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Here and there the Gospels keep a phrase actually used by Jesus, and in his native Aramaic speech.

The Greek was not apt to use or quote foreign phrasesunlike the Englishman who "has been at a great feast of languages and stolen the scraps." Why, then, do the Evangelists, writing for Greek readers, keep the Aramaic sentences? It looks like a human instinct that made Peterif, as we are told, he had some part in the origination of Mark's Gospeland the rest wish to keep the very words and tones of their Master, as most of us would wish to keep the accents and phrases of those we love. Was there no satisfaction to the people who had lived with Jesus, when they read in Mark the very syllables they had heard him use, and caught his great accents again? Is there not for Christians in every age a joy and an inspiration in knowing the very sounds his lips framed? The first word that his mother taught him survives in Abba (Father)something of his own speech to let us begin at the beginning; something, again, that takes us to the very heart of him at the end, in his cry: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (Mark 15:34). Is it not true that we come nearer to him in that cry in the language strange to us, but his own? Would not the story, again, be poorer without the little tender phrase that he used to the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:41). From time to time we find in the Gospels matters for which the writers and those behind them have felt that some apology or at least some explanation was needed. His friendship for sinners was a taunt against him in his lifetime; so was his inattention to the Sabbath (Mark 2:24, 3:2), and the details of ceremonial washing (Mark 7:1-5). The faithful record of these is a sound indication both of the date[5] and of the truth of the Gospels. But these were not all. Celsus, in 178 A.D., in his True Word, mocked at Jesus because of the cry upon the cross; he reminded Christians that many and many a worthless knave had endured in brave silence, and their Great Man cried out. It was from the Gospels that his knowledge came (Mark 15:37). Even during his lifetime the Gospels reveal much about Jesus that in contemporary opinion would degrade himsighs and tears and fatigue, liability to emotion and to pain, friendship with women. With these revelations of character we may group passages where the Gospels tell of Jesus surprising or shocking his disciplesstartling them by some act or some opinion, for which they were not prepared, or which was contrary to common belief or practicepassages, too, where he blames or criticizes them for conventionality or unintelligence. It has been remarked that the frequency and fidelity of Jesus' own allusions to country life, his illustrations from bird and beast and flower, and the work of the farm, are evidence for the genuineness of the tradition. Early Christianity, as we see already in the Acts of the Apostles, was prevailingly urban. Paul aimed at the great centres of population, where men gathered and from which ideas spread. The language of Paul in his epistles, the sermons inserted by Luke in the Acts, writings that survive of early Christians, are all in marked contrast to the speech of Jesus in this matter of country life. When we recall the practice of ancient historians of composing speeches for insertion in their narratives, and weigh the suggestion that the sermons in the Acts may conceivably owe much to the free rehandling of Luke or may even be his own compositions, there is a fresh significance in his marked abstention from any such treatment of the words of Jesus. It means that we may be secure in using them as genuine and untouched reproductions of what he said and thought. This leads us to another point. The central figure of the Gospels must impress every attentive reader as at least a man of marked personality. He has his own attitude to life, his own views of God and man and all else, and his own language, as we shall see in the pages that follow. So much his own are all these things that it is hard to imagine the possibility of his being a

mere literary creation, even if we could concede a joint literary creation by several authors writing independent works. Indeed, when we reflect on the character of the Gospels, their origin and composition, and then consider the sharp, strong outlines of the personality depicted, we shall be apt to feel his claim to historicity to be stronger than we supposed. Finally, two points may be mentioned. The Church from the very start accepted the Gospels. Two of them were written by men in Paul's own personal circle (Philemon 24; Col. 4:10, 14). All found early acceptance and wide use,[6] and after a century we find Irenaeus maintaining that four Gospels are necessary, and are necessarily allthere are four points of the compass, seasons and so forth; therefore it is appropriate that there are four Gospels. The argument is not very convincing; but that such an argument was possible is evidence to the position of the Gospels as we have them. We must remember the solidarity of that early Church. The constituency, for which the Gospels were written, was steeped in the tradition of Jesus' life, and the Christians accepted the Gospels, as embodying what they knew; and there were still survivors from the first days of the Gospel. When Boswell's Life of Johnson was published, the great painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, a lifelong friend of Johnson, said it might be depended upon as if delivered upon oath; Burke too had a high opinion of the book. In the same way the Gospels come recommended to us by those who knew Jesus, though, it is true, we do not know their names. The Gospels do not tell us all that Christians thought of Jesus, but they imply more than they say. The writers limited themselves. That Luke, for years a friend of Paul's, so generally kept his great friend's theology, above all his Christology, out of his Gospel, is significant. It does not mean divergence of view. More reasonably we may conclude something else: he held to his literary and other authorities, and he was content; for he knew to what the historical Jesus brings mento new life and larger views, to a series of new estimates of Jesus himself. He left it there. In what follows, we must not forget in our study that behind the Gospels, simple and objective as they are, is the larger experience of the ever-working Christ. There are three canons which may be laid down for the study of any human character, whether of the past or of to-day. They are so simple that it may hardly seem worth while to have stated them; yet they are not always very easy to apply. Without them the acutest critic will fail to give any sound account of a human character. First of all, give the man's words his own meaning. Make sure that every term he uses has the full value he intends it to carry, connotes all he wishes it to cover, and has the full emotional power and suggestion that it has for himself. Two quite simple illustrations may serve. The English-born clergyman in Canada who spoke of a meeting of his congregation as a "homely gathering" did not produce quite the effect he intended; "home-like" is one thing in Canada, "homely" quite another, and the people laughed at the slipthey knew, what he did not, that "homely" meant hard-featured and ugly. My other illustration will take us towards the second canon. I remember, years ago, a working-man of my own city talking a swift, impulsive Socialism to me. He was young and something of a poet. He got in return the obvious common sense that would be expected of a mid-Victorian, middle-aged and middle-class. And then he began to talk of hungerthe hunger that haunted whole streets in our city, where they had indeed something to eat every day, but never quite enough, and the children grew up sothe hunger that he had experienced himself, for I knew his story. With his eyes fixed on me, he brought home to me by the quiet intensity of his speechwhether he knew what he effected or notthat he and I gave hunger different senses. He gave the word for me a new meaning, with the glimpse he gave me of his experience. Since then I have always felt, when

men fling theories out like hisschemes, too, like hiswild and impracticable: "Ah, yes! what is at the heart of it all? What but this awful experience which they have known and you have notthe sight of your own folk hungering, life and faculty wasted for want of mere food, and children growing up atrophied from the cradle"? It is not easy to dissociate the language and the terms of others from the meaning one gives to them oneself; it means intellectual effort and intellectual discipline, a training of a strenuous kind in sympathy and tenderness; but if we are to be fair, it must be done. And the rule applies to Jesus also. Have we given his meaning to his termforce, value, emotion, and suggestion? In a later chapter we shall have to concentrate on one term of hisGodand try to discover what he intends that term to convey.