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following centuries, who have told us that the epistle to the Hebrews was written by Paul in the Hebrew language, have said or so much as insinuated, that they learned that important fact from tradition. They delivered it merely as an opinion of their own, formed on the circumstance of the epistle's being written to the Hebrews. This Eusebius acknowledges, in the passage last quoted from his history : as Jerome likewise doth, in the passage quoted from him, Sect. 1. where, speaking of Paul, he saith, Moreover he wrote as an Hebrew to the Hebrews, in pure Hebrew.
But although the fathers who thought the epistle to the Hebrews was originally written in the Hebrew language, have professedly founded their opinion on its being composed for the instruction of the Hebrews, I am inclined to believe they were led into that opinion by the style also of the Greek epistle. For having been informed by tradition, that it was an epistle of Paul, and fancying its style to be more elegant than that of Paul's other epistles, to account for its supposed superior elegance, and at the same time to maintain the tradition which had handed down Paul as its author, they invented the strange hypothesis, that it was written by Paul in Hebrew, and translated by some other person, they could not tell who, into elegant Greek.
The opinion of the ancients concerning the language in which St. Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews, being wholly founded on the supposed propriety of writing to the Hebrews in their own language, it will be necessary to inquire a little into that propriety.—And First, If it was proper for the apostle to write his letter to the Hebrews in their own language, it must have been equally proper for him to write his letter to the Romans in their language. Yet we know that Paul's epistle to the Romans, was not written in Latin, the language of Rome, but in Greek. Nay, that all Paul's epistles, and the epistles of the other apostles, were written in Greek, and not in the languages of the churches and persons to whom they were sent.-Secondly, The apostolical epistles being intended for the use of the whole Christian world in every age, as well as for the use of the persons to whom they were sent, it was more proper that they should be written in Greek than in any provincial dialect ; because the Greek language was then universally understood, especially in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire. So Cicero informs us in his oration Pro Arch. Poes. Gracca leguntur in omnibus fere gentibus ; Latina suis finibus, exiguis sane, conti
nentur. It may perhaps be objected, that in many countries the common people, of whom the Christian churches were chiefly composed, did not understand the Greek language. True; but in every church there were numbers of persons endowed with the gifts of tongues, and of the interpretation of longues, who could readily turn the apostle's Greek epistles into the language of the church to which they were sent. In particular, the president, or the spiritual man, who read the apostle's Greek letter to the Hebrews in their public assemblies, could without any hesitation, read it in the Hebrew language for the edification of those who did not understand Greek. And, with respect to the Jews in the provinces, Greek being the native language of most of them, this epistle was much better calculated for their use, written in the Greek language, than if it had been written in the Hebrew, which few of them understood.—Thirdly, It was pro: per, that all the apostolical epistles should be written in the Greek language ; because the principal doctrines of the gospel being delivered and explained in them, the explanation of these doc, trines could with more advantage be compared so as to be bet: ter understood, being expressed in one language, than if, in the different epistles, they had been expressed in the language of the churches and persons to whom they were sent. Now what should that one language be, in which it was proper to write the Christian revelation but the Greek, which was then generally understood; and in which there were many books extant, which treated of all kinds of literature, and which, on that account, were likely to be preserved, and by the reading of which Christians in after ages would be enabled to understand the Greek of the New Testament? This advantage none of the provincial dia. lects, used in the apostle's days, could pretend to. Being limited to particular countries, they were soon to be disused : and few if any books being written in them which merited to be preserved, the meaning of such of the apostle's letters as were composed in these provincial languages, could not casily have been ascertained.-Upon the whole the arguments taken from the propriety of St. Paul's writing to the Hebrews in their own laitguage, is not well founded.
In addition to what hath been said to shew that the cpistle to the Hebrews was written originally, not in the Hebrew, but in ihe Greek language, the reader, because this is a matter of great importancc, is desired to attend to two particulars. The first is, in our Greek copy of the epistle, there are no internal marks of its being a translation from an Hebrew original. We find few of the Hebraisms which abound in the Greek versions of the Jewish scriptures : And such citations as are made from these scriptures, are made, not from the Hebrew original, but for the most part from the LXX. Greek version; as most of the citations from the Old Testament, in Paul's other epistles, likewise are. Would this have happened, if the epistle to the Hebrews had been originally written in Hebrew ?-Of this the following are examples.—Heb. viii. 9. And I regarded them not. In the Hebrew text, Jerem. xxxi. 32. it is, Although I was an husband to them.--Heb. X. 5. Thou hast prepared me a body. In the Hebrew; Mine ears thou hast opened.-chap. x. 38. If he draw back. In the Hebrew ; If he faint.--chap. xi. 21. Wor shipped leaning on the top of his staff. In the Hebrew ; Israel bowed himself on the bed's head. In the Greek epistle, the writer hath interpreted the Hebrew names which he mentions. This he had no occasion to do, if he wrote his epistle in pure Hebrew. And even if he had written it in the Syro-chaldaic, called in the apostle's days the Hebrew tongue, the names in the two languages are so little different, that there was no need to interpret them to those who understood the Syro-chaldaic. -Lastly, there are in the Greek epistle to the Hebrews several paronomasias, or Greek words of like sound, placed near each other, which, in the opinion of Spanheim and Wetstein shew that this epistle is an original writing, and not a translation.-In like manner, Matthew's gospel is shewed to have been originally written in Greek, and not in Hebrew as some of the fathers thought, by two elegant paronomasias, observed by Wetstein. The one is found, chap. ν. 47, 48. Οι τελωνει έτω ποιεσιν,-εσεσθε 80 τελειοι και that is, as Jerome saith, be ye not tewas but TEMELO.. On this Wetstein reinarks ; Videtur Mattheus vocem, Tedblos, hic studio adhibuisse, ut tehouvels opponeret.—The other paronomasia we have chap. vi. 16. Αφανιζεσι τα προσωπα όπως φανωσι: on which Wetstein remarks : Eleganter dicitur, Tegunt faciem, ut appareant, &c. It is elegantly said, They cover their face that they may appear.
The second circumstance which sheweth that the epistle to the Hebrews was not originally written in the Hebrew lan
No one of the ancient Christian writers, who have told us that this epistle was written by the apostle Paul in Hebrew, have said that he ever saw an ancient Hebrew copy of it. Yet many such there must have been in Judea, and in the neighbouring countries, if it had been originally written in He
guage, is this.
brew. That being the case, is it to be supposed that Origen and Jerome, who were at great pains to procure and publish correct copies of the LXX. and Vulgate versions of the Jewish scriptures, did not search these countries for a genuine copy of the Hebrew epistle to the Hebrews, which they considered as the original, that they might therewith compare the Greek copy which was in every one's hands ? and which being thought by them a translation, it was necessary to know if it was a just one. But, notwithstanding the fathers had such strong inducements to search for a genuine copy of the Hebrew epistle, I repeat what I affirmed above, that neither Clement of Alexandria, nor Origen, nor Eusebius, nor Jerome, nor any of the ancients, who thought Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrew, say they ever saw so much as one copy of that original. I therefore agree with Fabricius, Lightfoot, Beausobre, Wetstein, Spanheim, Mill, Whitby, Lardner, and other learned critics, in their opinion that Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews in Greek : And am persuaded that our Greek copy of the epistle to the Hebrews, is itself the apostle's original letter ; consequently that the same regard is due to it, which is paid to all the other epistles of the apostle Paul.
Of the Matters handled, and of the Reasonings and Proofs advanced,
in the Epistle to the Hebrews. As the Jews had been honoured with the keeping of all the former revelations of God to mankind, it might have been expected, that the gospel, which was the explication and comple. tion of the whole of these revelations, would have been received by them with joy. But it happened otherwise. Most of the Jews adhered to the law of Moses with the greatest obstinacy, because God had spoken it at Sinai by the ministry of angels, in the hearing of their fathers, accompanied with great thunderings, and lightnings, and tempest, and darkness. But the gospel they despised and opposed, because it was spoken in a private manner, by Jesus of Nazareth, a man, whom the rulers at Jerusalem had put to death publicly as a deceiver.-Farther, in their attachinent to the law, and their opposition to the gospel, the Jews were confirmed by observing, that in the law a variety of atonements for sin were prescribed by God himself, which they daily performed in the temple at Jerusalem, as a worship highly ac
ceptable to the Deity. Whereas in the Christian assemblies, they saw no worship of that kind presented to God ; no sacrifices of any sort offered, nor any rites of purification performed, for obtaining the pardon of sin. For these reasons they detested the gospel as a manifest impiety; especially as it pretended to abolish the law of Moses, which they believed to be of unalterable and eternal obligation.
These arguments being very specious, were no doubt much insisted on by the Lawyers and Scribes, not only to hinder their countrymen from receiving the gospel, but to shake the faith of those who had embraced it. The apostle Paul, therefore, who was himself a Doctor most learned in the law, wrote this excellent epistle to the Hebrews, to prove, That the same God who spake the former revelations to the fathers of the Jewish nation by the prophets had in these last days spoken the gospel to all mankind by his Son : Consequently, That these revelations could not possibly contradict each other.—That although the Son, when he spake the gospel, was clothed with flesh, he was still the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his substance :-That being appointed of God to expiate our sins by the sacrifice of himself, we are cleansed from our sins by that sacrifice, and not by the Levitical sin-offerings :-And, that after offering the sacrifice of himself, he sat down at the right hand of God, as High Priest of the heavenly holy place, and as Governor of the World.
But the appearing of the Son of God in the flesh, His dying as a sacrifice for sin, His officiating for mankind in heaven as an High Priest, And the inefficacy of the Levitical sacrifices, being, as was observed, things contrary to all the religious opinions of the Jews, the Doctors, followed by the bulk of the nation, rejected them with abhorrence, on pretence that they overturned the former revelations. Wherefore, the only possible method by which the unbelieving Jews could be convinced of the truth of these things, was to prove them by testimonies from their own scriptures, in which the revelations of God are recorded. This method the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews hath actually followed : for he hath supported all the facts above mentioned, and all his affirmations, by passages from the writings of Moses and the prophets. Only, to judge rightly of his arguments and conclusions, the reader ought to know that the passages to which he has appealed, were all understood by him in the sense, in which the Doctors and people of that