely ascribed to St. John.
6. Once more, I apprehend, we may discern the origin of this opinion, that St. Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew. There was soon made a translation of his Greek gospel into Hebrew. We have seen proofs, that in very early days of christianity there was a Hebrew gospel: and many, not examining it particularly, nor indeed being able to do it, for want of understanding the language, imagined that it was first written in Hebrew. Jerom expressly tells us, that by many in his time the gospel according to the Hebrews was reckoned the true and authentic gospel of Matthew.
To this Hebrew translation of St. Matthew's gospel, possibly, are owing divers things said by the ancients: as that Matthew published his gospel at Jerusalem, or in Judea, for the Jewish believers, and at their request, before he went abroad to other people: I say, I do suspect the truth of these, and some other like things, said of St. Matthew, and his gospel all which may have had their rise from the Hebrew edition of his gospel, which they imagined to be the original. For I think, that St. Matthew's, and all the other gospels, were written, and intended, for believers of all nations. His gospel was written for the Jews, but not for them only, but for Gentiles also: as manifestly appears from the gospel itself, or the things contained in it.
I am also ready to say, with Mr. Basnage, that I do not know where it was published, whether in Judea, or somewhere else. But as I think the Nazarene gospel to be St. Matthew's gospel translated from Greek, with the addition of some other things, taken from the other gospels, and from tradition: so I reckon, that the gospel of Matthew, written in Greek, was the gospel which came first into their
b See Vol. ii. p. 165.
In evangelio, quo utuntur Nazareni et Ebionitæ, quod nuper in Græcum de Hebræo sermone transtulimus, et quod vocatur a plerisque Matthæi authenticum. Hier. in Matth. cap. xii. T. iv. P. i. p. 47.
In evangelio juxta Hebræos-quo utuntur usque hodie Nazareni, secundum apostolos, sive, ut plerique, juxta Matthæum. Adv. Pelag. 1. 3. sub in T. iv. p. 533.
d Annum tamen perinde atque locum, ubi a Matthæo conditum est, in incerto esse, facile patimur. Ann. 64. num. xii.
e Distinguendum enim inter hoc evangelium, quale initio fuit, et illud, quale paullatim fiebat, Nazaræis varia addentibus-Primitus nihil habuit, nisi quod in Græco nunc legimus-Porro Nazaræi pluscula suis locis interseruerunt, quæ ab apostolis vel apostolicis viris fando accepissent. G. J. Voss. De Geneal. J. C. cap. ii. num. i.