Images de page
PDF
ePub

"In examining the whole passage, especially in the original, an attentive reader will perceive an advance in the thought. There is presented, at first, the general custom, and then a specific case, namely, after returning from the market. If in common, the hands were washed before eating, the reader is prepared to hear that, after returning from a mixed crowd of people, something different from, or additional to, this washing, was performed. An English reader might overlook this, on account of the repetition of the word wash in the fourth verse; although I cannot but think he would, if attentive, be sensible of some deficiency in the representation, unless he should conclude from the repeated use of the same word wash, that his expectation of a more formal and thorough ceremony after returning from market, was an incorrect one. But to a careful reader of the Greek, no such sense of deficiency arises, and no such disappointment occurs. For, as further showing that there was a difference between the two instances of washing, I observe,

“In the second place, two different Greek words are employed to express the washing in the two different cases. In the third verse we read ean me nipscontai; while in the fourth, we read ean me baptisoontai. These two words well correspond to the circumstances of the two cases; and rendered according to the proper meaning, clearly exhibit the advance in the thought. To make this matter plain to a mere English reader, I observe, there is a difference between these two verses in the original, like what would be felt if they were thus translated: For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not; and when they come from the market, except they bathe, they eat not.'

“To proceed. Since now there is a plain difference between these two cases of washing, as suggested both by the occasions and by the different verbs employed in the original, what was the precise difference between them? Was it that, on common occasions, they washed their hands only; while on the occasion of returning from market, they immersed, or bathed, their whole persons? So thought Vatablus, a distinguished professor of Hebrew at Paris, for whom the Jews of his acquaintance entertained a very high regard. “They bathed,' says he, on Mark vii. 4, 'their whole persons. So thought Grotius, who says on Mark vii. 4, “They cleansed themselves more carefully from defilement contracted at the market, to wit, by not only washing their hands, but even by immersing their body. In conformity to this, may the passage in Mark be rendered without the least violence to its language. In conformity with this, too, were the conveniencies among the Jews; accommodations for frequent ablutions were every where ready. Nor with their mode of dress, would the practice be so cumbersome as it would be among us.

“That some of the stricter sort, that many, enough to justify the Evangelist's general expression, did practise total ablution on the occasion mentioned, is altogether credible. Kuinoel, however, in his commentary, asserts that the existence of such a custom among the Pharisees, is not sustained by sufficient arguments. In the absence of clear, satisfying proof, it is not becoming to make any positive assertions. However striking the lenguage of Mark may

by some, be considered, as recognizing such a practice, (and the language is certainly coincident with such a practice, especially when we look at it by the investigations respecting baptizo on the pr. ceding pages,) yet I am not disposed to urge it. But assuming the ground that the Evangelist did not intend to distinguish a total bathing from a partial washing, I again inquire, did he distinguish one sort of partial washing from another sort of partial washing, one of which sorts was performed by the dipping of the hands into water, and thus was properly expressed by the peculiar term (baptizo) which he has employed? If so, this word is here used in its radical, proper meaning; and consequently, examined in its connexion, is so far from requiring, or justifying Professor Stuart's view of its meaning, that it is a decisive instance against his view.

“I have already said, that the word (baptisoontai) in this passage, may, without any violence, be considered as distinguishing a total immersion from a washing of the hands. I am by no means satisfied, however, that this is a necessary view of the passage. The verb is in the middle voice; and as there is no object expressed after it, it would be lawful in order to express the Greek, to employ, as Professor Stuart has, the word themselves as being contained in the verb itself; so that the translation would be, "except they immerse or bathe themselves." Still as the verb (nipsoontai) in the former part of the passage, has, in the middle voice, an object (cheiras, hands, after it, it is certainly justifiable, though not necessary, to maintain that the verb in the latter part of the passage (baptisoontai) has the same word understood after it, for its object. The passage would then read, “The Pharisees...except they wash their hands oft, eat not..... and when they come from the market, except they immerse, or bathe, their hands, they eat not.' The ambiguity in the Greek is much the same as there is in the following English sentence: "The Pharisees...except they wash their hands oft, eat not.....and when they come from the market, except they bathe, they eat not.' The word hands may be considered as understood after the word bathe, or the word themselves may be understood. The illustration is a complete one, because we are not in the habit of distinguishing between different modes of washing the hands.

“I proceed now to the inquiry, whether there were two sorts of washing of the hands, and what the distinction between them. The following quotations exhibit all that I have to offer; and I present them the more readily, as they are selected from Pedobaptist writers:

"Jahn, in his Biblical Archaeology, section 320, makes the following statement: "The washing of hands before the meals (a custom which originated from the practice of conveying food to the mouth in the fingers,) was eventually made a religious duty; on the ground that, if any one, though unconscious of the circumstance at the time, had touched any thing, whatever it might be, which was unclean, and remained unwashed, when he ate, he thereby communicated the contamination to the food also. The Pharisees judged the omission of this ablution to be a crime of equal magnitude with fornication, and worthy of death.

“They taught that if a person had not departed from the house,

the hands, without the fingers being distended, should be wet with water poured over them, and then elevated so that the water might flow down to the elbows; furthermore, the water was to be poured a second time over the arms, in order

that, (the hands being held down,) it might flow over the fingers. This practice is alluded to in Mark vii. 3. On the contrary, those who had departed from the house, washed in a bath, or, at least, immersed their hands in water with the fingers distended. The ceremony in this case, Mark vii. 4,) is denominated ean me baptisoontai;' (except they immerse, or bathe.)

“Dr. George Campbell, on Mark vii. 3, 4, says, 'For illustrating this passage, let it be observed-first, that the two verbs, rendered wash in the English translation, are different in the original. The first is nipsoontai, properly translated wash; the second is baptisoontai, which limits us to a partidular mode of washing; for baptizo denotes to plunge, to dip. This is more especially the import, when the words are, as here, opposed to each other. Otherwise niptein, like the general word to wash in English, may be used for baptizein, to dip, because the genus comprehends the species; but not conversely baptizein for baptein, the species for the genus. By this interpretation the words which, as rendered in the common version, are unmeaning, appear both significant and emphatical; and the contrast in the Greek is preserved in the translation. Accordingly Dr. Campbell translates the passage thus: “For the Pharisees.... eat not until they have washed their hands, by pouring a little water upon them; and if they be come from the market, by dipping them.'

“Rosenmuller, in his notes on this passage, speaks of two modes of washing the hands, namely, immersion of the bands in water, and, when one hand is washed by the other.'

“Kuinoel also speaking of the opinion entertained by some, that a total ablution was performed in case of returning from the market, says, 'But an immersion of the hands, duly performed, would have abundantly sufficed for this end;' that is, for purification from contact with the multitude.

“Spencer on the Ritual Laws of the Hebrews, speaks thus: Some of the Jews, ambitious for the credit of superior purity, frequently immersed their whole persons in water; the greater part, however, following a milder discipline, frequently washed only their hands, when they were about to take food. That the greater part, and especially the Pharisees, attended to this rite privately at home, and considered it a very important part of religion, is sufficiently evident from Mark vii. 3, 4. Hence it was that stone vessels for water (water pots, John ii. 6] were provided for every house of the Hebrews; so that all, when about to take food, might perform the frequent washings according to the discipline of the Pharisees. These vessels were very suitable for performing these daily purifications of the Jews; for it was customary among the Jews sometimes to wash the hands by water poured upon them; at other times, to immerse the hands in water up to the wrist.'

"From Lightfoot I gather the following:-On Mark vii. 4, he says, "The Jews used the washing of hands,' and 'the plunging of the SERIES III.-Vol. V.

51*

hands.' And the word nipsoontai, ‘wash,' in our Evangelist seems to answer to the former,-and haptisoontai, “baptize,' to the latter." ....“Those that remain at home, eat not... unless they wash the fist.' But those that come from the market eat not..... unless they plunge their fist into the water, being ignorant and uncertain, what uncleanness they came near unto in the market. The phrase, there. fore,' Lightfoot adds, 'seems to be meant of the immersion or plug. of the hands only.' But I remark, though it were only the hands that were plunged, yet the meaning of baptizo is sufficiently obvious.'

“The preceding copious examination helps us, of course, rightly to understand the quotation from Luke xi. 48, which is next brought forward to sustain the meaning to wash, ascribed to baptizo; “But the Pharisee, seeing him, wondered that he had not first washed himself (baptisthe) before dinner. Common version; “And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner;' that he had not first immersed, that is, himself, or his hands. By the preceding part of the chapter it appears that our Lord and his host had been exposed to a great mixture of company, and therefore needed, in the judgment of the Pharisee, the more formal and tho. rough sort of washing. On this passage, too, Lightfoot observes, “There is a washing of the hands, and there is a dipping of the hands. This clause we are upon, refers to this latter. The Pharisee wonders that Christ had not washed his hands; nay, that he had not dipped them all over in the water, when he was newly come from the people that were gathered thick together."

The laborious and numerous attempts from this passage to make out a case where, in the judgment of the authors of the common version, the verb baptize means to wash, as a primary meaning, demands a particular and full exposure of this bewilderment of some men of learning in their zeal for affusion. I have, therefore, gone into these details. I wonder no little, indeed, to see a man of Professor Stuart's learning and candor, do so little honor to his own learning and critical acumen, as in this case is most apparent. His own party—I mean the more profound scholars of his own partyare themselves here arrayed against him. Here siand Drs. Campbell, Rosenmuller, Kuinoel, Spencer, and Lightfoot, in evidence against his reasonings and conclusions,

There are in the common version some two or three other occurrences of this erroneous translation which are disposed of by these investigations. To quote still farther from Professor Ripley:

“To sustain the meaning to wash, three other passages are pro. duced by Professor Stuart, which contain the substantive derived from the verb baptizo:

Mark vii. 4. The washings (laptismous) of cups and pots, and brazen vessels, and couches, (klinoon.)

“Mark vii. 8. The washings (baptismo us) of pots and cups.

'Heb. ix. 10. Only in meats and drinks, and divers washings (baptismous.)

“That the word rendered washings in these passages ought, so far as philology is concerned, to be rendered immersions, would be a plain inference from the preceding investigations. And even though a difficulty should seem to arise from the nature of some of the things mentioned by Mark, we ought, before we decide that the word must have another meaning, to inquire whether the supposed difficulties really existed in practice among the Jews. It is by no means satisfactory to refer to customs among ourselves, as suggesting difficulties in respect to what the Jeu's are said to have done; and especially what they are said to have done by the influence of a misguided religious scrupulosity; for it was from religious, though mistaken considerations, that; they practised these observances. Nor were such observances entirely without foundation in the statutes of Moses. In Lev. xi. 32, it is directed that any vessel upon which the dead body of an unclean animal had fallen, 'whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water,' in order to be cleansed. The only exception was in respect to earthen vessels, which, being thus polluted, were to be broken in pieces, (ver. 33.) Now, how credible it is, and how accordant with the language of Mark, that the superstitious spirit of the Jews, in subsequent times, extended this requisition to other cases besides that of pollution by the touch of the dead; so that even on ordinary occasione, when they thought religion required the articles to be cleansed, the cleansing must be performed by immersing them in water.

And who can wonder, if this same spirit led them carefully to cleanse by immersion even the couches on which they reclined at meals? for it is these, probably, which are meant by the word translated tables in our version. It would certainly accord well with their superstitious disposition. And so far as the writings of distinguish. ed' men among the Jews enable us to form a judgment, those wri. tings contribute altogether to the belief that there was usually performed an immersion of these articles, when they needed special purifying. The Jewish rules, which Dr. Gill quotes in his comineniary on Mark vii. 4, are precise in requiring such articles to be cleansed by being covered in water; and the regulations are exceedingiy strict in regard to this washing, so that should there be any thing adhering to these articles, such as pitch, which might prevent the water from touching the wood in a particular spot, the washing would not be duly performed. The same Jewish authority requires even beds to be cleansed by immersion, when they had become defiled.

“And what should hinder us from employing the word immersions in Heb. x. 9? Immersions were practised by the Jews in accordance with the Mosaic ritual; and why may we not consider the Apostle, when naming the immersions, as taking a part for the whole of the legal purifications, and consequently as not departing from the specific original meaning of the word he has employed?"

These matters of private or sectarian interpretation being disposed of, there remains scarcely the semblance of any other excuse for the practice of sprinkling, as derived from any word or circumstances named in the whole New Testament: True, indeed, there

« PrécédentContinuer »