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DISSERTATION II.

ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS, IN RELATION TO THE SUCCESSION OF EVENTS IN OUR LORD'S MINISTRY.

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SECT. I. View of St. Matthew's Gospel.

MATTHEW was a Publican, or Collector of tribute, at Capernaum; and there is no room to doubt that he was a native of Galilee. While he was sitting at the receipt of custom', our Lord called him to be his stated follower; and not long after, he was appointed to be one of the Apostles.This Evangelist had abundant opportunities for gaining a full acquaintance with the transactions of our Lord while he was in Galilee, and after he left it to go to the Passover: and, sharing with his fellow Apostles in our Lord's promise, John xiv. 26, that the holy spirit should bring to their remembrance all things which he had said to them, his records of the Discourses of Christ, like those of the Apostle John, must be regarded as of peculiar authority.

Like Mark and Luke, St. Matthew records none of the facts which occurred at the Jewish festivals-the last Passover excepted; and there is no evidence that he was present with our Lord, at Jerusalem, on those occasions to which St. John's Gospel peculiarly relates. That he was fully acquainted with his transactions in Galilee, is clear from the distinct. though summary view he presents of them; and, whether or not he accompanied our Lord throughout his First Progress, which is related at the close of the fourth chapter, there is no reason to doubt that he was one of those who heard his all-important Discourse at the termination of it, and was thus enabled, by divine appointment, to be the faithful recorder of it for the benefit of the followers of Christ in all ages.

The Gospel of Matthew, from the Temptation to the Last Journey to Jerusalem, is essentially Galilean. During that interval, he gives no intimation of occurrences in any part of Palestine, but Galilce and its borders.

We know from St. John, that our Lord exercised his Ministry in Judæa after, as well as before, the Imprisonment of the Baptist: but St. Matthew gives no record of any thing that occurred in that region till the last PassWe know, too, John x. 40-42, that Jesus made many disciples in the Peraa; but, previously to the Last Journey, when he passed through the Peræa in his way to Jerusalem, St. Matthew does not advert to his having been any where south of the Lake of Galilee.

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It is the uniform testimony of the early Christian Writers, that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Hebrews and in Hebrew; in other words, he wrote for the Jewish natives of Palestine, and I think particularly for his countrymen of Galilee, in the then language of Palestine, now generally termed the Syro-Chaldaic, from which the Hebrew differed sufficiently to require interpretation. If we had his original Gospel, we should often possess the very words of the heavenly Teacher; as it is, we have only the representation of them in Greek, without doubt faithfully and correctly made, yet still a translation, not the words themselves. But the same is the case with respect to the records of the Evangelists Mark and Luke, and those of the Apostle John. There is abundant reason to believe that we have, in the Gospels, the words of the Lord Jesus' essentially represented; but the characteristics of the representation must of course depend upon the peculiarities of the respective writers. As to the Greek Translator of St. Matthew's Gospel, he must, in various parts, have taken the Gospel of Mark as his guide; and when that failed him, the Gospel of Luke. This is the opinion of Bishop Marsh and others; indeed, no competent judge can doubt it, who has compared the Gospels in the in the original: while engaged on the following work, I observed several instances, in which, after following, for some clauses or sentences, the representation of the words of Christ in St. Mark's Gospel, the Translator of Matthew left this, in single words or phrases, in order, as we may reasonably conjecture, to follow his own original exactly.

Let us leave the Translator, however, and confine ourselves to the Evangelist. Great brevity in the relation of facts, and detail in the record of discourses, are two of the characteristics of St. Matthew's Gospel. His manner is calmly earnest throughout; and it has the impress of deep conviction and certain knowledge. He gives a clear but compressed summary of the transactions which he relates; entering but little into the circumstances of each; yet tracing the main fact distinctly and forcibly. For this style of composition, his official duties had, it is probable, peculiarly

I am not unmindful of the opposing arguments of the judicious and cautious Lardner but his conclusion appears to me quite untenable; and I do not know of any critics of the present day who follow him in it.

qualified him that it is his style, is not to be disputed. An attentive inspection of the following Harmony will show many proofs of it.

Taking this Gospel singly as our guide, there is nothing which would lead one to doubt whether or not the Apostle commonly wrote in chronological order. The doubts which have arisen from comparing it with those of Mark and Luke, leading many to the rejection of his arrangement of facts, will be considered as we proceed; but, in itself considered, the Gospel presents nothing but regularity. The reader may follow the Evangelist in the periods which he actually records, without any feeling of embarrassment as to the succession of the events, or even as to their locality.

Commencing, as St. Mark does, with the beginning of the Baptist's Ministry, we may divide the Gospel of Matthew into the six following Parts:

PART I. The Ministry of the Baptist; with the Baptism and Temptation of Christ: ch. iii. 1-iv. 11.

PART II. The Public Preaching of Christ in Galilee, after the Imprisonment of the Baptist, until the Mission of the Twelve: ch. iv. 12—xi. 1.

PART III. Occurrences succeeding the Mission of the Twelve, till the Death of the Baptist, which caused all of them who were still absent, to return to their Lord: ch. xi. 2-xiii. 58.

PART IV. Transactions from the Return of the Twelve, till the Termination of our Lord's Residence in Galilee: ch. xiv.-xviii.

PART V. Occurrences during the Last Journey: ch. xix. xx.

PART VI. Occurrences from our Lord's Entry into Jerusalem, until his Interview with the Eleven Apostles on the Mountain in Galilee, with which the Gospel closes : ch. xxi. to the end.

In Part I. the Apostle appears to have mainly followed a record that was possessed also by St. Luke.

In Parts II. and IV. St. Matthew clearly had his own personal records; some of which appear to have been also possessed by St. Mark. He must have present at all which he relates in Part IV., except the Transfiguration.

Part III. may, more than any other, consist of records derived from other witnesses, and, more or less, possessed by one or both of the other two Evangelists. All, however, must have been connected with Galilee ; and even, with little exception, with Capernaum or the neighbourhood.

In Part V. there is little that is peculiar to St. Matthew's Gospel, except the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, ch. xx. 1-16; yet the whole obviously consists of his own records.

Of Part VI., some portions, particularly the Discourses of Christ on the Mount of Olives, the Agony in the Garden, and the Occurrences in the Palace of Caiaphas, must have been derived from the narrations of others; but several other portions, especially the Discourses on the last day in the Temple, we thankfully refer to that witness, as the original source, to whom we are indebted for the record of the Sermon on the Mount.

It is in the Second and Third Parts alone that any great diversity occurs in the order of events, as given by St. Matthew on the one hand, and by St. Mark and St. Luke on the other in the Fourth Part, Mark's order accords exactly with Matthew's; and so also does St. Luke's, in the brief corresponding record contained in ch. ix.

SECT. II. View of St. Mark's Gospel.

It may be regarded as certain, that the Mark to whom all antiquity ascribed the second Gospel, was John whose surname was Mark, mentioned in Acts xii. 12. He was the son of Mary, a pious woman of Jerusalem, who was an early believer in Christ; and he was the nephew of Barnabas, the fellow-labourer of Paul, and a Levite. It is evident, from the book of Acts and the Epistles, that this Evangelist was intimately acquainted with Paul and with Peter. He was with Paul during part of his first apostolical journey; and he obviously spent some time with that Apostle during his imprisonment at Rome: he was there with Peter also, when this Apostle wrote his first Epistle, in which, ch. v. 13, he uses the expression, Marcus my son'. Indeed it fully accords with internal evidence, and it was the uniform statement of the early Christian Writers, that this Evangelist composed his Gospel at Rome, with the knowledge and aid of the Apostle Peter.

From his residence in Jerusalem, and from the particularity of his relation of the circumstances attending our Lord's last visit to Jerusalem,— specifying much more distinctly than either Matthew's or Luke's the events of each day,—it may reasonably be inferred, that this Evangelist was an observant eye-witness of our Lord's public transactions, and a hearer of his public discourses, at that remarkable period. There is no adequate reason to believe that he attended his Ministry at any other time: uevertheless, he had abundant sources of accurate knowledge in those written records of particular periods which he obviously possessed, some in common with St. Luke, and others in common with St. Matthew; in the information he would often receive, from Apostles and others, at the house of his mother, where it is evident that the early believers often resorted; and, with all, in the detailed communications of Peter, concerning those

things which the aged Apostle personally knew, as an eye and ear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ'.

The Gospel of Mark was, of course, written for the use of believers from among the Hellenists and the Gentiles. His style is unpolished, peculiarly idiomatic, and sometimes abrupt in its construction. His Gospel displays much less of literary culture than that of Luke; and much less of general talent for composition than that of Matthew. Sometimes, under the influence of the desire to give a detailed view of facts and circumstances, he employs a somewhat diffuse style of writing, and has even superfluous additions; but, for the most part, his narration is concise, and in some cases obsure from its brevity.

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The inartificial character of this Gospel, and the resources which the Evangelist had for composing it, render it very valuable as an additional record, and especially in relating those details which strengthen the feeling of reality. It is peculiarly valuable as recording circumstances which the Apostle John alone of the other Evangelists could have recorded on personal knowledge, and which did not fall within the scope of his Gospel : these, Mark evidently derived from the Apostle Peter. He relates the fall of his teacher and friend with much more particularity than the other Evangelists do; and though he does not state several things, which one or other of them records, that redounded to the honour of the Apostle, yet, on the other hand, he specifies some which the others do not.‡

Kuinoel also

This is stated and exemplified by Kuinoel in his Prolegomena, § 3. notices this Evangelist's very frequent use of ev‡ewç, immediately, which recurs, he says, more than once, in almost every page; and his employment of the pronoun avroc, he, and its plural, without any assigned antecedent. This last is so common a characteristic of the writers of the New Testament, that I had not noticed it as a peculiarity of St. Mark; the former must have been observed by every attentive reader of the original Gospel.-In the attempt to give a uniform rendering of the same original word, whenever practical, I have rendered ɛv‡ɛwç, straightway, (as I often found it rendered), and πapаxpnμa, immediately. By the aid of Schmid, I find that Mark employs the former forty times, and the latter not once; while Luke uses ɛvỡɛwç only eight times, and seems to employ it and rapaxonμa indifferently, both in the Gospel and in the Acts.

+ As a specimen, taken accidentally, we may refer to the narrative in the fifth chapter, respecting the cure of the disordered woman, and the raising of the daughter of Jaïrus: see Harm. p. 85-87.

See Lardner's Supplement to the Credibility. The instances which Lardner gives of the last-mentioned class, are found in ch. i. 36. xiii. 3. xvi. 7. These he follows by an enumeration of thirty-two other instances in which facts or circumstances are recorded by Mark, that are not to be found in the o.her Gospels; which, Lardner intimates, do not exhaust the induction.

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