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wrote before the others. This quality certainly belongs to
*So 8 καιрds тŵν кάρяшν (Matth. xxi. 34) is the time of the grapes being ripe, as the owner of the vineyard would of course not receive his rent in green grapes. The time of gathering and the time of being ripe are one and the same. The circumstance of the fig-tree having leaves, was a proof that it was alive; had there been neither fruit nor leaves it might have been dead already; and there would have been no proof that it had perished in consequence of the imprecation. There is no ground for the usual epithet of the barren fig-tree.
exclaim, according to Mark (vi. 3), " Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" but in Matthew (xiii. 55), “Is not this the son of the carpenter ?" According to Mark, our Saviour, speaking of his second coming, says, "of that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels who are in heaven, nor the son, but the Father only" (xiii. 32). Matthew (xxiv. 36) repeats the declaration, but omits the emphatic acknowledgment which Christ makes of the limitation of his own knowledge. Taken singly, these instances might be explained away: but it is difficult to resist their cumulative evidence.
The strongest proof, however, to our minds that Mark's Gospel was prior in order of composition to the other two, is the different manner in which they represent the performance of miracles. There are repeated instances in Mark in which the use of natural means is recognised. When the mission of the Twelve is spoken of (Mark vi. 13), it is said, "They anointed many sick with oil, and healed them;" in Luke (ix. 6), it is, "They went through the villages, healing everywhere." In Mark's report (vi. 2), the people of Nazareth say, "What is this wisdom that is given him, that these mighty works are done by his hands?" In Matthew's (xiii. 54), it is simply, "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works?" Mark, in the same chapter, says," He could not do any mighty work there, on account of their unbelief, except that he put his hands on a few sick, and healed them;" Matthew, that he did not many mighty works there. Mark relates, that when a kwoos μoyidados was brought to Jesus, he took him apart, put his fingers into his ears, spat and touched his tongue; of all which nothing is said by Matthew.* In the account of the blind man cured at Bethsaida (Mark viii. 22), we have the same description of our Lord taking him apart, and restoring his sight by degrees, and by the employment of his hands upon him; but as there is nothing corresponding to this section of Mark in the other two Evangelists, we are deprived of the means of comparison. The difference of tone, however, in the narration of miracles, is evident throughout the Gospels. Thus, in the account of the cure of the lunatic boy, Mark represents our Saviour
* Our Saviour's employment of natural means is recognised in John ix. 6.
as questioning the father respecting the duration of the malady, and describes the violence of the paroxysm which followed the command to the evil spirit to come out, and which left the child to all appearance dead, till Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up. According to Matthew, he says, "Bring him hither to me; and he rebuked him, and the dæmon came out of him, and the boy was healed from that moment." In the case of Jairus' daughter, Mark represents the father as saying that his daughter was at the point of death (oxáτws exa); Matthew, that she was already dead (ix. 18). In the scene at the house, Mark dwells on the address to the maiden, the selection of the witnesses, the direction to give her food; Matthew sums up all in "The damsel arose." Mark only says, that when the Syrophoenician woman returned home she found her daughter lying on the bed, and the dæmon gone out; Matthew, that our Lord said, "Be it unto thee as thou wishest; and her daughter was healed from that moment.” Mark describes the fig-tree as being found dried up the next morning, when the disciples passed that way again; according to Matthew, it "withered instantly." We repeat, that a single instance of this kind would prove nothing; but a phenomenon running through the whole of two parallel histories must have some cause in the peculiar circumstances of the writers. We can conceive no cause why Mark, if he had Matthew's narrative before him, should insert such circumstances as we have pointed out, but can readily imagine why Matthew should omit them. Mark wrote simply to record; Matthew and Luke to impress and convince. We have already said that we could argue this question only on the ground that the Evangelists were human biographers; and who ever undertook such an office without a leaning to that which exalted the power and worth of the subject of their biography? The accounts of Mark do not bring our Lord's miracles within the compass of natural causes, but their effect is more striking when all mention of natural causes is omitted.
It may be remarked that, although there are many precepts and parables in Matthew which are not found in Mark, there is hardly one historical event which they have not in common. The most remarkable exception is the
entire absence of the history of the conception, birth and childhood of our Lord. Without entering into the question respecting the authenticity of this portion of the Gospel, we have no difficulty in regarding its absence in Mark as a proof of the earlier origin of his work. Not only is it inconceivable that if he had Matthew and Luke before him he should have deliberately omitted all this part, but he could never have published a history of his own without some equivalent for it, had he written after the time when curiosity was directed to the early years of our Lord, and the facts recorded in Matthew and Luke had been discovered or imagined. We should apply
the same argument to the details and scenery of the Temptation in Matthew and Luke, which Mark passes over with a brief notice of the fact. Our Lord's retirement into the Desert took place before the calling of the Apostles-before he had done anything to cause his actions to be watched. An authentic account of it, therefore, could only be derived from himself and his subsequent communications to the Apostles. We are aware that he uses the established language of the Jews respecting Satan, but to our feelings this is widely different from his describing to his followers the bodily appearance of the principle of Evil, with whom he holds conversations, and by whom he is transported from place to place. It seems far more probable that Mark represents the whole extent to which the belief of his followers had reached when he wrote the simple fact of a temptation, and that the rest is the expansion of a subsequent though still very early age. Even the fact as stated by Mark must be considered as resting on a very different basis of historical credibility from those to which the countrymen of Jesus were witness.
Some events related by Matthew alone do not carry with them the same credibility as those in which the other Evangelists agree. Thus his account of Peter's walking on the sea (Matt. xiv. 27) is not only rendered doubtful by the silence of Mark (vi. 51), but seems to be contradicted by John (vi. 21), who says that the vessel reached the shore immediately after they had taken in Jesus. The narrative of the fish caught to pay the trifling sum of fourteen pence tribute-money is found only in Matthew, and is little in accordance with the ordinary
character of our Lord's miracles. The account of the sleeping saints who came forth from their tombs, and went into the Holy City, and appeared unto many (Matt. xxvii. 52), has been a stumbling-block to thoughtful readers. The saints, we presume, are those who had believed in Christ between the commencement of his preaching and his resurrection. Such a collective epithet for believers, though common in the Epistles, would not, we think, have been applied to them by any contemporary recorder, nor indeed by any one who did not write after Christians had become a separate community.* When we speak of the Gospel of Matthew, it should be remembered that it is a very doubtful question when it received its present Greek form. One of the few facts respecting the Gospels which the tradition of the church has preserved, and which we can receive with confidence, is that the original was in Hebrew, and that it had not the introductory chapters of our present copies. But as that Hebrew original is lost, we have no means of judging in what other points it differed from the translation.
We do not recollect an instance in which, Matthew and Mark differing, the account of Matthew recommends itself as more credible-there are many of which the reverse holds true. In the narrative of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem, Mark, supported by the independent testimony of John, describes a single colt as fetched and used. But there was a prophecy in Zechariah (ix. 9), believed to refer to the Messiah, in which, by the ambiguous rendering of the Hebrew vau, it appeared to be predicted that he should ride on an ass and (instead of even) a colt the foal of an ass. Now in this case it is impossible to deny that the account of Matthew, who represents both as being fetched and both ridden upon (ikáliσev étávw aútív, xxi. 7), has been modified by the prophecy. The whole difficulty of the history of Judas has arisen from the same source. As Mark and Luke relate it, he bargained to deliver up his master for a sum of money (not the paltry sum of thirty pieces of silver), and, according to Luke in the Acts, pur
* A similar remark applies to the use of the word ekkλnola, which is of perpetual recurrence in the Acts and Epistles, but is found in the Gospels only in Matthew xvi. 18, xviii. 17. It is clearly inappropriate to the age of our Saviour's ministry.