T h e   B o o k  o f   T e s t i m o n i e s .

by J. Rendel Harris, 1910

     Testimonies, in the early Christian sense of the word, are, on one side, very
nearly equivalent to quotations; but from another point of view, the term involves
the idea of the person testifying as well as the thing witnessed; they are not only
extracts from a book, they are the utterances of the person who is the author of
the book.  Thus the formula "it is written in the law" is impersonal and denotes
strictly a quotation, but "Moses in the law saith" is a testimony, and Moses
himself is the witness.

     Our thesis is, that in very early times collections of such classified Testimonies
were in use amongst the Christians, and that they were used polemically, either
in attacking a Jewish position or in defending a Christian one; the witnesses are
brought into court by the protagonists in a dispute: they are arranged in groups,
and ordered in sequences; when thy have said their say, it is assumed that something
will have been settled.  Hence arises the importance of the work of marshalling
the Testimony on any particular question in debate.

     From the Christian point of view they are a series of Argmenta ad hominem,
the man being the Jew on the other side who is committed in advance by his belief
in the Scriptures to the acceptance of the word of the witnesses, provided they are
rightly heard and not misinterpreted.  Thus the long title of such collections is that
of "Testimonies against the Jews."  There are, properly speaking, no Testimonies
against the Gentiles, for the Gentiles and the Primitive Gentile Christians do not
recognize the same court of appeal as the Jews and the Judaeo-Christians; their
court of appeal is something quite different, it is the soul itself, the 'naturally
Christian soul" of which Tertulllian speaks, which knows truth by truth's own

     How then, do we establish the existence of such collections as those
which are here suggested?  Three ways, at least, may be followed which lead
to the result: the first consists in observing that different authors (say in the
New Testament) quote the Old Testament in similar or closely-coincident
sequences, and apparently without any mutual dependence upon one another
for the form of the quotation.  The suggestion is that they have used the same

     The second method is by observing that from the second century onward
there is a succession of actually preserved books of Biblical Testimonies,
arranged under headings to prove definite points; and these collections
have so much common matter that we are obliged to assume a primitive
nucleus around which, and out of which, they have been evolved.

     The third method turns on the occurrence in Patristic writers of Biblical
quotations in such peculiar settings that one is obliged to admit that they
were not taken directly from the Scriptures, but that there is some intervening
link between the writers in question and the ultimate Biblical source of their

     I do not remember who was the first to erect the hypothesis of a Book of
Testimonies.  Looking at the matter from the standpoint of acquired
knowledge, it would seem most natural that existing books of prophecies and
testimonies should have suggested a common early original.  As a matter of
fact, I believe the first hint came from the study of the quotations in the New
Testament, and was made by Dr. Hatch of Oxford; and his suggestions were
at a later date endorsed by Dr. Drummond of Oxford.  It will be interesting
to see how they started the matter.

     In Dr. Hatch's Essays on Biblical Greek we have the following statement:
It may naturally be supposed that a race which laid stress on
moral progress, whose religious services had variable elements
of both prayer and praise, and which was carrying on an active
, would have, among other books, manuals of morals,
of devotion and of controversy.  It may also be supposed, if we
take into consideration the contemporary habit of making
collections of excepta, and the special authority which the Jews
attacked totheir sacred books, that some of these manuals,
would consist of extracts from the Old Testament.  The
existence of composite quotations in the New Testament, and
in some of the early Fathers, suggest the hypothesis that we
have in these relics of such manuals.

     Here it will be seen that the observed fact from which Dr Hatch proceeded
was the existence of composite quotations; while the words which we have
italicised show that he suspected these quotations to have been used for
controversial and missionary purposes.

     What is peculiar in Hatch's hypothesis is that he imagined the collections of
extracts made for the propaganda of Judaism.  It is difficult, on this hypothesis,
to see how they could have been immediately converted into Christian books
of Testimonies against the Jews.  The ancestry of "against" is hardly to be found
in arguments "for"; "pro" does not easily beget "con."  Where Hatch went wrong
was in not recognizing the use which the Christians made of their collections:
but as regards his observations of the existence of composite quotations,
recurring here and there in early Christian writings, the key to the discovery
was in his hand.  Dr Drummond in his book on the Character and Authorship
of the Fourth Gospel followed somewhat on the lines of Hatch: he made the link
between Jewish and Christian propaganda in the common matter of Messianic
preaching and Scriptural proofs of Messianic doctrines.  In this way he thought
to explain some peculiarities in the citations from the Old Testament in the Gospel
of John.  He expresses himself as follows:
It may have become a matter of common knowledge amongst
those who cared for the Scriptures, that certain passages
required emendation.  The Christians would naturally turn
their attention to Messianic quotations: and it is conceivable
that there may have grown up, whether in writing or not, an
anthology of passages useful in controversy, which differed
more or less from the current Greek translation.  This is, of
course, only conjectural; but I think if affords a possible
explanation of the phenomenon of the Johannine quotations.

     Here the anthology for controversial purposes is the same thing as Hatch's manual
of controversy.  Drummond's difficulty with the Johannine quotations, and his
solution of the same, does not necessarily involve us in resorting to Jewish manuals,
if we allow sufficient antiquity to the undoubtedly existing Christian manuals.  And
it seems that this is the direction in which Dr Drummond was looking and in
which the investigation was taking him.

     My own researches on this line began many years since, and if I remember
rightly the starting-point was a curious coincidence which I observed in the
writings of Justin Martyr and in those of Irenaeus.

     Let us transcibe a sentence from the fourth book of Irenaeus' Against Heresies;
Irenaeus is explaining how certain utterances of the Hebrew prophets were fulfilled
in the life and work of Jesus Christ; and he makes the following statement, - 
Now those who say that at this coming the lame man shall
leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be smooth,
and the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the
deaf shall hear, and the relaxed hands and feeble knees shall
be strengthened; and the dead men that are in the tombs shall
arise, and he himself shall take our infirmities and bear our
sicknesses, they, I say, announced the cures which were being
accomplished by him (the Christ).

I want you to notice the structure of this passage; it is a series of prophecies,
strung together from Isaiah 35, Isaiah 26, and Isaiah 53.  The passages from
the thirty-fifth of Isaiah are introduced by the added words "At his coming";
with a recompense ... He shall come and save you."  And they are a summary
of what precedes, answering in anticipation of the question which might have
been asked, if the quotation had been made in the exact language of the prophet,
"Then shall they eyes of the blind be opened," "then shall the lame man leap
as an hart."  For if anyone asked "When," on the hearing of "then," the right
reply would be from the Scripture, "When God comes."  Keep your attention
fixed for a while on the introductory formula which has here been added
to the prophecies quoted.  And now let us go back from Irenaeus' time, some
thirty or forty years, and examine the writings of Justin Martyr.  Justin
presents an Apology on behalf of the Christians to the Roman Emperor and
to the Roman senate; and in the course of his defense makes great use of the
Argument from prophecy.  Here is a specimen.
And that our Christ was foretold as one who should deal
all disease and raise the dead, listen to the things what were
said: they are as follows. "At his coming the same man shall
leap as an hart and the tongue of the stammerers shall be
smooth; blind men shall recover sight and lepers shall be
cleansed, and dead men shall arise and walk about."

Here we find again a series of prophecies, loosely joined together; and the first
of them is the passage from Isaiah, ch. 35, with the very same introductory
words.  We have to explain to ourselves the coincidence in the manner of
quotation.  One way would be to say that Irenaeus had been imitating Justin,
with whose writings he was acquainted.  But this will not satisfy us, for the
quotations show too much independence to allow that one writer borrowed
a passage from the other.  Moreover, here is no reason why Irenaeus, when
wishing to quote the Old Testament, should have run off in search of Justin
Marytr's writings, simply because he remembered that Justin had somewhere
employed this same passage.  The motive for an obscure reference of this kind
appears to be altogether wanting.

     The alternative suggestion, then, is that both Irenaeus and Justin have been
using some other authority, not the Scriptures, but a handbook of prophecies
taken from the Scriptures and furnished with such necessary glosses,
expansions and introductions as the subject might require.

     Now it does not demand a very lively exercise of the imagination to affirm
that such a book as we here suggest must have been arranged with the prophecies
grouped under headings.  The particular group to which our attention has been
drawn is introduced by Justin in such a way that we can detect the heading of
the section: it must have been very nearly like this;
That Christ should heal diseases and raise the dead.*
[*Irenaeus, as we said, has arranged the matter somewhat differently, but his
extract also are describe in the same words: he has the raising of the dead with
a different proof-text.]

That will be sufficient to start the hypothesis; we do not need to give the passages
in Greek; the argument is just the same, if we use English translations.  Now, if
this is a just hypothesis, it will be confirmed by similar phenomena elsewhere,
either in Justin and Irenaeus, or in some other writers of the early Church.  Here
is a very striking, an almost romantic confirmation which came under my notice.
When the two Oxford Scholars, Grenfell and Hund, brought out their third volume
of papyri which they had disinterred from the sand of Oxrhyrhynchus, they gave
a series of broken fragment from an unknown Christian writer, which were of
peculiar interest because they judged them from the handwriting to be perhaps
as old as the second century.  These fragments came under the notice of Dr
Armitage Robinson, the dean of Westminster, who recognized that they were bits
of a passage in the third book of Irenaeus, and succeeded in piecing the fragments
together into and almost complete whole.  I will try to restore a apart of the same
fragments in English, instead of the original Greek of Irenaeus.
of whom also the S
tar Balaam thus pro
phesied: There shall rise a
star out of Jacob.
It is impossible to represent the Greek letters by corresponding English letters,
but this will give the idea of what resulted when the pieces of papyrus were
arranged together, by the aid of the already known Latin text of Irenaeus. 
Something like this, only of course done in Greek letters, was the restoration
of the Dean of Westminster.  To this, however, I took exception, on the ground
that two of the best copies of Irenaeus did not read Balaam but Ysaiasl and I
said we must edit this reading in Irenaeus, and not leave it to a footnote, as
the editors of Irenaeus had done.  It looked unlikely, you will say, to credit
Irenaeus (for the newly recovered scraps of papyrus were almost contemporary
with him), with a mistake that a school boy ought not to have been guilty of,
in referring a famous prophecy of Balaam in the book of Numbers to Isaiah.

     My position was justified by the following consideration.  On turning to
Justin's Apology the following passage can be read: 
And Isaiah also, another prophet, prophesying to the same
effect by other expressions, said: "There shall rise up a star
out of Jacob and a flower shall ascend out of the root of Jesse."

     Now this is extremely interesting: first of all, we have again the reference
of the prophecy in Numbers to Isaiah; that confirms my hypothesis that it is not
a mere error of the scribes of Irenaeus.  Second, we see why Isaiah came in, for
there is a famous prophecy of Isaiah about the root of Jesse immediately
following: so it is a case of composite quotation in which the authorship has
been wrongly defined.  But if this is the explanation of the error, we have an
extraordinary confirmation of our previous hypothesis.  Here we have Irenaeus
and Justin both making a similar mistake: but no one can maintain that Irenaeus
was quoting Justin in the passage that we have pieced together: he is evidently
composing on his own account.  So we are obliged to admit that both he and
Justin have been using the same book of prophetical quotations, and that the
error into which they have both fallen was already made in the book referred
to.  Nor is it difficult to see how the error could have arisen.. We may, if we
please, imagine the quotations written down in order, and the author's name
attached to each quotation on the margin.  In that case, it only needs that one
reference should have been missed, or a single word moved a little up the
margin, in order to mislead any one who copied with sufficient attention.

     And I think we can now restore a fragment of the lost book that we have
begun to bring to light: it must have been something like this:
Moses: "A star shall rise out of Jacob,"
Isaiah: "A flower shall spring out of the root of Jesse.
Here you will check me, and ask why I put Moses on the margin, instead of
Balaaam, or instead of a reference to Numbers.  Well, I will justify that in
two or three ways.  Observe, however, the point that we have reached.  We
detect Justin in the employment of a collection of Messianic references.  If
we turn to the writings of Lactantius, at the beginning of the fourth century,
we shall find the same Messianic reference in the following terms:
But Moses also, in Numbers, thus speaks, "There shall arise
a star out of Jacob, and a man shall spring forth from Israel"
(Num. 24.17).

     Here Lactantius has definitely referred the Star-prophecy to Moses.  Was
that an error of his own, or did he find it already made?  Let us see: while
Lactantius was writing his Divine Institutes, Athanasius in Alexandria was
composing his famous treatise on the Incarnation of the Word.  In the course
of this work, he occupies several chapters (chs. 33-40) in refuting Jewish
unbelief by means of passages taken from the prophets.  Quite at the beginning
of the argument, he brings forward the famous Star-passage from Numbers
to which we have been referring: the passage is introduced as follows:
And Moses, who was really great and was accredited
amongst the Jews as a true man, esteemed what was said
of the Incarnation of the Savior as of great weight, and
having recognized its truth, he set it down, saying, " There
shall arise a star out of Jacob, and a man out of Israel,
and he shall beak the princes of Moab."

     Here again, we see the same ascription of authorship as in Lactantius, and as
there is no possibility of one writer in Rome having influenced his contemporary
in Alexandria, we are led to conclude that they have both been using the same
prophetical handbook.  They do not make the mistake, which Justin and Irenaeus,
do, of referring the prophecy to Isaiah, but that is explained by their following
a text into which the error had not crept.  Taking the evidence together, we see
reason to believe that the original Book of Testimonies had this passages grouped
in this way:
Moses. "There shall arise a star out of Jacob."
Isaiah: "There shall spring up a flower from the root of Jesse."
     But now, having gone so far, we cannot stop at this point for we have put
the little book not only on the shelf of Justin and Irenaeus, but also into the
libraries of Athanasius and Lactantius.  And we must examine further into the
common matter which these writers have borrowed from the original prophetical
collection.  Here is another very interesting line of investigation which
immediately opens up before us.  We notice that Justin, when making his
reference to the Star out of Jacob, was working from a sequence of prophecies
for he says, - 
Isaiah also, another prophet,
so we turn back to see what prophet has preceded.  when we examine the
context we find that he has been quoting the famous Messianic passage, in  
Genesis, about the coming of Shiloh: "There shall not fail a ruler from
Judah, nor a governor from his loins etc."  But how does he introduce the
matter?  Let us look at Justin's language - "And Moses also, who was the
first of the prophets, says expressly as follows: 'A ruler shall not fail from
Judah etc.'"

     Here the prophecy of the dying Jacob is expressly put into the mouth of
Moses, just as the prophecy of Balaam was in a previous case.  Is this one of
Justin's own blunders? or does it occur elsewhere, in such a way as to suggest
that some one had made the mistake before him?  In the first place we can
see that if it was a blunder of Justin, it was a deliberate one; for if we read
the passage a little further we find him saying,
It is your part, then, to examine accurately and to learn
until whom the Jews had a ruler and King of their own:
it was until the Manifestation of Jesus Christ, our teacher
and the interpreter of the recognized prophecies, as was
said aforetime of the holy and divine prophetical spirit
through Moses

So it is clear that Justin was speaking deliberately when he put the famous
Messianic prophecy in the mouth of Moses.  Now let us, in the next place, see
whether we can find other people making the same mistake.  Suppose we turn
once more to Irenaeus, and we shall find that he has a whole chapter in which
he shows that Moses foretold the advent of Christ.  In the course of the
argument he says that "Moses had already foretold the advent of Christ, saying,
'A ruler shall not fail from Judah, etc,,'" and ends up, in language very like
that of Justin, by saying, "Let those look into the matter who are said to
investigate everything and let them tell us etc."  Clearly Irenaeus has made the
same mistake as Justin, and had the matter in somewhat similar setting. 

     Returning again to Justin, we find him discussing the matter at a later point
of his Apology, as follows: 
Moses, then the prophet, as we said before, was senior to
all the chroniclers, and by him, as we previously intimated,
the following prophecy was uttered, "A ruler shall not fail
from Judah etc."

If now we were to turn to a later work of Justin, his Dialogue with Trypho
the Jew, we should find him again quoting the famous oracle from the Blessing
of Jacob, but now he has corrected his mistake, but not so as altogether to
obliterate the original error, as the following passages will show.
By Jacob the patriarch it was foretold that there should
be two advents of Christ.

after which he quotes freely from the Blessing of Jacob.
That which was recorded by Moses, but prophesied
by the patriarch Jacob etc.

Concerning whose blood also Moses spake figuratively
that he should wash his robe in the blood of the grape etc.

And as to what Moses said that he should wash his robe
in the blood of the grape, is not just what I said to you
over and over again about his having secretly prophecies
to you etc.

So here again we have abundant evidence that Justin really believed, at all
events for a length of time, that Moses was the prophet to whom the famous
oracle was to be referred.  You can see him trying to correct his blunder.

     That this tradition that Moses was the author of the great Messianic
prophecy about the ruler who would not fail from Juda until he should
come whose right it was, may be seen in another unexpected corner.  For
here also we have the evidence of Athanasius in his treatise On the
Incarnation, as follows:
And Moses prophesies, saying that the Kingdom of
the Jews should stand till his (Christ's) day, saying,
"A ruler shall not fail from Judah, etc."

So here again we have the concurrence of Justin, Irenaeus and Athanasius in
a curious error of quotation; and, as before, it is reasonable to refer the
mistake to the use of a common document.

     At this point we may control the accuracy of out inductions by a test.  Let
us see whether Athanasius, who is supposed to be using the Book of Testimonies,
has any knowledge of the passage from Isaiah 35, with which we began our
investigation, and of the added introductory word "At this coming,"  In ch. 38
Athanasius quotes against the Jews the words of Isaiah, beginning with "Be
strong, ye relaxed hands and paralysed knees," and continues to the word "the
tongue of the stammerers shall be smooth."  Here there is no sign of the
introductory words: but as we read on, we have the following comment:
When then can the Jews say even on this point, and how
can they care even to face this statement?  For the prophecy
initmates the arrival of God, and makes known the signs
and the time of His coming: for they say that when the
divine coming takes place
the blind will see etc. 

Here we can see the added words lurking, even though they are absent from
the direct quotation.  And our judgment is confirmed that Athanasius is using
the Book of Testimonies.

     This, then was the way in which I was led to the belief in the existence of
an early book of Testimonies against the Jews.  the argument is cumulative,
and there is much more to be said on the same line.  It is, however, already
sufficient to establish the hypothesis.  We can now go on to enquire into the
age of production for the little book in its first form.  So far, nothing has
appeared in the argument requiring us to go to the extreme length with Dr.
Hatch, and refer the book to an original Jewish hand; on the contrary almost
everything that has been brought forward is anti-Jewish, and the treatment
of the subject by Justin and Athanasius, is expressly directed against the Jews.
It is not Trypho who is quoting texts to prove the character and time and place
of appearing of the Messiah: it is Justin, who is hurling them, as fast as he
can control his artillery, at the head of Trypho and his companions.  We may,
for the present at all events, limit ourselves to the Christian use of Testimonies,
and ask how soon they took the form of a definitive and orderly collection.

     The first rough answer is that a book, which was used independently as an
authority by Justin and Irenaeus must have had a respectable ancestry.  It is on
the borders of contemporaneity with the New Testament, to say the least.  May
we say more than that?  The way to answer that question will be to examine
whether any traces of the same kind of quotations and the same kind of mistakes
as we noticed in other writers can be remarked in any of the books of the New
Testament.  Composite quotations were the thing that arrested Dr Hatch's
attention: and our analysis has shown that with such composite quotations
the scribes have a tendency to go wrong (as in Isaiah for Balaam or Moses,
where only the latter part was really Isaiah).  The moment we make the
suggestion of composite quotations whose ascription has become confused,
we are reminded of the textual difficulty in the opening verses of Mark.
Ought we to read, 
As it is written in the prophets:
"Behold! I sent my messenger before thy face,
Who shall prepare thy way:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make his paths straight"; 
or should it be,
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "Behold! etc."
The textual critics insist rightly that "Isaiah" is the true reading, whether it
makes Mark look inaccurate or not.  Suppose, then, for a moment that Mark
had taken this proof of Christ's coming out of a prophetical Testimony book;
such a book ought to have had on the margin the two names
Malachi: "Behold I send etc."
Isaiah:     "The voice of one crying etc."
We have shown, in an exactly parallel case, how easy it is for one title to be
neglected, and for the other to govern the whole of a composite quotation.

     The suggestion is a startling one, and will need confirmation; for Mark is
our earliest Gospel, and to put the Book of Testimonies behind all the Gospels
is a bold step.  Perhaps some one will object at once and say that Mary is not
the evangelist who bases his argument on the fulfillment of prophecy, which
is rather the characteristic of the Gospel according to Matthew.  No doubt
there is some force in the objection: but I should like to draw attention to a
chapter in which Mark affirms the argument from prophecy.  If we turn to
the close of Mark's seventh chapter, in which the miracle of the Ephphatha
healing is recorded, the incident is summed up with the words, "He hath done
all things well: he makes both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak."  Here
the word "well" means "appropriately," "as he should have done," "in
accordance with prophecy."*

[*Cf. Mark 7.6 ("Well did Isaiah prophecy") and the similar language in Acts

     Thus the people recognize, in Mark, the fulfillment of prophecy: and Mark,
himself, under such circumstances, could not miss it.  What was the prophecy
that they recognized as fulfilled?  The answer is, the 35th chapter of Isaiah;
and that Mark has this very chapter in mind is betrayed by the fact he calls
the subject of the miracle [GREEK] and {GREEK], "deaf" and "speaking with
difficulty."  The rare word [GREEK], is, in itself, sufficient to show that
Isaiah 35 is in the mind of the evangelist, even if that passage had not been
intimated by the closing words of the section about the making of deaf people
to hear and speechless fork to talk.  But this passage of Isaiah is, as we have
seen, a leading proof-text in the Book of Testimonies.  We may almost say
that Mark wrote his seventh chapter to be read along with the Book of
Testimonies.  And certainly his interest in the verification of prophecy by
Christ is betrayed in the chapter to which we have referred.  There is no
difficulty in making Mark into a student of prophecy.  

     But if this is correct, we shall expect verification of our hypothesis, from
other parts of the New Testament.  Suppose we ask the question whether there
are any other places in the Gospels in which the suggestion of a misplaced
title for a prophecy would be at home.  We at once think of that much disputed
passage in Matthew (Matt. 27.9), concerning the purchase of the potter's field:
here we read - 
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jermy the
prophet , saying "And I took the thirty pieces of silver,
the price of the valued one whom they priced of the
children of Israel, and I gave them for the potter's field,
as the Lord commanded me."

You know the trouble over this passage: the quotation is from Zechariah
11:13: but the textual critics (those at least who deal in honest wares), will
not allow you to alter "Jermey the prophet."  On the other hand the coincidence
with Zechariah is far from being exact.  My suggestion is that Matthew
has used a Testimony book in which a quotation from Zechariah was preceded
or followed by one from Jeremiah, and that the has not accurately defined
the limits of his quotations.  For instance if we turn to Gregory of Nyssa's
collection of Testimonies against the Jews, we shall find under the proof-texts
for the Passion of Jesus, the following sequence:
Jeremiah: "But I as an innocent lamb was led to the
slaughter; I did not know," and again: "Come and let us
put wood on his bread and let us erase his name from the
living, and let his name be remembered no more."
Zechariah: "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the
price of the valued one, whom they priced of the children
of Israel, and they gave them for the field of the potter, as
the Lord commanded me."
Here the passage from Zechariah is quoted just as in Matthew, but I do not
think it has been emended from the canonized Gospel.  It looks as if it were
the original from which Matthew worked: and in any case the sequence of
Nyssen's quotations suggests directly the blunder in the reference to Jeremiah.

     Some such explanation, arising out of a collection of proof-texts of the
kind indicated, would clear up the difficulty which has long been perplexing
the students of the Gospel.   

     I admit, however, that this is not such a good instance as the previous
one, and it ii wanting in completeness of proof: for I have not cleared up
the variation of the text of Zechariah as quoted, when compared with the
original prophecy.

     Next let us examine a case of composite quotations, such as those to which
Dr Hatch drew attention.

     We have a striking combination in 1 Pet. 2.6-8,
Behold! I lay in Zion an elect corner-stone.
A precious stone:
And he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded ...
The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of
the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
     Here the same two passages from Isaiah appear again, interwoven into a
single reference.  If now we could show that the early book of Testimonies
actually had a section in which Christ was treated as the Stone spoken of by
the prophets, it will become quite clear why Peter and Paul both make the
same extracts from Isaiah.

     Fortunately this can be at once established.  For when we turn to Cyprian's
collection of Testimonies against the Jews, we find a whole section headed
by the words,
That the same [Christ] is called a stone.
and the next section is
That the same stone should become a mountain and fill
the earth;

and other passages to the same effect may be cited from Justin and elsewhere.
Cyprian begins with two of the quotations which we have been discussing,
after which he goes stone-hundting all over the Old Testament.  This is the
way in which he commences:
Cyp. Test. ii.16.  That Christ is also called a stone in Isaiah:
"Thus saith the Lord, behold I place on the foundations of
Sion a precious stone, elect, chief, a corner stone, honorable
and he who trusteth in Him shall not be confounded."  

Also in the 117th [118] Psalm: "The stone which the builders
rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.  This is
done by the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes.  This is the
day etc."

Accordingly I claim that both Peter and Paul have had access to a collection
of prophetical Testimonies: putting this with what has gone before, and with
what might easily be expanded from other parts of the New Testament, we
frame the hypothesis that the early Christian Church used collections of
prophetical Testimonies, especially in their controversies with the Jews, and
that these can be traced back as far as the very beginning of the canonical
Christian literature.

     It is interesting to note that in Prof. Gwatkin's recently published Church
History, the antiquity of the collected Testimonies is practically conceded,
and they are inferred to be at least earlier than the Gospel of Matthew.  The
 passage to which I refer runs as follows:
If they [the early Christian writers] were all borrowing
from the same very early manual of proof-text [Rendel
Harris and Burkitt have this theory] which must be at
least earlier than the first Gospel, we may safely say that
few books have so influenced Christian thought.

And now what prospect have we of recovering the lost book?  In its original
form there is, perhaps, but a slight probability of our ever laying hands upon
it, although a handbook which was probably in use wherever the Church and
the Synagogue where debating with one another must have been widely
diffused and may turn up somewhere someday.  But if we cannot recover the
original form, we can often restore it from its descendants; and it is really
surprising on how many lines its tradition has been preserved to us.  For
example, of actual books of Testimonies there are quite a number.  We have
the first two books of Cyprian's Testimonies, which certainly are modelled
on an earlier form; we have the book of Testimonies ascribed to Gregory of
Nyssa, and published by the Vatican Librarian Zacagni in his Collectanear;
we have also a most instructive treatise by the great Syria Father Bar Salibi,
which I detected in an unpublished work of his against Moslems, Jews and
Heretics.  The part relating to the Jews, is a collection of testimonies, translated
for the most part, from a very early base.  No doubt additions can be made to
these.  Then, beyond the actual collections, there are whole regions of Patristic
literature which the work in question has affected.  We have seen one or two
instances in what precedes; especially we may note the works of Justin and
Irenaeus.  From these various sources, it ought to be possible to re-edit the
lost books with some approximation to accuracy.  The difficulty will arise,
however, that a polemical work like this was constantly being altered and
amended.  In the original draft there were proof-texts that turned out to be
apocryphal and arguments that would not stand criticism.  The first generations
of Christians were by no means infallible, whatever their successors may
have become; sometimes they corrected their mistakes; and sometimes
they held on to them: sometimes they attached the most important theological
conclusions to mistranslations and misquotations.  A single instance may be
given, which is the most striking that I know.  The doctrine of Christ's nature,
and especially his pre-existence was proved to the Jews by a passage from
the 110th Psalm; in the Hebrew which is itself perhaps corrupt, the prince
who is addressed in the Psalm is said to have "the beauty of holiness from the
womb of the morning"; and to have "the dew of his youth"; this unintelligible
matter is given by the Septuagint in the form,
From the womb before the day-star I begat thee;
and this was seized on by some Christian controversialists as a conclusive
proof of Christ's pre-existence.

     One would suppose such an argument would have been brushed away at
once, at least by an appeal to the Hebrew.  On the contrary all the Fathers,
from Justin onward use it: and it was one of the weapons with which
Athanasius demolished Arius at the Council of Nicaea.

     Primitive Christianity, on the Dogmatic side, must not always be taken
seriously.  They would have done better to content themselves with the
prologue to St John's Gospel and to have left alone these prophetical

     Before leaving this question, I should like to draw attention to another
which has been raised by the discussion of the hypothesis of the Testimony

     A reference to Prof Gwatkin's new Church History will show, in a footnote
on p. I.199 the statement that Rendel Harris and Prof. Burkitt believe there
was a primitive collection of Biblical Testimonies, and that Prof. Burkitt is
disposed to identify this collection with the famous lost book on which Papias
commented.  It will be remembered how much controversy has raged round
the lost work of Papias on the Dominical Oracles, a lost commentary on a lost
book: and the question as to the nature of these lost oracles is still far from a
solution.  It has been commonly held that the five books of Papaias were a
commentary upon the lost Saying of Jesus; but objection to this has been made,
that Sayings (GREEK) are not the same thing as Oracles (GREEK), and that the
word Oracles belongs rather to the Old Testament than to the collected words
of Christ.  It is not, therefore, surprising that Prof. Burkitt should have
suggested that our Book of Testimonies from the Old Testament is the real
work upon which Papias made his comments.

     Here is a new argument which brings some support to Burkitt's hypothesis.

     It will be remembered that in his treatise On the Incarnation, Athanasius
devotes a number of chapters to the refutation of the Jews, and that in those
chapters we detected the use of the Testimony Book.  Well, in the beginning of
ch. 38 Athanasius expresses himself as follows;
If they do not think the preceding arguments sufficient,
let them be persuaded by further oracles (GREEK) from
those which they have in their possession.
     Then he goes on to quote passages from Isaiah, which belonged to the
Testimony Book.  So here we see Athanasius actually describing his Biblical
extracts by the name of Oracles (GREEK).

     This is suggestive, but not finally decisive.  For when we turn to Justin's
Apology (ch. 49) where Justin is going to quote the very same passage that
Athanasius had used against the Jews (Isa. 65.1-3), he calls the passage
"Sayings" (GREEK) and not "Oracles"; ("these sayings were spoken as if in
the person of Christ").  So the same collection might be described either way.
And this rather inclines us to believe that the terms "Oracles" and "Sayings"
were more nearly synonymous than we might have at first supposed.  If this
were so, we could not affirm that Papias' book was a comment on Old
Testament passages.  It might have been, but the matter would require further

[*  We shall find the same ambiguity in Justn, dial. 15, where he has a
chapter which was probably taken from the Testimony Book, and concludes
his quotation by saying, "Circumcise then the uncircumcision of your hearts,
as the Sayings (GREEK) of God throughout all these Sayings (GREEK)
demand."  Here the Testimonies seem to be called Sayings of God, which is
not very far removed from the Dominical Oracles of Papias: and if we read
a little further, observing that Justin has been quoting Saying of Jesus as
well as Testimonies from the Prophets, we find him (ch. 18) remarking as
follows: "Since you, Trypho, have admitted that you have read the teachings
of that Savior of ours, I don't think I shall be doing anything out of place
in reminding you of some brief Oracles of his in addition to those taken
from he prophets."  Here the term (GREEK) is used both of the Testimonies
from the Prophets and of the Saying of Jesus.  In the very next chapter
(ch. 19 ad fin.) we have a passage from Ezekiel quoted as (GREEK).  From
these passages it seems right to infer that we are not justified in restricting
the term Oracles to the Old Testament or Saying to the New Testament
or literature bordering on the New.]  

It is possible that, in trying to clear up difficulties, especially where the
matter of writings discussed overlap the records of the New Testament,
that we may raise more problems that we solve.  I can quite understand
that people do not like to be told that there may be primitive errors in
the Gospels, and some people will not like to be told that there were
earlier books from which the Gospels may have derived them.  Also it
is possible that the method of exploring for minute peculiarities in the
texts of the early Fathers, like Justin and Irenaeus, may seem to be unduly
subtle.  We may, however, be sure that in work of this kind it pays to
take pains: and it is absolutely necessary to be conscientious.  Painstaking
comparison of Gospel texts, along with determined honesty has convinced
all sound scholars that we must read Isaiah in the opening of Mark and
not the prophets: and that we must read Jeremy the prophet in Matthew's
account of the betrayal.  If then, by close and careful comparison of the
common quotations in early patristic writers, we can make the
hypothesis reasonable of their borrowing from a common source,
and confirm its accuracy in a multitude of ways, we have in our hands
the instrument for the correcting of the errors which may seem to have
been imported into the text of the Gospels; we know how they arose, we
are a step further in the problem of their composition, and we are in closer
touch than we were before with the mind and the method of the early
Christian Church.  All of this is genuine progress; and each step taken
prepares the way for a further step and for a wider vision.*

[*In reference to the explanation by means of the shifting of carelessly
transcribed or marginally arranged title, I seee that Zacagni, the librarian
of the Vatican, who edited for us the Testimonies of Gregory of Nysssa,
had ingeniously detected the error in question in one passage and almost
gave the explanation.  As it is important to collect these instances, which
are far more numerous than one would suppose, I will translate (transcribe)
the page in question, along with Zacagni's note.  It runs as follows:
Concerning the miracles which the Lord was to show
forth after his incarnation.
  Jeremiah: Behold! I have set
thee for a covenant of the race, for a light of the Gentiles,
that thou mayest establish the earth and possess the
inheritance of the desert, saying to those who are in bonds,
Go forth; and to those who are in darkness, be enlightened."
And that these things cannot be said by a mere man concerning
himself is clear, since it was the same one who said:
[Baruch] "This is our God and there shall not be reckoned
another beside him."
Isaiah: "Be strong, ye relaxed hands and feeble knees etc."
Here the first extract is not from Jeremiah, but from Isaiah (49.6 8).  Zacagni
explains the matter thus: Nyssen took it for a passage of Jeremiah, because he
subjoins a testimony from Baruch (Bar. 3.36), who is often quoted under the
name of Jeremiah.  He meant it, therefore, to be referred to Jeremiah.  It only
remains, then, to add that the error must be earlier than Nyssen: and that it
arose from the wandering of the eye of a scribe from the correct Isaiah to
the Jeremiah (Baruch) which followed.   

    Before leaving this brief statement of an admittedly imperfect investigation,
it may be worth while to ask the question what the net result of the enquiry is
upon the general subject of the correct statement and proper defense of
Christian doctrine.  It is quite evident that the results of the examination into
the mode of composition and transmission of prophetical Testimonies is
inconsistent with the ordinary belief in a verbally inspired Gospel canon. 
For a large part of the argument turns upon an observed coincidence in
blunders of transmission, and we were not able to limit these errors to persons
belonging to the sub-apostolic or sub-evangelic Age.  So that an enquiry
of this kind is barred in advance for those who insist on an infallible text of
the Scriptures as a preliminary to the enquiry.  Not only is the argument one
which is, of necessity, fallacious from their point of view, but in order to
maintain the position in which they are entrenched, they have to surrender
to impossible textual criticism (as by reading "the prophets" for "Isaiah" in
the opening of Mark), or to equally impossible exegesis (as in explaining
away "Jeremy the prophet" from the text of Matthew).

     On the other hand, so soon as we admit the possibility of errors in
transmission, we are in the great position of advantage of seeing how a
number of such errors have arisen and of reflecting upon the very small
importance that attaches to them historically.

     But then there is another advantage that is gained by this method of enquiry.
We are often challenged as to the validity of the Christian Gospels, considered
as historical documents, in view of the generally accepted conclusion that
they were not composed until nearly a quarter of a century after the events
which they record.  That empty space between the date of the Ascension and
the beginning of the Christian literature, is one of the difficulties that have to
be met.  Even when we allow the Pauline and other letters to be adduced in
evidence of the beliefs of the early Church, we are still far from being
adequately supplied with material for historical interpretation: nor does it
seem to me that we can fairly meet the difficulty by taking as positively as
some do, about the Oral tradition and the existence of the order of Catechists,
who are assumed to have the tradition by heart from the first Apostolic
utterance onward, and never to have made serious errors of memory in the
transmission of the tradition.  Now it is in just such directions as we have
been occupied that the void which perplexes us begins to be filled up.  There
are lost books of the early Church, and some of them have been employed
in the composition of our existing Gospels.  Of this family one leading
member was the Book of Testimonies; a second, to which we shall refer
presently in another lecture, was the lost Book of the Saying of Jesus.  And
I have little doubt that, if our critical eyes were keener, and especially if
we could recover some more fragments of early Christian literature, we
should be able to affirm the existence of quite a little library of early
Christian books.  In this way much would become clear that is now somewhat
obscure in the Evangelic history.  We should not only have the original Mark,
of which the critics talk (if there was an Ur-Marcus), and the companion
document which they call Q which has been employed by both Matthew
and Luke, but we should have two or three other leading Christian documents,
belonging to the very space that was perplexing us by its vacancy.  And
it is easy to image that the vacancy (which is only due to the carelessness
of the Church over its records) might wholly disappear.  For we do not
forget what Luke tells us about many who had tried to compose a Gospel
History and who were certainly not Oral traditionalists of Catechists!

     Our enquiry, then, is a real alleviation of the difficulty of the situation,
and the first step, perhaps, towards its complete removal.

     On the other hand it may be urged that in emphasizing the use of the Old
Testament in early Christian times, we are making things worse for the
exegete and the believer: for if the primitive Christians appealed so freely
to prophecies of all kinds, they must often have made wrong appeals which
were discredited almost as soon as made, or which are certainly not to be
credited amongst ourselves.

     This part of the problem, however, is not new: we shall have to settle for
ourselves, quiet apart from the Book of Testimonies, whether Matthew was
right in his interpretation of the calling of the Son out of Egypt.  If he was
the victim of an incorrect exegesis, this may have been, on our hypothesis,
some one else's mistake and not his own.  We shall still have to decide this
and other matters with the best light we can get.  And the real advantage of
our method lies in this very direction, that it is an increase of light and an
extension of knowledge.  And I do not think the central figure of Christianity
or its central doctrines are likely to be obscured by a careful restoration of
the broken and almost lost fabric of its earliest literature.