Billeder på siden



I. Allusions to the Theatres and to Theatrical Performances in the New Testament.-II. Allusions to the Grecian Games, particularly the Olympic Games.-1. Qualifications of the Candidates.-Preparatory Discipline to which they were subjected.-2. Foot-race.3. Rewards of the Victors.-4. Beautiful allusions to these Games in the New Testament, explained.

I. NOTHING seems more foreign to the manners of the Israelites than theatres, public shows, or those exercises in which gladiators fought naked, and hazarded their lives for the sake of diverting a multitude of spectators,-a barbarous amusement, which has happily been abolished by the beneficent influence of the Gospel. There were in the cities of the heathens certain places appointed for public sports. The theatres held a great number of persons, and were so contrived that all could conveniently see. In the performances there exhibited the Gentiles took great delight: and this circumstance accounts for so many theatres being erected in Judæa, soon after it became subject to a foreign dominion. The theatres also appear to have been places of public meeting on particular occasions. Thus, at Ephesus, Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's companions in travel, were taken to the theatre; but the apostle was prevented from entering in among them for fear of increasing the tumult of the people. (Acts xix. 29, 30.)

"In all countries the stage has ever furnished different languages with the most beautiful metaphors that adorn them. In every tongue we read of the drama of human life ;3 its scenes are described as continually shifting and varying: mortal life is represented as an intricate plot, which will gradually unfold and finally wind up into harmony

1 See Lamy, De Tabernaculo, lib. iv. c. 7. § 3.

2 For the following account of the theatrical representations, and of the Grecian games, alluded to in the New Testament, the author is indebted to Dr. Harwood's Introduction, vol. ii. sections 1. and 4., collated with Brüning's Compendium Antiquitatum Græcarum e profanis Sacrarum, pp. 352-376., from which treatise Dr. H. appears principally to have derived his materials.

Σκηνη πας ὁ βιος, και παιγνιον η μαθε παιζειν,

Την σπουδήν μετάξεις, η φερε τας οδύνας.-Epigram in Antholog.

Quomodo fabula, sic vita; non quàm diu, sed quàm bene acta sit, refert. Nihil ad rem pertinet, quo loco desinas: quocunque voles desine: tantùm bonam clausulam impone. Seneca, epist. lxxvii. tom. ii. p. 306. edit. Elz. 1672. Olov &t xwpwdov απολύει της σκηνης δ παραλαβων ςρατηγος αλλ' ουκ ειπον τα πεντε μέρη, αλλα τα τρια, καλως ειπας' εν μεντοι τῷ βίῳ τὰ τρια λον το δραμα έςι Mar. Antoninus, lib. xii p. 236. edit. Oxon. The words of the Psalmist," we spend our days as a tale that is told,"have been supposed to be an allusion to a dramatic fable. The imagery, considered in this view, would be striking, did we know that the early Jews ever had any scenical representations.




and happiness and the world is styled a magnificent theatre, in which God has placed us,-assigned to every man a character,-is a constant spectator how he supports this character,-and will finally applaud or condemn according to the good or bad execution of the part, whatever it is, he has been appointed to act. The drama was instituted to exhibit a striking picture of human life, and, in a faithful mirror, to hold up to the spectator's view that miscellany of characters which diversify it, and those interchanges and reverses of fortune which chequer it. It is scarcely necessary to remark, though the observation is proper for the sake of illustrating a very beautiful passage in one of St. Paul's Epistles, that a variety of scenes is painted, which, by means of the requisite machinery, are very frequently shifting, in order to show the characters in a variety of places and fortunes. To the spectator, lively and affecting views are by turns displayed, sometimes, for example, of Thebes, sometimes of Athens,3 one while of a palace, at another of a prison; now of a splendid triumph, and now of a funeral procession,-every thing, from the beginning to the catastrophe, perpetually varying and changing, according to the rules and conduct of the drama. Agreeable to this, with what elegance and propriety does St. Paul, whom we find quoting Menander, one of the most celebrated writers of the Greek comedy, represent the fashion of this world as continually passing away, and all the scenes of this vain and visionary life as perpetually shifting! "The imagery," says Grotius, "is taken from the theatre, where the scenery is suddenly changed, and exhibits an appearance totally different."5" And as the transactions of the drama are not real, but fictitious and imaginary, such and such characters being assumed and personated, in whose joys or griefs, in whose domestic felicities or infelicities, in whose elevation or depression, the actor is not really and personally interested, but only supports a character, perhaps entirely foreign from his own, and represents passions and affections in which his own heart has no share how beautiful and expressive, when considered in this light, is that passage of Scripture wherein the apostle is inculcating a Christian indifference for this world, and exhorting us not to suffer ourselves to be unduly affected either by the joys or sorrows of so fugitive and transitory a scene! (1 Cor. vii. 29-31.) But this I say, brethren, the time is short.

1 Epicteti Enchirid. cap. xvii. p. 699. Upton. Epicteti Dissertationes ab Arriano. lib. iv. p. 580. Upton.

2 M. Antoninus, lib. xi. § vi. p. 204. edit. Oxon.

3 - Modò me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis.

Horat. Epist. lib. ii. ver. 213.

4 1 Cor. vii. 31. Παραγει γαρ το σχήμα του κοσμου τούτου.

5 Dicitur, mapayer to expats anys, ubi scena invertitur, aliamquo planè ostendit faciem. Grotius ad loc. Mais comme Grotius remarque que cette reflexion de l'Apôtre est empruntée du théâtre, et que le mot Grec expa, que l'on traduit la figure, signifie proprement un personnage de théâtre, ou une décoration dans Euripide et dans Aristophane, et que les Grecs disoient pour marquer le changement de scène, ou de décoration du théâtre apaya ro oxμ тns ons, on croit qu'il faudroit traduire, La face de ce monde change, ce qui convient parfaitement au dessein de l' Apôtre dans cette conjoncture. Projet d'une Nouvelle Version, par le Cene. p. 674. Rotter. 1696.

It remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none: and they that weep as though they wept not: and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not: and they that buy as though they possessed not: and they that use this world as not abusing it. For the fashion of this world passeth away. If we keep in mind the supposed allusion in the text (the fashion of this world passeth away) we shall discern a peculiar beauty and force in his language and sentiment. For the actors in a play, whether it be comedy or tragedy, do not act their own proper and personal concerns, but only personate and mimic the characters and conditions of other men. And so when they weep, in acting some tragical part, it is as though they wept not; and there is more show and appearance, than truth and reality, of grief and sorrow in the case. On the other hand, if they rejoice in acting some brighter scene, it is as though they rejoiced not; it is but a feigned semblance of joy, and forced air of mirth and gaiety, which they exhibit to the spectators, no real inward gladness of heart. If they seem to contract marriages, or act the merchant, or personate a gentleman of fortune, still it is nothing but fiction. And so when the play is over, they have no wives, no possessions or goods, no enjoyments of the world, in consequence of such representations. In like manner, by this apt comparison, the apostle would teach us to moderate our desires and affections towards every thing in this world; and rather, as it were, to personate such things, as matters of a foreign nature, than to incorporate ourselves with them, as our own proper and personal concern."

"The theatre is also furnished with dresses suitable to every age, and adapted to every circumstance and change of fortune. The persons of the drama, in one and the same representation, frequently support a variety of characters: the prince and the beggar, the young and the old, change their dress according to the characters in which they respectively appear, by turns laying aside one habit and assuming another, agreeably to every condition and age. The apostle Paul seems to allude to this custom, and his expressions, regarded in this light, have a peculiar beauty and energy, when he exhorts Christians to PUT OFF the OLD MAN with his deeds, and to PUT ON THE NEW MAN. (Coloss. iii. 9, 10. and in Eph. iv. 22, 23, 24.) That ye PUT OFF, concerning the former conversation, the OLD MAN, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and that ye PUT ON THE NEW MAN, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

"It is, moreover, well known, that in the Roman theatres and am

1 Καταχρώμενοι is very unhappily rendered abuse. It is here used in a good sense, as the whole passage requires. From the transiency of human life the apostle observes, that those who are now using this world's happiness will soon be as those who had never enjoyed it. The Greek writers use Παραχράομαι or Αποχραομαι to


2 Brekell's Discourses, p. 318.

3 Ειναι γαρ όμοιον τῳ αγαθῳ ὑποκριτή τον σοφον ις αν τε θερσιτου αν τε Αγαμέμνονος πρόσωπον αναλάβη, εκάτερον ὑποκρίνεται προσηκοντως. Diogenes Laertius, lib. vii. p. 463.

edit. Meibomii. 1692.

4 Mihi quidem dubium non est quin hæc loquendi ratio ducta sit ab actoribus,

phitheatres, malefactors and criminals were condemned to fight with lions, bears, elephants, and tigers, for which1 all parts of the Roman dominions were industriously ransacked, to afford this very polite and elegant amusement to this most refined and civilised people. The wretched miscreant was brought upon the stage, regarded with the last ignominy and contempt by the assembled multitudes, made a gazing-stock to the world, as the apostle expresses it; and a wild beast, instigated to madness by the shouts and light missive darts of the spectators, was let loose upon him, to tear and worry him in a miserable manner. To this sanguinary and brutal custom the following expressions of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews allude. (x. 32, 33.) Ye endured a great fight of afflictions, partly whilst ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions. The original is very emphatical; being openly exposed as on a public theatre to ignominious insults and to the last cruelties, In another passage also, St. Paul, speaking of the determined fierceness and bigotry with which the citizens of Ephesus opposed him, uses a strong metaphorical expression taken from the theatre:-If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus. Not that the apostle appears to have been actually condemned by his enemies to combat with wild beasts in the theatre: he seems only to have employed this strong phraseology, to denote the violence and ferocity of his adversaries, which resembled the rage and fury of brutes, and to compare his contention with these fierce pagan zealots and fanatics to the common theatrical conflict of men with wild beasts.3

qui, habitu mutato, vestibusque depositis, alias partes agunt, aliosque se esse produnt, quam qui in scend esse videbantur. Krebsii Observationes in Nov. Test. p. 342. Lipsia, 1755.


Quodcunque tremendum est

Dentibus, aut insigne jubis, aut nobile cornu,
Aut rigidum setis capitur, decu's omne timorque

Sylvarum, non caule latent, non mole resistunt.--Claudian.

2 Ονειδισμοις τε και θλίψεσι θεατριζόμενοι, exposed on a public stage. Dispensatorem ad bestias dedit. Hoc est, seipsum traducere. Id est, says one of the commentators, ludibrio exponere. Petronius Arbiter. p. 220, edit. Burman. 1709. E§edcarpioav Eaurous. They openly exposed themselves. Polybius. p. 364. Hanov. 1619. Eusebius relates that Attalus, a Christian, was led round the amphitheatre, and exposed to the insults and violence of the multitude. Περιαχθεις κυκλῳ του αμφιθεατρου. Eusebius Hist. Eccles. lib. v. p. 206. Cantab. Solebant olim gladiatores et bestiarii, antequam certamen obirent, per ora populi circumduci. Valesii not. in loc. There is a striking passage in Philo, where, in the same strong metaphorical imagery the apostle here employs, Flaccus is represented deploring the public ignominy to which he was now reduced. See Philonis Opera, tom. ii. p. 542. edit. Mangey.

3 The same metaphors are of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. Herod is called a fox, Go and tell that fox. (Luke xiii. 32.) Hypocrites are called wolves in sheep's clothing. (Matt. vii. 15.) Rapacious and mercenary preachers are styled wolves, that will enter and ravage the fold: There will enter among you grievous wolves, not sparing the flock. (Acts xx. 29.) The apostle uses a harsher metaphor to denote the malice and rage of his adversaries: Beware of dogs. (Philip. iii. 2.) Had St. Paul been thus engaged, says Dr. Ward, it is difficult to apprehend how he could have escaped without a miracle. For those who conquered the beasts, were afterwards obliged to fight with men till they were killed themselves. It seems most reasonable therefore to understand the expression [congtopaxnoa] as metaphorical, and that he alludes to the tumult raised by Demetrius. He uses the like metaphor, and with respect to the same thing (1 Cor

"Let it be farther observed, for the elucidating a very striking passage in 1 Cor. iv. 9. that in the Roman amphitheatre the bestiari, who in the morning combated with wild beasts, had armour with which to defend themselves, and to annoy and slay their antagonist. But the last who were brought upon the stage, which was about noon,1 were a miserable number, quite naked, without any weapons to assail their adversary-with immediate and inevitable death before them in all its horrors, and destined to be mangled and butchered in the direst manner. In allusion to this custom, with what sublimity and energy are the apostles represented to be brought out last upon the stage, as being devoted to certain death, and being made a public spectacle to the world, to angels and men! "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, to angels and men." Dr. Whitby's illustration of this distinguished passage is accurate and judicious. "Here the apostle seems to allude to the Roman spectacles, της των θηριομα χων και μονομαχιας ανδροφόνου, that of the bestiarii and the gladiators, where in the morning men were brought upon the theatre to fight with wild beasts, and to them was allowed armour to defend themselves, and smite the beasts that did assail them: but in the meridian spectacle were brought forth the gladiators naked, and without any thing to defend them from the sword of the assailant, and he that then escaped was only reserved for slaughter to another day; so that these men might well be called avarii, men appointed for death; and this being the last appearance on the theatre for that day, they are said here to be set forth axaro, the last."2

iv. 9.), and again (13.), alluding to another custom. As to the expression, Kar' avowwov in 1 Cor. xv. 32. the sense seems to be humanitus loquendo. Dr. Ward's Dissertations on Scripture, dissert. xlix. pp. 200, 201, The very same word which the apostle here employs to denote the violence and fury of his adversaries is used by Ignatius in the like metaphorical sense, Από Συριας μέχρι Ρώμης ΘΗΡΙΟΜΑΧΩ δια γης και θαλασσης, νυκτος και ημέρας. All the way from Syria to Rome, by sea and by land, by night and by day, do I FIGHT WITH WILD BEASTS. Ignatii Epist. ad Rom. p. 94. edit. Oxon. 1703. Προφυλασσω δε ύμας απο των θηρίων ανθρωπομορφών. I advise you to beware of beasts in the shape of men, p. 22. So also the Psalmist, My soul is among lions, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows. (Psal. lvii. 4.) Break their teeth, O God, in their mouths. Break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord. (Psal. Iviii. 6.) See also Lakemacher's Observationes Sacræ, part ii. pp. 194-196.

1 Matutinarum non ultima præda ferarum. Martial. xiii. 95. Casu in meridianum spectaculum incidi-quiquid ante pugnatum est, misericordia fuit, nunc omissis nugis mera homicidia sunt: nihil habent quo tegantur. ad ictum totis corporibus expositi-non galeâ, non scuto repellitur ferrum. Seneca, tom. ii. epist. vii. pp. 17, 18. edit. Gronov. 1672. Απολλυντο μεν θηρια ελαχιστα, ανθρωποι δε πολλοι, δι μεν αλληλοις μαχόμενοι, δι δε και ὑπ' εκείνων αναλομενοι. Dion. Cassius. lib. lx. p. 951 Reimar. See also pp. 971, 972. ejusdem editionis. See also Beausobre's note on 1 Cor. iv. 9. and Lipsii Saturnalia, tom. vi. p. 951.

2 Dr. Whitby on 1 Cor. ch. iv. 9. Les versions ont exprimé trop généralement ce que St. Paul répresente aux Corinthiens touchant son état, (1 Cor. iv. 9.) en disant simplement, Car je pense que Dieu nous a mis en montre, nous qui sommes les derniers Apôtres, comme des gens condamnez à la mort. Car comme Scaliger, Heinsius, Seldenus, Quistorp, et Grotius l'ont rémarqué, le mot Grec coxarous que l'Apôtre employe, ne se rapporte pas aux Apôtres, et il ne signifie pas simplement les dernier, mais ceux qui étoient produits les dernier dans amphithéâtre pour combattre tous nud contre les bêtes, afin qu'ils n'en peussent rechaper. Projet d'une Nouvelle Version Françoise de la Bible, par le Cene. p. C06. Rotterd. 1696.

« ForrigeFortsæt »