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Theory of Eichhorn, Marsh and others.


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modification of the theory under remark, which represents this as virtually the character of his Gospel.

A second mode of accounting for the similarity, which appears in the Evangelists, has been that of the supposition of an original written history which they all followed ; a history extant at the time when they wrote, but which has now perished. The germ of this idea may be found in the writings of Le Clerc and Semler, but it received its more systematic form from subsequent writers, as Eichhorn, Herder, Marsh and others. According to the first of these, there was an original Aramaean Gospel which con. tained all the portions that are common to Matthew, Mark and Luke. But it sometimes happens, that two of the Evangelists relate circumstances which are not related by the third, and some. times that a single one of them gives us narratives which the others omit. To explain this, he adopts the fiction of a repeated revision of what he calls the original Gospel. This he supposed to have passed through various forms corresponding to the traits which impart to our present Gospels their individual character as well as their common resemblance. Thus there was one revision which Matthew and Luke used together; and from this they derived what is common to both. There was another which Matthew alone employed, and another still which Luke alone employed; and these respectively were the sources of the portions which are found in only one of them. Again, these last two revisions were combined into another, and in this form served as the foundation of Mark. By such a tissue of purely arbitrary suppositions, Eichhorn could explain how the Gospels, though independent translations from the Aramaean original, could agree in certain common narratives and turns of thought; but by a strange oversight he had provided no explanation for the more remarkable fact, that they agree so often in the Greek expressions which they employ. On account of this deficiency, Bishop Marsh, in his translation of Michaelis, proposed a modification of the theory of Eichhorn. He assumed, as in the other case, an Aramaean original, but one that was far less complete. Its progress to greater fulness he supposed to take place in the Greek language itself.

1 The following tabular view may assist the reader in forming a conception of what is intended. 1. The original Gospel. 2. Revision of the same A, the basis of Matthew. 3. Revision B, the basis of Luke. 4. Revision C, formed out of A and B, the basis of Mark. 5. Revision D, employed by Matthew and Lake at the same time.

The first translation that was made from it, was afterwards rewrought by various hands, sometimes with additions, sometimes with omissions; and Mark and Luke composed our Greek Gospels with the help of these preparations. The translator of Matthew's Gospel, which existed originally in the Hebrew or Aramaean, he supposed to have used the text of Mark and, in part also, that of Luke. Eichhorn himself now saw the imperfection of his plan, and in his Introduction to the New Testament, published in 1804, came forward with another phasis of it. This was far more complicated than the first, or even than that of Bishop Marsh. He here made it his object to explain the verbal agreement of the Evangelists; and for this purpose introduced a series of Greek translations, in addition to several revisions of the Aramaean original. A wide interval, according to him, separates between our present Gospels, and their first written form. They have been revised and re-revised, translated out of one dialect into another, enlarged or abridged at each new step of the process, receiving something here by contact with this document, losing something there by contact with that, till we behold them emerging at length from the chaos, under the form in which they appear before us in the New Testament. It is conceivable certainly that our Gospels should have been produced in this manner; and so it is that the Iliad or Paradise Lost, should have been formed by throwing up the letters of the alphabet and having them fall so as to assume their present order; but it is not at all probable. This has now become the general conviction. Herder gave this hypothesis the sanction of his name; but neither his support nor that of other eminent scholars who may have favored it,

' A suinmary of this process, exhibiting its successive steps, affords perhaps the best demonstration of its impossibility. The following is a schedule of it. 1. An original Gospel in Aramaean. 2. A Greek translation. 3. Revision of the Aramaean Gospel, used by Matthew. 4. Greek translation of the same. 5. Revision of the Aramaean Gospel, used by Luke, not translated into Greek. 6. An amalgamation of both the Aramaean revisions, used by Mark, not translated into Greek. 7. A fourth revision of the Aramaean original, used by Matthew and Luke. 8. A Greek translation of the same, with a use of the Greek translation of the original Gospel. 9. Matthew's Hebrew Gospel, composed from No. 3 and 7. 10. Greek translation of Matthew, with a use of No. 4 and 8. 11. Mark's Gospel, which had for its basis No 6 (as an amalgamation of 3 and 5,) with a use of No. 4, but a translation by his own hand of what belong. ed to 5. Finally 12, Luke's Gospel, formed from No 5 and 7, with the insertion of a narration of one of the journeys. This Evangelist had the use of No. 8, but translated for himself what belonged to No. 5.

1846.] Supposition of a traditionary Period.

13 has been able to prevent it from passing away.1 Scarcely any one at the present time adheres to it. It labors under every possible presumption of iniprobability. That these writings should have been brought to their present condition through a series of such revisions, could have been suggested only by the usages of modern criticism; the idea is foreign entirely to the spirit of ancient times. It is not affirmed that the literary annals of antiquity afford any parallel or the semblance of a parallel to it. Nor has the supposition any more support from testimony in relation to this particular instance, than it has from general analogy. No one in recent times pretends to have found these documents, out of which our Gospels are said to have grown. No ancient writer says that he ever saw them or heard of them. Under these circumstances, they must be considered as the mere figments of criti. cal ingenuity; and so, in fact, they are at present almost universally considered. The objections to this hypothesis, says de Wette, are so palpable that nearly all minds now concur in its rejection; and the only wonder is that it could have found in times past so much favor as it received.

The perception of these and similar difficulties has given rise to another explanation. It is the supposition of the existence of an early tradition, transmitting for a time without written records the principal contents of the evangelical history. Gieseler was the first who proposed this view in such a form as to fix upon it the serious attention of the public. It has been adopted by men of very different theological sentiments, according to the limit which is assigned to the duration of this supposed traditionary period. Strauss, for instance, not only without necessity but in violation of the clearest historical certainty, extends it to the beginning of the second century or later; and thus converts it into a means for assailing the credibility of the Evangelists; others, on the contrary, restricting it to the comparatively short interval between the crucifixion of Christ and the death of some of his first personal followers, look upon such a temporary, oral transmission as not only natural under the circumstances of the case, but consistent entirely with the strictest views of the truth and inspiration of the Scriptures. Of this latter class is Dr. Guerike; who in his recent Introduc

| The scheme of Herder in its details, was somewhat different from that o Eichhorn; but it was founded upon the saine general principles.

* Gieseler, Ueber die Entstehung und frühesten Schicksale der schriftl. Evangelien, Leipz. 1818. Vov. IIL No. 9.


tion to the New Testament, avows his preference for this theory, and has there given an exposition of it, expressing the sense no doubt in which it is held generally by those who belong to the same theological school. The outline of it is as follows. It is contrary to the character of the earliest Christian age, to suppose that a history of Christ would have been written at the very beginning, certainly such a history as would naturally be presented in the discourses of those who first preached the Gospel. There was no occasion for this. The eye-witnesses of his life and actions were still present to rehearse these things in person; and, so long as they remained, there was no reason why any one should prefer a written narration, even had the Apostles themselves composed it, to the living, spoken word. The first Gospel-history, , therefore, was an oral one. This, whether repeated in one language or another, in Greek or Aramaean, would naturally acquire a certain uniformity of character both in the recapitulation of particular facts and in the general style of narration. As there was occasion for the constant repetition of the same events, they would readily fix themselves in the same or a similar order, in the minds both of narrators and hearers, and become clothed spontaneously, in the same or similar language. The exact words2 often, of the Saviour, or where these were translated into another tongue, the words as nearly correspondent to them as possible, could be the more easily retained because the Jews were so much in the habit of treasuring up the identical expressions of those who instructed them, and because so much of our Saviour's teachings was of that figurative kind which was so well adapted to aid the memory 3 In this way we can conceive that the first preachers of the Gospel, without any concert with each other or any written guide to follow, might be led to pursue in their discourses the same train of narration and to express themselves in the same language. Such oral recitals of the acts and instructions of Christ would satisfy the wants of the church for a time. But the condition of things soon changes. Some twenty years elapse after the ascension of the Saviour, and not a few of | The royos, kípuyua, wózoç úkois, etc., it is termed in the New Testament,

Literally, his exact words often, as we have them in the New Testament, if we suppose with many that the Saviour may have used the Greek language at times in his intercourse with his disciples. This language was so widely diffused among all classes in Palestine at that period, that this is by no means an incredible supposition.

3 To this it may be added that the disciples were assured by Christ that he would send them the Holy Spirit and that He “should bring all things to their remembrance.”


1846.) Eclectic view as held by Olshausen. the original eye-witnesses have been removed by death or are dispersed in foreign lands. False teachers have arisen, and corrupted the purity of the Christian faith. It thus became indispensably necessary that the apostles in addition to their preaching of the word, should authenticate in writing the doctrines which they taught, either making a record of them themselves, or having it made under their sanction by their disciples and associates in labor. Thus were composed the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark. An already existing type shaped their histories. They followed in general the course which the oral instructions of the Apostles had taken, and which the habit of repetition and associ. ation had rendered so familiar. Hence arose the frequent coincidence of their narratives in arrangement and contents, not only in reference to some particular prominent events, but throughout entire sections; and, in the record of the discourses of Christ more especially, very often in the words themselves. Such, briefly exhibited, is the theory of those who assume an original tradition as the source of the resemblance here referred to. This may be considered, perhaps, on the whole, as the present resting place of critical opinion in relation to this point. Most of the recent critics, says Tholuck,' have consented to stop here, not because the explanation is certain, but because they regard it as the best which has yet been offered.

There is still, however, what may be termed a complex view of the origin of this kindred character of the Gospels, which some individuals entertain; though it may not be shared by such num. bers as have maintained the other opinions. In this case, certain elements of the foregoing explanations are combined, and the peculiarity which is the subject of inquiry, is referred to their united operation, instead of being sought so exclusively in any single one of them. The elements selected for this purpose, and the degree of activity assigned to each will depend on the partic. ular judgment of those who apply this principle to the subject; and hence we have here no inconsiderable diversity of opinion, coexisting with an essential unity. This renders it difficult to characterize this class of critics by any adequate, general representation. As a single example, however, we may take perhaps the views of Olshausen as serving to illustrate this kind of combination. The two Gospels of Matthew and Luke, he remarks, appear to

! In manuscript notes of his lectures on the Gospels, which lie before the writer.

? See his Comm. Q. das N. T, etc. Band 1. § 3.

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