Изображения страниц

is the cross-examination which should be made of Papias' testimony, before the cause comes to a final issue.

It is a matter well known among all who are acquainted with the writings of the earlier fathers, that there existed in very early times a Gospel κατα Μαθθαίον, or, as it was perhaps more frequently named, a Gospel xag' Eppaior's, and sometimes και αποστόλους. This Gospel was current among the Jewish converts, who began very early to be called by way of distinction Ebionites, and afterwards Nazarenes, and then Nazarenes and Ebionites, because they were divided into two different sects. Several of the fathers make no distinction, however, sometimes comprising them all under the one name, and sometimes under the other. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen, call them Ebionites. The leading distinction of these sects seems to have been, that the Ebionites held to the universal obligation of the Mosaic law, and also maintained the mere humanity of Christ; while the Nazarenes held the law to be obligatory only upon Jews, and in other respects do not seem to have been jusily exposed to the charge of heresy, although this was sometimes made against them.

Among both of those sects (how early they were divided we know not), there was in circulation, the so-named Gospel according to the Hebrews ; among the Ebionites, as Epiphanius testifies (Haeres. c. 3. 13. al.), with the two first chapters excluded; but among the Nazarenes, unimpaired, i.e. not curtailed.

What sort of a Gospel this was, we shall have occasion to inquire in the sequel. Here we confine ourselves to the simple inquiry : At how early a period can we trace any testimonies of its being in existence.

Eusebius (H. E. IV. 22) has given us an account of Hegesippus, an ecclesiastical historian of much credit, who flourished in the time of Justin Martyr, i. e. about 140 seq. From him Eusebius states that he had copiously extracted in his own work; and he then adds: “Some things he (Hegesippus) produces from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, even the Syriac, and appropriately of the Hebrew dialect, thus showing that he was himself a believer of Hebrew origin.'"* The word Syriac has been much commented upon in this place; and many have

"Εκ τε του καθ Εβραίους ευαγγελίου, και του Συριακού, και ιδίως έκ τής “Εβαΐδος διαλέκτου, τινά τίθεσι, εμφαίνων εξ Εβραίων εαυτόν πεπιστευκέναι. .

selt it to be very obscure, while others have deduced strange conclusions from it. Jerome (adv. Peleg. III. 1) has afforded us a satisfactory solution of the difficulty; where, speaking of this same Gospel, he says: “ Evangelium juxta Hebraeus, quod Chaldaico Syroque sermone scriptum est," i. e. it is wniten in the Syro-Chaldaic;' which was the Hebrew of that day.

There can be no doubt, then, that very early in the second century the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews was estant, and also in the Hebrew language of the day.

After this period we meet with still more decided evidence of its existence. Clement of Alexandria, at the close of the second century, cites a passage from it, i. e. from some Greek translation of it, (for Clement did not understand the Hebrew), which he prefaces by the following expression: 'Er to rat' Εβραίους ευαγγελία γέγραπται. Τhat this was in some respects a different Gospel from our present Greek Matthew, is evident from the fact, that the passage which Clement here cites is not found in our copies; Clem. Opp. II. p. 453. ed. Potteri.

Eusebius, moreover, in his Hist. Ecc. Vl. 17, speaks of Symmachus, the well known early Greek translator of the Scriptures, who was contemporary with Clement of Alexandria, as having appealed to the Gospel according to the Hebreus, in order to confirm his own heretical sentiments. But as the passage in which Eusebius thus speaks is obscure in some respects, and has been a matter of controversy in regard to its real import, I will not cite it at length in this place. I may, however, conddently refer to it as one of the clear proofs of the supposed existence of the Gospel in question, in the time of Symmachus.

Origen (about 240) speaks often of this same Gospel, and makes several quotations from it. He thus introduces it in bis Tract. VIII. in Matthew, of which we have the Latin translation : _“Scriptum est in evangelio quodam, quod dicitur secundum Hebraeos, etc.” Again, (Comm. in Jer. Homil. XV. and Comm. in Johann. II. p. 53, ed. de La Rue), he professedly cites another passage from this Gospel. Both of the passages which Origen cites, are wanting in our present Gospel; as we shall hereafter see.

Eusebius (H. E. III. 27), speaking of the Ebionites, says: Ευαγγελίω δε μόνο τα καθ' Εβραίους λεγομένω χρώμενοι, λοιπών σμικρών εποιούντο λόγον, i. e. using the Gospel according to the Hebrews, they make very little account of the others.'

Epiphanius, at the close of the fourth century, speaks often


of the Gospel according to the Hebrews. In Haer. XXX. 3, he says of the Ebionites, that “they receive the Gospel xarà MatJuiov, and this only do they( as well as the Cerinthians) use. They call it, moreover, xara' Epoulous," i.e. the Gospel according to the Hebrews.' In Haer. XXX. 13 he speaks still more expressly : “ In the Gospel named xata Margalov, which is current among them (the Ebionites), not in its complete and entire form, but adulterated and curtailed, and which they call 'Epouixóv, it is said, etc."*

Jerome speaks many times of the Gospel secundum Hebraeos or jurta Hebraeos; sometimes he called it the Gospel duodecim apostolorum, and then the Gospel juxta Matthaeum. In his book de Viris Illustribus (c. III.), he says that “Matthew wrote the Gospel of Christ in Hebrew letters and words. . . A copy in the Hebrew is preserved at the present time in the library at Caesarea. . . . I also obtained an exemplar from the Nazarenes of Beroea in Syria, who gave me leave to copy it.” Of this copy Jerome made both a Greek and a Latin transla


The reader should be notified here, that while the words of Jerome, in this passage, seem to confound the original Gospel of Matthew with this Gospel of the Nazarenes, yet he elsewhere makes a distinction so clear between them, besides giving quotations from the latter which exhibit important discrepancies, that there can be no doubt that he did not consider them in all respects, or even in all important respects, as one work.

From very early times, then, i. e. from the time of Hegesippus (about 140) we have decisive testimony that a Gospel according to the Hebrews was in circulation. But nothing decisive as to the similarity of this with our canonical Matthew, is produced by Eusebius, in bis narrative respecting the quotation from it by Hegesippus.

Besides Hegesippus, we have no testimony which will satisfy us, that any of the Christian fathers, excepting Clement of Alexandria and Origen, ever saw this Gospel, until we come down to Epiphanius and Jerome, at the close of the fourth century. As to Clement, who quotes from it, he had no knowledge of Hebrew, and therefore, as we may reasonably

'Εν τω παρ' αυτούς ευαγγελία κατά Ματθαίον ονομαζομένω, ουχ όλω δε πληρεστάτω αλλά νενοθευμένη και ακρωτηριασμένω, Εβραικόν δε καλούσι, έμφέρεται και. τ. λ.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

prophets. He answered: I have done so. He said to him : Go, sell all which thou hast, and give it to the poor; then come and follow me. But the rich man began to scratch his head (coepit scalpere caput suum), and it did not please him; and the Lord said to him : How canst thou say, I have obeyed the law and the prophets, since it is written in the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself? Behold ! many of my brethren, the sons of Abraham, are clothed with filth, and dying by reason of hunger; yet thy house is full of many good things, and still nothing at all goes from it to them. Then turning to Simon bis disciple, sitting near him, he said : Simon, son of Joanne, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man [to enter) into the kingdom of heaven.'

What a tasteless compiler he must have been, who furnished out such a paragraph as this for the Jewish converts of early times, is evident enough from the bare perusul of it. But this is not all. Take another quotation by Origen from this Gospel of the Nazarenes, in his Comm. in Jer. Homil. XV. Opp. Vol. III. According to Origen, the following words are put, by, this Gospel, into the mouth of the Saviour: äoriale me ni μήτηρ μου, το άγιον πνεύμα, εν μιά των τριχών μου, και απένεγκέ με εις το όρος το μέγα, Θαβώρ, i. e. “ then my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me by one of the hairs of my head, and carried me to the great mountain, Tabor.'

Beyond this we can gather no definite materials from Clement and Origen, which will help us to determine the condition of the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

Eusebius (III. 39) says: “Papias in his 'EENynceus bas told a story of a woman accused to the Saviour of many sins.” He then adds : ήν τό καθ'Εβραίους ευαγγέλιον κατέχει, i. e. which [story] the Gospel according to the Hebrews contains. What this story was, we are not informed; but it seems probable enough, that it was the account of the woman taken in adultery (John 8: 2—11), which had been added to the Nazarene or Ebionite Gospel of Matthew, by some interpolating hand. At any rate, it plainly consisted of matter foreign to our present canonical Gospel.

We have already seen, that Epiphanius expressly testifies concerning the Ebionites, that they used an adulterated and curtailed Gospel of Matthew, although the Nazarenes made use of one which was aindéotatov. In another place he has disVOL. XI. No. 31.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »