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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/184

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

one of the most valid results of New Testament criticism, of immeasurably greater importance than the discussion about dates and authorship.

But if, as I believe to be the case, beyond any rational doubt or dispute, the second Gospel is the nearest extant representative of the oldest tradition, whether written or oral, how comes it that it contains neither the "Sermon on the Mount" nor the "Lord's Prayer," those typical embodiments, according to Dr. Wace, of the "essential belief and cardinal teaching" of Jesus? Not only does "Mark's" Gospel fail to contain the "Sermon on the Mount,"or anything but a very few of the sayings contained in that collection; but, at the point of the history of Jesus where the "Sermon" occurs in "Matthew," there is in "Mark" an apparently unbroken narrative, from the calling of James and John to the healing of Simon's wife's mother. Thus the oldest tradition not only ignores the "Sermon on the Mount," but, by implication, raises a probability against its being delivered when and where the later "Matthew" inserts it in his compilation.

And still more weighty is the fact that the third Gospel, the author of which tells us that he wrote after "many" others had "taken in hand" the same enterprise; who should therefore have known the first Gospel (if it existed), and was bound to pay to it the deference due to the work of an apostolic eye-witness (if he had any reason for thinking it was so)—this writer, who exhibits far more literary competence than the other two, ignores any "Sermon on the Mount," such as that reported by "Matthew," just as much as the oldest authority does. Yet "Luke" has a great many passages identical, or parallel, with those in "Matthew's" "Sermon on the Mount," which are, for the most part, scattered about in a totally different connection.

Interposed, however, between the nomination of the apostles and a visit to Capernaum; occupying, therefore, a place which answers to that of the "Sermon on the Mount" in the first Gospel, there is, in the third Gospel, a discourse which is as closely similar to the "Sermon on the Mount" in some particulars, as it is widely unlike it in others.

This discourse is said to have been delivered in a "plain" or "level place" (Luke vi, 17), and by way of distinction we may call it the "Sermon on the Plain."

I see no reason to doubt that the two evangelists are dealing, to a considerable extent, with the same traditional material; and a comparison of the two "sermons" suggests very strongly that

    the present results of criticism. At page 366 he writes that the present burning question is whether the "relatively primitive narration and the root of the other synoptic texts is contained in Matthew or in Mark. It is only on this point that properly informed (sachkundige) critics differ," and he decides in favor of Mark.