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text. The words [a pò èpoo] “ before Me” are omitted by later uncial MSS., by the Vulgate, Syriac, and other versions, and in early times were spoken of as doubtful. Tischendorf decisively expunged them from his final text, though neither Westcott and Hort nor the Revisers have followed his example. The difficulty of the passage arises from the supposition that the preposition "before" must be held to denote simply priority in time, and that this utterance therefore denounces all teachers and prophets anterior to our Lord as morally and officially worthless or worse.
Some writers, rigidly insisting upon the temporal force of the preposition "before," have regarded such a sweeping repudiation of the past as either derogatory to the character of our Lord, or else proof of the purely subjective character of the record, and of the fact that the author of the Gospel attributed to Jesus a semi-gnostic antagonism to the Old Testament in which he as a writer personally shared. It seems to us, that the author of the Gospel, who in chap. v. 39, 45, 47 represents our Lord as admitting the exalted value of the Scripture and of the Law or writings of Moses, who in chap. vii. 22 makes our Lord refer reverentially to the ceremonial instituted by Moses, in chap. viii. 23-40, sets Him forth as honouring the great name and example of Abraham, in chap. x. 35, as vindicating His own right to be one with the Father by appealing to the letter of the Psalter, and who again and again admitted the prophetic character of John the Baptist, would not have allowed himself to have attributed to the Lord Jesus such a drastic repudiation of all teaching or claims which had preceded His own. We are persuaded that the difficulty is diminished either by strongly emphasizing the verb “came" as antithetic to “ were sent," and also by departing, as we have a right to do, from the strictly temporal sense of the apó. Then we find in the words a condemnation of those who “came” claiming to be the exclusive doors into the heavenly fold, of all those who advanced or propounded in His very presence, or in His place, their right to open and shut the door of heaven, to make by additions to the ceremonial such“ a hedge about the Law as would exclude the poor in spirit and all holy and humble men of heart from the kingdom ; and who did not hesitate to declare that those “who knew not the Law (in their narrow sense) were accursed.” This conduct of the Casuist and Scribe which made void the Law by tradition was in our Lord's parable thievish, and violent in its influence upon the true sheep of His Pasture. The passage, as thus understood, is another proof of the agreement between the teaching of the Synoptic and Fourth Gospels. Compare Matthew xxiii. which is a prolonged expansion of the theme.
Delitzsch, in his translation of the passage into Hebrew, uses the word (liphné) as the equivalent of apò, and there are several passages in which the LXX. translate the same Hebrew word by tpò. Now, liphné only acquires the sense of priusquam by having previously embodied the fundamental notion of " in the presence of,” such as Genesis xiii. 10, xxvii. 7;
Amos i. 1; and Malachi iii. 23. But pò is also the translation of l'neged, or" in the face of," in Job. iv. 16 and Psalm c. 4. It is, however, more to the point to see the use of apò in Matt. xi. 10; Mark i. 2; Luke i. 76, vii. 27, s. 1, where it is coupled with #pogumov qov, and in Acts v. 23, xii. 6, 14, xiv. 13; James v. 9, where it is descriptive of place. Now, our Lord, in the opening words of the chapter, has broadly described the features of the Fold, the Shepherd, the Door, the Porter, and the thief who endeavours to make forcible and unauthorized and blameworthy entrance to the sheepfold. Jesus gives two applications of the parable, in both of which He touches upon the thief-like, robber-like quality of such as are seeking by surreptitious, furtive, cruel methods to possess themselves of the sheep. First, He calls attention to the analogy between Himself and the Door, and He boldly contrasts Himself with others who either disdain the true entrance or declare themselves to be the Door. In the second application He speaks of Himself as the "veritable" and "the good Shepherd," and contrasts His own life-giving, self-sacrificial, and redemptive work with the part played by hirelings and wolves, by thieves and robbers, who are seeking their own ends. The two applications of the one parable alike disclose an actual rivalry to His claims along different lines. So that I cannot doubt that the assertion amounts to this : “ All that came making in My very presence claims which cannot be justified, and in derogation of My right to be the 'Entrance,' the 'Shepherd,' the Owner' of the flock of God, are (eioi) thieves and robbers.” The context of the passage includes the language addressed by our Lord to the Pharisees (in the closing verses of chapter ix.), i.e., to those who had just excommunicated the blind man for the expression of his simple faith in his healer. There is no reason for supposing any reference to Old Testament saints, sages, or prophets as such. The claim to be the only Door into the Fold of God, to be the good and veritable Shepherd and Bishop of souls, reveals the self-consciousness of the Christ in a form and with a force that is surprising and dazzling, although not unexampled. In sayings like these St. John found the data for the prologue of his Gospel. Practical as well as theological deductions may be drawn from these startling words. They condemn all Substitutes, Rivals, Imitations, Travesties of the Grace and Place of Jesus Christ. Alas! Institutions, Documents, Philosophies, Shibboleths, Dicta of Society, specific Methods of Service, Popular Movements, Fashionable Philanthropies and Missions, as well as Social Bigotries and Venial Vices, are often found usurping the Supreme Functions of the Incarnate God, and either violently clutching at His royal glory, or furtively stealing, and even fatally handling the sheep of His Pasture, The “ thief” may steal the lamb from the fold. The “ robber" may
force it into his own. The “wolf” may devour it for his own purposes. The “stranger” may beguile it into bye-path meadows and regions of despair. There is only one who is “ Entrance,” “Owner,” “ Shepherd ” of the Flock. He alone can give "eternal,” imperishable Life.
INSPIRATION AND CRITICISM.
By Rev. PROF. J. IVERACH, D.D. The question of Inspiration and its relation to criticism is one beset with difficulties, partly arising from the nature of the case, and partly from the anxiety and fear which fill the minds of many people when the subject is raised in any form. The anxiety is natural, and in no way to be blamed. It is right that men should be anxious and troubled when a discussion is raised which seems to involve the very highest interests, and to bring into peril what they believe to be the foundations on which their faith and hope are built. The Scriptures have found them; the Scriptures have been a source of guidance, of comfort, of strength; they have been an adequate rule of faith and manners; they have spoken with a voice of authority; and it is not to be wondered at that men have been jealous and suspicious of any tendency which might even seem to lessen the authority or diminish the worth of Holy Scripture. Such an anxiety is deserving of the highest respect.
There is also another thing which makes discussion difficult. It arises partly from the feeling we have described, and partly from theoretical considerations. Men seem to have unconsciously set to themselves a problem of this sort. The Bible is a book which has certain uses for the individual and for the Church. It is a book which speaks with authority; it is the guide of life, the source of consolation, and it has many other uses which need not be enumerated at present. Theology has often proceeded as if it had set itself to answer the question, What must be the marks, notes, characteristics of a book which shall secure these ends and fulfil these purposes ? And often the question has been answered ideally and theoretically by a deductive method, not inductively. A book which professes to be a revelation from God must have such and such qualities; a book which is to be an adequate guide to man in all the concerns of his religious and moral life must be so and so. Theology has often proceeded on this method, and the opponents of religion --especially those who deny revelation altogether—have been glad to accept the issue on these terms, or they have added criteria of their own as to what qualities a supposed revelation must have. Bishop Butler deals with this matter in his own wise, cautious, and masterly way in the second part of his Analogy. He enumerates some of the notions current in his time, among those who attacked and among those who defended Christianity, as to what revelation ought to be. “There are those who think it a strong objection against the authority of Scripture, that it is not composed by rules of art, agreed upon by critics, for polite and correct writing. And the scorn is inexpressible with which some of the prophetic parts of Scripture are treated; partly through the rashness of interpreters, but very much also on
account of the hieroglyphical and figurative language in which they are left us.” Other supposed criteria of revelation laid down by the opponents of Christianity were, that a revelation from God must be universal, not confined to one people ; that it must not contain matters of offence, “which have led, and, it must have been foreseen, would lead into strange enthusiasm and superstition, and be made to serve the purposes of tyranny and wickedness”; that its meaning must be clear, and the interpretation of its meaning easy; and that its evidence must be convincing and satisfactory. The Bishop's answer generally is, " that upon supposition of a revelation, it is highly credible beforehand, we should be incompetent judges of it to a great degree: and that it would contain many things appearing to us liable to great objections, in case we judge of it otherwise than of the analogy of nature.” See the argument as unfolded in the third chapter of the second part of the Analogy.
Now, it is obvious that the defenders of revelation and of the truth of Christianity are put to a great disadvantage if they must argue on this basis. Allow the one side or the other to lay down criteria of revelation, or to state categorically what are the notes and marks of a real revelation, and immediately the issue is changed. Inevitably we shall find ourselves discussing the question, Are these marks of revelation to be found in the Scriptures? Is the meaning of the Scriptures clear and consistent ? Is their literary form of that pure and perfect type which, it is agreed, a Divine revelation ought to have? Is every statement infallibly true, not merely with respect to its substance, but in respect to its form? Is the text without flaw; its grammar perfect; its science correct? If the defenders of revelation are allowed to lay down criteria of revelation, clearly the same right cannot be denied to its opponents; and the controversy becomes one about the possible criteria of a possible revelation, and it would inevitably result in withdrawing attention from the actual revelation we have, and from its claims to the allegiance of men. No satisfactory conclusion can be reached by a discussion of an issue of this kind.
The history of science affords us many instances of the manner in which progress was stopped, ignorance perpetuated, and a knowledge of the actual facts and laws of nature delayed by assumptions of the same kind as have been made with regard to Scripture. Science made but little progress until it forsook its habit of affirming what must be, and humbly set itself to inquire into what really is. Then men found that they were living in a rational world, a world whose methods, laws, facts presented an order grander far than they had ever dreamed of. Astronomers no longer said that the heavenly bodies moved in circles, because their motion must be perfect, and the circle is the most perfect curve. The habit of ascribing perfection to nature was forgotten, and yet men came to see that the thought, reason, plan which are manifested by nature in every part were something grander, more perfect, more full of varied and harmonious order than were the limited ideas of perfection to which, in their ignorance, they would have subjected
her. Science is also full of illustrations of the truth of what Leslie says“In the course of investigations I have found myself compelled to relinquish some preconceived notions, but I have not abandoned them hastily, nor, till after a warm and obstinate defence, I was driven from every post.” (Quoted by Stanley Jevons in The Principles of Science, vol. ii., p. 234.)
Many a student of the Bible must say the same thing. Our preconceived notions are very precious to us. We are unwilling to part with them, and as a matter of fact we do not part with them until we are driven from every post. A history of the doctrine of Inspiration for the last two hundred years would lead us to some rather startling conclusions. It would surprise some to find out how much is thought consistent with the doctrine of Inspiration now, which was regarded as utterly inconsistent with it at some former time, and that, too, by theologians as able, as honest, as competent as any living at this hour. In truth, the only safe principle for us to lay down in this question is, that Inspiration is consistent with all the phenomena of Scripture. It is not for us to lay down in any absolute manner what is and what is not consistent with Inspiration. We must set aside preconceived notions, and, instead of laying down conditions, content ourselves with learning humbly what the Scriptures have to teach us.
Inspiration, then, is consistent with a measure of uncertainty as to what the text of Scripture really is. It is a commonplace to say that the true text lies beyond our reach. Men may say, and say with truth, that the active critical text we now have is indefinitely near to the text of Scripture as originally given; that the various readings are in themselves without much importance, and do not affect the meaning of Scripture; that we have a larger apparatus for determining the text of Scripture than we have for the text of any other book; and
other observations of the same sort may be made without any attempt on our part to gainsay or deny them. It is true that these readings are comparatively unimportant. But it is also true that while they remain, and while we cannot profess to be able to eliminate all uncertainty, we cannot be said to have a text without error and infallibly true. Students of the history of theology will remember how great was the alarm, and how profound the anxiety of many when it was proved that there were numerous various readings, and that it was scarcely possible to decide between them. We have now got accustomed to this state of things, and have come to see that it does not in the least interfere with any use of Scripture needed by the individual or the Church. While we may rejoice in the progress of textual criticism, and be glad that the principles of that science have been elaborated so as in large measure to command assent, yet those who read Westcott and Hort's Introduction on the one hand, and Dean Burgon on the other, can at once see that there are many essential points not yet agreed on. Great are the names and manifold have been the labours of those who have laid the foundations and built up the science of textual criticism, yet even here a great deal remains to be done. Professor Harris, in his learned and exact study of the Codex Bezæ, has opened up
NO. I.--VOL. I.-THE THINKER.