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converted from Gentilism, might render it suspected that his conversion was rather to Judaism than to Christianity.
3. Some ancients, on the contrary, have imagined that he was not only a Jew, but one of the seventy commissioned by our Lord to preach the Gospel, Luke 10: 1. This, I think, may be confuted from what is advanced by Luke himself, who does not pretend to have been a witness of our Lord's miracles and teaching, but to have received his information from witnesses. This would not bave been done by one who had attended our Lord's ministry, and was, though not an apostle, of the number of his disciples. I am not ignorant that Whitby,* after others, lias attempted so to explain the words, as to make what is said concerning the information received from witnesses to relate only to those who had published their narratives before that time, and that the phrase naonxolovonxori õvaθεν πάσιν ακριβώς, is intended for marking the distinction between their source of intelligence and his. In my opinion, he has totally mistaken the import of this clause, as I shall show in explaining the place.f But that our evangelist was, with all the other writers of the New Testament, a convert to Christianity from Judaism, not from Gentilism, is, upon the whole, sufficiently evident from bis style, in which, notwithstanding its greater copiousness and variety, there are as many Hebraisms as are found in the other evangelists, and such as, I imagine, could not be exemplified in any writer originally Gentile, unless his conversion to Judaism had been very early in life.
4. Further, Luke seems to have had more learning than any of the other evangelists. And if he be the person mentioned in the above-cited passage of the Epistle to the Colossians, ch 4: 14, of which I see no reason to doubt, he was by profession a physician. Grotius has hence inferred several particulars, which, as they are not supported by any positive proofs, can be ranked only among conjectures. The reason which Luke himself assigned for his writing was, it would appear, to prevent people's giving, without examination or inquiry, too easy credit to the narratives of the life of Jesus, which at that time, seem to have abounded. I acknowledge that the word éneyeiondav, have undertaken, used here by Luke, does not necessarily imply any blame laid on the execution ; but the scope of the place seems to imply it, is not on all, at least on some of these undertakings: for if all, or even most, were well executed, the number was an aryument rather against a new attempt, than for it. The very circunstance of the number of such narratives at so early a period, is itself an evidence that there was something in the first publication of the Christian doctrine, which, notwithstanding the many unfavorable circumstances wherewith it was
* Preface to the Gospel of St. Luke.
Ch. 1: 3. Note.
attended, excited the curiosity, and awakened the attention, of persons of all ranks and denominations ; insomuch, that every narrative which pretended to furnish men with any additional information concerning so extraordinary a personage as Jesus, seems to hare been read with avidity.
5. Who they were to whom the evangelist alludes, who had, from vague reports, rashly published narratives not entirely to be depended on, it is impossible for us now to discover. Grotius justly observes, that the spurious Gospels mentioned by ancient writers are forgeries, manifestly, of a later date. He seems to expect the Gospel according to the Egyptians, which, though much earlier than the rest, can scarce claim an antiquity higher than that according to Luke. That there were, however, some such performances at the time when Luke began to write, the words of this evangelist are sufficient evidence ; for, to consider this book merely on the footing of a human composition, what writer of common sense would introduce himself to the public by observing the numerous attempts that had been made by former writers, some of whom at least had not been at due pains to be properly informed, if he himself were actually the first, or even the second, or the third, who had written on the subject; and if one of the two who preceded bim had better opportunities of knowing than he, and the other fully as good ? But the total disappearance of those spurious writings, probably no better than hasty collections of flying rumors, containing a mixture of truth and falsehood, may, after the genuine Gospels were generally known and read, be easily accounted for. At midnight the glimmering of a taper is not without its use; but it can make no conceivable addition to the light of the meridian sun. And it deserves to be remarked by the way, that whatever may be thought to be insinuated here by the evangelist concerning the imperfect information of former bistorians, there is no bint given of their bad design.
6. Some bave in ferred from Luke's introduction, that this must have been the first genuine Gospel that was committed to writing: In my opinion, this would need to be much more clearly implied in the words than it can be said to be, to induce a reasonable critic to adopt an opinion so repugnant to the uniform voice of antiquity. The remark of Grotius on this head appears to have more weight than is commonly allowed it. Luke, he observes, wrote in Greek; Matthew's Gospel had been written in the Hebrew of the times, and probably was not then translated into Greek. The expression of Papias implies, in my opinion, as was hinted already,* that that Gospel remained a considerable time without any translation into Greek. If so, the only authentic Gospel which had preceded Luke's in Greek, was the Gospel by Mark, which .comparatively was but a compend.
* Preface to Matthew's Gospel, sect. 6.
The arguments (if we can call them arguments) in Basnage's Exercitations, employed to prove that the Gospel by Luke was the first written, will be found on examination to rest on nothing but conjectures, supported by reasonings which to a superficial view may appear ingenious, but are merely hypothetical, and can never overturn the only adequate evidence of a point of fact, the testimony of those who had the best occasion to know, in a matter which they were under no conceivable temptation to misrepresent.
7. Luke, in composing this Gospel, is supposed by some to have drawn his information chiefly from the apostle Paul, whom he faithfully attended, as Mark did from the apostle Peter. They even proceeded so far as to suppose, that when Paul in his Epistles uses the expression my Gospel, (Rom. 2: 16. 16: 25. 2 Tim. 2: 8), he means the Gospel according to Luke: but nothing can be more unnatural than this interpretation. That Paul, who was divinely enlightened in all that concerned the life and doctrine of his Master, must have been of very great use to the evangelist, cannot be reasonably doubted; yet from Luke's own words we are led to conclude, that the chief source of his intelligence, as 10 the facts related in bis Gospel, was from those who had been eye and earwitnesses of what our Lord both did and taught. Now of this number Paul evidently was not. But, though Luke appears to have been an early and assiduous attendant on the ministry of that apostle, and to have accompanied bim regularly in his apostolical journies, from his voyage to Macedonia till he was carried prisoner to Rome, whither also the evangelist went along with him, he could not fail to have many opportunities, both before and after joining him, of conversing with those apostles and other disciples who had heard the discourses, and seen the miracles of our Lord.
8. As to the time when this Gospel was written, hardly any thing beyond conjecture has yet been produced. The same may be said of the place of publication. Jerom thinks it was published in Achaia, when Paul was in that country, attended by Luke ; and by the computation of Euthymius, it was fifteen years after our Lord's ascension : but Paul's journey into Achaia could not have been so early. Grotius supposes that both the Gospel and the Acts were written soon after Paul left Rome to travel into Spain. His principal reason seems to have been, because the latter of these histories ends nearly about that time, to wit, when Paul was first a prisoner at Rome. But though this may be admitted to be a very strong presumption that the Acts of the Apostles were composed then, it affords no sort of evidence that the Gospel may not have been composed and published long before. That it actually was some time before the other, appears to me the more probable supposition of the two. By the introduction to the Gospel, where the author particularly addresses himself to his friend Theophilus, bis whole intention at that time appears to have been, to give a history of our Lord's life, teaching, and miracles. And, even in concluding the Gospel, no bint is given of any continuation or further history then in view. Again, in the beginning of the Acts, when he addresses the same friend, he speaks of the Gospel as of a treatise which he had composed on a former occasion, and which was then well known. And as to the place of publication, though nothing certain can be affirmed concerning it, I am inclined to think it more probable that it was Antioch, or at least some part of Syria, if not of Palestine. Every thing here seems addressed to those who were well acquainted with Jewish customs and places. No hints are inserted by the way of explanation, as we find in the Gospels of Mark and John.
9. But, though no certainty can be had about the precise time and place of publication, we have, in regard to the author, the same plea of the uniform testimony of Christian antiquity which was pleaded in favor of the preceding evangelists, Matthew and Mark. Some indeed have thought that, as an evangelist, Luke has the testimony of Paul himself, being, as they suppose, the brother whose praise is in the Gospel, mentioned in 2 Cor. 8: 18. But admitting that Luke is the person there intended, another ineaning may, with greater plausibility, be put on the expression in the Gospel
, which rather denotes in preaching the gospel, than in writing the history of its author. The name evangelist was first applied to those extraordinary ministers, such as Philip and Timothy, both expressly called so, (Acts 21: 8. 2 Tim. 4: 5), who atiended the apostles, and assisted them in their work. Luke was doubtless an evangelist in this sense, as well as in the current but later acceptation of the term. It may indeed be justly affirmed, that Paul appears to have been the first who has quoted this Gospel, though he does not name Luke, and quoted it as of authority. In writing to Timothy he has these words, For the Scripture saith, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn," and“ The laborer is worthy of his reward,” I Tim. 5: 18. The former of these sayings is a quotation from the Pentateuch, Deut. 25: 4; the latter is found nowhere else in these terms but in Luke. (10:7), whose very words the apostle has adopted. "Αξιος ο εργάτης του μισθού autoū. Lardner has taken notice of allusions to some passages in this Gospel to be found in some of the apostolic fathers; and there are evident quotations from it, though without naming the author, in Justin Martyr, and the Epistle of the churches of Vienne and Lyons. Tatian, a little after the middle of the second century, composed a Harmony of the Gospels, the first of the kind that bad
been attempted, which he called the DiaTeSSARON, (dià teocáowr), of the four, and which demonstrates that at that time there were four Gospels, and no more, of established authority in the church. Irenæus, not long after, inentions all the evangelists by name, arranging them according to the order wherein they wrote, which is the same with that universally given them, thoughout the Christian world, to this day. When he speaks of Luke, he recites many particulars which are peculiar to that Gospel. And, though the reasons assigned by that ancient author why the Gospels can be neither fewer nor more than four, we should justly consider as very whimsical; the attempt, though unsuccessful, to account for it, shows at least the certainty of the fact, that the four Gospels were then received by Christians of all denominations, and that beside them there was no Gospel or history of Jesus of any estimationi n the church. From that time downwards, the four evangelists are often mentioned; and whatever spurious narratives have from time to time appeared, they have not been able to bear a comparison with those, in respect either of antiquity or of intrinsic excellence. Early in the third century, Ammonius also wrote a Harmony of the four Gospels. As these were at that time, and had been from their first publication, so they continue to this day to be regarded as the great foundations of the Christian faith. If Monsieur Freret had been so lucky as to meet with Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, and had taken the trouble to read it attentively before he wrote his Examen Critique, bis natural penetration must have made him sensible, notwithstanding the artless simplicity of the English writer, how little his own much-labored remarks can bear a comparison with the naked truth.
10. The Gospel by Luke has supplied us with many interesting particulars, which had been omitted by both his predecessors, Matthew and Mark. From him we learn whatever relates to the birth of John the Baptist ; the annunciation, and other important circumstances concerning the nativity of the Messiah ; the occasion of Joseph's being then in Bethlehem; the vision granted to the shepherds; the early testimonies of Simeon and Anna; the wonderful manifestation of our Lord's proficiency in knowledge, when only twelve years old : his age at the commencement of his ministry, connected with the year of the reigning emperor. He has given us also an account of several memorable incidents and cures which had been overlooked by the rest; the conversion of Zaccheus the publican; the cure of the woman who had been bowed down for eighteen years, and of the dropsical man ; the cleansing of the ten lepers ; the repulse he met with when about to enter a Samaritan city; and the instructive rebuke he gave, on that occasion, to two apostles, for their intemperate zeal : also the affecting interview he had, after his resurrection, with two of his disciples, in the VOL. II.