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56 Me. Rurgon's Reply To "m. C. W."
treatise; where everything advanced ought to be so fully established that acquiescence should be simply a matter of necessity.
But having said thus much (which I fear has rather an ungracious sound), I wish to add that "M. C. W." expresses himself like a thoughtful and earnest man, and that I do not in the least begrudge the time which it will take me to answer his letter; only too fortunate if I may be the means of removing a stumbling-block out of a brother's way, and never happier than when I am standing somewhere amid those four Rivers of Life, the streams whereof make glad the City (and
the Paradise) of God If I have notu the good fortune to
satisfy "M. C. W." in my present letter, let me only request that, in his reply, he will be very definite in explaining precisely wherein I have failed. He has already had the courage to narrow the question to a single issue; and I am at liberty to presume that he has cited the most crucial case which occurred to his memory when he wrote. I propose that we now stick to the one difficulty he has himself suggested, and that when we have discussed it sufficiently, we drop the subject. If he be the kind of man I take him for, I will undertake to satisfy him before I leave off.
For the convenience of unlearned readers, I shall use no Greek words throughout my argument. None are necessary.
I. Now, whatever form my own syllogism might take, with reference to a book the true author of which is allowed to be God, it is evident that in " M. C. W.'s" syllogism the following premiss finds place:— "The Bible contains real contradictions." His proof of this proposition he is content to rest on the difference of language discoverable between St. Mark xiv. 24, and the latter half of St. Luke xxii. 20. I proceed to examine this difference. If I can show that there is no contradiction whatever between the two places in the Gospel referred to,—no, not the slighvst semblance of a contradiction,—then "M. C. W.'s"' argument will fall to the ground, for I shall have demolished his fatal premiss.
1. And first, he has inadvertently misrepresented the case. He says—" St. Luke states it as a fact that, at the same given moment and place, our Lord spoke certain quite different words" from those attributed to Him hy St. Mark. This is inaccurate. The only real difference "between the two Evangelists is this: that St. Mark has— "My blood of the new covenant," and St. Luke—" The new covenant in my blood." This, I repeat, is the sum total of the alleged discrepancy. And I assert further, that the words, instead of being " quite different," are, on the contrary, nearly identical in sound, and quite identical in sense.
Mr. Rurgon's Reply To "m. C. W." 57
2. But ("M. C. W." will rejoin)—You must at least allow that our Lord said either what St. Mark (with St. Matthew) attributes to Him—or else, what St. Luke (with St. Paul) attributes to Him—or else, something different from either? And, surely, whichever of these alternatives you may adopt, this will be a case of " real contradiction "?
Not so, by any means, I reply; for, to begin—
(a) Our Lord cannot be thought to have discoursed in Greek on this occasion. A faithful translation of His words is therefore the utmost that we look for here.
Now St. Mark in a certain place (v. 41) says, that "Talitha cumi means, being translated, Maid, I say unto thee, arise." Yet it is evident that those words "I say unto thee" are not at all represented in the Aramaic original. Will your correspondent tell us that St. Mark is here at issue with himself as to a matter of fact? that our Lord either said the first thing—or else He said the second—or else He said neither—and so forth? ... "These apparently contradictory reports" (as "M. C. W." would call them) interest me much, but do not puzzle me at all. I reason from Scripture, not to it. From this single instance, I infer that inspired translation is not inconsistent with considerable licence of phrase. From the insight afforded me into the Evangelical method by St. Mark v. 41, I am prepared to suspect (I say it reverently) that our Lord's address to the widow of Nain's son was not exactly ." Young man, I say unto thee, arise,"— although St. Luke (vii. 14) seems to say that it ivas.* . . "Golgotha," in bike manner, does not mean "the place of a skull," (upaviov Towos, St. Matthew xxvii. 83) but only "a skull." (icpaviov, St. Luke xxiii. 88.) The kind of license which an inspired writer allowed himself is established, I say, by such instances as these. And why may not the same licence have been exercised on the present occasion?
(|3) Next—The substance of what our Saviour said; the true sense, real intention, or exact purport of His Divine discourses, on any occasion, is all that we can claim to find set down for us in the Gospel. Who ever imagined that the conversation with Nicodemus, for instance, extended only to the Aramaic equivalent of those twenty verses of St. John ill.? Who ever supposed that our Lord's discourses—even the longest of them—are set down in extenso, exactly as they were uttered? It cannot possibly be! I am not, in fact, aware of two consecutive lines of the Gospel where we are constrained to suppose
* Was it not rather—Neaw'trxf, cyepdrjTr Kke Tafiida araon/#i, in Acts ix. 40? 58 Mr. Ruegon's BEPLY TO "M. C. W."
that we are presented with the identical words which our Lord uttered— not a syllable more, not a syllable less. Why then may not one of the sayings attributed to our Lord, in this place also, be regarded as explanatory of the other? as giving its sense, purport, substance?
And let not this suggestion occasion perplexity or distress of mind to any. He has considered the matter very little, who will find any difficulty in cheerfully accepting it. The design with which speech is attributed to God in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, is high as Heaven, deep as Hell; but certainly it is not to set us cavilling as to whether those very words, and no others, "proceeded out of the mouth of God." (Deut. viii. 3, and St. Matt. iv. 4.) Is it not rather to convey to all races of men, in every age of the world, the exactest notion of which their minds are capable, of the august transactions recorded in that first chapter? . . . Again—Our Lord, doubtless, spoke not in Greek, but in Aramaic; in which language there do not exist (as I am assured) any such delicate shades of meaning as Archbishop Trench has admirably vindicated for aiYe'co and e^arrda, ayaK.au> <j>CKia. What then? The divine origin of the record is my full and sufficient warrant for believing without hesitation that whether in equivalent words, or by an equivalent paraphrase of many words, or without any such equivalent at all—I have the exact purpose, mind, and intention of the speaker invariably set down for me in Scripture. Nay, more. Let those smile who will, at the sentiment; but I do deliberately record my conviction that the one great reason why Greek was permitted to grow into such a precise and beautiful vehicle of thought, and to become the language of the whole civilised world in the days of the Gospel, was, in order that it might be an adequate shrine for the mysteries of the New Covenant; in order that a proper instrument might exist for recording the life and sayings of our Redeemer, and the truths of the Gospel.
(y) Next,—If I find (as I do find) that inspired men, purporting to quote a sentence from the Old Testament, occasionally exhibit those written words by words of their own, which are not exactly those of the original, I am constrained to infer that it is not inconsistent with the strictest notion of truth, for one divinely inspired to report spoken words with similar licence. St. Paul says, for example, (1 Cor. xv. 45.) that "it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living soul.'" And yet I do not find precisely those words in Gen. ii. 7,—which nevertheless I am quite sure is the place of Scripture which he is quoting. So in many other places,—e.g., Heb. x. 38, where Habak. ii. 3, 4, is quoted
MR. Burgon's REPLY TO "M. C. W." 59
.with considerable licence. The extraordinary manner in which Dent. Xh. 12—14 is quoted in Eom. x. 6—8 is even more in point. I invite "M. C. W." to read what I have written concerning that quotation in a work published three years ago.* . . . What right have I then to look for rigid identity in the record of our Lord's words here?
(8) But lastly,—I find, as a matter of fact, throughout Scripture, recorded sayings, reported in successive pages of the same book, in different—sometimes in very different—language. Two examples of this from the Old Testament, and two from the New, may suffice. Moses says (in Gen. ii. 17.) that God's words to Adam with respect to the Tree of Knowledge, were—" Thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Yet Eve reports these words in the very next chapter (iii. 8.) as follows :—" Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." In Num. xxii. 18, Balaam is made to say—" I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more;" and yet, in xxiv. 23, the same Balaam is made to quote his own words thus—" I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak." So in the Gospel. Our Lord's words concerning Judas are set down as follows in St. John xvii. 12:— "Those whom Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, hut the son of perdition." And yet they are formally reported in the very next chapter (xviii. 9.) thus :—" Of those whom Thou gavest Me, have I lost none." Again: St. John relates concerning himself that he said to our Lord, on a memorable occasion—" Lord, who is it?" (xiii. 25.) And yet the same St. John relates those same words of his in chap, xxu 20, thus :—"Lord, who is it that betrayeth Thee?" These examples may suffice.
When, therefore, I am invited to admit that St. Luke's phrase— "the New Testament In My Blood" really contradicts St. Mark's phrase—"my Blood Of The New Testament," I not only refuse to admit anything of the sort, but I am utterly astonished at the invitation. The difference of language here is just of the usual kind! When, above all, I am invited to build on such a worthless foundation as this, the tremendous proposition that "The Bible Contains Real ContradicTions," I absolutely stand aghast! On the contrary, I claim to have proved incontestably that there is nothing whatever in these two expressions which can justly be deemed contradictory,—no, not in the slightest possible degree.
* Inspiration and Interpretation, pp. 191—214.
60 Me. Rurgon's REPLY TO "M. C. W."
II. But as (God knows !) my wish is far less to confute "M. C. W." than to help him, I will yet add a few words. If he cares (which I do not say he does) to have my own private opinion, and wishes me to declare plainly what I really suppose our Saviour to have said on this occasion, I humbly proceed as follows :—
(o) Our Lord will either have said—" This is," or "This cup is." But if the more concise phrase is that which He actually employed,— as I do sincerely, for my own part, believe it was,—the larger expression must certainly represent His meaning when He employed it; for it is His own report of His own words. (1 Cor. xi. 23.) By strict parity of reasoning, I am of opinion that when St. John at the Last Supper said—"Lord, who is it?" what he meant exactly thereby was—"Who is it that betrayeth Thee?"—because it is his own report of his own words.
(/3) I presume that, besides "shed for you,"—as St. Luke records,— our Lord said "[and] for many," as St. Matthew and St. Mark relate. What is remarkable, every ancient Liturgy, as far as I am aware, testifies to this arrangement of the Divine language, by adopting both expressions in the canon of the Mass.
(y) I presume, further, that our Lord concluded with the words which St. Paul records—" This do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me," though no one of the Evangelists has preserved that saying.
(8) Lastly, for the phrases—" My blood of the New Covenant," which St. Matthew and St. Mark exhibit; "The New Covenant in My blood," which is the record of St. Luke and St. Paul. What if we decide that the latter expression is to be regarded as explanatory of the former? And that (inasmuch as the sense of Scripture is Scripture) it is exhibited as what our Divine Lord said, because it represents the exact sense of what he said ;—the sense, remember, assigned by Christ Himself to the Aramaic words (whatever they may have been) which He uttered on the solemn occasion referred to.
And what these words actually were may, I think, be inferred with something like certainty, from observing the exact correspondence of St. Matthew xxvi. 28, and St. Mark xiv. 24, with the language of Exodus xxiv. 8, as quoted in Hebrews ix. 20. (Compare also Hebrews x. 29 and xiii. 20.) Our Lord, when establishing a new Covenant with "the Israel of God," evidently fashioned His language on that former utterance of His. But the phrase—" This is My blood of the New Covenant," however obvious its meaning to Hebrew readers, (consider