The Structure Of The Gospel According To Matthew -- By: C. A. Harless

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:1 (Feb 1844)
Article: The Structure Of The Gospel According To Matthew
Author: C. A. Harless


The Structure Of The Gospel According To Matthew

Dr. C. A. Harless

Professor of Theology in Erlangen, Bavaria.

Translated by Rev. Henry Boynton Smith, West Amesbury, Ms.

[The following dissertation was published, as a University Programm, at Erlangen, in 1842. Its author is principally known by his elaborate Commentary upon the Epistle to the Ephesians, which appeared in 1834. This has been cited, even by German critics, as being the model of a commentary. And it is no less dis-

tinguished for its orthodox character, than for its logical and philological acumen. In 1842, Dr. Harless also published a system of Christian Ethics, which in four months came to a second edition. He is likewise the editor of an able periodical, devoted to the interests of “Protestantism and the Church.”

The essay here translated, is the second of a series. The first is chiefly occupied with a discussion of the famous passage from Papias, so often cited in favor of a supposed Hebrew original to the Gospel of Matthew. The subsequent numbers, not yet published, are to be devoted to an “exposition of the difference between the leading idea of Matthew and that of the other evangelists; and to the arguments which may thence be derived for the general nature and truth of the evangelical history.”

The whole question of the authenticity of the canonical gospels is now undergoing the severest scrutiny from German theologians. Most of the recent criticisms move within the sphere of two false hypotheses. The one is, that the evangelists copied from each other. Here the question remains, which is the original gospel? Each one has its advocates. The other hypothesis is, that they have all re-written some original gospel, or gospels, now lost. Either of these theories might explain the coincidences, but neither of them explains the diversities of the evangelical narrations; and both deny the independent validity of the four witnesses.

If now, the coincidences of the Gospels may be sufficiently explained by their having the same subject-matter; and their diversities, by the different leading purpose of each evangelist; and if such a distinct leading idea can be traced through each, so that he shall be thus proved an independent witness; then all tolerable basis, derived from internal evidence, for either of the above theories, will be taken away.

The chief value of the following dissertation, is the attempt to show that the first canonical gospel is constructed according to a legitimate and definite design.—Tk,.]

Some deny the authenticity of the Gospel according to Matthew, on the gr...

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