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PAGE 125, Diss. xxxii. How to reconcile St. John's ac'count concerning the time of our Saviour's crucifixion ⚫ with that of the three other evangelists.'
St. John writes, ch. xix. 13, 14, " When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat in the judgment seat.And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews: Behold your King." St. Mark says, xv. 25, “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him."
For reconciling these accounts our learned author says, p. 127, 128, And about six in the morning Pilate brought him forth to the Jews, and said: "Behold your King." This is the time which Johu refers to, and calls the "sixth 'hour," that is, of the civil day. The three following hours 'were employed in preparing for his crucifixion, and that of the two robbers, and carrying them to the place without the city. At the conclusion of those three hours he was crucified. Which Mark calls the "third hour," that is, ⚫ of the natural day. And by the same reckoning must be ' understood the "sixth hour," at which the darkness com'menced; and also the "ninth hour," when he expired; as ' related by all the evangelists, except John; who has used the Roman way of reckoning in some other places also, as 'ch. i. 39, iv. 6, and xx. 19. And it is not improbable, that he writing so late might choose that way of reckoning the hours of the day, which was customary among the Romans: as the others had followed that which was prac'tised by the Jews.'
To me it seems, that St. John reckons the hours of the day as the other evangelists do, according to the custom of the Jews. Nor do I comprehend, how any historian could write intelligibly of transactions in Judea, without observing the Jewish custom, unless he gives particular notice of it.
In the history of the nobleman of Capernaum, who came to Jesus, "beseeching him to come down and heal his son, it is said, John iv. 51, 52, And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend; and they said unto him, Yesterday, about the seventh hour, the fever left him." These persons must be supposed to speak according to the ordinary custom of the
country in which they lived. And by the "seventh hour" must be meant about one of the clock afternoon, according to our computation.
And in chap. xi. 9, our Saviour himself says, very agreeably to the Jewish manner, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" But I do not insist upon this as decisive, because the Romans, and others, might express themselves in like manner, meaning the natural day.
John iv. 5, 6, " Then cometh Jesus unto a city called Sychar: -now Jacob's well was there; Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey sat thus on the well. And it was about the sixth hour," that is, says Whitby, about 'noon.' So it is generally understood, and very rightly, as I apprehend.
So says Cyril of Alexandria, not very far below the beginning of the fifth century, in his comment upon this text; whom I transcribe in the margin. And in like manner Isaac, surnamed the Great, who flourished about the middle of the same century. Among his works Dr. Asseman reckons five sermons concerning the Samaritan woman. The first of which begins in this manner. At the sixth 'hour, when the day was grown hot, our Saviour came to 'the well.'
I think this must be right. For I do not see how those ancient writers, who lived not very remote from Judea, could be mistaken.
Josephus dwelt at Rome, and wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem. Nevertheless he also computes the hours in the same way. Giving an account of an assembly at Taricheas in Galilee, in a proseucha, or oratory; he says, There certainly would have been a great disturbance, if 'the assembly had not been dissolved by the approach of the sixth hour, at which time we are wont to go to dinner on the sabbaths.' And he assures us, That the priests
■ Vid. supr. cap. i. 39. Causam sitis ostendit, quia et multum itineris fecerat, et jam erat meridies. Grot. in ver. 6.
Quia, inquit, lassus erat de viâ, et instabat meridies, maximus videlicet diei æstus. Bez. in loc.
b Ευαφορμως επι τη πηγή καταλυοντα δεικνυει τον Ιησεν. Ἡλις γαρ ακμαιοτατην απο μεσων αψιδων τοις επι της γης την ακτινα καταχέοντος, και ακρατους τα σώματα καταφλεγοντος βολαις, το μεν ετι προσω βαδίζειν εκαζημιον. K. A. Cyr. H. in Joan. T. IV. p. 179. Primus sic incipit. Horâ sextâ, quum dies incaluisset, venit ad puteum Dominus. Ap. Assem. B. Or. T. i. p. 232, p. 79.
Και παντως αν εις τασιν εχωρησαν, ει μη την συνοδον διελυσεν επελθεσα έκτη ώρα, καθ ̓ ἣν τοις σαββασιν αρισοποιεῖσθαι νομιμον εςιν υμιν. Jos. Vit. sect. 54. p. 26. -καθ ̓ ἡν θυεσι μὲν απο εννάτης ώρας μέχρι
Evdeкarng. De B. J. 1. 6. ix. 3.
at the temple were employed in killing paschal lambs 'from the ninth hour to the eleventh.'
John i. 35-39," Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples. And looking upon Jesus, as he walked, he saith, Behold the lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.- -And they said to him; Rabbi, where dwellest thou? He saith unto them: Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day; for it was about the tenth hour." Or, as it is said in the margin of some of our Bibles, two hours before night.' Which explication is very reasonable and obvious. The connexion leads us to think, that the day was declining, when these disciples went to the house where Jesus dwelt. Nor is there any consideration that should induce us to think of our ten in the forenoon. For inquisitive, attentive, and well-disposed men, as these were, might learn a great deal in the space of two hours' conversation, with so excellent a master as they now applied to.
There still remains one text more to be considered. John xx. 19, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them; Peace be unto you."
As our author here particularly refers to Dr. Benson, I must observe what he says: We have yet a more evident proof, that St. John followed the Roman method of reckoning the hours of the day. For speaking of that very day,
on which our blessed Lord rose from the dead, he first
⚫ mentions his appearing to Mary Magdalene. And then intimates, that he appeared to other of his disciples, that
same day. But his words are very remarkable. "The
same day, when it was evening, being the first day of the 'week :" and the disciples had bolted the doors for fear of the Jews: "Then came Jesus and stood in the midst of them," &c. Now, no Jew would have used that language. No! When "the evening was come," they would have called it "the second day of the week." St. John, therefore, in this place, hath, in effect, (though not in express 'words) told his attentive readers, that he has followed the Roman computation of the hours of the day. For, according to that, it was still the first day of the week, and the same day on which our Lord arose; notwithstand
See the History of the first Planting the Christian Religion, second edit. App. n. 4. p. 52, 53.
ing the sun was set, and the evening come." And the 'Jews would, unquestionably, have reckoned it "the second 'day of the week."
This whole argument, as every one sees, depends upon the supposition, that this appearance of our Lord to his disciples, was after sun-set, and perhaps late in the night; as Grotius and some others have thought. But other learned men are rather of opinion, that our Lord showed himself to his disciples by day-light. Nor is it said, that the doors had been shut by the disciples because it was night, but" for fear of the Jews."
This appearance of our Lord was not made, until after the return of the two that had been at Emmaus. And it will be of great use to us to attend to that history, as it stands in St. Luke's gospel, ch. xxiv. 13-36.
"And behold two of them went that same day to a village, called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things, which had happened. Whilst they communed together, and reasoned, Jesus drew near, and went with them.
-And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going. And he made as though he would have gone farther. But they constrained him, saying: Abide with us. For it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them: [or as he was sitting down to table with them:] he took bread, and blessed it, and brake unto them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him, and he vanished out of their sight:" that is, he retired, and went away. "And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them.And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known unto them in breaking of bread.And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them: Peace be unto you."
When they entreated Jesus to "abide with them," they said: It is toward evening, and the day is far spent," or has already begun to decline, ότι προς έσπεραν εστι, και κεκλικεν ἡ quepa. It was past noon, and might be near our three after
Jam multâ nocte. Grot. in Jo. xx. 19.
h Existente vesperâ,
et quidem satis serâ, januis clausis. Quod licet a plerisque consideretur, ut signum provectæ noctis, nobis tamen minime ita videtur. Circumstantiis enim omnibus rite perpensis, videtur concludendum esse, quod adhuc ante sextam vespertinam hæc apparitio discipulis contigerit. Lampe, in Joh. loc. T. III. p. 685. Et confer Wolf. in loc.
noon. As they were sitting down to eat, looking more directly at Jesus, than they had yet done, they knew him. Our Lord thereupon retired, and they hastened to the disciEmmaus was about a two hours' walk from Jerusa
lem. They might get thither more than an hour before sun-set. Soon after our Lord came in. He might have been there before them; but he was willing that the disciples, and they that were with them, should be prepared for his appearing among them by the testimony of these two, added to the testimonies of Peter, and the women who had already seen him.
All this may be confirmed by the history of the miracle of the five loaves and five thousand. Matt. xiv. 15, "And when it was evening, his disciples came unto him, saying; This is a desert place, and the time is now past." Mark vi. 35," And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said: This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed." Says Mr. Macknight in his instructive and edifying account of this miracle, The five 'thousand men, beside women and children, were all fed with such expedition, that though the thing was not so much as proposed to the disciples, till about three, all was over by five of the clock in the afternoon.'
I have endeavoured to show, that St. John followed the Jewish computation of the hours of the day. I am not now concerned to reconcile him with the other evangelists. Solutions of this difficulty may be found in editors and commentators. Some think, that St. John's original number was "the third hour," as in St. Mark; and that his number has been since altered. Others propose different solutions. But so far as I am able to judge, a solution, depending upon the supposition, that St. John followed the Roman computation of the hours of the day, is not likely to be right.
The learned men, with whom I have been arguing, think, that St. John wrote his gospel very late, not before the year of our Lord ninety-seven, a little before his own death. But that is said without ground. It is more probable, that' St. John wrote his gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem, about the year of Christ sixty-eight; though not till after the other three evangelists, and after having read their gospels, as all the ancients testify. However, if he had k Vid. Mill.
See his Harmony of the Gospels. Sect. 60. p. 173. et Wetstein. Bengel. in Cris. et Gnomon. ad Jo. xix. 20. Vid. et Grot. et Wolf. et Lampe, in loc. et Bez. ad Marc xv. 29. Basnag. Ann. 33. n. vii.
See Vol. vi. ch. ix. sect. 9, 10.