Page images

bers may be found in the i best writers, even without the particle woci, about: which of itself seems to be a hint, that the writer does intend to be understood with some latitude.

If we may take St. Luke's words in this manner, there is scarce any need that I should trouble the reader with any calculation, to show the agreement of bis numbers with the time of our Saviour's nativity.

The fifteenth of Tiberius's sole empire began A. U. 781, A. D. 28. If Jesus was baptized the 6th January, A. U. 782, A. D. 29, he would be but some months above thirtythree years

of age, though he was born so soon as September A. U. 748. And if he was born A. U. 749, tben, though his baptism be placed in the beginning of A. U. 783, A. D. 30, still he would be little more than thirty-three years of age.

All the other notes of time in the gospels are also very easily reconciled with the 15th of Tiberius's sole empire. Pontius Pilate came into Judea before the passover in the 12th year of Tiberius's sole empire, A. U. 779, A. D. 26, as has been shown, and continued there ten years: therefore he was undoubtedly governor of Judea at the commencement of John the Baptist's ministry, and till after our Saviour's crucifixion.

As for those words of the Jews spoken by them at the first passover of our Saviour's ministry, “ Forty-six years has this temple been in building :" it is but to suppose that they referred not to the time when Herod made the proposal of repairing the temple in the eighteenth year of his reign, but to the time when in pursuance of that proposal he actually set about the work, after he had got all things in a readiness for it, and it will be easily perceived that these words are agreeable to truth.

I do not presume to determine which of these two solutions is the justest; or whether St. Luke intended the fifteenth of Tiberius's proconsular empire, when he was made colleague with Augustus, or the fifteenth of his sole empire. In order to do this, it would be needful, as I apprebend, to consider the time allotted by the evangelists to the ministry of John the Baptist and our Saviour, the chronology of the Acts of the Apostles, compared with some passages in the epistles, and also the testimonies of the ancient christian writers, As I bave not here room for all these premises, it may be best to wave the conclusion. All I shall say at present is, that the supposition that St. Luke intended the former of these two epochs, seems to be very much favoured by the first christians; who generally place the crucifixion of Jesus at the passover of the fifteenth of Tiberius's sole empire, when the two Gemini were consuls of Rome, A. D. 29: and that their testimonies are of great weight with me. I subjoin in the margiuk a few of them, for the sake of those who may happen to be unacquainted with these matters.

i Ab illo enim profectu viribus datis tantum valuit, ut in quadruginta deinde annos tutam pacem haberet. Livius, l. i. cap. 15. n. 7. This refers to Numa', reign, of which afterwards Livy says :--Romulus, septem et triginta regnavit annos, Numa tres et quadraginta. Ibid. c. 21. When the city of Rome was taken by the Gauls, and the remnant of the people were entering into the Capitol, Livy uses these words : Versa inde adhortationes ad agmen juvenum: quos in Capitolium atque in arcem prosequebantur, commendantes virtuti eorum juventæque urbis per trecentos seraginta annos omnibus bellis victricis,

--fortunam. Id. liv. v. cap. 40. Camillus, not long after, in the very same year, in his speech to dissuade them from removing to Vei, says, trecen. tecimus seragesimus quintus annus urbis, Quirites, agitur. Ibid. cap. 54 vid. eundem, lib. vi. cap. 28. n. 7. et Joan. Cleric. notas.

I apprehend, that each of these is a very good solution of the objection stated at the beginning of this chapter, though I believe many will think, it is there stated by me in a manner very favourable to an objector. Nay, I imagine 1 have said what is sufficient to satisfy any reasonable person, that there does not lie any objection against any notes of time mentioned by the evangelists from the chronology of other ancient writers. This is sufficient to my present purpose.

I have nothing farther to add here beside this one observation.

It is no disparagement to the sacred historians, that we are somewhat at a loss to settle precisely the very year of some of those events which they have related. Many important facts related by the best historians are attended with chronological difficulties: I shall give but one instance, an instance, with which we are nearly concerned. Josephus was a man of a learned education, is a professed writer of history, of the civil and sacred history of his country, and is generally allowed to be an accurate writer. He has expressly mentioned two epochs of the commencement of Herod's reign, and has given us an account of his death, and the duration of his government: he has written the bistory of the whole reign of this prince: he has related the series of events, and the succession of the princes and governors of Judea before and after Herod : he has put down the years of the Olympiads, and the names of the consuls, wben some of the most remarkable of these events bappened. Nor have all Roman and Greek historians been silent about Herod or his descendants, and the Jewish affairs, near this time; not to mention Talmudical, or other Jewish authors. And yet, notwithstanding all these advantages, whether through prejudice, or want of sufficient light, it has happened, that learned men have differed widely about the time of Herod's death, and are not yet come to a full agreement.

* Hujus [Tiberii] quinto decimo anno imperii passus est Christus. Quæ passio hujus exterminii intra tempora Lxx. hebdomadarum perfecta est sub Tiberio Cæsare, Coss. Rubellio Gemino et Rufio Gemino, mense Martio, temporibus Paschæ. Tertul. advers. Jud. cap. 8. Atque exinde usque ad annum quintum decimum Tiberii Cæsaris, quando passus est Christus, numerantur anni sexaginta. Africanus, apud Hieron. Dan. C. ix. Qui fuit sub imperio Tiberii Cæsaris ; cujus anno quinto decimo, id est, duobus Geminis consulibus— Judæi Christum cruci afhxerant. Lactant. Inst. lib. iv. cap. 10. Extremis temporibus Tiberii Cæsaris, ut scriptum legimus, Dominus noster Jesus Christus a Judæis crucialus est,--duobus Geminis consulibus. De Mort. Persecut. cap. 2.



1. The difficulty relating to their being both high-priests at

the same time considered. 1). Of Caiaphas being highpriest that yeur, in which Jesus was crucified.

J. WE have another objection against the account St. Luke gives of the government Judea was under, when Jobn the Baptist began to preach. Ch. iii. 1, 2, “ Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judæa, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee ;- Annus and Caiaphas being the high-priests, the word of God came unto John.”

It is objected, that it appears from the books of the Old Testament, the writings of Josephus and other Jews, that there was but one bigh-priest among the Jews at a time: St. Luke therefore has been mistaken in saying, that Apnas and Caiaphas were both high-priests. Much has been written upon this subject, and learned


[ocr errors]

VOL. 1.

men have been of divers opinions. I hope I may be excused, if in this place I depart from the method I usually take in considering these objections, and do not set down all the sentiments of writers upon this point.

I shall here therefore do little more than deliver my own sentiments concerning this matter in a few particulars; wbich, I hope, will contain a sufficient answer to the objection.

1. It would be extremely unreasonable to impute to St. Luke so great a mistake, as the supposing, that there were properly two high-priests among the Jews at the same time. He appears in the rest of his history well acquainted with Jewish affairs. It is plain, that he knew very well there was one who was in the office of high-priest ; ch. xxii. 50, “ And one of thein smote the servant of the highpriest,”—54, “ Then took they him and led bim, and brought him to the high-priest's house.”

2. It is likely, that the power which the Jewish people were possessed of under the Romans, was lodged chiefly in the bands of two persons; and it may be supposed the Jews chose to have it so. When they had resolved upon the war with the Romans, Josephus says: “ They assembled in the • temple, and appointed several generals; and Joseph the

son of Gorion, and the high-priest Ananus, were chosen to be supreme governors of all things in the city. I have not observed this passage quoted by any upon this occasion: whether it be material or not the reader will judge; but it has inclined me to suppose, that about this time there were usually among the Jews two persons, to wbom the government was chiefly committed. I must however advertise the reader, that Ananus, here called high-priest, was not then in the office of the priesthood.

3. Since Caiaphas was now properly high-priest, and Annas had been so : if the latter was now in some post of authority, they might be both said very properly to be highpriests at this time. Josephus often calls Saturninus and Volumnius presidents or governors of Syria, though Satur

a Vid. Baron. Ann. A. D. 31. num. 8.- -Casaubon in Baron. Exerc. xii. num. 5. Selden. de Success. in Pontif. lib. i. cap. 12. Hammond. Annot. cum multis aliis.

Και συναθροισθεντες εις το ιερον, , σρατηγες απεδειξαν τα πολεμε πλειονας ηρεθη δε Ιωσηπος υιος Γωριωνος, και ο αρχιερευς Ανανος, των τε κατα την πολιν άπαντων αυτοκρατορες, και μαλισα τα τείχη της πολεως ανεγειρειν. .

De Bell. lib. ii. c. 20. sect. 3. “ Πολλακις μεν επι Σατερνινον ελθοντα και Ουολεμνιον της Συρίας ηγεμοvac. Ant. lib. xvi. cap. 10. p. 741. v. 1, 2. Tous Kaloupos viyeuoow Larspνινη τε και Ουολεμνιω,-επι τε Σατερνινα και Ουολεμνια των Συριας επισαTBVTWvib. cap. 9. p. 734. v. 25, et 37.


ninus only was president, and Volumnius the emperor's procurator, that is, the officer that took care of the revenue.

There happened a disturbance between the Jews and the Samaritans in the reign of Claudius: Cumanus the procurator of Judea was not able to compose it; appeals were made to Quadratus president of Syria. He having punished several, é sent two others of the most powerful men of the • Jews, as also the high-priests Jonathan and Ananias, and • Ananus the son of this last-mentioned person, and some • other considerable men, to Cæsar.'d I take this passage of Josephus (which has been often cited by learned men) to be very near parallel with St. Luke's.

Jonathan had been high-priest, but had been put out long before now by e Vitellius : Ananias wasî now highpriest. In like manner, in the case in question, Annas had formerly been high-priest, but Caiaphas was now in that office,

I am the more inclined to think Josephus's style here parallel with St. Luke's, because it appears from another place, where Josephus mentions this affair, that Ananus, the third person named, was then captain of the temple. From whence I conclude, that the three persons here mentioned, were then in the three chief posts of the Jewish civil and sacred government. He speaks indeed of two others, whom he calls the most powerful of the Jews; but I apprehend they were so only in respect of their inftuence: it is reasonable to suppose, that the persons

named were in the most eminent stations.

There is another particular in which these two passages are parallel : Jonathan, who had been high-priest, is named before Ananias, then in office: the two names stand in the same order in St. Luke. I suppose, that these propositions may afford a clear solution of this difficulty.

The learned Selden conjectures, that Annas and Caiaphas are not mentioned in this place by St. Luke, on account of any sacred function they discharged, .but as they were the two persons who bad then the chief authority under the Romans in the civil administration of the Jewish affairs : that Annas was now prince of the sanbedrim, and Caiaphas the father of it; and that therefore Annas is first named, as being in the more honourable station in the civil govern

« Δυο δε έτερος των δυνατωτατων, και τας αρχιερεις Ιωνάθην και Ανανιαν, τον τε τετε παιδα Ανανoν,-ανεπεμψεν επι Καισαρα. De Bell. lib. ii. cap. xii. sect. 6.

e Ant. lib. xviii. cap. 6. sect. 3. : Ib. lib. xx. cap. 4. p. 886. v. 41.

Ib. lib. xx. cap. 5. p. 889. v. 36.

« PreviousContinue »