Page images

however, names no authority, and quotes no preceding writer in support of what he has advanced in relation to the design of the Evangelist, it can only be considered by us as on the footing of ancient tra. dition.

$ 4. CLEMENT of Alexandria, who wrote not long after Irenæus, has, as we learn from Eusebius“, added some particulars, as what, in his opinion, together with the entreaties of the Asiatic churches, contributed, not a little, to induce John to compose his Gospel. The first he mentions is, that the Evangelists who had preceded him, had taken little notice of our Lord's teaching and actions soon after the commencement of his ministry, and before the imprisonment of John the Baptist. One consideration therefore, which induced him, though late, to publish a Gospel, was to supply what seemed to have been omitted by those who had gone before him. For this reason he avoided, as much as possible, recurring to those passages of our Lord's history of which the preceding Evangelists had given an account. There was no occasion, therefore, for him to give the genealogy of our Saviour's flesh, as the historian expresses it", which had been done by Matthew and Luke before him. The same Eusebius

4 Lib. iii. cap. 24. 5 Lib. iii. cap. 24. EIXOTWS 8V την μεν της σαρκος τ8 σωτήρος ημων γενβαλογιαν ατε Ματθαιο και Λεκα προγραφεισαν, αποσιωπησαι την bodyyny.

66 John,


says in another place ", quoting Clement,
“ who is the last of the Evangelists, having seen
“ that in the three former Gospels corporeal things
“ had been explained, and being urged by his ac-

quaintance, and inspired of God, composed a

spiritual Gospel.” Thus it appears to have been a very early tradition in the church, that this Gospel was composed not only to supply what had not been fully communicated in the former Gospels, but also to serve for refuting the errors of Cerinthus and the Gnostics.

$ 5. Yet in the time of Epiphanius, about the middle of the fourth century, an opinion, much the reverse of the former, was maintained by a few sectaries whom he calls Alogians', because they rejected the Logos, that is, the word. Their opinion was, that Cerinthus himself was the author of this Gospel, an opinion, as Epiphanius clearly shows, quite improbable in itself, and unsupported by evidence; improbable in itself, because the words employed by the Evangelist, so far from confirming, contradict the sentiments of the Heresiarch, unsupported by

6 Lib. vi. cap. 14. Τον μεν του Ιωάννην εσχατον συνιδοντα ότι τα σωματικα εν τοις ευαγγελίοις δεδηλωται, προτραπεντα υπο των γνωριμων, πνευματι θεοφορηθεντα, πνευματικον ποιησαι ευαγγέλιον.-τοσαυτα ο Κλη


7 Ηer. 51. Eπει και τον λογον και δεχονται, τον παρα Ιωαννε κεκηρυγμενον, αλογοι κληθησονται. Τhis ancient controvertist does not disdain the humble aid of a pun. sor@ means reason as well as word; adoyos unreasonable, or against the word.

evidence, because there is nothing to counterbalance the contrary evidence above mentioned, the ancient tradition and uniform testimony, both of the friends and of the foes of Christianity, who had all concurred in affirming that this Gospel was written by John. In all the controversies maintained with Celsus, with Porphyry, and with the emperor Julian, who strained every nerve to undermine the authority of the Gospels, they never thought of controverting that they were written by those whose names they bear. So clear was this point accounted, for ages, even by the most acute adversaries of the Christian name.

96. Ir deserves our particular attention, that this Gospel carries in its bosom strong internal evidences of the truth of some of those accounts which have been transmitted to us from the primitive ages. At the same time that it bears marks more signal than any of them, that it is the work of an illiterate Jew; the whole strain of the writing shows that it must have been published at a time, and in a country the people whereof in general knew very little of the Jewish rites and manners. Thus, those who in the other Gospels are called simply the people or the multitude, are here denominated the Jews, a method which would not be natural in their own land, or even in the neighbourhood, where the nation itself, and its peculiarities, were perfectly well known. As it was customary in the East, both with Jews and others, to use proper names independently significant, which, when they went abroad, were translated in



to the language of the country, this author, that there might be no mistake of the persons meant, was careful, when the Greek name had any currency, to mention both names, Syriac and Greek. Thus Cephas, which denoteth the same as Peter 8 ; Thomas, that is Didymus'. The same may be said of some titles in current use, rabbi, which signifieth doctor messiah, a term equivalent to Christ". In like manner when there is occasion to mention any of the religious ceremonies used in Judea, as their purifications or their festivals, it is almost invariably signified that the ceremony or custom spoken of is Jew. ish. Thus the water-pots are said to be placed for the Jewish rites of cleansing ', κατα τον καθαρισμος TOV Irdawr. The passover is once and again 13 denominated the Jewish passover, η πασχα των Ιεδαιων, a phrase used only by this Evangelist ; and even any other religious feast is called "4 by him 'eopen twv 18daw, a Jewish festival. This style runs through the whole. The writer every where speaks as to people who knew little or nothing about the Jews. Thus, in the conversation between our Lord and the won man of Samaria, the historian interrupts his narrative by inserting a clause to account to the Asiatic Gentile readers for that strange question put by the woman "5, How is it that thou, who art a Jew, askest drink of me who am a Samaritan? The clause in



8 John, i. 43. chap. xi. 16.

chap. i. 38. 12 chap. ii. 6. 13 chap. ii. 13. vi. 4. xi. 55. 1. vii, 2. 15 chap, iv. 9.

11 i. 41. 24 chap. V.

serted for explanation is, (for the Jews have no friendly intercourse with the Samaritans.) Again, for the information of the same readers, after acquainting us that the Galileans had seen our Lord's miracles at Jerusalem during the festival, he adds ", for they likewise attended the festival. Neither of these explanatory clauses would ever have been thought of in Palestine, or perhaps even in Syria, where the enmity betwixt the Jews and the Samaritans, and the connection of Galilee with Judea, were better known.

§ 7. It may be objected against the use I make of this observation, that as Mark and Luke áre thought not to have published their Gospels in Palestine, it might have been expected that they also should have adopted the same manner. This in part I admit. I have accordingly pointed out " a few examples of a similar nature in the Gospel by Mark. And as to the Evangelist Luke, if his Gospel was, as I have supposed 18, published at Antioch, or in any part of Syria, there was not the same occasion. But, in answer to the objection, it may be further observed, that those published soon after our Lord's ascension, in whatever part of the world it was, were mostly for the use of converts from Judaism, with whom the church, in the beginning, chiefly abounded. But towards the end of the first century, the reception of this doctrine, particularly in Greece, Asia Minor, and those places which had been most

16 ch. iv. 45.

17 Pref. to Mark, $ 5.

18 ref. to Luke, $ 8.

« PreviousContinue »