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What Scaliger Says About The Epistle To Jude
by [?]

Before any canon was settled, many works had become current in Christian circles whose origin was dubious. The traditions about them varied locally. Some, it is alleged, that would really have been entitled to a canonical place, had been lost by accident; to some, which still survived, this place had been refused upon grounds that might not have satisfied us of this day, if we had the books and the grounds of rejection before us; and, finally, others, it is urged, have obtained this sacred distinction with no right to it. In particular, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, the Second of St. Jude, the Epistle of St. James, and the three of St. John, are denounced as supposititious in the ‘Scaligerana.’ But the writer before us is wrong in laying any stress on the opinions there expressed. They bear the marks of conversational haste and of Scaligeran audacity. What is the objection made, for instance, to ‘in quibus sunt mira, quae non videntur esse Apostolica’? That is itself more strange as a criticism than anything in the epistles can be for its doctrine. The only thing tending to a reason for the summary treatment is that the Eastern Church does not acknowledge them for canonical. But opinions quoted from ana are seldom of any authority; indeed, I have myself too frequently seen the unfaithfulness of such reports. The reporter, as he cannot decently be taking notes at the time of speaking, endeavours afterwards to recall the most interesting passages by memory. He forgets the context; what introduced–what followed to explain or modify the opinions. He supplies a conjectural context of his own, and the result is a romance. But if the reporter were even accurate, so much allowance must be made for the license of conversation–its ardour, its hurry, and its frequent playfulness–that when all these deductions are made, really not a fraction remains that one can honestly carry to account. Besides, the elder Scaliger was drunk pretty often, and Joe seems rather ‘fresh’ at times.

Upon consideration, it may be as well to repeat what it is that Scaliger is reported to have said:

‘The Epistle of Jude is not his, as neither is that of James, nor the second of Peter, in all which are strange things that seem (seem–mark that!) far enough from being Apostolical. The three Epistles of John are not from John the Apostle. The second of Peter and Jude belong to a later age. The Eastern Church does not own them, neither are they of evangelical authority. They are unlearned, and offer no marks of Gospel majesty. As regards their internal value, believe them I may say that I do, but it is because they are in no ways hostile to us.’

Now, observe, the grounds of objection are purely aesthetical, except in the single argument from the authority of the Eastern Church. What does he mean by ‘unlearned,’ or wanting ‘majesty,’ or containing ‘strange things’? Were ever such vague puerilities collected into one short paragraph? This is pure impertinence, and Phil. deserves to be privately reprimanded for quoting such windy chaff without noting and protesting it as colloquial. But what I wish the reader to mark–the [Greek: tho hepimhythion]–is, that suppose the two Scaligers amongst the Christian Fathers engaged in fixing the canon: greater learning you cannot have; neither was there, to a dead certainty, one tenth part as much amongst the canon-settlers. Yet all this marvellous learning fumes away in boyish impertinence. It confounds itself. And every Christian says, Oh, take away this superfluous weight of erudition, that, being so rare a thing, cannot be wanted in the broad highways of religion. What we do want is humility, docility, reverence for God, and love for man. These are sown broadcast amongst human hearts. Now, these apply themselves to the sense of Scripture, not to its grammatical niceties. But if so, even that case shows indirectly how little could depend upon the mere verbal attire of the Bible, when the chief masters of verbal science were so ready to go astray–riding on the billows so imperfectly moored. In the ideas of Scripture lies its eternal anchorage, not in its perishable words, which are shifting for ever like quicksands, as the Bible passes by translation successively into every spoken language of the earth.