Слике страница
PDF
ePub

books of Maccabees. The books here enumerated are unanimously rejected by Protestants for the following reasons :

1. They possess no authority whatever, either external or internal, to procure their admission into the sacred canon.

None of them are extant in Hebrew; all of them are in the Greek language, except the fourth book of Esdras, which is only extant in Latin. They were written for the most part by Alexandrian Jews, subsequently to the cessation of the pro. phetic spirit,1 though before the promulgation of the Gospel.2 Not one of the writers in direct terms advances a claim to inspiration ;3 nor were they ever received into the sacred canon by the Jewish chureh, and therefore they were not sanctioned by our Saviour. No part of the apocrypha is quoted, or even alluded to, by him or by any of his apostles : and both Philo and Josephus, who flourished in the first century of the Christian æra, are totally silent concerning them.4

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1 In the prophecy of Malachi (iv. 4–6.) it is intimated that after him no prophet should arise, until John the Baptist, the harbinger of the Messiah, should appear in the spirit and power of Elijah; and the Jews unanimously agree that the prophetic spirit ceased with Malachi. The author of the book of Wisdom pretends that it was written by Solomon - a pretension not only manifestly false, but which also proves that book not to have been inspired. For in the first place, the author, whoever he was, cites many passages from Isaiah and Jeremiah, who did not prophesy till many agos after the time of Solomon, and consequently the book could not have been written by him; and secondly, it reprosents the Israelites (Wisd. ix. 7, 8. xv. 14.) as being in subjection to their enemies : whereas we know from the sacred writings, that they enjoyed great peace and prosperity during the reign of Solomon.

2 Such at least is the general opinion of commentators; but Moldenhawer has urged some reasons for thinking that some of the apocryphal books, --- as Tobit, the fourth book of Esdras, and perhaps also the book of Wisdom,- were written after the birth of our Saviour, and consequently they cannot be considered as apocryphal books. His arguments are noticed in Vol. IV. Part I. Chap. VIII. Og II. III.

3 So far, indeed, are the authors of the apocryphal books trom asserting their own inspiration, that some of them say what amounts to an acknowledgment that they were not inspired. Thus in the prologue to the book of Ecclesiasticus, the son of Sirac entreats the reader to pardon any errors he may have committed in translating the works of his grandfather Jesus into Greek. In 1 Macc. iv. 46. and ix. 27. it is confessed that there was at that time no prophet in Israel; the socond book of Maccabees (ii. 23.) is an avowed abridgment of five books of Jason of Cyrene ; and the author concludes with the following words, which are utterly unworthy of a per son writing by inspiration. If I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired, but if slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto. (2 Macc. xv. 38.) Dick's Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, p.71.

4 The testimony of Josephus is very remarkable :-“We have not,” says he,“ innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, containing the records of all past times, which are justly believed to be divine. Five of them belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions concerning the origin of mankind, till his death. But as to the time from the death of Moses, tiil the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets who were after Moses wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. Our history, indeed, has been written, since Artaxerxes, very particularly; but it has not been esteemed of equal authority with the former by our forefathers, because there had not been an exact succession of prophets since that time. And how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation, is evident by what we do: for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if it be necessary, willingly to die for them." Josephus contra Apion, lib. i. 98. Josephus's testimony is related by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. ix. and x.); and it is further worthy of remark, that the most learned of the Roman Catholic writers admit that the apocryphal books were never acknowledged by the Jewish church. See particularly Huet's Demonstr. Evangelica, prop. iv. tom. I. De Libro Tobit. p. 306. De Libro Judith, p. 309. De Libris Maccabæorum,

460. De Canone Librorum Sacrorum, p. 473. See also Dupin's Dissertation Preliminaire

ou Prolegomenes sur la Bible, pp. 85, 86. 89. 112. Amst. 1701.

an

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

2. The apocryphal books were not admitted into the canon of Scripture, during the first four centuries of the Christian church.

They are not mentioned in the catalogue of inspired writings, made by Melito Bishop of Sardis, who fourished in the second century, nor in those of Origen,2 in the third century, of Athanasius,3 Hilary,4 Cyril of Jerusalem,5 Epiphanius, Gregory Nazianzen,' Amphilochius, Jerome, 9 Rufinus, 10 and others of the fourth century; nor in the catalogue of canonical books recognised by the council of Laodicea, held in the same century, whose canons were received by the Catholic church ; so that

, as Bishop Burnet well observes, “ we have the concurring sense of the whole church of God in this matter."'12 To this decisive evidence against the canonical authority of the apocryphal books, we may add that they were never read in the Christian church until the fourth century; when, as Jerome informs us, they were read" for example of life and instruction of manners, but were not applied to establish any doctrine;"13 and contemporary writers state, 14 that although they were not approved as canonical or inspired writings, yet some of them, particularly Judith, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus, were allowed to be perused by catechumens. As a proof that they were not regarded as canonical in the fifth century, Augustine relates, that when the book of Wisdom and other writings of the same class were publicly read in the church, they were given to the readers or inferior ecclesiastical officers, who read them in a lower place than those which were universally acknowledged to be canonical, which were read by the bishops and presbyters in a more eminent and conspicuous manner.15 To conclude :- Notwithstanding the veneration in which these books were held by the Western Church, it is evident that the same authority was never ascribed to them as to the Old and New Testament ; until the last council of Trent; at its fourth session, presumed to place them all (excepting the prayer of Manasseh and the third and fourth books of Esdras) in the same rank with the inspired writings of Moses and the prophets.

3. The apocryphal books contain many things which are fabulous, contradictory, and directly at variance with the Canonical Scriptures.

To mention only a few instances out of many that might be adduced :- the story of Bel and the Dragon is, confessedly, a mere fiction ; -- and there are very strong grounds for concluding that the book of Judith is of the same description

. - This heroine is introduced as justifying the murder of the Shechemites, which is condemned in Gen. xlix. 7. The author of the book of Tobit has added to the views of God and Providence, delineated in the Old Testament, tenets of Babylonian or Assyrian origin, concerning demons or angels, intermediate beings between the Deity and man. The author of the book of the Wisdom of Solomon alludes to the people of Israel as being in subjection to their enemies, which was not the case during

i This catalogue is inserted by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, lib. iv.c. H. 2 Ibid. lib. vi. c. 25. p. 399.

3 In his Festal or Paschal Epistle. See the extract in Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. Ev. pp. 282–285. 8vo.; vol. ii. pp. 399, 400. 4to.

4 Prolog. in Psalmos, p. 9. Paris, 1693. Lardner, vol. iv. p. 305, 8vo. ; vol. ii. p. 13. 4to.

5 In his Fourth Catechetical Exercise. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 299. 8vo. ; vol. i. p.411. 4to. 6 in various catalogues recited by Dr. Lardner, vol. iv. pp. 312, 313. 8vo. ;

vol. i. 3. 409. 4to.

7 Carm. 33. Op. tom. ii. p. 98. Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 407, 408. 8vo. ; vol. ü. p. 470. 4to. 8 In Carmine lambico ad Selucum, p. 126. Ibid. p. 413. 8vo. ; vol. ü. p. 173.

9 In Præfat. ad Libr. Regum sive Prologo Galeato. Lardner, vol. v. pp. 16, 17, Evo. ; vol. i.

p.

540. 410. and also in several of his prefaces to other books, which re given by Dr. L. pp. 18-22. 8vo.; or pp. 540-543. 4to. 10 Exposito ad Symb. Apost. Lardner, vol. v. pp. 75, 76. 8vo. ; vol. ii. p. 573. 4to

. 11 Can. 59, 60. Lardner,

vol. iv. pp. 308, 309. 8vo.; vol. ii. pp. 414, 416. 4to. Be des Dr. Lardner, Bishop Cosin, in his Scholastical History of the Canon, and Mol

. enhawer (Introd. ad Vet. Test. pp. 148-154.), have given extracts at length from ve above-mentioned fathers, and others, against the authority of the apocrypha! Doks. 12 On the Sixth Article of the Anglican church, p. 111. 6th edit. 13 Præf. in Libr. Salomonis, Op. tom. i. pp. 938, 939. Lardner, vol. v. p. 18. Sro; l. i. p. 540. 4to. 11 The author of the Synopsis of Scripture attributed to Athanasius (see Lardnet, I. iv. p. 290.), and also the pretended Apostolical Canons (Can. ult.). 15 Augustin. de Predest. Sanct. lib. i. c. 14. in Bishop Cosin's Scholastical History the Canon, p. 160.

Now imper when death record

[blocks in formation]

Intro

also

[ocr errors]

Solomon's reign. We read indeed that he had enemies in the person of Iladad, Rezon, and Jeroboam (1 Kings xi. 14. 23. 25, 26.) who vexed him; but we no where find that they subdued his people : and the schism of the ten tribes did not take place until after the death of Solomon. — Baruch is said (i. 2.) to have been carried into Babylon, at the same time when Jeremiah tells us that he was carried into Egypt. (Jer. xliii. 6, 7.) In 2 Macc. xiv. 41. suicide (which is prohibited in Exod. xx. 13.) is mentioned with approbation. — Lastly, the first and second books of Maccabees contradict each other : for in the former (1 Macc. vi. 4-16.), Antiochus Epiphanes is said to have diod in Babylon; and in the latter he is represented, first, as having been slain by the priests in the temple of Nanea in Persia (2 Macc. i. 13—16.), and after. wards as dying “a miserable death in a strange country among the mountains !" (ix. 28.)

4. The apocryphal books contain passages which are in themselves false, absurd, and incredible.

Thus, in the Book of Tobit, the angel that is introduced, is represented as deliberately telling a falsehood to Tobit (v. 12. compared with xii. 15.): the expulsion of a demon by furnigation (vi.) is a thing not more absurd than incredible, as also is the story of water being converted into fire and vice versa (2 Macc. i. 19–22.), and of the tabernacle and ark, walking afier Jeremiah, at the prophet's command. (2 Macc.

ii. 4.)

[ocr errors]

5. Lastly, There are passages in the apocryphal books, which are so inconsistent with the relations of all other profane historians, that they cannot be admitted without much greater evidence than belongs to these books.

For instance, in 1 Macc. viii. 16. it is said that the Romans “committed their government to one man every year, who ruled over all that country, and that all were obedient to that one, and that there was neither envy nor emulation amongst them.” Now this assertion is contradicted by every Roman historian without exception. The imperial government was not establisbed until more than a century after the time when that book was written. In like manner the account (in 1 Macc. i. 6, 7.) of the death of Alexander, misnamed the Great, is not supported by the historians who have recorded his last hours.

Although the apocryphal books cannot be applied “ to establish any doctrine," yet

they are highly valuable as antient writings, which throw considerable light upon the phraseology of Scripture, and upon the history and manners of the East : and as they contain many noble sentiments and useful precepts, the Anglican church, in imitation of the primitive church of Christ, doth read them for example of life and instruction of manners. On this account the reader will find an analysis of these books, in the fourth volume of this work 2

III. Besides the books commonly termed apocryphal, which have thus been deservedly rejected from the canon of Scripture, there are numerous spurious productions extant, the earliest of which (the pretended book of Enoch) could not have been written till shortly before the commencement of the Christian æra; but by far the greatest part of them were forged between the second and fourth centuries. The industrious bibliographer, John Albert Fabricius, collected fragments and notices of all (or nearly all) these productions, which he has discussed in the two hundred and forty chapters of which his Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti consists.3 The bare enumeration of these forgeries would extend this article to an undue length: but there are two

1. It may be proper to remark that the Anglican church does not read all the books of the Apocrypha ; it reads no part of either book of Esdras, or of the Maccabees, of the additions to the book of Esther, nor does it read the Song of the Three Children, nor the prayer of Manasseh. Bishop Tomline's Elements of Christ. Theol. vol. ii. Introd

. ad

. Vet. Test. pp. 145–153. Heidegger, Enchirid.' Biblicum, pp. 305_322. See also Bishop Marsh's Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome, pp. 7898.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

2 See Vol. IV. Part I. Chap. VIII.
3 It was published at Hamburgh in 1722, 1723, in two thick volumes, 8vo.

aa't

[blocks in formation]

et cur Laur Lond

This the form cies, ar

this ters wh gation etamin cension beginn used in the He the flat product word the Eth word i. 2. prevale brew

apocryphal productions, bearing the names of Enoch and Isaiah, which have been rescued from utter oblivion by the persevering researches of the Rev. Dr. Laurence, and which are of sufficient importance to claim a distinct notice.

I. The Book of Enoch the Prophet: an Apocryphal Production supposed to have been lost for ages; but discovered at the close of the last century in Abyssinia, nou first translated from an Ethiopic MS. in the Bodleian Library. By Richard Laurence, LL.D. Regius Professor of Hebrew, fc. Oxford, 1821. 8vo.

The Apocryphal Book of Enoch, in the last and preceding century, proved a prolific subject for critical speculation and theological discussion. The circumstance of its having been quoted by an inspired writer of the New Testament, augmented the despair of recovering a supposed treasure which had been long lost. It was known until the eighth century of the Christian æra, after which it seems to have sunk into complete oblivion. A considerable fragment of it, however, was discovered by Julius C# sar Scaliger, in the Chronographia of Georgius Syncellus ; a work which had not then been printed. He extracted the whole of this fragment, which he published in his notes to the Chronicle of Eusebius.2 Still, however, as it did not contain the pas. sage quoted by St. Jude, doubts were entertained, whether the apostle really referred to the same production ax was cited by Syncellus, or derived his information respecting the prophecy of Enoch from some other source. Since the discovery of Scaliger, much has been written, but very little if any additional information obtained upon this subject. The fullest account of the opinions entertained by the Fathers, and the quotations which they made from this celebrated apocryphal production, before it was bost, as well as what has since been conjectured respecting it by modern critics

, are to be found in the Codex Pseudepigraphus of Fabricius, 3 above mentioned, who has also printed at length the Greek fragment of it preserved by Syncellus

. But though the Greek copy of this book, (itself perhaps nothing more than a mere translation from some Hebrew or Chaldee original), seems to have been irretrievably lost, yet an idea prevailed, so early as the commencement of the seventeenth century, that an Ethiopic version of it still existed in Abyssinia. Finally, researches were made for it by the distinguished Ethiopic scholar Ludolph ; and every idea that the book was extant in an Ethiopic version was altogether abandoned from that time until towards the close of the last century, when our enterprising countryman, Mr. Bruce, not only prored its existence, but brought with him from Abyssinia three manuscript copies of it, one of which he presented to the Library at Paris, another to the Bodleian Library at Ox. ford, and the third he reserved for himself,4 From the Bodleian MS. Archbp

. Lau. rence has made his translation, to which he has prefixed an elaborate preliminary diş sertation on the history, &c. of this apocryphal production, to which we are principal, ly indebted for the present outline of its contents.

Although neither the Jewish nor the Christian church over admittol the book of Enoch into the canon, it was regarded by a learned but in some respects fanciful writer of the second century, Tertullian,5 both as an inspired composition, and also as the genuine production of him whose name it bears; but his opinion is contradicted by the uniform judgment of the Jewish and of the Christian church (the Abyssinian church alone excepted) among whose canonical books it was never enuinerated. Dr. Laurence has proved by internal evidence, which does not admit of abridgment

, that the production in question was the composition of some unknown Jew

under the bar rowed name of Enoch; that it must have originally been estant in Hebrew, though such original is now lost ; and that it was written before the rise of Christianity, by a Jew who did not reside in Palestine, and most probably at an early period of Herod's reign, about ninety-six (perhaps one hundred) years before the epistle of Jude was written.

The subject of the apocryphal Book of Enoch is, a series of visions respecting the fallen angels, their posterity the giants which occasioned the deluge, the mysteries of heaven, the place of the final judgment of men and angels, and various parts of the

1 Jude, v. 14, 15. See the passage in Vol. II. p. 444. infra. 2 Pp. 404, 405. edit. Amst. 1658.

3 Vol. I. pp. 160-224. In 222, 3. Fabricius mentions twenty different authors who have more or less alluded to this book.

4 A short summary of the contents of the Apocryphal Book of Enoch is given in : note to vol. ii. pp. 424_426. of the octavo edition of Mr. Bruce's travels, by the editor, Mr. Murray.

5 Tertulliani Opera, pp. 95. 150, 151. Laurenco. Prel. Diss. pp. XV-xvii.

The passages are given at length by Dr.

differ, brew, t

IV.

On one

timest the oth

they ht

contem

such or descrip

at least

opinior

rence

which, promu! edly di proofs

birth o

the Ch

In 11

made pellati

Son of Mani

[ocr errors]

universe seen by Enoch. The language is the purest Ethiopic; and its style is evidently copied after that of the book of Daniel. In an appendix, Dr. Laurence has printed a Latin version of many chapters, executed by the learned Baron Sylvester de Sacy from the Paris manuscript. Dr. L. also announces that Professor Gesenius of Halle has it in contemplation to publish a transcript of the Parisian copy, accompanied with a Latin translation.

2. Ascensio Isaia Vatis, opusculum pseudepigraphum, multis abhinc seculis, ut videtur, deperditum, nunc autem apud Æthiopas compertum, et cum versione Latina Anglicanaque publici juris factum. A Ricardo Laurence, LL. D. Hebraicæ Linguæ Professore Regio, fc. Oxonii et Londini, 1819. 8vo.

This volume contains a pretended history of the prophet Isaiah's ascension through the firmament and six heavens into the seventh; together with some pseudo-prophecies, and a relation of the prophet's martyrdom. With a view to ascertain the date of this composition, as no satisfactory external evidence is furnished by the early wri. ters who have incidentally mentioned it, Dr. Laurence has instituted a minute investigation of the internal testimony, furnished by the production itself. The result of this examination, which is conducted with singular acuteness and felicity, is, that the As. cension of Isaiah must have been composed towards the close of the year 68 or in the beginning of the year 69. From the circumstance of an anonymous author having used in the Ethiopic the unusual Greek word actwa for the roof of a house, while in the Hebrew and in all the versions the word signifies a net, (that is, a lattice placed in the flat roof to light the apartment beneathi) — the learned editor concludes that this production must have been written in Greek. It appears, however, that this Greek word was in use în Egypt in the second century, whence in all probability it crept into the Ethiopic language about that period. A Jew writing in Greek, would have used that word which his own Scriptures and the Septuagint had previously adopted in 2 Kings i. 2. A translator would have used the first term that suggested itself. From the prevalence of the oriental orthography of particular words, as well as from the Hebrew Scriptures being quoted instead of the Greek version in a passage where they differ, it seems more probable, that the Ascensio Isaia was originally written in Hebrew, the native tongue of the writer.

IV. “The fate of apocryphal writings in general has been singular. On one side, from the influence of theological opinion, they have sometimes been injudiciously admitted into the canon of Scripture : while on the other side, from an over anxiety to preserve that canon inviolate, they have been not simply rejected, but loaded with every epithet of contempt and obloquy. The feelings perhaps of both parties have, on such occasions, run away with their judgment. For writings of this description, whatsoever may or may not be their claims to inspiration, at least are of considerable utility, where they indicate the theological opinions of the periods at which they were composed." This Dr. Laurence apprehends to be peculiarly the case of the book of Enoch ; which, as having been written before the doctrines of Christianity were promulgated to the world, must afford us, when it refers (as it repeatedly does refer) to the nature and character of the Messiah, credible proofs of what were the Jewish opinions upon those points before the birth of Christ ; and consequently before the possible predominance of the Christian creed.

In the apocryphal Book of Enoch, “clear and distinct allusions are made to a Being, highly exalted with the Lord of Spirits, under the appellations of the Son of Man, the Elect One," the Messiah, and the Son of God. Disputes have arisen respecting the nature of the Son of Man described in the vision of Daniel; and Unitarians contend that his

1 See 2 Kings i. 2.
2 Archbp. Laurence's Prel. Diss. to the Book of Enoch, p. xl.
3 Chap. xlvi. 1, 2. xlviii. 2, &c.

4 Chap. xlviii. * 2, &c. 6 Chap. xlviii. 11. li. 4.

6 Chap. civ. * 2.

« ПретходнаНастави »