תמונות בעמוד

Amidst so many conformities, we are not to wonder that we meet with some difficulties. The principal of these I will put down, together with the solutions which they have received. But in doing this I must be contented with a brevity, better suited to the limits of my volume, than to the nature of a controversial argument. For the historical proofs of my affertions, and for the Greek criticisms upon which some of them are founded, I refer the reader to the second volume of the first part of Dr. Lardner's large work.

1. The taxing, during which Jesus was born, was “ first made," às we read, according to our translation, in St. Luke, “ whilft Cyrenius was governor of Syria.”a Now it turns out that Cyrenius was not governor of Syria until twelve, or, at the foonest, ten years, after the birth of Christ, and that a taxing, cenfus, or affefsment, was made in Judea in the beginning of his government. The charge, therefore, brought against the evangelist is, that, intending to refer to this taxing, he has misplaced the date of it, by an error of ten or twelve years.

The answer to the accusation is found in his using the word « first"_“And this taxing was first made;" for, according to the mistake imputed to the evangelist, this word could have no signification whatever. It could have had no place in his narrative, because, let it relate to what it will, taxing, census, enrollment, or assessment, it imports that the writer had more than one of these in contemplation. It acquits hin therefore of the charge, it is inconsistent with the supposition, of his knowing only of the taxing in the beginning of Cyrenius's government. And if the evangelist knew, which this word proves that he did, of some other taxing beside that, it is too much for the sake of convicting him of a mistake, to lay it down as certain, that he intended to refer to that.

The sentence in St. Luke may be construed thus: “ This was the first affefsment (or enrollment) of Cyrenius, governor of Syria ;"" the words “governor of Syria” being used after the


.C. i. v. 2. b If the word which we render“ first” be rendered “ beforc," which it has been krongly contended that the Greek idiom allows of, the whole difficulty vanishes, for then the passage would be now.this taxing was made before Cyrenius was governor of Syria ;" which cor


name of Cyrenius as his addition or title. And this title, belonging to him at the time of writing the account, was naturally enough subjoined to his name, though acquired after the transaction, which the account describes. A modern writer, who was not very exact in the choice of his expressions, in relating the affairs of the East-Indies, might easily fay, that such a thing was done by governor Hastings, though, in truth, the thing had been done by him before his advancement to the station from which he received the name of governor. And this, as we contend, is precisely the inaccuracy which has produced the difficulty in St. Luke.

At any rate, it appears from the form of the expreffion, that he had two taxings or enrollment in contemplation. And if Cyrenius had been sent upon this business into Judea, before he became governor of Syria, (against which supposition there is no proof, but rather external evidence of an enrollment going on about this time under fome person or othera ) then the census on all hands acknowledged to have been made by him in the beginning of his government, would form a second, so as to occasion the other to be called the firft.

II. Another chronological objection arises upon a date ajo figned in the beginping of the third chapter of St. Luke ;) “ Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæfar Jesus began to be about thirty years of age;" for supposing Jesus to have been born, as St. Matthew, and St. Luke also himself, relates, in the time of Herod, he must, according to the dates given in Jofephus, and by the Roman historians, have been at least thirty-one years of age in the fifteenth year of Tiberius. If he was born, as St. Matthew's narrative intimates, one or two years before Herod's death, he would have been thirty-two or thirty-three years old, at that time.

responds with the chronology. But I rather choose to argue, that, however the word "first” he rendered, to give it a meaning at all, it milicates with the objection. In this I think there can be 110 mistake,

a Josephus (Ant. 17. c. 2. fcc. 6.) has this remarkable passagem “When therefore the whole Jewish nation took an oath to be faithful to Cæsar, and the interests of the king.” This transaction corresponds in the course of the history with the time of Christ's birth. What is called a census, and which we reuder taxing, was delivering upon oath an account of their property. This might be accompanied with an oath of fidelity, or might be mistaken by Josephus for it.

b Lard, part I. vol. II. p. 768.

This is the difficulty: the solution turns upon an alteration in the construction of the Greek, St. Luke's words in the original are allowed, by the general opinion of learned men, to fignify, not “ that Jesus began to be about thirty years of age," but that he was about thirty years of age when he began his ministry." This construction being admitted, the adverb "about" gives us all the latitude we want, and more ; especially when applied, as it is in the present instance, to a decimal number ; for such numbers, even without this qualifying addition, are often used in a laxer fenfe than is here contended for.

III. A as v. 36. “For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody ; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves ; who was flain ; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to nought."

Josephus has preserved the account of an impostor, of the name of Theudas, who created some disturbances, and was flain ; but, according to the date assigned to this man's appearance, (in which, however, it is very posible that Jofephus may have been mistaken" ) it must have been, at the lealt, feven years after Gamaliel's speech, of which this text is a part, was delivered. It has been replied to the objection, that there might be two impostors of this name ; and it has been observed, in order to give a general probability to the solution, that the fume thing appears to have happened in other instances of the fame kind. It is proved from Josephus, that there were not fewer than four persons of the name of Simon, within forty years, and not fewer than three, of the name of Judas, within ten years, who were all leaders of insurrections : and it is likewise recorded by this historian, that, upon the death of Herod the Great, (whieh agrees very well with the time of the commo. tion referred to by Gamaliel, and with his manner of stating that time “ before these days”) there were innumerable disturbo ances in Judea.a Archbishop Usher was of opinion, that one of the three Judas's above mentioned was Gamaliel's Theudas ;5 and that, with a less yariation of the name than we actually find in the gospels, where one of the twelve apostles is called by Luke, Judas, and by Mark, Thaddeus, C Origen, however he canie at his information, appears to have believed, that there was an impostor of the name of Theudas before the nativity of Chrift..

a Livy, speaking of the peace, which the conduc of Romulus bad procured to the State, during the whole reign of his successor* (Numa,) has these words "Ab illo enim profectis viribus datis tantum valuit, ut, in quadraginta deinde annos, tutam pacem haberet :" yet, afterwards, in the same chapter, “Romulus (he lays) septem et triginta regnavit annos, Numa tres et quadraginta."

b Michaelis's Introduction to the New Test. (Marth's Translation) vol. I. p. 61.

< Lardner, part I. vol. II. p. 922.

* Liv. Hif. 6. I. fec. 16.

IV. Mat. xxiii. 34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes : and some of them


fhall kill and crucify; and some of them fhall ye scourge in your fynagogues, and perfecute them from city to city ; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, for of Barachias, whom ye few between the temple and the altar."

There is a Zacharias, whose death is related in the second book of Chronicles, in a manner which perfectly supports our Saviour's allusion. But this Zacharias was the son of Jehoiada.

There is also Zacharias the prophet ; who was the son of Barachiah, and is so described in the superscription of his prophecy, but of whose death we have no account.

I have little doubt, but that the first Zacharias was the person spoken of by our Saviour ; and that the name of the father has been fince added, or changed, by some one, who took it from the title of the prophecy, which happened to be better known to him than the history in the Chronicles.

There is likewise a Zacharias, the son of Baruch, related by Josephus to have been flain in the temple, a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem. It has been insinuated, that the words put into our Saviour's mouth, contain a reference to this transaction, and were composed by some writer, who either confounded the time of the transaction with our Saviour's age, or inadvertently overlooked the anachronism.

a Ant. I. 17. c. 12. fec. 4.

b Annals, p. 797. c Luke vi. 16. Mark iii. 18. d Or. Con. Cell. p. 44. e« And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, why transgress ye the commandinents of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper ? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath allo fórfaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with fones, at the commandment of the king, in the court of the bouse of the Lord.” 2 Chron xxiv. 20.

Now suppose it to have been so ; fuppose these words to have been suggested by the transaction related in Jofephus, and to have been falsely ascribed to Christ ; and observe what extraordinary coincidences (accidentally, as it must in that case have been) attend the forger's mistake.

First, that we have a Zacharias in the book of Chronicles, whose death, and the manner of it, corresponds with the allufion.

Secondly, that although the name of this person's father be erroneously put down in the gospel, yet 'we have a way of accounting for the error, by showing abother Zacharias in the Jewish scriptures, much better known than the former, whose patronymic was actually that which appears in the text.

Every one, who thinks upon the subject, will find these to be circumstances, which could not have met together in a miltake, which did not proceed from the circunstances themselves.

I have noticed, I think, all the difficulties of this kind. They are few ; fome of them admit of a clear, others of a prob). able solution. The reader will compare them with the num. ber, the variety, the clofenefs, and the fatisfactoriness of the inte Hances which are to be fet against them; and he will remember the fcantiness, in many cases, of our intelligence, and that differ culties always attend imperfect information.

BETWEEN the letters

Undefigned Coincidencas...

which bear the nanie of St. Pani in our collection, and his history in the Acts of the apostles, there exist many notes of correspondency. "The simple perutal of the writings is sufficient to prove, that neither the billory was taken from the letters, nor the letters from the hiftory. And the unde figuriness of the agreements, which undefignedrefs is gathered from their latency, their minuteness, their obliquity, the suitableness of the circumstances in which they conlift, to the places in which those circumstances occit, and the circuitous references by which they are traced out, denon'intés:

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