William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Mark

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William Kelly Major Works Commentary - Mark

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W. Kelly.

An Exposition of the Gospel of Mark

Edited, with additions, by E. E. Whitfield.

Elliot Stock, 1907

(The reference figures, relate to the notes respectively so numbered in the Appendix - mark_app.doc.)

"The Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister."


Lectures on the Second Gospel, by the late Mr. W. Kelly, for fifty years editor of the Bible Treasury, passed through that magazine in the years 1865 and 1866, as "Remarks on the Gospel of Mark." These are now reproduced under the title intended by him for their separate publication. He hoped to develop the lectures by the addition of critical apparatus and an examination of the common treatment of the "Synoptic problem." As this was not to be carried out by himself, an endeavour has been made to supply in the present volume something in substitution.

For the English text of this Gospel, in the "Remarks" generally that of the Authorised Version, large use has been made of an anonymous "New Translation" referred to by Dr. F. Field in his "Otium Norvicense." That version was a work of Mr. J. N. Darby, and as such serves better for a volume of Mr. Kelly's writings than any other which might be offered in lieu of his own. The Greek text represented is, accordingly, that which underlies Mr. Darby's translation. The portions peculiar to Mark are here in heavy type. Any deviations from the Authorised Version of Old Testament passages quoted are drawn from the same translation (London: G. Morrish, 1890). Marginal references to parallel passages in the other Gospels have been added.

To the few critical notes which appeared originally, with some taken from other volumes of the magazine, the letters "B.T." are attached; the rest are new. All these foot-notes embrace the latest available evidence, such as that of the Sinai palimpsest, discovered in 1892, of what is considered the oldest Syriac version known. "Edd." (editors) stands for the critical text adopted in 1904 by the British and Foreign Bible Society for its centenary edition of the Greek New Testament, a translation of which, in Bagster's "Workers' New Testament" (1906), is at the command of ordinary English readers.

The Introduction is made up from later papers of Mr. Kelly in the Bible Treasury, especially extracts from those collected in his volume entitled "God's Inspiration of the Scriptures," which will indicate his attitude on the historical and the textual criticism of the Gospels, and that of Mark in particular. These have been developed in the notes arranged as an APPENDIX, where reference is made chiefly to the literature that has appeared within the last forty years. For such notes the editor alone is responsible. Indexes of passages and contents complete the book.

Readers will find "freedom of criticism" applied to the ideas of some of the real leaders in the business of literary and historical criticism of the Bible. To use words of Professor Julius Wellhausen himself, we should have "eyes to see" and should "dare to use them." Anyone familiar with the processes by which Biblical study is carried on by learned Germans knows what generals they are in the army of "hewers of wood and drawers of water"; how admirable in investigation of what lies on the surface; but how their very occupation with details mars their insight, for which ingenuity has to do duty. They have more to learn from Englishmen than we from them: in this country sound sense is seldom lacking. Constant submission by English-speaking people to German critical opinion is in every way a mistake.

May God in His mercy deliver many from the present widespread apostasy, that such may continue in His goodness! Those who would surrender Christ's word cannot be far off from giving up Himself.

E.E.W. March, 1907.



Mark (Marcus) was a common Roman praenomen. His Jewish name was John.1 He was converted through Peter (1Pe_5:13; cf. Act_12:12).2 At the very outset of his Christian course Barnabas (his relation) and Paul took him with them on their missionary travels (Act_12:25, Act_13:5). John Mark had that light idea of the responsibility of Christian service which is so common: he thought he could take up and put down God's work as he liked, and he left the two leaders to go on with the work by themselves, whilst he went off home again (Act_13:13, Act_15:36; cf. Act_4:36). Then we lose sight of him for six or seven years, which, for all we know, may have been so much lost time; and after that he becomes the passive cause of an exceedingly unfortunate dispute. Paul and Barnabas arrange a further mission, and Barnabas "determines" to take his relation again with them, while Paul "thought not good" to take one who had already deserted his post. This gave rise to so sharp a contention that the two veterans separated. . . . Most of us, perhaps, would have thought it best to leave Mark alone after that; and it comes as quite a surprise that we find him finally charged with the high honour of writing one of the four Gospels. Not only, does Peter take him in hand with that affectionate care which we should expect from one of his nature, but Paul, who had such a disparaging judgment of him in former times, is able to recognise and acknowledge the value of Mark's subsequent service. He mentions him as being one of his five fellow-workers who were "a comfort" to him (Col_4:11; cf. Phm_1:24) in Rome about A.D. 64, and two years subsequently he tells Timothy to "take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry" (2Ti_4:11).*

* Bible Treasury, vol. xx., p. 28 ff.

This evangelist, as Luke - mentioned together in 2Ti_4:11 - was doubtless a prophet. It is the prophetic character of gift which especially is in exercise for writing Scripture (Rom_16:26). This explains the true source of the authority in such holy writings. To attribute it to Peter 2 for the one and to Paul for the other betrays the worthless character of early tradition, such as it appears in the speculations of Eusebius of Caesarea.†

† "Exposition of 2 Timothy," pp. 138, 172.


The second Gospel 3 has for its design the setting forth of the service "of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." He who at first failed, but at length was pronounced "profitable for ministry," was just as suitable in the power of the Holy Spirit for that task as Matthew, called from the receipt of customs to be an Apostle, was for the first Gospel. Christ Himself serves in the Gospel, and does mighty works accompanying it, as Mark describes.‡

‡ Cf. "Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Gospels," pp. 152, 156 ff.

The precision which Mark furnishes, partly by his characteristic "straightway" that so often occurs, partly by a perhaps still more definite specifying of time - e.g., in Mar_4:35 - enables us to clear up some difficulties in the different order of the events* related in the three Synoptic Gospels.3 From a careful comparison it results that, of the four inspired writers, two were led to abstain save in the rarest degree from chronological order; two from their respective designs subordinate that order where requisite to a grouping of events or discourses independently; and of the two, in each case one was an Apostle, the other not. Matthew and Luke were from time to time not bound to simple historic sequence, whereas Mark and John as the rule adhere to it.4

*"Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Gospels," pp. 140-151.

None can be justly called "fragmentary,"5 for each has a specific design impressed on the work, and all that is inserted or omitted may be accounted for on this principle. Where an incident illustrates that which belongs to the scope of all four, they all introduce it, as, for instance, the miracle of the five loaves and the two little fishes. Where it falls in with the province of one only, there it is given, and nowhere else; as the Temple tax in Matt. 17, the deaf stammerer in Mark 7, the penitent woman in Luke 7, and the Samaritan woman in John 4, to mention but one of the many facts, signs, and discourses peculiar to each, and to John abundantly. In some cases three give the same subject-matter, in others but two.

But this is not all. Whilst there are notable phrases and words common to all,6 there are quite as notable differences7 in the mode of communication. Hence speculative minds are tempted to irreverent cutting of the knot they cannot untie;8 whilst unexercised souls fail to gather the profit intended of the Spirit through every shade of difference. For it is a perversion of the truth that the writers were inspired, but not the writings. If 2Pe_1:21 warrants the former, still more explicit and distinctly applicable is the claim for the latter in 2Ti_3:16. In the verse preceding we have the "sacred" title of the Old Testament; but in verse 16 the Spirit of God pronounces for "every" thing that falls under the designation of "Scripture." It is not a question of human infirmity, but of God's power. Every Scripture is inspired by God (θεόπνευστος Not only were the men inspired, but so, according to the Apostle Paul, is the result. Ordinarily their writing, like their words, would have been liable to the imperfections of human speech and the limitations of human thought; but every Scripture, every writing that comes under this category, is God-breathed, and in no way "left" to the mere accidents of human faculties. To mix up with inspiration the manifold errors of copyists in the lapse of ages is illicit and illogical, not to say dishonest, for this is quite another question. All we contend for is the Divine character of indisputable Scripture.

Differences, then, there are; but instead of being the discrepancies which unbelief hastily and improperly calls them because of ignorance, they are the beautiful and instructive effect and evidence of God's varied designs. Take Matt. 8 as an instance - "a solemn assembly of witnesses," as one justly calls it. The leper came, in fact, long before what is called the Sermon on the Mount. "And, behold," in verse 2 ties us down to no date. But as the Holy Spirit had already given a summary of the Lord's deeds of gracious preaching and power in Mat_4:23-24, so He presents details of His teaching in chapters 5: 6, 7, and of His miracles in chapter 8, and again in another way in chapter 9, where the date yields to deeper considerations, and selected proofs are grouped together designedly. In Mar_1:40-45, where no such purpose operates, we see its place historically. Luke confirms the fact that it was on "one of those days" when Christ was in Capernaum, and before the healing of the paralytic, which in Matthew is reserved for the first case in Matt. 9.

But, to look into details, the leper's cure fitly attested the present power of Jehovah-Messiah which opens Matt. 8. And as this proved His grace toward the Jew that came in his uncleanness and faith (however faltering), the Gentile centurion's great faith next follows, and here only is connected thus. In the Gospel of Luke it has a different place, in Mark it has none. The third fact in chapter 8, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, so interesting to a Jew, and assuring that grace to the Gentile did not turn Messiah's heart from Israel, seems here inserted with that design, whereas historically it preceded both the previous miracles in date, as shown in Mark 1 and Luke 4. So, of course, did the healing of many demoniacs and sick on that evening after the Sabbath, in fulfilment of Isa_53:4. It is not in the least difficult to believe that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to introduce at this point what Luke presents in quite a different connection (Luk_9:57), and with an addition too. The harmonists who imagine duplicates are no more faithful than the commentators who tax the inspired with discrepancies. The conversation, whenever it occurred, seems given in the first Gospel to show the great vessel of Divine power and grace - i.e., the Messiah consciously rejected, the Son of Man having nowhere to lay His head, yet claiming from a disciple to be followed, even if a father lay dead. We know, too, for certain that the storm which He rebuked and the deliverance of the demoniacs took place after the parables of Matt. 13 were heard and explained.

The septenary of chapter 9 is a similar collection of witnesses following that of chapter 8, which indicates not only His Divine power displayed in Israel, but the growing hatred and jealousy which it excited in the scribes, till it culminated in the Pharisees who sought to poison the multitude with their blasphemy: "By the prince of the demons He casteth out demons." But no more evidence is needed that Matthew was led, where it was required, to state facts and words so as best to give dispensational order, as Luke was led in no less a degree to present moral order. Take the Lord's genealogy as a clear proof, not in Luke 1, but in Luke 3, after the statement of John put in prison, and of the wondrous scene of His baptism following, though, of course, it long preceded what is here recounted. Take, again, the temptation, where Luke puts the third act in the second place as the moral order; whereas the actual fact as represented by Matthew coincided with the dispensational, which it was his function to make known. This necessitated the remarkable omission which the true and ancient text testifies, as distinguished from the common error introduced by copyists, harmonists, and the like, whose false assimilations provoke the rather more evil doubts of their opponents.

How full of interest, as bearing on Divine purpose, to observe that in the Gospel of Mark there is no account of the Lord's reading of Isa. 61 and preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, any more than Matthew or John gives it! For Luke 4 it was reserved, as Christ's grandly suited introduction to public witness, as we shall see more fully in its place. The introduction for Matthew's Gospel was the striking but wholly different application of Isa. 9, where the light shining in despised Galilee was promised. Nor was Mark given to state this, but only Matthew, whose also it was, above all, to point out the fulfilment of prophecy in the still more despised Messiah, as he only had mentioned the visit of the Magi, and the flight into Egypt, and the slaughter of the babes, all bearing in the same direction.

Again, Mark was not led to present the remarkable healing of the centurion's servant, which has so prominent a position in the first Gospel, and a still greater length in the third. The leper's cleansing Mark does give, followed by the healing of the paralytic, and very graphically in both cases; but there was no design by him to bring in the witness that Jehovah's power would call in Gentiles when Israel should be cast out, as in Matt. 8, any more than to show, as in Luke 7, the faith of the Gentile, not so seen in Israel, which recognised the power of God in Jesus to command sovereignly and in love, and this in a soul so humbled by grace as to discern His people in the degenerate Jews, loved and honoured for His name's sake.

So, further, in the first Gospel and the second we have no account whatever of the widow's son raised from the dead outside Nain. It had no connection with their scope in particular, and we may presume that it was therefore here omitted. But it had the utmost importance for illustrating Divine power in the highest form, united in our Lord Jesus with the fullest human sympathy, and so it is exactly in accord with the special aim of Luke's Gospel, where alone it is found.

On the same principle we may account for a vast deal of intermediate matter given in the central parts of the first and third Gospels, which does not appear in the Gospel of Mark.9 We are thus delivered from the theories which have occupied many learned men, to the hurt of themselves and of those who trust them. For they have sought on human grounds to explain the different phenomena of the Synoptic Gospels, some advocating a common document,10 others only a general apostolic tradition.11 Again, a supplemental intention has been attributed to those that followed successively the first, for his own contribution to the sum as it gradually appeared and grew.12 Had they believed in the special design imprinted by the Holy Spirit on each and every one of them, erroneous speculation had been spared, to the honour of God's word and to the spiritual profit of His children. The differences which undoubtedly occur would then have been known to be in no case discrepancy, but springing from God's wisdom, not man's weakness, and adding incalculably to the witness of Christ, and consequently to the spiritual intelligence of him that accepts all from God in faith of His truth and love.*

*On "Divine Design" traced chapter by chapter, see continuation of the above in B.T., vol. xiii., p. 124 ff., reproduced in "The Inspiration of the Scriptures," pp. 320-329. As to "Divine Design" being discredited as an a priori theory, see "Lectures on Matthew," p. 8 ff.

Legitimate criticism may seek to gather the true text from reliable documents, in time differing more or less through human infirmity or fault. But it nightly supposes an original Divine deposit. No intelligent person would mix this question with God's inspiration; various readings belong to the distinct region of man's responsibility, as Scripture does to Divine grace. The problem of the true critic is to use all means, external and internal, to recover what was originally written (See §3). What is called "higher criticism" is essentially spurious, either denying God as the Author or impudently pretending to speak for Him, if they go not so far. Even Christians are in danger of heeding what these enemies of the written word assume, when it is said that it nowhere claims Divine authority. Nor is it only inferential evidence that is given throughout the Bible in general, as well as the conclusive proof of the reverence to all then written shown by our Lord, the Lord of all. It is dogmatic truth that God's inspiration is claimed for every Scripture - not merely for all given before the Apostle Paul wrote his last epistle, but for that part which remained to be written. For nothing less is the force of 2Ti_3:16 Every scripture [is] inspired of God and profitable," etc. Had the existing body been meant the article would have been requisite, as in verse 14, which speaks only of the Old Testament. Its absence was no less correct for accrediting with the same source and character all that God might be pleased to vouchsafe till the canon was complete.

Indeed, the Apostle had at an earlier date made in substance the same claim in 1 Cor. 2. Where the Hebrew oracles stopped, the New Testament revealed all that is for God's glory and goodness to communicate (verses 9-12): "Which things also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those Spirit-taught, communicating spirituals by spirituals," or, if we supply the gap, "spiritual [things] by spiritual [words]." The words were as positively of the Holy Spirit as the thoughts.13 Such is the essential property of Scripture. Thus all was of the Spirit of God - the revelation, the communication, and also the reception. Rationalism denies God in them all, attributing them to man's spirit, which he may elevate in effect to that of God, being in darkness and walking in darkness, and knowing not whither he goes, because darkness blinded his eyes.

Translation, again, like interpretation, as well as editing the text from the varying witnesses, belongs to the responsible use of Scripture, and is quite distinct from the fact of its Divine inspiration. No doubt the conviction that God inspired every Scripture would act powerfully on the spirit of every believer who undertook works so serious, and is intended to make him feel his dependence on God in the use of all diligence and every means duly to attain the end in view. But inspiration means, as one of those employed in it says, that men spoke from God, moved (or borne along) by the Holy Spirit (2Pe_1:21). Hence Scripture is not of man's wit or will, but of God, as no one more clearly than our Lord ever shows, and so of final and Divine authority. Hence, too, the danger and evil for anyone to give, whatever the cause of failure, his own mind and not God's in editing, translating, or interpreting. What God communicated is able to make one wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. "Is it not written?" if truly applied, is absolutely conclusive in His judgment who will judge living and dead. "And the Scripture cannot be broken."

How immense, too, is the privilege! In its later portion it is the revelation of God, not merely from God, but of Himself, and of God speaking to us in a Son - not the Firstborn merely, but the Only-begotten, the revelation of the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit. Oh, the grace, too, of His Son deigning to become man, that we might have what is absolute made relative to us in the tender affections of very man, yet of One who was and is God as His Father. Hence the total change for us in looking at things, seen or unseen, according to God, where the greatest are brought down to our hearts, and the least we learn to be near to God's love; nothing too great for us, nothing too little for God, as said another departed from his labours to be with Christ. Christ alone, Christ fully, accounts for both, and Scripture is the true treasure-house as well as standard of it all, as the Spirit was sent forth from heaven to make it good in us in every way. No tradition could avail for such a stupendous task.

The Spirit of God in recording does not limit Himself to the bare words that Jesus spoke. This I hold to be a matter of no little importance in forming a sound judgment of the Scriptures. The notion to which orthodox men sometimes shut themselves up, in zeal for plenary inspiration, is to my mind altogether mechanical; they think that inspiration necessarily and only gives the exact words that Christ uttered. There seems to me not the slightest necessity for this. Assuredly the Holy Spirit gives the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The differences are owing to no infirmity, but to His design, and what He has given us is incomparably better than a bare report by so many hands, all meaning to give the same words and facts. . . . Matthew and Luke alike give us the parable of the sower, but Matthew calls it the word of the kingdom, while Luke calls it the word of God. The Lord Jesus may have employed both in His discourse at this time. . . . The Spirit of God did not give us to have both in the same Gospel, but acts with Divine sovereignty. He does not lower the Evangelists into mere literal reporters. . . , The mere mechanical system can never explain inspiration. It finds itself entirely baffled by the fact that the same words are not given in all the Gospels. Take Matthew "Blessed are the poor" (verse 3), and Luke (verse 20) "Blessed are ye poor." This is at once an embarrassing difficulty for the mechanical scheme of inspiration; it is none at all for those who hold to the Holy Spirit's supremacy in employing different men as the vessels of His various objects.*

*The last paragraph has been drawn from "Lectures on the Gospels," pp. 287-289. See further note 13 in Appendix.


Although able critics have for a century sought to edit the Greek Testament on documentary evidence of Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and early citations, none as yet have succeeded in commanding more than partial confidence. Hence it has been a necessity for any careful and conscientious scholar who would really know the sources to compare several of these editions, and search into the grounds on which their differences depend, so as to have anything like a correct and enlarged view of the text, and to judge fairly of the claims of conflicting readings. . . . Mature spiritual judgment, with continual dependence on the Lord, is just as essential as a sound and thorough familiarity with the ancient witnesses of all kinds.*

* From a review of the Revised Version of the New Testament in B.T., vol. xiii., p. 287 (June, 1881).

Lachmann published a manual edition of the New Testament professedly based on Bentley's idea of exhibiting the text as read in the fourth century . . . at one fell swoop sentenced the mass of the surviving witnesses to an ignominious death, and presented us with a text formed on absolute principles of singular narrowness . . . . 14 The neglect of internal evidence is a fatal objection. But the grand fallacy involved is that a manuscript of the fourth or fifth century must give better readings than one of the seventh or eighth. Now this is in no way certain. There is a presumption in favour of the more ancient manuscript, because each successive transcription tends to introduce new errors in addition to those it repeats. On the other hand, a copy of the ninth century may have been made from one older than any now extant, and certainly some old documents are more corrupt than many of the more recent witnesses. Every ingenuous scholar must own, to say the least, that the oldest manuscripts have some bad readings, and that the modern manuscripts have some that are good.15 Hence the distinction is not between the united evidence of the most ancient documents (Manuscripts, Versions, Fathers), and the common herd of those more recent; for rarely, if ever, is there such unanimous ancient testimony without considerable support from witnesses of a later day. The truth is that almost always, where the old documents really agree, there is large confirmation elsewhere, and where the ancients differ, so do the moderns. It is quite unfounded, therefore, to treat it as a question pure and simple between old and new. Nor is it the important point of research what particular readings existed in the days of Jerome. For notoriously errors of various kinds had then crept into both Greek and Latin copies, and no antiquity can sanctify an error. The true question is: What, using every available means to form a judgment, was the primitive text? It is often forgotten that our oldest documents are but copies. Several centuries elapsed between the original issue of the New Testament Scriptures and any manuscripts now existing. All, therefore, are on the ground of copyists differing only in degree. It is not, then, a comparison between a single eye-witness and many hearsay reporters, unless we have the original autographs. And, in fact, we know that an historian's account, three centuries after alleged facts, may be, and often is, corrected, five hundred or a thousand years after, by recurrence to sources more trustworthy, or by a more patient, comprehensive, and skilful sifting of neglected evidence.

My own conviction is that in certain cases, especially in single words, the most ancient copy that exists may be corrected by another generally inferior, not only in age, but in almost every respect besides, and that internal evidence ought to be used, in dependence upon the Spirit of God,16 where the external authorities are conflicting.*

*From Preface to "The Revelation of John," edited in Greek, with a new English version and a statement of the chief authorities and various readings (London: Williams and Norgate, 1860). For a commendation by Ewald of the views above expressed, see that distinguished scholar's notice of what he describes as this "very useful English work in Jahrbücher (Göttingen, Dieterich, 1861), No. xi., p. 247ff.

Mark - Appendix.

Notes by E. E. Whitfield.

Notes on the Introduction

§ 1.

Mark, although he may have been (as Birks thought, p. 235) a Roman Christian on his father's side, was doubtless maternally a Hebrew (Palestinian) Christian (Act_12:12). Cf. the Aramaic surname of his cousin Joseph (Act_4:36). Hence the Greek used by him would have, as we find, an Aramaic tinge about it. Very noticeable is the frequency with which he gives Aramaic words. At Mar_6:15, Mar_8:14, Mar_10:22, Mar_14:8, Mar_15:12, Wellhausen impeaches him of imperfect acquaintance with Greek (as to which see note 78 in particular). Mark's peculiarities, however, are all explicable from the κοινὴ διάλεκτος used from the time of Polybius to long after the beginning of the Christian era. As to this "Hellenistic" Greek, see Carr, Notes on Luke, pp. 9-14. The second Evangelist does but combine an Aramaic element with strictly colloquial Greek, with which the Roman Christians would be familiar, as this was the language very long used in that community at Rome (Swete, Introduction).

Many have based their belief that this Gospel was composed for the special benefit of Christians at Rome on the presence of numerous Latin expressions in it, but these were current coin throughout the Empire. The reference to Alexander and Rufus (Mar_15:21) is suggestive, because of mention of a Rufus in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom_16:13). But there is something to be said for Birks' view (p. 227 ff.; cf. Bernard, p. 43) that Mark's Gospel had Palestinian Roman readers in view from the fact that no geographical explanation is offered, such as Italians would require, where some (as Wellhausen, Wernle) find vagueness in his statements, so as to attribute to the Evangelist himself imperfect knowledge of the country. As to this, however, see Greswell (p. 98 f.).

2 The treatment of incidents in which Peter is prominent strikes all readers: that which would be honourable to the Apostle is passed over, whilst anything discreditable to him is emphasized. If this be not seen, some support might attach to the Tübingen "tendency theory." Peter's connection with this Gospel acquired, however, a legendary character, more and more as the actual circumstances receded. Papias (A.D. 125) and Irenaeus (A.D. 180) having represented the Gospel as finished after the death of Peter, Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 200) spoke of it as written in his lifetime; Eusebius as with the Apostle's sanction; whilst Jerome (A.D. 420) makes out that Peter dictated it (Pfleiderer, i. 398f.).

As to the extent of the circulation of Mark's Gospel in the early Church, see Burkitt, p. 260 f. The earliest Greek commentary upon it which is extant was that of Victor and others of Antioch (about A.D. 400); the earliest Latin that of our venerable Bede. See, further, note 168.


3 Since the middle of the second century of our era (with the exception of a statement by Clement of Alexandria, that the two Gospels with genealogies were the first written), the Gospel of Mark has taken the second place, intermediate between those of Matthew and Luke, of the Gospels called "Synoptic" by Griesbach (1790). So in typical authorities such as Muratori's fragment in the West, Athanasius's list of books in the East, neither Mark nor Luke is placed first in a single document. The traditional idea, followed by Origen (third century), has been that Matthew's was the Gospel first of all written, then Mark's; and this belief was accepted by post-Reformation writers of repute, such as Grotius and Bengel. In the nineteenth century Greswell (i., p. 16) adhered to the old view, and it underlies Bernard's esteemed Bampton Lectures on "Progress of Doctrine," where (p. 143 f.) Matthew's close link with the Old Testament and his treatment of the Gospel preached first to "the circumcision" (Rom_15:8), have been emphasized. Archbishop Thomson, in his introduction to the first volume of the "Speaker's Commentary" (p. xxxvii. 1.), did not depart from it. Roman Catholic opinion, represented by Hug (1808) and Schanz, maintains the precedence, of Mark over Luke. That W. Kelly's conviction was the same as that of these various writers appears in his "Lectures on Matthew" (p. 376. f.).

From the time of Herder (1780), however, the notion arose that Mark's, the shortest and simplest of the three, was the earliest of the Gospels written. Lachmann (1835) gave formal expression to this belief (see Burkitt, p. 37). For a time, in the hands of the dominant Tübingen school (Baur, Hilgenfeld, etc.), Matthew's priority held its ground, and as late as the year 1885 H. J. Holtzmann could describe this as a "burning question." It is still an open one, although the suffrages of most experts, including Westcott in England (p. 190), are for Mark (see below under "Synoptic Problem"). Some of these, nevertheless, allow that passages such as Mat_5:17, Mat_10:6, Mat_15:24, tell against their opinion. Certain modern writers have held that Mark was last of the three, whilst some Germans in the middle of the last century have assigned to Luke priority over both Matthew and Mark. Such was already Beza's opinion at the time of the Reformation: he could not believe that Matthew and Mark wrote before Luke, because of the third Evangelist's apparent criticism, in his Preface, of all predecessors. But it has not been generally supposed that Luke included Matthew and Mark in what he there says. Matthew, at any rate, was an "eye-witness," an "attendant on the Word" (Greswell, p. 75), whilst Mark's Gospel is in close relation to the Apostle Peter's ministry (note 2).

Dean Robinson adopts Professor Harnack's earliest date for Mark, which is A.D. 65; Professor B. Weiss's date is A.D. 67. The corresponding date for Matthew is A.D. 70 (the Epistle of Barnabas, quoting Matthew's Gospel, refers to the destruction of Jerusalem as quite recent); and for Luke, A.D. 80. Zahn's dates are, for Mark, A.D. 67; for Luke, A.D. 75; for Matthew, A.D. 85.

The chief result of assigning the earliest date of all to Mark has been that the critics' view of the development of Christian doctrine has been shaped by their interpretation of this Gospel in particular, which is regarded as exhibiting the teaching of the "historical" in distinction from the "Pauline" Christ. Mr. F. W. Newman, in his last book, "Hebrew Jesus," remarked (p. 57): "No one can reasonably doubt that the whole essence of the faith and religion of Jesus of Nazareth finds its expression in the Lord's Prayer." Strange to say, the prayer is not contained in the Gospel of Mark! For reply to the same writer's remarks in "Phases of Faith," p. 173, on the Synoptists in relation to the Deity of Christ, see J. N. Darby, "Irrationalism of Infidelity," p. 287.

4 There has always been difference of judgment as to which of the Gospels, if any, exhibits the exact sequence of events in the Lord's ministry. Ancient opinion favoured Luke's order; modern is for that of Mark. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (A.D. 125), according to a passage quoted by Eusebius ("Ecclesiastical History," iii. 39), stated on the information of "John the Elder," a disciple of the Lord, that Mark's record of what He said and did was "not in order." The historian describes Papias as "a man of petty mind," which opinion Réville (i. 291) puts down to the ecclesiastical courtier's dislike of millenarian opinions represented by this Papias; nevertheless, the old Bishop seems to have been wrong in this. Greswell (i., p. 5) and Birks held Mark's order to be the most regular, Greswell going on to say, rightly, that it is confirmed by that in the fourth Gospel. On the other hand, Farrar's much-read "Life of Christ" is based on Luke's order (see edition of 1903, p. 143); and Wright ("New Testament Problems," p. 176 f.), Salmond (art. "Mark" in "Hastings' Dictionary," p. 255), Wellhausen ("Introduction to the Gospels," p. 51), J. Weiss (p. 19), with Wernle ("Sources," pp. 58, 60), are adverse to the now prevalent view, which W. Kelly always maintained. It rests on a firm basis: where Matthew and Luke differ from Mark's order, they differ also from each other; Mark and Matthew constantly differ from Luke, Mark and Luke from Matthew, but we do not find that Matthew and Luke together differ from Mark, save most exceptionally (see Abbott, "Encyclopaedia Biblica," or Bennett, "Primer," and especially Burkitt, p. 36 ff.). It would be found that the first part of Mark coincides with Matthew, but the second with Luke.

5 The "fragmentary" view was advocated by the celebrated Schleiermacher (1817), whose Essay on Luke was translated into English by Bishop Thirlwall (1832). But Mark's Gospel (6: 14) will show us that the Evangelists, selecting their materials (cf. Joh_20:30), did not go to work with mere fragments which came to their hand haphazard. Their omissions were due to an entirely different cause from that alleged by writers who measure their knowledge of words and deeds by the limits of their respective records.

A crucial instance is that of the raising of Lazarus. Professor Burkitt writes as to this: "Where are we to put the scene into the historical framework preserved by St. Mark? Can any answer be given except there is no room?" (p. 222). Already had Professor Sanday, in his "Fourth Gospel" (p. 166), written: "The vague, shifting outlines of the Synoptists allow ample room for all the insertions made in them with so much precision by St. John" (cf. Joh_4:2-3). Professor Tischendorf, in his "Synopsis Evangelica," placed the incident between the end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth chapters of Mark, and that without awakening sense of dislocation on the part of most students, including Greenleaf, the standard American writer on Evidence, who assigns the same position to it in his "Harmony." But Burkitt goes on to say that the event could not have been unknown "to a well-informed personage like Mark, nor could he have had any reason for suppressing a narrative at once so public and so edifying. . . . Is it possible," he asks, "that anyone who reads the story of Mark can interpolate into it the tale of Lazarus and the notable sensation? . . . Must not the answer be that Mark is silent about the raising of Lazarus because he did not know of it?" (p. 222 f.). Hear now W. Kelly: "Why should the resurrection of Lazarus be omitted in the first three Gospels? Man, if these accounts had been his work, would not have omitted it; he would deem the insertion of it in each Gospel necessary for a full and truthful account. . . . The omission of so stupendous a miracle in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, points out clearly that it is the Spirit of God who wrought sovereignly, and writes by each with a special purpose. . . . This miracle of raising Lazarus does not show us Jesus as the Messiah, or the SERVANT, or the Son of man, but as the Son of God, who gives life and raises the dead, a grand point of doctrine in John 5, and there found alone in the Gospels" ("Lectures on Matthew," p. 437 f.). The difference between the "sayings" of Jesus and "public events" in His life (Burkitt) is of no significance whatever from this point of view. So it is with the whole texture of the Gospels, from Matt. 1 to John 22. Various incidents are recorded by those who did not actually witness them, whilst one or other who did is silent about them. Cf. another quotation in note 7 from an earlier part of Professor Burkitt's book.

6 We here reach one of the two determining elements of the so-called "Synoptic Problem," which has engaged men's minds since the time of Le Clerc (1716), more particularly since the thirties of the last century. It is the conjunction of agreements and differences which makes the problem, from the merely literary point of view, so "complex and difficult," as Professor Sanday has described it in his Bampton Lectures (p. 281). Professor H. J. Holtzmann remarks that, while the idea of inspiration (see note 13) governed scholars' minds, it was the differences which exercised them; that now they canvass the agreements, which the older writers ascribed to the autor primarius. W. Kelly, however, would explain the differences in the same way.

Archbishop Thomson refers agreements to a common source. That there was any such written one is purely hypothetical. Luke's ἄνωθεν (Luk_1:4) does not tell us, as Newman's "Phases of Faith" (p. 127) might lead unwary readers to suppose, that the third Evangelist used such (cf. "Irrationalism of Infidelity," reissue, p. 162 f.). If there be any truth at all in a story, we look for substantial agreement in the witnesses.

7 For a historical student, as for a lawyer, it is differences which demand the more consideration. When we have to estimate the value of any statements, as Chrysostom long ago said, the very differences may remove all suspicion of collusion on the part of the witnesses. Now, if "each of the three Gospels represents a different view of our Lord's life and teaching" (Burkitt, p. 131), the solution of differences should usually not be far to seek, even if it seem not at first entirely adequate; and this because we do as yet but "know in part."

A solution of some difficulty of this kind often proposed is that the diversity arises from difference in translation from the Aramaic speech of Christ or of those reporting Him (so Eichhorn: see Schmiedel, col. 1850). There is, says Salmon, the tendency of different translators of a common document to vary in both words and constructions (p. 105 f.). The reference there is to Mar_12:38, compared with Luk_20:46. At verse 40 of Mark (as verse 47 of Luke) we have "prayers," but in Mat_23:5 "phylacteries": the word "tephillin" means both.

The following simple cases may be taken in further illustration:

1. Reporting the Parable of the Sower, Mar_4:15 has "Satan," Mat_13:29 the "wicked one," Luk_8:12 "the devil."

2. In the account of the Transfiguration, Mar_9:5 has "Rabbi," Mat_17:4 "Lord," Luk_9:33 "Master" (as to which last, see Burkitt, p. 113 f.). It is easy to see that for these a mere difference of translation may arise.

3. The superscription on the cross, written in three languages. Mark's narrative (Mar_15:26), probably read in particular by Roman Christians, would follow the Latin form, the most concise.

4. The parallels to Mar_12:15 in Mat_22:18 and Luk_20:23 used by Westcott are very interesting, because they exhibit a difference of both verbs and nouns throughout.

But the difference may be one of enlargement or contraction, as in the report of Peter's great" confession. Mar_8:29 has simply "the Christ," but Luk_9:20, "the Christ of God," whilst Mat_16:16 gives "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Here is a case in which Mr. Kelly's difference of "Divine design," of which the respective writers were instruments, alone will help us. Reference may be made to his "Lectures on the Gospels," and to those specially on Matthew, in a separate volume.

8 Cf. H. J. Holtzmann, "Introduction," p. 233 "The Gordian knot, which dogmatics failed to cut, it is for criticism to untie."

9 The characteristic portions of Matthew referred to are Matt. 5 - 7; of Luke: Luke 6: 20 - 8: 3, and Luke 9: 51 - 18: 14.

10 The natural solution - from the literary standpoint - is doubtless that the Synoptists either copy one from another, or make use of a common source (Burkitt, p. 34; cf. Westcott, pp. 184-186).

As common source, Lessing (1785) supposed (it is all a question of hypothesis, note 6) an Aramaic Gospel of the Nazarenes; and so Eichhorn (1794), whose work was translated into English by Bishop Marsh. Eichhorn held that no Synoptist had used either of the two others. Greswell makes the natural remark (p. 36) that "a primary common source might account for verbal agreements, but not for supplemental arrangement of facts"; and, the more helpful observation (p. 39 f.), that "if you believe in the inspiration of the Gospels, the supposed existence of sources from which the Evangelists derived their materials is not more precarious than unnecessary" (cf. note 13 below). Such is precisely the standpoint of these Lectures.

As far as Mark's Gospel is concerned, the idea of any document being behind it scholars now gradually give up (Burkitt, p. 63 f.). An exception is made with regard to Mar_13:14, where the words "Let him that readeth understand," Sanday (followed by Burkitt) may be right in saying, "could not have been suggested by oral tradition."

The hypothesis that now holds the field is that our canonical Mark is the common source of Matthew and Luke, so far as regards the matter which these Gospels have in common. In his "Manual Commentary" on the Gospels, H. J. Holtzmann already, seventeen years ago, wrote of it as proven (p. 3). This professorial writer is possessed by the idea that "Christianity is a book religion"; so that for him it does not so far, rise above the level of Islam. Not so, happily, his fellow-critic Bernhard Weiss, for whom it is "a life."

The connection between the Gospels of Mark and Luke is referred by Dean Luckock (i. 7) to the intercourse between these Evangelists, to be gathered from Col_4:10-14, Philem. 4. Cf. the affinity of Luke's Gospel to the writings of Paul.

One stage in the conduct of this investigation was marked by, a discussion of the supposed existence of an "original Mark" (Urmarcus, called by French writers Protomarc). English readers are referred for this to Burkitt, p. 40 ff. H. J. Holtzmann and Pfleiderer (i. 401) have been dominated by the idea of such a document having existed in Aramaic. Jülicher (p. 232) and Burkitt, amongst others, think that there was no such document behind the canonical Mark, the last-named German professor referring to the peculiarity of Mark's vocabulary and style, quite unlike a translation.

There remains, however, the question whether any other document, no longer existing, once furnished materials for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Another statement of Papias, also reproduced by Eusebius, appears in all the modern literature upon this topic. According to Papias (as well as Irenaeus and Origen), Matthew wrote λόγια (Oracles: cf. Rom_3:2, Heb_5:12) in the "Hebrew dialect," by which is understood Aramaic. Each. Papias says, made what he could of this record of "sayings." Its existence is not questioned by W. Kelly, or those like-minded (cf. "Irrationalism of Infidelity," pp. 102 note, 294). This is the document called "Q" by Wellhausen. Bishop Lightfoot ("Essays on Supernatural Religion," p. 173 f.) and Zahn (as Burkitt; p. 13 5, giving parallels with Mark at p. 147 f.) have thought that it recorded both acts and words of the Lord. Most are of opinion that, while Matthew's Gospel in its Greek form, and Luke may have drawn from this collection, Mark did not; but Ewald, B. Weiss, and Schanz extend its use to the second Gospel also. Of course, the existence of such a collection in Aramaic would carry with it the possibility of a corresponding Greek document. Words of the Lord not in our canonical Gospels seem to have been in circulation. In Act_20:35 "remember" indicates that Paul was not speaking by revelation. "There can be no doubt," wrote Neander," that Paul made use of written memoirs of the life of Christ" (p. 7). Some of the Apostle's own writings have not been in like manner rescued from oblivion (1Co_5:9; Col_4:16).

11 Bishop Westcott ("Introduction to the Gospels," p. 164 ff.), Archbishop Thomson, Deans Plumptre and Farrar, with other scholars of the characteristically "English school," and the Swiss Professor F. Godet (on Luke), make it mainly a question of oral tradition, which Westcott conceives lasted to the time of Papias. Zahn shows from the history of the Canon that the Gospels were generally current in the Church from about A.D. 130. In 1Co_15:5-7, Paul appeals to no written record, but to living witnesses. The tendency in Germany has been to attach ever less importance to oral tradition, which Schmiedel characterises as a "refuge for the destitute" (col. 1845). The Lord's words were brought to the remembrance of the Twelve (Joh_14:26). They were to proclaim His sayings from the housetops (Mat_10:27; cf. Act_10:37, 1Co_15:3, 1Ti_6:3). Abbott supposes that the Synoptic Gospels were independent expansions of notes taken from "the Apostles' teaching" (Act_2:42). Wright dwells much on catechetical instruction (Luk_1:4 in Greek); but see H. J. Holtzmann's strictures in his "Introduction," and also the remarks in "Irrationalism of Infidelity," p. 291, on insufficiency of human repetition.

12 On the "supplemental" view, see Westcott, p. 183f. The history of the whole problem, of which this is the last phase discriminated by W. Kelly in the text, would be found lucidly given in H. J. Holtzmann's "Introduction." The Fathers and traditional theology held that Matthew's Gospel was intended to prove the Lord's Messianic claims; that Mark made use of Matthew, according to Augustine, whom Erasmus followed, as an epitomizer; but Koppe, in 1782, rightly denied that such was the case. The Roman Catholic scholar Hug held that Mark gave a chronological arrangement to the materials that he found in Matthew's record; and that Luke, besides using his predecessors' work, as assumed by Augustine in his "De consensu Evangelistarum," i. 2, 4, where "co-operation" is spoken of (said by Schanz, p. 25 ff., to have continued to be the prevalent idea), availed himself of further sources. From the extracts used by Greswell (p. 55 f.) it would seem that Luke was actually acquainted with Matthew's Gospel as well as Mark's. In the third Evangelist's account of the institution of the Lord's Supper some find combination of Matthew and Mark's records with Paul's (1Co_11:23-25).

Biblical writers do seem to have made use of each other's work: (1) in the Old Testament, for example, Jeremiah of Deuteronomy, Micah of Isaiah, or vice versa; (2) in the New Testament, where the First Epistle of Peter is cognate with the Roman and Ephesian Epistles of Paul, Second Peter with Jude. Paul is supposed by W. Kelly, in his exposition of 1 Tim. (5: 18), to have used Luke's Gospel (Luk_10:7). Zahn connects Mar_10:9 with 1Co_7:10. As to this use by one writer of another, see "Irrationalism of Infidelity," p. 165.

13 The INSPIRATION of the Bible is a topic which, unhappily, at the present day awakens dissension amongst Christians. The older view is represented by such writers as Bishop Wordsworth of Lincoln. Archdeacon Lee of Dublin, and Dean Burgon; that now prevalent, by the British and American Higher Critics and their adherents of the "modern" pulpit.

The slur which imputation of "Bibliolatry" carries with it no more attaches to those cherishing the same conviction as that of W. Kelly than to all Christians worthy of the name who venerate the Bible as an altogether unique sacred Book. The superstitious respect in which a volume of the Bible is held by the Russians is something quite different from the allegiance of such as the lecturer, for whom there is no exchange of the thraldom of "historical Christianity," as it is called, for bondage to the letter of Scripture, so often alleged against the English Reformers. Those who emphasize the guidance of the Spirit are not prone to make that mistake.

Gardner is right in saying, "All compromises are unavailing; we must have either verbal inspiration or scientific criticism, with its results, whatever they may be" ("Exploratio Evangelica," p. 469). It will be seen that the present book unreservedly accepts this issue.

A bogey has been made of plenary (verbal) inspiration by reason of ill-advised statements of extremists (see Ladd, vol. ii., pp. 182, 206 f., 218). To contend for the inerrancy of Hebrew vowel-points and accents (ii. 177), which tyros in that language at the present day know were invented only after the Canon of Scripture was closed, and to set up other like indefensible positions, have brought discredit on the phrase, from which there is difficulty in emancipating it. The "mechanical" view, so called, that God "took possession of every faculty, suspending and superseding it" (Thomson, "Introduction," p. lv.), is negatived by 1Co_7:40, 2Co_11:17. As the Archbishop rightly says, "the sacred writers were not machines. . . . If his mind was logical, he reasoned as Paul did; if emotional, he wrote as John wrote." That theory carried with it the idea of dictation, which was a mistake: it is, to begin with, inconsistent with reminiscence (Joh_14:26). As to style: "If God has expressly formed the instrument, He can use it for the purpose for which He has formed it. That is style" ("Irrationalism of Infidelity," p. 147). Of course, the Holy Spirit has no special language of His own: He did but use the particular writer's language, which none the less bears the impress of the Spirit. One may take 1Co_15:2 in R.V.: "in what words I preached it unto you." A spiritualist will tell you that a "medium" gives him the spirit's words. Why not, then, God His own in the Bible? To say, as do advocates of the "illumination" theory (as to which see Farrar, "The Bible," etc., p. 111), that inspiration extends only to doctrine, not at all to the language of Scripture, traverses 1Co_2:13. The word λαλεῖν used there is not applied by Biblical writers exclusively to oral speech (see Rom_7:1, Heb_4:8, 2Pe_3:16, comparing Act_28:25). Reference may here be made to the note below on Mar_14:9, in respect of which Wellhausen has tripped. Few will question the supernatural value of the Lord's own words on earth, and the claim they make upon His disciples. As a Synoptic passage we may take Mar_8:38, and compare 1Ti_4:6, 1Ti_6:3, where probably the Apostle speaks of his own utterances or communications as "words of our Lord Jesus Christ." That there is a difference between "the word" and "words" appears from Joh_8:43 (cf. Davidson, art. "Prophecy" in "Hastings' Dictionary" and note 69). That inspiration attaches to the ῥῆμα as used in Act_28:25, where "one" such extends to verse 28, is beyond dispute. Dr. Clifford (p. 88) objects to the American sceptic Ingersoll's remark: "It will not do to say that it (the Bible) is not verbally inspired. If the words are not inspired, what is?" The infidel was perfectly right. It is not those who defend "plenary" inspiration that need any commiseration, but certainly those that deny it. Instead of such concessions conciliating infidelity, they do but encourage it, as the present writer found when concerned with intelligent workmen at Chatham, whose hostility to conventional religion has not been removed, but rather strengthened, by certain summer courses of cathedral sermons in the neighbourhood.

Ancient opinion as to inspiration may be seen in Westcott ("Introduction" Appendix B). Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Origen certainly went further than moderns; Basil, Chrysostom and Jerome allow for individuality.

After Luther had already expressed his opinion against the idea (Dorner, "History of Protestant Theology," i., 254), a decree of the Council of Trent declared for dictation, somewhat to the embarrassment of the recent Papal Commission. As to the present Catholic position, see Schanz, "A Christian Apology," ch. xiii. Calvin was of much the same mind as the German reformer (Dorner, i., p. 390). Calov and Quenstedt, of the Wittenberg school, in the following century held the most extreme view of "mechanical" inspiration (ii. 128, 131, 136). With them agreed the divines who drew up the Helvetic Confession (1675).

As far as writers like W. Kelly are to be classified, it will be with those whose sympathies go with the "dynamic" view, of "the immediate and indefeasible guidance of the Holy Spirit"; but the miserable idea of mistakes on the part of the Biblical writers is for such entirely excluded. Schaff's moderate statement is to be commended: "We cannot say that the thoughts only are Divine, while the words are altogether human. Both thoughts and words, contents and form, are Divine and human as well." It is the same, he says, as with the Person of Christ.

Leading British theologians, for the most part, now are influenced by the views of Coleridge, which underlie the "general" view (see Farrar, p. 112) represented by Dean Alford, and fostered in the academic teaching of the Old English Universities, as well as Nonconformist theological colleges. It recognises "the action of the Holy Spirit on the heart of the writers, not distinct from the analogous influence on all Christian men." But this is to confound positive inspiration with a strain of high fervour. Nobody could wisely deny a Divine "afflatus" to Christian hymns which impress the spiritual nature of people of different nations in somewhat the same way as Scripture does: such is the hymn by Bernard of Clairvaux, put into English verse by Josiah Conder, which begins, "Thou art the everlasting Word." Hymns and spiritual songs of that high quality go into every hymn-book. Some writers, from the names used by the Apostle appearing in the titles of the LXX, have supposed that the "hymns and spiritual songs" Paul mentions in his Ephesian and Colossian letters were the Old Testament Psalter alone. But with this view W. Kelly could not agree (see his "Reply to Rees").

The school of opinion on inspiration last discriminated in Farrar's book attaches "no attribute of infallibility to Bible phrases and references." As this position is very much the one taken by Martineau and Emerson, it is manifest that with it "Higher Criticism" acquires wide scope, and few safeguards remain. "Calling it inspiration," wrote W. Kelly, "only adds to the delusion" ("Exposition of John," p. 412). Doubtless the Spirit is, as A. B. Bruce said, "the only true guardian of orthodoxy" ("Kingdom of God," p. 336); but, at the same time, you have leading Higher Critics claiming that the movement engineered by themselves is a "breathing of the Spirit." It rather behoves the "spiritual" to acknowledge than to criticize Scripture (1Co_14:3; cf. Joh_7:17, and Psa_112:4).

Professor Sanday ("Oracles of God," p. 36) says There is a grave question whether its history is altogether infallible," although Dr. Clifford writes: "Historians were seers, and went down below the surface of things." Réville (i. 257) alleges misreporting and misrepresentation of the Lord's sayings by the Evangelists; and so Dr. Horton in "Revelation and the Bible" (p. 233f.): "Historical criticism may challenge the accuracy of the Evangelists." He himself has assailed that of John ("The Teaching of Jesus"). How any responsible writers can, in the face of Luk_1:4, state that the Biblical writers do not claim accuracy is an enigma. Thus Wright ventures to say that "the Scriptures themselves protest against the traditional view of the Gospels that they are absolutely true," and his Scripture reference is none other than 1Co_13:9 f., which does but speak of what is true as far as it goes - i.e., covers nothing in any way false; it concerns what as yet remains unrevealed. Moreover, such use of Paul's words is surely perilous in the light of Mar_13:32. In the same strain as Dr. A. Wright, Dean Robinson speaks of "an inspiration which does not carry with it the entire accuracy of every detail of historical narrative" ("Thoughts on Inspiration," p. 10).

The unity of the Scripture is manifestly impaired by the very prevalent error that the historical element is purely human. What is one to think of the use made by some of Jam_3:2 as evidence of a disclaimer by Biblical writers of infallibility? How, in the name of such British common sense as exists outside of a modern minister's study, can one conceive that the readers of that epistle (in accordance with a favourite canon of interpretation) understood the Apostle's Words in that fashion? For them, as for Luther, his letter would only have been one of "straw."

Associated, strangely enough, with misrepresentation by the Evangelists of the Lord's teaching is the alluring cry of "back to Christ" (the new, Ritschlian, theology). Wellhausen tells you that such a thing is impossible; that the "historical Christ" (cf. note 3 at end) is so much overlaid by "historical Christianity" as to be "played out." Amidst all this wreck, let writer and reader hold fast 1Jn_4:6. What can we know of Christ save as instructed by His commissioned first followers?

Much depends on the use which we make of the Bible for the particular view we take of inspiration. If the word be our daily food, that view will be high; if it is only "studied," a very low view will satisfy. As far as there is any fault, it must be in ourselves. Principal Fairbairn has well said, "Unless God he heard in the soul, He will not be found in the word" ("Christ in Modern Thought," p. 499).

A profound student of Holy Scripture has written: "We are only sure of the truth when we retain the very language of God which contains it" (Darby, "Synopsis of the Books of the Bible," on 2Ti_1:13 ). It was from sharing this conviction that men like Tregelles and Burgon, widely divided in their views of textual criticism, went to work in the same spirit, the former wearing himself out with lifelong devotion to an attempt to arrive at an approximately pure text of the New Testament. Such pains taken by anyone with lower views of inspiration than his it is difficult to appreciate.

As to "the word of God" being "contained in Scripture," see note on 7: 13. Reference may further be made to Sir R. Anderson's trenchant remarks on the whole subject of the present note in his "Bible and Modern Criticism," pp. 83. 177-184.


14 J. J. Griesbach, Professor at Jena, described by Mr. Kelly in the preface to his edition of the "Greek Text of the Revelation" as "perhaps the most distinguished of modern critics for judicial ability," divided the authorities into Alexandrian (as "B"), Western (as "D"), and Constantinopoli