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John xii. 2.
There they made him a supper; and Martha Bethany. served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
cording to St. John, he is anointed by Mary, and, if we may judge from what he says in the second verse, by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. This however is no contradiction, when one historian omits the name of the woman, the other mentions it. Nay, even from the very silence of St. Matthew and St. Mark, with respect to the name, may be deduced an argument in support of the opinion, that the unction described by St. Matthew and St. John is the same. St. Matthew and St. Mark must have had particular reasons for concealing the name of the woman, since, according to their own relation, Jesus declared that what she had done should be preached in the whole world for a memorial of her. Now this cannot have happened unless she was the Mary mentioned by St. John: and it would follow, from the supposition of two different unctions, that the declaration of Jesus had remained unfulfilled. Perhaps the real state of the case is as follows: the two first Evangelists, who have made no mention of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, that they might not expose him to the persecution of the Jewish Sanhedrim, have probably, from the same reason, concealed the name of his sister Mary, who anointed Jesus with the ointment which remained after the interment of Lazarus. St. John, on the contrary, expressly mentions it, because he wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, and could therefore have no reason for concealing the name either of Lazarus or Mary.
“ 2. According to St. Matthew, the entertainment was given at the house of Simon the leper ; according to St. John, Lazarus was one of them who sat at the table with him, (Eis Tūv ávakaluévwv,) and his sister Martha served. Some commentators have considered this as a variation in the account, and have concluded, from St. John's description, that the entertainment was given at the house of Lazarus. But this is certainly not true, since no one in speaking of the master of the house would say, he was one of those who sat at the table.' On the contrary, this very expression proves that he was only a guest, and that the entertainment was given at the house of a friend, in which his sister, who was a diligent housewife, (see Luke x. 40.) prepared the table.
“ 3. According to St. Matthew, the woman poured the box of ointment on the head of Jesus ; according to St. John, she anointed his feet. But even this circumstance is not sufficient to prove two distinct unctions, though among all the variations it is the most considerable. That Mary did not leave the head of Jesus unanointed, we may take for granted, from the general practice of the East; but this is not related by St. John, who mentions only the more extraordinary circumstance, omitted by St. Matthew and St. Mark, that the woman anointed his feet. It is agreeable to John's peculiar manner to relate circumstances omitted by his predecessors.
" 4. According to St. Matthew, the disciples in general, according to St. Mark, only some of them had indignation, and censured the woman. This cannot be considered as a contradiction : for when St. Matthew says, in general terms,
the disciples,' it does not necessarily follow that he meant all of them, without exception ; nor is it probable that all of them expressed their opinion. But St. John mentions Judas Iscariot, as the person who censured the action. Still, however, we cannot conclude that the Evangelists have described two different
as he sat at meat,
Mark xiv. 3.
unctions. One of the disciples must have made a beginning, to whom others acceded, though probably not in the same words. This person is particularly named by St. John, who likewise adds the motive which induced him to cast the censure. Perhaps St. Matthew and St. Peter acceded to the opinion of Judas, but not St. John; and hence St. Matthew and St. Mark speak openly in the plural number, that they might not conceal the part which St. Matthew and St. Peter had taken in this unjust censure.
“ It is further objected, that the clear and certain marks by which the time is determined by the different Evangelists, prove two distinct transactions; that St. John mentions expressly the sixth day before Easter, (John xii. 1.) and St. Matthew as expressly the second day before Easter, (Matt. xxvi. 2.) as the day on which the unction happened: but the assertion appears to have no foundation. That St. John has determined the date to be the sixth day before the passover, is not to be disputed. But St. Matthew is silent as to the day on which the unction happened ; and it is owing only to the modern division of Matthew's text into chapters, that we suppose he has determined the time. The Evangelist has not written, 'On the second day before the passover Jesus was at an entertainment at Bethany;' but after having related a discourse which Jesus had made to his disciples, he adds, . And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all those sayings, he said unto his disciples, ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified.' Immediately afterwards the Evangelist relates the plot which was formed against the life of Jesus, in the following manner : " Then (TÓTE) assembled together the chief priests and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. Now the word TÓTE, which is capable of a very extensive signification, no more determines this consultation to have happened on the same day on which Jesus delivered his discourse to the Apostles, than that it happened in the same hour.
“ But even if we admit that both of them happened on the same day, it will by no means follow, that the entertainment likewise at Bethany took place on that day; at least the words with which St. Matthew begins his narration of it, "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,' contain no determination of time, and may as easily refer to a preceding as a present period.
“ Still, however, it might be objected, that though St. Matthew and St. Mark have not expressly mentioned the day on which the unction took place at Bethany, they have at least assigned to it a place in that part of their narrative where they were advanced, namely, to within two days of the passover. Now this objection presupposes that the Evangelists always wrote according to the order of time, which they certainly did not: and if we only make a different division of the chapters, and reckon to the twenty-fifth chapter the two first verses of the twenty-sixth, the unction at Bethany, which is related in the following verses, will have less reference to the time specified in those two verses."
“ The Jewish Sanhedrim had formed the resolution to put Jesus to death, but not on the feast day: and it was the unction at Bethany which afforded
John xii. 3.
Then took Mary
them the means of getting him into their power, though on the day which they had endeavoured to avoid. This may be gathered from St. Matthew's own relation, who, after having described the consultation of the Sanhedrim, immediately relates the unction at Bethany, and then adds, “That one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, what will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you ?' (Matt. xxvi. 14, 15.) The account given by St. Matthew is in some measure obscure, because we do not perceive in what manner the circumstance of the unction excited in Judas the resolution to betray his master. But this, we clearly learn, from the relation of St. John ; from which it appears that Judas was properly the person who censured the unction, under the pretence that the ointment ought to be sold for the benefit of the poor ; and that this specious pretext likewise met with the approbation of other apostles. The true reason, as St. John expressly declares, was the hope of having a further opportunity of defrauding the money-bag, which was intrusted to his care. The answer therefore of Jesus affected Judas in particular, whose guilty conscience augmented the severity of the rebuke. Under these circumstances, it is by no means extraordinary that Judas resolved to take revenge, especially when we consider that he was already an apostate, (John vi. 67. 71.) and thought perhaps that, if contrary to his belief, Jesus was really the Messiah, the measures concerted against him would be of no avail ; but that, on the other hand, if Jesus was an impostor, he would meet with the fate he deserved. It appears, then, that the unction at Bethany, which gave rise to the offer of Judas to the Sanhedrim, to betray Christ, is more properly arranged immediately before the relation of the effect which it produced, than it would have been, if placed at the beginning of the twenty-first chapter, to which it properly belongs, according to the merits of time (6).”
It will be observed, that Michaelis, in these observations, has replied to the principal objections which have been proposed by Lightfoot, Whiston, Whitby, Macknight, and others. Archbishop Newcome has reviewed these arguments in a long note on the subject.
Bishop Marsh is not satisfied with these arguments of Michaelis. He observes that Matt. xxvi. 2. and Mark xiv. 1. bring their narrative down to the third day, and that the assembly of the Chief Priests was certainly held three days before the passover, when Judas betrayed Christ; but it does not therefore follow, as Bishop Marsh supposes, that the unction was on the same day. St. Matthew connects the two events, in order to point out the cause and the effect, without distinguishing the precise time. St. Mark follows St. Matthew's plan, and for the same reason.
The first day of unleavened bread is mentioned in its order, after the parenthetical narration of the causes of the betraying, and has no reference to the unction. Bishop Marsh justly objects to Archbishop Newcome's order, but proposes the opinion, that the unction took place on the Wednesday before the pas
This learned theologian, however, does not rest this opinion upon the arguments generally made use of, but upon a supposed corruption of the original text of St. John. As the testimony, however, of all existing MSS. is
(b) Lightfoot has endeavoured to prove the same thing.
having an alabaster box of ointment of * spike- Mark xiv. 3. nard, or, li nard, very precious ss,
against this opinion, Bishop Marsh conjectures that the corruption in question was made at so very early a period, that no manuscript extant has the original reading. It is at all times painful to be compelled to differ from an authority so eminent as Bishop Marsh; but it is impossible to approve of any emendation of the text of the New Testament, which increases instead of lessening difficulties ; and is unsupported by the authority of one quotation, version, or MS. extant. The Scriptures must be treated with greater veneration.
Bishop Marsh, in his note (No. 9.) to this section of Michaelis, also endeavours to prove that the day on which Christ was betrayed was the day of the unction. His arguments do not appear satisfactory. The question principally rests upon the precise meaning of the word Tóre, which Michaelis would render “very soon after," and his annotator “ immediately after."
The authority of Dr. Dick, in his Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, confirms me yet further in the conviction that the unction at Bethany took place six days before the passover.-See Dick's Essay, p. 300, 301.
36 It is not exactly known of what this (vápdog FLOTIKY) consisted which was poured upon the head of our Lord. The words occur but twice, Mark xiv. 3. “ There came a woman having an alabaster box of ointinent of spikenard, very precious,” ήλθε γυνή έχουσα αλάβαστρον μύρου, νάρδου πιστικής πολυτεdovcand John xii. 3. “ Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly," &c. ή ούν Μαρία, λαβούσα λίτραν μύρου νάρδου πιστικής πολυτίμου. Schleusner derives the word πιστική from πίνω, bibo ; and supposes that the ointment could be poured out as a liquid. He quotes, among other authorities, the same passage from Æschylus (a) as Heinsius does, to confirm his opinion. Others derive the word from riotis, and suppose that it merely signifies that the ointment was pure and unadulterated. With this opinion Heinsius agrees, and defends the interpretation from the Hellenistic interpretation of a verse in Isaiah Xxxiii. 16. εί τις εις νόσον πέσοι ουκ ήν αλέξημ’ ουδέν, ουδέ βρώσιμον ου χριστόν, ουδε πιστόν (0). Others, rejecting both these opinions, suppose the word is not Greek, but Latin, and that vápôos FiOTW) is the same as nardus spicata, hoc est, ex spicis expressa, from técw, premo, unde πιεστή, by metathesis πιστική, as φελόνη, for Penula. Scaliger reads the word TTLOTUV), from itloow, contundo. Nonnus keeps the word as it is in St. John, and gives no explanation. Lightfoot supposes the word to be derived from the Syriac xpno'd, and interprets the whole phrase to signify an aromatic confection of nard, mastic, or myrobalane. Hartung (c) is of opinion that the ointment in question was brought from Opis, a town near Babylon, whence spices and unguents were exported, and that the true reading, therefore, ought to be ó lotuñS. Lampe (a) and Cloppenburg, however, reject this interpretation, for the best of all reasons when the language of the New Testament is under consideration, because the word is not to be found in any manuscript or
(a) Heinsii Exercitationes Sacræ, p. 218. (6) Prom. Vinct. Glasgow edit. imputed to Porson, line 478. (C) Apud Pfeiffer exoticorum N. T. locus xxii. at the end of the dubia vexata, p. 916. (d) Vide Lampe on John xii. 3. vol. ii. p. 825, note.
John xii. 3.
Matt. xxvi. 8.
Mark xiv. 5.
Bethany. Matt. xxvi. 7. of very precious ointment,
a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, Mark xiv. 3 and she brake the box, and poured it on his
with her hair: and the house was filled with the
But when his disciples saw it,
themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the
For it might have been sold for more than three
And they murmured against her. Matt. xxvi. 8. To what purpose is this waste?
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot,
Simon's son, which should betray him, John xii. 5.
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor ; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, b Ch. xiii. 29. and bare what was put therein.
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me,
For ye have the poor with you always, and
She hath done what she could :
John xii. 4.
John xii. 6.
Mark xiv. 6.
Mark xiv. 7.
Mark xiv, 8.
John xii, 7.
version extant; and the latter derives the word from the name of Pista, a Persian city, mentioned by Eschylus, Τάδε μεν Περσών τών οίχομένων Ελλάδ' ες aiav Illotà caleirai, Persæ, line 1, 2. on which the Scholiast observes, ayνοούσι δ' ότι πόλις έστι Περσών έσωθεν Πιστείρα καλουμένη, ήν συνκόψας και TOINTIS Illotà épn—the only objection to this opinion is, that nard does not grow in Persia. It might, however, be imported from India, and manufactured there for the use of the merchants. Abulfeda is quoted both by Lampe and Pfeiffer, to prove that Pista was the metropolis of Caramania, a large and flourishing city on the river Indus.
Pfeiffer, after reviewing these various opinions, comes to the same conclusion as Luther and Kuinoel (Com. in Hist. lib. N. T. in Mark xiv. 3.) that it signifies unadulterated, or pure, and is derived from riotic. He quotes Casaubon's observation, that FLOTIKÒS signifies that which can be depended upon, or which deserves confidence. Eusebius (Demons. Evang. lib. viii.) calls the wine of the Eucharist, κράμα πιστικών της καινής διαθήκης.