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334
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

answers are conceivable, equally reasonable and sufficient. If it was St. Mark's object to record our Lord's acts rather than his teaching, what right has Prof. Huxley, from his purely human point of view, to find fault with him? If, from a Christian point of view, St. Mark was inspired by a divine guidance to present the most vivid, brief, and effective sketch possible of our Lord's action as a Saviour, and for that purpose to leave to another writer the description of our Lord as a teacher, the phenomenon is not less satisfactorily explained. St. Mark, according to that tradition of the Church which Prof. Huxley believes to be quite worthless, but which his authority Holtzmann does not, was in great measure the mouth-piece of St. Peter. Now, St, Peter is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, in his address to Cornelius, as summing up our Lord's life in these words: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him"; and this is very much the point of view represented in St. Mark's Gospel. When, in fact, Prof. Huxley asks, in answer to Holtzmann, who is again unfavorable to his views, "What conceivable motive could Mark have for omitting it?"[1] the answers that arise are innumerable. Perhaps, as has been suggested, St. Mark was more concerned with acts than words; perhaps he wanted to be brief; perhaps he was writing for persons who wanted one kind of record and not another; and, above all, perhaps it was not so much a question of "omission" as of selection. It is really astonishing that this latter consideration never seems to cross the mind of Prof. Huxley and writers like him. The Gospels are among the briefest biographies in the world. I have sometimes thought that there is evidence of something superhuman about them in the mere fact that, while human biographers labor through volumes in order to give us some idea of their subject, every one of the Gospels, occupying no more than a chapter or two in length of an ordinary biography, nevertheless gives us an image of our Lord sufficiently vivid to have made him the living companion of all subsequent generations. But if "the gospel of Jesus Christ" was to be told within the compass of the sixteen chapters of St. Mark, some selection had to be made out of the mass of our Lord's words and deeds as recorded by the tradition of those "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word." The very greatness and effectiveness of these four Gospels consist in this wonderful power of selection, like that by which a great artist depicts a character and a figure in half a dozen touches; and Prof. Huxley may, perhaps, to put the matter on its lowest level, find out a conceivable motive for St. Mark's omissions when he can produce such an effective narrative

  1. "Popular Science Monthly" for June, 1889, p. 171.