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ancients, and a wonderful philosopher among modern infidels, wrote a labored argument against the Christians. He flourished in the year 176, or about seventy-six years after the death of St. John. None can accuse him of a want of zeal to ruin Christianity. None can complain against his testimony as deficient in antiquity. An industrious, ingenious, learned adversary of that age, must have known whatever was suspicious in the authorship of the New Testament writings. His book entitled, "The True Word," is unhappily lost; but in the answer composed by Origen, the extracts from it are so large, that it is difficult to find of any ancient book, not extant, more extensive remains. The author quotes from the gospels such a variety of particulars, even in these fragments, that the enumeration would prove almost an abridgment of the gospel narrative.* Origen has noticed in them about eighty quotations from the books of the New Testament, or references to them. Among these there is abundant evidence that Celsus was acquainted with the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. Several of Paul's epistles are alluded to. His whole argument proceeds upon the concession that the Christian Scriptures were the works of the authors to whom they were ascribed. Such a thing as a suspicion to the contrary is not breathed; and yet no man ever wrote against Christianity with greater virulence. Hence it appears, "by the testimony of one of the most malicious adversaries the Christian religion ever had, and who was also a man
* Doddridge, in Lardner, vol. 4, pp. 145, 147.
of considerable parts and learning, that the writings of the evangelists were extant in his time, which was the next century to that in which the apostles lived; and that those accounts were written by Christ's own disciples, and consequently in the very age in which the facts there related were done, and when therefore it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have convicted them of falsehood, if they had not been true.”* "Who can forbear," says the devout Doddridge, "adoring the depth of divine wisdom, in laying up such a firm foundation of our faith in the gospel history, in the writings of one who was so inveterate an enemy to it, and so indefatigable in his attempts to overthrow it?" Who, I will add, can help the acknowledgment that in Celsus, Porphyry, Hierocles, and Julian-all of them learned controversialists, as well as devoted opponents and persecutors of Christians, extending their testimony from the seventieth year after the last of the apostles, to the year of our Lord 361-every reasonable demand for the testimony of enemies is fully met, and a gracious Providence has perfected the external evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament?
We proceed to confirm the abounding proof already adduced, by a brief reference to THE LANGUAGE AND STYLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
1. The language and style are in perfect accord
* Answer to "Christianity as Old as the Creation," by Leland, vol. 2, chap. 5, pp. 150–154.
↑ Doddridge, in Lardner, vol. 4, p. 147.
ance with the local and other circumstances of the reputed writers. They were Jews by birth, Jews by education, Jews by numerous and strong attachments, Jews in all their associations of thought and feeling. Jews were, in great part, the persons to whom they wrote. Jewish prejudices, objections, and peculiarities were, to a great extent, the obstacles in their way. The religious and political institutions of the Jewish nation, though perfectly exterminated in a few years after they wrote, were in full establishment till after the death of all of them except St. John. Hence it is reasonably expected that Jewish peculiarities should be found frequently and broadly stamped upon any writings truly professing to have proceeded from their pens. Such, notoriously, is the case with the writings of the New Testament. None but Jews could have composed them. None but Jews who lived before the destruction of their temple and city and polity and nation could have cast them in their present mould, or marked them with all those indescribable and inimitable touches of a Jewish hand which their style and language everywhere exhibit. The use of words and phrases which are known to have been peculiar to Judea in the times of the apostles; the continual, familiar, and natural allusions to the ceremonies and temple-service of the Jews, as then existing, and which soon passed away; the universal prevalence of a mode of thinking and of expression, which none but a Jew brought up under the Old Testament, always accustomed to think of religion through
the types and shadows of the law, and reared amidst the usages, prejudices, associations, and errors of the Jewish people, as subsisting in the times of the apostles, could have introduced without awkwardness and obvious forgery-all bear decided witness not only that the writers of the New Testament were Jews originally in every sense, but that they must have formed their habits of thinking, feeling, and writing, before the destruction of the Jewish state; in other words, before the fortieth year after the death of Christ. From that time, so entirely was every vestige of the religion and polity of the Jews destroyed, that except among those whose minds had been moulded under preexisting circumstances, the writing of a book in the language and style, and abounding in the peculiarities of the New Testament, would have been at least next to impossible.
This conclusion will appear the more inevitable, when you consider the characteristic features by which the Greek of the New Testament is distinguished. In the times of the apostles, Greek was almost a universal language. It was spread over all Palestine. The Jewish coast on the Mediterranean was occupied by cities either wholly or half Greek. On the eastern border of the land from the Arnon upwards, towards the north the cities were Greek, and towards the south in possession of the Greeks. Several cities of Judea and Galilee were either entirely, or at least half, peopled by Greeks. 'Being thus favored on all sides, this language was spread, by means of traffic and intercourse, through all classes,
so that the people, though with many exceptions, considered generally, understood it, although they adhered more to their own language."* But the Greek thus spoken in Palestine was not like that of Attica, nor of the cities of Asia Minor; but having become degenerated in consequence of its associations with people whose native tongue was Hebrew, by means of Chaldee and Syriac intermixtures, into Western Aramean, it contained a large share of the idioms and other peculiarities belonging to this heterogeneous neighbor. Such was the language in which the apostles must have written. Now, if the books of the New Testament be their writings, they must contain the characteristic features of that Palestine Greek. Such is most manifestly the case. These books are in Greek, not pure and classic, such as a native and educated Grecian would have written, but in Hebraic Greek; in a language mixed up with the words and idioms of that peculiar dialect of the Hebrew which constituted the vernacular tongue of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee in the age of the apostles. Had it been otherwise, were the language of the New Testament pure and classic, then the writers must have been either native and educated Grecians, or else Jews of much more Attic cultivation than the apostles of Christ. In either case a suspicion would attach to the authenticity of our sacred books. Neither case being true, the evidence of authenticity is materially confirmed.
* Hug on the Greek language in Palestine.-Bib. Repository, No. 3.