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omission of the miraculous birth imputed to Jesus stamps upon it the character of falsehood. The Christians at Rome had no authentic history of Christ, but that which was composed for them by this Evangelist: nor is it to be supposed that he would have left them ignorant or uncertain, on so important a subject as the supernatural birth of Jesus, if the story were really true. It is in vain to plead that Mark has passed over in silence many other things in the ministry of his divine Master. The miracles and sayings which he has recorded, are sufficient to prove his delegation from God. The miracles omitted by him, could not prove more than this. The doctrine that Christ was born in a supernatural manner, was intended to prove that he is a supernatural being, and in as much as Mark is silent in regard to this proof, it is obvious that neither the proof itself, nor the object of it, was in the opinion of this honest man founded in truth.
It is a remarkable fact, that, as we shall presently see, the miraculous birth of Jesus was taught by certain impostors in Rome, before Mark published his Gospel. This Evangelist was therefore called upon by his peculiar situation, not only not to give his sanction to this story, but to set it aside as a fiction unworthy of credit. His Gospel, rendered verbatim from the original, begins thus: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God (as it is written in the prophets, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way in thy presence) was a voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight."
According to the tale of our Lord's miraculous birth, he was pointed out as "King of the Jews" at the very time in which he was born. If this were true, the Magi from the East were the first who made him manifest. But Mark says expressly, that the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ was a voice in the wilderness.
other words, he says that John the Baptist was the person in whom originated the first information respecting Jesus as the Saviour of mankind, and this precisely agrees with the testimony of Peter, that the Gospel be- . gan in Galilee after the baptism of John.
But to return to Luke. Conformably to his intention of beginning his Gospel with the voice from heaven, he states, "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip being tetrarch of Iturea, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiphas being the highpriests, the word of God came unto John in the wilderness. Had Luke given an account of the birth of our divine master, he would have dated that period: whereas he hints it to be his purpose to begin with the public appearance of Jesus as the Son of God; and this he defines with a precision unparalleled in the history of past events. The cause of this precision is unknown to modern readers. The first teachers of his miraculous birth represented Jesus as being much older than he really was, when he appeared as the messenger of heaven. They wished it to be believed that he had been brought up in Egypt, in order to account for his miracles by his having learned the arts of magic in that country. This calumny has been handed down by the Jews. See Lard. vii. 149. According to the Talmudists, he went to Egypt in the days of King Jannæus; that is, eighty years before the Christian era. The author of the Harmony ascribed to Tatian, makes his stay in Egypt seven years; and as he fled into that country to avoid the anger of Herod, he must have been born some years before the death of that tyrant. This appears from the statement inserted in Matthew.
These and many other representations equally false induced the Evangelist Luke to cut up the story of his miraculous birth by the root, by enabling every man
throughout the whole Roman Empire to satisfy himself that the Saviour was not born till at least two years after the death of Herod the Great. For he says that he appeared in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and was then near thirty years old. The fifteenth of Tiberius was the thirty-second of Philip, who succeeded Herod in the government of Iturea and Trachonitis. This date, which was known to every man of information in Judea, is made known to us by Josephus, A. J. 18. 5, 6. Luke asserts that Philip was tetrarch of Iturea and Trichonitis, when the word of God came to John; and the year of his government is defined by connecting the same event with the fifteenth year of Tiberius on one hand, and the age of Jesus on the other. Thus, with the utmost simplicity and precision, he represents the birth of Christ as having taken place two years after the commencement of the reign of Philip, or two years after the death of Herod his father. This is not all. The language of Luke carries a pointed reference to the misrepresentation of the impostors, "Jesus himself was beginning to be about thirty years old." In English the word autos, himself, has no meaning, and its reference to the forgers alone renders it proper and significant. Thus, as if he had said, "The pretended historians of Jesus, who teach his miraculous birth, represent him as an old man at this time, but this was a Jesus of their own fiction; Jesus himself, the real and true Jesus, was but thirty years old." I beg to assure my readers that I do not refine when I thus explain the term avtos: for it has no other meaning, but what is here ascribed to it, namely, emphasis, or opposition to some other object expressed or implied in the context. This pronoun occurs frequently in every writer; and this import must be assigned to it, or it has no sense or propriety at all.
The clause wvws evoμicero being understood as an insinuation that Jesus, though supposed to be the son of Joseph, was not so in reality, is a gross and shameful per
version of the original. Did the Evangelist mean to convey this idea, he would, beyond doubt, have used the negative ou, and said oux wv s svoμLIETO, being not, as was supposed, the son of Joseph. But as the words now stand, he positively and unequivocally asserts that Jesus was the son of Joseph.
In support of this assertion, I beg my reader to weigh the four following remarks, for the truth of which I appeal to every competent judge of the Greek language. 1. wv, being, the use of which occurs so frequently in Greek writers, always conveys the idea of something positive, something founded in truth and reality. 2. This participle is frequently employed to express some matter of fact, some cause, some circumstance of time and place, to account for what follows in the context. Thus, here Luke accounts for Jesus being registered as the son of Joseph, by premising that he was in reality his son. 3. When a writer has to employ a word to signify that one man is the son of another, wv is the term appropriate for that purpose. Nor could Luke insinuate that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, by a word that necessarily meant that he was his son. This participle is often used to denote reality, in opposition to such verbs as δοκω, ονομαζω, φαινομαι; and this, because it means something real, in contradistinction to what has the name or appearance of being so. 4. ειμι or εω, 1 am, the verb of wv, and all its corresponding branches, on the same principle, means existence, reality and truth. Hence ó wv means the existing One, the great. Reality, Jehovah; To, ov, substance; ovrws, or T OVTI, in truth, truly, equivalent to αληθως.
Besides, Luke, having asserted that Jesus was really the son of Joseph, not only appeals to the register of Jesus's birth, but actually produces that register in attestation of the fact, thus tracing his genealogy in the line of Joseph. To suppose that Luke intimates that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, while at the same
breath he produces the register in which he is stated to be the son of Joseph, and recorded as such, would imply such a degree of carelessness about truth and consistence, or such a confusion of intellect, as would render him unworthy of credit on any subject whatever. The clause 5 evoμieto, rendered “as was supposed," should be translated, "as he was registered conformably to law or to custom :" for the origin of the verb is vouos, a law; and the primary, and even the usual acceptation of it; is to enact a law, introduce a custom, act conformably to custom, and the like. I do not indeed deny that vou may often mean to think, or even to suppose. The context is the just clue to its meaning, wherever it occurs; and in connexion with the genealogy of Jesus, it cannot be diverted from its natural signification, without the grossest perversion.
The Evangelist is not content with asserting on his own authority that Jesus was really the son of Joseph, -he is not content with producing the register to prove the same thing; but he also produces the testimony of the best judges of the fact, namely, that of the people of Nazareth. "And all bore him testimony; and they wondered at the words, though gracious, which dropped from his lips, saying, Is not this the son of Joseph ?" chap. iv. 22. It is clear from the sequel, as well as from the parallel places in Matthew and Mark, that the wonder here mentioned proceeded not from admiration, but from resentment and indignation. The Evangelist says that they bore testimony to Jesus. And what was this testimony? He cites the testimony meant, in their own words. "Is not this the son of Joseph?" And that this testimony might be deemed decisive, as the testimony of men who knew the truth, and who had no bias to say' any thing in his favour, Luke asserts, verse 16, that Jesus had been brought up in the midst of them.
If we take a view of this brief argument, we obtain the surprising fact that Luke, who is supposed to have