Page images
PDF
EPUB

tained by rigid criticism, apart from all subjective leanings either way. To dilate on the importance of this conclusion, does not belong to this Introduction ; but I cannot avoid pointing it out, in an age when on the one hand the historic truth of our scriptural accounts is being again boldly denied ;—and on the other, we providentially stand at a point in the progress of criticism, where none but the most rigid trial of them,

-none but the fairest and most impartial judgments,-can or ought to satisfy us.

SECTION VII.

ITS STYLE AND CHARACTER.

1. This is the only one of the four Gospels to which a pre-arranged and systematic plan can with any certainty be ascribed. That such does not exist in the other three, any farther than the circumstances under which they were each respectively written have indirectly modified their arrangement, has been already shewn. But that such a plan is proposed and followed out by the writer of this Gospel, will become evident by an examination of its contents.

2. The prologue contains a formal setting forth of the subject-matter of the Gospel :-—'that the Eternal Creator Word became Flesh, and was glorified by means of that work which He undertook in the flesh.' This glorification of Christ he follows out under several heads : (1) the testimony borne to Him by the Baptist; (2) His miracles ; (3) His conflict with the persecution and malice of the Jews; (4) His own testimony in His discourses, which are very copiously related ; (5) His sufferings, death, and resurrection. And this His glorification is the accomplishment of the purpose of the Father, by setting Him forth as the Light and Life of the World, -the One Intercessor and Mediator, by whose accomplished Work the Holy Spirit is procured for men; and through whom all spiritual help, and comfort, and hope of glory, is derived.

3. Several subdivisions of the Gospel have been proposed, as shewing its arrangement in subordination to this great design. The simplest and most satisfactory is that adopted by Lücke: (1) the prologue, ch. i. 1–18; (2) the first main division of the Gospel, i. 19—xii. 50; (3) the second main division of the Gospel, xii. 1—xx. 31; (4) the appendix, ch. xxi.

4. Of these divisions, I. the prologue, contains a general statement of the whole subject of the Gospel. II. The first main division treats of the official work of the Lord in Galilee, Judæa, and Samaria, His reception and rejection, and closes with the general reflections of the Evangelist, ch. xii. 37-43, and summary of the commission of Jesus, ib. 44697

f 2

es, that ilt of this very imony of Caiap

50:-its foundation in the will of the Father, and purposes of grace and love to men. III. The second main division may be subdivided into two parts, (1) the inner glorification of Christ in His last supper and His last discourses, (2) His outer and public glorification by His Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection. Then IV. the appended chapter xxi. relates, for a special purpose, an appearance of the Lord, after His resurrection, in Galilee :-see notes there. .

5. In all these, except the last, the great leading object of the Gospel is kept in view, and continually worked out more fully. After having stated it in the prologue, he relates the recognition of Christ's glory by the testimony of the Baptist ;-then by the disciples on their being called ;—then the manifestation of that glory by His miracle in Cana of Galilee, -by His cleansing of the temple,—by His declaration of Himself to Nicodemus,—and so onwards. But the more this is the case, the more is He misunderstood and withstood : and it becomes evident by degrees, that the great shewing forth of His glory is to be brought about by the result of this very opposition of His enemies. This reaches its height in the prophetic testimony of Caiaphas, ch. xi. 47 ff.; and the voice from heaven, xii. 28, I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again,seems to form the point of transition from the manifestation of His glory by His acts, discourses, and conflict with the Jews, in Part I.

-o that by His Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection in Part II. Thus, as Lücke remarks, these words form the ground-tone of the whole Gospel,—The public working of Christ manifested His glory ; but at the same time led on to His Death, which Death again manifested His glory.'

6. In the course of the Gospel the Evangelist steadily keeps his great end in view, and does not turn aside from it. For its sake are the incidents and notices introduced, with which his matter is diversified ; but for its sake only. He has no chronological, no purely historical aims. Each incident which is chosen for a manifestation of the Lord's glory, is introduced sometimes with very slight links, sometimes with altogether no links of connexion to that which has preceded. So that while in the fulfilment of its inner design the Gospel forms a closely connected and perfect whole, considered in any other view it is disjointed and fragmentary

6 Luthardt's division is :
I. JESUS THE SON OF GOD: ch. i.-iv.

1. The Christ. ch. i. 1–18.
2. The introduction of Jesus into the world (i. 19- ii. 11) by the testimony (a)

of the Baptist (i. 19-40); (b) of Himself (i. 41–. 11). 3. First revelation of Himself as the Son of God (ii. 12-iv. 54), (a) in Jerusalem

and Judæa (ii. 12—iii. 36), (b) in Samaria and Galilee (iv. 1–54). II. JESUS AND THE JEWS: ch. v.-xii.

1. Jesus the Life. Opening of the conflict. ch. v. vi. (a) His divine working as

7. With regard to the style of this Gospel, it may be remarked, (1) that Dionysius of Alexandria, as cited by Eusebius, remarked the purity of its diction in the original, as compared with that of the Apocalypse. (2) That without subscribing to the whole of his eulogy, if classical authors are to be the standard of comparison, the same will hold good of this Gospel as compared with the other three. (3) That the greater purity of its diction is perhaps mainly owing to its far greater simplicity of style. While the deepest truths lie beneath the words, the words themselves are almost colloquial in their simplicity; the historical matter is of small amount as compared with the dialogue. (4) That while the language is for the most part unobjectionable Greek, the cast of expression and thought is Hebraistic. There is, both here and in the Epistle, very little unfolding or deducing one proposition from another ; different steps of an argument, or sometimes different conclusions from mutually dependent arguments, are indicated by mere juxtaposition ;-and the intelligent reader must be carrying on, as it were, an undercurrent of thought, or the connexion will not be perceived. (5) That in this respect this Gospel forms a remarkable contrast to those parts of the New Testament written by Hellenistic Christians; e. g. the Epistles of Paul, and that to the Hebrews; in which, while external marks of Hebraistic diction abound, there is yet an internal conformation of style, and connexion of thought, more characteristic of the Grecian mind: they write more in periods, and more according to dialectic form. In observing all

Son of God—beginning of opposition (v. 1–47): (b) Jesus the Life in the

fleshi,-progress of belief and unbelief (vi. 1—71). 2. Jesus the Light. Height of the conflict. ch. vii.-X. (a) He meets the un.

belief of the Jews at Jerusalem (vii. 1–52): (b) opposition between Jesus and the Jews at its height (viii. 12—59): (c) Jesus the Light of the world

for salvation, and for judgment (ix. x.). 3. The delivery of Jesus to death is the Life and the Judgment of the world. ch.

xi. xii. (a) The raising from the Dead (xi. 1-57): (b) Prophetic announce

ments of the Future (xii. 1-36): (c) Final judgment on Israel (ib. 37—50). III. JESUS AND HIS Own: ch. xiii.-XX.

1. Jesus' Love and the belief of His disciples. (a) His Love in condescension

(xiii. 1—30):(b) His Love in keeping and completing the disciples in the faith

(xiii. 31.-xvi. 33): (c) His Love in the exaltation of the Son of God (xvii.). 2. Jesus the Lord: the unbelief of Israel, now in its completion : the belief of

His own (ch. xviii.—xx.). (a) His free self-surrender to His enemies, and to the unbelief of Israel (xviii. 1-xix. 16): (b) His self-surrender to Death, and divine testimony in death (xix. 16—42): (c) His manifestation of Himself as passed from death into liberty and life, and the completion of the disciples'

faith worked thereby (xx. 1-29). The APPENDIX: ch. xxi. The glimpse into the future. (a) The symbolic draught of fishes (1—8): (b) the symbolic meal (9–14): (c) The calling and its prospect

(15-23): (d) conclusion. These leading sections he follows out into minor detail in other subdivisions of much interest.

such phænomena in our sacred writings, the student will learn to appreciate the evidence which they contribute to the historic truth of our belief with regard to them and their writers :—and will also perceive an admirable adaptation of the workman to his work, by Him whose One Spirit has overruled them all.

CHAPTER VI.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

SECTION I..

ITS AUTHORSHIP.

1. The Author of this book is identical with that of the third Gospel, as plainly appears from the circumstance that in its address, to a certain Theophilus, reference is made to a former work on the acts and words of Jesus, similarly addressed. Comp. Acts i. 1, Luke i. 3. That Author is traditionally known as Lucas or Luke, spoken of Col. iv. 14, and again Philem. 24, and 2 Tim. iv. 11. For notices respecting him, see Introd. to St. Luke $ 1.

2. Nor is there any reason to reject the testimony of tradition in this matter. In chaps. xxvii. and xxviii. we find our Author (see below, paragr. 4) accompanying St. Paul to Rome. In the passages above cited, all written from Rome, we find that Luke was there, in the company of that Apostle. So far at least there is nothing inconsistent with Luke having written this book; and if this book, the Gospel.

3. That no other writer has here assumed the person of the Author of the Gospel, may be gathered from the diction of this book strongly resembling that of the other. The student who consults the references in my Edition of the Greek Test. will be continually met by words and phrases either peculiar to the two books and not met with elsewhere (about fifty of these occur),—or mostly found in the two.

4. That no writer other than the Author of the rest of the book has furnished the parts in which the narrative proceeds in the first person, will be plain, if the matter be thus considered. (a) We have evidence, both by his own assertion (Luke i. 3), and from the contents of the Gospel and this book, that Luke was a careful and painstaking writer. Now it would bespeak a degree of carelessness wholly unexampled, for one who compiled a continuous memoir, to leave its component parts, derived from various sources, in their original fragmentary state, some in the third, others in the first person. Unquestionably such a writer would in such a case have translated the whole into the third person. (6) Seeing that Luke does use the first person in Acts i. 1, and that the first person is resumed ch. (xiv. 22) xvi. 10–17; xx. 5— 15; xxi. 1–18; xxvii. 1 ; xxviii. 16, it is but a fair inference that in one and the same book, and that book betokening considerable care of writing and arrangement, the speaker implied by the use of the first person is one and the same throughout.

5. That the author never names himself, either as the author, or otherwise, can of itself not be urged as an objection to any hypothesis of authorship, unless by the occurrence of some mention, from which the authorship by another may be fairly inferred. But, if we have in this book no mention of Luke, we have as certainly no bint of any other person having furnished the narrative. On the other hand we have a hint by which it appears that some one other than all the specified companions of Paul on a certain occasion (Acts xx. 4, 5) was with him, and was the author of the narrative. After the mention by name of Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timotheus, Tychicus, and Trophimus, we read, “These having gone forward waited for us at Troas :' this pronoun including Paul and the writer, at least (see note there).

6. That Paul himself, in Epistles written during the journeys here described, does not name Luke, cannot be alleged as any argument why Luke should not have been the author of our narrative. For (a), we have undoubted examples of Paul sometimes merely alluding generally to those who were with him, as Phil. iv. 21, 22 ;—sometimes sedulously suppressing their names while speaking of services performed by them, as 2 Cor. viii. 18; sometimes not mentioning or alluding to them at all, as in the Epistles to the Galatians and to the Ephesians ;-and (6) strictly speaking, no Epistles appear to have been written by Paul while our writer was in his company, before his Roman imprisonment, For he does not seem to have joined him at Corinth, ch. xviii., whence the two Epistles to the Thessalonians were written ;-or to have been with him at Ephesus, ch. xix.,—whence (probably) the Epistle to the Galatians was written ;-nor again to have wintered with him at Corinth, ch. xx. 3, at the time of his writing the Epistle to the Romans, and (possibly) that to the Galatians.

7. But independently of the above arguments to establish the identity of the author throughout, we may infer the same from the similarity of diction and style, which do not vary through the book. Here again we have, as may be seen abundantly in the references to my edition of the Greek text, terms peculiar to the writer occurring in various parts of the book ;-favourite terms and phrases occurring in all parts of the book,

« PreviousContinue »