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It proves at least, that the books, whoever were the authors of them, were composed by persons living in the time and country in which these things were transacted; and consequently capable, by their situation, of being well informed of the facts which they relate. And the argument is stronger when applied to the New Testament, than it is in the case of almost any other writings, by reason of the mixed nature of the allusions which this book contains. The scene of action is not confined to a single country, but displayed in the greatest cities of the Roman empire. Allusions are made to the manners and principles of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews. This variety renders a forgery proportionably more difficult, especially to writers of a posterior age. A Greek or Roman Christian, who lived in the second or third century, would have been wanting in Jewish literature; a Jewish convert in those ages would have been equally deficient in the knowledge of Greece and Rome*.
Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament (Marsh's translation), e. ii. sect. xi.
This, however, is an argument which depends entirely upon an induction of par ticulars; and as, consequently, it carries with it little force, without a view of the instances upon which it is built, I have to request the reader's attention to a detail of examples, distinctly and articulately pro posed. In collecting these examples, I have done no more than epitomise the first volume of the first part of Dr. Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History. And I have brought the argument within its present compass, first, by passing over some of his sections in which the accordancy appeared to me less certain, or upon sub jects not sufficiently appropriate or circumstantial; secondly, by contracting every section into the fewest words possible, contenting myself for the most part with a mere apposition of passages; and, thirdly, by omitting many disquisitions, which, though learned and accurate, are not abso lutely necessary to the understanding or verification of the argument.
The writer principally made use of in the inquiry, is Josephus. Josephus was born
at Jerusalem four years after Christ's ascension. He wrote his history of the Jewish war some time after the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the year of our Lord LXX, that is, thirty-seven years after the ascension; and his history of the Jews he finished in the year XCIII, that is, sixty years after the ascension.
At the head of each article, I have referred, by figures included in brackets, to the page of Dr. Lardner's volume, where the section, from which the abridgement is made, begins. The edition used, is that of 1741.
I. [p. 14.] Matt. ii. 22. "When he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee."
In this passage it is asserted, that Archelaus succeeded Herod in Judea; and it is implied, that his power did not extend to
Galilee. Now we learn from Josephus, that Herod the Great, whose dominion ineluded all the land of Israel, appointed Archelaus his successor in Judea, and as signed the rest of his dominions to other sons; and that this disposition was ratified, as to the main parts of it, by the Roman emperor *.
Saint Matthew says, that Archelaus reigned, was king in Judea. Agreeably to this, we are informed by Josephus, not only that Herod appointed Archelaus his successor in Judea, but that he also appointed him with the title of King; and the Greek verb Barive, which the evangelist uses to denote the government and rank of Archelaus, is used likewise by Josephus †.
The cruelty of Archelaus's character, which is not obscurely intimated by the evangelist, agrees with divers particulars in his history, preserved by Josephus"In the tenth year of his government,
*Ant. lib. xvii. c. 8. sect. 1.
+ De Bell. lib. i. c. 33. sect. 7:
the chief of the Jews and Samaritans, not being able to endure his cruelty and tyranny, presented complaints against him to Cæsar *"
II. [p. 19.] Luke iii. 1. "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar,-Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, the word of God came unto John."
By the will of Herod the Great, and the decree of Augustus thereupon, his two sons were appointed, one (Herod Antipas) tetrarch of Galilee and Peræa, and the other (Philip) tetrarch of Trachonitis and the neighbouring countries. We have therefore these two persons in the situations in which Saint Luke places them; and also, that they were in these situations in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, in other words, that they continued in possession of their territories and titles until that time, and
* Ant. lib. xvii. c. 13. sect. 1.
↑ Ant. lib. xvii, c. 8. sect. 1.