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Thus far our conclusions are the same, as they are with respect to the originality of the Greek Gospel of Matthew. The point upon which we differ is that respecting the originality of the Gospel of Mark, which I consider to be a translation of the original, which both Matthew and Luke made use of in certain portions of their Gospels. Mr Birks, on the other hand, supposes that Mark copied the Gospel of Matthew.
It is somewhat remarkable that, at the same time that I received the above-mentioned work, I received an elaborate critique on my work in the Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen, Aug. 1851, by Professor Thiersch of Marburg, who, whilst he is not satisfied as to the use of the Gospel of Matthew by St Luke, agrees entirely with me with regard to the originality of St Mark. He says,
“We need no longer search for the protevangelium ; we possess it in the Gospel of Mark: the reviewer holds this no longer as a hypothesis, but as a fact.”* And the learned reviewer of the same work in the English Review (vol. xiii. p. 376) not only adopts my views of the origin of the second Gospel, but adduces new and cogent reasons in support of them.
Some of the expressions made use of—such as phenomena, autopticity, contemporaneity, translational, and transcripturalmay appear pedantic and uncouth, but in all such inquiries precision is to be preferred to fine writing. I have never used them where a synonymous word in common use would have answered the purpose.
* "Wir brauchen das Urevangelium nicht zu suchen, in dem Evangelium Marci besitzen wir es. Ref. hält dies für keine Hypothese mehr, sondern für eine Thatsache."--P. 1371.
ORIGIN AND CONNECTION OF THE GOSPELS.
In the writings of the evangelists we possess the works of four independent historians, narrating, without concert, events of which they were either eyewitnesses, or of which they derived their knowledge immediately from those who were. Viewed merely as literary productions, without reference to the titles assigned to them by tradition, the Gospels of Mark and John bear all the characters of autoptical memoirs—that is, of the memoirs of eyewitnesses, or what the French term, “ Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire.” The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are more or less regularly composed histories of the life and transactions of our Lord; that of Matthew, notwithstanding the conciseness of the narration, exhibiting internal proofs that its author was also an eyewitness of many of the events which it relates. The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, is avowedly drawn up, from personal investigation, by an author in possession of the communications of eyewitnesses actually engaged in the transactions.
When we compare with attention different accounts of the same series of transactions, two very distinct kinds of agreement will generally be found to present themselves—the one arising from the identity of the events related, the other from the identity of the authorities made use of. The first may be termed autoptical agree
ments, or the agreements of independent witnesses the latter, documentary agreements, or those produced by the use of the same original authorities.
It follows from this statement that there can be no documentary agreement between autoptical memoirs; but between histories—taking the word history in its limited sense—which record the same events, we ought to expect to meet with such agreements; and also between histories and memoirs written previously to their composition, but not between them and subsequent memoirs.
Autoptical agreements, or the agreements of independent witnesses, require no elucidation. I shall, therefore, content myself with pointing them out, when they occur, in the Notes on the different Sections of the annexed synopsis—confining myself, in the following Dissertation, to an inquiry into the nature and causes of the documentary phenomena which we meet with in the writings of the evangelists. Documentary phenomena may be divided into two classes—namely, the phenomena of transcription, and the phenomena of translation, according as the authorities made use of are in the same or in a different language from that of the historians : to save circumlocution, I term them transcriptural and translational agreements. Translational phenomena may again be divided into those of independent or dependent translation; the former occur in cases where the translator is ignorant of, or makes no use of, previous translations—the latter, in cases where he does.
To one or other of the above enumerated kinds of agreement may all those we meet with in the Gospels be referred. In themselves, they are exceedingly simple; but when we meet with them in the works of independent historians, such as the authors of the Gospels, they become extremely complicated, and we cannot expect to be able in every case to distinguish them from each other; for independent translators not unfrequently render short and simple sentences into the same words, producing a verbal agreement which is neither the effect of transcription nor of dependent translation. On the other hand, a transcriber may, for the purpose of improving the style, make such alterations on the language of his authority as to give it the appearance of independent translation. Even in the case of independent narratives of the same events, short verbal agreements occasionally occur. These, however, are exceptional cases, not sufficiently frequent to prevent us from ascertaining with confidence the conditions of agreement which subsist between each of the Gospels.
These conditions differ in the different Gospels. Thus, when we compare the parallel passages peculiar to Luke and Matthew, we find the agreement, generally speaking, to be transcriptural; in those peculiar to Luke and Mark, the agreement is that of independent translation; in those peculiar to Matthew and Mark, the agreement is partly that of independent translation, and partly of dependent translation; whilst in the cases where John narrates the same events as the other evangelists, the agreements are autoptical, or those of an independent witness.
These well-marked distinctions in the nature of the agreements between the writers, can neither be accidental, nor ascribed to one general cause : there must have been special causes which produced them. If we wish to ascertain what were the causes in question, we must, in the first place, observe with care, and report with accuracy, all the facts upon which our reasoning is founded. We may, indeed, lend plausibility to a hypothesis which is only partially true, by selecting such phenomena as are calculated to support it, and passing over in silence, or explaining away, snch as are adverse to it. Thus Eicbhorn, observing the phenomena of translation in the writings of the evangelists, attributes all the agreements to a supposed Aramaic or Hebrew protevangelium ; Hug, observing those of transcription, supposes that each succeeding evangelist made use of the writings of those who preceded him. Both theories are to a certain extent true ; and it is only when, led away by the love of generalisation, they have attempted to reduce the most inconsistent phenomena under one general law, that their reasoning fails. Schleiermacher, speaking of the theories of Hug and Eichhorn, says truly enough, that “they combat each other with great mutual success.”