« 上一頁繼續 »
Another Explanation of the Difficulty. 201 not therefore be made use of to explain the paraphrastic form of that employed by Matthew.
There is another explanation, which some writers have adopted, and which rests upon the supposition that the version of the prophecy here given is in no sense that of Matthew, who contents himself with telling what the chief priests and the scribes replied to Herod's question, without attempting to correct the obvious faults of their quotation. But as that quotation coincides with the original in every point which could have had the slightest bearing upon subsequent events, it is certainly not easy to conceive why Matthew should have introduced it, if it was erroneous in minor points, instead of giving a correct translation, or referring to the prophecy without transcribing it. Another argument against this supposition has been urged, with no small ingenuity and force, in Hengstenberg's Christology,* viz., that Matthew in his whole account of Christ's conception, birth, and childhood, had it constantly in view, as a chief end, to point out the events in which prophecy had been fulfilled. Hence the number of quotations from the prophets found in the beginning of his book, and hence, too, the omission of some striking facts in our Saviour's early history, such as his mother's previous residence in Nazareth, and the occasion of her being in Bethlehem when he was born. All this is omitted, while the fact that he was born there, is prominently stated, for the sake of introducing the fulfilment of this prophecy. The same design and rule in the selection of his facts is traced by Hengstenberg throughout the first two chapters, with a clearness which constrains us to believe that Matthew could not, in consistency with his design and his peculiar method, have adopted this quotation from the scribes, without intending to adopt it as his own. And when it is considered that the scribes, no doubt, did what any Jewish rabbi would do now, in any quarter of the world, if questioned by a Jewish ruler, that is, quote the prophecy itself in Hebrew, the most probable conclusion is that Matthew is the sole and independent author of the Greek translation, and that its paraphrastic form came from his intention to explain the text as well as quote it. Now, to us, who are believers in his inspiration, this, so far from impairing the authority and genuineness of the Greek translation, on the contrary enhances it; and we enjoy the very great advantage of an apostle's comment on a prophet's text.
Having finished our comparison of the quotations with the passage quoted, it remains to be considered whether the sense put upon the text in the quotation is the sense of the original. By sense is here meant, not the meaning of the words, but the
tenberg thstrains us to be and his peculiarintending
drift and application of the sentence. Let us glance at the circumstances of the case. Magi, or wise men from the east, had come, directed by a star, to find the new-born King of the Jews, and Herod, upon hearing their inquiries, calls upon the official expounders of the law to say where Christ, or the Messiah, should be born, and they, in answer, quote this passage, which they introduced by saying, ourw greg régatrai dà Foû ngophrou, for this it has been written by the prophet. It is clear, from this view of the context, and from what has been already said, that the priests and scribes regarded this as a prediction of Messiah, and that Matthew looked upon it as accomplished in the birth of Jesus Christ. There is here no room for the favourite hypothesis of mere accommodation or poetical allusion, and to that of false or mistaken application we cannot subscribe, without renouncing our belief in Matthew's inspiration. It remains then to be seen, whether the prophecy in Micah really relates to the Messiah, and if so, whether it relates to him exclusively, or to another person, in its first and lowest sense, and then to the Messiah in its last and highest.
A very slight inspection of the prophecy of Micah will suffice to shew that it displays, in an unusual degree, that characteristic feature of prophetic composition, which consists in the abrupt and frequent alternation of encouragements and threatenings. The book contains a series of predictions with respect to the downfall both of Israel and Judah, each succeeded and relieved by an exhilarating view of that auspicious period when all should be restored, enlarged, and beautified, and placed beyond the reach of subsequent vicissitudes. Thus the first two chapters, which contain a clear prediction of captivity, are closed by the assurance that the breaker is come up before them, i.e., a breaker down of prison-doors, that they have broken up, and is abruptly closed with this remarkable assurance, “ I will gather, I will gather even all of thee, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel ; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as a flock in the midst of its pasture, they shall make a great noise from the multitude of men. The breaker comes up before them (i.e., a breaker down of prison doors); they break down, they pass through the gate, they go out by it, and their King passes before them, and Jehovah at their head.
This encouraging assurance of deliverance, beheld in prophetic vision as already past or present, is immediately succeeded by another melancholy picture of corruption and calamity, in which the prospect closes with a distant view of Zion, ploughed as a field, and of Jerusalem in heaps. But here, by as sudden a transition as before, the prophet shifts the scene, and introduces that remarkable prediction of the future exalta
“Of whom speaketh the Prophet ?"
tion of the church and aggregation of the Gentiles, which is also found at the beginning of the second chapter of Isaiah, but is here pursued further, till it closes with the coming of the kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem. And then begins another gloomy strain, in which Babylon is introduced by name, and the subsequent oppressions of the Syrians and Romans not obscurely intimated, one of the most prominent and striking features in the picture being the cessation of the monarchy, aud the unworthy treatment of the Jewish magistracy by their foreign enemies, a circumstance which will prepare the way for the prediction, which is quoted by Matthew in the case before us, and which sets in contrast with the downfall of the monarchy, and the oppression of the Jewish rulers, the appearance of a prince, whose goings forth had been from everlasting, though the place of his nativity should be the small and unimportant town of Bethlehem.
Now the simple question, in relation to this prophecy, is that asked by the ennuch in relation to another, “Of whom speaketh the prophet thus ?” And this is almost answered by another, “Of whom can he even be supposed to speak, if not of the Messiah ?" That the ancient Jews applied the words of Micah thus exclusively, is clear, not only from the Chaldee Paraphrase-from thee shall the Messiah come forth before me - but from the answer of the scribes to Herod, and the question asked by the people at the feast of tabernacles-Hath not the Scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the toun of Bethlehem, where David was? After the birth of Christ had taken place at Bethlehem, and that fact was appealed to as a proof of his Messiahship, it came to be an object with the unbelieving Jews to do away with the prediction as specifically fixing the locality, and this they undertook to do, by making it mean merely that his origin was there, because he was descended from the family of David, which resided at Bethlehem, and after all Jews were forbidden to reside there by the Roman emperor, and thus the birth of the Messiah in the place foretold became impossible, they changed the application of the prophecy itself from the Messiah to Zerubbabel, in which they have been followed by no less a man than Grotius, who admits, however, that the passage was intended, in a higher sense, to be applied to Christ. But why resort to the embarrassing expedient of a double sense, when the exclusive application to Messiah is not only possible, but sanctioned by the uniform tradition of the ancients, until after the fulfilment of the prophecy itself; and when the first fulfilment of the promise in Zerubbabel must certainly have put an end to further expectation, which we find, however, from the answer of the scribes to Herod, hundreds of years afterwards. All this
from theeshis clear, not
- but from
would be conclusive against Grotius's opinion, even if the terms of the prediction had been applicable to Zerubbabel, but how much more when they are utterly inapplicable to a man who was not born at Bethlehem, and of whom it never could be said that his goings forth had been of old, from everlasting—that he was born at Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house of David, and that the last clause of the verse in Micah was intended merely to set forth the great antiquity and consequent distinction of his race, are mere expedients to escape the obvious interpretation, and expedients which would never have been thought of, but for men's unwillingness to see that the Messiah was eternal, and that his incarnation was to take place in a literal and outward sense at Bethlehem in Judah. The same thing may be said of the effect, though not of the intention, of an exposition given in the Targum, and approved by Calvin, which applies the last clause of the verse in Micah to the purpose and decree of God respecting the Messiah, and not to his actual existence in eternity. To all such ingenious and refined evasions stands opposed the simple, obvious, most ancient, and most natural interpretation, which has been approved, not only by the Jewish Sanhedrim and the apostle Matthew, but by the impartial though unfriendly testimony of the unbelieving German critics of the present day, who, having cast off all belief in inspiration, have no longer any motive for denying that the prophet Micah evidently did expect a superhuman person to be born at Bethlehem, and that Matthew no less evidently did believe that this prediction was fulfilled in the nativity of Jesus. It is true that both the prophet and apostle are supposed by the writers now referred to to have been the subjects of a mere delusion. But from what do they infer this? From the false assumption that neither miracle nor prophecy is possible or capable of proof by any evidence whatever. But we who know better, through the grace of God, may profit by the frank concession which their premises afford us, while we throw away their impious and false conclusion with the scorn which it deserves. While we boldly and indignantly deny that either Micah or Matthew was in error, because one believed that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, and the other that Jesus of Nazareth was he, we may accept with gratitude, and use with profit, the admission of these learned unbelievers, that the prophet and evangelist did so believe, and have so written. In this case, if in any one, the maxim is obligatory
Fas est ab hoste doceri.
Biblical and Miscellaneous Intelligence.
XI.—BIBLICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS INTEL
LIGENCE. The strife between truth and error still goes on with unabated violence. M. Renan's work on the Life of Jesus, which will be found fully noticed in another part of our present issue, bas just been published in English under the sanction of the author. It had already, we believe, appeared in German and Italian; but according to report, it is not attracting much attention among our Teutonic cousins. This is just what was to be expected. Those who have lived through the excitement caused by the “Leben Jesu" of Strauss, and among whom kindred publications have for long been as plentiful as blackberries, are not likely to be much moved by the speculations of the brilliant Frenchman. His book has created quite a furor in Paris, and has rushed from edition to edition, until we are almost afraid to say how many copies have been sold. The last statement we saw fixed the number at 50,000, and since then, there has doubtless been a considerable increase. But, as a shrewd observer has remarked, these things do not last, and least of all at Paris. Last year the rage was for “Les Miserables" of Victor Hugo, and now that book is never mentioned; this year, M. Renan's work is the grand novelty-the sensation publicationbut its day will probably soon be over, and some new piece of excitement take its place. If it be true, as we believe it generally is, that scientific works, which are suddenly and immediately popular with the multitude, rarely take a permanent place in the estimation of mankind, then we may expect that this book, which has had such a run on its entrance on the world, will speedily sink into wellmerited oblivion.
We do not think that M. Renan's work is likely to do much additional damage in its English dress. Many will no doubt read it in that form, who were unable or disinclined to do so in the original. But the book is so thoroughly French in character, and the charm of it consists so much in its style, that we hardly suppose it will bear an effective rendering into our language. There is very much in it from which the crass common sense of Englishmen will revolt, and its fine play of fancy will go for little, in the absence of those facts which are required by our countrymen before they will form or admit conclusions.
Our native heresiarch, Bishop Colenso, is likely to effect more injury. He has a way of presenting his matter which is fitted to make an impression on the English mind, and we fear his influence has already proved very disastrous among those whose religious impressions were but dim, and whose principles were not firmly fixed. The indefatigable bishop (surely an original of his kind) still holds on his way, and has just published Part IV. of bis attack on the Pentateuch. This part includes an examination of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, with remarks on creation, the fall, and the deluge, and is, we need hardly add, of the same spirit as its prede