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1 SINCE many have undertaken to prepare an account of 2 those things which are fully believed among us; according as those delivered them unto us, who from the beginning 3 were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Word'; it hath seemed good to me also, having gained exact knowledge2 of all things from the first, to write them unto thee in order, 4 most excellent Theophilus; that thou mayest know the certainty of those things in which thou hast been instructed *. 2 Or, exactly
1 viz. Christ. See John i. 1; and Cappe's Crit. Rem. p. 19. traced, N. m.
*The remaining verses of this, and the whole of the second chapter, are printed in Italics, as an indication that they are of doubtful authority: for though they are to be found in all manuscripts and versions which are now extant, yet the following considerations have induced many to doubt whether they were really written by Luke:
1. The evangelist expressly affirms that Jesus had entered upon, or, as Grotius understands it, had completed, his thirtieth year in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, chap. iii. 1. 23. See Grot. in loc. He must therefore have been born fifteen years before the death of Augustus, A. U. C. 752 or 753: but the latest period assigned for the death of Herod is the spring of A.U.C. 751, and he died, probably, the year before. See Lardner's Works, vol. i. p. 423-428, and Jones's Developement of Facts, vol. i. p. 365-368. Herod therefore must have been dead upwards of two years before Christ was born. A fact which invalidates the whole narration, and makes it impossible that the writer of the history should have been the writer of the preliminary chapters.
2. The first and second chapters of this gospel were wanting in the copies used by Marcion, a reputed heretic, who flourished very early in the second century. His gospel was undoubtedly that of Luke, though he does not mention the evangelist's name: and he maintains its antiquity, authenticity, and integrity. Marcion was one of those, who being ashamed of the simplicity of the gospel blended it with the wild speculations of an erroneous philosophy. But his character was unimpeached even by his bitterest enemies, till it was ca
5 In the days of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a cerlain priest named Zachariah, of the course of Abijah: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Eli6 sabeth. And they were both righteous in the sight of God,
walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord 7 unblameably. And they had no child, because Elisabeth was barren; and they were both far advanced in years.
And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's of 9 fice before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to go into the temple 10 of the Lord and to burn incense. And the whole multitude of 11 the people were praying without, at the time of incense. And
there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the 12 right hand of the altar of incense. And when Zachariah saw 13 him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel
lumniated by Epiphanius, 200 years after his death. He is accused by his enemies of mutilating and corrupting the Scriptures. The falsehood of many of the charges alleged hy Epiphanius is exposed by Dr. Lardner. But at any rate it would be the most egregious trifling to argue that those who appeal to the testimony of Marcion in a particular case, are bound to follow him in all the eccentricities of his opinions.
3. The evangelist, in his preface to the history of the Acts of the Apostles, reminds his friend Theophilus, Acts i. 1, that his former history contained an account of the public ministry of Jesus, but makes no allusion to the remarkable incidents contained in the two first chapters: which, therefore, probably were not written by him.
4. If the account of the miraculous conception of Jesus be true, he could not be the offspring of David and of Abraham, from whom it was predicted, and by the Jews expected, that the Messiah should descend.
5. There is no allusion to any of these extraordinary facts in either of the succeeding histories of Luke, or in any other books of the New Testament. Jesus is uniformly spoken of as the son of Joseph and Mary, and as a native of Nazareth, and no expectation whatever appears to have been excited in the public mind by these wonderful and notorious events.
6. The style of the two first chapters is different from the rest of the history— the date of the enrolment, ch. ii, 1, 2, is a great historical difficulty-that John the Baptist should have been ignorant of the person of Christ is not probable, if this narrative be true: John i. 31-34. And there are many other circumstances in the story which wear an improbable and fabulous aspect. vanson's Disson. ch. i. sect. 3. p. 57.
See likewise the note upon the two first chapters of Matthew, and the references there.
It has however been alleged that the narrative of Luke does not necessarily
said unto him, "Fear not, Zachariah: for thy prayer hath been heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and 14 thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and 15 gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall
be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the holy spirit, 16 even from his mother's womb. And many of the sons of Israel 17 he shall turn to the Lord their God. And he shall
go before Christ in the sight of the Lord God', with the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers together with the children, and the disobedient by the wisdom of the righteous; 18 to make ready for the Lord a prepared people." And Zachariah said unto the angel, "By what shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is far advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered and said unto him, “I am Gabriel,
1 See Newcome's note.
imply the miraculous conception, and consequently that the prefatory chapters to this gospel may stand, though those in Matthew were given up. And much ingenuity has been displayed in explaining Luke i. 26-38, consistently with this hypothesis. To which it seems sufficient to reply, that the words have hitherto been universally understood as plainly asserting the miraculous concep. tion of Jesus Christ, and that no other interpretation was heard of for seventeen hundred years. A sense so novel, therefore, is not likely to be the true meaning of the passage. At any rate, the chronological difficulty remains the same; and the fabulous circumstances, such as a host of angels singing in the air, &c. &c. give a cast of improbability to the whole narrative. See Dr. Carpenter's Unitarianism the Doctrine of the Gospel, ed. 2, p. 353.
It has been objected, that so large and gross an interpolation could not have escaped detection, and would never have been so early and so generally received.
In reply to this objection it is observed, that this interpolation was not admitted into the Hebrew copies of Matthew's gospel, nor into Marcion's copies of Luke-that it is notorious that forged writings under the names of the apostles were in circulation almost from the apostolic age. See 2 Thess. ii. 2.—that the orthodox charge the heretics with corrupting the text; and that the heretics recriminate upon the orthodox-also that it was much easier to introduce interpolations when copies were few and scarce, than since they have been multiplied to so great a degree by means of the press: and finally, that the interpolation in question would, to the generality of Christians, be extremely gratifying, as it would lessen the odium attached to Christianity from its founder being a crucified Jew, and would elevate him to the dignity of the heroes and demi-gods of the heathen mythology. See Introduction, sect. ii. note.
who stand in the presence of God; and 1 am sent to speak unto 20 thee, and to tell thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day in which these things will be performed; because thou hast not believed my words, which will be fulfilled in their season."
Now the people were in expectation of Zachariah, and won22 dered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came
out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he made signs unto them, 23 and remained speechless. And it came to pass that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived; and she 25 concealed herself five months, saying, “The Lord hath thus dealt with me, in the days wherein he hath looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
AND in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from 27 God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused
to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and the vir28 gin's name was Mary. And the angel entered in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured: the Lord 29 is with thee: blessed art thou among women." And1 she was
much troubled [at his saying], and considered what kind of 30 salutation this could be. And the angel said unto her, "Fear 31 not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, 32 and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give 33 unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign
over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there 34 shall be no end." Then said Mary to the angel, "How can 35 this be, since I know not man?" And the angel answered and said unto her, "The holy spirit shall come upon thee, and
And when she saw him, R.T.
2 at his saying, omitted by N.
the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore that holy child also who shall be born of thee shall be called a 36 son of God. And, behold, thy kinswoman Elisabeth she also
hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth 37 month with her that was called barren. For with God nothing 38 is impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And the angel departed from her.
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the moun40 tainous country with haste, to a city of Judea, and entered 41 into the house of Zachariah, and greeted Elisabeth. And it
came to pass that, when Elisabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb: and Elisabeth was filled with 42 the holy spirit, and spake out with a loud voice, and said,
"Blessed art thou among women; and blessed is the fruit of 43 thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my 44 Lord should come unto me? for, lo, as soon as the voice of
thy greeting sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my 45 womb for joy. And happy is she who believed that there would be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."
Then Mary said, "My soul magnifieth the Lord; and my 47 spirit rejoiceth greatly in God my Saviour. For he hath re48 garded the humble state of his servant: for, behold, henceforth 49 all generations will pronounce me happy. For he that is mighty 50 hath done to me great things; and holy is his name; and his 51 mercy, is on those who fear him, to all generations1. He
showeth strength with his arm: he scattereth those who are 52 proud in the imagination of their hearts. He putteth down the mighty from their thrones; and exalleth those of humble 53 state. He filleth the hungry with good things; and the rich 54 he sendeth away empty. He helpeth his servant Israel, that 55 (as he promised unto our fathers) he might remember his
Gr. to generations of generatious, N. m. Or, to generation and generation, Mss.