External Evidence As To Cicero’s Writings, And Paul’s -- By: C. M. Mead

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 048:191 (Jul 1891)
Article: External Evidence As To Cicero’s Writings, And Paul’s
Author: C. M. Mead

External Evidence As To Cicero’s Writings, And Paul’s

Mrs. C. M. Mead

THOSE who question the genuineness of the Pauline Epistles lay great stress on the want of early historical testimony to their existence. It is very unlikely, they contend, that these Epistles should have been written so long a time as they were, before there was mention of them, or quotation from them, by some other writer whose work is indisputably accredited. But, in the first place, this kind of authentication, it will be admitted, can hardly be looked for outside of Christian literature, of which belonging to the period in question we have very little; and, in the second place, this early Christian literature, meagre as it is, these same critics in order to make out their case endeavor to transfer to a period later than that to which it has been commonly assigned. They do not seem to consider, however, that by so doing they destroy, at one and the same time, both their own argument from silence and their opponents’ argument from testimony.

This argument from silence, if it has any validity, must be applied to all ancient authors in like degree, and it must be tested by facts. But the facts show that many of the classical works whose genuineness is commonly admitted are wholly destitute of any such authentication as these critics demand. Numerous instances of this might be given. To mention two or three, for example: Quintus Curtius Rums’ history of Alexander the Great is accepted as a genuine work

on manuscript testimony alone, although nothing definite is known of its author, and critics have assigned to him a variety of periods from the time of Augustus to that of Theodosius the Great! He was first quoted by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century. Velleius Paterculus, who wrote about 30 A. D., is mentioned by no ancient extant author except in a solitary passage by Priscian early in the sixth century. Boethius, who wrote early in the sixth century, is first quoted by Hincmar in 850. Phædrus is mentioned only by Martial in a single passage, and again by Avienus in the latter part of the fourth century. The works of Tacitus are not quoted till some two hundred years after his time, and very rarely even after that. The “Annals” are not alluded to until the first half of the fifteenth century, unless (as is maintained by Mr. Furneaux)1 Jerome made allusion to them three hundred years after the historian.

I. But to take the most noted of all Latin authors; what external testimony is there of the genuineness of the writings of Cicero? He was certainly far more likely to be quoted by his contemporaries than even Paul the apostle. Paul was ...

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