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THE SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE EPISTLES.
of these subscriptions are false or improbable; that is, they are either absolutely contradicted by the contents of the epistle, or are difficult to be reconciled with them.
I. The subscription of the first epistle to the Corinthians states that it was written from Philippi, notwithstanding that, in the fixteenth chapter and the eighth verse of the epistle, St. Paul informs the Corinthians, that he will“ tarry at Ephesus until Pente“ cost;" and notwithstanding that he begins the salutations in the epistle, by telling them o the churches of Asia salute you;” a pretty evident indication that he himself was in Asia at this time.
II. The epistle to the Galatians is by the subscription dated from Rome; yet, in the epistle itself, St. Paul expresses his surprise
56 that they were so foon removing from him
" that called them;" whereas his journey to · Rome was ten years posterior to the conversion of the Galatians. And what, I think, is more conclusive, the author, though speaking of himself in this more than any other epistle, doės not once mention his bonds, or call himself a prisoner; which he had not failed to do in every one of the four epistles written from that city, and during that imprisonment.
III. The first epistle to the Thessalonians was written, the subscription tell us, from Athens; yet the epistle refers expressly to the coming of Timotheus from Thessalonica (ch. iii. ver. 6); and the history informs us, Acts xviii. ver. 5, that Timothy came out of Macedonia to St. Paul at Corinth.
IV. The second epistle to the Thessalonians is dated, and without
discoverable reason, from Athens also. If it be truly the second; if it refer, as it appears to do (ch. ii ver. 2), to the first, and the first was written from Corinth, the place must be erroneously afligned, for the history does
not allow us to suppose that St. Paul, after he had reached Corinth, went back to Athens.
V. The first epistle to Timothy the subscription asserts to have been sent from Laodicea ; yet, when St. Paul writes, “ I be
sought thee to abide ftill at Ephesus,
πορευομενος εις Μακεδονιαν (when I fet out “ for Macedonia),” the reader is naturally led to conclude, that he wrote the letter upon his arrival in that country.
VI. The epistle to Titus is dated from Nicopolis in Macedonia, whilst no city of that name is known to have existed in that province.
The use, and the only use, which I make of these observations, is to show, how easily errors and contradictions fteal in where the writer is not guided by original knowledge. There are only eleven distinct assignments of date to St. Paul's epistles (for the four written from Rome may be considered as plainly cotemporary); and of these, fix seem to be erroneous.
I do not attribute any authority to these subscriptions. I believe them to have been conjectures founded sometimes upon loose traditions, but more
generally upon a consideration of some par. ticular text, without sufficiently comparing in with other parts of the epistle, with different epistles, or with the history. Suppose then that the subscriptions had come down to us as authentic parts of the epistles, there would have been more contrarieties and difficulties arising out of these final verses, than from all the rest of the volume. Yet, if the epistles had been forged, the whole must have been made up of the same elements as those of which the subscriptions are composed, viz. tradition, conjecture, and inference : and it would have remained to be accounted for, how, whilft so many errors were crowded into the concluding clauses of the letters, so much consistency should be preserved in other parts.
The same reflection arises from observing the oversights and mistakes which learned men have committed, when arguing upon allusions which relate to time and place, or when endeavouring to digest scattered circumstances into a continued story. It is indeed the same cafe ; for these subscriptions must be regarded as ancient scholia,
and is nothing more. Of this liability to error I can present the reader with a notable instance; and which I bring forward for no other purpose than that to which I apply the erroneous subscriptions.' Ludovicus Capellus, in that part of his Historia Apostolica Illustrata, which is entitled DeOrdine Epist. Paul. writing upon the second epistle to the Corinthians, triumphs unmercifully over the want of fagacity in Baronius, who, it seems, makes St. Paul write his epistle to Titus from Macedonia upon his second visit into that province; whereas it appears from the history, That Titus, instead of being in Crete where the epistle places him, was at that time sent by the apostle from Macedonia to Corinth. “ Animadvertere est," says Capellus, “ magnam hominis illius “abaebiav, qui vult Titum a Paulo in Cre“ tam abductum, illicque relictum, cum inde “ Nicopolim navigaret, quem temen agnof6 cit a Paulo ex Macedoniâ miffum efle Co66 rinthum.” This probably will be thought a detection of inconsistency in Baronius. But what is the most remarkable, is, that in the faine chapter in which he thus in