conversed with him; others conjecture that it was a forgery towards the close of the third century by some zealous believer, who, observing that there had been appeals made by the Christians of the former age, to the acts of Pilate, but that such acts could not be produced, imagined it would be of service to Christianity to fabricate and publish this Gospel; as it would both confirm the Christians under persecution, and convince the Heathens of the truth of the Christian religion. The Rev. Jeremiah Jones says, that such pious frauds were very common among Christians even in the first three centuries; and that a forgery of this nature, with the view above-mentioned, seems natural and probable. The same author, in noticing that Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, charges the Pagans with having forged and published a book, called "The Acts of Pilate," takes occasion to observe that the internal evidence of this Gospel shows it was not the work of any Heathen, but that if in the latter end of the third century we find it in use among Christians (as it was then certainly in some churches), and about the same time find a forgery of the Heathens under the same title, it seems exceedingly probable that some Christians, at that time, should publish such a piece as this, in order partly to confront the spurious one of the Pagans, and partly to support those appeals which had been made by former Christians to the Acts of Pilate; and Mr. Jones says, he thinks so more particularly as we have innumerable instances of forgeries by the faithful in the primitive ages, grounded on less plausible reasons. Whether it be canonical or not, it is of very great antiquity, and is appealed to by several of the ancient Christians. The present translation is made from the Gospel, published by Grynæus in the Orthodoxographa, vol. i. tom. ii. p. 613.]
- ↑ Notwithstanding the diversity of opinions here alluded to, the majority of the learned believe that the internal evidence of the authenticity of this Gospel is manifested in the correct details of that period of Christ's life on which it treats, while it far excels the canonical Evangelists narrative of the trial of our Saviour before Pilate, with more minute particulars of persons, evidence, circumstance, &c.
THE EPISTLES OF
JESUS CHRIST & ABGARUS KING OF EDESSA.
ABGARUS, king of Edessa, to Jesus the good Saviour, who appears at Jerusalem, greeting.
2 I have been informed concerning you and your cures, which are performed without the use of medicines and herbs.
3 For it is reported, that you cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, do both cleanse lepers, and cast out unclean spirits and devils, and restore them to health who have been long diseased; and raiseth up the dead;
4 All which when I heard, I was pursuaded of one of these two, namely, either that you are God himself descended from heaven; who do these things, or the Son of God.
5 On this account therefore I have written to you, earnestly to desire you would take the trouble of a journey hither, and cure a disease which I am under.
6 For I hear the Jews ridicule you and, intend you mischief.
7 My city is indeed small, but neat, and large enough for us both.