The Freethinker's Text Book, Part II.
Annie Besant

Part 3 out of 6

be found in the Canonical Gospels are found in the writings referred to.
Various theories are put forward, as we have already seen, to account
for the differences of expression and arrangement: the Fathers are said
to have quoted loosely, to have quoted from memory, to have combined,
expanded, condensed, at pleasure. To prove this general laxity of
quotation, Christian apologists rely much on what they assert is a
similar laxity shown in quoting from the Old Testament; and Mr. Sanday
has used this argument with considerable skill. But it does not follow
that variations in quotations from the Old Testament spring from laxity
and carelessness; they are generally quite as likely to spring from
multiplicity of versions, for we find Mr. Sanday himself saying that
"most of the quotations that we meet with are taken from the LXX.
Version; and the text of that version was, at this particular time
especially, uncertain and fluctuating. There is evidence to show that it
must have existed in several forms, which differed more or less from
that of the extant MSS. It would be rash, therefore, to conclude at
once, because we find a quotation differing from the present text of the
LXX., that it differed from that which was used by the writer making the
quotation" ("Gospels in the Second Century," pp. 16, 17). Besides, it
must not be forgotten that the variation is sometimes too persistent to
spring from looseness of quotation, and that the same variation is not
always confined to one author. The position for which we contend will be
most clearly appreciated by giving, at full length, one of the passages
most relied upon by Christian apologists; and we will take, as an
example of supposed quotation, the long passage in Clement, chap.


Especially remembering
the word of the Lord Jesus
when he spake, teaching
gentleness and
For this he said:
v. 7. Blessed are Pity he, that he may be vi. 36. Be ye,
the pitiful, for they pitied: forgive, that it therefore,
shall be pitied. may be forgiven unto merciful, as
vi. 14. For if ye you. your Father also
forgive men their As ye do, so shall it is merciful.
trespasses, your heavenly be done unto you; vi. 37. Acquit,
Father will as ye give, so shall it and ye shall be
also forgive you. be given unto you; as acquitted.
vii. 12. All things, ye judge, so shall it vi. 31. And as ye
therefore, whatsoever be judged unto you; would that they
ye would that as ye are kind, so should do unto
men should do unto shall kindness be you, do ye also
you, even so do ye shown unto you; with unto them
unto them. that measure ye mete, likewise.
vii. 2. For with with it shall it be vi. 18. Give, and
what judgment ye measured unto you. it shall be given
judge, ye shall be unto you.
judged, and with vi. 37. And judge
what measure ye not, and ye shall
mete it shall be not be judged. For
measured unto you. with what measure
ye mete, it shall
be measured unto
you again.

The English, as here given, represents as closely as possible both the
resemblances and the differences of the Greek text. What reader, in
reading this, can believe that Clement picked out a bit here and a bit
there from the Canonical Gospels, and then wove them into one connected
whole, which he forthwith represented as said thus by Christ? To the
unprejudiced student the hypothesis will, at once, suggest itself--there
must have been some other document current in Clement's time, which
contained the sayings of Christ, from which this quotation was made.
Only the exigencies of Christian apologetic work forbid the general
adoption of so simple and so natural a solution of the question. Mr.
Sanday says: "Doubtless light would be thrown upon the question if we
only knew what was the common original of the two Synoptic texts ... The
differences in these extra-Canonical quotations do not exceed the
differences between the Synoptic Gospels themselves; yet by far the
larger proportion of critics regard the resemblances in the Synoptics as
due to a common written source used either by all three or by two of
them" ("Gospels in the Second Century," p. 65). It is clear that Jesus
could not have said these passages in the words given by Matthew,
Clement, and Luke, repeating himself in three different forms, now
connectedly, now in fragments; two, at least, out of the three must give
an imperfect report. Mr. Sanday, by speaking of "the common original of
the two Synoptic texts," clearly shows that he does not regard the
Synoptic version as original, and thereby helps to buttress our
contention, that the Gospels we have now are not the only ones that were
current in the early Church, and that they had no exclusive
authority--in fact, that they were not "Canonical." Further on, Mr.
Sanday, referring to Polycarp, says: "I cannot but think that there has
been somewhere a written version different from our Gospels to which he
and Clement have had access ... It will be observed that all the
quotations refer either to the double or treble Synoptics, where we have
already proof of the existence of the saying in question in more than a
single form, and not to those portions that are peculiar to the
individual Evangelists. The author of 'Supernatural Religion' is,
therefore, not without reason when he says that they may be derived from
other collections than our actual Gospels. The possibility cannot be
excluded" ("Gospels in the Second Century," pp. 86, 87). The other
passage from Clement is yet more unlike anything in the Canonical
Gospels: in chap. xlvi. we read:--

xxvi. 24. He said: xvii. 1. xiv. 21. Woe to
Woe to that Woe to that man; Woe through that man by whom
man by whom well for him whom they the Son of man is
the Son of man that he had not (offences) delivered up, well
is delivered been born, than come. for him if that
up; well for that he should 2. It were man had not been
him if that offend one of my advantageous for born.
man had not elect; better him that a great ix. 42. And
been born. for him a millstone were whosoever shall
xviii. 6. But millstone should hanged around offend one of
whoso shall be attached (to his neck, and he these little ones
offend one of him), and he cast in the sea, which believe in
these little should be than that he me, it is well for
ones which drowned in the should offend him rather that a
believe in me, it sea, than that one of these great millstone
were profitable he should offend little ones. were hanged about
for him that a one of my little his neck, and he
great millstone ones. thrown in the sea.
were suspended
upon his
neck, and that
he were drowned
in the depth
of the sea.

"This quotation is clearly not from our Gospels, but is derived from a
different written source.... The slightest comparison of the passage
with our Gospels is sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind that it
is neither a combination of texts, nor a quotation from memory. The
language throughout is markedly different, and, to present even a
superficial parallel, it is necessary to take a fragment of the
discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper, regarding the traitor who should
deliver him up (Matt. xxvi. 24), and join it to a fragment of his
remarks in connection with the little child whom he set in the midst
(xviii. 6)" ("Sup. Rel.," vol. i., pp. 233, 234).

In Polycarp a passage is found much resembling that given from Clement,
chap, xiii., but not exactly reproducing it, which is open to the same
criticism as that passed on Clement.

If we desire to prove that Gospels other than the Canonical were in use,
the proof lies ready to our hands. In chap. xlvi. of Clement we read:
"It is written, cleave to the holy, for they who cleave to them shall be
made holy." In chap. xliv.: "And our Apostles knew, through our Lord
Jesus Christ, that there would be contention regarding the office of the
episcopate." The author of "Supernatural Religion" gives us passages
somewhat resembling this. He said: "There shall be schisms and
heresies," from Justin Martyr ("Trypho," chap. xxxv): "There shall be,
as the Lord said, false apostles, false prophets, heresies, desires for
supremacy," from the "Clementine Homilies": "From these came the false
Christs, false prophets, false apostles, who divided the unity of the
Church," from Hegesippus (vol. i. p. 236).

In Barnabas we read, chap. vi.: "The Lord saith, He maketh a new
creation in the last times. The Lord saith, Behold I make the first as
the last." Chap. vii.: Jesus says: "Those who desire to behold me, and
to enter into my kingdom, must, through tribulation and suffering, lay
hold upon me."

In Ignatius we find: Ep. Phil., chap, vii.: "But the Spirit proclaimed,
saying these words: Do ye nothing without the Bishop." "There is,
however, one quotation, introduced as such, in this same Epistle, the
source of which Eusebius did not know, but which Origen refers to 'the
Preaching of Peter,' and Jerome seems to have found in the Nazarene
version of the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews.' This phrase is
attributed to our Lord when he appeared 'to those about Peter and said
to them, Handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.' But
for the statement of Origen, that these words occurred in the 'Preaching
of Peter,' they might have been referred without much difficulty to Luke
xxiv. 39" ("Gospels in the Second Century," p. 81). And they most
certainly would have been so referred, and dire would have been
Christian wrath against those who refused to admit these words as a
proof of the canonicity of Luke's Gospel in the time of Ignatius.

If, turning to Justin Martyr, we take one or two passages resembling
other passages to be found in the Canonical, we shall then see the same
type of differences as we have already remarked in Clement. In the
fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the first "Apology" we find a
collection of the sayings of Christ, most of which are to be read in the
Sermon on the Mount; in giving these Justin mentions no written work
from which he quotes. He says: "We consider it right, before giving you
the promised explanation, to cite a few precepts given by Christ
himself" ("Apology," chap. xiv). If these had been taken from Gospels
written by Apostles, is it conceivable that Justin would not have used
their authority to support himself?


v. 46. For if ye should love And of our love to all, he
them which love you, what reward taught this: If ye love them
have ye? do not even the that love ye, what new things
publicans the same? do ye? for even fornicators do
this; but I say unto you: Pray
v. 44. But I say unto you, for your enemies, and love them
love your enemies, bless them which hate you, and bless them
which curse you, do good to which curse you, and offer
them which hate you, and pray prayer for them which
for them which despitefully use despitefully use you.
you and persecute you.

The corresponding passage in Luke is still further from Justin (Luke vi.
32-35). "It will be observed that here again Justin's Gospel reverses
the order in which the parallel passage is found in our synoptics. It
does so indeed, with a clearness of design which, even without the
actual peculiarities of diction and construction, would indicate a
special and different source. The passage varies throughout from our
Gospels, but Justin repeats the same phrases in the same order
elsewhere" ("Sup. Rel," v. i. p. 353, note 2).


v. 42. Give thou to him that He said: Give ye to every one
asketh thee, and from him that that asketh, and from him that
would borrow of thee turn not desireth to borrow turn not ye
thou away. away: for if ye lend to them
from whom ye hope to receive,
Luke vi. 34. And if you lend what new thing do ye? for even
to them from whom ye hope to the publicans do this.
receive, what thank have ye; for
sinners also lend to sinners to But ye, lay not up for yourselves
receive as much again. upon the earth, where moth and
rust do corrupt, and robbers
Matt. vi. 19, 20. Lay not up for break through, but lay up for
yourselves treasures upon earth, yourselves in the heavens, where
where moth and rust doth corrupt, neither moth nor rust doth
and where thieves break corrupt.
through and steal. But lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, For what is a man profited, is he
where neither moth nor shall gain the whole world, but
rust doth corrupt, and where destroy his soul? or what shall he
thieves do not break through give in exchange for it? Lay up,
nor steal. therefore, in the heavens, where
neither most nor rust doth corrupt.
xvi. 26. For what shall a
man be profited if he shall gain
the whole world, but lose his
soul? or what shall a man give in
exchange for his soul?

This passage is clearly unbroken in Justin, and forms one connected
whole; to parallel it from the Synoptics we must go from Matthew v., 42,
to Luke vi., 34, then to Matthew vi., 19, 20, off to Matthew xvi. 26,
and back again to Matthew vi. 19; is such a method of quotation likely,
especially when we notice that Justin, in quoting passages on a given
subject (as at the beginning of chap. xv. on chastity), separates the
quotations by an emphatic "And," marking the quotation taken from
another place? These passages will show the student how necessary it is
that he should not accept a few words as proof of a quotation from a
synoptic, without reading the whole passage in which they occur. The
coincidence of half a dozen words is no quotation when the context is
different, and there is no break between the context and the words
relied upon. "It is absurd and most arbitrary to dissect a passage,
quoted by Justin as a consecutive and harmonious whole, and finding
parallels more or less approximate to its various phrases scattered up
and down distant parts of our Gospels, scarcely one of which is not
materially different from the reading of Justin, to assert that he is
quoting these Gospels freely from memory, altering, excising, combining,
and inter-weaving texts, and introverting their order, but nevertheless
making use of them and not of others. It is perfectly obvious that such
an assertion is nothing but the merest assumption" ("Sup. Rel.," vol.
i., p. 364). Mr. Sanday's conclusion as to Justin is: "The _a priori_
probabilities of the case, as well as the actual phenomena of Justin's
Gospel, alike tend to show that he did make use either mediately or
immediately of our Gospels, but that he did not assign to them an
exclusive authority, and that he probably made use along with them of
other documents no longer extant" ("Gospels in the Second Century," p.
117). It is needless to multiply analyses of quotations, as the system
applied to the two given above can be carried out for himself by the
student in other cases. But a far weightier proof remains that Justin's
"Memoirs of the Apostles" were not the Canonical Gospels; and that is,
that Justin used expressions, and mentions incidents which are _not_ to
be found in our Gospels, and some of which _are_ to be found in
Apocryphal Gospels. For instance, in the first "Apology," chap. xiii.,
we read: "We have been taught that the only honour that is worthy of him
is not to consume by fire what he has brought into being for our
sustenance, but to use it for ourselves and those who need, and with
gratitude to him to offer thanks by invocations and hymns for our
creation, and for all the means of health, and for the various qualities
of the different kinds of things, and for the changes of the seasons;
and to present before him petitions for our existing again in
incorruption through faith in him. Our teacher of these things is Jesus
Christ, who also was born for this purpose." "He has exhorted us to lead
all men, by patience and gentleness, from shame and the love of evil"
(Ibid, chap. xvi.). "For the foal of an ass stood _bound to a vine_"
(Ibid, chap. xxxii.). "The angel said to the _Virgin_, Thou shalt call
his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins" (chap.
xxxiii.). "They tormented him, and set him on the judgment seat, and
said, Judge us" (chap. xxxv.). "Our Lord Jesus Christ said, In
whatsoever things I shall take you, in these I shall judge you"
("Trypho," chapter xlviii.). These are only some out of the many
passages of which no resemblance is to be found in the Canonical

The best way to show the truth of Paley's contention--that "from
Justin's works, which are still extant, might be collected a tolerably
complete account of Christ's life, in all points agreeing with that
which is delivered in our Scriptures; taken indeed, in a great measure,
from those Scriptures, but still proving that this account and no other,
was the account known and extant in that age" ("Evidences," p. 77)--will
be to give the story from Justin, mentioning every notice of Christ in
his works, which gives anything of his supposed life, only omitting
passages relating solely to his teaching, such as those given above. The
large majority of these are taken from the "Dialogue with Trypho," a
wearisome production, in which Justin endeavours to convince a Jew that
Christ is the Messiah, by quotations from the Jewish Scriptures (which,
by the way, include Esdras, thus placing that book on a level with the
other inspired volumes). A noticeable peculiarity of this Dialogue is,
that any alleged incident in Christ's life is taken as true, not because
it is authenticated as historical, but simply because it was prophesied
of; Justin's Christ is, in fact, an ideal, composed out of the
prophecies of the Jews, and fitted on to a Jew named Jesus.

Christ was the offspring truly brought forth from the Father,
before the creation of anything else, the Word begotten of God,
before all his works, and he appeared before his birth,
sometimes as a flame of fire, sometimes as an angel, as at
Sodom, to Moses, to Joshua. He was called by Solomon, Wisdom;
and by the Prophets and by Christians, the King, the Eternal
Priest, God, Lord, Angel, Man, the Flower, the Stone, the
Cornerstone, the Rod, the Day, the East, the Glory, the Rock,
the Sword, Jacob, Israel, the Captain, the Son, the Helper, the
Redeemer. He was born into the World by the over-shadowing of
God the Holy Ghost, who is none other than the Word himself, and
produced without sexual union by a virgin of the seed of Jacob,
Judah, Phares, Jesse, and David, his birth being announced by an
angel, who told the Virgin to call his name Jesus, for he should
save his people from their sins. Joseph, the spouse of Mary,
desired to put her away, but was commanded in a vision not to
put away his wife, the angel telling him that what was in her
womb was of the Holy Ghost. At the first census taken in Judaea,
under Cyrenius, the first Roman Procurator, he left Nazareth
where he lived, and went to Bethlehem, to which he belonged, his
family being of the tribe of Judah, and then was ordered to
proceed to Egypt with Mary and the child, and remain there until
another revelation warned them to return to Judaea. At Bethlehem
Joseph could find no lodging in the village, so took up his
quarters in a cave near, where Christ was born and placed in a
manger. Here he was found by the Magi from Arabia, who had been
to Jerusalem inquiring what king was born there, they having
seen a star rise in heaven. They worshipped the child and gave
him gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and warned by a revelation,
went home without telling Herod where they had found the child.
So Herod, when Joseph, Mary, and the child had gone into Egypt,
as they were commanded, ordered the whole of the children then
in Bethlehem to be massacred. Archelaus succeeded Herod, and was
succeeded himself by another Herod. The child grew up like all
other men, and was a man without comeliness, and inglorious,
working as a carpenter, making ploughs and yokes, and when he
was thirty years of age, more or less, he went to Jordan to be
baptised by John, who was the herald of his approach. When he
stepped into the water a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and
when he came out of the water the Holy Ghost lighted on him like
a dove, and at the same instant a voice came from the heavens:
"Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee." He was tempted
by Satan, and of like passions with men; he was spotless and
sinless, and the blameless and righteous man; he made whole the
lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, and he raised the
dead; he was called, because of his mighty works, a magician,
and a deceiver of the people. He stood in the midst of his
brethren the Apostles, and when living with them sang praises
unto God. He changed the names of the sons of Zebedee to
Boanerges, and of another of the Apostles to Peter. He ordered
his acquaintance to bring him an ass, and the foal of an ass
which stood bound to a vine, and he mounted and rode into
Jerusalem. He overthrew the tables of the money-changers in the
temple. He gave us bread and wine in remembrance of his taking
our flesh and of shedding his blood. He took upon him the curses
of all, and by his stripes the human race is healed. On the day
in which he was to be crucified (elsewhere called the night
before) he took three disciples to the hill called Olivet, and
prayed; his sweat fell to the ground like drops, his heart and
also his bones trembling; men went to the Mount of Olives to
seize him; he was seized on the day of the Passover, and
crucified during the Passover; Pilate sent Jesus bound to Herod;
before Pilate he kept silence; they set Christ on the judgment
seat, and said: "Judge us;" he was crucified under Pontius
Pilate; his hands and feet were pierced; they cast lots for his
vesture, and divided it; they that saw him crucified, shook
their heads and mocked him, saying: "Let him who raised the dead
save himself." "He said he was the Son of God; let him come
down; let God save him." He gave up his spirit to the Father,
and after he was crucified all his acquaintance forsook him,
having denied him. He rose on the third day; he was crucified on
Friday, and rose on "the day of the Sun," and appeared to the
Apostles and taught them to read the prophecies, and they
repented of their flight, after they were persuaded by himself
that he had beforehand warned them of his sufferings, and that
these sufferings were prophesied of. They saw him ascend. The
rulers in heaven were commanded to admit the King of Glory, but
seeing him uncomely and dishonoured they asked, "Who is this
King of Glory?" God will keep Christ in heaven until he has
subdued his enemies the devils. He will return in glory, raise
the bodies of the dead, clothe the good with immortality, and
send the bad, endued with eternal sensibility into everlasting
fire. He has the everlasting kingdom.

These references to Jesus are scattered up and down through Justin's
writings, without any chronological order, a phrase here, a phrase
there; only in one or two instances are two or three things related even
in the same chapter. They are arranged here connectedly, as nearly as
possible in the usually accepted order, and the greatest care has been
taken not to omit any. It will be worth while to note the differences
between this and our Gospels, and also the allusions to other Gospels
which it contains. Christ is clearly subsequent in time to the Father,
being brought forth from him; he conceives himself, he being here
identified with the Holy Ghost; it is the _virgin_ who descends from
David, a fact of which there is no hint given in our Gospels; the reason
of the name Jesus is told to the Virgin instead of to Joseph; we hear
nothing of the shepherds and the glory of the Lord round the chanting
angels; Jesus is uncomely, and works making ploughs and yokes, of which,
we hear nothing in the Gospels; the fire at the baptism is not mentioned
in the Gospels, and the voice from heaven speaks in words not found in
them; he is called a magician, of which accusation we know nothing from
the four; the colt of the ass is tied to a vine, a circumstance omitted
in the canonical writings; it is no where said in the New Testament that
the bread at the Lord's supper is given in remembrance of _the
incarnation_, but, on the contrary, it is in remembrance of _the death_
of Christ; the crucifixion is not stated to have taken place during the
Passover, but on the contrary the Fourth Gospel places it before, the
others after, the Passover; we hear nothing of Christ set on the
judgment seat in the Gospels: the _vesture_ is not divided according to
John, who draws a distinction between the _vesture_ and the _raiment_
which is not recognised by Justin; the taunts of the crowd are
different; the denial of Christ by all the Apostles is uncanonical, as
is also their forsaking him _after_ the crucifixion; we do not hear of
the "day of the Sun" in our Gospels, nor of the rulers of heaven and
their reception of Christ. In fact, there are more points of divergence
than of coincidence between the details of the story of Jesus given by
Justin and that given in the Four Gospels, and yet Paley says that: "all
the references in Justin are made without mentioning the author; which
proves that these books were perfectly notorious, and that there were no
other accounts of Christ then extant, or, at least, no others so
received and credited, as to make it necessary to distinguish these from
the rest" ("Evidences," p. 123). And Paley has actually the hardihood to
state that what "seems extremely to be observed is, that in all Justin's
works, from which might be extracted almost a complete life of Christ,
there are but two instances in which he refers to anything as said or
done by Christ, which is not related concerning him in our present
Gospels; which shows that these Gospels, and these, we may say, alone,
were the authorities from which the Christians of that day drew the
information upon which they depended" (Ibid pp. 122, 123). Paley,
probably, never intended that a life of Christ should "be extracted"
from "all Justin's works." It is done above, and the reader may judge
for himself of Paley's truthfulness. One of the "two instances" is given
as follows: "The other, of a circumstance in Christ's baptism, namely, a
fiery or luminous appearance upon the water, which, according to
Epiphanius, is noticed in the Gospel of the Hebrews; and which might be
true; but which, whether true or false, is mentioned by Justin with a
plain mark of diminution when compared with what he quotes as resting
upon Scripture authority. The reader will advert to this distinction.
'And then, when Jesus came to the river Jordan, where John was
baptising, as Jesus descended into the water, a fire also was kindled in
Jordan; and when he came up out of the water, _the apostles of this our
Christ have written_, that the Holy Ghost lighted upon him as a dove'"
(Ibid, p. 123). The italics here are Paley's own. Now let the reader
turn to the passage itself, and he will find that Paley has deliberately
altered the construction of the phrases, in order to make a
"distinction" that Justin does not make, inserting the reference to the
apostles in a different place to that which it holds in Justin. Is it
credible that such duplicity passes to-day for argument? one can only
hope that the large majority of Christians who quote Paley are ignorant,
and are, therefore, unconscious of the untruthfulness of the apologist;
the passage quoted is taken from the "Dialogue with Trypho," chap. 88,
and runs as follows: "Then, when Jesus had gone to the river Jordan,
where John was baptising, and when he had stepped into the water, a fire
was kindled in the Jordan; and when he came out of the water, the Holy
Ghost lighted on him like a dove; the apostles of this very Christ of
ours wrote" [thus]. The phrase italicised by Paley concludes the
account, and if it refers to one part of the story, it refers to all;
thus the reader can see for himself that Justin makes no "mark of
diminution" of any kind, but gives the whole story, fire, Holy Ghost,
and all, as from the "Memoirs." The mockery of Christ on the cross is
worded differently in Justin and in the Gospels, and he distinctly says
that he quotes from the "Memoirs." "They spoke in mockery the words
which are recorded in the memoirs of his Apostles: 'He said he was the
Son of God; let him come down: let God save him'" ("Dial." chap. ci.).

If we turn to the Clementines, we find, in the same way, passages not to
be found in the Canonical Gospels. "And Peter said: We remember that our
Lord and Teacher, as commanding us, said: Keep the mysteries for me, and
the sons of my house" ("Hom." xix. chap. 20). "And Peter said: If,
therefore, of the Scriptures some are true and some are false, our
Teacher rightly said: 'Be ye good money-changers,' as in the Scriptures
there are some true sayings and some spurious" ("Hom." ii. chap. 51; see
also iii. chap. 50. and xviii. chap. 20). This saying of Christ is found
in many of the Fathers. "To those who think that God tempts, as the
Scriptures say he [Jesus] said: 'The tempter is the wicked one, who also
tempted himself'" ("Hom." iii. chap. 55).

Of the Clementine "Homilies" Mr. Sanday remarks, "several apocryphal
sayings, and some apocryphal details, are added. Thus the Clementine
writer calls John a 'Hemerobaptist,' _i.e.,_ member of a sect which
practised daily baptism. He talks about a rumour which became current in
the reign of Tiberius, about the 'vernal equinox,' that at the same time
a King should arise in Judaea who should work miracles, making the blind
to see, the lame to walk, healing every disease, including leprosy, and
raising the dead; in the incident of the Canaanite woman (whom, with
Mark, he calls a Syrophoenician) he adds her name, 'Justa,' and that of
her daughter 'Bernice.' He also limits the ministry of our Lord to one
year" ("Gospels in the Second Century," pp. 167, 168). But it is
needless to multiply such passages; three or four would be enough to
prove our position: whence were they drawn, if not from records
differing from the Gospels now received? We, therefore, conclude that in
the numerous Evangelical passages quoted by the Fathers, which are not
in the Canonical Gospels, we find _evidence that the earlier records
were not the Gospels now esteemed Canonical._

I. _That the books themselves show marks of their later origin._ We
should draw this conclusion from phrases scattered throughout the
Gospels, which show that the writers were ignorant of local customs,
habits, and laws, and therefore could not have been Jews contemporary
with Jesus at the date when he is alleged to have lived. We find a clear
instance of this ignorance in the mention made by Luke of the census
which is supposed to have brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem
immediately before the birth of Jesus. If Jesus was born at the time
alleged "the Roman census in question must have been made either under
Herod the Great, or at the commencement of the reign of Archelaus. This
is in the highest degree improbable, for in those countries which were
not reduced _in formam provinciae_, but were governed by _regibus
sociis_, the taxes were levied by these princes, who paid a tribute to
the Romans; and this was the state of things in Judaea prior to the
deposition of Archelaus.... The Evangelist relieves us from a further
inquiry into this more or less historical or arbitrary combination by
adding that this taxing was first made when Cyrenius (Quirinus) _was
Governor of_ Syria [Greek: haegemoneuontos taes Surias Kuraeniou] for it
is an authenticated point that the assessment of Quirinus did not take
place either under Herod or early in the reign of Archelaus, the period
at which, according to Luke, Jesus was born. Quirinus was not at that
time Governor of Syria, a situation held during the last years of Herod
by Lentius Saturninus, and after him by Quintilius Varus; and it was not
till long after the death of Herod that Quirinus was appointed Governor
of Syria. That Quirinus undertook a census of Judaea we know certainly
from Josephus, who, however, remarks that he was sent to execute this
measure when Archelaus' country was laid to the province of Syria
(compare "Ant.," bk. xvii. ch. 13, sec. 5; bk. xviii. ch. 1, sec. 1;
"Wars of the Jews," bk. ii. ch. 8, sec. 1; and ch. 9, sec. 1) thus,
about ten years after the time at which, according to Matthew and Luke,
Jesus must have been born" (Strauss's "Life of Jesus," vol. i., pp.

The confusion of dates, as given in Luke, proves that the writer was
ignorant of the internal history of Judaea and the neighbouring
provinces. The birth of Jesus, according to Luke, must have taken place
six months after the birth of John Baptist, and as John was born during
the reign of Herod, Jesus must also have been born under the same King,
or else at the commencement of the reign of Archelaus. Yet Luke says
that he was born during the census in Judaea, which, as we have seen just
above, took place ten years later. "The Evangelist, therefore, in order
to get a census, must have conceived the condition of things such as
they were after the deposition of Archelaus; but in order to get a
census extending to Galilee, he must have imagined the kingdom to have
continued undivided, as in the time of Herod the Great. [Strauss had
explained that the reduction of the kingdom of Archelaus into a Roman
province did not affect Galilee, which was still ruled by Herod Antipas
as an allied prince, and that a census taken by the Roman Governor
would, therefore, not extend to Galilee, and could not affect Joseph,
who, living at Nazareth, would be the subject of Herod. See, as
illustrative of this, Luke xxiii. 6, 7.] Thus he deals in manifest
contradictions; or, rather, he has an exceedingly sorry acquaintance
with the political relations of that period; for he extends the census
not only to the whole of Palestine, but also (which we must not forget)
to the whole Roman world" (Strauss's "Life of Jesus," vol. i., p. 206).

After quoting one of the passages of Josephus referred to above, Dr.
Giles says: "There can be little doubt that this is the mission of
Cyrenius which the Evangelist supposed to be the occasion of the visit
of Christ's parents to Bethlehem. But such an error betrays on the part
of the writer a great ignorance of the Jewish history, and of Jewish
politics; for, if Christ was born in the reign of Herod the Great, no
Roman census or enrolment could have taken place in the dominions of an
independent King. If, however, Christ was born in the year of the
census, not only Herod the Great, but Archelaus, also, his son, was
dead. Nay, by no possibility can the two events be brought together; for
even after the death of Archelaus, Judaea alone became a Roman province;
Galilee was still governed by Herod Antipas as an independent prince,
and Christ's parents would not have been required to go out of their own
country to Jerusalem, for the purpose of a census which did not comprise
their own country, Galilee. Besides which, it is notorious that the
Roman census was taken from house to house, at the residence of each,
and not at the birth-place or family rendezvous of each tribe"
("Christian Records," pp. 120, 121). Another "striking witness to the
late composition of the Gospels is furnished by expressions, denoting
ideas that could not have had any being in the time of Christ and his
disciples, but must have been developed afterwards, at a time when the
Christian religion was established on a broader and still increasing
basis" (Ibid, p. 169). Dr. Giles has collected many of these, and we
take them from his pages. In John i. 15, 16, we read: "John bare witness
of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh
after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his
fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." At that time none
had received of the "fulness of Christ," and the saying in the mouth of
John Baptist is an anachronism. The word "cross" is several times used
symbolically by Christ, as expressing patience and self-denial; but
before his own crucifixion the expression would be incomprehensible, and
he would surely not select a phraseology his disciples could not
understand; "Bearing the cross" is a later phrase, common among
Christians. Matthew xi. 12, Jesus, speaking while John the Baptist is
still living, says: "From the days of John the Baptist until now"--an
expression that implies a lapse of time. The word "gospel" was not in
use among Christians before the end of the second century; yet we find
it in Matthew iv. 23, ix. 35, xxiv. 14, xxvi. 13; Mark i. 14, viii. 35,
x. 29, xiii. 10, xiv. 9; Luke ix. 6. The unclean spirit, or rather
spirits, who were sent into the swine (Mark v. 9, Luke viii. 30),
answered to the question, "What is thy name?" that his name was Legion.
"The Four Gospels are written in Greek, and the word 'legion' is Latin;
but in Galilee and Peraea the people spoke neither Latin nor Greek, but
Hebrew, or a dialect of it. The word 'legion' would be perfectly
unintelligible to the disciples of Christ, and to almost everybody in
the country" (Ibid, p. 197). The account of Matthew, that Jesus rode on
the ass _and_ the colt, to fulfil the prophecy, "Behold thy king cometh
unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass"
(xxi. 5. 7), shows that Matthew did not understand the Hebrew idiom,
which should be rendered "sitting upon an ass, even upon a colt, the
foal of an ass," and related an impossible riding feat to fulfil the
misunderstood prophecy. The whole trial scene shows ignorance of Roman
customs: the judge running in and out between accused and people,
offering to scourge him _and_ let him go--a course not consistent with
Roman justice; then presenting him to the people with a crown of thorns
and purple robe. The Roman administration would not condescend to a
procedure so unjust and so undignified. The mass of contradictions in
the Gospels, noticed under _k_, show that they could not have been
written by disciples possessing personal knowledge of the events
narrated; while the fact that they are written in Greek, as we shall see
below, under _j_, proves that they were not written by "unlearned and
ignorant" Jews, and were not contemporary records, penned by the
immediate followers of Jesus. From these facts we draw the conclusion.
_that the books themselves show marks of their later origin._

J. _That the language in which they are written is presumptive evidence
against their authenticity._ We are here dealing with the supposed
history of a Jewish prophet written by Jews, and yet we find it written
in Greek, a language not commonly known among the Jews, as we learn from
the testimony of Josephus: "I have so completely perfected the work I
proposed to myself to do, that no other person, whether he were a Jew or
a foreigner, had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so
accurately deliver these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these
books. For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed
them in the learning belonging to the Jews. I have also taken a great
deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the
elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed
myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with
sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn
the languages of many nations ... on which account, as there have been
many who have done their endeavours with great patience to obtain this
learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have
succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains"
("Ant." bk. xx. ch. 11, sec 2). He further tells us that "I grew weary,
and went on slowly, it being a large subject, and a difficult thing to
translate our history into a foreign and, to us, unaccustomed language"
(Ibid, Preface). The chief reason, perhaps, for this general ignorance
of Greek was the barbarous aversion of the Rabbis to foreign literature.
"No one will be partaker of eternal life who reads foreign literature.
Execrable is he, as the swineherd, execrable alike, who teaches his son
the wisdom of the Greeks" (translated from Latin translation of Rabbi
Akiba, as given in note in Keim's "Jesus of Nazara," vol. i. p, 295). It
is noteworthy, also, that the Evangelists quote generally from the
Septuagint, and that loyal Jews would have avoided doing so, since "the
translation of the Bible into Greek had already been the cause of grief,
and even of hatred, in Jerusalem" (Ibid, p. 294). In the face of this we
are asked to believe that a Galilean fisherman, by the testimony of Acts
iv. 13, unlearned and ignorant, outstripped his whole nation, save the
"two or three that have succeeded" in learning Greek, and wrote a
philosophical and historical treatise in that language. Also that
Matthew, a publican, a member of the most degraded class of the Jews,
was equally learned, and published a history in the same tongue. Yet
these two marvels of erudition were unknown to Josephus, who expressly
states that the two or three who had learned Greek, were "immediately
well rewarded for their pains." The argument does not tell against Mark
and Luke, as no one knows anything about these two writers, and they may
have been Greeks, for anything we know to the contrary. If Mark,
however, is to be identified with John Mark, sister's son to Barnabas,
then it will lie also against him. Leaving aside the main difficulty,
pointed out above, it is grossly improbable, on the face of it, that
these Jewish writers should employ Greek, even if they knew it, instead
of their own tongue. They were writing the story of a Jew; why should
they translate all his sayings instead of writing them down as they fell
from his lips? Their work lay among the Jews. Eight years after the
death of Jesus they rebuked one of their number, Peter, who eat with
"men uncircumcised" (Acts xi. 3); nineteen years afterwards they still
went only "unto the circumcision" (Gal. ii. 9); twenty-seven years
afterwards they were still in Jerusalem, teaching Jews, and carefully
fulfilling the law (Acts xxi. 18-24); after this, we hear no more of
them, and they must all have been old men, not likely to then change the
Jewish habits of their lives. Besides, why should they do so? their
whole sphere of work was entirely Jewish, and, if they were educated
enough to write at all, they would surely write for the benefit of those
amongst whom they worked. The only parallel for so curious a phenomenon
as these Greek Gospels, written by ignorant Jews, would be found if a
Cornish fisherman and a low London attorney, both perfectly ignorant of
German, wrote in German the sayings and doings of a Middlesex carpenter,
and as their work was entirely confined to the lower classes of the
people, who knew nothing of German, and they desired to place within
their reach full knowledge of the carpenter's life, they circulated it
among them in German only, and never wrote anything about him in
English. The Greek text of the Gospels proves that they were written in
later times, when Christianity found its adherents among the Gentile
populations. It might, indeed, be fairly urged that the Greek text is a
suggestion that the creed did not originate in Judaea at all, but was the
offshoot of Gentile thought rather than of Jewish. However that may be,
the Greek text forbids us to believe that these Gospels were written by
the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus, and we conclude _that the language
in which they are written is presumptive evidence against their

K. _That they are in themselves utterly unworthy of credit from (1) the
miracles with which they abound. (2) The numerous contradictions of each
by the others. (3) The fact that the story of the hero, the doctrines,
the miracles, were current long before the supposed dates of the
Gospels, so that these Gospels are simply a patchwork composed of older

(1) _The miracles with which they abound._ Paley asks: "Why should we
question the genuineness of these books? Is it for that they contain
accounts of supernatural events? I apprehend that this, at the bottom,
is the real, though secret cause of our hesitation about them; for, had
the writings, inscribed with the names of Matthew and John, related
nothing but ordinary history, there would have been no more doubt
whether these writings were theirs, than there is concerning the
acknowledged works of Josephus or Philo; that is, there would have been
no doubt at all" ("Evidences," pp. 105, 106). There is a certain amount
of truth in this argument. We _do_--openly, however, and not
secretly--doubt any and every book which is said to be a record of
miracles, written by an eye-witness of them; the more important the
contents of a book, the more keenly are its credentials scrutinised; the
more extraordinary the story it contains, the more carefully are its
evidences sifted. In dealing with Josephus, we examine his authenticity
before relying at all on his history; finding there is little doubt that
the book was written by him, we value it as the account of an apparently
careful writer. When we come to passages like one in "Wars of the Jews,"
bk. vi. ch. 5, sec. 3--which tells us among the portents which
forewarned the Jews of the fall of the temple: "A heifer, as she was led
by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst
of the temple"--we do _not_ believe it, any more than we believe that
the devils went into the swine. If such fables, instead of forming
excrescences here and there on the history of Josephus, which may be cut
off without injury to the main record, were so interwoven with the
history as to be part and parcel of it, so that no history would remain
if they were all taken away, then we should reject Josephus as a teller
of fables, and not a writer of history. If it were urged that Josephus
was an eye-witness, and recorded what he saw, then we should answer:
Either your history is not written by Josephus at all, but is falsely
assigned to him in order to give it the credit of being written by a
contemporary and an eye-witness; or else your Josephus is a charlatan,
who pretended to have seen miracles in order to increase his prestige.
If this supposed history of Josephus were widely spread and exercised
much influence over mankind, then its authenticity would be very
carefully examined and every weak point in the evidences for it tested,
just as the Gospels are to-day. We may add, that it is absurd to
parallel the Evangelists and Josephus, as though we knew of the one no
more than we do of the others. Josephus relates his own life, giving us
an account of his family, his childhood, and his education; he then
tells us of his travels, of all he did, and of the books he wrote, and
the books themselves bear his own announcement of his authorship; for
instance, we read: "I, Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth an Hebrew,
a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself,
and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, am the author
of this work" ("Wars of the Jews," Preface, sec. I). To which of the
Gospels is such an announcement prefixed? even in Luke, where the
historian writes a preface, it is not said: "I, Luke," and anonymous
writings must be of doubtful authenticity. Which of the Evangelists has
related for us his own life, so that we may judge of his opportunities
of knowing what he tells? To which of their histories is such external
testimony given as that of Tacitus to Josephus, in spite of the contempt
felt by the polished Roman towards the whole Jewish race? Nothing can be
more misleading than to speak of Josephus and of the Evangelists as
though their writings stood on the same level; every mark of
authenticity is present in the one; every mark of authenticity is absent
in the other.

We shall argue as against the miraculous accounts of the Gospels--first,
that the evidence is insufficient and far below the amount of evidence
brought in support of more modern miracles; secondly, that the power to
work miracles has been claimed by the Church all through her history,
and is still so claimed, and it is, therefore, impossible to mark any
period wherein miracles ceased; and, thirdly, that not only are
Christian miracles unproven, but that all miracles are impossible, as
well as useless if possible.

Paley, arguing for the truth of Christian miracles, _and of these only_,
endeavours to lay down canons which shall exclude all others. Thus, he
excludes: "I. Such accounts of supernatural events as are found only in
histories by some ages posterior to the transaction.... II. Accounts
published in one country of what passed in a distant country, without
any proof that such accounts were known or received at home.... III.
_Transient_ rumours.... IV. _Naked_ history (fragments, unconnected with
subsequent events dependent on the miracles).... V. In a certain way,
and to a certain degree, _particularity_, in names, dates, places,
circumstances, and in the order of events preceding or following.... VI.
Stories on which nothing depends, in which no interest is involved,
nothing is to be done or changed in consequence of believing them....
VII. Accounts which come merely _in affirmance_ of opinions already
formed.... It is not necessary to admit as a miracle, what can be
resolved into a _false perception_ (such miracles as healing the blind,
lame, etc., cannot be reduced under this head), ... or _imposture_ ...
or _tentative_ miracles (where, out of many attempts, one succeeds) ...
or _doubtful_ (possibly explainable as coincidence, or effect of
imagination) ... or exaggeration" ("Evidences," pp. 199-218). Paley then
criticises some miracles alleged by Hume, and argues against them. He
very fairly criticises and disposes of them, but fails to see that the
same style of argument would dispose of his Gospel ones. The Cardinal de
Retz sees, at a church in Saragossa, a man who lighted the lamps, and
the canons told him "that he had been several years at the gate with one
leg only. I saw him with two." Paley urges that "it nowhere appears that
he (the Cardinal) either examined the limb, or asked the patient, or
indeed any one, a single question about the matter" ("Evidences," page
224). Well argued, Dr. Paley; and in the man who sat outside the
beautiful gate of the Temple, who examined the limb, or questioned the
patient? Canons I. and II. exclude the Gospel miracles, unless the
Gospels are proved to be written by those whose names they bear, and
even then there is no proof that either Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John,
published their Gospels in Judaea, or that their accounts were "received
at home." The doubt and obscurity hanging over the origin of the Gospels
themselves, throws the like doubt and obscurity on all that they relate.
"Transient rumours," "false perception," "imposture," "doubtful," and
"exaggeration"--there is a door open to all these things in the slow and
gradual putting together of the collection of legends now known as "the
Gospels." We argue that the witness of the Gospels to the miracles
cannot be accepted until the Gospels themselves are authenticated, and
that the evidence in support of the miracles is, therefore,
insufficient. Strauss shows us very clearly how the miracles recorded in
the Gospels became ascribed to Jesus. "That the Jewish people in the
time of Jesus expected miracles from the Messiah is in itself natural,
since the Messiah was a second Moses, and the greatest of the prophets,
and to Moses and the prophets the national legend attributed miracles of
all kinds.... But not only was it pre-determined in the popular
expectation that the Messiah should work miracles in general--the
particular kinds of miracles which he was to perform were fixed, also in
accordance with Old Testament types and declarations. Moses dispensed
meat and drink to the people in a supernatural manner (Ex. xvi. xvii.):
the same was expected, as the rabbis explicitly say, from the Messiah.
At the prayer of Elisha, eyes were in one case closed, in another,
opened supernaturally (2 Kings vi.): the Messiah also was to open the
eyes of the blind. By this prophet and his master, even the dead had
been raised (1 Kings xvii; 2 Kings iv.); hence to the Messiah also power
over death could not be wanting. Among the prophecies, Is. xxxv, 5, 6
(comp. xlii. 7), was especially influential in forming this part of the
Messianic idea. It is here said of the Messianic times: Then shall the
eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then
shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall
sing" ("Life of Jesus," vol. ii., pp. 235, 236.) In dealing with the
alleged healing of the blind, Strauss remarks: "How should we represent
to ourselves the sudden restoration of vision to a blind eye by a word
or a touch? as purely miraculous and magical? That would be to give up
thinking on the subject. As magnetic? There is no precedent of magnetism
having influence over a disease of this nature. Or, lastly, as
psychical? But blindness is something so independent of the mental life,
so entirely corporeal, that the idea of its removal at all, still less
of its sudden removal by means of a mental operation, is not to be
entertained. We must, therefore, acknowledge that an historical
conception of these narratives is more than merely difficult to us; and
we proceed to inquire whether we cannot show it to be probable that
legends of this kind should arise unhistorically.... That these deeds of
Elisha were conceived, doubtless with reference to the passage of
Isaiah, as a real opening of the eyes of the blind, is proved by the
above rabbinical passage [stating that the Messiah would do all that in
ancient times had been done by the hands of the righteous, vol. i., p.
81, note], and hence cures of the blind were expected from the Messiah.
Now, if the Christian community, proceeding as it did from the bosom of
Judaism, held Jesus to be the Messianic personage, it must manifest the
tendency to ascribe to him every Messianic predicate, and, therefore,
the one in question" (Ibid, 292, 293).

Not only, then, are the miracles rendered doubtful by the dubious
character of the records in which they are found, but there is a clear
and reasonable explanation why we should expect to find them in any
history of a supposed Messiah. Christian apologists appear to have
overlooked the statement in the Gospels that Jesus objected to publicity
being given to his supposed miracles; the natural conclusion that
sceptics draw from this assertion, is that the miracles never took place
at all, and that the supposed modesty of Jesus is invented in order to
account for the ignorance of the people concerning the alleged marvels.
Judge Strange fairly remarks: "The appeal to miracles is a very
questionable resort. Now, as Jesus is repeatedly represented to have
exhorted those on whose behalf they were wrought to keep the matter
secret to themselves, and as when such signs, upon being asked for, were
refused to be accorded by him, and the desire to have them was repressed
as sinful, it is to be gathered, in spite of the sayings to the
contrary, that the writers were aware that there was no such public
sense of the occurrence of these marvels as must have attached to them
had they really been enacted, and we are left to the conclusion that
there were in fact no such demonstrations" ("The Portraiture and Mission
of Jesus," p. 23). Clearly, miracles are useless, as evidence, unless
they are publicly performed, and the secresy used by Jesus suggests
fraud rather than miraculous power, and savours of the conjuror rather
than of the "God." But, further, there is far stronger evidence for
later Church miracles than for those of Christ, or of the apostles, and
if evidence in support of miracles is good for anything, these more
modern miracles must command our belief. Eusebius relates the following
miracle of Narcissus, the thirtieth Bishop of Jerusalem, A.D. 180, as
one among many: "Whilst the deacons were keeping the vigils the oil
failed them; upon which all the people being very much dejected,
Narcissus commanded the men that managed the lights to draw water from a
neighbouring well, and to bring it to him. They having done it as soon
as said, Narcissus prayed over the water, and then commanded them, in a
firm faith in Christ, to pour it into the lamps. When they had also done
this, contrary to all natural expectation, by an extraordinary and
divine influence, the nature of the water was changed into the quality
of oil, and by most of the brethren a small quantity was preserved from
that time until our own, as a specimen of the wonder then performed"
("Eccles. Hist," bk. vi., chap. 9). St. Augustine bears personal witness
to more than one miracle which happened in his own presence, and gives a
long list of cures performed in his time. "One thing may be affirmed,
that nothing of importance is omitted, and in regard to essential
details they are as explicit as the mass of other cases reported. In
every instance names and addresses are stated, and it will have been
observed that all these miracles occurred in, or near to, Hippo, and in
his own diocese. It is very certain that in every case the fact of the
miracle is asserted in the most direct and positive terms" ("Sup. Rel.,"
vol. i., pp. 167, 168).

None can deny that miraculous powers have been claimed by Christian
Churches from the time of Christ down to the present day, and that there
is no break which can be pointed to as the date at which these powers
ceased. "From the first of the Fathers to the last of the Popes a
succession of bishops, of saints, and of martyrs, and of miracles, is
continued without interruption; and the progress of superstition was so
gradual, and almost imperceptible, that we know not in what particular
link we should break the chain of tradition. Every age bears testimony
to the wonderful events by which it was distinguished; and its testimony
appears no less weighty and respectable than that of the preceding
generation, till we are insensibly led on to accuse our own
inconsistency, if in the eighth or in the twelfth century we deny to the
venerable Bede, or to the holy Bernard, the same degree of confidence
which, in the second century, we had so liberally granted to Justin or
to Irenaeus. If the truth of any of those miracles is appreciated by
their apparent use and propriety, every age had unbelievers to convince,
heretics to confute, and idolatrous nations to convert; and sufficient
motives might always be produced to justify the interposition of heaven.
And yet, since every friend to revelation is persuaded of the reality,
and every reasonable man is convinced of the cessation, of miraculous
powers, it is evident that there must have been _some period_ in which
they were either suddenly or gradually withdrawn from the Christian
Church. Whatever era is chosen for that purpose, the death of the
Apostles, the conversion of the Roman empire, or the extinction of the
Arian heresy, the insensibility of the Christians who lived at that time
will equally afford a just matter of surprise. They still supported
their pretensions after they had lost their power. Credulity performed
the office of faith; fanaticism was permitted to assume the language of
inspiration; and the effects of accident or contrivance were ascribed to
supernatural causes. The recent experience of genuine miracles should
have instructed the Christian world in the ways of Providence, and
habituated their eye (if we may use a very inadequate expression) to the
style of the Divine Artist" (Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," vol. ii.,
chap, xv., p. 145). The miraculous powers were said to have been given
by Christ himself to his disciples. "These signs shall follow them that
believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with
mew tongues; they shall take up serpents; and, if they drink any deadly
thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and
they shall recover" (Mark xvi. 17, 18). This power is exercised by the
Apostles (see Acts throughout), by believers in the Churches (1 Cor.
xii. 9, 10; Gal. iii. 5; James v. 14, 15); at any rate, it was in force
in the time with which these books treat, according to the Christians.
Justus, surnamed Barsabas, drinks poison, and is unhurt (Eusebius, bk.
iii., chap. xxxix.). Polycarp's martyrdom, supposed to be in the next
generation, is accompanied by miracle (Epistle of Church of Smyrna;
Apostolical Fathers, p. 92; see ante, pp. 220, 221). At Hierapolis the
daughters of Philip the Apostle tell Papias how one was there raised
from the dead (Eusebius, bk. iii., ch. xxxix.). Justin Martyr pleads the
miracles worked in his own time in Rome itself (second "Apol.," ch.
vi.). Irenaeus urges that the heretics cannot work miracles as can the
Catholics: "they can neither confer sight on the blind, nor hearing on
the deaf, nor chase away all sorts of demons ... nor can they cure the
weak, or the lame, or the paralytic" ("Against Heretics," bk. ii., ch.
xxxi., sec. 2). Tertullian encourages Christians to give up worldly
pleasures by reminding them of their grander powers: "what nobler than
to tread under foot the gods of the nations, to exorcise evil spirits,
to perform cures?" ("De Spectaculis," sec. 29). "Origen claims for
Christians the power still to expel demons, and to heal diseases, in the
name of Jesus; and he states that he had seen many persons so cured of
madness, and countless other evils" (quoted from "Origen against Celsus"
in "Sup. Rel.," vol. i., p. 154. A mass of evidence on this subject will
be found in chap. v. of this work, on "The Permanent Stream of
Miraculous Pretension"). St. Augustine's testimony has been already
referred to. St. Ambrose discovered the bones of SS. Gervasius and
Protasius; and "these relics were laid in the Faustinian Basilic, and
the next morning were translated into the Ambrosian Basilic; during
which translation a blind man, named Severus, a butcher by trade, was
cured by touching the bier on which the relics lay with a handkerchief,
and then applying it to his eyes. He had been blind several years, was
known to the whole city, and the miracle was performed before a
prodigious number of people; and is testified also by St. Austin
[Augustine], who was then at Milan, in three several parts of his works,
and by Paulinus in the Life of St. Ambrose" ("Lives of the Fathers,
Martyrs, etc.," by Rev. Alban Butler, vol. xii., pp. 1001, 1002; ed.
1838; published in two vols., each containing six vols.). The sacred
stigmata of St. Francis d'Assisi (died 1226) were seen and touched by
St. Bonaventure, Pope Alexander IV., Pope-Gregory IX., fifty friars,
many nuns, and innumerable crowds (Ibid, vol. x., pp. 582, 583). This
same saint underwent the operation of searing, and, "when the surgeon
was about to apply the searing-iron, the saint spoke to the fire,
saying: 'Brother fire, I beseech thee to burn me gently, that I may be
able to endure thee.' He was seared very deep, from the ear to the
eyebrow, but seemed to feel no pain at all" (Ibid, p. 575). The miracles
of St. Francis Xavier (died 1552) are borne witness to on all sides, and
resulted in the conversion of crowds of Indians; even so late as 1744,
when the Archbishop of Goa, by order of John V. of Portugal, attended by
the Viceroy, the Marquis of Castel Nuovo, visited the saint's relics,
"the body was found without the least bad smell," and had "not suffered
the least alteration, or symptom of corruption" (Ibid, vol. xii., p.
974). The chain of miracles extends right down to the present day. At
Lourdes, in this year (1876), the Virgin was crowned by the Cardinal
Archbishop of Paris in the presence of thirty-five prelates and one
hundred thousand people. During the mass performed at the Grotto by the
Nuncio, Madeleine Lancereau, of Poictiers, aged 61, known by a large
number of the pilgrims as having been unable to walk without crutches
for nineteen years, was radically cured. Here is a better authenticated
miracle than anyone in the Gospel story; yet no Protestant even cares to
investigate the matter, or believes its truth to be within the limits of
possibility. Thus we see that not a century has, passed since A.D. 30
which has not been thickly sown with miracles, and there is no reason
why we should believe in the miracles of the first century, and reject
those of the following eighteen; nor is the first century even "the
beginning of miracles," for before that date Jewish and Pagan miracles
are to be found in abundance. Why should Bible miracles be severed from
their relations all over the world, so that belief in them is
commendable faith, while belief in the rest is reprehensible credulity?
"The fact is, however, that the Gospel miracles were preceded and
accompanied by others of the same type; and we may here merely mention
exorcism of demons, and the miraculous cure of disease, as popular
instances; they were also followed by a long succession of others, quite
as well authenticated, whose occurrence only became less frequent in
proportion as the diffusion of knowledge dispelled popular credulity.
Even at the present day a stray miracle is from time to time reported in
outlying districts, where the ignorance and superstition which formerly
produced so abundant a growth of them are not yet entirely dispelled"
("Sup. Rel.," vol. i., p. 148). "Ignorance, and its invariable
attendant, superstition, have done more than mere love of the marvellous
to produce and perpetuate belief in miracles, and there cannot be any
doubt that the removal of ignorance always leads to the cessation of
miracles" (Ibid, p. 144).

Special objection has often been raised against one class of
miracles--common to the Gospels and to all miraculous narratives--which
has severely taxed the faith even of the Christians themselves--that
class, namely, which consists of the healing of those "possessed with
devils." Exorcism has always been a favourite kind of miracle, but, in
these days, very few believe in the possibility of possession, and the
language of the Evangelists on the subject has consequently given rise
to much trouble of mind. Prebendary Row, in a work on "The Supernatural
in the New Testament Possible, Credible, and Historical"--one of the
volumes issued by the Christian Evidence Society in answer to
"Supernatural Religion"--deals fully with this difficulty; it has been
urged that possession was simply a form of mania, and on this Mr. Row
say: "Now, on the assumption that possession was simple mania, and
nothing more, the following suppositions are the only possible ones.
First, that our Lord really distinguished between mania and possession;
but that the Evangelists have inaccurately reported his words and
actions, through the media of their own subjective impressions, or, in
short, have attributed to him language that he did not really utter.
Second, that our Lord knew that possession was a form of mania, and
adopted the current notions of the time in speaking of it, and that the
words were really uttered by him. Third, that with similar knowledge, he
adopted the language as part of the curative process. Fourth, that he
accepted the validity of the distinction, and that it was a real one
during those times" ("Supernatural in the New Testament," pp. 251, 252).
Mr. Row argues that: "If possession be mania, there is nothing in the
language which the Evangelists have attributed to our Lord which
compromises the truthfulness of his character. If, on the other hand, we
assume that possession was an objective fact, there is nothing in our
existing scientific knowledge of the human mind which proves that the
possessions of the New Testament were impossible" (Ibid). Mr. Row
rejects the first alternative, and accepts the accuracy of the Evangelic
records. But he considers that if possession were simply mania, Jesus,
knowing the nature of the disease, might reasonably use language suited
to the delusion, as most likely to effect a cure; he could not argue
with a maniac that he was under a delusion, but would rightly use
whatever method was best fitted to ensure recovery. If this idea be
rejected, and the reality of demoniacal possession maintained as most
consonant with the behaviour of Jesus, then Mr. Row argues that there is
no reason to consider it impossible that either good or evil spirits
should be able to influence man, and that psychological science does not
warrant us in a denial of the possibility of such influence.

The utter uselessness of miracles--supposing them to be possible--is
worthy of remembrance. They must not be accepted as proofs of a divine
mission, for false prophets can work them as well as true (Deut. xiii.,
1-5; Matt. xxiv., 24; 2 Thess. ii., 9; Rev. xiii., 13-15, etc.) and it
may be that God himself works them to deceive (Deut. xiii., 3). Satan
can work miracles to authenticate the false doctrines of his
emissaries, and there is no test whereby to distinguish the miracle
worked by God from the miracle worked by Satan. Hence a miracle is
utterly useless, for the credibility of a teacher rests on the morality
that he teaches, and if this is good, it is accepted without a miracle
to attest its goodness, so that the attesting miracle is superfluous. If
it is bad, it is rejected in spite of a miracle to attest its authority,
so that the attesting miracle is deceptive. The only use of a miracle
might be to attest a revelation of otherwise unknowable facts, which had
nothing to do with any moral teaching; and seeing that such revelation
could not be investigated, as it dealt with the unknowable, it would be
highly dangerous--and, perhaps, blasphemous--to accept it on the faith
of the miracle, for it might quite as likely be a revelation made by
Satan to injure, as by God to benefit, mankind. Allowing that God and
Satan exist, it would seem likely--judging Christianity by its
fruits--that the Christian religion is such a malevolent revelation of
the evil one.

The objection we raise is, however, of far wider scope than the
assertion of the lack of evidence for the New Testament miracles; it is
against all, and not only against Christian, miracles. "As far as the
impossibility of supernatural occurrences is concerned, Pantheism and
Atheism occupy precisely the same grounds. If either of them propounds a
true theory of the universe, any supernatural occurrence, which
necessarily implies a supernatural agent to bring it about, is
impossible, and the entire controversy as to whether miracles have ever
been actually performed is a foregone conclusion. Modern Atheism, while
it does not venture in categorical terms to affirm that no God exists,
definitely asserts that there is no evidence that there is one. It
follows that, if there is no evidence that there is a God, there can be
no evidence that a miracle ever has been performed, for the very idea of
a miracle implies the idea of a God to work one. If, therefore, Atheism
is true, all controversy about miracles is useless. They are simply
impossible, and to inquire whether an impossible event has happened is
absurd. To such a person the historical inquiry, as far as a miracle is
concerned, must be a foregone conclusion. It might have a little
interest as a matter of curiosity; but even if the most unequivocal
evidence could be adduced that an occurrence such as we call
supernatural had taken place, the utmost that it could prove would be
that some most extraordinary and abnormal fact had taken place in nature
of which we did not know the cause. But to prove a miracle to any person
who consistently denies that he has any evidence that any being exists
which is not a portion of and included in the material universe, or
developed out of it, is impossible" ("The Supernatural in the New
Testament," by Prebendary Row, pp. 14, 15). We maintain that Nature
includes _everything_, and that, therefore, the _supernatural_ is an
impossibility. Every new fact, however marvellous, must, therefore, be
within Nature; and while our ignorance may for awhile prevent us from
knowing in what category the newly-observed phenomenon should be
classed, it is none the less certain that wider knowledge will allot to
it its own place, and that more careful observation will reduce it under
law, i.e., within the observed sequence or concurrence of phenomena. The
natural, to the unthinking, coincides with their own knowledge, and
supernatural, to them, simply means super-known; therefore, in ignorant
ages, miracles are every-day occurrences, and as knowledge widens the
miraculous diminishes. The books of unscientific ages--that is, all
early literature--are full of miraculous events, and it may be taken as
an axiom of criticism that the miraculous is unhistorical.

(2). _The numerous contradictions of each by the others._--We shall here
only present a few of the most glaring contradictions in the Gospels,
leaving untouched a mass of minor discrepancies. We find the principal
of these when we compare the three synoptics with the Fourth Gospel, but
there are some irreconcilable differences even between the three. The
contradictory genealogies of Christ given in Matthew and Luke--farther
complicated, in part, by a third discordant genealogy in
Chronicles--have long been the despair of Christian harmonists. "On
comparing these lists, we find that between David and Christ there are
only two names which occur in both Matthew and Luke--those of Zorobabel
and of Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus. In tracing the list
downwards from David there would be less difficulty in explaining this,
at least, to a certain point, for Matthew follows the line of Solomon,
and Luke that of Nathan--both of whom were sons of David. But even in
the downward line, on reaching Salathiel, where the two genealogies
again come into contact, we find, to our astonishment, that in Luke he
is the son of Neri, whilst in Matthew his father's name is Jechonias.
From Zorobabel downwards, the lists are again divergent, until we reach
Joseph, who in St. Luke is placed as the son of Heli, whilst in St.
Matthew his father's name is Jacob" ("Christian Records," Dr. Giles, p.
101). According to Chronicles, Jotham is the great-great-grandson of
Ahaziah; according to Matthew, he is his son (admitting that the Ahaziah
of Chronicles is the Ozias of Matthew); according to Chronicles,
Jechonias is the grandson of Josiah, according to Matthew, he is his
son; according to Chronicles, Zorababel is the son of Pedaiah, according
to Matthew, he is the son of Salathiel, according to Luke, he is the son
of Neri; according to Chronicles, Zorobabel left eight children, but
neither Matthew's Abiud, nor Luke's Rhesa, are among them. The same
discordance is found when Matthew and Luke again touch each other in
Joseph, the husband of Mary; according to the one, Jacob begat Joseph,
according to the other, Joseph was the son of Heli. To crown the
absurdity of the whole, we are given two genealogies of Joseph, who is
no relation to Jesus at all, if the story of the virgin-birth be true,
while none is given of Mary, through whom alone Jesus is said to have
derived his humanity. We have, therefore, no genealogy at all of Jesus
in the Gospels. Various theories have been put forward to reconcile the
irreconcilable; some say that the genealogy in Luke is that of Mary, of
which supposition it is enough to remark that "Mary, the daughter of,"
can scarcely be indicated by "Joseph, the son of." It is also said that
Joseph was legally the son of Jacob, although naturally the son of Heli,
it being supposed that Jacob died childless, and that his brother Heli
according to the Levitical law, married the widow of Jacob; but here
Joseph's grand-fathers and great-grand-fathers should be the same, Heli
and Jacob being supposed to be brothers. Besides, if Joseph were legally
the son of Jacob, only the genealogy of Jacob should be given, since
that only would be Joseph's genealogy. No man can reckon his paternal
ancestry through two differing lines. To make matters in yet more
hopeless confusion, we find Chronicles giving twenty-two generations
where Matthew gives seventeen, and Luke twenty-three; while, from David
to Christ, Matthew reckons twenty-eight and Luke forty-three, a most
marvellous discrepancy.

"If we compare the genealogies of Matthew and Luke together, we become
aware of still more striking discrepancies. Some of these differences
indeed are unimportant, as the opposite direction of the two tables....
More important is the considerable difference in the number of
generations for equal periods, Luke having forty-one between David and
Jesus, whilst Matthew has only twenty-six. The main difficulty, however,
lies in this: that in some parts of the genealogy in Luke totally
different persons are made the ancestors of Jesus from those in Matthew.
It is true, both writers agree in deriving the lineage of Jesus through
Joseph from David and Abraham, and that the names of the individual
members of the series correspond from Abraham to David, as well as two
of the names in the subsequent portion: those of Salathiel and
Zorobabel. But the difficulty becomes desperate when we find that, with
these two exceptions about midway, the whole of the names from David to
the foster father of Jesus are totally different in Matthew and in Luke.
In Matthew the father of Joseph is called Jacob; in Luke, Heli. In
Matthew the son of David through whom Joseph descended from that King is
Solomon; in Luke, Nathan; and so on, the line descends, in Matthew,
through the race of known Kings; in Luke, through an unknown collateral
branch, coinciding only with respect to Salathiel and Zorobabel, whilst
they still differ in the names of the father of Salathiel and the son of
Zorobabel.... A consideration of the insurmountable difficulties, which
unavoidably embarrass every attempt to bring these two genealogies into
harmony with one another, will lead us to despair of reconciling them,
and will incline us to acknowledge, with the more free-thinking class of
critics, that they are mutually contradictory. Consequently, they cannot
both be true.... In fact, then, neither table has any advantage over the
other. If the one is unhistorical, so also is the other, since it is
very improbable that the genealogy of an obscure family like that of
Joseph, extending through so long a series of generations, should have
been preserved during all the confusion of the exile, and the disturbed
period that followed.... According to the prophecies, the Messiah could
only spring from David. When, therefore, a Galilean, whose lineage was
utterly unknown, and of whom consequently no one could prove that he was
not descended from David, had acquired the reputation of being the
Messiah; what more natural than that tradition should, under different
forms, have early ascribed to him a Davidical descent, and that
genealogical tables, corresponding with this tradition, should have been
formed? which, however, as they were constructed upon no certain data,
would necessarily exhibit such differences and contradictions as we find
actually existing between the genealogies in Matthew and in Luke" ("Life
of Jesus," by Strauss, vol. i., pp. 130, 131, and 137-139).

The accounts of the several angelic warnings to Mary and to Joseph
appear to be mutually exclusive. Most theologians, says Strauss,
"maintaining, and justly, that the silence of one Evangelist concerning
an event which is narrated by the other, is not a negation of the event,
they blend the two accounts together in the following manner: 1, the
angel makes known to Mary her approaching pregnancy (Luke); 2, she then
journeys to Elizabeth (the same Gospel); 3, after her return, her
situation being discovered, Joseph takes offence (Matthew); whereupon,
4, he likewise is visited by an angelic apparition (the same Gospel).
But this arrangement of the incidents is, as Schliermacher has already
remarked, full of difficulty; and it seems that what is related by one
Evangelist is not only pre-supposed, but excluded, by the other. For, in
the first place, the conduct of the angel who appears to Joseph is not
easily explained, if the same, or another, angel had previously appeared
to Mary. The angel (in Matthew) speaks altogether as if his
communication were the first in this affair. He neither refers to the
message previously received by Mary, nor reproaches Joseph because he
had not believed it; but, more than all, the informing Joseph of the
name of the expected child, and the giving him a full detail of the
reasons why he should be so called (Mat. i. 21), would have been wholly
superfluous had the angel (according to Luke i. 31) already indicated
this name to Mary. Still more incomprehensible is the conduct of the
betrothed parties, according to this arrangement of events. Had Mary
been visited by an angel, who had made known to her an approaching
supernatural pregnancy, would not the first impulse of a delicate woman
have been to hasten to impart to her betrothed the import of the divine
message, and by this means to anticipate the humiliating discovery of
her situation, and an injurious suspicion on the part of her affianced
husband? But exactly this discovery Mary allows Joseph to make from
others, and thus excites suspicion; for it is evident that the
expression [Greek: heurethae en gastri echousa] (Mat. i. 18) signifies a
discovery made independent of any communication on Mary's part, and it
is equally clear that in this manner only does Joseph obtain the
knowledge of her situation, since his conduct is represented as the
result of that discovery [Greek: (euriskesthai)]" ("Life of Jesus," v.
i., pp. 146, 147).

Strauss gives a curious list, showing the gradual growth of the myth
relating to the birth of Jesus (we may remark No. 3 is distinctly out of
place when referred to Olshausen: it should be referred to the early
Fathers, from whom Olshausen derived it):--

"1. Contemporaries of Jesus and composers of the genealogies: Joseph and
Mary man and wife--Jesus the offspring of their marriage.

"2. The age and authors of our histories of the birth of Jesus: Mary and
Joseph betrothed only; Joseph having no participation in the conception
of the child, and, previous to his birth, no conjugal connection with

"3. Olshausen and others: subsequent to the birth of Jesus, Joseph,
though then the husband of Mary, relinquishes his matrimonial rights.

"4. Epiphanius, Protevangelium, Jacobi, and others: Joseph a decrepit
old man, no longer to be thought of as a husband; the children
attributed to him are of a former marriage. More especially it is not as
a bride and wife that he receives Mary; he takes her merely under his

"5. Protevang., Chrysostom, and others: Mary's virginity was not only
not destroyed by any subsequent births of children by Joseph, it was not
in the slightest degree impaired by the birth of Jesus.

"6. Jerome: Not Mary only, but Joseph also, observed an absolute
virginity, and the pretended brothers of Jesus were not his sons, hut
merely cousins to Jesus" ("Life of Jesus," vol. i., p. 188).

Thus we see how a myth gradually forms itself, bit after bit being added
to it, until the story is complete.

The account given by Luke of the meeting of Elizabeth and Mary is
clearly mythical, and not historical: "Apart from the intention of the
narrator, can it be thought natural that two friends visiting one
another should, even in the midst of the most extraordinary occurrences,
break forth into long hymns, and that their conversation should entirely
lose the character of dialogue, the natural form on such occasions? By a
supernatural influence alone could the minds of the two friends be
attuned to a state of elevation, so foreign to their every-day life. But
if indeed Mary's hymn is to be understood as the work of the Holy
Spirit, it is surprising that a speech emanating immediately from the
divine source of inspiration should not be more striking for its
originality, but should be so interlarded with reminiscences from the
Old Testament, borrowed from the song of praise spoken by the mother of
Samuel (1 Sam. ii) under analogous circumstances. Accordingly, we must
admit that the compilation of this hymn, consisting of recollections
from the Old Testament, was put together in a natural way; but allowing
its composition to have been perfectly natural, it cannot be ascribed to
the artless Mary, but to him who poetically wrought out the tradition in
circulation respecting the scene in question" ("Life of Jesus," by
Strauss, vol. i., pp. 196, 197).

The notes of time given for the birth of Christ are irreconcilable.
According to Matthew he is born in the reign of Herod the King:
according to Luke, he is born six months after John Baptist, whose birth
is referred to the reign of the same monarch; yet in Luke, he is also
born at the time of the census, which must have taken place at least ten
years later; thus Luke contradicts Matthew, and also contradicts
himself. The discrepancies surrounding the birth are not yet complete;
passing the curious differences between Matthew and Luke, Matthew
knowing nothing about the visit of the shepherds, and Luke nothing of
the visit of the Magi, and the consequent slaughter of the babes, we
come to a direct conflict between the Evangelists; Matthew informs us
that Joseph, Mary, and the child, fled into Egypt from Bethlehem to
avoid the wrath of King Herod, and that they were returning to Judaea,
when Joseph, hearing that Archelaus was ruling there, turned aside to
Galilee, and came and dwelt "in a city called Nazareth." Luke, on the
contrary, says that when the days of Mary's purification were
accomplished they took the child up to Jerusalem, and presented him in
the Temple, and then, after this, returned to Galilee, to "their own
city, Nazareth." Moreover, had Herod wanted to find him, he could have
taken him at the Temple, where his presentation caused much commotion.
In Matthew, the turning into Galilee is clearly a new thing; in Luke, it
is returning home; and in Luke there is no space of time wherein the
flight into Egypt can by any possibility be inserted. We may add a
wonder why Galilee was a safer residence than Judaea, since Antipas, its
ruler, was a son of Herod, and would, _prima facie_, be as dangerous as
his brother Archelaus.

The conduct of Herod is incredible if we accept Matthew's account:
"Herod's first anxious question to the magi is to ascertain the time of
the appearance of the star. He 'inquires diligently' (ii. 7); and he
must have had a motive for so doing. What was this motive? Could he have
any other purpose than that of determining the age under which no
infants in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem should be allowed to live?
But, according to the narrative, Herod never conceived the idea of
slaughtering the children till he found that he had been 'mocked of the
wise men;' and the mythical nature of the story is betrayed by this
anticipation of motives which, at the time spoken of could have no
existence. Yet, further, Herod, who, though in a high degree cruel,
unjust, and unscrupulous, is represented as a man of no slight sagacity,
clearness of purpose, and strength of will, and who feels a deadly
jealousy of an infant whom he _knows_ to have been recently born in
Bethlehem, a place only a few miles distant from Jerusalem, is here
described not as sending his own emissaries privately to put him to
death, or despatching them with the Magi, or detaining the Magi at
Jerusalem, until he had ascertained the truth of their tale, and the
correctness of the answer of the priests and scribes, but as simply
suffering the Magi to go by themselves, at the same time charging them
to return with the information for which he had shown himself so
feverishly anxious. This strange conduct can be accounted for only on
the ground of a judicial blindness; but they who resort to such an
explanation must suppose that it was inflicted in order to save the
new-born Christ from the death thus threatened; and if they adopt this
hypothesis, they must further believe that this arrangement likewise
ensured the death of a large number of infants instead of one. A natural
reluctance to take up such a notion might prompt the question, Why were
the Magi brought to Jerusalem at all? If they knew that the star was the
star of Christ (ii. 2), and were by this knowledge conducted to
Jerusalem, why did it not suffice to guide them straight to Bethlehem,
and thus prevent the slaughter of the innocents? Why did the star desert
them after its first appearance, not to be seen again till they issued
from Jerusalem? or, if it did not desert them, why did they ask of Herod
and the priests the road which they should take, when, by the
hypothesis, the star was ready to guide?" ("The English Life of Jesus,"
by Thomas Scott, pp. 34, 35; ed. 1872). To these improbabilities must be
added the remarkable fact that Josephus, who gives a very detailed
history of Herod, entirely omits any hint of this stupendous crime.

The story of the temptation of Jesus is full of contradictions. Matthew
iv. 2, 3, implies that the first visit of the tempter was made _after_
the forty days' fast, while Mark and Luke speak of his being tempted for
forty days. According to Matthew, the angels came to him when the Devil
left him; but, according to Mark, they ministered to him throughout.
According to Matthew, the temptation to cast himself down is the second
trial, and the offer of the kingdoms of the world the third: in Luke the
order is reversed. In additions to these contradictions, we must note
the absurdity of the story. The Devil "set him on a pinnacle of the
temple." Did Jesus and the Devil go flying through the air together,
till the Devil put Jesus down? What did the people in the courts below
think of the Devil and a man standing on a point of the temple in the
full sight of Jerusalem? Did so unusual an occurrence cause no
astonishment in the city? Where is the high mountain from which Jesus
and the Devil saw all round the globe? Is it true that the Devil gives
power to whom he will? If so, why is it said that the powers are
"ordained of God"?

Another "discrepancy, concerning the denial of Christ by Peter,
furnishes a still stronger proof that these records have not come down
to us with the exactness of a contemporary character, much less with the
authority of inspiration. The four accounts of Peter's denial vary
considerably. The variations will be more intelligible, exhibited in a
tabular form" (Giles' "Christian Records," p. 228). We present the
table, slightly altered in arrangement, and corrected in some details:--

1st. Seated without Beneath in In the On entering
in the the palace, by midst of the to the
palace, to a the fire, to a hall where damsel that
damsel. maid. Jesus was kept the
being tried, door.
seated by
the fire, to a

2nd. Out in the Out in the Still in the In the hall,
porch, having porch, having hall, in standing by
left the room, left the room, answer to a the fire, in
in answer to in answer to man. answer to the
a second a second bystanders.
maid. maid.

3rd. Out in the Out in the Still in the Still in the
porch, to the porch, to the hall, to a man. hall, to a
bystanders. bystanders. man.

In addition to these discrepancies, we find that Jesus prophesies that
Peter shall deny him thrice "before the cock crow," while in Mark the
cock crows immediately after the first denial: in Luke, Jesus and Peter
remain throughout the scene of the denial in the same hall, so that the
Lord may turn and look upon Peter; while Matthew and Mark place him
"beneath" or "without," and make the third denial take place in the
porch outside--a place where Jesus, by the context, certainly could not
see him.

How long did the ministry of Jesus last? Luke places his baptism in the
fifteenth year of Tiberius (iii. 1), and he might have been crucified
under Pontius Pilate at any time within the seven years following. The
Synoptics mention but one Passover, and at that Jesus was crucified,
thus limiting his ministry to one year, unless he broke the Mosaic law,
and disregarded the feast; clearly his triumphal entry into Jerusalem is
his first visit there in his manhood, since we find all the city moved
and the people asking: "Who is this? And the multitude said, This is
Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee" (Matt. xxi. 10, 11). His
person would have been well known, had he visited Jerusalem before and
worked miracles there. If, however, we turn to the Fourth Gospel, his
ministry must extend over at least two years. According to Irenaeus, he
"did not want much of being fifty years old" when the Jews disputed with
him ("Against Heresies," bk. ii., ch. 22, sec. 6), and he taught for
nearly twenty years. Dr. Giles remarks that "the first three Gospels
plainly exhibit the events of only one year; to prove them erroneous or
defective in so important a feature as this, would be to detract greatly
from their value" ("Christian Records," p. 112). "According to the first
three Gospels, Christ's public life lasted only one year, at the end of
which he went up to Jerusalem and was crucified" (Ibid, p. 11). "Would
this questioning [on the triumphal entry] have taken place if Jesus had
often made visits to Jerusalem, and been well known there? The multitude
who answered the question, and who knew Jesus, consisted of those 'who
had come to the feast,'--St. John indicates this [xii. 12]--but the
people of Jerusalem knew him not, and, therefore, asked 'Who is this?'"
(Ibid, p. 113). The fact is, that we know nothing certainly as to the
birth, life, death, of this supposed Christ. His story is one tissue of
contradictions. It is impossible to believe that the Synoptics and the
fourth Gospel are even telling the history of the same person. The
discourses of Jesus in the Synoptics are simple, although parabolical;
in the Fourth they are mystical, and are being continually misunderstood
by the people. The historical divergences are marked. The fourth Gospel
"tells us (ch. 1) that at the beginning of his ministry Jesus was at
Bethabara, a town near the junction of the Jordan with the Dead Sea;
here he gains three disciples, Andrew and another, and then Simon Peter:
the next day he goes into Galilee and finds Philip and Nathanael, and on
the following day--somewhat rapid travelling--he is present, with these
disciples, at Cana, where he performs his first miracle, going
afterwards with them to Capernaum and Jerusalem. At Jerusalem, whither
he goes for 'the Jews' passover,' he drives out the traders from the
temple and remarks, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise
it up:' which remark causes the first of the strange misunderstandings
between Jesus and the Jews peculiar to this Gospel, simple
misconceptions which Jesus never troubles himself to set right. Jesus
and his disciples then go to the Jordan, baptising, whence Jesus departs
into Galilee with them, because he hears that the Pharisees know he is
becoming more popular than the Baptist (ch. iv., 1, 3). All this happens
before John is cast into prison, an occurrence which is a convenient
note of time. We turn to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus as
related by the three. Jesus is in the south of Palestine, but, hearing
that John is cast into prison, he departs into Galilee, and resides at
Capernaum. There is no mention of any ministry in Galilee and Judaea
before this; on the contrary, it is only 'from that time' that 'Jesus
_began_ to preach.' He is alone, without disciples, but, walking by the
sea, he comes upon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and calls them. Now
if the fourth Gospel is true, these men had joined him in Judaea,
followed him to Galilee, south again to Jerusalem, and back to Galilee,
had seen his miracles and acknowledged him as Christ, so it seems
strange that they had deserted him and needed a second call, and yet
more strange is it that Peter (Luke v. 1-11) was so astonished and
amazed at the miracle of the fishes. The driving out of the traders from
the temple is placed by the Synoptics at the very end of his ministry,
and the remark following it is used against him at his trial: so was
probably made just before it. The next point of contact is the history
of the 5,000 fed by five loaves (ch. vi.); the preceding chapter relates
to a visit to Jerusalem unnoticed by the three: indeed, the histories
seem written of two men, one the 'prophet of Galilee' teaching in its
cities, the other concentrating his energies on Jerusalem. The account
of the miraculous feeding is alike in all: not so the succeeding account
of the multitude. In the fourth Gospel, Jesus and the crowd fall to
disputing, as usual, and he loses many disciples: among the three, Luke
says nothing of the immediately following events, while Matthew and Mark
tell us that the multitudes--as would be natural--crowded round him to
touch even the hem of his garment. This is the same as always: in the
three the crowd loves him; in the fourth it carps at and argues with
him. We must again miss the sojourn of Jesus in Galilee according to the
three, and his visit to Jerusalem according to the one, and pass to his
entry into Jerusalem in triumph. Here we notice a most remarkable
divergence: the Synoptics tell us that he was going up to Jerusalem from
Galilee, and, arriving on his way at Bethphage, he sent for an ass and
rode thereon into Jerusalem: the fourth Gospel relates that he was
dwelling at Jerusalem, and leaving it, for fear of the Jews, he retired,
not into Galilee, but 'beyond Jordan, into a place where John at first
baptised,' i.e., Bethabara, 'and _there he abode_.' From thence he went
to Bethany and raised to life a putrefying corpse: this stupendous
miracle is never appealed to by the earlier historians in proof of their
master's greatness, though 'much people of the Jews' are said to have
seen Lazarus after his resurrection; this miracle is also given as the
reason for the active hostility of the priests, 'from that day forward.'
Jesus then retires to Ephraim near the wilderness, from which town he
goes to Bethany, and thence in triumph to Jerusalem, being met by the
people 'for that they heard that he had done this miracle.' The two
accounts have absolutely nothing in common except the entry into
Jerusalem, and the preceding events of the Synoptics exclude those of
the fourth Gospel, as does the latter theirs. If Jesus abode in
Bethabara and Ephraim, he could not have come from Galilee; if he
started from Galilee, he was not abiding in the south. John xiii.-xvii.
stand alone, with the exception of the mention of the traitor. On the
arrest of Jesus, he is led (ch. xviii. 13) to Annas, who sends him to
Caiaphas, while the others send him direct to Caiaphas, but this is
immaterial. He is then taken to Pilate: the Jews do not enter the
judgment-hall, lest, being defiled, they could not eat the passover, a
feast which, according to the Synoptics, was over, Jesus and his
disciples having eaten it the night before. Jesus is exposed to the
people at the sixth hour (ch. xix. 14), while Mark tells us he was
crucified three hours before--at the third hour--a note of time which
agrees with the others, since they all relate that there was darkness
from the sixth to the ninth hour, i.e., there was thick darkness at the
time when, 'according to St. John,' Jesus was exposed. Here our
evangelist is in hopeless conflict with the three. The accounts about
the resurrection are irreconcilable in all the Gospels, and mutually
destructive. It remains to notice, among these discrepancies, one or two
points which did not come in conveniently in the course of the
narrative. During the whole of the fourth Gospel, we find Jesus
constantly arguing for his right to the title of Messiah. Andrew speaks
of him as such (i. 41); the Samaritans acknowledge him (iv. 42); Peter
owns him (vi. 69); the people call him so (vii. 26, 31, 41); Jesus
claims it (viii. 24); it is the subject of a law (ix. 22); Jesus speaks
of it as already claimed by him (x. 24, 25); Martha recognises it (xi.
27). We thus find that, from the very first, this title is openly
claimed by Jesus, and his right to it openly canvassed by the Jews.
But--in the three--the disciples acknowledge him as Christ, and he
charges them to 'tell _no man_ that he was Jesus the Christ" (Matt. xvi.
20; Mark viii. 29, 30; Luke ix. 20, 21); and this in the same year that
he blames the Jews for not owning this Messiahship, since he had told
them who he was 'from the beginning' (ch. viii. 24, 25): so that, if
'John' was right, we fail to see the object of all the mystery about it,
related by the Synoptics. We mark, too, how Peter is, in their account,
praised for confessing him, for flesh and blood had not revealed it to
him, while in the fourth Gospel, 'flesh and blood,' in the person of
Andrew, reveal to Peter that the Christ is found; and there seems little
praise due to Peter for a confession which had been made two or three
years earlier by Andrew, Nathanael, John Baptist, and the Samaritans.
Contradiction can scarcely be more direct. In John vii. Jesus owns that
the Jews know his birthplace (28), and they state (41, 42) that he comes
from Galilee, while Christ should be born at Bethlehem. Matthew and Luke
distinctly say Jesus was born at Bethlehem; but here Jesus confesses the
right knowledge of those who attribute his birthplace to Galilee,
instead of setting their difficulty at rest by explaining that though
brought up at Nazareth he was born in Bethlehem. But our writer was
apparently ignorant of their accounts ("According to St John," by Annie
Besant. Scott Series, pp. 11-14, ed. 1873). These are but a few of the
contradictions in the Gospels, which compel us to reject them as
historical narratives.

(3) _The fact that the story of the hero, the doctrines, the miracles,
were current long before the supposed dates of the Gospels_, etc. There
are two mythical theories as to the growth of the story of Jesus, which
demand our attention; the first, that of which Strauss is the best known
exponent, which acknowledges the historical existence of Jesus, but
regards him as the figure round which has grown a mythus, moulded by the
Messianic expectations of the Jews: the second, which is indifferent to
his historical existence, and regards him as a new hero of the ancient
sun-worship, the successor of Mithra, Krishna, Osiris, Bacchus, etc. To
this school, it matters not whether there was a Jesus of Nazareth or
not, just as it matters not whether a Krishna or an Osiris had an
historical existence or not; it is _Christ_, the Sun-god, not _Jesus_,
the Jewish peasant, whom they find worshipped in Christendom, and who
is, therefore, the object of their interest.

According to the first theory, whatever was expected of the Messiah has
been attributed to Jesus. "When not merely the particular nature and
manner of an occurrence is critically suspicious, its external
circumstances represented as miraculous and the like; but where likewise
the essential substance and groundwork is either inconceivable in
itself, or is in striking harmony with some Messianic idea of the Jews
of that age, then not the particular alleged course and mode of the
transaction only, but the entire occurrence must be regarded as
unhistorical" (Strauss' "Life of Jesus," vol. i., p. 94). The mythic
theory accepts an historical groundwork for many of the stories about
Jesus, but it does not seek to explain the miraculous by attenuating it
into the natural--as by explaining the story of the transfiguration to
have been developed from the fact of Jesus meeting secretly two men, and
from the brilliancy of the sunlight dazzling the eyes of the
disciples--but it attributes the incredible portions of the history to
the Messianic theories current among the Jews. The Messiah would do this
and that; Jesus was the Messiah; therefore, Jesus did this and
that--such, argue the supporters of the mythical theory, was the method
in which the mythus was developed. The theory finds some support in the
peculiar attitude of Justin Martyr, for instance, who believes a number
of things about Jesus, not because the things are thus recorded of him
in history, but because the prophets stated that such things should
happen to the Messiah. Thus, Jesus is descended from David, because the
Messiah was to come of David's lineage. His birth is announced by an
angelic visitant, because the birth of the Messiah must not be less
honoured than that of Isaac or of Samson; he is born of a virgin,
because God says of the Messiah, "this day have _I_ begotten thee,"
implying the direct paternity of God, and because the prophecy in Is.
vii. 14 was applied to the Messiah by the later Jews (see Septuagint
translation, [Greek: parthenos], _a pure virgin_, while the Hebrew word
[Hebrew: almah] signifies a young woman; the Hebrew word for virgin
[Hebrew: betulah] not being used in the text of Isaiah), the ideas of
"son of God" and "son of a virgin" completing each other; born at
Bethlehem, because there the Messiah was to be born (Micah v. 1);
announced to shepherds, because Moses was visited among the flocks, and
David taken from the sheepfolds at Bethlehem; heralded by a star,
because a star should arise out of Jacob (Num. xxiv. 17), and "the
Gentiles shall come to thy light" (Is. lx. 3); worshipped by magi,
because the star was seen by Balaam, the magus, and astrologers would be
those who would most notice a star; presented with gifts by these
Eastern sages, because kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer gifts (Ps.
lxxii. 10); saved from the destruction of the infants by a jealous king,
because Moses, one of the great types of the Messiah, was so saved;
flying into Egypt and thence returning, because Israel, again a type of
the Messiah, so fled and returned, and "out of Egypt have I called my
son" (Hos. xi. 1); at twelve years of age found in the temple, because
the duties of the law devolved on the Jewish boy at that age, and where
should the Messiah then be found save in his Father's temple? recognised
at his baptism by a divine voice, to fulfil Is. xlii. 1; hovered over by
a dove, because the brooding Spirit (Gen. i. 2) was regarded as
dove-like, and the Spirit was to be especially poured on the Messiah
(Is. xlii. 1); tempted by the devil to test him, because God tested his
greatest servants, and would surely test the Messiah; fasting forty days
in the wilderness, because the types of the Messiah--Moses and
Elijah--thus fasted in the desert; healing all manner of disease,
because Messiah was to heal (Is. xxxv. 5, 6); preaching, because Messiah
was to preach (Is. lxi. 1, 2); crucified, because the hands and feet of
Messiah were to be pierced (Ps. xxii. 16); mocked, because Messiah was
to be mocked (Ibid 6-8); his garments divided, because thus it was
spoken of Messiah (Ibid, 18); silent before his judges, because Messiah
was not to open his mouth (Is. liii. 7); buried by the rich, because
Messiah was thus to find his grave (Ib. 9); rising again, because
Messiah's could not be left in hell (Ps. xvi. 10); sitting at God's
right hand, because there Messiah was to sit as king (Ps. cx. 1). Thus
the form of the Messiah was cast, and all that had to be done was to
pour in the human metal; those who alleged that the Messiah had come in
the person of Jesus of Nazareth, adapted his story to the story of the
Messiah, pouring the history of Jesus into the mould already made for
the Messiah, and thus the mythus was transformed into a history.

This theory is much strengthened by a study of the prophecies quoted in
the New Testament, since we find that they are very badly "set;" take as
a specimen those referred to in Matthew i. and ii. "Now all this was
done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the
prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child," etc (i. 22, 23).
If we refer to Is. vii., from whence the prophecy is taken, we shall see
the wresting of the passage which is necessary to make it into a
"Messianic prophecy." Ahaz, king of Judah, is hard pressed by the kings
of Samaria and Syria, and he is promised deliverance by the Lord, before
the virgin's son, Immanuel, should be of an age to discern between good
and evil. How Ahaz could be given as a sign of a birth which was not to
take place until more than 700 years afterwards, it is hard to say, nor
can we believe that Ahaz was not delivered from his enemies until Jesus
was old enough to know right from wrong. According to the Gospels, the
name "Immanuel" was never given to Jesus, and in the prophecy is
bestowed on the child simply as a promise that, "God" being "with us,"
Judah should be delivered from its foes. The same child is clearly
spoken of as the child of Isaiah and his wife in Is. viii. 3, 4; and in
verses 6-8 we find that the two kings of Samaria and Syria are to be
conquered by the king of Assyria, who shall fill "thy land, O
_Immanuel!_" thus referring distinctly to the promised child as living
in that time. The Hebrew word translated "virgin" does not, as we have
already shown, mean "a pure virgin," as translated in the Septuagint. It
is used for a young woman, a marriageable woman, or even to describe a
woman who is being embraced by a man. Micah's supposed prophecy in Matt.
ii. 5, 6, is as inapplicable to Christ as that of Isaiah. Turning back
to Micah, we find that he "that is to be ruler in Israel" shall be born
in Bethlehem, but Jesus was never ruler in Israel, and the description
cannot therefore be applied to him; besides, finishing the passage in
Micah (v. 5) we read that this same ruler "shall be the peace when the
Assyrian shall come into our land," so that the prophecy has a local and
immediate fulfilment in the circumstances of the time. Matthew ii. 15 is
only made into a prophecy by taking the second half of a historical
reference in Hosea to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt; it would be as
reasonable to prove in this fashion that the Bible teaches a denial of
God, "as is spoken by David the prophet, There is no God." The
fulfilment of the saying of Jeremy the prophet is as true as all the
preceding (verses 17, 18); Jeremy bids Rahel not to weep for the
children who are carried into bondage, "for they shall come again from
the land of the enemy ... thy children shall come again to their own
border" (Jer. xxxi. 16, 17). Very applicable to the slaughtered babes,
and so honest of "Matthew" to quote just so much of the "prophecy" as
served his purpose, leaving out that which altered its whole meaning.
After these specimens, we are not surprised to find that--unable to find
a prophecy fit to twist to suit his object--our evangelist quietly
invents one, and (verse 23) uses a prophecy which has no existence in
what was "spoken by the prophets." It is needless to go through all the
other passages known as Messianic prophecies, for they may all be dealt
with as above; the guiding rule is to refer to the Old Testament in each
case, and not to trust to the quotation as given in the New, and then to
read the whole context of the "prophecy," instead of resting content
with the few words which, violently wrested from their natural meaning,
are forced into a superficial resemblance with the story recorded in the

The second theory, which regards Jesus as a new hero of the ancient
sun-worship, is full of intensest interest. Dupuis, in his great work on
sun-worship ("Origines de Tous les Cultes") has drawn out in detail the
various sun-myths, and has pointed to their common features. Briefly
stated, these points are as follows: the hero is born about Dec. 25th,
without sexual intercourse, for the sun, entering the winter solstice,
emerges in the sign of Virgo, the heavenly virgin. His mother remains
ever-virgin, since the rays of the sun, passing through the zodiacal
sign, leave it intact. His infancy is begirt with dangers, because the
new-born sun is feeble in the midst of the winter's fogs and mists,
which threaten to devour him; his life is one of toil and peril,
culminating at the spring equinox in a final struggle with the powers of
darkness. At that period the day and the night are equal, and both fight
for the mastery; though the night veil the sun, and he seems dead;
though he has descended out of sight, below the earth, yet he rises
again triumphant, and he rises in the sign of the Lamb, and is thus the
Lamb of God, carrying away the darkness and death of the winter months.
Henceforth, he triumphs, growing ever stronger and more brilliant. He
ascends into the zenith, and there he glows, "on the right hand of God,"
himself God, the very substance of the Father, the brightness of his
glory, and the "express image of his person," "upholding all things" by
his heat and his life-giving power; thence he pours down life and warmth
on his worshippers, giving them his very self to be their life; his
substance passes into the grape and the corn, the sustainers of health;
around him are his twelve followers, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the
twelve months of the year; his day, the Lord's Day, is Sunday, the day
of the Sun, and his yearly course, ever renewed, is marked each year, by
the renewed memorials of his career. The signs appear in the long array
of sun-heroes, making the succession of deities, old in reality,
although new-named.

It may be worth noting that Jesus is said to be born at Bethlehem, a
word that Dr. Inman translates as the house "of the hot one" ("Ancient
Faiths," vol. i., p. 358; ed. 1868); Bethlehem is generally translated
"house of bread," and the doubt arises from the Hebrew letters being
originally unpointed, and the points--equivalent to vowel sounds--being
inserted in later times; this naturally gives rise to great latitude of
interpretation, the vowels being inserted whenever the writer or
translator thinks they ought to come in, or where the traditionary
reading requires them (see Part 1., pp. 13, and 31, 32).

Each point in the story of Jesus may be paralleled in earlier tales; the
birth of Krishna was prophesied of; he was born of Devaki, although she
was shut up in a tower, and no man was permitted to approach her. His
birth was hymned by the Devas--the Hindoo equivalent for angels--and a
bright light shone round where he was. He was pursued by the wrath of
the tyrant king, Kansa, who feared that Krishna would supplant him in
the kingdom. The infants of the district were massacred, but Krishna
miraculously escaped. He was brought up among the poor until he reached
maturity. He preached a pure morality, and went about doing good. He
healed the leper, the sick, the injured, and he raised the dead. His
head was anointed by a woman; he washed the feet of the Brahmins; he was
persecuted, and finally slain, being crucified. He went down into hell,
rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven (see "Asiatic
Researches," vol. i.; on "The Gods of Greece, Italy, and India," by Sir
William Jones, an essay which, though very imperfect, has much in it
that is highly instructive). He is pictorially represented as standing
on the serpent, the type of evil; his foot crushes its head, while the
fang of the serpent pierces his heel; also, with a halo round his head,
this halo being always the symbol of the Sun-god; also, with his hands
and feet pierced--the sacred stigmata--and with a hole in his side. In
fact, some of the representations of him could not be distinguished from
the representations of the crucified Jesus.

The name of "Krishna" is by Sir William Jones, and by many others
written "Crishna," and I have seen it spelt "Cristna." The resemblance
it bears, when thus written, to "Christ" is apparent only, there is no
etymological similarity. Krishna is derived from the Sanscrit "Krish,"
to scrape, to draw, to colour. Krishna means black, or violet-coloured;
Christ comes from the Greek [Greek: christos] the anointed. Colonel
Vallancy, Sir W. Jones tells us, informed him that "Crishna" in Irish
means the Sun ("As. Res.," p. 262; ed. 1801); and there is no doubt that
the Hindu Krishna is a Sun-god; the "violet-coloured" might well be a
reference to the deep blue of the summer sky.

If Moses be a type of Christ, must not Bacchus be admitted to the same
honour? In the ancient Orphic verses it was said that he was born in
Arabia; picked up in a box that floated on the water; was known by the
name of Mises, as "drawn from the water;" had a rod which he could
change into a serpent, and by means of which he performed miracles;
leading his army, he passed the Red Sea dryshod; he divided the rivers
Orontes and Hydaspes with his rod; he drew water from a rock; where he
passed the land flowed with wine, milk, and honey (see "Diegesis," pp.
178, 179).

The name Christ Jesus is simply the anointed Saviour, or else Chrestos
Jesus, the good Saviour; a title not peculiar to Jesus of Nazareth. We
find Hesus, Jesous, Yes or Ies. This last name, [Greek: Iaes], was one
of the titles of Bacchus, and the simple termination "us" makes it
"Jesus;" from this comes the sacred monogram I.H.S., really the Greek
[Greek: UAeS]--IES; the Greek letter [Greek: Ae], which is the capital
E, has by ignorance been mistaken for the Latin H, and the ancient name
of Bacchus has been thus transformed into the Latin monogram of Jesus.
In both cases the letters are surrounded with a halo, the sun-rays,
symbolical of the sun-deity to whom they refer. This halo surrounds the
heads of gods who typify the sun, and is continually met with in Indian
sculptures and paintings.

Hercules, with his twelve labours, is another source of Christian fable.
"It is well known that by Hercules, in the physical mythology of the
heathens, was meant the _Sun_, or _solar light_, and his twelve famous
labours have been referred to the sun's passing through the twelve
zodiacal signs; and this, perhaps, not without some foundation. But the
labours of Hercules seem to have had a still higher view, and to have
been originally designed as emblematic memorials of what the real _Son
of God_ and _Saviour of the world_ was to do and suffer for our
sakes--[Greek: Noson Theletaeria panta komixon]--'_Bringing a cure for
all our ills_,' as the Orphic hymn speaks of Hercules" (Parkhurst's
"Hebrew Lexicon," page 520; ed. 1813). As the story of Hercules came
first in time, it must be either a prophecy of Christ, an inadmissible
supposition, or else of the sources whence the story of Christ has been

Aesculapius, the heathen "Good Physician," and "the good Saviour,"
healed the sick and raised the dead. He was the son of God and of
Coronis, and was guarded by a goatherd.

Prometheus is another forerunner of Christ, stretched in cruciform
position on the rocks, tormented by Jove, the Father, because he brought
help to man, and winning for man, by his agony, light and knowledge.

Osiris, the great Egyptian God, has much in common with the Christian
Jesus. He was both god and man, and once lived on earth. He was slain by
the evil Typhon, but rose again from the dead. After his resurrection he
became the Judge of all men. Once a year the Egyptians used to celebrate
his death, mourning his slaying by the evil one: "this grief for the
death of Osiris did not escape some ridicule; for Xenophanes, the
Ionian, wittily remarked to the priests of Memphis, that if they thought
Osiris a man they should not worship him, and if they thought him a God
they need not talk of his death and suffering.... Of all the gods Osiris
alone had a place of birth and a place of burial. His birthplace was
Mount Sinai, called by the Egyptians Mount Nyssa. Hence was derived the
god's Greek name Dionysus, which is the same as the Hebrew
Jehovah-Nissi" ("Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity," by
Samuel Sharpe, pp. 10, 11; ed. 1863). Various places claimed the honour
of his burial. "Serapis" was a god's name, formed out of "Osiris" and
"Apis," the sacred bull, and we find (see ante, p. 206) that the Emperor
Adrian wrote that the "worshippers of Serapis are Christians," and that
bishops of Serapis were bishops of Christ; although the stories differ
in detail, as is natural, since the Christian tale is modified by other
myths--Osiris, for instance, is married--the general outline is the
same. We shall see, in Section II., how thoroughly Pagan is the origin
of Christianity.

We find the Early Fathers ready enough to claim these analogies, in
order to recommend their religion. Justin Martyr argues: "When we say
that the word, who is the first birth of God, was produced without
sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and
died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing
different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of
Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribe to
Jupiter; Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Aesculapius,
who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and
so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from
limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to
escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, the Dioscuri; and Perseus, son
of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to
heaven on the horse Pegasus" ("First Apology," ch. xxi.). "If we assert
that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different
from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary
thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if
anyone objects that he was crucified, in this also he is on a par with
those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now
enumerated.... And if we even affirm that he was born of a virgin,
accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus. And in that we
say that he made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we
seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by
AEsculapius" (Ibid, ch. xxi.). "Plato, in like manner, used to say that
Rhadamanthus and Minos would punish the wicked who came before them; and
we say that the same thing will be done, but at the hand of Christ"
(Ibid, ch. viii.) In ch. liv. Justin argues that the devils invented all
these gods in order that when Christ came his story should be thought to
be another marvellous tale like its predecessors! On the whole, we can
scarcely wonder that Caecilius (about A.D. 211) taunted the early
Christians with those facts: "All these figments of cracked-brained
opiniatry and silly solaces played off in the sweetness of song by
deceitful poets, by you, too credulous creatures, have been shamefully
reformed, and made over to your own God" (as quoted in R. Taylor's
"Diegesis," p. 241). That the doctrines of Christianity had the same
origin as the story of Christ, and the miracles ascribed to him, we
shall prove under section ii., while section iii. will prove the same as
to his morality. Judge Strange fairly says: "The Jewish Scriptures and
the traditionary teaching of their doctors, the Essenes and Therapeuts,
the Greek philosophers, the neo-platonism of Alexandria, and the
Buddhism of the East, gave ample supplies for the composition of the
doctrinal portion of the new faith; the divinely procreated personages
of the Grecian and Roman pantheons, the tales of the Egyptian Osiris,
and of the Indian Rama, Krishna, and Buddha, furnished the materials for
the image of the new saviour of mankind; and every surrounding mythology
poured forth samples of the 'mighty works' that were to be attributed to
him to attract and enslave his followers: and thus, first from Judaism,
and finally from the bosom of heathendom, we have our matured expression
of Christianity" ("The Portraiture and Mission of Jesus," p. 27). From
the mass of facts brought together above, we contend that the Gospels
_are in themselves utterly unworthy of credit, from (1) the miracles
with which they abound, (2) the numerous contradictions of each by the
others, (3) the fact that the story of the hero, the doctrines, the
miracles, were current long before the supposed dates of the Gospels; so
that these Gospels are simply a patchwork composed of older materials_.

We have thus examined, step by step, the alleged evidences of
Christianity, both external and internal; we have found it impossible to
rely on its external witnesses, while the internal testimony is fatal to
its claims; it is, at once, unauthenticated without, and incredible
within. After earnest study, and a careful balancing of proofs, we find
ourselves forced to assert that THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY ARE

* * * * *



Between 92 and 125 Clement of Rome Very doubtful
Between 90 and 138 Barnabas " "
Said to be martyred 107 Ignatius " "
Between 117 and 138 Quadratus " "
Possibly 138 Hermas " "
About 150-170 Papias " "
About 135-145 Basilides and " "
About 140-160 Marcion
Said to be martyred 166 Polycarp Very doubtful
Said to be martyred 166 Justin Martyr
After 166 Hegesippus
About 177 Epistle of Lyons
and Vienne
Between 150 and 290 Clementines Real date quite unknown
Between 166 and 176 Dionysius of Corinth
About 176 Athenagoras
Between 170 and 175 Tatian
177 to about 200 Irenaeus
About 193 Tertullian
About 200 Celsus Very doubtful
205 Clement of Alexandria
succeeded as head of
About 205 Porphyry
205-249 Origen


61 under Nero
81 " Domitian
107 " Trajan
166 " Marcus Aurelius
193 " Severus
235 under Maximin
249 " Decius
254 " Valerian
272 " Aurelian
303 " Diocletian



Augustus Caesar

14 Tiberius
33 Caligula
41 Claudius
54 Nero
68 Galba


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