THE GOSPELS:
      Truth Transported Accurately Through Time

     By Richard Watson
THE GOSPELS:
Truth Transported Accurately Through Time
By Richard Watson.
VOL. 3 NO. 12 August 2001

Edited from Conversations For The Young
By Richard Watson
.

From the beginning of this book: "The following little volume is of humble pretensions, but has aimed at supplying the want of such an introduction to the reading of the Holy Scriptures, by young people who have not many advantages from books, or leisure..." Editor One Methodist: Obviously, young people in 1830 were a much more serious lot that today's youth. How many of today's young people, even Christian young people, would read such a serious work?

Question: The publication of the Gospels so early [in time - editor] appears also to have been wisely ordered.

Answer: Manifestly so; for although Christianity had been largely propagated and received by thousands and tens of thousands who had been witnesses of the facts they recorded, or had received them from the apostles and first disciples, before the Gospels were written, they were all published before those persons had passed away who might have contradicted them; and they were received as authentic histories by multitudes who had the means of knowing the truth of their statements. St. Matthew's Gospel was written first; not later than A. D. 37. St. Mark's Gospel about A. D. 60. St. Luke's about the same time; and St. John's a little later. The three first dwell more at large on the discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee; St. John, more particularly on those in Judea and Jerusalem. Two facts are always to be remembered, as connected with this subject: First, that Christianity had formed large and flourishing churches in Jerusalem and other places, on the ground of the very facts reported in the Gospels being true, (for they had too many witnesses to be contradicted,) before a single Gospel was written; and, Second, that they were all published before that generation had passed away, which had witnessed the things recorded.

Question: In what language were they written?

Answer: In Greek; as being the well known in Judea, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, and even in Italy: so that in no language at that time so universal, could they have been composed. But translations of them into the vernacular tongues of all these countries were rapidly made. Question: Before printing was discovered, all books would of course be written: are the original manuscripts of the Gospels in existence? Answer: Manifestly so; for although Christianity had been largely propagated and received by thousands and tens of thousands who had been witnesses of the facts they recorded, or had received them from the apostles and first disciples, before the Gospels were written, they were all published before those persons had passed away who might have contradicted them; and they were received as authentic histories by multitudes who had the means of knowing the truth of their statements. St. Matthew's Gospel was written first; not later than A. D. 37. St. Mark's Gospel about A. D. 60. St. Luke's about the same time; and St. John's a little later. The three first dwell more at large on the discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee; St. John, more particularly on those in Judea and Jerusalem. Two facts are always to be remembered, as connected with this subject: First, that Christianity had formed large and flourishing churches in Jerusalem and other places, on the ground of the very facts reported in the Gospels being true, (for they had too many witnesses to be contradicted,) before a single Gospel was written; and, Second, that they were all published before that generation had passed away, which had witnessed the things recorded.

Question: In what language were they written?

Answer: In Greek; as being the well known in Judea, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, and even in Italy: so that in no language at that time so universal, could they have been composed. But translations of them into the vernacular tongues of all these countries were rapidly made.

Question: Before printing was discovered, all books would of course be written: are the original manuscripts of the Gospels in existence?

Answer: No; but many hundred copies of them still exist; and also of translations which were made from still older copies of the originals, as high as the second century: and the agreement of the most ancient versions with the Greek manuscripts now in being, shows that the latter were faithfully transcribed from still older manuscripts, as those were from the originals themselves.

Question: But I have heard of a great number of "various readings;" that is, as I understand it, verbal and other differences between these manuscripts of the books of the New Testament, produced by the mistakes of transcribers, or from a difference in the copies. How does this circumstance affect the received text?

Answer: The various readings do not in any degree affect the credit and integrity of the text; the general uniformity of which, in so many copies, scattered through almost all countries in the known world, and in so great a variety of languages, is truly astonishing; and demonstrates the veneration in which the Scriptures were held, and the great care which was taken in transcribing them. Of the hundred and fifty thousand various readings, which have been discovered by the care and diligence of those who have compared numerous manuscripts with one another, not a      (continued in next column)

hundredth part make any perceptible, or, at least, any material, variation in the sense. The reason they are so numerous is, that every the minutest deviation has been noted; as, the insertion or omission of an article, the substitution of a word for its equivalent, the transposition of the place of a word for its equivalent, the transposition of the place of a word, and even variations in orthography. Where the sense is at all affected by a different reading, it is generally of little importance which reading is adopted; as, to give one instance, whether we read, "Paul, the servant," or "Paul, the prisoner, of Jesus Christ." In the very few instances which affect any important doctrine, the doctrine does not rest alone upon them; but is found in many other passages, about which there is no doubt.

Question: There are, I presume, various readings of other ancient books; as, of Homer, Terence, &c.

Answer: Yes; and it is from the light afforded by this variety, that critics have been able to establish a purer text. Those authors which were most read and copied have the greatest number of various readings: but the true text of such books is, for this reason, the better ascertained; while the text of all books of which but few manuscripts have ben found, remain obscrure and unsatisfactory in many places, for want of the means of more extensive comparison of one reading with another; for which the true reading so often breaks forth with such irresistible evidence, as to be universally received by scholars. Apply this well known and established literary fact to the Scriptures. No books were ever so early or so widely spread, or so often transcribed; nor have the various readings of any ancient books been sought after which so much pains and scrupulosity. "The consequence is," says a critic, "that of no ancient books whatsoever do we possess a text so critically correct, so satisfactorily perfect, as that which exists in the best editions of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures."

Currently, Richard Watson's Theological Dictionary is back in print! This edition contains 220 entries ranging from a paragraph to several pages. Watson addresses philosophical issues, comparative religions, apologetics, matters of hermeneutics, and basic Christian beliefs. Watson's definitions and historical accounts, his exegesis and citation of primary sources will strength this generation of ill-equipped Arminians to defend their faith.

To read more about this book or to order it, please go to the Fundamental Wesleyan Society & Press homepage at http://www.fwponline.cc/ and scroll down.

One Methodist receives nothing from any booksales except the satisfaction that quality Methodist books are once again in the marketplace!


QUOTE UNQUOTE

I receive a lot of magazines, most of which I dutifully and joyously never read. I looked at one recently after I came home in the evening, and it had a question and answer department in it.
One question was: "Dear Doctor So and So: What about the whale swallowing Jonah? Do you believe that?" And the good doctor replied: "Yes, I believe it. Science proves that there are whales big enough to swallow men." I folded the magazine, and laid it down, for that man had come up to bat, but he had struck out beautifully. For I believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not because a scientist has crawled in and measured a whale's belly, and come out and said, "Yes, God can do that."
If God said that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, then the whale swallowed Jonah, and we do not need a scientist to measure the gullet of the whale.
-- A.W. Tozer [The Tozer Pulpit] (1897 - 1963)


The editor, while agreeing with the content presented in this newsletter, does not necessarily endorse all of a writer's works, doctrines, etc. The editor is solely responsible for all mistakes.


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