Abbildungen der Seite

ent styles, we are authorised to conclude that they were not composed by one person.

Further, If the New Testament had been written with classic purity; if it had presented to us the language of Isocrates, Demosthenes, Xenophon, or Plutarch, there would have been just grounds for suspicion of forgery; and it might with propriety have been objected, that it was impossible for Hebrews, who professed to be men of no learning, to have written in so pure and excellent a style, and consequently that the books which were ascribed to them must have been the invention of some impostor. The diversity of style, therefore, which is observable in them, so far from being any objection to the authenticity of the New Testament, is in reality a strong argument for the truth and sincerity of the sacred writers, and of the authenticity of their writings. "Very many of the Greek words, found in the New Testament, are not such as were adopted by men of education, and the higher and more polished ranks of life, but such as were in use with the common people. Now this shows that the writers became aequainted with the language, in consequence of an actual intercourse with those who spoke it, rather than from any study of books: and that intercourse must have been very much confined to the middling or even lower classes; since the words and phrases, most frequently used by them, passed current only among the vulgar. There are undoubtedly many plain intimations given throughout these books, that their writers were of this lower class, and that their associates were frequently of the same description; but the character of the style is the strongest confirmation possible that their conditions were not higher than what they have ascribed to themselves."2 In fact, the vulgarisms, foreign idioms, and other disadvantages and defects, which some crit ics imagine that they have discovered in the Hebraic Greek of the New Testament, "are assigned by the inspired writers as the reasons of God's preference of it, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways. Paul argues, that the success of the preachers of the Gospel, in spite of the absence of those accomplishments in language, then so highly valued, was an evidence of the divine power and energy with which their ministry was accompanied. He did not address them, he tells us (1 Cor. i. 17.) with the wisdom of words, with artificial periods and a studied elocution, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect;-lest to human eloquence that success should be ascribed, which ought to be attributed to the divinity of the doctrine and the agency of the Spirit, in the miracles wrought in support of it. There is hardly any sentiment which he is at greater pains to enforce.


1 It is obvious to cite such passages, as Mark i. 16. ii. 14. John xxi. 3. 7. where the occupations of the Apostles are plainly and professedly mentioned. It may be more satisfactory to refer to Acts iii. 6. xviii. 3. xx. 34. 2 Cor. viii. & ix. xi. 6. 8, 9. 27. xii. 14, &c. Phil. ii. 25. iv. 10, &c. 1 Thes. ii. 6. 9. 2 Thes. iii. 8. 10. Philem. 11. 18. In these, the attainments, occupations, and associates of the preachers of the Gospel are indirectly mentioned and alluded to; and afford a species of undesigned proof, which seems to repel the imputation of fraud, especially if the circumstance of style be taken into the account.

2 Dr. Maltby's "Illustrations of the Truth of the Christian Religion," pp. 10-12.

He used none of the enticing or persuasive words of man's wisdom. Wherefore? That their faith might not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.' (1 Cor. ii. 4, 5.) Should I ask, what was the reason why our Lord Jesus Christ chose for the instruments of that most amazing revolution in the religious systems of mankind, men perfectly illiterate and taken out of the lowest class of the people? Your answer to this will serve equally for an answer to that other question, -Why did the Holy Spirit choose to deliver such important truths in the barbarous idiom of a few obscure Galilæans, and not in the politer and more harmonious strains of Grecian eloquence? - I repeat it, the answer to both questions is the same―That it might appear, beyond contradiction, that the excellency of the power was of God, and not of man."1

[ocr errors]

A large proportion, however, of the phrases and constructions of the New Testament is pure Greek; that is to say, of the same degree of purity as the Greek which was spoken in Macedonia, and that in which Polybius wrote his Roman History. Hence the language of the New Testament will derive considerable illustration from consulting the works of classic writers, and especially from diligently collating the Septuagint version of the Old Testament: the collections also of Raphelius, Palairet, Bos, Abresch, Ernesti, and other writers whose works are noticed in a subsequent page, will afford the biblical student very essential assistance in explaining the pure Greek expressions of the New Testament according to the usage of classic authors. It should further be noticed, that there occur in the New Testament, words that express both doctrines and practices which were utterly unknown to the Greeks; and also words bearing widely different interpretation from those which are ordinarily found in Greek writers.

IV. The New Testament contains examples of all the dialects occurring in the Greek language, as the Æolic, Bootic, Doric, Ionic, and especially of the Attic; which being most generally in use on account of its elegance, pervades every book of the New Testament.3 To these, some have added the poetic dialect, chiefly, it should seem, because there are a few passages cited by St. Paul from the antient Greek poets, in Acts xvii. 28. 1 Cor. xv. 33. and Tit. i. 12.4 But the sacred writers of the New Testament being Jews, were consequently acquainted with the Hebrew idioms, and also with the com

1 Dr. Campbell's Preliminary Dissertations, Diss. i. (vol. i. 3d edit.) p. 50. Bishop Warburton has treated this topic with his usual ability in his "Doctrine of Grace," book i. chapters VIII-X. (Works, vol. viii. pp. 279-302.) Sec also Michaelis's Introduction, vol. i. pp. 116–123.

2 See the Appendix to this Volume, No. VI. Sect. VII.

3 Wyssius, in his Dialectologia Sacra, has treated largely on the dialects of the New Testament; but the most useful treatise, perhaps, is that of Leusden, (De Dialectis N. T.) which originally formed Dissertations xi-xv. of his Philologus Græcus, and has twice been separately published by M. Fischer. The best edition is that of Leipsic, 1792, 8vo. Some brief but judicious observations on the dialects of the New Testament, particularly on the Attic, are inserted in the Greek Grammar, (p. 71.) prefixed by Mr. Parkhurst to his Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament.

4 J. B. Carpzov. Prime Line Hermeneutice, p. 16. Pfeiffer Herm. Sacra. c. vii. § 6. (Op. tom. ii. p. 652.)

mon as well as with the appropriated or acquired senses of the words of that language. Hence, when they used a Greek word, as correspondent to a Hebrew one of like signification, they employed it as the Hebrew word was used, either in a common or appropriated sense, as occasion required. The whole arrangement of their periods "is regulated according to the Hebrew verses (not those in Hebrew poetry, but such as are found in the historical books); which are constructed in a manner directly opposite to the roundness of Grecian language, and for want of variety have an endless repetition of the same particles." These peculiar idioms are termed Hebraisms, and their nature and classes have been treated at considerable length by various writers. Georgi, Pfochenius, Blackwall, and others, have altogether denied the existence of these Hebraisms; while their antagonists have, perhaps unnecessarily, multiplied them. Wyssius, in his Dialectologia Sacra, has divided the Hebraisms of the New Testament into thirteen classes; Vorstius into thirty-one classes; and Viser into eight classes ;3 and Masclef has given an ample collection of the Hebraisms occurring in the sacred writings in the first volume of his excellent Hebrew grammar. The New Testament, however, contains fewer Hebrew grammatical constructions than the Septuagint, except in the book of Revelation; where we often find a nominative, when another case should have been substituted, in imitation of the Hebrew, which is without cases. As the limits necessarily assigned to this section do not permit us to abridge the valuable treatises just noticed, we shall here adduce some instances of the Hebraisms found principally in the New Testament, and shall offer a few canons by which to determine them with precision.

1. Thus, to be called, to arise, and to be found, are the same as to be, with the Hebrews, and this latter is in the Old Testament frequently expressed by the former. Compare Isa. lx. 14. 18. lxi. 3. Ixii. 12. Zech. viii. 3.

Accordingly, in the New Testament, these terms are often employed one for the other, as in Matt. v. 9. They shall be called the children of God: and ver. 19. He shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven! 1 John iii. 1. That we should be called the sons of God. To be called here and in other places is really to be, and it is so expressed according to the Hebrew way of speaking. There is the like signification of the word arise, as in 2 Sam. xi. 20, if the king's wrath arise. — Esth. iv. 14. Enlargement and deliverance shall arise to the Jews. Prov. xxiv. 22. their calamity shall arise suddenly. — In all which places the word arise signifies no other than actual being, or existing, according to the Hebrew idiom. And thence it is used in a similar manner in the New Testament, as in Luke xxiv. 38. Why do thoughts arise in your hearts? i. e. why are they there? Matt. xxiv. 24. There shall arise false Christs, i. e. there shall actually be at that time such persons according to my prediction. So, to be found is among the Hebrews of the same im

1 Leusden de Dialectis, p. 20. Michaelis, vol. i. P. 123.

2 In his Philologia Sacra: this work was originally published in 4to. but the best edition is that of M. Fischer, in 8vo. Leipsic, 1778. Vorstius's treatise was abridged by Leusden in his Philologus Græcus; and Leusden's Abridgment was republished by Fischer, with valuable notes and other additions, in 8vo. Leipsic, 1783.

3 In his Hermeneutica Sacra Novi Testamenti, pars ii. vol. ii. pp. 1-62. 4 See particularly pp. 273-290. 304-307. and 333-352. See also Schaefer's Institutiones Scripturistice, pars ii. pp. 194-205.

5 Michaelis, vol. i. p. 125. Glassius has given several instances in his Philologia Sacra, canons xxviii. and xxix. vol. i. pp. 67-72. edit. Dathe.

port with the above-mentioned expressions, and accordingly in the Old Testament one is put for the other, as in 1 Sam. xxv. 28. Evil hath not been found in thee. — 2 Chron. xix. 3. Good things are found in thee. Isa. li. 3. Joy and gladness shall be found therein. - Dan. v. 12. An excellent spirit was found in Daniel. In these and other texts the Hebrew word rendered found is equivalent to was. In imitation of this Hebraism, to be found is used for sum or existo, to be, in the New Testament, as in Luke xvii. 18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. - Acts v. 39. Lest haply ye be found to fight against God. -1 Cor. iv. 2. That a man be found faithful. Phil. ii. 8. Being found in fushion as a man. — Heb. xi. 5. Enoch was not found: which is the same with Enoch was not, as is evident from comparing this place with Gen. v. 24. to which it refers. The expression of St. Peter, 1 Ep. ii. 22. Neither was guile found in his mouth, is taken from Isa. liii. 9. Neither was there any deceit (or guile) in his mouth, Whence it appears, that in this, as well as the other texts above cited, to be found is equivalent to was.


2. Verbs expressive of a person's doing an action, are often used to signify his supposing the thing, or discovering and acknowledging the fact, or his declaring and foretelling the event, especially in the prophetic writings.

Thus, He that findeth his life shall lose it (Matt. x. 39.) means, He that expects to save his life by apostacy, shall lose it. So, Let him become a fool (1 Cor, iii. 18), is equivalent to, Let him become sensible of his folly. Make the heart of this people fat. (Isa. vi. 9, 10), i. e. Prophesy that they shall be so. — What God hath cleansed (Acts x. 13.) i. e. What God hath declared clean. But of that day and hour no man knoweth (that is, maketh known), not even the angels who are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (Matt. xxiv. 36.), that is, neither man, nor an angel, nor the Son, has permission to make known this secret.

[ocr errors]

3. Negative verbs are often put for a strong positive affirmation. Thus, No good thing will he withhold (Psal. lxxxiv. 11.), means He will give them all good things. Being not weak in the faith. (Rom. iv. 19.), i. e. Being strong in the faith. — I will not leave you comfortless. (John xiv. 18), means, I will both protect and give you the most solid comfort.

4. The privileges of the first-born among the Jews being very great, that which is chief or most eminent in any kind, is called the first-born, Gen. xlix. 3.

So, in Job xviii. 13. the first born of death is the most fatal and cruel death. In Isa. xiv. 30. the first-born of the poor denotes those who are most poor and miserable. (See also Psal. lxxxix. 27. Jer. xxxi. 9. Rom. viii. 29. Col. í, 15, 18. Heb. xii. 23.)

5. The word son has various peculiar significations.

Thus, the sons or children of Belial, so often spoken of in the Old Testament, are wicked men, such as are good for nothing, or such as will not be governed. Children of light are such as are divinely enlightened. (Luke xvi. 8. John xii. 36. Ephes. v. 8. 1 Thes. v. 5.) Children of disobedience are disobedient persons. (Ephes. ii. 2.) Children of Hell (Matt. xxiii. 15.); —of wrath (Ephes. ii. 3.); and Son of perdition (John xvii. 12. 2 Thess. ii. 3.); are respectively such as are worthy thereof, or obnoxious thereto. A son of peace (Luke x. 6.) is one that is worthy of it. (See Matt. x. 13. The children of a place are the inhabitants of it. (Ezra ii. 1. Psal. cxlix. 2. Jer. ii. 16.) - So the word daughter is likewise used (2 Kings xix. 21. Psal. xlv. 12. cxxxvii. 8. Lam. ii. 13. Zech. ii. 10.); the city being as a mother, and the inhabitants of it taken collectively, as her daughter. The children of the promise, are such as embrace and believe the promise of the Gospel. (Gal. iv. 28.)-Sons of men (Psal. iv. 2.) are no more than men. And Christ is as often called the son of man, as he is man. The sons of God (Gen. vi. 2.) are those who are of the church; and so sons of God by profession. (Matt. v. 45.) They are such as imitate him, or are governed by him. (1 John iii. 10.) On the same account are men called the children of the devil. So likewise (John viii. 44.) father is understood in a like sense; also those who are the inventors of any thing, or instruct others therein, are called their fathers. (Gen. iv. 20.)

6. Name is frequently used as synonymous with persons.

Thus, to believe on the name of Christ (John i. 12.) means to believe on him. See similar examples in John iii. 18. xx. 31. Acts i. 15. Rev. iii. 4. In like manner soul is put for person, in Matt. xii. 18. In whom my soul is well pleased, that 4


is, in whom I am well pleased. See other examples in Gen. xii. 13. xix. 20. Psal. cvi. 15. Job xvi. 4. Prov. xxv. 25. Rom. xiii. 1. Heb. x. 38.

7. As the Jews had but few adjectives in their language, they had recourse to substantives, in order to supply their place.

Hence we find kingdom and glory used to denote a glorious kingdom. (1 Thess, ii. 12.) Mouth and wisdom for wise discourse (Luke xxi. 15): the patience of hope for patient expectation (1 Thess. i. 3.); glory of his power for glorious power. (2 Thess. i. 9.) So circumcision and uncircumcision, mean circumcised and uncircumcised persons. Anathema (1 Cor. xvi. 22.) means an excommunicated member. The spirits of the prophets, (1 Cor. xiv. 32.) means the spiritual gifts of the prophets. When one substantive governs another, in the genitive, one of them is sometimes used as an adjective. In the body of his flesh, means, in his fleshly body; (Col. į. 22.) Bond of perfectness, (Col. iii. 14.) means, a perfect bond. In Eph. vi. 12. spiritual wickedness, means, wicked spirits. Newness of life, (Rom. vii. 6.) is a new life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (Gen. ii. 9. compared with iii. 22.) means the tree of the knowledge of good, or of a pleasure which to taste is an evil. When two substantives are joined together, by the copulative, and the one frequently governs the other, as in Dan. iii. 7. All the people, the nations, and the languages, mean, people of all nations and languages. In Acts xxiii. 6. the hope and resurrection of the dead, means, the hope of the resurrection of the dead. In Col. ii. 8. Philosophy and vain deceit, denotes a false and deceitful philosophy. Hath brought life and immortality to light, (2 Tim. i. 10.) means, to bring immortal life to light. But the expression, I am the way, the truth, and the life, (John xiv. 6.) means, I am the true and living way. It is of importance to observe, that, in the original, nouns in the genitive case, sometimes express the object, and some. times the agent. In Matt. ix. 35. the gospel of the kingdom, means, good news concerning the kingdom. Doctrines of devils, (1 Tim. iv. 1.) evidently mean, doctrines concerning demons. The faith of Christ often denotes the faith which the Lord Jesus Christ enjoins. The righteousness of God sometimes means, his personal perfection, and sometimes that righteousness which he requires of his people. In Col. ii. 11. the circumcision of Christ, means, the circumcision enjoined by Christ. The Hebrews used the word living, to express the excellence of the thing to which it is applied. Thus, living water, or living fountain, signifies, running, or excellent water. Living stones, living way, living oracles, mean, excellent stones, an excellent way, and excellent oracles.

8. The Jews, having no superlatives in their language, employed the words of God or of the Lord, in order to denote the greatness or éxcellency of a thing.

Thus, in Gen. xiii. 10. a beautiful garden is called the garden of the Lord. In 1 Sam. xxvi. 12. a very deep sleep is called the sleep of the Lord. In 2 Chron. xiv. 14. and xvii. 10. the fear of the Lord denotes a very great fear. In Psal. xxxvi.7. Heb. (6. of English Bibles), the mountains of God are exceeding high mountains; and in Psal. lxxx. 10. (Heb.) the tallest cedars' are termed cedars of God. The voices of God (Exod. ix. 28. Heb. in our version properly rendered mighty thunderings) means superlatively, loud thunder. Compare also the sublime description of the effects of thunder, or the voice of God, in Psal. xxix. 3-8. The production of rain by the electric spark is alluded to, in a very beautiful manner, in Jer. x. 13. When he (God) uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens. The like mode of expression occurs in the New Testament. Thus, in Acts vii. 20. Moses is said to be aortos Tw Otw, literally fair to God, or, as it is correctly rendered in our version, exceeding fair. And in 2 Cor. x. 4. the weapons of our warfare are termed duvara To Ow, literally mighty to God, that is, exceeding powerful, not mighty through God, as in our authorised translation.

9. According to the Hebrew idiom, a sword has a mouth, or the edge of the sword is called a mouth: (Luke xxi. 24.)

They shall fall by the mouth (or, as our translators have correctly rendered it, the edge) of the sword (Heb. xi. 34.)- escaped the edge of the sword, is in the Greek oropa, the mouth of the sword. So, we read of a two mouthed sword (Heb. iv. 12.) for it is dioropos in the Greek. That this is the Hebrew phraseology may be seen by comparing Judg. iii. 16. Psal. cxlix. 6. Prov. v. 4.

10. The verb yvwoxw, to know, in the New Testament frequently denotes to approve.

1 Dr. A. Clarke on Exod. ix. 28.

« ZurückWeiter »