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Dr. ^eo Newmark 

Astronomy, by Prof. GEORGE FORBES, F.R.S. 
Chemistry, 2 volumes, by Sir EDWARD THORPE, 
C.B., D Sc., F.R.S., etc. (Director of Govern- 
ment Laboratories) 

Old Testament Criticism, by Prof. ARCHIBALD DUFF 
(Prof, of Hebrew and Old Testament Theology in 
the United College, Bradford) 

New Testament Criticism, by F. C. CONYBEARE, 
M.A. (Late Fellow and Prelector of Univ. Coll., 

Anthropology, by ALFRED C. HADDON, M.A. 

(Fellow of Christ's College) 
In Active Preparation 

Geology, by H. B. WOODWARD, F.R,S., F.G.S. 

(Assistant Director of Geological Survey) 
Geography, by Dr. SCOTT KELTIE, F.R.G.S., F.S.A. 

New York London 













fmfcfcerbocfcer press 





This series is published in London by 

Ube fmfcfcerbocfeer press, flew L>ork 


A HISTORY OF THE SCIENCES has been planned 
to present for the information of the general 
public a historic record of the great divisions 
of science. Each volume is the work of a 
writer who is accepted as an authority on his 
own subject-matter. The books are not to be 
considered as primers, but present thoroughly 
digested information on the relations borne by 
each great division of science to the changes in 
human ideas and to the intellectual develop- 
ment of mankind. The monographs explain 
how the principal scientific discoveries have 
been arrived at and the names of the workers 
to whom such discoveries are due. 

The books will comprise each about 200 pages. 
Each volume will contain from 12 to 16 illus- 
trations, including portraits of the discoverers 
and explanatory views and diagrams. Each 
volume contains also a concise but comprehen- 
sive bibliography of the subject-matter. The 
following volumes will be issued during the 
course of the autumn of 1909. 

The History of Astronomy. 

By GEORGE FORBES, M.A., F.R.S., M. Inst. 
C.E.; author of The Transit of Venus, etc. 

The History of Chemistry: Vol. I. circa 2000 B.C. 
to 1850 A.D. Vol. II. 1850 A.D. to date. 

Director of the Government Laboratories, 
London; Professor-elect and Director of 
the Chemical Laboratories of the Imperial 
College of Science and Technology; author 
of A Dictionary of Applied Chemistry. 

To be followed by: 

The History of Geography. 

F.S.A., Hon. Mem. Geographical Societies 
of Paris, Berlin, Rome, Brussels, Amster- 
dam, Geneva, etc.; author of Report on 
Geographical Education, Applied Geography. 

The History of Geology. 


Assistant-Director of Geological Survey of 
England and Wales; author of The Geology 
of England and Wales, etc. 

The History of Anthropology. 

By A. C. HADDON, M.A., Sc.D., F.R.S., Lec- 
turer in Ethnology, Cambridge and Lon- 
don; author of Study of Man, Magic and 
Fetishism, etc. 

The History of Old Testament Criticism. 

By ARCHIBALD DUFF, Professor of Hebrew 
and Old Testament Theology in the United 

College, Bradford; author of Theology and 
Ethics of the Hebrews, Modern Old Testament 
Theology, etc. 

The History of New Testament Criticism. 

By F. C. CONYBEARE, M.A., late Fellow and 
Praelector of Univ. Coll., Oxford; Fellow 
of the British Academy; Doctor of Theol- 
ogy, honoris causa, of Giessen; Officer d' 
Academic; author of Old Armenian Texts of 
Revelation , etc. 

Further volumes are in plan on the following 

Mathematics and Mechanics. 

Molecular Physics, Heat, Life, and Electricity. 

Human Physiology, Embryology, and Heredity. 

Acoustics, Harmonics, and the Physiology of 
Hearing, together with Optics Chromatics, and 
Physiology of Seeing. 

Psychology, Analytic, Comparative, and Ex- 

Sociology and Economics. 


Comparative Philology. 

Criticism, Historical Research, and Legends. 

Comparative Mythology and the Science of 

The Criticism of Ecclesiastical Institutions. 

Culture, Moral and Intellectual, as Reflected in 
Imaginative Literature and in the Fine Arts. 





THE least unkind of my critics will probably 
find two faults with this work: firstly, 
that it is sketchy, and, secondly, that it says too 
little of the history of textual criticism and of 
the manuscripts and versions in which the New 
Testament has come down to us. 

I must plead in excuse that I could do no 
more in so short a book, and that it is in any 
case not intended for specialists, but for the 
wider public. Within its limits there is no room 
to enumerate one half of the important com- 
mentaries and works of learning about the New 
Testament which have been produced in the 
last two hundred years. The briefest catalogue 
of these would have filled a volume four times 
as large. I had, therefore, to choose between a 
bare enumeration of names and titles, and a 
sketch of a movement of thought conducted by 
a few prominent scholars and critics. I chose 
the latter. Writing for English readers, I have 
also endeavoured to bring into prominence the 
work of English writers; and, in general, I have 
singled out for notice courageous writers who, 

viii Preface 

besides being learned, were ready to face obloquy 
and unpopularity; for, unhappily, in the domain 
of Biblical criticism it is difficult to please the 
majority of readers without being apologetic in 
tone and "goody-goody." A worker in this 
field who finds himself praised by such journals 
as the Saturday Review or the Church Times 
may instantly suspect himself of being either 
superstitious or a time-server. 

So much in defence of myself from the first 
charge. As to the second, I would have liked 
to relate the discovery of many important 
manuscripts, and to describe and appraise the 
ancient versions Latin, Syriac, Armenian, 
Gothic, Georgian, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Arabic 
to the exploration of which I have devoted 
many years. I would also have loved to bring 
before my readers the great figures of Tyndale, 
Erasmus, Beza, Voss, Grotius, Wetstein, Gries- 
bach, Matthasi, Tischendorf, Lachmann, Scrive- 
ner, Lightfoot, and other eminent translators, 
editors, and humanists. But it was useless to 
explore this domain except in a separate volume 
relating the history, not of New Testament 
criticism in general, but of textual criticism in 

F. C. C. 

September i IQIO. 



Gradual formation of New Testament Canon . I 
Early doubts entertained about the author- 
ship of the Johannine books ... 2 
Dionysius of Alexandria on the Apocalypse . 4 
Origen's method of Allegory . . . 1 1 
Jerome ....... 17 


The Reformation narrowed the idea of In- 
spiration, and excluded the use of Allegory . 19 

The Harmony of William Whiston . . 21 

Example, The Mission of the Seventy Dis- 
ciples ....... 22 

Attitude of Dean Alford towards the Har- 
monists. ...... 24 

Attitude of modern divines e.g., of Dean 

Robinson . . . . . . .26 

Another example of forced harmonising 

from Edward Greswell .... 30 

Dean Alford on Inspiration 33 

Examples of his timidity .... 36 


x Contents 


Dr. Sanday repudiates old views of Inspiration 37 

Sir Robert Anderson en Modern High 

Church attitude . . . . . 38 


Socinian orthodoxy ..... 39 

Tindal contrasted the certainties of Natural 
Religion with the obscurities of the Christ- 
ian Revelation . . . . 41 
Anthony Collins upon Christian use of Old 

Testament Prophecy .... 50 

His criticism of the Book of Daniel . . 53 

Thomas Woolston's attack on the Miracles 

of the New Testament .... 54 
His pretence of allegorising them . . 61 

Points of contact between the Deists and the 

medieval Cathars ..... 63 


Father Rickaby's satisfaction with modern 

criticism hardly justified .... 65 
That criticism invalidates Matthew's Gospel . 66 
And justifies Smith, of Jordanhill, as against 

Dean Alford ...... 69 

Contrast of Dean Robinson's views with 

those of Dean Alford . . . . 71 

Papias's testimony cannot have referred to 

our First Gospel . . . . . 77 

Tendency to reject the Fourth Gospel as a 

work of the Apostle John . . . 78 

View of Liddon ..... 80 

Criticisms of Dean Robinson . . . 8 1 


Doctrinal alterations of sacred or canonised 

texts 86 

Contents xi 


Example from Matt, xix., 16 . . 89 

Dr. Salmon on Westcott and Hort . . 90 

The text of the Three Witnesses a trinitarian 

forgery ...... 91 

History of its exposure by Sandius, Simon, 

Gibbon, and Porson ..... 93 

Leo XIII. rules it to be part of the authentic 

text 96 

Trinitarian interpolation at Matt, xxviii., 19 

was absent from Eusebius's MSS. of the 

Gospels. ...... 98 


Comparative freedom of Reformed Churches 

in contrast with the Latin . . . 103 
Herder's criticisms . . . . . 104 
H. S. Reimarus. ..... 108 

E. Evanson on The Dissonance of the Four 
Gospels . . . . . . .115 

Joseph Priestley and Bishop Horsley . . 123 


Albert Schweitzer's work . . . .127 

F. C. Baur, the founder of the Tubingen 
school ....... 128 

D. F. Strauss's Life of Jesus . . . 135 
Ernest Renan's work . . . . 144 


Its uncritical character . . . .149 

James Smith, a layman, overthrows the 
hypothesis of a common oral tradition 
underlying the Gospels . . . .149 
Views of Drs. Lardner and Davidson . . 151 
The Synopticon of E, A. Abbott , . .153 

xii Contents 


Lachmann ....... 154 

Supernatural Religion and^Bishop Lightfoot's 

answer to it . . . . .155 

The origin of the term "Received Text" or 

"Textus Receptus" (T. R.) ... 158 

Its rejection by Lachmann . . .160 

Tischendorf's discovery of the Codex Sinai- 

ticus ....... 161 

Dean Burgon assails the revisers of the Eng- 
lish New Testament . . . .163 

His attack on the Unitarian reviser, Dr. 

Vance Smith 166 

Burgon false to his own ideal of textual 

criticism . . . . . .167 

His Reductio ad absurdum of his own position 168 

Sir Robert Anderson pits the Bible against 

the Priest . . . . . . 171 

Father Rickaby appeals to unwritten tradi- 
tion outside the New Testament . . 173 


The career of Alfred Loisy . . . . 175 
His excommunication . . . .176 

Pius X. issues an Encyclical enumerating the 

chief results of modern criticism . . 177 
Dr. Sanday declares that "we must modern- 
ise" 1 80 

He identifies the Divine in Jesus Christ with 

his subliminal consciousness . . .180 
His verdict on the creeds . . . .182 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . .185 

INDEX 189 



ERASMUS ..... Frontispiece 

I JOHN v. 5-10 (Codex Sinai ticus) ... 9 

MARK xvi. 5-8 (Codex Alexandrinus) ... 48 


ALFRED LOISY ....... 97 

LUTHER ........ 105 


F. C. BAUR 129 


ERNEST RENAN ....... 145 

W. J. BURGON, Dean of Chichester . . .159 

The portraits of Baur, Herder, Renan, and Luther 
are reproduced from prints published by the Berlin Photo- 
graphic Company, London, W. The portrait of Dr. 
Westcott is reproduced by permission of Messrs. J. Russell 
& Sons; that of Dr. Burgon was supplied by Messrs, 
Hills & Saunders. 




T^HE various writings narrative, epistolary, 
and apocalyptic which make up the New 
Testament had no common origin, but were 
composed at different times by at least a score 
of writers in places which, in view of the diffi- 
culties presented to travel by the ancient world, 
may be said to have been widely remote from 
each other. With the exception of the Epistles 
of Paul, none of them, or next to none, were com- 
posed until about fifty years after the death of 
Jesus ; and another hundred years elapsed before 
they were assembled in one collection and began 
to take their place alongside of the Greek trans- 
lation of the Hebrew Bible as authoritative 

Nor was it without a struggle that many of 

2 New Testament Criticism 

them taadc their way into the charmed circle 
of the Christian canon, or new instrument, as 
Tertullian, about the year 200, called the new 
sacred book; and this point is so important that 
we must dwell upon it more in detail. For 
the discussions in the second and early third 
centuries of the age and attribution of several 
of these books constitute a first chapter in the 
history of New Testament criticism, and sixteen 
centuries flowed away before a second was 

We learn, then, from Eusebius that the writ- 
ings which pass under the name of John the son 
of Zebedee were for several generations viewed 
with suspicion, not by isolated thinkers only, 
but by wide circles of believers. These writings 
comprise the fourth gospel, three epistles closely 
resembling that gospel in style and thought, and, 
thirdly, the Book of Revelation. Between the 
years 170 and 180 there was a party in the 
Church of Asia Minor that rejected all these 
writings. The gospel of John, they argued, was 
a forgery committed by a famous heretic named 
Cerinthus, who denied the humanity of Jesus; 
it also contradicted the other three gospels in 
extending the ministry over three years, and 
presented the events of his life in a new and 
utterly false sequence, detailing two passovers 
in the course of his ministry where the three 
synoptic gospels mention only one, and ignoring 

Ancient Exegesis 3 

the forty days' temptation in the wilderness. 
About the year 172 a Bishop of Hierapolis in 
Asia Minor, named Claudius Apollinaris, wrote 
that the gospels seemed to conflict with one 
another, in that the synoptics give one date for 
the Last Supper and the fourth gospel another. 
Nor was it only in Asia Minor that this gospel, 
an early use of which can be traced only among 
the followers of the notable heretics Basilides 
and Valentinus, excited the repugnance of the 
orthodox; for a presbyter of the Church of 
Rome named Gaius, or Caius, assailed both it 
and the Book of Revelation, which purported to 
be by the same author, in a work which Hip- 
polytus, the Bishop of Ostia, tried to answer 
about the year 234. We may infer that at that 
date there still were in Rome good Christians 
who accepted the views of Gaius; otherwise 
it would not have been necessary to refute him. 
The gospel, however, succeeded in establishing 
itself along with the other three; and Irenseus, 
the Bishop of Lugdunum, or Lyon, in Gaul, soon 
after 174 A.D., argues that there must be four 
gospels, neither more nor less, because there are 
four corners of the world and four winds. 
Tatian, another teacher of the same age, also 
accepted it, and included it in a harmony of 
the four gospels which he made called the 
Diatessaron. This harmony was translated into 
Syriac, and read out loud in the churches of 

4 New Testament Criticism 

Syria as late as the beginning of the fourth 

After the age of Hippolytus no further ques- 
tions were raised about the fourth gospel. 
Epiphanius, indeed, who died in 404, and was 
Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, devotes a chapter 
of his work upon Heresies to the sect of Alogi 
that is, of those who, in rejecting the fourth 
gospel, denied that Jesus was the Logos or 
Word of God; but by that time the question 
had no more than an antiquarian interest. 

Not so with the Apocalypse, against which 
Dionysius, Patriarch, or Pope, of Alexandria in 
the years 247-265, wrote a treatise which more 
than any other work of the ancient Church 
approaches in tone and insight the level of 
modern critical research, and of which, happily, 
Eusebius of Cassarea has preserved an ample 
fragment in his history of the Church : 

In any case [writes Dionysius], I cannot 
allow that the author of the Apocalypse is 
that Apostle, the son of Zebedee and brother 
of James, to whom belong the Gospel entitled 
According to John and the general Epistle. 
For I clearly infer, no less from the character 
and literary style of the two authors than 
from tenor of the book, that they are not 
one and the same. 

Then he proceeds to give reasons in support of 
his judgment: 

Ancient Exegesis 5 

For the evangelist nowhere inscribes his 
name in his work nor announces himself 
either through his gospel or his epistle 1 
. . . whereas the author of the Apocalypse 
at the very beginning thereof puts himself 
forward and says: The Revelation of Jesus 
Christ which he gave him to show to his 
servants speedily, and signified by his angel 
to his servant John, etc. 

Lower down he writes thus : 

And also from the thoughts and language 
and arrangement of words we can easily con- 
jecture that the one writer is separate from 
the other. For the Gospel and the Epistle 
harmonise with each other and begin in the 
same way, the one: In the beginning was the 
Word; and the other : That which was from 
the beginning. In the one we read: And 
the Word was made flesh and dwelled among 
us; and we beheld his glory, glory as of the 
only-begotten by the Father; and the other 
holds the same language slightly changed: 
That which we have heard, that which we have 
seen with our eyes, that which we beheld and 
our hands handled, about the Word of Life, and 
the life was manifested. For this is his pre- 
lude, and such his contention, made clear 
in the sequel, against those who denied that 
the Lord came in the flesh; and therefore 
he adds of set purpose the words: And to 
what we saw we bear witness, and announce 
to you the eternal life which was with the 

1 Dionysius had never heard of the second and third 
Epistles of John. 

New Testament Criticism 

Father and was manifested to us. What 
we have seen and heard we announce to you. 
The writer is consistent with himself, and 
never quits his main propositions; indeed, 
follows up his subject all through without 
changing his catchwords, some of which 
we will briefly recall. A careful reader, then 
[of the Gospel and Epistle], will find in each 
frequent mention of Light, Life, of flight 
from darkness; constant repetition of the 
words Truth, Grace, Joy, Flesh and Blood 
of the Lord, of Judgment and Remission of 
Sins, of God's love to usward, of the com- 
mand that we love one another, of the 
injunction to keep all the commandments, 
of the world's condemnation and of the 
Devil's, of the Antichrist, of the Promise of 
the Holy Spirit, of God's Adoption of us, 
of Faith perpetually demanded of us. The 
union of Father and Son pervades both 
works (i.e., Gospel and Epistle of John), 
and, if we scan their character all through, 
the sense is forced on us of one and the same 
complexion in Gospel and Epistle. But the 
Apocalypse stands in absolute contrast to 
each. It nowhere touches or approaches 
either of them, and, we may fairly say, has 
not a single syllable in common with them; 
any more than the Epistle not to men- 
tion the Gospel contains reminiscence or 
thought of the Apocalypse, or Apocalypse 
of Epistle; although Paul in his epistles 
hinted details of his apocalypses (i.e., revela- 
tions), without writing them down in a sub- 
stantive book. Moreover, we can base a 
conclusion on the contrast of style there is 

Ancient Exegesis 7 

between Gospel and Epistle on the one side, 
and Apocalypse on the other. For the 
former not only use the Greek language with- 
out stumbling, but are throughout written 
with great elegance of diction, of reasoning 
and arrangement of expressions. We are 
far from meeting in them with barbarous 
words and solecisms, or any vulgarisms what- 
ever; for their writer had both gifts, because 
the Lord endowed him with each, with that 
of knowledge and that of eloquence. I do 
not deny to the other his having received 
the gifts of knowledge and prophecy, but I 
cannot discern in him an exact knowledge 
of Greek language and tongue. He not only 
uses barbarous idioms, but sometimes falls 
into actual solecisms; which, however, I 
need not now detail, for my remarks are 
not intended to make fun of him far be 
it from me but only to give a correct idea 
of the dissimilitude of these writings. 

Modern divines attach little weight to this 
well-reasoned judgment of Dionysius; perhaps 
because among us Greek is no longer a living 
language. They forget that Dionysius lived 
less than one hundred and fifty years later than 
the authors he here compares, and was there- 
fore as well qualified to distinguish between 
them as we are to distinguish between Lodowick 
Muggleton and Bishop Burnet. We should 
have no difficulty in doing so, and yet they are 
further from us by a hundred years than these 
authors were from Dionysius. Whether or no 

8 New Testament Criticism 

the fourth gospel was a work of the Apostle 
John, the conclusion stands that it cannot be 
from the hand which penned Revelation. This 
conclusion Eusebius, the historian of the Church, 
espoused, and, following him, the entire Eastern 
Church; nor was the authority of Revelation 
rehabilitated in the Greek world before the 
end of the seventh century, while the outlying 
Churches of Syria and Armenia hardly admitted 
it into their canons before the thirteenth. 
In Rome, however, and generally in the West, 
where it circulated in a Latin version which 
disguised its peculiar idiom, it was, so far as we 
know, admitted into the canon from the first, 
and its apostolic authorship never impugned. 

The early Fathers seldom display such critical 
ability as the above extract reveals in the case 
of Dionysius. Why, it may be asked, could so 
keen a discrimination be exercised in this 
particular and nowhere else? What was there 
to awake and whet the judgment here, when 
in respect of other writings it continued to 
slumber and sleep? The context in Eusebius's 
pages reveals to us the cause. The more learned 
and sober circles of believers had, in the last 
quarter of the second and the first of the third 
centuries, wearied and become ashamed of the 
antics of the Millennarists, who believed that 
Jesus Christ was to come again at once and 
establish, not in a vague and remote heaven, 

O! l 




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fxC'Ni i c^*i i c >yyy 

A) K>y 

ric ION 


A r K M t Kj |Xi )C)Mu 

MM ncr IOIM 

I JOHN V., 5-10 


io New Testament Criticism 

but on this earth itself, a reign of peace, plenty, 
and carnal well-being. ' These enthusiasts ap- 
pealed to the Apocalypse when their dreams 
were challenged ; and the obvious way to silence 
them was to prove that that book possessed no 
apostolic authority. The Millennarists might 
have retorted, and their retort would have been 
true, that if one of the books was to go, then 
the gospel must go, on the ground that the 
Apostle John, whom the Epistle to the Galatians 
reveals as a Judaising Christian, could not pos- 
sibly have written it, though he might well have 
penned the Apocalypse. The age was of course 
too ignorant and uncritical for such an answer 
to suggest itself; but the entire episode serves to 
illustrate a cardinal principle of human nature, 
which is, that we are never so apt to discover the 
truth as when we have an outside reason for 
doing so, and in religion especially are seldom 
inclined to abandon false opinions except in 
response to material considerations. 

Two other Christian Fathers have a place in 
the history of textual criticism of the New 
Testament Origen and Jerome. The former 
of these was not a critic in our sense of the word. 
He notices that there was much variety of text 
between one manuscript and another, but he 
seems seldom to have asked himself which of the 
two variants was the true one. For example, in 
Hebrews ii., 9, he notices that in some MSS. 

Ancient Exegesis 1 1 

the text ran thus: that by the grace of God he 
(Jesus) should taste death, but in others thus: 
that without God he should, etc. He professes 
himself quite content to use either. In a few 
cases he corrects a place name, not from the 
evidence of the copies, but because of the cur- 
rent fashion of his age. Thus in Matthew viii., 
28, the scene of the swine driven by demons into 
the lake was in. some MSS. fixed at Gerasa, in 
others at Gadara. But in Origen's day pilgrims 
were shown the place of this miracle at Gergesa, 
and accordingly he was ready to correct the 
text on their evidence, as if it was worth any- 
thing. One other reason he adds for adopting 
the reading Gergesa, very characteristic of his 
age. It amounts to this, that the name Gergesa 
means in Hebrew "the sojourning-place of them 
that cast out"; and that divine Providence had 
allotted this name to the town because the 
inhabitants were so scared by the miracle of the 
swine that they exhorted Jesus to quit their 
confines without delay! 

One other example may be advanced of 
Origen's want of critical acumen. In Matthew, 
xxvii., 17, he decided against the famous read- 
ing Jesus Barabbas as the name of the brigand 
who was released instead of Jesus of Nazareth, 
on the ground that a malefactor had no right 
to so holy a name as Jesus. 

Origen's defence of allegory as an aid to the 

12 New Testament Criticism 

interpretation no less of the New than of the Old 
Testament forms a curious chapter in the history 
of criticism. 

Marcion, in the middle of the second century, 
had pitilessly assailed the God of the Jews, and 
denounced the cruelty, lust, fraud, and rapine 
of the Hebrew patriarchs and kings, the fa- 
vourites of that God. In the middle of the third 
century the orthodox were still hard put to it to 
meet the arguments of Marcion, and, as Milton 
has it, "to justify the ways of God to men." 
Origen, learned teacher as he was, saw no way 
out of the difficulty other than to apply that 
method of allegory which Philo had applied to 
the Old Testament; and in his work, On First 
Principles, book iv., we have an exposition of 
the method. He premises, firstly, that the Old 
Testament is divinely inspired, because its 
prophecies foreshadow Christ; and, secondly, 
that there is not either in Old or New Testa- 
ment a single syllable void of divine meaning 
and import. But how, he asks (in book iv. 
chap. 17), can we conciliate with this tenet of 
their entire inspiration the existence in the 
Bible of such tales as that of Lot and his daugh- 
ters, of Abraham prostituting first one wife and 
then another, of a succession of at least three 
days and nights before the sun was created? 
Who, he asks, will be found idiot enough to be- 
lieve that God planted trees in Paradise like any 

Ancient Exegesis 13 

husbandman ; that he set up in it visible and pal- 
pable tree- trunks, labelled the one "Tree of 
Life," and the other "Tree of Knowledge of 
Good and Evil," both bearing real fruit that 
might be masticated with corporeal teeth; that 
he went and walked about the garden; that 
Adam hid under a tree; that Cain fled from the 
face of God? The wise reader, he remarks, 
may well ask what the face of God is, and how 
any one could get away from it? Nor, he con- 
tinues, is the Old Testament only full of such 
incidents, as no one regardful of good sense and 
reason can suppose to have really taken place or 
to be sober history. In the Gospels equally, 
he declares, such narratives abound; and as 
an example he instances the story of the Devil 
plumping Jesus down on the top of a lofty 
mountain, from which he showed him all the 
kingdoms of the earth and their glory. How, he 
asks, can it be literally true, how a historical 
fact, that from a single mountain-top with 
fleshly eyes all the realms of Persia, of Scythia, 
and of India could be seen adjacent and at once? 
The careful reader will, he says, find in the 
Gospels any number of cases similar to the 
above. In a subsequent paragraph he instances 
more passages which it is absurd to take in their 
literal sense. Such is the text Luke x., 4, in 
which Jesus when he sent forth the Twelve 
Apostles bade them "Salute no man on the 

14 New Testament Criticism 

way." None but silly people, he adds, believe 
that our Saviour delivered such a precept to the 
Apostles. And how, he goes on, particularly 
in a land where winter bristles with icicles and 
is bitter with frosts, could any one be asked to do 
with only two tunics and no shoes? And then 
that other command that a man who is smitten 
on the right cheek shall also turn the left to the 
smiter how can it be true, seeing that any 
one who smites another with his right hand must 
necessarily smite his left cheek and not his right? 
And another of the things to be classed among 
the impossible is the prescription found in the 
Gospel, that if thy right eye offend thee it shall 
be plucked out. For even if we take this to 
apply to our bodily eyes, how is it to be con- 
sidered consistent, whereas we use both eyes to 
see, to saddle one eye only with the guilt of the 
stumbling-block, and why the right eye rather, 
than the left? 

Wherever, he argues (chap. 15), we meet with 
such useless, nay impossible, incidents and 
precepts as these, we must discard a literal 
interpretation and consider of what moral inter- 
pretation they are capable, with what higher 
and mysterious meaning they are fraught, what 
deeper truths they were intended symbolically 
and in allegory to shadow forth. The divine 
wisdom has of set purpose contrived these little 
traps and stumbling-blocks in order to cry halt 

Ancient Exegesis 15 

to our slavish historical understanding of the 
text, by inserting in its midst sundry things 
that are impossible and unsuitable. The Holy 
Spirit so waylays us in order that we may be 
driven by passages which taken in their prima- 
facie sense cannot be true or useful, to search 
for the ulterior truth, and seek in the Scriptures 
which we believe to be inspired by God a mean- 
ing worthy of Him. 

In the sequel it occurs to Origen that some of 
his readers may be willing to tolerate the appli- 
cation of this method to the Old Testament, and 
yet shrink from applying it wholesale to the 
New. He reassures them by insisting on what 
Marcion had denied namely, on the fact that 
the same Spirit and the same God inspired both 
Old and New alike, and in the same manner. 
Whatever, therefore, is legitimate in regard to 
the one is legitimate in regard to the other also. 
"Wherefore also in the Gospels and Epistles 
the Spirit has introduced not a few incidents 
which, by breaking in upon and checking the 
historical character of the narrative, with 
which it is impossible to reconcile them, turn 
back and recall the attention of the reader to an 
examination of their inner meaning/' 

Origen admits (chap. 19) that the passages 
in Scripture which bear a spiritual sense and no 
other are considerably outnumbered by those 
which stand good as history. Let no one, he 

1 6 New Testament Criticism 

pleads, suspect us of asserting that we think 
none of the Scriptural narratives to be histori- 
cally true, because we suspect that some of 
the events related never really happened. On 
the contrary, we are assured that in the case 
of as many as possible their historical truth can 
be and must be upheld. Moreover, of the pre- 
cepts delivered in the Gospel it cannot be 
doubted that very many are to be literally 
observed, as when it says: But I say unto you, 
Swear not at all. At the same time, any one who 
reads carefully will be sure to feel a doubt 
whether this and that narrative is to be regarded 
as literally true or only half true, and whether 
this and that precept is to be literally observed 
or not. Wherefore with the utmost study and 
pains we must strive to enable every single 
reader with all reverence to understand that in 
dealing with the contents of the sacred books 
he handles words which are divine and not 

It is curious in the above to note that the one 
precept on the literal observance of which 
Origen insists namely, the prohibition of oaths 
is just that which for centuries all Christian 
sects, with the exception of the medieval Cathars 
and modern Quakers, have flouted and defied. 
This by the way. It is more important to 
note how these chapters of Origen impress a 
would-be liberal Anglican divine of to-day. 

Ancient Exegesis 17 

"In reading most of Origen's difficulties, " writes 
Dean Farrar in his History of Interpretation, p. 
193, "we stand amazed. ... By the slightest 
application of literary criticism they vanish at a 
touch/* And just above, p. 190: "The errors 
of the exegesis which Origen tended to establish 
for more than a thousand years had their root 
in the assumption that the Bible is throughout 
homogeneous and in every particular super- 
naturally perfect. " And again, p. 196: "Hav- 
ing started with the assumption that every 
clause of the Bible was infallible, supernatural, 
and divinely dictated, and having proved to 
his own satisfaction that it could not be intended 
in its literal sense, he proceeded to systematise 
his own false conclusions. " 

No doubt such criticisms are just, but did the 
antecedents of Dean Farrar entitle him to pass 
them upon Origen, who was at least as respon- 
sive to the truth as in his age any man could be 
expected to be? In reading these pages of the 
modern ecclesiastic we are reminded of the 
picture in the Epistle of James i., 23, of him 
"who is a hearer of the word and not a doer: he 
is like unto a man beholding his horoscope in a 
divining crystal (or mirror); for he beholdeth 
himself, and goeth away, and straightway 
forgetteth what manner of man he was.'* 

Jerome, who was born about 346, and died 
420, deserves our respect because he saw the 

i8 New Testament Criticism 

necessity of basing the Latin Bible not upon 
the Septuagint or Greek translation, but upon the 
Hebrew original. It illustrates the manners of 
the age that when he was learning Hebrew, in 
which for his time he made himself extraordi- 
narily proficient, the Jewish rabbis who were his 
teachers had to visit him by night, for fear of 
scandal. In this connection Jerome compares 
himself to Christ visited by Nicodemus. It 
certainly needed courage in that, as in sub- 
sequent ages, to undertake to revise a sacred text 
in common use, and Jerome reaped from his task 
much immediate unpopularity. His revision, 
of course, embraced the New as well as the Old 
Testament, but his work on the New contained 
nothing very new or noteworthy. 


THE sixth article of the Church of England 
lays it down that "Holy Scripture con- 
taineth all things necessary to salvation," which 
is not the same thing as to say that everything 
contained in Holy Scripture is necessary to 
salvation. Nevertheless, this in effect has been 
the dominant view of the reformed churches. 
Underneath the allegorical method of inter- 
preting the Bible, which I have exemplified from 
the works of Origen, lay the belief that every 
smallest portion of the text is inspired; for, 
apart from this belief, there was no reason not to 
set aside and neglect passages that in their literal 
and primary sense seemed unhistorical and 
absurd, limiting the inspiration to so much of 
the text as could reasonably be taken for true. 
The Reformation itself predisposed those 
churches which came under its influence to 
accept the idea of verbal- inspiration ; for, having 
quarrelled with the Pope, and repudiated his 
authority as an interpreter of the text and arbiter 
of difficulties arising out of it, they had no 

2O New Testament Criticism 

oracle left to appeal to except the Bible, and they 
fondly imagined that* they could use it as a 
judge uses a written code of law. As such a 
code must be consistent with itself, and free 
from internal contradictions, in order to be an 
effective instrument of government and admin- 
istration, so must the Bible; and before long it 
was felt on all sides to be flat blasphemy to 
impute to a text which was now called outright 
"the Word of God" any inconsistencies or 
imperfections. The Bible was held by Protest- 
ants to be a homogeneous whole dictated to its 
several writers, who were no more than passive 
organs of the Holy Spirit and amanuenses of 
God. "Scripture," wrote Quenstedt (1617- 
1688), a pastor of Wittenberg, "is a fountain 
of infallible truth, and exempt from all error; 
every word of it is absolutely true, whether 
expressive of dogma, of morality, or of history." 
Such a view left to Protestants no loophole of 
allegory, and their divines have for generations 
striven to reconcile every one statement in the 
Bible with every other by harmonistic shifts and 
expedients which, in interpreting other docu- 
ments, they would disdain to use. Of these 
forced methods of explanation it is worth while 
to examine a few examples, for there is no better 
way of realising how great an advance has been 
made towards enlightenment in the present age. 
Our first example shall be taken from a work 

The Harmonists 21 

entitled A Harmony of the Four Evangelists, 
which was published in 1702 by William Whis- 
ton (1667-1752), a man of vast and varied 
attainments. A great mathematician, he suc- 
ceeded Sir Isaac Newton in the Lucasian chair 
at Cambridge, but was deprived of it in 1710 
for assailing in print the orthodox doctrine 
of the Trinity. In his old age he quitted the 
ranks of the English clergy, because he dis- 
liked the so-called Athanasian Creed, and be- 
came an Anabaptist. He was deeply read in 
the Christian Fathers, and was the author of 
many theological works. It marks the absolute 
sway over men's minds in that epoch of the 
dogma of the infallibility and verbal inspiration 
of the Bible that so vigorous and original a 
thinker as Whiston could imagine that he had 
reconciled by such feeble devices the manifold 
contradictions of the Gospels. Take, for ex- 
ample, the seventh of the principles or rules he 
formulated to guide students in harmonising 
them. It runs as follows: 

P. 118, vii. The resemblance there is 
between several discourses and miracles of 
our Saviour in the several Gospels, which the 
order of the evangelical history places at 
different times, is no sufficient reason for the 
superseding such order, and supposing them 
to be the very same discourses and miracles. 

He proceeds to give examples for the applica- 


New Testament Criticism 

tion of the above rule, 
follows : 

The first of them is as 

Thus it appears that our Saviour gave 
almost the very same instructions to the 
Twelve Apostles, and to the Seventy Dis- 
ciples, at their several missions; the one 
recorded by St. Matthew, the other by St. 
Luke, as the likeness of the occasions did 
require. Now these large instructions, being 
in two Gospels, have been by many refer 'd to 
the same time, by reason of their similitude. 

That the reader may judge for himself how 
absurdly inadequate this explanation is, the two 
resembling discourses are here set out in op- 
posing columns: 

Luke x., i: Now 
after these things the 
Lord appointed seven- 
ty others, and sent 
them two and two be- 
fore his face into every 
city and place, whither 
he himself was about 
to come. And he said 
unto them, The har- 
vest is plenteous, but 
the labourers are few: 
pray ye therefore the 
Lord of the harvest, 
that he send forth 
labourers into his har- 
vest, Go your ways: 

Matthew x., I : And 
he called unto him 
his . twelve disciples, 
and gave them author- 
ity. . . . 

5: These twelve 
Jesus sent forth, and 
charged them, say- 
ing. . . . 

Matthew ix., 37: 
Then saith he unto 
his disciples, The har- 
vest, etc. . . . 
(Identical as far as 
"into his harvest." ) 

Matthew x., 16: Be- 

The Harmonists 

behold, I send you 
forth as lambs in the 
midst of wolves. 
Carry no purse, no 
wallet, no shoes: and 
salute no man on the 
way. And into what- 
soever house ye shall 
enter, first say, Peace 
be to this house. And 
if a son of peace be 
there, your peace shall 
rest upon him: but if 
not, it shall turn to you 
again. . . . But into 
whatsoever city ye 
shall enter, and they 
receive you not, go 
out into the streets 
thereof and say, Even 
the dust from your 
city, that cleaveth to 
our feet, we do wipe 
off against you: how- 
beit know this, that 
the kingdom of God is 
come nigh. I say unto 
you, It shall be more 
tolerable in that day 
for Sodom, than for 
that city. 

hold, I send you forth 
as sheep in the midst 
of wolves. 

9, 10: Get you no 
gold, nor silver, nor 
brass in your purses; 
no wallet for journey, 
neither two coats, nor 
shoes nor staff: for the 
labourer is worthy of 
his food. 

1 1 : And into what- 
soever city or village 
ye shall enter, search 
out who in it is worthy ; 
and there abide till ye 
go forth. 12: And 
as ye enter the house, 
salute it. 13: And if 
the house be worthy, 
let your peace come 
upon it: but if it be 
not worthy, let your 
peace return to you. 
14: And whosoever 
shall not receive you, 
nor hear your words, as 
ye go forth out of that 
house or that city, 
shake off the dust of 
your feet. 15: Verily 
I say unto you, It 
shall be more tolerable 
for the land of Sodom 
and Gomorrah in the 
day of judgment than 

24 New Testament Criticism 

for that city. 7: And 
as ye go, preach, say- 
ing, The kingdom of 
heaven is at hand. 

Dean Alford, in his edition of the New Testa- 
ment which appeared in 1863, begins his com- 
mentary on Luke x. as follows: 

Verses 1-16. Mission of the Seventy. 
It is well that Luke has given us also the 
sending of the Twelve, or we should have 
had some of the commentators asserting 
that this was the same mission. The dis- 
course addressed to the Seventy is in sub- 
stance the same as that to the Twelve, as the 
similarity of their errand would lead us to 
suppose it would be. 

But we know only what was the errand of the 
seventy from the instructions issued to them, 
and, apart from what Jesus here tells them to do, 
we cannot say what they were intended to do. 
Were there any mention of them in the rest of 
the New Testament, we might form some idea 
apart from this passage of Luke of what their 
mission was, but neither in the Acts is allusion 
to them nor in the Paulines. It was assumed 
long afterwards, in the fourth century, when a 
fanciful list of their names was concocted, that 
they were intended to be missionaries to the 
Gentiles, who were, in the current folklore of 
Egypt and Palestine, divided into seventy or 
seventy-two races; but this assumption con- 

The Harmonists 25 

flicts with the statement that they were to go in 
front of Jesus to the several cities and places 
which he himself meant to visit. Alford, there- 
fore, argues in a circle, and we can only infer 
that their mission was similar to that of the 
Twelve, because their marching orders were so 
similar, and not that their orders were similar 
because their mission was so. 

In point of fact, we must take this passage of 
Luke in connection with other passages in which 
his language tallies with that of Matthew. 
Practically every critic, even the most orthodox, 
admits to-day that Matthew and Luke, in com- 
posing their Gospels, used two chief sources 
one the Gospel of Mark, very nearly in the 
form in which we have it ; and the other a docu- 
ment which, because Mark reveals so little 
knowledge of it, is called the non-Marcan docu- 
ment, and by German scholars Q short for 
Quelle or source. By comparing those portions 
of Matthew and Luke which, like the two just 
cited, reveal, not mere similarity, but in verse 
after verse are identical in phrase and wording, 
we are able to reconstruct this lost document, 
which consisted almost wholly of teachings and 
sayings of Jesus, with very few narratives of 
incidents. The Lucan text before us is char- 
acterised by exactly the same degree of approxi- 
mation to Matthew's text which we find in other 
passages; for example, in those descriptive of the 

26 New Testament Criticism 

temptation of Jesus namely, Luke iv., 1-13 = 
Matthew iv., i-n. There also, however, 
Alford, incurably purblind, asserts (note on 
Luke iv., i) that "The accounts of Matthew 
and Luke (Mark's is principally a compendium) 
are distinct." He refers us in proof of this 
assertion to his notes on Matthew and Mark, 
although in those notes he has made no attempt 
to substantiate it. 

In the present day, then, it is flogging a dead 
horse to controvert Dean Alford or William 
Whiston on such a point as this. The stand- 
point of orthodox criticism in the twentieth cen- 
tury is well given in a useful little book entitled 
The Study of the Gospels, by J. Armitage Robin- 
son, D.D., Dean of Westminster (London, 1902). 
On p. in of this book there is a table of certain 
passages which Luke and Matthew derived in 
common from the non-Marcan document, and 
one of its items is the following : 

Luke x., 1-12. Mission of seventy dis- 
ciples = Matt, ix., 37 ff., x. iff. 

And, again, p. 112: 

Thus in ix., 35~x., 42 he [Matthew] has 
combined the charge to the twelve (Markvi., 
7 ff.) with the charge to the seventy, which 
St. Luke gives separately. 

But there is a problem here over which Dr. 
Robinson passes in silence, though it must 
surely have suggested itself to his unusually 

The Harmonists 27 

keen intelligence. It may be stated thus: 
Why does Luke make two missions and two 
charges, one of the Twelve Apostles, copied 
directly from Mark, and the other of Seventy 
Disciples, copied directly from the non-Marcan 
document; whereas Matthew makes only one 
mission that of the Twelve and includes in 
the charge or body of instructions given to 
them the instructions which Luke reserves for 
the Seventy alone? 

The question arises: Did the non-Marcan 
source refer these instructions which Luke 
keeps distinct to the Twelve, or to the Seventy, 
or to no particular mission at all? Here are 
three alternatives. 

In favour of the second hypothesis is the fact 
that later on in the same chapter verses 17-20 
Luke narrates the return of the Seventy to 
Jesus in a section which runs thus: 

And the seventy returned with joy, say- 
ing, Lord, even the devils are subject unto 
us in thy name. And he said unto them, I 
beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven. 
Behold, I have given you authority to tread 
upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the 
power of the enemy ; and nothing shall in any 
wise hurt you, etc. 

Against this second hypothesis it may be 
contended that 

Firstly, if the non-Marcan source had ex- 

28 New Testament Criticism 

pressly referred these instructions to the corps of 
Seventy Disciples, then Matthew could not have 
conflated them with the instructions to the 
Twelve which he takes from Mark vi., 7-13. 

Secondly, the non-Marcan document which 
Luke copied in his tenth chapter was itself at 
the bottom identical with the text of Mark vi., 
7-13, for not only are the ideas conveyed in the 
two the same, but the language so similar that we 
must infer a literary connection between them. 

Thirdly, in Luke's narrative of the return of 
the Seventy several ideas and phrases seem to 
be borrowed from a source used by the author 
(probably Aristion, the Elder) of the last 
twelve verses of Mark, where they are put into 
the mouth of the risen Christ. 

There is really but a single explanation of all 
these facts, and it is this: that there were two 
closely parallel and ultimately identical accounts 
of a sending forth of apostles by Jesus, one of 
which Mark has preserved, while the other stood 
in the non-Marcan document. This latter one 
contained precepts only, and did not specify to 
whom or when they were delivered. Matthew 
saw that they referred to one and the same 
event, and therefore blended them in one narra- 
tive. Luke, on the other hand, obedient to his 
habit of keeping separate what was in Mark 
from what was in the non-Marcan source, even 
when these two sources repeated each other 

The Harmonists 29 

verbally, assumed that the non-Marcan narra- 
tive must refer to some other mission than that 
of the Twelve, the account of which he had 
already reproduced verbally from Mark. He 
conjectured that as there had been a mission 
of twelve sent only to the twelve tribes of Israel, 
so there must have been a mission of seventy 
disciples corresponding to the seventy elders 
who had translated 200 years earlier the Hebrew 
Scriptures into Greek, and so been the means 
of diffusing among the Gentiles a knowledge of 
the old Covenant. But in that case the mission 
of the Seventy is pure conjecture of Luke's. 
With this it well agrees that outside this chapter 
of Luke they are nowhere else mentioned in the 
New Testament, and that Eusebius, the his- 
torian of the Church, searched all through the 
many Christian writers who preceded him in 
the first and second centuries writers known 
to him, but lost for us in order to find a list of 
these seventy disciples, but found it not. It is 
incredible, if they ever existed, that in all this 
literature there should have been no independent 
mention of them. 

In the preceding pages I have somewhat 
anticipated the historical development of critic- 
ism; but it was right to do so, for it is not 
easy to understand its earlier stages without 
contrasting the later ones. The harmony of 
William Whiston supplies many more instances 

30 New Testament Criticism 

of blind adherence to the dogma that in the 
New Testament, as being the Word of God, 
there cannot be, because there must not be, any 
contradictions or inconsistencies of statement. 
It is not well, however, to dwell too long on a 
single writer, and I will next select an example 
from the Dissertations (Oxford, 1836) of that 
most learned of men, Edward Greswell, Fellow 
of Corpus Christi College. In these we find 
harmonies so forced that even Dean Alford 
found them excessive. Take the following as 
an example. 

In Matthew viii., 19-22, and Luke ix., 57-60, 
the same pair of incidents is found in parallel texts : 

Matt, viii., 19: And 
there came a Scribe, 
and said unto him, 
Master, I will follow 
thee whithersoever 
thou goest. 

20: And Jesus saith 
unto him, The foxes 
have holes, and the 
birds of heaven nests; 
but the Son of Man 
hath not where to lay 
his head. 

2 1 : And another of 
the disciples said unto 
him, Lord, suffer me 

Luke ix. 57 : And as 
they went in the way, 
a certain man said 
unto him, I will fol- 
low thee whithersoever 
thou goest. 

58: And Jesus said, 
etc. (as in Matt.). 

59: And he said 
unto another, Follow 
me. But he said, 

The Harmonists 31 

first to go and bury my Lord, suffer me first to 
father. go and bury my father. 

22: But Jesus saith 60: But he said unto 
unto him, Follow me; him, Leave the dead to 
and leave the dead to bury their own dead; 
bury their own dead. but go thou and pub- 
lish abroad the king- 
dom of God. 

Now, in Matthew the above incidents follow 
the descent of Jesus from the mount on which 
he had delivered his long sermon, separated 
therefrom by a series of three healings, of a 
leper, of a centurion's servant, and of Peter's 
wife's mother, and by Jesus' escape from the 
multitude across the lake. They therefore 
occurred, according to Matthew, early in the 
ministry of Jesus, and in Galilee, to the very 
north of Palestine. Luke, on the contrary, 
sets them late in Jesus' career, when he was on 
his way southward to Jerusalem, just before the 
crucifixion. Accordingly Greswell sets Matt, 
viii., 18-34 i n xx - f the third part of his har- 
mony on November I, A.D. 28, and Luke ix.. 
57-60 in xxv. of the fourth part, January 23, 

A.D. 30. 

This acrobatic feat provokes even from Dean 
Alford the following note on Matt, viii., 19: 

Both the following incidents are placed 
by St. Luke long after, during our Lord's 
last journey to Jerusalem. For it is quite 
impossible (with Greswell, Diss.,iiL, p. 155), 

32 New Testament Criticism 

in any common fairness of interpretation, 
to imagine that two such incidents should 
have twice happened, and both times have 
been related together. It is one of those 
cases where the attempts of the Harmonists 
do violence to every principle of sound his- 
torical criticism. Every such difficulty, in- 
stead of being a thing to be wiped out and 
buried at all hazards (I am sorry to see, e.g., 
that Dr. Wordsworth takes no notice, either 
here or in St. Luke, of the recurrence of the 
two narratives), is a valuable index and 
guide to the humble searcher after truth, 
and is used by him as such. 

And again in his prolegomena, 4, Alford 
writes of the same two passages and of other 
similar parallelisms thus: 

Now the way of dealing with such dis- 
crepancies has been twofold, as remarked 
above. The enemies of the faith have of 
course recognised them, and pushed them to 
the utmost ; often attempting to create them 
where they do not exist, and where they do, 
using them to overthrow the narrative in 
which they occur. While this has been 
their course, equally unworthy of the Evan- 
gelists and their subject has been that of 
those who are usually thought the orthodox 
Harmonists. They have usually taken upon 
them to state that such variously placed 
narratives do not refer to the same incidents, 
and so to save (as they imagine) the credit of 
the Evangelists, at the expense of common 
fairness and candour. 

The Harmonists 33 

And below he writes: 

We need not be afraid to recognise real 
discrepancies, in the spirit of fairness and 
truth. Christianity never was, and never 
can be, the gainer by any concealment, warp- 
ing, or avoidance of the plain truth, wherever 
it is to be found. 

In the first of the above passages cited from 
Dean'Alford, discrepancies in the Gospels are 
described as difficulties. But they were not 
such apart from the prejudice that the Bible was 
an infallible, uniform, and self-consistent whole. 
Discard this idle hypothesis, which no one ever 
resorted to in reading Thucydides or Herodotus, 
or Julius Caesar, or the Vedas, or Homer, or 
any other book except the Bible, and these 
"difficulties" vanish. In a later section of his 
prolegomena, vi., 22, Alford lays down a pro- 
position more pregnant of meaning than he 
realised : 

We must take our views of inspiration 
not, as is too often done, from a priori 
considerations, but ENTIRELY FROM THE 


This can mean only that, since the Gospels, 
no less than other books of the Bible, teem with 
discrepancies, therefore their plenary inspiration 
(which the Dean claimed to hold to the utmost, 

34 New Testament Criticism 

while rejecting verbal inspiration) is consistent 
with such discrepancies; nor merely with dis- 
crepancies, but with untruths and inaccuracies 
as well. For where there are two rival and in- 
consistent accounts of the same fact and event 
one must be true and the other false. I do not 
see how Dean Alford could, on the above 
premisses, quarrel with one who should main- 
tain that the Chronicle of Froissart or the A eta 
Sanctorum was quite as much inspired as the 
Bible. He denounces the doctrine of verbal 
inspiration; that is to say, the teaching "that 
every word and phrase of the Scriptures is 
absolutely and separately true, and, whether 
narrative or discourse, took place, or was said, 
in every most exact particular as set down." 
He claims to exercise "the freedom of the 
Spirit " rather than submit to "the bondage of 
the letter/' and he justly remarks that the 
advocates of verbal inspiration "must not be 
allowed, with convenient inconsistency, to take 
refuge in a common-sense view of the matter 
wherever their theory fails them, and still to 
uphold it in the main/' 

And yet, when we examine his commentary, 
we find him almost everywhere timorous and 
unscientific. For example, the most orthodox of 
modern critics frankly admits that two miracles 
in Mark that of the feeding of the four, and 
that of the five, thousand are a textual doublet ; 

The Harmonists 35 

I mean that there was one original story of the 
kind, which, in the hands of separate story- 
tellers or scribes, was varied in certain details, 
notably as to the place and period at which the 
miracle was wrought, and as to the number of 
people who were fed. The compiler of our 
second Gospel found both stories current no 
doubt in two different manuscripts and, in- 
stead of blending them into one narrative, kept 
them separate, under the impression that they 
related different incidents, and so copied them 
out one upon and after the other. The literary 
connection between these two stories saute aux 
yeux, as the French say leaps to the eyes. Entire 
phrases of the one agree with entire phrases of the 
other, and the actions detailed in the one agree 
with and follow in the same sequence with those 
detailed in the other. Long before Alford's 
time open-eyed critics had realised that the two 
stories were variations of a common theme ; and 
yet Alford, in exemplification of his canon 
(Chap. I., iv., p. 5) that Similar incidents 
must not be too hastily assumed to be the same, 
writes as follows: 

If one Evangelist had given us the feed- 
ing of the five thousand, and another that 
of the four, we should have been strongly 
tempted to pronounce the incidents the 
same, and to find a discrepancy in the 
accounts; but our conclusion would have 

36 New Testament Criticism 

been false, for we have now both events 
narrated by each of two Evangelists (Mat- 
thew and Mark), and formally alluded to by 
our Lord Himself in connexion (Matt, xvi., 
9, 10; Mark viii., 19, 20). 

He also, as another example of his canon's 
applicability, instances the stories of the anoint- 
ings of the Lord at feasts, first by a woman who 
was a sinner, in Luke vii., 36, ff. t and again by 
Mary the sister of Lazarus, in Matt, xxvi., 6, 
ff. t and Mark xiv., 3, ff., and John xi., 2, and 
xii.,3,jf. These stories are so like one another 
that, as Whiston observes, "the great Grotius 
(died 1645) himself was imposed upon, and 
induc'd to believe them the very same. Such 
fatal mistakes,'* he adds, "are men liable to 
when they indulge themselves in the liberty of 
changing the settled order of the Evangelists on 
every occasion." 

The fatal mistake, of course, lay with Whiston, 
and with Alford, who took up the same position 
as he. Whiston unconsciously pays a great 
tribute to the shrewdness and acumen of 

Latter-day divines are somewhat contemptu- 
ous of the attitude of their predecessors fifty 
years ago. Thus Dr. Sanday writes in his 
Bampton Lectures of 1893 as follows (p. 392) : 

The traditional theory needs little de- 

The Harmonists 37 

scrip tion. Fifty years ago it may be said to 
have been the common belief of Christian 
men at least in this country. It may have 
been held somewhat vaguely and indefinitely, 
and those who held it might, if pressed on the 
subject, have made concessions which would 
have involved them in perplexities. But, 
speaking broadly, the current view may be 
said to have been that the Bible as a whole 
and in all its parts was the Word of God, and 
as such that it was endowed with all the 
perfections of that Word. Not only did it 
disclose truths about the Divine nature 
and operation which were otherwise un- 
attainable; but all parts of it were equally 
authoritative, and in history, as well as in 
doctrine, it was* exempt from error. . . . 
This was the view commonly held fifty 
years ago. And when it comes to be ex- 
amined, it is found to be substantially not 
very different from that which was held two 
centuries after the birth of Christ. 

To this idea of verbal inspiration Dr. Sanday 
opposes what he calls an inductive or critical 
view of inspiration, in accordance with which 
the believer will, where the two conflict, accept 
"the more scientific statement.'* On this view 
the Bible is not as such inspired, and the in- 
spiration of it is fitful, more active in one portion 
of it than in another. Where the two views 
most diverge is in the matter of the historical 
books. These do not always narrate plain 
matter of fact, as they were supposed to do 

38 New Testament Criticism 

formerly; nor are they " exempted from possibili- 
ties of error/' Where they conflict with scientific 
statements they must be regarded "rather as 
conveying a religious lesson than as histories. " 

I do not grudge this writer the task of ex- 
tracting religious lessons out of certain portions 
of the Old Testament, but it is more important 
to consider the implications of this modern 
Anglican doctrine of inspiration. Is it open to 
every one and any one to pick and choose and 
decide what in the Scriptures is true and what 
not, what inspired and what uninspired? Who 
is to be trusted with this new task of detecting an 
inner canon inside of the old canon of Scripture? 

There is. a school of thinkers inside the Church 
who desire to assume this task, and who never 
weary of insisting on the authority of the priest- 
hood in this matter. That somewhat mordant, 
but not very enlightened, critic, Sir Robert 
Anderson, in a work entitled The Bible and 
Modern Criticism (London, 1903), not unjustly 
observes (p. 172) that "the Lux Mundi school 
has fallen back on the Church as the source of 
authority . . . because the Bible, so far from 
being infallible, is marred by error, and there- 
fore affords no sure basis of faith.'* And this is 
undoubtedly the point of view of High Church 
clergymen. It remains to be seen whether in 
the minds of Englishmen the authority of the 
Church will survive that of the Bible. 


THE Unitarian movement, which flourished 
in Poland during the sixteenth century, 
and penetrated to England in the seventeenth, 
contributed but little to the criticism of the 
New Testament. It is true that Lelius Socinus 
(1525-1562) and Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), 
his nephew, both of Siena, after whom the Uni- 
tarians were called Socinians, denied many 
tenets held to be fundamental in the great 
churches of east and west, such as that of the 
trinity and that of baptism with water; but, 
no more than the medieval Cathars who in 
both these respects anticipated them, did they 
dream of calling in aid the resources of textual 
criticism. They merely accepted the New 
Testament text as they found it in Erasmus's 
Greek edition, or even in the Latin vulgate, and 
accepted it as fully and verbally inspired. No 
more than their Calvinist and Jesuit persecutors, 
had they any idea of a development of church 
doctrine such as could have led incidentally 
to interpolations and alterations of the texts. 

40 New Testament Criticism 

They questioned neither the traditional attri- 
butions of these texts nor their historical ve- 
racity. Nor did it ever occur even to John Locke 
to doubt the plenary inspiration of scripture, 
although his philosophy, with its rejection of 
authority and appeal to experience and common 
sense, operated strongly for the creation of that 
rationalistic school of thinkers who came to be 
known as Deists. The writers of this school, 
who flourished at the end of the seventeenth and 
during the eighteenth century, dealt with many 
subjects; but they all of them stood for a revolt 
against authority in religion. Thus Tindal, in 
his preface to his work, Christianity as Old as the 
Creation; or, the Gospel a Republication of the 
Religion of Nature, declares in his preface that: 

He builds nothing on a thing so uncer- 
tain as tradition, which differs in most 
countries; and of which, in all countries, the 
bulk of mankind are incapable of judging. 

The scope of his work is well indicated in the 
headings of his chapters, one and all. Take for 
example this: 

Chap. I.: That God, at all times, has 
given mankind sufficient means of knowing 
whatever He requires of them, and what 
those means are. 

And in this chapter we read: 

The Deists 41 

Too great a stress can't be laid on natural 
religion; which, as I take it, differs not 
from revealed, but in the manner of its being 
communicated: the one being the internal, as 
the other the external revelation of the same 
unchangeable will of a Being, who is alike at 
all times infinitely wise and good. 

This author never wearies of contrasting the 
simplicity of natural religion, the self -evidencing 
clearness of the laws of goodness, mercy, and 
duty impressed on all human hearts, with the 
complexity and uncertainty of a revelation which 
rests or is contained in Scriptures; and he knows 
how to enrol leading Anglican authorities on his 
side in urging his point. Thus (p. 214 of the 
third edition, London, 1732) he adduces a 
passage from the Polemical Works of Jeremy 
Taylor, which begins thus: 

Since there are so many copies with 
infinite varieties of reading; since a various 
interpunction, a parenthesis, a letter, an 
accent, may much alter the sense; since some 
places have divers literal senses, many have 
spiritual, mystical, and allegorical meanings; 
since there are so many tropes, metonymies, 
ironies, hyperboles, proprieties and impro- 
prieties of language, whose understanding 
depends on such circumstances, that it is 
almost impossible to know the proper inter- 
pretation, now that the knowledge of such 
circumstances, and particular stories, is 
irrecoverably lost; since there are some 

42 New Testament Criticism 

mysteries which, at the best advantage of 
expression, are not easy to be apprehended; 
and whose explication, by reason of our 
imperfections, must needs be dark, some- 
times unintelligible; and, lastly, since those 
ordinary means of expounding Scripture, as 
searching the originals, conference of places, 
parity of reason, analogy of faith, are all 
dubious, uncertain, and very fallible; he 
that is wisest, and by consequence the like- 
liest to expound truest, in all probability of 
reason, will be very far from confidence. 

The alternatives are thus presented of be- 
coming " priests' worshippers, " with "a divine 
faith in their dictates," or of resigning oneself to 
Bishop Taylor's attitude of suspense and doubt. 
For as that writer concludes: "So many de- 
grees of improbability and incertainty, all de- 
press our certainty of finding out truth in such 
mysteries." These, as. he elsewhere says 
(Polem. Works, p. 521): "Have made it im- 
possible for a man in so great a variety of matter 
not to be deceived." The first alternative in- 
volves, as Chilling worth said in his Religion of 
Protestants, a "deifying" by some Pope or other 
of "his own interpretations and tyrannous in 
forcing them upon others"; and a Pope is "the 
common incendiary of Christendom," who 
"tears in pieces, not the coat, but the bowels 
and members of Christ: ridente Turca, nee dolente 

The Deists 43 

From the above extracts we can judge of 
Tindal's position. He did not directly attack 
orthodoxy; indeed, had he done so he could 
hardly have retained his fellowship at All Souls' 
College. But the direct implication of his work 
throughout was this, that Christianity is not 
only superfluous, but too obscure to be set on a 
level with natural religion. His book is still 
worth reading, and very superior to the feeble 
counterblasts penned by several contemporary 
divines, one of whom was my own direct 
ancestor, John Conybeare, Bishop of Bristol. 
Space forbids me to dwell as long as I would like 
to on the work. I will only draw attention to 
his acute discussion in his sixth chapter of 
the intellectual preconditions of any revelation 
whatever. Men, he there argues, must have 
been gifted not only with an idea of a perfect 
and Supreme Being, but with a certainty of his 
existence, and an idea of his perfections, before 
they can even approach the question, Whether 
he has made any external Revelation. All dis- 
cussion of such a question is bound to be idle 
" except we could know whether this Being 
is bound by his external word; and had not, 
either at the time of giving it, a secret will incon- 
sistent with his revealed will; or has not since 
changed his will." The modern High Church- 
man imagines that he has strengthened the 
position of orthodoxy by a doctrine of pro- 

44 New Testament Criticism 

gressive revelation. In other words, Jehovah, 
when he delivered the Law to Moses, com- 
municated neither his true will nor the whole 
truth to mankind; he only did so when he sent 
Jesus into Judaea and founded the Christian 
Church and its sacraments. We may well ask 
with Tindal how we can be sure that the Church 
and its sacraments exhaust the truth. May 
there not still remain a Secret Will in reserve 
waiting to be revealed, as little consistent with 
current orthodoxy and its dogmas and rites as 
these are with the old Jewish religion of animal 
sacrifices? Of Tindal' s work only the first 
volume was published in 1730, when he was 
already an old man. He died in 1733, leaving a 
second ready for the press. It never saw the 
light, for Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London, with 
whom Tindal had more than once crossed 
swords, got hold of the manuscript after the 
author's death, and, rightly judging that it was 
easier to suppress than answer such a work, had 
it destroyed. The late Bishop Stubbs, with 
unconscious humour, confesses in one of his 
letters to a similar action. He met John 
Richard Green for the first time in a railway 
train, and, noticing that he was reading Kenan's 
Life of Jesus, engaged him in a discussion of 
other topics. Before the conversation ended 
the Bishop had transferred the obnoxious volume 
to his own hand-bag whence, when he reached 

The Deists 45 

his home, he transferred it into his waste-paper 
basket. So history repeats itself at long inter- 
vals. Amid the revolutions of theology little 
remains the same except the episcopal temper. 

I have dwelt first on Matthew Tindal be- 
cause his work illustrates so well the general 
tone of Deists. I must now turn to two of his 
contemporaries who are memorable for their 
criticisms of the New Testament. 

The author of the first Gospel incessantly 
appends to his narratives of Jesus the tag: Now 
all this is come to pass that it might be fulfilled 
which was spoken by the prophet. So in Luke 
xxiv., 25, it is related how the risen Jesus, on the 
road to Emmaus, by way of convincing two of 
his disciples of the reality of his resurrection, 
said unto them, O foolish men and slow of heart 
to believe in accordance with all the prophets 
have spoken! . . . And beginning from Moses 
and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them 
throughout the Scriptures the things concerning 

And similarly in the fourth Gospel (xix., 28), 
Jesus, that the Scripture might be accomplished, 
said: I thirst, . . .And when he had received 
the vinegar, he said, This Scripture also is ful- 
filled; and he bowed his head, and gave up his 

1 Here the English version, following all the MSS., 
renders: "He said, It is finished" (or fulfilled). But the 

46 New Testament Criticism 

I cite these passages to illustrate the character 
of that form of embellishment of the narratives 
of Jesus to which the name of prophetic gnosis 
has been given, and which was the chief 
perhaps the only weapon of his followers 
against the Jews who scornfully denied him to 
be the Messiah. After doing service against the 
Jews, the same argument was used to compel 
the Gentiles also to accept the new religion ; and 
Christian literature, until the other day, largely 
consisted of the argument from prophecy, as it 
was termed. With rabbinical ingenuity, thou- 
sands of passages were torn from the living con- 
text which gave them sense and meaning, and 
distorted, twisted, mutilated, misinterpreted, in 
order to fit them in as predictions of Jesus the 
Messiah. No one thought much of what they 
signified in their surroundings, or, indeed, of 
whether they had there any rational significa- 
tion at all. 

Now early in the seventeenth century a few 
of the more intelligent students of the Bible 
began to express doubts about the matter. 
Various passages taken immemorially for pro- 
phecies of Christ seemed on closer inspection to 

words survive as I have given them in Eusebius's citations 
of the passage and in the old Georgian version, which pro- 
bably reflects the second-century Syriac version. Their 
extreme frigidity would explain their omission from all the 
Greek MSS. 

The Deists 47 

yield a better and more coherent sense if inter- 
preted by reference to the particular portions of 
the Old Testament to which they belonged. 
Such of them as were really anticipations of a 
future were seen to have received their fulfil- 
ment in the close sequel of the Old Testament 
history; others were not anticipations at all, but 
statements of past events made by ancient 
writers. It was pointed out by scholars, who 
now began to familiarise themselves with that 
tongue, that in Hebrew the grammatical forms 
expressive of past and future action are almost 
identical, and easily mistaken for one another. 
Worse still, many passages of the Septuagint or 
old Greek translation of the Old Testament were 
found on examination of the Hebrew text to be 
mistranslations. The Hebrew original, rightly 
interpreted, had quite another meaning than 
that which the evangelists, in their ignorance of 
Hebrew, had blindly accepted. 

William Whiston, whose harmonistic canons 
we have already discussed (p. 21 ff.), was im- 
pressed by these doubts, and set himself to re- 
solve them. He could not, in a modern and 
critical manner, admit that the passages of the 
Old Testament adduced by the first and other 
evangelists as prophecies were not such, but 
adopted the topsy-turvy hypothesis that where 
the old Hebrew text did not warrant the Christ- 
ian abuse of it, it had been changed and cor- 

K JK0 H M M O * I N TO I < 
*v 1! O 1C 1 1 I? | I 
K ** * i SI e JkM t V 

6 *, A. e r i 

e K o KIU ? r c a cl N *z M T * ^ 
ire To M *i^*2 A f H M ani^ 
ecnr .Ky ra > M e'r I o r ; * *i^f 

H oy K'S c rr j. r J 5y A^ ^ ^i 

o*ro n o c 6 1 j J 4 Y can i&t " 

A^nro^^A-A' f n Kr^'tf 

1 ei n AT^ nr o i c M 

r6i y 

Isl r * Al A^Cl A,f4 

oe K -j 

- K Aifi^SA^^ 
c A i cf <>*>; r o KI A! n onroy 
M ^*n * 
"f " 

i oy Ae N 
^ i n o M 4 <i>o a oy H 

A jf * ^ V- ' 

MARK XVI., 5-8 

4 8 

The Deists 49 

rupted by Jewish enemies of Christ. In the 
age of the Apostles, he argued, or rather as- 
sumed, the Hebrew text had agreed with the 
Greek, so that they could argue from the latter 
taken in its literal sense. He admitted that the 
texts in their modern form are irreconcilable; 
and, having learned Hebrew, he boldly set 
himself to re- write the original, so as to make it 
tally with Christian requirements. But here a 
scholar as learned as himself, but less encum- 
bered with the pedantry of orthodoxy, crossed 
his path. This was Anthony Collins (1676- 
1729), a scholar of Eton and of King's College, 
Cambridge. Already, in 1707, he had published 
a work in which he pleaded for "the use of 
Reason in propositions the evidence whereof 
depends on human testimony." In 1713 he 
issued A Discourse on Freethinking, in which 
he showed that in every age men have been 
virtuous in proportion as they were enlightened 
and free to think for themselves. Without such 
freedom of thought Christianity, he said, could 
never have won its early victories. In these 
two works he hardly went beyond what his 
master and intimate friend John Locke might 
have written ; and the latter, in a letter addressed 
to him ten years earlier, had written thus: 

Believe it, my good friend, to love truth 
for truth's sake is the principal part of 


So New Testament Criticism 

human perfection in this world, and the 
source of all other virtues: and if I mistake 
not, you have as much of it as ever I met 
with in anybody. 

The above-mentioned works, and also an 
earlier work in 1709 entitled Priestcraft in Per- 
fection, raised up against Collins a plentiful 
crop of enemies; he had already been obliged, 
in 1711, to retire for a time to Holland to escape 
the storm. There he gained the friendship of 
Le Clerc (1657-1736), who as early as 1685 had 
openly attacked the belief in the inspiration of 
the Bible, as it was then and long afterwards 
formulated. But it was in 1724 that Collins 
published the work which most deeply offended. 
This was his Discourse on the Grounds and 
Reasons of the Christian Religion, and was called 
forth by the work of Whiston. The following 
passage sums up the results at which he arrives : 

In fine, the prophecies cited from the 
Old Testament by the authors of the New 
do so plainly relate, in their obvious and 
primary sense, to other matters than those 
which they are produced to prove, that to 
pretend they prove, in that sense, what they 
are produced to prove is (as Simon, Bibl. 
Crit., vol. iv., p. 513, and Histoire Crit. du 
Nouv. Test., chaps. 21 and 22, declares) to 
give up the cause of Christianity to Jews and 
other enemies thereof; who can so easily 
show, in so many undoubted instances, the 

The Deists 51 

Old Testament and New Testament to have 
no manner of connection in that respect, 
but to be in an irreconcilable state (as Whiston 
said in his Essay, etc., p. 282). 

The remedy proposed by Collins is that of 
allegorising the so-called prophecies, and of 
taking them in a secondary sense different 
from their obvious and literal one. In no other 
way, he urged, can they be adapted to the 
belief in the spiritual Messiah who is yet to 
appear; for the prophecies must have been 
fulfilled, or the Christian faith which they 
evidenced is false. Since they were demon- 
strably never fulfilled in their literal sense, Col- 
lins argues that the pointing of the Hebrew text 
must be altered, the order of words and letters 
transposed, words cut in half, taken away or 
added any procrustean methods, in short, 
employed, in order to force the text into some 
sort of conformity with the events. 

The good faith of Collins in propounding 
such a remedy was questioned by the many 
divines who undertook to answer him, and also 
by modern historians of the Deistic movement, 
like Leslie Stephen. He was accused of covertly 
ridiculing and destroying the Christian religion, 
while professing to justify and uphold it. This 
is a point to which I shall presently advert. 
For the moment let us select an example which 
illustrates the great sagacity and acumen he 

52 New Testament Criticism 

displayed in his attack on the argument from 
prophecy. It shall be his discussion of the text 
Isaiah vii., 14, invoked in Matt, i., 23: Behold, 
jit "i the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth 
a son, etc. 

These words [wrote Collins], as they stand 
in Isaiah, from whom they are supposed 
to be taken, do, in their obvious and literal 
sense, relate to a young woman in the days of 
Ahaz, King of Judah. 

He then shows from the context of Isaiah, 
chap, viii., how Ahaz 

took two witnesses, and in their presence went 
unto the said virgin, or young woman, called 
the Prophetess (verse 3), who in due time 
conceived and bare a son, who was named 
Immanuel; after whose birth, the projects 
of Rezin and Pekah (Is. viii., 8-10) were 
soon confounded, according to the Prophecy 
and Sign given by the prophet. 

The sign (Isaiah vii., 14) was 

given by the prophet to convince Ahaz that 
he (the prophet) brought a message from 
the Lord to him to assure him that the two 
kings should not succeed against him. 
How could a virgin's conception and bearing 
a son seven hundred years afterwards be a 
sign to Ahaz that the prophet came to him 
with the said message from the Lord? 

The Deists 53 

And how useless was it to Ahaz, as well as 
absurd in itself, for the prophet to say: 
Before the child, born seven hundred years 
hence, shall distinguish between good and 
evil, the land shall be forsaken of both her 
kings? which should seem a banter, instead 
of a sign. But a prophecy of the certain 
birth of a male child to be born within a 
year or two seems a proper sign. . . . 

Similarly he points out that the words of 
Hosea cited in Matt, ii., 15, were no prediction, 
but a statement of a past fact viz., that 
Jehovah had brought Israel his son out of 

Collins also undertook to show that the Book 
of Daniel, on which his antagonist Whiston 
relied, was a forgery of the age of Antiochus 
Epiphanes. This brilliant conjecture, which 
modern inquiry has substantiated, of itself 
suffices to place him in the foremost rank of 
critics. Bentley, the King's librarian, indulged 
in gibes, as cheap as they were coarse, at Col- 
lins's mistakes in the domain of scholarship; 
but here was a discovery which, had Bentley 
known it, far outshone in importance, while it 
rivalled in critical insight, his own exposure in 
1699 of the Epistles of Phalaris, the genuineness 
of which was at the time an article of faith in 
Oxford colleges. 

The other writer of this age who must be set 
alongside of Collins as a critic of the New Testa- 

54 New Testament Criticism 

ment was Thomas Woolston (1699-1731). The 
general position of this writer was that the 
miracles related of Jesus are so unworthy of a 
spiritual Messiah that they must one and all, 
including the resurrection, be set down as never 
having happened at all, and be explained alle- 
gorically as types or figures of the real, which 
is the spiritual, alone. I reproduce in his own 
words, from his Discourse on the Miracles, sixth 
edition, London, 1729, p. 7, his programme: 

I will show that the miracles of healing 
all manner of bodily diseases, which Jesus 
was justly famed for, are none of the proper 
miracles of the Messiah, nor are they so 
much as a good proof of Jesus' divine 
authority to found and introduce a religion 
into the world. 

And to do this let us consider, first, in 
general, what was the opinion of the Fathers 
about the Evangelists, in which- the life of 
Christ is recorded. Eucherius says that 
the scriptures of the New as well as Old 
Testament are to be interpreted in an alle- 
gorical sense. And this his opinion is no 
other than the common one of the first ages 
of the Church . . . consequently the literal 
story of Christ's miracles proves nothing. 
But let 's hear particularly their opinion of 
the actions and miracles of our Saviour. 
Origen says that whatsoever Jesus did in the 
flesh was but typical and symbolical of what he 
would do in the spirit; and to our purpose, 
that the several bodily diseases which he healed 

The Deists 55 

were no other than figures of the spiritual 
infirmities of the soul, that are to be cured by 

The following are some of the results at which 
he arrives by applying the above canon : 

Jesus' feedings of five and four thousand in 
the wilderness "are most romantick tales/' 

The miracle of Mark ii., 1-12 = Luke v., 17-26 
is "such a rodomontado that, were men to 
stretch for a wager, against reason and truth, 
none could outdo it." 

He also banters the spittle miracle (in John 

of the blind man, for whom eye-salve was 
made of clay and spittle; which eye-salve, 
whether it was Balsamick or not, does equally 
affect the credit of the miracle. If it was 
naturally medicinal, there 's an end of the 
miracle; and if it was not medicinal, it was 
foolishly and* impertinently apply'd, and 
can be no otherwise accounted for than by 
considering it, with the Fathers, as a 
figurative act in Jesus (p. 55). 

Of another famous tale he writes : 

Jesus' cursing the fig-tree, for its not 
bearing fruit out of season, upon the bare 
mention of it, appears to be a foolish, absurd, 
and ridiculous act, if not figurative. ... It 
is so like the malignant practices of witches, 

56 New Testament Criticism 

who, as stories go, upon envy, grudge, or 
distaste, smite their neighbours' cattle with 
languishing distempers, till they die. 

And thus of the Magi : 

Of the Wise Men out of the East, with 
their (literally) senseless and ridiculous 
presents of frankincense and myrrh, to a 
new-born babe. If with their gold, which 
could be but little, they had brought their 
dozens of sugar, soap, and candles, which 
would have been of use to the child and his 
poor mother in the straw, they had acted 
like wise as well as good men (p. 56). 

From the Fourth Discourse on the Miracles, 
London, 1729, p. 36, on the miracle of Cana : 

Jesus, after their more than sufficient 
drinking for their satisfaction of nature, had 
never turned water into wine, nor would his 
mother have requested him to do it, if, I say, 
they had not a mind, and took pleasure in 
it too, to see the company quite stitch* d 
up. . . . 

The Fathers of your Church, being sen- 
sible of the absurdity, abruptness, imperti- 
nence, pertness, and senselessness of the 
passage before us according to the letter, had 
recourse to a mystical and allegorical inter- 
pretation, as the only way to make it con- 
sistent with the wisdom, sobriety, and duty 
of the Holy Jesus (p. 35). 

The Deists 57 

In his sixth discourse on the miracles Woolston 
assails the narratives of the Resurrection. He 
evidently felt that he was running some risk of 
prosecution and imprisonment by his freedom 
of speech, so he puts the chief of his argument 
into the mouth of an imaginary Jewish rabbi. 
The latter begins by lamenting the loss of the 
writings which, according to Justin Martyr 
(c. 130-140), his own ancestors unquestionably 
dispersed against Jesus. These, if we had 
them, would, he avers, yield us a clear insight 
into the cheat and imposture of the Christian 

He then proceeds to argue that the priests 
who sealed the sepulchre waited for Jesus to rise 
again after three days i.e. y on Monday but 
that the disciples stole a march on them by 
removing the body a day earlier, and then pre- 
tended the sense of the prophecy to be that he 
should rise on the third day. The disciples 

afraid to trust Jesus' body, its full time, in 
the grave, because of the greater difficulty 
to carry it off afterwards, and pretend a 
resurrection upon it. ... 

Jesus' body was gone betimes in the 
morning, before our chief priests could be out 
of their beds; and a bare-faced infringement 
of the seals of the sepulchre, was made against 
the laws of honour and honesty. . . . 

In short, by the sealing of the stone of 

58 New Testament Criticism 

the sepulchre we are to understand nothing 
less than a covenant entered into between 
our chief priests and the Apostles, by which 
Jesus* veracity, power, and Messiahship 
was to be try'd. . . .The condition of the 
sealed covenant was that if Jesus arose from 
the dead in the presence of our chief priests, 
upon their opening the seals of the sepulchre, 
at the time appointed; then he was to be 
acknowledged to be the Messiah. But if he 
continued in a corrupt and putrified state, 
then was he to be granted to be an impostor. 
Very wisely and rightly agreed! And if the 
Apostles had stood to this covenant, Christ- 
ianity had been nipped in its bud and sup- 
pressed at its birth. 

He anticipates the objection that the theft 
could not have escaped the notice of the soldiers 
set to guard the tomb. These were either 
bribed or, as "our ancestors said, what your 
evangelist has recorded," asleep. 

The rabbi next raises the objection that Jesus 
appeared to none except the faithful: 

Celsus of old, in the name of the Jews, 
made the objection, and Olivio, a later rabbi, 
has repeated it. But in all my reading and 
conversation with men or books I never met 
with a tolerable answer to it. 

. . . This objection Origen owns to be a 
considerable one in his second book against 

Whoever blends together the various his- 

The Deists 59 

tory of the four Evangelists as to Jesus' 
appearances after his resurrection will find 
himself not only perplex 'd how to make an 
intelligible, consistent, and sensible story of 
it, but must, with Celsus, needs think it, if 
he closely think on 't, like some of the con- 
fused and incredible womanish fables of the 
apparitions of the ghosts of deceased persons, 
which the Christian world in particular has 
in former ages abounded with. The ghosts 
of the dead in this present age, and especially 
in this Protestant country, have ceased to 
appear; and we nowadays hardly ever hear 
of such an apparition. And what is the 
reason of it? Why, the belief of these 
stories being banish'd out of men's minds, 
the crafty and vaporous forbear to trump 
them upon us. There has been so much 
clear proof of the fraud in many of these 
stories that the wise and considerate part of 
mankind has rejected them all, excepting 
this of Jesus, which, to admiration, has stood 
its ground. . . . 

I can't read the story without smiling, 
and there are two or three passages in it that 
put me in mind of Robinson Crusoe's filling 
his pockets with biskets, when he had neither 
coat, waistcoat, nor breeches on. 

I don't expect my argument against it 
[the Resurrection] will be convincing of any 
of your preachers. They have a potent 
reason for their faith, which we Jews can't 
come at; or I don't know but we might 
believe with them. 

That the Fathers, without questioning 
their belief of Jesus' corporal Resurrection, 

6o New Testament Criticism 

universally interpreted the story and every 
part of it mystically, is most certain. 

He cites Hilary in behalf of this conten- 
tion; also Augustine, Sermo clxviii., Appendix; 
Origen in Johan. Evang., C. xx., Tract 120; 
John of Jerusalem, In Matt., c. xx.; Jerome, In 
Mattk&um; and then sums up his case in the 
following words: 

What I have said in a few citations is 
enough to show that they looked- upon the 
whole story as emblematical of his Spiritual 
Resurrection out of the grave of the letter of 
the Scriptures, in which he has been buried 
about three days and three nights, according 
to that mystical interpretation of prophetical 
Numbers which I have learned of them . . " 
by the three Days, St. Augustine says, are 
to be understood three ages of the world. 

I am resolved to give the Letter of the 
Scripture no rest, so long as God gives me 
life and abilities to attack it. Origen (in 
Psalm xxx vi.) says that, when we dispute 
against Ministers of the Letter, we must select 
some historical parts of Scripture, which they 
understand literally, and show that, according 
to the Letter, they cant stand their ground, but 
imply absurdities and nonsense. And how 
then is such a work to be performed to best 
advantage? Is it to be done in a grave, 
sedate, and serious manner? No, I think 
ridicule should here take place of sober 
reasoning, as the more proper and effectual 

The Deists 61 

means to cure men of their foolish faith and 
absurd notions. 

I have cited Woolston's argument against the 
Resurrection so fully in order to give my readers 
an adequate idea of his method. It is old- 
fashioned, no doubt, as compared with the much 
subtler criticism of the Abbd Loisy, who chal- 
lenges the story of the empty tomb altogether, 
and argues that, Jesus having been really cast 
after death into the common foss or Hakeldama 
into which other malefactors' bodies were thrown, 
the story of the women's visit to the empty 
tomb was invented to buttress the growing 
belief in a bodily resurrection, such as became a 
messiah who was to return and inaugurate an 
earthly millennium. As against the traditional 
acceptance of the narratives, however, Wool- 
ston's arguments are effective enough. His 
method of ridicule was, of course, adopted by 
Voltaire, who was living in England when he and 
Collins were writing. Voltaire, indeed, would 
have been the first to laugh at the method of 
allegory by which the two English Deists sought 
to quicken into spiritual meanings the letter 
which killeth by its absurdities. Needless to 
relate, this saving use of allegory did not avail to 
protect Woolston from public insults, prosecu- 
tions, and imprisonment. He was twice 
attacked by zealots in front of his house, and 

62 New Testament Criticism 

was in the King's Bench tried before a jury who 
found him guilty of blasphemy. He was fined 
a hundred pounds, and, being unable to pay, 
he went to prison for the last four years of his 
life. The mere titles of the books written to 
answer him sufficiently indicate the odium 
they excited. Here are two of these titles: 

Tom of Bedlam's short letter to his 
cozen Tom Woolston, occasioned by his late 
discourses on the miracles of our Saviour. 
London, 1728. 

For God or the Devil, or just chastise- 
ment no persecution, being the Christian's 
cry to the legislature for exemplary punish- 
ment of publick and pernicious blasphemers, 
particularly that wretch Woolston, who has 
impudently and scurrilously turned the 
miracles of our Saviour into ridicule. Lon- 
don, 1728. 

The question remains whether Collins and 
Woolston were sincere in their advocacy of an 
allegorical interpretation of the Bible. I feel 
sure that Collins was, but not that Woolston 
was so, at any rate in his latest works. The 
worst of them were dedicated in insulting terms 
to English bishops of note, whom he invariably 
characterised as hireling priests and apostates. 
For Whiston, who as a professed Arian was 
hardly less offensive to the clergy than himself, 
Woolston ever retained his respect, though, like 

The Deists 63 

Collins, he forfeited his friendship. On the 
whole, there is much to be said for Leslie Stephen's 
verdict that the study of Origen or some similar 
cause had disordered his intellect. In other 
words, he was a religious crank. 

However this be, there is one aspect of these 
two Deists which escaped their contemporaries 
and all who have since written about them. It 
is this, that in dismissing the historical reality 
of Christ's miracles in favour of an exclusively 
symbolic interpretation they exactly took up 
the attitude of the medieval Cathars, called 
sometimes Albigensians, sometimes Patarenes. 
Thus in an old imaginary dialogue of the 
twelfth or thirteenth century, written by a 
Catholic against these heretics, the Catholic asks: 
"Why, like Christ and the Apostles, do you not 
work visible signs? M And the Patarene answers: 

Even yet a veil is drawn in your hearts, 
if you believe that Christ and his apostles 
worked visible signs. The letter killeth, 
but the spirit quickeneth. Ye must there- 
fore understand things in a spiritual sense, 
and not imagine that Christ caused the soul 
of Lazarus to return to his corpse; but only 
that, in converting him to his faith, he 
resuscitated one that was dead as a sinner is 
dead, and had lain four days, and so stunk 
in his desperate state. 

These curious heretics, the descendants of 

64 New Testament Criticism 

Marcion and Mani, held that, as matter was an 
evil creation, Christ, a spiritual and divine being, 
could not have wrought material miracles; he 
could not pollute himself by contact with matter. 
He only appeared to the eye to work material 
signs, just as he appeared to the eye to have a 
human body, though, in fact, he shared not our 
flesh and blood. His birth, therefore, no less 
than his death and resurrection, were only fan- 
tastic appearances, and not real events. 

It is strange to find Woolston reproducing 
these earlier forms of opinion. Did he blunder 
into them by himself, or did he, through some 
obscure channel, inherit them? If we consider 
that these medieval heretics were in the direct 
pedigree of some of the Quaker and Anabaptist 
sects which in the seventeenth century swarmed 
in England, Holland, and Germany, it is not 
impossible that he picked up the idea from some 
of his contemporaries. 


A LEADING writer of the Latin Church, the 
Rev. Joseph Rickaby, in an essay on 
"One Lord Jesus Christ/' in a volume entitled 
Jesus or Christ, London, 1909, p. 139, has 
written as follows: 

At the outset of the argument it is 
necessary to define my controversial position 
in reference to the books of the New Testa- 
ment. Never have documents been attacked 
A with greater subtlety and vehemence: at 
the end of forty years' fighting they have 
emerged in the main victorious; their essen- 
tial value has been proved as it never had 
been proved before. 

That Dr. Rickaby is easily pleased will be seen 
if we consider the results of those forty years of 
criticism as they are accepted by a daily increas- 
ing number of clergymen in the Roman, Angli- 
can, and Lutheran Churches, and also by many 
Nonconformists. In the first place, the gospel 
called " according to Matthew" is no longer 
s 65 

66 New Testament Criticism 

allowed to be from the pen of that Apostle. Here 
again we may select Dean Alford as a fair re- 
presentative of educated opinion fifty years ago. 
He could then write of the passage Matt., viii., 2 
ff., in which the cleansing of a leper by Jesus 
is related, as follows: 

This same miracle is related by St. Luke 
(ch. v., 12-14) without any mark of definite- 
ness, either as to time or place. . . . The plain 
assertion of the account in the text requires 
that the leper should have met our Lord on 
his descent from the mountain, while great 
multitudes were following him. ... I conceive 
it highly probable that St. Matthew was 
himself a hearer of the sermon (on the mount) 
and one of those who followed our Lord at 
this time. 

And again, in reference to the passage ix., 9, 
where the publican called by Jesus to be an 
apostle is called Matthew, in contradiction of 
the other two gospels, which give his name as 
Levi, Alford could write that ''it is probable 
enough that Matthew, in his own gospel, would 
mention only his apostolic name,'* and that "in 
this case, when he of all men must have been 
best informed, his own account is the least pre- 
cise of the three." And in his Prolegomena, in 
ch. ii., he begins the section upon the authorship 
of this gospel with the words : 

The author of this gospel has been uni- 

The Evangelists 67 

versally believed to be the Apostle Matthew. 
With this belief the contents of the gospel 
are not inconsistent, and we find it current 
in the very earliest ages. 

Alford also believed that the three Synoptic 
Gospels substantially embody the testimony the 
Apostles gave of Christ's ministry, from his 
baptism by John until his ascension; that this 
testimony was chiefly collected from the oral 
teaching current among the catechists of the 
Church, but in part from written documents 
as well which reflected the teaching. He was 
furthermore convinced that no one "of the 
three evangelists had access to either of the two 
gospels in its present form." He was loth to 
believe that Matthew, an Apostle, was a debtor 
to either of the others, not only for the order in 
which he arranges the events of the ministry of 
Jesus, but also for great blocks of his texts. Yet 
that Matthew was so indebted to Mark is an 
axiom with modern orthodox critics. The 
first gospel is universally allowed to-day to be 
a compilation by an unknown writer of two 
ulterior documents namely, Mark and the 
non-Marcan document already mentioned. 1 

In another work, Myth, Magic, and Morals, I 
have advised my readers to take a red pencil and 
underline in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke 
all the phrases, sentences, and entire narratives 

1 See page 25. 

68 New Testament Criticism 

which agree verbally with Mark, so that they 
may realise for themselves how little of Mark is 
left that is not either in Matthew or in Luke. 
Or, conversely, they may underline in Mark all 
words or parts of words that are found in the 
other two gospels. In the latter case they will 
find that they have underlined almost the whole 
of Mark. The only explanation is that both 
the others used Mark; and accordingly Dr. 
Armitage Robinson, a fairly conservative critic, 
writes in his work on The Study of the Gospels 
as follows: 

I think that the impression gained by 
any one who will take the trouble to do what 
I have suggested (viz., underline common 
words, etc.) will certainly be that St. Mark's 
Gospel lay before the other two evangelists, 
and that they used it very freely, and 
between them embodied almost the whole 
of it. 

Accordingly Dr. Robinson boldly asserts (p. 
101) the first gospel to be the work of an un- 
known writer, and warns his readers to prefer 
either Luke or Mark or the reconstructed non- 
Marcan document to Matthew: 

From the historical point of view he 
cannot feel a like certainty in dealing with 
statements which are only attested by the 
unknown writer of the first gospel. 

Here, then, we see a gospel that had all the 

The Evangelists 69 

prestige of apostolic authorship, and the only 
one of the synoptics that had that prestige, 
debased to the level of an anonymous compila- 
tion, of less value for the historian than either of 
the other two. The one synoptic evangelist on 
whom Alford thought he could depend, just 
because he had seen things with his own eyes, 
turns out to be no apostle at all, but an anony- 
mous copyist. Will Father Rickaby, in the 
face of such facts, continue to assert, of the first 
gospel at all events, that "its essential value has 
been proved as it never had been proved 

And in this connection it is instructive to 
note how the same hypothesis viz., of Mat- 
thew's (and Luke's) dependence on Mark, and 
of Mark's priority is regarded by two Anglican 
deans, respectively before and after its accept- 
ance. A certain Mr. Smith, of Jordanhill, in a 
Dissertation on the Origin and Connection of the 
Gospels (Edinburgh, 1853), to which I shall 
return later, argued that oral tradition was not 
adequate to explain the identities of word and 
narrative which pervade the Synoptic Gospels; 
and he brought to a test the arguments on which 
the hypothesis of an oral tradition and narra- 
tive underlying them was based. That argu- 
ment may fitly be given in the very words of 
Dean Alford, who believed in it. They are these 
(Prolegomena, ch. i., 3, 6): 

70 New Testament Criticism 

While they [the Apostles] were princi- 
pally together, and instructing the converts 
at Jerusalem, such narrative would naturally 
be for the most part the same, and expressed 
in the same, or nearly the same, words : coin- 
cident, however, not from design or rule, but 
because the things themselves were the same; 
and the teaching naturally fell for the most 
part into one form. 

Mr. Smith brought this argument to the test 
of experience by an examination of how far and 
why modern historians like Suchet, Alison, and 
Napier, narrating the same events, can approxi- 
mate to one another. He proved that they only 
agree verbally, as the Synoptic Gospels agree, 
where they copied either one the other or all 
common documents, and that where they did 
not so copy they did not agree. 

"Reasons could be assigned," answers Dean 
Alford, "for the adoption or rejection by the 
posterior writer of the words and clauses of the 
prior one." "Let the student," he continues, 
"attempt such a rationale of any narrative com- 
mon to the three gospels, on any hypothesis of 
priority, and he will at once perceive its impracti- 
cability. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke are to 
be judged by the analogy of Suchet, Alison, 
and Napier, the inference must be that, whereas 
the historians were intelligent men, acting by 
the rules of mental association and selection, the 
evangelists were mere victims of caprice, and 

The Evangelists 71 

such caprice as is hardly consistent with the 
possession of a sound mind." 

This argument is unaffected by the circum- 
stance that Matthew and Luke both copied 
Mark, instead of all three having (as was sup- 
posed by Mr. Smith) copied common, but now 
vanished, ulterior documents. What I desire to 
set on record is the condemnation Dean Alford 
is ready to mete out to Matthew and Luke in 
case they be proved to owe their mutual approxi- 
mations, not to a common oral tradition, but to 
common documents. According to the present 
Dean of Westminster, that case was the real one. 
Dean Alford then, who was no mean scholar and 
exegete, admitted by anticipation that the first 
and third evangelists displayed an almost insane 
caprice in the handling of th^ir sources. In 
adopting here and rejecting there the words and 
clauses of their sources they obeyed no rules of 
mental association or selection. In fine, Dean 
Alford, were he alive to-day, would have to con- 
demn Matthew and Luke for the arbitrariness 
of their methods of compilation, in which he 
would discern no rhyme or reason. What, then, 
becomes of Dr. Rickaby's boast that after forty 
years* fighting his documents have emerged in 
the main victorious? 

With Alford' s judgment, however, let t& 
contrast that of Dean Robinson, who, I believe, 
has always rejected that hypothesis of a com- 

72 New Testament Criticism 

mon oral source, in which, like Alford, his 
master, Dr. Westcott acquiesced. He tells us 
that he entertained for a time the hypothesis of 
the use by all three evangelists of a common 
document, but finally dismissed it as "cumber- 
some and unnecessary, and adopted the view 
that the first and third embodied St. Mark in 
their respective gospels." 1 As to this "embodi- 
ment of St. Mark by the two subsequent 
writers," he holds that "it is not a slavish 
copying, but an intelligent and discriminating 
appropriation. ' ' 

For myself, I am of opinion that the truth 
lies between Dean Alford and Dean Robinson. 
Matthew and Luke are indeed capricious in 
what they reject and what they adopt of Mark, 
but their caprice cannot be stigmatised as 
insane. It is only what we might expect of com- 
pilers who, living in uncritical and uncultivated 
circles, had no idea of using their sources in the 
careful and scrupulous manner in which a 
scientific historian of to-day would use them. 
Mark did not reach their hands as a canonical 
Scripture invested with authority; and in the 
view of one of them, Matthew, it was much 
more important that the events of Jesus' life 
should coincide with certain Messianic prophe- 
cies (as they were held to be) of the Old Testa- 
ment than with the narrative of Mark. For 

1 See The Study of the Gospels, p. 28. 


74 New Testament Criticism 

several years I have occupied my spare time in 
comparing and sifting the narratives of the 
lives and martyrdoms of the Saints of the 
Church collected by the Jesuits in their vast 
series of volumes called the Ada Sanctorum. 
In these we can often trace the fortunes of an 
originally simple, naive, and veracious narrative. 
Later hagiologists, intent on edification, pad 
out this narrative with commonplace miracles, 
stuff their own vulgar exhortations and admoni- 
tions in the mouths of the original actors, 
eliminate all local colour, and bowdlerise the 
text to suit a later stage of dogmatic develop- 
ment. Compared with such writers, it seems 
to me that Matthew and Luke treated the 
probably anonymous doctrines to which they 
owed their knowledge of Jesus with singular 
sobriety and self-restraint. We have only to 
compare either of them with the fourth Gospel 
to realise how much the art of portraying Jesus 
could decline in the course of little more than a 

Both Matthew and Luke had conceptions of 
the character and role of Jesus based partly on 
reflections of their own, partly on the growing 
prophetic gnosis of the age in obedience to 
which they remodelled Mark's narrative. Dean 
Robinson (in the work above mentioned) 
remarks that in Mark the emotions of anger, 
compassion, complacence, are each recorded of 

The Evangelists 75 

Jesus three times ; grief, agony, surprise, vehem- 
ence, each once. "Of actions," he continues, 
"we have 'looking around' five times, 'looking 
upon' twice, 'looking up' once, 'turning' thrice, 
' groaning' twice, 'embracing in the arms' 
twice, 'falling down' once. Now, in the parallel 
passages of Matthew and Luke, we find," he 
says, "that all the more painful emotions dis- 
appear, with one exception (agony). Anger, 
grief, groaning, vehemence, are gone; compas- 
sion remains twice in St. Matthew, complacence 
(if it may be so termed) once in both." 

Nor is it only in respect of Jesus that these 
"picturesque details" disappear. The figures 
of the disciples are purged in the same manner 
of human emotions. "Perplexity (five times), 
amazement (four), fear (four), anger (once), 
hardness of heart (once), drowsiness (once) are 
all recorded with more or less frequency in 
St. Mark. But in the other evangelists we find 
the same tendency to eliminate as before." It 
is very improbable that these later evangelists 
had an earlier copy of Mark from which these 
human traits in the portraiture of Jesus and his 
apostles were absent, waiting for the hand of 
a humanising editor to fill them in. Dean 
Robinson's explanation is much more likely, 
that this suppression of emotional attributes in 
the personce dramatis was "the result of a kind 
of reverence which belonged to a slightly later 

76 New Testament Criticism 

stage of reflection, when certain traits might even 
seem to be derogatory to the dignity of the 
sacred character of Christ and his apostles." 

On the other hand, as Dean Robinson subtly 
remarks, the wonderment of the multitudes at 
the miracles of Jesus, already emphasised in 
Mark, is still further exaggerated in the later 
evangelists; and, as for the adversaries of 
Jesus, "we even seem to discover a general 
tendency both in St. Matthew and in St. Luke 
to expand and emphasise the notices of their 

This is the best sort of literary criticism, and 
it really marks an epoch in the history of the 
Christian religion in England when a Dean of 
Westminster can deliver it from his pulpit and 
publish it in a book. The only question is how 
far it tallies with his assertion that the two 
subsequent writers were intelligent and dis- 
criminating in their appropriation of Mark's 
narrative. Does it not rather show how swiftly 
the process was in progress of dehumanising 
Jesus, of converting him from a man of flesh 
and blood into a god, gifted with the ataraxia or 
exemption from human emotions proper to the 
Stoic ideal sage and king? This development 
culminates in the fourth Gospel. Pass from 
the defeated and tarnished, peevish and vin- 
dictive, prisoner of Elba to the majestic hero 
enthroned amid silence and awe in the spacious 

The Evangelists 77 

temple of the Invalides, and you feel that, 
mutatis mutandis, the cult of Napoleon between 
the years 1815 and 1850 presents a certain 
analogy with the deification of Jesus between 
the years A.D. 70 and 120. 

< Thus the early tradition that Matthew, as for 
sake of brevity I designate the first Gospel, was 
the work of an apostle and eye-witness has been 
definitely given up. It is possible that there 
may have been some truth in the tradition 
preserved by Papias about A.D. 120-140 that 
Matthew " composed the logia or oracles of the 
Lord in the Hebrew tongue i.e., in the Aramaic 
of Palestine, and that various people subse- 
quently rendered these logia into Greek as best 
they could. " Here we seem to get our only 
glimpse at the pre-Greek stage of the evangelical 
tradition, but we shall never know whether the 
word logia here used by Papias signified a 
collection of sayings or of narratives, or of both 
together. Many scholars to-day believe that 
Matthew's Hebrew logia were a selection of 
prophecies of Jesus Christ culled from the Old 
Testament. In any case our first Gospel is no 
translation of the document attested by Papias ; 
for, as Dean Robinson remarks, "our St. Mat- 
thew is demonstrably composed in the main out 
of two Greek books," so that we must " conclude 
either that Papias made a mistake in saying 
that St. Matthew wrote in Hebrew, or that if he 

78 New Testament Criticism 

wrote in Hebrew his work has perished without 
leaving a trace behind it." There is further- 
more a statement in Irenaeus (about 170-180) 
to the effect that Matthew published his Gospel 
among the Jews in his own tongue at the time 
that Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel 
in Rome and founding the Church. This state- 
ment seems to be independent of that of Papias, 
as most certainly is the story related by Euse- 
bius of Pantaenus, the catechist of Alexandria, 
and teacher of Clement and Origen. The story 
runs that about the year 180 Pantaenus visited 
India and found the natives using a Gospel of 
Matthew written in Hebrew, which Bartholo- 
mew the Apostle had conveyed to them. Origen 
and Eusebius equally believed that our Matthew 
was the work of the Apostle, originally composed 
in Hebrew. 

It surely denotes a great change, almost 
amounting to a revolution, when so ancient and 
well-attested a tradition as that which assigned 
the first Gospel to the Apostle Matthew is set 
aside by leaders of the English clergy; before 
long they must with equal candour abandon the 
yet more impossible tradition that the fourth 
Gospel was written by an Apostle and eye-witness 
John, the son of Zebedee, who in the Epistle to 
the Galatians is presented to us by Paul as a 
Judaiser and an ally of James, the brother of 
Jesus. The tradition that this Apostle wrote 

The Evangelists 79 

this Gospel is hardly so well authenticated as 
that which attested the apostolic origin of the 
first Gospel. It merely amounts to this, that as 
a child Irenaeus had heard Poly carp, who died 
about A.D. 155, speak of John the Apostle. But 
he does not assert that Polycarp attributed the 
Gospel to the apostle, nor is the occurrence in a 
surviving letter of Polycarp to the Philippians of 
a phrase from the first Epistle of John proof that 
Polycarp either knew of the Gospel, or, if he 
knew of it, that he ascribed it to John any more 
than he does the epistle. It is, moreover, 
practically certain that the John of whom 
Irenaeus in his boyhood heard Polycarp speak 
was not the apostle but the Presbyter John; for 
Irenaeus reports that Papias, like Polycarp, was 
a disciple of this John, whereas Papias, according 
to the testimony of Eusebius, who had his works 
in his library, learned not from John the Apostle 
but from John the Presbyter much of what he 
recorded in the five books of his lost Diegeseis, 
or narratives. Irenaeus, therefore, confused 
the two Johns. The external evidence of the 
existence of this Gospel is no doubt early and 
ample, but it is chiefly found among heretical 
and gnostic sects, like the Ophites, Perateans, 
Basilidians, and Valentinians ; and one of the 
latter, Heracleon, wrote a commentary on it. 
The attribution to the Apostle John was pro- 
bably made by some of these sects, just as the 

8o New Testament Criticism 

Basilidians affected to have among them a 
Gospel of Matthew, and as in other circles the 
so-called Gospel of Peter was attributed to St. 
Peter and read aloud in church as an authentic 
work of that Apostle. If the fourth Gospel 
took its origin from gnostic circles, we can quite 
well understand why there existed so early in the 
orthodox Church of Asia such strong prejudice 
against it. 

It is not long ago that Canon Liddon declared 
in his B amp ton Lectures (1866) that 

If the Book of Daniel has been recently 
described as the battlefield of the Old Testa- 
ment, it is not less true that St. John's Gos- 
pel is the battlefield of the New. It is well 
understood on all sides that no question of 
mere dilettante criticism is at stake when the 
authenticity of St. John's Gospel is chal- 
lenged. . . . For St. John's Gospel is the 
most conspicuous written attestation to the 
Godhead of Him whose claims upon man- 
kind can hardly be surveyed without passion, 
whether it be the passion of adoring love or 
the passion of vehement determined enmity. 

Nevertheless, among the best educated Angli- 
cans there is a tendency to give up the fourth 
Gospel. In the work on the study of the 
Gospels already commended 1 Dean Robinson 
devotes two luminous chapters to the problem 
of its age and authorship. Though he inclines 

1 See pp. 68 /. 

The Evangelists 81 

to accept it as a work written by the apostle in 
extreme old age, he is nevertheless not without 
sympathy for those who reject the orthodox 
tradition. " There are," he writes (p. 128), 
"many who are heartily devoted to that central 
truth [i.e., of the divinity of Christ], but yet 
cannot easily persuade themselves that the 
fourth Gospel offers them history quite in the 
sense that the other Gospels do, cannot think 
that Christ spoke exactly as He is here repre- 
sented as speaking, and consequently cannot 
feel assured that this is the record of an eye- 
witness, or, in other words, the writing of the 
apostle St. John." 

It is worth while to cite some of the phrases in 
which Dr. Robinson describes the impression 
made by the first chapter of this Gospel (without 
going any further) on the mind of one who has 
steeped himself in the study of the three Synop- 
tic Gospels: 

How remote do these theological state- 
ments (in the prologue of the fourth Gospel) 
appear from a Gospel narrative of the life 
of Christ, such as the three which we have 
been hitherto studying. . . . 

Our surprise is not lessened as we read on. 
Great abstract conceptions are presented 
in rapid succession: life, light, witness, flesh, 
glory, grace, truth. 

Of the references to John the Baptist in 
chap, i.: 

82 New Testament Criticism 

We are back on the earth indeed; but ths 
scene is unfamiliar and the voices are strange. 
We hear not a word of John's preaching of 
repentance, or even of his baptism. This is 
no comment on the facts we know: it is a 
new story altogether. . . . 

If a wholly new story of the beginnings 
of discipleship is offered us, this is not more 
startling than the wholly new story of John's 
disclaimer of Messiahship. . . . 

Here, then, is a fair sample of the diffi- 
culty which this Gospel from beginning to 
end presents to those who come to it fresh 
from the study of the Synoptic narratives. 
The whole atmosphere seems different. . . . 

Not only do the old characters appear 
in new situations the scene, for example, 
being laid mostly in Jerusalem instead of 
Galilee but the utterances of all the 
speakers seem to bear another impress. . . . 

At times it is not possible to say whether 
the Lord Himself is speaking, or whether the 
evangelist is commenting on what He has 
said. The style and diction of speaker and 
narrator are indistinguishable, and they are 
notably different from the manner in which 
Christ speaks in the Synoptic Gospels. . . . 

I do not, myself, see how a controversy of 
this kind can be closed. The contrast of 
which we have spoken cannot be removed; 
it is heightened rather than diminished as 
we follow it into details. . . . 

Dean Robinson accepts, then, the tradition of 
apostolic authorship, but hardly on terms which 

The Evangelists 83 

leave to the Gospel more value as a record of the 
historical Jesus than the dialogues of Plato pos- 
sess as a record of the historic Socrates. "It is," 
he avers, "not history in the lower sense of 
a contemporary narrative of events as they 
appeared to the youthful onlooker: not an 
exact reproduction of the very words spoken 
by Christ or to Christ." 

And below he pictures the author of this 
Gospel as : 

"An old man, disciplined by long labour 
and suffering, surrounded by devoted 
scholars, recording before he passes from 
them his final conception of the life of the 
Christ, as he looked back upon it in the 
light of fifty years of Christian experience. 
To expect that after such an interval his 
memory would reproduce the past with the 
exactness of despatches written at the time 
would be to postulate a miraculous inter- 
ference with the ordinary laws which govern 
human memories. 

The Christ is no longer "known after the 
flesh": the old limitations once transcended 
cannot be reimposed. A glorious vision 
results. A drama is enacted in which every 
incident tells, or it would not be there. The 
record moves not on the lines of the ordinary 
succession of events so much as on a pathway 
of ideas. 

And once more he says of the author: 

He can no longer sever between the fact 

84 New Testament Criticism 

and the truth revealed by the fact: interpre- 
tation is blended with event. He knows 
that he has the mind of Christ. He will 
say what he now sees in the light of a life of 

For seventeen hundred years the theology 
which lifts Jesus of Nazareth out of and above 
human history, transforms him into the Word 
of God, which triumphed at Nica3a and inspired 
Athanasius, was based on this fourth Gospel 
more than on any other book of the New Testa- 
ment. From it as from an armoury the par- 
tisans of the divinity of Jesus Christ, as the 
Church has understood and formulated that 
tenet in its creeds and councils, have constantly 
drawn their weapons. It now at last appears, 
by the admission of Dean Robinson, that this 
entire theological fabric was woven in the mind 
of an apostle meditating in extreme old age on 
the half -forgotten scenes and conversations of his 
youth. Such is the best case which can be made 
out for orthodox theology. We are left with 
the roofless ruins of the stately edifice which 
sheltered the orthodox doctors of the past. 
And even these ruins totter and seem to endanger 
the lives of the shivering, half -naked figures who 
seek a precarious shelter among them. Pro- 
fessor Sanday, who not long ago tried to save the 
apostolic authorship of the fourth Gospel by 
arguing that no one but an apostle would have 

The Evangelists 85 

ventured to handle with so much freedom the 
life and conversations of his Master, in his latest 
book gives signs of abandoning altogether the 
attribution to the son of Zebedee. The impres- 
sion that Dean Robinson's pages leave on one's 
mind is that a real follower of Jesus could never 
have written such a gospel, though he him- 
self scruples to draw the conclusion which his 
premisses warrant. 


THE task of ascertaining the true text of a 
classical author, of Virgil or Tacitus, of 
Euripides or Lysias, is far simpler and less per- 
plexed with problems than that of ascertaining 
the true text of an evangelist, or of any other 
New Testament writing. In the case of pro- 
fane writers, we have merely to collate the 
manuscripts, to appraise their dates, to ascertain 
their mutual affinities, to draw out, if there be 
enough material, their genealogy, and discover 
which copies embody the oldest tradition; to 
detect and exclude the mechanical errors, the 
slips of the pen, of the scribe; to restore from 
the work of one copyist passages over which, 
because they began and ended with the same 
word or words, the eye of another copyist has 
glided, leaving a lacuna in his text. When all 
this is done there is room for conjectural emen- 
dators, the Porsons, Bentleys, Jebbs, Hermanns, 
to begin and exercise their ingenuity on pas- 
sages that are evidently corrupt. 

None of this labour can we spare ourselves in 

Textual Criticism 87 

the case of a sacred text, so-called; but much 
more awaits us besides. The profane author's 
work has never been the battle-ground of rival 
sects and creeds. No one ever asked Plato or 
Demosthenes to decide whether the miracle of 
the miraculous conception and birth really 
happened, whether God is a Trinity or no. 
They are no arbiters of orthodoxy, and carry no 
weight in the question of whether Mary was 
the mother of God or not, or whether the Son is 
consubstantial with the Father. It has been 
far otherwise with the Gospels and the rest of 
the New Testament ever since about the year 
200. Until then Christians were so much pos- 
sessed with the dream of the impending disso- 
lution of all existing societies and institutions to 
make way for their own millennium, that they 
paid small attention to their scanty records of 
the earthly Christ, except so far as they were 
useful to confound their Jewish antagonists. 
Authority among them attached not to written 
documents, nor to priests and bishops, but to 
itinerant prophets, catechists, and ascetics. 
The composition of the Diatessaron, 1 about 180, 
was in itself no indication of excessive respect 
for the four Gospels conflated or fused together, 
but not harmonised, therein. If there had 
already then existed the same superstitious 

1 So called because it was a single Gospel produced by 
fusing together the four which still survive. 

88 New Testament Criticism 

veneration for the four as was felt a hundred 
years later, Tatian would not have been per- 
mitted to make such a compilation of them, nor 
in Syria would his compilation have been 
accepted instead of the documents themselves 
as a manual to be publicly read in church. 
Probably at that time the individual Gospels 
were valued only as the Gospel of Mark and the 
non-Marcan document were valued by those 
who fused them together in our first and third 
Gospels; and few would have found fault with 
Tatian if he had re-arranged, curtailed, and 
otherwise modified his material on the same 
scale as these evangelists did theirs. The 
emergence of the several Gospels and their 
recognition about the year 200, alongside of the 
Old Testament, as authoritative Scriptures, 
unalterable and not to be added to, was the 
result of a gradual process ; but the recognition, 
once effected, was all the more complete and 
absolute for having been so gradual. Probably 
when Irenaeus, A.D. 180-200, pleaded that there 
could be only these four Gospels because there 
were only four winds, he was arguing against 
people who actually used other Gospels like that 
according to Peter and according to the Egyp- 
tians, and who regarded them, too, as sacred 
documents. From the little we know of these 
outside Gospels the Church did well to exclude 
them from its canon. 

Textual Criticism 89 

But to canonise a document is to expose it to 
many dangers, for every one wants to have it on 
his side. Luckily the great controversies of 
the Church began in the third century only, 
when the Gospel text was already too well fixed 
and settled for partisans to interfere with it on 
the large scale on which Marcion tampered with 
Luke. Nevertheless, there are signs that it was 
in details changed to suit new developments of 
doctrine, even at a very early period; and in 
my volume, Myth, Magic, and Morals, I have 
given several examples of such doctrinal altera- 
tions of the text. Of these examples one was 
the story of the rich youth who aspired to 
become a disciple. It is read in Matt, xix., 16, 
Mark x., 17, Luke xviii., 18. Dr. Salmon, of 
Dublin, availed himself of this passage in order 
to show how "close is the connection between 
the criticism of the Gospel text and theories 
concerning the genesis of the Gospels." 1 We 
can seldom estimate the originality and value of 
rival variants found in one Gospel without con- 
sidering what is read in the other two, supposing 
these to contain parallel versions of a saying or 
incident. It is, for example, no use to argue, as 
did the Cambridge editors, Westcott and Hort 
(who shaped the Revised Version's text), that 
for Matthew the MSS. Aleph. B.D.L., on the 

1 George Salmon, Some Criticism of the Text of the New 
Testament, London, 1897, P- II 7- 

QO New Testament Criticism 

whole, give the sound and true tradition, and 
that their reading is, therefore, to be preferred 
in the passage in question. The other two 
Gospel texts, especially if looked at in the light 
of the modern theory of the interrelations of 
the three synoptics, assure us that those MSS. 
here contain what we may term an orthodox 

The critic I have just quoted, the late Dr. 
Salmon, whose kindness to myself when I was 
a youthful scholar I shall not soon forget, 
expresses in the same context his conviction that 
the work of Westcott and Hort suffered much 
from their want of interest in the problem of the 
genesis of the Gospels. Westcott, in particular, 
seems never to have abandoned the very inade- 
quate view which he propounded in 1860 in his 
Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, that their 
points of agreement and disagreement are to be 
explained from oral tradition alone. There was, 
he argues, a body of oral tradition existing and 
passing from teacher to taught in both an 
Aramaic and a Greek form. Mark wrota 
down the Greek tradition in its earliest form, 
then Luke wrote it down in a developed form, 
and the Greek Matthew wrote down the later 
Hebraic remoulding of the tradition ; but no 
common document underlay either all three or 
any two of them. He admitted indeed that 
"No one at present [A.D, 1860] would maintain 

Textual Criticism 91 

with some of the older scholars of the Reforma- 
tion that the coincidences between the Gospels 
are due simply to the direct and independent 
action of the same Spirit upon the several 
writers." In other words, the common ele- 
ment in these Gospels was not the Holy Spirit. 
Yet that it might just as well be the Holy Spirit 
as a merely oral tradition will, I believe, be plain 
to any one who reflects how impossible it is 
that three independent writers should remember 
a long and complicated body of incident and 
teaching in the same way, and transfer it to 
paper, page after page, in almost identical 

I will conclude this chapter by glancing at 
some famous orthodox corruptions, the history 
of which, as a lesson in the psychology of 
obstinacy, is hardly less instructive than the 
story of Dr. Bode's bust of Leonardo da Vinci's 

In the First Epistle of John, chap, v., verse 7, 
most but not all copies of the Latin Bible, called 
the Vulgate, read as follows: 

For there are three that bear ivitness in 
heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy 
Spirit; and these three are one. And there 
are three that bear witness on earth: the 
Spirit and the water and the blood; and 
these three are one. 

In the first printed edition of the New Testa- 

92 New Testament Criticism 

ment, called the Complutensian, prepared at 
Alcala in Spain in 1514 by Cardinal Francis 
Ximenes, the words here italicised were included, 
having been translated from the Latin text into 
Greek; for the Greek MSS. used did not contain 
them. They are only found in two Greek MSS., 
one of the fifteenth, the other of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. About 400 other Greek codices from the 
fourth century down to the fourteenth ignore 
them. All MSS. of the old Latin version anterior 
to Jerome lack them, and in the oldest copies 
even of Jerome's recension of the Latin text, 
called the Vulgate, they are conspicuously absent. 
The first Church writer to cite the verse in such 
a text was Priscillian, a Spaniard, who was also 
the first heretic to be burned alive by the Church 
in the year 385. After him Vigilius, Bishop of 
Thapsus, cites it about 484. It is probable that 
the later Latin Fathers mistook what was only a 
comment of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died 
258) for a citation of the text. In any case, it 
filtered from them into the Vulgate text, 1 from 
which, as we have seen, it was translated into 
Greek and inserted in two or three very late 

1 Gibbon, in a note on chap, xxxvii. of his Decline and 
Fall, says that in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the 
Biblos were corrected by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and by Nicolas, Cardinal and librarian of the 
Roman Church, secundum orthodoxam fidem. (Wetstein, 
Prolegom., pp. 84, 85.) 

Textual Criticism 93 

Erasmus's first edition of the Greek Testa- 
ment, in 1516, omitted the verse, as also did the 
second; but in 1522 he issued a third edition 
containing it. Robert Stephens also inserted 
it in his edition of 1546, which formed the basis 
of all subsequent editions of the Greek Testa- 
ment until recently, and is known as the 
Received Text, or Textus Receptus. l 

In 1670 Sandius, an Arian, assailed the verse, 
as also did Simon, a learned Roman Catholic 
priest, in his Histoire Critique du Nouveau Testa- 
ment, part i., chap. 18, about twenty years later. 
He was followed by Sir Isaac Newton, who, 
in a learned dissertation published after his 
death in 1754, strengthened Simon's arguments. 
Oddly enough, a Huguenot pastor, David Mar- 
tin (1639-1721), of whom better things might 
have been expected, took up the cudgels in 
defence of the text. "It were to be wished," he 
wrote, "that this strange opinion had never 
quitted the Arians and Socinians; but we have 
the grief to see it pass from them to some 
Christians, who, though content to retain 
the doctrine of the Trinity, abandon this fine 
passage where that holy doctrine is so clearly 
taught." With the same tolerance of fraud, so 
long as it makes for orthodoxy, an Anglican 
bishop added a footnote in his catechism to the 
effect that the authenticity of this text, although 

1 See Chap. VIII. 

94 New Testament Criticism 

by many disputed, must be strenuously upheld 
because it is so valuable a witness to the truth 
of Trinitarian doctrine. Gibbon, in his thirty- 
seventh chapter, sarcastically wrote: 

The memorable text which asserts the 
unity of the Three who bear witness in 
Heaven is condemned by the universal 
silence of the orthodox fathers, ancient 
versions, and authentic manuscripts. . . . 
After the invention of printing, the editors 
of the Greek Testament yielded to their own 
prejudices, or those of the times; and the 
pious fraud, which was embraced with equal 
zeal at Rome and Geneva, has been infinitely 
multiplied in every country and every 
language of modern Europe. 

This passage provoked an attack on Gibbon 
from a certain English Archdeacon, Travis, who 
rushed into the arena to defend the text which 
Kettner, answering Simon nearly a century 
earlier, had extravagantly hailed as "the 
most precious of Biblical pearls, the fairest 
flower of the New Testament, the compendium 
by way of analogy of faith in the Trinity." It 
was high time that forgers should receive a 
rebuke, and Porson, the greatest of English 
Greek scholars and critics, resolved to adminis- 
ter it to them. In a series of Letters to Travis he 
detailed with merciless irony and infinite learn- 
ing the history of this supposititious text. Travis 

Textual Criticism 95 

answered that Person was a Thersites, and that 
he despised his railings. He accused him of 
defending Gibbon, who, as an infidel, was no 
less Person's enemy than his own. Person's 
answer reveals the nobility of his character. 
" Why," he replies, " for that very reason I would 
defend him" a retort worthy of Dr. Johnson. 
Scarcely anything in the English language is 
so well worth reading as these letters of Porson, 
and I venture to quote from his preface a single 
passage about Bengel (died 1752), whose com- 
mentary on the New Testament called the 
Gnomon was, for its day, a model of learning 
and acumen: 

Bengel [writes Porson] allowed that the 
verse was in no genuine MS., that the Com- 
plutensian editors interpolated it from the 
Latin version, that the Codex Britannicus is 
good for nothing, that no ancient Greek 
writer cites it and many Latins omit, and 
that it was neithei erased by the Arians nor 
absorbed by the homoeoteleuton. Surely, 
then, the verse is spurious. No ; this learned 
man finds out a way of escape. The passage 
was of so sublime and mysterious a nature 
that the secret discipline of the Church with- 
drew it from the public books, till it was 
gradually lost. Under what a want of evi- 
dence must a critic labour who resorts to 
such an argument. 

Porson made himself unpopular by writing these 

96 New Testament Criticism 

letters. The publisher of them lost money 
over the venture, and an old lady, Mrs. Turner, 
of Norwich, who had meant to leave him a 
fortune, cut down her bequest to thirty pounds, 
because her clergyman told her that Person had 
assailed the Christian religion. 

The revised English version of this passage 
omits, of course, the fictitious words, and gives 
no hint of the text which was once so popular. 
Archdeacon Travis is discreetly forgotten in the 
Anglican Church; but the truth has far from 
triumphed in the Roman, and Pope Leo XIII., 
in an encyclical of the year 1897, solemnly 
decreed that the fraudulent addition is part of 
authentic scripture. He was surrounded by 
reactionaries who imagined that, if they could 
wrest such a pronouncement from the infallible 
Pontiff, they would have made an end for ever 
of criticism in the Catholic Church. The 
abbot of Monte Casino, the home of the Bene- 
dictines, was, it is said, on the point of publishing 
a treatise in which he traced this forgery to its 
sources, when the Pope's decree was issued. 
He thrust back his treatise into his pigeon-holes, 
where it remains. The aged Pope, however, 
who was a stranger to such questions, soon 
realised that he had been imposed upon. 
Henceforth he refused to descend to particulars, 
or to condemn the many scholars delated to him 
as modernist heretics. Of these the Abbe Loisy 


98 New Testament Criticism 

was the chief, and the outcry against him finally 
decided Leo to establish in 1902 a commission 
for the progress of study of holy scripture. For 
the first time a few specialists were called in 
by the head of the Catholic Church to guide 
his judgment in such matters, and Leo XIII. 
directed them to begin by studying the question 
of the text, I John v., 8. They presently sent 
him their report. As this was to the effect that 
the text was not authentic, it was pigeon-holed. 
But the aged prelate's mind was ill at ease; and 
during his last illness, both in his lucid moments 
and in delirium, he could talk of nothing else. 1 
He has been succeeded by one who has no 
qualms, but condemns learning wherever and 
whenever he meets with it. To be learned in 
that communion is in our age to be suspect. 

There is a similar Trinitarian text in Matthew 
xxviii., 19, where the risen Christ is represented 
as appearing to his twelve apostles on a moun- 
tain top in Galilee and saying to them: All 
authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on 
earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all 
the nations, baptising them into the name of the 
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; 
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com- 
manded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even 
unto the end of the world. 

1 I derive these statements from the Abbe Albert Hou tin, 
La Question Biblique au XX e Siecle. Paris, 1906, p. 94. 

Textual Criticism 99 

Here Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, who died 
about the year 340, and was entrusted by the 
Emperor Constantine with the task of preparing 
fifty editions de luxe of the gospels for the great 
churches built or rebuilt after the Diocletian per- 
secution was ended, read in such of his works 
as he wrote before the year 325 as follows: " Go 
ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations 
in my name ; teaching them," etc. 

It is clear, therefore, that of the MSS. which 
Eusebius inherited from his predecessor, Pam- 
philus, at Caesarea in Palestine, some at least 
preserved the original reading, in which there 
was no mention either of Baptism or of Father, 
Son, arid Holy Ghost. It had been conjectured 
by Dr. Davidson, Dr. Martineau, by the present 
Dean of Westminster, and by Professor Harnack 
(to mention but a few names out of many) , that 
here the received text could not contain the very 
words of Jesus this long before any one except 
Dr. Burgon, who kept the discovery to himself, 
had noticed the Eusebian form of reading. 

It is satisfactory to notice that Dr. Eberhard 
Nestle, in his new edition of the New Testament 
in Latin and Greek, furnishes the Eusebian 
reading in his critical apparatus, and that Dr. 
Sanday seems to lean to its acceptance. That 
Eusebius found it in his MSS. has been recently 
contested by Dr. Chase, the Bishop of Ely, who 
argues that Eusebius found the Textus Receptus 

loo New Testament Criticism 

in his manuscripts, but substituted the shorter 
formula in his works for fear of vulgarising and 
divulging the sacred Trinitarian formula. It is 
interesting to find a modern bishop reviving the 
very argument used 150 years ago in support of 
the forged text in I John v., 7. It is sufficient 
answer to point out that Eusebius's argument, 
when he cites the text, involves the text "in my 
name." For, he asks, "In whose name?" and 
answers that it was the name spoken of by Paul 
in his Epistle to the Philippians ii., 10. It is 
best to cite the entire passage, which is in the 
Demonstmtio Evangelica (col. 240, p. 136 of 
Migne's edition) : 

For he [Jesus] did not enjoin them to 
make disciples of all the nations simply and 
without qualification, but with the essential 
addition "in his name." For so great was 
the virtue attaching to his appellation that 
the Apostle says (Phil.ii., 10) "God bestowed 
on him the name above every name : that in 
the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of 
things in heaven and earth and under the 
earth." It was right, therefore, that he 
should lay stress on the virtue of the power 
residing in his name, but hidden from the 
many, and therefore say to his apostles, 
"Go ye and make disciples of all the nations 
in my name." 

Surely Dr. Chase would not argue that the 
name implied in Phil, ii., 10, was the name of 

Textual Criticism 101 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That rcouid be a 
pretty heresy for an Anglican bishop to enter- 
tain. Would he attribute a heresy at once so 
violent and senseless to Eusebius? Where, 
then, is the point of arguing that Eusebius, in 
the score of passages where he cites Matt, xxviii., 
19, in the above form, was moved by the dis- 
cipline, arcani, or fear of divulging Christian 
mysteries, from writing the formula out the 
more so as it was on the lips of many of his 
contemporaries and had been published long 
before by Dionysius of Alexandria, Cyprian % 
Tertullian, and perhaps by Irenaeus and Origen? 
Why did they, too, not hide the sacred formula? 
Moreover, why should Eusebius drop out the 
command to baptise? Surely the discipline, 
arcani does not explain his omission of that? 

In the case just examined it is to be noticed 
that not a single MS. or ancient version has 
preserved to us the true reading. But that is 
not surprising, for, as Dr. C. R. Gregory, one 
of the greatest of our textual critics, reminds 
us, "The Greek MSS. of the text of the New 
Testament were often altered by scribes, who 
put into them the readings which were familiar 
to them, and which they held to be the right 
readings." 1 

These facts speak for themselves. Our Greek 

1 Canon and Text of the New Testament, T. and T. Clark, 
1907, p. 424. 

102 New Testament Criticism 

texts, not*cftily of tho'G6spels, but of the Epistles 
as well, have been revised and interpolated by 
orthodox copyists. We can trace their perver- 
sions of the text in a few cases, with the aid of 
patristic citations and ancient versions. But 
there must remain many passages which have 
been so corrected, but where we cannot to-day 
expose the fraud. It was necessary to empha- 
sise this point because Drs. Westcott and Hort 
used to aver that there is no evidence of merely 
doctrinal changes having been made in the text 
of the New Testament. This is just the opposite 
of the truth, and such distinguished scholars 
as Alfred Loisy, J. Wellhausen, Eberhard Nestle, 
Adolf Harnack, to mention only four names, do 
not scruple to recognise the fact. Here is a line 
of research which is only beginning to be worked. 


DROINDE liber esse volo, " Henceforth I mean 
to be free, " wrote Luther when he broke 
with the Pope; and he had the merit at least of 
throwing off authority and asserting the right 
and duty of the individual believer to read the 
Bible for himself and interpret it without the 
help of a priest. "With all due respect for the 
Fathers," he said, "I prefer the authority of 
Scripture" (Salvis reverentiis Patrum ego prcefero 
auctoritatem Scripturcz) .* In making such pro- 
nouncements Luther builded better than he 
knew, and if we would realise how much we owe 
to him for the bold challenge he hurled at Papal 
authority, we have only to compare the treatment 
by the Pope Pius X. of the Modernists, whose 
chief offence is desire to understand the Bible, 
with the respect paid in the Lutheran Church 
to such men as Harnack, Von Soden, Preuschen, 
Violet, and in the Anglican to such scholars as 

1 See Farrar's History of Interpretation, p. 327. 

IO4 New Testament Criticism 

Robertson Smith, Professor Driver, Professor 
Sanday, Professor Burkitt. All these men would, 
in the Roman Church of the last ten years, 
have had to suppress or swallow their opinions, 
or would have been hounded out of the Church 
with writs of excommunication amid the im- 
precations of the orthodox crowd. 

One of the earliest German scholars that 
attempted to understand the Gospels and divest 
the figure of Jesus of the suit of stiff dogmatic 
buckram with which theologians had immemo- 
rially bound him was the poet and philosopher, 
Johann Gottfried Herder, who made his literary 
debut in 1773 in a volume of essays, to which 
Goethe also contributed. He was a humanist, 
a student of the classics, and an enthusiastic 
reader of Shakespeare. It was the age of 
Frederick the Great and Voltaire, an age when 
in north Germany men were able to think and 
write freely. In his first essay in theological 
criticism, entitled Letters on the Study of Theo- 
logy, he urged that the Bible must be read from 
a human point of view, and intuitively discerned 
the impossibility of harmonising the fourth 
Gospel with the Synoptics. Orthodox divines, 
like the late Dr. Hort, a hundred years later 
among ourselves were still pretending that this 
Gospel supplements, but not contradicts, the 
other three. You may write a life of Jesus, 
argued Herder, out of John, or out of the Synop- 

i 105 

io6 New Testament Criticism 

tics, but not out of both sources at once, for 
they are irreconcilable with each other. John 
he declared to have been written from the stand- 
point of Greek ideas, as a corrective to the 
Palestinian Gospel which the other three reflect. 
They represent Jesus as a Jewish Messiah, John 
as Saviour of the world; and the latter drops 
out of sight the demonology of the other three 
because its author, like Philo, regarded it all as 
so much Palestinian superstition. 

Yet Herder did not reject miracles. He even 
accepted that of the raising of Lazarus from the 
dead, and argued that the earlier gospels passed 
it over in silence in order not to excite the wrath 
of the Jews against the humble family in 
Bethany! This argument is not too absurd 
for Dean Farrar to repeat it a hundred years 
later in his Life of Christ (p. 511). The first 
evangelists would not record "a miracle which 
would have brought into dangerous prominence 
a man who was still living. . . . Even if this 
danger had ceased, it would have been obviously 
repulsive to the quiet family of Bethany to have 
been made the focus of an intense and irreverent 
curiosity, " etc. With regard to the inter- 
relations of the Synoptics, Herder showed more 
acumen, and anticipated the latest critical 
positions. Mark, he wrote, is no abridgment, 
but a true and self-contained Gospel; and if 
Matthew and Luke contain other and more 


io8 New Testament Criticism 

matter, that is because they added it, and not 
because Mark, having it before him, left it out. 
Mark is the unadorned central column on 
which the other two lean shorter than they, 
but more original. They added the Birth 
Stories because a new want of such information 
had, later than Mark, grown up among believers. 
And Mark indulges in less invective than they 
against the Jews, because the new religion was 
still largely a Jewish business. That neither 
the first three Gospels nor the fourth were in- 
tended to be read as sober historical treatises 
was also clear to Herder. The former were 
aimed to exalt him as a Messiah who fulfilled 
the Jewish prophecies; the fourth is an epic of 
the Logos. 

But Herder's appreciations of the Life of 
Jesus were after all less scientific and earlier in 
type than those of Hermann Samuel Reimarus, 
of whose epoch-making contribution to the 
cause of New Testament criticism Albert 
Schweitzer has recently, in his work, Von 
Reimarus zu Wrede, 1 reminded those who had 
forgotten the great theological controversies of 
Lessing and Strauss. Reimarus, born in 1694, 

1 From R. to W., Tubingen, 1906, lately issued in an 
English translation under the title The Quest of the His- 
torical Jesus. On Reimarus and Lessing see also Scherer's 
History of German Literature, translated by Mrs. F. C. 
Conybeare, 1886, vol. ii., p. 72 ff. 

Some Pioneers 109 

was for forty-one years Professor of Philosophy 
in Hamburg, and died in 1768. He was the 
son-in-law of the famous philologist, J. Alb. 
Fabricius, and was himself a man of high classical 
attainments. He thus brought to the study 
of the New Testament a trained judgment, 
unspoiled by the narrow calling of the profes- 
sional divine. His treatises on early Christian- 
ity were probably the more untrammelled by 
orthodox prejudices because they were not 
intended by him for publication, and they would 
never have seen the light had they not fallen 
into the hands of Lessing, who published in the 
years 1774-8 the more important of them under 
the title of Fragments of an Anonymous Wolf en- 
butteler. The German world had seemed to be 
in a mood for liberal criticism, and historians 
and humanists there, as in England, were already 
turning their attention to dogmatic religion; 
nevertheless, the Fragments fell like bombshells 
in the circles of the pious, and precipitated a 
real crisis in the history of the Protestant Church. 
The Christ of dogma was now arraigned as 
never before, and has, so to speak, been on trial 
ever since at the bar of History. For the 
fanciful figure of orthodox theologians the real 
historical Jewish Messiah began to emerge. 

The message or Gospel of Jesus was, accord- 
ing to Reimarus, summed up in the appeal to 
his countrymen to repent, because the Kingdom 

no New Testament Criticism 

of Heaven was at hand. But of the Kingdom he, 
equally with John the Baptist, conceived in the 
current Jewish manner; and if he transcended 
his contemporaries in his forecast thereof, it 
was only in so far as he taught that observance 
of the Law of Moses would develop therein unto 
a higher and deeper righteousness, less bound up 
with sacrificial cult, false Sabbatarianism, and 
ritual purity of meats. He never broke with 
the law nor dreamed of doing so. It was only 
when they were persecuted and driven out of 
the synagogue that his disciples broke with it- 
not of choice, but of necessity. 

Thus the creed of the earliest Church con- 
sisted of the single clause: "I believe that Jesus 
shall shortly inaugurate the Kingdom of God on 
earth. " No wonder that the faith spread 
rapidly. Multitudes were already filled with a 
belief in the imminence of the promised King- 
dom, and were but too ready to acclaim Jesus 
as God's prophet and instrument in bringing it 
about. This was the whole of the message that 
his apostles had to carry to the cities of Israel, 
avoiding those of the Samaritans and Gentiles. 
The Jews of Palestine were groaning under the 
Roman yoke, and were prepared to welcome a 
redeemer. For them a Messiah was Son of God ; 
all the successors of David and kings of the 
people of the Covenant were sons of God, but 
the Messiah was such in a special sense. The 

Some Pioneers ill 

Messianic claims of Jesus did not lift him above 
humanity, and there was nothing metaphysical 
about the role. 

The Gospel parables teach us little of what 
the Kingdom was to be. They all assume that 
we know it. If we desire to learn more about it, 
we must go to the writings of the Jews. In any 
case the first condition of our understanding 
who and what Jesus was is that we should turn 
our backs on the catechism notions of a meta- 
physical sonship of God, of the Trinity, on 
orthodox dogmas in general, and should study 
instead current Jewish ideas. With these a priori 
notions will vanish the mistaken supposition 
that Jesus meant to found a new religion. He 
never dreamed of abolishing the Jewish religion 
and of substituting a new system in its place. 
His chief disciple, Peter, long after the resur- 
rection, needed the vision at Joppa to assure him 
that he might without sin eat with men uncir- 
cumcised, and the disciples who fled from Jeru- 
salem after Stephen's martyrdom "spoke the 
word to none save only to Jews." It follows 
that the text Matthew xxviii., 19 is impossible, 
not only because it is spoken by one risen from 
the dead, but because its tenor is universalist 
and it presupposes the Trinity and the meta- 
. physical sonship of Jesus. It also conflicts 
with our earliest tradition of baptism in the 
community of Christians, for, as we learn both 

112 New Testament Criticism 

from the Book of Acts and from Paul, they 
baptised at first, not into the name of the three 
Persons, but into that of Jesus the Messiah or 
Christ. Neither baptism nor in its later forms 
the Eucharist derives from Jesus. 

That Jesus worked cures which the people 
round him regarded as signs and wonders cannot 
be disputed. When Reimarus further opines 
that Jesus bade those he healed to tell no man 
of it by way of exciting the curiosity of the 
crowd, we cannot follow him. But all will admit 
that some of his greater miracles were invented 
by propagandists who felt a call to prove that 
in works of power the Messiah transcended the 
worthies of the Old Testament. If it be true 
that in Jerusalem the multitude were as con- 
vinced as the texts assure us they were of his 
immediately manifesting the Kingdom of God 
to them, then by a single miracle publicly worked 
on a feast-day he must have carried all before 
him. Twice he seems to have made sure that 
his vision of the Kingdom was about to be 
made a reality: once when, sending forth 
his disciples, in Matt. x. 23, he coupled their 
mission with the assurance that they would not 
have time to visit all the cities of Israel before 
the Son of Man came that is, that the masses 
flocking to him would erewhile have witnessed 
the Messiah's advent; and a second time when, 
in the style of Messiah, he entered Jerusalem 

Some Pioneers 113 

riding on an ass amid the acclamations of the 
multitude. But the people hung back after all, 
and his feat of clearing the temple of its Pascha- 
tide traffic fell flat, as also did his denunciations 
of priests and pharisees. The Galileans had 
forsaken him, and now the ere while enthusiastic 
people of Jerusalem forsook him in the same way. 
He had begun by concealing his quality of 
Messiah of set purpose; he ended by concealing 
it from fear and necessity. He felt that his star 
had set and his mission was a failure when from 
the cross he uttered the bitter cry of disillusion- 
ment: "My God, my God, why hast thou 
forsaken me?" He had never contemplated 
suffering thus, never looked forward to a death 
on the cross. With God's miraculous aid he had 
expected to establish a kingdom on earth in 
which the Jews, rescued from the yoke of infidel 
and Gentile oppressors, would live happily ever 
afterwards; and now his countrymen betrayed 
and forsook him, and the Roman was slaying 
him with every circumstance of cruelty and 

Reimarus shows less insight in his account of 
the events which followed the death of Jesus. 
He is right, no doubt, in arguing that the dis- 
ciples, driven out of their old enthusiasms by 
the logic of facts, took refuge in Daniel's vision 
of an apocalyptic Son of Man, borne in glory 
on the clouds of heaven to earth. But when he 

H4 New Testament Criticism 

gives credit to the story that the apostles stole 
the body of Jesus in order to accredit their story 
of his resurrection he betrays a certain want of 
grip. It was this feature of his reconstruction 
which more than any other roused against Les- 
sing the accusation of impiety from those who 
for hundreds of years had complacently accepted 
Jerome's view that Peter and Paul had only 
got up their quarrel at Antioch for the gallery, 
and had never really been at issue with one 
another a view that shocked even Augustine. 1 
Reimarus awoke many out of the torpor of 
assurance. Particular features of his system 
were no doubt erroneous, but in the main his 
arguments were irrefragable, because he inter- 
preted his documents in their plain and literal, 
but to the orthodox disconcerting, sense. Mod- 
ern criticism, even in Anglican and Roman 
circles, is slowly coming round to his chief 
conclusions, which were that Jesus never meant 
to found a new religion, but only to herald that 
Kingdom of God towards which the aspirations 
of pious Jews had for generations been directed, 
and that the fourth Gospel must simply be set 

1 See Jerome's 89 th Epistle to Augustine, where he 
adheres to his view that Paul and Peter were both acting 
a part, and that they merely got up their tiff in order to 
reassure the Judaisers. Jerome argues that Paul was 
guilty of similar dissimulation when he took Timothy, a 
Gentile, and circumcised him for fear of the Jews. 

Some Pioneers 115 

aside by those who would discover the true Jesus. 
His account of Jesus' attitude towards the law, 
and of the gradual abandonment after his death 
of that attitude by his disciples, anticipated the 
best criticism of our own generation. When 
writers like Dean Farrar dilate on the "crude 
negations" and "dreary illuminism" of Reima- 
rus, 1 they only betray their elementary igno- 
rance of the problems they profess to solve. 

About the same time as Reimarus was writ- 
ing, a striking book appeared in England. This 
was E. Evanson's work on The Dissonance of 
the Four Generally Received Evangelists and the 
Evidence of their Respective Authenticity Exam- 
ined. The author was born at Warrington, in 
Lancashire, in 1731, and received a classical 
education, first from his uncle, Mr. John Evan- 
son, rector of Mitcham, in Surrey, and then at 
Emanuel, Cambridge. He graduated M.A. in 
1753, took orders, and became his uncle's curate. 
But he was soon convinced that the prayer- 
book was opposed to Scripture, and accordingly 
omitted some phrases of it and changed others 
in public service. Having also maintained that 
Paul denied the physical as opposed to spiritual 
resurrection, he incurred a prosecution for heresy. 
The Solicit or- General, Mr. Wedderburn, de- 
fended him gratis on this occasion, and, having 

1 See Farrar 's History of Interpretation, p. 400. 

n6 New Testament Criticism 

secured his acquittal, procured him Church 
preferment, not aware that Evanson had made 
up his mind to quit the Church. 

It was supposed in 1772 that the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, with the help of certain of his 
colleagues, was preparing a revision of the 
Anglican liturgy and articles, so Evanson was 
encouraged to lay his scruples before him in a 
letter, in which he begged him to persevere, 
to remove difficulties, and ease the tender 
consciences of many learned clergymen. His 
extremely reasonable application was never 
answered, any more than has been the memor- 
andum of nearly 2000 incumbents who recently 
approached the bishops in a similar spirit and 
with a like object. Mr. Evanson next published 
a letter to Hurd, Bishop of Lichfield, setting 
forth the grounds and reasons of his dissatis- 
faction, and shortly after left the Church, 
resigning his living. Hurd, in answer, expressed 
more regret than surprise, but praised him 
warmly for following his convictions. He only 
lamented the loss to the Church of one so full 
of liberal spirit and erudition. The Bishop of 
Rochester also expressed his concern that a 
clergyman of Mr. Evanson's abilities should 
resign his preferment for no other reasons than 
those he had assigned to the Bishop of Lichfield. 
Subsequently Evanson received a pension from 
the family of the Earl of Bute. "An open 

Some Pioneers 117 

declaration of his faith, which duty called for 
and sincerity enjoined, provoked the rancour 
and malice of bigots and brought on him their 
hatred and persecution." 1 And certainly Mr. 
Evanson, at the outset of his work on the dis- 
sonances of the evangelists, strikes no uncertain 
note, for he begins as follows: 

After so many writers, some of them of 
great erudition and distinguished abilities, 
in almost all ages of what is called the 
Christian Church, have undertaken to har- 
monise and show the perfect agreement of the 
four generally received Evangelists, and to 
reconcile all the recurring differences in both 
the facts and order of their several narrations, 
it will undoubtedly appear the highest degree 
of presumptuous arrogance to attempt now 
at last to demonstrate that so much learned 
and ingenious labour hath been bestowed in 

Evanson gives examples of such dissonance 
both between one gospel and another, and be- 
tween separate parts of the same gospel; but 
he made the mistake of overestimating the 
trustworthiness of Luke. This he was led to 
do because he was imposed on, firstly by the 
parade of historical method and research in 

1 From Some Account of His Life and Religious Opinions, 
written by a friend on the occasion of Evanson 's death in 

n8 New Testament Criticism 

Luke's exordium, and secondly by Luke's ex- 
cellence as a stylist. The latter quality par- 
ticularly appealed to so refined a scholar. 
To illustrate this point I venture to cite his 
remarks about the passage, Matthew viii. 5-16 = 
Luke vii. i-io, in which the healing of the 
Centurion's child is related. He notes that in 
Matthew the Centurion himself goes to Jesus, 
whereas in Luke he only sent a deputation of 
elders of the Jews, and declared that he did not 
esteem himself worthy to go in person. "Here, 
again, " comments Evanson, 

one of these historians related a falsehood. 
It is observable also that, according to this 
gospel called St. Matthew's, this miracle, 
in order of time, preceded the healing of 
Peter's mother-in-law, the calling of Mat- 
thew himself, and the choice of the twelve 
apostles; whereas St. Luke tells us that it 
was subsequent to all three. Yet St. Luke 
assures Theophilus that, having attained 
perfect information of everything from the 
very first, he had written an account of every 
transaction in order. Now, he could have 
received his information only from the 
Apostles he lived with at Jerusalem, of whom 
Matthew was one ; and as it is impossible but 
Matthew must have known whether he was 
himself with Jesus when this miracle was 
wrought or not, he could not have written 
that he was not and have informed St. Luke 
that he was; and, therefore, the writer of this 

Some Pioneers 119 

gospel could not be St. Matthew nor any 
other of the Apostles. To avoid unnecessary 
repetitions, the reader is desired to consider 
this as a general remark upon the many 
instances of contradiction, in the order of the 
narration, between this writer and St. Luke, 
which are both numerous and obvious to the 
least degree of attention. 

Evanson also was shrewd enough to see that 
the legend of the miraculous birth of Jesus was 
no part of the primitive gospel tradition. He 
argues that the first two chapters of Luke are 
an interpolation ; but he was well aware of the 
similarity of vocabulary and idiom which con- 
nects them with the rest of the gospel, and met 
this obstacle to his argument by supposing that 
the interpolator imitated Luke. He could not 
believe that the same hand which penned these 
two chapters could have narrated the incident 
of John sending his disciples to Jesus to ascer- 
tain if he was the Messiah. He writes thus: 

Now, it seems absolutely impossible that 
John, after being from his earliest infancy 
personally acquainted with Jesus, and not 
only in possession of all the information 
respecting him, which he must have learned 
from the two families, but so miraculously 
impressed with affection and reverence for 
him as to exult with joy, though but an 
embryo in the womb, at the mere sound of his 
mother's voice, could at any time have 

I2O New Testament Criticism 

entertained the least doubt of Jesus being 
the Messiah (p. 37). 

The true view, of course, is that Luke, in spite 
of his pretensions to accuracy, was a careless 
and credulous writer. 

Evanson's appreciations of the legend of the 
miraculous birth are couched in a very modern 
spirit. He notes that, according to Paul's 
preaching at Antioch, it was the resurrection and 
no birth miracle that constituted Jesus the Son 
of God; and also that Luke, except in his first 
two chapters, nowhere calls Jesus the Son of God 
until after the Resurrection. Before that event 
he terms him Son of Man or Son of David. On 
p. 44 he speaks of "this pagan fable of the 
miraculous conception of Jesus Christ"; and just 
below he writes on p. 49 as follows: 

In no one apostolic Epistle, in no one dis- 
course recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, 
is the miraculous conception, or any circum- 
stance of the history of Jesus previous to 
John's baptism, hinted at even in the most 
distant manner on the contrary, that 
baptism is repeatedly referred to and men- 
tioned as the proper commencement of 
evangelical instruction ; and when the eleven 
Apostles proceeded to elect a twelfth, to 
supply the place of Judas, the only qualifi- 
cation made essentially requisite in the can- 
didates was their having been eye-witnesses 
pf our Lord's ministry from the baptism of 

Some Pioneers 121 

John to his Ascension. These two chapters 
of Luke are the daring fiction of some of 
the easy-working interpolators (pacioupyot), as 
Origen calls them, of the beginning of the 
second century, from among the pagan 
converts, who, to do honour as they deemed 
it to the author of their newly-embraced 
religion, were willing that his birth should, 
at least, equal that of the pagan heroes and 
demigods, Bacchus and Hercules, in its 
wonderful circumstances and high descent; 
and thereby laid the foundation of the suc- 
ceeding orthodox deification of the man 
Jesus, which, in degree of blasphemous ab- 
surdity, exceeds even the gross fables of 
pagan superstition. 

And in another place (p. 14) he remarks on 
the fact that Justin Martyr, in his Apology, 

illustrates and pleads for the toleration of the 
orthodox doctrine of the generation of the 
Word by the heathen Emperors, because 
of its resemblance to the fabulous origin of 
their own deities Mercury and Minerva ; and 
justifies the doctrine of the incarnation by 
its similarity to the births of ^sculapius 
and Hercules, and the other illustrious god- 
men of pagan mythology. 

In these and many other passages Evanson 
belonged rather to the late nineteenth century 
than to the eighteenth. No one in his day 
realised so clearly as he the low standard, or no 
standard, of literary authenticity which charac- 

122 New Testament Criticism 

terised early Christianity. Thus he notes that 
in the earliest age it was so common among the 
Christians "to produce entire pieces of their 
own or others' forgery under the name of any 
writer they pleased that, if what we call the 
scriptures of the New Testament were not so 
tampered with, they are almost the only writings, 
upon the same subject, of those early times which 
have escaped free. " 

It is a matter of common observation that, 
in proportion as men overtop their contempo- 
raries in one particular, they often lag behind 
them in another; and a critic may see with one 
eye and be blind of its fellow. It was so with 
Evanson, who fell into the extraordinary error 
of attaching to so-called prophecies of Christ an 
importance which he denied to miracles. "Pro- 
phecy," he wrote, "is not only the most satis- 
factory, but also the most lasting, supernatural 
evidence of the truth of any revelation." And 
he even went the length of predicting from the 
Apocalypse the end of the world within a few 
generations. Just in proportion as he saw 
clearly how insufficient is the evidence of the 
gospels to bear the strain of the vast super- 
structures that theologians have built upon them, 
his mind seems to have been fuddled by the 
study of this book. We have already seen that 
Woolston was infected with the same craze ; and 
the great Isaac Newton himself, in the prime of 

Some Pioneers 123 

his life, gave up what time he could spare from 
his amazing mathematical and astronomical 
investigations to what, to a modern mind, are 
the silliest lucubrations about the vaticinations 
of the book of Daniel and of the Apocalypse. 
In Joseph Priestley, born near Leeds in 1733, 
we have another example of a great man of 
science who was also a bold innovator in the 
domain of Church history. In early youth, he 
tells us, he "came to embrace what is generally 
called the heterodox side of every question." 
A History of the Corruptions of Christianity, 
published in 1782, and a History of Early 
Opinions Concerning Jesus Christ, printed in 
1786, involved him in a long and keen contro- 
versy with an orthodox divine, Dr. Horsley. 
This divine was rewarded with a fat bishopric 
for detecting a few errors of scholarship in 
Priestley's works, while the latter a few years 
later, in 1791, was rewarded by having his house 
in Birmingham wrecked and set on fire by the 
Tory mob. The chemical instruments, by use 
of which he had carried on his epoch-making 
researches into the composition of gases and 
made his discovery of oxygen, were destroyed, 
his manuscripts torn to bits, and his books 
scattered for half-a-mile along the roadside. 
Priestley and his family barely escaped with 
their lives. His main heresy was the entirely 
correct opinion that the earliest Christians 

124 New Testament Criticism 

neither knew anything of Trinitarian doctrine 
nor deified Jesus after the manner of Athanasian 
doctrine. He denied that the Apostles could 
have discerned God Almighty in the man of 
flesh and blood with whom they familiarly con- 
sorted. "I am really astonished," he wrote to 
Horsley, "how you can really entertain the idea 
of any number of persons being on this even 
footing, as you call it, with a being whom they 
actually believed to be maker of themselves 
and all things, even the Eternal God himself." 1 
But Priestley did not question the authenticity 
of the writings of the New Testament anymore 
than his master Socinus, and, like other Unita- 
rians of that age, he accepted with implicit faith 
all the miraculous legends of the gospels except 
that of the Virgin birth. Within a charmed 
circle he shrank from applying his own canons of 
criticism. Leslie Stephen 2 remarks of Priestley 
that "it is still rather difficult to understand 
how so versatile and daring a thinker could have 
retained so much of the old system." But the 
same inconsistency reveals itself in numberless 
scholars of our own generation. Bishop Stubbs 
was the acutest of historical critics in the domain 
of general history, but to the Bible and to early 
Church history he brought the prejudices of a 
fourteenth-century monk; so also the modern 

1 Tracts, p. 259. 

2 English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, chap, vii., 6, 

Some Pioneers 125 

Bollandist editors of the Acts of the Saints, who 
are Jesuits, handle any legend later than the year 
100 with the greatest freedom, yet abstain from 
applying the same rules and methods of histori- 
cal investigation to the solution and sifting out 
of earlier Christian problems and narratives. 
The same remark holds good of the Abbe 
Duchesne, and of the late Bishop Creighton 
not to mention countless scholars who really 
seem intent on running with the hare and 
hunting with the hounds at one and the same 

Priestley also undertook to answer Evanson's 
arguments in a work which contains many 
suggestive passages. For example, he points 
out that 

the books called the Gospels were not the 
cause, but the effect, of the belief of Christ- 
ianity in the first ages. For Christianity had 
been propagated with great success long 
before those books were written; nor had 
the publication of them any particular effect 
in adding to the number of Christian con- 
verts. Christians received the books be- 
cause they knew beforehand that the contents 
of them were true (p. 8). 

The last of these statements requires, no 
doubt, a little modification; but the entire pas- 
sage suggests a fertile method of inquiry. Emerg- 
ing in the bosom of an already long-established 

126 New Testament Criticism 

Christianity, the Gospels could not fail in a 
large degree to reflect the sentiments, beliefs, 
prejudices, ritual practices, which arose in 
measure as the Faith spread among the Gentiles, 
was persecuted alike by Jews and Roman Gov- 
ernment, was coloured by Greek philosophy, was 
divorced almost wholly from the scenes of its 
birth. This is how the Abbe Loisy envisages the 
whole problem of criticism of the New Testa- 
ment. It is inseparable from an investigation 
of the circles of believers, called Churches, within 
whose medium the Gospels were produced and 
preserved. We have to determine how much of 
the record was primitive by separating from it 
all accretions due to this medium. If, therefore, 
Priestley had followed up this line of argument, 
he might have anticipated modern criticism. 
But he was, as we have said, a mixture of en- 
lightenment and superstition. He could express 
himself "greatly obliged" to Evanson for the 
latter's " several new and valuable arguments 
against the miraculous conception," yet he 
accepted the fable of Balaam's ass, and failed 
to appreciate Evanson's argument that in the 
thirty years or more which by common con- 
sent elapsed between Jesus' ministry and the 
emergence of the earliest evangelical document 
there was ample time for the other miraculous 
stories of Jesus to have arisen in so credulous a 
medium as the early Church. 


NO work recently published in Germany has 
made a greater stir in England than 
Albert Schweitzer's Von Reimarus zu Wrede, a 
systematic resume and criticism of European 
study of the Gospels during the last hundred 
years. It is mortifying to us Englishmen to 
find that barely one page in a hundred of this 
remarkable book is devoted to works written 
by ourselves. The Germans, and in a measure 
the French, have for the last hundred years been 
making serious efforts to ascertain the truth 
about Christian origins. Our own divines, amid 
the contentment and leisure of rich livings and 
deaneries, and with the libraries and endowments 
of Oxford and Cambridge at their disposal, have 
done nothing except produce a handful of 
apologetic, insincere, and worthless volumes. 
The only books which in England have advanced 
knowledge have been translations of German or 
French authors, and not long since our well- 
endowed professors and doctors of divinity 

128 New Testament Criticism 

greeted every fresh accession to Christian learn- 
ing when they could not ignore it and maintain 
a conspiracy of silence with dismal howls of 
execration and torrents of abuse. To three of 
these foreign scholars, whose works in English 
translations were so received, we must now turn. 
They were David Friedrich Strauss, Ferdinand 
Christian Baur (both Germans), and Ernest 
Renan, a Frenchman. 

Of these the second was the oldest; he was 
born in 1792, and died in 1860. The son of a 
Wurtemberg clergyman, he was still further 
attracted to theological study by the influence 
of Bengel, his uncle, the scholarly, but orthodox, 
leader of the theological school in the University 
of Tubingen towards the close of the eighteenth 
century. He was first a pupil and then a teacher 
at the Blaubeuren Seminary, where he numbered 
Strauss among his pupils. Thence he was, in 
1826, promoted to a professorship at Tubingen 
in succession to Bengel. His geniality and 
freedom from affectation and pedantry, com- 
bined with a noble presence, were enough in 
themselves to attract young men to his courses ; 
but the ring of sincerity, the underglow of 
devotion to truth, drew to him the affection of 
all the finer natures among them. He inspired 
hundreds with his own zeal and ardour for 
learning, his bold impartiality in pursuit of truth, 
and without conscious effort he thus created 

F. C. BAUR. 


130 New Testament Criticism 

what was known as the Tubingen school, still 
the bogie of English clergymen when I was myself 
a youth in the years 1875-1890. In this school 
were formed such scholars as E. Zeller (Baur's 
son-in-law), K. R. Kostlin, Adolf Hilgenfeld of 
Jena, Otto Pfleiderer of Berlin, Gustav Volkmar 
of Zurich (died 1896), Edmond Scherer and 
Timothee Colani in France, the founders of the 
Revue de Theologie. 

Baur discerned a key to the understanding 
of early Church history in the antagonism be- 
tween Paul and his school on the one side, who 
desired the free admission of uncircumcised 
Gentiles into the Messianic society which 
gathered around the memory of Jesus, and Peter 
and John, his personal disciples, and James, his 
brother, and first president of the Church of 
Jerusalem, on the other. The latter had known 
Jesus in the flesh, and insisted on the observance 
of the Jewish law in the matter of food and 
meats, ablutions, Sabbath observance, and 
circumcision. They would have confined the 
new "heresy" or following of Jesus Christ to 
Jews and orthodox proselytes. Through the 
gate of the old law alone could any enter the 
promised Kingdom which a deus ex machina was 
soon to substitute on Jewish soil for the dis- 
graceful tyranny of a Roman governor and his 
legions. This antagonism colours the four 
great epistles of Paul, Romans, I and 2 Corin- 

Foreign Work 131 

thians, and Galatians, and the hatred of Paul 
long continued among the Palestinian Christians, 
who caricatured him as Simon Magus, and 
adopted the lifelike personal description of him 
which still survives in the "Acts of Thekla" as 
a picture of the Anti- Christ. 

This antagonism between Peter and Paul, the 
two traditional founders of the leading Church 
of Rome, was for the Catholic Church a sort of 
skeleton in the cupboard, and caused much 
searching of hearts among the orthodox as early 
as the fourth century. By way of setting their 
misgivings at rest, Jerome advanced his fa- 
mous hypothesis that the dispute with Peter re- 
lated by Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians was 
no more than a comedy arranged between the 
two in order to throw Jewish zealots off the scent. 
In general, orthodox historians have sought to 
minimise the importance of the matter; they 
could hardly do otherwise. But Baur was not 
a man to wriggle out of a difficulty. He saw, 
and rightly saw, its importance; and he tried 
to reconstruct the chronological order of the 
earliest writings of the Church on the principle 
that those in which the quarrel is still open and 
avowed must have preceded those which try to 
gloss it over and to pretend that it was never 
serious. In proportion, Baur argued, as the 
antagonism died down and leading men on each 
side drew together in the face of persecution by 

i3 2 New Testament Criticism 

Jews and Romans, and of the disintegrating 
propaganda of the Gnostics, the Catholic 
Church emerged, a middle party, which little 
by little absorbed the extremes, and whose 
literature was largely inspired by the wish to 
conceal even the scars of wounds which had once 
bled so freely. In the four epistles of Paul above 
named the quarrel is still fresh and actual, and 
therefore they are the most primitive documents 
we have, and are prior to the year 70. So is 
the Apocalypse, an Ebionite document breath- 
ing hatred of Paul. The Synoptic Gospels and 
Acts were written in the interests of reconcilia- 
tion, and followed, instead of preceding, the lost 
gospels of Peter,[of the Hebrews, of the Ebionites, 
of the Egyptians. They are the literary pre- 
cipitate of oral tradition going back in certain 
particulars to the Apostolic age, but, as docu- 
ments, hardly earlier than the middle of the 
second century. The Gospel of Matthew is the 
earliest of them, and most Ebionite; then came 
that of Luke, of which the elements took shape 
under Pauline influence. It is an amplification 
of Marcion's Gospel. Last is Mark's, a neutral 
gospel, made up of odds and ends from the 
other two. The rest of the Pauline epistles are, 
all of them, reconciliation documents of about 
the middle of the second century. The book 
called Acts is an irenicon penned to show how 
harmoniously Peter and Paul could work to- 

Foreign Work 133 

gether, and what good friends they were. The 
epistles of Peter were literary forgeries designed 
with the same object, and the Fourth Gospel 
and the Epistles of John are later than 160. 

The fault of Baur was that he worked his 
theory for more than it was worth; that he 
failed to give due weight to many other ideas 
and tendencies which equally influenced the 
development of Church opinion and literature; 
and, lastly, that he set nearly all the docu- 
ments at least fifty years too late. Later 
research has triumphantly proved that Mark 
is not a compilation from Matthew and Luke, 
but their basis, and that our Luke was in Mar- 
cion's hands, and mutilated by him to suit his 
views. Large fragments of the Gospel of Peter, 
and, probably, of that of the Egyptians, have 
been rescued from the tombs and sands of Egypt ; 
and it turns out that, even if they were not 
copied or imitated from the Synoptics, they 
were certainly not their sources. Generally 
speaking, they are more modern in their tone 
and post- Galilean. A more thorough examina- 
tion of the idiom and vocabulary of i Thessalo- 
nians, Philippians, and Philemon shows that these 
epistles are from the same hand which penned 
the four undisputed ones; and Baur's greatest 
disciple, Hilgenfeld, has shown this to be the 
case. One great merit, however, must anyhow be 
ascribed to Baur, that of forcing all subsequent 

134 New Testament Criticism 

investigators to consider the documents purely 
in relation to the age which'saw their birth, and 
to explain them from the influences which were 
at work, instead of envisaging them as isolated 
works of detached thinkers and teachers. If a 
book seems to be a forgery, we must at once ask 
Cui bono in the interests of what and of whom 
was it forged? If it is admittedly authentic, its 
place in the development of doctrine and opinion 
and,, events, the phase which it reflects, must 
still be studied and set forth. Historical per- 
spective is all-important, no less in relation to 
the documents of the early Church than to those 
of any other literature. This must ever be the 
most fruitful method of interpretation, and it is 
a hopeful sign that even Latin ecclesiastics are 
furtively beginning to apply it. 

Baur had approached theology through the 
philosophy of Schleiermacher and Hegel. "Ohne 
Philosophic, " he wrote, "bleibt mir die Geschichte 
ewig tod und stumm." 1 ' To Strauss also (born 
1808, died 1874) philosophy was a first love, 
and he too dreamed of framing Church history 
in a niche of Hegel's system of logic. He studied 
at Blaubeuren under Baur, at Maulbronn, and 
in Berlin, and in 1832 became a teacher in the 
University of Tubingen, where he found his old 

1 "Without philosophy history remains for me ever 
dead and dumb." 

Foreign Work 135 

master Baur. His instinct was to devote him- 
self to philosophical teaching, but the authorities 
obliged him to remain attached to the theological 
faculty, and the result was his Leben Jesu, or 
"Life of Jesus," which appeared in 1835. The 
work was a gigantic success. He woke up to 
find himself famous, but an outcast without a 
future. The conservatives denounced him to 
the educational authorities, and he was deprived 
of his modest appointment in the university. 
Barely two or three of his friends had the courage 
to take up the cudgels in his defence. His work 
went through many editions, by no means re- 
prints of one another. The third, for example, 
made some concessions to the orthodox stand- 
point, which he took back in the later editions. 
In 1839 the chair of Dogmatic at Zurich was 
offered him, but there such an uproar was raised 
by pietists that the Swiss authorities revoked 
the appointment, giving him a small pension 
instead. After that he spent a wandering and 
rather unhappy life, turning his pen to profane 
history and literary criticism, and writing among 
other things a valuable monograph on Reimarus. 
In 1864 he returned to theology, and published 
A Life of Jesus for the German People. 

In his preface to this he remarks on the happy 
change which had taken place in public opinion 
since 1835, when his enemies complained that 
he might at least have concealed his thoughts 

136 New Testament Criticism 

from the general public by writing in Latin. 
In fact, the very outcry against him, for being 
pitched in so shrill a key, had reached the ears 
of the multitude, and so drawn the attention of 
thousands to a subject of which they would 
otherwise have remained in ignorance. He 
closes this preface with an acknowledgment of 
the value of Kenan's work, which had appeared 
in the interim. "A book," he writes, " which, 
almost before it appeared, was condemned by 
I know not how many bishops, and by the 
Roman Curia itself, must necessarily be a most 
useful book." 

Strauss made a somewhat ungenerous attack 
on the French nation in 1870, which made him 
popular for a time among his countrymen, but 
which cannot be otherwise regarded than as a 
stain on a singularly noble and upright character. 
Beside his prose works, he wrote many elegant 
and touching poems. 

Because Strauss summarily eliminated the 
supernatural element, it has been assumed that 
he turned the entire story of Jesus into myth 
this by those who never read the book they 
denounced, and will hear nothing of a Christ who 
is not through and through a supernatural being. 

The truth is that Strauss understood far better 
than the reactionaries of 1835 the conditions 
under which the gospels took shape, and the 
influences which moulded their narratives. His 


138 New Testament Criticism 

critics argued that, since the first and fourth 
evangelists were eye-witnesses and took part in 
the miraculous episodes, their narratives cannot 
be myths in any sense whatever. Strauss replied 
that the outside evidence in favour of their 
having been eye-witnesses is slender, and the 
internal evidence nil. In this matter the sub- 
sequent development of opinion, even in 
orthodox Church circles, has endorsed Strauss's 
position. No one now contends that Matthew's 
Gospel is other than the work of an unknown 
writer who compiled it out of Mark's Gospel and 
Q, the common document of Matthew and Luke. 
As to John, Professor Sanday, the last upholder 
of it, sacrifices its historicity when he argues 
that none but an apostle would have taken 
such liberties with the life of his Master; 
and the Rev. J. M. Thompson, 1 who assuredly 
voices the opinion of the younger and better 
educated of the English clergy, pronounces this 
gospel to be "not a biography, but a treatise in 
theology." "Its author," he goes on to ob- 
serve, "would be almost as ready to sacrifice 
historical truth where it clashes with his dog- 
matic purpose as he is (apparently) anxious to 
observe it where it illustrates his point." 

Strauss displayed more insight than Baur 
when he declared that the single generation 
which elapsed between the death of Jesus and 

1 Jesus According to St. Mark, London, 1909, p. n. 

Foreign Work 139 

the date of the earliest gospel was amply long 
enough time for such mythical accretions as we 
find to gather about the memory of Jesus. 
Messianic ideas of the Old Testament, early 
aspirations of believers, the desire to conform 
the sparse records of his ministry to supposed 
prophecies and to parallel his figure with those of 
Moses and Elijah these and many other in- 
fluences rapidly generated in a credulous age and 
society the Saga-like tales of the gospels about 
his miraculous powers. These tales Strauss 
discussed in a chapter entitled " Storm, Sea, 
and Fish Stories. " 

Strauss was the first German writer to discern 
the emptiness for historical purposes of the 
Fourth Gospel, which Schleiermacher had in- 
vested with a halo of authority, and by which 
even Renan was deceived. He pronounced it to 
be a work of apologetic Christology, composed 
by a Gnostic who wished to uphold the flesh- 
and-blood reality of Jesus against other Gnostics 
who denied that reality and resolved him into a 
merely phantasmal being. Advanced critics in 
that age lauded this gospel because it contains 
so little eschatology. That single fact, replied 
Strauss, convicts it of being both late and false. 

Jesus [he wrote] in any case expected that 
he would set up the throne of David afresh, 
and with the help of his twelve disciples 
reign over a liberated people. Yet he never 

140 New Testament Criticism 

set any trust in the swords of human followers 
(Luke xxii., 38, Matt, xxvi., 52), but only in 
the legions of angels, which his heavenly 
Father would send to his aid (Matt, xxvi., 
53). Wherever he speaks of his advent in 
Messianic glory, it is with angels and heaven- 
ly Hosts (i.e., not with human warriors) that 
he surrounds himself (Matt, xvi., 27, xxiv., 
30 ff., xxv., 31) ; before the majesty of a Son 
of Man coming in the clouds of heaven the 
Gentiles will bow without any drawing of 
swords, and at the call of the Angel's trumpet 
will along with the dead risen from their 
tombs submit themselves for judgment to 
him and his Twelve. But this consumma- 
tion Jesus did not hope to effect by his own 
will; he left it to the heavenly Father, who 
alone knows the right moment at which to 
bring about the catastrophe (Mark xiii., 32), 
to give him the signal. That, he hoped, 
would save him from any error in supposing 
that the end was reached before due warning 
was given. Let those who would banish this 
point of view from the background of Jesus* 
Messianic plan and outlook, merely because 
it seems to turn him into a visionary, only 
reflect how exactly these hopes agreed with 
the long-cherished Messianic ideas of the 
Jews, and how easily even a sensible man, 
breathing the contemporary atmosphere of 
supernaturalism, and shut up in the narrow 
circle of Jewish nationality, might be drawn 
over to a belief, however superstitious in it- 
self, provided only it embodied the national 
point of view and also contained certain 
elements of truth and grandeur. 

Foreign Work 141 

The eschatological aspects of Jesus* Gospel 
could not be better summed up than in the 
above; and equally admirable are the remarks 
which follow on the Last Supper: 

When Jesus ended this feast with the words, 
Henceforth I will not again drink of the fruit 
of the vine, until I drink it with you new in my 
Father's Kingdom, he must have anticipated 
that the Passover would be celebrated in the 
Messianic kingdom with special solemnity. 
If, therefore, he assures his disciples that he 
will next enjoy this annually recurring feast, 
not in this, but in the next age (<zori), that 
shows that he expected this pre- Messianic 
world-order to be removed and the Messianic 
to take its place within the year. 

Here Strauss anticipates Wellhausen and 
other intelligent commentators of to-day. With 
the same firm insight he traces the gradual emer- 
gence in Jesus of the consciousness that he was 
himself the promised Messiah. In Matt, xii., 8, 
he remarks, here again anticipating the best 
recent criticism, that the Son of Man in the text, 
"The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath," 
may mean simply Man in general; but in another 
class of passages, where Jesus speaks of the Son 
of Man, a supernatural person is intended wholly 
distinct from himself, as the Messiah generically. 
This, for example, is the natural interpretation 
of the passage Matt, x., 23, where at the sending 

142 New Testament Criticism 

forth of the disciples he assures them that they 
will not have completed their tour of the Jewish 
cities before the Son of Man shall come. Here 
surely Jesus speaks of the Messiah as being 
himself the Messiah's forerunner. In that case 
this utterance must belong to the earliest period 
of his career, before he recognised himself to 
be the Messiah. As Dr. Schweitzer, to whom 
I am indebted for the above remarks, says (p. 
89), Strauss hardly realised the importance of 
the remark which he here throws out, but it 
contains the kernel of the solution of the problem 
of the Son of Man recently provided by the most 
acute of German critics, Johannes Weiss. 1 

Strauss also goes far to explain the genesis of 
Paul's conception of Jesus as a pre-existent being. 
Jesus, he argues, clearly conceived of his Messi- 
anic role as involving this much namely, that 
he, the Born of Earth, was to be taken up into 
heaven after he had completed his earthly 
career, and was to return thence in glory in order 
to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth. 

Now, in the higher Jewish theology, im- 
mediately after the age of Jesus, we meet with 
the idea of a pre-existence of the Messiah. 
The supposition, therefore, lies near at hand 
that the same idea was already current at the 

1 Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes i.e., "Jesus' 
Preaching of the kingdom of God." First edition 1892, 
second 1900. 

Foreign Work 143 

time when Jesus was becoming known; and 
that once he apprehended himself as Mes- 
siah he may have appropriated to himself 
this further trait of Messianic portraiture. 
The only question is whether Jesus was so 
deeply initiated as Paul in the school- wisdom 
of his age, so as to have borrowed from it this 

That Jesus exoected to come amid clouds and 
with the angelic hosts to usher in his kingdom is, 
according to Strauss, quite certain. The only 
question is whether he expected his own death 
to intervene, or only thought that the glorious 
moment would surprise him in the midst of this 
life. From Matt, x., 23 and xvi., 28 one might 
infer the latter. But it always remains possible 
that, supposing he later on came to anticipate 
his death as certain, his ideas may have shaped 
themselves by way of a final form into what is 
expressed in Matt, xxvi., 64. 

Strauss 's chief defect was that he did not pay 
enough attention to the relations in which the 
Synoptic gospels stand to one another, and his 
neglect of this problem obscured for him many 
features of the first and third gospels. Like 
Schleiermacher, he believed Mark's gospel to be 
a mere compilation from the other two, and 
regarded it as a satellite of Matthew's gospel 
without any light of its own. The many graphic 
touches which distinguish this gospel were, so 

144 New Testament Criticism 

he argued, Saga-like exaggerations of the com- 
piler. His work would have gained in clearness 
and grasp if he had understood that Mark's gos- 
pel forms the basis of the other two Synoptists, 
and furnishes them with the order in which they 
arrange their incidents. Without this clue a 
critic or commentator is sure to go beating about 
the bush after the manner of an old-fashioned 
harmonist, here laying stress on Matthew's 
sequence of events, there upon Luke's; whereas, 
in point of fact, neither of them had any real 
guide except Mark, from whose order of events 
they only departed in order to pursue that of 
their unassisted imaginations. 

The circumstances of Kenan's life are so well 
known that I need not repeat them. Who has 
not read that most exquisite of autobiographies, 
the Souvenirs d j Enfance et de Jeunesse, in which 
he leads us along the path of his intellectual 
emancipation from being the inmate of a clerical 
seminary, first in his native Breton village and 
then in Paris, to becoming the author of The 
Life of Jesus, The Apostles (1866), z St. Paul 
(1869), Antichrist (1873), The Gospels (1877), 
Marcus Aurelius (1881). These volumes will 
continue to be read for their glamour of style, 
no less than for their candour and nobility of 
sentiment; for on all that he wrote, however 
technical and learned the subject-matter, Renan 

1 Translated by W. G. Hutchison for the R. P. A., 1905. 


146 New Testament Criticism 

set the stamp of his character and personality. 
But these volumes also impress us by the vast 
learning which lies behind them. German 
theologians too often overwhelm us by their 
learning, and in reading them we cannot see the 
wood for the trees. But Renan never commit- 
ted this fault. Hardly a page of his that does 
not help us to a clear perspective of the period 
and subject he is handling. He contrasts with 
clumsy but learned writers like Keim, as a grace* 
ful symmetrical city like Perugia set on a hill 
amid Italian skies contrasts with an English 
manufacturing city, a planless congeries of vul- 
gar abominations framed in grime and smoke 
and dirt. The fanatics chased Renan in 1862 
from the chair he held of Semitic Studies, and 
he was only restored by the French Republic in 
1871 ; but he was not in the least embittered by 
the experience, and, in spite of their volleys of 
execration, he continued to the end to cherish 
the kindliest feelings towards a clergy he had so 
narrowly escaped from joining. 

Of the works enumerated The Life of Jesus, 
though it is the best known, is not the most 
valuable; for when he wrote it Renan was still 
under the spell of the fourth gospel, and inclined 
to use it as an embodiment of genuine traditions 
unknown to and therefore unrecorded by the 
three other evangelists. Then, again, his por- 
traiture of Jesus as a simpering, sentimental 

Foreign Work 147 

person, sometimes stooping to tricks, must grate 
upon many who yet are not in the least devout 

There is thus some justification for Schweit- 
zer's verdict that it is waxworks, lyrical and 
stagey. Renan, however, in approaching the 
study of the gospels, had at least the great 
advantage of being a good Hebrew and Talmudic 
scholar; and only want of space forbids me to 
cite many excellent passages inspired by this 
lore. The single one I can give is from Les 
Evangiles, p. 97, and bears on the date of the 
Synoptic Gospels: 

We doubt whether this collection of narra- 
tives, aphorisms, parables, prophetic citations, 
can have been committed to writing earlier 
than the death of the Apostles and before 
the destruction of Jerusalem. It is towards 
the year 75 that we conjecturally set the 
moment at which were sketched out the 
features of that image before which eighteen 
centuries have knelt. Batanea, where the 
brethren of Jesus lived, and whither the 
remains of the Church of Jerusalem had fled, 
seems to have been the district where this 
important work was accomplished. The 
language used was that in which Jesus' own 
words words that men knew by heart 
were couched; that is to say, the Syro-Chal- 
daic, wrongly denominated Hebrew. Jesus' 
brethren and the refugee Christians from 
Jerusalem spoke this language, which indeed 

148 New Testament Criticism 


differed little from that of such inhabitants of 
Batanea as had not adopted Greek. It was 
in this dialect, obscure and devoid of literary 
culture, that was traced the first pencil sketch 
of the book which has charmed so many souls. 
No doubt, if the Gospel had remained a 
Hebrew or Syriac book, its fortunes would 
soon have been cut short. It was in a Greek 
dress that the Gospel was destined to reach 
perfection and assume the final form in 
which it has gone round the world. Still 
we must not forget that the Gospel was, to 
begin with, a Syrian book, written in a 
Semitic language. The style of the Gospel, 
that charming trick of childlike narrative 
which recalls the limpidest pages of the old 
Hebrew Scriptures, pervaded by a sort of ideal 
ether that the ancient people knew not, has 
in it nothing Hellenic. It is based on Hebrew. 

In this volume Renan corrected the error into 
which he had fallen of overrating the historical 
value of the fourth gospel. His appreciations of 
the other gospels are very just, and he rightly 
rejects the opinion, which still governed most 
minds, that the second gospel is a compilation 
from the first and third. 


FAR back in the nineteenth century the task 
of introducing to the English public in 
translations the works of the more scholarly 
and open - minded German theologians was 
already begun, and Strauss 's Life of Jesus was 
twice published in our tongue, first in 1846, 
and again in 1865. The earlier translator de- 
plores the fact that "no respectable English 
publisher" would attempt the publication of 
his book "from a fear of persecution." The 
Anglican clergy, much more the Nonconformist, 
remained untouched by the new learning until 
the last two or three decades of that century; 
and it is a significant fact that the only work 
of its middle time which really threw light on 
the composition of the gospels, or would have 
done so could any one in theological circles have 
been induced to read it, was the work of a lay- 
man, James Smith, of Jordanhill, a leading geo- 
logist and a F.R.S. In his Dissertation on the 
Origin and Connection of the Gospels (Black- 

15 New Testament Criticism 

wood, 1853) we find an abundance of shrewd 
surmises and conclusions. Thus, a propos of 
the multiplicity of readings found in MSS. a 
multiplicity which sorely scandalised the be- 
lievers in verbal inspiration, who were puzzled 
to say which one of ten different readings in a 
single passage was due to the Holy Ghost rather 
than to a copyist Smith remarks that "there 
is a greater amount of verbal agreement in the 
more modern MSS. than we find in the earliest 
existing ones." Here is a truth to which critics 
are only just now waking up viz., that the 
text was never in any degree fixed until it was 
canonised and consecrated. Till then it was 
more or less in flux. For the rest, Smith argued 
that Luke and Matthew used the Hebrew 
original, of which Mark was the translator, 
rather than that they used our Mark. This 
was an error, but an error in the direction of the 
truth. It is impossible, however, to acquiesce 
in the view that the agreement between Mat- 
thew and Mark is translational only, except 
in so far as Mark in rendering his source (as to 
which Smith accepted Papias's tradition that 
he was interpreter of Peter) made much use of 
an earlier version of the same made by Matthew. 
Luke, he believed, wrote with both Mark and 
Matthew before him. 

But Smith's real achievement was to over- 
throw the old superstition that inspired evan- 

English Work 151 

gelists could not have written at all except 
in complete independence of one another, and 
without the servile necessity of copying com- 
mon documents. English divines rightly felt 
that the citadel of inspiration was breached if 
it were once proved that the Evangelists copied 
either one another or common documents; and 
sound criticism could not take root among 
them until this prejudice was dispelled. It 
has practically vanished to-day; but it vanished 
tardily, and divines are now employed in de- 
vising plasters and bandages to cover the 
wounds inflicted on their faith. It seems 
strange that nineteenth-century divines could 
not admit what, as James Smith remarks, 
was obvious to the early Fathers; yet so it was. 
For example, Augustine wrote thus of the 
Evangelists : 

We do not find that they were minded, 
each of them, to write as if he was ignorant 
of his fellow who went before him, nor that 
the one left out by ignorance what we find 
another writing. 1 

Augustine also believed that Mark had Mat- 
thew before him, and followed him. 

Even the celebrated Dr. Lardner, in his 
History of the Apostles and Evangelists, was 
wedded to this hypothesis of the mutual inde- 

1 De Cons, Evang., i., c. i. 

152 New Testament Criticism 

pendence of the gospels. He and others of his 
age deemed it to be evident from the nature 
and design of the first three gospels that their 
authors had not seen any authentic history of 
Jesus Christ; and the fact that the Synoptists 
"have several things peculiar to themselves'* 
was held to "show that they did not borrow 
from each other 1 ;" yet more "the seeming 
[mark well the meiosis of the professional 
divine!] contradictions which exist in the first 
three gospels" were adduced as "evidence that 
the Evangelists did not write by concert, or 
after having seen each other's gospels." 

Dr. Davidson, a comparatively liberal divine, 
and one who suffered for his liberality, argued in 
the same way in his Introduction to the New 
Testament. Smith, however, wrote in answer as 
follows : 

There is not a single phenomenon ad- 
duced in proof that the Evangelists made 
no use of the works of their predecessors, 
but what may be met with in these modern 
contemporary historians, in cases where we 
know that they did make use of the works 
of their predecessors. 

This position he proved incontestably by con- 
fronting in parallel columns narratives of the 
same incidents written by Sir Archibald Alison 

1 So Home in his now forgotten Introduction to the Bible. 

English Work 153 

in his History of the French Revolution^ by Gen- 
eral Napier, and by Suchet in his Memoirs of 
the war in Spain. Napier was an eye-witness, 
and also used Suchet. Alison used both. To the 
divines of that generation who fell back on the 
soft option of oral tradition, because that alter- 
native was to their minds least incompatible 
with verbal inspiration, Smith replied in words 
which put the matter in a nutshell. He writes 
(p. xlviii.): 

A stereotyped cyclus of oral tradition never 
did nor ever can exist. Even poetry cannot 
be repeated without variations. 

There is one phenomenon peculiar to 
compositions derived from the same written 
sources, which may be termed the phenome- 
non of tallying. The writers may add mat- 
ter drawn from other sources, or they leave 
out passages; but ever and anon they return 
to the original authority, where they will 
be found to tally with each other; but it is 
only in such cases that such correspondences 
occur. Hence, when they do occur, we 
are warranted in inferring the existence of a 
written original. 

Mr. W. G. Rushbrooke, at the instance and 
with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. Edwin A. 
Abbott, 1 Headmaster of the City of London 

1 With the collaboration of another distinguished Cam- 
bridge scholar, Dr. Hort. 

154 New Testament Criticism 

School, finally settled the matter in a work 
entitled Synopticon (London, 1880). In this 
he arranged in parallel columns the texts of 
Mark, Matthew, and Luke, picking out in red 
whatever is common to all three, and in other 
distinctive types whatever any two of them share 
in common. The originality of Mark was thus 
demonstrated once for all. There are barely 
half-a-dozen passages which suggest that Mat- 
thew had access to the ulterior documents used 
by Mark; so complete is his dependence on the 
latter, as he has been transmitted to us. It 
was not, of course, a new view. Herder had 
discerned the fact, and the German scholar 
Lachmann had pointed out as early as 1835, in 
his Studien und Kritiken, that Mark provided 
the mould in which the matter of Matthew and 
Luke was cast. "The diversity of order in the 
gospel narratives is," he wrote, "not so great 
as appears to many. It is greatest if you com- 
pare them all with one another, or Luke with 
Matthew ; small if you compare Mark separately 
with the other two." In other words, Mark 
provides the common term between Luke and 
Matthew. The matter is so plain if we glance 
at a single page of the Synopticon that one won- 
ders at any one ever having had any doubts 

about it. 


And here we are led to refer to the famous 
controversy between Bishop Lightfoot and the 

English Work 155 

author of 3 work entitled Supernatural Religion, 
of which the first edition appeared in 1874 
anonymously from the pen of Mr. Walter R. 
Gassels. In that work it was argued that our 
Gospels of Matthew and Mark cannot be 
those signified by Papias, whose words, as 
quoted by Eusebius, run thus: 

Mark became the interpreter of Peter, 
and wrote down accurately as much as he 
(? Mark or Peter) remembered (or re- 
minded him of), not, however, in order, of 
what was either said or done by Christ. 
For he neither heard the Lord, nor was one 
of his followers; but later on became, as I 
have said, a follower of Peter, who suited his 
teachings to people's needs, without making 
an orderly array of the Dominical words; so 
that Mark committed no error in thus writ- 
ing down certain things as he could re- 
collect them; for his one concern was to 
omit nothing he heard, and to falsify no- 
thing therein. 

Matthew, however, composed (or set in 
order) the Logia (or oracles) in the Hebrew 
dialect, and every one interpreted them as 
best he could. 

Lightfoot waxed ironical, because the author 
of Supernatural Religion questioned if our Mark 
were the same as the Mark of Papias. But, if 
Papias's Matthew was quite another document 
than ours, why not also his Mark? the more so 

156 New Testament Criticism 

because his description of Mark as a work de- 
void of chronological order ill suits the Mark 
which stands in our Bibles; for the latter is 
most careful about the order of events, and pro- 
vides a skeleton order for the other two Evan- 
gelists. Except in so far as they both follow 
Mark, the two other Synoptists exhibit no 
order of events whatever. 

For the rest, Lightfoot proved that his an- 
tagonist misinterpreted Eusebius's use of Pa- 
pias. For where the historian merely states 
that Papias used and quoted certain books of 
the New Testament like the Johannine Epis- 
tles which, as not being accepted by all the 
Churches, were called Antilegomena, Mr. Cas- 
sels over-hastily inferred Eusebius to mean that 
Papias did not know of other cognate Scrip- 
tures universally received in the Eusebian age; 
for example, the fourth gospel. In the case 
of generally received books, Eusebius was not 
concerned to inform us whether or not he had 
found them cited in Papias, and therefore in 
such cases no argument can be based on his 
silence. Papias may or may not have had 
them. We only know for certain that he had 
those of the Antilegomena, which Eusebius 
declares he had. 

The Bishop was also able to pick a few holes 
in his adversary's scholarship, and to refute his 
thesis that our Luke is merely a later edition of 

English Work 157 

Marcion's Gospel. He could not, however, 
touch the chapter on the Authorship and Char- 
acter of the Fourth Gospel, and had nothing to 
oppose to the remarkable opening chapters on 
Miracles, except the usual commonplaces of 
hazy pietism. In critical outlook Lightfoot 
held no superiority, though he was a better 
scholar and, within the narrow circle of his 
premises, a more careful and accurate worker. 

Not that, on the other hand, the book he 
criticised has not grave shortcomings. In 
general it underestimates the external evidence 
in favour of the age of the Synoptic gospels; 
and its author has no clear idea either of the 
relations in which they stand to each other, 
or of the supreme importance of ascertaining 
those relations correctly. He moved exclu- 
sively in the circle of Baur's ideas, and had neg- 
lected other German books of equal weight, like 
those of C. H. Weisse and C. G. Wilke, pub- 
lished in 1838. The index of the book has 
no reference to the eschatolqgy of the gospels 
and of Paul; and to this important subject it 
contains few, and those few the most meagre, 
references. In all these respects, however, 
Dr. Lightfoot was as poorly equipped as Mr. 

Another famous controversy which aroused 
the Oxford and Cambridge of my youth (1880- 
1890) was that of Dean Burgon with the Re- 

158 New Testament Criticism 

visers of the English Bible, and especially 
of the New Testament. This quarrel raged 
around the so-called Received Text, or Textus 
Receptus. Before the year 1633 such a term 
was unknown; but in that year the Elzevir firm 
in Leiden and Amsterdam issued a slightly 
revised text of Beza's New Testament (of 1565), 
which was, in turn, little more than a reprint 
of Stephanus's or Estienne's fourth edition of 
1551. That, in turn, was a reprint of a large 
edition called the Regia, or Royal, which gave 
Erasmus's first text with variants from fifteen 
MSS., and from the Spanish Editio Princeps 
of Alcala. Erasmus's edition was based on 
half-a-dozen late MSS. Now, an unknown 
scholar who prepared this edition of 1633 wrote 
in his preface the words: "Here, then, you 
have the text now received by all, in which we 
give nothing altered or corrupt." 

Altered from what? There was no stand- 
ard, save the earlier editions, and these re- 
presented only a score or so of the 1300 cursive 
MSS. now known to exist, and not a single one 
of the twelve great uncial MSS. of tlm gospels 
ranging from the fourth to the ninttfi century. 
During the eighteenth century further- Editions 
were issued of the New Testament by such 
scholars as John Mill, Wells, Bentley, and Mace 
in England; by Bengel, Wettstein, Semler, 
Griesbach, and Matthai abroad, who continually 


Dean of Chichester. 

160 New Testament Criticism 

collated fresh MSS. and ancient versions, either 
adding the new variants below the text or even 
introducing them into the text. In the nine- 
teenth century O|rl Lachmann (1831) issued at 
Berlin the first Really scientific text of the New 
Testament. He" followed the earliest MSS., and 
gave weight to' the very ancient Latin versions 
of Africa and Italy. He remarked that an 
editor who confined himself to the most ancient 
sources could find no use for the so-called Re- 
ceived Text; and he accordingly relegated the 
readings of this to the obscurity of an appendix. 
He followed up this edition with later ones in 
1842 and 1850, expanding each time his critical 
apparatus. 1 

If Lachmann had been an orthodox divine, he 
might have shrunk from such innovations; but 
he was primarily a classical scholar, concerned 
with the texts of Homer, Lucretius, and other 
profane authors; and he merely brought to the 
study of the New Testament text the critical 
canons and the principles of candour and hon- 
esty in common vogue among classical philolo- 
gists. But he reaped the reward of unpopularity 
which is in store for all who discover anything 
that is new or true in the field of religion. The 

1 Critical apparatus is the technical term for the tabu- 
lated textual variants taken from MSS. and added, some- 
times with conjectural emendations of the editor himself, 
underneath a classical text. 

English Work 161 

pietists had been growling for over a century 
at the number of various readings printed by 
scholars in their editions of the New Testament, 
and cudgelling their brains how to reconcile all 
these diversities of text and meaning with the 
supposed inspiration of the book. To such 
minds Lachmann's edition, which set aside 
with contempt the entire Textus Receptus, 
savoured of open blasphemy, and in a hundred 
keys they let him know it. But the world was 
moving, and the new developments of Old 
Testament criticism encouraged students of the 
New Testament to bolder flights. Colenso 
seemed to suffer for the advancement of Hebrew 
studies only; but the persecutions he endured 
nerved younger men with honest hearts to under- 
take the study of the New Testament in the 
same free spirit. In Germany Constantine 
Tischendorf carried on the good work of Lach- 
mann, discovering and editing many new MSS., 
and in particular the great uncial of the Con- 
vent of Sinai, called by scholars Aleph. In 
England Scrivener, Tregelles, Westcott, and 
Hort devoted their lives to the accumulation of 
new material and to the preparation of better 

At last, in 1870, the English clergy awoke to 
the fact that the Received Text as given in the 
old authorised version of King James's trans- 
lators was no longer satisfactory, and the two 

162 New ^Testament Criticism 

Houses of Collocation appointed a body of 
revisers to prepare a new English version. 
This was issued in 1881, and the editors state 
in their preface the reasons which justified its 
appearance. The ^editions of Stephanus and 
Beza, and the ComplutenSian Polyglott, from 
which the authorised English version was made, 
were, they allege, "based on manuscripts of 
late date, few in number, and used with little 
critical skill." 

This Revised Version of 1881 marks a great 
advance in interpretation in so far as it is based 
on the earliest known MSS., and especially on 
the great uncials; and also in that, wherever 
practicable, it adheres to the same English 
equivalent of a Greek word or phrase. This 
uniformity in the rendering of the same words 
enables a student who knows no Greek to trace 
out accurately the triple and double traditions in 
the texts of the gospels. Its defects briefly are, 
firstly, that, owing to the number of the scholars 
employed in revising, and the difficulty of getting 
them to agree, the text often has the patch- 
work appearance of a compromise; and, se- 
condly, that, inasmuch as they were orthodox and 
somewhat timid divines, the more orthodox of 
two or more ancient readings or interpretations 
is commonly printed in the text, the rival ones 
being consigned to the margin or altogether 

English Work . 163 


ignored for fear of shocking the weaker brethren. 
A genuine scholar detects on rrtany a page of it 
the work of rather weak-kneed* people. 

None the less it was too strong meat for the 
run of the English clergy, wjao found a spokes- 
man in the Rev. William Burgon, a Fellow of 
Oriel College in Oxford, vicar of the University 
Church, and finally Dean of Chichester, an old- 
fashioned scholar of much learning, and a master 
of mordant wit and incisive language. He 
fell upon his fellow- divines with a fury which 
provoked much amusement among the scoffers, 
and if his bon-mots could have been printed 
in a cheap form and disseminated among the 
<&t crowd, I venture to think they would have 
been more effective than all the lectures of 
Mr. Bradlaugh and Colonel Ingersoll for the 
cause that those lecturers had at heart. I 
copy out a few flosculi from the good Dean's 
articles in the Quarterly Review, entitled "The 
Revision Revised," and from his Epistle of 
Protest addressed to Bishop Ellicott, who 
had acted as president of the committee of 

Drs. Westcott and Hort, of Cambridge, 
were by far the most competent of the Re- 
visers, who as a rule deferred, and wisely, to 
their judgment, taking as their standard the 
Greek text of the New Testament prepared by 

164 New Testament Criticism 

them. Of these scholars, therefore, Burgon 
writes : 

The absolute absurdity (I use the word 
advisedly) of Westcott and Hort's New 
Textual Theory. . . . 

In their solemn pages an attentive reader 
finds himself encountered by nothing but a 
series of unsupported assumptions. . . . 

Their (so-called) "Theory" is in reality 
nothing else but a weak effort of the imagina- 

Of the Revision itself he writes : 

It is the most astonishing as well as the 
most calamitous literary blunder of the 
age. . ^. . 

Their [the Revisers'] uncouth phraseology 
and their jerky sentences, their pedantic ob- 
scurity and their unidiomatic English. . . . 

The systematic depravation of the un- 
derlying Greek is nothing else but a poison- 
ing of the River of Life at its sacred source. 
Our Revisers (with the best and purest 
intentions, no doubt) stand convicted of 
having deliberately rejected the words of 
inspiration in every page. . . . 

Of the five oldest Greek manuscripts on 
which the Revisers relied, called by scholars 
for sake of reference Aleph A B C D, the Dean 
writes that they 

are among the most corrupt documents . 
extant. Each of these codices (Aleph B D) 
clearly exhibits a fabricated text is the re- 
sult of arbitrary and reckless recension. . . . 

English Work 165 

The two most weighty of these codices, 
Aleph and B, he likens to the "two false wit- 
nesses" of Matt, xxvi., 60. Of these two I have 
supplied my readers with facsimiles (see pp. 
9 and 48). 

But it is on Bishop Ellicott that he empties 
out the vials of his wrath in such terms as the 
following : 

You, my Lord Bishop, who have never 
gone deeply into the subject, repose simply 
on prejudice. Never having at any time 
collated codices Aleph A B C D for your- 
self, you are unable to gainsay a single state- 
ment of mine by a counter-appeal to facts. 
Your textual learning proves to have been all 
obtained at second-hand. . . . 

Did you ever take the trouble to collate a 
sacred MS.? If yon ever did, pray with 
what did you make your collation? ... 

You flout me: you scold me: you lecture 
me. But I do not find that you ever 
answer me. You reproduce the theory of 
Drs. Westcott and Hort which I claim to 
have demolished. . . . Denunciation, my 
Lord Bishop, is not argument; neither is 
reiteration proof. . . . 

Not only have you, on countless oc- 
casions, thrust out words, clauses, entire 
sentences, of genuine Scripture, but you 
have been careful that no trace shall sur- 
vive of the fatal injury which you have 
inflicted. I wonder you were not afraid. 
Can I be wrong in deeming such a proceed- 

1 66 New Testament Criticism 

ing in a high degree sinful? Has not the 
SPIRIT pronounced a tremendous doom 
against those who do such things (Rev. 
xxii., 19) ? 

The Revisers had admitted among their 
number a learned Unitarian minister, Dr. G. 
Vance Smith. This, writes Burgon, is, "it 
seems to me, nothing else but an insult to our 
Divine Master and a wrong to the Church." 
Of the marginal note set by the Revisers against 
Romans ix., 5, he complains that it is " a Socinian 
gloss gratuitously thrust into the margin of 
every Englishman's New Testament." 

Poor Dean Farrar escapes with an expression 
of contempt for his "hysterical remarks." 

Nevertheless, in his saner moments Burgon 
entertained a very just ideal of textual critic- 
ism, and in the same volume from which I have 
made the above quotations he writes (p. 125) 
as follows: 

The fundamental principles of the science 
of textual criticism are not yet apprehended. 
. . . Let a generation of students give 
themselves entirely up to this neglected 
branch of sacred science. Let 500 more 
copies of the Gospels. Acts, and Epistles be 
diligently collated. Let at least 100 of the 
ancient Lectionaries be very exactly collated 
also. Let the most important versions be 
edited afresh, and let the languages in 

English Work 167 

which these are written be for the first 
time really mastered by Englishmen. Above 
all, let the Fathers be called upon to give up 
their precious secrets. Let their writings be 
ransacked and indexed, and (where needful) 
let the MSS. of their works be diligently 
inspected, in order that we may know what 
actually is the evidence which they afford. 
Only so will it ever be possible to obtain a 
Greek text on which absolute reliance may 
be placed, and which may serve as the basis 
for a satisfactory revision of our Authorised 

It is a curious indication of the muddle into 
which theological arriere pensee can get other- 
wise honest men that almost in the same breath 
Burgon could prejudge the question at issue 
and write as follows (Feb. 21, 1887) to Lord 
Cranbrook : 

You will understand then that, in brief, 
my object is to vindicate the Traditional 
Text of the New Testament against all its 
past and present assailants, and to establish 
it on such a basis of security that it may be 
incapable of being effectually disturbed any 
more. I propose myself to lay down logi- 
cal principles, and to demonstrate that men 
have been going wrong for the last fifty 
years, and to explain how this has come to 
pass in every instance, and to get them to 
admit their error. At least, I will con- 
vince every fair person that the truth is 

1 68 New Testament Criticism 

what I say it is viz., that in nine cases out 
of ten the commonly received text is the true 

There was some ground then for the gibe that 
Burgon's one aim was to canonise the mis- 
prints of a sixteenth-century printer. He was, 
in fact, upholding a paradox; he would not 
perhaps could not, so dense was the veil of 
prejudice with which the old theory of inspira- 
tion covered his eyes see that prior to the 
collection of the gospels in a canon, about the 
year 180, and while they were still circulating 
singly in isolated churches, their text was less 
fixed and more liable to changes, doctrinal and 
transcriptional, than they ever were afterwards; 
and that the ultimate text, if there ever was one 
that deserves to be so called, is for ever ir- 
recoverable. The reductio ad absurdum of his 
bias for the Received, or rather Vulgar, text 
was, as might be expected, provided by him- 
self. The passage is so picturesque as to merit 
to be cited in its integrity: 

I request that the clock of history may 
be put back 1700 years. This is A.D. 183, 
if you please; and indulge me in the 
supposition! you and I are walking in 
Alexandria. We have reached the house of 
one Clemens, a learned Athenian who has 
long been a resident here. Let us step into 
his library he is from home. What a 
queer place! See, he has been reading his 

English Work 169 

Bible, which is open at St. Mark x. Is it 
not a well-used copy? It must be at least 
fifty or sixty years old. Well, but suppose 
only thirty or forty. It was executed, 
therefore, within fifty years of the death of 
St. John the Evangelist. Come, let us trans- 
cribe two of the columns (aeXiBeq) as faith- 
fully as we possibly can, and be off. . . . 
We are back in England again, and the 
clock has been put right. Now let us sit 
down and examine our curiosity at leisure. 
... It proves on inspection to be a tran- 
script of the fifteen verses (ver. 17 to ver. 31) 
which relate to the coming of the rich young 
ruler to our Lord. 

We make a surprising discovery. ... // 
is impossible to produce a fouler exhibition 
of St. Mark x. y 17-31 than is contained in a 
document older than either B. or Aleph it- 
self the property of one of the most famous of 
the ante-Nicene Fathers. . . . The foulness of 
a text which must have been penned within 
seventy or eighty years of the death of the last 
of the Evangelists is a matter of fact, which 
must be loyally accepted and made the best of. 

The Revised Version, as any one will have 
noticed who has compared it with the old 
authorised texts, omits an enormous number of 
passages, some of which were of great beauty 
and pathos. Accordingly Dean Goulburn, Bur- 
gon's friend, partisan, and biographer, writes 
(Life of J. W. Burgon, ii., 213) thus: 

Are not these three passages alone the 

170 New Testament Criticism 

record of the agony, the record of the first 
saying on the cross, and the doxology of the 
Lord's Prayer passages of such value as to 
make it wrong and cruel to shake the faith 
of ordinary Bible readers in them? 

Here is a pragmatist argument indeed. Truth 
is to be sacrificed to efficiency in practical 
working. In the same temper Canon Liddon 
had written to Burgon lamenting that the Re- 
vision had been conducted more as if it were a 
literary enterprise than a religious one. Neither 
Burgon nor his friends seem to have had any 
idea that, by issuing a translation that is not as 
exact a representation as possible of the oldest 
and most authentic texts procurable, you com- 
mit in the field of religion the same sort of 
crime as a forger does in the commercial world 
by uttering base coin or flash bank-notes. No 
Jesuits were ever more tortuous in their methods. 

In his Introduction to the First Three Gospels 
(Berlin, 1905, p. 6), J. Wellhausen sums up 
Burgon's position by saying that the further the 
manuscript tradition stretches back, the worse 
it becomes. Grey hairs, he laconically adds, 
cannot always save a divine from making a 
fool of himself. 1 Even admirers of Burgon 
had. their misgivings roused by such outbursts 

1 "Richtig ist aller dings, dass Alter nicht vof Thorheit 

English Work 171 

as the one I have cited. If water choked them, 
what had they left to drink? If the two most 
ancient of our uncial codices, Vaticanus B and 
the Sinaitic Aleph, are false witnesses against 
Christ, and if our oldest ascertainable texts of 
the second century excel in "foulness," then 
what corruptions may not lurk in later texts, 
time and the mechanical errors of scribes being 
the sole factors in change which the orthodox 
would allow? There is no doubt that such ver- 
dicts from one so indisputably orthodox and 
learned as the Dean of Chichester helped to 
unsettle the minds of the clergy and educated 
laymen and that they prepared the way for 
the outspoken criticisms of the Encyclopedia 

A tendency has long been visible in the 
Anglican Communion to lighten the ship by 
jettisoning the books of Moses; and the most 
recent results (we write in 1910) of New Testa- 
ment textual criticism have still further under- 
mined faith. The old bulldog-like confidence 
of Burgon and Liddon is seldom shown to-day. 
Mr. Robert Anderson, one of the few whose 
robust orthodoxy is still proof against any and 
all reasoning in these domains, justly states the 
position of the Lux Mundi school as follows: 

The Bible is not infallible, but the 
Church is infallible, and upon the authority 

172 New Testament Criticism 

of the Church our faith can find a sure 
foundation. But how do we know that 
the Church is to be trusted? The ready 
answer is, We know it upon the authority 
of the Bible. That is to say, we trust the 
Bible on the authority of the Church, and 
we trust the Church on the authority of the 
Bible. It is a bad case of "the confidence 
trick " (The Silence of God, 1898, p. 92). 

It remains to be seen whether in the century 
on the threshold of which we stand the authority 
of the thaumaturgic priest will survive that of 
the Bible; and whether the critics, having finally 
discredited the New Testament, will not turn 
their bulls'-eyes on to the history of the Church 
and Sacraments. In this task they will have 
a powerful ally in the new sciences of compara- 
tive religion and anthropology, just as they 
may have a relentless enemy in an electorate in 
which women may command a clear majority of 
votes. It has been said that Christianity began 
with women and will end with them. It is 
certainly the case that they are more easily 
imposed upon by priests than are men, more 
attracted by pomp of vestments, by music, 
lights, incense, auricular confession, and magic 
of sacraments, less prone to ask about any 
doctrine or ceremony presented to them under 
the rubric of faith and religion the questions: 
Is it true? On what evidence does it repose? 

English Work 173 

Has it any rational meaning, any historical 
basis ? 

This dissatisfaction with the Bible as a stand- 
ard of faith is beginning also to be felt in the 
Latin Communion; and is really voiced by the 
distinguished Oxford Catholic, Father Joseph 
Rickaby, whom I have already had occasion 
to cite, in the following passage 1 : 

In the Gospels and Acts we do not pos- 
sess one tenth of the evidence that carried 
conviction to Dionysius on the Areopagus, 
and to Apollos at Ephesus. We are still 
beset with the old Protestant Article, that 
everything worth a Christian's knowing was 
put down in black and white once and for 
all in the pages of the New Testament. 

In the sequel he declares that "the glad tid- 
ings" which travelled "by word of mouth'' 
from Peter and John and Paul to their dis- 
ciples, and from these "through all genera- 
tions" that these "have not dried up into 
parchments; they are something over and above 
the Codex Sinaiticus ." He admits that "the 
written narratives of the New Testament are 
difficult to harmonise, and leave strange gaps 
and lacunas"; but he is not distressed by that, 
and, much as "he believes in the Word of the 
Gospel . . . still more does he believe in the word 

1 P. 143 of the volume Jesus or Christ? London, 1909. 

174 New Testament Criticism 

of the Church. " It is a pity that he does not 
specify in what particulars the Church's un- 
written tradition supplements the gaps and 
lacunae of the New Testament, or reconciles the 
many contradictions of its narratives. We seem 
to read between his lines this, that he is ready 
to let the critics have their way with the written 
records of his religion, if only the Church can 
be held together in some other way, her rites 
and sacraments guaranteed, and the sacerdotal- 
ist positions secured. It is probable that the 
Church can provide a canon of lead more pliable 
than the cast-iron rule of the letter. This eccle- 
siastic, we feel, is well on his way to become a 
modernist as far as the Scriptures are concerned. 


RECENT encyclicals of Pope Pius X. speak 
of the Modernists as if they formed a close 
sect ; yet on closer inspection they are seen to be 
detached workers in various fields in literature, 
like Fogazzaro; in philosophy and religion, like 
Father Tyrrell and Baron von Hugel; in He- 
brew philosophy, like Minocchi; in Assyriology, 
Hebrew, and New Testament exegesis, like 
Alfred Loisy; in Church history, like Albert 
Houtin. All of them good Catholics, and only 
desirous of remaining members of their Church, 
they were only united in their desire to raise its 
scholarship and thinking to a modern critical 
level. Loisy was born 1857, and already as a 
young man made himself a name. He held 
the Chair of Assyriology and Hebrew in the 
Catholic Institute of Paris till 1892, when he 
was deprived, because he was too much of a 
scholar and a gentleman to stoop to the forced 
explanations and artificial combinations of a 
Vigouroux. He then took up the study of the 

176 New Testament Criticism 

New Testament, but continued to lecture at the 
School of Higher Studies on Biblical Exegesis, 
drawing large audiences, largely composed of 
clerics. These lectures he ceased in March, 
1904, at the instance of the Pope. In 1903 he 
followed up his little book, The Gospel and the 
Church, which had given much offence, with 
an ample commentary on the fourth gospel, 
in which he pulverised the old view of its apos- 
tolic authorship. The Papal Biblical Commis- 
sioners alluded to above were interrogated about 
it, and issued an absurd counterblast. Loisy's 
great commentary, in two volumes, on the 
Synoptic gospels followed in the spring of 1907, 
just before a Papal bull of major excommunica- 
tion declared him to be a homo vitandus qui ab 
omnibus vitari debet "a man to be avoided, 
whom every one is bound to avoid." A Latin 
Bishop in Great Britain publishing such a docu- 
ment would render himself liable to imprison- 
ment for malicious libel. Except, however, 
that his charwoman gave him notice and left, 
Loisy sustained no harm, for the Pope's spiritual 
weapons are almost as antiquated as the old 
muskets I have seen in the hands of his Swiss 
guards. In the following year Loisy was 
chosen Professor of Ecclesiastical History in 
the University of Paris, in succession to the late- 
lamented Jean Reville, the author of exhaustive 
works on the early history of the Episcopate 

The Modernists 177 

and on the fourth gospel. Not content with the 
magnificent advertisement of excommunica- 
tion, the Pope supplied another, yet ampler, 
by issuing in July, 1907, an encyclical (be- 
ginning Lamentabili sane exitu) in which were 
condemned sixty-five theses drawn, or sup- 
posed by the Pope and his inquisitors to be 
drawn, from Loisy's works. Though in these 
theses Loisy's conclusions are often falsified or 
exaggerated, they are, on the whole, an apt 
summary of the most recent and assured re- 
sults of criticism; and their dissemination must 
have damaged the cause of the Modernists 
about as much as a formal condemnation of 
Euclid's axioms would damage geometricians. 
The following are some of the propositions con- 
demned : 

15. The gospels, until the canon was defined 
and fixed, were amplified by continual additions 
and corrections. There survived in them, 
therefore, only tenuous and uncertain vestiges 
of Christ's teaching. 

1 6. The narratives of John are not, properly 
speaking, history, but a mystical envisagement 
of the gospel. The discourses in it are theo- 
logical meditations on the mystery of salvation 
devoid of historical truth. 

21. The Revelation, which forms the object 
of Catholic faith, was not completed with the 

178 New Testament Criticism 

22. The dogmas which the Church regards 
as revealed are not truths fallen from heaven, 
but a sort of interpretation of religious facts at 
which the human mind arrived by laborious 
efforts . 

27. The divinity of Jesus Christ cannot be 
proved from the gospels; it is a dogma deduced 
by the Christian conscience from the notion 
of the Messiah. 

30. In all the gospel texts the name Son of 
God is equivalent only to the title Messiah; it 
in no way signified that Christ was the true 
and natural son of God. 

31. The teaching about Christ handed down 
by Paul, John, and the Councils of Nice, 
Ephesus, and Chalcedon is not that which 
Jesus taught, but only what Christians had 
come to think about Jesus. 

32. The natural sense of the gospel texts 
cannot be reconciled with what our theologians 
teach about the consciousness and infallible 
knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

33. It is evident to any one not led away by 
his prejudices either that Jesus taught an error 
about the immediate advent of the Messiah, or 
that the greater part of his teaching as contained 
in the Synoptic gospels is unauthentic. 

34. Criticism cannot attribute to Christ 
knowledge without bounds or limit, except on 
the hypothesis, inconceivable historically and 

The Modernists 179 

repugnant to modern feeling, that Christ as 
man possessed God's knowledge, and yet was 
unwilling to communicate a knowledge of so 
many things to his disciples and to posterity. 

35. Christ was not from the first conscious 
of being the Messiah. 

37. Faith in Christ's resurrection was, to 
begin with, less a belief in the fact itself 
than in his being immortal and alive in God's 

38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of 
Christ is not in the gospels, but was originated 
by Paul alone. 

43. The custom of conferring baptism on 
infants was part of an evolution of discipline 
which eventually led to this sacrament being 
resolved into two viz., Baptism and Penance. 

45. In Paul's account of the institution of 
the Eucharist (i Cor., xi. 23-25) we must not 
take everything historically. 

49. As the Christian Supper little by little 
assumed the character of a liturgical action, so 
those who were accustomed to preside at it 
acquired a sacerdotal character. 

51. Marriage could become a sacrament of 
the New Law only fairly late in the Church, etc. 

52. It was foreign to the mind of Christ to 
set up a Church as a society which was to endure 
through long ages upon the earth. On the 
contrary, he imagined that the Kingdom of 

i8o New Testament Criticism 

Heaven and the end of the world were both 
equally imminent. 

55. Simon Peter never dreamed of primacy 
in the Church having been conferred on him by 

56. The promotion of the Roman Church to 
be head of other Churches was due to no ar- 
rangements of Divine Providence, but purely 
to political conditions. 

60. Christian teaching was Jewish to begin 
with, though by successive evolutions it after- 
wards became, first Pauline, then Johannine, 
and finally Hellenic and universal. 

65. Modern Catholicism can compound with 
genuine science only by transforming itself into 
a sort of undogmatic Christianity that is, 
into a broad and liberal Protestantism. 

Needless to say, these principles are largely 
exemplified in the lives and writings of our 
younger English clergy; and Professor Sanday, 
in his latest work on Christologies, declares 
that we must modernise, whether we will or no. 
He accordingly argues that the division in 
Jesus between the Divine and Human was not 
vertical, as the Fathers imagined, so that his 
waking actions and thoughts could be appor- 
tioned now to one, now to the other class. It 
was rather horizontal, his divine consciousness 
being only subliminal, and all the rest of him 
purely human. So I find that, as M. Jourdain 

The Modernists 181 

had all his life been talking prose without know- 
ing it, I have been believing all along in an in- 
carnation which Jesus at best shared with his 
fellow-men. But to be quite serious: this view 
hardly does justice to the mind and character of 
Jesus, even in the eyes of those who deny that 
he was in any way unique among men. For 
the subliminal self is no better than a store- 
house of past experiences and memories, some 
of them possibly ante-natal, of the individual; 
and it is chiefly revealed under abnormal and 
diseased cerebral conditions. At best it is a 
stepping-stone of the dead self on which "to 
rise to higher things." Aloral achievements and 
character imply more, and are the work of a 
creative will generating new results that never 
pre-existed in any form ; and we enter an impasse 
if we try to explain conscious experiences and 
efforts of will as the mere unwinding of a coiled 
spring, as the unfolding of an eternal order 
already implicit in things. For in the spiritual 
domain the past does not wholly contain the 
future; and no moral or speculative end is 
served by trying to deduce our lives from 
ulterior spiritual beings or agencies. If all holy 
thoughts and good counsels proceed from a be- 
ing called God, whence did he derive them? 
Why should they not be as ultimate and original 
in us, who certainly possess them, as in this 
hypothetically constituted author of them? 

1 82 New Testament Criticism 

No doubt on such a view the burden of human 
responsibility becomes greater, but it is not 
insupportable. The rule, Ex nihilo nihil fit, 
holds good only in the phenomenal world of 
matter, and perhaps not absolutely there; and 
the idea that so much of revelation as there was 
in Jesus, or as there is in any of us, must needs 
flow from some ulterior source outside or before 
us is an illegitimate extension of this rule to 
the spiritual sphere. Furthermore, we feel 
that, if Dr. Sanday had not to buttress up the 
dogma of the two natures in Christ, he would not 
venture on these excursions into modern philo- 
sophy. Now, it is certain that the Fathers of 
the Church did not mean by their formulas what 
Professor Sanday tries to make them mean. 
What, then, is the use of clinging to forms of 
words which we can no longer take in the sense 
to express which they were devised? And the 
same criticism applies to Dr. Gore's explanation 
of the incarnation as a kenosis or self-emptying 
by Jesus Christ of his divine nature, as a 
laying-aside of his cosmic role and attri- 
butes in order to be born a son of woman. 
Dr. Gore himself allows that no Father or 
teacher of the Church, from Irenaeus down to 
his friend the late Professor Bright of Oxford, 
would have tolerated his explanation. Surely, 
then, it would be better to give up alto- 
gether a form of words which he can no 

The Modernists 183 

longer accept in the sense in which they were 

And the same reflection must have crossed 
the minds of many of the readers of Dr. Sanday's 
work (already cited) on Christologies Ancient 
and Modern when they reached the passage of 
it in which he crowns a life of continuous in- 
tellectual growth, of ceaseless endeavour to 
understand others and give them their due, of 
perpetual and sincere, if cautious, acceptance 
of Truth as she has unveiled herself to his 
eyes, with the declaration that he repeats a creed 
"not as an individual, but as a member of the 
Church." He does "not feel that he is re- 
sponsible for" the creeds and "tacitly corrects 
the defects of expression, because he believes 
that the Church would correct them if it could." 
He sums the matter up in the words: 

For the creed as it stands the Church is 
responsible, and not I. ... I myself regard 
the creeds, from this most individual and 
personal point of view, as great outstanding 
historical monuments of the Faith of the 
Church. As such I cannot but look upon 
them with veneration. . . . But, at the same 
time, I cannot forget that the critical mo- 
ments in the composition of the creeds were in 
the fourth and fifth centuries, and that they 
have never been revised or corrected since. 

As we read these words of Dr. Sanday, we 

1 84 New Testament Criticism 

realise what an advance has taken place in the 
last thirty years, and that the day is not far 
off when Christian records wilt be frankly 
treated like any other ancient text, and the 
gospel narratives taken into general history 
to be sifted and criticised according to the same 
methods and in the same impartial temper which 
we bring to the study of all other documents. 
La verite est en marche. 


[In the following bibliography I confine myself almost 
entirely to works of the last ten years. It is disconcerting 
to have to name so few English books; but, as in earlier 
decades, so in this, the majority of English works bearing 
on the criticism of the Gospels are merely apologetic, and 
deserve little notice as works of learning. F. C. C.] 

Abbott, Rev. Edwin A. All his works. 

Bacon, Dr. B. W. The Fourth Gospel in Research and 
Debate. New York, 1910. 

The Beginnings of Gospel Story. Yale, 1909. 

Bigg, Canon Ch. Wayside Sketches in Ecclesiastical 
History. 1906. 

Blass, Prof. F. Grammar of New Testament Greek. 
(Translated by Henry St. John Thackeray.) 

Bousset, Prof. Dr. W. Hauptprobleme der Gnosis. 

Burkitt, Prof. F. C. Evangelion da-Mepharreshe. 
Cambridge, 1904. 

Carpenter, Principal Estlin. The First Three Gospels. 

Charles, Rev. R. H. Eschatology. 'London, 1899. 

Criticism of the New Testament. St. Margaret's Lec- 
tures. 1902. 

Deissmann, Adolf. Light from the Ancient East. 1910. 

Dobschiitz, E. von. The Apostolic Age. (Translated 
by Pogson.) London, 1910. 

Drummond, James. Studies in Christian Doctrine. 
London. 1909. 

1 86 New Testament Criticism 

Encyclopedia Biblica. Four vols. 

Gardner, Prof. Percy. The Growth of Christianity. Lon- 
don, 1907. 

A Historic View of the New Testament. 1901. 

Gore, Rev. C. H. Dissertations on the Incarnation. 

London, 1895. 

Gregory, Dr. C. R. Canon and Text of the New Testa- 
ment. Edinburgh, 1907. 

Text kritik des Neue$ Testamentes. Three vols. 

Leipzig, 1902-1909. 

Die Griechischen Handschriften des Neue^ Testa- 
mentes. Leipzig, 1908. 

Canon and Text of the New Testament. Edinburgh. 

Harnack, A. Luke the Physician. (Translated by J. 

R. Wilkinson.) 1907. 

The Sayings of Jesus. 1908. 

Harris, J. Rendell. Side-lights on New Testament 
Research. 1909. 

Hastings, James. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 

A Dictionary of the Bible. 

Houtin, Albert. La Question Biblique au XIXe Siecle. 
Paris, 1902. And La Q. B. auXXe Siecle. Paris, 1906. 

The International Critical Commentary. T. & T. Clark, 

Jowett, Benjamin. Epistles of St. Paul. 

Julicher, Adolf. An Introduction to the New Testa- 
ment. (Translated by J. P. Ward.) London, 1904. 

Knopf, R. Der Text des Neues Testamentes. 1906. 

Kiibel, Johannes. Geschichte des Katholischen Modern- 
ismus. Tubingen, 1909. 

Lake, Prof. Kirsopp. The Historical Evidence for the 
Resurrection of Jesus. 1907. 

The Text of the New Testament. 1900. 

Levy, Albert. David Frederic Strauss. Paris, 1910. 

Lietzmann, Hans. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament. 

(In this series are contained Prof. Dr. Paul Wendland's 

Bibliography 187 

History of Hellenistic-Roman Culture, and also commen- 
taries on the Gospels and Pauline Epistles.) 

Loisy, Alfred. Les Evangiles Synoptiques. 1907. 

Le Quatrieme Rvangile. Paris, 1903. 

The Gospel and the Church. (Translated by 
C. Home.) 1908. 

Macan, R .W. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edin- 
burgh, 1877. 

McGiffert, A. C. The Apostles 1 Creed. New York, 

History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age. 
New York, 1898. 

Martineau, James. The Seat of Authority in Religion. 
London, 1890. 

Moffatt's Historical New Testament. 

Montefiore, C. G. The Synoptic Gospels. Two vols. 

Moulton, James Hope. A Grammar of New Testament 
Greek. Two vols. Edinburgh, 1906. 

The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers. Oxford, 


Pfleiderer, Dr. Otto. The Early Christian Conception 
of Christ. London, 1905. 

Primitive Christianity. (Translated by W. 
Montgomery.) Two vols. 

The Development of Christianity. 

Preuschen, Ed. Antilegomena. (Greek texts with 
German translation.) Second edition. 1905. 

The Programme of Modernism. (Translated from the 
Italian by Rev. A. Leslie Lilley.) 1908. 

Ramsay, Sir W. M. The Church in the Roman Empire, 
before A.D. 170. 

Reinach, Salomon. Orpheus. 

Reitzenstein , R. Die Hellenistischen Mysterienreligionen. 
Berlin, 1910. 

Renan, E. Les Apotres, 1866; UAntechrist, 1873; St. 

1 88 New Testament Criticism 

Reville, Jean. Le QuatriemiEvangile. Paris, 1901. 

Robinson, Dr. J. A., Dean of Westminster. The Study 
of the Gospels. 1903. 

Sabatier, Paul. Notes d'Histoire religieuse contempo- 
raine, Les Modernistes. 1909. 

Schmiedel, Paul W. The Johannine Writings. Lon- 
don, 1908. 

Schurer, Prof. Dr. Emil. History of the Jewish People 
in the Time of Jesus Christ. 

Schweitzer, Dr. A. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. 
(Translated by W. Montgomery.) 1910. 

Smith, Goldwin. In Quest of Light. New York, 1906. 

Soden, H. von. History of Early Christian Literature. 
(Translated by T. R. Wilkinson.) London, 1906. 

Spitta, Prof. Dr. Fr. Streitfragen der Geschichte Jesus. 

Sturt, Henry. The Idea of a Free Church. London, 

Tyrrell, G. The Church and the Future. 1910. 

Weizsacker's Apostolic Age of the Christian Church. 
Two vols. 

Wellhausen. Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien. 
Berlin, 1905. 

Wendt, Prof. Dr. H. H. Die Lehre Jesu. 1901. 

Wernle, Dr. Paul. Sources of our Knowledge of the Life 
of Jesus. 1907. 

The Beginnings of Christianity. (Translated by 

G. A. Bienenmann.) 1904. 

Westcott and Hort. Greek Testament. (With Intro- 
duction on the MSS.) 

Zahn, Th. Einleitung in das Neue Testament. Two 


ABBOTT, Rev. E. A., his Synopticon 153, 154 

Acta Sanctorum, growth of legends in, compared 

with the Gospels 74 

Alford, Dean, on harmonising of Scripture 24, 31, 

35, 66, 67, 70 
Anderson, Sir Robert, on the Lux Mundi, 38; on 

Sacerdotalistic substitutes for the Bible 171 ff. 

Ataraxia, Stoic ideal of, applied to Jesus 76 

BAUR, F. C., his life and work 128 ff. 

Bengel, on the Three Witnesses 95 

Burgon, Dean of Chichester. his attacks on the 

Revised Version of the Gospels 163 ff. 

CATHARS, on New Testament miracles 63 

Chase, Rev. Dr., Bishop of Ely, on Matt, xxviii, 19 100, 


Chillingworth, on Popes 42 

Collins, Anthony, on Prophecy 49 ff. 

Conybeare, John, his reply to Tindal 43 

Creighton, Bishop of London 125 

DAVIDSON, Dr., on Matt, xxviii, 19 99 

Deistic movement 39 

Diatessaron of Tatian 87 

. j 


Eschatology of Gospels, Strauss on 138 

Eusebian reading of Matt, xxviii, 19 99 

Evanson, E., on The Dissonance of the Evangelists. . 115 ff. 



FARRAR, late Dean of Canterbury, 17 ; Life of Christ, 

1 06; on Reimarus 115 

Female suffrage tends to an obscurantist regime. . . 172 

GIBBON, on the Three Witnesses 94 

Gibson, Bishop of London, suppresses Tindal's 

works 44 

Gore, Rev. Ch., on the Kenosis 182 

Gospels, their compilation 25 

Goulburn, Dean, on Revised Version 169 

Green, J. R., and Stubbs, anecdote of 44 

Gregory, Dr. C. R., on New Testament text 101 

Greswell's Harmony of Gospels 30, 31 

Grotius, on harmonisings of Gospels. 36 

HARNACK, Prof., on Matt, xxviii, 19 99 

Herder, J. G 104 if. 

Hurd, Bishop of Lichfield, favours Evanson 116 

INSPIRATION of Scripture, how regarded by Origen, 
II ff. ; by the Reformers, 20 ff. ; by William Whis- 
ton, 21 ; by Alford, 24, 26, 33; by Greswell, 30 ff.; 
by Dr. Sanday, 36, 37; by Sir R. Anderson, 38; 
by John Locke, 40; by Jeremy Taylor 41 

Irenaeus on the Four Gospels, 88; on Johannine 

authorship of the Fourth Gospel 78, 79 

JEROME'S revision of Latin Bible 1 8 

Jesus, his Deification begins in First and Third 

Gospels 76 

LACHMANN, on priority of Mark, 154; rejected the 

Textus Receptus 1 60 

Lardner, on Oral Tradition 151, 152 

Leo XIII., on the Three Witnesses 96 

Liddon, Canon, on Book of Daniel and Fourth 

Gospel, 80; on Revised Version 170 

Lightfoot's answer to Supernatural Religion 155 ff. 

Locke, on Inspiration 40 

Loisy, Alfred, protected by Leo XIII., 96; on dog- 
matic changes in New Testament text, 102; ex- 
communicated by Pius X 176 

Index 191 

Luther, on authority of Church tradition 103 

Lux Mundi Sermons 38 

MARK'S Gospel used by Matthew and Luke... 25 ff.,67, 68 

Martin, David, on I John v., 7 and 8 93 

Martineau, Dr. James, on Matt, xxviii, 19 99 

Matthew's Gospel the work of an unknown com- 
piler, 68; not a version of the Hebrew Logia at- 
tested by Papias 77 

Millennial belief in early Church 87 

Modernists, and Pius X., 103; who and what 175 

NESTLE, Dr. Eberhard, his edition of New Testa- 
ment 99, 1 02 

ORAL tradition in Gospels, hypothesis of, rejected 
by James Smith, 150; adopted by Lardner and 
Davidson 151,152 

PAPAL Encyclicals against Modernists 175 ff. 

Papias on Logia, 77, 78; his lost Diegeseis, 79; testi- 
mony regarding Gospels of Matthew and Mark 155 

Pius X., his summary of Modernist opinions 177 ff. 

Person's work on the Three Witnesses 95 

Priestley, his controversy with Horsley, 123; criti- 
cises Evanson 125 

Priscillian's text of the Three Witnesses 92 

Prophetic Gnosis in New Testament 45 ff- 

REIMARUS 108 ff. 

Renan's life and works 144 ff. 

Revised Version 162 ff. 

Rickaby, Father Joseph, on progress of criticism, 

65; on tradition outside the New Testament. ... 173 
Robinson, Dr. J. Armitage, Dean of Westminster 

on composition of Synoptic Gospels 68 ff., 71, 77; 

on the Fourth Gospel 81 ff. 

Rushbrooke's Synopticon 153, 154 

SALMON, Rev. Dr., on Westcott and Hort 89 

San day, -Professor, on Fourth Gospel, 138; on mod- 
ernising, 180; on creeds. 183 

I 92 Index 


Sandius, on i John v., 7 and 8 93 

Schleiermacher, on Mark 143 

Schweitzer, Albert, on Reimarus, io8;his work, Von 

Reimarus zu Wrede 127 

Seventy disciples, invented by Luke 24 ff. 

Simon's Histoire Critique 93 

Smith, Dr. G. Vance, assailed by Dr. Burgon 166 

Smith, James, of Jordanhill, on the Gospels, 69 ff . ; 

on oral tradition 149 ff . 

Socinians 39 

Stephen, Leslie, on the Deists, 51, 63; on Priestley. . 124 
Strauss, his Leben Jesu, 134, 135, 149; on escha- 

tology of Jesus 139 

Stubbs, Bishop of Oxford, his attitude towards Re- 
nan, 44; his uncritical attitude 124 

Supernatural Religion, controverted by Dr. Light- 
foot 155 ff- 

TAYLOR, Jeremy, on Inspiration 41 

Text of Gospels in flux till it was canonised 150 

Textus Receptus, history of the term 158 ff. 

Thompson, Rev. J. M., on Fourth Gospel 138 

Three Witnesses, text of the 93 ff. 

Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation 40 

Travis, Archdeacon, on the Three Witnesses 94 

Trinitarian falsifications of New Testament 91 ff. 

VOLTAIRE and the English Deists 61 

WEISS, Johannes 142 

Wellhausen on Dean Burgon 170 

Westcott and Hort, defects of their system of New 

Testament criticism 89 ff. 

Whiston, William, his Harmony 21 ff. 

Woolston, Thomas, on the miracles of the New 

Testament 54 ff. 

XIMENES, Cardinal, his Greco-Latin Bible 92 

A History of the Sciences 

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rather than taken in its purely objective 
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the historical origins of important dis- 
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Each volume is adequately illustrated, attractively printed, 
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i6mo. Each, net^ 75 cents. By mail, 85 cents. 12 illustrations 

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By George Forbes, M.A., F.R.S., M.Inst. C.E. 

Formerly Professor of Natural Philosophy, Anderson's 
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I thank you for the copy of Forbes's History of Astonomy 
received. I have run it over, and think it very good indeed. 
The plan seems excellent, and I would say the same of your 
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