Page images
PDF
EPUB

any part of his information from our Lord himself, or even from any of his Apostles, except the Apostle Peter, (for no other is ever named), whose disciple he is always represented as having been; and who, doubtless, speaks of him when he says?, Marcus my son saluteth you. The denomination son was, in those times, commonly given, by the minister; to every one who, by his means, had been converted to the Christian faith. But, as to the nephew of Barnabas, we have seen how differently he is represented in the Acts, as well as in Paul's Epistles. And if we recur to tradition (for historical evidence cannot be pretended), it represents him as having been a disciple of our Lord, and one of the Seventy, whom Jesus in his lifetime sent out to preach the Gospel. Besides, no ancient author, in speaking of this Evangelist, ever calls him John, but always Mark. In brief, the accounts given of Paul's attendant, and those of Peter's interpreter, concur in nothing but the name, Mark, or Marcus; too slight a circumstance to evince the sameness of the person, espe. cially when we consider how common the name was at Rome, and how customary it was for the Jews, in that

age, to assume some Roman name when they went thither:

04. FURTHER, that Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek, is as evidently conformable to the testimony of antiquity, as that Matthew wrote his in Hebrew. Cardinal Baronius is the only person who has strenuously maintained the contrary, affirming that this Evangelist published his work in Latin. I know no argument, worthy the name of argument, but one, that he produces in support of his opinion. The external evidence of testimony is clear against him; but something like internal probability may be urged in favour of his sentiment. This Gospel,' says the Cardinal, was published at Rome, for the benefit

7.1 Pet. v. 13.

of the Romans. Can we then suppose it would be i written in any other than the language of the place ?' I shall admit that this Gospel was published at Rome; though that is not universally believed, some rather supposing it to have been at Alexandria, after Mark had been entrusted with the superintendence of that church; but, though the design of the publication had been the benefit of those residing at Rome, it would not have been exclusively intended for the natives. Let it be observed, that the ministry of Peter, to whom Paul tells us *, the Gospel of the circumcision was committed, was chiefly employed in convert. ing and instructing his countrymen the Jews, who abounded at that time in the imperial city. Now it was customary with such of the Jews as went abroad (I may say generally with travellers of all nations, especially from the East), to make themselves masters of the Greek tongue, which was become a kind of universal language, and was more used by strangers at Rome, than the language of the place. It was with such that the first Christian missionaries were principally concerned. The Apostle Paul accordingly wrote to them in Greek, and not in Latin, which would not have been done, if the former language had not been then better understood in the Christian congregation than the latter. Now, if there was no impropriety in Paul's writing them a very long Epistle in Greek, neither was there any in Mark's giving them his Gospel in that language. The only thing I know which looks like an ancient testimony in favour of the opinion of Baronius, is the inscription subjoined to this Gospel in Syriac, and in some other Oriental versions. But it ought to be remembered, that these postscripts are not the testimonies of the translators. They proceed merely from the conjecture of some transcriber, but when written, or by whom, is equally unknown. But enough, perhaps too much, for setting aside a mere hypothesis, not only unsupported by positive evidence, but in direct contradiction to it.

8 Gal. ii. 7.

$ 5. From this Gospel, as well as from the former, we should readily conclude that the author was by birth and education a Jew. The Hebraisms in the style (or examples of what has been called the idiom of the synagogue) are very evident throughout the whole. At the same time, as some critics have observed, there are several expressions here used, which clearly indicate that the writer had been accustomed, for some time, to live among the Latins. Not only does he use the Latin words, which are to be found in other Gospels, and seem to have been then current in Judea, as λεγεων α legion, κηνσος tribute, apaitwplov prætorium, and drvaplov a denarius; but he employs some which are peculiar to himself, as κεντυριων centurion, στεκελατωρ sentinel, and GeoTns from sextarius, a pot; for such transpositions of letters are not uncommon in order to avoid a collision which the language does not admit. These have been pleaded as evidences that the original was Latin; but, in fact, they are much stronger marks of a Greek writer who had lived some years among the Latins, and had been accustomed to use, and hear used by others, such names of offices as were familiarly known in the place. Nothing is more common with travellers, than to interlard their conversation with such foreign words as those now described. This is not always, as people are apt to suspect, the effect of affectation : for it is manifest from experience, that such words, in consequence of the recent habit, do most readily suggest them. selves to the memory of the speaker or writer, even though using a different tongue. There are some other internal evidences which have not escaped the notice of the inquisitive, that this Gospel was written in a country of strangers, or at least beyond the confines of Judea, where the names of places, and the peculiar phrases relating to religious ceremonies, could not be so familiar to the people, not even to the Jews, as they would be in any part of Palestine. The first time the Jordan is mentioned', dotaļas is added to the name for explanation : for though no person in Judea needed to be informed that Jordan is a river, the case was different in distant countries. The word Yeevva which, on account of its figurative application in the New Testament, is, in English, always rendered hell, is, strictly and originally, the name of a place near Jerusalem, the valley of Hin. nom, where infants had been sacrificed by fire to Moloch, a place well known to the inhabitants of the country, though perfectly unknown to those of Italy or Egypt. This Evangelist, therefore, when he mentions it", very properly adds for explanation, TO AUP TO aoßesov, the unquenchable fire. Words and phrases not used out of Palestine and the neighbouring regions, are either not named by him at all, or attended, as the above example, with some circumstance which may serve to explain them. Thus he avoids altogether the word Mammon used by Mat. thew and Luke, which, though familiar in Judea, and perhaps through all Syria, might not have been understood even by the Hellenist Jews at Rome. He therefore makes the common term xpnuata riches, which could not be mistaken any where, supply its place; and though he finds it convenient, on one occasion ", to employ the Oriental word Corban, he immediately subjoins the interpretation ‘o esi dwpov, that is, a gift. In another place ", he adopts the terms xoivas xepoi, which, though not Oriental words, make a sort of Oriental phraseology, that

9 Ch. i. 5..

[ocr errors]

10 Ch. ix. 43, 45.

11 Ch, vii. 11.

12 Ch. vii. 2.

« PreviousContinue »