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ance with the local and other circumstances of the reputed writers. They were Jews by birth, Jews by education, Jews by numerous and strong attachments, Jews in all their associations of thought and feeling. Jews were, in great part, the persons to whom they wrote. Jewish prejudices, objections, and peculiarities were, to a great extent, the obstacles in their way. The religious and political institutions of the Jewish nation, though perfectly exterminated in a few years after they wrote, were in full establishment till after the death of all of them except St. John. Hence it is reasonably expected that Jewish peculiarities should be found frequently and broadly stamped upon any writings truly professing to have proceeded from their pens. Such, notoriously, is the case with the writings of the New Testament. None but Jews could have composed them. None but Jews who lived before the destruction of their temple and city and polity and nation could have cast them in their present mould, or marked them with all those indescribable and inimitable touches of a Jewish hand which their style and language everywhere exhibit. The use of words and phrases which are known to have been peculiar to Judea in the times of the apostles; the continual, familiar, and natural allusions to the ceremonies and temple-service of the Jews, as then existing, and which soon passed away; the universal prevalence of a mode of thinking and of expression, which none but a Jew brought up under the Old Testament, always accustomed to think of religion through the types and shadows of the law, and reared amidst the
usages, prejudices, associations, and errors of the Jewish people, as subsisting in the times of the apostles, could have introduced without awkwardness and obvious forgery-all bear decided witness not only that the writers of the New Testament were Jews originally in every sense, but that they must have formed their habits of thinking, feeling, and writing, before the destruction of the Jewish state ;. in other words, before the fortieth year after the death of Christ. From that time, so entirely was every vestige of the religion and polity of the Jews destroyed, that except among those whose minds had been moulded under preëxisting circumstances, the writing of a book in the language and style, and abounding in the peculiarities of the New Testament, would have been at least next to impossible.
This conclusion will appear the more inevitable, when you consider the characteristic features by which the Greek of the New Testament is distinguished. In the times of the apostles, Greek was almost a universal language. It was spread over all Palestine. The Jewish coast on the Mediterranean was occupied by cities either wholly or half Greek. On the eastern border of the land from the Arnon upwards, towards the north the cities were Greek, and towards the south in possession of the Greeks. Several cities of Judea and Galilee were either entirely, or at least half, peopled by Greeks. “ Being thus favored on all sides, this language. was spread, by means of traffic and intercourse, through all classes,
so that the people, though with many exceptions, considered generally, understood it, although they adhered more to their own language."* But the Greek thus spoken in Palestine was not like that of Attica, nor of the cities of Asia Minor; but having become degenerated in consequence of its associations with people whose native tongue was Hebrew, by means of Chaldee and Syriac intermixtures, into Western Aramean, it contained a large share of the idioms and other peculiarities belonging to this heterogeneous neighbor. Such was the language in which the apostles must have written. Now, if the books of the New Testament be their writings, they must contain the characteristic features of that Palestine Greek. Such is most manifestly the case. These books are in Greek, not pure and classic, such as a native and educated Grecian would have written, but in Hebraic Greek; in a language mixed up with the words and idioms of that peculiar dialect of the Hebrew which constituted the vernacular tongue of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee in the
of the apostles. Had it been otherwise, were the language of the New Testament pure and classic, then the writers must have been either native and educated Grecians, or else Jews of much more Attic cultivation than the apostles of Christ. In either case a suspicion would attach to the authenticity of our sacred books. Neither case being true, the evidence of authenticity is materially confirmed.
Hug on the Greek language in Palestine.—Bib. Repository, No. 3
But we go further. The Greek of the New Testament could not have been written by men who had learned their language after the age of the apostles. This mingling of Grecian and Aramean, as it is preserved in the New Testament; ceased to be the familiar tongue of Christians in Palestine before the death of St. John. When Jerusalem, with the whole civil and religious polity of the Jews, was, in the seventeenth year of the Christian era, entirely destroyed, and the descendants of Abraham were rooted out of the land, and foreigners came in from all quarters to take their places, the language of the country underwent such a change, that except with the scattered few who had survived the desolation of their country, the Greek of the New Testament was no more a living language. When St. John died, there was probably not a man alive who could speak or write precisely that tongue. In the second century, an attempt to compose a book in the name of the apostles, and in imitation of their Greek, would have been detected as easily as if a full-bred Frenchman, never out of France, should attempt to compose a volume in a dialect of English, and endeavor to pass it off as the work of a plain, sensible, but unpolished Yorkshireman. Hence, while doubts were entertained for a while, in some parts of the church, as to the authenticity of some portions of the New Testament, it was never doubted whether they were wri ten by men who had lived when the Greek of Palestine, as it had been in the apostolic age, was yet alive.
2. The language and style of the New Testament are in perfect harmony with the known characters of the reputed writers. The apostles and evangelists were men of plain, sound understanding, but without any polish of education, and not likely to adorn their writings with much rhetorical dress. Paul, the only exception to this character, was well read in Jewish, and, we have reason to believe, in Grecian literature. From other sources besides the New Testament, we are informed of certain peculiarities of natural character, as having distinguished some of those to whom the books of the New Testament are ascribed. John, for example, is always represented in ecclesiastical history as having been remarkable for meekness and gentleness, and a manner and spirit full of mild affection. Paul, we always read of as characterized by prompt, energetic zeal and animated boldness. If the books bearing their names were written by those apostles, we must expect to find in them the distinctive stamp of their respective characters. So it is. In the historical books, none of which the educated Paul composed, there is no ornament of style, but merely the simplicity and directness of plain sensible men, honestly relating what they familiarly knew, and disregarding style in their intentness upon truth. In the epistles of Paul, however, the case is entirely different. There we behold the style of a writer brought up in the schools, though obviously in the schools of Judea. Accustomed to writing and to argument, he reasons precisely as we should expect of Saul of