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The Divinity, Humanity, and Office of Christ.
JOHN 1. 1-19.
1 5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was h with God, and the Word was God.
DISSERTATION ON THE LOGOS.
22, 23. &c.
Rev. xix. 13.
h Prov. viii. 30. ch. xvii, 5.
• It is necessary to devote particular attention to this introduction to St. John's Gospel, as it has been made the subject of more extensive and disingen- 1 John i. 1. uous controversy than perhaps any other passage in the New Testament. Preface of St. Luke has been eloquently described as "the beautiful gate of 1 John i. 2. the Christian Temple, the entrance into the glorious and royal fabric of the i Phil. ii. 6. Gospels (a);" while that of St. John may be denominated the solid and deep foundation on which it rests.
To understand the expressions of any writer, particularly when they are at all dubious, or liable to misrepresentation, we must endeavour to place ourselves in the situation of those to whom they were addressed. (b) Dr. Lardner fixes the date of the publication of St. John's Gospel as early as 68, and (c) Michaelis as early as 70. The weight of the evidence, however, appears greatly in favour of the much later date 96 or 97. St. John evidently speaks in his Gospel to those who were not well acquainted with many Jewish customs; as he gives various explanations of things, which would be entirely unnecessary if the persons for whom he principally wrote had been already conversant with the usages of the Jews (d). And we might have expected that one, at least, of the apostles would live after the destruction of Jerusalem, not only as a witness of the accomplishment of those prophecies he had heard himself delivered, but to sanction and confirm the doctrines set forth by the other apostles in the books of the New Testament, and to communicate his final instructions to the Church, after that fearful event. But either of these dates will be consistent with the whole, or with the greater part of the theory we are now about to consider, which will enable us more perfectly to comprehend the great object which St. John had in view, when he wrote his introduction to this Gospel. In all our enquiries into the New Testament, we must remember, that if the Jews, in consequence of their rejection of Christianity, were not always first addressed, they were so much in the minds of their countrymen the Apostles, that they must be considered as the silent tribunal, to whom the evangelical writers may be said to appeal, when they deliver any thing to the world in general, on the one system of religion, which was of equal importance both to Jews and Gentiles (e). The Jews were the chosen people of God-his eldest born-the countrymen of the apostles for whose salvation the apostles were always most anxious, and to
(a) Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 391. (b) Dr. Lardner's Works, 4to. vol. iii. p. 229. (c) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii. part i. p. 321. (d) Horne's Crit. Introd. 2d edit. vol. iv. p. 329, and Jones on the Canon, 8vo. 1726, p. 139. (e) Vide Schotgenius-Pref: Hor. Talm. et Heb. p. 2, when replying to the objections proposed by some against the course of study he was adopting, he says "duo sequentia mihi a Lect. ben. concedi peto. I. Christum et omnes N. T. Scriptores Judæos fuisse, et cum Judæis conversatos, et locutos esse. II. Eos cum Judæis illo sermone, illisque loquendi formulis locutos esse, quæ, tunc temporis, ab omnibus intellecta sunt."
Written at Ephesus.
k Gen. i. 1.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
whose conversion they had devoted all the fervour and zeal of their first labours. They were the elect guardians of the ancient prophecies, and the favoured witnesses of their accomplishment. The first question, therefore, which proposes itself is, What sense would the Jewish reader attach to the account given by the Evangelist of the Logos? or, in other words, what were the sentiments of the Jews in the time of St. John concerning the Logos, and in what respects did he design either to confirm or rectify the opinions of his countrymen on that subject (f)?
Throughout the whole of the Old Testament, from the history of the fall of man to the book of Malachi, we read of the appearance of a wonderful personage who is sometimes called Jehovah, sometimes the Angel Jehovah, or Jehovah Angel, or the Angel of Jehovah (g). In addition to numerous divines who have demonstrated the same thing, Dr. Allix, in his valuable, though sometimes inaccurate, work on the Testimony of the Ancient Jewish Church, has proved, by a great number of references to the Targums and Talmuds of the Jews, that the general term, which was applied to the divine personage who is called by this name in the Old Testament, was "the Word of God," " ." Before we can deduce, however, any argument from this remarkable circumstance, we must enquire into the authority of the several Targums and Jewish writings which give this interpretation of the above passages of Scripture. Though our Saviour, as Bishop Blomfield has well observed (h), censured on all pccasions the multiplied and unauthorized traditions of the Jews, he still appealed to their own expositions of Scripture, as furnishing irrefragable arguments in proof of his divine mission. It was no new interpretation to the Jews, that it was the Word of God which was revealed in their Scriptures as the Creator of the world. By the reading of the Paraphrase, or the interpretation of the Hebrew text, written in the Chaldee language, the people were constantly taught that the Word of God was the same with God, and that by that Word all things were made.
"I conceive this Chaldee Paraphrase," says Bishop Pearson (i)," which was read in the Jewish synagogues in the time of Christ, to express the sense
(ƒ) A learned and laborious friend has collected much valuable information on the subject of the controversies which prevailed among the Jews at the time of our Lord and his Apostles. Though he has withheld his MSS. from the world, I trust they will be given to the Christian student at an early day. They will not detract from the well-earned fame of their respected author. (g) Vide Dr. Pye Smith's valuable work on the Scripture Testimony to the Messiah. Dr. Smith prefers translating the phrase, by the latter epithet. Mr. Faber, too, in his Hora Mosaicæ, vol. ii. p. 48. (one of the most useful books published by this eminent writer) translates it in the same manner. Both these authorities, however, strenuously defend the divinity of the Being who was thus manifested to mankind as a messenger from Jehovah, who himself bore also that incommunicable name. The term the Angel Jehovah, or the Jehovah Angel, seems to express more accurately the meaning of the phrase: though this interpretation cannot be established by such evidence as approaches to certainty. Smith's Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, vol. i. p. 333. Faber's Hora Mosaicæ, vol. ii. p. 48. 2d edit. 1818. See also Bishop Horsley's Notes on Hosea Biblical Criticisms, vol. iv. (h) Knowledge of Jewish Tradition essential to an Interpreter of the New Testament, p. 6. (i) Pearson on the Creed, vol. ii. p. 123. Oxf. edit. note.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was A.D. 97, not any thing made that was made.
of the Jews of that age, as being their public interpretation of the Scripture. Rev. iv. 11,
I made the earth, and created man upon אנכי עשיתי ארץ ואדם עליה בראתי .אנא במימרי עבדת ארעא it-which the Chaldee translateth
"I by my word made the earth, and created man upon it." So also Jer. xxvii. 15. Isa. xlviii. 13. Gen. iii. 8. and many others. The action ascribed to Jehovah in the sacred text is given in the Chaldee Paraphrase to the word.
We should be careful to distinguish between the multiplied and fanciful refinements which the Jews, from the time of the Seleucidæ, had built upon the law of Moses, and the more ancient and traditionary interpretations of the prophetical parts of Scripture, the origin of which may be with probability dated from the Babylonish captivity. By the former, as our Saviour told them, they made the word of God of none effect; but the latter are no where made the object of his censure; on the contrary, both our Lord and his Apostles very frequently refer to them, as sound and legitimate expositions of God's word. St. Paul, who had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, scruples not to allude, in some instances covertly, in others openly, to the traditions of the elders; and in his Epistle to the Hebrews he assumes throughout, that the comments of the Rabbins upon the prophetical parts of the Bible were in the main founded upon truth (j).
After the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, their native language had undergone a change so considerable, on account of their adoption of numerous words from the vernacular languages of the countries in which they were settled, that when the Scriptures were appointed by Ezra to be read, they were utterly unintelligible to the greater part assembled. On this account, Ezra commanded the Levites to interpret the original to the people, by rendering it into Chaldee. These interpretations, or paraphrases, were originally merely oral. There is no proof that there were any collected written paraphrases, till the Targums, or Paraphrases, or Explanations, of Onkelos and Jonathan were compiled. These Targumists are supposed to have lived about the time of our Saviour: though, in the opinion of Eichhorn, the Targum of Onkelos was not completed till 300 years after that period, in consequence of the interpolations that continued to be made in it. Ten Targums are handed down to us, of which those of Onkelos and of Jonathan ben Uzziel are the most highly esteemed, and considered by the Jews as the authorized and infallible expositions of the sacred text (k).
These Paraphrases then, in innumerable instances, translate the Hebrew word Jehovah by "the word of the Lord." Some, it is true, have maintained that this implies a personal existence of the Word, in some sense distinct from the personal existence of the Supreme Father-that the Word of the Old Testament
(j) Vide Blomfield's Knowledge of Jewish Tradition essential, &c. &c. p. 9, 10, (k) Smith's Messiah, vol. i. p. 400.
1 John v. 11.
& 5. & xii. 35. 46.
4 m In him was life; and "the life was the light of men.
is the same as the Logos of the New Testament, and that this coincidence is a proof of the belief among the Jews of the pre-existence, personal operations, and Godhead of the Messiah. Others again argue, that these words are to be regarded as a mere idiom, implying the person's self who speaks. The latest writer (1) on this point, after examining the different opinions at great length, comes to this general conclusion: that from the mere use of the phrase, “the word of the Lord," in these paraphrases, no certain information can be deduced on the doctrine of the Jews with respect to the Messiah, during the interval of the Old and New Testament, and this opinion is further corroborated by a cele→ brated critic. But though such may be our conclusion with regard to the Chaldee Paraphrases, it will not follow that the Jews of the same age, or a little after, did not employ the term "Word" with a personal reference, and that reference to the Messiah. The use of this term by Philo, and by the Christian Evangelist St. John, appears unaccountable, except on the supposition that it had grown up to the acceptation supposed, at least among the Jews who used the Greek language. Such an extension of meaning and reference, agreeably to the ordinary progress of language, would flow from the primary signification, or medium of rational communication, and thus it would be a rational designation of a Mediator between God and man. We have also another evidence, which is entitled to the greater weight, as it comes from a quarter the most hostile to the Christian religion (m). Celsus, whose words are recited by Origen, reproaches the Christians with absurdity and folly, for imagining that such a mean and contemned person as Jesus could be the pure and holy Word, the Son of God; and, personating a Jew, which is his manner in the construction of his work, he declares their belief that the Word was the Son of God, though they rejected the claims of Jesus to that honour.
The authority, however, most to be depended upon, with regard to our attempts to ascertain the opinions of the Jews concerning the Logos at the time of Christ, is that transmitted to us by the celebrated Philo, who was born at Alexandria, of Jewish parents, and was the contemporary of our Lord and his Apostles. Some years before St. John wrote his Gospel, this celebrated man, being then about sixty years of age, was sent on an embassy from Alexandria to the emperor at Rome, to lay before him a petition, praying for protection to his countrymen against the persecuting spirit of the Alexandrians. He has left on record a very curious detail of this expedition. The manner in which, after much delay and many vexatious difficulties, the embassy, when at last admitted to the long desired audience, was received by Caligula, presents us with a most singular and characteristic picture of the haughty sovereign and his courtiers. Caligula first abruptly addresses them, by inquiring if they were "the odious race" who refused to acknowledge him as their God; and, after having obliged them to follow him as objects of general ridicule and reproach, while he inspected some rooms in one of his villas, asked them, with a grave and serious countenance, why they abstained from swine's flesh;" and, after many more sarcasms, dismissed them with this compassionate sentiment, "That those men who would not believe in him as a god, were, in his opinion, rather miserable than wicked."
(1) Archbishop Laurence.
(m) Smith's Testimony, vol. i. p. 409, 410.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness A.D. 97. comprehended it not.
Jerome and Eusebius inform us, that when Philo was at Rome, he was accustomed to converse with St. Peter, and that he cultivated the society of that Apostle. Photius tells us, that he was a Christian, though he soon separated from their communion: and Dr. J. Jones has lately attempted to revive this opinion; including Josephus also among the number of primitive Christians. Eusebius further assures us, that Philo devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures, and diligently examined the truths received from his ancestors: that he had made the most profound research into the mysteries of the Platonic system, and discovered so much knowledge of the doctrines of the Grecian philosopher, and all his abstruse notions, that it was commonly said, either "Plato Philonizes, or Philo Platonizes." By mingling the theological opinions of his countrymen with the reveries of the Platonic school, and the undoubted truths of his own Scriptures, he has given to the world, in his multifarious productions, a strange compound of truth and falsehood, from which, however, may be collected, without difficulty, the prevailing opinions of the learned Jews of that age respecting the Logos," the "Word of God," the manifested Jehovah of the Hebrew Scrip
The following is a list of some of the particular terms and doctrines found in Philo, with parallel passages from the New Testament.
1. The Logos is the "Son of God”—viòç Oɛ☎. De Agric. vol. i. p. 308. De Profug. ib. p. 562. Compare Mark i. 1. Luke iv. 41. John i. 34. Acts viii. 37. 2. "The second divinity"-devrepos Oeds λóyos. Fragm. vol. ii. p. 625. Comp. John i. 1. 1 Cor. i. 24.
3. "The first begotten" of God-Aóyos πpwróyovoç. De Somniis, vol. i. p. 653. Comp. Heb. i. 6. Coloss. i. 15.
4. "The image of God"—ɛikwv tö Des.
De Mundi Opific. vol. i. p. 6. 414.
419. 656. Comp. Coloss. i. 15. Heb. i. 3. 2 Cor. iv. 4.
Superior to angels”——ὑπεράνω πάντων (ἀγγέλων) λόγος θεῖος. De Profug. vol. i. p. 561. Comp. Heb. i. 4. 6.
6. "Superior to all the world"-'O λóyos—vπepávw navrós isɩ. De Leg. Allegor. vol. i. p. 121. Comp. Heb. ii. 8.
7. “ By whom the world was created’—τὸν θεῖον λόγον τὸν ταῦτα διαkooμhoavra. De Mund. Opif. vol. i. p. 4. Comp. John i. 3. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Heb. i. 2. 10.
8. The great "substitute of God"-væаρxos тë Oεë. De Agricult. vol. i. p. 308. Comp. John i. 3. and xvii. 4. Eph. iii. 9. Phil. ii. 7. 9. "The light of the world"—pwc кóσμs: vonrós. De Somniis, vol. i. p. 6. 414. 632, 633. viii. 12. 1 Pet. ii. 9.
and intellectual sun-
10. “Who only can see God”—¿ μóvy tòv Ocòv čžesi kadopāv. De Confus. Ling. vol. i. p. 418. Comp. John i. 18. and vi. 46.
11. “Who resides in God”—¿v avrų μóvų karoikýσel. De Profug. vol. i. p. 561. Comp. John i. 18. and xiv. 11.
12. "The most ancient of God's works, and before all things"—πpeo¤úrαTOS Twv boa yiyove. De Confus. Ling. vol. i. p. 427. De Leg. Allegor. ib. p. 121. Comp. John i. 2. and xvii. 5. 24. 2 Tim. i. 9. Heb. i. 2.