« PoprzedniaDalej »
reply to the latter part of my query,
" When they saw the star, they reviz., whether they are to fulfil the joiced with exceeding great joy.” conditions of Rev. xi. 7-12, i.e., They had evidently lost sight of it whether they are to die, lie unburied for a time-how long we know not, for three days and a half, and then but their “great joy" at seeing it ascend to heaven, &c. ! This is again suggests a sense of previous perhaps too much to expect. difficulty and perplexity. Their
The mention made by “H. S.” of audience of Herod could not fail to my other objections are not really have created misgiving, and now replies, so I need say nothing about they were about publicly to commit them; and as for his remark about an act which would certainly be con“violent prepossessions," why ... strued as one of treason. Their posuch a reminder is unwise from the sition was fast becoming critical. pen of a partisan of the author of Jerusalem was in a fever of excite" Israel in Britain !"
ment. All eyes were turned to Yours faithfully,
Bethlehem. What if, at this juncClevedon. H. GOODWYN. ture, they saw the familiar star in
an opposite direction ? They might THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN well rejoice, since to them it would TO BETHEHEM. be the signal of deliverance.
SucDEAR SIR,—That Bethlehem was cessful in withdrawing themselves the scene of the visit of the magi from public observation, we may admits of doubt. Mr. Skemp fol- suppose that, once more free, they lows the popular belief, and endea- followed with gladsome hearts the vours to reconcile it with the narra- leading of their celestial guide. tive by supposing Joseph and Mary No such miraculous guidance was bad given up their old home, needful to find Bethlehem. The wbither they had temporarily re- road was well known and the directurned after fulfilling the require- tion explicit. No; they were led ments of the Mosaic law, and were by a way far removed from the at the time in question located per- neighbourhood to which a false manently in Bethlehem. Such a scent was attracting the authorities : supposition is possible, but we are to the old Galilean home where we not necessarily “ driven ” to it, as know as a fact the infant Saviour he seems to suppose.
was " brought up." (Luke iv. 16.) The conclusion is forced on me The flight into Egypt was probathat Nazareth, and not Bethlehem, bly effected by sea from the nearest is the spot indicated.
port, to escape the peril of passing That the visit took place some through Herod's territory. In considerable time after the nativity the brief record of the return is conclusive from Herod's conduct. journey, a hint is given as to the The magi having been guided by the means of its accomplishment. If star to Jerusalem, were sent thence by land, how could Joseph, when to Bethlebem by Herod. St. afraid to enter Judea, be said to Matthew informs us that when turn “ aside into the parts of Galithey had departed, the star which lee,"wben geographically the former they saw in the east went before country would have to be traversed them till it came and stood over ere the latter was reached ? The where the young child was. The supposition of a sea passage removes locality is not mentioned, but the the difficulty. Yours faithfully, verse that follows is very suggestive, Putney, 8. W. T. E. B.
Revealed future of the Church and týe &Morld.
LIFE IN CHRIST. FROM THE SYRIAC.
(Continued from page 192.)
EXCEPTIONS TO THE USUAL RENDERING. To
give a fair and full estimate of this ancient translation of the
words soter, soteria, and others of this group, by life-girer, and life, and like words, it is only right to bring under notice some exceptions.
Soter-Saviour-is three times rendered bond-breaker or liberator. The word used is Parukan, from a root, Prk, which means to break, and from which we have our word break, with B in place of the P used by Hebrews, Syrians, and Arabs. Now he who would free them that are bound must break their bonds and liberate them. His office would be that of Parukan. In Luke ii. 11, an angel is addressing the shepherds of Bethlehem, and tells them that for them, being Jews, and for all mankind, there has been, that day, born in the city of David a Saviour, in the Syriac a bond-breaker, or liberator. Why do not the Syrian translators use life-giver here?
On this question we may ask another. When were angels made preachers of the Gospel in its richest and most spiritual teachings ? Was not this treasure put into earthen vessels ? Did not our Lord pass by the angels in the choice of apostles? Then why should an angel preach Christ in His highest office to men who were not ready to appreciate the revelation ? But in the character of bondbreaker the humblest Hebrew was ready to welcome Him ; and just now more ready than before, for the notice from Cæsar Augustus for all to be enrolled for taxation had just expired and set the whole nation into a twofold commotion. All were deeply pondering this further humiliation at the hand of the dominant Gentile; and many were moving over the land to conform to a decree which they dared not defy.
It is no wild fancy to suppose that this very matter was the topic of their thoughts, and the theme of their daily talk, whenever the shepherds met together.
And if there was one godly man among them waiting for the consolation of Israel, who believed the prophets, for every Hebrew child knew them in the letter, our pious shepherd would tell his neighbours of what was written. In Isaiah lx. he would find grand utterances as to their future as a people, and then in the opening of the next chapter he could show them how Messiah is “to proclaim liberty to the captive," and "opening of prisons to the bound," and many other blessings which cannot be enjoyed by them until the yoke of servitude is broken. This view of the work of the Messiah is just suited to the capacity of the shepherds to understand, and to the brevity of the message which the angelherald was sent to utter. It is also true that in a lower sense the first advent and the preaching that followed has given liberty to prisoners, serfs, and slaves. Nor is it difficult to elevate the mind from conceptions of social and political freedom brought by Christ to higher ones of liberation from the bonds of law, sin, and death.
The second case of translation in Syriac of the word soter by Parukan, liberator, is Acts xiii. 23. Paul is preaching in a synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, and in his sermon exclaims, Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you feareth God, to you is this word of life sent," see verse 26. If, then, verse 23 be rendered Liberator, as more level with the capacity of the Hebrew hearers, as the discourse advances we get the higher conception. Forgiveness of sin, justification, and life are all to be had through the crucified and risen Jesus. In this discourse we have the same definition of the Gospel as angels have given already. “ The word of this life," says the first angel. *Words by which thou mayest live," says the second angel. “ This word of life,” says the Apostle Paul. Again, in this discourse Paul quotes an oracle, uttered only by Isaiah, to prove that Christ's resurrection was foretold. But the whole passage proves much more. It proves that life everlasting was to come through Him who is called the sure mercies of David. Incline
your ear and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Isa. lv. 3.)
The risen Christ received by the believer as hope and power of endless life, is the everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David. And this teaching is equivalent to our Lord's declaration, “ Because I live, ye shall live also.” Although Liberator has been used by our Syriac translators in rendering this discourse of the Apostle Paul, it is so used that the reader cannot fail to be led higher than the removal of disabilities, even to the loftier conception of our Lord as Life-giver.
The third and only instance, not in the writings of Luke, in the portions of the New Testament known to the men who translated the Peshito, is in 1 John iv. 14. We read in the authorised version thus, " And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent
the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” In the Greek soter is in apposition with son, and so the Peshito has it. Now, the observation already made as to the effect of Christ's mission on human liberty in the secular sense applies here. Paul did not think it beneath him to write of God, who is the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that believe, although the sense in which saviour is used in the former case is far below the meaning of it in the case of believers. Nor did the Holy Spirit suffer Paul to forget that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. Then why should not John once advert to the fact that God appointed His Son to be a breaker of secular bonde as well as the giver of life eternal ?
We now proceed to consider soter as found in 2 Peter, where it occurs five times. We have already stated that this document had not come into the hands of those holy men who rendered the Evangelists, Acts, Paul's Epistles, James, 1 Peter, 1 John, and perhaps Jude, into the Syriac of the Peshito. Great changes had taken place in the professed Christian Church before 2 Peter was added to The Syriac Testament. Men who were from the school of Plato had before then brought in notions of the nature of man not found in the Scriptures, and these men got into places of influence as teachers.
The heresy which they favoured flattered human nature, and had a semblance of truth about it, and so it attracted the proud, and beguiled the unwary. After this a Life-giver who quickened for immortality gave place to a Liberator who freed from the bonds of sin and the penalties of law, and set the immortal one on a course of better living.
Reformation drove regeneration in any real sense out of the field. But as the latter idea could not be got out of the book, a use had to be found for it, which, being unwarranted and false, became a fearful abuse to this day.
Under this new evil influence the rest of the New Testament was added to the Peshito. Instead of Jude, the brother of James and John the apostle, with Silas and Luke and Titus and Timothy to supply the churches of Syria and many others in Asia Minor, who used the language of the Peshito with the remainder of the New Testament, it fell to the lot of churchmen who were under these new influences, men who fancied they were already immortal and needed not to come to Christ for life, but only for liberty. It is, then, no marvel that this translation falls below the almost inspired one-the Peshito.
Those whom we call Nestorians, but who call themselves Chaldean Christians, use the Peshito in their worship to this day, and have done so all along the Christian era, so that this translation has been guarded by a providential care that cannot be claimed even for the Greek text. This remark does not apply to the additions of later date. In these soter is always rendered by forms of Prk. It is so in 2 Peter, and yet every case of its occurrence in
this epistle would be better translated in harmony with the elder portions of the New Testament. To show this, let us read the passages wherein soter is used throughout this epistle after the usage of the Peshito. 2 Peter i. 1: “Simon Peter a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who of a faith equal in preciousness with us have drunk through the righteousness which is of our Lord and Life-giver Jesus Christ."' Verse 11: “For thus shall be made ready and given to you a more excellent entrance of the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Life-girrr Jesus Christ."
We have already seen that to enter into the kingdom is equivalent to the entrance into life, so that Christ through whom only it can be entered is specially the Life-giver. Another instance of soter is 2 Peter ii. 20, “ For if when they have escaped from the agitations of the world, by a slight knowledge of the Lord and Life-giver Jesus Christ, they entangle themselves with these things and are again overcome, this last state is worse than the first."
Whether we read escape from the agitations or the pollutions of the world, our Lord is here presented in a higher character than a mere human liberator. Only the man who rises above trust in man or in princes and human governments, and enters into sympathy with the divine plan of the future of this world, when the Lord shall be King over all the earth, can surmount worldly agitations, and when men's hearts are failing " for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming upon the earth,” can look up, and lift up his head with joy, knowing that his redemption draweth nigh. The power to do this is from Christ.
Then as to keeping unspotted from the world ; this too is possible only through regenerate life, refreshed by living water and fed by that true bread from heaven which is given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Neither calmness and confidence on the battle-field of life, nor purity and perfection of character can come from the forces of nature, or the philosophies of flesh and blood, but only from Him who could say to His adversaries, Which of you convinces me of sin ?'' and to His friends, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He only is the source of whatever is strong and holy in the divine life.
The fourth occurrence of soter is 2 Peter iii. 2. Beginning with the chapter, we read from the Syriac, “An epistle, which is a second
, one, I write to you, in both of which I testify with the witness of your good society, which witness to the words which aforetime were spoken by the holy prophets, and to the commandments of our Lord and Life-giver by the hand of apostles."
As if Peter had said, We must contend earnestly for the truth, both of the Old and New Testaments, which has hitherto been the matter of our testimony, for men are rising up who will seek to set tha: truth aside. Your churches are witnessing to that truth, and I am doing the same, and we must stand by it to the end. Danger and death need not deter us, for we have from Christ eternal life.