Part 4 out of 7
ponaerias. Aphrones ouch ho poiaesas to exothen kai to esothen
Here there is a very remarkable transition in the first Gospel
from the plural to the singular in the sudden turn of the address,
[Greek: Pharisaie tuphle]. This derives no countenance from the
third Gospel, but is exactly reproduced in the Clementine
Homilies, which follow closely the Matthaean version throughout.
We may defer for the present the notice of a few passages which
with a more or less close resemblance to St. Matthew also contain
some of the peculiarities of St. Luke.
Taking into account the whole extent to which the special
peculiarities of the first Gospel reappear in the Clementines, I
think we shall be left in little doubt that that Gospel has been
actually used by the writer.
The peculiar features of our present St. Mark are known to be
extremely few, yet several of these are also found in the
Clementine Homilies. In the quotation Mark x. 5, 6 (= Matt. xix.
8, 4) the order of Mark is followed, though the words are more
nearly those of Matthew. In the divergent quotation Mark xii. 24
(= Matt. xxii. 29) the Clementines, with Mark, introduce [Greek:
dia touto]. The concluding clause of the discussion about the
Levirate marriage stands (according to the best readings) thus:--
_Matt._ xxii. 32.
[Greek: Ouk estin ho Theos nekron, alla zonton.]
_Mark_ xii. 27.
[Greek: Ouk estin Theos nekron, alla zonton.]
_Luke_ xx. 38.
[Greek: Theos de ouk estin nekron, alla zonton.]
_Clem. Hom._ iii. 55.
[Greek: Ouk estin Theos nekron, alla zonton.]
Here [Greek: Theos] is in Mark and the Clementines a predicate,
in Matthew the subject. In the introduction to the Eschatological
discourse the Clementines approach more nearly to St. Mark than to
any other Gospel: [Greek: Horate] ([Greek: blepeis], Mark) [Greek:
tas] ([Greek: megalas], Mark) [Greek: oikodomas tautas; amaen
humin lego] (as Matt.) [Greek: lithos epi lithon ou mae aphethae
ode, hos ou mae] (as Mark) [Greek: kathairethae] ([Greek:
kataluthae], Mark; other Gospels, future). Instead of [Greek: tas
oikodomas toutas] the other Gospels have [Greek: tauta--tauta
But there are two stronger cases than these. The Clementines and
Mark alone have the opening clause of the quotation from Deut. vi.
4, [Greek: Akoue, Israael, Kurios ho Theos haemon kurios eis
estin]. In the synopsis of the first Gospel this is omitted (Matt.
xxii. 37). There is a variation in the Clementine text, which for
[Greek: haemon] has, according to Dressel, [Greek: sou], and,
according to Cotelier, [Greek: humon]. Both these readings however
are represented among the authorities for the canonical text:
[Greek: sou] is found in c (Codex Colbertinus, one of the best
copies of the Old Latin), in the Memphitic and Aethiopic versions,
and in the Latin Fathers Cyprian and Hilary; [Greek: humon]
(vester) has the authority of the Viennese fragment i, another
representative of the primitive African form of the Old Latin
The objection to the inference that the quotation is made from St.
Mark, derived from the context in which it appears in the
Clementines, is really quite nugatory. It is true that the
quotation is addressed to those 'who were beguiled to imagine many
gods,' and that 'there is no hint of the assertion of many gods in
the Gospel' [Endnote 178:2]; but just as little hint is there of
the assertion 'that God is evil' in the quotation [Greek: mae me
legete agathon] just before. There is not the slightest reason to
suppose that the Gospel from which the Clementines quote would
contain any such assertion. In this particular case the mode of
quotation cannot be said to be very unscrupulous; but even if it
were more so we need not go back to antiquity for parallels: they
are to be found in abundance in any ordinary collection of proof
texts of the Church Catechism or of the Thirty-nine Articles, or
in most works of popular controversy. I must confess to my
surprise that such an objection could be made by an experienced
Credner [Endnote 179:1] gives the last as the one decided
approximation to our second Gospel, apparently overlooking the
minor points mentioned above; but, at the time when he wrote, the
concluding portion of the Homilies, which contains the other most
striking instance, had not yet been published. With regard to this
second instance, I must express my agreement with Canon Westcott
[Endnote 179:2] against the author of 'Supernatural Religion.' The
passage stands thus in the Clementines and the Gospel:--
_Clem. Hom._ xix. 20.
[Greek: Dio kai tois autou mathaetais kat' idian epelue taes ton
ouranon basileias ta mustaeria.]
_Mark_ iv. 34.
... [Greek: kat' idian de tois mathaetais autou epeluen panta]
(compare iv. 11, [Greek: humin to mustaerion dedotai taes
basileias tou Theou]).
The canonical reading, [Greek: tois mathaetais autou], rests
chiefly upon Western authority (D, b, c, e, f, Vulg.) with A, 1,
33, &c. and is adopted by Tregelles--it should be noted before the
discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus. The true reading is probably
that which appears in this MS. along with B, C, L, [Greek: Delta
symbol], [Greek: tois idiois mathaetais]. We have however already
seen the leaning of the Clementines for Western readings.
When we compare the synopsis of St. Mark and St. Matthew together
we should be inclined to set this down as a very decided instance
of quotation from the former. The only circumstance that detracts
from the certainty of this conclusion is that a quotation had been
made just before which is certainly not from our canonical
Gospels, [Greek: ta mustaeria emoi kai tois huiois tou oikou mou
phulaxate]. This is rightly noted in 'Supernatural Religion.' All
that we can say is that it is a drawback--it is just a makeweight
in the opposite scale, as suggesting that the second quotation may
be also from an apocryphal Gospel; but it does not by any means
serve to counterbalance the presumption that the quotation is
canonical. The coincidence of language is very marked. The
peculiar compound [Greek: epiluo] occurs only once besides
([Greek: epilusis] also once) in the whole of the New Testament,
and not at all in the Gospels.
With the third Gospel also there are coincidences. Of the passages
peculiar to this Gospel the Clementine writer has the fall of
Satan ([Greek: ton ponaeron], Clem.) like lightning from heaven,
'rejoice that your names are written in the book of life'
(expanded with evident freedom), the unjust judge, Zacchaeus, the
circumvallation of Jerusalem, and the prayer, for the forgiveness
of the Jews, upon the cross. It is unlikely that these passages,
which are wanting in all our extant Gospels, should have had any
other source than our third Synoptic. The 'circumvallation'
([Greek: pericharakosousin] Clem., [Greek: peribalousin charaka]
Luke) is especially important, as it is probable, and believed by
many critics, that this particular detail was added by the
Evangelist after the event. The parable of the unjust judge,
though reproduced with something of the freedom to which we are
accustomed in patristic narrative quotations both from the Old and
New Testament, has yet remarkable similarities of style and
diction ([Greek: ho kritaes taes adikias, poiaesei taen ekdikaesin
ton boonton pros auton haemeras kai nuktos, Lego humin, poaesei...
We have to add to these another class of peculiarities which occur
in places where the synoptic parallel has been preserved. Thus in
the Sermon on the Mount we find the following:--
_Matt._ vii. 21.
[Greek: Ou pas ho legon moi, Kurie, Kurie, eiseleusetai eis taen
basileian ton ouranon, all' ho poion to thelaema tou patros mou
tou en ouranois]
_Clem. Hom._ viii. 7.
[Greek: Ti me legeis Kurie, Kurie, kai ou poieis a lego;]
_Luke,_ vi. 46.
[Greek: Ti de me kaleite Kurie, Kurie, kai ou poeite a lego;]
This is one of a class of passages which form the _cruces_
of Synoptic criticism. It is almost equally difficult to think and
not to think that both the canonical parallels are drawn from the
same original. The great majority of German critics maintain that
they are, and most of these would seek that original in the
'Spruchsammlung' or 'Collection of Discourses' by the Apostle St.
Matthew. This is usually (though not quite unanimously) held to
have been preserved most intact in the first Gospel. But if so,
the Lucan version represents a wide deviation from the original,
and precisely in proportion to the extent of that deviation is the
probability that the Clementine quotation is based upon it. The
more the individuality of the Evangelist has entered into the form
given to the saying the stronger is the presumption that his work
lay before the writer of the Clementines. In any case the
difference between the Matthaean and Lucan versions shows what
various shapes the synoptic tradition naturally assumed, and makes
it so much the less likely that the coincidence between St. Luke
and the Clementines is merely accidental.
Another similar case, in which the issue is presented very
clearly, is afforded by the quotation, 'The labourer is worthy of
_Matt._ x. 11.
[Greek: Axios gar ho ergataes taes trophaes autou estin.]
_Clem. Hom._ iii. 71.
[Greek: [lagisamenoi hoti] axios estin ho ergataes tou misthou
_Luke_ x. 7.
[Greek: Axios gar ho ergataes tou misthou autou esti.]
Here, if the Clementine writer had been following the first
Gospel, he would have had [Greek: trophaes] and not [Greek:
misthou]; and the assumption that there was here a non-extant
Gospel coincident with St. Luke is entirely gratuitous and, to an
Besides these, it will be seen, by the tables given above, that
there are as many as eight passages in which the peculiarities not
only of one but of both Gospels (the first and third) appear
simultaneously. Perhaps it may be well to give examples of these
before we make any comment upon them. We may thus take--
_Matt._ vii. 9-11.
[Greek: Ae tis estin ex humon anthropos, hon ean aitaesae ho huios
autou arton, mae lithon epidosei auto; kai ean ichthun aitaesae
mae ophin epidosei auto; ei oun humeis ponaeroi ontes oidate
domata agatha didonai tois teknois humon, poso mallon ho pataer
humon ho en tois ouranois dosei agatha tois aitousin auton;]
_Clem. Hom._ iii. 56.
[Greek: Tina aitaesei huios arton, mae lithon epidosei auto; ae
kai ichthun aitaesei, mae ophin epidosei auto; ei oun humeis,
ponaeroi ontes, oidate domata agatha didonai tois teknois humon,
poso mallon ho pataer humon ho ouranios dosei agatha tois
aitoumenois auton kai tois poiousin to thelema autou;]
_Luke_ xi. 11-13.
[Greek: Tina de ex humon ton matera aitaesei ho huios arton, mae
lithon epidosei auto; ae kai ichthun, mae anti ichthuos ophin
epidosei auto, ae kai ean aitaeoae oon, mae epidosei auto
skorpion; ei oun humeis, ponaeroi humarchontes, oidate domata
agatha didonai tois teknois humon, poso mallon ho pataer ho ex
ouranou dosei pneuma hagion tois aitousin auton;]
In the earlier part of this quotation the Clementine writer seems
to follow the third Gospel ([Greek: tina aitaesei, hae kai]); in
the later part the first (omission of the antithesis between the
egg and the scorpion, [Greek: ontes, dosei agatha]). The two
Gospels are combined against the Clementines in [Greek: hex humon]
and the simpler [Greek: tois aitousin auton]. The second example
_Matt._ x. 28.
[Greek: Kai mae thobeisthe hapo ton aposteinonton to soma, taen de
psuchaen mae dunamenon aposteinan thobeisthe de mallon ton
dunamaenon kai psuchaen kai soma apolesai en geennae.]
_Clem. Hom._ xviii. 5.
[Greek: Mae phobaethaete apo tou aposteinontos to soma tae de
psuchae mae dunamenou ti poiaesai phobaethaete tou dunamenon kai
soma kai psuchaen eis taen geennan tou puros balein. Nai, lego
humin, touton phobaethaete.]
_Luke xii._ 4, 5. [Greek: Mae phobaethaete apo ton
aposteinonton to soma kai meta tauta mae echonton perissoteron ti
poiaesai. Hupodeixo de humin tina phobaethaete phobaethaete ton
meta to aposteinai echonta exousian embalein eis ton geennan nai,
lego humin, touton phobaethaete.]
In common with Matthew the Clementines have [Greek: tae de
psuchae] (acc. Matt.) ... [Greek: dunamenon]([Greek: -on] Matt.),
and [Greek: dunamenon kai soma kai psuchaen] (in inverted order,
Matt.); in common with Luke [Greek: mae phobaethaete, ti poiaesai,
[em]balein eis], and the clause [Greek: nai k.t.l.] The two
Gospels agree against the Clementines in the plural [Greek: ton
One more longer quotation:--
_Matt._ xxiv. 45-51.
[Greek: Tis ara estin ho pistos doulos kai phronimos, hon
katestaesen ho kurios autou epi taes therapeias autou tou dounai
autois taen trophaen en kairo? makarios ho doulos ekeinos hon
elthon ho kurios autou heuraesei houto poiounta ... Ean de eipae
ho kakos doulos ekeinos en tae kardia autou; chronizei mou ho
kurios, kai arxaetai tuptein tous sundoulous autou esthiae de kai
pinae meta ton methuonton, haexei ho kurios tou doulou ekeinou en
haemera hae ou prosdoka kai en hora hae ou ginoskei, kai
dichotomaesei auton kai to meros autou meta ton hupokriton
_Clem. Hom._ iii. 60.
[Greek: Theou gar boulae anadeiknutai makarios ho anthropos
ekeinos hon katastaesei ho kurios autou epi taes therapeias ton
sundoulon hautou, tou didonai autois tas trophas en kairo auton,
mae ennooumenon kai legonta en tae kardia autou; chronizei ho
kurios mou elthein; kai arxaetai tuptein tous sundoulous autou,
esthion kai pinon meta te pornon kai methuonton; kai haexei ho
kurios tou doulou ekeinou en hora hae ou prosdoka kai en haemera
hae ou ginoskei, kai dichotomaesei auton, kai to apistoun autou
meros meta ton hupokriton thaesei.]
_Luke_ xii. 42-45.
[Greek: Tis ara estin ho pistos oikonomos kai phronimos, hon
katastaesei ho kurios epi taes therapeias autou, tou didonai en
kairo to sitometrion? makarios ho doulos ekeinos, hon elthon ho
kurios autou heuraesei poiounta hautos ... Ean de eipae ho doulos
ekeinos en tae kardia autou; chronizei ho kurios mou erchesthai;
kai arxaetai tuptein tous paidas kai tas paidiskas, esthiein te
kai pinein kai methuskesthai; haexei ho kurios tou doulou ekeinou
en haemera hae ou prosdoka, kai en hora hae ou ginoskei, kai
dichotomaesei auton kai to meros autou meta ton apiston thaesei.]
I have given this passage in full, in spite of its length,
because it is interesting and characteristic; it might indeed
almost be said to be typical of the passages, not only in the
Clementine Homilies, but also in other writers like Justin, which
present this relation of double similarity to two of the
Synoptics. It should be noticed that the passage in the Homilies
is not introduced strictly as a quotation but is interwoven with
the text. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the
opening clause, [Greek: Makarios ... sundolous autou], recurs
identically about thirty lines lower down. We observe that of the
peculiarities of the first Synoptic the Clementines have [Greek:
doulos] ([Greek: oikonomos], Luke), [Greek: [ho kurios] autou,
taen trophaen] ([Greek: tas trophas], Clem.; Luke, characteristically,
[Greek: to sitometrion]), the order of [Greek: en kairo, tous
sundolous autou] ([Greek: tous paidas kai tas paidiskas], Luke),
[Greek: meta ... methuonton], and [Greek: hupokriton] for
[Greek: apiston]. Of the peculiarities of the third Synoptic
the Clementines reproduce the future [Greek: katastaesei], the
present [Greek: didonai], the insertion of [Greek: elthein]
([Greek: erchesthai], Luke) after [Greek: chronizei], the order
of the words in this clause, and a trace of the word [Greek: apiston]
in [Greek: to apistoun autou meros]. The two Gospels support each
other in most of the places where the Clementines depart from them,
and especially in the two verses, one of which is paraphrased and
the other omitted.
Now the question arises, What is the origin of this phenomenon of
double resemblance? It may be caused in three ways: either it may
proceed from alternate quoting of our two present Gospels; or it
may proceed from the quoting of a later harmony of those Gospels;
or, lastly, it may proceed from the quotation of a document
earlier than our two Synoptics, and containing both classes of
peculiarities, those which have been dropped in the first Gospel
as well as those which have been dropped in the third, as we find
to be frequently the case with St. Mark.
Either of the first two of these hypotheses will clearly suit the
phenomena; but they will hardly admit of the third. It does indeed
derive a very slight countenance from the repetition of the
language of the last quotation: this repetition, however, occurs
at too short an interval to be of importance. But the theory that
the Clementine writer is quoting from a document older than the
two Synoptics, and indeed their common original, is excluded by
the amount of matter that is common to the two Synoptics and
either not found at all or found variantly in the Clementines. The
coincidence between the Synoptics, we may assume, is derived from
the fact that they both drew from a common original. The
phraseology in which they agree is in all probability that of the
original document itself. If therefore this phraseology is wanting
in the Clementine quotations they are not likely to have been
drawn directly from the document which underlies the Synoptics.
This conclusion too is confirmed by particulars. In the first
quotation we cannot set down quite positively the Clementine
expansion of [Greek: tois aitousin auton] as a later form, though
it most probably is so. But the strange and fantastic phrase in
the last quotation, [Greek: to apistoun auton meros meta ton
hupokriton thaesei], is almost certainly a combination of the
[Greek: hupokriton] of Matthew with a distorted reminiscence of the
[Greek: apiston] of Luke.
We have then the same kind of choice set before us as in the case
of Justin. Either the Clementine writer quotes our present
Gospels, or else he quotes some other composition later than them,
and which implies them. In other words, if he does not bear
witness to our Gospels at first hand, he does so at second hand,
and by the interposition of a further intermediate stage. It is
quite possible that he may have had access to such a tertiary
document, and that it may be the same which is the source of his
apocryphal quotations: that he did draw from apocryphal sources,
partly perhaps oral, but probably in the main written, there can,
I think, be little doubt. Neither is it easy to draw the line and
say exactly what quotations shall be referred to such sources and
what shall not. The facts do not permit us to claim the exclusive
use of the canonical Gospels. But that they were used, mediately
or immediately and to a greater or less degree, is, I believe,
BASILIDES AND VALENTINUS.
Still following the order of 'Supernatural Religion,' we pass
with the critic to another group of heretical writers in the
earlier part of the second century. In Basilides the Gnostic we
have the first of a chain of writers who, though not holding the
orthodox tradition of doctrine, yet called themselves Christians
(except under the stress of persecution) and used the Christian
books--whether or to what extent the extant documents of
Christianity we must now endeavour to determine.
Basilides carries us back to an early date in point of time. He
taught at Alexandria in the reign of Hadrian (117-137 A.D.).
Hippolytus expounds at some length, and very much in their own
words, the doctrines of Basilides and his school. There is a
somewhat similar account by Epiphanius, and more incidental
allusions in Clement of Alexandria and Origen.
The notices that have come down to us of the writings of Basilides
are confusing. Origen says that 'he had the effrontery to compose
a Gospel and call it by his own name' [Endnote 188:1]. Eusebius
quotes from Agrippa Castor, a contemporary and opponent from the
orthodox side, a statement that 'he wrote four and twenty books
(presumably of commentary) upon the Gospel' [Endnote 189:1].
Clement of Alexandria gives rather copious extracts from the
twenty-third of these books, to which he gave the name of
'Exegetics' [Endnote 189:2].
Tischendorf assumes, in a manner that is not quite so 'arbitrary
and erroneous' [Endnote 189:3] as his critic seems to suppose, that
this Commentary was upon our four Gospels. It is not altogether clear
how far Eusebius is using the words of Agrippa Castor and how far
his own. If the latter, there can be no doubt that he understood
the statement of Agrippa Castor as Tischendorf understands his,
i.e. as referring to our present Gospels; but supposing his words
to be those of the earlier writer, it is possible that, coming
from the orthodox side, they may have been used in the sense which
Tischendorf attributes to them. There can be no question that
Irenaeus used [Greek: to euangelion] for the canonical Gospels
collectively, and Justin Martyr may _perhaps_ have done so.
Tischendorf himself does not maintain that it refers to our Gospels
_exclusively_. Practically the statements in regard to the
Commentary of Basilides lead to nothing.
Neither does it appear any more clearly what was the nature of the
Gospel that Basilides wrote. The term [Greek: euangelion] had a
technical metaphysical sense in the Basilidian sect and was used
to designate a part of the transcendental Gnostic revelations. The
Gospel of Basilides may therefore, as Dr. Westcott suggests,
reasonably enough, have had a philosophical rather than a historical
character. The author of 'Supernatural Religion' censures Dr. Westcott
for this suggestion [Endnote 189:4], but a few pages further on
he seems to adopt it himself, though he applies it strangely to
the language of Eusebius or Agrippa Castor and not to Basilides'
In any case Hippolytus expressly says that, after the generation
of Jesus, the Basilidians held 'the other events in the life of
the Saviour followed as they are written in the Gospels' [Endnote
190:1]. There is no reason at all to suppose that there was a
breach of continuity in this respect between Basilides and his
school. And if his Gospel really contained substantially the same
events as ours, it is a question of comparatively secondary
importance whether he actually made use of those Gospels or no.
It is rather remarkable that Hippolytus and Epiphanius, who
furnish the fullest accounts of the tenets of Basilides (and his
followers), say nothing about his Gospel: neither does Irenaeus or
Clement of Alexandria; the first mention of it is in Origen's
Homily on St. Luke. This shows how unwarranted is the assumption
made in 'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 190:2] that because
Hippolytus says that Basilides appealed to a secret tradition he
professed to have received from Matthias, and Eusebius that he set
up certain imaginary prophets, 'Barcabbas and Barcoph,' he
therefore had no other authorities. The statement that he
'absolutely ignores the canonical Gospels altogether' and does not
'recognise any such works as of authority,' is much in excess of
the evidence. All that this really amounts to is that neither
Hippolytus nor Eusebius say in so many words that Basilides did
use our Gospels. It would be a fairer inference to argue from
their silence, and still more from that of the 'malleus
haereticorum' Epiphanius, that he did not in this depart from the
orthodox custom; otherwise the Fathers would have been sure to
charge him with it, as they did Marcion. It is really I believe a
not very unsafe conclusion, for heretical as well as orthodox
writers, that where the Fathers do not say to the contrary, they
accepted the same documents as themselves.
The main questions that arise in regard to Basilides are two:
(1) Are the quotations supposed to be made by him really his?
(2) Are they quotations from our Gospels?
The doubt as to the authorship of the quotations applies chiefly
to those which occur in the 'Refutation of the Heresies' by
Hippolytus. This writer begins his account of the Basilidian
tenets by saying, 'Let us see here how Basilides along with
Isidore and his crew belie Matthias,' [Endnote 191:1] &c. He goes
on using for the most part the singular [Greek: phaesin], but
sometimes inserting the plural [Greek: kat' autous]. Accordingly,
it has been urged that quotations which are referred to the head
of the school really belong to his later followers, and the
attempt has further been made to prove that the doctrines
described in this section of the work of Hippolytus are later in
their general character than those attributed to Basilides
himself. This latter argument is very fine drawn, and will not
bear any substantial weight. It is, however, probably true that a
confusion is sometimes found between the 'eponymus,' as it were,
of a school and his followers. Whether that has been the case here
is a question that we have not sufficient data for deciding
positively. The presumption is against it, but it must be admitted
to be possible. It seems a forced and unnatural position to
suppose that the disciples would go to one set of authorities and
the master to another, and equally unnatural to think that a later
critic, like Hippolytus, would confine himself to the works of
these disciples and that in none of the passages in which
quotations are introduced he has gone to the fountain head. We may
decline to dogmatise; but probability is in favour of the
supposition that some at least of the quotations given by
Hippolytus come directly from Basilides.
Some of the quotations discussed in 'Supernatural Religion' are
expressly assigned to the school of Basilides. Thus Clement of
Alexandria, in stating the opinion which this school held on the
subject of marriage, says that they referred to our Lord's saying,
'All men cannot receive this,' &c.
_Strom._ iii. I. 1.
[Greek: Ou pantes chorousi ton logon touton, eisi gar eunouchoi oi
men ek genetaes oi de ex anankaes.]
_Matt._ xix. 11, 12.
[Greek: Ou pantes chorousi ton logon touton, all' ois dedotai,
eisin gar eunouchoi oitines ek kiolias maetros egennaethaesan
outos, kai eisin eunouchoi oitines eunouchisthaesan hupo ton
The reference of this to St. Matthew is far from being so
'preposterous' [Endnote 192:1] as the critic imagines. The use of
the word [Greek: chorein] in this sense is striking and peculiar:
it has no parallel in the New Testament, and but slight and few
parallels, as it appears from the lexicons and commentators, in
previous literature. The whole phrase is a remarkable one and the
verbal coincidence exact, the words that follow are an easy and
natural abridgment. On the same principles on which it is denied
that this is a quotation from St. Matthew it would be easy to
prove _a priori_ that many of the quotations in Clement of
Alexandria could not be taken from the canonical Gospels which, we
know, _are_ so taken.
The fact that this passage is found among the Synoptics only in
St. Matthew must not count for nothing. The very small number of
additional facts and sayings that we are able to glean from the
writers who, according to 'Supernatural Religion,' have used
apocryphal Gospels so freely, seems to be proof that our present
Gospels were (as we should expect) the fullest and most
comprehensive of their kind. If, then, a passage is found only in
one of them, it is fair to conclude, not positively, but probably,
that it is drawn from some special source of information that was
not widely diffused.
The same remarks hold good respecting another quotation found in
Epiphanius, which also comes under the general head of [Greek:
Basileidianoi], though it is introduced not only by the singular
[Greek: phaesin] but by the definite [Greek: phaesin ho agurtaes].
Here the Basilidian quotation has a parallel also peculiar to St.
Matthew, from the Sermon on the Mount.
_Epiph. Haer_. 72 A.
[Greek: Mae bagaete tous margaritas emprosthen ton choiron, maede
dote to hagion tois kusi.]
_Matt_ vii. 6.
[Greek: Mae dote to hagion tois kusin, maede bagaete tous
margaritas humon emprosthen ton choiron.] The excellent
Alexandrine cursive I, with some others, has [Greek: dote] for
The transposition of clauses, such as we see here, is by no means
an infrequent phenomenon. There is a remarkable instance of it--to
go no further--in the text of the benedictions with which the
Sermon on the Mount begins. In respect to the order of the two
clauses, 'Blessed are they that mourn' and 'Blessed are the meek,'
there is a broad division in the MSS. and other authorities. For
the received order we find [Hebrew: aleph;], B, C, 1, the mass of
uncials and cursives, b, f, Syrr. Pst. and Hcl., Memph., Arm.,
Aeth.; for the reversed order, 'Blessed are the meek' and 'Blessed
are they that mourn,' are ranged D, 33, Vulg., a, c, f'1, g'1, h,
k, l, Syr. Crt., Clem., Orig., Eus., Bas. (?), Hil. The balance is
probably on the side of the received reading, as the opposing
authorities are mostly Western, but they too make a formidable
array. The confusion in the text of St. Luke as to the early
clauses of the Lord's Prayer is well known. But if such things are
done in the green tree, if we find these variations in MSS. which
profess to be exact transcripts of the same original copy, how
much more may we expect to find them enter into mere quotations
that are often evidently made from memory, and for the sake of the
sense, not the words. In this instance however the verbal
resemblance is very close. As I have frequently said, to speak of
certainties in regard to any isolated passage that does not
present exceptional phenomena is inadmissible, but I have little
moral doubt that the quotation was really derived from St.
Matthew, and there is quite a fair probability that it was made by
The Hippolytean quotations, the ascription of which to Basilides
or to his school we have left an open question, will assume a
considerable importance when we come to treat of the external
evidence for the fourth Gospel. Bearing upon the Synoptic Gospels,
we find an allusion to the star of the Magi and an exact verbal
quotation (introduced with [Greek: to eiraemenon]) of Luke i. 35,
[Greek: Pneuma hagion epeleusetai epi se, kai dunamis hupsistou
episkiasei soi]. Both these have been already discussed with
reference to Justin. All the other Gospels in which the star of
the Magi is mentioned belong to a later stage of formation than
St. Matthew. The very parallelism between St. Matthew and St. Luke
shows that both Gospels were composed at a date when various
traditions as to the early portions of the history were current.
No doubt secondary, or rather tertiary, works, like the
Protevangelium of James, came to be composed later; but it is not
begging the question to say that if the allusion is made by
Basilides, it is not likely that at that date he should quote any
other Gospel than St. Matthew, simply because that is the earliest
form in which the story of the Magi has come down to us.
The case is stronger in regard to the quotation from St. Luke. In
Justin's account of the Annunciation to Mary there was a
coincidence with the Protevangelium and a variation from the
canonical text in the phrase [Greek: pneuma kuriou] for [Greek:
pneuma hagion]; but in the Basilidian quotation the canonical text
is reproduced syllable for syllable and letter for letter, which,
when we consider how sensitive and delicate these verbal relations
are, must be taken as a strong proof of identity. The reader may
be reminded that the word [Greek: episkiazein], the phrase [Greek:
dunamism hupsistou], and the construction [Greek: eperchesthai
epi], are all characteristic of St. Luke: [Greek; episkiazein]
occurs once in the triple synopsis and besides only here and in
Acts v. 15: [Greek: hupsistos] occurs nine times in St. Luke's
writings and only four times besides; it is used by the Evangelist
especially in phrases like [Greek: uios, dunamis, prophaetaes,
doulos hupsistou], to which the only parallel is [Greek: hiereus
tou Theou tou hupsistou] in Heb. vii. 1. The construction of
[Greek: eperchesthai] with [Greek: epi] and the accusative is
found five times in the third Gospel and the Acts and not at all
besides in the New Testament; indeed the participial form, [Greek:
eperchomenos] (in the sense of 'future'), is the only shape in
which the word appears (twice) outside the eight times that it
occurs in St. Luke's writings. This is a body of evidence that
makes it extremely difficult to deny that the Basilidian quotation
has its original in the third Synoptic.
The case in regard to Valentinus, the next great Gnostic leader,
who came forward about the year 140 A.D., is very similar to that
of Basilides, though the balance of the argument is slightly
altered. It is, on the one hand, still clearer that the greater
part of the evangelical references usually quoted are really from
our present actual Gospels, but, on the other hand, there is a
more distinct probability that these are to be assigned rather to
the School of Valentinus than to Valentinus himself.
The supposed allusion to St. John we shall pass over for the
There is a string of allusions in the first book of Irenaeus,
'Adv. Haereses,' to the visit of Jesus as a child to the Passover
(Luke ii. 42), the jot or tittle of Matt. v. 18, the healing of
the issue of blood, the bearing of the cross (Luke xiv. 27 par.),
the sending of a sword and not peace, 'his fan is in his hand,'
the salt and light of the world, the healing of the centurion's
servant, of Jairus' daughter, the exclamations upon the cross, the
call of the unwilling disciples, Zacchaeus, Simon, &c. We may take
it, I believe, as admitted, and it is indeed quite indisputable,
that these are references to our present Gospels; but there is the
further question whether they are to be attributed directly to
Valentinus or to his followers, and I am quite prepared to admit
that there are no sufficient grounds for direct attribution to the
founder of the system. Irenaeus begins by saying that his
authorities are certain 'commentaries of the disciples of
Valentinus' and his own intercourse with some of them [Endnote
197:1]. He proceeds to announce his intention to give a 'brief and
clear account of the opinions of those who were then teaching
their false doctrines [Greek: nun paradidaskonton], that is, of
Ptolemaeus and his followers, a branch of the school of
Valentinus.' It is fair to infer that the description of the
Valentinian system which follows is drawn chiefly from these
sources. This need not, however, quite necessarily exclude works
by Valentinus himself. It is at any rate clear that Irenaeus had
some means of referring to the opinions of Valentinus as distinct
from his school; because, after giving a sketch of the system, he
proceeds to point out certain contradictions within the school
itself, quoting first Valentinus expressly, then a disciple called
Secundus, then 'another of their more distinguished and ambitious
teachers,' then 'others,' then a further subdivision, finally
returning to Ptolemaeus and his party again. On the whole,
Irenaeus seems to have had a pretty complete knowledge of the
writings and teaching of the Valentinians. We conclude therefore,
that, while it cannot be alleged positively that any of the
quotations or allusions were really made by Valentinus, it would
be rash to assert that none of them were made by him, or that he
did not use our present Gospels.
However this may be, we cannot do otherwise than demur to the
statement implied in 'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 198:1], that
the references in Irenaeus can only be employed as evidence for
the Gnostic usage between the years 185-195 A.D. This is a
specimen of a kind of position that is frequently taken up by
critics upon that side, and that I cannot but think quite
unreasonable and uncritical. Without going into the question of
the date at which Irenaeus wrote at present, and assuming with the
author of 'Supernatural Religion' that his first three books were
published before the death of Eleutherus in A.D. 190--the latest
date possible for them,--it will be seen that the Gnostic teaching
to which Irenaeus refers is supposed to begin at a time when his
first book may very well have been concluded, and to end actually
five years later than the latest date at which this portion of the
work can have been published! Not only does the author allow no
time at all for Irenaeus to compose his own work, not only does he
allow none for him to become acquainted with the Gnostic
doctrines, and for those doctrines themselves to become
consolidated and expressed in writing, but he goes so far as to
make Irenaeus testify to a state of things five years at least,
and very probably ten, in advance of the time at which he was
himself writing! No doubt there is an oversight somewhere, but
this is the kind of oversight that ought not to be made.
This, however, is an extreme instance of the fault to which I was
alluding--the tendency in the negative school to allow no time or
very little for processes that in the natural course of things
must certainly have required a more or less considerable interval.
On a moderate computation, the indirect testimony of Irenaeus may
be taken to refer--not to the period 185-195 A.D., which is out of
the question--but to that from 160-180 A.D. This is not pressing
the possibility, real as it is, that Valentinus himself, who
flourished from 140-160 A.D., may have been included. We may agree
with the author of 'Supernatural Religion' that Irenaeus probably
made the personal acquaintance of the Valentinian leaders, and
obtained copies of their books, during his well-known visit to
Rome in 178 A.D. [Endnote 199:1] The applications of Scripture
would be taken chiefly from the books of which some would be
recent but others of an earlier date, and it can surely be no
exaggeration to place the formation of the body of doctrine which
they contained in the period 160-175 A.D. above mentioned. I doubt
whether a critic could be blamed who should go back ten years
further, but we shall be keeping on the safe side if we take our
_terminus a quo_ as to which these Gnostic writings can be
alleged in evidence at about the year 160.
A genuine fragment of a letter of Valentinus has been preserved by
Clement of Alexandria in the second book of the Stromateis
[Endnote 200:1]. This is thought to contain references to St.
Matthew's Gospel by Dr. Westcott, and, strange to say, both to St.
Matthew and St. Luke by Volkmar. These references, however, are
not sufficiently clear to be pressed.
A much less equivocal case is supplied by Hippolytus--less
equivocal at least so far as the reference goes. Among the
passages which received a specially Gnostic interpretation is Luke
i. 35, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing
which is born (of thee) shall be called the Son of God.' This is
quoted thus, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power
of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore that which is
born of thee shall be called holy.'
_Luke_ i. 35.
[Greek: Pneuma hagion epeleusetai epi se, kai dunamis hupsistou
episkiasei soi, dio kai to gennomenon [ek sou] hagion klaethaesetai
_Ref. Omn. Haes._ vi. 35.
[Greek: Pneuma hagion epeleusetai epi se... kai dunamis hupsistou
episkiasei soi... dio to gennomenon ek sou hagion klaethaesetai.]
That St. Luke has been the original here seems to be beyond a
doubt. The omission of [Greek: huios Theou] is of very little
importance, because from its position [Greek: hagion] would more
naturally stand as a predicate, and the sentence would be quite as
complete without the [Greek: huios Theou] as with it. On the other
hand, it would be difficult to compress into so small a space so
many words and expressions that are peculiarly characteristic of
St. Luke. In addition to those which have just been noticed in
connection with Basilides, there is the very remarkable [Greek: to
gennomenon], which alone would be almost enough to stamp the whole
We are still however pursued by the same ambiguity as in the case
of Basilides. It is not certain that the quotation is made from
the master and not from his scholars. There is no reason, indeed,
why it should be made from the latter rather than the former; the
point must in any case be left open: but it cannot be referred to
the master with so much certainty as to be directly producible
under his name.
And yet, from whomsoever the quotation may have been made, if only
it has been given rightly by Hippolytus, it is a strong proof of
the antiquity of the Gospel. The words [Greek: ek sou], will be
noticed, are enclosed in brackets in the text of St. Luke as given
above. They are a corruption, though an early and well-supported
corruption, of the original. The authorities in their favour are C
(first hand), the good cursives 1 and 33, one form of the Vulgate,
a, c, e, m of the Old Latin, the Peshito Syriac, the Armenian and
Aethiopic versions, Irenaeus, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Tertullian,
Cyprian, and Epiphanius. On the other hand, for the omission are
A. B, C (third hand), D, [Hebrew: Aleph symbol], and the rest of
the uncials and cursives, another form of the Vulgate, b, f, ff,
g'2, l of the Old Latin, the Harclean and Jerusalem Syriac, the
Memphitic, Gothic, and some MSS. of the Armenian versions, Origen,
Dionysius and Peter of Alexandria, and Eusebius. A text critic
will see at once on which side the balance lies. It is impossible
that [Greek: ek sou] could have been the reading of the autograph
copy, and it is not, I believe, admitted into the text by any
recent editor. But if it was present in the copy made use of by
the Gnostic writer, whoever he was, that copy must have been
already far enough removed from the original to admit of this
corruption; in other words, it has lineage enough to throw the
original some way behind it. We shall come to more of such
phenomena in the next chapter.
I said just now that the quotation could not with certainty be
referred to Valentinus, but it is at least considerably earlier
than the contemporaries of Hippolytus. It appears that there was a
division in the Valentinian School upon the interpretation of this
very passage. Ptolemaeus and Heracleon, representing the Western
branch, took one side, while Axionicus and Bardesanes, representing
the Eastern, took the other. Ptolemaeus and Heracleon were both,
we know, contemporaries of Irenaeus, so that the quotation was used
among the Valentinians at least in the time of Irenaeus, and very
possibly earlier, for it usually takes a certain time for a subject
to be brought into controversy. We must thus take the _terminus ad quem_
for the quotation not later than 180 A.D. How much further back it
goes we cannot say, but even then (if the Valentinian text is correctly
preserved by Hippolytus) it presents features of corruption.
That the Valentinians made use of unwritten sources as well as of
written, and that they possessed a Gospel of their own which they
called the Gospel of Truth, does not affect the question of their
use of the Synoptics. For these very same Valentinians undoubtedly
did use the Synoptics, and not only them but also the fourth
Gospel. It is immediately after he has spoken of the 'unwritten'
tradition of the Valentinians that Irenaeus proceeds to give the
numerous quotations from the Synoptics referred to above, while in
the very same chapter, and within two sections of the place in
which he alludes to the Gospel of Truth, he expressly says that
these same Valentinians used the Gospel according to St. John
freely (plenissime) [Endnote 203:1]. It should also be remembered
that the alleged acceptance of the four Gospels by the Valentinians
rests upon the statement of Irenaeus [Endnote 203:2] as well as upon
that of the less scrupulous and accurate Tertullian. There is no
good reason for doubting it.
MARCION. [Endnote 204:1]
Of the various chapters in the controversy with which we are
dealing, that which relates to the heretic Marcion is one of the
most interesting and important; important, because of the
comparative fixity of the data on which the question turns;
interesting, because of the peculiar nature of the problem to be
We may cut down the preliminary disquisitions as to the life and
doctrines of Marcion, which have, indeed, a certain bearing upon
the point at issue, but will be found given with sufficient
fulness in 'Supernatural Religion,' or in any of the authorities.
As in most other points relating to this period, there is some
confusion in the chronological data, but these range within a
comparatively limited area. The most important evidence is that of
Justin, who, writing as a contemporary (about 147 A.D.) [Endnote
205:1], says that at that time Marcion had 'in every nation of men
caused many to blaspheme' [Endnote 205:2]; and again speaks of the
wide spread of his doctrines ([Greek: ho polloi peisthentes,
k.t.l.]) [Endnote 205:3]. Taking these statements along with
others in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius, modern critics
seem to be agreed that Marcion settled in Rome and began to teach
his peculiar doctrines about 139-142 A.D. This is the date
assigned in 'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 205:4]. Volkmar gives
138 A.D. [Endnote 205:5] Tischendorf, on the apologetic side,
would throw back the date as far as 130, but this depends upon the
date assigned by him to Justin's 'Apology,' and conflicts too much
with the other testimony.
It is also agreed that Marcion himself did actually use a certain
Gospel that is attributed to him. The exact contents and character
of that Gospel are not quite so clear, and its relation to the
Synoptic Gospels, and especially to our third Synoptic, which
bears the name of St. Luke, is the point that we have to
The Church writers, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius, without
exception, describe Marcion's Gospel as a mutilated or amputated
version of St. Luke. They contrast his treatment of the
evangelical tradition with that pursued by his fellow-Gnostic,
Valentinus [Endnote 205:6]. Valentinus sought to prove his tenets
by wresting the interpretation of the Apostolic writings; Marcion
went more boldly to work, and, having first selected his Gospel,
our third Synoptic, cut out the passages both in it and in ten
Epistles of St. Paul, admitted by him to be genuine, which seemed
to conflict with his own system. He is also said to have made
additions, but these were in any case exceedingly slight.
The statement of the Church writers should hardly, perhaps, be put
aside quite so summarily as is sometimes done. The life of
Irenaeus overlapped that of Marcion considerably, and there seems
to have been somewhat frequent communication between the Church at
Lyons, where he was first presbyter and afterwards bishop, and
that of Rome, where Marcion was settled; but Irenaeus [Endnote
206:1], as well as Tertullian and Epiphanius, alludes to the
mutilation of St. Luke's Gospel by Marcion as a notorious fact.
Too much stress, however, must not be laid upon this, because the
Catholic writers were certainly apt to assume that their own view
was the only one tenable.
The modern controversy is more important, though it has to go back
to the ancient for its data. The question in debate may be stated
thus. Did Marcion, as the Church writers say, really mutilate our
so-called St. Luke (the name is not of importance, but we may use
it as standing for our third Synoptic in its present shape)? Or,
is it not possible that the converse may be true, and that
Marcion's Gospel was the original and ours an interpolated
version? The importance of this may, indeed, be exaggerated,
because Marcion's Gospel is at any rate evidence for the existence
at his date in a collected form of so much of the third Gospel
(rather more than two-thirds) as he received. Still the issue is
not inconsiderable: for, upon the second hypothesis, if the editor
of our present Gospel made use of that which was in the possession
of Marcion, his date may be--though it does not follow that it
certainly would be--thrown into the middle of the second century,
or even beyond, if the other external evidence would permit;
whereas, upon the first hypothesis, the Synoptic Gospel would be
proved to be current as early as 140 A.D.; and there will be room
for considerations which may tend to date it much earlier. There
will still be the third possibility that Marcion's Gospel may be
altogether independent of our present Synoptic, and that it may
represent a parallel recension of the evangelical tradition. This
would leave the date of the canonical Gospel undetermined.
It is a fact worth noting that the controversy, at least in its
later and more important stages, had been fought, and, to all
appearance, fought out, within the Tuebingen school itself.
Olshausen and Hahn, the two orthodox critics who were most
prominently engaged in it, after a time retired and left the field
entirely to the Tuebingen writers.
The earlier critics who impugned the traditional view appear to
have leaned rather to the theory that Marcion's Gospel and the
canonical Luke are, more or less, independent offshoots from the
common ground-stock of the evangelical narratives. Ritschl, and
after him Baur and Schwegler, adopted more decidedly the view that
the canonical Gospel was constructed out of Marcion's by
interpolations directed against that heretic's teaching. The
reaction came from a quarter whence it would not quite naturally
have been expected--from one whose name we have already seen
associated with some daring theories, Volkmar, Professor of
Theology at Zuerich. With him was allied the more sober-minded,
laborious investigator, Hilgenfeld. Both these writers returned to
the charge once and again. Volkmar's original paper was
supplemented by an elaborate volume in 1852, and Hilgenfeld, in
like manner, has reasserted his conclusions. Baur and Ritschl
professed themselves convinced by the arguments brought forward,
and retracted or greatly modified their views. So far as I am
aware, Schwegler is the only writer whose opinion still stands as
it was at first expressed; but for some years before his death,
which occurred in 1857, he had left the theological field.
Without at all prejudging the question on this score, it is
difficult not to feel a certain presumption in favour of a
conclusion which has been reached after such elaborate argument,
especially where, as here, there could be no suspicion of a merely
apologetic tendency on either side. Are we, then, to think that
our English critic has shown cause for reopening the discussion?
There is room to doubt whether he would quite maintain as much as
this himself. He has gone over the old ground, and reproduced the
old arguments; but these arguments already lay before Hilgenfeld
and Volkmar in their elaborate researches, and simply as a matter
of scale the chapter in 'Supernatural Religion' can hardly profess
to compete with these.
Supposing, for the moment, that the author has proved the points
that he sets himself to prove, to what will this amount? He will
have shown (a) that the patristic statement that Marcion mutilated
St. Luke is not to be accepted at once without further question;
(b) that we cannot depend with perfect accuracy upon the details
of his Gospel, as reconstructed from the statements of Tertullian
and Epiphanius; (c) that it is difficult to explain the whole of
Marcion's alleged omissions, on purely, dogmatic grounds--assuming
the consistency of his method.
With the exception of the first, I do not think these points are
proved to any important extent; but, even if they were, it would
still, I believe, be possible to show that Marcion's Gospel was
based upon our third Synoptic by arguments which hardly cross or
touch them at all.
But, before we proceed further, it is well that we should have
some idea as to the contents of the Marcionitic Gospel. And here
we are brought into collision with the second of the propositions
just enunciated. Are we able to reconstruct that Gospel from the
materials available to us with any tolerable or sufficient
approach to accuracy? I believe no one who has gone into the
question carefully would deny that we can. Here it is necessary to
define and guard our statements, so that they may cover exactly as
much ground as they ought and no more.
Our author quotes largely, especially from Volkmar, to show that
the evidence of Tertullian and Epiphanius is not to be relied
upon. When we refer to the chapter in which Volkmar deals with
this subject [Endnote 209:1]--a chapter which is an admirable
specimen of the closeness and thoroughness of German research--we
do indeed find some such expressions, but to quote them alone
would give an entirely erroneous impression of the conclusion to
which the writer comes. He does not say that the statements of
Tertullian and Epiphanius are untrustworthy, simply and
absolutely, but only that they need to be applied with caution
_on certain points_. Such a point is especially the silence
of these writers as proving, or being supposed to prove, the
absence of the corresponding passage in Marcion's Gospel. It is
argued, very justly, that such an inference is sometimes
precarious. Again, in quoting longer passages, Epiphanius is in
the habit of abridging or putting an &c. ([Greek: kai ta hexaes--
kai ta loipa]), instead of quoting the whole. This does not give a
complete guarantee for the intermediate portions, and leaves some
uncertainty as to where the passage ends. Generally it is true
that the object of the Fathers is not critical but dogmatic, to
refute Marcion's system out of his own Gospel. But when all
deductions have been made on these grounds, there are still ample
materials for reconstructing that Gospel with such an amount of
accuracy at least as can leave no doubt as to its character. The
wonder is that we are able to do so, and that the statements of
the Fathers should stand the test so well as they do. Epiphanius
especially often shows the most painstaking care and minuteness of
detail. He has reproduced the manuscript of Marcion's Gospel that
he had before him, even to its clerical errors [Endnote 210:1]. He
and Tertullian are writing quite independently, and yet they
confirm each other in a remarkable manner. 'If we compare the two
witnesses,' says Volkmar, 'we find the most satisfactory (sicher-
stellendste) coincidence in their statements, entirely independent
as they are, as well in regard to that which Marcion has in common
with Luke, as in regard to very many of the points in which his
text differed from the canonical. And this applies not only to
simple omissions which Epiphanius expressly notes and Tertullian
confirms by passing over what would otherwise have told against
Marcion, but also to the minor variations of the text which
Tertullian either happens to name or indicate by his translation,
while they are confirmed by the direct statement of [the other]
opponent who is equally bent on finding such differences' [Endnote
211:1]. Out of all the points on which they can be compared, there
is a real divergence only in two. Of these, one Volkmar attributes
to an oversight on the part of Epiphanius, and the other to a
clerical omission in his manuscript [Endnote 211:2]. When we
consider the cumbrousness of ancient MSS., the absence of
divisions in the text, and the consequent difficulty of making
exact references, this must needs be taken for a remarkable
result. And the very fact that we have two--or, including
Irenaeus, even three--independent authorities, makes the text of
Marcion's Gospel, so far as those authorities are available, or,
in other words, for the greater part of it, instead of being
uncertain among quite the most certain of all the achievements of
modern criticism [Endnote 211:3].
This is seen practically--to apply a simple test--in the large
amount of agreement between critics of the most various schools as
to the real contents of the Gospel. Our author indeed speaks much
of the 'disagreement.' But by what standard does he judge? Or, has
he ever estimated its extent? Putting aside merely verbal
differences, the total number of whole verses affected will be
represented in the following table:--
iv. 16-30: doubt as to exact extent of omissions affecting about
half the verses.
38, 39: omitted according to Hahn; retained according to
Hilgenfeld and Volkmar.
vii. 29-35: omitted, Hahn and Ritschl; retained, Hilgenfeld and Volkmar.
x. 12-15: ditto ditto.
xiii. 6-10: omitted, Volkmar; retained, Hilgenfeld and Rettig.
xvii. 5-10: omitted, Ritschl; retained, Volkmar and Hilgenfeld.
14-19: doubt as to exact omissions.
xix. 47, 48: omitted, Hilgenfeld and Volkmar; retained, Hahn and
xxii. 17, 18: doubtful.
23-27: omitted, Ritschl; retained, Hilgenfeld and Volkmar.
43, 44: ditto ditto.
xxiii. 39-42: ditto ditto.
47-49: omitted, Hahn; retained, Ritschl, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar.
xxiv. 47-53: uncertain [Endnote 212:1].
This would give, as a maximum estimate of variation, some 55
verses out of about 804, or, in other words, about seven per cent.
But such an estimate would be in fact much too high, as there can
be no doubt that the earlier researches of Hahn and Ritschl ought
to be corrected by those of Hilgenfeld and Volkmar; and the
difference between these two critics is quite insignificant.
Taking the severest view that it is possible to take, no one will
maintain that the differences between the critics are such as to
affect the main issue, so that upon one hypothesis one theory
would hold good, and upon another hypothesis another. It is a mere
question of detail.
We may, then, reconstruct the Gospel used by Marcion with very
considerable confidence that we have its real contents before us.
In order to avoid any suspicion I will take the outline given in
'Supernatural Religion' (ii. p. 127), adding only the passage
St. Luke vii. 29-35, which, according to the author's statement (a
mistaken one, however) [Endnote 213:1], is 'generally agreed' to
have been wanting in Marcion's Gospel. In that Gospel, then, the
following portions of our present St. Luke were omitted:--
Chaps. i. and ii, including the prologue, the Nativity, and the
birth of John the Baptist.
Chap. iii (with the exception of ver. 1), containing the baptism
of our Lord, the preaching of St. John, and the genealogy.
iv. 1-13, 17-20, 24: the Temptation, the reading from Isaiah.
vii. 29-35: the gluttonous man.
xi. 29-32, 49-51: the sign of Jonas, and the blood of the
xiii. 1-9, 29-35: the slain Galileans, the fig-tree, Herod,
xv. 11-32: the prodigal son.
xvii. 5-10: the servant at meat.
xviii. 31-34: announcement of the Passion.
xix. 29-48: the Triumphal Entry, woes of Jerusalem, cleansing of
xx. 9-18, 37, 38: the wicked husbandmen; the God of Abraham.
xxi. 1-4, 18, 21, 22: the widow's mite; 'a hair of your head;'
flight of the Church.
xxii. 16-18, 28-30, 35-38, 49-51: the fruit of the vine, 'eat at
my table,' 'buy a sword,' the high-priest's servant.
xxiv. 47-53: the last commission, the Ascension.
Here we have another remarkable phenomenon. The Gospel stands to
our Synoptic entirely in the relation of _defect_. We may say
entirely, for the additions are so insignificant--some thirty
words in all, and those for the most part supported by other
authority--that for practical purposes they need not be reckoned.
With the exception of these thirty words inserted, and some, also
slight, alterations of phrase, Marcion's Gospel presents simply an
_abridgment_ of our St. Luke.
Does not this almost at once exclude the idea that they can be
independent works? If it does not, then let us compare the two in
detail. There is some disturbance and re-arrangement in the first
chapter of Marcion's Gospel, though the substance is that of the
third Synoptic; but from this point onwards the two move step by
step together but for the omissions and a single transposition
(iv. 27 to xvii. 18). Out of fifty-three sections peculiar to St.
Luke--from iv. 16 onwards--all but eight were found also in
Marcion's Gospel. They are found, too, in precisely the same
order. Curious and intricate as is the mosaic work of the third
Gospel, all the intricacies of its pattern are reproduced in the
Gospel of Marcion. Where Luke makes an insertion in the
groundstock of the narrative, there Marcion makes an insertion
also; where Luke omits part of the narrative, Marcion does the
same. Among the documents peculiar to St. Luke are some of a very
marked and individual character, which seem to have come from some
private source of information. Such, for instance, would be the
document viii. 1-3, which introduces names so entirely unknown to
the rest of the evangelical tradition as Joanna and Susanna
[Endnote 215:1]. A trace of the same, or an allied document,
appears in chap. xxiv, where we have again the name Joanna, and
afterwards that of the obscure disciple Cleopas. Again, the
mention of Martha and Mary is common only to St. Luke and the
fourth Gospel. Zacchaeus is peculiar to St. Luke. Yet, not only
does each of the sections relating to these personages re-appear
in Marcion's Gospel, but it re-appears precisely at the same
place. A marked peculiarity in St. Luke's Gospel is the 'great
intercalation' of discourses, ix. 51 to xviii. 14, evidently
inserted without regard to chronological order. Yet this
peculiarity, too, is faithfully reproduced in the Gospel of
Marcion with the same disregard of chronology--the only change
being the omission of about forty-one verses from a total of three
hundred and eighty. When Luke has the other two Synoptics against
him, as in the insertions Matt. xiv. 3-12, Mark vi. 17-29, and
again Matt. xx. 20-28, Mark x. 35-45, and Matt. xxi. 20-22, Mark
xi. 20-26, Marcion has them against him too. Where the third
Synoptist breaks off from his companions (Luke ix. 17, 18) and
leaves a gap, Marcion leaves one too. It has been noticed as
characteristic of St. Luke that, where he has recorded a similar
incident before, he omits what might seem to be a repetition of
it: this characteristic is exactly reflected in Marcion, and that
in regard to the very same incidents. Then, wherever the patristic
statements give us the opportunity of comparing Marcion's text
with the Synoptic--and this they do very largely indeed--the two
are found to coincide with no greater variation than would be
found between any two not directly related manuscripts of the same
text. It would be easy to multiply these points, and to carry them
to any degree of detail; if more precise and particular evidence
is needed it shall be forthcoming, but in the meantime I think it
may be asserted with confidence that two alternatives only are
possible. Either Marcion's Gospel is an abridgment of our present
St. Luke, or else our present St. Luke is an expansion by
interpolation of Marcion's Gospel, or of a document co-extensive
with it. No third hypothesis is tenable.
It remains, then, to enquire which of these two Gospels had the
priority--Marcion's or Luke's; which is to stand first, both in
order of time and of authenticity. This, too, is a point that
there are ample data for determining.
(1.) And, first, let us consider what presumption is raised by any
other part of Marcion's procedure. Is it likely that he would have
cut down a document previously existing? or, have we reason for
thinking that he would be scrupulous in keeping such a document
The author of 'Supernatural Religion' himself makes use of this
very argument; but I cannot help suspecting that his application
of it has slipped in through an oversight or misapprehension. When
first I came across the argument as employed by him, I was struck
by it at once as important if only it was sound. But, upon
examination, not only does it vanish into thin air as an argument
in support of the thesis he is maintaining, but there remains in
its place a positive argument that tells directly and strongly
against that thesis. A passage is quoted from Canon Westcott, in
which it is stated that while Tertullian and Epiphanius accuse
Marcion of altering the text of the books which he received, so
far as his treatment of the Epistles is concerned this is not
borne out by the facts, out of seven readings noticed by
Epiphanius two only being unsupported by other authority. It is
argued from this that Marcion 'equally preserved without
alteration the text which he found in his manuscript of the
Gospel.' 'We have no reason to believe the accusation of the
Fathers in regard to the Gospel--which we cannot fully test--
better founded than that in regard to the Epistles, which we can
test, and find unfounded' [Endnote 217:1]. No doubt the premisses
of this argument are true, and so also is the conclusion, strictly
as it stands. It is true that the Fathers accuse Marcion of
tampering with the text in various places, both in the Epistles
and in the Gospels where the allegation can be tested, and where
it is found that the supposed perversion is simply a difference of
reading, proved to be such by its presence in other authorities
[Endnote 217:2]. But what is this to the point? It is not
contended that Marcion altered to any considerable extent (though
he did slightly even in the Epistles [Endnote 217:3]) the text
_which he retained_, but that he mutilated and cut out whole
passages from that text. He can be proved to have done this in
regard to the Epistles, and therefore it is fair to infer that he
dealt in the same way with the Gospel. This is the amended form in
which the argument ought to stand. It is certain that Marcion made
a large excision before Rom. xi. 33, and another after Rom. viii.
11; he also cut out the 'mentiones Abrahae' from Gal. iii. 7, 14,
16-18 [Endnote 218:1]. I say nothing about his excision of the
last two chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, because on that
point a controversy might be raised. But the genuineness of these
other passages is undisputed and indisputable. It cannot be argued
here that our text of the Epistle has suffered from later
interpolation, and therefore, I repeat, it is so much the more
probable that Marcion took from the text of the Gospel than that a
later editor added to it.
(2.) In examining the internal evidence from the nature and
structure of Marcion's Gospel, it has hitherto been the custom to
lay most stress upon its dogmatic character. The controversy in
Germany has turned chiefly on this. The critics have set
themselves to show that the variations in Marcion's Gospel either
could or could not be explained as omissions dictated by the
exigencies of his dogmatic system. This was a task which suited
well the subtlety and inventiveness of the German mind, and it has
been handled with all the usual minuteness and elaboration. The
result has been that not only have Volkmar and Hilgenfeld proved
their point to their own satisfaction, but they also convinced
Ritschl and partially Baur; and generally we may say that in
Germany it seems to be agreed at the present time that the
hypothesis of a mutilated Luke suits the dogmatic argument better
than that of later Judaising interpolations.
I have no wish to disparage the results of these labours, which
are carried out with the splendid thoroughness that one so much
admires. Looking at the subject as impartially as I can, I am
inclined to think that the case is made out in the main. The
single instance of the perverted sense assigned to [Greek:
kataelthen] in iv. 31 must needs go a long way. Marcion evidently
intends the word to be taken in a transcendental sense of the
emanation and descent to earth of the Aeon Christus [Endnote
219:1]. It is impossible to think that this sense is more original
than the plain historical use of the word by St. Luke, or to
mistake the dogmatic motive in the heretical recension. There is
also an evident reason for the omission of the first chapters
which relate the human birth of Christ, which Marcion denied, and
one somewhat less evident, though highly probable, for the
omission of the account of the Baptist's ministry, John being
regarded as the finisher of the Old Testament dispensation--the
work of the Demiurge. This omission is not quite consistently
carried out, as the passage vii. 24-28 is retained--probably
because ver. 28 itself seemed to contain a sufficient qualification.
The genealogy, as well as viii. 19, was naturally omitted for the
same reason as the Nativity. The narrative of the Baptism Marcion
could not admit, because it supplied the foundation for that very
Ebionism to which his own system was diametrically opposed. The
Temptation, x. 21 ('Lord ... of earth'), xxii. 18 ('the fruit of
the vine'), xxii. 30 ('eat and drink at my table'), and the Ascension,
may have been omitted because they contained matter that seemed too
anthropomorphic or derogatory to the Divine Nature. On the other hand,
xi. 29-32 (Jonah and Solomon), xi. 49-51 (prophets and apostles),
xiii. 1 sqq. (the fig-tree, as the Jewish people?), xiii. 31-35 (the
prophet in Jerusalem), the prodigal son (perhaps?), the wicked
husbandmen (more probably), the triumphal entry (as the fulfilment
of prophecy), the announcement of the Passion (also as such), xxi.
21, 22 (the same), and the frequent allusions to the Old Testament
Scriptures, seem to have been expunged as recognising or belonging
to the kingdom of the Demiurge [Endnote 220:1]. Again, the changes
in xiii. 28, xvi. 17, xx. 35, are fully in accordance with
Marcion's system [Endnote 220:2]. The reading which Marcion had in
xi. 22 is expressly stated to have been common to the Gnostic
heretics generally. In some of these instances the dogmatic motive
is gross and palpable, in most it seems to have been made out, but
some (such as especially xiii. 1-9) are still doubtful, and the
method of excision does not appear to have been carried out with
This, indeed, was only to be expected. We are constantly reminded
that Tertullian, a man, with all his faults, of enormous literary
and general power, did not possess the critical faculty, and no
more was that faculty likely to be found in Marcion. It is an
anachronism to suppose that he would sit down to his work with
that regularity of method and with that subtle appreciation of the
affinities of dogma which characterise the modern critic. The
Septuagint translators betray an evident desire to soften down the
anthropomorphism of the Hebrew; but how easy would it be to
convict them of inconsistency, and to show that they left standing
expressions as strong as any that they changed! If we judge
Marcion's procedure by a standard suited to the age in which he
lived, our wonder will be, not that he has shown so little, but so
much, consistency and insight.
I think, therefore, that the dogmatic argument, so far as it goes,
tells distinctly in favour of the 'mutilation' hypothesis. But at
the same time it should not be pressed too far. I should be
tempted to say that the almost exclusive and certainly excessive
use of arguments derived from the history of dogma was the prime
fallacy which lies at the root of the Tuebingen criticism. How can
it be thought that an Englishman, or a German, trained under and
surrounded by the circumstances of the nineteenth century, should
be able to thread all the mazes in the mind of a Gnostic or an
Ebionite in the second? It is difficult enough for us to lay down
a law for the actions of our own immediate neighbours and friends;
how much more difficult to 'cast the shell of habit,' and place
ourselves at the point of view of a civilisation and world of
thought wholly different from our own, so as not only to explain
its apparent aberrations, but to be able to say, positively, 'this
must have been so,' 'that must have been otherwise.' Yet such is
the strange and extravagant supposition that we are assumed to
make. No doubt the argument from dogma has its place in criticism;
but, on the whole, the literary argument is safer, more removed
from the influence of subjective impressions, more capable of
being cast into a really scientific form.
(3.) I pass over other literary arguments which hardly admit of
this form of expression--such as the improbability that the
Preface or Prologue was not part of the original Gospel, but a
later accretion; or, again, from Marcion's treatment of the
Synoptic matter in the third Gospel, both points which might be
otherwise worth dilating upon. I pass over these, and come at
once, without further delay, to the one point which seems to me
really to decide the character of Marcion's Gospel and its
relation to the Synoptic. The argument to which I allude is that
from style and diction. True the English mind is apt to receive
literary arguments of that kind with suspicion, and very justly so
long as they rest upon a mere vague subjective _ipse dixit_;
but here the question can be reduced to one of definite figures
and of weighing and measuring. Bruder's Concordance is a dismal-
looking volume--a mere index of words, and nothing more. But it
has an eloquence of its own for the scientific investigator. It is
strange how clearly many points stand out when this test comes to
be applied, which before had been vague and obscure. This is
especially the case in regard to the Synoptic Gospels; for, in the
first place, the vocabulary of the writers is very limited and
similar phrases have constant tendency to recur, and, in the
second place, the critic has the immense advantage of being
enabled to compare their treatment of the same common matter, so
that he can readily ascertain what are the characteristic
modifications introduced by each. Dr. Holtzmann, following Zeller
and Lekebusch, has made a full and careful analysis of the style
and vocabulary of St. Luke [Endnote 223:1], but of course without
reference to the particular omissions of Marcion. Let us then,
with the help of Bruder, apply Holtzmann's results to these
omissions, with a view to see whether there is evidence that they
are by the same hand as the rest of the Gospel.
It would be beyond the proportions of the present enquiry to
exhibit all the evidence in full. I shall, therefore, not
transcribe the whole of my notes, but merely give a few samples of
the sort of evidence producible, along with a brief summary of the
Taking first certain points by which the style of the third
Evangelist is distinguished from that of the first in their
treatment of common matter, Dr. Holtzmann observes, that where
Matthew has [Greek: grammateus], Luke has in six places the word
[Greek: nomikos], which is only found three times besides in the
New Testament (once in St. Mark, and twice in the Epistle to
Titus). Of the places where it is used by St. Luke, one is the
omitted passage, vii. 30. In citations where Matthew has [Greek:
to rhaethen] (14 times; not at all in Luke), Luke prefers the
perfect form [Greek: to eiraemenon], so in ii. 24 (Acts twice);
compare [Greek: eiraetai], iv. 21. Where Matthew has [Greek: arti]
(7 times), Luke has always [Greek: nun], never [Greek: arti]:
[Greek: nun] is used in the following passages, omitted by
Marcion: i. 48, ii. 29, xix. 42, xxii. 18, 36. With Matthew the
word [Greek: eleos] is masculine, with Luke neuter, so five times
in ch. i. and in x. 37, which was retained by Marcion.
Among the peculiarities of style noted by Dr. Holtzmann which
recur in the omitted portions the following are perhaps some of
the more striking. Peculiar use of [Greek: to] covering a whole
phrase, i. 62 [Greek: to ti an theloi kaleisthai], xix. 48, xxii.
37, and five other places. Peculiar attraction of the relative
with preceding case of [Greek: pas], iii. 19, xix. 37, and
elsewhere. The formula [Greek: elege (eipe) de parabolaen] (not
found in the other Synoptics), xiii. 6, xx. 9, 19, and ten times
besides. [Greek: Tou] pleonastic with the infinitive, once in
Mark, six times in Matthew, twenty-five times in Luke, of which
three times in chap. i, twice in chap. ii, iv. 10, xxi. 22.
Peculiar combinations with [Greek: kata, kata to ethos, eiothos,
eithismenon], i. 9, ii. 27, 42, and twice. [Greek: Kath'
haemeran], once in the other Gospels, thirteen times in Luke and
Acts xix. 47; [Greek: kat' etos], ii. 41; [Greek: kata] with
peculiar genitive of place, iv. 14 (xxiii. 5) [Endnote 224:1].
Protasis introduced by [Greek: kai hote], ii. 21, 22, 42, [Greek:
kai hos], ii. 39, xv. 25, xix. 41. Uses of [Greek: egeneto],
especially with [Greek: en to] and infinitive, twice in Mark, in
Luke twenty-two times, i. 8, ii. 6, iii. 21, xxiv. 51; [Greek: en
to] with the infinitive, three times in St. Matthew, once in St.
Mark, thirty-seven times in St. Luke, including i. 8, 21, ii. 6,
27, 43, iii. 21. Adverbs: [Greek: exaes] and [Greek: kathexaes],
ten times in the third Gospel and the Acts alone in the New
Testament, i. 3; [Greek: achri], twenty times in the third Gospel
and Acts, only once in the other Gospels, i. 20, iv. 13; [Greek:
exaiphnaes], four times in the Gospel and Acts, once besides in
the New Testament, ii. 13; [Greek: parachraema], seventeen times
in the Gospel and Acts, twice in the rest of the New Testament, i.
64; [Greek: en meso], thirteen times in the Gospel and Acts, five
times in the other Synoptics, ii. 46, xxi. 21. Fondness for
optative in indirect constructions, i. 29, 62, iii. 15, xv. 26.
Peculiar combination of participles, ii. 36 ([Greek: probebaekuia
zaesasa]), iii. 23 ([Greek: archomenos on]), iv. 20 ([Greek:
ptuxas apodous]), very frequent. [Greek: Einai], with participle
for finite verb (forty-eight times in all), i. 7, 10, 20, 21, 22,
ii. 8, 26, 33, 51, iii. 23, iv. 16 ([Greek: aen tethrammenos],
omitted by Marcion), iv. 17, 20, xv. 24, 32, xviii. 34, xix. 47,
xx. 17, xxiv. 53. Construction of [Greek: pros] with accusative
after [Greek: eipein, lalein, apokrinesthai], frequent in Luke,
rare in the rest of the New Testament, i. 13, 18, 19, 28, 34, 55,
61, 73, ii. 15, 18, 34, 48, 49, iii. 12, 13, 14, iv. 4, xiii. 7,
34, xv. 22, xviii. 31, xix. 33, 39, xx. 9, 14, 19. This is thrown
into marked relief by the contrast with the other Synoptics; the
only two places where Matthew appears to have the construction are
both ambiguous, iii. 15 (doubtful reading, probably [Greek:
auto]), and xxvii. 14 ([Greek: apekrithae auto pros oude hen
rhaema]). No other evangelist speaks so much of [Greek: Pneuma
hagion], i. 15, 35, 41, 67, ii. 25, 66, iii. 16, 22, iv. 1 (found
also in Marcion's reading of xi. 2). Peculiar use of pronouns:
Luke has the combination [Greek: kai autos] twenty-eight times,
Matthew only twice (one false reading), Mark four or perhaps five
times, i. 17, 22, ii. 28, iii. 23, xv. 14; [Greek: kai autoi] Mark
has not at all, Matthew twice, Luke thirteen times, including ii.
50, xviii. 34, xxiv. 52.
We now come to the test supplied by the vocabulary. The following
are some of the words peculiar to St. Luke, or found in his
writings with marked and characteristic frequency, which occur in
those parts of our present Gospel that were wanting in Marcion's
recension: [Greek: anestaen, anastas] occur three times in St.
Matthew, twice in St. John, four times in the writings of St.
Paul, twenty-six times in the third Gospel and thirty-five times
in the Acts, and are found in i. 39, xv. 18, 20; [Greek:
antilegein] appears in ii. 34, five times in the rest of the
Gospel and the Acts, and only four times together in the rest of
the New Testament; [Greek: hapas] occurs twenty times in the
Gospel, sixteen times in the Acts, only ten times in the rest of
the New Testament, but in ii. 39, iii. 16, 21, iv. 6, xv. 13, xix.
37, 48, xxi. 4 (bis); three of these are, however, doubtful
readings. [Greek: aphesis ton amartion], ten times in the Gospel
and Acts, seven times in the rest of the New Testament, i. 77,
iii. 3. [Greek: dei], Dr. Holtzmann says, 'is found more often in
St. Luke than in all the other writers of the New Testament put
together.' This does not appear to be strictly true; it is,
however, found nineteen times in the Gospel and twenty-five times
in the Acts to twenty-four times in the three other Gospels; it
occurs in ii. 49, xiii. 33, xv. 32, xxii. 37. [Greek: dechesthai],
twenty-four times in the Gospel and Acts, twenty-six times in the
rest of the New Testament, six times in St. Matthew, three in St.
Mark, ii. 28, xxii. 17. [Greek: diatassein], nine times in the
Gospel and Acts, seven times in the rest of the New Testament
(Matthew once), iii. 13, xvii. 9, 10. [Greek: dierchesthai] occurs
thirty-two times in the Gospel and Acts, twice in each of the
other Synoptics, and eight times in the rest of the New Testament,
and is found in ii. 15, 35. [Greek: dioti], i. 13, ii. 7 (xxi. 28,
and Acts, not besides in the Gospels). [Greek: ean], xxii. 51
(once besides in the Gospel, eight times in the Acts, and three
times in the rest of the New Testament). [Greek: ethos], i. 9, ii.
42, eight times besides in St. Luke's writings and only twice in
the rest of the New Testament. [Greek: enantion], five times in
St. Luke's writings, once besides, i. 8. [Greek: enopion],
correcting the readings, twenty times in the Gospel, fourteen
times in the Acts, not at all in the other Synoptists, once in St.
John, four times in chap. i, iv. 7, xv. 18, 21 (this will be
noticed as a very remarkable instance of the extent to which the
diction of the third Evangelist impressed itself upon his
writings). [Greek: epibibazein], xix. 35 (and twice, only by St.
Luke). [Greek: epipiptein], i. 12, xv. 20 (eight times in the Acts
and three times in the rest of the New Testament). [Greek: ai
eraemoi], only in St. Luke, i. 80, and twice. [Greek: etos]
(fifteen times in the Gospel, eleven times in the Acts, three
times in the other Synoptics and three times in St. John), four
times in chap. ii, iii. 1, 23, xiii, 7, 8, xv. 29. [Greek:
thaumazein epi tini], Gospel and Acts five times (only besides in
Mark xii. 17), ii. 33. [Greek: ikanos] in the sense of 'much,'
'many,' seven times in the Gospel, eighteen times in the Acts, and
only three times besides in the New Testament, iii. 16, xx. 9
(compare xxii. 38). [Greek: kathoti] (like [Greek: kathexaes]
above), is only found in St. Luke's writings, i. 7, and five times
in the rest of the Gospel and the Acts. [Greek: latreuein], 'in
Luke, much oftener than in other parts of the New Testament,' i.
74, ii. 37, iv. 8, and five times in the Acts. [Greek: limos], six
times in the Gospel and Acts, six times in the rest of the New
Testament, xv. 14, 17. [Greek: maen] (month), i. 24, 26, 36, 56
(iv. 25), alone in the Gospels, in the Acts five times. [Greek:
oikos] for 'family,' i. 27, 33, 69, ii. 4, and three times besides
in the Gospel, nine times in the Acts. [Greek: plaethos]
(especially in the form [Greek: pan to plaethos]), twenty-five
times in St. Luke's writings, seven times in the rest of the New
Testament, 1. 19, ii. 13, xix. 37. [Greek: plaesai, plaesthaenai],
twenty-two times in St. Luke's writings, only three times besides
in the New Testament, i. 15, 23, 41, 57, 67, ii. 6, 21, 22, xxi.
22. [Greek: prosdokan], eleven times in the Gospel and Acts, five
times in the rest of the New Testament (Matthew twice and 2
Peter), i. 21, iii. 15. [Greek: skaptein], only in Luke three
times, xiii. 8. [Greek: speudein], except in 2 Peter iii. 12, only
in St. Luke's writings, ii. 16. [Greek: sullambanein], ten times
in the Gospel and Acts, five times in the rest of the New
Testament, i. 24, 31, 36, ii. 21. [Greek: sumballein], only in
Lucan writings, six times, ii. 19. [Greek: sunechein], nine times
in the Gospel and Acts, three times besides in the New Testament,
xix. 43. [Greek: sotaeria], in chap. i. three times, in the rest
of the Gospel and Acts seven times, not in the other Synoptic
Gospels. [Greek: hupostrephein], twenty-two times in the Gospel,
eleven times in the Acts, and only five times in the rest of the
New Testament (three of which are doubtful readings), i. 56, ii.
20, 39, 43, 45, iv. 1, (14), xxiv. 52. [Greek: hupsistos] occurs
nine times in the Gospel and Acts, four times in the rest of the
New Testament, i. 32, 35, 76, ii. 14, xix. 38. [Greek: hupsos] is
also found in i. 78, xxiv. 49. [Greek: charis] is found, among the
Synoptics, only in St. Luke, eight times in the Gospel, seventeen
times in the Acts, i. 30, ii. 40, 52, xvii. 9. [Greek: hosei]
occurs nineteen times in the Gospel and Acts (four doubtful
readings, of which two are probably false), seventeen times in the
rest of the New Testament (ten doubtful readings, of which in the
Synoptic Gospels three are probably false), i. 56, iii. 23.
It should be remembered that the above are only samples from the
whole body of evidence, which would take up a much larger space if
exhibited in full. The total result may be summarised thus.
Accepting the scheme of Marcion's Gospel given some pages back,
which is substantially that of 'Supernatural Religion,' Marcion
will have omitted a total of 309 verses. In those verses there are
found 111 distinct peculiarities of St. Luke's style, numbering in
all 185 separate instances; there are also found 138 words
peculiar to or specially characteristic of the third Evangelist,
with 224 instances. In other words, the verified peculiarities of
St. Luke's style and diction (and how marked many of these are
will have been seen from the examples above) are found in the
portions of the Gospel omitted by Marcion in a proportion
averaging considerably more than one to each verse! [Endnote
229:1] Coming to detail, we find that in the principal omission--
that of the first two chapters, containing 132 verses--there are
47 distinct peculiarities of style, with 105 instances; and 82
characteristic words, with 144 instances. In the 23 verses of
chap. iii. omitted by Marcion (for the genealogy need not be
reckoned), the instances are 18 and 14, making a total of 32. In
18 verses omitted from chap. iv. the instances are 13 and 8 = 21.
In another longer passage--the parable of the prodigal son--the
instances are 8 of the first class and 20 of the second. In 20
verses omitted from chap. xix. the instances are 11 and 6; and in
11 verses omitted from chap. xx, 9 and 8. Of all the isolated
fragments that Marcion had ejected from his Gospel, there are only
four--iv. 24, xi. 49-51, xx. 37, 38, xxii. 28-30, nine verses in
all--in which no peculiarities have been noticed. And yet even
here the traces of authorship are not wanting. It happens
strangely enough that in a list of parallel passages given by Dr.
Holtzmann to illustrate the affinities of thought between St. Luke
and St. Paul, two of these very passages--xi. 49 and xx. 38--
occur. I had intended to pursue the investigation through these
resemblances, but it seems superfluous to carry it further.
It is difficult to see what appeal can be made against evidence
such as this. A certain allowance should indeed be made for
possible errors of computation, and some of the points may have
been wrongly entered, though care has been taken to put down
nothing that was not verified by its preponderating presence in
the Lucan writings, and especially by its presence in that portion
of the Gospel which Marcion undoubtedly received. But as a rule
the method applies itself mechanically, and when every deduction
has been made, there will still remain a mass of evidence that it
does not seem too much to describe as overwhelming.
(4.) We may assume, then, that there is definite proof that the
Gospel used by Marcion presupposes our present St. Luke, in its
complete form, as it has been handed down to us. But when once
this assumption has been made, another set of considerations comes
in, which also carry with them an important inference. If
Marcion's Gospel was an extract from a manuscript containing our
present St. Luke, then not only is it certain that that Gospel was
already in existence, but there is further evidence to show that
it must have been in existence for some time. The argument in this
case is drawn from another branch of Biblical science to which we
have already had occasion to appeal--text-criticism. Marcion's
Gospel, it is known, presents certain readings which differ both
from the received and other texts. Some of these are thought by
Volkmar and Hilgenfeld to be more original and to have a better
right to stand in the text than those which are at present found
there. These critics, however, base their opinion for the most
part on internal grounds, and the readings defended by them are
not as a rule those which are supported by other manuscript
authority. It is to this second class rather that I refer as
bearing upon the age of the canonical Gospel. The most important
various readings of the existence of which we have proof in
Marcion's Gospel are as follows [Endnote 231:1]:--
v. 14. The received (and best) text is [Greek: eis marturion
autois]. Marcion, according to the express statement of Epiphanius
(312 B), read [Greek: hina ae morturion touto humin], which is
confirmed by Tertullian, who gives (_Marc._ iv. 8) 'Ut sit
vobis in testimonium.' The same or a similar reading is found in
D, [Greek: hina eis marturion ae humin touto], 'ut sit in
testimonium vobis hoc,' d; 'ut sit in testimonium (--monia, ff)
hoc vobis,' a (Codex Vercellensis), b (Codex Veronensis), c (Codex
Colbertinus), ff (Codex Corbeiensis), l (Codex Rhedigerianus), of
the Old Latin [Endnote 231:2].
v. 39 was _probably_ omitted by Marcion (this is inferred
from the silence of Tertullian by Hilgenfeld, p. 403, and Roensch,
p. 634). The verse is also omitted in D, a, b, c, d, e, ff.
x. 22. Marcion's reading of this verse corresponded with that of
other Gnostics, but has no extant manuscript authority. We have
touched upon it elsewhere.
x. 25. [Greek: zoaen aionion], Marcion omitted [Greek: aionion]
(Tert. _Adv. Marc._ iv. 25); so also the Old Latin Codex g'2
xi. 2. Marcion read [Greek: eltheto to hagion pneuma sou eph'
haemas] (or an equivalent; see Roensch, p. 640) either for the
clause [Greek: hagiasthaeto to onoma sou] or for [Greek:
genaethaeto to thelaema sou], which is omitted in B, L, 1, Vulg.,
ff, Syr. Crt. There is a curious stray [Greek: eph' haemas] in D
which may conceivably be a trace of Marcion's reading.
xii. 14. Marcion (and probably Tertullian) read [Greek: kritaen]
(or [Greek: dikastaen]) only for [Greek: kritaen ae meristaen]; so
D, a ('ut videtur,' Tregelles), c, Syr. Crt.
xii. 38. Marcion had [Greek: tae hesperinae phulakae] for [Greek:
en tae deutera phulakae kai en tae tritae phulakae]. So b: D, c,
e, ff, i, Iren. 334, Syr. Crt., combine the two readings in
xvi. 12. Marcion read [Greek: emon] for [Greek: humeteron]. So e
(Palatinus), i (Vindobonensis), l (Rhedigerianus). [Greek:
haemeteron] B. L, Origen.
xvii. 2. Marcion inserted the words [Greek: ouk egennaethae ae]
(Tert. iv. 35), 'ne nasceretur aut,' a, b, c, ff, i, l.
xviii. 19. Here again Marcion had a variation which is unsupported
by manuscript authority, but has to some extent a parallel in the
Clementine Homilies, Justin, &c.
xxi. 18. was omitted by Marcion (Epiph. 316 B), and is also
omitted in the Curetonian Syriac.
xxi. 27. Tertullian (iv. 39) gives the reading of Marcion as 'cum
plurima virtute' = [Greek: meta dunameos pollaes [kai doxaes]],
for [Greek: meta dun. k. dox. pollaes]; so D ([Greek: en dun.
pol.]), and approximately Vulg., a, c, e, f, ff, Syr. Crt., Syr.
xxiii. 2. Marcion read [Greek: diastrephonta to ethnos kai
katalionta ton nomon kai tous prophaetas kai keleuonta phorous mae
dounai kai anastrephonta tas gunaikas kai ta tekna] (Epiph., 316
D), where [Greek: kataluonta ton nomon kai tous prophaetas] and
[Greek: anastrephonta tas gunaikas kai ta tekna] are additions to
the text, and [Greek: keleuonta phorous mae dounai] is a
variation. Of the two additions the first finds support in b, (c),
e, (ff), i, l; the second is inserted, with some variation, by c
and e in verse 5.
We may thus tabulate the relation of Marcion to these various
authorities. The brackets indicate that the agreement is only
approximate. Marcion agrees with--
D, d, v. 14, v. 39; xii. 14, (xii. 28), (xxi. 27).
a (Verc.), v. 14, v. 39, xii. 14 (apparently), xvii. 2, (xxi. 27).
b (Ver.), v. 14, v. 39. xii. 38, xvii. 2, (xxiii. 2).
c (Colb.), v. 14, v. 39, xii. 14, (xii. 38), xvii. 2, (xxi. 27),
(xxiii. 2), (xxiii. 2).
e (Pal.), v. 39, (xii. 38), xvi. 12, (xxi. 27), xxiii. 2, (xxiii.
ff (Corb.), v. 14, v. 39, (xii. 38), xvii. 2, (xxi. 27), (xxiii.
g'2 (Germ.), x. 25.
i (Vind.), (xii. 38), xvi. 12, xvii. 2, xxiii. 2.
l (Rhed.), v. 14, xvi. 12, xvii. 2, xiii. 2.
Syr. Crt., xii. 14, (xii. 38), xxi. 18, (xxi. 27).
It is worth noticing that xxii. 19 b, 20 (which is omitted in D,
a, b, c, ff, i, l) appears to have been found in Marcion's Gospel,
as in the Vulgate, c, and f (see Roensch, p. 239). [Greek: apo tou
mnaemeiou] in xxiv. 9 is also found (Roensch, p. 246), though
omitted by D, a, b, c, e, ff, l. There is no evidence to show
whether the additions in ix. 55, xxiii. 34, and xxii. 43, 44 were
present in Marcion's Gospel or not.
It will be observed that the readings given above have all what is
called a 'Western' character. The Curetonian Syriac is well known
to have Western affinities [Endnote 233:1]. Codd. a, b, c, and the
fragment of i which extends from Luke x. 6 to xxiii. 10, represent
the most primitive type of the Old Latin version; e, ff, and I
give a more mixed text. As we should expect, the revised Latin
text of Cod. f has no representation in Marcion's Gospel [Endnote
These textual phenomena are highly interesting, but at the same
time an exact analysis of them is difficult. No simple hypothesis
will account for them. There can be no doubt that Marcion's
readings are, in the technical sense, false; they are a deviation
from the type of the pure and unadulterated text. At a certain
point, evidently of the remotest antiquity, in the history of
transcription, there was a branching off which gave rise to those
varieties of reading which, though they are not confined to
Western manuscripts, still, from their preponderance in these, are
called by the general name of 'Western.' But when we come to
consider the relations among those Western documents themselves,
no regular descent or filiation seems traceable. Certain broad
lines indeed we can mark off as between the earlier and later
forms of the Old Latin, though even here the outline is in places
confused; but at what point are we to insert that most remarkable
document of antiquity, the Curetonian Syriac? For instance, there
are cases (e.g. xvii. 2, xxiii. 2) where Marcion and the Old Latin
are opposed to the Old Syriac, where the latter has undoubtedly
preserved the correct reading. To judge from these alone, we
should naturally conclude that the Syriac was simply an older and
purer type than Marcion's Gospel and the Latin. But then again, on
the other hand, there are cases (such as the omission of xxi. 18)
where Marcion and the Syriac are combined, and the Old Latin
adheres to the truer type. This will tend to show that, even at
that early period, there must have been some comparison and
correction--a _con_vergence as well as a _di_vergence--
of manuscripts, and not always a mere reproduction of the
particular copy which the scribe had before him; at the same time
it will also show that Marcion's Gospel, so far from being an
original document, has behind it a deep historical background, and
stands at the head of a series of copies which have already passed
through a number of hands, and been exposed to a proportionate
amount of corruption. Our author is inclined to lay stress upon
the 'slow multiplication and dissemination of MSS.' Perhaps he may
somewhat exaggerate this, as antiquarians give us a surprising
account of the case and rapidity with which books were produced by
the aid of slave-labour [Endnote 235:1]. But even at Rome the
publishing trade upon this large scale was a novelty dating back
no further than to Atticus, the friend of Cicero, and we should
naturally expect that among the Christians--a poor and widely
scattered body, whose tenets would cut them off from the use of
such public machinery--the multiplication of MSS. would be slower
and more attended with difficulty. But the slower it was the more
certainly do such phenomena as these of Marcion's text throw back
the origin of the prototype from which that text was derived. In
the year 140 A.D. Marcion possesses a Gospel which is already in
an advanced stage of transcription--which has not only undergone
those changes which in some regions the text underwent before it
was translated into Latin, but has undergone other changes
besides. Some of its peculiarities are not those of the earliest
form of the Latin version, but of that version in what may be
called its second stage (e.g. xvi. 12). It has also affinities to
another version kindred to the Latin and occupying a similar place
to the Old Latin among the Churches of Syria. These circumstances
together point to an antiquity fully as great as any that an
orthodox critic would claim.
It should not be thought that because such indications are
indirect they are therefore any the less certain. There is perhaps
hardly a single uncanonical Christian document that is admittedly
and indubitably older than Marcion; so that direct evidence there
is naturally none. But neither is there any direct evidence for
the antiquity of man or of the earth. The geologist judges by the
fossils which he finds embedded in the strata as relics of an
extinct age; so here, in the Gospel of Marcion, do we find relics
which to the initiated eye carry with them their own story.
Nor, on the other hand, can it rightly be argued that because the
history of these remains is not wholly to be recovered, therefore
no inference from them is possible. In the earlier stages of a
science like palaeontology it might have been argued in just the
same way that the difficulties and confusion in the classification
invalidated the science along with its one main inference
altogether. Yet we can see that such an argument would have been
mistaken. There will probably be some points in every science
which will never be cleared up to the end of time. The affirmation
of the antiquity of Marcion's Gospel rests upon the simple axiom
that every event must have a cause, and that in order to produce
complicated phenomena the interaction of complicated causes is
necessary. Such an assumption involves time, and I think it is a
safe proposition to assert that, in order to bring the text of
Marcion's Gospel into the state in which we find it, there must
have been a long previous history, and the manuscripts through
which it was conveyed must have parted far from the parent stem.
The only way in which the inference drawn from the text of
Marcion's Gospel can be really met would be by showing that the
text of the Latin and Syriac translations is older and more
original than that which is universally adopted by text-critics. I
should hardly suppose that the author of 'Supernatural Religion'
will be prepared to maintain this. If he does, the subject can
then be argued. In the meantime, these two arguments, the literary
and the textual--for the others are but subsidiary--must, I think,
be held to prove the high antiquity of our present Gospel.
TATIAN--DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH.
Tatian was a teacher of rhetoric, an Assyrian by birth, who was
converted to Christianity by Justin Martyr, but after his death
fell into heresy, leaning towards the Valentinian Gnosticism, and
combining with this an extreme asceticism.
The death of Justin is clearly the pivot on which his date will
hinge. If we are to accept the conclusions of Mr. Hort this will
have occurred in the year 148 A.D.; according to Volkmar it would
fall not before 155 A.D., and in the ordinary view as late as 163-
165 A.D. [Endnote 238:1] The beginning of Tatian's literary
activity will follow accordingly.
Tatian's first work of importance, an 'Address to Greeks,' which
is still extant, was written soon after the death of Justin. It
contains no references to the Synoptic Gospels upon which stress
can be laid.
An allusion to Matth. vi. 19 in the Stromateis of Clement [Endnote
238:2] has been attributed to Tatian, but I hardly know for what
reason. It is introduced simply by [Greek: tis (biazetai tis
legon)], but there were other Encratites besides Tatian, and the
very fact that he has been mentioned by name twice before in the
chapter makes it the less likely that he should be introduced so
The chief interest however in regard to Tatian centres in his so-
called 'Diatessaron,' which is usually supposed to have been a
harmony of the four Gospels.
Eusebius mentions this in the following terms: 'Tatian however,
their former leader, put together, I know not how, a sort of
patchwork or combination of the Gospels and called it the
"Diatessaron," which is still current with some.' [Endnote 239:1]
I am rather surprised to see that Credner, who is followed by the
author of 'Supernatural Religion,' argues from this that Eusebius
had not seen the work in question [Endnote 239:2]. This inference
is not by any means conveyed by the Greek. [Greek: Ouk oid' hopos]
(thus introduced) is an idiomatic phrase referring to the
principle on which the harmony was constructed, and might well be
paraphrased 'a curious sort of patchwork or dovetailing,' 'a not
very intelligible dovetailing,' &c. Standing in the position it
does, the phrase can hardly mean anything else. Besides it is not
likely that Eusebius, an eager collector and reader of books, with
the run of Pamphilus' library, should not have been acquainted
with a work that he says himself was current in more quarters than
one. Eusebius, it will be observed, is quite explicit in his
statement. He says that the Diatessaron was a harmony of the
Gospels, i.e. (in his sense) of our present Gospels, and that
Tatian gave the name of Diatessaron to his work himself. We do not
know upon what these statements rest, but there ought to be some
valid reason before we dismiss them entirely.
Epiphanius writes that 'Tatian is said to have composed the
Diatessaron Gospel which some call the "Gospel according to the
Hebrews"' [Endnote 240:1]. And Theodoret tells us that 'Tatian
also composed the Gospel which is called the Diatessaron, cutting
out the genealogies and all that shows the Lord to have been born
of the seed of David according to the flesh.' 'This,' he adds,
'was used not only by his own party, but also by those who
followed the teaching of the Apostles, as they had not perceived
the mischievous design of the composition, but in their simplicity
made use of the book on account of its conciseness.' Theodoret
found more than two hundred copies in the churches of his diocese
(Cyrrhus in Syria), which he removed and replaced with the works
of the four Evangelists [Endnote 240:2].
Victor of Capua in the sixth century speaks of Tatian's work as a
'Diapente' rather than a 'Diatessaron' [Endnote 240:3]. If we are
to believe the Syrian writer Bar-Salibi in the twelfth century,
Ephrem Syrus commented on Tatian's Diatessaron, and it began with
the opening words of St. John. This statement however is referred
by Gregory Bar-Hebraeus not to the Harmony of Tatian, but to one
by Ammonius made in the third century [Endnote 241:1].
Here there is clearly a good deal of confusion.
But now we come to the question, was Tatian's work really a
Harmony of our four Gospels? The strongest presumption that it was
is derived from Irenaeus. Irenaeus, it is well known, speaks of
the four Gospels with absolute decision, as if it were a law of
nature that their number must be four, neither more nor less
[Endnote 241:2], and his four Gospels were certainly the same as
our own. But Tatian wrote within a comparatively short interval of
Irenaeus. It is sufficiently clear that Irenaeus held his opinion
at the very time that Tatian wrote, though it was not published
until later. Here then we have a coincidence which makes it
difficult to think that Tatian's four Gospels were different from
The theory that finds favour with Credner [Endnote 241:3] and his
followers, including the author of 'Supernatural Religion,' is
that Tatian's Gospel was the same as that used by Justin. I am
myself not inclined to think this theory improbable; it would have
been still less so, if Tatian had been the master and Justin the
pupil [Endnote 241:4]. We have seen that the phenomena of Justin's
evangelical quotations are as well met by the hypothesis that he
made use of a Harmony as by any other. But that Harmony, as we
have also seen, included at least our three Synoptics. The
evidence (which we shall consider presently) for the use of the
fourth Gospel by Tatian is so strong as to make it improbable that
that work was not included in the Diatessaron. The fifth work,
alluded to by Victor of Capua, may possibly have been the Gospel
according to the Hebrews.
Just as the interest of Tatian turns upon the interpretation to be
put upon a single term 'Diatessaron,' so the interest of Dionysius
of Corinth depends upon what we are to understand by his phrase
'the Scriptures of the Lord.'
In a fragment, preserved by Eusebius, of an epistle addressed to
Soter Bishop of Rome (168-176 A.D.) and the Roman Church,
Dionysius complains that his letters had been tampered with. 'As
brethren pressed me to write letters I wrote them. And these the
apostles of the devil have filled with tares, taking away some
things and adding others, for whom the woe is prepared. It is not
wonderful, then, if some have ventured to tamper with the
Scriptures of the Lord when they have laid their plots against
writings that have no such claims as they' [Endnote 242:1]. It
must needs be a straining of language to make the Scriptures here
refer, as the author of 'Supernatural Religion' seems to do, to
the Old Testament. It is true that Justin lays great stress upon
type and prophecy as pointing to Christ, but there is a