13 NOVEMBER 1909, Page 27


[13-.4. this heading we notice such Books of As week as hens not been- reserved for review in other forms.] The Gospels as Historical Documents. By Vincent Henry Stanton, D.D. Vol. II. (Cambridge University Press. 10s. net.)— In his first volume Professor Stanton treated of what we may briefly call the history of the Gospels as we can trace it in the early and formative age of the Church; in this second part he examines the Gospels themselves,—he does not go, it should be stated, beyond the Synoptists. The question that meets us at the threshold of such an inquiry is—how did the teaching which was originally conveyed in Aramaic, for it is now generally conceded that Jesus spoke Aramaic, pass into a Greek form ? One answer is to suppose an oral tradition. (Professor Stanton shows that Bishop Westcott's authority does not go beyond a quite early approval of it.) This is rejected as inadequate. It does not account for the very strongly defined relation between Mark and the other two Gospels, both as regards what they have in common and what they have of their own. On the whole, the best working hypothesis seems to be that the writers of Matthew and Luke had before them a document identical with, or closely resembling, the present Mark ; that they had also another common source,. and, beyond this, something peculiar to each. It is not difficult to see that the writers of both the First and Third Gospels now and then toned down the expressions which they found in the Second. (A very obvious case, not the less striking because it is of little intrinsic importance, is that whereas St. Mark says of the woman healed on the way to Jairus's house- that she "had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse," Luke, himself a physician, according to tradition, makes the much milder statement that she " had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any.") We can give but a very brief and imperfect notice of this very excellent work. The author leaves nothing untouched. Who can fail to reflect, as he reads, how far we have moved from the standpoint of, say, fifty years ago ?