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controversy we find numberless appeals, on the part of Jesus and his followers, to the books of the Jewish prophets; and judging from the skill and promptness with which these appeals are made, and from the passive and quiescent manner in which they are generally received, no room is left for the reader to doubt that, during the lives of Jesus and his apostles, the writings of the prophets were in familiar use among the Jews of Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor; and that they were regarded by them with feelings of veneration similar to those with which the Scriptures of the New Testament are now regarded by the mass of professing Christians.
The unbelief of the Jews, it is well known, originated almost entirely in the glowing pictures which their own imaginations had drawn of the splendour of the Messiah's reign. It was to correct these mistaken views that our Lord so frequently appealed to the writings of the prophets, and referred his countrymen to the Scriptures, as containing the credentials of his heavenly mission. (John v. 39.) It was the same motive which dictated that severe, but justly merited reproach which our Lord put into the mouth of Abraham, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus : “ If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” (Luke xvi. 31.) To the same cause we must also ascribe the expostulation addressed to the two disciples whom our Lord overtook on the road to Emmaus. “ We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel,” said they, (Luke xxiv. 21,) still clinging to the fond and foolish notion that their Messiah was to be a temporal prince. But what said Jesus in reply? “O fools, and slow of heart, to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Vers. 25, 26.) Having said this, he began, as we are told, with Moses, and proceeded through the prophets
, and other Jewish Scriptures, expounding those passages which had a reference to himself, as the Messiah (ver. 27); and in an interview with the eleven, on the evening of the same day, he is represented as entering into a similar explanation, and saying, “ These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me.” (Ver. 44.)
In the passage last quoted, the reader cannot fail to recognize a threefold division of the Jewish Scriptures, similar to the one which we have already had occasion to notice under the preceding heads; and, although this does not of itself prove that the copies of the Jewish Scriptures, in the time of our Lord, were precisely the same, with respect to the number, order, and extent of the books, as those which existed at a later period, it nevertheless esta, blishes, in the most satisfactory manner, a general identity. Of this threefold division of the books of the Jewish Scriptures it is singular that no express mention is made in any part of the New Testament, with the exception of the verse above quoted. The existence of such a division, however, is not contradicted by those passages in which there is a joint mention of the law and the prophets only; as, when it is said that on the two commandments which embrace the love of God and of our neighbour, « all the law and the prophets hang” (Matt. xxii. 40); and when our Lord declares that he came not" to destroy the law and the prophets.” (Matt. v. 17.) In these and similar passages, which are numerous in different parts of the New Testament,* the reference is confined to “ the law and the prophets,” not be
* See Matt. vii. 12 ; Luke xvi. 29–31 ; John i. 45 ; Acts xxiv. 14, xxvi. 22, xxviii, 23; Rom. iii. 21.
cause any suspicion attached to the books contained in the third part of the Jewish canon, but because, for reasons to be assigned when we come to treat of the Septuagint, “ the law and the prophets” only were publicly read and expounded in the Jewish synagogues in the time of our Lord.
We read that Paul and his companions were called upon by the rulers of a Jewish synagogue at Antioch, in Pisidia, “after the reading of the law and the prophets,” (Acts xiii. 15,) to comment upon the passages which had been read; and, in the course of his exhortation, the apostle incidentally alludes to the existence of the same practice at Jerusalem. (Ver. 27.) Luke also informs us, that the book of the prophet Isaiah” was delivered to Jesus at a synagogue in Nazareth, (Luke iv. 17—19,) that he might read and expound it; and the passage which our Lord selected on this occasion is preserved by the Evangelist, and corresponds with what we now find in Isaiah lxi. 1, 2.
Such, then, are the general proofs furnished by the New Testament concerning the existence of certain books, called the books of the prophets, which formed the second part of the Jewish canon so far back as the beginning of the Christian era, and which were at that time publicly read in the Jewish
synagogues, and treasured up by the Jewish people as invaluable bequests transmitted to them by their forefathers. *
But it will be of little avail to have shewn that these books existed at a period so remote, unless we also prove that they were essentially the same as those which still form a part of the Jewish Scriptures. Of this, however, we are happily in possession of evidence sufficient to satisfy the demands of the most scrupulous inquirer. The following are selected from a multitude of examples which crowd upon the reader in almost every page of the New Testament.
Mark i. 2: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee :' 3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'' The former of these passages is a quotation from Malachi Ill
. 1, and the latter from Isaiah xl. 3; and it is said of both that they are thus written in the prophets.” It appears reasonable, therefore, to infer that the books of Isaiah and Malachi were received as sacred by the Jews at the time in which the Evangelist Mark wrote.
John vi. 45: “ It is written in the prophets, . And they shall be all taught of God.'” This passage appears to have been quoted by memory from Isaiah liv. 13, and affords a strong presumption that the book of Isaiah was known to the Evangelist John, who cites it as constituting a part of that collection of writings to which the Jews of that time applied the name of
Acts vii. 42: “ As it is written in THE BOOK of the prophets, 'Oye carese of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space 'ny years in the wilderness?"" Here the protomartyr Stephen is repredas citing a passage from the book of the prophets,” the very name '. Josephus distinguishes the volume containing the writings of the nos prophets; and that passage we now find in Amos v. 25,
isly follows that the writings of the twelve minor prophets
and the book of the prophets by which they are intro
* Acts iii. 18, xxviii. 25.
duced; and as tending to shew that, whenever the prophets are spoken o collectively by the writers of the New Testament, those particular books ot the Jewish Scriptures are meant, which are now comprehended under that name, and which form the second part of the Jewish canon at the present day.
The passages in which individual prophets are quoted by name as having foretold certain events, and those which contain unacknowledged extracts from the writings of the prophets, are too numerous to be specified within the limits prescribed for the present article. On comparing these passages with the Hebrew text, it appears, from information supplied by Dr. Thomas Randolph,* that there are fourteen citations from the books of the prophets in which the agreement is literal; twenty-eight in which it is close, but not quite literal; thirteen in which there is an agreement in sense but not in words; three in which the general sense only is given, with abridgements or additions ; two in which passages from different prophets, or detached clauses from the same prophet, are united; three in which the passages quoted differ from the Hebrew, but agree with the Septuagint; eighteen in which there is reason to believe that the writers of the New Testament understood particular words or phrases in a sense different from that which is put upon them by modern interpreters; and sir in wbich the Hebrew appears to have been corrupted. On comparing the same passages with the Version of the Seventy, it has been ascertained that there are fourteen in which the agreement is literal ; twenty-five in which the writer appears to have quoted from that Version, but with a slight variation ; serenteen in which there is an agreement in sense, but not in words ; cight in which the passages quoted differ from the Version of the Seventy, but either exactly agree with the Hebrew or very closely resemble it; and fifteen which differ both from the Septuagint Version and the Hebrew, and which seem to have been taken from some other translation or paraphrase.
Those citations in which the agreement between the Greek of the New and the Hebrew of the Old Testament is literal, or nearly so, are taken from the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Habakkuk, Zechariah and Malachi ; and those in which a similar agreement exists between the Greek of the New Testament and that of the Septuagint are derived from the same sources, if we except the name of Jeremiah and insert that of Amos.
In some of the above instances the agreement is confined to the Hebrew text, and in others to the Septuagint Version ; but in many it extends alike to both. The writers of the New Testament appear to have ofien quoted from memory, and to have considered themselves justified, in a variety of cases, in giving only the sense, without being particularly careful as to the precise words. Whenever instances of this kind occur, the agreement between the quotations and the original passages is of course less exact than it would have been if the passages had been either copied verbatim from the Septuagint, or literally translated from the Hebrew original; but even in such passages as these, we can trace distinct allusions to the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Haggai, and Zechariah. When, in addition to these numerous points of agreement, the reader takes into account all the circumstances which have operated, since the books of the New Testament were published, to produce a difference between the copies
* The Prophecies and other Texts cited in the New Testament compared with the Hebrew Original and the Septuagint Version, &c., by Thomas Randolph, D.D. 4to. Lond. 1782.
of the Septuagint and the original Hebrew, and between both and the text of the New Testament, no doubt can remain upon his mind as to the identity of the books which are now deemed prophetical, and those from which the apostles and evangelists quoted.
In estimating the comparative number of citations from different prophets, it will be found that those from Isaiah occur most frequently; a circumstance which is easily explained when we consider how particularly adapted this book was, from the nature of the predictions contained in it, to answer the purpose of the sacred writers, by securing attention to the doctrines and substantiating the claims of Jesus. On the other hand, no alluson whatever is contained in any part of the New Testament to Zephaniah and Obadiah; nor is there any passage from which it can be legitimately inferred, that these books formed part of the Jewish canon in the days of the apostles : but this is sufficiently accounted for by the shortness of the books in question, taken in connexion with the occasional nature of the references made by the authors of the New Testament to all the prophetical writings.
of conclusion to this part of our inquiry, let us now go through the whole of the prophets in the order in which their works are printed in our English Bibles, and briefly state the evidence which the New Testament supplies in favour of the authenticity and credibility of each.
Isaiah is repeatedly introduced as confirming the pretensions of Jesus Christ
, and bearing testimony to the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdəm :* Jeremiah is denominated a prophet and quoted as such : † Ezekiel, though not mentioned by name, is evidently alluded to by the author of the Apocalypse : Jesus gives the most unequivocal attestation to the accuracy of Daniel's predictions : 8 Hosea is quoted several times, and once by name :|| Joel is cited by the apostles Peter and Paul, and is called by the former "the Prophet Joel :” Amos is twice quoted by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles :** Jonah is denominated a “prophet,” and though not quoted, is referred to in terms which render it obvious that the history which we now have under his name was well known to the evangelical writers :ft the claim of Micah to a place among the prophets is tacitly acknowledged by references to him in the Gospels of Matthew and John : ++ Nahum is not quoted, but the Apostle Paul appears to have had him in view when he wrote his Epistle to the Romans: S8 repeated allusions are made
the book of Habakkuk : |||! the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has quoted a passage from the book of Haggai : Zechariah is repeatedly cited in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John ;*** and the evangelical writers afford the clearest attestations to the prophetical character of Ma
* Matt. iv. 14, viji. 17, xii. 17, xiii. 14 ; Mark vii. 6 ; Luke iii. 4, iv. 17; Joha xii. 39–41; Acts viii. 28, xxviii. 25 ; Roin. ix. 27, x. 16, 20, &c. † Matt. ii. 17, 18, xvi. 14. Comp. Rev. xix. 17, and xx. 8, 9, with Ezek xxxviii. xxxix. 1—20.
Matt. xxiv. 15 ; Mark xiii. 14. ! Matt. ü. 15, ix. 13, xii. 7; Rom. ix. 25, 26. | Acts ii. 16; Rom. x. 13. ** Acts vii. 42, 43, xv. 15–17. + Matt. xii. 39–41, xvi. 4 ; Luke xi. 29, 30. * Matt. ii. 5, 6; Jolin vii. 42. $$ Comp. Rom. x. 15, with Nahum i. 15. | Acts xiii. 41; Rom. i. 17; Gal. iii. 11 ; Heb. x. 37, 38.
Heb. xii. 26. *** Matt. xxi. 4, 5, xxvi. 31 ; Mark xiv. 27 ; John xii. 15, xix. 37, +++ Matt. xi. 10; Mark i. 2; Luke i. 16, 17, vii. 27; Rom. ix. 13.
On the whole, then, it appears that the Christian Scriptures contain a body of evidence strongly in favour of the authenticity and credibility of the prophetical writings; and when it is considered that this evidence is furnished in an indirect and casual manner, without any consciousness of the purpose to which it might, in after ages, be applied, 'its value will be found to be much greater than if it had been conveyed to us in a more connected and systematic form.
5. Our next document of reference is the Septuagint or old Greek Verşion of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was in general use among foreign Jews long before the birth of our Saviour, and was regarded by them till about the close of the first century, with as much veneration as the Hebrew original itself. This version still exists, and contains all the books at present included in the Jewish canon. It
appears, from the inquiries of learned men into its origin, that it was undertaken, in the first instance, for the ac- . commodation of those Jews who resided at a distance from Jerusalem, and were unable to read or understand their own Scriptures, except through the medium of a translation : but it was made, in all probability, at different intervals, as circumstances arose to render a translation of particular parts desirable or necessary.
Aristeas is the first writer who mentions this version, and he speaks of it i merely as a translation of the law; a term which, though sometimes used, in an enlarged sense, to denote the whole of the Jewish Scriptures, * cannot possibly have that signification in the present instance. Next to Aristeas, the most ancient writers who are known to have alluded to the history of this version are Aristobulus, Philo and Josephus ; and they all concur in stating that the law was first translated. Josephus, indeed, expressly asserts, in the preface to his Jewish Antiquities, that Ptolemy “did not procure a translation of the whole of the Jewish Scriptures, but only the books of the law;" and a consideration of the circumstances of the Jews, at the time when this translation was made, will tend to confirm the statement of the Jewish historian.
Thus armed by the authority of all the most ancient writers who have treated upon the subject, Prideaux ventured to assert that “the law only was first translated into Greek.” # The correctness of this assertion, howeyer, was called in question by Dr. Thomas Brett, who, in “ A Dissertation on the Ancient Versions of the Bible," published in the year 1742, and republished in Watson's “ Collection of Theological Tracts," affirms “ that the learned Dean was under a great mistake when he named Aristobulus as telling us that the Seventy-two interpreted the law only : for," says be, “ in a fragment cited from him by Eusebius, (Præp. Evan. I. i.,) he asserts the direct contrary, saying, that the whole sacred Scripture was rightly translated through the means of Demetrius Phalereus, and by the command of Philadelphus the king.". After a declaration like this, the reader will of course expect to find that the person who makes it is prepared to follow it up by an appeal to some decisive passage which must have escaped the observation of the learned Dean; but, if such are his expectations, he will be
See John x. 34, xv. 25, and 1 Cor. xiv. 21, with the corresponding passages in the Old Testament, viz. Psalm lxxxii. 6, xxxv. 19, and Isaiah xxviii. 11.
I The Old and New Testament connected in the History of the Jews and Neighbouring Nations, &c., by Humphrey Prideaux, D. D. 8th edit. 8vo. Lond. Vol. II. p. 45.
Ś Watson's Theol. Tracts, Vol. III. p. 21.