THE FOURTH GOSPEL.*
MR. TATLBR is one of the most learned and accomplished of English divines. There is probably no living Englishman who • Attempt to Ascertain the Character of the Fourth Gospel, especially to Relation to the Three First. By John James Taylor, B.A. London: Williams and Norgate. has a deeper and more accurate knowledge of ecclesiastical history, and certainly none who presents what he knows with more per- fect candour and more scholarlike precision. We have read this volume, as it is not often possible to read the books of critics from whose conclusions we differ widely, with perfect and absolute con- fidence that on every point which he discusses he will produce as prominently the evidence against his own view as he will the evidence in its favour. His essay is a model of controversial fairness and dispassionate discussion. Though his conclusion seems to us quite erroneous, we can never accuse him of not fairly explaining the premisses on which he founds it. Indeed the only defect of Mr. Tayler's essay beyond what seems to us its mistaken interpretation of the evidence, and its insufficient dis- cussion of one or two very critical points on which the question of the authenticity of the Fourth Gospel really turns, but which Mr. Tayler no doubt believes to tell in his own favour, is the gentleness and delicacy with which the author veils the obvious and just inference from his own deliberate conclusion that the Gospel, though containing, as he believes, high spiritual truth, is entirely deficient in historical truthfulness. Without pressing the degree of moral culpability which may or may not in the second century have been involved in the complete recast and rehabili- tation of Christ's external life and doctrine by one of His own followers, in order to make that life and doctrine express the truth "that humanity in its highest form supplies the most perfect in- terpretation that we can apprehend of the person and will of God,"—we certainly find it exceedingly difficult to understand how, in Mr. Tayler's words, " a profoundly devout and meditative spirit (probably of the Church of Ephesus), on a survey of the ministry of Christ, interpreting it from his own lofty point of view, and giving it the comprehensive application which to that wider ken it seemed at once to yield," can have ascribed to Christ a career, discourses, miracles, and purposes for which there was not the slightest historical foundation, and altered a date like that of the Crucifixion with no better authority than his own pious eagerness to make Christ's death seem the sacrifice of the true paschal lamb, instead of the mere holy consummation of a holy life. Meditative' such a spirit might doubtless be ; but the devoutness of re-editing Providence in order to bring out a higher ideal of what his Master might have been than was in ac- cordance with fact, we feel the most absolute incompetence to understand. Even granted that historical truthfulness was not in that day estimated as it now is, —and of this we feel no confi- dence, when we look at the anathema which•closes the Apocalypse, for instance, against adding or taking away from the letter of the prophecy given,—still there can be no devoutness in falsifying facts in order to work out a higher ideal than facts justify. We should think Mr. Tayler's book juster and truer, though less tenderly humane, if there were no such effort to break the fall of the fourth Gospel in ordinary minds as closes his essay. In spite of all his gentleness, his gentleness will be repudiated by those who are convinced by his reasons. There are scarcely two men in Europe who could accept Mr. Tayler's conclusions as to the deliberate falsification of facts in this Gospel with a dogmatic end,—for to " design " he expressly attributes the alteration of the date of the Last Supper and Crucifixion in the fourth Gospel (pp. 149-50), and of the cleansing of the Temple, —and yet speak of the Gospel as containing' the " consum- mate flower" (p. 155) of the faith which was implanted in the world by Christ. We are not incapable of appreciating the delicate and catholic spirit which can still cling to what it deems a refined and spiritual doctrine, while convinced that the authori- ties on which the promulgator intended that others should accept that doctrine had been freely invented by him. But for ourselves, and we imagine for most other men, we can say, that if we held with Mr. Tayler as to the origin of the fourth Gospel we should never read it at all, as we could not read it without a most painful mixture of intellectual contempt and poignant regret. On antiquarian and historical points we differ with Mr. Tayler only with great humility and self-distrust. But in the moral inferences which his conclusion justifies we differ with him with much more con- fidence, indeed without a doubt that he judges far too leniently and delicately the literary and religious imposture which he believes that he has exposed.
We need scarcely say after this that Mr. Tayler entirely rejects the apostolic authorship of the fourth gospel, though he traces it back almost to the apostolic age. He holds that its discourses are in no way authentic discourses of Christ, though due to a mind to which indirectly Christ's preaching had communicated a most powerful 15/Lanai impulse ; that its miracles are seven in number, from some mystic regard to the number seven (though, b7 the way,
they are never numbered beyond the second miracle, and we very much doubt whether the Evangelist, who expressly speaks of many others which he did not recount, had the least idea that he had mentioned precisely seven, and no more),—and that the Evangelist altered the dates of two great events which were really historic,— the cleansing of the Temple and the Last Supper,--with a dog- matic end. All this is, of course, a perfectly legitimate subject for Scriptural criticism, and we are well aware of the great difficulty of the critical problem involved, which Mr. Tayler, agreeing generally with Baur and his Tubingen disciples, solves to the advantage of the first three Gospels and the disadvantage of the fourth. But we must say we hold Baur's much severer moral inferences from the critical results thus obtained
more satisfactory, if the view be true, than Mr. Tayler's kindlier and milder deductions. What makes the matter much worse, on the Tiibingen view, is that if the fourth Gospel be really grounded on fictitious historical elements, Baur has to our minds satisfactorily proved that it was deliberately done with a careful view to point out the strength of the false evidence by which faith in Christ was to be produced. It is certain that this Evangelist lays special stress on the minutia3 proving the super- natural character of the power exerted in the various miracles. If he is not writing of what he absolutely believed to be true, he
is manufacturing a forgery of the most flagrant character. Take, for instance, the stress he lays on the Capernaum nobleman's son having begun to recover from the very hour in which our Lord said, " Go thy way, thy son liveth." If Mr. Tayler is right, the Fourth Gospel is one of the most gigantic frauds on record.
It would be impossible to discuss so great a problem as that of the authenticity of the fourth Gospel adequately in the limits of any newspaper article. Even Mr. Tayler's discussion, which is almost limited to the external authority for and against the Gospel, and to the bearing of the great Paschal controversy on the date of the Last Supper and Crucifixion, seems to us to exclude many subjects almost necessarily entering into the field of discussion.
We can only attempt to give in the briefest possible outline Mr. Tayler's arguments against the authenticity of the gospel, and the considerations which seem to us decisively to overbear those argu- ments. In the first place, we entirely agree with Mr. Taylor that it is almost impossible that the Apocalypse and the fourth Gospel, both attributed to the apostle John, should be due to the same author. What Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, had the critical eye to perceive in the middle of the third century, it takes but little scholarship to be convinced of in this. There were two Johns in Ephesus, whose tombs were both shown in the second century, and both of whom had been men of great authority in the Christian Church there, one the apostle John, and another. Mr. Tayler thinks it likely there may have been a confusion between the two, and this seems probable enough. At all events, he holds that the Apocalypse and the Gospel could not be by the same hand, for reasons thus powerfully stated :—
"The writer of the Apocalypse has a mind essentially objective. He realizes his conceptions through vision. Ho transports himself into an imaginary world, and speaks as if it wore constantly present to his sense—introducing its ever shifting scenes by I saw,' I looked,' I heard,' I stood.' His colouring is warm and gorgeous, and his lights and shadows are broadly contrasted. His whole book is pervaded with the glow, and breathes the vehement and fierce spirit, of the old Hebrew prophecy, painting vividly to the mental eye, but never appealing directly to the spiritual perception of the soul. When we turn to the Fourth Gospel, we find ourselves at once in another atmosphere of thought, full of deep yearnings after the unseen and eternal, over soaring into a region which the imagery of things visible cannot reach ; even in its descriptions marked by a certain contemplative quietness, as if it looked at things without from the retired depths of the soul within. It exhibits but a slight tinge of Hebraic objectiveness, and throughout seems striving to express its sense of spiritual realities in the more abstract phraseology which the wide diffusion of Hellenic culture had rendered current in the world at the commencement of the Christian era. It has been said, indeed, that both writers are distinguished by a remarkable power of objective presentation. In a certain sense, this is true. But in how different a way is it shown ? Compare, for instance, the awful description of the effect of opening the sixth seal, and that ghastly procession of the horses which precedes it, in the Apocalypse (vi. 12-1? and 1-8), where every word vibrates, as it were, with the throbbing pulse of an excited imagination,—and that marvellously graphic story of the man born blind, or the exquisite pathos with which the raising of Lazarus is narrated, in the Fourth Gospel (ix. and xi.), where all is so clear and yet so calm and still, as if the writer had looked the fading traditions of the past into distinctness, as enthusiasts for art have been said by dint of gazing to call back into their original vivid- ness the decaying colours and crumbling outlines of the Last Supper of Da Vinci on the wall of the refectory at Milan. We at once recognize in the authors of the Apocalypse and the Gospel a genius essentially distinct. The language of the two writers is as different as their cha- racteristic modes of conception and thought. The style of the Apoca- lypse is perfectly barbarous—Hebrew done into Greek, with a constant violation of the most ordinary laws of construction. The Greek of the Fourth Gospel, without being classical, is still fluent, perspicuous, and grammatical." The only exception we take to this passage is the application of the phrases " abstract phraseology " and " Hellenic culture" to the fourth Gospel. The great feature of it seems to us its almost infantine concreteness of phraseology, its unabstract, essentially Oriental and Hebrew sense of personality in speaking of " the Father," and " the Sou.' After the prologue, in which " the Word" (a term, no doubt, adopted from the Alexandrian philosophy, which had reached Ephesus) is identified with onr Lord, no metaphysical or notional term is again used throughout the gospel. " As the Father hath life in himself, even so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself,"—that is the key-note of our Lord's dis- courses in this gospel, and no one can speak of that as abstract or metaphysical. The true shepherd, the sheep, the sheepfold, the vine and branches, the light of the world,—these are not in any sense the " abstract phraseology which the wide diffusion of Hellenic culture had rendered current." They seem to us to be much more truly described as the images which would take strongest hold of the mind of a simple Galilean fisherman, looking back upon the teaching of the master who had opened the spiritual world to his view. We do not say the gospel is easy. There is mystic teach- ing in it, no doubt. But it is the mysticism not of " Hellenic culture," but of Oriental simplicity and deep personal affections. We cannot imagine anything less Greek, less disposed to start from the human side, as all Greek thought does, than the fourth Gospel. But though not in the least like any fruit of " Hellenic culture," we admit entirely the strange contrast between the almost feminine delicacy and also feminine severity of the theo- logical gospel and the gorgeous visionary imagination of the Apoca- lypse ; and that even in point of mere language it is hardly possi- ble to ascribe the two to the same author. The first question which arises, then, is the external evidence for the authorship of the apostle in each case. Mr. Tayler gives this, we need not say, with the most scrupulous accuracy, but we must say he seems to us to over-estimate vastly, on his own showing, the weight of authority in favour of the apostolic authorship of the Apocalypse. The result is this, —that the Apocalypse, probably mentioned without the name of any author, was described as " divinely inspired " and " worthy of belief " by Papias (who died in 164 A.D., and who conversed in Ephesus with either or both of the two Johns to one or other of whom the Gospel and Apocalypse are assigned), and that it is cited as the apostle's work by Justin Martyr, who in his dialogue with Trypho (probably written between 140 and 150 A.D., and certainly not before the previous date), refers explicitly to the Apocalypse as the work of the apostle, after which it is generally so cited without hesitation till doubts arising from its contents excited the critical incredulity of Diony- sius, Bishop of Alexandria, a century later. Such is the external testimony to the apostolic authorship of the Apocalypse. The book was certainly known (without explicit testimony as to author- ship) before the death of men who in their youth were believed to have conversed with the apostle. Its apostolic authorship was certainly believed within some fifty or sixty years of the date generally assigned to the apostle's death. Now, as to the Gospel. The first Epistle of John, which last very few critics hesitate to attri- bute to the same hand as the gospel, and the common authorship of which seems to us scarcely disputable, is cited by the same Papias, who knew the Apocalypse and thought it divinely inspired and worthy of belief, and also probably by Polycarp, who again was believed to have talked with the apostles, and who died only three years after Papias,—but by neither of them, so far as we know, with any explicit statement as to the authorship. By Justin Martyr, in an earlier work than that in which he speaks of the Apocalypse as the production of the apostle John, namely, the first Apology, written before the year 139 A.D., the remarkable words of our Lord iu the conversation with Nicodemus as to being born again, and Nicodemus's objection, are cited as authoritative, with very slight verbal alterations indicating that the reference was taken from memory rather than copied from the book, but without mention of the gospel from which they are cited. And in the dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr says of our Lord, "He was an only begotten (,60$10YEwas) Son of the Father of the Universe, sprung from Him by a special act as his Word and power, and afterwards born a man through the Virgin, as we have learned from the apostolic records." Justin Martyr is here clearly combining what be had learned from Luke or Matthew (John's Gospel never mentions, and indeed does not hint at or recognize ia any way, the supernatural birth) with what he had learned from the prologue'of John's Gospel, speaking of both alike in his usual formula as " the apostolic records," which seems to prove that here, as in the quotation from the dialogue with Nicodemus, Justin had taken from a recognized gospel. Again, in describing the baptism of our Lord, Justin quotes the words of the Baptist, " I am not the Christ," which are given only in John. True, he never cites the gospel by the name of its author, but in his innumerable and admitted citations from the other Evangelists, he equally omits all mention of authorship. Mr. Tayler even says that the mention by Justin of the Apocalypse as the apostle John's, is the only case in all his writings of any men- tion of the special New Testament author from whom he is citing. About 180 A.D. the fourth gospel is cited expressly as John's by Theophilus of Antioch, and probably ten years earlier it had been cited as one of the acknowledged Scriptures by Tatian. Hence there are about twenty or thirty years between the first express ascription of the fourth Gospel to John and the first express ascription of the Apocalypse to Joh'''. But the remark- able conversation with Nicodemus (contained in John's alone of the four Gospels) had been quoted as our Lord's by Justin Martyr before the appearance of the book in which occurred his first quotation of the Apocalypse as John's, and in the very same book he combines statements taken from Matthew or Luke and statements taken from John, and justifies them alike on the authority of " the apostolical records." Nor is there the slightest trace that the Gospel of John was ever attributed to any other author. Hippolytus, one of the earliest authorities, is stated in the inscription found on his statue to have written " on the Gospel and Apocalypse of John," evidently classing them without hesitation together as the apostle's. Nor is it possible to conceive that a gospel with so much that is new in it, and so different both in style and fact from the other Gospels, could, if ever ascribed to any other author, or if its authenticity had been doubtful at all, have got John's name attached to it without challenge or question. The Church at Ephesus, which was so proud of the apostle's memory, would alone have doubtless raised a controversy had any quite new tradition been attributed to his pen. There seems to us, too, ample reason in the mere subject of the Apocalypse, in its startling though obscure prophetic disclosures as to the future, for its more early popularity and the greater importance attached to the name of its supposed author. A pro- phecy of exciting events about to happen depends for the amount of belief it excites on the name and authority of the author, which in an uncritical age is not true of any merely historic record to which general confidence has for some time been attached in the society in which it circulates. With regard to a prophecy of the destruc- tion of Rome, every one would think of its author first. But a record long received of our Lord's life would be quoted as apostolic narrative without special question.
We are left at liberty, then, as we believe, to judge freely by internal probabilities which of the two books is the more likely to be due to the apostle John, if it seems in the highest degree improbable, —as we agree with Mr. Tayler in thinking,—that the two were due to the same Johu ; and as there were two Johns of authority in Ephesus, a confusion between them was not un- likely. Mr. Tayler argues that we know John the apostle to have been an unlettered man (Acts iv. 13), which agrees with the barbarous Greek of the Apocalypse ; that we know him also to have been one of the Judaic party (Galat. ii. 9), which agrees with its highly Jewish tone ; that our Lord gave James and John the title of Boanerges, " Sons of Thunder," which seems to imply fiery energy as a characteristic, and explains the low thunder rolling through the Apocalyptic visions ; that James and John in- dulged in the life-time of their Master earthly Messianic dreams, asking to sit one on His right hand and one on His left in His king- dom (Mark x. 35), which agrees with the character of the pre- dicted thousand years' Messianic reign ; that John was jealous of his Master's authority, forbidding some one to work in His name whom Christ was willing to acknowledge (Mark ix. 38), which looks like the too exclusive spirit of the Apocalypse ; and that James and John were anxious that Christ should summon fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village that would not receive him (Luke ix. 5, 4), which was very likely the occasion of the name given to them by our Lord as " Sons of Thunder," and is, at all events, in the spirit of the vehement denunciations of the Apocalypse. We say in reply that, first, as to the Judaism and the barbarous Greek, there is no reason why John's Judaism should be stronger or his language more barbarous than Peter's, who is classed with him in the book of Acts as an unlearned and unlettered man, and who seems to have taken the lead of him in all things. Now, neither Peter's nor James's Judaism or Greek are in any degree more marked than we find in the fourth Gospel. Peter's first Epistle at least, is generally admitted to be authentic, and has very early testimony to its authorship ; and James's is generally also admitted as the work of one of the Jewish attributed. But the Judaism of the Apocalypse appears to us a great deal too marked and vehement for that of the apostle who with Peter and James "gave the right hand of fellowship " to St. Paul, as he himself asserts, bidding him go to the heathen ; and here, re- member, we rest on St. Paul's authority alone, not on that of the Acts. Mr. Tayler, like Baur, seems to us to exaggerate very much the no doubt real struggle between the Gentile and Jewish apostles. If we take St. Paul's words in Galatians as our guide, no doubt the tone of the Acts seems too conciliatory, and reads like an at- tempt at representing the compromise as rather more complete than it was. But that there was a real co-operation and hearty com- munity of faith and mutual respect between the apostle to the Gentiles and the Jewish apostles, no one who really accepts St. Paul's account can doubt for a moment. Peter's vacillation at Antioch and timid respect for the Jewish exclusiveness was evi- dently and confessedly due to a momentary failure of strength in him, not a real conflict of principles. If the Apocalypse, in denouncing those who " say they are apostles and are not," really means, as Baur thinks, to deny the apostleship of St. Paul, it could not have been written by St. John. As to the pas- sionate zeal of the sons of Zebedee, even in the gospel of John there is ample trace of a passionate though in some sense feminine vehemence,—for example, in the vehemence of feeling towards Judas, who is accused, in this gospel alone, of being a thief. Mr. Tayler assumes that our Lord's personal influence had had no effect in teaching John " what spirit he was of " when he wished to summon fire from heaven on the Samaritan village,—that his exclusiveness was not softened, but rather in- flamed by his long and close intercourse with his Master.
Moreover, the Apocalypse bears no trace of analogy to any of the other writings which we have any reason to ascribe to personal fol- lowers of our Lord, and in our opinion has the strongest internal evidence of non-apostolic origin. In the vision of the Son of Man there is no trace at all of any recognition by the seer of a long known and long loved master, or of the recognition by our Lord of his best beloved disciple. Indeed, the vision, which is anything but that of an ordinary human form, has to announce itself, —" And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth and was dead," &c., by no means the words for which you would look towards a beloved disciple. Again, the Apocalypse lays unwonted stress on the office of apostle, denouncing those (probably St. Paul is hinted at) who ' say they are apostles, but are not,' and yet it never claims the office for the seer himself. Indeed, he sees the walls of the New Jerusalem with twelve foundations, "and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb," without the least indication that his own name is one of these. Still less is its morality evangelic or apostolic. " For the time is at hand ; he that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is filthy let him be filthy still," &c.,—is this in any keep- ing with that pervading teaching of the Gospels which made the suddenness of the day of the Lord's coming, " as a thief in the night," a reason for early repentance and steadfast watchful- ness, not for regarding it as too late to change either for good or for evil? This sentence alone would seem to us almost decisive as to the non - apostolic origin of the Apocalypse. Moreover, the style of the Apocalypse seems to us to indi- cate a character far too overbearing to have come from a writer who was, as John seems to have been, always subordinate to either his brother James, or afterwards Peter, in apostolic work. In the Acts he is mentioned,—just as he describes himself, if it be himself, in his own gospel,—as a mere colleague and companion of Peter, always yielding to Peter the active leadership and chief personal influence. Mr. Tayler apparently thinks that this, as it appears in the Acts, is a result of the intentional exaltation of Peter by the author of the book,—the aim of the book being to elevate Peter to an equality with St. Paul. But this is surely an exceedingly gratuitous imputation of intellectual distortion of fact. Everywhere in the other gospels Peter takes the same abso- lutely first position among the apostles, and John, when men- tioned at all, is spoken of as a mere companion to his brother. The dependent character which an Ephesian tradition, admitted by Mr. Tayler, assigned to him who " leant on the bosom of the Lord," and who in his extreme old age used to reiterate again and again to his flock, " Little children, love one another," seems to us inconsistent with the whole tone of the Apocalypse. Nor can we easily believe that a mind preoccupied with the simple and direct spiritual teaching of our Lord could have poured itself out in the vague and gorgeous symbolism of a visionary however poetic. This magnificent pictorial imagery is the natural atmosphere of a mind that is not spiritually satisfied, that is gazing forward,
Christians, though it is doubtful to which James it should be not of one that looks back to its fullest life. If ever there were clear indications of a disciple's personal devotion, it is in the Gospel of John ; and if ever they were wholly wanting, it is in the Apocalypse.
But then Mr. Tayler comes to what he thinks his most important argument. There can be no doubt that the fourth Gospel represents our Lord as not eating the ordinary Passover on the day before He was crucified, because it was not the day of the Passover. Judas is described as being supposed to go out to make preparations against the feast, and the priests the next day are afraid to go into the Judgment Hall, lest they should be defiled and unable to eat. the Passover. On the other hand, the narrative of the three first gospels implies that Christ did eat a real passover on the night before His crucifixion. Now, it was recorded in the Ephesian Church, which with the other Churches of Asia Minor long ad-. hered to the practice of keeping the 14th Nisan, the day of the Jewish Passover, as a Christian feast, that John the apostle had always been accustomed to keep this day, and by his authority they defended their apparently Jewish practice. Mr. Tayler regards this as decisive against the apostolic origin of the gospel. The annual Jewish festival could not have become an annual Christian festival, he thinks, except as an anniversary of the Last Supper ; but the anniversary of the Last Supper would have been, according to the author of the fourth Gospel, the day before the Jewish Passover, and not the day of the Passover. Indeed, Mr. Tayler believes that the day was changed intentionally by the author of the fourth Gospel, to put more graphically the Christian belief of St. Paul that Christ was the true paschal lamb, sacrificed on the very day on which the paschal lamb should have been slain, and so superseding the Jewish feast by the Christian fast of what we now call Good Friday. This is also Baur's theory. But there is not a trace in St. John's narrative of the Cruci- fixion to show that the author wanted to represent Christ as the paschal lamb. The quotation of the prophecy, " A bone of him shall not be broken," which Baur refers to the rule about the paschal lamb (Exodus xii. 46), has been shown to be really a quota- tion from the thirty-fourth Psalm describing the sufferings of the righteous and their deliverance, " He keepeth all his bones, so that not one of them is broken." John's narrative of the Crucifixion in- sinuates no dogmatic teaching at all. It is a narrative, and nothing more. Nor can we see the least discrepancy in the author of the fourth Gospel having himself subsequently observed the feast of the Pass- over on the ordinary day. St. Paul clearly did so, and he was cer- tainly much more anti-Judaic than the author of the fourth Gospel. Christ is represented throughout this gospel as sedulously keeping the various feasts. Mr. Tayler argues that with the new associations of the Crucifixion the passover day would have been kept, if at all, as a fast, not as a feast. But that seems to us equally true or untrue, whether it had been kept as the anniversary of the Last Supper, the night of parting agony and betrayal, or as the anniversary of the Crucifixion itself. The Crucifixion was held by all the apostles to have given the finishing touch to the divine act of redemption, to have completed the salvation of the race. It was quite as possible, at all events, to keep the old Jewish feast of redemption in a new sense, in spite of its new and most painful associations, as to keep the anniversary of the night of agony, violence, and treachery as a Christian feast. The Christian feast does not naturally come till Easter Sunday in either case. The associations with the betrayal and agony are at least as little appropriate to a festival, as the associations with the Cross itself. And the redeeming power of the Cross was held to be greater than that of the eucharist. St. Paul " gloried " in the Cross, not in the eucharist. He spoke of " Christ our Passover crucified for us." As for the mere festival of the Lord's Supper, that was not an annual, but a weekly or more frequent festival. The feast of the 14th Nisan could not have been connected merely with the administra- tion of the Lord's Supper, but must have been grounded on the particular events connected with the day of Passover, in its new meaning. So far from agreeing with Mr. Tayler that the Ephesian tradition as to St. John's having con- tinued to keep the old feast of Passover on the old day is in- consistent with his gospel, and consistent with the Synoptic narra- tive, we find it, if anything, perhaps less consistent with the latter than the former ; at all events, absolutely without bearing on the comparative authority of the opposite accounts as to the date in question. St. Paul, we must remember, in recounting the words of our Lord at the Last Supper speaks of them as spoken " on the night on which He was betrayed," not on the night of the Passover, as he would more naturally have done, had he so believed.
Let us gather up what seems to us the positive evidence of the higher accuracy of the fourth Gospel. It is consistent with the
Rabbinical tradition, which makes the Crucifixion take place on the 14th, not on the 15th Nisan, though that tradition may be of little value. It is more natural in itself that a proceeding of this nature should not have taken place on the great day of the most sacred of the Jewish feasts. It is exceedingly unlikely that even the purchases of linen and spices to embalm the body of our Lord should have been made, as the Synoptical account represents, on the greatest of the sabbatical feast days, and it is still more un- likely that such a day should have been described merely, as it is by the first three gospels, as " the preparation for the sabbath," instead of as the first and greatest day of the feast. The whole ac- count of the examination in this gospel of our Lord before Annas and Caiaphas,—the examination before Annas is mentioned nowhere else,—agrees, as is well known, much more minutely, and yet entirely unintentionally, with the actual historical circumstances of the high priesthood at the time as we know them from other sources, than the account in the other three gospels. Then, again, the great difference between the first three and fourth gospels in assigning the date of the cleansing of the Temple seems to us to militate entirely on the aide of the fourth Gospel. We cannot express how ill that event seems to us to agree with the mood of our Lord's mind before the Crucifixion, or how entirely it suits the time when he was fresh from the baptism of John. The discussion, placed in close connection with it in all the gospels, as to the authority of the Baptist and his popularity in Jerusalem, suits infinitely better a time when John was still an active and powerful teacher, than a time when he had been, for many months at least, dead. The confusion and contradiction of the witnesses as to our Lord's words about " destroying the Temple" would be natural if the interval were two years, but scarcely likely if it were only four or five days. Finally, the synoptic gospels, which are all of them different editions or re- censions, with individual additions in each case, of some common oral gospel,—which consist therefore in great degree of a collec- tion of independent fragments,—contain remarkable indications of a longer ministry and a longer period of teaching in Jerusalem than they themselves give any account of. We allude of course especially to the remarkable words, " 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her children under her wings, and ye would not." And there are other slighter indications of the same kind. Indeed we do not believe that our Lord could have gone up to Jerusalem for His first period of public teaching there, with the certainty of approaching death which He evidently felt, if He had never before been in conflict with the chief priests of Jerusalem. St. John alone contains the explanation of the critical character of this last visit to the capital.
When we add to these considerations the remarkable indications of an early and apostolic source, shown in the complete absence of the technical word " apostles " from this gospel,—as in Mark, the apos- tles are only called " the twelve,"—and of all the narrative prefixed to Matthew and Luke as to the conception and birth of our Lord, which would have so well suited the great gospel of the Incarna- tion, and finally, thetouching delineation of private character, such as the various traits which complete the character of Peter, and which are peculiar to this gospel (" Thou shalt never wash my feet," so soon changing into, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and any head"), it seems to us quite impossible that the gospel can be attributed to the first half of the second century, as Mr. Tayler attributes it. No doubt one peculiar element of our Lord's dis- courses is brought out into striking prominence here. But, that it is not invented by this Evangelist, passages like Matthew xi. 25- 27, which any ordinary person would suppose were quotations from the discourses in John, sufficiently prove. Naturally enough, the specially theological elements of Christ's teaching fell out of the popular Galilean tradition. But had they not existed in His teaching, our Lord's ascendancy over the minds which directed the thought of the age could never have been established as it was. To our minds, the wide popular diffusion of Christianity without the Galilean gospels would have been impossible. But the conversion of the theologians, the triumph over men like Paul and Apollos, would have been equally impossible without the great theological tradi- tion of which we find the most perfect account in the gospel of John. Mr. Tayler's learned, lucid, and candid book has tended to confirm, instead of to shake, our conviction of the authenticity of the fourth Gospel.