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We designedly refrain from noticing the objection taken by our author to the account of the healing of the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda ;* partly because of the doubt respecting the genuineness of a portion of this narrative; partly because the objections to its truth, founded on the silence of Josephus and other contemporary writers, are palpably insufficient; and partly because the blunders of our author respecting the insertion of certain words in verses three and four have been exposed with just severity by Professor Lightfoot.
We now come to our author's last illustration of the geographical errors of the writer of the fourth Gospel. In regard to Sychar, the scene of the conversation held with the Samaritan woman which is recorded in chapter iv., it is asserted by the author of 'Supernatural Religion that it is evident
' “ • that there was no such place;' and he adds that “ apologetic
ingenuity is severely taxed to explain the difficulty. Now, for our own part, we deny the existence of any difficulty even upon the supposition that no place corresponding to the ancient Sychar is known to exist at the present time, and that no allusions to it have been found in early writings. Our sources of information on such points are so defective that nothing can be more uncertain than conclusions drawn from the absence, in writings of a later date, of references to places which mentioned in the Gospels. It so happens, however, in the present instance, that such evidence is not altogether wanting. In the description of Nablûs and its environs given by Rosen, the Prussian Consul at Jerusalem in 1860, we are told that about eight minutes' walk from Joseph's grave (i.e. about ten minutes' walk from Jacob's well), there is a village called El-Askar, a name in which that of Sychar will be readily recognised ; and he adds that some 150 paces farther north there is a fountain, Ain el-Askar.t
We have already (with the single exception which we have noticed) followed our author throughout his examples of * mistakes of various kinds which clearly point to the fact
that the author of the fourth Gospel was neither a Palestinian "nor a Jew at all.' We must now follow him in his further assertion that the inferences from all of the foregoing ex• amples are strengthened by the fact that, in the quotations • from the Old Testament, the fourth Gospel in the main • follows the Septuagint version, or shows its influence, and
* Chap. v. 2-9. † See Caspari's - Introduction to the Life of Christ,' pp. 124, 125.
nowhere can be shown directly to translate from the Hebrew.'* We agree with our author that the inferences which he has drawn from the examples to which he has already referred need to be strengthened.' It remains to be seen whether the desired confirmation can be obtained from the source to which he has appealed. We have already had occasion to remark that the citations found in the fourth Gospel, in common with those of the Apocalypse-and, we may add, of the Synoptic Gospels also-accord, for the most part, more nearly with the Septuagint version than with the Hebrew original. This is precisely what we should expect when we consider how widely that version was diffused during the first century of the Christian era ; and nowhere should we look for a freer use of it than in the fourth Gospel, if that Gospel was composed at Ephesus, and designed primarily for the use of those churches to which the Old Testament was accessible through no other channel. The following instances, however, will suffice to show what amount of credit is due to the confident assertion of our author that nowhere can the fourth Evan. gelist be shown directly to translate from the Hebrew.'
(1.) In Isaiah liji. 12, the word corresponding to the English • He bare' is, in the LXX, árýveyxs. The corresponding Hebrew verb is nasa, which has the force both of épw, or avapépw, and of aipw. Now, whilst both St. Peter † and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews,& in obvious allusion to this passage, adopt the same verb as the LXX (avec épw), we find that the writer of the fourth Gospel,ş and of the first Epistle which is assigned to St. John, translates the Hebrew word in both cases by aipw. The argument is of equal force whether the reference is to Isaiah lïïi, 4, or to liii. 12. In the former place the simple verb épw, is used in the LXX; in the latter, the compound verb, ava$épw.
(2.) In chapter vi. 45, instead of following the LXX which connects the 13th verse of Isaiah liv. with the 12th, the writer of the fourth Gospel translates directly from the Hebrew, and begins a new clause : · And they shall be all taught of God.'
(3.) Whereas in Zech. ix. 9, the best editions of the LXX read ó Baciasus, the king,' the fourth Evangelist, following the Hebrew, reads ó Brosneús cou, 'thy king;' and whereas, in the same verse, the LXX render ben athonoth (literally son of asses ') by rûnov véov, i.e. a young foal, the writer of the fourth
* Vol. ii.
† 1 St. Peter ii. 24.
I ix. 28.
Gospel (xii. 15) renders the Hebrew by rīkov ővou, i.e. “ foal of an ass.'
(4.) In chap. xii. 13, instead of adopting the LXX version of Ps. cxvii. 25, Eboov Er, the fourth Evangelist adopts the Greek transliteration of the original Hebrew, Roarvá, Hosanna.*
(5.) Whereas the LXX render Zech. xii. 10, xal επιβλέψονται πρός με ανθ' ών καταρχήσαντο, the fourth Evangelist (xix. 37) adopts an entirely different translation, and one which accords with the present Masoretic text, oportan eis or
&exévono av, · They shall look on Him (or on Me) whom they * pierced. It so happens, moreover, that there is an obvious allusion to the same words of Zechariah in Apoc. i. 7, xal όψεται αυτόν πάς οφθαλμός και οίτινες αυτόν εξεκέντησαν, where it will be observed that the rendering of the two Hebrew verbs accords with that of the fourth Evangelist, not with the LXX. Those who assign the two works to the same writer will have no difficulty in accounting for this remarkable coincidence. Those who adopt the conclusion of the author of • Supernatural • Religion’ will no doubt be furnished with some explanation of the cause which led the writer of the purest and least • Hebraistic Greek of any of the Gospels' to have recourse to the barbarous Hellenistic Greek, and the abrupt inelegant diction of the unlettered fisherman of Galilee.
We prefer no charge of intentional misrepresentation against the author of Supernatural Religion,' inasmuch as he is dealing with a subject in respect to which he is manifestly incompetent to form an independent judgment. We will only make one comment upon the facts which we have presented to the notice of our readers. Had our author's remark upon the source from which the fourth Evangelist borrowed his citations from the Old Testament been correct, it would have afforded no proof that the writer was ignorant of the Hebrew language. If the instances we have adduced suffice to show that our author is mistaken, we have a remarkable illustration of the discredit which advocates bring upon their own cause by making assertions which they cannot prove, and by dealing with questions which they do not understand.
It is a satisfaction, amidst so many points on which we are compelled to differ from the author of Supernatural Re• ligion,' to discover one in which we are in accord with him. We agree with him that the writer of the fourth Gospel
* It deserves notice that in the Apocalypse xix. 1, we find a corresponding instance of transliteration in the word 'Allindoúča, Alleluia.
intended to represent himself as having been a disciple of John the Baptist ; * as “the other disciple' who was acquainted with the high priest; † as the disciple whom Jesus loved ; ' and as the witness and the recorder of the piercing of his Lord's side upon the cross. Our author admits that the writer
S of the fourth Gospel, although he never mentions his own name, intended by these allusions to denote to his readers a particular person, but he calls in question the assumption that that person was, or was intended to be taken for, John the son of Zebedee and brother of James. Inasmuch, however, as the question whether the writer of the fourth Gospel did or did not intend to be taken for St. John is one which has an important bearing upon the question before us, we will state, in few words, the grounds upon which we hold that the affirmative of this proposition may be sustained. First, then, whereas the Synoptists distinguish John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, from John, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, by the addition to the name of the latter of the designation the Baptist,' the
“ writer of the fourth Gospel, conscious, as we allege, that there was no occasion for the distinction, invariably refers to him simply as John. When we take into account that the same writer not only distinguishes carefully between Judas the traitor and the other apostle of the same name, but is particular in describing Thomas by the surname of Didymus, I Simon (with one single exception, i. 42) by that of Peter, and Nathanael as of Cana in Galilee,ft the omission of the designation commonly given to the other John by the Synoptists is the more remarkable. But further, the writer of the fourth Gospel confessedly represents himself as one of those Apostles who were admitted into terms of more than ordinary familiarity with Christ. There were but three, according to the Synoptists, who were thus distinguished, viz. Peter and James and John. The allusions to the first of these in the fourth Gospel are absolutely conclusive upon the point that he was not its author. The authorship of St. James is effectually excluded by a comparison of the time of his death with the traditional saying respecting the disciple whom Jesus loved, and with the universal testimony of antiquity as to the period of the composition of the fourth Gospel. St. John, then, alone remains of the three Apostles who are thus distinguished
vi. 11 ; xii. 4; xiii. 2, 26; xiv. 23. ** vi. 68; xiii. 6, 9, 24, 36, &c.
t xviii. 15, 16. § xix. 35.
xxi. 2. tf xxi. 2.
from the rest, by one of whom the fourth Gospel purports to be written; and the inference that the writer intended to be taken for St. John is strongly corroborated by the consideration that otherwise one of the most remarkable of the twelve Apostles is passed over almost without notice in a Gospel which makes mention of three others of that number, Philip, Thomas,f and Judas, † of whom two at least, and probably the third, are unnoticed by the Synoptists, except in their catalogue of the names of the twelve.
We will only add, in connexion with this point, that the writer of chapters xix. and xxi. evidently designed to strengthen the credibility of his narrative by some indication of his own personality, as well as by the assurance that he was an eyewitness of the facts which he records. It is hard to see how the invention of a statement that one of the twelve leaned on his Lord's breast, and was the one of His disciples whom
' • Jesus loved,' and the indirect identification of himself with that disciple could subserve the purpose of the writer, unless some particular person was indicated by such a description. It is equally difficult, in the absence of any such indication, to account for the fact that within ten years after the publication of the fourth Gospel, according to the author of ' Supernatural • Religion,' St. John was almost universally accepted as its writer. Such a belief could, in this case, have originated only in the strong internal evidence which the Gospel itself affords of its Johannine authorship, and, strong as we believe that evidence to be, we are scarcely prepared to credit the Church, at the close of the second century, with the amount of critical sagacity which such a conclusion implies.
But if we may rely on the confident allegations of the author of • Supernatural Religion, the fourth Gospel contains a wholly different account of the history of the disciple whom Jesus loved from that which is given by the Synoptists of John the son of Zebedee. According to the former the calling' of John, the beloved disciple, appears to have taken place at the very beginning of our Lord's ministry. But, according to the Synoptists, it is alleged that the call of the Apostle John took place at a later period, and under widely different circum
* i. 43, 44, 45, 46, 48; vi. 5, 7; xii. 21, 22.
For the fuller discussion of this point we must reser our readers to Appendix, note A, of Professor Stanley Leathes's admirable Boyle Lectures on 'The Witness of St. John to Christ.' Rivingtons : 1370.