following: Richard Carlile 1790 - 1843
1 The Struggle for The Freedom of the Press 1646-1647
2 Jail Journal 1648-1649
3 Radicalism and Freethought in Nineteenth-Century Britain 1650-1656
4 Richard Carlile 1657-1657
following (5, 6): Harriet Martineau 1802 - 1876; et al.
5 Quarterly Review, London, 1855 1658-1659
6 Women Without Superstition, "No Gods--No Masters" 1660-1668
7 The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church [Jesus Christ] 1669-1669
following (8, 9, 10): William Henry Burr 1819 - 1908
8 New York Times 1669-1669
9 Fifty Years of Freethought 1669-1669
10 Revelations of Antichrist 1670-1690
11 Encyclopedia of Religions [Ignatius; Justin Martyr; Philo] 1691-1693
following: Thomas Lumisden Strange 1808 - 1884
12 A Rationalist Encyclopaedia 1694-1694
13 The Dictionary of National Biography 1694-1694
14 A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century 1695-1696
15 The Sources and Development of Christianity 1697-1734
from: The Struggle for The Freedom of the Press, 1819-1832, William H. Wickwar,
George Allen & Unwin, 1928. Johnson Reprint, 1972.
'By January 1819 Carlile [Richard Carlile 1790 - 1843] had obtained a large shop front in Fleet Street in which to advertise his audacity. Number 55 was in a ruinous condition, with not a lock or a fixture in it, with the staircase falling down, and the front rotten. He had to pay a premium and he had to furnish the shop, though he had hardly any money behind him. But once again his old employer [apparently not named, in this book] came to his relief, and in the conviction that such humanity and generosity could not be rare, he ran up the shutters on the stage prepared for a great struggle.1 [see footnote, 1647]
Richard Carlile had found his life-work.
I saw [he [Richard Carlile] wrote] that the corruptions and delusions of the day required to be attacked with something stronger than squib ["sarcastic language", etc.] and pasquinade ["lampoon", etc.], which, however it might annoy the subject of attack or amuse the reader, must be confessed to be but ill-adapted to convey principles to the mind. Correct principles require nothing but a clear and forcible statement to have them adopted and admired; and the promulgation of correct principles forms the most powerful opposition to corruption and delusion [a hope! for (apparently, later) "disillusionment", see 1647]. Juvenal [c. 55 - c. 140] attacked the vices and corruptions of Rome in satire, but what effect did it produce? None whatever, for some of the objects of attack derived as much amusement from a description of themselves as others to whom the satire had no relation.
The first object necessary to raise men from a degradation is to show him what he ought to be, and elevate his mind with useful knowledge and sound political principles. This Paine [Thomas Paine 1737 - 1809] saw, and no human being before or since has ever elevated the minds of mankind to so great an extent. No man can rise from reading the writings of Paine without feeling an additional importance, in his character of man, and as a member of society. Paine troubled not about inculcating respect and obedience to existing powers: the first object he taught man was to examine whether those powers were constituted and existing for the welfare of society at large; if not, to set earnestly about reconstituting them, not by any violence, but by temperate discussion and a dissemination of correct principles. To the best of my ability
I have endeavoured to tread in the steps of that celebrated character
[Thomas Paine].2 [see footnote, 1647]
[footnote] 1"[Richard Carlile] Here I would observe, with gratitude towards
this gentleman [apparently, "old employer" (see 1646)] who I believe has been
far from approving all that I have since done, that IF I HAD NOT MET WITH A
FEW GENEROUS SPIRITS, A FEW ADMIRABLE TRAITS OF HUMAN
CHARACTER, I SHOULD LOOK UPON THE MAJORITY OF MANKIND AS
TOTALLY UNDESERVING OR UNWORTHY OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S
SACRIFICE ON THEIR BEHALF [see 1646: (apparently, previous) idealism].
As a body nothing is more difficult than to direct their attention to the matters of
the most momentous concern to themselves....Yet it is a noble employment to
lay the foundations of future improvement! Further I do say, for it is very rare
that knowledge moves upon any electrical principles, so as to produce present
good, or even so as to make the trade of teaching profitable."--Rep., vii. 676 sqq.
(1823, when Carlile's disillusionment had begun).
[footnote] 2Rep., iv. 616.' .
'Carlile was a fanatic who had recently been converted to an irrational faith first
in the power of print and then in the infallibility of Paine. Yet it was the Press rather
than the works of Paine that formed the central object of his devotion:
[Richard Carlile] My whole and sole object, from first to last, from the time
of putting off my leather apron to this day, has been a Free Press and Free
Discussion. When I first started as a hawker of pamphlets I knew nothing of
political principles, I had never read a page of Paine's writings; but I had a
complete conviction that there was something wrong somewhere, and that the
right application of the printing-press was the remedy.1' .
'[Richard Carlile] The persons who are commonly called Reformers are
not the persons from whom I found support in my infidel publications; they were
generally people of a different cast, and many of them were high-flown Tories;
others did not meddle with politics, but were decidedly hostile to the frauds of
religion. I have found many persons come into my shop and say, "I like your
theological publications very well, but I hate your politics"; and others, "I hate
your theological publications, but I like your politics very well." I can safely say
that I have but rarely found the individual that would express his
approbation of my conduct generally.1' .
from: Jail Journal, Prison Thoughts and Other Writings by Richard Carlile [1790 -
1843], Edited and Selected by Guy A. Aldred [1886 - 1963], Glasgow: Strickland
Press, 1942. [92 pages]. [received, and first seen, 9/2000].
'All the writing attributed to Carlile in this booklet is as written by him with the
exception of the "life" of Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809]....This is the only essay with
which I have taken liberties. Perhaps some day I will publish Carlile's full essay.' .
"Wear no shackles. At least do not fasten them on yourselves. The mind
that can range without restraint ranges happily and usefully. [see
www.christianism.com, main page ("A Guide to...")]
There is a liberty which does not belong exclusively to the individual. It must be
partaken of with others, it must be had in common. It is the liberty of free enquiry, the
liberty of free debate; not of free thought but of free speech.
It is a false delicacy and a false humanity that shrinks from the
investigation of any kind of evil that afflicts our species, or any other species.
I have not yet found the preacher of the Christian religion, who has a good
congregation, that would discuss the merits of that religion before his
congregation. I am sensible that these persons cannot afford to be converted, nor to
be lessened by discussions, in the estimation of their congregations. The faith of the
congregation is the preacher's bank! If it breaks down, he starves. It is like unto the
public credit [apparently, public "trust", etc.], which Mr. Paine calls, suspicion sleep.
Awake the suspicion, excite the reasoning power, and away goes alike the religious
faith and the public credit.
A confinement to a criticism upon the contents of the Bible, and a showing forth contradictory passages in them, is now felt by me as a floundering or sticking fast in the mire. Enough has been done in this way; enough of it is to be found in the standard works of Mr Paine, and others; and a repetition of it betrays rather a weakness, a want of varied argument and mode of attack, than strength and efficiency. The most powerful method of attacking the superstition of the day is that which is least offensive to the feelings of the superstitionists; to attack it up on the moral, the historical, and physical grounds [see 1657 (Cole)]." .
'I look upon Sir Walter Scott as the greatest literary and political and moral
enemy that the country has now to cope with: the great author of fiction. Such
reading is nothing better than religious reading, as the bad effects, produced in the
debility of mind, are just the same in the one case as in the other case. The whole is
like a dwelling of the mind upon fiction, a preference of falsehood to truth, an evil,
an error, a vice.
Some say to me, and some of these religious people: "I admire everything you have done in politics. I join you heartily in what you have done under that head, and think that you have been eminently useful; but you should not have attacked the Christian Religion. There I cannot agree with you. I condemn the persecutions you have suffered for so doing, and think that you have been a very ill-used man. Therefore, I make very great allowance for what you have done offensive to my feelings. But have you done with your attacks upon Religion, and stick to your political warfare."
Others say: "I am very much pleased with your attacks upon the Religion or superstition of the country, there you do good; but I cannot see why you interfere with politics and government of the country. That ["politics and government"] is all very well. We can have nothing better. Stick to your attacks upon religion and leave politics alone."
Each of these persons would have me exclude the other subject from my
periodical publication; and because I find it so, I think that I am right in preserving
Then comes another class of people saying: "By the powers, Mr Carlile, I
admire your politics and your views on religion. You have shone there before all
men. But I cannot bear with you in your view of love. Why did you publish such a
thing as that? Were it not for that, I would freely and openly take you by the hand."
Such are really the substance and style of the expressions which I frequently
receive; but I know rightly how to estimate them whenever they come in the shape of
excuses for not giving me open countenance. I know that they have their source in
timidity, and the fear of public prejudice [and, habit; lack of inertia; self
aggrandizement; stupidity; laziness; obstinacy; perverseness; etc.] [see 1644]' .
from: Radicalism and Freethought in Nineteenth-Century Britain, The Life of
Richard Carlile [1790 - 1843], Joel H. Wiener ["Professor and Chairman of the History
Department at the City College of New York"], Contributions in Labor History, Number
13, Greenwood, 1983. [Superb "Bibliographical Essay"].
'The publication of Paine's Age of Reason in December 1818 (part of a larger
edition of his Theological Works), followed a month later by Elihu Palmer's [1764 -
1806] American deist book The Principles of Nature [London, 1802], brought Carlile
into conflict with the law. It once more unloosed the specter of BLASPHEMY, a crime
which, in the opinion of conservatives and many reformers, was destructive of the moral
harmony of society. Other forms of political opposition--the advocacy of seditious
ideas, for example--might under certain circumstances be tolerated. But blasphemy
was too dire in its consequences. In the words of the Whig reformer, Thomas Erskine:
'There was nothing for it but to crush the blasphemer at any hour."2' .
'The initial printing of the Age of Reason ["Part I in 1794", "Part II in 1795"
(Freethought in the United States, Brown and Stein, 1978)], in December 1818, was
limited to 1000 copies. However, as soon as the prosecutions against him were
commenced in January 1819, every copy was sold, and in the spring, without any
assistance from Sherwin, Carlile brought out a second edition of 3000 copies. This too
sold out before the end of the year despite the persistent harassment of booksellers
and vendors by local magistrates. Weekly numbers of the Deist were sold in large
quantities in the streets of London and provincial cities, as were "infidel" pamphlets
such as the Letter to the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Profits--the most fulsome
of Carlile's life--approached £50 weekly by the summer of 1819 (and may, briefly, have
exceeded that sum), a princely income for a radical publisher.12 Still, Carlile was more
intent on selling his ideas than in deriving a profit from them. He even parceled out the
Age of Reason and other tracts to wholesale agents at a substantial loss so as to
increase their visibility among reformers.' .
[Bibliophile note: one of my book treasures: The Theological Works of Thomas
Paine, London: Printed and Published by R. Carlile, No. 55, Fleet-Street. 1819.
Included works are dated 1818, 1819, 1826 [The Age of Reason], 1827. When
'Of Carlile's many "respectable" virtues during these years, self-education was the most significant because it permanently affected his career. A cluster of reforming values adhered to self-education: moral improvement, tenacity of purpose, thrift, a belief in perfectibility, even sexual restraint. The worst tyranny, Carlile (and other artisan reformers) believed, was indolence, and self-education was the best remedy for this.24 Although his [Richard Carlile 1790 - 1843] accomplishments as an autodidact fell short [? (see 1651)] of those of Cobbett [William Cobbett 1762 - 1835], Thomas Cooper [1759 - 1839], and other working-class contemporaries, the act of seeking after a "second birth of mind" in prison unleashed creative energies within him. Self-education became a litmus test of personal commitment for Carlile, a means by which he could constantly reassess his fixity of purpose. So long as he was steadfast in his pursuit of intellectual goals--however short of perfection the results were--he would have much to show for his efforts.' .
'Shortly after his imprisonment began, Carlile set out to remedy many of his
educational deficiencies. He occupied himself daily with a program of "careful
reading, sober, deep, and serious thinking, and industrious application."26 "I have
such an appetite for printed paper, whether printed lies or printed truths," he
observed, "that I can never let a book which professes to be philosophical pass me
unread."27 In almost perverse defiance of his creed of temperateness, he read
omnivorously. His wife and shopmen were implored to send him printed materials, and
with their help he ingested thousands of books, newspapers, tracts, and broadsides
during his six years in Dorchester. By day and night he read, sometimes with the
cooing of birds or the clatter of horses' hooves on the pavement outside
providing melodic accompaniment; at other times in conditions of total silence.
And when unexpected difficulties arose--an enigmatic phrase, an unfamiliar word--he
turned to the tools at hand: Fenning's--Universal Spelling-Book (a popular book of
grammar), the Oxford Encyclopaedia, and, increasingly indispensable, two copies of
the Scriptures to enable him to check theological references and build up a detailed
knowledge of Christian doctrine.28' .
'Better analytic skills and greater familiarity with theological and political thought
brought dividends to Carlile. He [Richard Carlile] became more self-confident, so
much so that he began to think of himself as a philosopher who "ranges all over
the world in idea, and feels as much or more pleasure from a mental loco-motion,
than from a bodily loco-motion." The street agitator and ephemeral publisher
became a "sober, quiet, studious man, craving no society"; while prison became for him
"an admirable school for study and reflection."37 And as he reflected upon the
weaknesses of his fellow men, who squandered their lives in pursuit of
insubstantial goals, Carlile reached the predictable conclusion that only a small
number of men and women were capable of meeting the exacting standards of
"temperance by example."
"HUMAN CATTLE" PREDOMINATED IN THE WORLD,
he observed, whether they were convicted debtors and felons like those in the public wing of Dorchester prison; demagogic politicians like Hunt [apparently, Henry Hunt 1773 - 1835] and Cobbett [see 1650]; or ordinary artisans and mechanics who lacked the self-discipline to place their bodies at the service of their minds.38 "The ignorance arising from superstition," he commented, "is the strong hold of all the unjust distinctions, and of all the splendid idlers, in society." This cynicism--both democratic and elitist in its implications--remained an integral part of his political outlook for the remainder of his life.' [64-65].
'In December 1819, shortly after Carlile's incarceration began, Jane gave birth
to Thomas Paine [Thomas Paine, the inspiration for the same name, died 1809 (1737
- 1809)], their third son. (A previous son, also named Thomas Paine, had died in
the spring.) With the shop temporarily closed down and portions of furniture carted
away by order of the sheriff, she endured extreme hardship during these winter months.
The account of her visit to her husband in Dorchester, in January 1820, is affecting. As
he told his readers: "She wept, held out her infant to speak for her, whom she could no
longer support, and sunk down in a chair incapable of uttering a sound."18 Yet within a
few weeks she reopened the Fleet Street shop and for eighteen months worked in it,
often at great personal danger to herself. When her efforts brought her imprisonment,
she adjured other wives to emulate her example: 'Let us, as women, never cease to
stimulate and strengthen the minds of our husbands and sons to raise a power above
those assassins of virtue that shall bring them to justice for their manifold crime."19'
'William Campion, a militant atheist, attacked the traditional accounts of
Christianity. Adhering closely to the interpretations of Carlile, CAMPION, IN A
SERIES OF ARTICLES, REJECTED THE HISTORY OF JESUS AS
"A HEAP OF FOLLY, FRAUD, FABLE, AND FICTION [see 1657 (Carlile)]"
and characterized all human and "divine" actions as a product of the "operations and
revolutions of nature." The Newgate Monthly Magazine also printed lengthy excerpts
from the writings of freethinkers such as Shelley, Diderot, Voltaire, and Peter Annet,
including some of Annet's controversial opinions about marriage and divorce. By its
ties to Carlile and the views it espoused, the journal earned a respected niche in the
literature of self-improving, radical workingmen.49' .
'Like Paine but more vehemently, he [Richard Carlile] ADJUDGED it a
certainty that THE OLD TESTAMENT (excluding the Books of Job and Proverbs)
WAS A "FABRICATION," or as he expressed it, "BRUTALIZED FANTASY." It had
been composed by unlettered tribesmen during the sixth century B.C. and bore
no relationship to the events it described. Contrary to belief, the biblical Jews were
a "savage and uncultivated" race whose true history remained uncharted. They had
never resided in Egypt, had not occupied Judaea prior to the founding of a colony there
by Cyrus, and, as Carlile conjectured on several occasions, were possibly of African
origin [see: The Moses Mystery, The African Origins of the Jewish People, Gary
CHRISTIANITY, TOO, LACKED A VERIFIED ACCOUNT OF ITS BEGINNINGS, he maintained. Like Paine and other freethinkers, he rejected all of the evidence for its existence that dated from the first century A.D., including frequently cited passages by Josephus and Philo Judaeus. He insisted that these were based on interpolations inserted long after the events in question in order to fabricate the myth of a divine Jesus. The truth, he claimed, was much different. The early Christians had carried out "the grossest forgeries to support the books on which their religion was founded," and he for one was prepared to unmask them.27
In the Republican and other freethought publications of the 1820s, Carlile
singled out for derision those Judaeo-Christian practices sanctioned by a "carnal,
brutal, and sensual" God: animal and human sacrifice; clerical privilege; religious
intolerance; the "lusts of the flesh"; even masturbation, which he characterized in
nineteenth-century parlance as a "horrid vice." He never ceased to regale his readers
with accounts of biblical "debauchery, cruelty, and wickedness," contrasting these (in
considerable detail) with the "pure morality" of nature. The Bible was, he stated, an
"obscene, voluptuous, false, scandalous, malicious, and seditious" book that
"presents nothing to our view, but a series of lives of persons, who have
distinguished themselves from their fellows by their vices and wickedness."
Those who published and sold it (Carlile was being only somewhat facetious when he
made this suggestion) should be prosecuted.' .
'Other radical freethinkers, including the French writers Baron
d'Holbach [1723 - 1789] and Volney [1757 - 1820],
had said much the same thing before Carlile [Richard Carlile
1790 - 1843] and their views were well known. But Carlile
was the first British reformer of the nineteenth century to give popular
expression to such "infidel" views and
to link them specifically to political change. He claimed
(wildly inaccurately) to be the first person "in this Island, I may add
the whole earth, who has openly defied the religious world upon this ground,
that there is no such a God as the advocates of religion preach." He [RICHARD
WAS PREPARED TO DEDICATE HIS LIFE TO ERADICATING CHRISTIANITY.
"WHEN A MAN BECOMES AN ATHEIST," HE TOLD HIS SUPPORTERS, "HE MAY
BE TRULY SAID TO HAVE WADED THROUGH THE QUAGMIRE OF
SUPERSTITION AND IDOLATRY AND TO BEGIN TO LIVE AS A REASONABLE
His objective, clearly defined for the first time, was "to root out this grievous, useless, ingenious tax [religion], to destroy this source of disunion and quarrel, to leave the human mind free to self-government, and to teach mankind every where to seek and to value truth."33
Carlile's "infidel challenge" was conditioned to a great extent by his reading of Baron d'Holbach [1723 - 1789], whose writings were available in cheap English editions by the early 1820s. Although Carlile reprinted several of d'Holbach's tracts in translation in the Deist, it was his careful perusal of the System of Nature, or the Laws of the Moral and Physical World, which was published in a three-volume edition by Thomas Davison in 1820, that had the deepest influence on him. In the System of Nature, first published in 1770, d'Holbach gave full support to atheism, proclaiming that every object in the universe was reducible to matter and that every "spiritual" concept, including the belief in god, was illusory. Whatever happens to man, he stated, derives from "the development of the first impulse given him by nature"; therefore, "to exist is to experience the motion peculiar to a determinate essence [and] to conserve this existence, is to give and receive that motion." In reformulating these ideas in the Republican and pamphlets such as Observations...by Olinthus Gregory and Every Man's Book; or, What Is God? (1826), Carlile became a transmitter of d'Holdbach's theories to British working-class reformers in much the same way that he had performed this service for Paine.34' [109-110].
'The most serious blow to the Rotunda [meeting place] ["Blackfriars Road,
London" (this chapter (9), is entitled: "The Rotunda")] occurred, however, in July 1831,
when Taylor [Robert Taylor 1784 - 1844] was tried and convicted of blasphemous
libel. In April, an information was filed against him by the Vice Society for two
provocative lectures that he had delivered. The first, a Good Friday sermon on the
"Crucifixion of Christ," included the sardonic observation that Simon the Cyrenian or
another "blaspheming infidel" had been crucified instead of Jesus and offered the
following passage for the delectation of those present: "And what was to hinder
[Jesus] from showing himself alive after his passion. A man may put himself into
a passion, I hope, and put himself out of it again, without breaking a blood-vessel."
The other sermon, preached by Taylor on Palm Sunday and entitled "The Cup of
Salvation," was even more offensive to churchmen. "HOW COULD ANY MAN WALK
WITH GOD?" he queried mockingly, "with their indefinite, indescript, and indescribable
God, their incomprehensible and infinite space-filling God? WHEN [their] GOD
CANNOT WALK HIMSELF. (Why, to be sure.) HE WOULD BE AT HIS JOURNEY'S
END, BEFORE HE SET OUT. AND AS HE FILLS ALL SPACE, HE MUST SIT STILL
IN ALL SPACE, LIKE A GOUTY OLD MAN IN HIS ARM-CHAIR, AND STAY AT HOME
THROUGH ALL ETERNITY."
After imbibing wine as part of the evening's "entertainment," he observed amid
chuckling from the audience: "THE REASON WHY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST DOES
INDUCE GOD TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS IS, THAT HE LIKES A DROP OF THE
CRATER [apparently, wine bowl] AS WELL AS WE DO: THAT PUTS HIM INTO A
GOOD HUMOUR, AND THEN HE IS NOT SO PARTICULAR ABOUT US."42
Taylor's wit was little appreciated by members of the Vice Society, who selected for prosecution those passages most informed by a scoffing tone. Irreverent laughter, in their view, was too potent a weapon to be allowed free rein.
The trial took place in July at the Surrey sessions. Taylor conducted his defense energetically but without a sufficient sense of gravity. His references to religion were delivered in his usual jocular tone (producing considerable laughter among the spectators), and he pleaded his innocence on the ground that he had not meant to "revile the Christian religion" or those who professed it. On the contrary, he affirmed, he [Taylor] had "as high a veneration for the beautiful and pathetic language of the Scripture as any man upon the face of the earth." Unamused by these antics [and truth], the jury found him guilty. He [Taylor] was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Horsemonger-Lane Gaol in south London and to a heavy fine and the payment of recognizances.43' [179-180].
'Taylor's incarceration destroyed the Rotunda as a center of theological and political radicalism. Both his oratorical exhibitionism and Carlile's dogged intellectualism were now missing, and adequate substitutes could not be found. Political reformers continued to use the Rotunda's premises for several months, but their interests diverged increasingly from those of Carlile and Taylor. Hibbert [Julian Hibbert 1800 - 1834 (see below)] and John Gale Jones tried unsuccessfully to become surrogate infidel orators. Jones, a deist, spoke with more conviction about universal suffrage than he did about the physical and moral allegories of religion, while Hibbert, a brilliant scholar and a companionable man, lacked the quality of showmanship necessary for effective speechmaking. Efforts to restage several of Taylor's performances were unsuccessful. And although the young man who replaced Carlile as a reader of the Sunday "lessons" was James "Shepherd" Smith, afterward to become a well-known millennialist preacher and newspaper editor, he lacked the maturity to sustain the interest of his audiences.44
Only in the early months of 1832 was the Rotunda briefly suffused with some of
its old magic. The occasion was a series of "spiritual discourses" by Elizabeth
Sharples [dates?], a Bolton disciple of Carlile who lectured under the nom de plume
"Isis." Her Rotunda sermons (mostly written for her by Carlile) were delivered several
times weekly to small, enthusiastic audiences of workingmen. "Isis" wore a "showy"
dress for the occasions and stood on a floor strewn with white thorn and laurel. Her
delivery, while not inspired, was decorous.45....' [180-181].
"Carlile's financial situation deteriorated in spite of support from Hibbert, and
bereft of an adequate income, he was forced to lease portions of the Rotunda to a
circus and musical company. Even these steps proved insufficient, and in April 1832
the owner of the building terminated the lease. Thus, two significant years in the
history of working-class radicalism in London came to an abrupt end, with some
permanent accomplishments in the development of a political consciousness among
the poor and the increased spread of infidel ideas. The subsequent history of the
Rotunda--its conversion into a theater and, in the twentieth century, into an auction
house (now destroyed)--provides an ironical commentary on the expectations it once
[Julian Hibbert 1800 - 1834: "wealthy supporter of radical causes such as free thought" (Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals, c1979, 221, Joel H. Wiener). Nephew of Robert Hibbert (1770 - 1849), of the Hibbert Lectures and Hibbert Journal (see Ox. Dict. C.C., 1997, 766). See also: The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 1985].
'As the ups and downs of prison life began to affect Carlile and the Rotunda fell apart, he became, as in his Dorchester years, crotchety and volatile. His New View of Insanity, issued in the spring of 1831 from the Compter, was the most contentious of his tracts. It gave voice to a mixture of unusual causes: phrenology, sexual liberation, "hygeism" (which was the belief that good health depended upon the unrestricted circulation of the blood), compassion for the insane, and, unexpectedly, musings on the subject of "madness."51 For many years Carlile had employed the imagery of "madness" in his writings, especially in reference to religion.52 But in A New View of Insanity he extended it into new areas, in the process anticipating some modern psychological and political insights. Insanity, he averred, was a political "crime" that was constantly being redefined to meet the needs of those in power.
It was an effective way of suppressing dissent. The stigma of "madness" was attached
to those who rejected orthodox opinions, he wrote, beginning with the early Christians
and extending to recent critics of authority like himself. Furthermore, sexual
repression, and specifically the refusal to allow women a knowledge of birth
control, was a way of inducing "madness." As he observed in A New View of
Insanity: "Love and religion, as these principles are now attended to in this
island [apparently, England], are the two great sources of hypocrisy, mental deceit,
mental lying, and social misery, as well as insanity."53' .
[See: works of Thomas Szasz (The Manufacture of Madness, 1970; etc.)].
from: Richard Carlile [1790 - 1843], by G.D.H. Cole, Fabian Society, Biographical
Series No. 13, Issued by the Fabian Society and published in conjunction with Victor
Gollancz Ltd., 1943.
"Chemistry [I (LS) masochistically endured a College minor in Chemistry] was in the
central position when science was invoked against the dogmas of revealed religion.
Apart from that, the main contest was in terms of BIBLICAL CRITICISM: THE
FAMILIAR SPORT OF EXPOSING INCONSISTENCIES AND HISTORICAL
ABSURDITIES IN THE SCRIPTURES WAS BEING WIDELY PRACTISED [see 1648
CARLILE played his full part in this type of criticism, CATEGORICALLY
DENYING THAT ANY SUCH PERSON AS CHRIST COULD BE SHOWN TO HAVE
EXISTED, AND THAT THERE WAS ANY HISTORICAL WARRANT AT ALL FOR THE
STORY SET OUT IN THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT [see 1652 (Campion)].
His difference from most of the critics who took this line was that he was never content
with a negative. He set out to preach a positive doctrine of perfectibility through
absolutely free speech and discussion, which would not only banish error but also set
free the immense powers of scientific discovery to work for the benefit of mankind. The
Address to the Men of Science is Carlile's best work. Although there is much in it
that is outmoded, it puts finely the constructive case for freedom over the whole wide
field of human knowledge and intellectual power." .
from: Quarterly Review, London, 1855, unbound [total numbered pages: 147-190]
article [review of 2 books], 148-189, author not stated herein.
1. The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Galatians, and Romans, with
Critical Notes and Dissertations. By Benjamin Jowett [1817 - 1893], M.A., Fellow
and Tutor of Balliol College, Oxford. London, 1855. [2 volumes]
2. Rational Godliness. By Rowland Williams, B.D., Fellow and formerly Tutor of King's
College, Cambridge, and Professor of Hebrew at St. David's College, Lampeter.
London, 1855." .
[footnote] "*There is much truth in a saying of Elmsley, the Greek critic, who,
when he was asked 'how it was that the Germans beat the English in scholarship,'
replied, 'because they never go out to tea.' In point of fact, a German professor will
toil patiently at his desk for fourteen hours out of the twenty-four, never quitting it
except to eat the simple meals which the Frau Professorinn [Professorin] has cooked
for him. His literary work supplies to him the place which in the mind of the Englishman
is shared by politics, society, and money-getting--engrossing pursuits, which usually
drive literature into the corner." .
"according to the oracle of Miss Martineau [1802 - 1876] [see 1661-1662]--
'Philosophy finds no God in nature; no personal being or creator; nor sees the
want of any; nor has a God revealed himself miraculously; for the idea is in the mind of
most savage nations, because under like ignorance like effects will recur. The
human mind, whenever placed under similar circumstances of ignorance, will
form similar conceptions, and have similar longings and superstitions.' (M. and
'There is no theory of a God, of an author of nature, of an origin of the
universe, which is not utterly repugnant to my faculties.'--(M. and A., 217.)
The same author ["Miss Martineau"] makes the following remarks upon the
evidence of a Creator derived from final causes:--
'Thus deluding themselves, they wander after final causes, and by an inverted reason see their own image in nature, and imagine design and a designer, creation and a Creator; as if the laws of matter were not fundamental and sufficient in themselves, and design were not human, and simply an imitation; or, as Bacon designates it, "a memory with an application." To call Nature's doings, and the fitness and form of things design, is absurd. Man designs; Nature is.'--(M. and A., 176.)
We regret to say that Mr. Jowett not only echoes this often-refuted objection, but
enters into a long dissertation to prove the futility of the teleogical [sic] [teleological:
"relating to ends or final causes"; etc. (O.E.D.)] argument..." .
"Miss Martineau declares--
'I cannot believe in a manufacturing God as implied in the idea of a Creator and
a creation; nor can I believe in any beginning or end to the operations of nature. the
cause in nature is eternal and immutable. The earth and stars may pass away into
other forms, but the law is eternal. Man, animals, plants, stones, are consequently in
nature. The mind of man, the instincts of animals, the sympathies (so to speak) of
plants, and the properties of stones, are results of material development--that
development itself being a result of the properties of matter, and the inherent cause and
principle, which is the basis of matter.'--(M. and A., 240.)" .
"'Strange as it may appear, and impossible as it may seem to so many, THE
CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS in fact, and will soon be generally recognised as NO
BETTER THAN AN OLD WIFE'S FABLE.'--(Martineau and Atk., 239, 241.)" .
["M. and A.": Letters on the Laws of Man's Social Nature and Development,
Harriet Martineau [1802 - 1876], with, H.G. Atkinson [1812 - 1890?], London: John
(my copy (reported provenance) is from the library of 1st Baron Houghton,
Richard Monckton Milnes 1809 - 1885, has a bookplate ["E
LIBRIS ROBERTI COMTIS DE CREWE"] of
his son 1st Marquess of Crewe, Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 1858
- 1945, a note (bound in) to Miss Martineau from Henry G. Atkinson [circular
embossment, upper left, containing helmeted female bust (Athena?), reminiscent
of some B.C.E. Greek coins], and, 2 other notes, bound [when?] in (author(s)?
(Baron Monckton Milnes?)) (all three notes, mostly illegible (tipplers?))].
[Sold to the University of Birmingham, 8/2007].
from: Women Without Superstition, "No Gods--No Masters", The Collected
Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,
edited by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation [www.ffrf.org],
Madison, Wisconsin, 1997. [a Classic!]. [Why no comparable book by a man (men)?].
[Eva A. Ingersoll] I regard the Bible as I do the other so-called sacred books of the
world. They were all produced in savage times, and, of course, contain many things
that shock our sense of justice. In the days of darkness women were regarded and
treated as slaves. They were allowed no voice in public affairs. Neither man nor
woman were civilized, and the gods were like their worshipers. It gives me pleasure
to know that women are beginning to think and are becoming dissatisfied with
the religion of barbarians.
Eva A. Ingersoll
[Eva A. Parker Ingersoll 1841 - 1923 (see photo: Fifty Years of Freethought, 1972
(1929), Vol. II, 584. If you have noted the impressive head of her husband, Robert G.
Ingersoll, see also, the impressive head of Eva A. Parker Ingersoll)]
The Woman's Bible Part II, Appendix, 1898
The title Women Without Superstition comes from the accolade given by the nineteenth century's most famous freethinker to his wife. Robert Green Ingersoll [1833 - 1899] dedicated his first book to Eva, "a woman without superstition." Can there be greater praise?
The subtitle of this anthology, "No Gods--No Masters," was the motto Margaret
Sanger [1879 - 1966] chose for her 1914 publication, The Woman Rebel. Ever since
encountering Sanger's motto I have felt it expresses in a nutshell the feminist viewpoint
toward patriarchal religion. "No Gods--No Masters" gallantly rejects the
master/slave hierarchy of male power over women and supernatural power over
all humankind that is ordained in the Hebrew and Christian testaments.' [xii].
"Women Without Superstition is intended in part to acquaint feminists with the freethinking heritage of the women's rights movement, and the freethought ideals that so often motivated and underpinned the convictions of many feminist foremothers. The women's movement has not acknowledged the debt it owes to the unorthodox, freethinking women in its ranks. Their nonreligious views often have been suppressed, as if shameful, when in fact repudiation of patriarchal religion is an essential step in freeing women." [xiii].
'Christian holy men have invoked the bible to oppose reproductive freedom, from
the Y.M.C.A.-backed nineteenth-century postal censor and religious fanatic Anthony
Comstock, and the powerful Archbishop Patrick Hayes of New York, who shut down
Margaret Sanger's public meeting on birth control in 1921, to the clergy ringleaders of
today's terrorism against abortion clinic personnel and patients. The Catholic,
fundamentalist and Mormon churches also organized their congregations against
the Equal Rights Amendment, defeating the ratification process. The religious war
against women's rights continues unabated today around the world. Whether the
issue is violence, birth control, abortion, education, or dress reform, the message
against freedom for women is the same from the fundamentalist branches of
Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Hinduism.' .
"Every freedom won for women, large or small, from women wearing bloomers to
riding bicycles to not wearing bonnets in church, to being permitted to attend
universities and enter professions, to vote and to own property, was opposed by the
'What British atheist Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner [see 1663-1665] pointed out in
1919 remains true: "The rise which has taken place recently in the status of
women in certain countries is due almost wholly, if not entirely, to the decline in
religious belief....The more women know, the less they will 'believe.'"' .
...I would not exchange my freedom from old superstition, if I were to be burned
at the stake next month, for all the peace and quiet of orthodoxy, if I must take the
orthodoxy with the peace and quiet.
Letter to Mr. Atkinson, February 1848 (Harriett Martineau's Autobiography)'
"At age thirty-two in 1834, Harriet took a two-year visit to America, writing the two-volume Society in America, a definitive work on the status of American women, whom she found unhealthily obsessed with religion, as Frances Wright had. Her work was as acclaimed as de Tocqueville's. Her warm reception turned nasty after Harriet endorsed William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolitionists. She spent the final three months of her tour mobbed, condemned, and fearing for her life." .
'"....My own feeling of concern arises from seeing how much moral injury and suffering is created by the superstitions of the Christian mythology...." (II:110)
The final passage of her autobiography records her pleased conviction that theology would soon be extinct.
William Lloyd Garrison wrote on July 4, 1876, that "the service she rendered to
the antislavery cause was inestimable." Florence Nightingale, on Sept. 29, 1876,
wrote that Harriet Martineau "was born to be a destroyer of slavery, in whatever form,
in whatever place, all over the world, wherever she saw or thought she saw it."' .
Hypatia Bradlaugh was the daughter of the great British atheist leader Charles
Bradlaugh, who triumphed after a long battle to be seated in Parliament as an atheist.
She was the namesake of Hypatia of Alexandria, a pagan lecturer and intellectual
who was torn to pieces by a mob of Christians in 415. This leader in thought was a
credit to the first Hypatia, as well as to the memory of her activist father....' .
"A Thomas Paine aficionado, she [Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner] edited a complete
edition of his Rights of Man, which came out in 1895, and the following year reissued
Age of Reason".
Christianity and Conduct; Or, The Influence of Religious Beliefs on Morals by
Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner was published by Watts & Co. in London in 1919. Excerpts
from several chapters follow.
In this chapter, Bradlaugh Bonner pointed out that African slavery "was inaugurated by that pious mariner, John Hawkins, whose slaving vessel, the JESUS [see Addition 24, 1135, 1136, 1155], sailed for West Africa on its first voyage to kidnap negro slaves in October, 1564, under the blessing of Almighty God."
It was not Christianity which freed the slave: Christianity accepted
slavery; Christian ministers defended it; Christian merchants trafficked
in human flesh and blood, and drew their profits from the unspeakable
horrors of the middle passage. Christian slaveholders treated their slaves
as they did the cattle in their fields: they worked them, scourged them,
mated them, parted them, and sold them at will. Abolition came with the
decline in religious belief, and largely through the efforts of those
who were denounced as heretics. In America Thomas Paine
was the first person to publicly advocate the emancipation of the slave,
and the work was taken up and carried to success three quarters of a century
later by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was certainly not an
orthodox Christian; at most he was a Deist, and it is extremely doubtful
whether he was even that. He [Abraham Lincoln] was
an eager reader and admirer of Thomas Paine
and of Volney; he himself wrote an attack upon Christianity
[Samuel Hill, friend of Lincoln, to protect Lincoln's career, "snatched
it from Lincoln's hand", and burned it ["attack upon Christianity"] (see:
Six Historic Americans, John E. Remsburg [1846 - 1919], The Truth
Seeker, n.d. ["1906"], 101-102 (story, by Lincoln's law partner,
William H. Herndon))]. So general was the Christian opposition to abolition
in the United States that even in Boston itself all the churches and the
schools, which were at that time under the control of the churches, were
closed against the anti-slavery advocates. The only hall open to that
most eloquent abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison--for
the kidnapping of whom Georgia offered a reward of five thousand dollars--was
one belonging to Abner Kneeland, the despised "infidel"
who had been imprisoned for his heresy. During the anti-slavery struggle
in America, so closely were emancipation and unbelief associated in the
popular mind that "abolitionist" and "infidel" were frequently used as
synonymous terms.'  [End of entry: "Slavery"].
[See: Addition 24, 1130-1166 (Slavery)].
Written for future publication in the Literary Guide when she was dying, this was
reprinted in Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner: The Story of Her Life by Arthur Bonner and
Charles Bradlaugh Bonner (1942).
It is the 9th of May. I am a sick woman--sick in body, but sound in mind. On May 15 I have to undergo a rather serious abdominal operation, which to a person of my age is not without danger. So it has occurred to me, sitting here in my familiar surroundings, at my familiar writing table, that I would jot down a few notes as to my position in regard to religion.
I do not for one moment suppose that my personal opinion matters one way or the other, but I have a too painful experience of the misrepresentations made by a certain class of Christians not to be well aware that they are quite capable of circulating false stories of the 'death-bed' conversion of Charles Bradlaugh's daughter.
Now, in my seventy-eighth year, being of sane mind, I declare without reserve or hesitation that I have no belief, and never have had any belief, in any of the religions which obsess and oppress the minds of millions of more or less unthinking people throughout the world. All, or most, of these religions have their god or gods, and their adherents profess to adore, to worship, their chosen Deity. What a misuse of words--to 'adore,' to 'worship,' or to 'love' stocks, or stones, or figures of wax dressed in gaudy garments, or figments of the imagination in ancient languages!
There is little in any of those religions, nothing at all in any of their gods, to attract reasoning, thinking minds. Here and there we find teaching helpful to good living, but for the most part these consist of precepts which have been taught by other peoples at other times. They are the result of age-long experience, crystallized into the 'sayings of the day.' But too often even helpful teachings are rendered nugatory by others of a positively contradictory character.
Looking back over the history of our own country, what has Christianity done for it and us? What have the Churches, what have the priests, done? It is only as our peoples have emerged from the domination of the Church, and reason has asserted its power over the minds of men, that we see improvement. A hundred and fifty years ago people were in bonds to the Church; they were ignorant, their poor homes insanitary, they starved helplessly; their condition was one of degradation and servitude. Compare 1800 with 1935! It is complained that the churches are empty to-day. In 1800 if you did not go to church you were taken to the stocks or suffered imprisonment. That comparison lights up the whole difference: less power to religion, the greater power to knowledge.
Away with all these gods and godlings; they are worse than useless. I take my stand by Truth--by tested truth, which includes sincerity and honesty. I do not mean a truth which changes colour from day to day according to the barometer of an emotional mind. The truth I stand by may be enlarged, or in some degree modified, in the course of years by the increase in our knowledge, but in essentials it remains to-day much as it did for me seventy years ago. Honesty, courage, steadfastness, and sympathy: these, I hope, have been the guiding lights of my life. I have made mistakes--as everyone has--some of which I have been very sorry for; but this I can say with confidence, that I have never willfully injured anyone, and that I have always endeavoured to see and understand the other point of view.
And so Good Night.' [334-335].
Have not all theists painted their Deity as the god of love and goodness? Yet after
thousands of years of such preachments the gods remain deaf to the agony of the
human race. Confucius cares not for the poverty, squalor and misery of the people of
China. Buddha remains undisturbed in his philosophical indifference to the famine and
starvation of the outraged Hindoos; Jahve continues deaf to the bitter cry of Israel; while
Jesus refuses to rise from the dead against his Christians who are butchering each
"The Philosophy of Atheism," 1916' .
Born in England, Marian Noel Bostock, the oldest of eight children, emigrated with her
parents to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her mother was quietly freethinking,
well-read and committed to the education of women. Her father, more orthodox, was
first elected as a Liberal to Parliament in 1896. She finished her schooling in England,
studying at the London School of Medicine, and became a fellow of the Royal College
of Surgeons specializing in gynecology. She worked as a medical missionary from
1922-1934 in India....' .
Ruth Hurmence Green first read the Bible cover to cover when convalescing from cancer in her early sixties.
"My agnostic brother told me it was a waste of time...but I plodded through it, to my increasing incredulity and horror. I was a half-hearted Methodist who had always disliked religion, but, like ninety-seven percent of Christian laity, I had been taught that the bible was a good book and Jesus was a wonderful man. I think the shock I suffered was worse that the trauma caused by my illness. The superstitious ignorance, the atrocious inhuman cruelty, the obvious derivation from mythology, and above all the depravity of bible personalities--they all left me stunned." (Ruth Green to Anne Gaylor, September 1978)
After two years of studying the bible, Ruth wrote The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible [see #3, 69, 365.], which was first published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1979.' .
'Thomas Paine, the true savior of the world, denounced the Bible for me: "I SINCERELY DETEST IT ["THE BIBLE"] AS I DETEST EVERYTHING THAT IS CRUEL."' .
People who believe in a divine creator, trying to live their lives in obedience to his supposed wishes and in expectation of a supposed eternal reward, are victims of the greatest confidence trick of all time.
"So You Believe in God!" 1974
Barbara Smoker, who was a cradle Catholic, has been President of the National
Secular Society (NSS), the most militant of the organizations in the British secular
humanist movement, since 1971....' .
'Her [Barbara Smoker] various interests have led to innumerable speaking engagements and radio and television broadcasts for more than four decades.
Her writings have been featured regularly in the NSS [National Secular Society]
publication, The Freethinker.
In "Mother Teresa--Sacred Cow," Barbara Smoker wrote:
"In the West, among people of all religions and none, Mother Teresa has
become a sacred cow;...it would require a knowledge of modern psychology and of
Christian theology to understand the deep masochistic motivation of a woman who, as
a lifelong 'bride of Christ,' sacrifices herself to a lost cause while eschewing the one
chance of making any progress with it; and all for the passionate love and adoration of
an all-powerful, invisible, aloof being, who apparently, chooses to create this colossal
mess faster than she can mop it up, while 'calling' her to dedicate her life to this
Sisyphean task....Mother Teresa sees daily the appalling suffering caused by
overpopulation, yet she refuses to accept the need for population control or the
humane preferability of birth control over death control." (The Freethinker,
February 1980)' .
This was Barbara Smoker's script for the BBC World Service recorded in June 1985. It
was broadcast four times in 1985 and four times the following year.
Why Am I An Atheist? The short answer is that I cannot accept any of the alternatives. I simply don't find them believable.
Oh, yes--I once had an orthodox creed. I was brought up in a devout Roman
Catholic family, and had an old-style convent education--and throughout my childhood
and adolescence I was a steadfast believer. That was in the days (before the Second
Vatican Council) when the Catholic Church was still Catholic and the pope was
infallible--so I was given absolute certitude about God and the universe and my place
in it. But in the end--and it took me a very long while--I grew up...." .
"....IT WAS MANY YEARS BEFORE JESUS WAS TO GO THE WAY OF SANTA CLAUS." .
Katha Pollitt, Associate Editor of The Nation, is an atheist, essayist and poet whose work regularly appears in the New Yorker and The New Republic. Her weekly column for The Nation is called "Subject to Debate." [See selection [not presented]]
Katha received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University and her
Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. Her book of poems, Antarctic
Traveler, won the National Book Critics Circle Award....' .
from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford, 1997.
"JESUS CHRIST. Jesus of *Nazareth is called by His followers '*Christ',...[Greek
word], translating the Hebrew...[Hebrew word], i.e. (God's) *Messiah or anointed one
(Mt. I:16). His historical existence was not doubted by early Roman sources
(*Pliny, *Tacitus, *Suetonius), by *Josephus, or later by the *Talmud, and the
modern so-called 'Christ-myth' theory (that Jesus never lived) has CONVINCED
FEW [to be convinced, has not been politically prudent]. Jesus was apparently born
shortly before the death in 4 BC of *Herod the Great and was executed in or around
AD 30 after condemnation by Pontius *Pilate (for discussion of dates, see
Chronology, Biblical)." .
from: New York Times, 1908, February 29, 7:
"Washington, Feb. 28.--William Henry Burr died here to-day in his eighty-ninth
year. At one time he was an official reporter of the debates in the United States
Senate. He reported the lectures of Prof. Louis Agassiz and Frederick Douglass.
Robert Ingersoll referred to him as "the great literary detective." He was born near
Gloversville, N.Y.' [End of obituary].
from: Fifty Years of Freethought, Being the Story of The Truth Seeker, with the
Natural History of Its Third Editor, by George E. MacDonald, Volume II, Foreword by
Clarence Darrow, New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1931.
'If nothing else happens, there are always deaths to set down. Each year I
feel a hope that the next list will be lighter; but look at 1908! And the decedents are
those of the Old Guard without whom we might once have thought the cause could not
go on or the paper be sustained. First went Prof. Henry Martyn Parkhurst of Brooklyn,
on January 21, aged 82. Dr. Parkhurst, son of a preacher and cousin to another of that
name, had been newspaper man, court stenographer, professor in astronomy. His
death left W.H. Burr the last of the pioneer group of stenographers who were
Freethinkers, which included Stephen Pearl Andrews, Theron C. Leland, and Edward
F. Underhill. And Burr soon followed him. William Henry Burr of Washington died in
his 90th year, February 27. After graduation (1838) in Union College he learned
stenography, was official reporter in the United States Senate and on the
Congressional Globe, now Congressional Record. He compiled "One Hundred
and Forty-four Contradictions of the Bible," was the author of "Revelations of
Antichrist" and other revelatory writings--was the man whom Ingersoll called the
"greatest literary detective." Particulars of his life occupy two columns in The Truth
Seeker of March 14.'  [End of comment, on William Henry Burr].
from: Revelations of Antichrist, concerning Christ and Christianity [William Henry
Burr 1819 - 1908] [published anonymously], 1879. Boston: J.P. Mendum,
(Investigator.) New York: D.M. Bennett, (Truth Seeker.). This book: "Reprint Edition
1972 by Arno Press Inc." [First seen 6/1/2000].
[Available on CD-ROM, from: Bank of Wisdom (Emmett F. Fields)
[See: other books published anonymously: Cassels (633); Johnson (645); Titcomb
(660); (Bibliography: www.christianism.com). Baron d'Holbach (#23, 472; etc.). Etc.].
Antichrist is come, and here is the book of Revelations. The meaning thereof is plain and needeth no interpreter.
THE HISTORICAL EXISTENCE OF JESUS HAS BEEN DOUBTED BY MANY, and a few learned critics have ably maintained the negative. But the existence of the twelve Galilean Apostles has barely been questioned till now. In this work a thorough though concise examination of both questions has been undertaken.
IF THE GOSPEL JESUS IS A MYTH SO ARE HIS TWELVE APOSTLES [see #8, 200-203]. HISTORICALLY THEY MUST STAND OR FALL TOGETHER.
The recent publication in English of the Christian writings of the first three centuries makes the investigation more easy than heretofore. Outside of the New Testament, the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, there is little or nothing that throws any light on the subject, except the significant silence of Jewish and Pagan writers....
THIS IS THE MOST RADICAL ATTACK EVER MADE ON CHRISTIANITY. The
superstructure has been shattered by other engines; the present assault is at the
foundation, which is at last discovered to be only piles and plank, without even a Paul
or a Peter, much less a Christ Jesus, for a cornerstone." [xiii-xiv].
Antichrist is a bad name; so was Christian at first. Both were invented and applied as terms of reproach. To be a Christian has been for centuries respectable [? (to whom (and in their private thoughts?)? where? when?)]; the time may come when it will be so no longer, and then of course the terms Antichristian and Antichrist will not be disreputable.
The first use of the word Antichrist is in 1 John ii, 18. Perhaps it was but
another name for the "man of sin" or "son of perdition." At all events, John applies it as
an opprobrious epithet to such as deny the Father and the Son, and assumes that
whosoever denies the Son denies the Father. Quite true; for if there is no child there
can't be any father. Now Antichrist [this author (William Henry Burr)] denies in the
first place that there ever was any begotten Son of God, and in the second place
that there is any proof of the existence of the person called Christ; therefore,
Antichrist accepts the epithet even as John intended to apply it.
But there is more significance in what John says about Antichrist than appears to
the superficial reader. Why was he so worried about certain persons who denied that
Jesus had come in the flesh, that he called them Antichrists? If Christ had indeed
existed in the flesh only fifty or sixty years before John wrote, there must have been
many then living besides himself who knew it. Is it not extraordinary that as early as
the year 90, when John is supposed to have written his Epistles, there were those who
asserted that Christ had not come in the flesh? Church history tells us that shortly after
the date of the crucifixion there were learned sects of Christians who denied that Christ
was ever born, or that he ever existed save in appearance. And could the light of
history shine on the first two centuries of the Christian era, as later periods have been
illuminated, it would probably appear that not only Pagans, but even Christians, denied
the corporeal existence of Christ, maintaining that he was only an ideal being, like
Apollo or Prometheus [see #3, 43, 206.; etc.]. Before the beginning of the Christian
era there is reason to believe that such an ideal being was worshipped by the Essenes,
and it is possible, nay, even probable, that they named him Christos, the anointed; that
they substituted for the bloody sacrifice of a beast the ideal sacrifice of a man, and that
the man thus sacrificed grew into a deity, and was called the Son of God. This was a
sacred mystery. But as the doctrines of the Essenes spread among the common
people, it was necessary to present to their simple minds a real and not an ideal
THE STORY OF THE BIRTH, LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS
INVENTED AND WOVEN INTO THE SACRED LITERATURE, AND THENCE CAME
JESUS THE CHRIST, OR JESUS CHRIST, A FICTITIOUS CHARACTER, LOCATED
IN THE OBSCURE COUNTRY OF PALESTINE.
Those initiated into the sacred mysteries knew the Gospel stories were false, but considered it necessary to keep up the imposition for the purpose of propagandism.
But while this transition of faith was going on, some of the more conscientious
teachers began to tell the people that the Jesus Christ they were worshipping was not a
real historical personage. This was regarded by the conservative priests as a
dangerous disclosure, and so John denounces the innovators as liars and Antichrists,
knowing that he himself and his fellow priests were the pious liars, and that the
Antichrists were telling the truth. But truth, especially historical truth, was not mighty in
those days. Error prevailed, and
THE MYTHICAL CHRIST BECAME THE HISTORICAL JESUS,
supported by testimony that would be scouted by any reasonable tribunal.
FOR 1,500 YEARS THOSE WHO DARED TO DOUBT THE
TRUTH OF THE TESTIMONY HAVE BEEN VILIFIED AND
CRUSHED BY THE POWER OF THE PRIESTS [AND THEIR
SUPPORTERS]. [see 1644]
Now some of these very "ambassadors of Christ" are beginning to concede that the testimony is not altogether true. By-and-by they may find that it is entirely false as regards the history of their defied Son of God.* [see footnote, below]' [1-3]
[End of Chapter I.].
[footnote] "*A Fictitious character does not preclude the existence of a real one
with leading traits of resemblance. Indeed THERE MAY BE MANY ARCHETYPES,
as in the case of William Tell, who is now proved to be a myth; yet a similar legend is
told in other countries besides Switzerland, and doubtless the feat he is said to have
performed has been repeated many a time in the world's history. Our hypothesis in
regard to the origin of the Gospel fiction is based mainly on the lack of historical
evidence of the existence of such a Jesus as the Evangelists describe in the early part
of the first century." .
"Is it not a most remarkable, nay, humiliating fact, if indeed so great and
good a man as Christ is claimed to be did exist, leaving out of view his disputed
divinity, and if his birth and death were such public and conspicuous events as
they are described to be, that there should be no record of the date of either
event, and nothing to fix it within at least four years [see: #2, 22, 126.; #3, 59, 295.;
etc.]? Of what great historical personage within the last 2,000 years are the birth and
death involved in such obscurity and uncertainty?"  [End of "Chap. III. Was Christ
'Gibbon doubts whether Nero persecuted Christians at all [see 1629 (Nero)]; and conjectures that Tacitus may have confounded them with a pernicious sect of Jews called Galileans [see: Subject Index (page 600, in original); #4, 134, 462.], who were determined rebels, and were punished by Nero.
The only authority cited by Gibbon, besides Tacitus, for this act of fiendish torture, is Suetonius, a contemporary writer, who says in his life of Nero that "Christians, a race of men of a new and villanous [now, villainous], wicked or magical superstition, were visited with punishment." But he does not say when or where, nor does he connect the punishment with the burning of the city. Substitute "Galileans" for "Christians," and the statement may be true enough....' .
The celebrated passage in Josephus concerning Christ being set aside as
an acknowledged forgery, WHAT REMAINS OF EXTERNAL EVIDENCE AS TO HIS
["CHRIST"] EXISTENCE? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. ALL THE REST OF THE
CHRISTIAN FORGERIES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED AND SWEPT AWAY, LEAVING
THE GOSPEL FABRIC WITHOUT A SINGLE HISTORIC SUPPORT.
The Epistle of Jesus Christ to Abgarus, King of Edessa, and his answer thereto;
the wonderful portrait of Jesus which he miraculously photographed on the Veronica
handkerchief by wiping his face therewith; the letter of Pontius Pilate to the Emperor
Tiberius, describing the miraculous events attending the crucifixion, more marvellous
than even the Gospel storytellers could invent--all these and like forgeries of the
Christian Fathers having served the purpose of the Church in darkening the
minds of the people for fifteen hundred years, are no longer able to endure the
light of the nineteenth century. So, too, in regard to later forgeries, such as the
pretended letter of Publius Lentulus, the supposed predecessor of Pontius Pilate,
describing the personal appearance and character of Jesus Christ. This clumsy
forgery [note: seemingly, when forgeries are revealed, they are called "clumsy"
forgeries] is fathered upon Jerome Xavier, about A.D. 1600. Even now, these and
other obsolete evidences appear from time to time in the newspapers, exciting the
wonder of the ignorant and the contempt of the learned.
All, then, that is left of genuine historical Christian evidence relates to Christianity and not to Christ, except by implication. The celebrated passage ["The Annals", XV:44] in Tacitus, even if genuine--which it is not, at least in essential part--is only hearsay evidence at best, written more than eighty years after the alleged death of Christ. The earliest trace of any of our four Gospels is [c. 180 - 190] sixty or seventy years this side of Tacitus [c. 55 - 120]; and there is no proof that the story of the crucifixion under the procurator Pontius Pilate existed when Tacitus wrote. [see 1688, 1690]
The next best piece of external evidence, not as to the existence of Christ, but of
early Christianity, is a letter of Pliny, pro-consul of Bithynia, which if genuine, was
written about A.D. 106. In it is described the practice of Christians of meeting "before
daylight to sing hymns with responses to Christ as a god," of binding themselves "not to
do any wrong act," never to "break their word" or "violate a trust." How different these
from the Christians (?) described by Tacitus, "who were held in abhorrence for their
crimes," and were punished by Nero "not so much for the crime of burning the city as
for their enmity to mankind!" Pliny begins his letter to the Emperor Trajan by
saying, "I have never been present at any trials of Christians;" but presently speaks
of their being brought before him and accused, and, upon confession of being
Christians, of his ordering them away "to be punished." What was that but a trial by the
highest court of the province? But further on he says, "I thought it requisite to get at the
entire truth by putting to the torture two women who were called deaconesses; but I
discovered nothing beyond an austere and excessive superstition. Upon the whole,
therefore, I determined to adjourn the trials in order to consult you!" Aha! pseudo
Pliny! You have flatly contradicted yourself, and may stand aside.
It is needless to review any further external evidences of the early existence of
Christianity. That it reaches as far back as the middle of the first century is not denied;
but what if it originated before Christ? Many maintain that it did, and adduce in support
of the opinion not only the positive assertions of several of the earliest Fathers, but the
fact of the frequent use of the names Jesus and Christ, as synonymous with Savior and
Messiah, for more than two hundred years before the Christian era [?]. The suggestion
of the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out has caused many a smile; but how about the
drama of Christianity with Christ left out?
FOR NEARLY TWO THOUSAND YEARS THE DISMAL TRAGEDY HAS BEEN
ENACTED, UNRELIEVED BY A BIT OF COMEDY. IT HAS NOT BEEN A PLAY, BUT
A FEARFUL REALITY A THOUSAND TIMES MORE TRAGIC THAN ANY STAGE
PERFORMANCE HAS EVER ATTEMPTED TO REPRESENT. MYRIADS OF
TREMBLING SPECTATORS HAVE BEEN THE UNWILLING WITNESSES OF THE
HIDEOUS SPECTACLE, AND MULTITUDES OF VICTIMS HAVE BEEN COMPELLED
TO BEAR A TERRIBLE PART IN THE GHASTLY DRAMA; BUT BY-AND-BY, WHEN
IT SHALL HAVE BECOME KNOWN AS AN INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT THAT
THERE NEVER WAS ANY REAL CHRIST,
and that Christianity existed long before the alleged birth of Jesus, then will
come the time to laugh; then the tragedy will be changed to comedy, and the
Christian will join the anti-Christian and the Infidel in hearty merriment.
Fly swiftly on, ye wheels of time,
And bring the glorious day.' [31-33] [End of Chapter IX.].
That Paul was a historical character has never yet [c. 1875] been
questioned by any competent critic [see #4, 105-151; etc.]. NOT SO, HOWEVER,
IN REGARD TO PETER AND THE REST OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES [see #8, 200-203]. There are [fictional] historical traces [there are "historical traces" of "the cow that
jumped over the moon" (the moon, cows, "cow pies", etc.)] of Paul, but none of Peter.
Of the thirteen Epistles purporting to be written by Paul, the first four, to wit,
Romans, 1st and 2d Corinthians, and Galatians, are conceded by most critics to
be substantially genuine. The authenticity of Romans is questioned by Evanson
and Bruno Bauer; that of the other three by Bauer alone. Some of the remaining
nine may be partly genuine, though discredited by numerous critics; but others,
especially the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, are certainly spurious...." . [See: #4,
106, 426.-428. (van Manen)].
'The geological strata of the earth have been compared to a mutilated book with only one leaf left in a hundred. So it is with the record of the first one hundred years of the Christian Church. There are 99 leaves missing, and we are by no means certain of the preservation of either the 1st or the 101st. Then follow a few scattered pages of the last half of the 2d century, but so defaced that they throw little or no light on the Apostolic age. The Christian cherishes a faith founded on a fancied Rock, Christ Jesus. The Roman Catholic boasts of a Church built not only on the primitive, but on the secondary Rock, St. Peter. It was a pretty pun to call petros a rock, but a little too far-fetched. Petros signifies only a piece of a rock. To the Catholic it seems a tall cliff; to the Protestant a pretty big boulder; to the Freethinker only a pebble; but to Antichrist it is not so big as a grain of sand.
But to return to the martyrdom of Paul and Peter. St. Linus, the imaginary
successor of the imaginary Peter, is said to have said that--
"After Paul's head was struck off by the sword of the executioner, it did with a loud and distinct voice utter forth, in Hebrew, the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while, instead of blood, it was nought but a stream of pure white milk that flowed from his veins."
Another supposititious [spurious, etc.] Bishop, Abdias of Babylon, in a book first published in 1551, repeats the story, and affirms that when Paul's head was cut off "a milky wave flowed all over the sword and arm of the executioner." This book purports to have been written by one who asserted that he had seen Christ; that he was one of the disciples; that he had witnessed the death of several of the Apostles, and that he accompanied St. Simon and St. Jude into Persia, by whom he was made first Bishop of Babylon. (Am. Cyc.) But on examination, both by Papist and Protestant writers, the book was soon discovered to be a gross imposture from the many anachronisms it contained; and Fabricius has proved from internal evidence that it was first written in Latin, not in Hebrew, as it claimed to have been, and the age of the writer is placed in the 5th or 6th century, or later. (Chamb. Biog. Dic.)
Thus vanish the absurd and incredible traditions concerning the martyrdom of
Paul and Peter. But there are other traditions about Paul that deserve notice. The
Pagan satirist Lucian [c. 117 - c. 180], in his dialogue entitled "Philopatris [forgery,
10th century (see #24, 496)]," describes a certain Galilean whom he met, as "that bald-headed, hook-nosed fellow who went up into Heaven and was there taught the best
things"--an apparent reference to Paul, (2 Cor., xii, 2.) Lucian wrote about A.D. 176,
more than a century after Paul, whose Epistles were brought to Rome, by Marcion,
about A.D. 138 or 140, and were perhaps familiar to the Pagan satirist. His testimony,
therefore, is of little weight, but yet it is quite possible, nay, even probable, that his
personal description of Paul from tradition was correct, as it is not out of accord with
Paul's own hints of his bodily appearance.' [46-47].
The Sibylline oracles, which existed long before the Christian era, were destroyed during the burning of Rome, A.D. 66, but like some of the Old Testament books, which were lost or destroyed during the Babylonish captivity, and afterwards re-written from memory or tradition, so a new collection of the Sibylline books was made after the fire in Rome. These books are quoted by the early Christian Fathers as the Word of God, and so great was their estimation and use in the Church of the 2d and 3d centuries, that Christians were nicknamed Sibyllists. (Orig. agt. Cels., v. 61; vii, 53, 56.)
The most celebrated of the Sibylline books, the Erythrean, contains an acrostic in Greek, now extant, the initial letters of which are--
....[six Greek words]* ["*Iesous Chreistos, Theou Uios, Soter, Stauros. Jesus Chreist, God's Son, Savior, Stake."]
That the acrostic was written at least a century B.C. is pretty certain; but for our present purpose it is sufficient to date it any time prior to Justin Martyr, (A.D. 150), the earliest Christian writer of undisputed [disputed by Judge Strange (see 1707 -1709)] authenticity [?]. He [Justin Martyr] pointedly says that the Cumaean Sibyl (identified by Aristotle and others with the Erythrean) predicted "in a clear and patent manner the advent of our Savior Jesus Christ." (Add. to Greeks, ch. 38.) Doubtless Justin had reference to the above acrostic.
Constantine, in his Oration to the Clergy
['The Oration of the Emperor Constantine which he addressed "To the Assembly of the Saints"' (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers)] [another Christian "closet case"!, from (how?) Eusebius, The Life of Constantine],
(ch. 18, 19,) appeals to the same prophecy of the Erythrean Sibyl as declaring "the
history of Jesus" and "a certain testimony of Christ's divinity." Rendering the
Greek initial letters into Latin, Jesus Christus, Dei Filius, Servator, Crux, he
[Constantine] "It is evident that the Virgin [Sibyl] uttered these verses under the
influence of divine inspiration; and I cannot but esteem her blessed whom the Savior
thus selected to unfold his gracious purposes toward us......Many, however, who admit
that the Erythrean Sibyl was really a prophetess, yet refuse to credit this prediction, and
imagine that some one professing our faith and not unacquainted with the poetic art,
was the composer of these verses. They hold, in short, that they are a
forgery......The truth, however, in this case is evident, since the diligence of our
countrymen has made a careful computation of the times, so that there is no
room to suspect that this poem was composed after the advent and
condemnation of Christ, or that the general report is false, that the verses were a
prediction of the Sibyl in an early age. For it is allowed that Cicero was acquainted
with this poem, which he translated into the Latin language and incorporated with his
[Re: The Oration of the Emperor Constantine (a la Eusebius): I would expect (and, would have expected) some Christians to have framed copies, of excerpts, from their famous promoter of Christianism ("Christianity")--Constantine--on their walls
[also, framed copies, of the earliest Christian manuscripts]]
Gibbon, referring to the same [Constantine] Oration, (ch. xx, note 59,) says that the initial letters of the thirty-four Greek verses formed the acrostic. With ei in Chreistos there are exactly thirty-four initial letters. If the word had been derived from chrio, "to anoint," it would certainly have been written Christos. And if the Christians had forged the acrostic after the time of Justin they would have made it Christos, not Chreistos. The Pagans would have made it anything but Christos, for their Savior needed no anointing.
Cicero, who was born 106 B.C., assails the Sibyl's prophecy as too vague in regard to the great person whose coming is foretold, and points to the "art and contrivance" that appear in the "acrostic." (De Div., lib. ii.)
Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340 C.E.] affirms that Cicero [106 - 43 B.C.E.] quoted these very verses which contain the acrostic.
It was also noticed by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who lived more than 30 years B.C., and by Varro, who was born 116 years B.C.; and what is remarkable, they both speak of disputes in their day about the genuineness of the acrostics. (Floyer's Sibyls, p. 463.) The charge of forgery was made and maintained by Pagans. The early Christians asserted the genuineness of the Sibylline prophecies; modern Christians would fain repudiate them. Their antiquity is as certain as that of any New Testament writings [see 1496; etc.], which some of them ["Sibylline prophecies"] no doubt antedate.
One thing remarkable about this acrostic is, that the first letters of the words, Iesous Chreistos, Theou Uios, Soter, spell IChThUS, "a Fish." One of the three great prevailing sects in India is the Vaishnavas, or worshippers of Vishnu, whose
astronomical symbol is the Fish, whose first incarnation was in the body of a Fish, and
whose ninth and last was in the person of Christna, also called by his disciples Jezeus
[many references noted, searching on google.com]. (Bib. in Ind.)
The early Christians were known by a great variety of names, and among others by a very extraordinary one, namely, Pisciculi, or little fishes. They called themselves in their sacred mysteries by the name Iichthus, meaning I (Iesous) and Ichthus. Jesus is called a fish by Augustine [354 - 430], who says he found the purity of Jesus Christ in the word fish; "for he is a fish that lives in the midst of the waters." Some of the early Christian tombs have fishes inscribed on them. (Anacal., vol. ii.)
But what we regard as more remarkable and significant is the spelling of Chreistos. The word is not found in our Greek lexicons, and yet it was in use long before the Christian era. It could not have been derived from chrio, "to anoint," therefore it was not spelt Christos. It probably existed in the Greek language before the...[Greek letter] (e, sounded like ey in they) was in use, therefore it was not spelt Chrestos. In later times...[2 Greek letters] was sometimes changed to...[Greek letter], but seldom, if ever, was...[Greek letter] changed to...[Greek letter] Chreistos may have been derived from the verb chrao, (Ionic chero or chreio,) the root of the word Chrestos, "good, benignant, worthy." The first trace, therefore, of the name of Christ in Greek was probably Chreistos, as in the Sibylline acrostic; then it was changed to Chrestos; and lastly to Christos, or in Latin, Christus, uniting the "good" or "beneficent" being of the Greeks with "the anointed one" of the Jews and Christians.
The word Chrestos has been found engraved on Greek monuments erected
before the Christian era. Dr. Clarke in his travels (vol. iv, p. 189) found an inscription
behind a sacred altar in honor of a youth of Larissa in Thessaly, with Chrestos and a
bleeding or wounded heart at the top, and Eros at the bottom; the former [Chrestos]
signifying a beneficent being, (probably a name for Apollo,) and the latter [modern:
later] [Eros] Cupid or Divine Love. The sacred heart is found on an Indian monument
of Bal-ii, an incarnation of Vishnu, with a wound in the side. That Chrestos was not the
name of the person entombed is proved by the fact that all the epitaphs of Larisseans
which Spon has preserved contain the word.* ["*Among the numerous Greek
inscriptions recently found in Cyprus by Gen. Cesnola the most common is Chreste
chaire, "Dear one farewell." (Cyprus, pp. 433-436.)"]
Suetonius, (A.D. 110,) in his Life of Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, says that "he drove the Jews, who, at the instigation of Chrestus, were constantly rioting, out of Rome." (Ch. 25.) If Jesus Christ was the person referred to, then he was a Jewish leader of riots in Rome. Furthermore, if this was a historical reference to Jesus Christ, it is the first undoubtedly genuine heathen evidence as to his name, which was not Christus but Chrestus. The latter [Chrestus] is frequently found inscribed upon ancient Latin monuments, as well as Chrestos in Greek and Latin, but never Christus or Christos until the Catholic religion prevailed. Chrestos was a very proper name in Greek, but Christos would be as ridiculous as the name Greasy in English. The Latin language had no Chrestus until it was transferred from the Greek.
The celebrated passage ["The Annals", XV:44] in Tacitus [c. 55 - 120], if
genuine, was written about the same time that Suetonius [69 - after 122] wrote, or a
little later. But there can be no reasonable doubt that the passage in Tacitus is either
a forgery or a corruption [see 1688, 1690]. It is therefore immaterial that it has
Christus and Christianos once. Even in Suetonius's life of Nero we find Christiani
once. It would be easy and natural for the transcriber to change Chrestiani to
Christiani, but who would think of altering Christus to Chrestus [use, in Suetonius]?
("the good," in the estimation of the Jews, because he resisted oppression,) a leader of
insurrections against Rome? Who knows but that the name of "Chrestus" became a
watchword among the rebellious Jews, and was afterwards coupled with Joshua or
Jesus (the Savior) and changed to Christos? We have no manuscripts older than the
4th century [?], and as it is conceded that all the writings that we have have been
tampered with, who can say that the name of Jesus was not at first Chrestos, or "Jesus
Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 168-188) puns upon the name Christian. "I, for
my part," says he, (B. i, ch. 1,) "avow that I am a Christian, and bear this name beloved
of God, hoping to be serviceable, (euchrestos.)" In ch. 12 this punning is kept up
"And about your laughing at me, calling me 'Christian,' you know not what you
are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet (Chrestos) and serviceable,
(euchrestos,) and far from contemptible......And what work has either ornament or
beauty unless it be anointed or burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is
in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit, and are you unwilling to be anointed with
the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account because we are
anointed with the oil of God."
Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 189-202) in like manner says, (Misc., B. ii, ch. 4:)
"Now those who have believed in Christ both are and are called good, (Chrestoi.)"
Lactantius, an eminent Christian author, (A.D. 301-330,) says that the
Greeks "were accustomed, through a mistake of ignorance (?) by the change of a
letter, to say Chrestus." (Div. Inst., B. iv, ch. 7.)
Tertullian, the first of the Latin Fathers, (A.D. 193-220, says:
"But Christian, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned, is derived
from anointing. Yes, and even when it is wrongly pronounced by you Chrestianus,
(for you do not even know accurately the name you hate,) it comes from sweetness and
benignity." (Apol., Sec. 3. See also Ad. Nat., ch. 3.)
In the light of the facts already presented, it would seem, at least, that the Greeks were right in regard to the name Chrestos, and the two Latin Fathers, Lactantius and Tertullian, wrong. If Christianity originated among Greek-speaking people, and the Epistles and the Gospels were originally written in Greek, how absurd for the Latins to charge the Greeks with error and ignorance as to the name of their Savior!
But let an impartial witness speak. Lucian, a heathen Greek poet, who wrote a
little earlier than Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220], in his "Philopatris" [forgery, 10th century
(see #24, 496)] makes Triephon say, in answer to the question whether the affairs of
the Christians were recorded in Heaven, "All nations are there recorded, since
Chrestos exists among the Gentiles."
Another witness, Julian, falsely named the Apostate, (A.D. 361-3,) calls the
Baptist Chrestos Ioannes.
To these let us add the testimony of a modern Church historian, Bingham,
(1726,) who, in his "Antiquities of the Christian Church," (B. i, ch. 1,) says that the
Christians were not at first, nor for a long time, called Christians.
Justin Martyr [c. 100 - c. 165], one of, if not the, earliest and best of the
authenticated [? (see 1707-1708) Fathers, calls the Christians Chrestianoi. Not that
the word is so found in his writings; oh! no, the priestly scribes have been careful to
change the e to i. In his "First Apology," ch. 4, this passage occurs:
"So far, at least, as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are
most excellent (crestotatoi) people......For we are accused of being Christians, and to
hate what is excellent (chrestos) is unjust."
Here it was impossible to change chrestotatoi or chrestos, but in the word Christianoi the e has evidently been changed to i, for the sense certainly requires Chrestianoi, as any Greek scholar must see.
Again: in ch. 7 we have the following:
"And this we acknowledge, that as among the Greeks those who teach such theories as please themselves are all called by the one name 'Philosopher,' though their doctrines be diverse, so among the Barbarians this name on which accusations are accumulated, is the common property of those who are and those who seem wise. For all are called Christians."
Orthodox critics have suspected that in both the above passages e has been changed to i in Christianoi. May not a like corruption have been made everywhere else? What though Justin, in his "Second Apology" (chap. 6) recognizes as one reason for calling the Son of God Christ, "his being anointed?" Everything anointed had converted to it the peculiar quality meant to be described by chrestos, of good, holy, sacred. To make the stone of Jacob holy and sacred it was anointed. To instal [commonly, install] a prophet into his office he was anointed. To render kings sacred they were anointed; and from this came the idea that Christ had his name from being anointed. And yet he was neither crowned nor anointed in a literal sense. But in a metaphorical sense, not only Christ, but Christians also, as Theophilus of Antioch [died 180] says, were "anointed with the oil of God," and Theophilus says he bore the name "hoping to be serviceable, (euchrestos.)" Not only is the suspicion just that in Justin e has been changed to i, but it is impossible for an impartial critic not to see that the text has been corrupted. And if in Justin, why not in all the rest of the early Christian literature? The Latin priests, through whom the manuscripts have come down to us, would have the strongest motive to change the e to i, because in their time Chrestos had become obsolete and Christos the popular name.
The name Christian was first given as a term of reproach, and was so regarded by the Fathers down to the close of the 2d century. Hence the successive "Apologies" written by them, in which they pun upon the words Chrestos and Christos with a cunning endeavor to render the latter respectable. The term Christian occurs only three times in the New Testament, viz., in Acts xi, 26; xxvi, 28; and 1 Pet., iv, 16. The book of Acts cannot be traced prior to about A.D. 190, and the 1st Epistle of Peter was probably written in the 2d century. The expression "suffer as a Christian" has a late look, and it is doubtful whether the term Christian was known till near the middle of the 2d century. The Pauline Epistles were written, as all critics agree, many years after the disciples were said to have been called Christians at Antioch, and yet PAUL NEVER USES THE WORD [CHRISTIAN], though he was a preacher at Antioch as late as seventeen years after his conversion, (Gal. ii, 11,) and according to the story of Acts continued a long time at that city, making it his headquarters. Paul's Epistles were brought to Rome by Marcion about A.D. 140, after which time the name Christian was probably given, but reluctantly accepted. But when the doctrine of Paul was grafted into the Gospel of Jesus by the Roman converts, the Christos (or Chrestos) of Paul became the Christus (or Chrestus) of the Latins, and as the Jewish Septuagint had Christos, and THE NEW SUPERSTITION [CHRISTIANISM ("CHRISTIANITY")] WAS BASED MAINLY ON JUDAISM AND OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES [see 1506-1518 (Shires); etc.], the name Christus prevailed over Chrestus, and at length the term Christian became popular, and in the 3d century it was generally adopted.
Having seen how Justin's writings have been corrupted, let us see how it is with regard to the New Testament.
In 1 Pet., ii, 3, we read, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious
(chrestos.)" Some manuscripts have christos, an evident corruption. In the Douay
Bible chrestos is correctly translated "sweet." The passage is evidently taken from Ps.
xxxiv, 8, which reads, "O taste and see that the Lord is good"--chrestos in the
Septuagint. Clement of Alexandria has this singular passage:
"But are ye so devoid of fear, or rather of faith, as not to believe the Lord
himself, or Paul, (!) who in Christ's stead thus entreats: 'Taste and see that Christ is
God?'" (Ex. to Hea., ch. 9.)
The translator in a note to the same refers to Ps. xxxiv, 8, where he says Clement has read Christos for chrestos. Again, in quoting 1 Pet., ii, 3, he reads Christos for chrestos. (Instr., B. i, ch. 6.)
In Rom. xvi, 18, the word chrestologia is translated "good words." Dr. John Jones, author of "Ben David," says that the meaning is, "oracles concerning Chrestos, that is, oracles which certain imposters (?) in the 'Church at Rome' propagated concerning Christ, Christos being changed (?) by them into Chrestos, the usual name given by the Gnostics, and even by unbelievers."
Again, Dr. Jones maintains that Paul has an obvious reference to the above interpretation of Christos when he says, in Phil. i, 21, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," the parallelism requiring Christos, in the sense of chrestos, to correspond to kerdos, "gain." (Ben David, p. 278-9.)
Yes, not only does the sense require it, but chrestos is a various reading, as attested by Orthodox critics.
Mr. Higgins, to whom we are indebted for much of the matter contained in this chapter, gives great weight to the proofs advanced by Dr. Jones, and says:
"The doctor has shown most clearly that not only the Gentiles commonly called Christ Chrestos, but that the Gnostic Christians, as I believe it is admitted, beyond all comparison, the most numerous sect of Christians, (because many sects are comprised in the term Gnostic,) as well as the most learned and respectable, called him Chrestos. The important fact that Christ was first called Chrestos, and the Christians Chrestianoi, was as nearly lost as possible. The accidental discovery of an inscription [already noticed] given by Dr. Clarke in his travels, alone saved it......It is also quite clear that he was so called by St. Peter and St. Paul, and surely this will not be disputed.
"In the Christology of St. Paul and Justin Martyr we have the esoteric religion of
the Vatican, a refined Gnosticism for the cardinals, a more gross one for the people. It
seems very extraordinary that when Lardner was noticing the Chrestus of Suetonius
he should pass over the most important fact--that Jesus was commonly known by the
name of Chrestos among the sect of Christians which was by far the most numerous
and learned in the world. There never was born a more cunning man than Lardner,
nor one who knew better when to speak and when to be silent. In this instance he
seems to have followed the example of Eusebius when in his life of Constantine he
concealed the murder of his son, Crispus. I cannot believe that Lardner was ignorant
that the Christians were called Chrestianoi......In his pretended surprise that
Suetonius should call Jesus Chrestus, he betrays the grossest disingenuousness. It
is impossible that this learned man can have been ignorant of it. But he found that if he
noticed it, even to endeavor to refute it, he would bring into observation what was as
good as lost, and what it was very desirable to keep out of sight."
SUMMING UP THE EVIDENCE, it must be confessed that it strongly preponderates in favor of Chrestos as the earliest name of Christ. The Sibylline Chreistos reaches back beyond Cicero and Varro, and was probably known several centuries B.C., while Chrestos is found inscribed on Greek monuments before the Christian era. But on the other hand, Christos, "the anointed one," is of frequent use in the Septuagint 200 years B.C. Chrestos nevertheless seems to have prevailed down to the close of the 2d century, after which Christos, or the Latin Christus, gradually supplanted Chrestos. To the latter the Pagan converts would be prone to adhere, but the influence of the Septuagint, though the Jewish converts were very insignificant in number, turned the scale in favor of Christos, and all the manuscripts were made to conform thereto.
Dear, devout, and sincere Christian, Antichrist [this author (William Henry Burr)] has no pleasure in shocking you by taking away your JESUS. But THE NAME WAS FAMILIAR AND PRECIOUS TO BOTH HEATHEN AND HEBREW DEVOTEES CENTURIES BEFORE THE ALLEGED NATIVITY AT BETHLEHEM. To the pious Jew it was Jehoshua or Joshua, meaning "help of Jehovah" or "Savior." To him whose Bible was the Septuagint it was Iesous--Ie being an exclamation of joy, and soos or sos meaning "safe." So in Matt. i, 21, the inchoate Son of God is named Iesous, because "he shall save (sosei) his people from their sins," and in Acts vii, 45, and Heb. iv, 8, Iesous is the Greek for Joshua, the son of Nun.
So the ancient Greek Sibyls heralded the name of Iesous Chreistos, the
benignant Savior, or new incarnation of Bacchus, or Buddha, or Divine Wisdom, the
first born of God, the Theous Uios, Soter, and proclaimed in advance almost every
particular afterwards embodied in the story of the Gospels.' [71-82]. [End of
That the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch, a heathen city,
about A.D. 43, rests upon the sole authority of the Book of Acts, which Dr.
Davidson concedes was written as late as A.D. 125; but there is no positive evidence
of its existence prior to the year 190. It is therefore of no value to [attempt to] prove
the use of the word Christian before the middle of the second century [or, later].
And the same may be said of 1 Peter, the only other Book of the New Testament in
which the word Christian is found; for Dr. Davidson, seeking to assign it to as early a
period as he can, expressly says, "The date of the Letter cannot be fixed. It was after
the Epistle to the Ephesians; it may therefore be between A.D. 75 and 80." Well, as
the date cannot be fixed, and as some critics for cogent reasons assign it to the second
century, who can forbid the acceptance of the later date? The Epistle is conceded to
be spurious, and the earliest trace of it is in the statement of Eusebius (iii, 39) that
Papias, who wrote about A.D. 150, made use of it. But as Eusebius, who does not
quote the passages from Papias, has been detected in numerous mistakes and
WE MUST REMAIN IN DOUBT WHETHER HE DID NOT ASSUME, FROM SOME
SIMILARITY OF WORDING, THAT THE PASSAGES WERE QUOTATIONS, WHILST
IN REALITY THEY MIGHT NOT BE.
The earliest apparent quotations from 1 Peter are found in the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, written after A.D. 150, and probably after 161, besides being largely interpolated. (Sup. Rel. [Supernatural Religion (see 1706)]) But even if 1 Peter was written before 150, the expression "suffer as a Christian," as we have heretofore remarked, and as will presently more fully appear, has a late look.
The New Testament therefore affords no proof of the use of the term Christian before the middle of the second century, about which time we begin to find it (or more probably Chrestian) in the writings of Justin [see 1707-1709 (Justin)].
Antichrist has made a diligent search for the word in all the writings of the Fathers which can, with any degree of probability, be claimed to antedate Justin, and has been unable to find it. It does not occur in either of the three following Books, which once formed a part of the New Testament canon:
Epistle of Clement of Rome,
Epistle of Barnabas,
Pastor of Hermas.
The first of these is still claimed to be authentic, though written anonymously, and its date is claimed to be about A.D. 97, and even earlier. But the more liberal critics lean to a later date, and bring it within the first quarter of the second century. The Epistle of Barnabas, once received as an authentic production of the companion of Paul, is now conceded to be spurious, and to have been written probably between A.D. 117 and 138. The Pastor of Hermas, one of the most popular books in the Church during the 2d, 3d, and 4th centuries, and believed to have been the production of the Hermas mentioned in Rom. xvi, 14, is now conceded to have been written probably some time between A.D. 100 and 161.
In Archbishop Wake's translation of Clement's Epistle the word Christian occurs
once; in the later English version of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library it occurs three
times. What, think you, are the Greek words which the Reverend Prestidigitators
have rendered "Christian?" They are en Christo and to Christo.
[from: The Freethought Exchange #45 January-April 2000, (end of article: "Bible
Humor") 46, Gene Kasmar (author: All the Obscenities in the Bible, 1995 (see #5,
163))] [see 1499; etc.]
Only one more writer remains whose claim of priority to Justin is confidently [?] asserted--namely, Ignatius. The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians is generally believed to be later than Justin, but even if it should perchance be prior, it does not affect the present inquiry, for the word Christian is not found in it.
Ignatius was a historical character [?], and though as to his personal history almost nothing is known, he was doubtless [doubtful (see 1706)] a bishop of Antioch at the beginning of the second century. There are fifteen Epistles [see 1706] purporting to have been written by him, of which not more than seven are claimed to be genuine. Among the spurious ones is a letter addressed by him to the Virgin Mary, with her reply thereto. A venerable old Virgin she must have been! somewhere between 90 and 140 years of age!
To the great embarrassment of those who maintain, with Eusebius, the genuineness of seven of the Ignatian Epistles, they come down to us in two forms, a longer and a shorter, and the question is, which is the oldest? The decision has been generally in favor of the shorter version. But so manifest are the interpolations in both, that Dr. Lardner and other Christian apologists before and since his time have been compelled to question the genuineness of even the shorter form, and many of them deny that we have any authentic remains of Ignatius at all.
But to aggravate the embarrassment of the churchmen, in the year 1842 an ancient Syriac version of three of the Epistles in a still shorter form was brought to light. This left the question of genuineness or priority as awkward to decide as one like this, for instance: Which of three switches, said to have been wielded by Jesus to drive out the board of brokers from the temple, is the genuine one?
The whole story purporting to have been written by Ignatius while a prisoner [see 1706] under a guard of ten soldiers, on his way from Antioch to Rome, in seven different Epistles [see 1706], deliberately penned at successive stages of his journey, by the kind permission of the "ten leopards," as he styles them, is absolutely incredible [Fictional!]. But if this conclusion is not in itself irresistible, we will only repeat what has been stated heretofore, that it has been demonstrated that Ignatius was not sent to Rome at all, but was cast to wild beasts at Antioch, Dec. 20 A.D. 115, under circumstances which preclude the idea of his being a martyr for Christianity. (Dav. Int. to N.T., vol. i, p. 19.)
Nevertheless, lest it should be presumed that the Epistles may have been forged prior to Justin, we will state that the learned author [Walter Richard Cassels] of "Supernatural Religion," after an acute analysis of the evidence, internal and external, asserts that "none of the Epistles have any value as evidence for an earlier period than the end of the second or beginning of the third century." (Vol. i, p. 274.)
The Syriac manuscript is by far the most ancient text, and it is conceded that not only the longer, but the shorter Greek forms have been largely interpolated. The whole contents of the Syriac Epistles make only 250 lines in English, and even if a fragment of these should perchance have been written by Ignatius, it is impossible to distinguish what is authentic and what is spurious. Ireneus (A.D. 190) is the first to refer to any of them or to Ignatius himself, and his quotations are found in the Syriac translation as well as in the Greek. Forty years later Origen quotes passages which are likewise found in the Syriac. The first occasion on which any passage attributed to Ignatius is quoted which is not in the Syriac version, is by Eusebius. (Sup. Rel. [Supernatural Religion, see 1706], vol. i, p. 262.)
Having, therefore, brought the Ignatian Epistles this side of the middle of the 2d century, they are outside of our present inquiry. But inasmuch as they are the only Christian writings containing the word Christian, which have any plausible if even possible claim of priority to Justin, we will bestow on them a cursory analysis.
The word Christian occurs seven times in each of the two Greek forms of the seven Ignatian Epistles, while Christianity [Christianism (see #18, 363-374)] is found four times in the Shorter Greek, and only once in the Longer! Twice, where the Shorter has the word Christian it is wanting in the Longer; once the latter has it where the former has it not; once it has the word Christ's instead; and once it has Christian where the former has Christianity. In one of the Epistles neither word is found in either version; in another it occurs once in the Shorter alone; in another, while it occurs once in each version, the two words do not answer to each other at all.
In the three Syriac Epistles Christian occurs twice and Christianity once. The
two passages containing the word Christian agree almost verbatim in the three
versions, but the other passage presents the following remarkable discrepancy:
These discrepancies alone show how just is the condemnation of the
whole Ignatian literature as a mass of falsification and fraud [see 1706 (Ignatius)].
Setting it aside, therefore, with the Book of Acts and Peter, as affording no evidence of
the use of the word Christian prior to the middle of the 2d century, we have the anomaly
of the apparent growth of a religion for at least a century without the adoption of the
most appropriate name. The followers of Jesus Christ would most certainly have been
called after one or the other of his two names. But it seems that for more than a
hundred years they accepted neither. Since the days of Constantine they have
gloried everywhere in the name of Christian, which the Fathers of the 2d and 3d
centuries seemed ashamed of, while the other appropriate name of Jesusites, or
Jesuits, appears to have been reserved till the 16th century for the followers of
Ignatius of Loyola. One Church historian, however, tries to trace even this name
among the earliest disciples, but only succeeds, in our opinion, in finding it as applied
to the Therapeuts before Jesus was said to be born. Here is what Bingham, in his
"Antiquities of the Christian Church," (b. i, ch. 2,) says:
"When Christianity [Christianism] was first planted in the world, they who
embraced it were commonly known among themselves by the name of Disciples,
Believers, Elect, Saints, and Brethren, before they assumed the title and
appellation of Christians. Epiphanius says they were also called Iessaioi,
'Jesseans,' either from Jesse, the father of David, or, which is more [?] probable, the
name of the Lord Jesus. He [Epiphanius] adds that Philo speaks of them under this
appellation in his book peri Iessaion, (about Jesseans,) whom he affirms to be no other
but Christians who went by that name in Egypt......This book of Philo's is now extant
under another title, peri Biou Theoretikou, of Contemplative Life; and so it is called by
Eusebius, who is also of opinion that it is nothing but a description of the Christians in
Egypt, whom he calls Therapeutae."
So if Bishop Epiphanius [c. 315 - 403], who flourished at the close of the 4th
century, is to be credited, Philo, a contemporary of the Gospel Jesus, wrote a book
about Jesseans, which has come down to us under another title, and yet identified by
Eusebius as descriptive of the Therapeuts, who existed in Egypt long before the birth of
the Christian's Jesus. That is to say, the Therapeuts were called Jesseans by Philo,
who knew no Jesus Christ, nor any followers of such a person.
Having failed to discover the word Christian in any Christian writing within the first hundred years or more after the reputed death of Christ, let us see if it can be found in pagan literature within that period.
Sure enough [?], here it is in Suetonius, who wrote about A.D. 110. In his Life of Nero he speaks of Christians, "a villanous race," being punished. The same author, in his Life of Claudius, the predecessor of Nero, mentions Chrestus as a leader of riots in Rome. There is just ground therefore, for the suspicion that the Christians to whom he refers in the later work were the followers of Chrestus. But whether that be so or not, the fact remains that this is the earliest undoubtedly [?] genuine evidence of the word Christian or Chrestian, and it is by a heathen writer.
The letter of Pliny, pro-consul of Bithynia, which if genuine might possibly antedate Suetonius, has already been considered and rejected as spurious. Learned German critics long ago pronounced it a fraud. Without the light which they have cast upon the subject, and in addition to the cogent reasons heretofore given for the rejection of the document, the fact that in the space of forty consecutive lines the word Christian occurs seven times, is enough to stamp it with presumptive fraud.
The mention of Christians barely once by Tacitus, about A.D. 117, will not be admitted by us as evidence after all that has been argued against the authenticity of the passage. If peradventure it be genuine, as Christians insist, it goes to identify them with a disorderly sect of fanatics, who, under the leadership of a Jew named Chrestus, were expelled from Rome between A.D. 41 and 54.
One more Pagan document of later date than Suetonius, but earlier than
Justin, contains the word Christian. It is an epistle of the Emperor Adrian [Hadrian]
[see #24, 504, 524], who reigned from A.D. 117 to 138, instructing his pro-consul
Fundamus concerning the trials of Christians. The letter comes to us through
Justin, being appended to his "First Apology," and followed by two letters from the
two succeeding Emperors on the same subject. In Justin's copy of Adrian's epistle the
word Christian occurs once. Eusebius in copying Justin inserts it twice. In the next
epistle, that of Antoninus Pius, (A.D. 138-161,) which is about twice as long as that of
Adrian, the word Christian does not occur at all. But in the third letter, that of Aurelius,
(A.D. 161-180,) it occurs eight times in thirty-one consecutive lines. This edict is
believed by many to be a forgery , but even if not, the use of the word Christian
became quite general in the reign of Aurelius, though it may well be doubted whether it
was not Chrestian rather than Christian. It is pretty certain that Justin at the outset
wrote Chrestian, and this, coupled with the mention of Chrestus, by Suetonius,
renders it probable that in the epistle of Adrian, appended to Justin's Apology, the
original word was Chrestian; and it is quite likely that it was the same in the letter of
The result of our research may therefore be summed up thus:
The term Christian [see #18, 363-374, passim] is first used by Suetonius about A.D. 110, but the original word was probably Chrestian.
Its next occurrence is in the letter of Adrian, between A.D. 117 and 138, and there, also, it was probably Chrestian.
Then comes Justin, between A.D. 147 and 161, who at first most certainly, if not
always, wrote the word Chrestian. After that in the course of fifty years it became
popular, the term Chrestian meanwhile giving way to the more appropriate [?] one of
Christian.' [98-106] [End of Chapter XXIII.]. [These results?].
'The story of Nero's persecution of Christians is doubted by Gibbon; and now a well-known writer in the Edinburg Review [? (J.W. Ross? (see 1690))] proposes to prove that the "Annals" of Tacitus, from whence the story emanates, were forged by one Poggio Bracciolini [1380 - 1459], who died in 1459, having for forty years been apostolic secretary to seven successive Popes. Bracciolini was a fine scholar and competent to commit such a forgery [see 1690]. And
HERE IS ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE GOING TO SHOW THAT A PART OF THE
PASSAGE IN THE "ANNALS" CONCERNING THE PUNISHMENT OF THE
CHRISTIANS BY NERO IS PLAGIARIZED FROM SULPICIUS SEVERUS, AN
ELEGANT CHRISTIAN WRITER ABOUT THE YEAR 400
Out of twenty-five  consecutive Latin words in pseudo Tacitus, eighteen
[17?] are identical and consecutive in Severus. One passage, therefore, is certainly
plagiarized from the other. Now, does any rational man believe that the Christian
writer Severus would have failed to cite his authority for so important a passage, if the
"Annals" of Tacitus were then existing and contained it? Is it not far more likely that
Bracciolini plagiarized it from Severus as the basis of his impudent forgery?'
"*Translation of pseudo Tacitus [see above]: And derision was added to their
executions. Some were tied up in the skins of wild beasts that they might be worried to
death by dogs. Some were crucified, others were burned to death, being set up as
lights in the night time [this, is Martyrology!]." .
[See: 1673, 1690, 1703, 1705, (Tacitus)].
[Note: since placing the above, I found Louis Paret, and his evidence describing the
above, "Sulpicius Severus", as, another forgery! See Addition 36].
JESUS CHRIST, BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE DAYS OF AUGUSTUS CESAR [sic], AND CRUCIFIED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, IS DOUBTLESS A CREATION OF THE 2D CENTURY.
The New Testament Epistles and Apocalypse, most of which were written before the end of the 1st century, contain no hint of the existence of an earthly child Jesus, nor of his death in the reign of Tiberius, except in 1 Tim., vi, 13, where it is said that "Christ Jesus witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate."
But the Epistles to Timothy and Titus are forgeries of the 2d century, whereas the Apocalypse, written about A.D. 69, speaks of "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world," (xiii, 8), and of the Lord being crucified in "the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt," (xi, 8.)
In the Gospels which made their earliest appearance in the 2d century, we
find the story of the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus in the days of Augustus
IN THE WRITINGS OF THE SO-CALLED APOSTOLIC FATHERS WE LOOK IN VAIN FOR THE VIRGIN MARY, THE INFANT JESUS, OR THE CRUCIFIXION UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, UNTIL WE COME DOWN TO THE EPISTLES OF IGNATIUS, WHICH ARE CERTAINLY SPURIOUS, AND A LATE PRODUCT OF THE 2D CENTURY, IF NOT OF THE 3D [see #18, 365-366; 1706, 1740-1742, (Ignatius)].
This side of the Apostolic Fathers, who, as we have heretofore shown, knew none of the twelve Apostles, nor even the thirteenth Apostle Paul, Justin is the earliest real and authenticated Father. Indeed, he is as early as the two Apostolic Fathers Polycarp and Papias, who died about the same time that he did, all three being reputed martyrs between A.D. 163 and 168.
THE WRITINGS OF ALL THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS PRIOR TO AND CONTEMPORARY WITH JUSTIN [c. 100 - c. 165 [?]], DO NOT AGGREGATE MORE THAN TWO HUNDRED FULL PRINTED PAGES.
The undisputed [?] works of Justin [?] alone exceed those of all the
contemporary and prior Fathers.
JUSTIN APPEARS TO BE THE EARLIEST AUTHENTICATED [where? by whom? when? (see 1707-1709 (Justin))] CHRISTIAN WHO RECOGNIZES JESUS AS BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND CRUCIFIED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, and his information is derived from a Gospel not now extant, which he calls "Memoirs of the Apostles," and from the apocryphal "Acts of Pilate."
In Justin's time the Gnostics flourished in their zenith. They had a phantom Jesus who came down from Heaven, in the 15th year of Tiberius Cesar [sic], (Marcion's Gospel, A.D. 140,) and who only seemed to suffer crucifixion. They also had a Chreistos, who was one of the external uncreated Eons.
Of the writings of the Gnostics only a few fragments have come down to
us, such as the Catholic Fathers have seen fit to quote....' [344-346].
'Origen is indignant at Celsus for calling Jesus a carpenter, and says that "in none of the gospels current in the churches is Jesus himself ever described as being a carpenter," (vi, 36.)' . [See: #9, 222].
That the "Annals" of Tacitus were forged in the 15th century is now claimed to be demonstrated by the author of a book entitled "Tacitus and Bracciolini," London [J.W. Ross], 1878. We have already alluded to the announcement of such a work, (p. 176. [see 1688]) For forty years Poggio Bracciolini was a Papal secretary and competent to commit such a forgery. In 1422, while in the receipt of a starvation salary, he was tempted by an offer of 500 sequins (nearly $50,000) to engage in some mysterious literary work. Seven years later six books of the "Annals" were brought to him by a monk from Saxony. Then all Christendom rejoiced to learn that the heathen Tacitus had mentioned Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate. The discovery was worth the money. Poggio, though a father both spiritually and carnally, was not a husband till the age of 54. At 72 he accepted the office of Secretary to the Republic of Florence, and at 79 he died, leaving five sons of his old age. Up to the last he was a busy student and writer. Fifty-six years after his death his fourth son was secretary to Pope Leo X, at which time the Pope's steward, stimulated by a munificent reward, discovered the first six incomplete books of the "Annals"--probably the unfinished work of Poggio in his old age.
All we know of this new book is from an adverse critique in the Edinburgh
Review. We find among other internal evidences of forgery the parallel passage
from Sulpicius Severus, noticed by us on page 177 [see 1688]. The reviewer seems
to have made some good points against the author's classical scholarship, and that is
about all he has done, in our judgment, to shake the strong presumption at least of
forgery. His article concludes as follows:
"["The reviewer"] We have examined this curious volume ['"Tacitus and
Bracciolini"'] in considerable detail, not because we are at all convinced by it, or
that we doubt the authenticity of the 'Annals' of Tacitus, but because it
exemplifies in a striking manner the skeptical tendency of the age to attack the
authenticity of ancient writers. In our judgment the argument of Mr. Ross
against the proper authorship of Tacitus is at least as plausible and
ingenious as any of the recent attempts which have been made to shake
the authority of the 4th Gospel; and if a similar catena of objections could be
urged against any of the books of the canon of Scripture, we should probably be
told that criticism had achieved a signal triumph over theological tradition. The
truth is, that in such questions the probability lies on the side of LONG
TRADITION, and it requires stronger evidence than this volume contains to
We are quite satisfied with the concession that the dark cloud on the title of the
"Annals" is at least as dark as that on the 4th Gospel. And as for "long tradition" we
think it will be found a little too long [intended meaning of "too long"? (in the sense of
"stretched"?)] to prove Christ crucified under Pontius Pilate.' [423-424] [End of text].
from: Faiths of Man Encyclopedia of Religions, in Three Volumes, J.G.R. Forlong [1824 - 1904], Introduction by Margery Silver, University Books, 1964 (1906).
[a Classic!]. [reprint available from Ballantrae Reprint].
'Ignatius ["c. 35 - c. 107" [?]]. An early Christian father supposed to have seen
the apostles; but all legends and epistles connected with him are untrustworthy,
being of late origin, or at best works that have ben garbled by late writers. He is
mentioned in the Epistle of Polycarp, but two references in Origen's works may be
interpolations. Eusebius (Chronicon) makes him bishop of Antioch in 71 A.C. [see
#18, 365-366 (Ignatius)], and a martyr in 109 A.C., but elsewhere (Hist. Eccles.) says
"AS THE STORY GOES." Eight of his supposed epistles are acknowledged
forgeries, seven others appear in Syriak, Greek, and Latin, in various discordant
recensions [recension = "revised form", etc.]; and the earliest allusion to these
seven is in Eusebius. Bishop Lightfoot [Joseph Barber Lightfoot 1828 - 1889]
expends much learning on the defence of these letters. Dr Killen concludes that they
are "forgeries, and the arguments of Polycarp and Irenaeus thereon weak and
inconclusive." The intention of the writers, and of the later interpolators, was the
maintenance of sacerdotal pretentions.'  [End of entry].
'Justin Martyr [c. 100 - c. 165 [?]]. The existence of this father, and the authenticity of his writings have been questioned by Judge Strange [see 1707-1709] and other writers. He is said to have been the son of Priscus, son of Bacchius, born near Shechem in Palestine (Apol., I, i), and converted by witnessing Christian constancy under persecution (Apol., II, xii), and by the influence of a stranger (Trypho, ii). He had been a Stoik, a Peripatetik, a Pythagorean, and a Platonist. His dispute with Trypho (thought to be Rabbi Tarphon) is traditionally supposed to have occurred as Ephesus; and his quarrel with Crescens the Cynic at Rome led (as Eusebius asserts or guesses) to his martyrdom. He makes Christ to be the Son of God and the Logos, and gives an interesting account of the simple rites of Christians in Palestine, which then involved neither a priesthood nor a ritual. His conversion is supposed to have occurred in 132 A.C., and his martyrdom under Antonius Pius in 167 A.C. Yet he is supposed to have addressed his 2nd Apology to Marcus Aurelius, saying that "now the pious are persecuted as they never were before," which perhaps disposes of earlier persecutions (see Donaldson's Histy. of Christian Literature, iii, p. 230). Dr Sanday [William Sanday 1843 - 1920] says that "not one half of the writings attributed to him are genuine." He is said to have converted Tatian (see Tatian), and he believed that Christ was born in a cave (see Bethlehem). He received a good education in Greek and Latin, and [Justin Martyr] is said to make 100 citations from the New Testament; yet, as now known, only seven of these agree with our text, and only two are identical according to Bishop Wescott [Brooke Foss Westcott 1825 - 1901]. Justin notices the Memoirs of the Apostles (see Didaché), and speaks of Jesus as descended from David through Mary (see Joseph): he was acquainted apparently with other non-canonical Christian books, and speaks of the Jordan [river] as catching fire at Christ's baptism. The evidence of such works as the Apology, as affecting the age and text of the Bible, is now admitted to be of very doubtful value (see Bible).' [347-348 [End of entry].
'Philo [see 1554-1579]. Called "Philo the Jew" and "the Jewish Plato." He was born about 10 or 20 B.C. (Josephus, Ant., XVIII, viii, 1), and was a priest according to Jerome (De Vir. Illustr., 11). As far as is known he lived always in Alexandria, but in 40 A.C. he was sent by the Jews on an important deputation, to urge their grievances against the Greeks before the Emperor Caligula in Rome; this is the only date certainly known in his history. He was a great writer, and of good family, well acquainted with what was happening to his own race; yet he [PHILO] NEVER ALLUDES TO CHRIST AT ALL, OR TO THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN 30 AND 63 A.C. He busied himself with the endeavour to reconcile Hebrew tradition with Greek philosophy, as many learned Jews had done for more than a century before his birth. He has been called a "multiple minded syncretist," vainly attempting to find a standpoint that would enable him still to be a Jew while accepting what was supposed to be science--the ideas of Plato, and of the Alexandrian Platonists. He [Philo] thus became the greatest of allegorisers [compare: apologists; "Spin Doctors"], so EXPLAINING AWAY THE FOLK-LORE OF HIS BIBLE, AND SPEAKING WITH CONTEMPT OF THOSE WHO RECEIVED IT AS A LITERAL ACCOUNT OF ACTUAL EVENTS. He [Philo] identified the Logos of Plato with the Jewish conception of Wisdom (see Logos); but he would have smiled at any who maintained that it ["Logos"] became incarnate and was born of a virgin. He did not admit that God was the creator of man, but thought that he "fashioned" matter into a world. God, he taught, is unconditioned, but Hule ("matter") and Ousia ("being") formed the body of man, which (as Plato had also said) is the prison where the soul undergoes probation. His works are of three classes: (1) Questions connected with scripture; (2) allegories to be understood in the holy law; and (3) expositions of the scriptures to explain and defend them to Gentiles. His tract on the Contemplative Life (see Essenes) is regarded as a spurious work [since, due to F.C. Conybeare, et al., not "regarded as a spurious work"]. With Philo the Logos was the "immanent reason" of God, "His son...born of the immaculate virgin Sophia (wisdom)...neither unbegotten, as is God, nor begotten as we are." The Logos is "God and Lord"; and he speaks of "the two potencies, goodness and power," in equally mystic language: for in such allegorical expressions the theologian loses himself. Into this theosophy of heterogeneous materials Philo introduced some of the wiser doctrines of the Epikureans and Stoiks. The heroes and miracles of his Bible he regarded with doubt; and, as Dr Drummond [James Drummond 1835 - 1918 (Philo Judaeus, 2 vols., 1888) (Ox. Dict. C.C.)] says, he is by his own showing, "a sceptic who really believed only in the uncertainty of all knowledge, and the duty of suspense of judgment." He was a true type of the Alexandrian philosopher of his day, holding outwardly to the old faith, but explaining away all that he could not credit, and so disposing, with skill and tact, of what had been regarded as divine revelation. The "fruit trees in Eden" were "virtues planted in the soul by God"; the six days of creation (which we are now told were six ages) were, according to Philo, merely expressions for "orderly creation"; for six is a sacred number signifying "perfect production." Thus he [Philo] followed the Stoiks in explaining away, rather than absolutely denying, the old myths. The
difficulties to be surmounted were created by man himself, and were due to the
advance of human thought and understanding, which rendered primitive ideas
obsolete. Some have regarded his painful attempts to reconcile beliefs once dear to
him with later ideas as mere learned trifling, whereby Abraham and Moses become
Logoi, Isaac personifies "laughter," and Sarah is "virtue"; but we may learn from Philo
the follies into which we may fall when departing from the firm ground of real
knowledge; for he [Philo] seems to have forgotten his own ruling "to suspend
judgment when evidence was wanting or insufficient." Nor did such tampering with
tradition save his credit as a Jew. He was even imprisoned for a time, and is
regarded by Clement of Alexandria [c. 150 - c. 215] as a Pythagorean.'
[120-122] [End of entry]. [See: 1554-1579 (Philo)].
from: A Rationalist Encyclopaedia, A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy,
Ethics, and Science, John McCabe, Watts, 1950 (1948).
"Strange, Thomas Lumsden (1808-84), judge. He was a son of the Indian
judge, Sir T.L. Strange, and he became in his turn a Judge of the High Court in India.
In 1852 he published an orthodox book, The Light of Prophecy, but, while he remained
a Theist, he abandoned Christianity and severely criticized it in several pamphlets of
the Scott series and in The Bible (1871), The Sources and Development of
Christianity (1876 ), and other works." .
from: The Dictionary of National Biography, Founded in 1882 by George Smith,
edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, From the earliest times to 1900,
Volume XIX, Published since 1917 by the Oxford University Press.
"Strange, Thomas Lumisden (1808-1884), judge and writer, born on 4 Jan.
1808, was eldest son of Sir Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange [q.v.] He was
educated at Westminster school, and on leaving in 1823 went out to his father in India,
becoming a writer in the East India Company's civil service at Madras in 1825. He was
appointed an assistant-judge and joint criminal judge on 24 June 1831, became sub-judge at Calicut in 1843 and civil and sessions judge at Tellicherry in 1845, was a
special commissioner for investigating the Molpah disturbances in Malabar in 1852,
and for inquiring into the system of judicature in the presidency of Madras in 1859, and
was made judge of the high court of judicature in 1862. He resigned on 2 May 1863.
He compiled a 'Manual of Hindoo Law,' 1856, taking his father's work as a basis. This
reached a second edition in 1863. He also published 'A Letter to the Governor of Fort
St. George on Judicial Reform' (1860).
While in India he was much interested in religious subjects. In 1852 he published 'The Light of Prophecy' and 'Observations on Mr. Elliott's "Horae Apocalypticae."' Subsequently he was so impressed by observing a supposed convert at the gallows proclaim his faith to be in Rama, not in Christ, that, on examining Christian evidence, his own faith in Christianity broke down. He never ceased to be a pious theist. He explained his position in 'How I became and ceased to be a Christian,' and many other pamphlets for the series published in 1872-1875 by Thomas Scott (1808-1878) [q.v.]; these publications were afterwards collected and issued as 'Contributions to a Series of Controversial Writings' (1881). Larger works by Strange were: 1. 'The Bible: is it the Word of God?' 1871. 2. 'The Speaker's Commentary reviewed,' 1871. 3. 'The Legends of the Old Testament traced to their apparent Primitive Sources,' 1874. 4. 'The Development of Creation on the Earth,' 1874. 5. 'The Sources and Development of Christianity,' 1875. 6. 'What is Christianity?' 1880. Though far [?] from a brilliant writer ["The Sources and Development of Christianity" (excepting the "Preface"), I consider (for this genre) brilliant], he was a diligent student, and was always an earnest advocate of practical piety in life and conduct. Strange died at Norwood on 4 Sept. 1884.
[Barker and Stenning's Westminster School Register, p. 221; Wheeler's Dictionary of Freethinkers; Brit. Mus. Cat.] J.M.W. [Joseph M. Wheeler]" [28-29].
from: A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century, J. M. Robertson
[1856 - 1933], Vol. II, Watts, 1929.
It has been fairly claimed that, though Pierson and Loman did not in their day
set on foot a forward critical movement either in their own or in any other country, they
are to be recognized as the first modern propounders of the [Jesus] Myth-Theory
in a serious and scholarly form. The fact that later writers reopened the question
independently is but the proof that, apart from translations, Dutch has been little read
even in Germany, and less in England. At the same time it is fitting to note that,
even apart from Dupuis and Volney and the later Bruno Bauer, they had an
[the "English predecessor" was Robert Taylor
(Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809] was prior to Robert Taylor [1784 - 1844]. Why this
author (J.M. Robertson), and all others, never mention Thomas Paine, in this regard, I
do not know)].
To say nothing of the English freethinkers of Bolingbroke's day who, as
Voltaire mentions, denied the historicity of Jesus [see #3, 85], it is to be remembered
that in the first generation of the nineteenth century Robert Taylor, author of the
Diegesis and the Devil's Pulpit, had propounded very definitely the non-historicity
doctrine on critical grounds, in a work [Syntagma] of 128 pages, dated 1828, in
vindication of an earlier manifesto ["Manifesto of the Christian Evidence Society"
(date?)].1 Here the arguments of his other works are vehemently colligated [colligate =
"group together", etc.] and developed. His previous contentions had been rejected with
unmeasured scurrility on the Christian side, his fire being met with fury. To this he
retorts with a fire which is rather more scathing than persuasive, even for a friendly
reader. But Taylor's exuberance and extravagance, genially noted by Hennell [Charles
Christian Hennell 1809 - 1847], does not nullify his stringent attack alike on the gospel
records in respect of their history and on the whole body of their narratives. His
criticism of the documents as such, based on the whole apparatus criticus, was as
furiously denounced as his inferences.
As to the problem of the historicity of Jesus he [Robert Taylor] follows the untenable [?] assumption that the gospel narratives are not merely paralleled by but derived from the similar legends of India, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. The scholarly inquiry calls for a much closer analysis of the process of growth and composition. But Taylor's general criticism of the assumption of historicity is on the line of the modern argument, and raises the central issues. Of the Syntagma, as of his work in general, the outstanding lesson appears to be that little effect on thought is to be won by pyrotechnics. Yet he [ROBERT TAYLOR] had a good many later readers, and INFLUENCED, AMONG OTHERS, JUDGE STRANGE [1808 - 1844]." .
'...'The Speakers Commentary Reviewed' (1871), by Thomas Lumisden Strange,
"late a judge of the High Court of Madras, and author of 'The Bible: Is it the Word of
God?'" Judge Strange...remains one of the more interesting polemists of the time
on the freethinking side.
"A highly religious man ["Judge Strange"]," writes J.M. Wheeler,1 "and
long, an evangelical Christian, he joined the Plymouth Brethren, and ended in
being a strong and then [a] weak Theist......When judge, he sentenced a
Brahmin to death, and sought to bring the prisoner 'to Jesus.'" The Brahmin
'professed himself influenced, but at the gallows he proclaimed his trust to be in
Rama and not in Christ. This set the judge [Thomas L. Strange] thinking [see
No one could have divined evangelical antecedents from 'The Speaker's
Commentary Reviewed,' though it sets out with the then usual proclamation of
confident theism. The unscholarly and uncandid compromises of the Commentary
in question, which moved Kuenen to grave protest,2 are by STRANGE ASSAILED,
EXPOSED, AND RIDICULED WITH AN IRONY WHICH AT TIMES VERGES ON THE
VOLTAIREAN. As a pungent and many-sided indictment of clerical chicane3 it
leaves little to be desired save gravity, which is however attained in the closing
chapters; and though it dealt with only the first instalment of the Commentary under
review it probably had a monitory influence on the later contributors. Of Strange's later
works, 'The Sources and Development of Christianity' (1875) [see 1697] was
perhaps the most influential, but his [Thomas L. Strange] book on 'The Bible' was a
telling piece of propaganda.' [508-509].
from: The Sources and Development of Christianity [see 1573-1579], by Thomas
Lumisden Strange [1808 - 1884], Late a Judge of the High Court of Madras.
Indra's reply to the supplication of Sunehsepha.
London: Trubner & Co., 57 and 59 Ludgate Hill, 1875. [Received, and first seen,
6/28/2000]. [I thank Daniel M. Tredwell (see Addition 26, 1214) for this author].
"By the same author. The Bible; Is It the Word of God?...The Speaker's Commentary
Reviewed....The Development of Creation on the Earth....The Legends of the Old
Testament. Traced to their Apparent Primitive Sources." [opposite title page].
The volume I now present completes a series of works undertaken by me in view of examining the pretensions of the Bible to be the Word of God. The questions I have hitherto dealt with are the canons of the Old and New Testaments; the supports thought to be supplied by miracles and prophecies; the historical character of the gospel accounts of Jesus as a supernatural being; the great Aryan migration as having influenced India, Persia, and Europe, and the consequent spread of mythologies and other religious conceptions from the East to the West; the pretensions of the Jewish nation to be the people of God, and the true character of their prominent legends; the processes of creation as traceable from actual phenomena; and the antiquity of the earth and its human inhabitants. For these inquiries I have endeavoured to qualify myself by an extensive course of reading, and as I have been careful at every point to state my authorities, I give others the opportunity of instructing and satisfying themselves on these interesting subjects that I myself have had, and can thus leave them to their conclusions.
THE PRECEDING EFFORTS HAVE BEEN DESIGNED AS STEPPING-STONES TO MY PRESENT PRODUCTION, IN WHICH I AIM AT EXPOSING THE
TRUE CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANITY. My qualification here is that for many years I
was as firmly bound to the system as any of its most devout adherents, and that as no
one can more absolutely than myself have thrown off its shackles, in favour of what I
believe to be the only true basis of religious faith and confidence. I am able to trace for
others the grounds upon which they may possibly make the same progress that I have
done, out of the bondage of a humanly constructed creed, to the liberty and the
satisfaction to mind and conscience obtainable only by reliance on a real and natural
"THE CONCLUSIONS TO WHICH I HAVE COME IS THAT THERE IS A VERY DECIDED GAP BETWEEN THE OCCURRENCE OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE ERA ASSERTED FOR THE FACTS ALLEGED AS THOSE ON WHICH THE SYSTEM HAS ITS FOUNDATIONS. It follows that the facts themselves, so bound in an historical expression of them at a particular period, cannot have been enacted, and that the creed has otherwise to be accounted for.
IT WILL BE ASKED, CAN THIS POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN SO? CAN THE GREAT CIRCUMSTANCES ATTACHING TO CHRISTIANITY HAVE BEEN ASSERTED AND BELIEVED IN WHILE DESTITUTE OF ANY TRUE REALITY?
That a religious movement based upon the allegation of superhuman agency
and divine revelation, but in truth wanting in such supports, may take effect, we have
seen illustrated in our own days by the uprise and growth of Mormonism. If Joseph
Smith [see Addition 26, 1211-1212], by means of a declared angelic visitation, and a
miraculously provided record, and so lately as in the year 1844, could operate upon
multitudes with his newly-devised religious scheme, it may be readily understood
that a similar feat, without much difficulty, may have been performed in the remote and
ignorant days of the occurrence of Christianity...."
"My work concludes with those moulds for Christianity, and especially for its
central personage [Jesus Christ], which have been derived from Greek, Egyptian,
Buddhist, and Hindú mythologies." [xiii].
'At one time my duties in India involved the charge of a jail and attendance at the
executions of criminals. Trials calling for the sentence of death had to be referred to
the superior court at Madras, for whose benefit the whole of the examinations had to be
translated. There was always thus in these cases a considerable interval between the
trial and the sentence and its execution. I was then a devout Christian, and USED
TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MY OPPORTUNITIES [Familiar? The history of
Christianism ("Christianity")! "Christian Love"--the Love of Captive Audiences!] to
"bring" the prisoners who were in these risks "to Jesus." They were ordinarily of
the uneducated class, but one was otherwise, having been a servitor in a pagoda. He
had professed himself influenced by what I had put before him, but when we met at
the gallows he proclaimed his trust to be in Ráma, and not in Christ. He died
earnestly calling upon his fancied mediator and saviour. What are we to say to such a
phenomenon? Ráma's character is painted in the most exalted colours, and is
described in a history considered to be an embodiment of divine truth. Ráma was a
god incarnate, devoting himself for the good of mankind. What is there to induce
a follower of his to relinquish him for just such another form ["Christ"] presented
to him from a foreign quarter? And do a man's eternal prospects depend upon his
critical selection of the true history? Happily the means are ample for our extrication
from any such dilemma, and, as I may acknowledge to have been the case in my own
instance when I was involved in these meshes, it is simply ignorance of the true
character of the materials before us, coupled with a vein of superstition,
inherited, working round us, and cultivated in us from early youth, that forges
those bonds in which mankind are held to the prevailing baseless expressions of
Great Malvern [Worcestershire, England], March 1875.' [xiii-xiv] [End of Preface].
'....In respect of Josephus, he [Eusebius] has endorsed the remarkable
passages introduced into his writings relative to Jesus, John the Baptist, and James the
Lord's brother (i. 11; ii. 13). It is not to the credit of our author's critical acumen
that he should have supposed that one remaining a devout Jew should have
written of these personages with the degree of acceptance proper only to one
who was himself a Christian. Of these the statement of the most importance, namely,
that concerning Jesus as the Christ, is first brought to notice by Eusebius himself, while
Origen's writings show it had no existence in the works of Josephus in his day.
Another of these passages, namely one of those relating to James the Just, appears to
have been expunged from Josephus some centuries after the time of Eusebius; that is,
it has been given up by the Christians themselves. I have to treat more particularly of
these circumstances hereafter in dealing with the testimony of Josephus.
Finally, Eusebius, in building up his history [Ecclesiastical History], puts
together circumstances that could not possibly have co-existed. He has constant
recurrences of martyrdoms, all that was required to bring down the visitation being the
acknowledgement by the accused that he was a Christian. Directly ["As soon as"] this
confession was made death was inflicted, the heathen requiring to hear no more (Ec.
Hist. v. I). And yet we are called upon to believe [see #3, 59, 295. (Gibbon)] that at
these very times there were long successions of Christian bishops openly maintained
at Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, Laodicea, and Caesarea, that there were
frequent controversial writings indited to put down heresies, and that formal apologies
for Christianity were addressed in writing to the Roman authorities.
So far for the reliance we are to place in Eusebius as a competent critic groping his way in the midst of scanty and questionable materials. Then we have to view him in the aspect of a digester of facts in an age of unhesitating credulity. Of the incredibilities that we have had before us, he accepts as true the portents described by Josephus as having occurred at the siege of Jerusalem; the miraculous powers of the early Christians reported by Papias and Irenaeus, including the restoration of life to the dead; the demoniacal agency spoken of by Irenaeus; and the marvels that are said to have occurred at the martyrdom of Polycarp (Ec. Hist. iii. 8, 39; iv. 15; v. 7). We have seen him also endorse the miraculous execution of the Septuagint translation, alleging that this incorrect version is to be accepted as of divine accuracy, notwithstanding also its serious disagreements with what the Hebrews present to us as the original text. He narrates, as possibly the case, that the army of Marcus Aurelius was refreshed by a shower of rain, brought down by the prayers of Christian soldiers in one of his legions (v. 5); he records as credible that the apostle John raised one from the dead at Ephesus (v. 18); he gives us the tale of one Natalius being "lashed by holy angels through the whole night," on account of heresy, and showing the marks of his castigation in order to be readmitted as a penitent to communion (v. 27); he speaks of miracles being wrought by one Narcissus, among which was the conversion of water into oil to supply the deacons at the time of their vigils during "the great watch of the passover" (vi. 9); he says, that on a certain festival day a victim was thrown into the springs of the Jordan, and this, "by the power of the daemon, in some wonderful manner entirely disappeared," but that when one Astyrius prayed to God, through Christ, "to refute this seducing daemon, the victim immediately floated on the stream," and the marvel was put an end to (vii. 17); he
tells us, moreover, that when martyrs were cast before wild beasts for destruction, by the power of Christ, "the devouring wild beasts would not dare either to touch or to approach the bodies of these pious men." "They would not," he goes on to say, "even touch the holy wrestlers standing naked and striking at them with their hands, as they were commanded, in order to irritate the beasts against them. Sometimes, indeed, they would also rush upon them, but, as if repulsed by some divine power, they again retreated;" so that in the end the martyrs had to be disposed of with the sword. "At these scenes," the author assures us, "we have been present ourselves, when we also observed the divine power of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself present, and effectually displayed in them" (viii. 7).
Such is the writer who has supplied us with all we have of the early history
of Christianity over the first three centuries of its alleged prevalence. On the
proper apprehension of the testimonies belonging to this important period the true
character of the movement seriously depends. From the time of Eusebius and
Constantine, the system was in open exercise. How it stood in the previous centuries
rests upon the writings that have descended to us, and the marshallings of our author.
Of these writings a large proportion are condemned as apocryphal; that is, they were
written when and by whom we know not, and are destitute of authority. The task is
therefore ever before us of selecting the possibly genuine out of a mass of
assuredly spurious productions. OF THE ACCEPTED SCRIPTURES, THE
GOSPELS, AND ACTS, WHICH ARE THE PORTIONS CONVEYING HISTORICAL
MATERIALS, ARE REALLY ANONYMOUS, AND NO COMPETENT CRITIC ASSIGNS
THEM A TIME EARLIER THAN THE COURSE OF THE SECOND CENTURY. The
true fact is that it is as uncertain when or by whom they were written, as it is
when or how we have any of the recognized Apocrypha. For what else is
presented to us in the earliest Christian literature, we are dependent upon no
better source than Eusebius. ....' [14-16].
"....There are certain passages [forged] in the works of this author [Josephus], connected with Christianity, which demand immediate attention. The first is that celebrated statement appearing relative to the Christ, to which I have already alluded as a recognized forgery. ...." .
'The absence, then, of all contemporaneous Jewish support to the history
attaching to Christ is fatal to the integrity of this history.
Pagan writers were not under equal obligations to have noticed him, but Christian advocates have looked to this source wherewith to fortify themselves, and it is necessary, therefore, that it should be considered. Mr. Robert Taylor, in his Diegesis, has brought together all that is traced to classic authors bearing upon Christianity. Some of these supposed advertences [observations, etc.] are too indistinct to call for observation. Others need only to be pointed to as generally acknowledged forgeries, such as the report of Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius, which I have already had occasion to refer to, the description of the person of Jesus Christ attributed to Publius Lentulus, the marvellous impression of his features on the Veronica handkerchief, and the corroboration of the darkness said to have occurred at the crucifixion ascribed to Phlegon. These are instances of the active endeavours set on foot to support Christianity by means the resort to which would not have been thought of HAD REAL EVIDENCE BEEN AVAILABLE.
Practically, the question may be narrowed to the consideration of what may
have been said by three of these authors, namely, Pliny the younger (A.D. 106-110), Tacitus (A.D. 107), and Suetonius (A.D. 110). The subject has been carefully
examined by two able writers in Mr. Scott's [Thomas Scott 1808 - 1878] series, one
the learned author [apparently, anonymous] of "Our First Century," who rejects the
evidence as spurious [apparently, in: "(Primitive Church History, 57 Mr. Scott's series)"
], and the other, Mr. Edward Vansittart Neale, who, in his article entitled "The
Mythical Element in Christianity," upholds it.' [31-32].
'Pliny is represented as addressing the Emperor Trajan for instructions
how to deal with Christians as a class of people he had to put down by forcible
measures. He says, "Having never been present at any trials concerning those
persons who are Christians, I am unacquainted not only with the nature of their crimes,
or the measure of their punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination
concerning them." It is impossible to conceive a Roman pro-counsul in the
[keep in mind: this is Judge Thomas Strange, former prominent jurist in India
(see 1694 (Dict. Nat. Bio.)), reacting, c. 1875]
The duty before him was of the simplest character, and he could have required no one to inform him that when parties were brought before him as deserving punishment, it was for him to call upon their accusers to say of what they were guilty, and to prove their allegations. Pliny is then made to exhibit his helplessness still further. Not knowing "well what is the subject matter of punishment, or of inquiry," he is furthermore "perplexed to determine whether any difference ought to be made on account of age, or whether the young and tender, and the full-grown and robust ought to be treated all alike; whether repentance should entitle to pardon, or whether all who have once been Christians ought to be punished, though they are now no longer so." Truly here is a measure of ineptitude impossible to have existed on the
part of any functionary of the law, and still less on that of the ruler of a province in direct relations with the emperor. He does not know what to inquire about, or what to do; he is ignorant even whether he is to make a distinction between the guilty and the guiltless; and on questions of mere moral import he wonders whether he is to measure the thews [customs, etc.] and sinews [strengths, etc.] of the possible delinquents! After this he proceeds to describe his course of action. "In the meanwhile," he says, "the method I have observed towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this: I interrogate them whether they were Christians; if they confessed I repeated the question twice, adding threats at the same time; and if they persevered I ordered them to be executed immediately." So that we have Pliny represented as entirely ignorant what the crime of being a Christian involved, feeling that discrimination of circumstances should be exercised in meting out some punishment to them, the nature and scale of which he was, however, incompetent to judge of, needing guidance from the Emperor, and yet boldly proceeding to threaten the accused with consequences unless they abandoned he knew not what, and on their refusal executing them all, and informing the Emperor that he had done so. THIS CAN BE NO REPORT OF ANY ACTUALITIES, BUT SIMPLY SCENE-PAINTING OF A VERY INARTISTIC KIND. After this, strange to say, Pliny is made to appear fully aware of all that it concerned him to know of the Christian tenets. He applies to the accused the test of paying divine honours to the statue of the emperor and the images of the gods, and of reviling Christ; he describes their meetings and worship of Christ as God, their resolutions against all evil practices, their coming together to partake of a "common and innocent repast," and his having ascertained, through "putting to the torture two women who were called deaconesses," that there was "nothing" to be "discovered," connected with the adherents to Christianity, "beyond an austere and excessive superstition." On this he determined, he says, to adjourn the trials, and await instructions, proceeding, however, to notice that the new faith had been spreading itself over the whole land, and rendering the temples deserted. IT IS EASY TO SEE HERE THE HAND OF THE PAINTER. WE HAVE ONE SCHEMING TO MAKE THE BEST POSSIBLE REPRESENTATION OF HIS CREED, AND TO MAGNIFY ITS SUCCESS. Those who followed this creed were, even under the description of their persecutors, the holiest and most blameless of men, suffering death without a cause, and yet covering the land with converts. The Romans were tolerant of all religions, and it would therefore have been a direct violation of the laws and policy of Rome for any one to have acted towards a body of harmless people with the senseless brutality attributed to Pliny. But the Emperor's reply to his subordinate is said to have been "mild and merciful." "He approves of the governor's conduct, as explained in his letter," says that the Christians are not to be sought for, nor anonymous accusations against them received, and that the test to be applied when they were brought up was to be their consent to worship the Roman divinities (Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography). In short, THE REPLY IS ONE IN APPEARANCE ONLY, AND DESTITUTE OF REALITIES. It neither rebukes the subordinate who stands committed to the extremes of feebleness and cruelty, nor gives him any solid instructions for his future guidance.' [32-34].
'The testimony imputed to Tacitus is associated with Nero and the burning of Rome (A.D. 64). A report was spread about that Nero had ordered the conflagration, on which Tacitus is made to say, that to suppress the rumour Nero "falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. The founder of that name," he adds, "one Christus, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius; but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged."
The question first to be considered, is the presence of Christians at Rome in the
64. According to the Acts of the Apostles, and the marginal chronology in the
authorized version, Paul as on the spot the previous year, and so little were the
Christians known of any where in that region that the chief Jews of the place, on his
arrival, beg him to tell them what they were to think of the movement. They knew
nothing of the accusations Paul is said to have lain under as a leader of the party, and
say, "We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we
know that everywhere it is spoken against" (xxviii. 22). Thereupon he preaches to them
as to people who heard of Christianity from his lips then for the first time. This account
in the Acts absolutely negatives the statement attributed to Paul in the Epistle to the
Romans, that there was already at Rome a church whose "faith" was "spoken of
throughout the whole world" (i. 8).
THEN WE HAVE JOSEPHUS AT ROME FROM THE YEAR 70 TILL THE CLOSE OF
THE CENTURY, KNOWING NOTHING OF THE EXISTENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.
THE PASSAGE APPEARING IN TACITUS IS NOT NOTICED BY SUCH WRITERS AS
TERTULLIAN, CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, AND ABOVE ALL EUSEBIUS.
Tertullian and Eusebius have the representations ascribed to Pliny the younger in his alleged letter to Trajan, but show no acquaintance with that in Tacitus [curiosities in this sentence]. They also appear to have been unaware of the particular persecution connected with the burning of Rome therein described. This fact, but without citation of any authority for it from Tacitus or any other, Mr Vansittart Neale allows is first met with in the writings of Sulpicius Severus at the close of the fourth century [see 1688]. The earliest MSS [Manuscripts] of Tacitus, containing the passage in question, Mr Neale further states, are two that are traceable to the monastery of Casino, said in the years 1427 and 1428 to have been copied there in the eleventh [?] century [see 1690; etc.].
The testimony for the passage under consideration is thus on all sides the
reverse of satisfactory. The act imputed to Nero [see 1629] is such an instance of
wanton atrocity resorted to in connection with an event of historic notoriety, that no
writers occupied with the trials of the early Christians could have failed to have
noticed it, HAD THERE BEEN SUCH AN OCCURRENCE; there is even room to
conclude that there were no Christians at Rome at the time in question to have
been so dealt with; at length, three centuries and a half after the period of Nero, some
one, in depicting his crimes, brings against him this charge of sacrificing Christians as
the incendiaries of his capital, but without quoting Tacitus for the circumstance; and at
length, about a thousand years after the era of Tacitus, the passage before us
makes its appearance [see 1690]; and it comes to us under the very suspicious
hand of a monkist copyist.
THERE IS PERHAPS NO SOURCE OF APPARENT
INDEPENDENT TESTIMONY FOR THE EXISTENCE OF
CHRISTIANITY IN ITS FIRST ALLEGED AGE, TO WHICH ITS
ADVOCATES MORE CONFIDENTLY APPEAL, THAN THIS
STATEMENT IN THE WORK OF THE RENOWNED HISTORIAN
but the integrity of the passage, it may be seen, rests upon no true foundations.
TO THE MULTITUDE OF THE FABRICATIONS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN TIMES,
THIS PIECE OF EVIDENCE MAY BE ADDED; NOR IS IT TRACEABLE TO THE
FIRST AGES, BUT BELONGS TO A PERIOD AND A CLASS OF PERSONS
[apparently, Catholics] UNIVERSALLY MISTRUSTED IN PROTESTANT CIRCLES.'
'The statement ascribed to Suetonius also relates to the times of Nero. He
says of Nero, as it is represented, that
"many severe regulations and new orders were made in his time. A sumptuary ["controlling extravangance", etc.] law (to check expense in banquets), was enacted. Public supers were limited to the sportulae; and victualling-houses were restrained from selling any dressed victuals, except pulse and herbs, whereas before they sold all kinds of meat. He likewise inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sort of people who held a new and mischievous superstition. He forbade the revels of the charioteers, who had long assumed a licence to stroll about, and established for themselves a kind of prescriptive right to cheat and thieve, making a jest of it. The partisans of the rival theatrical performers were banished, as well as the actors themselves."
It is clear that the enactments the author referred to related to the habits and amusements of the people which the Roman emperor desired to place under close limitations. He sought to repress extravagance in living, and in public entertainments. The creed and destinies of the Christians had nothing to do with the subject matter in hand. The notice of them has been apparently thrust in by some foreign hand between what relates to victualling-houses and the revels of charioteers. The early Christian writers, embracing Tertullian and Eusebius, knew nothing of this passage; and Melito, an apologist said to be of the latter part of the second century, clears the Roman emperors to his day of any formal acts for the repression of Christianity by violent measures. He says, professedly addressing Marcus Antonius, "For now the race of the pious is persecuted, an event that never took place before" (Donaldson, Hist. of Christian Lit. III, 230)....
Melito may thus be said to be bear a testimony rebutting what is imputed to both these authors, supporting thus the conclusion that their evidence has been made up since his day. With this the testimony of Lactantius, who died A.D. 325, accords. He [Lactantius] seems to have known of no persecution of Christians earlier than the time of Decius, A.D. 249-251 (Prim. Church Hist., 64-68). "One thing is certain," observes the author I now cite, "namely, that outside the church there does not appear to be any trace of the Christians prior to the persecution of them, A. [A.D.] 249, ordered by Decius."
But whatever may be thought of the genuineness of the statements we have been considering attributed to these Roman authors, they do not suffice to support the actual pretensions of Christianity. They merely serve to show that there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who suffered death under Pontius Pilate, and was the founder of a religious sect. Of his divine nativity, his miraculous displays of power, his resurrection and ascension, they say nothing; and by passing over such marvellous circumstances in entire silence, these writers, if they did treat of Christ, effectually disallow that he was an incarnate God, exhibiting himself as such, and openly and outwardly recognized as such by manifestations from heaven.
The learned author [see 1701] of Primitive Church History notices the
suspicious gap we have in this branch of the evidence offered for Christianity. "Is it
possible," he asks, "that Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny (junior), and Tacitus, really
knew more about Jesus Christ than those early apologists for the Christians"
(Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus), "who never name him? Or is it possible,
that if 'great multitudes of Christians,' during our first century, attracted the
attention of one Jewish [Josephus] and three Pagan [Suetonius, Pliny, Tacitus]
writers, who flourished towards the end of that period, that not even one Pagan
writer would have taken notice of so remarkable a sect during the whole of our
second century." "The fact," he observes,
"(1), that there is not any Pagan writer of our second century who mentions the
(2), that those early apologists never mention Jesus or Christ,
AMOUNT ALMOST TO POSITIVE PROOF THAT THE PASSAGES REGARDING THE CHRISTIANS NOW FOUND IN JOSEPHUS, SUETONIUS, PLINY (junior), AND TACITUS, ARE FORGERIES" (15).' [36-37].
'There are fifteen epistles attributed to Ignatius. Of these eight, which are
not mentioned by either Eusebius or Jerome, are universally disallowed as
spurious. Of the seven acknowledged by Eusebius there are two Greek recensions,
and it has been a great question which of the two should be accepted. The shorter
version has been commonly preferred, but it has been objected to by such critics as
Jortin, Mosheim, Griesbach, Neander, and Lardner, as well as others, and that both
have been interpolated is commonly allowed (Antenicene Christian Library, Introductory
Notice). In 1845 Dr Cureton brought to light Syriac versions of three of the accepted
epistles which throw a doubt upon the Greek collections (Super. Rel. [Supernatural
Religion (see: www.christianism.com, Bibliography, Walter Richard Cassels (page 633
in my original))], I., 264). Eusebius gives a tradition that Ignatius was taken from
Syria to Rome where he suffered martyrdom, citing Irenaeus as an authority. He is said
to have been "carried through Asia (Minor) under a most rigid custody," and yet to have
been able to "fortify the different churches in the cities where he tarried, by his
discourses and exhortations." He says, "From Syria to Rome I am contending with wild
beasts by land and sea, by night and day, being tied to ten leopards, the number of the
military band, who, even when treated with kindness, only behave with greater ferocity;"
and yet it is pretended that during this journey he found opportunities for writing the
seven epistles which Eusebius acknowledges (Ec. Hist., III., xxxvi.) The epistle bearing
the name of Polycarp refers to this martyr journey, and also to the epistles that are
universally condemned as unauthentic, and thus condemns itself (Super. Rel.
[Supernatural Religion], I., 279). There is a counter statement that Ignatius was
martyred at Antioch (Ibid., I., 273). "The whole of the literature ascribed to Ignatius
is, in fact, such a tissue of fraud and imposture, and the successive versions
exhibit such undeniable marks of the grossest interpolation, that if any small
original element exist referrible [now, referable] to Ignatius, it is impossible to
define it, or to distinguish with the slightest degree of accuracy between what is
authentic and what is spurious" (Ibid., I., 279).'
[43-44]. [See: 1684, 1686, 1689, (Ignatius)].
'We come now to the familiar name of Justin Martyr, which is attached to writings giving a very full account of the tenets of the Christians. "The best part of the information which we have with regard to Justin Martyr is derived from his own writings. The few particulars which we gather from others relate almost exclusively to his death." He himself describes how he came to embrace Christianity. "We know almost nothing of Justin's life subsequent to his conversion." Irenaeus, Hyppolitus, Tertullian, Eusebius, and others refer to him as a martyr. "The circumstances of his death, however, are involved in doubt." "There exists a martyrion of one Justin and some others, which many believe to be a narrative of the martyrdom of Justin Martyr. The document has been handed down to us by Simeon Metaphrastes" (a Byzantine writer of the ninth and tenth centuries. Smith's Dict.) "The name of the author is not given, and the writer does not say how he got his information. The only points to be ascertained therefore are, whether the Justin referred to is our Justin, and whether the narrative is true." On both heads Dr Donaldson [apparently, [Sir] James Donaldson 1831 - 1915] is inclined to accept the document, but he has to admit "that there is no historical evidence for its truth." He believes "that it is trustworthy, though entirely devoid of historical testimony." After this he proceeds to say, "The few introductory words with which it commences are evidently the work of some editor who lived after the time of Constantine. They give the exact day and month of the martyrdom, and state that the saints when taken were brought to Rusticus, the prefect of Rome. The date given is worthless." "There is no clue to exact dates in the history of Justin. We know from Eusebius that he addressed his first Apology to Antoninus Pius, and his second to Marcus Aurelius. He mentions in the first that the Jewish war of Barchochebas had taken place in his time (A.D. 131-136). He speaks of Christ being born a hundred and fifty years before, but here," Dr Donaldson observes, "round numbers are used. The Chronicon Paschale places his martyrdom in A.D. 165, a probable date; but there is no reason to suppose that it is anything more than a guess." Dr Donaldson then refers to the declaration made by Epiphanius that Justin was put to death in the reign of Hadrian, which he terms an "absurd statement," and to an attempt to show from Epiphanius and Cedrenus that it occurred onwards about the year 148. He adds, "But if we cannot trust Eusebius, our only authority for placing Justin's martyrdom in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, we know nothing in regard to the date of Justin's death. The value of Eusebius' opinion," he then observes, "is not great, but it is infinitely to be preferred to the utterly uncritical statements of Epiphanius or Cedrenus" (Donaldson, II., 62-74, 85).
It is, I think, pretty clear that WE HAVE NOTHING TO DEPEND ON FOR
JUSTIN, but what may be drawn from the writings bearing his name. These we
have now to consider....' [44-45].
'The most various opinions have been expressed as to the genuineness of
the writings ascribed to Justin, and part of them have by common consent been
rejected as "unquestionably spurious" (Donaldson, II. 74)....' .
[Note: Ignatius, and Justin Martyr, appear to be, more, Christian Fiction! The genre, appears to be Biography ("Ancient Novel" (see #1, 5, 41.; etc.)). In part, the accounts involve, what I will call: Fictional Autobiography].
"The reputed Apology has thus little the character of a genuine address of
the description alleged for it. It is not from one with a sense of peril hanging over him,
for himself and his co-religionists, endeavouring to conciliate the arbiters of their fate.
The writer is quite at his ease, lecturing those he addresses, setting forth the gods they
adored in the most odious colours, and entering into lengthened descriptions of the
tenets and practices of his people, which no one not of themselves would care to look
into. There is nothing to turn aside an oppressor to a fair and righteous course; there is
nothing to commend the objects of the alleged persecution to his favour or tolerance.
So mischievous an interference with the oppressors' creed could but provoke hostility,
and arm the authorities with further motive for putting down a pestilent sect, itself
incapable of countenancing any faith but its own. Nor will the testimonies of Melito and
Lactantius, to which I have already referred, allow of the supposition that a
remonstrance of the kind in question was needed in the time of Antoninus Pius." .
"The dialogue with Trypho is attributed to Justin by Eusebius. Some
dispute its genuineness, but Dr Donaldson is not of the number. It is also a
question whether it is a real or a fictitious representation....
The marks to guide us to the conclusion that this dialogue is not the report of an actual discussion appear to me insurmountably strong. We have no certainty who wrote it, or when. Neither party to the discussion is known, nor the individual to whom it purports to be dedicated. THE RESEMBLANCE TO SUCH PRODUCTIONS ALREADY OCCURRING IN LITERATURE RAISES A PRESUMPTION THAT THIS MAY BE A SIMILAR RESORT TO A FICTITIOUS VEHICLE of thought....
It is, I think, apparent that in these representations the author is not dealing with true
actualities. He has a scheme before him for the exhibition of all he holds to of the
Christian faith, and he thus introduces it. He passes through the hands of the great
philosophic schools of Greece, and finding no satisfaction in what was there taught,
eventually lays hold of the true knowledge of God and his ways towards mankind as
centring [sic] in and revealed in Christ. But his various teachers are ideal personages
without a name. The places where they are met with are all equally vague. Who was
the renowned Pythagorean, or who the celebrated Platonist he studied under, we
might, at all events, have been told, and it would have been interesting to know who the
early Christian was, who so impressed him. From what community did he come, and
what were his relations with those who may have been the actual companions of
Jesus? After this THE ASSUMED JUSTIN deals with the so-called Trypho. The
latter makes but a poor stand for his own sacred code, and does little to search out the
Christian advocate, to whom he ever yields with courteous facility. The narrator reports
the very words that passed on either side on these occasions. His dialogue with the
Christian teacher occupies eight pages octavo in the translation given in the
Antenicene Christian Library. It would be a feat in any one after a considerable interval
to report such a conversation verbatim to another. The discussion that follows with
Trypho extends over one hundred and eighty-one pages, with every word that was
uttered on either side recorded. We are here in the presence of an impossibility,
which, without other grounds, should determine the question before us. It is plain this
is no real dialogue, but merely an ideal representation, through the channel of which
the author has ventilated his opinions. IN AN HISTORICAL POINT OF VIEW,
therefore, THE DOCUMENT POSSESSES NO VALUE. We know not whose views we
have thus put before us, or when the author lived antecedent to the time of Eusebius."
'The case for Christianity thus is, that in the early portion of the FOURTH
CENTURY we have the system openly recognized and established through the
efforts of the sanguinary Constantine, supported by the unreliable Eusebius; that
what occurred before their time is shadowy and uncertain; and that the utmost
that can be done is to point to a class of possibly reliable literature which may
show the existence of the creed during an antecedent period of a century and a
half, beyond which all is cloudy mist without landmarks, until we arrive at THE
CLOSING PERIOD OF JOSEPHUS' [c. 37 - c. 100 C.E.] LIFE, TO WHICH TIME WE
MAY ASSURE OURSELVES THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS CHRISTIANITY.
Several of the prominent actors in the Christian movement, such as Peter,
Apollos, Titus, Timothy, Barnabas, Cleopas, and the four reputed evangelists,
present themselves bearing Greek names. THE WHOLE OF THE CHRISTIAN
LITERATURE, INCLUDING THE SACRED SCRIPTURES, IS IN THE GREEK
TONGUE, AND THE CITATIONS THEREIN MADE FROM THE JEWISH
SCRIPTURES ARE DRAWN ORDINARILY FROM THE GREEK VERSION OF THE
THESE ARE FEATURES EFFECTUALLY DISJOINING THE MOVEMENT FROM JUDEA AND GALILEE
and the times asserted for the uprise there of Christianity. The subject is well
handled in a pamphlet in Mr Scott's series by the Rev. Thomas Kirkman, entitled
"Orthodoxy from the Hebrew Point of View," which I now make use of. Mr Kirkman
points out that eighteen hundred years ago the language spoken in Palestine was a
form of Hebrew, and that it is amply apparent through Josephus, who was of the
generation after the alleged Christ, that Greek in his day was unknown to the
people of those parts. "In the last chapter of his Antiquities, which he says he wrote
in the fifty-sixth year of his life, he gives this account of himself, adorned with terms of
sufficient self-commendation:--'I have taken pains to acquire a knowledge of Greek:
I have become skilled in it grammatically, but the habitual use of my native
tongue has prevented my accurate utterance of that language.'" "In his first book
against Apion, § 9, he says, 'Afterwards (i.e., after the siege) I got leisure at Rome, and
when all my materials were prepared for that work, I made use of some persons to
assist me in learning the Greek tongue; an by these means I composed the history of
these transactions.'" "Again and again he informs us that he was employed as
interpreter; he was sent several times to parley with the besieged, in their native
tongue." The words, "Epphatha," "Talitha Cumi," and the cry on the cross, Mr
Kirkman observes, are the only words in the Christian scriptures representing the
language of the people among whom the great scenes of the gospel are said to
have been enacted. These are thrust in in just such a way as to show that the writer
knew something of the language; and their presence, in this forced manner, serves
to weaken rather than maintain the genuineness of the representations thus
made. Mr Kirkman further observes we have a Hebrew gospel of Matthew spoken of,
but not extant, and how it could have disappeared is not apparent; while there is
substituted for it, under what circumstances we are equally ignorant of, a Greek version
of the same ALLEGED EVANGELIST. IT IS NOT TILL THE AGE OF CONSTANTINE
[Emperor 306 (312) - 337 (280? - 337)], OBSERVES A WRITER IN THE EDINBURGH
REVIEW OF THE CURRENT YEAR (1874), THAT, IN THE LIBRARY ESTABLISHED
AT HIS CAPITAL, WE HAVE ANY PUBLIC COLLECTION OF CHRISTIAN LITERARY
EFFORTS. IN THE MORE ANCIENT LIBRARIES OF GREECE AND ROME THEY
HAD FOUND NO PLACE. The writer feels the circumstance a singular one, but it is
consonant to the conclusion to which all other indications tend. It was at this time
[fourth century] that the movement attained solidity and public notoriety, its earlier
traces being comparatively feeble, and its doctrinal lines immature and uncertain.' [55-57] [End of chapter I.].
'ASSUMING CHRISTIANITY TO HAVE ARISEN ON THE BASIS OF THE
JEWISH HOPES, AND AFTER THE DISPERSION, ITS FIELD, NECESSARILY, WAS
SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE THE LIMITS OF JUDEA; AND WHEN WE FIND ALL THE
WRITINGS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS, CANONICAL, APOCRYPHAL, AND
PATRISTIC, RECORDED IN THE GREEK LANGUAGE, AND THE CITATIONS
THEREIN FROM THE JEWISH SCRIPTURES ORDINARILY DERIVED [see 1506 -
1518] FROM THE GREEK VERSION OF THE SEPTUAGINT, WE ARE DRIVEN TO
ASCRIBE TO THE MOVEMENT SOME GREEK CENTRE; AND, NATURALLY,
ALEXANDRIA SUGGESTS ITSELF AS THE SITE OF THE NEW RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT. [see 1565]
"For many centuries the city of Alexandria was second in importance only to Rome. Commerce and literature were united within its walls in a close alliance, of which there has been no example, before or since. It was situated advantageously on the great highway of intercourse between the east and the west. Its mixed population, gathered from all lands, was the type of its intellectual system. It was connected with India on the one side, and on the other with Africa; and it brought Syria, and Asia Minor, and Italy, into renewed relations. It [Alexandria] possessed the beautiful Greek language, so copious and exact, so fit for the use of poetry and science, which had spread along the shores of the Mediterranean, and through the Levant. Alexandria was in some respects a second Athens. There was the library [see #24, 534-545] and the museum, which attracted a concourse of learned men from Chaldea, and Persia, and Egypt itself. The east contributed its dreamy mysticism, and Greece its clear and graceful thought.... For the Alexandrians all philosophy had its origin in Aristotle or Plato.... The Pythagoreans had their influence.... There was a strange mixture, at Alexandria, of people and opinions; Jews, who abounded in the city from the days of its founder, learned Platonism, while the heathens became acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures; and at the same time, the extensive intercourse with Asiatics, which followed the conquests of Alexander, introduced the Oriental doctrines" (The Rev. S. Robins; A Defense of Faith, 7-17).
NOTHING IS MORE APPARENT THAN THAT CHRISTIANITY TEEMS WITH
THESE ELEMENTS ABOUNDING IN THE REGION WE HAVE IN VIEW, where
Oriental, Greek, and Egyptian philosophies and mythologies, were presented to
influence and feed the Jewish sentiment and aspirations, in aid of the
development of the new form of faith, which, on the wreck of the old hopes, in the
times we treat of, was gradually and tentatively launched upon the attention of
Another feature of the times antecedent to the Christian era, which entered very
decidedly into the composition of Christianity, was the prevalence of asceticism, as
imported from India, and prevailing among the Jewish sects known as the Therapeuts
in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, and as the Essenes in Palestine. These have
been fully described by Philo and Josephus; and we have seen that Eusebius
recognizes the resemblance of the Therapeuts to the Christians so unreservedly,
as to have made the very bold declaration that they were in fact Christians.
These sectaries [members of sects; etc.], though differing in name [Therapeuts. Christians.], were in essentials alike. Their aim, in keeping with every form of asceticism, was to bring the body under subjection, in order to promote spiritual advancement, they being content to forego the enjoyments of this life in view of securing blessing in the life that was to come. The Essenes occupied villages, and pursued the ordinary vocations of life, addicting themselves chiefly to agriculture. The Therapeuts gave themselves up to a more secluded life in the deserts, where they passed their time in ministering to the wants of others, temporal and spiritual, and in contemplation. Both lived in associated bodies, the Therapeuts in monasteries. They discouraged matrimony. The Essenes allowed no women to enter their community. The Therapeuts admitted them, but required them to live apart from the men, and divided them off even at times of joint public worship....' [66-69].
"That the Christian movement, when it took a Gentile complexion, was
advanced by Gentile teachers, is, I think, sufficiently apparent. I attribute the Synoptic
Gospels, the book of Acts, the epistle of James, and the book of Revelation, which
teem with Judaism, to those who were in faith, and, perhaps, also in race, merely Jews.
The epistles to the Thessalonians, though not disclosing Jewish proclivities, was
probably by a Jew, since its form of doctrine does not go beyond the precincts of
Judaism. The religious nationality of the authors of the epistles of John and those to
Timothy, is not determinable from any thing appearing in these epistles. The remaining
scriptures all give evidence of the hand of a Gentile.
IN ADVANCING THE GENTILE MOVEMENT, THE NAME OF PAUL
HAS BEEN FREELY MADE USE OF. [see #4, 105-151]
The book of Acts shows him in a position to be thus commended to notice. He had opened out the gospel to the Gentiles, and had successfully resisted the emissaries of the churches of Judea, who sought to repress his actions and make Jews of them. When Gentile doctrines had to be recommended and made authoritative, it was natural, in the days before us, to father them on the renowned champion [Paul] of the Gentile community. WE HAVE, accordingly, SEVERAL VERY DISTINCT PAULS, who may be thus enumerated [see #4, 105].
1. Paul of the Acts of the Apostles, who is described as a pure Jew, in Jewish association. The Paul of the epistles to the Thessalonians also announced only what a Jew might receive, and therefore need not be classed as a different Paul.
2. Paul of the Galatians and Corinthians, in violent hostility with Judaism, disavowing all subjection to the apostles, or connection with the churches of Judea, and proclaiming an independent gospel.
3. Paul of the Romans, overthrowing Judaism with Gentilism, but not in the above spirit of excited hostility, and seen to have been all along in association with the Judean churches.
4. Paul of the epistle to the Ephesians, who, while preaching Gentilism, acknowledged the foundations of the church to have been laid down by the apostles and prophets. The epistle to the Colossians may have been by the same hand.
5. Paul of the Philippians, accepting Timothy as on a level with himself, and working with him.
6. Paul of the epistles to Timothy, holding Timothy under him in pupilage, and instructing him. The epistle to Titus may also be by this writer.
Those uncritical persons who accept the epistle to the Hebrews as the production of Paul, would introduce a seventh representation of him.
The canonical scriptures thus examined demonstrate to us that the doctrines of Christianity have owed their origin to no one solid recognizable source. Derived apparently from Essenism, and constituting at first mere Judaism, they ended in a purely Gentile demonstration. So completely were the first tenets cast off, that those who held them were reduced to the back ranks of heretical denominations. The Essenes were shelved as Encratites, and the Judaic Christians as Ebionites. The Jesus of the Synoptics, had he survived to this day, must have been so disposed of." [146-147].
'There is much, no doubt, in the teaching attributed to Jesus, which is both beautiful and true. Those precepts that would cast us, in full assurance, upon the Almighty, as our heavenly Father, conscious of our necessities, and caring for all; which exhort us to submit our souls to him in rectification of all evil working in us and around us; which encourage us to throw ourselves on his free forgiveness of our transgressions; which enjoin it on us to be kind to one another as an actual brotherhood--we may gladly profit by; but if they have been taught us as coming from Jesus, he equally had them from others before him, for they are universal truths, recognized in all ages by the reflective and well-meaning portion of mankind. Nor do they constitute Christianity as now held. But that Jesus, as depicted, maintained a perfect standard in himself, so as to present a living exemplar, which we may in all respects conform ourselves to, is far from being the case. "The question arises," a certain writer asks, "in what are we to be like Christ? Are we to be like Christ in all that he did, or only in those things we ourselves think good and excellent? Does the Christianity of Christlikeness include cursing fig-trees for not having fruit on them out of their season? Does it include whipping those we think impious, with a whip of small cords? Does it include denouncing the inconsistent as 'whited sepulchres,' 'hypocrites,' and a 'generation of vipers?' Does it include saying to one's mother, when she has failed to appreciate him, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee, mine hour is not yet come?' Does it mean that we are to tell women of other districts, when they ask for our benevolence, 'it is not meet to take the meat of the children and cast it to the dogs'? Does it include that we are to exercise our powers to destroy 2000 swine belonging to an unoffending man? Or does it mean that we are to be so little the friends of temperance as to produce 200 gallons of good wine for our guests after they have already well drunk?"* It is not necessary to suppose that there are blemishes in an actual life. The statements, one and all, it would be easy to show, have been put forward with a purpose in SCHEMING A LIFE which the writers have thought would commend itself as that of a being above our level. But the picture (impossible of realization) is ill drawn, and defeats itself, and the object designed, in several respects, sinks below an ordinary human standard, especially such as would be exacted in the present day.' [176-177].
'The Epistles to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Galatians evidently hang
together in scope of doctrine, and possibly in authorship. The Epistle to the Romans
stands out distinctively in the mild philosophic tone of the author and his
associations with Jerusalem. Assuming Paul to have written it, and that he was
of the apostolic age, we are required to believe in a very early establishment of
Christianity in Rome. The "faith" of this church had been exhibited in such power, the
writer declares, as to be "spoken of throughout the whole world"--that is far and wide.
To whose ministry the planting of this church is due is not apparent. The writer makes
it understood that he had not yet been to Rome, and was longing to go thither. We
have Paul there in the Acts of the apostles, but at the end of his career, when he was
cast into those bonds from which he never, as far as we know, was freed. We learn
that he was met as he approached Rome by certain "brethren." These might have
been merely Jews, for a few verses onwards we find Paul addressing "the chief of the
Jews," whom he had called together, as "brethren." Such, in fact, is the designation
given them by the followers of Jesus throughout the book of Acts. But of the world-renowned Christian community at Rome we can discover nothing. The Jews with
whom Paul had foregathered [also, forgathered: "assembled", etc.] are described as
inquisitive on the subject of the movement, and say, "We desire to hear of thee what
thou thinkest; for, as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken
against." Had the church of Rome, contemplated in the epistle, been on the spot, could
there have been this ignorance of what concerned Christianity? The issue is that a day
is appointed when these inquiring Jews come to Paul, who formally addresses them as
persons ignorant of the Christian scheme, and some believe, and some refuse to
believe; on which Paul turns from them, and tells them that as their hearts had "waxed
gross," and their ears were "dull of hearing," they were to know "that the salvation of
God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it." One must gather from the scene
that this was the first occasion when Christ was preached at the Roman capital. The
evidence connected with Josephus is of vast consequence here. He is found at
Rome as an author till A.D. 93, and quite unconscious of such objects as Christ [?
(debated)] or Christianity. The epistle [Romans] therefore clearly is not of the era
ascribed to the apostle Paul; nor is it conceivable how a genuine epistle to the Romans
should have been addressed to them in a foreign tongue.
SOME ONE BELONGING TO THE GREEK FIELD OF CHRISTIANITY HAS
SCHEMED IT IN THE NAME OF PAUL [a Fictional character! (see #4,
and while allowing that he had never been at Rome, is able to crowd a chapter with greetings to persons as of Rome, of whom he could personally have known nothing. Critics, it may be remarked, and prominently Baur, avoid the difficulty of judging the presumed Paul on this matter, by suggesting that the last two chapters of the epistle are by another hand, and are no part of the epistle as it stood originally. It is a question whether they are right or wrong in their surmise. To me the grounds stated for separating these chapters from the rest of the epistle [Romans] are far from conclusive. The argument depends on the genuineness of the earlier chapters, which I altogether dispute.' [180-182].
'That the Paul of the epistles was not of the alleged apostolic era may be inferred from the late date at which the compositions appearing in his name became current. "The writings of Paul were either not used, or little regarded by the prominent ecclesiastical writers of the first half of the second century. After A.D. 150 they began to be valued" (Davidson [Samuel Davidson 1806 - 1898], Introduction to Study of N. Test. II. 521). That is, waving the precise periods spoken of, Dr Davidson thinks there has been an interval of about a hundred years between the issue of the earliest of the Christian scriptures and the usage of the Pauline epistles. Clement of Rome [?] is thought to cite Paul, though the fact is one to be disputed, but if there was no Church of Rome in the first century, there was no such bishop of the alleged apostolic age. The epistle of Polycarp is considered by some to quote Paul, but this is not the case. POLYCARP IS A VERY MYTHICAL PERSONAGE, and this epistle, which is addressed to the Philippians, seems framed for the very purpose of parading citations from the Christian scriptures, and presents, therefore, very questionable testimony. The authenticity of the epistle [of Polycarp] is commonly disallowed. The character of the earliest Christian writings is the absence of such quotations, it not being till a late era that the Christian scriptures were accounted authoritative. Dr Davidson, according to his view of the dates of these writings, says that "before A.D. 170, no book of the New Testament was termed scripture, or believed to be divine and inspired" (Introduction to Study of N. Test., II. 520); which means that for a hundred years after the issue of the first of them, they were taken to be mere human effusions, to be accepted for what they might appear worth. Papias, whenever he may have lived, is certainly described as preferring tradition. "I do not think," he is reported to have said, "that I derived so much benefit from books as from the living voice of those that are still surviving" (Euseb., Ec. Hist., iii. 39). Paul is also held to be cited in the epistles of Ignatius, but these are generally now understood to be spurious productions. On the other hand, the Pauline epistles are unmentioned by Hermas, Barnabas, Papias, Hegisippus, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, and Athenagoras; while at a later time they are frequently appealed to, as by Irenaeus [c. 130 - c. 200] and Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220]. Christianity as it is, depends for its foundations on these epistles, and upon every ground connected with the progressive growth of doctrine which they unfold, and the usage of the epistles in the early ecclesiastical writings, [;] IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT they [THE "PAULINE EPISTLES"] WERE BROUGHT OUT AT A LATE ERA [see #3, 52, 257.; #4, 113, 471.].' [182-184].
"There was a vast body of Christian writings, belonging to the earliest
times, which, in point of literary titles and pretensions, stood in rivalry with the
accepted scriptures. These, by universal consent, are now rejected as apocryphal.
This collection, so far as now traceable, embraced thirty-four gospels, twenty-two
books of acts, five apocalypses, and various epistles and miscellaneous pieces,
the whole known of amounting to ninety-seven (Ante-nicene Christian Library; Man's
Origin and Destiny, by M.A. of Balliol, 376-379). The Ante-nicene Christian Library
gives us those extant, which number thirty-three. Some of these writings are
referred to by those who stand first in the field of Christian literature in point of currently
accepted antiquity, such as Papias, and Justin Martyr, who show no absolute
knowledge of the now accepted scriptures; and they are made use of, more or less,
by those apparently of later time, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and
Tertullian, in whose days, whenever they were, all the recognized scriptures appear to
have been current. Thus, CERTAIN OF THE APOCRYPHA, IT MAY BE JUDGED,
ARE OF PRIOR STANDING TO THE ACCEPTED SCRIPTURES, and these and
others are found in use throughout the time when the accepted scriptures saw the light.
THE PERIOD OF THE RECOGNIZED [CANONICAL] SCRIPTURES IS THUS
THOROUGHLY ENVELOPED IN THE CURRENT OF THIS NOW DECLARED
APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE." .
'The order in which these various writings have been put forth reveals itself to some extent. THE FIRST IN THE FIELD MUST HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE APOCRYPHA. Luke discloses the fact that there were "many" other accounts of Jesus which preceded his own, and Matthew and Mark have a common origin with his [Luke] gospel. Certain of the Apocrypha, accordingly, are referred to by early writers, who evince no knowledge of any of the canonical scriptures. WE ARRIVE THUS AT THE IMPORTANT CONCLUSION, THAT SOME OF THE APOCRYPHA HAVE LED THE WAY IN THE PROJECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME, AND HAVE AFFORDED IDEAS AND FACTS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CANONICAL GOSPELS. [see #22, 421-466; 1496; etc.]
I place the synoptics next in the order of time, and after them the Acts, these being all linked together, and expressing primitive Judaic Christianity. The Epistles to the Thessalonians, and that of James, belong to this category. The Epistle to the Galatians must have been issued after the Acts, since its statements are framed to contradict those of the Acts. The Epistles generally may have occurred in the order in which they exhibit development of doctrine; that is, there came those that preach the sacrificial death, and then those that add in the pre-existence of Jesus. At this time the protest against Gentilism appearing in the Apocalypse must have been made. The last in the order have seemingly been those epistles which declare the divinity of Jesus, and the fourth gospel, which is the crowning of the incongruous edifice [apparently, New Testament]. It may be judged that often these writers may not have been cognizant of what others preceding them may have said. In those days the circulation of literary productions was unavoidably defective. In this way the ignorance in the Pauline epistles of the gospel representations may perhaps be accounted for. It must also have been the case that none of these writings had established for itself an authority to control the statements of the others, at the periods when the record was [stories were] growing into being.' . [See: #22, 426 (Metzger), etc.].
"THE HISTORY OF JESUS HAS BEEN ADVANCED AT A TIME FAR REMOVED FROM THAT ALLEGED FOR THE EVENTS DESCRIBED. Contemporaneous evidence was thus impossible. THE RESOURCE USED WAS EITHER TRADITION [see 1496] OR IMAGINATION. The latter ingredient is certainly present, and possibly also the former. When once the scheme was devised of presenting Jesus as a divine agent for the introduction of a new faith, a crowd of writers, apocryphal and canonical, appear to have rushed into the field with a variety of statements more or less independent. They were without restraints in coining their facts. The era was one of deep superstition, limitless credulity, and dearth of true knowledge. There were no impediments from witnesses or information of any substantial kind, the times to be described being sufficiently remote not to hamper the narrators. The aim was a good and encouraging one, the intention being to turn man from evil ways, and direct his heart and conscience to God. THE WRITERS WERE NOT UNDER THE SENSE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PRESENTING TO THE WORLD INSPIRED PRODUCTIONS, save when they devoted themselves to doctrinal teaching. Even in the latter field the practice of supporting themselves with alleged revelation was by no means universal. Under all these circumstances the multiplicity and hardihood of the writers may be accounted for. That they should borrow from one another was inevitable; and their conflict of representation, whether on allegation of fact or doctrine, shows that they were all writing at a time when no one had as yet established for himself the character of an inspired author. That ambition had in truth not suggested itself to them. As time progressed, and controversies became sharp, the support of authority became a necessity. Then, gradually, from this mass of literature, those writings now relied on were singled out, and incorporated together, and at length became clothed with the attribute of inspiration.
THE RESULT OF THE WHOLE PROCESS IS THE WORSHIP OF JESUS; but what are we to think of his portraiture? By those who may have followed me thus far, a vast proportion of what has been laid upon him must be considered absolutely untrue. The misdescriptions are not due to defective information or error of judgment. They are THE FRUITS OF PURE IMAGINATION, PROJECTED BY PERSONS SEEN TO BE QUITE UNSCRUPULOUS IN THE MANIPULATION OF THEIR MATERIALS. The only question, therefore, is what may be the residuum of truth upon which the image of Jesus, as we have him, has been built up? Here we have only surmise to guide us, the writers of his history being unreliable, and there being no independent supports.
It is possible that there may have been such a person known of in Galilee. He is
described as the son of a carpenter, himself exercising that calling [see #9, 222
("carpenter")], of Essene proclivities, entering, it may be judged, that community, and
then going about in a fervent spirit to teach natural religion, tainted, however, with the
asceticism of the Essenes, in so far as he may have required that all men should
abandon worldly occupations, and practise the life of devotees. He may also have laid
claim to some measure of wonder-working. Unless there was this basis of truth in
history, it is difficult [now, not "difficult"! A plethora of examples exist] to understand
how the several accounts should centre round one person, and why the hero should
have been placed upon the particular low unambitious level selected for him. It is
possible also that he suffered death as a condemned criminal under the Roman law;
otherwise it is hard [now, not "hard"! FICTIONS, OF COURSE, ARE BASED ON LIFE
AND IMAGINATION] to understand why this debasement should have been introduced.
But whoever there may have been of this description to have afforded the nucleus
[specific "nucleus", not necessary for fiction] for the history in question, it is clear,
taking his time to be that alleged for Jesus, that he could not have been one who had
created for himself, as a religious teacher and persuader of his fellow men, any
marked notoriety, whether from the character of his teaching, or the influence he may
have established; else would he assuredly have been noticed in the pages of Philo
and of Josephus and other Jewish historians.
WE HAVE, THEN, IN THE REPRESENTATION OF JESUS, SOMETHING
LIKE A PICTURE COMING TO US FROM THE EASEL OF AN
The painter may have had an actual model [I disagree! No "actual model"!] to work from, but all the adjuncts with which he has elaborated his subject are purely ideal. He puts him into what attitude he pleases, surrounds him with all required accessories, and makes him express the story he wishes to illustrate in the way he thinks most effective. The paint is of course not spared. The shadows are deepened, the light is thrown in vividly, and the foreground brilliantly coloured. But the picture at length is found defective. It does not meet its ends. It requires fresh colouring to raise its effects. It then falls into the hands of other painters, such as are the professional restorers, who overlay it with further efforts of art. These may be bold practitioners, and in the end strike out quite a novel representation of their own [I repeat: No "actual model"!]. We have had recently a notable example of the operation in the altar piece purchased for the National Gallery as the work of Piero della Francesca, the manipulation of which has been proclaimed by Mr J.C. Robinson (The Times, 9th June 1874). Of the paint that presents itself to the eyes of the admirers of this precious gem, not an atom, it appears, according to Mr Robinson, comes from the pallet of the original designer.
The process affords an illustration of the creation of Christianity, as we have it.
THE PRIMITIVE JEWISH DESIGN IS BARELY PERCEPTIBLE, AND FOR
PRACTICAL PURPOSES GONE. The Gentile over-layings predominate, and alone
feed the apprehensions. The portraiture of John obliterates the delineations of the
synoptics, bringing before us an object of divine proportions in lieu of the mere
Jewish teacher who before existed; and the simple doctrines traceable to such a
teacher, as unfolded in the synoptics and the Acts of the apostles, are swamped
and subverted by the mystic discourses of John, the subtile [also, subtle] dogmas
of the Pauline epistles, and the terrific imagery of the Apocalypse; AND THUS WE
HAVE CHRISTIANITY." [187-189] [End of chapter IV.].
[Note: continues to 1729] 'The legend of Prometheus [see 1722] [see #3, 43,
206.; etc.] affords a remarkable type of the sacrifice of Christ. Prometheus was of
divine extraction, the creator of the human race, and the friend of man. He
incurred the wrath of the supreme divinity, Zeus ["God"], who hurled him into Tartarus
["below Hades" (compare: "Descent of Christ into Hell" (Ox. Dict. C.C.))]. From thence,
after a long period, he returned, and was fastened by the still incensed deity [Zeus] to
Mount Caucasus [poetic, hypothetical--geography (see 1722)] [compare: Calvary], to
be tormented by an eagle [compare: cross and Roman soldiers]. From this position
Hercules [son of Zeus] delivered him (Smith's, Dict.). Aeschylus [c. 525 - c. 456
B.C.E.], in his celebrated tragedy, makes him [Prometheus] thus describe himself.
We have here a god-man, the actual creator of mankind, intervening between the supreme being and mankind, averting his wrath from them, saving them from destruction, and on their account himself stretched out fastened on a rock to perish, AS JESUS WAS ON THE CROSS. And the whole scene is dramatized five hundred years before the Christian era.
Aesculapius [see Addition 26, 1221-1222], Pythagoras, and Plato, were all
supposed to be sons of Apollo by human mothers (Smith's Dict.; Anthon's Lemp.).
Aesculapius was a type of Christ in his miraculous cures, including the raising
the dead to life. Pythagoras and Plato are associated with him in doctrinal teaching.
A BELIEF IN THE RESURRECTION [see 1642] OF THE DEAD [see 1641] WAS
CURRENT IN THE GREEK [see 1641] MYTHOLOGIES. We have already had the
instances of Alcestis and Eurydice brought from Hades to life, and there are others.
Dionysus, or Bacchus, recovered his mother Semele from Hades. His own body was
cut to pieces by the Titans, and he was restored to life by Rhea or Demeter (Smith's
Dict.). Persephone was carried off by Pluto to Hades. Her mother, Ceres, or Demeter,
searched for her in vain, but Hermes brought her back to Eleusis (Smith's Dict.).
Adonis after death was restored to the upper world by Peresphone; but every six
months he had to return to her, the intervening six months of liberty being passed with
Aphrodite (Smith's Dict.). Mystic rites were established in commemoration of these
The Eleusinian mysteries were organized to inculcate the doctrine of a future life. It was taught that the body brought sin into the soul which underwent reward or punishment according as it had resisted or yielded to the bodily inducements. The mysteries embraced three stages, that of Purification, Initiation, and Perfection. The Neophyte had to divest himself of worldly concerns, and to cultivate communion with the divinity. The profane were kept at a distance. These were the lesser mysteries. Having learnt therein what were the miseries of the soul while under subjection to the body, the recipient was initiated and introduced to the greater mysteries. The passage of the soul through Hades is then enacted before him, after which he is accorded a vision of Elysium. The descent of Hercules, Ulysses, and others, into Hades, and the fables of Bacchus and Persephone, are here made use of. Apuleius thus describes his initiation. "I approached the confines of death, and treading on the threshold of Peresphone, and being carried through all the elements, I came back again to my pristine situation. In the depths of midnight I saw the sun glittering with a splendid light, together with the infernal and the supernal gods: and to these divinities approaching near, I paid the tribute of devout adoration." Plato, in the Phoedrus, says, "In consequence of the divine initiation, we became spectators of entire, simple, immoveable, and blessed visions, resident in a pure light; and were ourselves pure and immaculate, and liberated from this surrounding vestment which we denominate body, and to which we are now bound like an oyster to its shell." On this passage Proclus [c. 410 - 485 C.E.] observes, "That initiation and inspection are symbols of ineffable silence, and of union with mystic natures, through intelligible visions."
With all those associations of sin with the members of the body; with the
struggles to "keep under the body" by "subjection;" with the ideas of heaven and hell,
and THE JUDGMENT OF THE DEAD BEFORE A PLUTO OR A RHADAMANTHUS
[Rhadamanthos, etc.: "Minor chthonic ["associated with the earth and/or
underworld....opposites of the sky gods." (Internet)] underworld god. Greco-Roman.
One of three judges attending the goddess of justice Themis evaluating the souls of the
dead entering Hades." (Encyc. Gods, Jordan)];
with the groanings "in the earthy house of this tabernacle," "earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven," "that mortality might be swallowed up of life," occurring in the Christian scriptures, earnest and enlightened Greeks were already familiar; with the image (in many a varied form) of a Saviour of mankind, divinely born, God and man together, lowering himself for the sake of man, undergoing toil, peril, and even death, to effect their deliverance, the Greeks were provided equally as the Christians. The religions [Greek, and Christian (Newer Greek! (Newer Paganism! (see 1722, 1734)))], in these great characteristics, were the same, and it was not difficult that the one form of faith, in the progress of development, should pass into [or, be absorbed by?] the other. The constituents were essentially identical;
ALL THAT HAD TO BE EFFECTED WAS A CHANGE OF SCENE, OF NAME, AND
OF HISTORICAL INCIDENTS, FOR WHICH THE JEWISH CREED GAVE THE
NECESSARY INDICATIONS [compare 1728].
The early Christian writers of Gentile stock necessarily were well
acquainted with the legends of the Grecian divinities. Justin Martyr, Tatian,
Tertullian, Minutius Felix, Theophilus of Antioch, and Clement of Alexandria, all
evince this knowledge in their writings. [see #3, 41-104, passim; etc.]
THE CONCLUSION WAS INEVITABLE THAT THE
CHRISTIANS HAD DELINEATED CHRIST FROM PAGAN
MODELS [see (Newer Paganism): #6, 166; #10, 239; 1734].
This was an accusation constantly raised against them [Christians], and prominently by
Celsus, and they [Christians] felt themselves under the necessity of rebutting it how
"Nor is sentence upon us passed by Minos or Rhadamanthus" (observes Tatian),
"before whose decrease not a single soul, according to the mythic tales, was judged;
but the Creator, God himself, becomes the arbiter." He [Tatian] thereupon lowers the
attributes of Zeus, Rhea, Aphrodite, Artemis, Athene, Aesculapius, Apollo, and Kronos.
"Such," he says, "are the demons." "Prometheus," he observed, "fastened to
Caucasus [poetic, hypothetical--geography (complex: see Mark Griffith, 1977, 1983)]
[see 1719], suffered punishment for his good deeds to men," on which he charged
Zeus with envy (Address to the Greeks, Cap. vi., viii., x., xxi.).
"We have been taught," Justin stated, "that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought Atheists [this phrase, an early example of Christian predation] [see 1721]; as, among the Greeks, Socrates, and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others." "This, then, to speak shortly, is what we expect and have learned from Christ, and teach. And Plato, in like manner, used to say that Rhadamanthus [see 1721] 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."
"["Justin Martyr"] And when we say also 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 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. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre?" "And 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 any one 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. For their sufferings at death are recorded to have been not all alike, but diverse; so that not even by the peculiarity of His sufferings does He seem to be inferior to them.....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 [see Addition 26, 1221-1222; Addition 30, 1311, 1312, 1320, 1322; etc.]."
Then the apologist ["Justin Martyr"] has to account for the similitudes, while maintaining
that Christianity is derived from a divine source, and he does so thus.
"Those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the
youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by
the influence of wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race
[classic "spin"!]. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ
was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, they put
forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the impression that they would be able
to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were
mere marvellous tales, like the things which were said by the poets. And these things
were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they (the demons)
heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in
hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but
imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain." In
this manner features connected with Bacchus, Bellerophon, and Perseus, held to
be applicable to Christ, are accounted for (1st Apol., viii. xxi., xxii., xlvi., xlvi., liv).
"When they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by (Jupiter's) intercourse
with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that
being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and
when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that (the devil) has
imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses?
And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was
begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive
that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, 'strong as a giant to run his race,' has been,
in like manner, imitated? And when he (the devil) brings forward Aesculapius as the
raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise
he has imitated the prophecies about Christ" (Dial. with Trypho, lxix).
TRULY A CAUSE MUST BE DESPERATE WHEN IT IS TO BE THUS DEFENDED.
AND THE MISERY OF THE DEFENCE IS THAT NOT ONLY DO THE GREEK
MYTHOLOGIES PRECEDE THE ALLEGED PROPHECIES IN POINT OF TIME, BUT
THE CHRIST OF THE CHRISTIANS IS MORE CLOSELY
SHAPED AFTER THE GREEK MYTHOLOGIES THAN AFTER
THE JEWISH PROPHETICAL SCRIPTURES. [see 1496, 1565, 1641,
[Comment: One (simple) (similar) view of Christianism ("Christianity"):
a combination of Greek Mythology, and, Jewish Folklore]
[see 1565 (Bauer), for a superlative summary of Christianism ("Christianity")]
Besides drawing from the models presented to them in their own proper
mythologies when building up their new faith, the early Greek Christians found
ample resources in the Egyptian beliefs, of which they also availed themselves. The
intercourse between the Greeks and the Egyptians is traceable to the time of
Psammitichus, or B.C. 670, and the Greeks, who, in respect of their religious
exhibitions, were a copying rather than an originating race, embellished their
mythological system with Egyptian elements.* Both creeds [Egyptian, and Greek],
moreover, flourished in Alexandria, where the early Gentile Christians propagated their
faith and possessed themselves of all surrounding ingredients for its development.
The Egyptians held the doctrines of mediation and atonement. Their kings
were also endowed with the priestly office, and were thus types of Christ, who is
presented in this two-fold aspect. Like him, "they were mediators between their
subjects and the gods." A common sculptural representation is that of a king
"presenting his gift to the god as an atonement for his own sins and the sins of the
people" (Sharpe, Egyp. Myth. 21). It is the exact position of the Jewish high priest
said in the epistle to the Hebrews to be fulfilled in Christ.
The dead were subjected to trial after death. Mr Sharpe gives a picture of the
scene as taken from an Egyptian painting. The judge is on his throne; before him
are the offerings made to conciliate him; the deceased is in prayer with four lesser gods
interceding for him; on the other hand Typhon, the accuser of mankind, is demanding
his punishment. His soul is weighed in scales against an image of truth, and judgment
is pronounced upon him (Ibid. 50, 51). "The four lesser gods are themselves
supposed to offer themselves as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the sinner." Mr
Sharpe gives a copy from a funeral tablet in the British Museum where the deceased is
seen making this offering (Ibid. 52). HERE IS THE VERY MODEL OF CHRIST AS AT
ONCE THE MEDIATOR AND THE OFFERING.
The Egyptian hopes and fears in the future state were described pictorially and in hieretic [hieratic] writing on a roll of papyrus, extending from five to as far as sixty feet, which was buried with the deceased. It spoke of his resurrection, the various trials and difficulties he had to meet with in his passage in the world to come, the garden of paradise in which he had to await the day of judgment, the trial on that day, and the punishment to be incurred by him if found guilty. The lake of fire prepared for the wicked is depicted, and also the tree of life in the paradise which the deceased enters if acquitted. In the branches of this tree is seated the goddess Neith, who is sometimes represented pouring the waters of life into an emancipated soul (Ibid. 20, 64-66). The early belief was in the resuscitation of the natural body, which was preserved for this end by embalming. At a later time, but still long in advance of the Christian epoch, they held that there was a "spiritual body" distinct from that which is "natural," as taught in the 1st of Corinthians xv. 44 (Ibid. 45, 54). In the Egyptian Book of the Dead "very touching are some of the expressions in which the departed calls on Osiris to save him from his accusers, from the lake of fire, and from the tormentors" (Stuart-Glennie, In the Morning Land, 370).
The Trinity was a doctrine entertained by the Egyptians. "The gods were
very much grouped in sets of three, and each city had its own trinity." "At Philae the
trinity is Osiris, Isis, and Horus, a group, indeed, common to most parts of Egypt." Mr
Sharpe gives a representation of such a trinity, and says, that there is "a hieroglyphical
inscription in the British museum as early as the reign of Sevechus of the eighth
century before the Christian era, showing that the doctrine of Trinity in unity
already formed part of their [Egyptian] religion, and stating that...the three gods only
made one person" (Egyp. Myth. 13, 14).
But transcending all their varied mythological representations, the Egyptians
are found to have possessed a belief in the unity of God, as the author of
everlasting life. In the Book of the Dead it is declared, "The Lord is God, there is but
one God for me." "I do not die again in the region of Sacred Repose." "Whosoever
does what belongs to him, visibly (individually?) his soul participates in life eternal."
"Plait for thyself a garland,...thy life is everlasting" (Stuart-Glennie, In the Morning
Land, 369, 370).
A leading feature in the Egyptian creed was a centralization of all hopes in their great divinity Osiris. He affords, in all essential particulars, a thorough representation of the central personage in the Christian creed, and was to the Egyptians all that Christ is to the adherents to Christianity. "Osiris was called the 'Manifester of Good,' or the 'Opener of truth,' and was said to be 'full of goodness (grace), and truth.' He appeared on earth to benefit mankind, and after having performed the duties he came to fulfil, and fallen a sacrifice to Typho, the evil principle, (who was, at length, overcome by his influence, after his leaving the world), he rose again to a new life, and became the judge of the dead in a future state. The dead, also, after having passed their final ordeal, and been absolved from sin, obtained in his name, which they then took, the blessings of eternal felicity" (Stuart-Glennie, 358, citing Wilkinson). "I will write upon him," it is said, "the name of my God" (Rev. iii. 12), a figure already realized by the Egyptians.
The doctrine of the incarnation, "God manifest in the flesh," exhibited
prominently in the god-man Osiris, was also displayed in lower forms. The bull Apis
was believed to be born from a ray which darted from heaven on his mother. He was
considered to be an image of the soul of Osiris, which migrated from one Apis to
another. He was not the god, but the living shrine in which the divine nature had
become incarnate (Kenrick, Ancient Egypt, II. 22, 25). His birth was thus ever
miraculous, without an earthly father. "Every king of Egypt, even while living, was
added to the number of the gods, and declared to be the son of Ra." "He denied that
he owed his birth to the father from whom he inherited the crown; he claimed to be
born, like the bull Apis, by a miraculous conception." The author gives us an
illustration of the birth of King Amunothph III, taken from the temple of Luxor, which he
thus explains. "First, the god Thoth, with the head of an ibis, and with his ink and pen-case in his left hand, as the messenger of the gods, like the mercury of the Greeks,
tells the maiden queen Mautmes that she is to give birth to a son, who is to be King
Amunothph III. Secondly, the god Kneph, the spirit, with a ram's head, and the goddess
Athor, with the sun and cow's horns upon her head, both take hold of the queen by her
hands, and put into her mouth the character for life, which is to be the life of the coming
child." The process of the delivery is indicated. "Lastly, the several gods or priests
attend in adoration upon their knees to present their gifts to this wonderful child, who is
seated in the midst of them, and is receiving their homage" (Sharpe, Egyp. Myth. 17-19). The models for the annunciation of the birth of Jesus, the miraculous
conception of his virgin mother, and his adoration by the eastern Magi, are thus
exactly supplied in the Egyptian figurations.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which so much appears illustrative of
Christian doctrine, is considered "to have been written with the finger of Thoth
himself." One of its hymns, not in its original simplicity, but already mixed up with
glosses and commentaries, has been found inscribed on the coffin of queen Mentuhept
of the eleventh dynasty, the era of which is placed by Bunsen at 2782 B.C. "This hymn
implies not only the worship of Osiris, but the whole system of doctrines connected with
his redeeming life on earth and judicial office in heaven." Thus, "in ancient
OSIRIANISM, as in modern CHRISTIANITY [CHRISTIANISM], the Godhead is
conceived as a Trinity, yet are the three Gods declared to be only one God. In ancient
Osirianism, as in modern CHRISTIANISM, we find the worship of a divine mother
and child. In ancient OSIRIANISM, as in modern CHRISTIANISM, there is a doctrine
IN ANCIENT OSIRIANISM, AS IN MODERN CHRISTIANISM, we find the vision of a
LAST JUDGMENT and RESURRECTION OF THE BODY; and finally,
IN ANCIENT OSIRIANISM, AS IN MODERN CHRISTIANISM, THE SANCTIONS OF MORALITY ARE A LAKE OF FIRE AND TORMENTING DEMONS, ON THE ONE HAND, AND, ON THE OTHER, ETERNAL LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD" (Stuart-Glennie, 366, 367, 371) [see 1597 (Osiris)].
The task of the Christian delineators in the atmosphere of Alexandria was not a
difficult one. There was not much left to them to create by efforts of the imagination.
The materials to be worked upon were all at hand, rampant and greedily believed in by
the surrounding population. They had merely to make their selection, and represent
them in their newly-devised religion. The facts were all prepared; a change of
names was all that was requisite to make the appropriations their own. No one,
in the days of the projection, ventured to pass off those fanciful exhibitions as
original and inspired; but as time progressed, and the believers became more
and more separated and alienated from the period and the sources of the first
beliefs, the character was given to the whole, which it has now borne for many
centuries, of solid primitive truth, not derived from any field of human knowledge,
but due to direct communication from above.
We have to turn now to the true masters in the art of developing religious
beliefs, namely the Orientals of India [see Addition 20, 1033-1068], from whom, in all
early ages, through an unfathomable antiquity, have flowed those currents of artificial
doctrine and imaginative representation which have sown themselves, in varied forms,
among the nations westward of them. I will begin with what relates to the Buddhist
movement, as standing nearest to Christianity in point of time, and as known to have
touched the field of Christianity in Alexandria.
The death of Buddha is considered to be an era of a properly historic
[No! see Excursus, 1731] character, and is placed ordinarily at B.C. 543.* Buddha is held to have lived till over the age of eighty, and to have passed the last forty or fifty years of his life as a religious reformer. His ministry, therefore, may be safely said to have begun fully six hundred years before that alleged for Christ. The creed prevailing in his name matured itself in a manner corresponding very exactly to that in which the doctrines of Christianity became fixed and established. Buddha adopted the ascetic principles that had long prevailed around him among the devout Hindús. The flesh was seen to be in warfare with the spirit, and had to be kept down by abstinence from whatever fed its desires. He called upon all to devote themselves to the religious life, protesting against the domination of the Hindú priestly class, and the exclusiveness of Hinduism. He threw the door open to all to follow him in the path he offered them, and past portions of the eastern nations in time adopted his views and called themselves after his name. While the reformer was in life there was no necessity felt for recording his teachings. They were of a simple order, inculcating practical godliness to be exhibited chiefly in acts of goodwill towards mankind. After his death his followers complicated the system with elaborate theories and mystical imaginings. Discussions and dissensions ensued, and the need of authoritative records was felt. Then, about three hundred years after the founder's death, the secular power interposed. King Asoka [Emperor of India c. 273 - 232 B.C.E.], who had adopted the reformed faith, convoked a council for ascertaining the doctrines to be accepted as those of the great teacher, distinguishing between the heretical and the genuine, and thus the Buddhist canon was settled (Max Muller, Lectures on the Science of Religion, 29-31).
We have all this repeated in the story of the Christian movement. Jesus is
represented as appearing on the scene as a reforming Essene ascetic, calling on men
to deny the flesh and the world in order to cultivated their relations with God. He
entered his protest against scribes and Pharisees; his faith led on to break down the
exclusiveness of the Jewish creed, and to make a free way of acceptance before God,
equally for all nations; his followers spread widely around, and called themselves after
his name; his teachings were simple, directed to the moral guidance of mankind, free of
abstruse theory or dogma, and did not require to be recorded. After his death
elaborations and additions were made, which led to incessant questionings and
discord. Then, also at an interval of about three hundred years after the alleged death
of the founder, came the intervention of the secular authority, and through the means
of the council of Nicoea [Nicaea] (A.D. 325,) Constantine sought to put down what
was viewed as heresy, and establish the true faith.' [194-206].
[Note: this discussion, Buddhism, continues to 1731] '"It may be said," remarks
Bishop Bigandet [d. 1894], "in favour of Buddhism, that no philosophico-religious
system has ever upheld, to an equal degree, the notions of a Saviour and deliverer,
and the necessity of his mission for procuring the salvation, in a Buddhist sense, of
man, [.] The role of Buddha, from beginning to end, is that of a deliverer, who
preaches a law designed to procure to men the deliverance from all the miseries he is
labouring under" (Max Muller, Intro. to Buddhaghosha's Parables, xxv., xxvi.). He laid
open a "way of salvation" to all men, and called himself comforter and saviour, and his
writings are designated "Holy Scriptures" (Rowland Williams, Christianity and
The personal history of Buddha resembles that of Christ so closely as to
leave room for no other conclusion than that the incidents of the one life have
been used to illustrate the other [argued]. Buddha's career long preceded that
ascribed to Jesus, and the recognized history of his life, entitled the Lalita Vistara, is
considered to have seen the light about B.C. 150. The particulars have been often
recounted. The great reformer was called Sakya Muni, denoting, as it is thought, that
he was a Scythian by extraction. The Scythians invaded Western Asia about B.C. 625,
which corresponds with the era alleged for the birth of Buddha. The Buddhist topes or
stúpas are considered to be Scythian in character, and the reformer's instructions for
the disposal of his remains after death are said to have been in conformity with the
Scythian rites. This origin may account for his independence of Brahmanism, and for
the zeal and spirit with which his reforms were instituted.
IT WAS THE INVASION OF THE ESTABLISHED FAITH FROM A FRESH AND FOREIGN SOURCE AS WHEN GREEK GENTILISM IN CHRISTIANITY [CHRISTIANISM] OVERTHREW HEBREW JUDAISM [compare 1720].
Buddha, like Christ, had a pre-existence in heaven before he condescended to be born
on earth. "By the constraining power of his great love" he made this advent for the
deliverance of mankind from sin and its consequences. The Dévas, or divinities,
selected Suddhódana, King of Kapilavastu, to be his father. His mother was a virgin.
He miraculously entered her womb, and was born from her side, without the
intervention of a human father. As an infant he was presented at the temple of
Mahéshwara, when all the figures of the gods rose up and did him obeisance. As an
adult, he passed his first years in his father's palace, leading a life of enjoyment. Then
the vanity of a worldly existence was impressed upon him by his observing four sights,
that of a worn-out man, a leper, a corpse, and a religious mendicant with a joyous
countenance. On this he gave up his royal position, and for six years practised
austerities, and lived as an ascetic. "Though he was rich," for the sake of others "he
became poor, that they, through his poverty, might be rich." He followed, in fact, the
Essenism of his day, as Jesus is represented to have done. In the Sanchi Topes near
Bhilsa, he is depicted "giving away his whole possessions, his children, and his wife, so
that there might be no remnant of selfishness left in his nature, and thus he might be
fitted to undertake the salvation of men." Then he was assailed with temptations by the
demon Mára but he resisted them, and the tempter withdrew defeated. The
corresponding temptation of Jesus by the Devil, at the outset of his ministry, will of
course occur to ever one. His spiritual victory being thus established, he entered upon
his mission (Prof. Wilson in Jour. of As. Soc., XVI., 242-248; Wilson, Essays on Rel. of
the Hindús, II., 335-340; Beal, Catena of Buddhist scriptures 5, 127-134).
Buddhism made rapid advances, even during the life-time of its founder; and about the middle of the third century B.C., when it had become a state religion, in the reign of king Asoka [Emperor of India c. 273 - 232 B.C.E.], it began to spread all over India. It so flourished till the fifth century of the Christian era, when the Bráhmans succeeded in obtaining the ascendency and extirpated it from India; but it has retained its hold to the present day in Ceylon, Burmah, and the Eastern Archipelago, and from the Caucasus to Japan, including Asiatic Tartary, Tibet, Nepal, and China. It is supposed still to number 340,000,000 of adherents, being in excess by about 5,000,000 of the estimated number of Christians (Schlagintweit, Buddhism in Tibet, 9-14; Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, I., 58). By a faith thus attractive, and thus successfully propagated, it is not to be supposed that Alexandria, an emporium of commerce, and on the highway between the nations of the east and the west, should have failed to become influenced. We find, accordingly, in just the time of the activity of the Buddhist missionaries, namely, in the two centuries immediately preceding the Christian era, a sect in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, who, in all essential respects, represented the Buddhists; and they occurred also in Palestine. I refer, of course, to the Therapeuts and Essenes. These sectaries maintained their connection with Judaism, but, like the Buddhists, gave up the world, and its enjoyments, to cultivate the aspirations of the soul. They devoted themselves to the good of their fellow creatures, and were active propagandists; they abstained from eating flesh, practised ablutions for spiritual purification, and purified themselves, especially for their meals, or when they happened to come in contact with those of another or a lower denomination than themselves--features all betraying the oriental origin of their system. They furthermore had an unnamed "law-giver," and "sacred scriptures," the character of which has not been divulged. There seems nothing to attribute to them,
in view of all the specialties that distinguished them, but that they may have recognized Buddha as their founder, and possessed his "holy scriptures," of which circumstances, being still in Jewish connection, they made a mystery.
Excursus: from: Pagan Christs, J.M. Robertson, University Books, c1967
(1911 2nd ed. (see 1606)) (1903).
'IT IS REASONABLE TO WONDER WHY SO MANY SCHOLARS, while
admitting the tissue of fable and unplausible history surrounding the origins of
Buddhism, nevertheless STILL BELIEVE THAT SAKYAMUNI [GOTAMA
BUDDHA] ACTUALLY EXISTED...
THE FIGURE OF THE BUDDHA, IN ITS MOST
PLAUSIBLY RATIONALIZED FORM, IS AS
UNHISTORICAL AS THAT OF THE GOSPEL JESUS.
Each figure [Buddha. Jesus.] shows how the religious mind manufactured a myth in a period in which the making of primary Gods had given way to the making of Secondary-gods. The mythopoeic ["Of or relating to the making of myths." (dictionary.com)] process satisfied the craving for a Teacher-god who should originate religious and moral ideas as the earlier gods had been held to originate agriculture, art, medicine, law and civilization.
Buddhism, like Christianity, is a "failure" from the point of view of its traditional origins. In the case of Burma it admittedly did more to mold the life of the whole people towards its highest ethic than Christianity ever did; but in India, where it arose, it collapsed utterly. It was overthrown by Brahmanism which set up in its place a revived polytheism.
On our naturalistic view of the rise of the Teaching-gods,
IT IS SHEER HUMAN ASPIRATION THAT HAS SHAPED ALL THE CHRISTS
AND THEIR DOCTRINES.
One reason why the original teaching failed is that men persisted in crediting
purely human aspiration to supernatural beings. Men who are taught to
bow ethically to a divine Teacher are not taught ethically to think. Any
aspiration so evoked is factitious, verbal, emotional, not reached by authentic
thought and experience. When the wisdom or unwisdom of the nameless
thinkers in all ages is recognized for what it is--as human and not divine--the
nations may become capable of working out for themselves better gospels than
the best of those which turned to naught in their hands while they held them as
revelations from the skies.' [83, 84] [End of Chapter Seven]. [End of
But we are not left to inference in this matter of the access of Buddhism to the Christian field. There is direct evidence that the legend of Buddha found its way to Alexandria in the earliest times that can be alleged for Christianity. In the controversies that arose between the first Christians and the Manichoeans, the
doctrines of the latter were traced to one Scythianus. The name associates him with that Scythic nationality to which Buddha also apparently belonged. This Scythianus is said to have been a man of literary habits, a merchant trading with India, married to an Egyptian slave girl, domiciled in Alexandria, versed in the philosophies and learning of India and Egypt, and a contemporary of the apostles. In this manner he is said to have constructed those peculiar views expressed in Manichoeism, and it is alleged that, in order to test his doctrine, he went to Jerusalem and disputed with the apostles. Shortly after this he died, when his slave and disciple Terebinthus is said to have possessed himself of his effects and papers, armed with which he went to Babylon, and there gave himself out to be Buddha, and born of a virgin. Mr. Priaulx gives the account as obtained from Archelaus' disputation held in A.D. 275-9, the Catacheses of Cyril of Jerusalem of A.D. 361, and the work on heresies of Epiphanius of A.D. 375 (Jour. of As. Soc., XX. 269, 270). Professor Wilson notices that Clement of Alexandria, accounted to have been of the second century, and Porphyry, who was of the third, exhibits a knowledge of the Buddhists and their ways; also that Jerome, who lived at the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth, knew of the birth of Buddha from the side of a virgin; as also did Hieronymus, according to Mr Priaulx, who was of A.D. 420, and had the fact as a tradition of the Gymnosophists, whom Major Cunningham [see Addition 20, 1044] considers to have been Buddhists (Jour. of As. Soc., XIII. 113; XVI. 231; XX. 271; Wilson, Essays on Rel. of Hindús, II. 315). ....' [210-213].
"The similitudes between what has been taught by the Orientals in
connection with their religion, and what the Christians teach, are numerous and
striking. In judging thereof it is not always necessary to suppose that there has been
actual plagiarism. Occasionally the figures are such as might occur to the mind of men
in various places and at various times, naturally and independently. But these equally
enter into my argument, for if the Hindús have had conceptions through the process of
ordinary human thought, it cannot be conceded that the Christians have received theirs
["conceptions"] from a supernatural source." .
'The use of sacrifice to appease and propitiate the governing divinities is a system of universal occurrence among Pagan nations, and it forms the very groundwork of matured Christianity. "Without shedding of blood is no remission of sins" is a precept the Pagans have all known of from the remotest ascertainable times. The institution of sacrificial rites among the Hindús, the most ancient people of whom we have any records, long preceded the existence of the Jewish nation, on the foundation of whose scriptures the Christians have constructed their scheme. In this chain of practice there is no break at which it is possible to see that there was a reestablishment of the usage on the basis of a special revelation. Jews and Christians follow the system on the same grounds that the Pagans have had for it all along. The usage proceeds from the laudable desire to satisfy and conciliate the Almighty, but upon the grossest misapprehension of his real attributes and of our position towards him. Nor would any but those who are steeped in ignorance, or blinded by long-maintained prejudice, think of transferring their guilt and its consequences to another, or suppose that the production of a material substitute could serve to atone for or remove the stains of spiritual transgressions.' .
'The theory of the Hindús is that their gods are actually supported by the offerings of food made to them (Mr Williams, Ind. Ep. Poet. 52, note). They assume thus that there is the same life in their divinities as in themselves, and that it requires the same sustenance. The Jews appear to have had a similar idea. A portion of the offering was burnt and went up "for a sweet savour before Jahveh," and a portion was assigned to Aaron and his sons--that is, to the priests, representing the people, as their share (Exod. xxix. 25, 26). God and man thus partook together the same supporting food. The making such offerings to dead ancestors is a very ancient custom. There have been found in a cave at Aurignac, in the south of France, evidences of its observance among the people of the immeasurably remote stone age.* The Hindús, from the earliest days, have thus paid honours to their deceased ancestors. The rite is called Stáddha, a word meaning faith, confidence, reverence. It consists in making the deceased offerings of rice-meal, water, &c. Here is the same theory, namely the establishing communion with the dead by devoting to them food such as the offerers themselves subsisted on. The sentiment is strongly expressed in the Christian scriptures. "I am the bread of life," Jesus is represented to have said. "Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him." As Hindús offer cakes and water in memory of their departed ancestors, so the Christians commemorate the death of the founder of their faith, and the head of their family, their second or "last Adam," by partaking of bread and wine. Jesus, in the capacity of a sacrifice, goes up to the nostrils of the Deity "for a sweet smelling savour" (Eph. v. 2). The offerers are ever identified with the offering. The believers in Jesus are those who have been "planted together (with him) in the likeness of his death" (Rom. vi. 5). They also reach the nostrils of the Deity as "a sweet savour of Christ" (2 Cor. ii. 15). The participating together the bread and wine, representing his flesh and his blood, is their sacrificial communion, effected in the same fashion and spirit as in all the Pagan and Jewish sacrifices; and it embraces also an expression of the ancestral rites, such as have occurred in the cave of Aurignac, and been ever kept up in their Sráddhas by the Hindús. It is [primitive] fellowship of life avowed by maintaining life with elements of sustenance common to all concerned, the object commemorated, and those who commemorate him.' [218-219].
'....We quarrel thus not only with the facts of CHRISTIANITY
[CHRISTIANISM], which we find BASELESS and ideal, COPIED
FROM PAGAN MODELS [see (Newer Paganism): #6, 166; #10, 239; 1721],
but also with the principles of Christianity, which exalt Christ at the expense of the
Almighty, and are constructed on too narrow foundations to meet existing evil. We
condemn these principles moreover as subversive of substantial and universally
recognizable truth. It is impossible that the sin of one man can be imposed upon
another. It is by a fiction not to be realized by the mind that the transference is to be
made. Nor can blood of any sort wipe away sin. Sin has to be repented of and turned
from, and can be got rid of in no other manner. The process is a continuous one, not
established in a day. It is vain to say, not I that sin, "but sin that dwelleth in me." The
sin makes the sinner, and he must cease to be one. The figment is that there is such
an appropriation of Christ by the believer that when the Almighty eyes look for the
sinner they see only Christ. "I am crucified with Christ," the sinner is persuaded. The
thing never occurred, but there it is to be believed in and realized; and the next step is,
"nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." And by this ideal substitution evil
is considered to be disposed of, and the adverse creator converted into a friend.
WE SERIOUSLY OBJECT TO THESE ARTIFICIAL AND DISTORTED VIEWS.
TRUTH IS NOT MAINTAINABLE BY MEANS OF FICTION, AND NOTHING LOSES
ITS REAL CHARACTER BY THE ALTERATION OF ITS NAME. We are jealous for
the honour of the Almighty, and wish mankind to know and use him as their friend. We
have not to plead Agni to remove our guilt, or to imbibe Soma to obtain immortal
life [see 1641 (immortality)], or to lay hold of Ráma, or Krishna, or any other
[including Jesus Christ], to secure salvation. Our God loves us because he has
made us, and in him we find never-ceasing remedy and support in all our need. That
we should strive to dissipate the mists which hide his true aspect from the eyes of
others, appears to us a legitimate and a necessary task, and the desire so to serve the
best interests of our fellowmen must be our apology for whatever we offer to their
consideration on this momentous subject.' [254-255] [End of book (author: Thomas
Lumisden Strange 1808 - 1884)].
Note: after completing this Addition (35), I found (c. 9/24/2001): The Jesus
Mysteries, was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy,
Harmony Books, c1999.
"WE HAVE BECOME CONVINCED THAT THE STORY OF JESUS IS NOT THE BIOGRAPHY OF A HISTORICAL MESSIAH, BUT A MYTH BASED ON PERENNIAL PAGAN STORIES." .