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NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT.
1. External evidence. Although we have no complete catalogue for the Canonical Books previously to the fourth century, we have constant quotations from most of them by various Christian writers up to the time of the Apostles themselves. It will be best to trace this backwards. In the fourth century A.D. there are ten catalogues, in six of which all the books are counted Canonical, viz.: those of Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, Council of Carthage, Epiphanius, and Athanasius; and three, which omit only the Book of Revelation, viz.: those of Gregory Nazianzen, Council of Laodicea, and Cyril of Jerusalem; and that of Philaster, which omits both the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Revelation. Of these the testimony of Jerome is the most important, from his great learning, his protracted residence in Palestine, and his life-long devotion to the work of verifying the Scriptures and the localities of Bible history. To all the books of the New Testament he assigns the same authors as those whose names they bear, giving the Acts of the Apostles to Luke, and the Epistle to the Hebrews to Paul, though he mentions that some doubt the authorship of the latter. Eusebius of Cæsarea, 315 A.D., in his. "Ecclesiastical History," after carefully investigating the history of his time, affirms it to be universally admitted that the following are genuine, viz.: the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the fourteen Epistles of Paul, the first Epistles of John and Peter, and "(if it so seem good) the Revelation of John." Origen, A.D. 243, gives a catalogue identical with that of Eusebius. Tertullian, A.D. 150—220, mentions the four Gospels and most of the books of the New Testament as genuine, as also does Irenæus. Papias, a disciple of Polycarp, expressly assigns the Gospels of Matthew and Mark to those writers; and Clemens Romanus, the fellow-labourer of Paul, refers as expressly to I. Corinthians as the work of that Apostle.
Besides this general consent of Christian writers, there is a complete absence in the works of their opponents (whether Jewish or heretical), of any satisfactory evidence that any of these books were spurious.
II. Authenticity of the New Testament.
Early Copies. There is no existing original MS. of the New Testament written in the first three centuries. Fragments of an early Syriac Version of the Four Gospels were found by Mr. Cureton in the Nitrian Monasteries, and published by him in London A.D. 1858. This copy is considerably anterior to the Peshito, which had previously been considered the oldest document. There is abundant evidence that, in the first two centuries, copies of the New Testament only existed in separate books, or in volumes containing such portions as the Gospels, the Catholic Epistles, the Pastoral Epistles, &c., respectively, but that no copy of the New Testament, as a whole, existed in one book. The first witnesses to the apostolic text are the early Syriac Peshito (Cent. i.), and Latin (Cent, ii.) versions; and the rich quotations of Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 220), and of Origen (A.D. 184—254). The most important early MSS. of the New Testament are the following:—
A. Sinaitic (Cent. iv.), in the Library of St. Petersburg, found by Tischendorf in the convent of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai, in 1859. The New Testament is entire, with the Epistle of Barnabas, and part of the "Shepherd of Hermes."
B. Alexandrine (the first half of Cent, v.), in the Library of the British Museum, given by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I. in 1628. It contained the entire Bible in Greek, with the addition of the Epistles of St. Clement; but there are some parts of the New Testament missing (Matt. i.—xxv. 6; John vi. 50—viii. 52; 2 Cor. iv. 13—xii. 6).
C. Vatican (supposed to be of Cent, iv.), in the Vatican Library ever since its foundation, A.D. 1450. It is a MS. of the entire Greek Bible, as far as Heb. ix. 14, the remainder being added in Cent. xv.
D. Ephrem's (supposed to be written in the early part of Cent. v.), now in the Library of Paris. It was brought from the East to Florence early in Cent. xvi., and came to Paris with Catherine de Medicis in the middle of that century. It contains fragments of the LXX., and of each book of the New Testament. In Cent. xii. the original writing was effaced, and some Greek writings of "Ephrem Syrus" were written over it.
E. Beza's (Cent, vi.), found by Beza in the Monastery of St. Irenseus at Lyons, A.D. 1562, and presented by him to the University Library, Cambridge. It is a Graeco-Latin MS. of the Gospels and Acts, with small fragments of the Epistles of John. It abounds in interpolations, especially in the Acts of the Apostles.
F. Parisian Imperial (Cent, viii.), one of the most important of the late Uncial MSS. It contains the four Gospels (except Matt. iv. 22—v. 14; xxviii. 17—20; Mark x. 16—20; Xv. 2—20; John xxi. 15—25). It agrees in a remarkable manner with the quotations of Origen, and with the Vatican MS.
List of New Testament MSS.:—
Uncial.—Gospels, 34; Acts and Catholic Epistles, 10; Paul's Epistles, 14; Evangelistaria, 58.
Cursive.—Gospels, 601; Acts and Catholic Epistles, 229; Paul's Epistles, 283; Evangelistaria, 183.
The New Testament is the Sacred Scripture of the Last Dispensation, in which a New Covenant is made between God and man, by which all mankind are offered the privileges of (1) adoption to be the sons of God, (2) incorporation into Christ's Church, (3) inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. As no preference is given to any particular family or people, but these privileges are freely offered to all, the offer, the incorporated society who accept it, the faith (or terms of membership), are all said to be Catholic, or universal, viz. open to all, not necessarily accepted by all. This offer is called the Gospel, the Preacher of which is Christ; the Head also of the Society, which is called the Church, or "Body of the Lord."
The Books of the New Testament have, to some extent, their counterpart in the Old. Thus, the Four Gospels correspond with the Pentateuch, as they contain an account of the Origin and Law of the Covenant; the Acts of the Apostles with the Historical Books (especially Joshua and Judges); the twenty-one Epistles 56 with the Prophets; and Revelation with the concluding portions of Daniel and Ezekiel.
Divisions of the New Testament:—
I. Constitutional and Historical.
i. The Four Gospels: two by Apostles, two by missionary Evangelists.
ii. The Acts of the Apostles: forming the link of connection between the historical and didactic portions.
i. The Pauline Epistles, viz.:
a. Doctrinal, addressed to Churches, viz. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians,Thessalonians, Hebrews.
b. Pastoral, addressed to Timothy and Titus.
c. Special, to an individual (Philemon).
ii. Catholic Epistles, addressed to the Church at large:
a. One of James.
b. Two of Peter.
c. Three of John.
d. One of Jude.
III. Prophetic. The Revelation of John the Divine.
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