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by Frédéric Louis Godet
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE
Frederick Louis Godet
Of the translation from the
Second French Edition
E. W. Shalders, D.A.
A year and half has passed away and how swiftly! since the publication of this Commentary, and already a second edition has become necessary. I bless the Lord for the acceptance which this work has met with in the churches of Switzerland and of France, and I hail it as a symptom of that revived interest in exegetical studies, which has always appeared to me one of their most urgent needs. I tender my special thanks to the authors of those favourable reviews which have given effectual aid towards the attainment of this result.
Almost every page of this second edition bears the traces of corrections in the form of my former work; but the substance of its exegesis and criticism remains the same. Of only one passage, or rather of only one term ( second-first, Luk 6:1 ), has the interpretation been modified. Besides that, I have made a number of additions occasioned by the publication of two works, one of which I have very frequently quoted, and the other as often controverted. I refer to M. Gess' book, Sur la Personne et l'OEuvre de Christ (first part), and to La Vie de Jésus by M. Keim (the last two volumes).
In a recent article of the Protestantische Kirchenzeitung, M. Holtzmann has challenged my critical standpoint as being determined by a dogmatic prepossession. But has he forgotten the advantage which Strauss took in his first Vie de Jésus of the hypothesis of Gieseler, which I have defended? The reader having the whole before him will judge. He will see for himself whether the attempt to explain in a natural and rational way the origin of the three synoptical texts by means of common written sources is successful. There is one fact especially which still waits for explanation, namely, the Aramaisms of Luke. These Aramaisms are met with not only in passages which belong exclusively to this Hellenistic writer, but also in those which are common to him and the other writers, who were of Jewish origin, and in whose parallel passages nothing of a similar kind is to be found! This fact remains as a rock, against which all the various hypotheses I have controverted are completely shattered, and especially that of Holtzmann. May not the somewhat ungenerous imputation of the Professor of Heidelberg, whose earnest labours no one admires more than myself, have been inspired by a slight feeling of wounded self-esteem?
And now, may this Commentary renew its course with the blessing of the Lord, to whose service it is consecrated; and may its second voyage be as prosperous and short as the first!
NEUCHATEL, August 1870.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
A Commentary on the Gospel of John remains an unfinished work so long as it is left unaccompanied by a similar work on at least one of the synoptical Gospels. Of these three writings, the Gospel of Luke appeared to me best fitted to serve as a complement to the exegetical work which I had previously published, because, as M. Sabatier has well shown in his short but substantial Essai sur les Sources de la Vie de Jésus, Luke's writing constitutes, in several important respects, a transition between the view taken by John and that which forms the basis of the synoptical literature.
The exegetical method pursued is very nearly the same as in my preceding Commentary. I have not written merely for professed theologians; nor have I aimed directly at edification. This work is addressed, in general, to those readers of culture, so numerous at the present day, who take a heart-felt interest in the religious and critical questions which are now under discussion. To meet their requirements, a translation has been given of those Greek expressions which it was necessary to quote, and technical language has as far as possible been avoided. The most advanced ideas of modern unbelief circulate at the present time in all our great centres of population. In the streets of our cities, workmen are heard talking about the conflict between St. Paul and the other apostles of Jesus Christ. We must therefore endeavour to place the results of a real and impartial Biblical science within reach of all. I repeat respecting this Commentary what I have already said of its predecessor; it has been written, not so much with a view to its being consulted, as read.
From the various readings, I have had to select those which had a certain value, or presented something of interest. A commentary cannot pretend to supply the place of a complete critical edition such as all scientific study requires. Since I cannot in any way regard the eighth edition of Tischendorf's text just published as a standard text, though I gratefully acknowledge its aid as absolutely indispensable, I have adopted the received text as a basis in indicating the various readings; but I would express my earnest desire for an edition of the Byzantine text that could be regarded as a standard authority.
Frequently I have contented myself with citing the original text of the ancient manuscripts, without mentioning the changes made in it by later hands; but whenever these changes offered anything that could be of any interest, I have indicated them.
If I am asked with what scientific or religious assumptions I have approached this study of the third Gospel, I reply, With these two only: that the authors of our Gospels were men of good sense and good faith.
The Introduction of a Biblical Commentary is not designed to solve the various questions relating to the origin of the book under consideration. This solution must be the result of the study of the book itself, and not be assumed beforehand. The proper work of introduction is to prepare the way for the study of the sacred book; it should propose questions, not solve them.
But there is one side of the labour of criticism which may, and indeed ought to be treated before exegesis the historical. And by this we understand: 1. The study of such facts of ecclesiastical history as may throw light upon the time of publication and the sources of the work which is to engage our attention; 2. The review of the various opinions which have been entertained respecting the origin of this book, particularly in modern times. The first of these studies supplies exegetical and critical labour with its starting-point; the second determines its aim. The possession of these two kinds of information is the condition of the maintenance and advancement of science.
This introduction, then, will aim at making the reader acquainted with
I. The earliest traces of the existence of our Gospel, going back as far as possible in the history of the primitive Church.
II. The statements made by ancient writers as to the person of the author, and the opinions current at the present day on this point.
III. The information furnished by tradition respecting the circumstances in which this uriting was composed (its readers, date, locality, design), as well as the different views which criticism has taken of these various questions.
IV. The ideas which scholars have formed of the sources whence the author derived the subject-matter of his narrations.
V. Lastly, the documents by means of which the text of this writing has been preserved to us.
An introduction of this kind is not complete without a conclusion in which the questions thus raised find their solution. This conclusion should seek to combine the facts established by tradition with the results obtained from exegesis.
SEC. I. TRACES OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE THIRD GOSPEL IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.
We take as our starting-point the middle of the second century, and our aim is not to come down the stream, but to ascend it. It is admitted, indeed, that at this epoch our Gospel was universally known and received, not only in the great Church (an expression of Celsus, about 150), but also by the sects which were detached from it. This admission rests on some indisputable quotations from this book in Theophilus of Antioch (about 170) and Irenaeus (about 180), and in the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (in 177); on the fact, amply verified by the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, that the Gnostic Heracleon had published a commentary on the Gospel of Luke as well as on the Gospel of John (between 175-195); on the very frequent use which Valentinus, or at least writers of his school, made of this Gospel; lastly, on numerous quotations from Luke, acknowledged by all scholars at the present day, contained in the Clementine Homilies (about 160). It is not surprising, therefore, that Origen ranks Luke's work among the number of those four Gospels admitted by all the churches under heaven, and that Eusebius places it among the homologoumena of the new covenant. The only matter of importance here is to investigate that obscure epoch, the first half of the second century, for any indications which may serve to prove the presence and influence of our Gospel. We meet with them in four departments of inquiry, in the field of heresy, in the writings of the Fathers, in the pseudepigraphical literature, and lastly, in the biblical writings.
1. Heresy. Marcion, Cerdo, Basilides.
Marcion, a son of a bishop of Pontus, who was excommunicated by his own father, taught at Rome from 140-170. He proposed to purify the Gospel from the Jewish elements which the twelve, by reason of their education and Israelitish prejudices, had necessarily introduced into it. In order more effectually to remove this alloy, he taught that the God who created the world and legislated for the Jews was different from the supreme God who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and was only an inferior and finite being; that for this reason the Jewish law rested exclusively on justice, while the gospel was founded on charity. According to him, St. Paul alone had understood Jesus. Further, in the canon which Marcion formed, he only admitted the Gospel of Luke (on account of its affinity with the teaching of Paul), and ten epistles of this apostle. But even in these writings he felt himself obliged to suppress certain passages; for they constantly assume the divine character of the Old Testament, and attribute the creation of the visible universe to the God of Jesus Christ. Marcion, in conformity with his ideas about matter, denied the reality of the body of Jesus; and on this point, therefore, he found himself in conflict with numerous texts of Paul and Luke. The greater part of the modifications of Luke's text which were exhibited, according to the statements of Tertullian and Epiphanius, in the Gospel used by Marcion and his adherents, are to be accounted for in this way.
Notwithstanding this, the relation between the Gospel of Luke and that of this heretic has in modern times been represented in a totally different light. And the reason for this is not hard to find. The relation which we have just pointed out between these two writings, if clearly made out, is sufficient to prove that, at the time of Marcion's activity, Luke's Gospel existed in the collections of apostolic writings used in the churches, and to compel criticism to assign to this writing both ancient authority and a very early origin. Now this is just what the rationalistic school was not disposed to admit. Consequently, Semler and Eichhorn in the past century, and, with still greater emphasis, Ritschl, Baur, and Schwegler in our time, have maintained that the priority belonged to the Gospel of Marcion, that this work was the true primitive Luke, and that our canonical Luke was the result of a retouching of this more ancient work, accomplished in the second century in the sense of a modified Paulinism. We must do justice, however, to this critical school. No one has laboured more energetically to rectify this erroneous opinion, tentatively brought forward by several of its adherents. Hilgenfeld, and above all Volkmar, have successfully combated it, and Ritschl has expressly withdrawn it ( Theol. Jahrb. X. p. 528 et seq.); Bleek ( Einl. in. d. N. T. p. 122 et seq.) has given an able summary of the whole discussion. We shall only bring forward the following points, which seem to us the most essential:
1. The greater part of the differences which must have distinguished the Gospel of Marcion from our Luke are to be explained either as the result of his Gnostic system, or as mere critical corrections. Thus, Marcion suppressed the first two chapters on the birth of Jesus, a retrenchment which suited his Docetism; also in the passage Luke 13:28, “When you shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God,” he read, “When you shall see the just enter into the kingdom of heaven,” which alone answered to his theory of the old covenant; in the same way also, for the words of Jesus in Luke 16:17, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” Marcion read, “than that one tittle of the letter of my words should fail.” In both these instances, one must be blind not to see that it was Marcion who modified the text of Luke to suit his system, and not the reverse. Again, we read that the Gospel of Marcion began in this way: “ In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, Jesus descended to Capernaum ” (naturally, from heaven, without having passed through the human stages of birth and youth); then came the narrative of the first sojourn at Capernaum, just as it is related Luk 4:31 et seq.; and after that, only in the inverse order to that which obtains in our Gospel, the narrative of the visit to Nazareth, Luk 4:16 et seq. Is it not clear that such a beginning could not belong to the primitive writing, and that the transposition of the two narratives which follow was designed to do away with the difficulty presented by the words of the inhabitants of Nazareth ( Luk 4:23 ), as Luke places them, before the sojourn at Capernaum? The narrative of Marcion was then the result of a dogmatic and critical revision of Luke 3:1; Luke 4:31; Luke 4:16; Luke 4:23.
2. It is a well-known fact that Marcion had falsified the epistles of Paul by an exactly similar process.
3. Marcion's sect alone availed themselves of the Gospel used by this heretic. This fact proves that this work was not an evangelical writing already known, which the author of our Luke modified, and which Marcion alone had preserved intact.
From all this, a scientific criticism can only conclude that our Gospel of Luke was in existence before that of Marcion, and that this heretic chose this among all the Gospels which enter into the ecclesiastical collection as the one which he could most readily adapt to his system. About 140, then, our Gospel already possessed full authority, the result of a conviction of its apostolic origin.
Marcion did not create his system himself. Before him, Cerdo, according to Theodoret's account ( Haeret. fabulae, 1.24), proved by the Gospels that the just God of the old covenant and the good God of the new are different beings; and he founded this contrariety on the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-48; Luk 6:27-38 ). The Gospel of Luke must have sustained the principal part in this demonstration, if at least we credit the testimony of an ancient writer (Pseudo-Tertullian, in the conclusion of the De praescriptione haereticorum, c. 51): “ Solum evangelium Lucae, nec tamen totum, recipit [ Cerdo ].” Some years, then, before Marcion, Cerdo sought to prove the opposition of the law to the gospel by the written Gospels, especially by that of Luke.
Basilides, one of the most ancient known Gnostics, who is usually said to have flourished at Alexandria about 120, assumed for himself and his son Isidore the title of pupils of the Apostle Matthias. The statement of Hippolytus is as follows: “Basilides, with Isidore, his true son and disciple, said that Matthias had transmitted to them orally some secret instructions which he had received from the mouth of the Saviour in His private teaching.” This claim of Basilides implies the circulation of the book of the Acts, in which alone there is any mention of the apostolate of Matthias, and consequently of the Gospel of Luke, which was composed before the Acts.
2. The Fathers. Justin, Polycarp, Clement of Rome.
If it is proved that about 140, and at Rome, Cerdo and Marcion made use of the Gospel of Luke as a book generally received in the Church, it is quite impossible to suppose that this Gospel was not in the hands of Justin, who wrote in this very city some years later. Besides, the writings of Justin allow of no doubt as to this fact; and it is admitted at the present day by all the writers of that school which makes exclusive claims to be critical by Zeller, Volkmar, and Hilgenfeld. With this admission before us, we know what the assertions of M. Nicolas are worth, which he does not scruple to lay before French readers, who have so little acquaintance with questions of this nature, such an assertion, for instance, as this: “It is impossible to read the comparisons which critics of this school [the orthodox] are accustomed to make between certain passages of Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and even Justin Martyr, and analogous passages from our Gospels, without being tempted to think that the cause must be very bad that can need, or that can be satisfied with, such arguments.” It appears that Messrs. Zeller, Hilgenfeld, and Volkmar are all implicated together in furbishing up these fallacious arguments in favour of orthodoxy! Here are some passages which prove unanswerably that Justin Martyr used our third Gospel: Dial. c. 100, he quotes almost verbatim Luke 1:26-30. Ibid. c. 78, and Apol. 1.34, he mentions the census of Quirinus in the very terms of Luke. Dial. c. 41 and 70, and Apol. 1.66, he refers to the institutution of the Holy Supper according to the text of Luke. Dial. c. 103, he says: “In the memoirs which I say were composed by His apostles, and by those that accompanied them, [it is related] that the sweat rolled from Him in drops whilst He prayed,” etc. ( Luk 22:44 ). Ibid., Justin refers to Jesus having been sent to Herod, an incident only related by Luke. Ibid. c. 105, he quotes the last words of Jesus, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit,” as taken from The Memoirs of the Apostles. This prayer is only recorded by Luke ( Luk 23:46 ). We have only indicated the quotations expressly acknowledged as such by Zeller himself ( Apostelgesch. pp. 26-37).
It is impossible, then, to doubt that the Gospel of Luke formed part of those apostolic memoirs quoted eighteen times by Justin, and from which he has derived the greater part of the facts of the Gospel that are mentioned by him.
The Acts of the Apostles having been written after the Gospel, and by the same author (these two facts are admitted by all true criticism), every passage of the Fathers which proves the existence of this book at a given moment demonstrates à fortiori the existence of the Gospel at the same time. We may therefore adduce the following passage from Polycarp, which we think can only be explained as a quotation from the Acts:
῝Ον ὁ Θεὸς ἀνέστησεν , θανάτου .
“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the [birth-] pains of death.” Polyc. ad Phil ch. 1.
῝Ον ἤγειρεν ὁ Θεὸς λύσας τὰς λύσας τὰς ὠδῖνας τοῦ ὠδῖνας τοῦ ᾅδου . “
Whom God hath awakened, having loosed the [birth-] pains of Hades.”
The identical construction of the proposition in the two writings, the choice of the term λύσας , and the strange expression, the birth-pains of death (Acts) or of Hades (Polyc.), scarcely permit us to doubt that the passage in Polycarp was taken from that in the Acts.
In the Epistle of Clement of Rome there is an exhortation beginning with these words: “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, in which He taught equity and generosity;” then comes a passage in which the texts of Matthew and Luke in the Sermon on the Mount appear to be combined, but where, in the opinion of Volkmar, the text of Luke predominates (Luke 6:31; Luk 6:36-38 ). In this same letter the Acts are twice quoted, first at c. 18, where mention is made of a divine testimony respecting King David, and there is an amalgamation of the two following Old Testament passages: 1Sa 13:14 and Psalms 89:21. Now a precisely similar fusion, or very nearly so, is found in the book of the Acts ( Luk 13:22 ). How could this almost identical combination of two such distinct passages of the Old Testament have occurred spontaneously to the two writers?
The other quotation is an expression of eulogy which Clement addresses to the Corinthians (c. 2): “Giving more willingly than receiving ( μᾶλλον δίδοντες ἢ λαμβάνοντες ),” a repetition of the very words of Jesus cited by Paul, Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive ( διδόναι μᾶλλον ἢ λαμβάνειν ).” No doubt these are allusions rather than quotations properly so called. But we know that this is the ordinary mode of quotation in the Fathers.
It is true that the Tübingen school denies the authenticity of the epistles of Clement and Polycarp, and assigns them, the former to the first quarter, and the latter to the second part, of the second century; but the authenticity of the former in particular is guaranteed by the most unexceptionable testimonies. Although in many respects not at all flattering to the church of Corinth, it was deposited in the archives of this church, and, according to the testimony of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth about 170, was frequently read publicly to the congregation. Further, it is quoted by Polycarp, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus. Now, if it is authentic, it dates, not from 125, as Volkmar thinks, but at latest from the end of the first century. According to Hase, it belongs to between 80 and 90; according to Tischendorf, it dates from 69, or, less probably, from 96. For our part, we should regard this last date as most probable. In any case, we see that the use of Luke's writings in this letter confers a very high antiquity on their diffusion and authority.
3. The Pseudepigraphical Writings. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.
Among the writings of Jewish or Jewish-Christian origin which antiquity has bequeathed to us, there is one which appears to have been composed by a Christian Jew, desirous of bringing his fellow - countrymen to the Christian faith. With this view he represents the twelve sons of Jacob as speaking on their death-beds, and assigns to each of them a prophetic discourse, in which they depict the future lot of their people, and announce the blessings to be conferred by the gospel. Contrary to the opinion of M. Reuss, who places the composition of this work after the middle of the second century, de Groot and Langen think that it belongs to the end of the first or the beginning of the second. As this book alludes to the first destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70, but in no way refers to the second by Adrian in 135, it must, it would seem, date from the interval between these two events. It contains numerous quotations from Luke as well as from the other evangelists, but the following passage is particularly important: “In the last days, said Benjamin to his sons, there shall spring from my race a ruler according to the Lord, who, after having heard His voice, shall spread a new light among the heathen. He shall abide in the synagogues of the heathen to the end of the ages, and shall be in the mouth of their chiefs as a pleasant song. His work and his word shall be written in the holy books. He shall be chosen of God for eternity. My father Jacob hath told me about him who is to make up for the deficiencies of my race.” The Apostle Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and there is an allusion in this passage to his work as described in the book of the Acts, and probably also to his epistles as containing his word. There is no doubt, then, that the book of the Acts is here referred to as constituting part of the collection of holy books ( ἐν βίβλοις ταῖς ἁγίαις ). This passage is thus the parallel of the famous As it is written, which is found in the Epistle of Barnabas, and which serves as a preamble, about the same time, to a quotation from the Gospel of St. Matthew. Before the end of the first century, therefore, there were collections of apostolic writings in the churches, the contents of which we cannot exactly describe: they varied, no doubt, in different churches, which were already regarded equally with the Old Testament as holy; and in these, the book of the Acts, and consequently the Gospel of Luke, found a place.
4. Biblical Writings. John, Mark, Acts.
The whole Gospel of John supposes, as we think has been proved in our Commentary upon that book, the existence of our synoptics, and their propagation in the Church. As to Luke in particular, Luk 10:38-42 must be compared with John 11:0 and John 12:1-8; then Luk 24:1-12 and Luk 24:36-49 with Joh 20:1-18 and John 20:19-23, where John's narrative appears to allude, sometimes even in expression, to Luke's.
The first distinct and indubitable trace of the influence of Luke's Gospel on a book of the New Testament is found in the conclusion of Mark ( Mar 16:9-20 ). On the one hand, we hope to prove that, until we come to this fragment, the composition of Mark is quite independent of Luke's narrative. On the other hand, it is evident that from this point the narrative of Mark, notwithstanding some peculiarities, is scarcely anything but an abridged reproduction of Luke's. It is, as it has been called, the most clearly marked style of extract. Compare ver. 9b and Luke 8:2; vers. 10, 11, and Luke 24:10-12; ver. 12 and Luke vers. 13-32; ver. 13 and Luke vers. 33-35; ver. 14a and Luke vers. 36-43. It is possible also that Joh 20:1-17 may have had some influence on ver. 9a. As to the discourse vers. 15-18, and the fragment vers. 19, 20, the author of this conclusion must have taken these from materials of his own. Now we know that this conclusion to Mark, from Luke 16:9, was wanting, according to the statements of the Fathers, in a great many ancient MSS.; that it is not found at the present day in either of the two most ancient documents, the Sinaitic or Vatican; that the earliest trace of it occurs in Irenaeus; and that an entirely different conclusion, bearing, however, much more evidently the impress of a later ecclesiastical style, is the reading of some other documents. If, then, the conclusion found in the received text is not from the hand of the author, still it is earlier than the middle of the second century. We must also admit that no considerable interval could have elapsed between the composition of the Gospel and the composition of this conclusion; for the discourse, ver. 15 et seq., is too original to be a mere compilation: further, it must have been drawn up from materials dating from the time of the composition of the Gospel; and the remarkable agreement which exists between the ending, vers. 19 and 20, and the general thought of the book, proves that whoever composed this conclusion had fully entered into the mind of the author. The latter must have been suddenly interrupted in his work; for Luk 16:8 could never have been the intended conclusion of his narrative. An appearance of Jesus in Galilee is announced (v. 1-8), and the narrative ought not to finish without giving an account of this. Besides, ver. 9 is quite a fresh beginning, for there is an evident break of connection between this verse and ver. 8.
From all these considerations, it follows that at ver. 8 the work was suddenly suspended, and that a short time after, a writer, who was still in the current of the author's thought, and who might have had the advantage of some materials prepared by him, drew up this conclusion. Now, if up to Luk 16:8 the Gospel of Luke has exercised no influence on Mark's work, and if, on the contrary, from Luk 16:9 there is a perceptible influence of the former on the latter, there is only one inference to be drawn, namely, that the Gospel of Luke appeared in the interval between the composition of Mark and the writing of its conclusion. In order, then, to fix the date of the publication of our Gospel, it becomes important to know by what circumstance the author of the second Gospel was interrupted in his work. The only probable explanation of this fact, as it appears to us, is the unexpected outbreak of Nero's persecution in August 64, just the time when Mark was at Rome with Peter. At the request of the faithful belonging to this church, he had undertaken to write the narratives of this apostle, in other words, the composition of our second Gospel. The persecution which broke out, and the violent death of his master, probably forced him to take precipitous flight from the capital. It is only necessary to suppose that a copy of the yet unfinished work remained in the hands of some Roman Christian, and was deposited in the archives of his church, to explain how the Gospel at first got into circulation in its incomplete form. When, a little while after, some one set to work to complete it, the Gospel of Luke had appeared, and was consulted. The work, finished by help of Luke's Gospel, was copied and circulated in this new form. In this way the existence of the two kinds of copies is explained. The year 64 would then be the terminus a quo of the publication of Luke. On the other hand, the writing of the conclusion of Mark must have preceded the publication, or at least the diffusion, of the Gospel of Matthew. Otherwise the continuator of Mark would certainly have given it the preference, because its narrative bears an infinitely closer resemblance than Luke's to the account he was completing. The composition of the canonical conclusion of Mark would then be prior to the diffusion of our Matthew, and consequently before the close of the first century, when this writing was already clothed with a divine authority equal to that of the Old Testament (p. 11). Now, since the conclusion of Mark implies the existence of the Gospel of Luke, we see to what a high antiquity these facts, when taken together, oblige us to refer the composition of the latter.
The other biblical writing which presents a point of connection with our Gospel is the book of the Acts. From its opening verses, this writing supposes the Gospel of Luke already composed and known to its readers. When was the book of the Acts composed? From the fact that it terminates so suddenly with the mention of Paul's captivity at Rome (spring 62 to 64), it has often been concluded that events had proceeded just thus far at the time the work was composed. This conclusion, it is true, is hasty, for it may have been the author's intention only to carry his story as far as the apostle's arrival at Rome. His book was not intended to be a biography of the apostles generally, nor of Peter and Paul in particular; it was the work that was important to him, not the workmen. Nevertheless, when we observe the fulness of the narrative, especially in the latter parts of the work; when we see the author relating the minutest details of the tempest and Paul's shipwreck (xxvii.), and mentioning even the sign of the ship which carried the apostle to Italy (Acts 28:11, “A ship of Alexandria, whose sign was Castor and Pollux ”), it cannot be reasonably maintained that it was a vigorous adherence to his plan which prevented his giving his readers some details respecting the end of this ministry, and the martyrdom of his master. Or might he have proposed to make this the subject of a third work? Had he a mind to compose a trilogy, after the fashion of the Greek tragedians? The idea of a third work might no doubt be suggested to him afterwards by subsequent events; and this appears to be the sense of certain obscure words in the famous fragment of Muratori. But it is not very probable that such an intention could have determined his original plan, and influenced the composition of his two former works. What matter could appear to the author of sufficient importance to be placed on a level, as the subject of a τρίτος λόγος , with the contents of the Gospel or the Acts? Or, lastly, was it the premature death of the author which came and put an end to his labour? There is no ground for this supposition. The conclusion, Acts 28:30-31, while resembling analogous conclusions at the end of each narrative in the Gospel and in the Acts, has rather the effect of a closing period intentionally affixed to the entire book. We are then, in fact, brought back to the idea that Paul's career was not yet finished when the author of the Acts terminated his narrative, and wrote the last two verses of chap. 28; since, were this not the case, fidelity to his plan would in no way have prevented his giving some details on a subject so interesting to his readers. The book of the Acts, therefore, does not appear to have been written very long after the time which forms the termination of the narrative. This conclusion, if well founded, applies à fortiori to the Gospel of Luke.
To sum up: the use which was made of the third Gospel at Rome, in the middle of the second century, by Justin, Marcion, and his master Cerdo, and the apostolic authority implied in the diffusion of this work, and in the respect it enjoyed at this period, oblige us to admit its existence as early as the beginning of this century. A very recent book could not have been known and used thus simultaneously in the Church and by the sects. The place which the Acts held in collections of the sacred writings at the epoch of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (towards the end of the first or the commencement of the second century), sends us back a little further, to about 80-100. Lastly, the relations of the third Gospel to Mark and the Acts carry us to an epoch still more remote, even as far back as the period from 64 to 80.
An objection to this result has been found in the silence of Papias, a silence which Hilgenfeld has even thought an indication of positive rejection on the part of this Father. But because Eusebius has only preserved the information furnished by Papias respecting the composition of Mark and Matthew only a few lines altogether it does not follow that Papias did not know Luke, or that, if he knew, he rejected him. All that can reasonably be inferred from this silence is, that Eusebius had not found anything of interest in Papias as to the origin of Luke's book. And what is there surprising in that? Matthew and Mark had commenced their narratives without giving the smallest detail respecting the composition of their books; Luke, on the contrary, in his preface, had told his readers all they needed to know. There was no tradition, then, current on this point, and so Papias had found nothing new to add to the information given by the author.
We ought to say, in concluding this review, that we do not attach a decisive value to the facts we have just noticed, and that among the results arrived at there are several which we are quite aware are not indisputable. Nevertheless, it has appeared to us that there were some interesting coincidences ( points de repère) which a careful study of the subject should not overlook. The only fact which appears to us absolutely decisive is the ecclesiastical and liturgical use of our Gospel in the churches in the middle of the second century, as it is established by Justin. If this book really formed part of those Memoirs of the Apostles, which he declared to the Emperor were publicly read every Sunday in the Christian assemblies, the apostolic antiquity of this book must have been a fact of public notoriety, and all the more that it did not bear the name of an apostle at the head of it.
SEC. II. THE AUTHOR.
Under this title are included two distinct questions: I. What do we know of the person designated in the title as the author of our Gospel? II. By what ecclesiastical testimonies is the composition of this book traced to him, and what is their worth?
I. What do we know of the person designated in the title as the author of our Gospel?
The person named Luke is only mentioned in certain passages of the New Testament, and in some few brief ecclesiastical traditions.
The biblical passages are: Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you;” Philemon 1:24, “There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow-labourers;” 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me.”
These passages, considered in their context, yield these results:
1. That Luke was a Christian of pagan origin. This is proved beyond doubt in the first passage by the distinction between the group of Christians of the circumcision (vers. 10, 11), and the following group to which Luke belongs (vers. 12-14). The objection which has been taken to this exegetical inference, on the ground of an Aramaean tincture of style in many passages of Luke, has, so far as we can see, no force. Accordingly, St Luke would be the only author, among those who were called to write the Scriptures, who was not of Jewish origin.
2. The circumstance that his profession was that of a physician is not unimportant; for it implies that he must have possessed a certain amount of scientific knowledge, and belonged to the class of educated men. There existed at Rome, in the time of the Emperors, a medical supervision; a superior college ( Collegium archiatrorum) was charged with the duty of examining in every city those who desired to practise the healing art. Newly admitted men were placed under the direction of older physicians; their modes of treatment were strictly scrutinized, and their mistakes severely punished, sometimes by taking away their diploma. For these reasons, Luke must have possessed an amount of scientific and literary culture above that of most of the other evangelists and apostles.
3. Luke was the fellow-labourer of Paul in his mission to the heathen, a fellow-labourer greatly beloved ( Col 4:14 ) and faithful ( 2Ti 4:9-12 ).
But here arises an important question. Does the connection which has just been proved between Paul and Luke date, as Bleek thinks, only from the apostle's sojourn at Rome, a city in which Luke had long been established as a physician and where he had been converted by Paul? Or had Luke already become the companion of the apostle before his arrival at Rome, and had he taken part in his missionary toils in Greece or in Asia? The solution of this question depends on the way in which we regard a certain number of passages in the Acts, in which the author passes all at once from the third person, they, to the form of the first person, we. If it is admitted (1) that Luke is the author of the Acts (a question which we cannot yet deal with), and (2) that the author, in thus expressing himself, wishes to intimate that at certain times he shared the apostle's work, it is evident that our knowledge of his life will be considerably enriched by these passages. It is only this second question that we shall examine here.
The passages of which we speak are three in number: Luke 16:10-17; Luk 20:5 to Acts 21:17; Act 27:1 to Acts 28:16. Here several suppositions are possible: Either Luke, the author of the entire book, describes in the first person the scenes in which he was himself present; or the author, either Luke or some Christian of the first age, inserts in his work such and such fragments of a traveller's journal kept by one of Paul's companions by Timothy or Silas, for example; or, lastly, a forger of later times, with a view to accredit his work and make it pass for Luke's, to whom he ventures to attribute it, introduces into it some fragments of Luke, changing their substance and remodelling their form, but purposely allowing the first person to stand in these portions. The first supposition is the one that has been most generally admitted from ancient times: the second has been maintained by Schleiermacher and Bleek, who attribute the journal whence these portions are taken to Timothy; also by Schwanbeck, who makes it the work of Silas: the third is the hypothesis defended by Zeller.
If the first explanation is the most ancient, it is because it is that which most naturally occurs to the mind. After the author, at the beginning of his book, had made use of the first person, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,” would it not be evident to his readers that when, in the course of the narrative, he came to say we, it was with the intention of indicating himself as a witness of the facts related? If he had borrowed these fragments from the journal of another, why did he not assimilate them in form to the rest of the narrative? Surely it was not difficult for such a writer as he was to change the first person into the third. It is maintained that the author is an unskilled writer, who does not know how to work up his materials; but Zeller rightly replies that the unity of style, aim, and method which prevails throughout the book of the Acts, proves, on the contrary, that the author has made very skilful use of the documents at his disposal. De Wette himself, although a supporter of Schleiermacher's theory, is obliged to acknowledge this. And if this is so, it is impossible to explain how the author could have allowed this we to stand. Besides, this explanation has to contend with other difficulties. If this pronoun we emanates from the pen of Timothy, how is it that it does not come in at the moment when Timothy enters on the scene and joins Paul and Silas? How is it, again, that it suddenly disappears, although Timothy continues the journey with Paul (from his departure from Philippi and during his entire stay in Achaia, Acts 18:0; comp. with 1 and 2Th 1:1 )? Above all, how is it that this we is resumed, Luke 20:5, in a passage in which the writer who thus designates himself is expressly opposed to a number of persons among whom figures Timothy? Bleek tries to draw out of this difficulty by applying the pronoun οὗτοι , these, ver. 5, simply to the last two of the persons mentioned, Tychicus and Trophimus. But every one must feel that this is a forced explanation. As Zeller says, had this been the case, it would have been necessary to have said οὗτοι οἱ δύο , these two.
The same and even greater difficulties prevent our thinking of Silas, since, according to the Epistles, after their stay at Corinth, this missionary no longer appears in company with Paul, yet the we goes on to the end of the Acts. As to the opinion of Zeller, it makes the author an impostor, who determined to assume the mask of Luke in order the more easily to obtain credence for his history. But whence comes the unanimous tradition which attributes the Gospel and the Acts to Luke, when he is never once named in these works as their author? In order to explain this fact, Zeller is obliged to have recourse to a fresh hypothesis, that the forger in the first instance had inscribed Luke's name at the head of his work, and that afterwards, by some unknown accident, the name was dropped, although the Church had fallen completely into the snare. Can a more improbable supposition be imagined? The ancient explanation, which is that of common sense, is, after all these fruitless attempts, the only one scientifically admissible: the author of the Acts employed the pronoun we in every case in which he himself was present at the scenes described.
To this exegetical conclusion only two objections of any value have been offered: 1. The sudden character of the appearance and disappearance of the pronoun we in the narrative. A companion of Paul, it is said, would have indicated how it was he happened to be with the apostle, and why he left him. 2. Schleiermacher asks how a new-comer, converted only yesterday, could have expressed himself with so little modesty as: “immediately we endeavoured...; the Lord had called us...” ( Act 16:10 ). But how do we know that the author had not been for a long while connected with the apostle when he met with him at Troas (see sec. 3)? Besides, was not Timothy himself also quite a recent convert? That the writer does not explain the circumstances which led to his meetings with Paul and his partings from him, is in accordance with that modest reticence observed by the sacred writers whenever they themselves are concerned. They avoid, with a kind of shame, whatever might direct the attention of the reader to themselves. Obliged by fidelity to truth to indicate his presence wherever he formed part of the missionary company, the author could not do this in a more natural and modest way than that which dispenses with his naming himself.
On the supposition that Luke is the author of the Acts, we may supplement what we know about him by the information supplied by those passages in which the we is employed. At Troas, where he was when Paul, whom he had known perhaps long before (p. 21), arrived there, he joined the three missionaries, and passed with them into Europe. He remained at Philippi, the first church founded on this continent, when persecution obliged his three companions to leave the city. For the we ceases from this moment. Since this pronoun only reappears when Paul again comes to Philippi, at the end of his third journey ( Luk 20:5 ), it follows that Luke remained attached to this church during the second and third missionary journey of the apostle, and that then he rejoined him in order to accompany him to Jerusalem. And as the we is continued to the end of the book (the interruption, Act 21:17 to Acts 26:32, not being really such), Luke must have remained in Palestine with the apostle during the time of his imprisonment in Caesarea. This explains the expression ( Act 27:1 ): “And when it was determined we should sail into Italy.” Luke, therefore, with Aristarchus ( Act 26:2 ), was Paul's companion in his journey to Rome. According to the Epistles, from that time to the end, save during those temporary absences when he was called away in the service of the gospel, he faithfully shared Paul's sufferings and toil.
Before leaving the domain of Scripture, we must mention an ingenious conjecture, due to Thiersch, which appears to us open to no substantial objection. From these words, “Only Luke is with me” ( 2Ti 4:11 ), compared with what follows almost immediately ( 2Ti 4:13 ), “Bring with thee the books, and especially the parchments,” this writer has concluded that at the time Paul thus wrote he was occupied in some literary labour for which these manuscripts were required. In this case it must also be admitted that Luke, who was alone with him at the time, was not unacquainted with this labour, if even it was not his own.
These results obtained from Scripture fit in without difficulty with a piece of information supplied by the Fathers Eusebius and Jerome tell us that Luke was originally from Antioch. Meyer and De Wette see in this nothing but an exegetical conclusion, drawn from Acts 13:1, where mention is made of one Lucius exercising his ministry in the church at Antioch. But this supposition does very little honour to the discernment of these Fathers, since in this very passage Lucius is described as originally from Cyrene in Africa. Besides, the name Lucius (from the root lux, lucere) has quite a different etymology from Lucas, which is an abbreviation from Lucanus (as Silas from Silvanus, etc.). If Luke had really found a home at Antioch, we can understand the marked predilection with which the foundation of the church in that city is related in the Acts. In the lines devoted to this fact ( Luk 11:20-24 ) there is a spirit, animation, and freshness which reveal the charm of delightful recollections. And in this way we easily understand the manner in which the scene at Troas is described ( Luk 16:10 ). Paul and the gospel were old acquaintances to Luke when he joined the apostle at Troas.
We cannot, on the other hand, allow any value to the statement of Origen and Epiphanius, who reckon Luke in the number of the seventy disciples; this opinion is contrary to the declaration of Luke himself, Luke 1:2. Could Luke be, according to the opinion referred to by Theophylact, that one of the two disciples of Emmaus whose name is not recorded? This opinion appears to be a conjecture rather than a tradition. The historian Nicephorus Kallistus (fourteenth century) makes Luke the painter who transmitted to the church the portraits of Jesus and His mother. This information rests, perhaps, as Bleek presumes, on a confusion of our evangelist with some ancient painter of the same name. We know absolutely nothing certain respecting the latter part of his life. The passage in Jerome, found in some old editions of the De viris, according to which Luke lived a celibate to the age of eighty-four years, is not found in any ancient manuscript; it is an interpolation. Gregory Nazianzen ( Orat. iii. Advers. Julian.) is the first who confers on him the honour of martyrdom; Nicephorus maintains that he was hanged on an olive tree in Greece at the age of eighty years. These are just so many legends, the origin of which we have no means of ascertaining. It appears, however, that there was a widespread tradition that he ended his days in Achaia. For there, according to Jerome ( De vir. ill. c. 7), the Emperor Constantine sought for his ashes to transport them to Constantinople. Isidore maintains that they were brought from Bithynia.
Is this person really the author of our third Gospel and of the Acts? We have to study the testimonies on which, historically speaking, this opinion rests.
II. By what ecclesiastical testimonies is the composition of this book traced to him, and what is their worth?
1. At the basis of all the particular testimonies we must place the general opinion of the Church as expressed in its title, According to Luke. There was but one conviction on this point in the second century from one extremity of the Church to the other, as we can still prove by the ancient versions in the Syriac and Latin tongues, the Peschito and the Italic. As to the meaning of the prep. κατά , according to, in this title, see the exegesis. We will only observe here, that if this preposition could bear the sense of in the manner of, after the example of, in the case of Matthew and John, who were apostles, and therefore original authors of an evangelical tradition, this explanation becomes impossible when applied to Mark and Luke, who, since they never accompanied Jesus, could not assume the part of creators of a special tradition, but could only be designated compilers.
2. The first special testimony is implied in a passage of Justin Martyr, who, in reference to Jesus' sweat in Gethsemane, says: “As that is related in the memoirs ( ἀπομνημονεύματα ), which I say were composed by His apostles and by their companions.” It appears to us indisputable (although criticism has sought other interpretations), that among those books which Justin possessed, and of which he speaks elsewhere as “the memoirs which are called Gospels,” there must have been, according to this passage, at least two Gospels emanating from apostles, and two proceeding from coadjutors of the apostles. And as the incident to which this Father here alludes is only recorded in Luke, Justin regarded the author of this book as one of the men who had accompanied the apostles.
3. In the fragment ascribed to Muratori, written about 180, and containing the tradition of the churches of Italy respecting the books of the New Testament, we read as follows: “Thirdly, the book of the Gospel according to St. Luke. This Luke, a physician, when Paul, after the ascension of Christ, had received him among his followers as a person zealous for righteousness ( juris studiosum), wrote in his own name and according to his own judgment ( ex opinione). Neither, again, had he himself seen the Lord in the flesh. Carrying his narrative as far back as he could obtain information ( prout assequi potuit), he commenced with the birth of John.” After having spoken of the Gospel of John, the author passes on to the Acts: “The Acts of all the Apostles,” he says, “are written in a single book. Luke has included in it, for the excellent Theophilus, all that took place in his presence; as also he clearly points out in a separate form ( semotè) not only the suffering of Peter, but further, Paul's departure from Rome for Spain.”
With the exception of the name of Luke, which is derived from the tradition received throughout the entire Church, this testimony respecting the Gospel seems to us nothing more than a somewhat bold reproduction of the contents of Luke's preface, combined with the information supplied by Col 4:14 as to his profession. In his own name: that is to say, in obedience to an inward impulse, on his own personal responsibility; not in the name of an apostle or a church; an allusion to “It hath appeared good to me also” ( Luk 1:3 ). According to his own judgment: an allusion to the fact that his narrative was not that of an eye-witness, but in accordance with the opinion he had formed of the facts by help of tradition and his own researches ( Luk 1:2 ). Neither again had he himself seen: any more than Mark, of whom the author of the fragment had just spoken. The expression, as he could obtain information, refers to what Luke says of the care he had taken to go back as far as possible, and to narrate events in the best order. The term juris studiosum (which Hilgenfeld supposes to be the translalation of τοῦ δικαίου ζηλωτήν , in the original Greek, which he admits) might also be translated, a man skilled in questions of legal right; able, consequently, to make himself useful to Paul whenever he had to deal with the Roman tribunals. But the term ζηλωτής rather favours the sense we have given in our translation. If the passage relating to the Acts has been accurately rendered into Latin, or if the text of it has not been altered, we might infer from it that Luke had narrated, in a third work ( semotè, separately), the subsequent history of Peter and Paul. In any case, the whole testimony is remarkable for its very sobriety. It does not show the slightest tendency, any more than the preface of the evangelist himself, to ascribe divine authority to this writing. On the contrary, the human aspect of the work comes out very strongly in these expressions: in his own name, according to his judgment, as far as he was able to obtain information. Perhaps the author wished to contrast this entirely natural mode of composition with the widely different origin of the Gospel of John, which he describes directly afterwards.
4. At the same period, Irenaeus expresses himself thus respecting the third Gospel ( Adv. Haer. 3.1): “Luke, a companion of Paul, wrote in a book the gospel preached by the latter.” Irenaeus quotes from our Gospel more than eighty times. This testimony and the preceding are the first two in which Luke is indicated by name as the author of this book.
5. Tertullian, in his book Against Marcion ( Luk 4:2 ), expresses himself thus: “Of the apostles, John and Matthew inspire our faith; of the coadjutors of the apostles, Luke and Mark confirm it.” He reminds Marcion “that, not only in the churches founded by the apostles, but in all those which are united to them by the bond of the Christian mystery, this Gospel of Luke has been received without contradiction ( stare) from the moment of its publication, whilst the greater part are not even acquainted with that of Marcion.” He says, lastly ( ibid. 4.5), “that several persons of his time have been accustomed to attribute Luke's work to Paul himself, as well as Mark's to Peter.” He neither pronounces for nor against this opinion.
6. Origen, in a passage cited by Eusebius ( H. E. 6.25), expressed himself thus: “Thirdly, the Gospel according to Luke, cited approvingly ( ἐπαινούμενον ) by Paul.” It appears from the whole passage that he alludes, on the one hand, to the expression my Gospel, employed three times by Paul (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2Ti 2:8 ); on the other, to the passage 2 Corinthians 8:18-19, which he applied to Luke.
7. Eusebius says ( H. E. 3.4): “It is maintained that it is of the Gospel according to Luke that Paul is accustomed to speak whenever he makes mention in his writings of his Gospel. ”
8. Jerome ( De vir. ill. c. 7) also refers to this opinion, but attributes it to some persons only ( quidam suspicantur).
We have three observations to make on these testimonies.
1. If they are somewhat late, it is only about A.D. 180 that Luke's name appears, we must observe, on the other hand, that they are not the expression of the individual opinion of the writers in whose works they occur, but appear incidentally as the expression of the ancient, unbroken, and undisputed conviction of the entire Church. These writers give expression to the fact as a matter of which no one was ignorant. They would not have dreamed of announcing it, unless some special circumstance had called for it. The ecclesiastical character, at once universal and hereditary, of these testimonies, even when they date only from the second century, enable us to ascertain the conviction of the first. In fact, what prevailed then was not individual criticism, but tradition. Clement of Alexandria, after having quoted a passage from the Gospel of the Egyptians ( Strom. iii. p. 465), immediately adds: “But we have not seen this passage in the four Gospels which have been transmitted to us ( ἐν τοῖς παραδεδομένοις ἡμῖν τέσσαρσιν εὐαγγελίοις ).” The bishop Serapion having found, in the parish church of Rhodes, in Cilicia, a so-called Gospel of Peter, containing Gnostic sentiments, wrote a letter to those who made use of it, a portion of which has been preserved by Eusebius ( H. E. 6.12, ed. Loemmer), and it ends with these words: “Knowing well that such writings have not been transmitted ( ὅτι τὰ τοιαῦτα [ ψευδεπίγραφα b οὐ παρελάβομεν ).” The traditional origin of the convictions of the Church respecting the origin of the sacred writings is the only explanation of their stability and universality. An opinion formed upon individual criticism could never have had these characteristics. It is very remarkable that the tradition respecting our Gospel is not disowned even by the ecclesiastical parties most opposed to Paul. Irenaeus ( Luk 3:15 ) declares that the Ebionites made use of our Gospel, and we can prove it ourselves by the quotations from the writings of Luke which we find in the Clementine Homilies (Luke 9:22, Luk 19:2 ). The plot even of this religious romance is borrowed from the book of the Acts. Now, in order that parties so opposed to each other, as Marcion on the one hand and the Ebionites on the other, should agree in making use of our Gospel, the conviction of its antiquity and authority must have been very ancient and very firmly established ( stare, Tert.). There is another fact more striking still. The only sect of the second century which appears to have expressly rejected the book of the Acts, that of the Severians, took no exception to the Gospel of Luke. These results perfectly agree with those to which we were led by the facts enumerated, see sec. 1. Thus the blank that exists between the first positive testimonies which we meet with in the second century and the apostolic age is filled up by fact.
2. It is important to observe the gradual change in the tradition which manifests itself during the course of the second and third centuries. The nearer we approach its original sources, the more sober the tradition. In the eyes of Justin, the author of our Gospel is simply a companion of the apostles. In the fragment of Muratori the same information reappears without amplification. Strictly speaking, Irenaeus does not go beyond this; only he already aims to establish a connection between the writing of Luke and the preaching of Paul. Tertullian notices an opinion prevalent in his time which goes much further, namely, that Paul himself was the author of this Gospel. Last of all, Origen distinctly declares that when Paul said my Gospel, he meant the Gospel of Luke. This progression is just what we want to enable us to verify the real historical character of the tradition in its primitive form. If the original information had been invented under the influence of the apologetic interest which moulded the tradition later on, would it not have begun where it ended?
3. The supposition that the name of Luke, which has been affixed to our Gospel, was merely an hypothesis of the Fathers, gives no explanation why they should have preferred a man so seldom named as Luke, instead of fixing their choice on one of those fellow-labourers of the apostle that were better known, such as Timothy, Silas, or Titus, whom modern criticism has thought of. The obscurity in which this personage would be veiled, if his name did not figure at the head of the writings which are attributed to him, is one of the best guarantees of the tradition which declares him the author of them. We do not see, then, what, in a historic point of view, could invalidate the force of the ecclesiastical testimony on this point; and we agree with Holtzmann ( Die synopt. Evang. p. 377), when he says that “this tradition is only to be rejected from the point where it proceeds to place the composition of our Gospel under the guarantee of Paul himself.”
Three opinions have been put forth by modern criticism on the question under consideration.
1. An “anonymous Saxon,” while declaring that our Gospel is nothing but a tissue of falsehoods, a pamphlet composed out of hatred of Peter and the Twelve, boldly attributes it to Paul himself.
2. Hilgenfeld, Zeller, etc., think that this writing is the work of an unknown Christian at the beginning of the second century.
3. Most admit, in conformity with the traditional opinion, that the author is the Luke mentioned in Paul's Epistles. We only mention, to show that we have not forgotten it, the opinion of Mayerhoff, never adopted by any one else, and which was only the very logical consequence of Schleiermacher's on the portions in which we occurs in the book of the Acts, namely, that our Gospel, as well as these portions, should be attributed to Timothy.
SEC. III. COMPOSITION OF THE THIRD GOSPEL.
We possess nothing from tradition but some scanty and uncertain information respecting the origin of our Gospel.
I. As to the time, the greater part of the critics are wrong in making Irenaeus say that Luke wrote after the death (or the departure from Rome) of Peter and Paul ( post horum excessum, 3.1). This is a false conclusion drawn from the fact that Irenaeus speaks of the Gospel of Luke after that of Mark, to which this chronological statement applies. The order in which this Father here speaks of the Gospels and their origin may be simply the order of these books in the canon, and in no way of the date of their composition. We find in this same Irenaeus ( Luk 3:9-10 ) the following order: Matthew, Luke, Mark.
The only real traditional information which we possess on this point is that of Clement of Alexandria, who states it as a fact transmitted by the presbyters who have succeeded each other from the beginning ( ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνέκαθεν πρεσβυτέρων ), “that the Gospels containing the genealogies were written first ( προγεγράφθαι τῶν εὐαγγελίων τὰ περιέχοντα τὰς γενεαλογίας ).” Eus. Hist. Eccl. 6.14. According to this, Matthew and Luke were composed before Mark. Further, since, according to this very Clement and these same authorities, Mark must have been composed at Rome during Peter's life, it follows that, according to the view embodied in this tradition, Luke was composed prior to the death of this apostle. The sober and original form of the former of these two traditions, the respectable authority on which it rests, the impossibility of its having been deduced from an exegetical combination, seeing that there is no logical connection between the criterion indicated (the presence of a genealogy) and the date which is assigned to it, seem to me to confer a much higher value on this ancient testimony than modern criticism generally accords to it.
The reasons for which so early a date of composition is rejected are purely internal. It is thought that the Gospel itself yields proofs of a later date than would be indicated by this tradition of Clement. Baur, who has fixed it the latest, places the composition after A.D. 130; Hilgenfeld, from 100 to 110; Zeller, at the commencement of the second century or earlier; Volkmar, about 100; Keim, about 90. The other critics, Meyer, De Wette, Bleek, Reuss, who come nearer in general to the traditional opinion, limit themselves to saying, after the fall of Jerusalem; Holtzmann, between 70 and 80; Tholuck, Guericke, Ebrard, before the fall of Jerusalem. In the concluding dissertation, we shall weigh the exegetical reasons for and against these different opinions. But it appears to us, that the facts mentioned (see sec. 1) already make it clear that every opinion which places the composition in the second century is historically untenable. The use which the continuator of Mark and Clement of Rome make of our Gospel, and the use which this same Clement and the author of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs make of the Acts, render so late a date of composition quite impossible.
II. As to the place, we have only two hints, and we can form no critical judgment of their value. Jerome ( De vir. ill. c. 7) says: “Luke, a physician, who composed his book in the countries of Achaia and Boeotia.” On the other hand, in the Peschito, the title of our Gospel runs thus: “Gospel of Luke the Evangelist, which he published and preached in Greek ( quod protulit et evangelisavit graece) in Alexandria the Great.” The two statements are not necessarily contradictory. Luke may have composed his work in Greece and have published it in Alexandria, which was the great centre of the book-world at that time.
Criticism cannot certainly feel itself bound by such late and uncertain information. Hilgenfeld, who on this point differs least from tradition, places the composition in Achaia or Macedonia; Köstlin at Ephesus; the majority at Rome or in Italy. We shall discuss the question in concluding.
III. The author himself announces his aim in his preface. He wrote with the design of completing the Christian instruction of a man in high station, named Theophilus. This name could not denote a purely fictitious person, as Origen supposed, who was inclined to apply it to every Christian endowed with spiritual powers. Neither could the Jewish high priest Theophilus, of whom Josephus speaks, be intended ( Antiq. 18.6. 3, 19:6. 2), nor the Athenian of this name mentioned by Tacitus ( Ann. 2.55). The only traditional information we possess about this person is that found in the Clementine Recognitions (10:71), about the middle of the second century: “So that Theophilus, who was at the head of all the men in power at the city (of Antioch), consecrated, under the name of a church, the great basilica (the palace) in which he resided.” According to this, Theophilus was a great lord residing in the capital of Syria. We have already referred to the reasons which lead us to think that Luke himself was originally from this city. Did he belong to the household of Theophilus? Had he been his slave, and then his freedman? Lobeck has remarked that the termination ας was a contraction particularly frequent in the names of slaves. Physicians appear to have frequently belonged to the class of slaves or freedmen. If Luke, freed by Theophilus, practised as a physician at Antioch, and if he was brought to the faith at the time of the founding of the church in that city, he might very well have decided to accompany the apostle in his mission. In this case he would have rejoined him at Troas, just as he was about to pass over into Europe; and there would no longer be anything surprising in the pronoun we, by which he assigns himself a place in the missionary company. On this supposition, also, we can understand why he should have dedicated his work to his old friend and patron. This dedication does not mean, however, that the book was intended for Theophilus alone. Until the discovery of printing, the publication of a work was a very costly undertaking; and authors were accustomed to dedicate their works to some high personage of their acquaintance, who could procure the writer an opportunity of reading his production in some select circle, and have the first copies prepared at his own expense. In this way he opened to the author the road to publicity. Whoever was obliging enough to undertake this responsibility was called the patronus libri. Such, doubtless, was the service which Theophilus was asked to render to Luke's work. In reality, Luke addressed himself, through the medium of this person, to all that part of the Church to which Theophilus belonged, to the churches of the Greek world, and, in a certain sense, to the entire Church.
The object he had in view, according to the Fathers, was simply to make known the history of Jesus, more particularly to converts from the heathen. Modern criticism has found in the preface, and even in the narrative, indications of a more special design connected with the great movement of ecclesiastical polemics which it conceives occupied the first and second centuries. According to Baur ( Marcus Evang. p. 223 et seq.), the original Luke, of which Marcion has preserved a faithful impression, was intended to oppose the Jewish Christianity of the Twelve, as represented by the Gospel of Matthew in its original form. The author sought to depreciate the apostles in order to exalt Paul; whilst our canonical Luke, which is a later version of this original Luke, was directed rather against the unbelieving and persecuting Judaism. The former part of this proposition has been reproduced and developed in still stronger terms by “the anonymous Saxon,” who sees nothing in the third Gospel but a bitter pamphlet of the Apostle Paul against the Twelve, and more especially against Peter. M. Burnouf has made himself the advocate of this view in the Revue des Deux Mondes. But even in the Tübingen school a protest has been raised against what have been called the “exaggerations” of Baur. Zeller finds no trace either in the Gospel or the Acts of this spirit of systematic depreciation of Peter and the Twelve. According to him, the author simply wishes to check excessive admiration for Peter, and to preserve Paul's place by the side of this apostle. With this aim, he guards himself from directly opposing the Christianity of the Twelve; he simply places side by side with the views of the Jewish-Christian apostles those of Paul, which he endeavours, as far as possible, to exhibit as identical with the former. That in this attempt at reconciliation real history is sacrificed, appears evident to this critic. He accounts in this way for the fact that in this Gospel Jesus gives utterance alternately to particularist teaching (in the sense of the Twelve), and to universalist passages suited to the thought of Paul.
Volkmar combats this view. Nowhere in our Gospel, not even in the facts and discourses of the first two chapters, does he discover those particularist or Ebionitish elements, by means of which, according to Zeller, the author sought to win the confidence of the Jewish-Christian party. In his judgment, the Gospel of Luke is purely Pauline. In opposition to that fiery manifesto of apostolic Jewish-Christianity, the Apocalypse, composed in A.D. 68, Mark, five years afterwards, published his Gospel, the earliest in point of time, and written in the sense of a moderate Paulinism; later still, Luke re-wrote this book, laying still greater emphasis on the principles of the apostle to the Gentiles. In all these suppositions the idea is, that Jesus speaks in the Gospel, not as He really spoke, but as it suits the evangelist to make Him speak.
All these opinions as to the aim of Luke's work are connected with the great question, suggested by Baur, of a fundamental difference of view between Paul and the Twelve, which is represented as the real starting-point of the development of the Church and of the entire Christian literature. This question, with which that of the origin of the Gospels is now inseparably connected, will be discussed in our concluding paragraphs.
SEC. IV. SOURCES OF THE THIRD GOSPEL.
There is no room for an inquiry into the sources whence the author of a Gospel derived his knowledge of the facts which he transmits to us, except on two conditions: 1. That the evangelist is not regarded as an eye-witness of the facts related. Now this is a character which the author of the third Gospel expressly disclaims ( Luk 1:2 ). 2. That we are not governed by that false notion of inspiration, according to which the sacred history was revealed and dictated to the evangelists by the Holy Spirit. As far as our third Gospel is concerned, this idea is altogether excluded by what the author says himself of the information he had to obtain to qualify himself to write his book ( Luk 1:3 ).
It is at once, then, the right and the duty of criticism to inquire from what sources the author derived the incidents which he records. This question, however, is immediately complicated with another and more general question, as to the relation between our three synoptics. For many regard it as probable, and even certain, that some one of our Gospels served as a source of information to the writer who composed another of them. It is not our intention to relate here the history of the discussion of this great theological and literary problem. We do not even intend in this place to set forth the numerous and apparently contradictory facts which bring it up afresh after every attempted solution. In view of the exegetical work we have in hand, we shall here bring forward only two matters:
I. The elements of which criticism has availed itself in order to solve the problem.
II. The principal systems which it constructs at the present day by means of these elements.
I. The elements of which criticism has availed itself in order to solve the problem.
The factors which criticism has hitherto employed for the solution of the problem are four in number:
1. Oral tradition ( παράδοσις ), or the reproduction of the apostolic testimony, as they gave it when they founded the churches. This factor must have borne a very essential part in determining the form of the evangelical historical writings from their very commencement. Luke indicates its importance, Luke 1:2. According to this expression, even as they delivered them unto us, this tradition was the original source of the oral or written narratives which were circulated in the churches. It branched out into a thousand channels through the ministry of the evangelists (Ephesians 4:11; 2Ti 4:5 ). Gieseler, with his exquisite historical tact, was the first to bring out all the value of this fact as serving to explain the origin of the Gospels.
2. Separate writings or memoirs ( ἀπομνημονεύματα ) on some feature or particular part of the Saviour's life, on a discourse or a miracle which an evangelist related, and which he or one of his hearers put in writing that it might not be forgotten; or, again, some private account preserved amongst their family papers by the persons more immediately interested in the evangelical drama; we may regard our Gospel as a collection of a number of such detached writings, pieced together by the hand of an editor. Carrying out this view, Schleiermacher made a very ingenious analysis of the Gospel of Luke in a little work which was to be completed by a similar study of the Acts, but the second part never appeared. Thus this scholar thought he could discriminate, in the portion Luk 9:51 to Luke 19:48, traces of two distinct writings, the first of which would be the journal of a companion of Jesus in His journey to the feast of Dedication, the second the journal of another companion of Jesus when He went up to the feast of the Passover. The truth of this second means of explanation might be supported by the proper meaning of the word ἀνατάξασθαι , to arrange in order, Luke 1:1, if only it were proved that the arrangement implied by this word refers to the documents, and not to the facts themselves.
Under this category of detached writings would have to be ranged also the various documents which several critics believe they have detected in Luke's work, on account of a kind of literary or dogmatic patchwork which they find in it. Thus Kuinöl, following Marsh, regarded the portion Luk 9:51 to Luk 18:14 as a more ancient writing, containing a collection of the precepts of Jesus, to which he gave the name of gnomonology. Hilgenfeld also distinguishes from the narrative as a whole, which has the universalist character of the Christianity of St. Paul, certain passages of Jewish-Christian tendency, which he regards as some very early materials, proceeding from the apostolic Church itself. The entire portion Luk 9:51 to Luk 19:28 rests, according to him, on a more ancient writing which the author introduced into his work, working it up afresh both in substance and form. Köstlin thinks it may be proved that there were some sources of Judean origin, and others of Samaritan origin, which furnished Luke with a knowledge of the facts of which the two countries of Judea and Samaria are the scene in our Gospel. Keim, while declaring himself for this view, admits besides other sources of Pauline origin; for example, the document of the institution of the Holy Supper. It is impossible to doubt that the genealogical document Luk 3:23 et seq. existed before our Gospel, and, such as it is, was inserted in it by the author (see on Luk 3:23 ).
3. We must allow, further, the existence of longer and fuller documents which Luke might have used. Does he not speak himself, in his preface, of writings that were already numerous at the time he was writing ( πολλοί ), which in respect of contents must have been of very much the same nature as his own, that is to say, veritable Gospels? He designates them by the name of διήγησις , a word which has been wrongly applied to detached writings of the kind that Schleiermacher admitted, and which can only apply to a consecutive and more or less complete narrative. If such works existed in great number, and were known to Luke, it is difficult to think that he has not endeavoured to profit by them. The only question then is, whether, on the supposition that they no longer exist, we can form any idea of them by means of our Gospel, for the composition of which they supplied some materials. Keim thinks he recognises, as a general basis of Luke's work, a Jewish-Christian Gospel, which must have been nearly related to our Matthew, very probably its direct descendant, but distinguished from it by an unhealthy tendency to Ebionitism and Dualism. The spirit of this fundamental document would betray itself all through Luke's work. Ewald imagines a whole series of writings of which Luke must have availed himself, a Hebrew Gospel by Philip the deacon, a collection of the discourses of Jesus by the Apostle Matthew, of which Papias speaks, etc. (see further on). Bleek, reviving in a new form the hypothesis of a primitive Gospel (a manual composed, according to Eichhorn, for the use of evangelists, under apostolic sanction), admits, as a basis of our Gospels of Matthew and Luke, a Greek Gospel, written in Galilee by a believer, who at certain times had himself accompanied Jesus. This earliest account of the Saviour's life would mould all the subsequent evangelical narrations. The writings of the πολλοί , many ( Luk 1:1 ), would be only variations of it, and our three synoptics merely different versions of the same. Lastly, we know that many critics at the present day find the principal source of Luke and the two other synoptics (at least of the narrative part) in a supposed Gospel of Mark, older than our canonical Mark, and to which they give the name of Proto-Mark (Reuss, Réville, Holtzmann, etc.). All these writings, anterior to that of Luke, and only known to us by the traces of them discovered in his work, are lost at the present day.
4. Would it be impossible for some writing which we still possess to be one of the sources of Luke for example, one of our two synoptics, or even both of them? This fourth means of explanation has at all times been employed by criticism. At the present day, it is still used with great confidence by many. According to Baur, Matthew was the direct and sole source of Luke; Mark proceeded from both. Hilgenfeld also puts Matthew first; but he interposes Mark between Matthew and Luke. According to Volkmar, Mark is the primary source; from him proceeded Luke, and Matthew from both.
To sum up: Oral tradition, detached writings, Gospels more or less complete now lost; last of all, one or other of our existing Gospels, such are the materials by means of which criticism has made various attempts to solve the problem of the origin both of Luke in particular, and of the synoptics in general. Let us endeavour now to describe the systems which actual criticism labours to construct out of these various kinds of materials.
II. The principal systems which it constructs at the present day by means of these elements.
1. We will commence with the self-styled critical school of Baur. The common tendency of writers of this school is to represent the synoptics as deriving their contents from each other. In their view, the contents of our Gospels cannot be historical, because they contain the inadmissible element of miracles. Consequently they regard our Gospels, not as real historical narrations, but as compositions of a poetical or didactic character. The differences between them are not in any way natural divergences proceeding from such undesigned modifications as tradition undergoes in course of oral transmission, or from the diversity of written sources, but result from different dogmatic tendencies in the writers of the Gospels which they perfectly reflect. Each evangelist has reproduced his matter with a free hand, modifying it in accordance with his personal views. In reality, then, our Gospels are the reflection, not of the object they describe, but of the controversial or conciliatory tendencies of their authors. These books make us acquainted, not with the history of Jesus, but with that of the Church, and of the different theories respecting the Founder of the gospel, which have been successively held in it. This common result of the school appears in its most pronounced form in Baur and Volkmar, in a milder form in Köstlin and Hilgenfeld.
Baur himself, as we have seen, makes, as Griesbach and De Wette did before him, Luke proceed from Matthew, and Mark from Luke and Matthew united. This relationship is made out in this way. There was first of all a strictly legal and particularist Matthew, reflecting the primitive Christianity of the Twelve, and of the church of Jerusalem. From this original Matthew afterwards proceeded our canonical Matthew, the narrative being re-cast in a universalist sense (between 130 and 134). In opposition to the original Matthew there appeared first a Luke, which was altogether Pauline, or antilegal; this was the writing Marcion adopted, and from which proceeded later on our canonical Luke. The latter was the result of a revision designed to harmonize it with the Jewish-Christian views (about 140). Reconciliation having thus been reached from both sides, Mark followed, in which the original contrast is entirely neutralized. For its matter, the latter is naturally dependent on the other two.
The anonymous Saxon starts with the same general notion; but he seasons it in a piquant fashion. According to him, our synoptics, with the exception of Luke, were indeed composed by the authors to whom the Church attributes them; but they intentionally misrepresented the facts. As to the third, Paul, who was its author, composed it with a view to decry the Twelve and their party.
Hilgenfeld denies the opposition, admitted by Baur, between the original Matthew and a Luke which preceded ours. He believes that, in the very bosom of apostolic and Jewish-Christian Christianity, there was an internal development at work from the first century in a Pauline direction, the result partly of the force of events, but more especially of the influence of the fall of Jerusalem, and the conversion of the Gentiles. He finds a proof of this gradual transformation in the numerous universalist passages of our canonical Matthew, which witness to the changes undergone by the original Matthew. This last writing, the oldest of the Gospels, dated from 70-80. The Gospel of Mark, which followed it, went a step further in the Pauline direction. It was an imitation of the Gospel of Matthew, but at the same time modified by the oral tradition existing in the church at Rome, which was derived from Peter; it dates from the period from 80-100. Hilgenfeld, therefore, does not recognise Luke's influence anywhere in Mark, while Baur discovers it everywhere. Luke proceeds, according to him, from the two former; he takes a fresh step in the universalist and Pauline direction. It was written before Marcion's time, from 100 to 110. Thus, as this theologian himself remarks, “the formation of our canonical Gospels was completely finished before the time when Baur makes it begin” ( Kanon, p. 172). With this difference as to dates between the master and his disciple, there is connected a more profound difference still. Instead of a sharp dogmatical contrast which was gradually neutralized, Hilgenfeld admits a progressive development in the very bosom of primitive Jewish Christianity.
With Baur, Mark came third; with Hilgenfeld, second; there was only wanted further a theologian of the same school who should assign him the first place; and this is done at the present time by Volkmar, who follows the example of Storr in the last century. According to him, that fiery manifesto of primitive Jewish Christianity, the Apocalypse, had about 68 declared implacable hostility against St. Paul, representing him (chap. 13) as the false prophet of the last times, and making the churches founded by him, in comparison with the Jewish-Christian churches, a mere plebs (chap. 7). A moderate Paulinian took up the gauntlet, and wrote (about 73) as a reply our second Gospel, the oldest of all the writings of this kind. It was a didactic poem, on a historical basis, designed to defend Paul and the right of the Gentile churches. Beyond the Old Testament and the Epistles of Paul, the author had no other sources than oral tradition, his Christian experience, the Apocalypse which he opposed, and his creative genius. Somewhat later (about the year 100), a Pauline believer of the Church of Rome, who had travelled in Palestine, worked up this book into a new form by the aid of some traditions which he had collected, and by inserting in it first a genealogical document ( Genealogus Hebraeorum), and then a writing of Essenist tendency ( Evangelium pauperum). His aim was to win over to Paulinism the Jewish-Christian part of the Church, which was still in a majority. This was our Luke. Matthew is the result of a fusion of the two preceding writings. It is the manifesto of a moderate Jewish-Christian feeling, which desired to gather all the heathen into the Church, but could not see its way to this at the cost of the abolition of the law, as Paul taught; its composition dates from 110. All the other writings, the existence of which has been supposed by modern criticism, such as a Proto-Matthew, the Logia, and a Proto-Mark, in Volkmar's judgment, are nothing but empty critical fancies.
The third, second, and first place in succession having been assigned to Mark, no new supposition seemed possible, at least from the same school. Nevertheless Köstlin has rendered possible the impossible, by assigning to Mark all three positions at once. This complicated construction is difficult to follow: The oldest evangelical record would be that Proto-Mark to which Papias must have referred; it represented the moderate universalism of Peter. From this work, combined with oral tradition and the Logia of the Apostle Matthew, would proceed our canonical Matthew. These different works are supposed to have given birth to a Gospel of Peter, which closely resembled the original Mark, but was still more like our actual Mark. After that must have appeared Luke, to which all the preceding sources contributed; and last of all our actual Mark, which would be the result of a revision of the original Mark by the help of the canonical Matthew and Luke. The principal waymarks of the route thus traversed are these: Mark (I.); Matthew; Mark (II., or the Gospel of Peter); Luke; Mark (III.). We can only say that this hypothesis is the death-blow of the theory of the Tübingen school, as formerly Marsh's system was of the hypothesis of an original Gospel. The complicated and artificial form this hypothesis is compelled to assume, by the difficulties which weigh upon its simpler forms, is its condemnation. Thus, as Hilgenfeld regretfully observes, “after such multiplied and arduous labours, we are still very far from reaching the least agreement even on the most essential points.” Let it be observed that this disagreement is evinced by disciples of one and the same school, which advanced into the critical arena with colours flying, and thundering forth the paean of victory. Is not such a state of things a serious fact, especially for a school the fundamental idea of which is, that there is an intimate connection between the successive appearances of our Gospels and the history of the primitive Church, of which last this school claims to give the world a new conception? Does not such a complete diversity in fixing the order in which the Gospels appeared, exhibit a no less fundamental disagreement in conceiving of the development of the Church? These are evident symptoms not only of the breaking up of this school, but, above all, of the radical error of the original notion on which it was founded. The opposition in principle between Paulinism and Jewish Christianity, which is an axiom with this school, is also its πρῶτον ψεῦδος .
2. We will now enumerate the critical systems which have kept independent of the Tübingen school.
If Bleek, who is at once the most discerning and judicious critic of our day, is in several respects the antipodes of Baur, he agrees with him on one point: the entire dependence he attributes to Mark in relation to the two other synoptics. As has been already mentioned, he makes Matthew and Luke proceed from a Gospel written in Greek by a Galilean believer, who was present at several scenes in the ministry of Jesus in this province. This is the reason why this book has given such great preponderance to the Galilean work. The numerous works of which Luke speaks ( Luk 1:1 ) were all different versions of this, as well as our canonical Matthew and Luke. This important book, with all its offshoots, which preceded our synoptics, is lost; these last, the most complete and best accredited, have alone survived. This conception is simple and clear. Whether it renders a sufficient account of the facts, remains to be seen.
Ritschl, in a remarkable article, has pronounced in favour of the absolute priority of our canonical Mark (to the exclusion of any Proto-Mark). Matthew proceeded, according to him, from Mark, and Luke from both. Ritschl endeavours to prove these statements by a very sagacious analysis of the relations between the narratives of Matthew and Mark on certain points of detail. But the impression we have received from this labour is, that both the method followed, and the results obtained, are more ingenious than solid.
Reuss, Réville, Holtzmann, agree in making two writings, now lost, the original sources of our three synoptical Gospels. These were: 1. The Proto-Mark, which furnished our three evangelists with their general outline, and with the narratives common to them all; 2. The Logia, or collection of discourses compiled by Matthew, which was the source for those instructions of Jesus related in common by Matthew and Luke. Our canonical Mark is a reproduction (enlarged according to Reuss, abridged according to Holtzmann) of the former of these two writings. Its author made no use of the Logia. Matthew and Luke both proceeded from a fusion of these two fundamental writings. Their authors inserted or distributed, in the outline sketch of the Proto-Mark, the sayings and discourses collected in the Logia. But here arises a difficulty. If the sayings of Jesus, as Matthew and Luke convey them to us, are drawn from the same source, how does it happen that Matthew transmits them in the form of large masses of discourse (for example, the Sermon on the Mount, chap. 5-7; the collection of parables, chap. 13, etc.), whilst in Luke these very sayings are more frequently presented to us in the form of detached instructions, occasioned by some accidental circumstance? Of these two different forms, which is to be regarded as most faithful to the original document? Matthew, who groups into large masses the materials that lie side by side in the Logia? or Luke, who breaks up the long discourses of the Logia, and divides them into a number of particular sayings? Holtzmann decides in favour of the first alternative. According to this writer, we ought to allow that the form of the Logia was very nearly that presented by the teaching of Jesus in the narrative of travel, Luk 9:51 to Luke 19:28. Weizsäcker, on the contrary, defends the second view, and thinks that the long discourses of Matthew are more or less faithful reproductions of the form of the Logia. This also is the opinion of M. Réville. We shall have to see whether this hypothesis, under either of its two forms, bears the test of facts.
Ewald sets out in the same way with the two hypotheses of the Proto-Mark and the Logia; but he constructs upon this foundation an exceedingly complicated system, according to which our Luke would be nothing less than the combined result of eight anterior writings: 1. A Gospel written by Philip the Evangelist, which described in the Aramaean language the salient facts of the life of Jesus, with short historical explanations. 2. Matthew's Logia, or discourses of Jesus, furnished with short historical introductions. 3. The Proto-Mark, composed by the aid of the two preceding writings, remarkable for the freshness and vivacity of its colouring, and differing very little from our canonical Mark 4:0. A Gospel treating of certain critical points in our Lord's life (the temptation, for example). Ewald calls this writing the Book of the Higher History. 5. Our canonical Matthew, combining the Logia of this apostle with all the other writings already named. 6, 7, and 8. Three writings now lost, which Ewald describes as though he had them in his hands: one of a familiar, tender character; another somewhat brusque and abrupt; the third comprising the narratives of the infancy (Luke 1:2). Lastly, 9. Our canonical Luke, composed by the aid of all the preceding (with the exception of our Matthew), and which simply combines the materials furnished by the others. We may add, 10. Our canonical Mark, which with very slight modification is the reproduction of No. 3. This construction certainly does not recommend itself by its intrinsic evidence and simplicity. It may prove as fatal to the hypothesis of a Proto-Mark as was formerly that of Marsh to the hypothesis of a primitive Gospel, or as that of Köstlin at the present day to the Tübingen idea.
Lastly, we see a new mode of explanation appearing, which seems destined to replace for a time the theory, so stoutly maintained by and since Wilke, of the priority of Mark or of the Proto-Mark, whenever it has any considerable connection with this last. This opinion has been developed by Weiss in three very elaborate articles, in which he seeks to prove: 1. That the most ancient work was an apostolical Matthew, comprising the discourses, some longer and others shorter, with a large number of facts, but without any intention on the part of the author to write the entire history of Jesus. 2. Thereupon appeared Mark, written by the aid of recollections which the author had preserved of the recitals of Peter. This was the first attempt to trace the entire course of the ministry of Jesus. He included in this sketch all the sayings of Jesus contained in the preceding work which could be adapted to his narrative. 3. The author of our canonical Matthew made use of this work of Mark, re-wrote it, and supplemented it by the aid of the apostolical Matthew 4:0. Luke also re-wrote the two more ancient works, the apostolic Matthew and Mark, but in a very free manner, and enriched his narrative with new materials derived from oral or written tradition.
This combination appears to me to come very near the explanation which is the basis of a recent work of Klostermann. By a consecutive, detailed, delicate analysis of the Gospel of Mark, this scholar proves that the author of this work composed it on the basis of Matthew, enamelling the story with explanatory notes, the substance of which evidently emanated from an eye-witness of the ministry of Jesus, which could have been none other than Peter; in general, the additions refer to the relations of Jesus with His apostles. With Klostermann, as with Weiss, Matthew would be the first and principal written source; but with this difference (if we rightly understand), that with the former this Matthew is our canonical Matthew, whilst in the opinion of Weiss, this last writing differed sensibly from the primitive Matthew, which only appears in our canonical Matthew as transformed by means of Mark. The dependence of Mark on Matthew has then much more stress laid upon it by Klostermann than by Weiss. Klostermann announces a second work, in which he will prove a precisely similar dependence of Luke upon Mark. Thus it is clear, that in proportion as criticism dispenses with the hypothesis of a Proto-Mark, it is compelled to attribute to the primitive Matthew, which at the outset was to be only a collection of discourses, more and more of the historical element; so that in Weiss it again becomes a more or less complete Gospel, and lastly in Klostermann approximates closely to our canonical Matthew itself.
This question of the origin of the synoptics, and of their mutual relations, must not be regarded as unimportant in regard to the substance of the evangelical beliefs. Just as the view defended by the Tübingen school, according to which our synoptics are simply derived from one another, exhibits the contents of these writings, and the degree of confidence they inspired at the time they appeared, in an unfavourable light (since the differences which exist between them could, in such a case, only proceed from the caprice of the copyists, and the slight faith they placed in the story of their predecessors); so does the other opinion, which looks for different sources, oral or written, whence each writing proceeds, and which are adequate to account for their mutual resemblances or differences, tend to re-establish their general credibility, and their genuineness as historical works.
The following is a table of the opinions of which we have just given an account:
The state of things which this table portrays is not certainly such as to lead us to regard the question as solved, and the door closed against fresh attempts to explain the origin of the synoptics, particularly the origin of Luke, which is the final term of the problem.
SEC. V. ON THE PRESERVATION OF THE THIRD GOSPEL.
Are we sure that we possess the book which we are about to study as it came from its author's hands? Taken as a whole, yes. As guarantees of it, we have 1. The general agreement of our text with the most ancient versions, the Peschito and the Italic, which date from the second century, and with the three Egyptian translations made at the beginning of the third; 2. The general agreement of this text with the quotations of the Fathers of the second and third centuries, Justin, Tatian, Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Origen, etc.; lastly, 3. The general uniformity of the manuscripts in which the Greek text has been preserved. If any great changes had been introduced into the text, there would inevitably have been much greater differences among all these documents. These different tests prove that the third Gospel, just as we have it, was already in existence in the churches of the second and third centuries. A text so universally diffused could only proceed from the text that was received from the very first.
The manuscripts containing the text of the New Testament consist of majuscules, or manuscripts written in uncial letters (until the tenth century), and of minuscules, or manuscripts written in small or cursive writing (from the tenth century). The manuscripts known at the present day, containing the whole or part of the Gospels, number nearly 44 majuscules, and more than 500 minuscules. The former are, for their antiquity and variety, the most important. Of this number, 19 contain the Gospel of Luke more or less complete; of 11 there only remain some fragments, or series of fragments: there are, in all, 30 documents prior to the tenth century.
Two of the fourth century
1. The Sinaiticus ( א ).
2. The Vaticanus (B).
Five of the fifth century
3. The Alexandrinus (A).
4. The Codex Ephraemi (C).
5. Twenty-eight palimpsest leaves (I).
6. Palimpsest fragments found at Wolfenbüttel (Q).
7. Different fragments, Greek with a Sahidic version, comprised in the Sahidic collection of Woide (T w ). T d denotes similar fragments of the seventh century.
Five of the sixth century
8. The Cantabrigiensis (D)
9. Fragments of a manuscript de luxe, written in letters of silver and gold (N).
10. The hymns of Luke (chap. 1, 2) preserved in some psalters (O c ). O abdef denote similar portions of the seventh and ninth centuries.
11. Fragments of a palimpsest of London (R).
12. Fragments of Wolfenbüttel (P).
Five of the eighth century
13. The Basiliensis (E).
14. A manuscript of Paris (L).
15. Fragments of the Gospels, of Paris and of Naples (W a ; W b ).
16. Fragment of Luke at St. Petersburg ( Θ d ).
17. The Zacynthius, a palimpsest manuscript, found at Zante, comprising the first eleven chapters of Luke ( Ξ in Tischendorf, Z in our commentary).
Eight of the ninth century
18. The Codex Boreeli (F).
19. The Cyprius (K).
20. A manuscript of Paris (M).
21. A manuscript of Munich (X).
22. A manuscript of Oxford ( Γ ).
23. The San Gallensis ( Δ ).
24. A manuscript of Oxford ( Λ ).
25. A manuscript found at Smyrna, and deposited at St. Petersburg ( Π ).
Five of the tenth century
26, 27. The two Codd. of Seidel (G. H).
28. A manuscript of the Vatican (S).
29. A manuscript of Venice (U).
30. A manuscript of Moscow (V).
Adding together all the various readings which these documents contain, we find from five to six thousand of them. But in general they are of very secondary importance, and involve no change in the matter of the Gospel history.
On a closer study of them, it is observed that certain manuscripts habitually go together in opposition to others, and thus two principal forms of the text are established, one which is generally found in the most ancient majuscules, another which is met with in the minuscules and in the less ancient of the majuscules. Some manuscripts oscillate between these two forms.
As the text on which Erasmus formed the first edition of the New Testament in Greek was that of certain minuscules in the Bâle library, and this text has continued to form the basis of subsequent editions, of which that of the Elzevirs of 1633 is the most generally diffused, it is evident that this, called the Received Text, is rather that of the minuscules and less ancient majuscules than the text of the old majuscules. This text is also called Byzantine, because it is probably the one which was uniformly fixed in the churches of the Greek Empire. Those of our majuscules which represent it are the following: E. F. G. H. R. M. S. U. V. Γ . Δ . Π . This form of the text is also called Asiatic.
The opposite form, which is found in the older majuscules, B. G. L. R. X. Z., appears to come from Alexandria, where, in the first centuries of the Church, manuscripts were most largely produced. For this reason this text takes the name of Alexandrine. Some manuscripts, while ordinarily following the Alexandrine, differ from them more or less frequently; these are א . A. D. Δ . The text of א and of D resembles, in many instances, the ancient Latin translation, the Italic.
A middle form between these two principal texts is found in the fragments denoted by N. O. W. Y. Θ .
It is a constant question, which of the two texts, the Alexandrine or the Byzantine, reproduces with the greatest fidelity the text of the original document. It is a question which, in our opinion, cannot be answered in a general way and à priori, and which must be solved in each particular instance by exegetical skill.
The abbreviations we shall use are generally those which Tischendorf has adopted in his eighth edition.
Just., Justin; Ir., Irenaeus; Or., Origen, etc.
It., the Italic, comprising the different Latin translations prior to Jerome's (from the second century): a, b, c, etc., denote the different documents of the Italic; a the Vercellensis (4th c.); b the Veronensis (5th c.); c the Colbertinus (11th c.), etc.
Vg., the Vulgate, Jerome's translation (4th c.); Am., Fuld., denote the principal documents of this translation, the Amiatinus (6th c.), the Fuldensis ( id.), etc.
Syr., the Syriac translations. Syr sch , the Peschito, Schaaf's edition; Syr cur , a more ancient translation than the Peschito, discovered and published by Cureton. Syr. in brief (in our own use), these two united.
Cop., the Coptic translation (3d c.).
MSS., the manuscripts; Mjj., the majuscules; Mnn., the minuscules.
The letter denoting a manuscript with the sign * ( א * , B * ) denotes the original text in opposition to corrections inserted in the text afterwards. The small figures added to this same letter (B 2 , C 2 , etc.) signify first, second correction. For the manuscript א , which is in a peculiar condition, א a , א b denote the most ancient corrections, made by at least two different hands according to the text of different MSS. from that from which א was copied, and א c similar corrections, but made a little later (7th c.), and differing sometimes from each other ( א ca , א cb ). F a , some quotations from the Gospels annotated in the margin of the Coislinianus (H. of the Epistles of Paul).
T. R., the received text, viz. the ed. Elzevir of 1633, which is generally the reproduction of the third ed. of Stephens; ς (Steph.) denotes the received text and that of Stephens united, where they are identical. ς e (Steph. Elzev.), the received text alone, in the rare instances in which these two texts differ.
THE TITLE OF THE GOSPEL
The shortest form is found in א . B. F., κατὰ Λουκᾶν . The greater part of the Mjj. read εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν . The T. R., with some Mnn. only, τὸ κατὰ Λουκᾶν εὐαγγ . Some Mnn., τὸ κατὰ Λουκᾶν ἅγιον εὐαγγ .
In the opinion of several scholars (Reuss, Gesch. der heil. Schr. N. T., § 177), the prep. κατὰ , according to, signifies not: composed by, but: drawn up according to the conception of...Thus this title, so far from affirming that our Gospel was composed by the person designated, would rather deny it. This sense does not appear to us admissible. Not only may the preposition κατὰ apply to the writer himself, as the following expressions prove: ἡ κατὰ Μωϋσέα πεντάτευχος (the Pentateuch according to Moses) in Epiphanius; ἡ καθ᾿ ῾Ηρόδοτον ἱστορία (the history according to Herodotus) in Diodorus; Ματθαῖος ... γραφῇ παραδοὺς τὸ κατ᾿ αὐτὸν εὐαγγέλιον (Matthew having put in writing the Gospel according to him) in Eusebius ( H. Eccl. 3.24); but this preposition must have this sense in our title. For, 1. The titles of our four Gospels bear too close a resemblance to each other to have come from the authors of these writings; they must have been framed by the Church when it formed the collection of the Gospels. Now the opinion of the Church, as far as we can trace it, has always been, that these writings were composed by the persons named in the titles. 2. With respect to the third Gospel in particular, no other sense is possible. Apostles and eyewitnesses, such as Matthew or John, might have created an original conception of the Gospel, and afterwards a different writer might have produced a narrative of the ministry of Jesus according to this type. But this supposition is not applicable to persons so secondary and dependent as Luke or Mark.
This Luke, whom the title designates as the author of our Gospel, can be no other than the companion of Paul. The evangelical history mentions no other person of this name. As to the term Gospel, it appears to us very doubtful whether in our four titles it indicates the writings themselves. This term applies rather, as throughout the New Testament, to the facts related, to the contents of the books, to the coming of Christ this merciful message of God to mankind. The complement understood after εὐαγγέλιον is Θεοῦ ; comp. Romans 1:1. This good news, though one in itself, is presented to the world under four different aspects in these four narratives. The meaning then is, “The good news of the coming of Christ, according to the version of...” It is the εὐαγγέλιον τετράμορφον , the Gospel with four faces, of which Irenaeus still speaks towards the end of the second century, even after the term Gospel had been already applied by Justin to the written Gospels.
From our exegetical studies we pass to the work of criticism, which will gather up the fruits. This will bear on four points:
I. The characteristic features of our Gospel.
II. Its composition (aim, time, place, author).
III. Its sources, and its relation to the other two synoptics.
IV. The beginning of the Christian Church.
The first chapter will establish the facts; in the following two we shall ascend from these to their causes; the aim of the fourth is to replace the question of gospel literature in its historical position.
Chapter 1: The Characteristics of the Third Gospel.
WE have to characterize this writing 1 st. As a historical production; 2 d. As a religious work; 3 d. As a literary composition.
1. Historical Point of View.
The distinctive features of Luke's narrative, viewed historiographically, appear to us to be:
Fulness, accuracy, and continuity.
A. In respect of quantity, this Gospel far surpasses the other Syn. The entire matter contained in the three may be included in 172 sections. Of this number, Luke has 127 sections, that is to say, three-fourths of the whole, while Matthew presents only 114, or two-thirds, and Mark 84, or the half.
This superiority in fulness which distinguishes Luke will appear still more, if we observe that, after cutting off the fifty-six sections which are common to the three accounts, and form as it were the indivisible inheritance of the Syn., then the eighteen which are common to Luke and Matthew alone, finally the five which he has in common with Mark, there remain as his own peculiar portion, forty-eight that is to say, more than a fourth of the whole materials, while Matthew has for his own only twenty-two, and Mark only five.
Once more, it is to be remarked that those materials which exclusively belong to Luke are as important as they are abundant. We have, for example, the narratives of the infancy; those of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, of the woman who was a sinner at the feet of Jesus, of the entertainment at the house of Martha and Mary, of the tears of Jesus over Jerusalem; the parables of the good Samaritan, the lost sheep and the lost drachma, the prodigal son, the faithless steward, the wicked rich man, the unjust judge, the Pharisee and the publican; the prayer of Jesus for His executioners, His conversation with the thief on the cross, the appearance to the two disciples going to Emmaus, the ascension. How diminished would the portrait be which remains to us of Jesus, and what an impoverishment of the knowledge which we have of His teachings, if all these pieces, which are preserved by Luke alone, were wanting to us!
B. But, where history is concerned, abundance is of less importance than accuracy. Is the wealth of Luke of good quality, and does his treasure not contain base coin? We believe that all sound exegesis of Luke's narrative will result in paying homage to his fidelity. Are the parts in question those which are peculiar to him the accounts of the infancy (chap. 1 and 2), the account of the journey ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 19:27 ), the view of the ascension ( Luk 24:50-53 )? We have found the first confirmed, so far as the central fact the miraculous birth is concerned, by the absolute holiness of Christ, which is the unwavering testimony of His consciousness, and which involves a different origin in His case from ours; and as to the details, by the purely Jewish character of the events and discourses, a character which would be inexplicable after the rupture between the Church and the synagogue. The supernatural in these accounts has, besides, nothing in common with the legendary marvels of the apocryphal books, nor even with the already altered traditions which appear in such authors as Papias and Justin, the nearest successors of the apostles, on different points of the Gospel history. In studying carefully the account of the journey, we have found that all the improbabilities which are alleged against it vanish. It is not a straight journey to Jerusalem; it is a slow and solemn itineration, all the incidents and adventures of which Jesus turns to account, in order to educate His disciples and evangelize the multitudes. He thus finds the opportunity of visiting a country which till then had not enjoyed His ministry, the southern parts of Galilee, adjacent to Samaria, as well as Peraea. Thereby an important blank in His work in Israel is filled up. Finally, the sketch of that prolonged journey to Jerusalem, without presenting exactly the same type as John's narrative, which divides this epoch into four distinct journeys (to the feast of Tabernacles, chap. 8; to the feast of Dedication, chap. 10; to Bethany, chap. 11; to the last Passover, chap. 12), yet resembles it so closely, that it is impossible not to take this circumstance as materially confirming Luke's account. It is a first, though imperfect, rectification of the abrupt contrast between the Galilean ministry and the last sojourn at Jerusalem which characterizes the synoptical view; it is the beginning of a return to the full historical truth restored by John.
We have found the account of the ascension not only confirmed by the apostolic view of the glorification of Jesus, which fills the epistles, by the last verses of Mark, and by the saying of Jesus, John 6:62, but also by the express testimony of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:7, to an appearance granted to all the apostles, which must have taken place between that granted to the 500 brethren and that on the way to Damascus.
So far, then, from regarding those parts as arbitrary additions which Luke took the liberty of making to the Gospel history, we are bound to recognise them as real historical data, which serve to complete the beginning, middle, and end of our Lord's life.
We think we have also established the almost uniform accuracy shown by Luke in distributing, under a multitude of different occasions, discourses which are grouped by Matthew in one whole; we have recognised the same character of fidelity in the historical introductions which he almost always prefixes to those discourses. After having established, as we have done, the connection between the saying about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and the parable of the foolish rich man (chap. 12), the similar relation between the figures used in the lesson about prayer and the parable of the importunate friend (chap. 11), who will prefer, historically speaking, the place assigned by Matthew to those two lessons in the Sermon on the Mount, where the images used lose the exquisite fitness which in Luke they derive from their connection with the narratives preceding them? What judicious critic, after feeling the breach of continuity which is produced on the Sermon on the Mount by the insertion of the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:0), will not prefer the characteristic scene which Luke has described of the circumstances in which this form of prayer was taught to the apostles ( Luk 11:1 et seq.)? How can we doubt that the menacing farewell to the cities of Galilee was uttered at the time at which Luke has it (chap. 10), immediately after his departure, Luke 9:51, rather than in the middle of the Galilean ministry, where it is put by Matthew? The same is true of the cases in which the sayings of Jesus can only be fully explained by the surroundings in which Luke places them; e.g.,, the answers of Jesus to the three aspirants after the kingdom of God (chap. 9) would be incomprehensible and hardly justifiable on the eve of a mere excursion to the other side of the sea (Matthew 8:0), while they find their full explanation at the time of a final departure (Luke).
The introductions with which Luke prefaces those occasional teachings are not in favour with modern critics. Yet Holtzmann acknowledges the historical truth of some, of those, for example, which introduce the Lord's prayer and the lesson upon avarice (chap. 12). We have ourselves established the accuracy of a very large number, and shown that they contain the key to the discourses which follow, and that commentators have often erred from having neglected the indications which they contain (see on Luke 13:23, Luke 14:25, Luke 15:1-2, Luke 16:1; Luke 16:14, Luke 17:20, Luke 18:1, Luk 19:11 ). What confirms the really historical character of those notices is, that there is a certain number of doctrinal teachings which want them, and which Luke is satisfied to set down without connection and without introduction after one another: so with the four precepts, Luke 17:1-10. Certainly, if he had allowed himself to invent situations, it would not have been more difficult to imagine them for those sayings than for so many others.
If, finally, we compare the parallel accounts of Luke and of the other two synoptics, we find, both in the description of facts and in the tenor of the sayings of Jesus, a very remarkable superiority on the part of Luke in respect of accuracy. We refer to the prayer of Jesus at the time of His baptism, and before His transfiguration the human factor, as it is, which leads to the divine interposition, and takes from it that abrupt character which it appears to have in the other accounts. In the temptation, the transposition of the last two acts of the struggle, in the transfiguration, the mention of the subject of the conversation of Jesus with Moses and Elias, throw great light on those scenes taken as a whole, which in the other synoptics are much less clear (see the passages).
We know that Luke is charged with grave historical errors. According to M. Renan ( Vie de Jésus, p. xxxix. et seq.), certain declarations are “pushed to extremity and rendered false;” for example, Luke 14:26, where Luke says: “If any man hate not his father and mother,” where Matthew is content with saying: “He that loveth father or mother more than me.” We refer to our exegesis of the passage. “He exaggerates the marvellous;” for example, the appearance of the angel in Gethsemane. As if Matthew and Mark did not relate a perfectly similar fact, which Luke omits, at the close of the account of the temptation! “He commits chronological errors;” for example, in regard to Quirinius and Lysanias. Luke appears to us right, so far as Lysanias is concerned; and as to Quirinius, considering the point at which researches now stand, an impartial historian will hardly take the liberty of condemning him unconditionally. According to Keim, Luke is evidently wrong in placing the visit to Nazareth at the opening of the Galilean ministry; but has he not given us previously the description of the general activity of Jesus in Galilee ( Luk 4:14-15 )? And is not the saying of ver. 23, which supposes a stay at Capernaum previous to this visit, to be thus explained? And, further, do not Mat 4:13 and Joh 2:12 contain indisputable proofs of a return on the part of Jesus to Nazareth in the very earliest times of His Galilean ministry? According to the same author, Luke makes Nain in Galilee a city of Judaea; but this interpretation proceeds, as we have seen, from an entire misunderstanding of the context (see on Luk 7:17 ). It is alleged, on the ground of Luke 17:11, that he did not know the relative positions of Samaria and Galilee. We are convinced that Luke is as far as possible from being guilty of so gross a mistake. According to M. Sabatier (p. 29), there is a contradiction between the departure of Jesus by way of Samaria ( Luk 9:52 ) and His arriving in Judaea by Jericho ( Luk 18:35 ); but even if the plan of Jesus had been to pass through Samaria, the refusal of the Samaritans to receive Him would have prevented Him from carrying it out. And had He, in spite of this, passed through Samaria, He might still have arrived by way of Jericho; for from the earliest times there has been a route from north to south on the right bank of the Jordan. Finally, he is charged with certain faults which he shares with the other two synoptics. But either those mistakes have no real existence, as that which refers to the day of Jesus' death, or Luke does not share them e.g.,, that which leads Matthew and Mark to place John's imprisonment before the first return of Jesus to Galilee, or the charge of inaccuracy attaches to him in a less degree than to his colleagues, as in the case of the omission of the journeys of Jesus to Jerusalem.
There is a last observation to be made on the historical character of Luke's narrative. It occupies an intermediate position between the other three Gospels. It has a point in common with Matthew the doctrinal teachings of Jesus; it has also a point of contact with Mark the sequence of the accounts, which is the same over a large portion of the narrative; it has likewise several features in common with John: the chief is, that considerable interval which in both of them divides the end of the Galilean ministry from the last sojourn at Jerusalem. Thereto must be added some special details, such as the visit to Martha and Mary, as well as the characteristics of those two women, which harmonize so well with the sketch of the family of Bethany drawn by John (ch. 11); next, the dispute of the disciples at the close of the Holy Supper, with the lessons of Jesus therewith connected, an account the connection of which with that of the feet-washing in John (chap. 13) is so striking. And thus, while remaining entirely independent of the other three, the Gospel of Luke is nevertheless confirmed and supported simultaneously by them all.
From all those facts established by exegesis, it follows that, if Luke's account has not, like that of John, the fulness and precision belonging to the narrative of an eye-witness, it nevertheless reaches the degree of fidelity which may be attained by a historian who draws his materials from those sources which are at once the purest and the nearest to the facts.
C. An important confirmation of the accuracy of Luke's account arises from the continuity, the well-marked historical progression, which characterizes it. If he is behind John in this respect, he is far superior to Matthew and Mark.
Though the author did not tell us in his prologue, we should easily discover that his purpose is to depict the gradual development of the work of Christianity. He takes his starting-point at the earliest origin of this work the announcement of the forerunner's birth; it is the first dawning of the new day which is rising on humanity. Then come the birth and growth of the forerunner the birth and growth of Jesus Himself. The physical and moral development of Jesus is doubly sketched, before and after His first visit to Jerusalem at the age of twelve; a scene related only by Luke, and which forms the link of connection between the infancy of Jesus and His public ministry. With the baptism begins the development of His work, the continuation of that of His person. From this point the narrative pursues two distinct and parallel lines: on one side, the progress of the new work; on the other, its violent rupture with the old work, Judaism. The progress of the work is marked by its external increase. At first, Capernaum is its centre; thence Jesus goes forth in all directions ( Luk 4:43-44 ): Nain to the west, Gergesa to the east, Bethsaïda-Julias to the north; then Capernaum ceases to be the centre of His excursions ( Luk 8:1-3 ), and quitting those more northern countries entirely, He proceeds to evangelize southern Galilee and Peraea, upon which He had not yet entered ( Luk 9:51 ), and repairs by this way to Jerusalem. Side by side with this external progress goes the moral development of the work itself. Surrounded at first by a certain number of believers ( Luk 4:38-42 ), Jesus soon calls some of them to become His permanent disciples and fellow-labourers (v. 1-11, 27, 28). A considerable time after, when the work has grown, He chooses twelve from the midst of this multitude of disciples, making them His more immediate followers, and calling them apostles. Such is the foundation of the new edifice. The time at length comes when they are no longer sufficient for the wants of the work. Then seventy new evangelists are added to them. The death of Jesus suspends for some time the progress of the work; but after His resurrection, the apostolate is reconstituted; and soon the ascension, by placing the Master on the throne, gives Him the means of elevating His fellow-labourers to the full height of that mission which they have to carry out in His name. Is not the concatenation of the narrative faultless? And is not this exposition far superior as a historical work to the systematic juxtaposition of homogeneous masses in Matthew, or to the series of anecdotes characteristic of Mark? The same gradation meets us in another line, that of the facts which mark the rupture between the new work and Israel with its official representatives. First it is the inhabitants of Nazareth, who refuse to recognise as the Messiah their former fellow-townsman (ch. 4); afterwards it is the scribes who have come from Jerusalem, who deny His right to pardon sins, accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath (chap. 5 and 6), and, on seeing His miracles and hearing His answers, become almost mad with rage ( Luk 6:11 ); it is Jesus who announces His near rejection by the Sanhedrim ( Luk 9:22 ), and the death which awaits Him at Jerusalem (ver. 31); it is the woe pronounced on the cities of Galilee (chap. 10) and on that whole generation which shall one day be condemned by the queen of the south and the Ninevites; then we have the divine woe uttered at a feast face to face with the Pharisees and scribes, and the violent scene which follows this conflict (chap. 11 and 12); the express announcement of the rejection of Israel and of the desolation of the country, especially of Jerusalem (chap. 13); the judgment and crucifixion of Jesus breaking the last link between Messiah and His people; the resurrection and ascension emancipating His person from all national connections, and completely spiritualizing His kingdom. Thus, in the end, the work begun at Bethlehem is traced to its climax, both in its internal development and its external emancipation.
It is with the view of exhibiting this steady progress of the divine work in the two respects indicated, that the author marks off his narrative from the beginning by a series of general remarks, which serve as resting-places by the way, and which describe at each stage the present position of the work. These brief representations, which serve both as summaries and points of outlook, are always distinguished by the use of the descriptive tense (the imperfect); the resuming of the history is indicated by the reappearance of the narrative tense (the aor.). The following are the chief passages of this kind: Luke 1:80, Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52, Luke 3:18, Luke 4:15; Luke 4:37; Luke 4:44, Luke 5:15-16, Luke 8:1, Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 19:28; Luke 19:47-48, Luke 21:37-38, Luke 24:53 (a last word, which closes the Gospel, and prepares for the narrative of the Acts). If those expressions are more and more distant in proportion as the narrative advances from the starting-point, it is because the further the journey proceeds, the less easy is it to measure its progress.
What completes the proof that this characteristic of continuity is not accidental in Luke's narrative, is the fact that exactly the same feature meets us in the book of Acts. Here Luke describes the birth and growth of the Church, precisely as he described in his Gospel the birth and growth of the person and work of Jesus. The narrative takes its course from Jerusalem to Antioch and from Antioch to Rome, as in the Gospel it proceeded from Bethlehem to Capernaum and from Capernaum to Jerusalem. And it is not only in the line of the progress of the work that the Acts continue the Gospel; it is also along that of the breach of the kingdom of God with the people of Israel. The rejection of the apostolic testimony and the persecution of the Twelve by the Sanhedrim; the rejection of Stephen's preaching, his martyrdom, and the dispersion of the Church which results from it; the martyrdom of James (chap. 12); the uniform repetition of the contumacious conduct of Israel in every city of the world where Paul is careful to preach first in the synagogue; the machinations of the Jews against him on occasion of his arrest at Jerusalem, from which he escapes only by the impartial interposition of the Roman authorities; and finally, in the closing scene (chap. 28), the decisive rejection of the Gospel by the Jewish community at Rome, the heart of the empire: such are the steps of that ever-growing separation between the Church and the synagogue, of which this last scene forms as it were the finishing stroke.
It is interesting to observe that the series of general expressions which marks off the line of progress in the Gospel is continued in the Acts; it is the same course which is followed: Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-34; Acts 5:12-13; Acts 5:42; Acts 6:7; Acts 8:4-5; Acts 9:31; Acts 12:24; Acts 13:52; Acts 19:20; Acts 24:26-27; Acts 28:30-31 (the last word, which is the conclusion of the narrative). The periodical recurrence of those expressions would suffice to prove that one and the same hand composed both the Gospel and the Acts; for this form is found nowhere else in the N. T.
By all those features, we recognise the superiority of Luke's narrative as a historical work. Matthew groups together doctrinal teachings in the form of great discourses; he is a preacher. Mark narrates events as they occur to his mind; he is a chronicler. Luke reproduces the external and internal development of the events; he is the historian properly so called. Let it be remarked that the three characteristics which we have observed in his narrative correspond exactly to the three main terms of his programme ( Luk 1:3 ): fulness, to the word πᾶσιν ( all things); accuracy, to the word ἀκριβῶς ( exactly); and continuity, to the word καθεξῆς ( in order). It is therefore with a full consciousness of his method that Luke thus carried out his work. He traced a programme for himself, and followed it faithfully.
2. Religious Point of View.
It is on this point that modern criticism has raised the most serious discussions. The Tübingen school, in particular, has endeavoured to prove that our third Gospel, instead of being composed purely and simply in the service of historical truth, was written in the interest of a particular tendency that of the Christianity of Paul, which was entirely different from primitive and apostolic Christianity.
There is an unmistakeable affinity of a remarkable kind between the contents of Luke and what the Apostle Paul in his epistles frequently calls his Gospel, that is to say, the doctrine of the universality and entire freeness of the salvation offered to man without any legal condition. At the beginning, the angels celebrate the goodwill of God to (all) men. Simeon foreshadows the breach between the Messiah and the majority of His people. Luke alone follows out the quotation of Isaiah relative to the ministry of John the Baptist, including the words: “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” He traces the genealogy back to Adam. The ministry of Jesus opens with His visit to Nazareth, which forms an express prelude to the unbelief of Israel. The paralytic and the woman who was a sinner obtain pardon by faith alone. The sending of the seventy evangelists prefigures the evangelization of all nations. The part played by the Samaritan in the parable exhibits the superiority of that people's moral disposition to that of the Israelites. The four parables of the lost sheep and the lost drachma, the prodigal son, the Pharisee and the publican, are the doctrine of Paul exhibited in action. That of the marriage supper (chap. 14) adds to the calling of sinners in Israel (ver. 21) that of the Gentiles (vers. 22 and 23). The teaching regarding the unprofitable servant ( Luk 17:7-10 ) tears up the righteousness of works by the roots. The gratitude of the leprous Samaritan, compared with the ingratitude of the nine Jewish lepers, again exhibits the favourable disposition of this people, who are strangers to the theocracy. Salvation abides in the house of Zaccheus the publican from the moment he has believed. The form of the institution of the Holy Supper is almost identical with that of Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:0. The sayings of Jesus on the cross related by Luke
His prayer for His executioners, His promise to the thief, and His last invocation to His Father are all three words of grace and faith. The appearances of the risen Jesus correspond almost point for point to the enumeration of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:0. The command of Jesus to the apostles to “preach repentance and the remission of sins to all nations,” is as it were the programme of that apostle's work; and the scene which closes the Gospel, that of Jesus leaving His own in the act of blessing them, admirably represents its spirit.
This assemblage of characteristic features belonging exclusively to Luke admits of no doubt that a special relation existed between the writing of this evangelist and the ministry of St. Paul; and that granted, we can hardly help finding a hint of this relation in the dedication addressed to Theophilus, no doubt a Christian moulded by Paul's teaching: “ That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed ” (see vol. i. pp. 63, 64).
But this indisputable fact seems to be opposed by another not less evident the presence in this same Gospel of a large number of elements wholly Jewish in their nature, or what is called at the present day the Ebionism of Luke.
This same historian, so partial to Paul's universalism, makes the new work begin in the sanctuary of the ancient covenant, in the holy place of the temple of Jerusalem. The persons called to take part in it are recommended to this divine privilege by their irreproachable fidelity to all legal observances ( Luk 1:6-15 ). The Messiah who is about to be born shall ascend the throne of David His father; His kingdom shall be the restored house of Jacob (vers. 32, 33); and the salvation which He will bring to His people shall have for its culminating point Israel's perfect celebration of worship freed from their enemies (vers. 74, 75). Jesus Himself is subject from the outset to all legal obligations; He is circumcised and presented in the temple on the days and with all the rites prescribed, and His parents do not return to their house, it is expressly said, “ till they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord. ” At the age indicated by theocratic custom, He is brought for the first time to the feast of Passover, where, according to the narrative, “ His parents went every year. ” As the condition of participating in the Messiah's kingdom, the people receive from the mouth of John the Baptist merely the appointment of certain works of righteousness and beneficence to be practised. If, in His ministry, Jesus has no scruple in violating the additions with which the doctors had surrounded the law as with a hedge, for example, in His Sabbatic miracles,
He nevertheless remains subject to the Mosaic ordinance even in the matter of the Sabbath. He sends the healed leper to offer sacrifice at Jerusalem, as a testimony of His reverence for Moses. Eternal life consists, according to Him, in fulfilling the sum ( Luk 10:26-28 ) or the commandments of the law ( Luk 18:18-20 ). In the case of the woman whom He cures on the Sabbath day, He loves to assert her title as a daughter of Abraham ( Luk 13:16 ). He goes the length even of affirming ( Luk 16:17 ) that “ not one tittle of the law shall fail.” The true reason of that perdition which threatens the Pharisees, represented by the wicked rich man, is their not hearing Moses and the prophets. Even at the very close of Jesus' ministry, the women who surround him, out of respect for the Sabbath, break off their preparations for embalming His body; “ and, it is expressly said, they rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment ” ( Luk 23:56 ). Finally, it is Jerusalem which is to be the starting-point of the new preaching; it is in this city that the apostles are to wait for power from on high. It is in the temple that they abide continually, after the ascension. The narrative closes in the temple, as it was in the temple that it opened ( Luk 24:53 ).
If Paul's conception is really antinomian, hostile to Judaism and the law, and if Luke wrote in the interest of this view, as is alleged by the Tübingen School, how are we to explain this second series of facts and doctrines, which is assuredly not less prominent in our Gospel than the first series? Criticism here finds itself in a difficulty, which is betrayed by the diversity of explanations which it seeks to give of this fact. Volkmar cuts the Gordian knot; according to him, those Jewish elements have no existence. The third Gospel is purely Pauline. That is easier to affirm than to demonstrate; he is the only one of his school who has dared to maintain this assertion, overthrown as it is by the most obvious facts. Baur acknowledges the facts, and explains them by admitting a later rehandling of our Gospel. The first composition, the primitive Luke, being exclusively Pauline, Ebionite elements were introduced later by the anonymous author of our canonical Luke, and that with a conciliatory view. But Zeller has perfectly proved to his master that this hypothesis of a primitive Luke different from ours, is incompatible with the unity of tendency and style which prevails in our Gospel, and which extends even to the second part of the work, the book of Acts. The Jewish elements are not veneered on the narrative; they belong to the substance of the history. And what explanation does Zeller himself propose? The author, personally a decided Paulinist, was convinced that, to get the system of his master admitted by the Judeo-Christian party, they must not be offended. He therefore thought it prudent to mix up in his treatise pieces of both classes, some Pauline, fitted to spread his own view; others Judaic, fitted to flatter the taste of readers till now opposed to Paul's party. From this Machiavelian scheme the work of Luke proceeded, with its two radically contradictory currents.
But before having recourse to an explanation so improbable both morally and rationally, as we shall find when we come to examine it more closely when treating of the aim of our Gospel, is it not fair to inquire whether there is not a more natural one, contrasting less offensively with that character of sincerity and simplicity which strikes every reader of Luke's narrative? Was not the Old Covenant with its legal forms the divinely-appointed preparation for the New? Was not the New with its pure spirituality the divinely-purposed goal of the Old? Had not Jeremiah already declared that the days were coming when God Himself would abolish the covenant which He had made at Sinai with the fathers of the nation, and when He would substitute a New Covenant, the essential character of which would be, that the law should be written no longer on tables of stone, but on the heart; no longer before us, but in us ( Jer 31:31-34 )? This promise clearly established the fact that the Messianic era would be at once the abolition of the law in the letter, and its eternal fulfilment in the spirit. And such is precisely the animating thought of the Gospel history, as it has been traced by Luke; his narrative depicts the gradual substitution of the dispensation of the spirit for that of the letter. The Mosaic economy is the starting-point of his history; Jesus Himself begins under its government; it is under this divine shelter that He grows, and His work matures. Then the spirituality of the Gospel is formed and gradually developed in His person and work, and getting rid by degrees of its temporary wrapping, ends by shining forth in all its brightness in the preaching and work of St. Paul. Mosaic economy and spirituality are not therefore, as criticism would have it, two opposite currents which run parallel or dash against one another in Luke's work. Between Ebionism and Paulinism there is no more contradiction than between the blossom, under the protection of which the fruit forms, and that fruit itself, when it appears released from its rich covering. The substitution of fruit for flower is the result of an organic transformation; it is the very end of vegetation. Only the blossom does not fade away in a single day, any more than the fruit itself ripens in a single day. Jesus declares in Luke, that when new wine is offered to one accustomed to drink old wine, he turns away from it at once; for he says: The old is better. Agreeably to this principle, God does not deal abruptly with Israel; for this people, accustomed to the comparatively easy routine of ritualism, He provided a transition period intended to raise it gradually from legal servility to the perilous but glorious liberty of pure spirituality. This period is that of the development of Jesus Himself and of His work. The letter of the law was scrupulously respected, because the Spirit was not present to replace it; this admirable and divine work is what the Gospel of Luke invites us to contemplate: Jesus, as a minister of the circumcision ( Rom 15:8 ), becoming the organ of the Spirit. And even after Pentecost, the Spirit still shows all needful deference to the letter of the divine law, and reaches its emancipation only in the way of rendering to it uniform homage; such is the scene set before us by the book of Acts in the conduct of the apostles, and especially in that of St. Paul. To explain therefore the two series of apparently heterogeneous pieces which we have indicated, we need neither Volkmar's audacious denial respecting the existence of one of them, nor the subtile hypothesis of two different Paulinisms in Luke, the one more, the other less hostile to Judeo-Christianity (Baur), nor the supposition of a shameless deception on the part of the forger who composed this writing (Zeller). It is as little necessary to ascribe to the author, with Overbeck, gross misunderstanding of the true system of his master Paul, or to allege, as Keim seems to do, that he clumsily placed in juxtaposition, and without being aware of it, two sorts of materials drawn from sources of opposite tendencies. All such explanations of a system driven to extremity vanish before the simple fact that the Ebionism and Paulinism of Luke belong both alike, as legitimate, necessary, successive elements, to the real history of Jesus and His apostles, the one as the inevitable point of departure, the other as the intended goal, and that the period which separated the one point from the other served only to replace the one gradually by the other. By giving those two principles place with equal fulness in his narrative, Luke, far from guiding two contradictory tendencies immorally or unskilfully, has kept by the pure objectivity of history. Nothing proves this better than that very appearance of contradiction which he could brave, and which gives modern criticism so much to do.
Let it be remarked that the truth of the so-called Pauline elements in Luke's Gospel is fully borne out by the presence of similar elements in the other two synoptics. Ritschl, in his beautiful work on the beginnings of the ancient Catholic Church, shows how the one saying of Jesus, preserved in Mark and Matthew as well as in Luke: “ The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath,” already implied the future abolition of the whole Mosaic law. The same is evidently true of the following (Matthew 15:0 and Mark 7:0): “ Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth him. ” The whole Levitical law fell before this maxim logically carried out. We may also cite the saying, Matthew 8:11: “ I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west;...but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out,” though it is arbitrarily alleged that it was added later to the apostolic Matthew; then that which announces the substitution of the Gentiles for Israel, in the parable of the husbandmen: “ The kingdom shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof ” ( Mat 21:43 ), a saying which Matthew alone has preserved to us; finally, the command given to the apostles to go and baptize all nations ( Mat 28:19 ), which necessarily belonged to the original Matthew: for, 1. The appearance with which it is connected is announced long before ( Mat 26:32 ); 2. Because it is the only one related in this Gospel, and therefore could not be wanting in the original record; 3. Because Jesus certainly did not appear to His disciples to say nothing to them. But the most decisive saying related by our three synoptics is the parable of the old garment and the piece of new cloth (see on this passage, Mat 5:36 ). Paul has affirmed nothing more trenchant respecting the opposition between the law and the gospel.
The fundamental principles of Paulinism, the abolition of the law, the rejection of Israel and the calling of the Gentiles, are not therefore any importation of Paul or Luke into the gospel of Jesus. They belonged to the Master's teaching, though the time had not yet come for developing all their consequences practically.
This general question resolved, let us examine in detail the points which criticism still attempts to make good in regard to the subject under discussion. It is alleged that, under the influence of Paul's doctrine, Luke reaches a conception of the person of Christ which transcends that of the other two synoptics. “He softens the passages which had become embarrassing from the standpoint of a more exalted idea of the divinity of Jesus” (Renan); for example, he omits Matthew 24:36, which ascribes the privilege of omniscience to the Father only. But did he do so intentionally? Was he acquainted with this saying? We have just seen another omission which he makes (p. 488); we shall meet with many more still, in which the proof of an opposite tendency might be quite as legitimately alleged. Is it not Luke who makes the centurion say, “Certainly this was a righteous man,” while the other two represent him as saying, “This was the Son of God”? What a feeble basis for the edifice of criticism do such differences present!
The great journey across the countries situated between Galilee and Samaria was invented, according to Baur, with the view of bringing into relief the non-Israelitish country of Samaria. Luke thus sought to justify Paul's work among the Gentiles. But would Luke labour at the same moment to overthrow what he is building up, by inventing the refusal of the Samaritans to receive Jesus? Besides, it is wholly untrue that Samaria is the scene of the journey related in this part. Was it then in Samaria that Jesus conversed with a doctor of the law ( Luk 10:25 ), that He dined with a Pharisee, that He came into conflict with a company of scribes ( Luk 11:37-53 ), that He cured in the synagogue a daughter of Abraham ( Luk 13:16 ), etc. etc.? There is found, no doubt, among the ten lepers one who is of Samaritan origin ( Luk 17:16 ); but if this circumstance can lead us to suppose that the scene passes in Samaria, the presence of nine Jewish lepers should make it appear nine times more probable that it transpires on Israelitish territory.
In the instructions given to the Twelve, Luke omits the saying, “ Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. ” Neither do we find the answer addressed to the Canaanitish woman, “ I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ” But, as to the first, Mark omits it as well as Luke. Could this also arise from a dogmatic tendency? But how, in that case, should he relate the second as well as Matthew? The first then was simply wanting in his source; why not also in Luke's, which in this very narrative seems to have had the greatest conformity to that of Mark? As to the second saying, it belongs not only to a narrative, but to a whole cycle of narratives which is completely wanting in Luke (two whole chapters). Besides, does not Luke also omit the peculiarly Pauline saying, “ Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest unto your souls”? Could this also be a dogmatical omission? And as to the saying, “ This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached over all the earth,” in connection with which, Holtzmann himself asks the Tübingen critics whether Luke passes it over in silence in a Pauline interest! Those declarations were simply wanting in his documents. Why not also those particularistic sayings? They would certainly not have caused Luke more embarrassment than they did to Matthew, who sees in them no contradiction to the command which closes his Gospel, “ Go and baptize all nations. ” It is evident that the prohibition addressed to the disciples (Matthew 10:0) was only temporary, and applied only to the time during which Jesus as a rule restricted His sphere of action to Israel; from the time that His death and resurrection released Him from His national surroundings, all was changed.
Luke has a grudge at the Twelve; he seeks to depreciate them: such is the thesis which Baur has maintained, and which has made way in France. He proves it by Luke 8:53-54, where he contrives to make Luke say that the disciples laughed our Lord to scorn, and that He drove them from the apartment; and yet the words, “ knowing that she was dead,” clearly prove that the persons here spoken of were those who had witnessed the death of the young girl; and ver. 51 excludes the view that He put the disciples out, for He had just brought them within the house (see the exegesis). He proves it further by Luke 9:32, where Luke says that Peter and the other two disciples were heavy with sleep; as if this remark were not intended to take off from the strangeness of Peter's saying which follows, and which is mentioned by the three evangelists. But the chief proof discovered by Baur of this hostile intention to the Twelve, is his account of the sending of the seventy disciples, and the way in which Luke applies to this mission a considerable part of the instructions given to the Twelve in Matthew 10:0. But if the sending of the seventy disciples were an invention of Luke, after thus bringing them on the scene, he would make them play a part in the sequel of the Gospel history, and especially in the first Christian missions related in the Acts, while from that moment he says not a word more about them; the Twelve remain after, as well as before that mission, the only important persons; it is to them that Jesus gives the command to preach to the Gentiles ( Luk 24:45 et seq.); it is from them that everything proceeds in the book of Acts; and when Philip and Stephen come on the scene, Luke does not designate them, as it would have been so easy for him to do, as having belonged to the number of the seventy. Keim himself acknowledges (p. 76) “that it is impossible to ascribe the invention of this history to Luke;” and in proof of this, he alleges the truly Jewish spirit of the saying with which Jesus receives the seventy on their return. So little was it suspected in the earliest times, even within the bosom of Judeo-Christian communities, that this narrative could be a Pauline invention, that it is frequently quoted in the Clementine Homilies. If, in narrating the sending of the Twelve, Luke did not quote all the instructions given by Matthew (chap. 10), the same omission takes place in Mark, who cannot, however, be suspected of any anti-apostolic tendency; this harmony proves that the omission is due to the sources of the two writers.
If Luke had the intention of depreciating the Twelve, would he alone describe the solemn act of their election? Would he place it at the close of a whole night of prayer (chap. 6)? Would he mention the glorious promise of Jesus to make the apostles sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel? Would he omit the assent which they all give in Matthew and Mark to the presumptuous declaration of Peter: I am ready to go with Thee even unto death? Would he make no mention of their shameful flight at Gethsemane, which is related by the other two? Would he excuse their sleeping on that last evening by saying that they were sleeping for sorrow; and their unbelief on the day of resurrection, by saying that it was for joy they could not believe (those details are peculiar to Luke)? Luke does not speak of the ambitious request of Zebedee's two sons, and of the altercation which ensued with the other disciples; he applies to the relation between the Jews and Gentiles that severe warning, the first part of which is addressed in Matthew to the Twelve: “ and there are first which shall be last,” and the second part of which: “ and there are last which shall be first,” might so easily have been turned to the honour of Paul. If there is one of the synoptics who holds up to view the misunderstandings and moral defects of the apostles, and the frequent displeasure of Jesus with them, it is Mark, and not Luke.
In respect to Peter, who it is alleged is peculiarly the object of Luke's antipathy, this evangelist certainly omits the saying so honouring to this apostle: “ Thou art Peter,” etc., as well as the narrative, Matthew 14:28-31, in which Peter is privileged to walk on the waters by the side of our Lord. But he also omits in the former case that terrible rebuke which immediately follows: “ Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me. ” And what is the entire omission of this whole scene, compared with the conduct of Mark, who omits the first part favourable to Peter, and relates in detail the second, where he is so sternly reprimanded! If it was honouring to Peter to walk on the waters, it was not very much so to sink the next moment, and to bring down on himself the apostrophe: “ O thou of little faith! ” The omission of this incident has therefore nothing suspicious about it. Is not the history of Peter's call related in Luke (chap. 5) in a way still more glorious for him than in Matthew and Mark? Is he not presented, from beginning to end of this narrative, as the principal person, in a sense the only one (vers. 4, 10)? Is it not he again who, in the first days of Jesus' ministry at Capernaum, plays the essential part ( Luk 4:38-44 )? On the eve of the death of Jesus, is it not he who is honoured, along with John, with the mission of making ready the Passover, and that in Luke only? Is not his denial related in Luke with much more reserve than in Matthew, where the imprecations of Peter upon himself are expressly mentioned? Is it not in Luke that Jesus declares that He has devoted to Peter a special prayer, and expects from him the strengthening of all the other disciples ( Luk 22:32 )? Is he not the first of the apostles to whom, according to Luke ( Luk 23:34 ) as according to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:0), the risen Jesus appears? And despite all this, men dare to represent the third Gospel as a satire directed against the Twelve, and against Peter in particular (the anonymous Saxon); and M. Burnouf ventures to characterize it thus in the Revue des Deux Mondes (December 1865): “Luke seeks to attenuate the authority of the Twelve...; he depreciates Peter; he takes from the Twelve the merit of having founded the religion of Christ, by adding to them seventy envoys whose mission is contrary to the most authoritative Israelitish usages.” M. Burnouf forgets to tell us what those usages are, and whether Jesus held Himself always strictly bound to Jewish usages. On the other hand, Zeller, the pronounced disciple of Baur, finds himself obliged to make this confession ( Apostelgesch. p. 450): “We cannot suppose in the case of Luke any real hostility to the Twelve, because he mentions circumstances omitted by Matthew himself which exalt them, and because he omits others which are to their discredit.”
Once more, in what is called the Jewish tendency of Luke, there is a point which has engaged the attention of criticism; we mean the partiality expressed by this Gospel for the poorer classes, its Ebionism (strictly so called)! “Luke's heresy,” as De Wette has it. It appears Luke 1:53, Luke 6:20-21, where the poor appear to be saved, the rich condemned, as such; Luke 12:33-34, Luke 16:9; Luke 16:23-25, Luke 18:22-25, where salvation is connected with almsgiving and the sacrifice of earthly goods, damnation with the keeping of them. But: 1. We have seen that there is a temporary side in these precepts; see especially on Luke 12:33-34, Luke 18:22-25. Does not Paul also (1 Corinthians 7:0) recommend to Christians not to possess, but “ to possess as though they possessed not”? 2. Poverty and riches by no means produce those effects inevitably and without the concurrence of the will. Poverty does not save; it prepares for salvation by producing lowliness: wealth does not condemn; it may lead to damnation, by hardening the heart and producing forgetfulness of God and His law: such is the meaning of Luk 6:21-25 when rightly understood; of Luke 16:29-31; of Luke 18:27 (the salvation of the rich impossible with men, but possible with God); finally, of Acts 5:4, where the right of property in the case of Ananias and Sapphira is expressly reserved by Peter, and their punishment founded solely on their falsehood. 3. The alleged “heresy of Luke” is also that of Matthew and Mark (narrative of the rich young man), and consequently of our Lord Himself. Let us rather recognise that the giving up of property appears in the teaching of Jesus, either as a measure arising from the necessity imposed on His disciples of accompanying Him outwardly, or as a voluntary and optional offering of charity, applicable to all times.
If now, setting aside critical discussion, we seek positively to characterize the religious complexion of Luke's narrative, the fundamental tone appears to us to be, as Lange says ( Leben Jesu, i. p. 258 et seq.): “the revelation of divine mercy,” or, better still, according to Paul's literal expression ( Tit 3:4 ): the manifestation of divine philanthropy.
To this characteristic there is a second corresponding one: Luke loves to exhibit in the human soul, in the very midst of its fallen state, the presence of some ray of the divine image. He speaks of that honest and good heart, which receives the seed of the gospel as soon as it is scattered on it; he points to the good Samaritan performing instinctively the things contained in the law ( Rom 2:14 ); in the case of Zaccheus he indicates the manifestation of natural probity and beneficence, as he will do in the book of Acts, in respect to Cornelius and several others, especially some of the Roman magistrates with whom Paul has to do. Therein we recognise the Greek ideal of the καλὸς κᾀγαθός .
With the first of those two characteristics there is undoubtedly connected that universalism of grace so often pointed out in Luke; with the second, perhaps, the essential character which he unfolds in the person of Christ: humanity working out in Him its pure and normal development; the child, the young man growing in grace and wisdom as He grows in stature; the man comes out in His emotion at the sight of a mother bereaved of her son, of His native country on the eve of ruin, of His executioners who are striking themselves while they strike Him, of a thief who humbles himself. We understand the whole: it is the Son of man, born an infant, but through all the stages of life and death, becoming the High Priest of His brethren, whom He leaves in the act of blessing them. So that this history is summed up in two features: divine compassion stooping down to man; human aspirations entering into perfect union with God in the person of Him who is to bring back all others to God.
With such a history before us, what narrow unworthy particularistic tendency could possibly exist in the writer who understood and worked upon it? Such an object imposes objectivity on the historian.
3. Literary Point of View.
A. The first feature which distinguishes Luke's work in this respect is the presence of a prologue, written in a Greek style of perfect purity, and in which the author gives account of the origin of his book. We have already shown (vol. i. p. 53) what is the necessary inference from this fact, which has no analogy either in Matthew or Mark, or even in John, and which would suffice to demonstrate the Hellenic origin of the author, and the high degree of classical culture which prevailed in the circle, with a view to which he wrote.
B. The chief question which has been raised in regard to the literary character of Luke's composition is whether it belongs to the class of collectanea, simple compilations, or whether in all its details it observes a consecutive plan. It is well known that Schleiermacher took the first view. Our Gospel is in his eyes an aggregate of pieces separately composed and put together by a later compiler. In Ewald's opinion also the author is only a collector. Holtzmann himself (article on the Acts, in the Bible Dictionary published by Schenkel) calls our Gospel “a compilation without any well-defined plan;” he extends the same judgment to the Acts. This opinion is combated by several critics. Hilgenfeld speaks of “the artistic unity” of Luke's narrative. Zeller acknowledges “that a rigorous plan prevails throughout the entire work” (Gospel and Acts). M. Renan sees in it “a work written throughout by the same hand, and with the most perfect unity.” We adhere fully to this second view. We have already pointed out that one single idea inspires the whole narrative, and has determined the choice of its materials, namely, that of the development of the Christian work ( Luk 1:1 ), from the twofold standpoint of its organic growth and of its breach with the Israelitish people. Once in possession of this idea, we easily comprehend the course of the narrative. The first two chapters of the Gospel are an introduction, in which Luke gives the preparation for the new work in that pure Being placed by God in the bosom of humanity. The work itself begins with the baptism of Jesus in chap. 3. It comprises three parts: 1. The Galilean ministry; Jesus draws to Him the elements of His future Church, and lays down in the apostolate the principle of its organization. 2. The journey from Galilee to Judea; this is a transition period: the work extends outwardly while it is strengthened spiritually; but the hostility of the official representatives of the nation, the scribes and Pharisees, lighted up already in the previous period, goes on increasing. 3. The sojourn at Jerusalem: the cross violently breaks the last link between Israel and its King. But the resurrection and ascension, freeing Jesus from every national relation, and raising Him to a free and glorious existence, suited to the nature of the Son of God ( Rom 1:3-4 ), make Him, in the words of Peter, the Lord of all ( Act 10:36 ). The Israelitish Messiah by birth, He becomes by His death and ascension the King of the universe. From that time forth His people is the human race. The ascension, which forms the climax of the Gospel history, is at the same time the starting-point for the history of the Acts. “On the one side, we ascend to this summit; on the other, we descend from it.” Hence the double narration of the fact. It belongs, indeed, to both writings, to the one as its crown, to the other as its basis. This repetition does not arise, as a superficial criticism supposes, from the juxtaposition of two different traditions regarding that event. What sensible writer would adopt such a course? The ascension is the bond which joins together the two aspects of the divine work, that in which Jesus rises from the manger to the throne, and that in which, from the throne on high, He acts upon humanity, creating, preserving, and extending the Church. It forms part of the history of Jesus and of that of the Church.
Between the work which is wrought in Jesus and that wrought in the Church, and which is described in Acts, there is a correspondence which is exhibited by the parallelism of plan in the two books. After an introduction which describes the community of believers as already formed, though yet unknown (Acts 1:0, comp. with Luke 1:2), Pentecost introduces it on the theatre of history, as His baptism called Jesus to His public activity. 1. Here begins, chap. 2, the first part of the narrative, which extends to the end of chap. 5; it relates, first, the founding of the church of Jerusalem, the mother and model of all others; then the obstinate resistance which the preaching of the apostles met with from the Jewish authorities and the mass of the nation. 2. The second part, perhaps the most remarkable in many respects, delineates, like the second part of the Gospel, a transition period. It extends to the end of chap. 12. The author has collected and enumerated in this piece the whole series of providential events by which the way was paved for transferring the kingdom of God from the Jews to the Gentiles, the subject of the third part. First, there is the ministry of Stephen, who dies for having said “ that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy the temple, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered ” ( Luk 6:14 ). There is the ministry of Philip (chap. 8), who makes the first breach on the Gentile world by the conversion of the Samaritans, in which Peter and John themselves come to take part. There is, by the hand of the same Philip, the baptism of a man who was doubly excluded from the ancient covenant as a Gentile and as a eunuch ( Deu 23:1 ). There is the conversion of Saul, who is to be the principal instrument of the work about to begin, the persecutor but the successor of Stephen. There is through the ministry of Peter the baptism of the Gentile Cornelius and his family, in consequence of the vision by which God taught that apostle that the wall of separation raised by the law between Israel and the Gentiles was thenceforth broken down. There is, as an effect of the dispersion of the church of Jerusalem, the foundation of the church of Antioch, the first church of heathendom, the point from which Paul will take his course to the heathen world, his permanent basis of operations, the Jerusalem of the Gentile world. Those six events, apparently accidental, but all converging to the same end, are chosen and grouped by the author with incomparable skill, to show, as it were, to the eye the ways in which the divine wisdom prepared for the approaching work, the conversion of heathendom. Chap. 12 concludes this part. It relates the martyrdom of James, the attempted martyrdom of Peter, and the sudden death of their persecutor, the last great representative of the Jewish nation, Herod Agrippa persecuting Israel struck dead in the person of its last monarch. 3. The third part relates the foundation of the Church among the Gentiles by St. Paul's three journeys. His imprisonment at Jerusalem at the close of those three missionary tours, and the surrounding circumstances, form a sort of counterpart to the story of the Passion in the Gospel. It is the last act in the rejection of the Gospel by Israel, to which the conduct of the elders of the Roman synagogue toward Paul (chap. 28) puts the finishing stroke. What could be grander or clearer than this plan? We have yet to wait for a history of the Reformation, giving us, within the space of a hundred pages, as complete and precise a view of that great religious revolution as that which Luke has left us in the Acts, of the yet profounder revolution by which God transferred His kingdom from the Jews to the Gentiles.
C. If the plan of Luke is admirable from the controlling unity to which he subordinates so great a variety of materials, the style of the Gospel and of the Acts presents a similar phenomenon. On the one hand it is a striking medley. To the prologue of classic Greek, classic both in construction and vocabulary, there succeed narratives of the infancy, written in a style which is rather a décalque from the Aramaic than true Greek. It is quite clear that the author, after writing the prologue in his own style, here uses an Aramaic document or a translation from the Aramaic. We shall not repeat the proofs of this fact which we have given in our exegesis; in a measure they extend to the whole Gospel. As to the question whether it is Luke himself who has translated it into Greek, or whether he used a record already translated, we shall answer it immediately. For the present, we repeat that the proof which Bleek finds to support the second view in the expression ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους , Luke 1:78, is without the least value (see the exegesis). Finally, besides the prologue written in pure Greek, and the parts which follow, all saturated with Aramaisms, we find other parts, such as chap. Luk 14:7 to Luke 15:32, chap. 22, 23, the Hebrew colouring of which is much less pronounced, and which presented nothing or almost nothing offensive to Greek ears. It is not probable that they proceed from an Aramaic document, any more than that Luke composed them freely. In the first case they would contain more Hebraisms; in the second, they would be still more completely free from them. It is therefore probable that those passages were composed in Greek by Luke or his predecessor, not from an Aramaic document, but from an oral tradition in that language.
The same variety of style reappears in the Acts. The first parts of this book betray an Aramaic source in every line. This character gradually disappears, and the last parts of the book, in which the author relates the scenes in which he seems to have been personally present, are written in as pure Greek as the prologue of the Gospel.
On the other hand, and notwithstanding this medley, the style of Luke has in many respects the seal of a well-marked unity. Not only is his vocabulary everywhere more extensive than that of the other evangelists, as might be expected from a writer familiar with classic Greek; for example, he displays in a far higher degree the facility with which the Greek language indefinitely multiplies its stock of verbs, by compounding the simple ones with prepositions and otherwise; but he has also certain expressions which exclusively belong to him, or which he uses with marked predilection, and which are scattered uniformly over all parts of his two writings, even those which are most evidently translated from the Aramaic. And this is the proof that Luke in those pieces did not make use of a translation already made, but was himself the translator.
There are also certain correspondences alleged in vocabulary and syntax between Luke's style and that of Paul. Holtzmann enumerates about 200 expressions or phrases common to those two authors, and more or less foreign to all the other N. T. writers. The anonymous Saxon has taken advantage of this fact in support of his hypothesis, according to which Paul himself was the author of the third Gospel. But this proof is far from satisfactory; the phenomenon is explained, on the one hand, by the fact that Paul and Luke are the only two writers of the N. T. who were educated amid classical surroundings; on the other, by the personal relations which they kept up so long with one another; at least, if we are to trust the tradition which ascribes the Gospel to Luke (see chap. ii. of this Conclusion).
The study which we have now made of the distinctive characteristics of Luke's Gospel supplies us with the necessary data for reaching the conclusions for which we have to inquire regarding the origin of this composition.
Chapter 2: The Composition of the Third Gospel.
WE have before us in this chapter the four following points: The aim of the Gospel, the time of its composition, the author to whom it is to be ascribed, the place where he composed it.
1. The Aim.
The common aim of our Gospels is to produce faith in Him whom they describe as the Saviour of the world. But each of them pursues this aim in a particular way: Matthew, by bringing the history of our Lord into connection with the Messianic prophecies of which it is the fulfilment; Mark, by seeking to reproduce the unique splendour which rayed forth from His person; John, by relating the most salient testimonies and facts which led His disciples to recognise and adore Him as the Son of God. What is the means by which Luke wishes to gain the same end?
It was thought enough, even down to our own day, to answer that he had sought to trace the Gospel history as faithfully as possible with a view to believers among the Gentiles. This solution is not precise enough for the authors of the critical school, which seeks party tendencies everywhere in our sacred writings. By combining with the study of the Gospel that of the Acts, the objects of which seemed more pronounced, they have come to the conclusion that the writings of Luke are nothing else than a disguised defence of the person and preaching of Paul, in opposition to the persons and teaching of the Twelve; a history more or less fictitious, intended to gain favour for that apostle with the Judeo-Christian party which, down to the second century, remained obstinately hostile to him. Zeller, in particular, has developed this thesis in a work which might be called classic, if erudition and sagacity could stand for justice and impartiality. MM. Reuss (§ 210) and Nicolas (p. 268) also ascribe to the Acts the aim of reconciling the Judeo-Christian and Pauline parties, but without accusing the author of wilfully altering the facts.
It must indeed be confessed, especially if we take account of the narrative of the Acts, that it is very difficult to believe that in writing this history the author had only the general intention of giving as complete and faithful a view of the facts as possible. A more particular aim seems to show itself in the choice of the materials which he uses, as well as in the numerous omissions which he makes. Whence comes it that, of all the apostles, Peter and Paul are the only ones brought on the scene? How are we to explain the marvellous parallelism between them established by the narrative? Whence the predilection of the author for everything relating to the person of the latter; the thrice repeated narrative of his conversion, the detailed account of the varied phases of his trial, the peculiarly marked notice of his relations to the Roman magistrates? Why relate in detail the founding of the churches of Greece, and not devote a line to that of so important a church as Alexandria (to which Paul remained a stranger)? To what purpose the circumstantial recital of Paul's voyage to Rome? And why does the account of his arrival close the book so abruptly? Is not Overbeck right in saying that, in reality, “the subject of the book is not the gospel, but the gospel preached by Paul. ” Even the first part, that which relates to Peter, seems to be only a preparation for the account of Paul's ministry. The author seems to say: Great as Peter was in his work in Israel, Paul was not one whit behind him in his among the Gentiles; the extraordinary miracles and successes by which God accredited the former were repeated in no less a measure in the case of the other.
We do not think that the recent defenders of the historical trustworthiness of the Gospel and the Acts (Mayerhoff, Baumgarten, Lekebusch) have succeeded altogether in parrying this blow. They have attempted to explain part of those facts, while admitting that the theme of the Acts was solely the propagation of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome; but this very demonstration breaks down at several points, and especially in the last chapter. For when Paul reaches this capital it is not he who brings the gospel to it; rather it is the gospel which receives him there ( Act 28:15 ); and in what follows, the founding of a church at Rome by Paul is not related. As Overbeck says, “The Acts relate, not how the gospel, but how Paul, reached Rome.”
While fully recognising that the purely historical aim is unsatisfactory, it seems to us that that which Zeller proposes is inadmissible. Not only, as Bleek observes, must the coldly calculated deception, which would be inevitable in an author inventing a narrative with the view of forging history, appear absolutely improbable to every reader who gives himself up to the impression which so simple a composition produces; but besides, how are we to set before our minds the result proposed to be gained in this way? Did the author mean, asks Overbeck, to influence the Judeo-Christians to unite with Paul's party? But in that case it was a most unskilful expedient to set before them the conduct of the Jewish nation in the odious light in which it appears throughout the entire history of the Acts, from the persecutions against the apostles in the first chapters, down to the dark plots in which the Sanhedrim itself does not shrink from taking part against the life of St. Paul. It must then be by acting on his own party, the Paulinists, that the author hoped to effect the fusion of the two camps. By presenting the picture of the harmony between Paul and the Twelve at Jerusalem (Acts 15:0), he proposed to bring the Paulinists of his time to concede to the Judeo-Christians, as Paul had formerly done to the apostles, the observance of the Mosaic rites. But the Judeo-Christians themselves of that period no longer held to this concession. It appears from the Clementine Homilies that circumcision was abandoned by this party. The author of the Acts, a zealous Paulinist, must then have asked his own to yield to their adversaries more than the latter themselves required! Finally, what purpose, on Zeller's supposition, would be served by the entire transition part (6-12)? This elaborate enumeration of the circumstances which went to pave the way for the free evangelization of the Gentile world might and should have its place in a truthful and sincere narrative of the progress of the Christian work; it was a digression in a romance intended to raise Paul to the level of Peter. The modified form given by MM. Reuss and Nicolas to this conciliation-hypothesis has no force unless there is ascribed to the apostolic Judeo-Christianity and Paulinism a meaning and importance which, in our opinion, it never had (see chap. 4). What hypothesis does Overbeck substitute for that of Zeller, which he so well combats? According to this critic, the author of the Acts does not think of reconciling the two camps. It is the Pauline party alone which, working on its own account, here attempts by the pen of one of its members “to come to an understanding with its past, its peculiar origin, and its first founder, Paul” (p. xxi.). Such, after so much beating about, is the last word of Baur's School on the aim of the writings of Luke. It is on the face of it a somewhat strange idea, that of a party composing a historical book to come to a clear understanding with its past. It is not, however, inconceivable. But if the author really means to come to an understanding about the beginnings of his party, it is because he knows those beginnings, and believes in them. The past is to him a definite quantity by which he measures the present. But in that case, how are we to explain the wilful falsifications of history in which, according to Overbeck himself, he indulged? The miracles of St. Peter in the first part of the Acts are set down to the account of legend; but those of Paul, in the second, were knowingly invented by the author. To restore the past at one's own caprice, is that to come to a clear understanding with it? Much more, the author of the Acts, not content with peopling the night of the past with imaginary events, went the length of putting himself “into systematic opposition” (p. xxxvi.) to what Paul says of himself in his epistles. To contradict systematically, that is to say, knowingly, the best authenticated documents proceeding from the founder of the party, such is the way “to come to light regarding the person of that chief”! The Tübingen criticism has entangled itself in a cul-de-sac from which it cannot escape except by renouncing its first error, the opposition between the principles of Paul and those of the Twelve. We shall return to this question in our last chapter.
The reperusal of the third Gospel is enough to convince any one that its author seriously pursues a historical aim. This appears from the numerous chronological, geographical, and other like notices of which his work is full (Quirinius, Luke 2:2; the cycle of dates, Luke 3:1; the age of Jesus, Luke 5:23; the second-first Sabbath, Luke 6:1; the details regarding the material support of Jesus and His apostles, Luke 8:1-3; compare also Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 21:37-38, etc.). The narrative of the Acts is everywhere strewn with similar remarks (on Bethany, Acts 1:12; expulsion of the Jews by Claudius, Acts 18:2; Gallio, Acts 5:12; the money value of the books burned, Acts 19:19; the details of the disturbance at Ephesus, chap. 19; the fifty days between Passover and Pentecost, of which the narrative of the journey enables us to give an exact account, Act 20:6 to Acts 21:16; the number of soldiers, cavalry and infantry, forming the escort, Acts 23:23; the circumstantial account of the shipwreck, Acts 27:0; the nationality and figurehead of the vessel which carries Paul to Rome, Act 28:11 ). The historical purpose of the narrative appears from the programme marked out in the prologue: to relate all things, from the very first, in order, exactly ( Luk 1:3 ).
Yet it is certain, on the other hand, that no more than the other evangelists does the author relate history merely as history, that is to say, to interest the reader and satisfy his curiosity. He evidently proposes to himself a more exalted aim. The tone of his narrative proves this, and he tells us so himself. He has before his eyes a reader who is already abreast of the essential points of the gospel verity, and whom he wishes to furnish with the means of confirming the reality of the object of his faith ( τὴν ἀσφάλειαν ). It is with this view that he presents him with a full, exact, and consecutive description of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, “ that he might [thus himself] verify the infallible certainty of those things wherein he has been instructed. ”
In what did those instructions received by Theophilus consist? According to St. Paul ( 1Co 15:3-5 ), the essential points of elementary instruction were these two: Christ dead for our sins, and risen the third day. In Rom 10:6-10 the same apostle thus defines the object of faith, and the contents of the Christian profession: Christ descended for us into the abyss, and ascended for us to heaven; comp. also Romans 4:23-25. Such is likewise the summary of Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost.
Nevertheless, at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:0), Peter already feels the need of preparing for the proclamation of those decisive saving truths by a rapid sketch of the ministry of Jesus. At Antioch of Pisidia ( Act 13:23-24 ), Paul goes back, like Peter, even to the ministry of John the Baptist. For there is in the mind of every man, face to face with an important historical event, the felt need not merely to account for what it contains, but also for the way in which it has come about. And when the event has exercised, and continues ever to exercise, a deep influence on the lot of humanity, and on that of every individual, then the need of knowing its beginnings and development, its genesis, if I may so speak, takes forcible possession of every serious mind. And this desire is legitimate. The more value the event has, the more important is it for the conscience to defend itself from every illusion in regard to it. Such must have been the position of a large number of believing and cultured Greeks, of whom Theophilus was the representative. What mysteries must have appeared to such minds in those unheard of events which form the goal of gospel history: a man dying for the salvation of all other men; a Jew raised to the condition of the Son of God, and to power over all things; and that especially when those events were presented apart from their connection with those which had preceded and prepared for them, having all the appearance of abrupt manifestations from heaven! To how many objections must such doctrine have given rise? It is not without reason that St. Paul speaks of the cross as: to the Greeks foolishness. Was it not important to supply a point of support for such instructions, and in order to do that, to settle them on the solid basis of facts? To relate in detail the beginning and middle of this history, was not this to render the end of it more worthy of faith? In dealing with such men as Theophilus, there was an urgent necessity for supplying history as the basis of their catechetical training.
No one could understand better than St. Paul the need for such a work, and we should not be surprised though it were to him that the initiative was due. It is true there existed already a considerable number of accounts of the ministry of Jesus; but according to Luke 1:3 (explained in contrast with vers. 1, 2), those works were only collections of anecdotes put together without connection and without criticism. Such compilations could not suffice to meet the want in question; there was needed a history properly so called, such as that which Luke announces in his programme. And if Paul, among the helpers who surrounded him, had an evangelist distinguished for his gifts and culture, and we know from 2 Corinthians 8:18-19, that there was really one of this description, how could he help casting his eyes on him, and encouraging him to undertake so excellent a work? Such is the task which Luke has discharged. It is neither by adducing the prophecies, nor by the personal greatness of Jesus, nor by his declarations respecting His heavenly origin, that the author of the third Gospel has sought to establish or strengthen the faith of his readers. It is by the consecutive exposition of that unique history whose final events have become the holy object of faith. The beginning explains the middle, and the middle the end; and from this illuminated close the light is reflected back on the events which have led to it. It is a well-compacted whole, in which the parts mutually support one another. Luke's Gospel is the only one which in this view presents us with the Gospel history. It is very truly, as it has been called, the Gospel of the development (M. Félix Bovet).
The heavenly exaltation of Jesus was, if one may so speak, the first stage in the march of Christian work. There was a second more advanced: the state of things which this work had reached at the time when the author wrote. The name of Christ preached throughout all the world, the Church founded in all the cities of the empire; such was the astounding spectacle which this great epoch presented. This result was not, like the life of Jesus, an object of faith to the Gentiles; it was a fact of felt experience. It required to be, not demonstrated, but explained, and in some respects justified. How had the Church been founded, and how had it grown so rapidly? How had it become open to the Gentiles? How were the people of Israel, from the midst of whom it had gone forth, themselves excluded from it? How reconcile with this unexpected event God's faithfulness to His promises? Could the work of Christianity really be under those strange conditions a divine work? All these were questions which might justly be raised in the minds of believers from among the Gentiles, as is proved by the passage chap. 9-11 of the Epistle to the Romans, where Paul studies this very problem with a view to the wants of ancient Gentiles ( Luk 11:13 ). Only, while Paul treats it from the standpoint of Christian speculation, and answers it by a Theodicée, the book of Acts labours to solve it historically. The first part of this book exhibits the Church being born by the power of the Spirit of the glorified Christ, but coming into collision at its first step with official Judaism. The second part exhibits God preparing for the new progress which this work was to make through the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and Israel at the same time shedding the blood of Stephen, and the king of Israel slaying or disposed to slay the two chief apostles, in a word, the rebellion of Israel in the Holy Land. The last part, finally, represents the divine work embracing the Gentile world, and the ministry of Paul crowned with a success and with wonders equal at least to those which had signalized the ministry of Peter, most certainly this parallelism, as Schneckenburger has observed, is before the mind of the author, while Judaism continues its opposition in every city of the pagan world where Paul preaches, and at length consummates that opposition in the very heart of the empire, in the capital of the world, by the conduct of the rulers of the Roman synagogue. Such is the end of the book. Is not the intention of such a writing clear? The narrative is a justification. But this justification is not, as has been unworthily thought, that of a man, St. Paul. The aim of the Acts is more exalted. By its simple and consecutive statement of events, this book purports to give the explanation and justification of the way in which that great religious revolution was carried through, which transferred the kingdom of God from the Jews to the Gentiles; it is the apology of the divine work, that of God Himself. God had left the Gentiles only for a time, the times of ignorance; He had temporarily let them walk in their own ways (Acts 17:30; Act 14:16 ). At the end of this time, Israel, first saved, was to become the instrument of universal salvation, the apostle of Christ to all nations. But this glorious calling which the apostles so often held out to it was obstinately rejected, and the kingdom of God, instead of being established by it, was forced to pass aside from it. It was therefore not God who broke with His people; it was the people who broke with their God. Such is the fact which the book of Acts demonstrates historically. It is thus, in a way, the counterpart of Genesis. The latter relates how the transition took place from primitive universalism to theocratic particularism, through God's covenant with Abraham. The Acts relate how God returned from this temporary particularism to the conclusive universalism, which was ever His real thought. But while simply describing the fact, the Acts explain and justify the abnormal and unforeseen form in which it came about.
The end common to Luke's two writings is therefore to strengthen faith, by exhibiting the principle and phases of that renewal which his eye had just witnessed. Two great results had been successively effected before the eyes of his contemporaries. In the person of Jesus, the world had received a Saviour and Master; this Saviour and Master had established His kingdom over humanity. The Gospel sets forth the first of those events; the Acts the second. The Gospel has for its subject the invisible revolution, the substitution in the person of Jesus Himself of the dispensation of the Spirit for the reign of the letter, the transforming of the relations of God to man, salvation, the principle of that historical revolution which was to follow. The Acts narrate the external revolution, the preaching of salvation with its consequences, the acceptance of the Gentiles, and their substitution in the place of Israel. Salvation and the Church, such are the two works of God on which the author meant to shed the light of the divine mind. The Ascension linked them together. The goal of the one, it was the foundation of the other. Hence the narrative of the Ascension becomes the bond of the two writings. The aim of the work, thus understood, explains its beginning (the announcement of the forerunner's birth), its middle (the Ascension), and its end (Paul and the synagogue at Rome).
2. The Time of Composition.
The very various opinions regarding the date of our Gospel (Introd. § 3) may be arranged in three groups. The first class fix it before the destruction of Jerusalem, between 60 and 70; the second, between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the first century (Holtzmann, from 70 to 80; Keim, about 90); the third, Baur and his school, in the first part of the second century (Volkmar, about 100; Hilgenfield, Zeller, from 100 to 110; Baur, after 130). The traditions which we have quoted (§ 3) and the facts which we have enumerated (§ 1) seem to us at once to set aside the dates of the third group, and to be unfavourable to the second. Tradition has preserved to us only one precise date, that given by Clement of Alexandria, when he places the composition of Luke before that of Mark, and fixes the latter at the period of Peter's sojourn at Rome, that is to say, in 64 (according to Wieseler), or between 64 and 67 (according to others). Following this view, our Gospel must have been composed between 60 and 67. The opinion of Irenaeus is not, as is often said, opposed to this (§ 3). Let us examine the objections raised by criticism to this traditional date, which would place the composition of our Gospel antecedently to the destruction of Jerusalem.
1. The great number of gospel narratives already published before our Gospel, according to the prologue, presupposes a somewhat advanced period of the apostolic age.
But why might not numerous attempts at compiling traditions relative to the history of Jesus have been made during the first thirty years which followed events so great? “Though the art of writing had not yet existed, it would have been invented for such a subject,” says Lange. When, especially, the generation of the immediate witnesses of the life of our Saviour began to be cleared away by death, and when the apostles, His official witnesses, left Palestine to go and preach to other nations, was it not inevitable that the gospel literature should appear to fill up this double void? Now it was about the year 60, at the latest, that those circumstances emerged.
2. The work of Luke betrays a certain amount of criticism, in regard to its sources, which leads to a date posterior to the destruction of Jerusalem.
But from the time when the author had before him a certain number of works on the subject, it is evident that he could not compose his narrative without estimating those sources critically; that might be done at any period. All that was needed for it was leisure.
3. The influence of legend (Overbeck) is alleged in the writings of Luke, and a Paulinism already in a state of decadence (Reuss, so far as Acts is concerned).
But has the third Gospel presented to us a single description resembling that of the fire lighted in the Jordan at the time of the baptism, which Justin relates; or a single word which has any resemblance to the account of the marvellous vines of the millennial kingdom, in Papias; or a single scene amplified like that which is drawn by the Gospel of the Hebrews of the interview between Jesus and the rich young man (see on the passage)? Such are the traces of the influence of myth. Luke is entirely free from it. As to the weakening of the Pauline idea, we shall not be able to treat it thoroughly till chap. 4. We shall only say here, that so far from its being the fact that Luke gives us a Paulinism in a state of decline, it is Paul himself who, in the Acts, following the example of Jesus in the Gospel, agrees to realize Christian spirituality only in the restricted measure in which it is practicable. Fidelity to principle does not prevent men of God from exercising that prudence and charity which in practice can take account of a given situation.
4. The siege of Jerusalem is described in the prophecy of Jesus in so precise and detailed a form (Luke 19:43-44, Luk 21:20-24 ), in comparison with the compilations of Matthew and Mark, that it is impossible to assert that Luke's account is not subsequent to the event.
Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, that is certain. The witnesses who accused Him of this before the Sanhedrim did not invent what was absolutely false, and Stephen rested his statement on some such prophecy ( Act 6:14 ). Now if Jesus predicted this catastrophe as a prophet, there is no reason why He should not have prophetically announced some details of it. But if He predicted it simply through the force of His political insight, He could not but be aware also that this destruction implied a siege, and that the siege could not take place without the means in use at the time (investment, trenches, etc.), and would be followed by all the well-known terrible consequences. Now nothing in the details given passes beyond the measure of those general indications.
5. The final advent of our Lord, it is further said, stands in Mark and Matthew in immediate connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, while in Luke it is widely separated from it by the interval of the times of the Gentiles ( Luk 21:24 ). In other passages, besides, the idea of the proximity of the Parousia is designedly effaced; so Luke 9:27, where Luke makes Jesus say that some of the disciples present shall see, not “ the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew), but simply the kingdom of God. This all proves that, at the period when Luke was writing, experience had already led the Church to give up the idea that the return of Christ would immediately follow ( εὐθέως in Matthew) the destruction of Jerusalem.
We hold that the relation of immediate succession between the two events laid down by Matthew proves that his Gospel was composed before the destruction of Jerusalem; but we cannot admit, what is held by the entire body almost of modern critics, that the interval supposed by Luke between those two events proves the date of his Gospel to be after that catastrophe. We have already treated several points bearing on this question in our exegesis (vol. ii. pp. 259-261). The decisive question here is how Jesus Christ Himself spoke on the subject. We think we have given indubitable evidence, from a very large number of His sayings, that in His view His advent was to be separated by a considerable period, not only from the time that He was speaking, but from the destruction of Jerusalem, which, according to Him, was to happen during the lifetime of the contemporary generation. The bridegroom who delays his coming; the porter who has to watch late or till midnight, or till cockcrow, or even till morning, waiting for his master; the parable of the leaven, which exhibits the gospel slowly and by a process wholly from within transforming the relations of human life, that gospel which must be preached before His return throughout the whole world, while the apostles shall not even have had time to announce it to all the cities of Israel before the judgment of the nation, etc. etc., all proves to us that Jesus Himself never confounded in one and the same catastrophe the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the present dispensation. Hence it follows, that if Jesus expressed His view on this subject, He must have spoken as Luke makes Him speak, and not as Matthew makes Him speak; that consequently He must really have delivered two distinct discourses on those two subjects so entirely different in His eyes, and not one merely in which He blended the two events in a single description (Matthew 24:0). Now this is precisely what Luke says (see chap. 17, on the return of Christ, and chap. 21, on the destruction of Jerusalem). If it is so, with what right can it be alleged that Luke could not recover the historical truth on this point as he has succeeded in doing on so many others, and that his essentially more accurate account of the sayings of Jesus is produced only by a deliberate alteration of the documents which he had before him? What! Luke returned by the path of error or falsehood to historical truth! Really criticism here exacts more from sound sense than it can bear. Besides, it is psychologically impossible that Luke should have indulged in manipulating at pleasure the sayings of that Being on whom his faith was fixed, whom he regarded as the Son of God. Again, in this respect criticism ascribes a procedure to him which sound sense rejects. The sayings of our Lord may have been involuntarily modified by tradition, and have come to the evangelists in different and more or less altered forms; but we cannot allow that they invented or changed them deliberately. In what results are we landed if we take the opposite view? It is asserted that some unknown poet put into the mouth of Jesus, about 68, the eschatological discourse, Matthew 24:0; then, ten or twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Luke not less knowingly and deliberately transformed this discourse to meet the exigencies of the case! But we ask: if such were really the origin of our Lord's discourses, would they be what they are? Would their general harmony, and the points so often observed at which they fit into one another, be what they are, especially in our synoptics?
In opposition to those reasons which appear to us to be of little weight, the following are the proofs which the book itself furnishes, to the fact of its being composed before the destruction of Jerusalem: 1. The aim which, as we have seen, explains the Gospel and the Acts, coincides thoroughly with that of the great epistles of St. Paul, especially of the Epistle to the Romans; besides, the correspondences in detail between the third Gospel and that letter are so many and striking, that it is almost impossible to deny that the two writings proceeded from the same surroundings and at the same period. For they are evidently intended to meet the same practical wants. The main fact here is, that Luke resolves historically precisely the same problem of the rejection of Israel and the calling of the Gentiles which Paul treats speculatively in the important passage, Romans 9-11.
2. The purity of the tradition, the freshness and simplicity of the narratives, and especially the appropriateness which Luke is able to restore to the sayings of Jesus, and which alone makes their full charm felt, do not admit of the view that this book was written at a considerable distance from the events, and that it was wholly outside the circle of the first witnesses. The destruction of Jerusalem had not yet burst over the Holy Land and scattered that Primitive Christian Society, when such information was collected as that to which we owe records so vivid and pure.
3. The book of Acts, certainly written after the Gospel, does not seem to have been composed after the destruction of Jerusalem. True, it has been alleged that Luk 8:26 proves the contrary, but without the least foundation, as Overbeck acknowledges. The words: “ Now it is desert,” in this passage, refer not to the town of Gaza, but to the route pointed out by the angel, either to distinguish it from another more frequented way (Overbeck), or, as appears to us more natural, to explain the scene which is about to follow. How would it be possible for this writing, at least in its last lines, not to contain the least allusion to this catastrophe, nor even a word touching the death of St. Paul, which must have preceded it by a few years? We have already discussed this question (Introd. p. 13 et seq.). We shall sum up by saying that if, on the one hand, the mention of the term of two years, in the last verses of the Acts, clearly assumes that a new phase in Paul's life had begun after his captivity, on the other hand the complete silence of the author as to the end of the apostle's career proves that this phase had not yet terminated. The Acts must therefore have been written in the interval between the end of Paul's first captivity at Rome (in the spring of the year 64) and his martyrdom (about 67). The Gospel must have been composed a short time before.
Again, it has been alleged that a considerable interval must have elapsed between the composition of those two writings; because the tradition followed by Luke in the Acts, in regard to the ascension, differs from that which dictated the account of the event in the Gospel, and consequently supposes new information. We have proved in our exegesis that this hypothesis is erroneous. The account in the Gospel is given summarily, with the view of presenting in the subsequent work a more complete view of the event.
4. We have explained in the introduction, the influence which Luke exercised on the unauthentic conclusion of Mark, by supposing that the first of those works appeared about the time when the composition of the second must have been interrupted (at the passage, Mar 16:8 ). We shall here take a step further. If it is true, as seems to be the consequence of the exegesis, that Luke was not acquainted either with the Gospel of Matthew or Mark, it follows that he wrote shortly after those two Gospels had appeared; otherwise he would not have failed to know works of such importance on the subject which he was treating. If therefore our exegetical result is established, we must conclude that the Gospel of Luke was composed almost simultaneously with the other two synoptics. We shall examine the premises of this conclusion more closely in chap. 3. Now, if it follows from the confounding of the two discourses on the destruction of Jerusalem and on the end of the world, in Matthew and Mark, that those writings are anterior to the first of those events, supposing that Luke did not know either the one or the other of them, he must share in this priority.
It seems to us on all these accounts that the composition of the Gospel and of the Acts must be placed between the years 64 and 67, as was indicated by tradition.
3. The Author.
Here we start from a fact universally admitted, namely, the identity of the author of the Gospel and of the Acts. This is one of the few points on which criticism is unanimous. Holtzmann says (p. 374): “It must now be admitted as indisputable, that the author of the third Gospel is one and the same person with the author of the Acts.” Indeed, the identity of the style, the correspondence of the plan, and the continuity of the narrative, do not admit of the least doubt in this respect, as Zeller also proves.
Who is this author? Tradition answers: Luke, Paul's fellow-labourer. If it goes so far as to ascribe to Paul himself a share in the composition, this is a later amplification which, as we have seen (Introd. p. 27), is foreign to the primitive statement.
No other objections are raised against the truth of this traditional assertion, than the arguments alleged to prove the composition of our two writings in the second century, a time at which there could no longer be a fellow-labourer of St. Paul. Those arguments having been refuted, it only remains to bring forward from those two writings the positive reasons to be alleged in support of the indication furnished by tradition:
1. It appears from the prologue that the author was not one of the apostles, but one of their immediate disciples, “a Christian of the second apostolic generation” (Renan). This is implied in the words: “As they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye - witnesses of these things.”
2. This disciple was a Christian from among the Gentiles; for, as Holtzmann observes, it is not probable that a Jewish Christian would have spoken of the elders of the Jews ( Luk 7:3 ), of a city of the Jews ( Luk 23:51 ), etc. etc. (The position of John, in whom we find similar expressions, was entirely different. In his case this form of expression is explained by reasons of a peculiar nature.)
3. This Greek Christian was a believer formed in the school of Paul. This is proved by that breath of broad universalism which inspires his two writings, and more particularly by the correspondence as to the institution of the Holy Supper in his account and Paul's.
4. He must even have been one of the apostle's fellow-labourers in the work of evangelization, at least if he is speaking of himself in the passages where the first person plural occurs in the book of Acts. And this explanation seems to be the only admissible one. If it is well-founded, it further follows that the author cannot be one of the fellow-labourers of Paul who are designated by name in the Acts, for he never speaks of himself except anonymously.
5. This apostolic helper must have been a man of letters. This is proved by the prologue prefixed to his work, the classic style of this piece, as well as of those passages of the Acts which he composed independently of any document (the last parts of the book); finally, by the refined and delicate complexion of mind and the historical talent which appear in his two writings.
Now all those features belong signally to Luke. We have seen (Introd. p. 16):
1. Paul ranks Luke among the Christians of Greek origin. 2. He assigns him a distinguished place within the circle of his disciples and fellow-labourers. 3. The title physician which he gives him leads us to ascribe to him a scientific and literary culture probably superior to that of the other apostolic helpers.
Not only do the criteria indicated all apply to Luke, but they do not apply well to any other. Barnabas was of Jewish origin, for he was a Levite; Silas also, for he belonged to the Primitive Church at Jerusalem. Timothy was a young Lycaonian, probably without culture, which explains the timid shrinking which seems to have characterized him as an evangelist (1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 2Ti 1:6-8 ). Besides, all these are designated by name in the Acts. Luke only (with the exception of Titus) never appears by name. We see that the evidences borrowed from Luke's writings harmonize with those furnished by the epistles of Paul, and that both coincide with the traditional statement. Now, as it is not likely that the Primitive Church gave itself to the critical investigation which we have been making, this agreement between the critical result and the historical testimony raises the fact of the authorship of St. Luke to the highest degree of scientific certainty.
Moreover, all the authors whose judgment has not been perverted by the prejudices of the Tübingen criticism are at one respecting the person of the author. “It is impossible,” says Holtzmann, “to understand why Luke should not be the author of this Gospel.” “The author of this Gospel,” says M. Renan ( Vie de Jésus, p. 16), “is certainly the same as the author of the Acts of the Apostles. Now the author of the Acts is a companion of St. Paul, a title which perfectly applies to Luke.” Keim thus expresses himself (p. 81): “There is no room to doubt that this writing was composed by the companion of Paul. At least it is incomprehensible how by pure conjecture a man should have been definitely singled out whose name so rarely appears in the epistles of the apostle.”
4. The Place of Composition.
Some very uncertain traditions place the composition (as we have seen, Introd. § 3) at Alexandria (many MSS. Mnn.), in Greece (Beotia and Achaia, Jerome), or at Rome. A modern critic, Köstlin, has proposed Asia Minor.
We find little ground in the two writings for deciding between those different possibilities. The explanations appended to certain geographical names by no means prove, as some seem to think, that the author did not write in the country to which those localities belonged; they only prove that he did not suppose those localities known to Theophilus or to his readers in general. Thus it cannot be concluded, as has been attempted from the explanation respecting the city of Philippi ( Act 16:12 ), that he did not write in Macedonia; nor from those about Athens ( Act 17:21 ), that he did not write in Attica; nor from those about the Fair Havens and Phenice ( Act 27:8-12 ), that he did not write in Crete; and as little from explanations about localities in Palestine (Luke 1:26; Luke 4:31, Nazareth, Capernaum, cities of Galilee; Luke 8:26, the country of the Gadarenes, opposite Galilee; Luke 23:51, Arimathea, a city of the Jews; Luke 24:13, Emmaus, 60 furlongs from Jerusalem; Acts 1:12, the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem), that he did not write in Palestine. What those passages prove is, that he did not write for the Christians of Palestine or Macedonia, or Attica or Crete, at least exclusively. Because of the absence of similar explanations regarding certain Sicilian and Italian localities (Acts 28:12, Syracuse; Luke 2:13, Rhegium, Puteoli; Luke 2:15, Appii Forum and the Three Taverns), it does not necessarily follow that he wrote in Sicily, in Italy, or in Rome, but only that he knew those localities to be familiar to his readers. It must be confessed, however, that from the country of his readers we may draw an inference in regard to the place of composition; for it is natural to suppose that an author writes for the public with which he finds himself immediately surrounded.
The evidences which Zeller thinks he has discovered in favour of Rome as the place of composition either depend on his explanation of the aim of Luke's writings, which has been proved false, or are unsupported, for example, when he alleges the interest which the author shows for this city by making the foundation of the Roman church by Paul the culminating point of his narrative. Now the fact is, as we have proved, that this last chapter of the Acts has an altogether different bearing.
The reasons alleged by Köstlin and Overbeck in favour of Ephesus are not more conclusive. 1. It is asserted that Marcion, on his way from Asia Minor to Rome, brought thence Luke's Gospel. But by that time this writing was spread this is proved by facts (Introd. § 1), as well as the other two synoptics throughout all the churches. Marcion did not introduce it into western Christendom; he merely chose it among the received Gospels as the one which he could the most easily adapt to his system. 2. The author of the Acts loves to describe the persons who afterwards played a part in Asia Minor.
But John, the chief personage of the church of Asia at the end of the first century, is wholly eclipsed in the Acts by Peter and Paul sec. 3. The Acts relate with predilection Paul's sojourn at Ephesus.
True, but in such a way as to place in relief Peter's ministry at Jerusalem. Paul's sojourn at Ephesus was the culminating point of his apostolate, as the times which followed Pentecost were the apogee of Peter's.
Evidences so arbitrary cannot lay a foundation for any solid result. Once assured of the author's person, we should rather start from his history. Luke was at Rome with St. Paul from the spring of the year 62 (Acts 28:0); he was still there when the epistles were sent to the Colossians and Philemon. But when the apostle wrote to the Philippians about the end of 63 or beginning of 64, he had already left Rome, for Paul sends no greeting from him to this church, so well known to Luke. When, therefore, the two years' captivity of the apostle spoken of in the Acts came to a close, and consequently that captivity itself, he was no longer with the apostle. Some years later, when Paul, imprisoned at Rome for the second time, sent from that city the Second Epistle to Timothy, Luke was again with him. Where did he reside in the interval? Probably in Greece, among those churches of Macedonia and Achaia, in whose service he had laboured along with Paul, and in Achaia rather than Macedonia, seeing Paul does not salute him in the Epistle to the Philippians. Might it not then be at this period and in this latter country, “ in the countries of Achaia and Beotia,” as Jerome says, that he composed his Gospel? As to the Acts, he must have composed it somewhat later, probably at Rome beside Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67. The parchments which Paul asked Timothy to bring him from Asia, at the time when only Luke was with him, were perhaps documents which were to be used in this work; for example, the summaries of the admirable discourses at Antioch, Athens, and Miletus, which are like jewels set in the narrative of the Acts. The work was published when the head of the apostle fell under the sword. Hence the absence of all allusion to that event. The composition of the Acts, both in respect of place and date, would be nearly connected with that of the Epistle to the Hebrews, with which Luke's writings have several other features of agreement which are highly remarkable.
Chapter 3: The Sources of Luke, and the Relation of the Synoptics to one Another.
WE have reached the most arduous, but not the least important part of our task. This domain is that of hypothesis; but as it is from the most remote and inaccessible mountain regions that the rivers which fertilize and the torrents which devastate come down, so it is from the obscure regions into which we are about to enter that we get those widely various and yet influential criticisms on the value of the Gospel history, which find their way even to the people. We shall first take up what concerns the third Gospel in particular; then we shall extend our study to the other two synoptics. For those three writings are of a piece, and every definitive judgment on the one involves a result gained in regard to the other two.
1. The Sources of Luke.
Two questions present themselves:
I. Is Luke dependent either on Matthew or Mark?
II. And if not, what were the true sources of this work?
I. Is Luke dependent either on Matthew or Mark?
We have throughout the whole of our commentary exhibited, in the narrative and style, those characteristics which seem to us to demonstrate Luke's entire independence in respect of Mark and Matthew. It only remains to recapitulate those proofs, while we apply them to refute the contrary hypotheses.
A. As to Luke's independence in relation to Matthew, we shall not rest our conclusion on the numerous narratives which the first has more than the second. This fact would prove only one thing: that if Matthew served as a source to Luke, he was not the only one, at least unless we hold, with Baur, that Luke invented whatever he contains more than Matthew, an assertion which seems to us to be already sufficiently refuted. Neither shall we allege the many narratives of Matthew which are wanting in Luke; for we are aware of the reasons which might lead the follower to omit certain facts related by his predecessor. But we appeal to the following facts:
1. Luke's plan is entirely independent of that of Matthew; for it appears to us superfluous, after the investigations which we have just carried through, again to refute the opinion of Keim, according to which Luke's plan is no other than that of Matthew spoiled. What appears to us above all inconceivable, is that in the account of the journey (from Luk 9:51 ) Luke should not even have mentioned Perea, which Matthew expressly makes the theatre of the corresponding journey ( Mat 19:1 ). Especially at the point where Luke's narrative rejoins Matthew's (Luke 18:15, comp. with Mat 19:13 ), one would expect such an indication without fail.
2. The series of narrations in Luke is wholly independent of that in Matthew. Two or three analogous groups like those of the baptism and temptation, of the two Sabbatic scenes ( Luk 6:1 et seq. and parall.), of the aspirants to the kingdom of God ( Luk 9:57 et seq. and parall.), and of the various scenes belonging to the Gadara excursion ( Luk 8:22-56 ), etc., are easily explained by the moral or chronological connection of the events, in virtue of which they formed one whole in tradition. Besides, there are not wanting features to prove, even in this respect, the independence of the two narratives. For example, the insertion of the accounts of the healing of the paralytic and of the calling of Matthew in Matthew's narrative of the Gadara excursion, and Luke's adding of a third aspirant unknown to Matthew.
3. In the narrative parts common to both, the independence of Luke in the details of the accounts is obvious at every word. The author who wrote Luke 1:2 could not have had before him Matthew 1:2, unless he had the formal intention of contradicting him. So Keim supposes that Luke had a Matthew before him which did not yet contain the accounts of the infancy! In the narrative of the temptation, would Luke take the liberty of inverting the order of the temptations, and of omitting the appearance of the angels? Would he suppress the rite of the confession of sins in his description of John's baptism? In his account of the baptism would he modify the terms of the divine utterance? So in that of the transfiguration (see the exegesis). In the narrative of the calling of Matthew himself, would he change that apostle into an unknown person, named Levi? Would he expressly refer to another Sabbath the second Sabbatic scene ( Luk 6:6 ) which Matthew places on the same day as the first ( Mat 12:9 )? Would he mention a single demoniac at Gadara, a single blind man at Jericho, in cases where Matthew mentions two? When borrowing the conversation at Cesarea Philippi from Matthew, would he omit to indicate the locality where it took place? Or would he introduce into the text of his predecessor such puerile changes as the substitution of eight days for six, in the narrative of the transfiguration, etc. etc.? We shall be told he used. another source in those cases in which he had more confidence. This supposition, which we shall examine more closely, would solve some of those enigmas indifferently, but not all. In particular, the omissions of details remain unexplained.
4. In reporting the sayings of Jesus, not to speak here of the dislocation of the great discourses, how could Luke alter so seriously the terms of such a document as the Lord's Prayer, or of a declaration so grave as that regarding the blasphemy against the Spirit, etc. etc.; and then, on the other hand, indulge in such petty changes as the transformation of the sheep fallen into the pit into an ox, or of the two sparrows which are sold for a farthing into five which are sold for two farthings? How could he introduce into the middle of the Sermon on the Mount two sayings which seem to break its connection ( Luk 6:39-40 ), and which must be taken from two discourses, held in entirely different situations, according to Matt. (Matthew 15:14; Mat 10:25 ), where, besides, they have an altogether different application? Have we here again the fact of another document? But, in conclusion, to what purpose does he use Matthew? And would this preference for the other source go so far as to lead him to omit such sayings as these: “ Come unto me...” which Matthew presented to him? For who could take in earnest the attempt to answer this proposed by Holtzmann (see pp. 46, 47)?
5. The chief reason for which it is thought necessary to regard Matthew as one of Luke's sources, is the identical expressions and parts of phrases which occur both in the discourses and in the parallel narratives. But whence comes it that this resemblance is, as M. Nicolas says, intermittent, and that not only in the same narrative, but in the same paragraph and in the same phrase? Did Luke slavishly copy Matthew for a quarter of a line, and then in the next quarter write independently of him? But this is child's play, if the sense is the same; it is still worse, if the change alters the sense. We know the answer which is again given here: he had not Matthew only, but other documents as well before him; he combines together those various texts. Behold our author, then, borrowing three words from one document, two from another, four from a third, and that in every phrase from beginning to end of his Gospel! Who can admit the idea of such patchwork? Need we here reproduce the well-known jest of Schleiermacher at Eichhorn's hypothesis ( Schr. d. Luk. p. 6)? Is it not enough to say, with Lange: “The process of death to explain the work of life”? No; such mechanical inlaying could never have become that flowing, simple, and limpid narrative which we admire in our Gospel. Let the parable of the sower be reperused in a synopsis, comparing the two texts, and it will be felt that to maintain that the first of those texts is derived from the other, in whole and in part, is not only to insult the good faith, but the good sense, of the second writer.
6. Weiss has pointed out that a number of Matthew's favourite expressions ( βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν , εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας , παρουσία , συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος , σεληνιάζεσθαι , ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ , etc.) are completely foreign to Luke. If he had copied Matthew's text, how could one or other of those terms have failed now and again to escape from his pen?
7. Luke's Gospel abounds in Aramaising forms, not only in the passages peculiar to himself, but also in those to which Matthew has parallels. And, strange to say, those Aramaisms are wholly wanting in the text of the latter. We find, on the contrary, a pure, native, vigorous Greek. To suppose, therefore, that Matthew was Luke's principal source, is to believe that the latter, himself a Greek, and writing for Greeks, had arbitrarily foisted his foreign Aramaic phrases into the style of his predecessor. Who can imagine such an anomaly: the Hebrew writer writing good Greek for Hebrews, and the Greek writer cramming his Greek text with Aramaisms for Greeks!
B. Luke's independence in relation to Mark appears to us evident from the following facts:
1. Luke's plan is certainly not borrowed from Mark, who has no other plan than the known contrast between the Galilean ministry and the sojourn at Jerusalem, and whose narrative is composed, besides, of detached scenes. That which Klostermann discovers appears to us to be due rather to the critic than to the evangelist. The unity of Mark's work lies elsewhere; it is found in the person of Jesus Himself, whose greatness forms the common basis of all those varied scenes, and in the impression of admiration which it inspires. Therein there is nothing resembling the progressive development which comes to light in Luke's work.
2. No doubt as to the series of events, especially at the beginning, there is a greater agreement between Mark and Luke than between Luke and Matthew; but not without transpositions much more difficult to explain, on the supposition that Mark was used by Luke, than is the analogy in some series, without any dependence on Luke's part.
3. There is in Luke a more important omission than that of some particular accounts; there is the omission of the whole cycle, Mar 6:45 to Mark 8:26 ( Mat 14:22 to Mat 16:12 ). How is such a suppression conceivable, if Luke, who nevertheless aimed at being complete ( πᾶσιν , Luk 1:3 ), makes use of Mark? It has been supposed that there was a gap in the copy of Mark which he possessed; can this reply suffice?
4. The same difference, besides, meets us in regard to the special details of the narratives, and in regard to the style of our Lord's discourses, as between Luke and Matthew. If Luke copies Mark, why does he put the healing of the blind man at Jericho at the departure of Jesus, while Mark puts it at His entrance? Why does he omit the name of Bartimeus, and the picturesque details of Mark's description? What purpose could it serve to mutilate at will such dramatic accounts as that of the healing of the lunatic son? By what caprice substitute for the words of Mark: “ Save a staff only,” these apparently contradictory ones: “Nothing, not even a staff”? And when Luke clearly places the expulsion of the buyers and sellers from the temple, on the morrow after Palm-day, why put it on that same day? Does Luke make sport of history, and of the Master's words?
5. Of the very many Hebraisms which we have pointed out in Luke, only a very few are found in Mark. Once more, then, Luke made the medley! He, the author of Greek origin, who could write classic Greek, overloading his style with Hebraisms which he does not find in his model!
6. Finally, we call attention to the mixture of slavish dependence and affected originality which would characterize the text of Luke, if he really reproduced the text of Mark. Is not Gieseler right in saying: “And despite such affectation, this work bears a seal of simplicity and of the absence of pretence, which strikes every reader!” Another source has been spoken of as used besides Mark. So we are brought back to that manufacturing of phrases of which we have already spoken. The supposition has been given forth that Luke used the previous writing entirely from memory. But how could this memory be at once so tenacious as to reproduce the minutest expressions of the original text; and, on the other hand, so treacherous as sometimes to alter the facts so seriously? Here there would be an intermitting of memory more difficult still to explain than the intermittence of the style to support which this hypothesis is resorted to.
We conclude that neither Matthew nor Mark, in their present form at least, figured among the sources of Luke. Such, besides, is the conclusion which we might have drawn from his prologue. The manner in which he contrasts the πολλοί ( many), compilers of previous writings, with the apostles and eye-witnesses of the events, forbids us to rank the Apostle Matthew among the former; so that if he shared the received opinion which ascribed to Matthew the first Gospel, he cannot have ranked this book among the writings of which he speaks. It would certainly not be easier to maintain that, in a heap with so many ephemeral writings, he referred to such an important work as that of Mark, which from the first times the Church (witness Papias, Clement, Irenaeus) signalized and regarded as one of the most precious documents regarding the ministry of Jesus.
II. And if not, what were the true sources of this work?
Those two writings being set aside, what then are the sources from which Luke has drawn?
Criticism has sought to determine the sources of Luke, either from certain characteristics of his style, or from the religious tendencies of certain parts, or from the localities which form the scene of his narrative.
1. Proceeding from the first point of view, Schleiermacher, as is well known, broke up our Gospel into a certain number of detached narratives, which the hand of the compiler had combined in such a way as to form them into a consecutive history. The phrases of transition which we have indicated throughout our Gospel are in his eyes the conclusions of those short writings; they do not belong, according to him, to the general compiler. This hypothesis cannot be maintained: a. Because those forms have too much resemblance not to be from the same hand. Besides, they reappear in the narrative of the Acts. b. The unity of style and plan proves that the evangelist was not a mere collector. The author, no doubt, possessed written materials; but he used them in such a way as to work them into a homogeneous whole. As to the two accounts of journeys which Schleiermacher thinks have been amalgamated in one in the piece Luk 9:51 to Luke 19:27, see at p. 9.
2. We have already spoken of the great Judeo-Christian Gospel, in which Keim finds the substance of the greater part of Luke's Gospel. But as there is no necessity for regarding Luke's narrative as swayed by opposing religious currents, Keim's hypothesis falls to the ground with the fact on which it was based. According to Hilgenfeld, the author consulted a third document besides Matthew and Mark, that which is reproduced in a modified form in the journal ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 19:27 ). But if this piece formed one whole by itself, whence comes it that, at the point where Luke's account rejoins that of Matthew and Mark ( Luk 18:15 ), we find not the least sign of the end of the interpolated piece? Hilgenfeld ascribes an altogether peculiar character to this piece the austerity of the Christian life; and a special aim to narrate the formation of a circle of disciples whose work, passing beyond the Jewish domain, was to form a prelude to that of Paul. But this aim enters into the progressive movement of the whole book, and the first characteristic referred to belongs to the entire teaching of Jesus (the rich young man).
3. Köstlin thinks he can maintain a source specially Judaean for the events which are said to have passed in Judea, and for those of which Samaria was the theatre, or in which the Samaritan people play a part a Samaritan source. Keim regards this latter, the basis of the account of the journey ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 18:27 ), as one and the same work with the document which furnishes the account given in the Acts of the conversion of a Samaritan population (Acts 8:0). As well might we speak of an Abyssinian source for the narrative of the noble belonging to the court of Candace, etc. As if it were necessary to bring in local interest into the composition of such a history! For a similar reason, Bleek takes Galilee as the place of the composition of his original Gospel, the principal source of Matthew and Luke. The preponderance of the Galilean ministry, and the omission of the journeys to Jerusalem, in this fundamental writing, arise from a predilection of a local nature. This hypothesis is as unsatisfactory. The more elevated the sphere of a narrative is, the less probable is it that the place of its origin determined its horizon. This is not the time to occupy ourselves with other alleged sources of Luke, to the supposition of which criticism has been led by the mysterious relation which unites our three synoptics, expressly the primitive Matthew (or Logia) and the proto-Mark. This question will occur when we come to study the relations between the synoptics.
For ourselves, the following is all that we conclude from our exegetical study: 1 st. We have established a source of purely Jewish origin: the genealogical document Luk 3:23 et seq. (see the exegesis). 2 d. From Luk 1:5 we have found ourselves face to face with an account of a wholly Judeo-Christian character, both in substance, seeing it renders with incomparable freshness the impressions of the first actors in the Gospel drama; and in form, for the style leaves no doubt as to the language in which it was written. This piece (chap. 1 and 2), the Aramaic character of which Luke has preserved in Greek as faithfully as possible, may have been a detached account preserved in the family of Jesus, or have belonged to a more considerable whole, one of the works spoken of by Luke. The other parts of the Gospel, all of which, except the account of the Passion, betray an Aramaic basis, must have emanated also from the Judeo-Christian Church. We shall probably never know whether those pieces were taken from different writings or borrowed from one and the same work. 3 d. The parts in which this Hebrew character is less perceptible, in matter and form, have probably been composed in Greek on the basis of oral narratives, public or private. Thus the account of the Passion, in which we shall find certain classical turns of expression (Luke 23:12, προϋπῆρχον ; Luke 5:15, ἐστὶ πεπραγμένον αὐτῷ ; Luke 5:18, παμπληθεί ), if it is not the work of Luke himself, might be taken from one of the Gospels antecedent to Luke, composed in Greek. 4 th. The narrative of the institution of the Holy Supper is certainly of Pauline origin; comp. 1 Corinthians 11:0. Was this source written? Was it, perhaps, the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians? In this latter case, Luke must have quoted from memory, as seen from the differences between the two forms. Or was it purely oral? Luke, having often celebrated the Holy Supper with Paul (Acts 20:0), might have retained in his memory more or less literally the formula which the apostle used on those occasions. Such is all that we think can be advanced with any probability, proceeding upon the study of the Gospel.
2. The Relations and Origin of the Synoptics.
We shall first examine the systems which are at present current; thereafter, we shall state our own view.
A. Most critics are now agreed on this point, that Matthew and Mark were not dependent on Luke. No doubt, Bleek traces back Mark to Matthew and Luke; and, according to Volkmar, Matthew was borrowed from Luke and Mark. But those opinions do not enjoy anything like general acceptance. Bleek's most plausible argument is that which he derives from certain phrases of Mark, in which the text of the other two seems to be combined. But if Mark was such a close copyist as to place side by side two phrases identical in meaning, that he might not lose a word or part of a phrase belonging to the text of his predecessors, how, on the other hand, would he reject immense pieces from their works, or modify it in so serious a way as he often does? The phenomenon which has misled Bleek, and some others before him, arises simply from that somewhat wordy style of amplification which characterizes Mark, and which appears throughout his whole narrative. As to Volkmar's opinion, it contradicts two obvious facts: the vigorous originality of Matthew's style, and the brevity of his narratives in comparison with Luke's. As an example, let the history of the centurion at Capernaum be taken, in which, for all the steps adopted by him to avoid approaching Jesus personally, and even to prevent His coming under his roof (in Luke), Matthew substitutes the words, “ He came unto Him, beseeching Him;” or the history of the paralytic, in which Matthew would be made to borrow from Luke the words, “ And seeing their faith,” after having suppressed all the circumstances to which this expression refers! All this proves nothing, I know, to a man like Volkmar, who thinks that the evangelists manipulate their materials according to their caprice. How could the first evangelist have arbitrarily created his great discourses by means of the teachings of Jesus scattered throughout Luke? Such procedure is as inadmissible as the dislocation which others ascribe to Luke.
B. Luke being disposed of, the only possible question regarding the origin of Mark and Matthew is this, Does the one depend on the other? The general plan in both is very similar (the contrast between the Galilean ministry and the sojourn at Jerusalem). Between those two parts there is also found in both writings a very brief account of the journey through Perea. The order of the narratives is almost identical from the conversation at Cesarea Philippi; there are more considerable differences in the first part of the Galilean ministry, but the cause of them may be ascribed to the manner in which the Sermon on the Mount, omitted by Mark, is prefixed to it in Matthew. Finally, at every moment we meet with identical or similar phrases in both Gospels.
But, on the other hand, if Mark used Matthew, whence comes it that, beside those identical phrases, we have continual differences which, on the supposition of a text being before him, assume by their very insignificance an intolerable character of toying and affectation of originality? Whence come those differences in respect of matter, partly mutilations, partly amplifications, sometimes insoluble or apparent contradictions? As when Mark makes Jesus say, “Nothing, save sandals;” where Matthew says, “Take nothing, not even sandals.” So when, in the narrative of the expulsion of the sellers from the temple, and in that of the barren fig-tree, Mark places those events on a different day from that on which they transpired according to Matthew. So in the account of the calling of Matthew, where Mark, on this supposition, substitutes for the person of the apostle an unknown personage named Levi, without making the slightest allusion to the name of Matthew, which the first Gospel gives to this publican; then, in the cures of the demoniac, and of the blind man of Jericho, in which Mark mentions only one sufferer instead of the two spoken of by his model? Klostermann's opinion, which makes Matthew's account the text on which Mark engrafted the descriptive glosses which he received from Peter, likewise falls to the ground before the difficulties mentioned.
Or was it Matthew who used Mark? But Matthew's method is wholly original and independent of Mark's. He loves to group homogeneous events round a prophetic text. This organic principle is in keeping with the fundamental view of his Gospel. It has nothing in common with the order followed by Mark. Then, in most cases, we should be forced to think that he made it his business to spoil the narratives of his model; so in the cure of the paralytic, in that of the blind man of Jericho, and particularly in that of the lunatic son. Why, besides, omit the names of the four disciples in the conversation of Jesus with the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:0)? Why, in relating the preparation for the Passover, say, He sent His disciples, as if it was all of them, while his predecessor expressly said, two of His disciples? Why omit in the prayer of Gethsemane those beautiful words preserved by Mark, “ Father, all things are possible unto Thee,” etc. etc.
In fine, it is impossible to conceive anything more capricious and less reverential than the part which we make the author of any one whatever of our synoptic Gospels play, with the history and sayings of Jesus, supposing that he had before him the other two, or one of them. Such an explanation will only be allowable when we are brought absolutely to despair of finding any other. And even then it were better still to say, Non liquet. For this explanation involves a moral contradiction. Most of our present critics are so well aware of this, that they have recourse to middle terms. By common sources they seek to explain the relation between those three writings, or they combine this mode with the preceding. We have already described in our introduction the numerous systems of this kind which are proposed at the present day.
C. Bleek derives Matthew and Luke from a Greek Gospel, composed in Galilee. This hypothesis appears to us as unfruitful as those which derive them from one another. Take, for example, the Lord's Prayer. A common text, whence the two evangelists derived the terms of this formulary which both have transmitted to us, is not less inconceivable than the deriving of one of those reports from the other, unless we ascribe to either of them an incredible degree of arbitrariness in regard to a most solemn utterance of the Master. And the same phenomenon reappears from beginning to end of our two Gospels! Besides, the prologue of Luke protests against Bleek's explanation. Luke speaks of many Gospel narratives which were in existence at the time when he wrote. Bleek's hypothesis supposes only one. To escape from his difficulty, this critic reduces the many writings of which Luke speaks to simple revisions of that original Gospel; but Luke evidently understood by those many writings not rehandlings of one and the same fundamental work, but different and independent compilations of apostolic tradition.
The hypothesis most in favour in these last times is one which, recognising the originality of Mark, places him at the head of the Gospel historiography, so far at least as the narrative part is concerned, but in an older form: the so-called proto-Mark, the common source of our three synoptics. Moreover, a second source was used by Matthew and Luke: the collection of discourses, the Logia of Matthew. Holtzmann has developed this hypothesis in a work which is one of the finest fruits of critical research in our century. Let us examine those two hypotheses of the Logia and the proto-Mark.
That there existed a collection of discourses written by the Apostle Matthew which was one of the oldest Gospel documents, we have not the least doubt. The ground of our conviction is not so much the testimony of Papias, of which Gieseler rightly says: “Separated as this notice appears from its context, it is difficult to draw from it any certain conclusion;” it is rather the form of our first Gospel itself in which we meet with great bodies of discourses distributed at certain points of the narrative, and which appear to have existed as such antecedently to the work in which they are inserted. It is difficult to avoid the impression that those bodies of discourses originally formed one whole. Weizsäcker has, with a master hand, as it appears to us, traced the plan of this original Matthew (pp. 184-186). The apostolic treatise opened with the Sermon on the Mount; it was the invitation to enter into the kingdom, the foundation of the edifice. There followed as the second part of the collection, the discourses addressed to particular persons, such as the instructions given to the apostles (Matthew 10:0), the testimony regarding John the Baptist (Matthew 11:0), and the great apologetic discourse (Matthew 12:0). Finally, the eschatological prophecy (Matthew 24:25) constituted the third part; it formed the climax of the collection, the delineation of the hopes of the Church. The other groups of instructions, the collection of parables (chap. 13), the discourse on the duties of the disciples to one another and on discipline (chap. 18), formed, according to Weizsäcker, an appendix corresponding to certain practical wants of the Church. We would introduce some modifications into this reconstruction of the Logia as proposed by Weizsäcker. But this matters little to the question before us: the main thing is, that such a work existed, and very nearly as conceived by Weizsäcker. Holtzmann thinks, on the contrary, that the sayings of Jesus rather appeared in the Logia in the form in which we find them in Luke's narrative of the journey (ix.-xviii.); it was the author of our first Gospel, according to him, who grouped them into systematic discourses.
We shall begin by criticising this second view. 1. It seems to us impossible, as we have already remarked in opposition to Volkmar, that the author of a historical work, such as our canonical Matthew, took the liberty of gathering into certain large masses sayings uttered in different circumstances, to form so-called discourses of which he might say they were uttered by Jesus at this or that time. 2. Holtzmann's hypothesis is opposed by the unanimous conviction of the Church, which from the beginning has attached the name of Matthew to our first Gospel. According to this view, it would really be the Gospel of Luke which had preserved the Logia in their true form, and which ought to have inherited the name of the Apostle Matthew. By attaching to our first Gospel the name of Matthew, the Church has shown, on the contrary, that it was this work which was the depositary of the treasure bequeathed to the world by this apostle. 3. The strongest objection to the use of the Logia by our two evangelists is always, in our view, the wholly different terms in which the teachings of Jesus are conveyed in the two recensions. One copies discourses if he believes in them; one invents them if he does not. The supposed middle way, three words of copy, three words of invention, seems to us an impossibility. No doubt it might be asserted that each author combined with the use of the common source (the Logia) that of different particular sources. But what an impossible procedure is that which we thereby reach! Three words borrowed from the common source, three from one or other of the special sources, and this for the composition of every phrase! What a Mosaic! What an amalgam!
Can we, on the other hand, adopt the opinion of Weizsäcker? Were the great discourses of the Logia, as preserved intact by Matthew, the source at the same time of the teachings of Jesus, as reported by Luke? No. For: 1. We cannot admit that Luke at his own hand displaced those great discourses. 2. This supposition is rendered untenable by all the proofs which our exegesis has supplied of the truth of the historical prefaces which introduce the declarations reported by Luke. It would be impossible to conceive a procedure more recklessly arbitrary than that which Weizsäcker ascribes to this author, when he makes him invent situations for discourses, discourses which he began by carving out of the Logia at pleasure. 3. This arbitrariness would reach its height in the invention of the narrative of the journey, Luk 9:51 to Luke 18:27. This journey, according to this view, was out and out a fiction of the writer, intended to serve as a framework for all the materials which remained unused. What would be thought of a writer who should act in this way after having declared that he would seek to relate all things exactly and in order?
The work of the Logia then existed, and we think that it may be found entire in our first Gospel. But it is not thence that Luke has drawn our Lord's discourses. And this result is confirmed by Luke's own declaration, from which it appears that, among the Gospel works which had preceded his own, he found none proceeding from an apostle.
In regard to the second source, that from which the materials of the narrative common to our three synoptics is said to have been derived, the proto-Mark, not only do we deny that our three synoptics can be explained by such a work, but we do not believe that it ever existed. 1. Eusebius, who knew the work of Papias, some lines of which have given rise to the hypothesis of an original Mark, distinct from ours, never suspected such a difference; so far as he was concerned, he had no hesitation in applying the testimony of Papias to our canonical Mark 2:0. If there had existed a Gospel treatise enjoying such authority that our first three evangelists took from it the framework and the essential materials of their narrative, Luke certainly could not, as he does in his prologue, put the writings anterior to his own in one and the same category, and place them all a degree lower than the narrative which he proposed to write. He must have mentioned in a special manner a document of such importance. 3. Neither the special plan of each of our synoptics, nor the transpositions of histories, nor the differences more or less considerable which appeared in the details of each narrative, can be satisfactorily explained on the supposition of this unique and common source. Compare only the three accounts of the baptism of Jesus, or of the blind man of Jericho (see the exegesis)! And as to the discourses, those at least which are derived from the proto-Mark, take a synopsis and attempt to explain the three texts by a common document, and the levity or puerility which must be ascribed now to the one and again to the other of our three evangelists, to make them draw from one and the same document, will be fully apparent! See, for example, the saying on the blasphemy of the Spirit ( Luk 12:10 and parall.). In most cases Holtzmann enumerates the differences, and he imagines that he has explained them! 4. The decisive argument seems to us to be that which is founded on the style of the three Gospels. As Weiss says: “A writing so harmoniously and vigorously composed as our first Gospel cannot be an extract from another writing.” In no case could it proceed from a writing the literary stamp of which had the least resemblance to that of Mark. And Luke? Once more, it would be he who had taken a fancy to introduce into the text of the proto-Mark those so pronounced Aramaisms which distinguish his Gospel from the other two! From this proto-Mark, from which Matthew derived good Greek for Hebrews, Luke took Hebraised Greek for Greeks! The proto-Mark is a hypothesis which cannot be substantiated either in point of fact or in point of right; for were there really such a writing, it would nevertheless be incapable of doing the service for criticism which it expects from it, that is, supply the solution of the enigma of the synoptics. Besides, the last authors who have written on the subject, Weiss, Klostermann, Volkmar, though starting from the most opposite standpoints, agree in treating this writing, which Schleiermacher introduced into criticism, as a chimera.
But what does Weiss do? Remaining attached to the idea of a written source as the basis of our canonical Gospels, he ascribes to the original Matthew the Logia, the part which he refuses to the proto-Mark. Only he is thereby obliged to assign historical, and not merely didactic, contents to this writing. No doubt he does not regard it as a complete Gospel; he thinks that it contained neither the records of the infancy, nor those of the Passion and resurrection. The book of the Logia began, according to him, with the baptism; its contents were made up of detached narratives and discourses; it closed with the account of the feast of Bethany. Thereafter came Mark, who laboured under the guidance of this apostolic Matthew, and first gave the Gospel narrative its complete framework; and those two writings, the Logia and Mark, became the common sources of our canonical Matthew and Luke. But, 1. If Weiss justly complains that he cannot form a clear idea of the book of the Logia as it is represented by Holtzmann (a writing beginning with the testimony of Jesus regarding John the Baptist, and closing with a collection of parables), why not apply the same judgment to the apostolic Matthew of Weiss? What is a book beginning with the baptism and ending with the feast of Bethany, if it is not, to the letter, a writing without either head or tail? 2. Would it not be strange if Mark, the work which tradition declares by the mouth of Papias to be destitute of historical order, were precisely that which had furnished the type of the historical order followed by our synoptics? 3. It follows from the prologue, Luke 1:1-4, that when Luke wrote, he had not yet before him any work written by an apostle; and, according to Weiss, he must have had the apostolic Matthew in his hands. 4. While rendering all justice to the perspicacity and accuracy displayed by Weiss in the discussion of texts, one is nevertheless painfully affected with the arbitrariness belonging to such a criticism. It always comes in the end to this, to educe the dissimilar from the same. For this end it must be held, unless one is willing to throw himself into the system of wilful and deliberate alterations (Baur), that the acts and sayings of Jesus were an elastic material in the hands of the evangelists, a sort of India rubber which each of them stretched, lengthened, contracted, and shaped at pleasure. Will a supposition which is morally impossible ever lead to a satisfactory result? The last step to be taken on this view was to assign to the Logia of Matthew the totality of the Gospel narrative; this is what Klostermann has done; and so we are brought back to the hypothesis which makes our Matthew, or a writing perfectly similar, the principal source of the other two synoptics.
Holtzmann consoles himself for the little agreement obtained by all this labour up till now, by saying that this immense labour, reaching nearly over a century, cannot remain without fruit. But on a mistaken route it is possible to perform prodigies of agility, to take marvellous leaps, to make forced marches, without advancing a step towards the goal, because the direction is perverse. Such appears to us to be the condition in which criticism has laboured so energetically. Far, then, from seeking still to advance like Weiss in this direction, the time seems to us to have come for retracing our steps, in order to recover the way which Luke himself indicated, and which Gieseler brought to light. True, the attempt made by this eminent historian has not been followed; but rather than turn away from it with disdain, criticism should have sought to supply what in it was defective. This is what we shall attempt to do.
If, in the systems which we have passed in review, the difficulty is to reconcile the differences between our Gospels with the use of common written sources, or with the dependence which they must be supposed to have on one another, the difficulty for us will be to explain, without such dependence and without such a use, the resemblances which in so many respects make those three writings, as it were, one and the same work: resemblance in the plan (omission of the journeys to Jerusalem); resemblance in the sequence of the narratives (identical cycles); resemblance in the matter of the narratives; resemblance sometimes even in details of style. To solve the problem, let us begin by ascending to the source of this river, with its three branches.
After the foundation of the Church, on the day of Pentecost, it was necessary to labour to nourish those thousands of souls who had entered into the new life. Among the means enumerated in the Acts which served to edify the new-born Church, the apostles' doctrine ( Luk 2:42 ) stands in the first place. What does this term mean? It could not suffice to repeat daily to the same persons that proclamation of the death and resurrection of our Lord whereby Peter had founded the Church. It must soon have been necessary to go back on the narrative of Jesus' ministry. But the expression, apostles' doctrine, shows that those oral narratives did not bear simply on the acts and miracles of Jesus, but also, and even specially, on His teachings. Before Paul and John had set forth our Lord Himself as the essence of the gospel, the apostles' doctrine could not well be anything else than the reproduction and application of the Master's discourses. One day, therefore, it was the Sermon on the Mount; another, the discourse on the relations between believers (Matthew 18:0); a third, the eschatological discourse, by means of which the community of the faithful was edified. It was repeated, and then commented on. With the exception of John, the Twelve probably never passed beyond this elementary sphere of Christian teaching. It was still within this that Peter moved in his instructions ( διδασκαλίαι ) as he travelled, and at Rome, at the time of which Papias speaks, and when Mark, his interpreter, accompanied him collecting his narratives. And was it not, indeed, with a view to this special task of “testifying what they had seen and heard,” that Jesus had chosen and formed the Twelve? Nor were they slow to abandon the other duties with which they were at first charged, such as the serving of the common tables, in order to devote themselves exclusively to this work (Acts 6:0).
The rich materials for those recitals ( Joh 21:24-25 ) must at an early period have become contracted and concentrated, both as regards the discourses and the facts. In respect to the latter, for each category of miracles the attention was given preferentially to one or two peculiarly prominent examples. In respect to the discourses, as these were reproduced not in a historical interest, but with a view to the edification of believers, the apostolic exposition gradually fastened on some specially important points in the ministry of Jesus, such as those of the Sermon on the Mount, of the sending of the Twelve, of the announcement of the destruction of the temple, and to the subjects which Jesus had treated of on those occasions, and with which they connected without scruple the most salient of the other teachings of Jesus of a kindred sort. It was a matter of salvation, not of chronology.
They likewise became accustomed, in those daily instructions, to connect certain narratives with one another which had some intrinsic analogy as a bond of union (Sabbatic scenes, aspirants to the divine kingdom, groups of parables), or a real historical succession (the storm, the Gadarene demoniac, Jairus, etc.). Thus there were formed cycles of narratives more or less fixed which they were in the habit of relating at one stretch; some cycles united together became groups, traces of which we find in our synoptics, and which Lachmann, in his interesting essay on the subject ( Stud. u. Critik. 1835), has called corpuscula evangelicae historiae; for example, the group of the Messianic advent (the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism and temptation of Jesus); that of the first days of the ministry of Jesus (His teachings and miracles at Capernaum and the neighbourhood); that of the first evangelistic journeys, then of the more remote excursions; that of the last days of His ministry in Galilee; that of the journey through Perea; that of the sojourn at Jerusalem. The order of particular narratives within the cycle, or of cycles within the group, might easily be transposed; a narrative could not so easily pass from one cycle to another, or a cycle from one group into another.
In this process of natural and spontaneous elaboration, all in the interest of practical wants, the treatment of the Gospel must have imperceptibly taken, even down to details of expression, a very fixed form. In the narrative parts, the holiness of the subject excluded all ornamentation and refinement. The form of the narrative was simple, like that of a garment which exactly fits the body. In such circumstances, the narrative of facts passed uninjured through various mouths; it preserved the general stamp which it had received when it was first put into form by the competent witness. A little more liberty was allowed in regard to the historical framework; but, in repeating the words of Jesus, which formed the prominent feature in every narrative, the received form was absolutely adhered to. The jewel remained unchangeable; the frame varied more. The reproduction of the discourses was more exposed to involuntary alterations. But precisely here the memory of the apostles had powerful helps; above all, the striking original plastic character of the sayings of Jesus. There are discourses which one might hear ten times without remembering a single phrase verbally. There are others which leave a certain number of sentences indelibly impressed on the mind, and which ten hearers would repeat, many days after, almost identically. Everything depends on the way in which the thoughts are conceived and expressed. Formed within the depths of His soul, the words of Jesus received under the government of a powerful concentration that settled, finished, perfect impress by means of which they became stereotyped, as it were, on the minds of His hearers. This sort of eloquence, besides, took possession of the whole man; of conscience, by its moral truth, of the understanding, by the precision of the idea; of the heart, by the liveliness of feeling; of the imagination, by the richness of its colouring; and what the whole man has received, he retains easily and faithfully. Finally, the apostles were convinced of the transcendent value of the things which they heard from His mouth; Jesus Himself did not allow them to forget it. They knew that they were called soon to proclaim from the house-tops what was said to them in the ear. They had not heard the warning in vain: “ Take heed how ye hear. ” They conversed daily regarding all that they heard together; and, even during the lifetime of their Master, a common tradition was forming among them. Those sentences standing out in such pure and marked relief graven upon them by frequent repetition, needed only an external call to be drawn forth from their mind in their native beauty, and to be produced almost as they had received them. Indeed, I cannot conceal my astonishment that so great a difficulty should have been found in the fact that the sayings of Jesus are almost identically reproduced in our Gospels. The differences surprise me much more than the resemblances. The source of this fixedness is neither Luke copying Matthew, nor Matthew copying Luke. It is the powerful spirit of a Master like Jesus taking possession of the minds of simple, calm, and teachable disciples like the apostles. This was precisely the result aimed at by that order of providence whereby His Father had brought to Him as disciples, not the scribes and the learned of the capital, but little children, new bottles, tabulae rasae.
In the first times, evangelization was carried forward in Aramaic, the language of the people and of the apostles. And the poverty of this language, both in syntactical forms and in its vocabulary, also contributed to the fixity of the form which tradition took. But there was, even at Jerusalem, a numerous Jewish population which spoke only Greek the Hellenistic Jews. They possessed in the capital some hundreds of synagogues, where the Old Testament was known only in the translation of the LXX. From the time when the Church welcomed Jews of this class, and that was from its cradle, as is proved by the narrative Acts 6:0, the need of reproducing in Greek the apostolic system of evangelization must have made itself imperiously felt. This work of translation was difficult and delicate, especially as regarded the sayings of Jesus. It was not done at random; those of the apostles who knew Greek, such as Andrew, Philip (John 12:0), and no doubt Matthew, did not fail to engage in it. There were especially certain expressions difficult to render, for which the corresponding Greek term required to be carefully selected. Once found and adopted, the Greek expression became fixed and permanent; so the words ἐπιούσιος ( daily) in the Lord's Prayer, and πτερύγιον ( pinnacle) in the narrative of the temptation, expressions which have been wrongly quoted to prove the mutual dependence of our Gospels on a common written source. From this Greek mould into which the primitive tradition was cast, it could not but come forth with a more fixed character still than it already possessed in Aramaic.
It maintained itself, no doubt, for some time in this purely oral form, Aramaic and Greek. We may apply to the apostles and evangelists, the depositaries of this treasure, what Dionysius of Halicarnassus says of the Homeric logographers: “They distributed their narratives over nations and cities, not always reproducing them in the same order, but always having in view the one common aim, to make known all those memorials, so far as they had been preserved, without addition and without loss.” Basil the Great reports a similar fact: down to his time (fourth century) the Church possessed no written liturgy for the Holy Supper, the sacramental prayers and formulae were transmitted by unwritten instruction. And was not the immense store of Talmudic traditions, which forms a whole library, conveyed for ages solely by oral tradition?
How was the transition made from oral evangelization to written compilation? The most natural conjecture, adopted by men like Schleiermacher, Neander, and even Bleek, is that they began by writing, not a Gospel, that would have appeared too great an undertaking, but detached descriptions and discourses. It was a hearer who desired to preserve accurately what he had heard, an evangelist who sought to reproduce his message more faithfully. At a time when books of prophecy were composed under the names of all the ancient Israelitish personages (Enoch, Esdras, etc.), when collections of apocryphal letters were palmed off on the ancient Greek philosophers, a Heraclitus, for example, who would be astonished to find that, among the fellow-labourers and hearers of the apostles, there were some who set themselves to put in writing certain acts and certain discourses of the man whose life and death were moving the world? Those first compositions might have been written in Aramaic and in Greek, at Jerusalem, Antioch, or any other of the lettered cities where the Gospel flourished.
Those adversaria, or detached accounts taken from the history of Jesus, were soon gathered into collections more or less complete. Such were probably the writings of the πολλοί mentioned in Luke's prologue. They were not organic works, all the parts of which were regulated by one idea, like our Gospels, and so they are lost, they were accidental compilations, simple collections of anecdotes or discourses; but those works had their importance as a second stage in the development of Gospel historiography, and a transition to the higher stage. Thus were collected the materials which were afterwards elaborated by the authors of our synoptic Gospels.
In oral tradition thus formed, and then in those first compilations and collections of anecdotes, do we not possess a basis firm enough on the one hand, and elastic enough on the other, to explain the resemblance as well as the diversity which prevails between our three synoptics; and, in fine, to resolve that complicated problem which defies every attempt at solution by so unyielding an expedient as that of a written model?
1. The most striking feature of resemblance in the general plan, the omission of the journeys to Jerusalem, is explained, not perhaps fully, but at least more easily, in the way which we propose than in any other. Oral tradition becoming condensed in the form of detached narratives, and afterwards grouped in cycles, the journeys to Jerusalem, which did not lend themselves so easily to the end of popular evangelization as the varied scenes and very simple discourses of the Galilean ministry, were neglected. The matter took shape without them; and so much the more, because they did not enter into any of the groups which were formed. When the tradition was compiled, this element in it was wanting, and the gap was not filled up till later, when the narrative of an eye-witness (John) gave a new delineation of the ministry of Jesus in a manner completely independent of the traditional elaboration.
2. If our narratives have such a traditional origin as we have indicated, we can easily explain both the identical series of accounts which we sometimes meet in our synoptics, and the transposition of particular accounts.
3. The resemblances in the substance of the narratives are explained quite naturally by the objectivity of the facts which left its stamp on the recital; and the differences, by the involuntary modifications due to oral reproduction and to the multiplicity of written compends. There is one thing especially which is naturally accounted for in this way. We have again and again remarked, especially in the accounts of miracles, the contrast which obtains between the diversity of the historical framework in the three synoptics, and the sameness of the sayings of Jesus during the course of the action. This contrast is inexplicable if the writings are derived from one another or from a written source. It is easily understood from our view; the style of the sayings of Jesus had become more rigidly fixed in traditional narration than the external details of the Gospel scenes.
There remain the resemblances of style between the three writings the identical clauses, the common expressions, the syntactical forms or grammatical analogies. If oral tradition became formed and formulated, as we have said, if it was early compiled in a fragmentary way, if those compilations were used by the authors of our Gospels, those resemblances no longer present anything inexplicable, and the differences which alternate with them at every instant no longer require to be explained by forced expedients. The two phenomena, which are contradictory on every other hypothesis, come into juxtaposition, and harmonize naturally.
Starting from this general point of view, let us seek to trace the special origin of each of our three synoptics. The traditions agree in ascribing to Matthew the first Gospel compilation which proceeded from an apostle. It was, according to Irenaeus, “at the time when Peter and Paul were together founding the church at Rome” (from 63-64), or, according to Eusebius, “when Matthew was preparing to go to preach to other nations” (after 60), that this apostle took pen in hand. This approximate date (60-64) is confirmed by the warning, in the form of a parenthesis, which we find inserted by the evangelist in the eschatological discourse of Jesus ( Luk 24:15 ). Our Lord declares to the disciples the sign by which the Christians of Judea shall recognise the time for fleeing from the Holy Land; and Matthew adds here this remarkable nota bene: “ Whoso readeth, let him understand. ” This parenthesis contains the proof that, when this discourse was compiled, the Judeo-Christian believers had not yet retired beyond the Jordan, as they did about the year 66.
What was the writing of Matthew? Was it a complete Gospel? The reasons which we have indicated rather lead us to think that the apostle had compiled in Aramaic the great bodies of discourses containing the doctrine of Jesus, as it had been put into form by tradition, with a view to the edification of the flocks in Palestine. It is those bodies of discourses which are the characteristic feature of our first Gospel; it is round this dominant element that the book appears to be organized all through. The narrative part is an addition to this original theme. It was not composed in Hebrew; the style does not admit of this supposition. Its date is a little later than that of the apostolic writing. For the presbyter, a native of Palestine, who instructed Papias remembered a time when, in the churches of Judaea, they had no Greek translation of the Discourses of Jesus (the Logia), and when every evangelist reproduced them in Greek viva voce, as he could. What hand composed this historical narrative, in the framework of which the whole contents of the Logia have been skilfully distributed? Is it not most natural to suppose that one of Matthew's disciples, while reproducing his Logia in Greek, set them in a complete narrative of the life of Jesus, and borrowed the latter from the traditional recital in such form as he had frequently heard it from the mouth of that apostle? This tradition had taken, in the hands of Matthew, that remarkably summary and concise character which we have so often observed in the first Gospel. For his aim was not to describe the scenes, but merely to demonstrate by facts the thesis to which his apostolic activity seems to have been devoted: Jesus is THE CHRIST. The Logia seems also to have been arranged with a view to this thesis: Jesus the legislator, Matthew 5-7; the king, chap. 13; the judge, chap. 24, 25; consequently THE MESSIAH. Comp. Matthew 1:1.
Mark, according to tradition, wrote during, or shortly after, Peter's sojourn at Rome, about 64; consequently almost at the same time as Matthew. So, like Matthew, he records in the eschatological discourse the warning which it was customary in Palestine to add to the sayings of Jesus regarding the flight beyond the Jordan ( Luk 13:14 ).
The materials of his Gospel must have been borrowed, according to tradition, from the accounts of Peter, whom Mark accompanied on his travels. Accordingly, he could not have used our first Gospel, which was not yet in existence, nor even the Logia, which could not yet have reached him. How, then, are we to explain the very special connections which it is easy to establish between his writing and the first Gospel? We have seen that this latter writing has preserved to us essentially the great didactic compositions which are the fruit of Matthew's labour, but set in a consecutive narrative. From whom did this narrative proceed? Indirectly from Matthew, no doubt; but in the first place from Peter, whose influence had certainly preponderated in the formation of the apostolic tradition in all that concerned the facts of our Lord's ministry. The only difference between the first two Gospels therefore is, that while the one gives us the apostolic system of evangelization in the summary and systematic form to which it had been reduced by the labours of Matthew, the other presents it to us in all its primitive freshness, fulness, and simplicity, as it had been heard from the lips of Peter, with the addition of one or two of the great discourses (chap. 3 and 13) due to the labours of Matthew (chap. 12 and 24), and with which Mark had long been acquainted as a hearer of the Palestinian preaching. The special differences between the two compilations are explained by the variable element which is always inevitable in oral evangelization. It may thus be concluded that the first Gospel contains the work of Matthew, completed by the tradition which emanated from Peter; and the second, the tradition of Peter, completed by means of some parts of Matthew's work.
Luke, according to the tradition and evidences which we have collected, must have composed his history in Greece at the same time when Matthew was compiling his Logia in Palestine, and Mark the narratives of Peter at Rome. If so, it is perfectly clear that he did not know and use those writings; and this is what exegesis demonstrates. From what sources, then, has he drawn? He has worked as appears from our study of his book on written documents, mostly Aramaic. But how are we to explain the obvious connection in certain parts between those documents and the text of the other two Syn.? It is enough to repeat that those documents, at least those which related to the ministry of Jesus from His baptism onwards, were compilations of that same apostolic tradition which forms the basis of our first two Gospels. The relationship between our three Gospels is thus explained. The Aramaic language, in which the most of Luke's documents were written, leads to the supposition that they dated, like those from which the same author composed the first part of the Acts, from the earliest times of apostolic evangelization. At that period the didactic exposition of Jesus' doctrine was probably not yet concentrated and grouped, as it was later, about some great points of time and some definite subjects. Tradition preserved many more traces of the various circumstances which had furnished our Lord with a text for His instructions. Hence those precious introductions of Luke, and that exquisite appropriateness which lends a new charm to the discourses which he has preserved to us. As to the general concatenation of the Gospel events which we admire in Luke, he owes it undoubtedly to special information. It is of such sources of information that he speaks in his prologue, and which enabled him to reconstruct that broken chain of which tradition had preserved only the rings.
Thus it is that we understand the relations and origin of the synoptics. Is this explanation chargeable with compromising the Gospel history, by making its accuracy depend on a mode of transmission so untrustworthy as tradition? Yes, if the period at which we are led to fix the compilation of those oral accounts was much more advanced. But from 60 to 65, tradition was still under the control of those who had contributed to form it, and of a whole generation contemporary with the facts related (1 Corinthians 15:6, written in 58). In those circumstances, alterations might affect the surface, not the substance of the history.
I would take the liberty of closing this important subject with an apologetic remark. There is perhaps no more decisive proof of the authenticity of the sayings of Jesus than the different forms in which they are transmitted to us by Matthew and Luke. An artificially composed discourse like those which Livy puts into the mouth of his heroes, is one utterance; but the discourses of Jesus, as they are presented to us by the two evangelists, are broken and fragmentary. Moreover, those similar materials, which appear in both in entirely different contexts, must necessarily be more ancient than those somewhat artificial wholes in which we now find them. Those identical materials put to use in different constructions must have belonged to an older edifice, of which they are merely the debris.
Chapter 4: The Beginnings of the Church.
To get rid of the Mosaic revelation, rationalism has assumed an original contrast between Elohism and Jehovism, and sought to make the history of Israel the progressive solution of this antagonism; and in the same way, to reduce the appearing of Christianity to the level of natural events, the Tübingen School has set up a contrast between apostolic Judeo-Christianity and the Christianity of Paul, a contrast, the gradual solution of which is made to explain the course of history during the first two centuries. Reuss and Nicolas, without altogether sharing, especially the first, in this point of view, nevertheless retain the idea of a conflict between the two fractions of the Church, profound enough to lead the author of the Acts to the belief that he must seek to disguise it by a very inaccurate exposition of the views and conduct of his master Paul. But if we cannot credit this writer in regard to things in which he took part, how are we to found on his narrative when he describes much older events, such as those which are contained in his Gospel? The importance of the question is obvious. Let us attempt, before closing, to throw light upon it.
To prove the antagonism in question, the Tübingen School in the first place advances the different tendencies which are said to be observable in the Gospels. But it is remarkable that, to demonstrate this conflict of tendencies, Baur was forced to give up the attempt of dealing with known quantities, our canonical Gospels, and to have recourse to the supposition of previous writings of a much more pronounced dogmatic character, which formed the foundation both of our Matthew and of our Luke, to wit, a primitive Matthew, exclusively legal and particularistic, and a primitive Luke, absolutely universalistic and antinomian. Thus they begin by ascribing to our Gospels an exclusive tendency; then, not finding it in the books as we have them, they make them over again according to the preconceived idea which they have formed of them. Such is the vicious circle in which this criticism moves. The hypothesis of an antinomian proto-Luke has been completely refuted within the Tübingen School itself; we may therefore leave that supposition aside. There remains only the proto-Matthew. This is the last plank to which Hilgenfeld still clings. He discovers the elements of the primitive Matthew in the fragments which remain to us of the Gospel of the Hebrews. He alleges a natural and gradual transformation of this writing in the direction of universalism (the product being our canonical Matthew); afterwards Mark, and then Luke, continued and completed the transformation of the Gospel history into pure Paulinism. But this construction is not less arbitrary than that of Baur. The Gospel of the Hebrews, as we have seen, has all the characteristics of an amplified and derived work, and cannot be the basis of our Matthew. Even Volkmar treats this Judaizing proto-Matthew as a chimera, no less than the antinomian proto-Luke. And what of himself? He charges our three synoptics with being Paulinist writings, the sole Judaizing antagonist to which is...the Apocalypse. The work of John, such, according to Volkmar, is the true type of legal Judeo-Christianity, the document of which Baur seeks in vain in the primitive Matthew, which is invented by himself to meet the exigency of the case. But what! we ask Volkmar, can you regard as strictly legal a writing which calls the Jewish people the synagogue of Satan ( Rev 3:9 ), and which celebrates with enthusiasm and in the most brilliant colours the entrance into heaven of innumerable converts of every nation, and tribe, and people, and tongue, who were notoriously the fruits of the labours of the Apostle Paul; which proclaims aloud the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus-Messiah, that perpetual blasphemy to the ears of the Jews; and which, instead of deriving salvation from circumcision and works, makes it descend from the throne of God and of the Lamb, of pure grace through faith in the blood of the Lamb, without any legal condition whatever? Such Judeo-Christianity, assuredly, is a Paulinism of pretty strong quality. And the apostle of the Gentiles would have asked nothing better than to see it admitted by all his adversaries. He would very quickly have laid down his arms.
Baur further alleges the authentic epistles of Paul (the four great ones), especially the second chapter of Galatians. The following are the contents of the passage. Paul gives an account of a private conference ( κατ᾿ ἰδίαν δέ ) which he had with those of the apostles who enjoyed the highest consideration ( τοῖς δοκοῦσι ), in which he stated to them ( ἀνεθέμην ) his mode of preaching among the Gentiles, a method which they so fully approved, that Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile, was immediately welcomed and treated at Jerusalem as a member of the Church ( Luk 4:3 ). And if he held out in this case, though circumcision was in his view merely an external rite, and morally indifferent ( 1Co 7:18-19 ), it was not from obstinacy, but because of false brethren unawares brought in ( διὰ δὲ τοὺς παρεισάκτους ψευδαδέλφους ) who claimed the right to impose it, and who thus gave to this matter the character of a question of principle ( Luk 4:4-5 ). Then, from those intruded false brethren, Paul returns to the apostles, whom he contrasts with them ( ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκούντων ), and who, that is, the apostles, added no new condition to his statement ( οὐδὲν προσανέθεντο , referring to the ἀνεθέμην , Luk 4:2 ), but recognised in him the man called to labour specially among the Gentiles, as in Peter the man specially charged with the apostolate to the Jews; and on this basis they associated themselves with him and his work, by giving him the right hand of fellowship ( Luk 4:6-10 ). That there was any shade of difference between him and the Twelve, Paul does not say; we may conclude it, however, from this division of labour in which the conference terminated. But that this shade was an opposition of principle, and that the Twelve were radically at one with the false brethren brought in, as Baur seeks to prove, is what the passage itself absolutely denies. The contrary also appears from the second fact related by Paul in this chapter his contention with Peter at Antioch. For when Peter ceases all at once to mingle and eat with the Christians from among the Gentiles, for what does Paul rebuke him? For not walking uprightly, for acting hypocritically, that is to say, for being unfaithful to his real conviction, which evidently assumes that Peter has the same conviction as Paul himself. And this is a passage which is to prove, according to Baur, the opposition of principle between Paul and Peter. That here again there is a shade of difference implied between Paul and Peter, and even between Peter and James (“before that certain came from James ”), I am not concerned to deny. But no opposition of principle between Peter and Paul is compatible with this account. Baur has further sought to rest his view on the enumeration of the parties formed at Corinth. According to 1 Corinthians 1:12, there were believers in this city who called themselves some of Paul, some of Apollos, some of Cephas, others of Christ. Baur reasons thus: As the first two parties differed only by a shade, it must have been the same with the latter two; and as it appears from 2 Corinthians 10:7; 2 Corinthians 11:22, that those who called themselves of Christ were ardent Judaizers who wished to impose the law on the Gentiles, the same conviction should be ascribed to those of Peter, and consequently to Peter himself. But the very precise enumeration of Paul obliges us, on the contrary, to ascribe to each of the four parties mentioned a distinct standpoint; and if, as appears from 2 Cor., those who are Christ's are really Judaizers, enemies of Paul, the contrast between them and those of Cephas proves precisely that Peter and his party were not confounded with them; which corresponds with the contrast established in Galatians 2:0 between the false brethren brought in and the apostles, especially Peter. The epistles of St. Paul, therefore, do not in the least identify the Twelve with the Judaizers who opposed Paul; consequently they exclude the idea of any opposition of principle between apostolic Christianity and that of Paul.
What, then, to conclude, was the real state of things? Behind Judeo-Christianity and the Christianity of the Gentiles there is Christ, the source whence everything in the Church proceeds. This is the unity to which we must ascend. During His earthly life, Jesus personally kept the law; He even declared that He did not come to abolish, but to fulfil it. On the other hand, He does not scruple to call Himself the Lord of the Sabbath, to pronounce as morally null all the Levitical ordinances regarding the distinction of clean and unclean meats (Matthew 15:0), to compare fasting and the whole legal system to a worn-out garment, which He is careful not to patch, because He comes rather to substitute a new one in its place. He predicted the destruction of the temple, an event which involved the abolition of the whole ceremonial system. Thus, from the example and doctrine of Jesus two opposite conclusions might be drawn, the one in favour of maintaining, the other of abolishing, the Mosaic law. It was one of those questions which was to be solved by the dispensation of the Spirit ( Joh 16:12-13 ). After Pentecost, the Twelve naturally persevered in the line of conduct traced by the Lord's example; and how otherwise could they have fulfilled their mission to Israel? Yet, over against the growing obduracy of the nation, Stephen begins to emphasize the latent spirituality of the Gospel. There follow the foundation of the church of Antioch and the first mission to the Gentiles. Could the thought be entertained of subjecting those multitudes of baptized Gentiles to the system of the law? The apostles had not yet had the opportunity of pronouncing on this point. For themselves, and for the converts among the Jews, they kept up the Mosaic rites as a national institution which must continue till God Himself should free them from its yoke by some positive manifestation or by the return of the Messiah; but as to the Gentiles, they probably never thought of imposing it upon them. The question had no sooner occurred, than God enlightened them by the vision of Peter (Acts 10:0). But they were not absolute masters at Jerusalem. There there were many priests and elders of the Pharisees (Acts 6:7; Act 15:5 ) who professed faith in Jesus Christ, and who, from the height of their rabbinical science and theological erudition, regarded the apostles with a sort of disdain. On the one hand, they were pleased with the propagation of the gospel among the Gentiles; the God of Israel was thereby becoming the God of the Gentiles, and the whole world was accepting the moral sovereignty of the children of Abraham. But, in order that the end might be fully attained, and their ambition satisfied, it was of course necessary that the new converts should be incorporated with Israel, and that with baptism they should receive circumcision. Only on this condition was the widespread proselytism of Paul acceptable to them. “If I preach circumcision,” says Paul, alluding to this class, “ the offence of the cross is ceased ” ( Gal 5:11 ). That is to say, if only I granted them circumcision, they would concede to me even the cross. It is easy to understand why Paul calls them false brethren, intruders into the Church.
There were thus really two distinct camps among the Christians of Jewish origin, according to the book of Acts as well as according to Paul himself: those who made circumcision in the case of Gentile converts a condition of salvation; and those who, while preserving it in the case of themselves and their children as a national observance, exempted the Gentiles from its obligation (comp. especially Acts 6:7; Acts 11:2; Acts 15:1-5; Acts 15:24, with Luke 11:18; Luke 11:22-23; Luke 15:10-11; Luke 15:19-21, with Galatians 2:0). This last passage, which Baur has used to prove that the narrative of the Acts was a pure romance, on the contrary confirms the contents of Luke's account at every point. At the public assembly described by Luke, to which Paul alludes when relating the private conference ( κατ᾿ ἰδίαν δέ , Gal 2:2 ) which he had with the apostles, it was decided: 1 st. That converts from among the Gentiles were not at all subject to circumcision and the law; 2 d. That the status quo was maintained for Judeo-Christians (no one exacted the contrary); 3 d. That, to facilitate union between the two different elements of which the Church was composed, the Gentiles should accept certain restrictions on their liberty, by abstaining from various usages which were peculiarly repugnant to Jewish national feeling. These restrictions are nowhere presented as a matter of salvation; the words, “ Ye shall do well,” prove that all that is intended is a simple counsel, but one the observance of which is nevertheless indispensable ( ἐπάναγκες ) for the union of the two parties. Thus presented, they could perfectly well be accepted by Paul, who, in case of necessity, would have admitted, according to Galatians 2:0, even the circumcision of Titus, if it had been demanded of him on this understanding. But there remained in practice difficulties which certainly were not foreseen, and which were not long in appearing. For Palestine, where the Judeo-Christians formed churches free from every Gentile element, the compromise of Jerusalem was sufficient. But where, as at Antioch, the Church was mixed, composed of Jewish elders and Gentile elders, how fettered did the daily relations still remain between parties, the one of whom professed to remain strictly faithful to legal observances, while the others polluted themselves every instant in the eyes of the former by contact with unclean objects and the use of meats prepared without any regard to Levitical prescriptions! How, in such circumstances, was it possible to celebrate feasts in common, the Agapae, for example, which preceded the Holy Supper? When Peter arrived at Antioch, he was obliged to decide and to trace for himself his line of conduct. If he remained literally faithful to the letter of the compromise of Jerusalem, there was an end to the unity of the Church in that city where the gospel was flourishing. His heart carried him. He decided for the opposite view. He set himself to live with the Gentiles, and to eat as they did ( Gal 2:14 ). But thereupon there arrived emissaries from James, the man who, in the great assembly, had proposed the compromise. They demonstrated to Peter that, according to the terms of this arrangement, he was in fault, because, as a Jew, he should not dispense with the observance of the law; Barnabas himself had nothing to answer. They submitted, and withdrew from intercourse with the Gentiles. The fact was, that the compromise had not anticipated the case of mixed churches, in which the two elements could unite only on one condition: that Jewish Christians on their side should renounce part of their legal observances. We can easily understand, even from this point of view, why St. Paul, in his letters, did not insist on this decree, which left so grave a practical difficulty untouched.
There prevailed, therefore, not two points of view, as Baur alleges, but four at least: 1 st. That of the ultra-legalists, the Judaizers properly so called, who perpetuated the law as a principle in the gospel sec. 2 d. That of the Twelve and of the moderate Judeo-Christians, who personally observed the law as an obligatory ordinance, but not at all as a condition of salvation, for in that case they could not have released the Gentiles from it. Among them there existed two shades: that of Peter, who thought he might subordinate obedience to the law in mixed churches to union with the Gentile party; and that of James, who wished to maintain the observance of law even in this case, and at the expense of union. 3 d. Paul's point of view, according to which the keeping of the law was a matter morally indifferent, and consequently optional, even in the case of Judeo-Christians, according to the principle which he expresses: “ To them that are under the law, as under the law; to them that are without the law, as without law; all things to all men, that I might save the more ” ( 1Co 9:20-21 ). 4 th. Finally, an ultra-Pauline party, which is combated by the Apocalypse and by Paul himself (1 Corinthians 8:10; Romans 14:0), which ridiculed the scruples of the weak, and took pleasure in braving the dangers of idolatrous worship, and thus came to excuse the most impure excesses (1 Corinthians 6:0; Rev 2:20 ). The two extreme points of view differed in principle from the intermediate ones. But the latter differed only on a question of ceremonial observance in which, as was recognised on both sides, salvation was not involved. We may put the difference in this form: the conscience of Paul derived this emancipation from the law from the first coming of Christ, while the Twelve expected it only at His second coming.
What has this state of things, so nicely shaded, in common with the flagrant antithesis to which Baur attempts to reduce this whole history? As if in such moral revolutions there was not always a multitude of intermediate views between the extremes! Let the time of the Reformation be considered: what a series of view-points from Luther, and then Melancthon on to the ultra-spiritualists (the Schwarmgeister), without reckoning all the shades in the two camps catholic and philosophical!
But after having established, in opposition to Baur, the general trustworthiness of the description given by the author of the Acts, must we abandon Luke to the criticisms of Reuss and Nicolas, leaving him charged by the first with instances of “conciliatory reticence,” and by the second “with a wellmarked desire to bring the views of St. Paul into harmony with those of the Judaizing [apostles]”? The ground for those charges is especially the account Acts 21:0. James declares to Paul, who has just arrived at Jerusalem, that he has been calumniated to the Judeo-Christians of Palestine, having it said of him that he seeks everywhere to lead his Jewish converts to forsake Moses; and to prove the falsehood of this accusation, Paul agrees to carry out the Nazarite vow in the temple with four Judeo-Christians. But in what is this conduct, which the author of the Acts ascribes to Paul, contrary to the apostle's principles as he lays them down in his epistles? Did Paul ever in any place act the fanatical destroyer of the legal economy? Can a case be cited in which he sought to prevail on a Jewish Christian not to circumcise his children? He resolutely refused to allow the yoke of the law to be imposed on the Gentiles; but did he ever seek to make a Jew throw it off? At Antioch, even, would he have censured Peter as he does, if the latter had not previously adopted an entirely different mode of acting ( Gal 2:14-18 )? Did not Paul himself practise the principle: to them who are under the law, as under the law? He could therefore in good earnest, as Luke relates, seek to prove to the Judeo-Christians of Palestine that he was moved by no feeling of hostility to the law, and that he was far from teaching the Jews scattered over Gentile lands to abjure the law and forsake Moses.
The fundamental error of that whole view which we are combating, is its mistaking more or less the powerful unity which lies at the foundation of the Church. What would be said of a historian who should allege that the Reformation proceeded from the conflict between the Lutheran Church and the Reformed, and who should overlook the essential unity which was anterior to that division? Is it not committing the same error to make the Church proceed from a reconciliation of Judeo-Christianity with Paulinism? But have not those two currents, supposing them to be as different as is alleged, a common source which men affect to lay aside, namely, Jesus Christ? Is this question of the law, on which division took place, the grand question of the N. T.? Is not its place secondary in comparison with that of faith in Christ? Was it not accidentally, and on occasion of the practical realization of the postulates of faith, that the question of the law emerged? And how then could the antagonism which manifested itself on this head be the starting-point of the new creation? Baur, in order to escape the true starting-point, conceives an original antagonism between two extreme tendencies, which gradually approximated, and ended, in virtue of reciprocal concessions, by uniting and forming the great Catholic Church at the end of the second century. We shall oppose history to history, or rather history to romance, and we shall say: In Christ the Spirit remained enveloped in the form of the letter. The Church was founded; within its bosom a tendency continued for a time to keep up the letter by the side of the Spirit; the other was already prepared to sacrifice the letter to the free unfolding of the Spirit. But they were at one on this point, that for both life was only in the Spirit. From both sides there went off extreme parties, as always happens, Judaizers to the right, Antinomians to the left; on the one hand, Nazarite and Ebionite communities landing in the Clementine Homilies, which sought to combine Paul and Simon Magus in one and the same person; on the other, the Antinomian exaggerations of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, and even of that to Diognetus, terminating at length in Marcion, who believed the God of the Jewish law to be a different one from that of the gospel. Between those extremes the Church, more and more united from the time that the destruction of Jerusalem had levelled every ceremonial difference between Judeo - Christians and Gentiles, continued its march; and while casting forth from its bosom Ebionism on the one side, and Marcionism on the other, it closed its ranks under the fire of persecution, and became the great Church, as it is already named by Celsus. Let the documents be studied impartially, and it will be seen whether this picture is not more true to fact than that of Baur.
And what place, finally, do our four Gospels occupy in this whole? They do not represent four different epochs or four distinct parties. They each represent one of the sides of Christ's glory unveiled to one of the apostles.
The hour of revelation to which the second Gospel belongs is previous to the death and resurrection of Jesus; it is the enlightenment of St. Peter, as indicated by Jesus Himself, when, following up the apostle's profession: “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of God,” He answers, “ Flesh and blood have not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. ” The divine greatness of Jesus, as it was displayed during the course of His earthly life, such is the idea which fills, penetrates, and inspires the Gospel of Mark.
The time when that inspiration was born which gave rise to the first Gospel came later; it occurs in the interval between the resurrection and ascension. It is the time thus described by Luke ( Luk 24:45 ): “ Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. ” Christ, the fulfilment of the law and of prophecy, such is the discovery which the Spirit made to the apostles in that hour of illumination; the theocratic past stood out before them in the light of the present, the present in the light of the past. This is the view which impelled Matthew to take the pen, and dictated the writing which bears his name.
The inspiring breath of the third Gospel dates from the times which followed Pentecost. St. Paul marks this decisive moment with emotion, when he says to the Galatians ( Gal 1:15-16 ): “ When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb...to reveal His Son Jesus Christ in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles. ” Christ, the hope of glory to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; Christ, the Son of God given to the world, and not merely the son of David granted to Israel; such was the view contemplated by Paul during those three days in which, while his eyes were closed to the light of this world, his soul opened to a higher light. This light with which St. Paul was illuminated passed into the work of Luke; thence it rays forth constantly within the Church.
The lot of John fell to him last; it was the most sublime. “ The Spirit shall glorify me,” Jesus had said; “ He shall bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you, and He will show you things to come. ” Here was more than the work of a day or an hour; it was the work of a whole life. In its prolonged meditations, his profound and self-collected heart passed in review the sayings which had gone forth from the mouth of that Master on whose bosom he had rested, and discovered in them the deepest mystery of the faith, the eternal divinity of the Son of man, the Word made flesh, God in Christ, Christ in us, we through Christ in God; such, in three words, are the contents of John's writings, especially of his Gospel. This view of the relation between God, Christ, and believers, laid down in the fourth Gospel, is alone capable of raising the Church to its full height.
In those four rays there is contained all the glory of Christ. What He was in His visible presence, what He is in relation to the theocratic past, what He is in relation to the religious future of the whole world, what He is in regard to the eternal union of every man with the infinite principle of things, such is the discovery which the Church has before her in those four writings. Were she to deprive herself of one of them, she would only impair the honour of her Head, and impoverish herself. May the Church therefore rather be the focus within which those four rays perpetually converge, and in which they again become one, as they were one originally in the life of the Head!
the Sixth Week after Easter