Billeder på siden

they are not only unsupported by real argument, but, in our judgment, are moreover irreconcilable with the sacred text itself, inasmuch as they represent the Jewish year to include but one σάββ. δευτερ., whilst the words of the Evangelists most clearly imply that those festival days were of at least not unfrequent occurrence. In the former case St. Luke onght to, and undoubtedly would, have written ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ.

The reason why every attempt at a natural and satisfactory explanation of the sentence under consideration has hitherto proved unsuccessful, would seem to us to be, that the term dEUTEρónpwTOS has, à priori, been taken to contain a chronological element, without any inquiry as to whether there be the very slightest ground for such an assumption. In our opinion there is not. Supposing even the oßß. Savreg. might be shown to correspond, in our parlance, to the first Sunday in a leap-year, or to the first or second Sunday after the Epiphany or after Trinity, what could possibly have been the object of the sacred writer in making mention of such a circumstance? The essential question was and is, whether the disciples of our Lord did transgress the law at all; not whether they did transgress it in a leap year or in a common year, or on a first or a second Sunday after Trinity. That question St. Luke negatives at the very outset of his narration; and yet upon its silent affirmation theologians and commentators ever have insisted and still do insist.

According, namely, to the Jewish law (Exod. xxi. 14; Mishna, tr. Sabb. vii. 1; Sanhed. vii. 8, &c.), observed in all its rigour at the time of our Lord, the plucking and rubbing of ears of corn on the Sabbath, both as being a preparation of food and an unnecessary exercise of the body, undoubtedly constituted an offence punishable with death. But that the disciples had, at all events, not (as must be admitted by those who hold the saßß. SEUTEg. to be a Sabbath proper) rendered themselves culpable of so serious a transgression is proved by the very nature of the charge brought against them, the Pharisees simply asking, 'Why do ye that which it is not permitted to do on sabbath-days?' True, the Authorized Version renders the words doux EOTI TOE of the text, that which it is not lawful to do,' but erroneously so, as will become apparent when it is remembered that the Talmudic treatise on the Sabbath contains a long and tedious list of works prohibited and permitted to be done on that day, and to the latter class of which the subtle and casuistical question of the Pharisees evidently refers. If the occurrence had taken place on a sabbath proper, the transgression of the disciples could have admitted of no doubt, and the Pharisees, having a legal accusation to prefer against them, would hardly, though met by the striking counter-question of our Lord, have


evinced a forbearance not only in dissonance with their public character, but, moreover, with their public duty. St. Luke, therefore, as already intimated, rebuts their charge at once as a groundless imputation, by premising that the day of the incident was a sabbath of second rank, on which the law freely and positively did permit the censured act (Exod. xii. 16; Mishna, tr. Megilla, i. 8).

[ocr errors]

Thus we take the simple meaning of σάββατον δευτερόπρωτον to be a Sabbath of second rank,' in assigning to páros the sense of 'the highest or the best of its kind,' in which it occurs in numerous passages of the New Testament, and translating the words yéveTo δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ of St. Luke literally, 4 And it came to pass on a second-rate Sabbath,' or freely, And it came to pass on one of the minor high-feastdays.' Such a day is by the Talmudists called ", and its observances differed but little from those of the Sabbath proper, excepting that on the former the preparation of every kind of food was permitted, and that it was altogether not quite so rigorously kept as the day of Jehovah (Jer. Gem. tr. Jevam. viii. 4).

The correctness of our view in regard to this much-discussed passage, imparting, as it does, to the latter a clear and forcible motive, and placing the imputed transgression of the disciples in its true light, is, we venture to think, so striking in itself as to require no further proof. Still we may as well here adduce what little evidence remains in support of our interpretation. The Pharisees asking the disciples, Why do ye that which it is not permitted to do ἐν τοῖς σάββασι ?” the use of the plural form of oaßß. in this connection seems to us to pointedly indicate that the Sabbath proper is not meant; for if so, the Pharisees could not but have said ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ. St. Matthew certainly has ἐν σαββάτῳ for ἐν τοῖς σάββασι; but this construction, so far from impairing, tends materially to strengthen our argument, because oaßßatov, without the definite article being, in the days of our Lord, a common term for high-feastday and Sabbath (which may be satisfactorily proved from Josephus, Antiq. xvi. 6. 2), the use of the definite article, as a natural consequence, became indispensable whenever the Sabbath proper, as distinguished from a high-feast day, was to be expressed (comp. St. Luke vi. 7). St. Matthew, therefore, by evidently avoiding the definite article, shows that he was not speaking of the n. In conclusion, we may add that also the general terms of the Gospel narratives are highly unfavourable to the supposition of the related occurrence having taken place on a Sabbath, inasmuch as on that day it was unlawful for the Jews to go beyond a Sabbath-day's journey (Acts i. 12), a short distance of between five-eighths and threefourths of an English mile (Joseph. Antiq. xx. 8. 6; Wars, v.

[ocr errors]


2. 3), from the confines of their habitation or from the walls of Jerusalem (Gem. tr. Eruvin, iv. 42).

Among the strongest proofs of the genuineness and authenticity of the sacred writings of the New Testament are to be numbered the difficulties they present. In most cases, however, as in the present instance, those difficulties may be solved by viewing and attentively considering them in connection with the leading feature of the narrative, of which they stand part, and by bringing to bear upon them a sufficient amount of that knowledge of the constitution at the period of Jewish life and society with which the Evangelists suppose their readers to be familiar. Not unfrequently, therefore, it may happen that the true import of some Scriptural passage appears to us obscure and difficult, merely because it was judged by the writer so self-evident as to require no explanation.


By the Rev. A. GORDON, M.A., Walsall.

THE common opinion in regard to the serpent in the temptation antecedent to the fall is, that Satan either assumed the likeness of a serpent, or employed as an instrument a real serpent in this melancholy affair. The following are the words of Calvin, ‘Verum satis multa sunt Scripturæ testimonia, quibus palam clareque asseritur os tantum Diaboli fuise serpentem '-But there are sufficiently numerous proofs in Scripture in which it is obviously and plainly asserted that the serpent was merely the mouthpiece of the devil. Our own Matthew Henry says, 'It was the devil in the likeness of a serpent. Whether it was only the visible shape and appearance of a serpent as some think those were of which we read (Exod. vii. 12), or whether it was a real living serpent actuated and possessed by the Devil is not certain; by God's permission it might be either.'

But such a view is to my mind beset with difficulties. We can hardly separate from such a transaction the idea of a miracle, and I do not believe that God would permit the devil to work a miracle for the purpose of deception. The lingual organs of the serpent were altogether unfitted for the utterance of articulate sounds, and it could not it is certain have uttered the words imputed to it but by miracle. The case of Balaam's ass reproving the madness of the prophet was a real miracle, and it was, as all real miracles have been, on the side of truth.

But further, how came it about that the woman without any token of surprise enters into conversation with the serpent? One


would think such a remarkable phenomenon as the serpent speaking would not only have awakened surprise, but suspicion also. Her mind was then untainted by sin, and I cannot but think it exceedingly strange she should have entered with perfect composure into conversation with a mere creature which she knew had neither naturally the power of speech nor the gift of reason, more especially when it proceeded to interrogate her in reference to a divine command.

The common view moreover can with difficulty be reconciled with all that is recorded in ver. 14: And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.' Can we conceive of the infinitely wise God thus addressing himself to an irrational creature, and consequently an innocent one? Besides, was the serpent present when thus spoken to, or was it summoned into the Divine presence by miracle? This too we cannot realize. How could that be denounced against the serpent as a punishment which was both its original and natural mode of locomotion ? We dismiss the opinion that the serpent ever moved in an upright attitude as absurd, and incompatible with its anatomical structure.

The difficulty attending such questions, and other considerations, compel me to reject the common interpretation. But it may be asked, then, what would I substitute ?-Would I give to the whole history a rationalistic interpretation? Certainly not. There is in this portion of Scripture, as well as in some others, a middle course between the literal interpretation of our own pious commentators, and the more lax views of the German school. That prince of expositors, Calvin, has furnished in my view, in the following passage, a key to the correct explanation of the whole narrative. Diximus alibi Mosis crasso rudique stylo accommodare ad popularem captum quæ tradit.' A mode of instruction is no doubt employed to suit the popular mind, in the then incipient stages of civilization. I would therefore understand the entire narrative as a highly figurative representation adapted to popular apprehension, making known the melancholy truth that man had disobeyed a positive precept of his Maker, and thereby involved himself and his posterity in guilt and ruin. The devil was no doubt the prime agent in the temptation, the craft and subtlety of whom is fitly symbolized by the serpent. I do not see any difficulty in literally understanding that part of the history which intimates that the act of disobedience consisted in eating the fruit of a forbidden tree. Should we regard this too as figurative, it at least conveys the idea that the offence consisted in the infraction


of a positive precept, the very character of which left such violation without excuse. With regard to what is narrated (ii. 14), concerning the sentence passed upon the serpent, I consider the language as teaching, in a highly figurative or symbolical manner, that God pronounced a righteous sentence on the devil, the author of the temptation, and that what God said concerning the serpent is presented to us as if he spoke to it directly for the purpose of making a deeper impression on the mind of the reader. Should we, moreover, suppose that Moses, under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, copied this part of his narrative from some ancient records in existence at the time he wrote, it gives additional probability to the view I have taken, which I cannot but think serves greatly to remove from the passage the mythical appearance which surrounds it, and renders its meaning much more simple and easy.



By Professor EDWARDS, Theological Seminary, Andover, U.S. MY DEAR SIR,-I venture to send you a short paper on our Theological Seminaries for insertion in your excellent Journal. Should you find it useful, it may not be wholly inappropriate. I have written in some haste so as to be in season for the steamer. I am much interested in your valuable Journal, and earnestly hope that you will find a more and more discerning and appreciating public.

Your fellow-labourer, very faithfully and fraternally,

THE study of Hebrew and of other Oriental languages in the United States is confined, for the most part, to the members of the theological seminaries, and to those who have been educated in these institutions. A brief statement in regard to the present condition, course of study, &c., of the principal seminaries may not be unacceptable to the readers of the Journal of Sacred Literature. It may be proper to mention that the number of inhabitants in this country is now not far from twenty millions, spread over thirty states and three or four territories. The country, not including the late acquisitions, California, Oregon, New Mexico, &c., extends about 3000 miles from east to west, and 1800 from north to south. These facts are mentioned so as to account for the great number of educational institutions established among us. A main argument, however, in favour of their multiplication is re


a Editor of the Bibliotheca Sacra.


« ForrigeFortsæt »