Page images

interpretations of the divine Scriptures given by each of them show *”

VII. The five last testimonies may be referred to the year 200; immediately after which, a period of thirty years gives us

Julius Africanus, who wrote an epistle upon the apparent difference in the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, which he endeavours to reconcile by the distinction of natural and legal descent, and conducts his hypothesis with great industry through the whole series of generations †.

Ammonius, a learned Alexandrian, who composed, as Tatian had done, a harmony of the four Gospels; which proves, as Tatian's work did, that there were four Gospels, and no more, at this time in use in the church. It affords also an instance of the zeal of Christians for those writings, and of their solicitude about them ‡.

And, above both these, Origen, who

* Lardner, Cred. vol. ii. p. 551. Ib. vol. iii. p. 122.

+ Ib. vol. iii. p. 170.

wrote commentaries, or homilies, upon most of the books included in the New Testament, and upon no other books but these. In particular, he wrote upon Saint John's Gospel, very largely upon Saint Matthew's, and commentaries, or homilies, upon the Acts of the Apostles *.

VIII. In addition to these, the third century likewise contains:

Dionysius of Alexandria, a very learned man, who compared, with great accuracy, the accounts in the four Gospels of the time of Christ's resurrection, adding a reflection which showed his opinion of their authority: "Let us not think that the evangelists disagree, or contradict each other, although there be some small difference: but let us honestly and faithfully endeavour to reconcile what we read †."

Victorin, Bishop of Pettaw, in Germany, who wrote comments upon Saint Matthew's Gospel +.

* Lardner, Cred. vol. iii. p. 352, 192, 202, 245. + Ib. vol. iv. p. 166.

Ib. p. 195.

Lucian, a presbyter of Antioch; and Hesychius, an Egyptian bishop, who put forth editions of the New Testament.

IX. The fourth century supplies a catalogue* of fourteen writers, who expended their labours upon the books of the New Testament, and whose works or names are come down to our times; amongst which number it may be sufficient, for the purpose of showing the sentiments and studies of learned Christians of that age, to notice the following:

Eusebius, in the very beginning of the century, wrote expressly upon the discrepancies observable in the Gospels, and likewise a treatise, in which he pointed out what things are related by four, what by three, what by two, and what by one, evan



* Eusebius, A.D.....315 | Gregory, Nyssen, ......371
Juvencus, Spain, ... 330
Theodore, Thrace,..334
Hilary, Poictiers,..354
Apollinarius of Lao-

Didimus of Alex. ....
Ambrose of Milan,.. 374
Diodore of Tarsus, 378
Gaudent. of Brescia,.
Theodore of Cilicia,

[blocks in formation]







Damasus, Rome,... 366 Chrysostom,..........398

[ocr errors]

gelist. This author also testifies, what is certainly a material piece of evidence, "that the writings of the apostles had obtained such an esteem, as to be translated into every language both of Greeks and Barbarians, and to be diligently studied by all nations." This testimony was given about the year 300; how long before that date these translations were made, does not appear.

Damasus, Bishop of Rome, corresponded with Saint Jerome upon the exposition of difficult texts of Scripture; and, in a letter still remaining, desires Jerome to give him a clear explanation of the word Hosanna, found in the New Testament; "he (Damasus) having met with very different interpretations of it in the Greek and Latin commentaries of Catholic writers which he had read." This last clause shows the number and variety of commentaries then extant.

Gregory of Nyssen, at one time appeals

* Lardner, Cred. vol. viii. p. 46. + Ib. p. 201. ‡ Ib. vol. ix. p. 108.

to the most exact copies of Saint Mark's Gospel; at another time, compares together and proposes to reconcile, the several accounts of the Resurrection given by the four evangelists; which limitation proves, that there were no other histories of Christ deemed authentic beside these, or included in the same character with these. This writer observes, acutely enough, that the disposition of the clothes in the sepulchre, the napkin that was about our Saviour's head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself, did not bespeak the terror and hurry of thieves, and therefore refutes the story of the body being stolen *.

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, remarked various readings in the Latin copies of the New Testament, and appeals to the original Greek ;

And Jerome, towards the conclusion of this century, put forth an edition of the New Testament in Latin, corrected, at least

*Lardner, Cred. vol. ix. p. 163.

« PreviousContinue »