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excited in the many-headed, by what they will always magisterially decide to be nothing but a pompous and useless parade of learning, he cleverly enlists their foibles on his side, and tickles their vanity by making them believe they are almost as learned as himself. Not that we would insinuate that Dr. Alexander is actuated by any unworthy motive in this amiable condescension.' So far from it, we should gladly pay homage to his wisdom in thus catching men with guile, could we only regard the ingenious plan as feasible. But of this we have our doubts. Whilst we cannot but applaud the benevolence which prompts him to open up a royal road to such technical knowledge we confess we are troubled with serious fears that too many will run away with nothing but that dangerous smattering which can only be described as compound ignorance—the most untractable of all kinds of ignorance—viz., when a man does not know, and does not know that he does not know. Surely it cannot be very helpful to one who is no scholar to tell him that such and such a Greek idiom, when literally translated, means so and so. There is such a thing as the spirit of a language, to which those who have never taken the pains to learn it must ever be strangers; and we are sure that all scholars will agree with us that apart from this the letter killeth; or, in other words, that nothing is more calculated to darken the real meaning of a Greek or any other foreign idiom than a bare literal rendering. A similar line of remark is applicable to the numerous references in this popular commentary on Mark to the various readings of MSS. and versions and other bits of textual criticism which have hitherto, and not unwisely we think, been reserved for a different class of readers. At the same time we frankly own that matters of this kind more readily admit of presentation in a popular shape than the technicalities of grammar, although, on the other hand, and as a serious set-off against this advantage, the training requisite to enable one to form an enlightened independent judgment between the conflicting authorities in favour of, and against any particular readings, is an accomplishment which even amongst scholars is extremely rare. On the whole, we cannot but think that such questions are foreign to the pages of a work designed for the masses. It is doubtless owing to the same well-meant but hardly feasible idea of combining the features of a learned commentary with those of a more familiar exposition, that we here meet with so many polemical references to the infidel mythical theories of Strauss and Baur. We know indeed that both in this country, and in America, industrious attempts have been made to popularize these wretched notions by cheap translations of the “Life of Jesus,’ and other publications of the Holyoake press. But happily the sound good sense of the working classes, both here and across the Atlantic, has rendered them proof against these insidious attacks. The controversy has never really belonged to any other field than that of theological science, and there it has long since been fought out. Nothing but its putrid carcase remains, and we confess that we would rather not sniff its unsavoury odour in the Princeton Professor's pages. Besides, universal experience proves that it is easier to raise such ghosts than to lay them. From these remarks the reader will already have gathered our opinion that the idea of a compromise between the two styles of commentary is a mistake. Nor can we say much in favour of the arrangement of his matter adopted by our author, unless simplicity be a merit irrespective of convenience. Nothing can be easier than to give a general description of his method. He begins with an introduction—sensible and business-like, if rather common-place—and then he reels off, verse by verse, and chapter by chapter, his exposition to the end. This too is a great mistake. To take each verse singly rather than each paragraph, besides being insufferably dull, breaks the unity of the subject for both writer and reader, and is sure to betray the former into that worst vice of his tribe, which may be variously described as looking into the millstone, pumping the dry well, or, in other words, hunting for something where there is nothing. Such atomistic exegesis is doomed to be long-winded and tiresome beyond endurance. Preachers if they were wise would for the most part let it alone. They may be sure that it has something to do with the weariness of which their hearers sometimes make piteous complaints. And when we meet with it in commentaries we are sure to suspect that we are being regaled with the crambe recocta of perhaps not very lively sermons. In the case of Professor Alexander, indeed, such a suspicion would probably prove to be unfounded, for though he preaches now and then, we believe he has no regular pulpit charge. Hence his falling into the snare is the more unaccountable, particularly as in the following passage he seems himself to be conscious of the evils of the practice:—“The present division (of Mark), he says, “into sixteen chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo in the thirteenth century, to facilitate the use of his “Concordance to the Latin Vulgate,” and was not adopted in the copies of the Greek text till the fifteenth century. The division into verses first appears in the margin of Stephens's edition (1551), and is said to have been made by him during a journey between Paris and Lyons. The actual separation of the verses, by printing them in paragraphs, appears for the first time in one of Beza's editions (1565), and although discontinued in the latest publications of the Greek text, still prevails in most editions of the English Bible, and of other modern versions. The history of these divisions should be clearly understood, in order to prevent their being thought original, or even ancient, and thereby to deprive them of an undue influence upon the exposition of the text itself. The distinction of the chapters in this book (Mark), is sometimes injudicious and unskilful, and at best these conventional divisions are mere matters of mechanical convenience, like the paragraphs and pages of a modern book.’ It would be but too easy to bring instances in which our author, by allowing the division into verses to exercise an undue influence upon the exposition of the text itself, has himself exemplified the necessity of his own wise caution. But numerous as they are these would be as nothing compared with the cases in which his adherence to this unhappy method has made him so flatulent that we have longed to present him with a bottle of soda-water.

We turn now to the substance of the book, and we freely grant that if we were able to report favourably of it in this respect, if we could say that it offers any important contributions to the elucidation of the evangelist, all the drawbacks hitherto spoken of, even were they more serious than they are, would go for little after all. But we are sorry to say it is just on this score that we have been most grievously disappointed. We should not like to tell the reader that we have searched the land and found it all barren from Dan to Beersheba ; but we have certainly brought home no clusters of Eschol as a sample of its fruits. We have found our author a respectable, sober, plodding interpreter, who brings to his task a well-trained intellect and competent knowledge of the rules and appliances of his art, and who, in general, may be safely trusted in all ordinary cases. If you understand a passage he will prove to you in the most convincing style, by analysing your conceptions, that you do understand it, which is certainly something to be thankful for. But he is no GEdipus, and if you are at a pinch your chances are but small of getting real help from him in your difficulties. Yet this is after all the true touchstone by which an expositor must be tested, although it must be granted that there are few indeed who can stand the ordeal. Most of the tribe have already been too correctly hit off in the well-known couplet, as illen

‘Who every dark and doubtful passage shun,
And hold their farthing rushlight to the sun.’

We are far from wishing to do injustice to Professor Alexander. We cheerfully accord to him the praise of competent learning, diligence, analytical powers of a certain order—not, perhaps, the highest—readimess to seize the truth when suggested by others, and clearness of expression in conveying his ideas. To these merits we may add unflinching orthodoxy combined with a wholesome spice of candour, which, at least, does not refuse to see real difficulties; and when it cannot solve them frankly tells us so. He is a scribe sufficiently well instructed to bring out of his treasury old things cleverly furbished up; but he gives us very few new things. What we chiefly miss in him is the divinior mens—that power of insight which is the prerogative of genius; and even in its aberrations, like the trembling needle, points out the true course. Hence, where previous navigators, following the traditionary land-marks, have steered wrong, he is almost sure to follow them, and to stick to the good old plan of hugging the shore ..We may instance Mark iii. 4, his bewildered and bewildering comment on which seems to betray an uneasy consciousness that his forerunners have somehow got upon a false tack, and that his sailing directions are at fault; for it is at least a negative and incidental advantage of his

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system of microscopic and exhaustive analysis, that it cannot fail in many cases to place the absurdities of the current exposition in a stronger light than usual. Here is the verse, containing our Lord's question to his enemies, as to the lawfulness of healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath-day, together with our author's windy note upon it:—

“And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life or to kill? but they held their peace.”

“Before proceeding to perform the miracle, he appeals to them as to the question of its lawfulness, retorting the same question which they had already put to him (Matt. xii. 10), as if he had said, “Answer your own question; I will leave it to yourselves, and will abide by your decision, not however as expressed in words alone, but in your actions” (Matt. xii. 11, 12). Is it lawful, not right in itself, but consistent with the law of Moses, and with your acknowledged obligation to obey it (see above, on iv. 24, 26). To do good and to do evil may, according both to etymology and usage, mean to do right and to do wrong in the general (1 Pet. iii. 16, 17; 3 John 11), or to do good and to injure in particular (Acts xiv. i2). On the former supposition the meaning of the sentence is, “You will surely admit that it is lawful to do right in preference to wrong on the Sabbath, as on any other day.” But as this is little more than an identical proposition, or at least an undisputed truism (namely, that what is right is lawful), most interpreters prefer the other explanation, according to which our Lord is not asserting a mere truism, which his hearers were as ready to acknowledge as himself, but pointing out their obvious mistake as to the nature of the action which they had condemned beforehand. Stripped of its interrogative form, the sentence contains two distinct, but consecutive propositions. The first is, that it must be lawful, even on the Sabbath, to confer a favour or to do a kindness, when the choice lies between that and the doing of an injury. Even if not absolutely lawful, it would certainly become so in the case of such an alternative. The next proposition is, that this rule, which is true in general, is emphatically true when the alternative is that of life and death. To this may be added as a tacit influence, not formally deduced but left to be drawu by the hearers for themselves, that such a case was that before them, in which to refuse help was virtually to destroy. This is not to be strictly understood as meaning that unless the withered hand were healed at once the man would die, but as exemplifying that peculiar method of presenting extreme cases, which is one of the most marked characteristics of our Saviour's teaching. As in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere (see below, on ix.43, 48), he instructs us what we must be prepared to do in an extreme case, thus providing for all others; so here he exhibits the conclusion, to which their reasoning naturally tended, as a proof, that it must be erroneous. If the rest of the Sabbath was not only a divine requisition, but an intrinsic, absolute necessity, to which all human interests must yield, this could be no less true in an extreme case than in any other, so that life itself must be sacrificed to it. This revolting conclusion could be avoided only by admitting that the obligation of the Sabbath rested on authority, and might by that authority be abrogated or suspended. This implies that such authority belonged to him, that he was not acting as a mere man, or a prophet, but as the Son of man, and as such Lord of the Sabbath; so that although his answer upon this occasion is in form quite different from that before recorded, it amounts to the same thing, and proceeds upon the same essential principle. Thus understood, the sentence may be paraphrased as follows: “You consider me a breaker of the law, because I heal upon the Sabbath; but you must admit that where the choice is between doing good and evil, for example, between saving life and killing upon that day, we are bound to choose the former. There is therefore some limit or exception to the obligation which you urge upon yourselves and others, not indeed to be decided by your own discretion or caprice, but by the same authority which first imposed it; now that authority I claim to exercise, a claim abundantly attested by the very

miracles on which your charge is founded, for no man can do such things unless God be with him. (Compare John iii. 2.)” Now the blunder here—in which we grant our author has the whole guild of interpreters at his back—consists in supposing the man with the withered hand to be referred to in both members of the two questions put by our Lord, whereas it is only in the first member of each that his case is alluded to-‘to do good,’ to “to save life;’ and the other is a prophetic heart-searching glance of our Lord at the course which he knew his enemies would pursue in consequence of the step he was about to take, and which in the 6th verse we read they actually did adopt. Whilst He preferred to ‘do good” on the holy day, and to “save’ the ‘life’ that was ebbing out of the poor man's dead hand, these zealous Sabbatarians chose rather ‘to do evil” and “to kill; ” for, no sooner was the cure performed than ‘the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.’ The contrast is between our Lord's mode of honouring the Sabbath by acts of mercy, and that of his enemies who thought to hallow it by what was virtually murder. This is a case in which Professor Alexander might have done better than follow his predecessors into the ditch. There are, however, other instances in which he has been a loser by not following enlightened guidance which might have been had for the asking. There is no doubt that he has read, although he seldom quotes by name, a great deal of the expository literature on the gospel history in general, and on Mark in particular. Not only the American and English writers of note, but the German and Latin also are familiar to him. But there is one commentary on Mark which he is evidently unacquainted with, and which we think worth all others that we have seen put together; we refer to Bishop Hinds's ‘Catechist's Manual,’ published at Oxford in 1829—a work which we earnestly recommend all who desire a profound knowledge of the evangelical narrative to procure for themselves. A more suggestive book, and one more radiant with the flashes of true exegetical genius, we should find it difficult indeed to name. To justify in a measure this opinion, and at the same time to show what the American Presbyterian Professor has suffered by his ignorance of the labours of the English prelate, his forerunner, we shall simply print an extract or two from both side by side, and shall then leave the reader to form his own judgment on the matter. On the five verses recording the strikingly gradual cure of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark viii.22–26), Dr. Alexander has more suo as many tedious notes, which far be it from us to inflict upon our friends. Happily too it is unnecessary, since in the introductory words to the first of the five he sufficiently tasks his powers of hopeless wrongheadedness, and pours out on the text without stint all the darkness that is in him. “Mark, he says, “here records a miracle not given in the other Gospels, one of the very few passages entirely peculiar to his. His reason for inserting it cannot be merely that it follows the dialogue above recorded (vers. 14–21), for he often omits multitudes of

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