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CHAPTER VII. ON THE CRITICAL USE OF THE JEWISH AND RABBINICAL
WRITINGS, AND THE WORKS OF PROFANE AUTHORS. I. The Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament. - II. The Tal
mud ; -1. The Misna. 2. The Gemara. - Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmuds. - III. The Writings of Philo-Judeus and
. --- Account of them. - The genuineness of Josephus's testimony to the character of Jesus Christ proved. — IV. On the Use of the Writings of Profane Authors for the Elucidation of
the Scriptures. BESIDES the various aids mentioned in the preceding chapters, much important assistance is to be obtained, in the criticism and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, from consulting the Apocryphal writings, and also the works of the Rabbins, and of profane authors who have written in the Greek language, especially those of Josephus and Philo; which serve not only to explain the grammatical force and meaning of words, but also to confirm the facts, and to elucidate the customs, manners, and opinions of the Jews, which are either mentioned or incidentally referred to in the Old and New Testaments.
Of the writings of the Jews, the Targums or Chaldee Paraphrases, which have been noticed in a former page, are perhaps the most important; and next to them are the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament, and the Talmud.
I. The APOCRYPHAL Books, as we have already had occasion to remark, are the productions of the Alexandrian Jews and their descendants. They are all curious, and some of them extremely valuable. It is to be regretted that the just rejection of these books from the scriptural canon by the reformed churches has occasioned the opposite extreme of an entire disregard to them in the minds of many serious and studious Christians. As a collection of very antient Jewish works, anterior to Christianity, as documents of history, and as lessons of prudence and often of piety, the Greek Apocrypliai writings are highly deserving of notice; but, as elucidating the phraseology of the New Testament, they claim the frequent perusal of scholars, and especially of theological students. Kuinöel has applied these books to the illustration of the New Testament, with great success, in his Observationes ad Novum Testamentum ex Libris Apocryphis, V. T., Lipsiæ, 1794, 8vo.
II. The TALMUD (a term which literally signifies doctrine) is a body of Jewish Laws, containing a digest of doctrines and precepts relative to religion and morality. The Talmud consists of two general parts, viz. The Misna or text, and the Gemara or commentary.
1. The Misna (or repetition as it literally signifies) is a collection of various traditions of the Jews, and of expositions of scripture texts; which, they pretend, were delivered to Moses during his abode on the Mount, and transmitted from him, through Aaron, Eleazar, and Joshua, to the prophets, and by those to the inen of the · See pp. 157--163. supra,
2 See Vol. I. Appendix, No. 1. Sect. I.
Great Sanhedrin, from whom they passed in succession to Simeon (who took our Saviour in his arms), Gamaliel, and ultimately to Rabbi Jehudah, surnamed Hakkadosh or the Holy. By him this digest of oral law and traditions was completed, towards the close of the second century, after the labour of forty years. From this time it has been carefully handed down among the Jews, from generation to generation ; and in many cases has been esteemed beyond the written law itself. The Misna consists of six books, each of which is entitled order, and is further divided into many treatises, amounting in all to sixty-three; these again are divided into chapters, and the chapters are further subdivided into sections or aphorisms. The best edition of the Misna, unaccompanied by the Gamara, is that of Surenhusius, in 6 vols. folio, published at Amsterdam, 1698-1703, with a Latin version and the Commentaries of Rabbi Moses de Bar tenora, of Maimonides, and of various Christian writers. Several treatises, relative to the traditions of the Jews, have been published at different times, by learned men, among which we may particularly notice the following publications, viz.
(1.) The Traditions of the Jews, or the Doctrines and Espositions contained in the Talmud and other Rabbinical Writings : with a preliminary Preface, or an Inquiry into the Origin, Progress, Authority, and Usefulness of those traditions ; wherein the mystical Sense of the Allegories in the Talmud, &c, is explained. [By the Rev. Peter Stehelin, F. R. S.] London, 1742. In two volumes 8vo.
This is a work of extreme rarity and curiosity ; it bears a very high price, which necessarily places it beyond the reach of Biblical students. But most of the information which it contains will be found in
(2.) Modern Judaism ; or a Brief Account of the Opinions, Tra. ditions, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Jews in Modern Times. By Jobu Allen. London, 1817, 8vo.
The various traditions, &c. received and adopted by the modern Jews, (that is by those who lived during and subsequently to the time of Jesus Christ,) are fully and perspicuously treated in this well-executed volume, which illustrates varions passages in the New Testament with great facility.
(3.) Miscellaneous Discourses relating to the Traditions and Usages of the Scribes and Pharisees in our Saviour Jesus Christ's Time. By W. Wotton, D. D. London, 1718. In two volumes 8vo.
This is a very curious work. Volume I. contains a discourse concerning the nature, authority, and usefulness of the Misna ; a table of all its titles, with sunmaries of their contents; a discourse on the recital of the Shema (that is, of Deut. vi. 4—9., so called from the first word, i. e. hcar), on the phylacteries, and on the Mezuzoth or schedules fixed on gates and door posts ; together with a col lection of texts relative to the observance of the Sabbath, taken out of the Old and New Testaments and Apocryphal Books, with annotations thereon. Volume Il contains two treatises from the Misna, in Hebrew and English, one on the Sabbath, entitled Shabbath ; and another, entitled Erurin, concerning the mixtures practised by the Jews in the time of Jesus Christ, to strengthen the observation of the Sabbath. Dr. Wotton has given copious notes to both these treatises, which illustrate many passages of Holy Writ.
2. The Gemaras or commentaries are two-fold :-(1.) The Ge mara of Jerusalem, which, in the opinion of Prideaux, Buxtorf, Carpzov, and other eminent critics, was compiled in the third century of the Christian æra; though, from its containing several barbarous words of Gothic or Vandalic extraction, father Morin refers it to the fifth century. This commentary is but little esteemed by
the Jews. (2.) The Gemara of Babylon was compiled in the sixth century, and is filled with the most absurd fables. It is held in the highest estimation by the Jews, by whom it is usually read and constantly consulted as a sure guide in all questions of difficulty. The best edition of this work is that of Berlin and Francfort, in Hebrew, in 12 volumes, folio, 1715. The Jews designate these commentaries by the term Gemara, or perfection, because they consider them as an explanation of the whole law, to which no further additions can be made, and after which nothing more can be desired. When the Misna or text and the commentary compiled at Jerusalem accompany each other, the whole is called the Jerusalem Talmud ; and when the commentary which was made at Babylon is subjoined, it is denominated the Babylonish Talmud. The Talmud was collated for Dr. Kennicott's edition of the Hebrew Bible : and as the passages of Scripture were taken from manuscripts in existence from the second to the sixth century, they are so far authorities, as they show what were the readings of their day. These various readings, however, are neither very numerous nor of very great moment. Bauer states that Fromman did not discover more than fourteen in the Misna : and although Dr. Gill, who collated the Talmud for Dr. Kennicott, collected about a thousand instances, yet all these were not in strictness various lections. The Talmud, therefore, is more useful for illustrating manners and customs noticed in the Scriptures, than for the assistance it can afford in the criticism of the sacred volume.1
The Rabbinical writings of the Jews are to be found chiefly in their commentaries on the Old Testament : which being more properly noticed in a subsequent page, it is not necessary here to describe them more particularly.
As all these Jewish writings are both voluminous and scarce, many learned men have diligently collected from them the most material passages that tend to illustrate the Scriptures; whose labours in this important department we are now briefly to enumerate.
1. Mellificium Hebraicum, sive Observationes ex Ilebræorum Antiquiorum monumentis desumptæ, unde plurima cum Veteris, tum Novi Testamenti, loca explicantur vel illustrantur. Autore Christophoro Cartwrighto. In the eighth volume of the Critici Sacri, pp. 1271–1426.
To our learned countryman Cartwright belongs the honor of being the first who applied the more antient writings of the Jews to the illustration of the Bible. Je was followed in the same path of literature by Drusius, whose Præterita sirc An. notationes in Totum Jesu Christi Testamentiem (4to. Franequeræ, 1612) contain many valuable illustrations of the New Testament. Some additions were subse
1 Bauer, Crit. Sacr. pp. 340–343. Jahn, Introd. ad Vet. Fæd. p. 174. Kennicott, Dissertatio Generalis, 32–35. Leusden, Philologus Hebræo-mixtus, pp. 90. et seq. In pp. 95–98, he has enumerated the principal contents of the Misna, but the best account of the Misna and its contents is given by Dr. Wotton, Discourses, vol. i. Disc. i. and ii. pp. 10–120. See also Waehner's Antiquitates Ebræorum, vol. i. pp. 256_340. - Pfeiffer, op. tom. ii. pp. 852—855. De Rossi, Variæ Lectione
tom. i. Proleg. canons 78–81 ; and Allen's Modern Judaism, pp. 2-64. Buddæus, in his Introductio ad Historiam Philosophia Ebræorum, pp. 110. et. seq. has entered most fully into the merits of the Jewish Talınudical and Rabbinical writings. - See the Appendix to this volume, No. VI. Sect. II. on Jewish Commentators.
quently made to his work by Balthasar Scheidius, whose Praterita Præteritorum are included in the publication of Meuschen, noticed in No. 4. infra.
2. The Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot, D. D. Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge. Edited by the Rev. J. R. Pitman, A. M. London, 1822-23, 12 vols. 8vo.
The writings of Dr. Lightfoot are an invaluable treasure to the Biblical Student. By his deep researches into the Rabbinical writings, he has done more to illustrate the phraseology of the Holy Scriptures, and to explain the various customs, &c. therein alluded to, particularly in the New Testament, than any other author before or since. Two editions of this learned Divine's works were published previously to that now under consideration, viz. 1. The English edition of Dr. G. Bright, in two folio volumes, London, 1684, and, 2. A Latin edition, published at Rotterdam in 2 vols. folio, 1686, entitled Joannis Lightfooti Opera omnia, and again at Franeker in three folio volumes, which were superintended by the celebrated critic, Leusden. These foreign editions are taken from the English one, the English parts being translated into Latin: the third volume in Leusden's edition is composed chiefly of several pieces, which Lightfoot had left unfinished, but which were too valuable to be altogether omitted. They were communicated by Mr. Strype, who in 1700 published . Some genuine remains of the late pious and learned John Lightfoot, D. D.' in 8vo. In preparing his edition, Mr. Pitman has adopted for his basis the London edition of 1621, and Strype's supplemental volume, incorporating the additional matter in Leusden's edition: and, by indefatigable researches, he has succeeded in recovering some pieces of Lightfoot's which were never before published. New Indexes and other facilities of reterence are given in the concluding volume of this edition. It is but justice to add Hat they are neatly and correctly printed, and from their reasonable price, demand a place in every biblical library. In order to complete Dr. Lightfoot's Hore He. braica et Talmudice, or Hebrew and Talmudical Fixercitations on the New Testiiment, which proceed no further than the first epistle to the Corinthians, Christian Schoetgenius published.
3. Horæ Hebraicæ et Talmudica in l'niversum Novum Testamentum, quibus Horæ Jo. Lightfooti in libris historicis supplentur, epistolæ et apocalypsis eodem modo illustrantur. Dresdæ, 1733. In two volumes 4to.
In this elaborate work Schoetgenius passes over the same books on which Dr. Lightfoot had treated, as a supplement, without touching the topics already produced in the English work; and then coytinues the latter to the end of the New Testament. Copies, in good condition, generally sell from two to three guineas.
4. Novum Testamentum ex Talmude et Antiquitatibus Hebræorum illustratum, a Johanne Gerhardo Meuschenio. Lipsiæ, 1736, 4to.
In this work are inserted various treatises by Danzius, Rhenferd. Scheidius. and others who have applied themselves to the illustration of the New Testament from the Jewish writings.
Different commentators have drawn largely from these sources in their illustrations of the Bible, particularly Ainsworth on the Pentateuch, Drs. Gill and Clarke in their entire comments on the Scriptures, Wetstein in his critical edition of the New Testament, and Koppe in his edition of the Greek Testament, who in his Notes has abridged the works of all former writers on this topic.
In availing ourselves of the assistance to be derived from the Jewish writings, we must take care not to compare the expressions occurring in the New Testament too strictly with the Talmudical and Cabbalistical modes of speaking; as such comparisons, when carried too far, tend to obscure rather than to illustrate the sacred writings. Even our illustrious Lightfoot is said not to be free from error in this respect : and Dr. Gill has frequently incumbered his commentary with Rabbinical quotations. The best and safest rule, perhaps, by which to regulate our references to the Jewish writers
themselves, as well as those who have made collections from their works, is the following precept delivered by Ernesti :- We are to seek for help, says he, only in those cases where it is absolutely necessary; that is, where our knowledge of the Greck and Hebrew tongues affords no means of ascertaining an easy sense, and one that corresponds with the context. The same distinguished scholar has further laid it down as a rule of universal application, that our principal information is to be sought from the Jewish writings, in every thing that relates to their sacred rites, forms of teaching and speaking; especially in the epistle to the Romans, which evidently shows its author to have been educated under Gamaliel.1
Some very important hints, on the utility of Jewish and Rabbinical literature in the interpretation of the New Testament, occur in the Rev. Dr. Blomfield's discourse, entitled A Reference to Jewish Tradition necessary to an Interpretation of the New Testament. London, 1817, 8vo.
III. More valuable in every respect than the Talmudical and Rabbinical Writings, are the works of the two learned Jews, Philo and Josephus, which reflect so much light on the manners, customs, and opinions of their countrymen, as to demand a distinct notice.
1. Puilo, surnamed Judæus in order to distinguish him from several other persons of the same name, was a Jew of Alexandria, descended from a noble and sacerdotal family, and pre-eminent among his contemporaries for his talents, eloquence, and wisdom. He was certain ly born before the time of Jesus Christ, though the precise date has not been determined ; some writers placing his birth twenty, and others thirty years before that event. The latter opinion appears to be the best supported; consequently Philo was about sixty years old at the time of the death of our Redeemer, and he hved for some years afterwards. He was of the sect of the Pharisees, and was deeply versed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which he read probably in the Septuagint version, being an Hellenistic Jew, unacquainted (it is supposed) with the Hebrew, and writing in the Greek language. Some eminent critics have imagined that he was a Christian, but this opinion is destitute of foundation : for we have no reason to think that Philo ever visited Judæa, or that he was acquainted with the important events which were there taking place. Indeed, as the Gospel was not extensively and openly promulgated out of Judæa, until ten years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ
, and as there is not the most distant illusion to him, much less mention of him, — made in the New Testament, it cannot be supposed that this distinguished person was a convert to Christianity. The striking coincidences of sentiment, and more frequently of phraseology, which occur in the writings of Philo, with the language of , Ernesti, Instit. Interp. Novi Testamenti, p. 274. In the 5th vol. of Velthusen's, Kuingel's, and Ruperti's Commentationes Theologicæ (pp. 117–197.) there is a useful dissertation by M. Weise, De more domini acceptos a magistris Judaicis loquendi ac disserendí modos sapienter emendandi.
2 Fabricius and his editor, Professor Harles, have given notices of forty-seden persons of the name of Philo. Bibliotheca Græca, vol. iv. pp. 750–754.