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MARK XVI. 19, 20.
ACTS I. 9-12. 19 So then after the 51
And it came 9 And when he had Lord had spoken unto to pass, while he bless
spoken these things, them, he was received ed them, he was parted while they beheld, he up into heaven, and from them, and car- was taken up; and a sat on the right hand ried up into heaven. cloud received him out of God.
10 of their sight. And
while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men 11 stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of
Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? this same
in like manner as ye have seen him LUKE XXIV.
go into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and re- 12 Then returned they unto Jeru
turned to Jerusalem with great joy: salem from the mount called Olivet, 53 and were continually in the temple, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath
praising and blessing God. Amen. day's journey.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
$ 173. CONCLUSION or John'S GOSPEL.
JOHN XX. 30, 31. XXI. 25. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, 31 which are not written in this book: but these are written,' that ye might
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if
they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
the mount called Olivet.” Luke obviously did Luke 21. 37. This serves to show, that Luke, in not mean to contradict himself; and the most chap. 24. 50 and Acts 1. 12, uses the terms Beththat this expression can be made to imply, is, any and mount of Olives interchangeably, and that from Bethany where their Lord had ascend- almost as synonymous. ed, which lies on the eastern slope of the mount Yet from this remark in Acts there arose, proof Olives, a mile or more below the summit of the bably early in the fourth century, the legend ridge, the disciples returned to Jerusalem by a which fixed the place of the ascension on the path across the mount. Indeed, Bethany is de- reputed summit of the mount of Olives. If that scribed in the New Testament as connected with, was indeed the true spot, then our Lord ascended or as a part of, the mount of Olives, as“ at the from it in full view of all the inhabitants of Jerumount of Olives," Mark 11. 1; Luke 19. 29. salem; a circumstance not hinted at by the sa[See § 112.) And further, where Matthew and cred writers, nor at all in accordance wi the life Mark speak of Jesus, during the week of his and character of the Saviour. passion, as going out at evening from Jerusalem For a full discussion of this topic, see an article to lodge at Bethany, Luke says expressly that he by Dr. Robinson in the American Bibliotheca spent the nights going out into the mount of Sacra for Feb. 1843, p. 176, sq. Olives. See Matt. 21. 17; Mark 11. 11, 19, 20; Comp. Luke 1. 4.
NOTE TO $ 7.
THE TIME OF THE NATIVITY.
The precise year of our Lord's birth is uncertain. According to Matt. 2. 1–6, he was born during the lifetime of Herod the Great, and not long before his death. Herod died in the year of Rome (A. U.) 750, just before the passover; see Jos. Antiq. 17. 8. 1. ib. 17. 9. 3. This has been verified by calculating the eclipse of the moon, which happened just before his death; Jos. Ant. 17. 6. 4. Wurm in Bengels Archiv. I. p. 26. Ideler Handb. der Chronol. II. p. 391, sq. If now we make an allowance of time for the purification, the visit of the Magi, the fight into Egypt, and the remaining there till Herod was dead - for all which not less than six months can well be required-it follows, that the birth of Christ cannot in any case be fixed later than the autumn of A. v. 749.
Another note of time occurs in Luke 3. 1, 2, where John the Baptist is said to have entered upon his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius; and again in Luke 3. 23, where Jesus is said to have been “ about thirty years of age" at his baptism. Now, if both John and Jesus, as is quite probable, entered upon their ministry at the age of thirty, in accordance with the Levitical custom (Num. 4. 3, 35, 39, 43, 47), by reckoning back thirty years we may ascertain the year of John's birth, and of course also that of Jesus. Augustus died Aug. 29, A. v. 767; and was succeeded by Tiberius, who had already been associated with him in the government for at least two years, and probably three. If now we reckon from the death of Augustus, the fifteenth year of Tiberius commenced Aug. 29th, A. v. 781; and going back thirty years, we find that John must have been born not earlier than August, A. u. 751, and our Lord of course not earlier than A. v. 752;—a result disagreeing with that obtained from Matthew by three years. If, on the other hand, we reckon from the time when Tiberius was admitted as co-regent of the empire, which is shown to have been certainly as early as A. v. 765, and probably in A. v. 764; then the fifteenth year of Tiberius began in A. v. 778, and it follows that John may have been born in A. v. 748, and our Lord in A. v. 749. In this way the results obtained from Matthew and Luke are more nearly coincident.
A third note of time is derived from John 2. 20, “ Forty and six years was this temple in building.” Josephus says, in one place, that Herod began to build the temple in the eighteenth year of his reign; while in another he specifies the fifteenth year; Ant. 15. 11.1. B.J. I. 21. 1. He also assigns the length of Herod's reign at thirty-seven or thirtyfour years; according as he reckons from his appointment by the Romans, or from the death of Antigonus ; Ant. 17. 8. 1. B. J. 1. 33. 8. Herod was first declared king of Judea in A. v. 714; Jos. Ant. 14. 14. 4,5. B.J. 1. 14.4. Comp. Ant. 14. 16. 4. Ideler Handb. der Chron. II. p. 390. Hence the eighteenth year of his reign, when Herod began to rebuild the temple, would coincide with A. v. 732; and our Lord's first passover, in the fortyseventh year following, would fall in a. u. 779. If now our Lord at that time was thirty and a half years of age, as is probable, this would carry back the year of his birth to the autumn of A. U. 748.
Further, according to a tradition preserved by the Latin Fathers of the first five centuries, our Lord's death took place during the consulate of the two Gemini, C. Rubellius and C. Fufius, that is, in A. v. 782. So Tertullian, Lactantius, Augustine, &c. See Tertull. adv. Jud. § 8. Augustin. de Civ. Dei, XVIII. 54. If now the duration of his ministry was three and a half years, then, as before, the year of his birth would be carried back to the autumn of A. v. 748.
Some modern writers, taking into account the abode in Egypt and also the dietús,“ two years,” of Matt. 2. 16, have supposed that Jesus must have been from two to three years old at Herod's death, and hence they assume that he was born in A. u. 747. So Sanclemente de vulgaris Ære emendatione libb. IV. Rom. 1793. fol. Münter Stern der Weisen, &c. The same year, A. v. 747, is also fixed upon as the date of Christ's birth, by those who regard the star in the east as having been the conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, which occurred in that year. So Keppler, Münter 1. c. Ideler, Handb. der Chronol. Berlin, 1826.
From all these data it would appear, that while our Lord's birth cannot have taken place later than A. v. 749, it may nevertheless have occurred one or two years earlier.
The present Christian era, which was fixed by the abbot Dionysius Exiguus in the sixth century, assumes the year of Christ's birth as coincident with A. v. 754. It follows then from the preceding statements, that this our common era begins in any case more than four years too late; that is, from four to five years, at the least, after the actual birth of Christ. This era was first used in historical works by the Venerable Bede, early in the eighth century; and was not long after introduced in public transactions by the Frank kings Pepin and Charlemagne.
In respect to the time of the year when Jesus was born, there is still less certainty. John the Baptist would seem to have entered upon his ministry in the spring; perhaps when the multitudes were collected in Jerusalem at the passover. The crowds which followed him imply that it was not winter. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, probably six months later, would then have occurred in autumn. It could not well have been in the winter ; nor does a winter seem to have intervened. If now we may assume, as is most probable, that John entered on his office when he had completed his thirtieth year; then the time of his birth was also the spring; and that of our Lord, six months later, was the autumn. Archbishop Newcome, quoting from Lardner, has the following remark: “ Jesus was born, says Lardner, between the middle of August and the middle of November, A. v. 748 or 749. We will take the mean time, October 1." See Lardner's Works, vol. i. p. 370, 372. Lond. 1835.- There is, on this point, no valid tradition. According to the earliest accounts, the sixth of January, or Epiphany, was celebrated by the oriental church, in the third and fourth centuries, as the festival of the birth and baptism of Jesus; Cassian. Collat. X. c. 2. In the occidental church, after the middle of the fourth century, the twenty-fifth of December (Christmas) began to be kept as the festival of Christ's nativity ; this day having been fixed upon, partly at least, as being the then current winter solstice. Thus, as late as the time of Leo the Great, (who died 461,) there were many in Rome, " by whom this day of solemnity was regarded as honourable, not so much on account of the nativity of Christ, as because of the rising of the new sun, as they call it.” Leon. Magn. Serm. XXI. c. 6. The observance of this latter festival (Christmas) spread into the East; while that of the Epiphany, as the baptismal day, was adopted in the West.
See, generally, Lardner's Works, vol. i. Book II. 3. p. 356, sq. Lond. 1835. Gieseler's Ecclesiastical istory, vol. i. p. 53, Edinburgh, 1846. See also Greswell's Dissert. x. vol. i., where it is ably maintained that April 5, A. u. 750, B. C. 4, is the precise date of our Lord's birth.
NOTE TO § 13.
I. In the genealogy given by Matthew, considered by itself, some difficulties present themselves.
1. There is some diversity among commentators in making out the three divisions, each of fourteen generations, ver. 17. It is, however, obvious, that the first division begins with Abraham and ends with David. But does the second begin with David, or with Solomon? Assuredly with the former; because, just as the first begins from Abraham, so the second also is said to begin from David. The first extends to David, and includes him ; the second extends until the carrying away into Babylon, that is, to an epoch, and not to a person ; and therefore the persons who are mentioned as coeval with this epoch, about the time of the carrying away (ver. 11), are not reckoned before it. After the epoch the enumeration begins again with Jechoniah, and ends with Jesus. In this way
the three divisions are made out thus :
2. Another difficulty arises from the fact, that between Joram and Ozias, in ver. 8, three names of Jewish kings are omitted, namely, Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. See 2 Kings 8. 25 and 2 Chr. 23. 1; 2 Kings 11. 2, 21 and 2 Chr. 22. 11; 2 Kings 12. 21, 14. 1, and 2 Chr. 24. 27. Further, between Josiah and Jechoniah, in ver. 11, the name of Jehoiakim is also omitted. See 2 Kings 23. 34; 2 Chr. 36. 4. Comp. 1 Chr. 3. 15, 16. If these four names are to be reckoned, then the second division, instead of fourteen generations, will contain eighteen, in contradiction to ver. 17. To avoid this difficulty, Newcome and some others have regarded ver. 17 as a mere gloss," a marginal note taken into the text.” This indeed is in itself possible; yet all the external testimony of manuscripts and versions is in favour of the genuineness of that verse. It is better therefore to regard these names as having been customarily omitted in the current genealogical tables, from which Matthew copied. Such omissions of particular generations did sometimes actually occur,“ because they were wicked and impious,” according to the Rabbins. See Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. on Matt. 1. 8. A striking example of an omission of this kind, apparently without any such reason, is found in Ezra 7.1–5, compared with 1 Chr. 6. 3—15. This latter passage contains the lineal descent of the high priests from Aaron to the captivity; while Ezra, in the place cited, in tracing back his own genealogy through the very same line of descent, omits at least six generations. The two accounts stand
A similar omission is necessarily implied in the genealogy of David, as given Ruth 4. 20-22; 1 Chr. 2. 10-12; Matt. 1. 5,6. Salmon was contemporary with the capture of Jericho by Joshua, and married Rahab. But from that time until David, an interval of at least four hundred and fifty years (Acts 13. 20), there intervened, according to the list, only four generations, averaging of course more than one hundred years to each. But the highest average in point of fact is three generations to a century; and if reckoned by the eldest sons they are usually shorter, or three generations for every seventy-five or eighty years. See Šir I. Newton's Chronol. p. 53. Lond. 1728.
We may therefore rest in the necessary conclusion, that as our Lord's regular descent from David was always asserted, and was never denied even by the Jews; so Matthew, in tracing this admitted descent, appealed to genealogical tables, which were public and acknowledged in the family and tribe from which Christ sprang. He could not indeed do otherwise. How much stress was laid by the Jews upon lineage in general, and how much care and attention were bestowed upon such tables, is well known. See Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. on Matt. 1. 1. In the N. T. also, see Phil. 3. 4, 5.
II. Other questions of some difficulty present themselves, when we compare together the two genealogies.
1. Both tables at first view purport to give the lineage of our Lord through Joseph. But Joseph cannot have been the son by natural descent of both Jacob and Heli (Eli), Matt. 1. 16; Luke 3. 23. Only one of the tables therefore can give his true lineage by generation. This is done apparently in that of Matthew ; because, beginning at Abraham, it proceeds by natural descent, as we know from history, until after the exile; and then continues on in the same mode of expression until Joseph. Here the phrase is changed; and it is no longer Joseph who begat” Jesus, but Joseph “ the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.”
2. To whom then does the genealogy in Luke chiefly relate? If in any way to Joseph, as the language purports, then it must be because he in some way bore the legal relation of son to Heli, either by adoption or by marriage. If the former simply, it is difficult to comprehend, why, along with his true personal lineage as traced by Matthew up through the royal line of Jewish kings to David, there should be given also another subordinate genealogy, not personally his own, and running back through a different and inferior line to the same great ancestor. If, on the other hand, as is most probable, this relation to Heli came by marriage with his daughter, so that Joseph was truly his son-inlaw (comp. Ruth 1. 8, 11, 12); then it follows, that the genealogy in Luke is in fact that of Mary the mother of Jesus. This being so, we can perceive a sufficient reason why this genealogy should be thus given, vix, in order to show definitely, that Jesus was in the most fult and perfect sense a descendant of David; not only by law in the royal line of kings through his reputed father, but also in fact by direct personal descent through his mother.
That Mary, like Joseph, was a descendant of David, is not perhaps expressly said in the New
Testament. Yet a very strong presumption to that effect is to be drawn from Luke 1. 27 (see the Note on § 3), and from the address of the angel in Luke 1. 32; as also from the language of Luke 2. 5, where Joseph, as one of the posterity of David, is said to have gone up to Bethlehem, to enrol himself with Mary his espoused wife, for this is the meaning of the Greek. The ground and circumstances of Mary's enrolment must obviously have been the same as in the case of Joseph himself. Whether all this arose from her having been an only child and heiress, as some suppose, so that she was espoused to Joseph in accordance with Num. 36. 8, 9, it is not necessary here to inquire.
It is indeed objected, that it was not customary among the Jews to trace back descent through the female line, that is, on the mother's side. There are however examples to show that this was sometimes done; and in the case of Jesus, as we have seen, there was a sufficient reason for it. Thus in 1 Chr. 2. 22, Jair is enumerated among the posterity of Judah by regular descent. But the grandfather of Jair had married the daughter of Machir, one of the heads of Manasseh, i Chr. 2. 21 ; 7. 14; and therefore, in Num. 32. 40, 41, Jair is called the son (descendant) of Manasseh. In like manner, in Ezra 2. 61, and Neh. 7. 63, a certain family is spoken of as “the children of Barzillai ; " because their ancestor “ took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name."
3. A question is raised as to the identity, in the two genealogies, of the Salathiel and Zorobabel named as father and son, Matt. 1. 12; Luke 3. 27. The Zorobabel of Matthew is no doubt the chief, who led back the first band of captives from Babylon, and rebuilt the temple, Ezra c. 2.-6. He is also called the son of Salathiel in Ezra 3. 2; Neh. 12.1; Hag. 1.1; 2. 2, 23. Were then the Salathiel and Zorobabel of Luke the same persons ? Those who assume this must rest solely on the identity of the names; for there is no other possible evidence to prove, either that they were contemporary, or that they were not different persons. On the other hand, there are one or two considerations, of some force, which go to show that they were probably not the same persons.
First, if Salathiel and Zorobabel are indeed the same in both genealogies, then Salathiel, who according to Matthew was the son of Jechoniah by natural descent, must have been called the son of Neri in Luke either from adoption or marriage. In that case, his connexion with David through Nathan, as given by Luke, was not his own personal genealogy. It is difficult therefore to see, why Luke, after tracing back the descent of Jesus to Salathiel, should abandon the true personal lineage in the royal line of kings, and turn aside again to a merely collateral and humbler line. If the mother of Jesus was in fact descended from the Zorobabel and Salathiel of Matthew, she, like them, was descended also from David through the royal line. Why rob her of this dignity, and ascribe to her only a descent through an inferior lineage
? Again, the mere identity of names under these circumstances affords no proof; for