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regarded the approaching Passover, there spoken of, as that at which our Lord was crucified. Dr. Newcome supplies the same supposition in relation to Irenæus. Indeed those who dwelt principally on the Gospel of Luke for their chronology, could scarcely avoid the conclusion that the Passover mentioned in John vi. 4, as approaching when the miracle of the Five Thousand was wrought, was the last Passover, since that Evangelist records the miracle in the same portion of his Gospel in which he says, ch. ix. 51, that the time was come for Jesus to be received up. The supposition that the Fathers in question entertained this opinion, even if the opinion itself could be shown to be critically untenable, is greatly to be prcferred to the position that the words To Tаoxа are spurious, if not the whole verse, though found in every known authority of every class.

Resting on the prevalence, during the first three centuries, of the belief that our Lord's Ministry did not extend beyond about one year, in connexion with the fact that there is no record of transactions at more than two Festivals that were certainly Passovers, Gerard John Vossius came to the conclusion, as highly probable, that the Passover referred to in John vi. 4, was that at which our Lord was crucified. To this conclusion

the Author of the present work had come by his own examination, and had attained a strong conviction of its solid foundation, before he had become aware that the opinion had been entertained by any other.* The grounds of this conviction will be given, in some detail, in a subsequent part of this Dissertation; but it may here be stated, to be at least a presumption in its favour, that, without any alteration in the text, it accords with what some of the most learned chronologists-Scaliger, in particular, though he himself rejected it-have pronounced to be the most ancient opinion respecting the Duration of our Lord's Ministry.†

While this second Edition was preparing for the press, the Author had the great satisfaction of learning that other earlier critics identified the Passover in John vi. 4. with that at the Crucifixion. Sam. Petitus maintained, without hesitation, that the Passover which was nigh when the miracle of

• The Author's mind had been so much impressed with the representations of Mann and Priestley, who claimed G. J. Vossius as an advocate for the omission of ro naoxa, that Newcome's rectification of the error, into which even Marsh has fallen, was unnoticed by him when he first attended to the subject in 1800; and from that time, for twenty years probably, he had no opportunity of recurring to Newcome's Reply to Priestley, nor for a much longer period to Vossius's own work.

† After citing various early Authors in favour of it, Mr. Mann (p. 154) says “the great Scaliger acknowledges, Vetustissima est Opinio (Can. Isog. p. 309): And Petavius, Neque paucorum neque plebeiorum Seriptorum fuit hæc sententia, sed doctrinâ et autoritate prestantium, et sane vetustissimorum.”

the Five Thousand was wrought, was the Crucifixion Passover; and says that this is evident from Luke ix. So also argued Burmann, referring to Petit and to Vossius.*-It is highly probable that such was the opinion of the early Christian Writers, who regarded the records of the Ministry of Christ in the first three Gospels, as referring solely to the year before the Crucifixion.

SECT. II. View of the Opinions of the Early Christian Writers.

The opinions of the early Christian Writers have been examined, with great earnestness, both by those who have advocated, and by those who have opposed, the short duration of our Lord's Ministry. The question is not to be decided by those opinions; but whatever weight is to be assigned to them, it certainly is in favour of the bipaschal system. It is not required by the purpose of this Dissertation, to enter, in detail, into the examination of the evidence respecting them; but the following appears to be a just representation of the state of the case.†

1. There could have been no authorized steady tradition, handed down from the apostolic times, that the Ministry of Christ extended through more than three years; otherwise the early Fathers could not have rested, as, with the exception of Irenæus, they obviously did rest, in the opinion that it lasted less, or a little more, than a year. On the other hand, as is argued by Benson, the Valentinians and Clemens Alexandrinus could not. have rested their opinion on the prophetic declaration respecting "the acceptable YEAR of the Lord," if there had been any distinct authorized tradition to that effect.

2. Several of the early Writers, Tertullian, Julius Africanus, Lactantius, &c., speak of our Lord's death as taking place in the 15th year of Tiberius, when the two Gemini were Consuls, that is in the year 29. These are rightly regarded as holding the short duration of our Lord's ministry; for,

The Author owes this information to the researches of his Friend and former Pupil, the Rev. Benj. Mardon, M. A., whose pursuits have led him to enter, with much earnestness and success, into the critical study of the Scriptures.--'The passages above referred to, are found in the following works: Samuelis Petiti Ecloga Chronologicæ, Paris. 1632, lib. 1. c. xii. Gerardi Joannis Vossii Dissertatio Gemina, Amst. 1643, de Annis Jesu Christi, p. 52. F. Burmanni Exercitationes Academica. Francis Burmann died in 1679.

The critical student may see the subject amply discussed in the Correspondence between Newcome and Priestley, Marsh's Notes on Michaelis, VOL. III. p.56—67, Benson's Chronology of our Saviour's Life, p. 241-292, and Greswell's Dissertations upon the Principles and Arrangement of a Harmony of the Gospels, VOL. 1. p. 421–442.

since St. Luke gives the same date to the commencement of the preaching of the Baptist, they must have regarded the whole as occurring within one year. How they reconciled the opinion with the Gospel of John, does not appear.-Those who dwelt on the Gospel of Luke, would naturally fall into this opinion; because that Evangelist has assigned one date only, and records no festival before the Passover at which our Lord was crucified. Nevertheless, as the 15th year of Tiberius began August the 19th, in the year 28, and as our Lord was crucified at a Passover, even the Gospel of Luke alone would scarcely allow the considerate to assign so short a period, as the interval before the next Passover, for the whole of the ministry both of the Baptist and of our Lord. And, indeed, Clemens Alexandrinus states that some who accurately weighed matters, referred the death of Christ to the 16th year of Tiberius. Those who took into account the Gospel of John, could not do otherwise than place the Crucifixion in the 16th year of Tiberius, viz. in the year 30. But whether they placed the death of Christ in the 15th or the 16th year, they must have regarded his Ministry as not including more than two Passovers.

3. There was a class who, as already intimated, adopted the opinion that the Ministry of Christ lasted only about a year, under the influence of the words of prophecy by Isaiah, repeated by our Lord himself. The Valentinians, and Clemens Alexandrinus, rested their opinion on this basis, as decisive. The ancient Christians of this class may, or may not, have taken the Gospel of John into account. Those who examined it, must have regarded the approaching Passover in John vi. 4, as that at which our Lord was crucified,—an opinion, which, though it supposes the sixth chapter to be out of chronological order, perfectly agrees with the narratives of the other three Gospels.

4. When considering those questions which depend upon the express comparison of the four Gospels, or at least upon a full acquaintance with them, it is proper to bear in mind, that, during at least the first century after they were written, the possession of all four would be very rare; and that the facility of comparison, in manuscripts not divided into chapters and verses, would be vastly less than it is at present. As the knowledge of St. John's Gospel extended, in connection with the other three, it seems to have wrought some change in the opinion of the Fathers; for several, during the third and following centuries, regarded the Ministry of Christ as including three Passovers. Among these were the Author of the Harmony attributed to Tatian,* Jerome, Cyril, Epiphanius, and

* Tatian himself is said to have followed the then prevalent opinion of two Passovers only.

Apollinarius. But it appears nearly certain that those of the early Christian Writers who considered our Lord's Ministry as including more than two Passovers, still regarded the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke as relating the events of one year only, between the Imprisonment of the Baptist and the last Passover. If they were consistent, therefore, they must have considered the words of John, in ch. vi. 4, as referring to the last Passover.

5. Eusebius, who wrote in the early part of the fourth century, was the first who represented the Ministry of Christ as including four Passovers. The considerations which led him to this opinion, he has himself stated. They were, in the first place, an unsound conclusion, from untenable premises, respecting the succession of the Jewish high-priests; and, in the second place, an interpretation of the half-week in the prophecy of Daniel, ch. ix. 27, which interpretation is, to say the least, attended with too much uncertainty to rest such an inference upon.+ Bishop Marsh informs us, in his Notes on Michaelis, p. 65, that even the opinion of Epiphanius, that our Lord's Ministry lasted somewhat more than two years, was not generally received at the end of the fourth century; and that Augustin, whose name alone was of great authority, still retained the ancient opinion, viz. that it included two Passovers only. The hypothesis of Eusebius, however, as the same eminent critic states, prevailed at last over all other opinions. "During the middle ages, no further inquiries appear to have "been made on this subject; and even after the Reformation, all the "Harmonists of the 16th and 17th centuries have taken for granted that "Christ's Ministry lasted between three and four years. But Bengel in "his Harmony of the Gospels published at Tübingen in 1736, reduced it "to two years. And a short time before this Harmony was published, "Mr. Mann revived the ancient opinion that it lasted one year, which he "has defended with great learning and ingenuity.".

6. Upon a review of the evidence afforded by the early Christian Writers, the Author of this work, though originally led to adopt his present opinion as to the duration of our Lord's Ministry by what he still regards as the decided preponderance of that evidence in its favour, is less than ever disposed to lay any considerable stress upon it. "I am content," says the excellent and judicious Newcome, "to differ from the ancients, provided I agree with the Gospels" in that sentiment the

See Marsh's Notes on Michaelis, VOL. III. pp. 57 and 64.

+ See Benson's Chronology, p. 256-258.

Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris in the 14th and 15th century, published a Monotessaron, in which he is said to have followed Augustin. See Marsh's Notes, p. 40.

Author heartily accords; and as, at last, the appeal must be made to the facts of the Gospels, it might be as well to leave every thing out of view except what we derive from, or can support by, the statements of the Evangelists themselves.-See also Benson, p. 243.

SECT. III. General Considerations respecting the direct Scriptural Evidence on the Subject.

1. No one of the Evangelists has specified the time between the Baptism and the Death of Christ; and, from the nature of the case, the decision of the question is left to be made on considerations which are alike open to the learned and to the unlearned.

2. Nothing can be derived from the first three Gospels, either separately or conjointly, which authorizes to conclude, that after the Baptism of our Lord, there were more than one Passover before that at which he was crucified. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, speak only of one Passover, viz. the last nevertheless, since the Walk through the Cornfields must have occurred in the part of the year after a Passover,* and since the Crucifixion could not therefore have occurred at the Passover in the 15th year of Tiberius, it follows that there must have been two Passovers in the Ministry of Christ after his Baptism. Hence those of the Ancients who placed the Crucifixion in the 15th year of Tiberius, i. e. at the Passover in the year 29, must have been in error; and those showed more exactness who placed it in the 16th, i. e. in the year 30.

3. By means of St. John's Gospel we are able to say, with certainty, that there were at least two Passovers in our Lord's Ministry; for that Evangelist records his transactions at a Passover which occurred shortly after his First Miracle at Cana, and before the Imprisonment of John.

4. After comparing John iv. 1, with ch. iii. 24, there can be no doubt that we are to place all the events recorded in at least the first four chapters of that Gospel, before the Imprisonment of the Baptist, and consequently between the 11th and 12th verses of the fourth chapter of Matthew.

5. Considering the silence of the first three Evangelists as to the remarkable circumstances in that portion of St. John's Gospel, especially of what occurred at the Passover, it must be regarded as their main object to record the Public Preaching of Christ after the Imprisonment of John; and, in reference to Matthew and Mark in particular, to record the occurrences in Galilee from that event to the period of his leaving it shortly before the last Passover.

See Harm. p. 37. A different opinion is referred to in Diss. IV. Sect. ii.

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