The Origin Of The First Three Gospels -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:102 (Apr 1869)
Article: The Origin Of The First Three Gospels
Author: Anonymous


The Origin Of The First Three Gospels

(Continued from page 37.)

The data for discovering the origin of the first three Gospels, as these data lie in the books themselves, are points of agreement coexisting with points of difference. For this reason it is often said that no hypothesis can establish itself which does not account for the twofold relation, and show why they differ as well as why they agree. But this statement, if not made with the proper limitations, is very apt to lead to error. For it is plain that when three persons sketch the same life, the strong presumption is, they will differ; and the variation will extend, it is very likely, to the general aspect of the character which they present, while it will without doubt affect the cycle of illustrative incident which each author makes up for himself by selecting some events out of many, and the turn of expression employed by each to convey his facts. The difference in personality, involving as it necessarily does a difference in the range of knowledge and the shape reflection takes, is a sufficient general reason for all such variations. But with respect to coincidences the case is utterly unlike. For, a single example of marked verbal coincidence between two writers, awakens at once the

suspicion of a special cause. When this sort of agreement occurs repeatedly, and combines with a general coincidence in the whole aspect given to the subject set forth, especially if the similarity extend so far that the same rare words occupy the same position in each, some very unusual cause must be assumed for so unusual an effect. The hypotheses which suppose that the writers made use of each other or drew from common written sources are not to be discredited merely because no satisfactory reason can be given in each case why the evangelist should omit one miracle or parable and retain another; should arrange the common material differently, or, after verbal coincidence up to a certain point, should then begin to vary. Nor can it fairly be required that these omissions and alterations should be accounted for on any one general principle.1 Why are we to suppose that only one motive operated upon the writers in the use of each other or the common source? If all the subjective influences Tinder which the evangelists laid the whole plan of their work, and executed each detail, were fully known, it might then be required that some one principle to explain all differences, or a separate reason for each one, should be given. Each writer may, however, have omitted here for one reason, and condensed there for a second, and expanded in another place for a third, managing his material in such manner that we may conjecture ...

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