AUTHENTICITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
Marsh: Lectures on Divinity, XXUL-XXXTV. Graves: On the Pentateuch. Macdonald: On the Pentateuch. Hengstenberg: Authenticity of the Pentateuch. Keil and Delitzsch: Commentary on Old Testament. Bible Commentary: Introductions to the several books of Scripture. Lange: Commentary. Faber: Horae Mosaicae. Havernick: Introduction to Pentateuch. Norton: Genuineness of the Gospels. Westcott: New Testament Canon. Lightfoot: Examination of " Supernatural Religion." Ebrard: On the Gospel History, Pt. IL Div. ii. Green: Hebrew Feasts; Pentateuch Vindicated; Moses and the Prophets. Curtiss: Levitical Priests. Bissell: Origin of the Pentateuch. Sanday: The Gospels in the Second Century. Bleek, J.: Introduction to the Old Testament. Bleek, F.: Introduction to the New Testament. Watts: The Newer Criticism. Fisher: Supernatural Origin of Christianity. Bartlett: Sources of History in the Pentateuch. Mill: Pantheistic Principles of Interpretation. Essays: On Pentateuchal Criticism.
The authenticity of a book is its genuineness.1 A writteD composition is authentic, if it is the product of the person to whom it is attributed. The Apostles' Creed lacks authenticity, because it was not composed by the Apostles, to whom it is attributed; the Epistle to the Romans is authentic, because it can be proved to be the composition of St. Paul.
The credibility of a book is distinguishable from its au
1 Watson (Apology, Letter II.) defines "an authentic book" as one "that relates matters of fact aa they really happened." This is credibility, and is the earlier use of the term. The later usage makes authenticity to mean genuineness. Compare Shakespeare's use with that of Addison and Burke, in Richardson's Dictionary, sub voce.
thenticity. Gulliver's Travels is authentic, being the genuine product of Swift, but its contents are fictitious. In the case of human products, there may be authenticity without credibility. But in the case of a Divine product, the fact of authenticity establishes the fact of credibility. If it be proved that God is the author of the Bible, the Bible must be credible. Hence in reference to the Scriptures, the two topics of authenticity and credibility are inseparable, and must be discussed in connection with each other.
In establishing the authenticity of the Scriptures, the natural method is first to prove the authenticity of the New Testament, and then to employ the New Testament in demonstrating that of the Old.
1. The first evidence that the writings of the New Testament are genuine is found in the Language. It is Hellenistic Greek, which was the dialect in use at the time when the books of the New Testament purport to have been written; and it is this dialect modified both by the Hebrew cast of thought, and by Hebrew idioms. This accords with the personal traits and peculiarities of the Evangelists and Apostles. Were the New Testament written in the classical Greek of Plato, this would be sufficient to throw doubt upon its authenticity.
2. The second proof of the genuineness of the New Testament writings is found in the testimony of the Ecclesiastical writers of the first three centuries, from Ignatius to Origen. Eusebius collected this testimony as early as 325. It is given in his History (III. xxv.; VH. xxv.); and in his Demonstratio Evangelica. A thorough investigation of this argument was made by Lardner, in his Credibility of the Gospel History. The Introductions of Michaelis, Guericke, Bleek, Reuss, and others, present the subject in a condensed form and with reference to modern attacks.
3. A third argument is found in the testimony of Heretical writers of the first three centuries. The Gnostic theorists in particular rejected some of the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament, while they conceded the genuineness of the writings in which they were contained. This was the case with Marcion, who altered the gospel of St. Luke to make it agree with his view. The Epistles of Paul were also subjected to attack and alteration, particularly with regard to the doctrine of atonement. In these instances, the authenticity was conceded, but the authority and credibility disputed.
4. A fourth argument for the genuineness of the New Testament is found in the testimony of pagan Skeptics of the first three centuries. Celsus, Porphyry, and Lucian do not dispute the authenticity of the New Testament, but its credibility and authority.
5. A fifth argument is found in the early Versions of the New Testament. The Peshito Syriac translation was made about A.d. 175, and the Old Latin (Itala) about the same time. The two Egyptian versions were made about A.d. 250; and the Aethiopic about A.d. 350. It is incredible that these translations should should have been made, if the belief had not been universal in the Church in the years 200 and 300, that the books of the New Testament were the genuine writings of the evangelists and apostles. The first translations of Dante's Divine Comedy were not made until four or five hundred years after its composition, but these versions will always constitute a strong proof of the genuineness of that poem.
6. A sixth argument is found in the doubts that were expressed by some portions of the Church respecting some parts of the New Testament. The so-called Antilegomena (James, Jnde, 2d Peter, 2d and 3d John, Hebrews, and Revelation) were critically examined in reference to their authenticity, and were finally accepted by the whole church. This shows that there was more or less of a critical spirit in the Primitive church, which became satisfied by investigation. As the incredulity of Thomas resulted in the strengthening of the evidence of Christ's resurrection, so the doubts of a portion of the Primitive church resulted in establishing the authenticity of the Antilegomena.
The authenticity of the Old Testament, unlike that of the New, obtains little support from the testimony of those who lived near the time of its origin. Its greater antiquity prevents this. The proof is of a more indirect and general nature; the strongest part of it being the testimony of Christ and his Apostles as given in the New Testament. We shall therefore consider it under the heads of Credibility and Canonicity.