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the time of Herod, he must, according to the dates given in Josephus and by the Roman historians, have been at least thirty-one years of age in the fifteenth year of Tiberius. If he was born, as St. Matthew's narrative intiinates, one or two years before Herod's death, he would have been thirty-two or thirty-three years old at that time.
This is the difficulty: the solution turns upon an alteration in the construction of the Greek. St. Luke's words in the original are allowed, by the general opinion of learned men, to signify, not “that Jesus began to be about thirty years of age,” but “that he was about thirty years age when he began his ministry.” This construction being admitted, the adverb “about gives us all the latitude we want, and more especially when applied, as it is in the present instance, to a decimal number; for such numbers, even without this qualifying addition, are often used in a laxer sense than is here contended for. *
III. Acts v. 36. “ For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody ; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves : who was slain ; and all, as many as obeyed him, were
! scattered, and brought to nought.”
Josephus has preserved the account of an impostor of the name of Theudas, who created some disturbances, and was slain ; but according to the date assigned to this man's appearance, (in which, however, it is very possible that Josephus may have been mistaken,)* it must have been, at the least, seven years after Gamaliel's speech, of which this text is a part, was delivered. It has been replied to the objection,t that there might be two impostors of this name: and it has been observed, in order to give a general probability to the solution, that the same thing appears to have happened in other instances of the same kind. It is proved from Josephus, that there were not fewer than four persons of the name of Simon within forty years, and not fewer than three of the name of Judas within ten years, who were all leaders of insurrections: and it is likewise recorded by this historian, that upon the death of Herod the Great, (which agrees very well with the time of the commotion referred to by Gamaliel, and with his manner of stating that time, “ before these days,")
* Livy, speaking of the peace which the conduct of Romulus had procured to the state, during the whole reign of his successor, (Numa,) has these words : * —“Ab illo enim profectis viribus datis tantum valuit, ut, in quadraginta deinde annos, tutam pacem haberet :" yet afterwards, in the same chapter, “ Romulus,” he says, “septem et triginta regnavit annos. Numa tres et quadraginta.”
Liv. Hist. c. i. sect. 16.
“ there were innumerable disturbances in Judea.f Archbishop Usher was of opinion, that one of the three Judases above mentioned was Gamaliel's Theudas;} and that with a less variation of the name than we actually find in the Gospel, where one of the twelve apostles is called, by Luke, Judas; and by Mark, Thaddeus.|| Origen, however he came at his information, appears to have believed that there was an impostor of the name of Theudas before the nativity of Christ. T
IV. Matt. xxiii. 34. “ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and Scribes : and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar."
* Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, (Marsh's translation) vol. i.
+ Lardner, part i. vol. ii. p. 92. † Antiq. lib. xvii. c. 12. sect. 4.
s Annals, p. 797. || Luke vi. 16. Mark iii. 18.
T Orig. cont. Cels. p. 44.
There is a Zacharias, whose death is related in the second book of Chronicles, * in a manner which perfectly supports our Saviour's allusion. But this Zacharias was the son of Jehoiada.
There is also Zacharias the prophet ; who was the son of Barachiah, and is so described in the superscription of his prophecy, but of whose death we have no account.
I have little doubt, but that the first Zacharias was the person spoken of by our Saviour : and that the name of the father has been since added or changed by some one, who took it from the title of the prophecy, which happened to be better known to him than the history in the Chronicles.
There is likewise a Zacharias the son of Baruch, related by Josephus to have been slain in the temple a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem. It has been insinuated, that the words put into our Saviour's mouth contain a reference to this transaction, and were composed by some writer, who either confounded the time of the transaction with our Saviour's age, or inadvertently overlooked the anachronism. Now
suppose it to have been so; suppose these words to have been suggested by the transaction related in Josephus, and to have been falsely ascribed to Christ; and observe what extraordinary coincidences (accidentally, as it must in that case have been) attend the forger's mistake.
*" And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord.” 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21.
First, that we have a Zacharias in the book of Chronicles, whose death, and the manner of it, corresponds with the allusion.
Secondly, that although the name of this person's father be erroneously put down in the Gospel, yet we have a way of accounting for the error, by showing another Zacharias in the Jewish Scriptures much better known than the former, whose patronymic was actually that which appears in the text.
Every one who thinks upon the subject, will find these to be circumstances which could not have met together in a mistake, which did not proceed from the circumstances themselves.
I have noticed, I think, all the difficulties of this kind. They are few : some of them admit of a clear, others of a probable solution. The reader will compare them with the number, the variety, the closeness, and the satisfactoriness, of the instances which are to be set against them; and he will remember the scantiness, in many cases, of our intelligence, and that difficulties always attend imperfect information.
BETWEEN the letters which bear the name of St. Paul in our collection, and his history in the Acts of the Apostles, there exist many notes of correspondency. The simple perusal of the writings is sufficient to prove that neither the history was taken from the letters, nor the letters from the history. And the undesignedness of the agreements (which undesignedness is gathered from their latency, their minuteness, their obliquity, the suitableness of the circumstances in which they consist, to the places in which those circumstances occur, and the circuitous references by which they are traced out) demonstrates that they have not been produced by meditation, or by any fraudulent contrivance. But coincidences, from which these causes are excluded, and which are too close and numerous to be accounted for by accidental concurrences of fiction, must necessarily have truth for their foundation.
This argument appeared to my mind of so much value, (especially for its assuming nothing beside the existence of the books,) that I have pursued it through St. Paul's thirteen epistles, in a work published by me four years ago, under the title of Horæ Paulinæ. I am sensible how feebly any argument which depends upon an induction of particulars is represented without examples. On which account, I wished to have abridged my own volume, in the manner in which I have treated Dr. Lardner's in the preceding chapter. But, upon making the attempt, I did not find it in my power to render the articles intelligible by fewer words than I have there used. I must be content, therefore, to refer the reader to the work itself. And I would particularly invite his attention to the observations which are made in it upon the first three epistles. I persuade myself that he will find the proofs, both of agreement and undesignedness, supplied by these epistles, sufficient to support the conclusion which is there maintained, in favour both of the genuineness of the writings and the truth of the narrative.