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Remarks on the Notes.


full of very important business. Meanwhile, five marbles have become known, dug up at Delphi, by the lamented Ottfried Müller, and published by his fellow-traveller, Ernest Curtius (Anecdota Delphica, Berl. 1843), which contain Amphictyonic decrees: on three of these marbles it is said that the decrees were passed at the autumnal session; while the others are without date. We have then evidence of a session in the autumn at Delphi; and of a meeting for business at the Straits: we have, on the other hand, no evidence of a meeting in the spring at Delphi, except that furnished by the documents in Demosthenes. These documents are defended by Böhneke on the plea that they belong to the actual spring session, not to that where Æschines made his speech, (which Böhneke also places in the fall), nor to the extraordinary one of which Æschines speaks § 128, 129; but to a regular one in' the spring. One of the documents, however, refuses to have these screws put upon it; for it requires the deputies of the Council to go to the sacred land and set up boundaries and tell the Amphissans not to commit encroachment; whereas, even at the extraordinary session, before this supposed meeting, the council, so far from being thus mild, decreed a military expedition against the invaders of the sacred soil, and appointed a general. And the subsequent complaints against the Amphissans were not for using that ground for pasturage and arable land, but for not paying their fine and restoring the exiles whom the council had required them to banish.

To sum up all in a word, the Pythia were held in autumn; the Amphictyonic council convened at Delphi in the autumn, and as far as anything is known only there; and the events in which Æschines was an actor at Delphi, were therefore in the autumn of B. C. 340, soon after his election probably to the office of pylagoras.

§ 258. παρ' ουδὲν μὲν ἦλθον ἀποκτεῖναι. “By nothing did they come from killing him, like the Latin minimum aberat quin interficerent; i. e. his punishment was equal to death." We were surprised at reading these words; nor was our surprize lessened when we found that Bremi led Mr. C. into his interpretation by saying, 'poena qua multabant eum mortis poenam aequiparabat.' As the Athenians only warned Arthmius out of their territory, one would think that this fact, if nothing else, would be seen to be adverse to this rendering. Is it necessary to say that the meaning is, they came within next to nothing of killing him.' Not that they touched him even with one of their fingers, but their feelings were such, that a very little more and they would have put him to death. - T. D. W.



By Prof. C. E. Stowe, D. D., Cincinnati.


It will be admitted, I presume, by every intelligent reader of the Bible and the commentaries upon it, that there is often very great vagueness, uncertainty, and inconsistency in the interpretation of its language. It will also be admitted, I believe, that these faulty interpretations cannot fairly be attributed to the language itself; for most readers are convinced that there is scarcely a mode of speech in the whole compass of literature more simple, direct, and intelligible than is the language of the Bible as to much the greater portion of it. There must be some other cause, and the following, I suppose, will generally be received as the true cause, namely: Men who profess to be Christians usually feel obliged to believe what the Bible affirms ; if any passage of the Bible, therefore, understood in its obvious and true sense, states a sentiment which they are strongly disinclined to believe, there is a powerful temptation to reconcile the words to some other meaning more agreeable to the interpreter. Hence has arisen a very general practice of interpreting meanings derived from other sources into the words of the Bible, instead of simply explaining the words themselves according to grammatical usage, the context, and the nature of the subject. The art of interpretation, instead of being a simple hydrant by which the waters of life may be drawn out of their receptacles for our use, has too often been made a sort of forcing-pump, by which other waters, not of life, have been driven into the Scriptural reservoirs. Some interpreters are in this respect much more guilty than others, but almost all have participated in the sin more or less. There is scarcely one who does not find some passage somewhere in the Bible, in respect to which he would like a little more latitude than the strictest rules of grammatical interpretation, faithfully carried out, will allow him; and if he himself takes this latitude, he cannot be very severe on others when they take the same. Hence the very great prevalence of the practice in all parties.


Literal Import of Language.


In view of these remarks, I propose to examine, by the strictest rules of grammatical interpretation, some of the more important eschatological texts contained in the record of our Lord's discourses, particularly MATTHEW XXIV. 29-31, and its parallels MARK XIII. 24-27 and LUKE XXI. 25-27, and see what they really import when thus examined.

The reader, that we may enter upon the subject understandingly, is earnestly requested, before we proceed any further with these remarks, to take the Greek Testament and carefully examine for himself the following eschatological passages from the discourses of Christ recorded in the Gospels:

v. 29, 30.
XII. 31, 32.
XVI. 24-27.

XXV. 31-46.

III. 28-30.

IX. 42-50.

IX. 24-26.


x. 33.

XIII. 41-43, 49, 50.
XVIII. 6-9.

XXVI. 64.


VIII. 34-38.

XIV. 62.


XII. 9, 10.



VI. 39, 40, 44.

v. 25-29.

It is the purpose of the following pages to point out and illustrate the right interpretation of these and similar texts. In respect to all which are cited in the above paragraphs, there is but little difference of opinion among interpreters of any authority or note. They are generally understood in their obvious sense, as being really eschatological, as pertaining to the final judgment and a future state of rewards and punishments in the eternal world. The passage in MATTHEW XXIV. 29-31, however, though in all respects similar to these, on account of the connection in which it stands, and some difficulties which are supposed to arise from the context, has not been so unanimously agreed upon. To this text, therefore, our attention will be principally directed; for if it can be shown that this must be understood eschatologically, must be interpreted as referring to the final judgment, there

will be but little difficulty in applying all the others to the future state; while, if the eschatological interpretation of this text be given up, if this text is regarded as referring to the Jewish-Roman war, the destruction of Jerusalem, or any other temporal event, it will not be easy to prove philologically that any of the other passages, usually considered eschatological, necessarily have reference to an eternal condition of rewards and punishments in the world to come. The importance of the subject justifies and requires a careful, patient, and minute investigation; and in order to such an inquiry, we will first make a brief statement of what we regard as the right



These principles of interpretation, (and in regard to them I suppose there will be no dispute,) are the two following:

I. We are never to depart from the obvious meaning of language without a necessity created by the context or by the nature of the subject.

I say a necessity created by the context or by the nature of the subject; because, if we admit necessities which are created by the theories, the opinions, or the feelings of the interpreter, interpretation at once becomes arbitrary, and we are all afloat on a sea of conjecture. Interpretation then, is the art of forcing meanings into language, and not the art of eliciting meaning from it.

II. Inasmuch as the use of language is always modified by the opinions, feelings, and circumstances of those who use it, in the interpretation of any document, its contemporary history is an indispensable auxiliary.

These two principles give three things, and three only, which are ever allowed to modify the literal meaning of words, namely: 1) nature of the subject; 2) the context; and 3) the contemporary history. When we say of a man that "he flies into a passion," and of a bird that "she flies into her nest," the nature of the subject at once indicates which of two very different meanings the word flies bears in each of these sentences.

In strict accordance with these principles I now propose to examine the passage in Matt. xxiv. 29-31; and its parallels in Mark and Luke, and I earnestly request the reader to keep a strict watch over me, and see if in any instance I swerve in the least degree from the principles I have stated.


Literal Import of Language.


MATT. XXIV. 29-31.

TEXTS TO BE EXAMINED. MARK XIII. 24-27. Luke xxi. 25-27. 29 Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν 24 ̓Αλλ' ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς 25 Καὶ ἔσται σημεῖα ἐν θλίψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων ἡμέραις, μετὰ τὴν θλίψιν ἡλίῳ, καὶ σελήνῃ, καὶ ἄὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθεσήται, καὶ ἐκείνην, ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθή- στροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγ- σεται, καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώ- συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ, γος αὐτῆς καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες σει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς· ἠχούσης θαλάσσης καὶ σώπεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, 25 Καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ λου,

καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρα- οὐρανοῦ ἔσονται ἐκπίπτον- 26 'Αποψυχόντων ἀννῶν σαλυθήσονται. τες, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ ἐν θρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου καὶ 30 Καὶ τότε φανήσεται τοῖς οὐρανοῖς σαλευθήσον- προσδοκίας τῶν ἐπερχομέτὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦται. νων τῇ οἰκουμένῃ· αἱ γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ 26 Καὶ τότε ὄψονται τὸν δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σακαὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχό- λευθήσονται.

αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ ὄψον- μενον ἐν νεφέλαις μετὰ δυ- 27 Καὶ τότε ὄψονται τὸν ται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου νάμεως πολλῆς καὶ δό- υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν ξῆς. μενον ἐν νεφέλῃ μετὰ δυνάτοῦ οὐρανοῦ, μετὰ δυνά- 27 Καὶ τότε ἀπόστελεῖ μεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς. μεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς. τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὑτοῦ, καὶ 31 Καὶ ἀποστελεῖ τοὺς ἐπισυνάξει τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς ἀγγέλους αὑτοῦ μετὰ σαλ- αὑτοῦ ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων πιγγος φωνῆς μεγάλης, καὶ ἀνέμων, ἀπ ̓ ἄκρου γῆς ἕως ἐπισυνάξουσι τοὺς ἐκλεκ- ἄκρου οὐρανοῦ.

τοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν τεσσά

ρων ἀνέμων, ἀπ ̓ ἄκρων οὐρανῶν ἕως ἄκρων αὐτῶν.

In regard to these passages it must be observed, that the nature of the subject is the very thing in dispute respecting them. If the subject be the day of judgment, the words may be understood in their literal and most obvious sense; if the subject be the destruction of Jerusalem, the literal and most obvious sense of the words must be entirely abandoned, given up, and put far away; and for it a metaphorical meaning must be substituted, so far below the literal, so infinitely inferior to it, (even more unlike it than a picture of Niagara made of paint and canvas is unlike the roaring, thundering, rushing cataract itself,) that the very statement of the fact, after a careful reading of the words, is almost enough of itself to settle the whole question of criticism.

Conceding, however, this whole ground, I admit in the outset, for the argument's sake, that the subject being the very thing in dispute, the nature of it cannot come in to modify our interpretation, till we have ascertained what it is; and accordingly, the only sources left to enable us to ascertain the meaning of the passages are: 1) the literal import of the language, 2) the context, and 3) the contemporary history.


What is the literal import of the language, as it stands in the pages of the Bible, and without any other source of information respecting its

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