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Another passage which Mr. Norton rejects, is found in Matthew 27: 52, 53. It respects the resurrection of the saints at the time when Jesus expired on the cross, and who are said to have gone, after his resurrection, into the holy city, and to have appeared to many.'
Here Mr. Norton finds a multitude of difficulties; they are all, however, of a like nature with those in the preceding case. He does not even pretend that any Ms. or Version favors the position, that here is an interpolation. All his objections amount to the allegation, that the thing is incredible. Who are the saints? How long had they been dead? For what purpose were they brought to life? What converts to Christianity were made by such a miracle ? Did they die a second time? How could the writer forbear to tell us the consequences of a miracle more astounding than any other on sacred record ? How could the other Evangelists omit the mention of such a thing ?' Such are his grounds for believing that here is an interpolation.
I need not dwell on most of the allegations implied by raising questions of this nature. If one should undertake to raise questions of the like kind about the miracle of the water turned into wine, the barren fig-tree that was cursed, the swine that rushed into the lake, and other like things, he could easily outstrip Mr. Norton bimself. And why, I might ask in the like spirit of suggesting difficulties, did no other Evangelist but John tell us of the resurrection of Lazarus, or of the cure of the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda, or of the man born blind whose sight was restored? These were astonishing miracles ; and why then did not all the Evangelists record them? And why has even John forborne to tell us of the “consequences" of all these things, excepting merely that the multitudes were rendered the more eager to hear and see Jesus—a thing that we should of course expect and believe, without any particular information.
As to any speculations about the subsequent state or experience of those who were raised from the dead, according to the passage in Matthew, I have none to proffer, except such as seem to lie upon the face of the narration. I understand the writer as' meaning plainly to impress the idea upon the reader, that this resurrection was but temporary, perhaps merely apparent, the apparitions being as it were the umbrae of the dead. I know indeed that couata is employed in the description. But this is perfectly natural, as the owua was all which could be deposited in the tomb. But when the writer says, that éveqavionoav noliois, they made their appearance, or shewed themselves, to many persons, it would be strange indeed if the reader did not receive from this the impression, that their appearance was short and incidental. As the account in Matthew now runs, it would seem that they were raised from the dead at the tine when the tombs were opened by the groans of the expiring Saviour, but that they did not actually appear in Jerusalem until after the resurrection of Jesus, uera in PyeoGiv autou. This intervening time was, however, only one day and a small part of two more. Some twenty-six or twentyeight bours are all the time which it is necessary to make out, between the death and the resurrection of the Saviour. More may be supposed or conceded; but more is unnecessary.
Now as to the facts themselves, I do not see how we can shew the impossibility, or even the improbability of them, any more than of the rending the veil of the temple, darkening the sun, cleaving the rocks, etc. That there may be difficulty in freeing the passage from all the objections which might be raised theologically, or physiologically, I would not gainsay ; but that there is any stable ground for critical objections to the genuineness of the passage, I see no good reason to believe.
Mark 14: 8–20, i. e. the concluding paragraph of Mark's Gospel, is also regarded by Mr. Norton as an interpolation. And here it cannot be said that he is entirely destitute of any critical support; for the Codex Vaticanus, a Ms. of great age and of high authority, omits the paragraph in question. In a number of other Mss., (Mr. Norton states them to be more than forty), there are remarks of the following purport in connection with these verses, viz., “ Wanting in some copies, but found in the ancient ones ;" “ in many copies ;” “considered spurious, and wanting in most copies ;" “ not in the more accurate copjes ;" “ generally in accurate copies,” etc.
That some of the ancient fathers had doubts concerning the genuineness of this passage, is clear from what Eusebius says, in his Quaestiones ad Marinum, pp. 61, 62. Gregory of Nyssa avers, that the passage is not found in the more accurate Greek Mss.; and Jerome, that it is wanting in many of them. Greg. Opp. III. 411. Jerome, Opp. IV. P. 1. col. 172.
After all, however, only one Ms. (Cod. Vat.) is known which omits the paragraph under examination. It is in all the Versions, unless some Codices of the Armenian should be excepted,
, which is doubisul. No recent critic has ventured to thrust it out from the corrected text of the New Testament. No one, I apprehend, can do so, and justify himself on grounds that are purely critical, while the state of the evidence continues to be as it now is.
As in the preceding cases, Mr. Norton here resorts to internal difficulties, and depends principally upon them. He notices the apparent discrepancy between Mark 16: 9, ávaoras de, πρωϊ πρώτη σαββάτου εφάνη πρωτον Μαρία τη Μαγδαληνή, , and Μatt. 28: 1, όψσε δε σαββάτων, τη επιφωσκούση εις μίαν σαββάτων, ήλθε Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή. He admits, however, that the difficulty here is nothing more than in appearance. Mark asserts, (if his text be rightly pointed), that Jesus, when risen, appecred early in the morning on the first day of the week (first, as the Jews counted days, for their Sabbath was the last day of their week), to Mary Magdalene. He does not say when Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew asserts, that sometime on the evening of the Sabbath, (which here means the evening that followed the Jewish Sabbath, if we so translate the passage), or (as we may translate) on the evening of the week which dawned toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, etc. Nothing more need be said than simply to explain the two passages, in order to shew that there is no contradiction between them. Both unite in the sentiment, that Jesus shewed himself to Mary Magdalene, early on the first morning which followed the Jewish Sabbath.
Mr. Norton here ingenuously declares, that “there is no ground for believing that transcribers are to be charged with omitting passages in one Evangelist, because they found, or fancied, them to be irreconcilable with those in another;"
p.lxxiv. yet, on p. Ixix. he represents some copyist of Matthew's Gospel as having thrown in the clause in Matt. 27: 53, para rriv έγερσιν αυτού, in order to avoid contradicting another passage of Scripture, which states that Christ was the First-Born from the dead. What an inconsistent part, then, does Mr. Norton make these copyists to act! Did they not know that the penalty was the same for adding to the Scriptures, that it is for taking away from it?
Mr. Norton appeals to the language of Mark 16: 9 seq. as differing from that of the rest of his Gospel. • Here,' says he, « Mark uses πρώτη σαββάτου, while he uses μία σαββάτων in 16: 2; as do the other Evangelists. But what does this amount to ? Μία σαββάτων is a Hebraism, and πρώτη σαββαtwv is conformed to the usual Greek idiom. Had not a Hebraistic writer his choice, who wished to avoid repeating the same phrase too often?
But 'Exciv in v. 10, and Koxxivor in v. 11, are not used demonstratively, nor emphatically; which occurs no where else in Mark's Gospel.'—Yet it lies on the face of the narration here, that Mary Magdalene is spoken of emphatically, or at any rate demonstratively, in order to render plain the distinction between her and the other Marys. As lo xoxčivoi, whoever attentively reads the preceding verse may see, that the word is here altogether in its place.
Several änag heyoueva Mr. Norton has also selected from the passage, p. lxxv. But I can attribute no weight of importance to this argument. We may select passages from Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount, from almost any of Paul's episiles, or from the book of Acts, and disprove the genuineness of each passage on the same ground. When are we to become sufficiently aware, that the same writer is not confined to one and the same mode of expression, on all subjects and at all times ?
But Mr. Norton's main reliance is on the internal improbability of the things asserted in the paragraph under examination. · The enumeration of miracles' he says is strange.' Some of these were to be such as neither Jesus nor his disciples were accustomed to perform. They were liable to be confounded with the tricks of pretended magicians. Some of the
powers promised could be of no use to others. The promise appears to be to Christians in general; while we know that all private Christians never possessed miraculous powers. pp. Ixxvi
. seq. The passage I have marked in Italics (which Mr. Norton does not) seems to me somewhat strange. We open our New Testament at Luke 10: 19, and find the Saviour declaring to the Seventy disciples whom he sent forth on a special mission : “ Behold I give you power over serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Acts 28: 5 tells us that · Paul shook off a viper from his hand, which did him no harm.' Did the Saviour not SECOND SERIES, VOL. I. NO. 1.
know that magicians had played tricks with tamed serpents and scorpions, and that the Seventy would be in danger of being taken for magicians ?
Casting out devils is another miraculous power mentioned in the passage before us. Yet the Seventy Disciples before mentioned were commissioned with such a power:
“ Lord,” say they, in the account there given of their missions, " even the devils are subject to us through thy name;" Luke 10: 17. Let the reader turn to Acts 5: 16. 8: 7. 16: 28. 19: 12, and he will see whether the apostles are represented as being possessed of the power in question.
They shall speak with new tongues, is another part of the commission in Mark. And here we need only to ask the reader to peruse Acts 11. and 1 Cor. xiv. I am aware of what Herder, Eichhorn, Bleek, and others, have said against the usual interpretation of these passages; but I am not in any measure satisfied with their views, and verily believe them to be philologically inadmissible.
They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. If the reader wishes any explanation of this, the book of Acts, the First of Corinthians, and the Epistle of James, chapter v., may be appealed to, without any room for doubt as to what was promised and what was bestowed.
What remains, then, of this list of extraordinary and improbable miraculous powers ? No one thing—except what is designated by the following phrase: If they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. But is not this virtually contained in the commission to the Seventy Disciples, Luke 19: 19, when the Saviour says that they shall be over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt them? There is, however, no need of further defence. It is enough to say, that when serpents and poison are mentioned (as in Mark), two obvious and usually irremediable causes of death are particularized, merely as a symbol or specimen of all dangers. The passage, then, contains a promise of protection from all dangers, even the worst, until their work should be finished. What can be more common in the Scriptures, than such a mode of speech as this, where a part is particularized, and stands as representative of the whole genus?
As to miraculous powers being granted to Christians in general, I do not see how Mr. Norton gets at such an interpretation of the passage before us. Whom does the Saviour address ?