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School of Theology at Cla 

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Theology Library 








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Theology Library 





Tue least unkind of my critics will probably find two faults 
with this work : firstly, that it is sketchy, and, secondly, that 
it says too little of the history of textual criticism and of the 
manuscripts and versions in which the New Testament has 
come down to us. 

I must plead in excuse that I could do no more in so short 
a book, and that it is in any case not intended for specialists, 
but for the wider public. Within its limits there is no room 
to enumerate one half of the important commentaries and 
works of learning about the New Testament which have 
been produced in the last two hundred years. The briefest 
catalogue of these would have filled a volume four times 
as large. I had, therefore, to choose between a bare 
enumeration of names and titles, and a sketch of a move- 
ment of thought conducted by a few prominent scholars and 
critics. I chose the latter. Writing for English readers, I 
have also endeavoured to bring into prominence the work of 
English writers; and, in general, I have singled out for 
notice courageous writers who, besides being learned, were 
ready to face obloquy and unpopularity; for, unhappily, in 
the domain of Biblical criticism it is difficult to please the 
majority of readers without being apologetic in tone and 
“ goody-goody.” A worker in this field who finds himself 
praised by such journals as the Saturday Review or the 
Church Times may instantly suspect himself of being either 
superstitious or a time-server. 

So much in defence of myself from the first charge. As to 



the second, I would have liked to relate the discovery of many 
important manuscripts, and to describe and appraise the 
ancient versions—Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Gothic, Georgian, 
Coptic, Ethiopic, and Arabic—to the exploration of which I 
have devoted many years. I would also have loved to bring 
before my readers the great figures of Tyndale, Erasmus, 
Beza, Voss, Grotius, Wetstein, Griesbach, Matthzi, 
Tischendorf, Lachmann, Scrivener, Lightfoot, and other 
eminent translators, editors, and humanists. But it was 
useless to explore this domain except in a separate volume 
relating the history, not of New Testament criticism in 
general, but of textual criticism in particular, 
September, 1910. 




Gradual formation of New Testament Canon 5 
Early doubts entertained about the authorship of the 

Johannine books 5 3 
Dionysius of Alexandria on the Apocalypse c 
Origen’s method of pnCeCEy : : : 
Jerome 5 - < : : 


The Reformation narrowed the idea of Inspiration, 
and excluded the use of Allegory 

The Harmony of William Whiston 

Example, The Mission of the Seventy disciples 

Attitude of Dean Alford towards the Harmonists 

Attitude of modern divines—e.g., of Dean Robinson. 

Another example of forced harmonising from Edward 
Greswell A 

Dean Alford on Inspiration 

Examples of his timidity 

Dr. Sanday repudiates old views of Inspiration 

Sir Robert Anderson on Modern ae Church 
attitude . . : ° ° 


Socinian orthodoxy : 
Tindal contrasted the partaintics of Natural Religion 
with the obscurities of the Christian Revelation 
Anthony Collins upon Christian use of Old Testament 
Prophecy : : 5 4 

His criticism of the Book of Daniel 

Thomas Woolston’s attack on the Miracles. of the 
New Testament A 

His pretence of allegorising them 5 

Points of contact between the Deists aod the 
medieval Cathars 5 : “ 










Father Rickaby’s satisfaction with modern criticism 

hardly justified : 49 
That criticism invalidates Matthew’ s Gospel . 50 
And justifies Smith, of pee as against Dean 

Alford . 52 
Contrast of Dean Robinson’s. views ‘with those of 

Dean Alford . A 54 
Papias’s Be cannot have referred to our first 

gospel . 58 
Tendency to reject the Fourth Gospel as a work of 

the Apostle John 2 : ; > . 59 
View of Liddon . 5 . : 0 60 
Criticisms of Dean Robinson . ° ° s 61 


Doctrinal alterations of sacred or canonised texts . 65 
Example from Matt. xix. 17. : 5 67 
Dr. Salmon on Westcott and Hort . 68 
The text of the Three Wetvesses a trinitarian forgery. 69 
History of its exposure by Sandius, Simon, Gibbon, 

and Porson . : 70 
Leo XIII. rules it to be part of ‘the authentic text : 74 
Trinitarian interpolation at Matt. xxviii. 19 was 

absent from Eusebius’s MSS. of the Gospels ° 75 


Comparative freedom of Reformed Churches in 

contrast with the Latin : . - 5 78 
Herder’s criticisms 5 : : 5 3 80 
H. S. Reimarus . 5 82 
E. Evanson on Zhe Dissonance ‘of the Four Gospels Q 87 
Joseph Priestley and Bishop Horsley. : 4 93 


Albert Schweitzer’s work : 97 
F. C. Baur, the founder of the Tabingen school b 98 
D. F. Strauss’s Life of Jesus. : 6 - 103 
Ernest Renan’s work . ; ° ° : IIl 


Its uncritical character. 115 
James Smith, a layman, overthrows the hypothesis 

of a common oral tradition underlying the Gospels 115 
Views of Drs. Lardner and Davidson. ; ° 117 


The Synopticon of E. A. Abbott 5 ° . 118 
Lachmann 119 
Supernatural Religion and Bishop Lightfoot’s s answer 

to it . II 
The origin of the term “ Received Text” or “ Textus 5 

Receptus”(T. R.)_ . 5 : = 5 121 
Its rejection by Lachmann 5 5 123 
Tischendorf’s discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus “3 124 
Dean Burgon assails the revisers of the English New 

Testament. 125 
His attack on the Unitarian teyises Dr Vance 

Smith . 2 127 
Burgon false to his own ideal of textual criticism 128 
His Reductio ad absurdum of his own position 129 

Sir Robert Anderson pits the Bible against the Priest 132 
Father Rickaby appeals to unwritten tradition outside 
the New Testament . ° ° ° A 133 


The career of Alfred Loisy . C : . 134 
His excommunication . 135 

Pio X. issues an Encyclical enumerating the chief 
results of modern criticism . 3 135 
Dr. Sanday declares that “ we must modernise” 138 

He identifies the Divine in Jesus Christ with his 
subliminal consciousness 5 : : 5 138 
His verdict on the creeds : 5 A 139 
BIBLIOGRAPHY ° ° . ° ° . 141 

INDEX e ° ° e ° ° ° 144 


ERASMUS : : . . : 5 Frontispiece 
1 JOHN v. 5-10 (Codex Sinaiticus) . - ‘ 5 7 
MARK xvi. 5-8 (Codex Alexandrinus) 5 < : 37 
Dr. Westcorr A ‘ 5 3 4 6 55 
ALFRED Lorsy , C : . . . 73 
LUTHER © 5 5 5 6 ° ° . 79 
JOHANN GorTrriep HERDER K é C 5 81 
Ee Ca BAUR) 6 J : 3 - 4 99 
Davip F. Strauss . ° . ° S A 105 
ERNEST RENAN - 5 . : : 112 
W. J. BurGon, Dean of Chichester 5 é ‘ 122 

The portraits of Baur, Herder, Renan, and Luther are repro- 
duced from prints published by the Berlin Photographic Company, 
London, W. The portrait of Dr. Westcott is reproduced by 
permission of Messrs. J. Russell and Sons; that of Dr. Burgon 
was supplied by Messrs. Hills and Saunders, 

Cuapter 1. 

THE various writings—narrative, epistolary, and apoca- 
lyptic—which make up the New Testament had no 
common origin, but were composed at different times 
by at least a score of writers in places which, in view of 
the difficulties presented to travel by the ancient world, 
may be said to have been widely remote from each other. 
With the exception of the Epistles of Paul, none of them, 
or next to none, were composed until about fifty years 
after the death of Jesus; and another hundred years 
elapsed before they were assembled in one collection and 
began to take their place alongside of the Greek trans- 
lation of the Hebrew Bible as authoritative scriptures. 

Nor was it without a struggle that many of them 
made their way into the charmed circle of the Christian 
canon, or new instrument, as Tertullian, about the year 
200, called the new sacred book; and this point is so 
important that we must dwell upon it more in detail. 
For the discussions in the second and early third centu- 
ries of the age and attribution of several of these books 
constitute a first chapter in the history of New Testa- 
ment criticism, and sixteen centuries flowed away pert: 
a second was added. 

We learn, then, from Eusebius that the writings which 
pass under the name of John the son of Zebedee were 
for several generations viewed with suspicion, not by 
isolated thinkers only, but by wide circles of believers. 

These writings comprise the fourth gospel, three 
| I 


epistles closely resembling that gospel in style and 
thought, and, thirdly, the Book of Revelation. Between 
the years 170 and 18c there was a party in the Church 
of Asia Minor that rejected all these writings. The 
gospel of John, they argued, was a forgery committed 
by a famous heretic named Cerinthus, who denied the 
humanity of Jesus; it also contradicted the other three 
gospels in extending the ministry over three years, and 
presented the events of his life in a newand utterly false 
sequence, detailing two passovers in the course of his 
ministry where the three synoptic gospels mention only 
one, and ignoring the forty days’ temptation in the 
wilderness. About the year 172 a Bishop of Hierapolis 
in Asia Minor, named Claudius Apollinaris, wrote that 
the gospels seemed to conflict with one another, in that 
the synoptics give one date for the Last Supper and the 
fourth gospel another. Nor was it only in Asia Minor 
that this gospel, an early use of which can be traced only 
among the followers of the notable heretics Basilides 
and Valentinus, excited the repugnance of the orthodox ; 
for a presbyter of the Church of Rome named Gaius, or 
Caius, assailed both it and the Book of Revelation, which 
purported to be by the same author, in a work which 
Hippolytus, the Bishop of Ostia, tried to answer about 
the year 234. We may infer that at that date there 
still were in Rome good Christians who accepted the 
views of Gaius; otherwise it would not have been 
necessary to refute him. 

The gospel, however, succeeded in establishing itself 
along with the other three ; and Irenzus, the Bishop of 
Lugdunum, or Lyon, in Gaul, soon after 174 a.p., 
argues that there must be four gospels, neither more 
nor less, because there are four corners of the world and 
four winds. Tatian, another teacher of the same age, 


also accepted it, and included it in a harmony of the 
four gospels which he made called the Diatessaron. 
This harmony was translated into Syriac, and read out 
loud in the churches of Syria as late as the beginning of 
the fourth century. 

After the age of Hippolytus no further questions were 
raised about the fourth gospel. Epiphanius, indeed, 
who died in 404, and was Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, 
devotes a chapter of his work upon Heresies to the sect 
of Alogi—that is, of those who, in rejecting the fourth 
gospel, denied that Jesus was the Logos or Word of 
God; but by that time the question had no more than 
an antiquarian interest. 

Not so with the Apocalypse, against which Dionysius, 
Patriarch, or Pope, of Alexandria in the years 247-265, 
wrote a treatise which more than any other work of the 
ancient Church approaches in tone and insight the level 
of modern critical research, and of which, happily, 
Eusebius of Czsarea has preserved an ample fragment 
in his history of the Church :— 

In any case [writes Dionysius], I cannot allow that the 
author of the Apocalypse is that Apostle, the son of 
Zebedee and brother of James, to whom belong the 
Gospel entitled According to John and the general 
Epistle. For I clearly infer, no less from the character 
and literary style of the two authors than from tenour of 
the book, that they are not one and the same. 

Then he proceeds to give reasons in support of his 
judgment :— 
For the evangelist nowhere inscribes his name in his 

work nor announces himself either through his gospel or 
his epistle*-7..-. whereas the author of the Apocalypse at 

® Dionysius had never heard of the second and third Epistles of 


the very beginning thereof puts himself forward and says: 
The Revelation of Jesus Christ which he gave him to 
show to his servants speedily, and signified by his angel 
to his servant John, etc. 

{ower down he writes thus :— 

And also from the thoughts and language and arrange- 
ment of words we can easily conjecture that the one 
writer is separate from the other. For the Gospel and 
the Epistle harmonise with each other and begin in the 
same way, the one: Jn the beginning was the Word ; and 
the other: That which was from the beginning. In the 
one we read: And the Word was made flesh and dwelled 
among us; and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only- 
begotten by the Father; and the other holds the same 
language slightly changed: That which we have heard, 
that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we 
beheld and our hands handled, about the Word of Life, and 
the life was manifested. For this is his prelude, and such 
his contention, made clear in the sequel, against those 

‘ who denied that the Lord came in the flesh; and there- 
fore he adds of set purpose the words: And to what we 
saw we bear witness, and announce to you the eternal 
life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. 
What we have seen and heard we announce to you. 
The writer is consistent with himself, and never quits his 
main propositions; indeed, follows up his subject all 
through without changing his catchwords, some of which 
we will briefly recall. A careful reader, then [of the 
Gospel and Epistle], will find in each frequent mention 
of Light, Life, of flight from darkness ; constant repeti- 
tion of the words Truth, Grace, Joy, Flesh and Blood 
of the Lord, of Judgment and Remission of Sins, of 
God’s love to usward, of the command that we love one 
another, of the injunction to keep all the commandments, 
of the world’s condemnation and of the Devil’s, of the 
Antichrist, of the Promise of the Holy Spirit, of God’s 
Adoption of us, of Faith perpetually demanded of us. 
The union of Father and Son pervades both works (¢.e., 


Gospel and Epistle of John), and, if we scan their char- 
acter all through, the sense is forced on us of one and 
the same complexion in Gospel and Epistle. But the 
Apocalypse stands in absolute contrast to each. It 
nowhere touches or approaches either of them, and, we 
may fairly say, has not a single syllable in common with 
them; any more than the Epistle—not to mention the 
Gospel—contains reminiscence or thought of the Apoca- 
lypse, or Apocalypse of Epistle; although Paul in his 
epistles hinted details of his apocalypses (z.e., revela- 
tions), without writing them down in a substantive book. 
Moreover, we can base a conclusion on the contrast of 
style there is between Gospel and Epistle on the one side, 
and Apocalypse on the other. For the former not only 
use the Greek language without stumbling, but are 
throughout written with great elegance of diction, of 
reasoning and arrangement of expressions. We are far 
from meeting in them with barbarous words and sole- 
cisms, or any vulgarisms whatever; for their writer had 
both gifts, because the Lord endowed him with each, 
with that of knowledge and that of eloquence. I do not 
deny to the other his having received the gifts of know- 
ledge and prophecy, but I cannot discern in him an exact 
knowledge of Greek language and tongue. He not only 
uses barbarous idioms, but sometimes falls into actual 
solecisms ; which, however, I need not now detail, for 
my remarks are not intended to make fun of him—far be 
it from me—but only to give a correct idea of the dis- 
similitude of these writings. 

Modern divines attach little weight to this well. 
reasoned judgment of Dionysius; perhaps because 
among us Greek is no longer a living language. They 
forget that Dionysius lived less than one hundred and 
fifty years later than the authors he here compares, and 
was therefore as well qualified to distinguish between 
them as we are to distinguish between Lodowick 
Muggleton and Bishop Burnet. We should have no 


difficulty in doing so, and yet they are further from us 
by a hundred years than these authors were from 
Dionysius. Whether or no the fourth Gospel was a 
work of the Apostle John, the conclusion stands that it 
cannot be from the hand which penned Revelation. 
This conclusion Eusebius, the historian of the Church, 
espoused, and, following him, the entire Eastern Church; 
nor was the authority of Revelation rehabilitated in the 
Greek world before the end of the seventh century, 
while the outlying Churches of Syria and Armenia 
hardly admitted it into their canons before the thirteenth. 
In Rome, however, and generally in the West, where it 
circulated in a Latin version which disguised its peculiar 
idiom, it was, so far as we know, admitted into the 
canon from the first, and its apostolic authorship never 

The early Fathers seldom display such critical ability 
as the above extract reveals in the case of Dionysius. 
Why, it may be asked, could so keen a discrimination 
be exercised in this particular and nowhere else? 
What was there to awake and whet the judgment here, 
when in respect of other writings it continued to 
slumber and sleep? The context in Eusebius’s pages 
reveals to us the cause. The more learned and sober 
circles of believers had, in the last quarter of the 
second and the first of the third centuries, wearied 
and become ashamed of the antics of the Millennarists, 
who believed that Jesus Christ was to come again at 
once and establish, not in a vague and remote heaven, 
but on this earth itself, a reign of peace, plenty, and 
carnal well-being. These enthusiasts appealed to the 
Apocalypse when their dreams were challenged; and 
the obvious way to silence them was to prove that 
that book possessed no apostolic authority. The 




Millennarists might have retorted, and their retort would 
have been true, that if one of the books was to go, 
then the Gospel must go, on the ground that the 
Apostle John, whom the Epistle to the Galatians 
reveals as a Judaising Christian, could not possibly 
have written it, though he might well have penned the 
Apocalypse. The age was of course too ignorant and 
uncritical for such an answer to suggest itself; but the 
entire episode serves to illustrate a cardinal principle of 
human nature, which is, that we are never so apt to 
discover the truth as when we have an outside reason 
for doing so, and in religion especially are seldom 
inclined to abandon false opinions except in response 
to material considerations. 

Two other Christian Fathers have a place in the 
history of textual criticism of the New Testament— 
Origen and Jerome. The former of these was not a 
critic in our sense of the word. He notices that there 
was much variety of text between one manuscript and 
another, but he seems seldom to have asked himself 
which of the two variants was the true one. For 
example, in Hebrews ii. 9 he notices that in some MSS. 
the text ran thus :—‘¢hat by the grace of God he (Jesus) 
should taste death, but in others thus: chat without God 
he should, etc. He professes himself quite content to 
use either. In a few cases he corrects a place name, 
not from the evidence of the copies, but because of the 
current fashion of his age. Thus in Matthew viii. 28 
the scene of the swine driven by demons into the lake 
was in some MSS. fixed at Gerasa, in others at Gadara. 
But in Origen’s day pilgrims were shown the place of 
this miracle at Gergesa, and accordingly he was ready 
to correct the text on their evidence, as if it was worth 
anything. One other reason he adds for adopting the 


reading Gergesa, very characteristic of his age. It 
amounts to this, that the name Gergesa means in 
Hebrew “the sojourning-place of them that cast out”; 
and that divine Providence had allotted this name to 
the town because the inhabitants were so scared by the 
miracle of the swine that they exhorted Jesus to quit 
their confines without delay ! 

One other example may be advanced of Origen’s 
want of critical acumen. In Matthew xxvii. 17 he 
decided against the famous reading Jesus Barabbas as 
the name of the brigand who was released instead of 
Jesus of Nazareth, on the ground that a malefactor 
had no right to so holy a name as Jesus. 

Origen’s defence of allegory as an aid to the inter- 
pretation no less of the New than of the Old 
Testament forms a curious chapter in the ee of 

Marcion, in the middle of the second century, had 
pitilessly assailed the God of the Jews, and denounced 
the cruelty, lust, fraud, and rapine of the Hebrew 
patriarchs and kings, the favourites of that God. In 
the middle of the third century the orthodox were still 
hard put to it to meet the arguments of Marcion, and, 
as Milton has it, “to justify the ways of God to men.” 
Origen, learned teacher as he was, saw no way out of 
the difficulty other than to apply that method of 
allegory which Philo had applied to the Old Testament; 
and in his work, On First Principles, book iv., we 
have an exposition of the method. He premises, firstly, 
that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, because 
its” prophecies foreshadow Christ ; and, secondly, that 
there is not either in Old or New Testament a single 
syllable void of divine meaning and import. But how, 
he asks (in book iv., chap. 17), can we conciliate with 


this tenet of their entire inspiration the existence in the 
Bible of such tales as that of Lot and his daughters, of 
Abraham prostituting first one wife and then another, 
of a succession of at least three days and nights before 
the sun was created? Who, he asks, will be found 
idiot enough to believe that God planted trees in 
Paradise like any husbandman; that he set up in it 
visible and palpable tree-trunks, labelled the one “ Tree 
of Life,” and the other “Tree of Knowledge of Good 
and Evil,” both bearing real fruit that might be 
masticated with corporeal teeth; that he went and 
walked about the garden ; that Adam hid under a tree; 
that Cain fled from the face of God? The wise reader, 
he remarks, may well ask what the face of God is, and 
how anyone could get away from it? Nor, he con- 
tinues, is the Old Testament only full of such incidents, 
as no one regardful of good sense and reason can 
suppose to have really taken place or to be sober 
history. In the Gospels equally, he declares, such 
narratives abound ; and as an example he instances the 
story of the Devil plumping Jesus down on the top of 
a lofty mountain, from which he showed him all the 
kingdoms of the earth and their glory. How, he asks, 
cau it be literally true, how a historical fact, that from 
a single mountain-top with fleshly eyes all the realms 
of Persia, of Scythia, and of India could be seen 
adjacent and at once? The careful reader will, he 
says, find in the Gospels any number of cases similar 
to the above. In a subsequent paragraph he instances 
more passages which it is absurd to take in their literal 
sense. Such is the text Luke x. 4, in which Jesus 
when he sent forth the Twelve Apostles bade them 
“Salute no man on the way.” None but silly people, 
he adds, believe that our Saviour delivered such a 


precept to the Apostles. And how, he goes on, parti- 
cularly in a land where winter bristles with icicles and 
is bitter with frosts, could anyone be asked to do with 
only two tunics and no shoes? And then that other 
command that a man who is smitten on the right cheek 
shall also turn the left to the smiter—how can it be 
true, seeing that anyone who smites another with his 
right hand must necessarily smite his left cheek and 
not his right P And another of the things to be classed 
among the impossible is the prescription found in the 
Gospel, that if thy right eye offend thee it shall be 
plucked out. For even if we take this to apply to our 
bodily eyes, how is it to be considered consistent, 

whereas we use both eyes to see, to saddle one eye © 

only with the guilt of the stumbling-block, and why the 
right eye rather than the left ? 
Wherever, he argues (chap. 15), we meet with such 

useless, nay impossible, incidents and precepts as these, © 

we must discard a literal interpretation and consider of 
what moral interpretation they are capable, with what 
higher and mysterious meaning they are fraught, what 
deeper truths they were intended symbolically and in 
allegory to shadow forth. The divine wisdom has of 
set purpose contrived these little traps and stumbling- 
blocks in order to cry halt to our slavish historical 
understanding of the text, by inserting in its midst 
sundry things that are impossible and unsuitable. The 
Holy Spirit so waylays us in order that we may be 
driven by passages which taken in their przma-facte 
sense cannot be true or useful, to search for the ulterior 
truth, and seek in the Scriptures which we believe to 
be inspired by God a meaning worthy of Him. 

In the sequel it occurs to Origen that some of his| 

readers may be willing to tolerate the application of’ 

atte / 
> fd Pe 





this method to the Old Testament, and yet shrink from 
applying it wholesale to the New. He reassures them 
by insisting on what Marcion had denied—namely, on 
the fact that the same Spirit and the same God inspired 
both old and new alike, and in the same manner. 

* Whatever, therefore, is legitimate in regard to the one 

is legitimate in regard to the other also. “ Wherefore 

= also in the Gospels and Epistles the Spirit has intro- 

duced not a few incidents which, by breaking in upon 
and checking the historical character of the narrative, 
with which it is impossible to reconcile them, turn back 
and recall the attention of the reader to an examination 
of their inner meaning.” 

Origen admits (chap. 19) that the passages in Scrip- 
ture which bear a spiritual sense and no other are 
considerably outnumbered by those which stand good 

_as history. Let no one, he pleads, suspect us of assert- 

ing that we think none of the Scriptural narratives to 
be historically true, because we suspect that some of 
the events related never really happened. On the 
contrary, we are assured that in the case of as many 
as possible their historical truth can be and must be 

) upheld. Moreover, of the precepts delivered in the 

Gospel it cannot be doubted that very many are to be 
literally observed, as when it says: But I say unto you, 
Swear not atall. At the same time, anyone who reads 
carefully will be sure to feel a doubt whether this and 
that narrative is to be regarded as literally true or only 
half true, and whether this and that precept is to be 
literally observed or not. Wherefore with the utmost 
study and pains we must strive to enable every single 
reader with all reverence to understand that in dealing 
with the contents of the sacred books he handles words 
which are divine and not human. 


It is curious in the above to note that the one precept 
on the literal observance of which Origen insists— 
namely, the prohibition of oaths—is just that which for 
centuries all Christian sects, with the exception of the 
medieval Cathars and modern Quakers, have flouted 
and defied. This by the way. It is more important to 
note how these chapters of Origen impress a would-be 
liberal Anglican divine of to-day. “In reading most 
of Origen’s difficulties,” writes Dean Farrar in his 
Listory of Interpretation, p. 193, “ we stand amazed...... 
By the slightest application of literary criticism they 
vanish at a touch.” And just above, p. 190: “ The 
errors of the exegesis which Origen tended to establish 
for more than a thousand years had their root in the 
assumption that the Bible is throughout homogeneous 
and in every particular supernaturally perfect.” And 
again, p. 196: “ Having started with the assumption 
that every clause of the Bible was infallible, super- 
natural, and divinely dictated, and having proved to 
his own satisfaction that it could not be intended in its 
literal sense, he proceeded to systematise his own false 

No doubt such criticisms are just, but did the ante- 
cedents of Dean Farrar entitle him to pass them upon 
Origen, who was at least as responsive to the truth as 
in his age any man could be expectedto be? In reading 
these pages of the modern ecclesiastic we are reminded 
of the picture in the Epistle of James i. 23, of him 
“who is a hearer of the word and not a doer: he is like 
unto a man beholding his horoscope in a divining 
crystal (ov mirror) ; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth 
away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man 
he was.” 

Jerome, who was born about 346, and died 420 


deserves our respect because he saw the necessity of 
basing the Latin Bible not upon the Septuagint or 
Greek translation, but upon the Hebrew original. It 
illustrates the manners of the age that when he was 
learning Hebrew, in which for his time he made himself 
extraordinarily proficient, the Jewish rabbis who were 
his teachers had to visit him by night, for fear of 
scandal. In this connection Jerome compares himselt 
to Christ visited by Nicodemus. It certainly needed 
courage in that, as in subsequent ages, to undertake 
to revise a sacred text in common use, and Jerome 
reaped from his task much immediate unpopularity. 
His revision, of course, embraced the New as well as 
the Old Testament, but his work on the New contained 
nothing very new or noteworthy. 

CuHapter II. 

THE sixth article of the Church of England lays it down 
that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to 
salvation,” which is not the same thing as to say that 
everything contained in Holy Scripture is necessary to 
salvation. Nevertheless, this in effect has been the 
dominant view of the reformed churches. Underneath 
the allegorical method of interpreting the Bible, which 
I have exemplified from the works of Origen, lay the 
belief that every smallest portion of the text is inspired; 
for, apart from this belief, there was no reason not to 
set aside and neglect passages that in their literal and 
primary sense seemed unhistorical and absurd, limiting 
the inspiration to so much of the text as could reason- 
ably be taken for true. The Reformation itself pre- 
disposed those Churches which came under its influence 
to accept the idea of verbal inspiration; for, having 
quarrelled with the Pope, and repudiated his authority 
as an interpreter of the text and arbiter of difficulties 
arising out of it, they had no oracle left to appeal to 
except the Bible, and they fondly imagined that they 
could use it as a judge uses a written code of law. As 
such a code must be consistent with itself, and free 
from internal contradictions, in order to be an effective 
instrument of government and administration, so must 
the Bible ; and before long it was felt on all sides to be 
flat blasphemy to impute to a text which was now called 
outright “the Word of God” any inconsistencies or 


imperfections. The Bible was held by Protestants to 
be a homogeneous whole dictated to its several writers, 
who were no more than passive organs of the Holy 
Spirit and amanuenses of God. “Scripture,” wrote 
Quenstedt (1617-1688), a pastor of Wittemberg, “is a 
fountain of infallible truth, and exempt from all error ; 
every word of it is absolutely true, whether expressive 
of dogma, of morality, or of history.” 

Such a view left to Protestants no loophole of allegory, 
and their divines have for generations striven to recon- 
cile every one statement in the Bible with every other 
by harmonistic shifts and expedients which, in inter- 
preting other documents, they would disdain to use. 
Of these forced methods of explanation it is worth while 
to examine a few examples, for there is no better way 
of realising how great an advance has been made 
towards enlightenment in the present age. Our first 
example shall be taken from a work entitled A Harmony 
of the Four Evangelists, which was published in 1702 by 
William Whiston (1667-1752), a man of vast and varied 
attainments. A great mathematician, he succeeded Sir 
Isaac Newton in the Lucasian chair at Cambridge, but 
was deprived of it in 1710 for assailing in print the 
orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. In his old age he 
quitted the ranks of the English clergy, because he 
disliked the so-called Athanasian Creed, and became an 
Anabaptist. He was deeply read in the Christian 
Fathers, and was the author of many theological 
works, It marks the absolute sway over men’s minds 
in that epoch of the dogma of the infallibility and verbal 
inspiration of the Bible that so vigorous and original a 
thinker as Whiston could imagine that he had reconciled 
by such feeble devices the manifold contradictions of 
the Gospels. Take, for example, the seventh of the 


principles or rules he formulated to guide students in 
harmonising them. It runs as follows :— 

P. 118, vii.—The resemblance there is between several 
discourses and miracles of our Saviour in the several 
Gospels, which the order of the evangelical history places 
at different times, is no sufficient reason for the super- 
seding such order, and supposing them to be the very 
same discourses and miracles. 

He proceeds to give examples for the application of the 
above rule. The first of them is as follows :— 

Thus it appears that our Saviour gave almost the very 
same instructions to the Twelve Apostles, and to the 
Seventy Disciples, at their several missions; the one 
recorded by St. Matthew, the other by St. Luke, as the 
likeness of the occasions did require. Now these large 
instructions, being in two Gospels, have been by many 
refer’d to the same time, by reason of their similitude. 

That the reader may judge for himself how absurdly 
inadequate this explanation is, the two resembling dis- 
courses are here set out in opposing columns :— 

Luke x. 1: Now after these 
things the Lord appointed 
seventy others, and sent them 
two and two before his face 
into every city and place, 
whither he himself was about 
to come. And he said unto 
them, The harvest is plente- 
ous, but the labourers are 
few: pray ye therefore the 
Lord of the harvest, that he 
send forth labourers into his 
harvest. Go your ways: be- 
hold, I send you forth as 
lambs in the midst of wolves. 
Carry no purse, no wallet, no 
shoes: and salute no man on 
the way. And into whatso- 
ever house ye shall enter, 

Matthew x.1: And he called 
unto him his twelve disciples, 
and gave them authority...... 

5: These twelve Jesus sent 
forth, and charged them, say- 
Li Oeics 

Matthew ix. 37: Then saith 
he unto his disciples, The har- 
vest, etc...... 
(Identical as far as 


“into his 

Matthew x. 16: Behold, I 
send you forth as sheep in the 
midst of wolves. 

9g, 10: Get you no gold, nor 
silver, nor brass in your 
purses; no wallet for jour- 
ney, neither two coats, nor 



first say, Peace be to this 
house. And if a son of peace 
be there, your peace shall rest 
upon him: but if not, it shall 
turn to youagain...... But into 
whatsoever city ye shall enter, 
and they receive you not, go 
out into the streets thereof 
and say, Even the dust from 
your city, that cleaveth to our 
feet, we do wipe off against 
you: howbeit know this, that 
the kingdom of God is come 
nigh. I say unto you, It shall 
be more tolerable in that day 
for Sodom, than for that city. 

shoes nor staff: for the 
labourer is worthy of his 

11: And into whatsoever 

city or village ye shall enter, 
search out who in it is worthy; 
and there abide till ye go forth. 
12: And as yeenter the house, 
salute it. 13: And ifthe house 
be worthy, let your peace come 
upon it: but ifit be not worthy, 
let your peace return to you. 
14: And whosoever shall not 
receive you, nor hear your 
words, as ye go forth out of 
that house or that city, shake 
off the dust of your feet. 15: 
Verily I say unto you, It shall 
be more tolerable for the land 
of Sodom and Gomorrah in 
the day of judgement than for 
that city. 7: And as ye go, 
preach, saying, The kingdom 
of heaven is at hand. 

Dean Alford, in his edition 'of the New Testament 
which appeared in 1863, begins his commentary on 

Luke x. as follows :— 
Verses 1-16. 

Mission of the Seventy.—It is well that 

Luke has given us also the sending of the 7welve, or we 
should have had some of the commentators asserting that 

this was the same mission. 

The discourse addressed to 

the Seventy is in substance the same as that to the 
Twelve, as the similarity of their errand would lead us 

to suppose it would be. 

But we know only what was the errand of the seventy 
from the instructions issued to them, and, apart from 
what Jesus here tells them to do, we cannot say what 

they were intended to do. 

Were there any mention of 

them in the rest of the New Testament, we might form 
some idea apart from this passage of Luke of what their 


mission was, but neither in the Acts is allusion to them 
nor in the Paulines. It was assumed long afterwards, 
in the fourth century, when a fanciful list of their names 
was concocted, that they were intended to be missionaries 
to the Gentiles, who were, in the current folklore of 
Egypt and Palestine, divided into seventy or seventy- 
two races; but this assumption conflicts with the state- 
ment that they were to go in front of Jesus to the several 
cities and places which he himself meant to visit. 
Alford, therefore, argues in a circle, and we can only 
infer that their mission was similar to that of the 
Twelve, because their marching orders were so similar, 
and not that their orders were similar because their 
mission was so. 

In point of fact, we must take this passage of Luke 
in connection with other passages in which his language 
tallies with that of Matthew. Practically every critic, 
even the most orthodox, admits to-day that Matthew 
and Luke, in composing their Gospels, used two chiet 
sources—one the Gospel of Mark, very nearly in the 
form in which we have it; and the other a document 
which, because Mark reveals so little knowledge of it, 
is called the non-Marcan document, and by German 
scholars Q—short for Qued/e or source. By comparing 
those portions of Matthew and Luke which, like the two 
just cited, reveal, not mere similarity, but in verse after 
verse are identical in phrase and wording, we are able 
to reconstruct this lost document, which consisted 
almost wholly of teachings and sayings of Jesus, with 
very few narratives of incidents. The Lucan text before 
us is characterised by exactly the same degree of approxi- 
mation to Matthew’s text which we find in other passages; 
for example, in those descriptive of the temptation of 
Jesus — namely, Luke iv. 1-13 = Matthew iv. 1-11. 


There also, however, Alford, incurably purblind, asserts 
(note on Luke iv. 1) that “The accounts of Matthew 
and Luke (Mark's is principally a compendium) are 
distinct.” He refers us in proof of this assertion to his 
notes on Matthew and Mark, although in those notes 
he has made no attempt to substantiate it. 

In the present day, then, it is flogging a dead horse 
to controvert Dean Alford or William Whiston on such 
a point as this. The standpoint of orthodox criticism 
in the twentieth century is well given in a useful little 
book entitled Zhe Study of the Gospels, by J. Armitage 
Robinson, D.D., Dean of Westminster (London, 1902). 
On p. 111 of this book there is a table of certain 
passages which Luke and Matthew derived in common - 
from the non-Marcan document, and one of its items is 
the following :— 

Luke x. 1-12. Mission of seventy disciples = Matt. ix. 
By toy Xo dy le 

And, again, p. 112 :— 

Thus in ix. 35-x. 42 he (Matthew) has combined the 
charge to the twelve (Mark vi. 7 ff.) with the charge to 
the seventy, which St. Luke gives separately. 

But there is a problem here over which Dr. Robinson 
passes in silence, though it must surely have suggested 
itself to his unusually keen intelligence. It may be stated 
thus: Why does Luke make two missions and two 
charges, one of the Twelve Apostles, copied directly 
from Mark, and the other of Seventy Disciples, copied 
directly from the non-Marcan document; whereas 
Matthew makes only one mission—that of the Twelve— 
and includes in the charge or body of instructions given 
to them the instructions which Luke reserves for the 
Seventy alone? 

The question arises: Did the non-Marcan source 


refer these instructions—which Luke keeps distinct— 
to the Twelve, or to the Seventy, or to no particular 
mission at all? Here are three alternatives. 

In favour of the second hypothesis is the fact that 
later on in the same chapter—verses 17-20—Luke 
narrates the return of the Seventy to Jesus in a section 
which runs thus :— 

And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even 
the devils are subject unto usin thy name. And he said 
unto them, I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from 
heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread 

_ upon serpents and scorpions, and over all tne power of 

the enemy: and nothing shall in any wise hurt you, etc. 

Against this second hypothesis it may be contended 

Firstly, if the non-Marcan source had expressly 
referred these instructions to the corps of Seventy 
Disciples, then Matthew could not have conflated them 
with the instructions to the Twelve which he takes 
from Mark vi. 7-13. 

Secondly, the non-Marcan document which Luke 
copied in his tenth chapter was itself at the bottom 
identical with the text of Mark vi. 7-13, for not only 
are the ideas conveyed in the two the same, but the 
language so similar that we must infer a literary con- 
nection between them. 

Thirdly, in Luke’s narrative of the return of the 
Seventy several ideas and phrases seem to be borrowed 
from a source used by the author (probably Aristion, 
the Elder) of the last twelve verses of Mark, where 
they are put into the mouth of the risen Christ. 

There is really but a single explanation of all these 
facts, and it is this: that there were two closely parallel 
and ultimately identical accounts of a sending forth of 


apostles by Jesus, one of which Mark has preserved, 
while the other stood in the non-Marcan document. 
This latter one contained precepts only, and did not 
specify to whom or when they were delivered. 
Matthew saw that they referred to one and the same 
event, and therefore blended them in one narrative. 
Luke, on the other hand, obedient to his habit of 
keeping separate what was in Mark from what was in 
the non-Marcan source, even when these two sources 
repeated each other verbally, assumed that the non- 
Marcan narrative must refer to some other mission 
than that of the Twelve, the account of which he had 
already reproduced verbally from Mark. He conjec- 
tured that as there had been a mission of twelve sent 
only to the twelve tribes of Israel, so there must have 
been a mission of seventy disciples corresponding to 
the seventy elders who had translated 200 years earlier 
the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, and so been the 
means of diffusing among the Gentiles a knowledge of 
the old Covenant. But in that case the mission of the 
Seventy is pure conjecture of Luke’s. With this it 
well agrees that outside this chapter of Luke they are 
nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament, and 
that Eusebius, the historian of the Church, searched all 
through the many Christian writers who preceded him 
in the first and second centuries—writers known to him, 
but lost for us—in order to find a list of these seventy 
disciples, but found it not. It is incredible, if they 
ever existed, that in all this literature there should have 
been no independent mention of them. 

In the preceding pages I have somewhat anticipated 
the historical development of criticism; but it was 
right to do so, for it is not easy to understand its earlier 
stages without contrasting the later ones. The harmony 


of William Whiston supplies many more instances of 
blind adherence to the dogma that in the New Testa- 
ment, as being the Word of God, there cannot be, 
because there must not be, any contradictions or incon- 
sistencies of statement. It is not well, however, to 
dwell too long on a single writer, and I will next select 
an example from the Dzssertations (Oxford, 1836) of 
that most learned of men, Edward Greswell, Fellow 
of Corpus Christi College. In these we find harmonies 
so forced that even Dean Alford found them excessive. 
Take the following as an example. 

In Matthew viii. 19-22 and Luke ix. 57-60 the same 
pair of incidents is found in parallel texts :— 

Matt. viii. 19: And there 
came a Scribe, and said unto 
him, Master, I will follow thee 
whithersoever thou goest. 

20: And Jesus saith unto 
him, The foxes have holes, 
and the birds of heaven nests; 
but the Son of Man hath not 
where to lay his head. 

21: And another of the dis- 
ciples said unto him, Lord, 
suffer me first to go and bury 
my father. 

22: But Jesus saith unto 
him, Follow me; and leave 
the dead to bury their own 
dead. : 

Luke ix. 57: And as they 
went in the way, a certain 
man said unto him, I will 
follow thee whithersoever 
thou goest. 

58: And Jesus said, etc. (as 
in Matt.). 

: And he said unto 
another, Follow me. But he 
said, Lord, suffer me first to 
go and bury my father. 

60: But he said unto him, 
Leave the dead to bury their 
own dead; but go thou and 
publish abroad the kingdom 
of God. 

Now, in Matthew the above incidents follow the 

descent of Jesus from the mount on which he had 
delivered his long sermon, separated therefrom by a 
series of three healings, of a leper, of a centurion’s 
servant, and of Peter’s wife’s mother, and by Jesus’s 
escape from the multitude across the lake. They 


therefore occurred, according to Matthew, early in the 
ministry of Jesus, and in Galilee, to the very north of 
Palestine. Luke, on the contrary, sets them late in 
Jesus’s career, when he was on his way southward to 
Jerusalem, just before the crucifixion. Accordingly 
Greswell sets Matt. viii. 18-34 in § xx. of the third 
part of his harmony on November 1, A.D. 28, and 
Luke ix. 57-60 in § xxv. of the fourth part, January 23, 
AsD. go. ; 

This acrobatic feat provokes even from Dean Alford 
the following note on Matt. viii. 19 :— 

Both the following incidents are placed by St. Luke 
long after, during our Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem. 
For it is quite impossible (with Greswell, Dzss., iii., 
p- 155), in any common fairness of interpretation, to 
imagine that two such incidents should have twice 
happened, and both times have been related together. 
It is one of those cases where the attempts of the 
Harmonists do violence to every principle of sound 
historical criticism. Every such difficulty, instead of 
being a thing to be wiped out and buried at all hazards 
(I am sorry to see, e.g., that Dr. Wordsworth takes no 
notice, either here or in St. Luke, of the recurrence of 
the two narratives), is a valuable index and guide to the 
humble searcher after truth, and is used by him as such. 

And again in his prolegomena, § 4, Alford writes of 
the same two passages and of other similar parallelisms 
thus :— 

Now the way of dealing with such discrepancies has 
been twofold, as remarked above. The enemies of the 
Jaith have of course recognised them, and pushed them 
to the utmost; often attempting to create them where 
they do not exist, and where they do, using them to 
overthrow the narrative in which they occur. While 
this has been their course, equally unworthy of the 
Evangelists and their subject has been that of those who 


are usually thought the orthodox Harmonists. They have 
usually taken upon them to state that such variously 
placed narratives do not refer to the same incidents, and 
so to save (as they imagine) the credit of the Evangelists, 
at the expense of common fairness and candour. 

And below he writes :— 

We need not be afraid to recognise real discrepancies, | 
in the spirit of fairness and truth. Christianity never 
‘was, and never can be, the gainer by any concealment, | 
warping, or avoidance of the plain truth, wherever tt ts’ 
to be found. at ig 

In the first of the above passages cited from Dean 
Alford discrepancies in the Gospels are described as 
difficulties. But they were not such apart from the 
prejudice that the Bible was an infallible, uniform, and 
self-consistent whole. Discard this idle hypothesis, 
which no one ever resorted to in reading Thucydides 
or Herodotus, or Julius Cesar, or the Vedas, or Homer, 
or any other book except the Bible, and these “ diffi- 
culties” vanish. In a later section of his prolegomena, 

§ vi., 22, Alford lays down a proposition more pregnant 
of meaning than he realised :— 

We must take our views of inspiration not, as is too } 
often done, from @ priort considerations, but ENTIRELY | 

This can only mean that, since the Gospels, no less 
than other books of the Bible, teem with discrepancies, 
therefore their plenary inspiration (which the Dean 
claimed fo hold to the utmost, while rejecting verbal 
inspiration) is consistent with such discrepancies ; nor 
merely with discrepancies, but with untruths and 
inaccuracies as well. For where there are two rival 
and inconsistent accounts of the same fact and event 


one must be true and the other false. I do not see 
how Dean Alford could, on the above premisses, 
quarrel with one who should maintain that the 
Chronicle of Froissart or the Acta Sanctorum was 
quite as much inspired as the Bible. He denounces 
the doctrine of verbal inspiration; that is to say, the 
teaching “that every word and phrase of the Scriptures 
is absolutely and separately true, and, whether narra- 
tive or discourse, took place, or was said, in every 
most exact particular as set down.” He claims to 
exercise “ the freedom of the Spirit” rather than submit 
to “the bondage of the letter,” and he justly remarks 
that the advocates of verbal inspiration “must not be 
allowed, with convenient inconsistency, to take refuge 
in a common-sense view of the matter wherever their 
theory fails them, and still to uphold it in the main.” 
And yet, when we examine his commentary, we find 
him almost everywhere timorous and unscientific. For 
example, the most orthodox of modern critics frankly 
admits that two miracles in Mark—that of the feeding 
of the four, and that of the five, thousand—are a textual 
doublet ; I mean that there was one original story of 
the kind, which, in the hands of separate story-tellers 
or scribes, was varied in certain details, notably as to 
the place and period at which the miracle was wrought, 
and as to the number of people who were fed. The 
compiler of our second Gospel found both stories current 
—no doubt in two different manuscripts—and, instead 
of blending them into one narrative, kept them separate, 
under the impression that they related different incidents, 
and so copied them out one upon and after the other. 
The literary connection between these two stories sauze 
aux yeux, as the French say—/eaps to the eyes. Entire 
phrases of the one agree with entire phrases of the 


other, and the actions detailed in the one agree with 
and follow in the same sequence with those detailed in 
the other. Long before Alford’s time open-eyed critics 
had realised that the two stories were variations of a 
common theme; and yet Alford, in exemplification of 
his canon (Chap. I., § iv., p. 5) that Szmzlar incidents 
must not be too hastily assumed to be the same, writes 
as follows :— 

If one Evangelist had given us the feeding of the five 
thousand, and another that of the four, we should have 
been strongly tempted to pronounce the incidents the 
same, and to find a discrepancy in the accounts ; but our 
conclusion would have been false, for we have now both 
events narrated by each of two Evangelists (Matthew and 
Mark), and formally alluded to by our Lord Himself in 
connexion (Matt. xvi. 9, 10; Mark viii. 19, 20). 

He also, as another example of his canon’s applica- 
bility, instances the stories of the anointings of the 
Lord at feasts, first by a woman who was a sinner, in 
Luke vii. 36, foll., and again by Mary the sister of 
Lazarus, in Matt. xxvi. 6, foll., and Mark xiv. 3, foll., 
and John xi. 2 and xii. 3, foll. These stories are so like 
one another that, as Whiston observes, “the great 
Grotius (died 1645) himself was imposed upon, and 
induc’d to believe them the very same. Such fatal 
mistakes,” he adds, “are men liable to when they 
indulge themselves in the liberty of changing the settled 
order of the Evangelists on every occasion.” 

The fatal mistake, of course, lay with Whiston, and 
with Alford, who took up the same position as he. 
Whiston unconsciously pays a great tribute to the 
shrewdness and acumen of Grotius. 

Latter-day divines are somewhat contemptuous of the 

attitude of their predecessors fifty years ago. Thus 


Dr. Sanday writes in his Bampton Lectures of 1893 as 
follows (p. 392):— 

The traditional theory needs little description. Fifty 
years ago it may be said to have been the common belief 
of Christian men—at least in this country. It may have 
been held somewhat vaguely and indefinitely, and those 
who-held it might, if pressed on the subject, have made 
concessions which would have involved them in perplexi- 
ties. But, speaking broadly, the current view may be 
said to have been that the Bible as a whole and in all its 
parts was the Word of God, and as such that it was 
endowed with all the perfections of that Word. Not only 
did it disclose truths about the Divine nature and opera- 
tion which were otherwise unattainable; but all parts of 
it were equally authoritative, and in history, as well as in 
‘doctrine, it was exempt from error...... This was the view 
commonly held fifty years ago. And when it comes to be 
examined, it is found to be substantially not very different 
from that which was held two centuries after the birth of 

To this idea of verbal inspiration Dr. Sanday opposes 
what he calls an inductive or critical view of inspiration, 
in accordance with which the believer will, where the 
two conflict, accept “the more scientific statement.” 
On this view the Bible is not as such inspired, and the 
inspiration of it is fitful, more active in one portion of it 
than in another. Where the two views most diverge is 
in the matter of the historical books. These do not 
always narrate plain matter of fact, as they were sup- 
posed to do formerly ; nor are they “exempted from 
possibilities of error.” Where they conflict with scien- 
tific statements they must be regarded “ rather as con- 
veying a religious lesson than as histories.” 

I do not grudge this writer the task of extracting 
religious lessons out of certain portions of the Old 


Testament, but it is more important to consider the 
implications of this modern Anglican doctrine of inspira- 
tion. Is it open to everyone and anyone to pick and 
choose and decide what in the Scriptures is true and 
what not, what inspired and what uninspired? Who is 
to be trusted with this new task of detecting an inner 
canon inside of the old canon of Scripture ? 

There is a school of thinkers inside the Church who 
desire to assume this task, and who never weary of 
insisting on the authority of the priesthood in this 
matter. That somewhat mordant, but not very 
enlightened, critic, Sir Robert Anderson, in a work 
entitled Zhe Bible and Modern Criticism (London, 
1903), not unjustly observes (p. 172) that “the Lux 
Mundi school has fallen back on the Church as the 
source of authority...... because the Bible, so far from 
being infallible, is marred by error, and therefore 
affords no sure basis of faith.” And this is undoubtedly 
the point of view of High Church clergymen. It 
remains to be seen whether in the minds of Englishmen 
the authority of the Church will survive that of the 


CuaptTer III. 

Tue Unitarian movement, which flourished in Poland 
during the sixteenth century, and penetrated to England 
in the seventeenth, contributed but little to the criticism 
of the New Testament. It is true that Lelius Socinus 
(1525-1562) and Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), his 
nephew, both of Siena, after whom the Unitarians 
were called Socinians, denied many tenets held to be 
fundamental in the great churches of east and west, 
such as that of the trinity and that of baptism with 
water; but, no more than the medieval Cathars who in 
both these respects anticipated them, did they dream 
of calling in aid the resources of textual criticism. 
They merely accepted the New Testament text as they 
found it in Erasmus’s Greek edition, or even in the 
Latin vulgate, and accepted it as fully and verbally 
inspired. No more than their Calvinist and Jesuit 
persecutors, had they any idea of a development of 
church doctrine such as could have led incidentally to 
interpolations and alterations of the texts. They 
questioned neither the traditional attributions of these 
texts nor their historical veracity. Nor did it ever 
occur even to John Locke to doubt the plenary inspira- 
tion of scripture, although his philosophy, with its 
rejection of authority and appeal to experience and 
common sense, operated strongly for the creation of 
that rationalistic school of thinkers who came to be 
known as Deists. The writers of this school, who 


flourished at the end of the seventeenth and during the 
eighteenth century, dealt with many subjects ; but they 
all of them stood for a revolt against authority in 
religion. Thus Tindal, in his preface to his work, 
Christianity as Old as the Creation, or, the Gospel a 
Republication of the Religion of Nature, declares in his 
preface that— 

He builds nothing on a thing so uncertain as tradition, 
which differs in most countries; and of which, in all 
countries, the bulk of mankind are incapable of judging. 

The scope of his work is well indicated in the head- 
ings of his chapters, one and all. Take for example 
this :— 

Chap. I.: That God, at all times, has given mankind 
sufficient means of knowing whatever he requires of 
them, and what those means are. 

And in this chapter we read :— 

Too great-a stress can’t be laid on natural religion; 
which, as I take it, differs not from vevealed, but in the 
manner of its being communicated : the one being the 
internal, as the other the external revelation of the same 
unchangeable will of a Being, who is alike at all times 
infinitely wise and good. 

This author never wearies of contrasting the simpli- 
city of natural religion, the self-evidencing clearness of 
the laws of goodness, mercy, and duty impressed on 
all human hearts, with the complexity and uncertainty 
of a revelation which rests or is contained in Scriptures; 
and he knows how to enrol leading Anglican authori- 
ties on his side in urging his point. Thus (p. 214 of 
the third edition, London, 1732) he adduces a passage 
from the Polemical Works of Jeremy Taylor, which 
begins thus :— 

Since there are so many copies with infinite varieties 
of reading; since a various interpunction, a parenthesis, 


a letter, an accent, may much alter the sense; since 
some places have divers literal senses, many have 
spiritual, mystical, and allegorical meanings; since there 
are so many tropes, metonymies, ironies, hyperboles, 
proprieties and improprieties of language, whose under- 
standing depends on such circumstances, that it is 
almost impossible to know the proper interpretation, 
now that the knowledge of such circumstances, and 
particular stories, is irrecoverably lost: since there are 
some mysteries which, at the best advantage of expres- 
sion, are not easy to be apprehended ; and whose explica- 
tion, by reason of our imperfections, must needs be 
dark, sometimes unintelligible ; and, lastly, since those 
ordinary means of expounding Scripture, as searching 
the originals, conference of places, parity of reason, 
analogy of faith, are all dubious, uncertain, and very 
fallible; he that is wisest, and by consequence the 
likeliest to expound truest, in all probability of reason, 
will be very far from confidence. 

The alternatives are thus presented of becoming 
“priests’ worshippers,” with “a divine faith in their 
dictates,” or of resigning oneself to Bishop Taylor’s 
attitude of suspense and doubt. For as that writer 
concludes: “So many degrees of improbability and 
incertainty, all depress our certainty of finding out 
truth in such mysteries.” These, as he elsewhere says 
(Polem. Works, p. 521): “ Have made it impossible for 
a man in so great a variety of matter not to be 
deceived.” The first. alternative involves, as Chilling- 
worth said in his Religion of Protestants, a “ deify- 
ing” by some Pope or other of “his own interpreta- 
tions and tyrannous in forcing them upon others”; and 
a Pope is “the common incendiary of Christendom,” 
who “tears in pieces, not the coat, but the bowels and 
members of Christ: rzdente T, urca, nec dolente Tudaeo.” 

From the above extracts we can judge of Tindal’s 


position. He did not directly attack orthodoxy; 
indeed, had he done so he could hardly have retained 
his fellowship at All Souls’ College. But the direct 
implication of his work throughout was this, that 
Christianity is not only superfluous, but too obscure to 
be set on a level with natural religion. His book is 
still worth reading, and very superior to the feeble 
counterblasts penned by several contemporary divines, 
one of whom was my own direct ancestor, John Cony- 
beare, Bishop of Bristol. Space forbids me to dwell as 
long as I would like to on the work. I will only draw 
attention to his acute discussion in his sixth chapter of 
the intellectual preconditions of any revelation what- 
ever. Men, he there argues, must have been gifted 
not only with an idea of a perfect and Supreme Being, 
but with a certainty of his existence, and an idea of 
his perfections, before they can even approach the 
question, Whether he has made any external Revelation, 
All discussion of such a question is bound to be idle, 
“except we could know whether this Being is bound 
by his external word; and had not, either at the time 
of giving it, a secret will inconsistent with his revealed 
will; or has not since changed his will.” The modern 
High Churchman imagines that he has strengthened 
the position of orthodoxy by a doctrine of progressive 
revelation. In other words, Jehovah, when he delivered 
the Law to Moses, communicated neither his true will 
nor the whole truth to mankind; he only did so when 
he’ sent Jesus into Judea and founded the Christian 
Church and its sacraments. We may well ask with 
Tindal how we can be sure that the Church and its 
sacraments exhaust the truth. May there not still 
remain a Secret Will in reserve waiting to be revealed, 
as little consistent with current orthodoxy and its 


dogmas and rites as these are with the old Jewish 
religion of animal sacrifices? Of Tindal’s work only 
the first volume was published in 1730, when he was 
already an old man. He died in 1733, leaving a second 
ready for the press. It never saw the light, for Dr. 
Gibson, Bishop of London, with whom Tindal had 
more than once crossed swords, got hold of the manu- 
script after the author’s death, and, rightly judging that 
it was easier to suppress than answer such a work, had 
it destroyed. The late Bishop Stubbs, with uncon- 
scious humour, confesses in one of his letters to a 
similar action. He met John Richard Green for the 
first time in a railway train, and, noticing that he was 
reading Renan’s Lzfe of Jesus, engaged him in a discus- 
sion of other topics. Before the conversation ended the 
Bishop had transferred the obnoxious volume to his 
own handbag, whence, when he reached his home, he 
transferred it into his wastepaper basket. So. history 
repeats itself at long intervals. Amid the revolutions 
of theology little remains the same except the episcopal 

I have dwelt first on Matthew Tindal because his 
work illustrates so well the general tone of Deists. I 
must now turn to two of his contemporaries who 
are memorable for their criticisms of the New Testa- 

The author of the first Gospel incessantly appends to 
his narratives of Jesus the tag: Mow all this ts come to 
pass that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by ‘the 
prophet. So in Luke xxiv. 25 it is related how the risen 
Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, by way of convincing 
two of his disciples of the reality of his resurrection, 
said unto them, O foolish men and slow of heart to believe 
in accordance with all the prophets have spoken /......Ana 


beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he inter- 
preted to them throughout the Scriptures the things con- 
cerning himself. 

And similarly in the fourth Gospel (xix. 28), Jesus, 
that the Scripture might be accomplished, said: I thirst. 
\soeee And when he had recetved the vinegar, he said, This 
Scripture also ts fulfilled; and he bowed his head, and 
gave up his spirit. <— 

I cite these passages to illustrate the character of 
that form of embellishment of the narratives of Jesus to 
which the name of prophetic e2zoszs has been given, and 
which was the chief—perhaps the only—weapon of his 
followers against the Jews who scornfully denied him to 
be the Messiah. After doing service against the Jews, 
the same argument was used to compel the Gentiles also 
to accept the new religion; and Christian literature, 
until the other day, largely consisted of the argument 
from prophecy, as it was termed. With rabbinical 
ingenuity, thousands of passages were torn from the 
living context which gave them sense and meaning, 
and distorted, twisted, mutilated, misinterpreted, in 
order to fit them in as predictions of Jesus the Messiah. 
No one thought much of what they signified in their 
surroundings, or, indeed, of whether they had there any 
rational signification at all. 

Now early in the seventeenth century a few of the 
more intelligent students of the Bible began to express 
doubts about the matter. Various passages taken 
immemorially for prophecies of Christ seemed on closer 

t Here the English version, following all the MSS., renders: 
“ he said, It is finished ” (07 fulfilled). But the words survive as I 
have given them in Eusebius’s citations of the passage and in the 
old Georgian version, which probably reflects the second-century 

Syriac version. Their extreme frigidity would explain their omis- — 

sion from all the Greek MSS. 


inspection to yield a better and more coherent sense if 
interpreted by reference to the particular portions of the 
Old Testament to which they belonged. Such of them 
as were really anticipations of a future were seen to 
have received their fulfilment in the close sequel of the 
Old Testament history; others were not anticipations 
at all, but statements of past events made by ancient 
writers. It was pointed out by scholars, who now 
began to familiarise themselves with that tongue, that 

‘in Hebrew.the grammatical forms expressive of past 


and future action are almost identical, and easily mis- 
taken for one another. Worse still, many passages of 
the Septuagint or old Greek translation of the Old 
Testament were found on examination of the Hebrew 
text to be mistranslations. The Hebrew original, 
rightly interpreted, had quite another meaning than 
that which the evangelists, in their ignorance of 
Hebrew, had blindly accepted. 

William Whiston, whose harmonistic canons we have 

already discussed (p. 16 foll.), was impressed by these 

doubts, and set himself to resolve them. He could not, 
ina modern and critical manner, admit that the passages 
of the Old Testament adduced by the first and other 
evangelists as prophecies were not such, but adopted 
the topsy-turvy hypothesis that where the old Hebrew 
text did not warrant the Christian abuse of it, it had 
been changed and corrupted by Jewish enemies of 
Christ. In the age of the Apostles, he argued, or 
rather assumed, the Hebrew text had agreed with the 
Greek, so that they could argue from the latter taken in 
its literal sense. He admitted that the texts in their 
modern form are irreconcilable; and, having learned 
Hebrew, he boldly set himself to re-write the original, 
so as to make it tally with Christian requirements. 




But here a scholar as learned as himself, but less 
encumbered with the pedantry of orthodoxy, crossed 
his path. This was Anthony Collins (1676-1729), a 
scholar of Eton and of King’s College, Cambridge. 
Already, in 1707, he had published a work in which he 
pleaded for “the use of Reason in propositions the 
evidence whereof depends on human testimony.” In 
1713 he issued A Dzuscourse on Freethinking, in which 
he showed that in every age men have been virtuous in 
proportion as they were enlightened and free to think 
for themselves. Without such freedom of thought 
Christianity, he said, could never have won its early 
victories. In these two works he hardly went beyond 
what his master and intimate friend John Locke might 
have written; and the latter, in a letter addressed to 
him ten years earlier, had written thus :— 

Believe it, my good friend, to love truth for truth’s sake 
is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and 
the source of all other virtues: and if I mistake not, you 
have as much of it as ever I met with in anybody. 

The above-mentioned works, and also an earlier work 
in 1709 entitled Przestcraft in Perfection, raised up against 
Collins a plentiful crop of enemies ; he had already been 
obliged, in 1711, to retire for a time to Holland to escape 
the storm. There he gained the friendship of Le Clerc 
(1657-1736), who as early as 1685 had openly attacked 
the belief in the inspiration of the Bible, as it was then 
and long afterwards formulated. But it was in 1724 
that Collins published the work which most deeply 
offended. This was his Discourse on the Grounds and 
keasons of the Christian Religion, and was called forth 
by the work of Whiston. The following passage sums 
up the results at which he arrives :— 


In fine, the prophecies cited from the Old Testament by 
the authors of the New do so plainly relate, in their 
obvious and primary sense, to other matters than those 
which they are produced to prove that to pretend they 
prove, in that sense, what they are produced to prove is 
(as Simon, Bzb/. Crit., vol. iv., p. 513, and Histoire Crit. 
du Nouv. Test., chaps. 21 and 22, declares) to give up the 
cause of Christianity to Jews and other enemies thereof; 
who can so easily show, in so many undoubted instances, 
the Old Testament and New Testament to have no 
manner of connection in that respect, but to be in an 
trreconcilable state (as Whiston said in his Essay, etc., 
p- 282). 

The remedy proposed by Collins is that of allegorising 
the so-called prophecies, and of taking them in a second- 
ary sense different from their obvious and literal one. 
In no other way, he urged, can they be adapted to the 
belief in the spiritual Messiah who is yet to appear ; for 
the prophecies must have been fulfilled, or the Christian 
faith which they evidenced is false. Since they were 
demonstrably never fulfilled in their literal sense, Collins 
argues that the pointing of the Hebrew text must be 
altered, the order of words and. letters transposed, 
words cut in half, taken away or added—any pro- 
crustean methods, in short, employed, in order to force 
the text into some sort of conformity with the events. 

The good faith of Collins in propounding such a 
remedy was questioned by the many divines who 
undertook to answer him, and also by modern his- 
torians of the Deistic movement, like Leslie Stephen. 
He was accused of covertly ridiculing and destroying 
the Christian religion, while professing to justify and 
uphold it. This is a point to which I shall presently 
advert. For the moment let us select an example 
which illustrates the great sagacity and acumen he 


displayed in his attack on the argument from prophecy. 
It shall be his discussion of the text Isaiah vii. 14, 
invoked in Matt. 1. 23: Behold, the virgin shall be with 
child, and shall tring forth a son, etc. 

These words [wrote Collins], as they stand in Isaiah, 
from whom they are supposed to be taken, do, in their 
obvious and literal sense, relate to a young woman in the 
days ef Ahaz, King of Judah.. 

He then shows from the context of Isaiah, chap. viii., 
how Ahaz 

took two. witnesses, and in rel presence went unto 
.the said virgin, or young woman, called the Prophetess 
(verse 3), who in due time conceived and bare a son, who 
was named Immanuel ; after whose birth, the projects of 
Rezin and Pekah (Is. viii. 8-10) were soon confounded, 
"according to the Fvophess. and Sing given by the pr ophict: 

The sign (Isaiah vii, 14) was 
given by the prophet to convince Ahaz that he (the 
prophet): brought a message from the. Lord to him tc 
assure him that the two ies should not succeed against 

_ him. How could a virgin’s conception and bearing a son 
seven hundred years afterwards be a sign to Ahaz that 
the prophet came to him with the said message from the 

_ Lord? And how useless was it to Ahaz, as well as 
absurd in itself, for the prophet to say: Before the child, 
born seven hundred years hence, shall. distinguish 
between good and evil, the land shail be Jorsaken of both 
her kings ?—which should ‘seem a banter, instead of a 
sign. But a prophecy of the certain birth of a male child 
to be born within a year or two seems a proper sign 

_ Similarly he points out that the words of Hoséa cited 
in Matt. ii. 15 were no prediction, but a statement of a 
past fact—viz., that Jehovah tg brought Israel his son 
out of Egypt. 

Collins also undertook to show tHat the Book of 


Daniel, on which his antagonist Whiston relied, was 
a forgery of the age of Antiochus Epiphanes. This 
brilliant conjecture, which modern inquiry has sub- 
stantiated, of itself suffices to place him in the foremost 
rank of critics. Bentley, the King’s librarian, indulged 
in gibes, as cheap as they were coarse, at Collins’s 
mistakes in the domain of scholarship ; but here was a 
discovery which, had Bentley known it, far outshone 
in importance, while it rivalled in critical insight, his 
Own exposure in 1699 of the “fzstles of Phalarts, the 
genuineness of which was at the time an article of faith 
in Oxford colleges. 

The other writer of this age who must be set along- 
side of Collins as a critic of the New Testament was 
Thomas Woolston (1669-1731). The general position 
of this writer was that the miracles related of Jesus are 
so unworthy of a spiritual Messiah that they must one 
and all, including the resurrection, be set down as never 
having happened at all, and be explained allegorically 
as types or figures of the real, which is the spiritual, 
alone. I reproduce in his own words, from his Discourse 
on the Miracles, sixth edition, London, 1729, p. 7, his 
programme :— 

I will show that the miracles of healing all manner of 
bodily diseases, which Jesus was justly famed for, are 
none of the proper miracles of the Messiah, nor are they 
so much as a good proof of Jesus’s divine authority to 
found and introduce a religion into the world. 

And to do this let us consider, first, in general, what 
was the opinion of the Fathers about the Evangelists, in 
which the life of Christ is recorded. Eucherius says that 
the scriptures of the New as well as Old Testament are 
to be interpreted in an allegorical sense. And this his 
opinion is no other than the common one of the first ages 
of the Church...... consequently the literal story of Christ’s 


miracles proves nothing. But let’s hear particularly their 
‘ opinion of the actions and miracles of our Saviour. 
Origen says that whatsoever Jesus did in the flesh was 
but typical and symbolical of what he would do in the 
spirit; ani to our purpose, that the several bodily diseases 
which he healed were no other than figures of the spiritual 
injirmities of the soul, that are to be cured by him. 
The following are some of the results at which he 
arrives by applying the above canon :— 
Jesus’s feedings of five and four thousand in the 
wilderness “are most romantick tales.” 
The miracle of Mark ii. 1-12 = Luke v. 17-26 is “such 
a rodomontado that, were men to stretch for a wager, 
against reason and truth, none could outdo it.” 
He also banters the spittle miracle (in John ix.) 

of the blind man, for whom eyesalve was made of clay 
and spittle; which eyesalve, whether it was Balsamick 
or not, does equally affect the credit of the miracle. If it 
was naturally medicinal, there’s an end of the miracle ; 
and if it was not medicinal, it was foolishly and imper- 
tinently apply’d, and can be no otherwise accounted for 
than by considering it, with the Fathers, as a figurative 
act in Jesus (p. 55). 
Of another famous tale he writes :— 

Jesus’s cursing the fig-tree, for its not bearing fruit 
out of season, upon the bare mention of it, appears to be 
a foolish, absurd, and ridiculous act, if not figurative. 
Pee It is so like the malignant practices of witches, who, 
as stories go, upon envy, grudge, or distaste, smite their 
neighbours’ cattle with languishing distempers, till they die. 

And thus of the Magi :— 

Of the Wise Men out of the East, with their (literally) 
senseless and ridiculous presents of frankincense and 
myrrh, to a new-born babe. If with their gold, which 
could be but little, they had brought their dozens ot 
sugar, soap, and candles, which would have been of use 


to the child and his poor mother in the straw, they had 
acted like wise as well as good men (p. 56). 

From the Fourth Discourse on the Miracles, London, 
1729, p. 30, on the miracle of Cana :— 

Jesus, after their more than sufficient drinking for their 
satisfaction of nature, had never turned water into wine, 
nor would his mother have requested him to do it, if, I 
say, they had not a mind, and took pleasure in it too, to 
see the company quite stitch’d up....... 

The Fathers of your Church, being sensible of the 
absurdity, abruptness, impertinence, pertness, and sense- 
lessness of the passage before us according to the letter, 
had recourse to a mystical and allegorical interpretation, 
as the only way to make it consistent with the wisdom, 
sobriety, and duty of the Holy Jesus (p. 35). 

In his sixth discourse on the miracles Woolston 
assails the narratives of the Resurrection. He evidently 
felt that he was running some risk of prosecution and 
imprisonment by his freedom of speech, so he puts the 
chief of his argument into the mouth of an imaginary 
Jewish rabbi. The latter begins by lamenting the loss 
of the writings which, according to Justin Martyr} | 
(c. 130-140), his own ancestors unquestionably dispersed 
against Jesus. These, if we had them, would, he avers, 
yield us a clear insight into the cheat and imposture of 
the Christian religion. 

He then proceeds to argue that the priests who sealed 
the sepulchre waited for Jesus to rise again after three 
days—z.e., on Monday—but that the disciples stole a 
march on them by removing the body a day earlier, 
and then pretended the sense of the prophecy to be that 
he should rise on the third day. The disciples were 

afraid to trust Jesus’s body, its full time, in the grave, 
because of the greater difficulty to carry it off afterwards, 

and pretend a resurrection upon it....... 



Jesus’s body was gone betimes in the morning, before 
our chiey’ priests could be out of their beds; and a bare- 
faced infringement of the seals of the sepulchre was made 
against the laws of honour and honesty....... 

In short, by the sealing of the stone of the sepulchre 
we are to understand nothing less than a covenant 
entered into between our chief priests and the Apostles, 
by which Jesus’s veracity, power, and Messiahship was 
LOsDektIy:Clarscen™ The condition of the sealed covenant was 
that if Jesus arose from the dead in the presence of our 
chief priests, upon their opening the seals of the sepulchre, 
at the time appointed ; then he was to be acknowledged 
to be the Messiah. But if he continued in a corrupt and 
putrified state, then was he to be granted to be an 
impostor. Very wisely and rightly agreed! And if the 
Apostles had stood to this covenant, Christianity had 
been nipt in its bud and suppressed at its birth. 

He anticipates the objection that the theft could not 

have escaped the notice of the soldiers set to guard the 
tomb. These were either bribed or, as “our ancestors 
said, what your evangelist has recorded,” asleep. 

The rabbi next raises the objection that Jesus appeared 

to none except the faithful :— 

Celsus of old, in the name of the Jews, made the 
objection, and Olivio, a later rabbi, has repeated it. But 
in all my reading and conversation with men or books I 
never met with a tolerable answer to it. 

Sokess This objection Origen owns to be a considerable 
one in his second book against Celsus. 

Whoever blends together the various history of the 
four Evangelists as to Jesus’s appearances after his 
resurrection will find himself not only perplex’d how to 
make an intelligible, consistent, and sensible story of it, 
but must, with Celsus, needs think it, if he closely think 
on’t, like some of the confused and incredible womanish 
fables of the apparitions of the ghosts of deceased 
persons, which the Christian world in particular has in 


former ages abounded with. The ghosts of the dead in 
this present age, and especially in this Protestant country, 
have ceased to appear; and we nowadays hardly ever 
hear of such an apparition. And what is the reason of 
it? Why, the belief of these stories being banish’d out 
of men’s minds, the crafty and vaporous forbear to trump 
them upon us. There has been so much clear proof of 
the fraud in many of these stories that the wise and 
considerate part of mankind has rejected them all, 
excepting this of Jesus, which, to admiration, has stood 
its ground....... 

I can’t read the story without smiling, and there are 
two or three passages in it that put, me in mind of 
Robinson Crusoe’s filling his pockets with biskets, when 
he had neither coat, wastecoat, nor breeches on. 

I don’t expect my argument against it (the Resurrec- 
tion) will be convincing of any of your preachers. They 
have a potent reason for their faith, which we /ews 
can’t come at; or I don’t know but we might believe 
with them. 

That the Fathers, without questioning their belief of | 
Jesus’s corporal Resurrection, universally interpreted 


the story and every part of it mystically, is most certain. ~ 

He cites Hilary in behalf of this contention; also / 
Augustine, Sermo clxviii., Appendix; Origen in Johan. = 
Evang., C. xx., Tract 120; John of Jerusalem, Zz Matz. 
c. xx.; Jerome, Jn Mattheum,; and then sums up his 
case in the following words :— 

What I have said in a few citations is enough to show } WV; 
that they looked upon the whole story as emblematical of | 
his Spiritual Resurrection out of the grave of the letter, 
of the Scriptures, in which he has been buried about 
three days and three. nights, according to that mystical 
interpretation of prophetical Numbers which I have 
learned of the three Days, St. Augustin says, 
are to be understood three ages of the world. 

I am resolved to give the Letter of the Scripture no 



rest, so long as God gives me life and abilities to attack 

it. Origen (in Psalm xxxvi.) says that, when we dispute 
against Ministers of the Letter, we must select some 
historical parts of Scripture, which they understand 
literally, and show that, according to the Letter, they can’t 
stand their ground, but imply absurdities and nonsense. 
And how then is such a work to be performed to best 
advantage? Is it to be done in a grave, sedate, and 
serious manner? No, I think ridicule should here take 
place of sober reasoning, as the more proper and effectual 
means to cure menof their foolish faith and absurd notions. 

I have cited Woolston’s argument against the 
Resurrection so fully in order to give my readers an 
adequate idea of his method. It is old-fashioned, no 
doubt, as compared with the much subtler criticism of 
the Abbé Loisy, who challenges the story of the empty 
tomb altogether, and argues that, Jesus having been 
really cast after death into the common foss or Hakel- 
dama into which other malefactors’ bodies were thrown, 
the story of the women’s visit to the empty tomb was 
invented to buttress the growing belief in a bodily 
resurrection, such as became a messiah who was to 
return and inaugurate an earthly millennium. As 
against the traditional acceptance of the narratives, 
however, Woclston’s arguments are effective enough. 
His method of ridicule was, of course, adopted by 
Voltaire, who was living in England when he and 
Collins were writing. Voltaire, indeed, would have 
been the first to laugh at the method of allegory by 
which the two English Deists sought to quicken into 
spiritual meanings the letter which killeth by its 
absurdities. Needless to relate, this saving use of 
allegory did not avail to protect Woolston from public 
insults, prosecutions, and imprisonment. He was twice 
attacked by zealots in front of his house, and was in 


the King’s Bench tried before a jury who found him 
guilty of blasphemy. He was fined a hundred pounds, 
and, being unable to pay, he went to prison for the 
last four years of his life. The mere titles of the books 
written to answer him sufficiently indicate the odium 
they excited. Here are two of these titles :— 

Tom of Bedlam’s short letter to his cozen Tom Wool- 
ston, occasioned by his late discourses on the miracles of 
our Saviour. London, 1728. 

For God or the Devil, or just chastisement no per- 
secution, being the Christian’s cry to the legislature 
for exemplary punishment of publick and pernicious 
blasphemers, particularly that wretch Woolston, who 
has impudently and scurrilously turned the miracles of 
our Saviour into ridicule. London, 1728. 

The question remains whether Collins and Woolston 
Were Sincere in their advocacy of an allegorical inter- 
pretation of the Bible. I feel sure that Collins was, 
but not that Woolston was so, at any rate in his latest 
works. The worst of them were dedicated in insulting 
terms to English bishops of note, whom he invariably 
characterised as hireling priests and apostates. For 
Whiston, who as a professed Arian was hardly less 
offensive to the clergy than himself, Woolston ever 
retained his respect, though, like Collins, he forfeited 
his friendship. On the whole, there is much to be said 
for Leslie Stephen’s verdict that the study of Origen 
or some similar cause had disordered his intellect. In 
other words, he was a religious crank. 

However this be, there is one aspect of these two 
Deists which escaped their contemporaries and all who 
have since written about them. It is this, that in 
dismissing the historical reality of Christ’s miracles in 
favour of an exclusively symbolic interpretation they 


exactly took up the attitude of the medieval Cathars, 
called sometimes Albigensians, sometimes Patarenes. 
Thus in an old imaginary dialogue of the twelfth or 
thirteenth century, written by a Catholic against these 
heretics, the Catholic asks: “ Why, like Christ and the 
Apostles, do you not work visible signs?” And the 
Patarene answers :— 

Even yet a veil is drawn in your hearts, if you believe 
that Christ and his apostles worked visible signs. The 
letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Ye must there- 
fore understand things in a spiritual sense; and not 
imagine that Christ caused the soul of Lazarus to return 
to his corpse; but only that, in converting him to his 
faith, he resuscitated one that was dead as a sinner is 
dead, and had lain four days, and so stunk in his 
desperate state. 

These curious heretics, the descendants of Marcion 
and Mani, held that, as matter was an evil creation, 
Christ, a spiritual and divine being, could not have 
wrought material miracles ; he could not pollute him- 
self by contact with matter. He only appeared to the 
eye to work material signs, just as he appeared to the 
eye to have a human body, though, in fact, he shared 
not our flesh and blood. His birth, therefore, no less 
than his death and resurrection, were only fantastic 
appearances, and not real events. 

It is strange to find Woolston reproducing these 
earlier forms of opinion. Did he blunder into them by 
himself, or did he, through some obscure channel, 
inherit them? If we consider that these medieval 
heretics were in the direct pedigree of some of the 
Quaker and Anabaptist sects which in the seventeenth 
century swarmed in England, Holland, and Germany, 
it is not impossible that he picked up the idea from 
some of his contemporaries. 


A LEADING writer of the Latin Church, the Rev. Joseph 
Rickaby, in an essay on “One Lord Jesus Christ,” in a 
volume entitled Jesus or Christ, London, 1909, p. 139; 
has written as follows :— 

At the outset of the argument it is necessary to define 
my controversial position in reference to the books of the 
New Testament. Never have documents been attacked 
with greater subtlety and vehemence: at the end of 
forty years’ fighting they have emerged in the main 
victorious ; their essential value has been proved as it 
never had been proved before. 

That Dr. Rickaby is easily pleased will be seen if we 
consider the results of those forty years of criticism as 
they are accepted by a daily increasing number of clergy- 
men in the Roman, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches, 
and also by many Nonconformists. In the first place, 
the gospel called “according to Matthew” is no longer 
allowed to be from the pen of that Apostle. Here 
again we may select Dean Alford as a fair represen- 
tative of educated opinion fifty years ago. He could 
then write of the passage Matt. vill. 2 foll., in which 
the cleansing of a leper by Jesus is related, as follows :— 

This same miracle is related by St. Luke (ch. v. 12-14) 
without any mark of definiteness, either as to time or 
DIAC Crecente The plain assertion of the account in the text 
requires that the leper should have met our Lord on his 
descent from the mountain, while great multitudes were 
following him....... I conceive it highly probable that St. 



Matthew was himself a hearer of the sermon (on the 
mount), and one of those who followed our Lord at this 

And again, in reference to the passage ix. 9, where the 
publican called by Jesus to be an apostle is called 
Matthew, in contradiction of the other two gospels, 
which give his name as Levi, Alford could write that 
“it is probable enough that Matthew, in his own gospel, 
would mention only his apostolic name,” and that “in 
this case, when he of all men must have been best 
informed, his own account is the least precise of the 
three.” And in his Prolegomena, in ch. ii., he begins 
the section upon the authorship of this gospel with the 
words :— 

The author of this gospel has been universally believed 
tobe the Apostle Matthew. With this belief the contents 
of the gospel are not inconsistent, and we find it current 
in the very earliest ages. 

Alford also believed that the three Synoptic Gospels 
substantially embody the testimony the Apostles gave 
of Christ’s ministry, from his baptism by John until 
his ascension ; that this testimony was chiefly collected 
from the oral teaching current among the catechists of 
the Church, but in part from written documents as well 
which reflected the teaching. He was furthermore 
convinced that no one “of the three evangelists had 
access to either of the other two gospels in its present 
form.” He was loth to believe that Matthew, an 
Apostle, was a debtor to either of the others, not only 
for the order in which he arranges the events of the 
ministry of Jesus, but also for great blocks of his texts. 
Yet that Matthew was so indebted to Mark is an axiom 
with modern orthodox critics. The first gospel is 
universally allowed to-day to be a compilation by an 


unknown writer of two ulterior documents—namely, 
Mark and the non-Marcan document already mentioned.? 

In another work, AZyth, Magic, and Morals, | have 
advised my readers to take a red pencil and underline 
in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke all the phrases, 
sentences, and entire narratives which agree verbally 
with Mark, so that they may realise for themselves how 
little of Mark is left that is not either in Matthew or in 
Luke. Or, conversely, they may underline in Mark all 
words or parts of words that are found in the other two 
gospels. In the latter case they will find that they 
have underlined almost the whole of Mark. The only 
explanation is that both the others used Mark; and 
accordingly Dr. Armitage Robinson, a fairly conser- 
vative critic, writes in his work on Zhe Study of the 
Gospels as follows :— 

I think that the impression gained by anyone who will 
take the trouble to do what I have suggested (viz., under- 
line common words, etc.) will certainly be that St. Mark’s 
Gospel lay before the other two evangelists, and that 
they used it very freely, and between them embodied 
almost the whole of it. 

Accordingly Dr. Robinson boldly asserts (p. ror) the 
first gospel to be the work of an unknown writer, and 
warns his readers to prefer either Luke or Mark or the 
reconstructed non-Marcan document to Matthew :— 

From the historical point of view he cannot feel a like 
certainty in dealing with statements which are only 
attested by the unknown writer of the first gospel. 

Here, then, we see a gospel that had all the prestige 
of apostolic authorship, and the only one of the synoptics 
that had that prestige, debased to the level of an 
anonymous compilation, of less value for the historian 

t Page 19. 


than either of the other two. The one synoptic evan- 
gelist on whom Alford thought he could depend, just 
because he had seen things with his own eyes, turns 
out to be no apostle at all, but an anonymous copyist. 
Will Father Rickaby, in the face of such facts, continue 
to assert, of the first gospel at all events, that “its 
essential value has been proved as it never had been 
proved before ”? 

And in this connection it is instructive to note how 
the same hypothesis—viz., of Matthew’s (and Luke’s) 
dependence on Mark, and of Mark’s priority—is regarded 
by two Anglican deans, respectively before and after its 
acceptance. A certain Mr. Smith, of Jordanhill, in a 
Dissertation on the Origin and Connection of the Gospels 
(Edinburgh, 1853), to which I shall return later, argued 
that oral tradition was not adequate to explain the 
identities of word and narrative which pervade the 
Synoptic Gospels ; and he brought to a test the argu- 
ments on which the hypothesis of an oral tradition and 
narrative underlying them was based. That argument 
may fitly be given in the very words of Dean Alford, 
who believed in it. They are these (Prolegomena, 
ch. i., § 3, 6) :-— 

While they (the Apostles) were principally together, 
and instructing the converts at Jerusalem, such narrative 
would naturally be forthe most part the same, and expressed 
in the same, or nearly the same, words: coincident, how- 
ever, not from design or rule, but because the things them- 

selves were the same, and the teaching naturally fell for 
the most part into one form. 

Mr. Smith brought this argument to the test of experi- 
ence by an examination of how far and why modern 
historians like Suchet, Alison, and Napier, narrating 
the same events, can approximate to one another. He 


proved that they only agree verbally, as the Synoptic 
Gospels agree, where they copied either one the other 
or all common documents, and that where they did not 
so copy they did not agree. 

“Reasons could be assigned,” answers Dean Alford, 
“for the adoption or rejection by the posterior writer of 
the words and clauses of the prior one.” “Let the 
student,” he continues, “attempt such a rationale of 
any narrative common to the three gospels, on any 
hypothesis of priority, and he will at once perceive its 
impracticability. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke are to 
be judged by the analogy of Suchet, Alison, and Napier, 
the inference must be that, whereas the historians were 
intelligent men, acting by the rules of mental associa- 
tion and selection, the evangelists were mere victims of 
caprice, and such caprice as is hardly consistent with 
the possession of a sound mind.” 

This argument is unaffected by the circumstance that 
Matthew and Luke both copied Mark, instead of all 
three having (as was supposed by Mr. Smith) copied 
common, but now vanished, ulterior documents. What 
I desire to set on record is the condemnation Dean 
Alford is ready to mete out to Matthew and Luke in 
case they be proved to owe their mutual approxima- 
tions, not to a common oral tradition, but to common 
documents. According to the present Dean of West- 
minster, that case was the real one. Dean Alford then, 
who was no mean scholar and exegete, admitted by 
anticipation that the first and third evangelists displayed 
an almost insane caprice in the handling of their sources. 
In adopting here and rejecting there the words and 
clauses of their sources they obeyed no rules of mental 
association or selection. In fine, Dean Alford, were 
he alive to-day, would have to condemn Matthew and 


Luke for the arbitrariness of their methods of compila- 
tion, in which he would discern no rhyme or reason. 
What, then, becomes of Dr. Rickaby’s boast that after 
forty years’ fighting his documents have emerged in 
the main victorious ? 

With Alford’s judgment, however, let us contrast that 
of Dean Robinson, who, I believe, has always rejected 
that hypothesis of a common oral source, in which, like 
Alford, his master, Dr. Westcott acquiesced. He tells 
us that he entertained for a time the hypothesis of the 
use by all three evangelists of a common document, 
but finally dismissed it as “cumbersome and unneces- 
sary, and adopted the view that the first and third 
embodied St. Mark in their respective gospels.”? As 
to this “embodiment of St. Mark by the two subse- 
quent writers,” he holds that “it is not a_ slavish 
copying, but an intelligent and discriminating appro- 

For myself, I am of opinion that the truth lies 
between Dean Alford and Dean Robinson. Matthew 
and Luke are indeed capricious in what they reject and 
what they adopt of Mark, but their caprice cannot be 
stigmatised as insane. It is only what we might 
expect of compilers who, living in uncritical and 
uncultivated circles, had no idea of using their sources 
in the careful and scrupulous manner in which a 
scientific historian of to-day would use them. Mark 
did not reach their hands as a canonical Scripture 
invested with authority; and in the view of one of 
them, Matthew, it was much more important that the 
events of Jesus’s life should coincide with certain 
Messianic prophecies (as they were held to be) of the 

* See The Study of the Gospels, p. 28. 



Old Testament than with the narrative of Mark. For 
several years I have occupied my spare time in com- 
paring together and sifting the narratives of the lives 
and martyrdoms of the Saints of the Church collected 
by the Jesuits in their vast series of volumes called the 
Acta Sanctorum. In these we can often trace the 
fortunes of an originally simple, naive, and veracious 
narrative. Later hagiologists, intent on edification, 
pad out this narrative with commonplace miracles, 
stuff their own vulgar exhortations and admonitions in 
the mouths of the original actors, eliminate all local 
colour, and bowdlerise the text to suit a later stage of 
dogmatic development. Compared with such writers, 
it seems to me that Matthew and Luke treated the 
probably anonymous doctrines to which they owed 
their knowledge of Jesus with singular sobriety and 
self-restraint. We have only to compare either of 
them with the fourth Gospel to realise how much the 
art of portraying Jesus could decline in the course of 
little more than a generation. 

Both Matthew and Luke had conceptions of the 
character and 7éle of Jesus based partly on reflections 
of their own, partly on the growing prophetic gnosis of 
the age, in obedience to which they remodelled Mark’s 
narrative. Dean Robinson (in the work above men- 
tioned) remarks that in Mark the emotions of anger, 
compassion, complacence, are each recorded of Jesus 
three times; grief, agony, surprise, vehemence, each 
once. “Of actions,” he continues, “we have ‘ looking 
around’ five times, ‘looking upon’ twice, ‘looking up’ 
once, ‘turning’ thrice, ‘groaning’ twice, ‘embracing 
in the arms’ twice, ‘falling down’ once. Now, in the 
parallel passages of Matthew and Luke, we find,” he 
says, “that all the more painful emotions disappear, 


with one exception (agony). Anger, grief, groaning, 
vehemence, are gone; compassion remains twice in St. 
Matthew, complacence (if it may be so termed) once in 

Nor is it only in respect of Jesus that these 
“picturesque details” disappear. The figures of the 
disciples are purged in the same manner of human 
emotions. “ Perplexity (five times), amazement (four), 
fear (four), anger (once), hardness of heart (once), 
drowsiness (once), are all recorded with more or less 
frequency in St. Mark. But in the other evangelists 
we find the same tendency to eliminate as before.” It 
is very improbable that these later evangelists had an 
earlier copy of Mark from which these human traits in 
the portraiture of Jesus and his apostles were absent, 
waiting for the hand of a humanising editor to fill them 
in. Dean Robinson’s explanation is much more likely, 
that this suppression of emotional attributes in the 
persone dramatis was “the result of a kind of reverence 
which belonged to a slightly later stage of reflection, 
when certain traits might even seem to be derogatory 
to the dignity of the sacred character of Christ and his 

On the other hand, as Dean Robinson subtly remarks, 
the wonderment of the multitudes at the miracles of 
Jesus, already emphasised in Mark, is still further 
exaggerated in the later evangelists; and, as for the 
adversaries of Jesus, “we even seem to discover a 
general tendency both in St. Matthew and in St. Luke 
to expand and emphasise the notices of their hostility.” 

This is the best sort of literary criticism, and it really 
marks an epoch in the history of the Christian religion 
in England when a Dean of Westminster can deliver 
it from his pulpit and publish it in a book. The only 


question is how far it tallies with his assertion that the 
two subsequent writers were intelligent and discrimi- 
nating in their appropriation of Mark’s narrative. 
Does it not rather show how swiftly the process was 
in progress of dehumanising Jesus, of converting him 
from a man of flesh and blood into a god, gifted with 
the ataraxia or exemption from human emotions proper 
to the Stoic ideal sage and king? This development 
culminates in the fourth Gospel. Pass from the de- 
feated and tarnished, peevish and vindictive, prisoner 
of Elba to the majestic hero enthroned amid silence 
and awe in the spacious temple of the Invalides, and 
you feel that, mutatzs mutandis, the cult of Napoleon 
between the years 1815 and 1850 presents a certain 
analogy with the deification of Jesus between the years 
A.D. 70 and 120. 

Thus the early tradition that Matthew, as for sake of 
brevity I designate the first Gospel, was the work of an 
apostle and eye-witness has been definitely given up. 
It is possible that there may have been some truth in. 
the tradition preserved by Papias about a.D. 120-140 
that Matthew “composed the Joga or oracles of the 
Lord in the Hebrew tongue—z.e., in the Aramaic of 
Palestine, and that various people subsequently ren- 
dered these Jogza into Greek as best they could. Here 
we seem to get our only glimpse at the pre-Greek stage 
of the evangelical tradition, but we shall never know 
whether the word /ogia here used by Papias signified a 
collection of sayings or of narratives, or of both together. 
Many scholars to-day believe that Matthew’s Hebrew 
logva were a selection of prophecies of Jesus Christ culled 
from the Old Testament. In any case, our first Gospel is 
no translation of the document attested by Papias ; for, 
as Dean Robinson remarks, “our St. Matthew is 


demonstrably composed in the main out of two Greek 
books,” so that we must “conclude either that Papias 
made a mistake in saying that St. Matthew wrote in 
Hebrew, or that if he wrote in Hebrew his work has 
perished without leaving a trace behind it.” There is 
furthermore a statement in Irenzeus (about 170-180) to 
the effect that Matthew published his Gospel among 
the Jews in his own tongue at the time that Peter and 
Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding 
the Church. This statement seems to be independent 
of that of Papias, as most certainly is the story related 
by Eusebius of Pantzenus, the catechist of Alexandria, 
and teacher of Clement and Origen. The story runs 
that about the year 180 Pantenus visited India and 
found the natives using a Gospel of Matthew written in 
Hebrew, which Bartholomew the Apostle had conveyed 
to them. Origen and Eusebius equally believed that 
our Matthew was the work of the apostle, originally 
composed in Hebrew. 

It surely denotes a great change, almost. amounting 
to a revolution, when so ancient and well-attested a 
tradition as that which assigned the first Gospel to the 
apostle Matthew is set aside by leaders of the English 
clergy ; before long they must with equal candour 
abandon the yet more impossible tradition that the 
fourth Gospel was written by an apostle and eye- 
_witness, John, the son of Zebedee, who in the Epistle 
to the Galatians is presented to us by Paulas a Judaizer 
and an ally of James, the brother of Jesus. The 
tradition that this apostle wrote this Gospel is hardly so 
well authenticated as that which attested the apostolic 
origin of the first Gospel. It merely amounts to this, 
that as a child Irenzus had heard Polycarp, who died 

about A.D. 155, speak of John the Apostle. But he 




“does not assert that Polycarp attributed the Gospel to 

the apostle, nor is the occurrence in a surviving letter 
of Polycarp to the Philippians of a phrase from the first 
Epistle of John proof that Polycarp either knew of the 
Gospel, or, if he knew of it, that he ascribed it to John 
any more than he does the epistle. It is, moreover, 
practically certain that the John of whom Irenzeus in his 
boyhood heard Polycarp speak was not the apostle but 
the Presbyter John; for Irenzeus reports that Papias, like 
Polycarp, was a disciple of this John, whereas Papias, 
according to the testimony of Eusebius, who had his 
works in his library, learned not from John the Apostle 
but from John the Presbyter much of what he recorded 
in the five books of his lost Dzégésezs, or narratives. 

| _Irenzeus, therefore, confused the two Johns. The 
external evidence of the existence of this Gospel is no 

doubt early and ample, but it is chiefly found among 
heretical and gnostic sects, like the Ophites, Perateans, 
Basilidians, and Valentinians; and one of the latter, 
Heracleon, wrote a commentary onit. The attribution 

/ to the Apostle John was probably made by some of 

these sects, just as the Basilidians affected to have 
among them a Gospel of Mathew, and as in other 
circles the so-called Gospel of Peter was attributed to 
St. Peter and read aloud in church as an authentic work 
of that Apostle. If the fourth Gospel took its origin 
from gnostic circles, we can quite well understand why 
there existed so early in the orthodox Church of Asia 

. such strong prejudice against it. 

~ It isnot long ago that Canon Liddon declared in his 
Bampton Lectures (1866) that 
If the Book of Daniel has been recently described as 

the battlefield of the Old Testament, it is not less true 
that St. John’s Gospel is the battlefield of the New. It 


is well understood on all sides that no question of mere 
dilettante criticism is at stake when the authenticity of 
St. John’s Gospel is challenged....... For St. John’s Gospel 
is the most conspicuous written attestation to the God- 
head of Him whose claims upon mankind can hardly 
be surveyed without passion, whether it be the passion 
of adoring iove or the passion of vehement and deter- 
mined enmity. 

Nevertheless, among the best educated Anglicans 
there is a tendency to give up the fourth Gospel. In 
the work on the study of the Gospels already com- 
mended? Dean Robinson devotes two luminous chapters 
to the problem of its age and authorship. Though he 
inclines to accept it as a work written by the apostle in 
extreme old age, he is nevertheless not without 
sympathy for those who reject the orthodox tradition. 
“There are,” he writes (p. 128), “ many who are heartily 
devoted to that central truth [z.e., of the divinity of 
Christ], but yet cannot easily persuade themselves that 
the fourth Gospel offers them history quite in the sense 
that the other Gospels do, cannot think that Christ 
spoke exactly as He is here represented as speaking, 
and consequently cannot feel assured that this is the 
record of an eye-witness, or, in other words, the writing 
of the apostle St. John.” 

It is worth while to cite some of the phrases in 
which Dr. Robinson describes the impression made by 
the first chapter of this Gospel (without going any 
further) on the mind of one who has steeped himself in 
the study of the three Synoptic Gospels :— 

How remote do these theological statements (in the 

prologue of the fourth Gospel) appear from a Gospel 
narrative of the life of Christ, such as the three which we 

have been hitherto studying....... 
* See pp. 54 foll. 


Our surprise is not lessened as we read on. Great 
abstract conceptions are presented in rapid succession : 
life, light, witness, flesh, glory, grace, truth. 

Of the references to John the Baptist in chap. i. :— 

We are back on the earth indeed; but the scene is 
unfamiliar and the voices are strange. We hear nota 
word of John’s preaching of repentance, or even of his 
baptism. This is no comment on the facts we know : it 
is a new story altogether....... 

If a wholly new story of the beginnings of discipleship 
is offered us, this is not more startling than the wholly 
new story of John’s disclaimer of Messiahship....... 

Here, then, is a fair sample of the difficulty which this 
Gospel from beginning to end presents to those who 
come to it fresh from the study of the Synoptic narratives. 
The whole atmosphere seems different....... 

Not only do the old characters appear in new situations 
—the scene, for example, being laid mostly in Jerusalem 
instead of Galilee—but the utterances of all the speakers 
seem to bear another impress....... 

At times it is not possible to say whether the Lord 
Himself is speaking, or whether the evangelist is com- 
menting on what He has said. The style and diction of 
speaker and narrator are indistinguishable, and they are 
notably different from the manner in which Christ speaks 
in the Synoptic Gospels....... 

I do not myself see how a controversy of this kind can 
be closed. The contrast of which we have spoken 
cannot be removed; it is heightened rather than 
diminished as we follow it into details....... 

Dean Robinson accepts, then, the tradition of 
apostolic authorship, but hardly on terms which leave 
to the Gospel more value as a record of the historical 
Jesus than the dialogues of Plato possess as a record of 
the historic Socrates. “It is,” he avers, “not history 
in the lower sense of a contemporary narrative of events 


as they appeared to the youthful onlooker: not an 
exact reproduction of the very words spoken by Christ 
or to Christ.” 
And below he pictures the author of this Gospel as :— 
An old man, disciplined by long labour and suffering, 
surrounded by devoted scholars, recording before he 
passes from them his final conception of the life of the 
Christ, as he looked back upon it in the light of fifty 
years of Christian experience. To expect that after such 
an interval his memory would reproduce the past with 
the exactness of despatches written at the time would be 
to postulate a miraculous interference with the ordinary 
laws which govern human memories. 
The Christ is no longer “known after the flesh ”: the 
old limitations once transcended cannot be reimposed. 
A glorious vision results. A drama is enacted in which 
every incident tells, or it would not be there. The record 
moves not on the lines of the ordinary succession o1 
events so much as on a pathway of ideas. 

And once more he says of the author :— 

He can no longer sever between the fact and the truth 
revealed by the fact: interpretation is blended with 
event. He knows that he has the mind of Christ. He 
will say what he now sees in the light of a life of 

For seventeen hundred years the theology which lifts 
Jesus, of Nazareth out of and above human history, 
transforms him into the Word of God, which triumphed 
at Nicea and inspired Athanasius, was based on this 
fourth Gospel more than on any other book of the New 
Testament. From it as from an armoury the partisans 
of the divinity of Jesus Christ, as the Church has 
understood and formulated that tenet in its creeds and 
councils, have constantly drawn their weapons. It now 
at last appears, by the admission of Dean Robinson, that 



this entire theological fabric was woven in the mind of 
an apostle meditating in extreme old age on the half- 
forgotten scenes and conversations of his youth. Such 
is the best case which can be made out for orthodox 
theology. We are left with the roofless ruins of the 
stately edifice which sheltered the orthodox doctors of 
the past. And even these ruins totter and seem to 
endanger the lives of the shivering, half-naked figures 
who seek a precarious shelter among them. Professor 
Sanday, who not long ago tried to save the apostolic 
authorship of the fourth Gospel by arguing that no one 
but an apostle would have ventured to handle with so 
much freedom the life and conversations of his Master, 
in his latest book gives signs of abandoning altogether 
the attribution to the son of Zebedee. The impression 
that Dean Robinson’s pages leave on one’s mind is that 
a real follower of Jesus could never have written such qa 
gospel, though he himself scruples to draw the conclu- 
sion which his premisses warrant. 


THE task of ascertaining the true text of a classical 
author, of Virgil or Tacitus, of Euripides or Lysias, is 
far simpler and less perplexed with problems than that 
of ascertaining the true text of an evangelist, or of 
any other New Testament writing. In the case of 
profane writers, we have merely to collate the manu- 
scripts, to appraise their dates, to ascertain their mutual 
affinities, to draw out, if there be enough material, their 
genealogy, and discover which copies embody the oldest 
tradition ; to detect and exclude the mechanical errors, 
the slips of the pen, of the scribe ; to restore from the 
work of one copyist passages over which, because they 
began and ended with the same word or words, the eye 
of another copyist has glided, leaving a lacuna in his 
text. When all this is done there is room for con- 
jectural emendators, the Porsons, Bentleys, Jebbs, 
Hermanns, to begin and exercise their ingenuity on 
passages that are evidently corrupt. 

None of this labour can we spare ourselves in the 
case of a sacred toxt, so-called ; but much more awaits 
us besides. The profane author’s work has never been 
the battle-ground of rival sects and creeds. No one 
ever asked Plato or Demosthenes to decide whether the 
miracle of the miraculous conception and birth really 
happened, whether God is a Trinity or no. They are 
no arbiters of orthodoxy, and carry no weight in the 
question of whether Mary was the mother of God or 



not, or whether the Son is consubstantial with the 
Father. It has been far otherwise with the Gospels and 
the rest of the New Testament ever since about the 
year 200. Until then Christians were so much pos- 
sessed with the dream of the impending dissolution of 
all existing societies and institutions to make way for 
their own millennium, that they paid small attention to 
their scanty records of the earthly Christ, except 
so far as they were useful to confound their Jewish 
antagonists. Authority among them attached not to 
written documents, nor to priests and bishops, but to 
itinerant prophets, catechists, and ascetics. The com- 
position of the Diatessaron,’ about 180, was in itself 
no indication of excessive respect for the four Gospels 
conflated or fused together, but not harmonised, therein. 
If there had already then existed the same superstitious 
veneration for the four as: was felt a hundred years 
later, Tatian would not have been permitted to make 
such a compilation of them, nor in Syria would his 
compilation have been accepted instead of the documents 
themselves as a manual to be publicly read in church. 
Probably at that time the individual Gospels were 
valued only as the Gospel of Mark and the non-Marcan 
document were valued by those who fused them 
together in our first and third Gospels; and few would 
have found fault with Tatian if he had re-arranged, 
curtailed, and otherwise modified his material on the 
same scale as these evangelists did theirs. The emer- 
i gence of the several Gospels and their recognition about 
| the year 200, alongside of the Old Testament, as autho- 
ritative Scriptures, unalterable and not to be added to, 

* So called because it was a single Gospel produced by fusing 
together the four which still survive. 


was the result of a gradual process; but the recog- 
nition, once effected, was all the more complete and 
absolute for having been so gradual. Probably when 
Irenzeus, A.D. 180-200, pleaded that there could be only 
these four Gospels because there were only four winds, 
he was arguing against people who actually used other 
Gospels like that according to Peter and according to 
the Egyptians, and who regarded them, too, as sacred 
documents. From the little we know of these outside 
Gospeis the Church did well to exclude them from its 

But to canonise a document is to expose it to many 
dangers, for everyone wants to have it on their side. 
Luckily the great controversies of the Church began 
in the third century only, when the Gospel text was 
already too well fixed and settled for partisans to 
interfere with it on the large scale on which Marcion 
tampered with Luke. Nevertheless, there are signs 
that it was in details changed to suit new develop- 
ments of doctrine, even at a very early period; and in 
my volume, Myth, Magic, and Morals, 1 have given 
several examples of such doctrinal alterations of the 
text. Of these examples one was the story of the rich 
youth who aspired to become a disciple. It is read in 
Matt. xix. 16, Mark x. 17, Luke xviii. 18. Dr. Salmon, 
of Dublin, availed himself of this passage in order to 
show “how close is the connection between the 
criticism of the Gospel text and theories concerning the 
genesis of the Gospels.” We can seldom estimate the 
originality and value of rival variants found in one 
Gospel without considering what is read in the other 
two, supposing these to contain parallel versions of a 

t George Salmon, Some Criticism of the Text of the New Testa- 
ment ; London, 18973 p- 117- 


saying or incident. It is, for example, no use to argue, 
as did the Cambridge editors, Westcott and Hort (who 
shaped the Revised Version’s text), that for Matthew 
the MSS. Aleph. B.D.L., on the whole, give the sound 
and true tradition, and that their reading is, therefore, 
to be preferred in the passage in question. The other 
two Gospel texts, especially if looked at in the light of 
the modern theory of the interrelations of the three 
synoptics, assure us that those MSS. here contain what 
we may term an orthodox corruption. 

The critic I have just quoted, the late Dr. Salmon, 
whose kindness to myself when I was a _ youthful 
scholar I shall not soon forget, expresses in the same 
context his conviction that the work of Westcott and 
Hort suffered much from their want of interest in the 
problem of the genesis of the Gospels. Westcott, in 
particular, seems never to have abandoned the very 
inadequate view which he propounded in 1860 in his 
Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, that their points 
of agreement and disagreement are to be explained 
from oral tradition alone. There was, he argues, a 
body of oral tradition existing and passing from teacher 
to taught in both an Aramaic and a Greek form. Mark 
wrote down the Greek tradition in its earliest form, 
then Luke wrote it down in a developed form, and the 
Greek Matthew wrote down the later Hebraic re- 
moulding of the tradition; but no common document 
underlay either all three or any two of them. He 
admitted indeed that “No one at present [a.p. 1860] 
would maintain with some of the older scholars of the 
Reformation that the coincidences between the Gospels 
are due simply to the direct and independent action of 
the same Spirit upon the several writers.” In other 
words, the common element in these Gospels was not 

the Holy Spirit. Yet that it might just as well be 
the Holy Spirit as a merely oral tradition will, I believe, 
be plain to anyone who reflects how impossible it is 
that three independent writers should remember a long 
and complicated body of incident and teaching in the 
same way, and transfer it to paper, page after page, in 
almost identical words. 

I will conclude this chapter by glancing at some 
famous orthodox corruptions, the history of which, as a 
lesson in the psychology of obstinacy, is hardly less 
instructive than the story of Dr. Bode’s bust of 
Leonardo da Vinci’s Flora. 

In the First Epistle of John, chap. v., vs. 7, most but 
not all copies of the Latin Bible, called the Vulgate, 
read as follows :— : 

For there are three who bear witness in heaven: the 
father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are 
one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: 
the Spirit and the water and the blood: and these three 

are one. 

In the first printed edition of the New Testament, 
called the Complutensian, prepared at Alcala in Spain 
in 1514 by Cardinal Francis Ximenes, the words here 
italicised were included, having been translated from 
the Latin text into Greek; for the Greek MSS. used 
did not contain them. They are only found in two 
Greek MSS., one of the fifteenth the other of the six- 
teenth century. About 400 other Greek codices from 
the fourth century down to the fourteenth ignore them. 
All MSS. of the old Latin version anterior to Jerome 
lack them, and in the oldest copies even of Jerome’s 
recension of the Latin text, called the Vulgate, they are 
conspicuously absent. The first Church writer to cite 
the verse in such a text was Priscillian, a Spaniard, who 


was also the first heretic to be burned alive by the 
Church in the year 385. After him Vigilius, Bishop of 
Thapsa, cites it about 484. It is probable that the 
later Latin fathers mistook what was only a comment 
of Cyprian Bishop of Carthage (died 258) for a citation 
of the text. In any case, it filtered from them into the 
Vulgate text,t from which, as we have seen, it was 
translated into Greek and inserted in two or three very 
late manuscripts. 

Erasmus’s first edition of the Greek Testament, in 
1516, omitted the verse, as also did the second; but in 
1522 he issued a third edition containing it. Robert 
Stephens also inserted it in his edition of 1546, which 
formed the basis of all subsequent editions of the Greek 
Testament until recently, and is known as the Received 
Text, or Textus Receptus.? 

In 1670 Sandius, an Arian, assailed the verse, as 
also did Simon, a learned Roman Catholic priest, in 
his Aizstotre Critique du Nouveau Testament, part i., 
chap. 18, about twenty years later. He was followed 
by Sir Isaac Newton, who, in a learned dissertation 
published after his death in 1754, strengthened Simon’s 
arguments. Oddly enough, a Huguenot pastor, David 
Martin (1639-1721), of whom better things might have 
been expected, took up the cudgels in defence of the 
text. “It were to be wished,” he wrote, “that this 
strange opinion had never quitted the Arians and 
Socinians ; but we have the grief to see it pass from 
them to some Christians, who, though content to retain 

* Gibbon, in a note on chap xxxvii. of his Decline and Fail, says 
that in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Bibles were cor- 
rected by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Nicolas 
Cardinal and librarian of the Roman Church, secundum cvrtho- 

doxam fidem. (Wetstein, Prolegom., pp. 84, 85.) 
2 See chap. viii. 


the doctrine of the Trinity, abandon this fine passage 
where that holy doctrine is so clearly taught.” With 
the same tolerance of fraud, so long as it makes for 
orthodoxy, an Anglican bishop added a footnote in his 
catechism to the effect that the authenticity of this text, 
although by many disputed, must be strenuously upheld 
because it is so valuable a witness to the truth of 
Trinitarian doctrine. Gibbon, in his thirty-seventh 
chapter, sarcastically wrote :— 

The memorable text which asserts the unity of the Three 
who bear witness in Heaven is condemned by the uni- 
versal silence of the orthodox fathers, ancient versions, 
and authentic manuscripts....... After the invention of 
printing, the editors of the Greek Testament yielded to 
their own prejudices, or those of the times ; and the pious 
fraud, which was embraced with equal zeal at Rome and 
Geneva, has been infinitely multiplied in every country 
and every language of modern Europe. 

This passage provoked an attack on Gibbon from a 
certain English Archdeacon, Travis,. who rushed into 
the arena to defend the text which Kettner, answering 
Simon nearly a century earlier, had extravagantly 
hailed as “the most precious of Biblical pearls, the 
fairest flower of the New Testament, the compendium 
by way of analogy of faith in the Trinity.” It was high 
time that forgers should receive a rebuke, and Porson, 
the greatest of English Greek scholars and critics, 
resolved to administer it to them. Ina series of Letters 
to Travis he detailed with merciless irony and infinite 
learning the history of this supposititious text. Travis 
answered that Porson was a Thersites, and that he 
despised his railings. He accused him of defending 
Gibbon, who, as an infidel, was no less Porson’s enemy 
than his own. Porson’s answer reveals the nobility of 


his character. “Why,” he replies, “for that very 
reason I would defend him’”—a retort worthy of Dr. 

Scarcely anything in the English language is so well 
worth reading as these letters of Porson, and I venture 
to quote from his preface a single passage about Bengel 
(died 1752), whose commentary on the New Testament 
called the Gnomon was, for its day, a model of learning 
and acumen :— 

Bengel [writes Porson] allowed that the verse was in 
no genuine MS., that the Complutensian editors inter- 
polated it from the Latin version, that the Codex Britan- 
nicus is good for nothing, that no ancient Greek writer 
cites it and many Latins omit, and that it was neither 
erased by the Arians nor absorbed by the homeeoteleuton. 
Surely, then, the verse is spurious. No; this learned 
man finds out a way of escape. The passage was of so 
sublime and mysterious a nature that the secret discipline 
of the Church withdrew it from the public books, till it 
was gradually lost. Under what a want of evidence 
must a critic labour who resorts to such an argument. 

Porson made himself unpopular by writing these letters. 
The publisher of them lost money over the venture, and 
an old lady, Mrs. Turner, of Norwich, who had meant 
to leave him a fortune, cut down her bequest to thirty 
pounds, because her clergyman told her that Porson 
had assailed the Christian religion. 

The revised English version of this passage omits, of 
course, the fictitious words, and gives no hint of the 
text which was once so popular. Archdeacon Travis 
is discreetly forgotten in the Anglican Church; but the 
truth has far from triumphed in the Roman, and Pope 
Leo XIII., in an encyclical of the year 1897, solemnly 
decreed that the fraudulent addition is part of authentic 
scripture. He was surrounded by reactionaries who 



imagined that, if they could wrest such a pronounce- 
ment from the infallible Pontiff, they would have made 
an end for ever of criticism in the Catholic Church. ~ 
The abbot of Monte Casino, the home of the Bene- 
dictines, was, it is said, on the point of publishing a 
treatise in which he traced this forgery to its sources, 
when the Pope’s decree was issued. He thrust back 
his treatise into his pigeon-holes, where it remains. 
The aged Pope, however, who was a stranger to such 
questions, soon realised that he had been imposed upon. 
Henceforth he refused to descend to particulars, or to 
condemn the many scholars delated to him as modernist 
heretics. Of these the Abbé Loisy was the chief, and - 
the outcry against him finally decided Leo to establish 
in 1902 a commission for the progress of study of holy 
scripture. For the first time a few specialists were 
called in by the head of the Catholic Church to guide 
his judgment in such matters, and Leo XIII. directed 
them to begin by studying the question of the text, 
1 John v. 8. They presently sent him their report. 
As this was to the effect that the text was not authentic, 
it was pigeon-holed. But the aged prelate’s mind was 
ill at ease ; and during his last illness, both in his lucid 
moments and in delirium, he could talk of nothing else.* 
He has been succeeded by one who has no qualms, but 
condemns learning wherever and whenever he meets 
with it. To be learned in that communion is in our 
age to be suspect. 

There is a similar Trinitarian text in Matthew xxviii. 
19, where the risen Christ is represented as appearing to 
his twelve apostles on a mountain top in Galilee, and 
saying to them: All authority hath been given unto me 

* I derive these statements from the Abbé Albert Houtin, Za 
Question Biblique au XXe Siécle. Paris; 1906; p. 94. 


in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make 
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name 
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost ; 
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com- 
manded you: andlo, lam with you alway, even unto the 
end of the world. 

Here Eusebius, Bishop of Cesarea, who died about 
the year 340, and was entrusted by the Emperor 
Constantine with the task of preparing fifty édztions de 
luxe of the gospels for the great churches built or 
rebuilt after the Diocletian persecution was ended, read 
in such of his works as he wrote before the year 325 as 
follows : “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the 
nations 77 my name; teaching them,” etc. 

It is clear, therefore, that of the MSS. which Eusebius 
inherited from his predecessor, Pamphilus, at Caesarea 
in Palestine, some at least preserved the original 
reading, in which there was no mention either of 
Baptism or of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It had 
been conjectured by Dr. Davidson, Dr. Martineau, by 
the present Dean of Westminster, and by Professor 
Harnack (to mention but a few names out of many), 
that here the received text could not contain the very 
words of Jesus—this long before anyone except Dr. 
Burgon, who kept the discovery to himself, had noticed 
the Eusebian form of reading. 

It is satisfactory to notice that Dr. Eberhard Nestle, 
in his new edition of the New Testament in Latin and 
Greek, furnishes the Eusebian reading in his critical 
apparatus, and that Dr. Sanday seems to lean to its 
acceptance. That Eusebius found it in his MSS. has been 
recently contested by Dr. Chase, the Bishop of Ely, who 
argues that Eusebius found the Zextus Receptus in his 
manuscripts, but substituted the shorter formula in his 




works for fear of vulgarising and divulging the sacred 
Trinitarian formula. It is interesting to find a modern 
bishop reviving the very argument used 150 years ago 
in support of the forged text in r John v. 7. It is 
sufficient answer to point out that Eusebius’s argument, 
when he cites the text, involves the text “in my name.” 
For, he asks, “In whose name?” and answers that it 
was the name spoken of by Paul in his Epistle to the 
Philippians ii. 10. It is best to cite the entire passage, 
which is in the Demonstratio Evangelica (col. 240, p. 
136 of Migne’s edition) :— 

For he (Jesus) did not enjoin them to make disciples of 
all the nations simply and without qualification, but with 
the essential addition “in his name.” For so great was 
the virtue attaching to his appellation that the Apostle 
says (Phil. ii. 10): “God bestowed on him the name 
above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee 
shall bow, of thingsin heaven and on earth and under the 
earth.” It was right, therefore, that he should lay stress 
on the virtue of the power residing in his name, but 
hidden from the many, and therefore say to his apostles, 
“Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.” 

Surely Dr. Chase would not argue that the name 
implied in Phil. ii. 10 was the Name of Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit. That would be a pretty heresy for an 
Anglican bishop to entertain. Would he attribute a 
heresy at once so violent and senseless to Eusebius ? 
Where, then, is the point of arguing that Eusebius, in 
the score of passages where he cites Matt. xxviii. 19 
in the above form, was moved by the dsczplina arcanz, 
or fear of divulging Christian mysteries, from writing 
the formula out—the more so as it was on the 
lips of many of his contemporaries and had been pub- 
lished long before by Dionysius of Alexandria, Cyprian, 
Tertullian, and perhaps by Irenzeus and Origen? Why 


did they, too, not hide the sacred formula? Moreover, 
why should Eusebius drop out the command to baptise ? 
Surely the disciplina arcant does not explain his omis- 
sion of that ? 

In the case just examined it is to be noticed that not 
a single MS. or ancient version has preserved to us 
the true reading. But that is not surprising, for, as Dr. 
C. R. Gregory, one of the greatest of our textual critics, 
reminds us, “ The Greek MSS. of the text of the New 
Testament were often altered by scribes, who put into 
them the readings which were familiar to them, and 
which they held to be the right readings.”* 

These facts speak for themselves. Our Greek texts, 
not only of the Gospels, but of the Epistles as well, 
have been revised and interpolated by orthodox copyists. 
We can trace their perversions of the text in a few 
cases, with the aid of patristic citations and ancient 
versions. But there must remain many passages which 
have been so corrected, but where we cannot to-day 
expose the fraud. It was necessary to emphasise this 
point because Drs. Westcott and Hort used to aver 
that there is no evidence of merely doctrinal changes 
having been made in the text of the New Testament. 
This is just the opposite of the truth, and such dis- 
tinguished scholars as Alfred Loisy, J. Wellhausen, 
Eberhard Nestle, Adolf Harnack, to mention only four 
names, do not scruple to recognise the fact. Here isa 
line of research which is only beginning to be worked. 

* Canon and Text of the New Testament; T. and T. Clark, 1907 ; 
p- 424. 

CuaptTer VI. 

Protnde liber esse volo, “Henceforth I mean to be 
free,” wrote Luther when he broke with the Pope; and 
he had the merit at least of throwing off authority and 
asserting the right and duty of the individual believer 
to read the Bible for himself and interpret it without 
the help of a priest. “Wzth all due respect for the 
Fathers,” he said, “I prefer the authority of Scripture” 
(Saluts reverentiis Patrum ego prefero auctoritatem 
Scripture).t In making such pronouncements Luther 
builded better than he knew, and if we would 
realise how much we owe to him for the bold chal- 
lenge he hurled at Papal authority, we have only to 
compare the treatment by the Pope Pio X. of the 
Modernists, whose chief offence is to desire to under- 
stand the Bible, with the respect paid in the Lutheran 
Church to such men as Harnack, Von Soden, Preuschen, 
Violet, and in the Anglican to such scholars as Robert- 
son Smith, Professor Driver, Professor Sanday, Pro- 
fessor Burkitt. All these men would, in the Roman 
Church of the last ten years, have had to suppress or 
swallow their opinions, or would have been hounded 
out of the Church with writs of excommunication 
amid the imprecations of the orthodox crowd. 

One of the earliest German scholars that attempted 
to understand the Gospels and divest the figure of 

* See Farrar’s History of Interpretation, p. 327. 



Jesus of the suit of stiff dogmatic buckram with which 
theologians had immemorially bound him was the poet 
and philosopher, Johann Gottfried Herder, who made 
his literary début in 1773 in a volume of essays, to 
which Goethe also contributed. He was a humanist, 
a student of the classics, and an enthusiastic reader of 
Shakespeare. It was the age of Frederick the Great 
and Voltaire, an age when in north Germany men were 
able to think and write freely. In his first essay in 
theological criticism, entitled Letters on the Study of 
Theology, he urged that the Bible must be read from a 
human point of view, and intuitively discerned the 
impossibility of harmonising the fourth Gospel with 
the Synoptics. Orthodox divines, like the late Dr. 
Hort, a hundred years later among ourselves were still 
pretending that this Gospel supplements, but not con- 
tradicts, the other three. You may write a life of 
Jesus, argued Herder, out of John, or out of the 
Synoptics, but not out of both sources at once, for they 
are irreconcilable with each other. John he declared to 
have been written from the standpoint of Greek ideas, 
as a corrective to the Palestinian Gospel which the 
other three reflect. They represent Jesus as a Jewish 
Messiah, John as Saviour of the world; and the latter 
drops out of sight the demonology of the other three 
because its author, like Philo, regarded it all as so 
much Palestinian superstition. 

Yet Herder did not reject miracles. He even accepted 
that of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and argued 
that the earlier gospels passed it over in silence in order 
not to excite the wrath of the Jews against the humble 
family in Bethany! This argument is not too absurd 
for Dean Farrar to repeat it a hundred years later 
in his Life of Christ (p. 511). The first evangelists 



would not record “a miracle which would have brought 
into dangerous prominence a man who was still living. 
ee Even if this danger had ceased, it would have been 
obviously repulsive to the quiet family of Bethany to 
have been made the focus of an intense and irreverent 
curiosity,” etc. With regard to the inter-relations of 
the Synoptics, Herder showed more acumen, and antici- 
pated the latest critical positions. Mark, he wrote, is 
no abridgment, but a true and self-contained Gospel ; 
and if Matthew and Luke contain other and more 
matter, that is because they added it, and not because 
Mark, having it before him, left it out. Mark is the 
unadorned central column on which the other two lean 
—shorter than they, but more original. They added the 
Birth Stories because a new want of such information 
had, later than Mark, grown up among believers. And 
Mark indulges in less invective than they against the 
Jews, because the new religion was still largely a 
Jewish business. That neither the first three Gospels 
nor the fourth were intended to be read as sober 
historical treatises was also clear to Herder. The 
former were aimed to exalt him as a Messiah who 
fulfilled the Jewish prophecies ; the fourth is an epic of 
the Logos. 

But Herder’s appreciations of the Life of Jesus were 
after all less scientific and earlier in type than those of 
Hermann Samuel Reimarus, of whose epoch-making 
contribution to the cause of New Testament criticism 
Albert Schweitzer has recently, in his work, Voz 
Reimarus su Wrede,* reminded those who had forgotten 

* From R. to W., Tubingen, 1906, lately issued in an English 
translation, under the title Zhe Quest of the Historical Jesus. 
On Reimarus and Lessing see also Scherer’s History of German 

Literature, translated by Mrs. F. C. Conybeare, 1£86, vol. ii., 
p. 72 foll. 


the great theological controversies of Lessing and 
Strauss. Reimarus, born in 1694, was for forty-one 
years Professor of Philosophy in Hamburg, and died 
in 1768. He was the son-in-law of the famous philolo- 
gist, J. Alb. Fabricius, and was himself a man of high 
classical attainments. He thus brought to the study 
of the New Testament a trained judgment, unspoiled 
by the narrow calling of the professional divine. His 
treatises on early Christianity were probably the more 
untrammelled by orthodox prejudices because they were 
not intended by him for publication, and they would 
never have seen the light had they not fallen into the 
hands of Lessing, who published in the years 1774-8 
the more important of them under the title of Fragments 
of an Anonymous Wolfenbiitteler. The German world 
had seemed to be in a mood for liberal criticism, and 
historians and humanists there, as in England, were 
already turning their attention to dogmatic religion ; 
nevertheless, the Fragments fell like bombshells in the 
circles of the pious, and precipitated a real crisis in the 
history of the Protestant Church. The Christ of dogma 
was now arraigned as never before, and has, so to 
speak, been on trial ever since at the bar of History. 
For the fanciful figure of orthodox theologians the real 
historical Jewish Messiah began to emerge. 

The message or Gospel of Jesus was, according to 
Reimarus, summed up in the appeal to his countrymen 
to repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven was at 
hand. But of the Kingdom he, equally with John the 
Baptist, conceived in the current Jewish manner; and 
if he transcended his contemporaries in his forecast 
thereof, it was only in so far as he taught that observ- 
ance of the Law of Moses would develop therein unto 
a higher and deeper righteousness, less bound up with 


sacrificial cult, false Sabbatarianism, and ritual purity 
of meats. He never broke with the law nor dreamed 
of doing so. It was only when they were persecuted 
and driven out of the synagogue that his disciples broke 
with it—not of choice, but of necessity. 

Thus the creed of the earliest Church consisted of 
the single clause: “I believe that Jesus shall shortly 
inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth.” No wonder 
that the faith spread rapidly. Multitudes were already 
filled with a belief in the imminence of the promised 
kingdom, and were but too ready to acclaim Jesus as 
God’s prophet and instrument in bringing it about. 
This was the whole of the message that his apostles 
had to carry to the cities of Israel, avoiding those of 
the Samaritans and Gentiles. The Jews of Palestine 
were groaning under the Roman yoke, and were pre- 
pared to welcome a redeemer. For them a Messiah 
was Son of God; all the successors of David and kings 
of the people of the Covenant were sons of God, but 
the Messiah was such in a special sense. The Messianic 
claims of Jesus did not lift him above humanity, and 
there was nothing metaphysical about the 7éle. 

The Gospel parables teach us little of what the 
Kingdom was to be. They all assume that we know 
it. If we desire to learn more about it, we must go to 
the writings of the Jews. In any case the first con- 
dition of our understanding who and what Jesus was is 
that we should turn our backs on the catechism notions 
of a metaphysical sonship of God, of the Trinity, on 
orthodox dogmas in general, and should study instead 
current Jewish ideas. With these a priorz notions will 
vanish the mistaken supposition that Jesus meant to 
found a new religion. He never dreamed of abolishing 
the Jewish religion and of substituting a new system 


in its place. His chief disciple, Peter, long after the 
resurrection, needed the vision at Joppa to assure him 
that he might without sin eat with men uncircumcised, 
and the disciples who fled from Jerusalem after Stephen’s 
martyrdom “spoke the word to none save only to 
Jews.” It follows that the text Matthew xxviii. 19 is 
impossible, not only because it is spoken by one risen 
from the dead, but because its tenour is universalist 
and it presupposes the Trinity and the metaphysical 
sonship of Jesus. It also conflicts with our earliest 
tradition of baptism in the community of Christians, 
for, as we learn both from the Book of Acts and from 
Paul, they baptised at first, not into the name of the three 
Persons, but into that of Jesus the Messiah or Christ. 
Neither baptism nor in its later forms the Eucharist 
derives from Jesus. 

That Jesus worked cures which the people round him 
regarded as signs and wonders cannot be disputed. 
When Reimarus further opines that Jesus bade those 
he healed to tell no man of it by way of exciting the 
curiosity of the crowd, we cannot follow him. But all 
will admit that some of his greater miracles were 
invented by propagandists who felt a call to prove that 
in works of power the Messiah transcended the worthies 
of the Old Testament. If it be true that in Jerusalem 
the multitude were as convinced as the texts assure us 
they were of his immediately manifesting the Kingdom 
of God to them, then by a single miracle publicly worked 
on a feast-day he must have carried all before him. 
Twice he seems to have made sure that his vision of the 
Kingdom was about to be made a reality : once when, 
sending forth his disciples, in Matt. x. 23, he coupled 
their mission with the assurance that they would not 
have time to visit all the cities of Israel before the Son 


of Man came—that is, that the masses flocking to him 
would erewhile have witnessed the Messiah’s advent ; 
and a second time when, in the style of Messiah, 
he entered Jerusalem riding on an ass amid the 
acclamations of the multitude. But the people hung 
back after all, and his feat of clearing the temple of its 
Paschatide traffic fell flat, as also did his denunciations 
of priests and pharisees. The Galileans had forsaken 
him, and now the erewhile enthusiastic people of 
Jerusalem forsook him in the same way. He had begun 
by concealing his quality of Messiah of set purpose ; he 
ended by concealing it from fear and necessity. He felt 
that his star had set and his mission was a failure when 
from the cross he uttered the bitter cry of disillusion- 
ment: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 
me?” He had never contemplated suffering thus, 
never looked forward to a death on the cross. With 
God’s miraculous aid he had expected to establish a 
kingdom on earth in which the Jews, rescued from the 
yoke of infidel and Gentile oppressors, would live 
happily ever afterwards; and now his countrymen 
betrayed and forsook him, and the Roman was slaying 
him with every circumstance of cruelty and mockery. 
Reimarus shows less insight in his account of the 
events which followed the death of Jesus. He is right, 
no doubt, in arguing that the disciples, driven out of 
their old enthusiasms by the logic of facts, took refuge 
in Daniel’s vision of an apocalyptic Son of Man, borne in 
glory on the clouds of heaven to earth. But when he 
gives credit to the story that the apostles stole the body 
of Jesus in order to accredit their story of his resur- 
rection he betrays a certain want of grip. It was this 
feature of his reconstruction which more than any other 
roused against Lessing the accusation of impiety from 


those who for hundreds of years had complacently 
accepted Jerome’s view that Peter and Paul had only 
got up their quarrel at Antioch for the gallery, amd had 
never really been at issue with one another—a view that 
shocked even Augustine. 

Reimarus awoke many out of the torpor of assurance. 
Particular features of his system were no doubt 
erroneous, but in the main his arguments were irre- 
fragable, because he interpreted his documents in their 
plain and literal, but to the orthodox disconcerting, 
sense. Modern criticism, even in Anglican and Roman 
circles, is slowly coming round to his chief conclusions, 
which were that Jesus never meant to found a new 
religion, but only to herald that Kingdom of God 
towards which the aspirations of pious Jews had for 
generations been directed, and that the fourth Gospel 
must simply be set aside by those who would discover 
the true Jesus. His account of Jesus’s attitude towards 
the law, and of the gradual abandonment after his death 
of that attitude by his disciples, anticipated the best 
criticism of our own generation. When writers like Dean 
Farrar dilate on the “crude negations” and “dreary 
illuminism of Reimarus,’’? they only betray their elemen- 
tary ignorance of the problems they profess to solve. 

About the same time as Reimarus was writing, a 
striking book appeared in England. This was E. Evan- 
son’s work on Zhe Dzssonance of the Four Generally 
Received Evangelists and the Evidence of thetr Respective 

t See Jerome’s 89th Epistle to Augustine, where he adheres to 
his view that Paul and Peter were both acting a part, and that 
they merely got up their tiff in order to reassure the Judaisers. 
Jerome argues that Paul was guilty of similar dissimulation when 
he took Timothy, a Gentile, and circumcised him for fear of 
the Jews. 

2 See Farrar’s History of Interpretation, p. 400. 


Authenticity Examined. The author was born at War- 
rington, in Lancashire, in 1731, and received a classical 
education, first from his uncle, Mr. John Evanson, 
rector of Mitcham, in Surrey, and then at Emanuel, 
Cambridge. He graduated M.A. in 1753, took orders, 
and became his uncle’s curate. But he was soon con- 
vinced that the prayer-book was opposed to Scripture, 
and accordingly omitted some phrases of it and changed 
others in public service. Having also maintained that 
Paul denied the physical as opposed to spiritual resur- 
rection, he incurred a prosecution for heresy. The 
Solicitor-General, Mr. Wedderburn, defended him 
gratis on this occasion, and, having secured his 
acquittal, procured him Church preferment, not aware 
that Evanson had made up his mind to quit the 

It was supposed in 1772 that the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, with the help of certain of his colleagues, was 
preparing a revision of the Anglican liturgy and articles, 
so Evanson was encouraged to lay his scruples before 
him in a letter, in which he begged him to persevere, 
to remove difficulties, and ease the tender consciences 
of many learned clergymen. His extremely reasonable 
application was never answered, any more than has 
been the memorandum of nearly 2,000 incumbents 
who recently approached the bishops in a similar 
spirit and with a like object. Mr. Evanson next pub- 
lished a letter to Hurd, Bishop of Lichfield, setting forth 
the grounds and reasons of his dissatisfaction, and 
shortly after left the Church, resigning his living. Hurd, 
in answer, expressed more regret than surprise, but 
praised him warmly for following his convictions. He 
only lamented the loss to the Church of one so full of 
liberal spirit and erudition. The Bishop of Rochester 


also expressed his concern that a clergyman of Mr. Evan- 
son’s abilities should resign his preferment for 2o other 
reasons than those he had assigned to the Bishop of 
Lichfield. Subsequently Evanson received a pension 
from the family of the Earl of Bute. “An open decla- 
ration of his faith, which duty called for and sincerity 
enjoined, provoked the rancour and malice of bigots 
and brought on him their hatred and persecution.”* 
And certainly Mr. Evanson, at the outset of his work 
on the dissonances of the evangelists, strikes no un- 
certain note, for he begins as follows :— 

After so many writers, some of them of great erudition 
and distinguished abilities, in almost all ages of what is 
called the Christian Church, have undertaken to har- 
monise and show the perfect agreement of the four 
generally received Evangelists, and to reconcile all the 
recurring differences in both the facts and order of their 
several narrations, it will undoubtedly appear the 
highest degree of presumptuous arrogance to attempt 
now at last to demonstrate that so much learned and 
ingenious labour hath been bestowed in vain. 

Evanson gives examples of such dissonance both 
between one gospel and another, and between separate 
parts of the same gospel; but he made the mistake of 
over-estimating the trustworthiness of Luke. This he 
was led to do because he was imposed on, firstly by the 
parade of historical method and research in Luke’s 
exordium, and secondly by Luke’s excellence as a 
stylist. The latter quality particularly appealed to so 
refined a scholar. To illustrate this point I venture to 
cite his remarks about the passage, Matthew vili. 5-16= 
Luke vii. 1-10, in which the healing of the Centurion’s 

From Some Account of His Life and Religious Opinions, 
written by a friend on the occasion of Evans ns death in 1805, 


child is related. He notes that in Matthew the 
Centurion himself goes to Jesus, whereas in Luke he 
only sent a deputation of elders of the Jews, and - 
declared that he did not esteem himself worthy to go 
in person. “Here, again,” comments Evanson, 

one of these historians related a falsehood. It is 
observable also that, according to this gospel called 
St. Matthew’s, this miracle, in order of time, preceded 
the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the calling of 
Matthew himself, and the choice of the twelve apostles ; 
whereas St. Luke tells us that it was subsequent to all 
three. Yet St. Luke assures Theophilus that, having 
attained perfect information of everything from the very 
first, he had written an account of every transaction 
in order. Now, he could have received his information 
only from the Apostles he lived with at Jerusalem, of 
whom Matthew was one; and as it is impossible but 
Matthew must have known whether he was himself with 
Jesus when this miracle was wrought or not, he could 
not have written that he was not and have informed 
St. Luke that he was; and, therefore, the writer of this 
gospel could not be St. Matthew nor any other of the 
Apostles. To avoid unnecessary repetitions, the reader is 
desired to consider this as a general remark upon the 
many instances of contradiction, in the order of the 
narration, between this writer and St. Luke, which are 
both numerous and obvious to the least degree of atten- 

Evanson also was shrewd enough to see that the 
legend of the miraculous birth of Jesus was no part of 
the primitive gospel tradition. He argues that the first 
two chapters of Luke are an interpolation; but he was 
well aware of the similarity of vocabulary and idiom 
which connects them with the rest of the gospel, and 
met this obstacle to his argument by supposing that the 
interpolator imitated Luke. He could not believe that 


the same hand which penned these two chapters could 
have narrated the incident of John sending his disciples 
to Jesus to ascertain if he was the Messiah. He writes 
thus :— 

Now, it seems absolutely impossible that John, after 
being from his earliest infancy personally acquainted 
with Jesus, and not only in possession of all the informa- 
tion respecting him, which he must have learned from 
the two families, but so miraculously impressed with 
affection and reverence for him as to exult with joy, 
though but an embryo in the womb, at the mere sound 
of his mother’s voice, could at any time have enter- 
tained the least doubt of Jesus being the Messiah (p. 37). 

The true view, of course, is that Luke, in spite of his 
pretensions to accuracy, was a careless and credulous 

Evanson’s appreciations of the legend of the miracu- 
lous birth are couched in a very modern spirit. He 
notes that, according to Paul’s preaching at Antioch, it 
was the resurrection and no birth miracle that con- 
stituted Jesus the Son of God; and also that Luke, 
except in his first two chapters, nowhere calls Jesus the 
Son of God until after the Resurrection. Before that 
event he terms him Son of Man or Son of David. On 
p. 44 he speaks of “this pagan fable of the miraculous 
conception of Jesus Christ”; and just below he writes 
on p. 49 as follows :-— 

In no one apostolic Epistle, in no one discourse 
recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, is the miraculous 
conception, or any circumstance of the history of Jesus 
previous to John’s baptism, hinted at even in the most 
distant manner—on the contrary, that baptism is 
repeatedly referred to and mentioned as the proper com- 
mencement of evangelical instruction; and when the 
eleven Apostles proceeded to elect a twelfth, to supply 



the place of Judas, the only qualification made essentially 
requisite in the candidates was, their having been eye- 
witnesses of our Lord’s ministry from the baptism of 
John to his Ascension. These two chapters of Luke are 
the daring fiction of some of the easy-working inter- 
polators (fadvoupyé), as Origen calls them, of the beginning 
of the second century, from among the pagan converts, 
who, to do honour as they deemed it to the author of 
their newly-embraced religion, were willing that his birth 
should, at least, equal that of the pagan heroes and 
demigods, Bacchus and Hercules, in its wonderful 
circumstances and high descent; and thereby laid the 
foundation of the succeeding orthodox deification of the 
man Jesus, which, in degree of blasphemous absurdity, 
exceeds even the gross fables of pagan superstition. 

And in another place (p. 14) he remarks on the fact 
that Justin Martyr, in his Apology, 

illustrates and pleads for the toleration ot the orthodox 
doctrine of the generation of the Word by the heathen 
Emperors, because of its resemblance to the fabulous 
origin of their own deities Mercury and Minerva; and 
justifies the doctrine of the zmcarnation by its similarity 
to the births of AXsculapius and Hercules, and the other 
illustrious god-men of pagan mythology. 

In these and many other passages Evanson belonged 
rather to the late nineteenth century than to the 
eighteenth. No one in his day so clearly realised as he 
the low standard, or no standard, of literary authenticity 
which characterised early Christianity. Thus he notes 
that in the earliest age it was so common among the 
Christians “to produce entire pieces of their own or 
others’ forgery under the name of any writer they 
pleased that, if what we call the scriptures of the New 
Testament were not so tampered with, they are almost 
the only writings, upon the same subject, of those early 
times which have escaped free.” 


It is a matter of common observation that, in propor- 
tion as men overtop their contemporaries in one par- 
ticular, they often lag behind them in another; and a 
critic may see with one eye and be blind of its fellow. 
It was so with Evanson, who fell into the extraordinary 
error of attaching to so-called prophecies of Christ an. 
importance which he denied to miracles. “ Prophecy,” 
he wrote, “is not only the most satisfactory, but also 
the most lasting, supernatural evidence of the truth of 
any revelation.” And he even went the length of pre- 
dicting from the Apocalypse the end of the world within. 
a few generations. Just in proportion as he saw clearly 
how insufficient is the evidence of the gospels to bear 
the strain of the vast superstructures that theologians. 
have built upon them, his mind seems to have been 
fuddled by the study of this book. We have already seen. 
that Woolston was infected with the same craze; and 
the great Isaac Newton himself, in the prime of his life, 
gave up what time he could spare from his amazing 
mathematical and astronomical investigations to what, 
to a modern mind, are the silliest lucubrations about 
the vaticinations of the book of Daniel and of the 

In Joseph Priestley, born near Leeds in 1733, we 
have another example of a great man of science who. 
was also a bold innovator in the domain of Church 
history. In early youth, he tells us, he “came to 
embrace what is generally called the heterodox side of 
every question.” A Aistory of the Corruptions of 
Christianity, published in 1782, and a History of Early 
Opinions Concerning Jesus Christ, printed in 1786, 
involved him in a long and keen controversy with an 
orthodox divine, Dr. Horsley. This divine was 
rewarded with a fat bishopric for detecting a few errors. 


of scholarship in Priestley’s works, while the latter a 
few years later, in 1791, was rewarded by having his 
house in Birmingham wrecked and set on fire by the 
Tory mob. The chemical instruments, by use of which 
he had carried on his epoch-making researches into the 
composition of gases and made his discovery of oxygen, 
were destroyed, his manuscripts torn to bits, and his 
books scattered for half-a-mile along the roadside. 
Priestley and his family barely escaped with their lives. 
His main heresy was the entirely correct opinion that 
the earliest Christians neither knew anything of Trini- 
tarian doctrine nor deified Jesus after the manner of 
Athanasian doctrine. He denied that the Apostles 
could have discerned God Almighty in the man of flesh 
and blood with whom they familiarly consorted. “Iam 
really astonished,” he wrote to Horsley, “how you can 
really entertain the idea of any number of persons being 
on this even footing, as you call it, with a being whom 
they actually believed to be maker of themselves and 
all things, even the Eternal God himself.” But 
Priestley did not question the authenticity of the 
writings of the New Testament any more than his 
master Socinus, and, like other Unitarians of that 
age, he accepted with implicit faith all the miraculous 
legends of the gospels except that of the Virgin birth. 
Within a charmed circle he shrank from applying his 
own canons of criticism. Leslie Stephen? remarks of 
Priestley that “it is still rather difficult to understand 
how so versatile and daring a thinker could have 
retained so much of the old system.” But the same 
inconsistency reveals itself in numberless scholars of 

TS Aracts; ps 259 

2 English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, chap. vii., § 6. 


our Own generation. Bishop Stubbs was the acutest 
of historical critics in the domain of general history, 
but to the Bible and to early Church history he brought 
the prejudices of a fourteenth-century monk; so also 
the modern Bollandist editors of the Acts of the Saints, 
who are Jesuits, handle any legend later than the year 
100 with the greatest freedom, yet abstain from apply- 
ing the same rules and methods of historical investiga- 
tion to the solution and sifting out of earlier Christian 
problems and narratives. The same remark holds good 
of the Abbé Duchesne, and of the late Bishop Creigh- 
ton—not to mention countless scholars who really seem 
intent on running with the hare and hunting with the 
hounds at one and the same time. 

Priestley also undertook to answer Evanson’s argu- 

ments in a work which contains many suggestive _ 

passages. For example, he points out that “the 
books called the Gospels were not the cause, but the 
effect, of the belief of Christianity in the first ages. 
For Christianity had been propagated with great 
success long before those books were written; nor had)! 
the publication of them any particular effect in adding 
to the number of Christian converts. Christians 
received the books because they knew beforehand that 
the contents of them were true” (p. 8). N 

The last of these statements requires, no doubt, a 
little modification; but the entire passage suggests a 
fertile method of inquiry. Emerging in the bosom of 
an already long-established Christianity, the Gospels 
could not fail in a large degree to reflect the sentiments, 
beliefs, prejudices, ritual practices, which arose in 
measure as the Faith spread among the Gentiles, was 
persecuted alike by Jews and Roman Government, was 
coloured by Greek philosophy, was divorced almost 



wholly from the scenes of its birth. This is how the 
Abbé Loisy envisages the whole problem of criticism of 
the New Testament. It is inseparable from an investi- 
gation of the circles of believers, called Churches, 
within whose medium the Gospels were produced and 
preserved. We have to determine how much of the 
record was primitive by separating off all accretions 
due to this medium. If, therefore, Priestley had 
followed up this line of argument, he might have 
anticipated modern criticism. But he was, as we have 
said, a mixture of enlightenment and superstition. He 
could express himself “greatly obliged” to Evanson 
for the latter’s “several new and valuable arguments 
against the miraculous conception,” yet he accepted the 
table of Balaam’s ass, and failed to appreciate Evan- 
son’s argument that in the thirty years or more which 
by common consent elapsed between Jesus’s ministry 
and the emergence of the earliest evangelical document 
there was ample time for the other miraculous stories 
of Jesus to have arisen in so credulous a medium as 
the early Church. 


No work recently published in Germany has made 
a greater stir in England than Albert Schweitzer’s 
Von Retmarus zu Wrede, a systematic résumé and 
criticism of European study of the Gospels during the 
last hundred years. It is mortifying to us Englishmen | 
to find that barely one page in a hundred of this 
remarkable book is devoted to works written by our- 
selves. The Germans, and in a measure the French, 
have for the last hundred years been making serious 
efforts to ascertain the truth about Christian origins. 
Our own divines, amid the contentment and leisure of 
rich livings and deaneries, and with the libraries and 
endowments of Oxford and Cambridge at their dis- 
posal, have done nothing except produce a handful of 
apologetic, insincere, and worthless volumes. The 
only books which in England have advanced know- 
ledge have been translations of German or French 
authors, and not long since our well-endowed professors 
and doctors of divinity greeted every fresh accession 
to Christian learning—when they could not ignore 
it and maintain a conspiracy of silence—with dismal 
howls of execration and torrents of abuse. To three of 
these foreign scholars, whose works in English transla- 
tions were so received, we must now turn. They were 
David Friedrich Strauss, Ferdinand Christian Baur 
(both Germans), and Ernest Renan, a Frenchman. 

Of these the second was the oldest; he was born in 



1792, and died 1860. The son of a Wurtemburg 
clergyman, he was still further attracted to theological 
study, by the influence of Bengel, his uncle, the 
scholarly, but orthodox, leader of the theological 
school in the University of Tibingen towards the close 
of the eighteenth century. He was first a pupil and 
then a teacher at the Blaubeuren Seminary, where he 
numbered Strauss among his pupils. Thence he was, 
in 1826, promoted to a professorship at Tiibingen in 
succession to Bengel. His geniality and freedom from 
affectation and pedantry, combined with a noble 
presence, were enough in themselves to attract young 
men to his courses; but the ring of sincerity, the 
underglow of devotion to truth, drew to him the affec- 
tion of all the finer natures among them. He inspired 
hundreds with his own zeal and ardour for learning, 
his bold impartiality in pursuit of truth, and without 
conscious effort he thus created what was known as 
the Tiibingen school, still the bogie of English clergy- 
men when I was myself a youth in the years 1875-1890. 
In this school were tormed such scholars as E. Zeller 
(Baur’s son-in-law), K. R. Késtlin, Adolf Hilgenfeld of 
Jena, Otto Pfleiderer of Berlin, Gustav Volkmar of 
Zurich (died 1896), Edmond Scherer and Timothée 
Colani in France, the founders of the Revue de Théologie. 

Baur discerned a key to the understanding of early 
Church history in the antagonism between Paul and 
his school on the one side, who desired the free admis- 
sion of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Messianic society 
which gathered around the memory of Jesus, and 
Peter and John, his personal disciples, and James, his 
brother, and first president of the Church of Jerusalem, 
on the other. The latter had known Jesus in the flesh, 
and insisted on the observance of the Jewish law in the 

F. C. Baur. 


matter of food and meats, ablutions, Sabbath obser- 
vance, and circumcision. They would have confined 
the new “heresy” or following of Jesus Christ to Jews 
and orthodox proselytes. Through the gate of the old 
law alone could any enter the promised Kingdom which 
a deus ex machina was soon to substitute on Jewish 
soil for the disgraceful tyranny of a Roman governor 
and his legions. This antagonism colours the four 
great epistles of Paul, Romans i. and ii., Corinthians, 
and Galatians, and the hatred of Paul long continued 
among the Palestinian Christians, who caricatured him 
as Simon Magus, and adopted the lifelike personal 
description of him which still survives in the “Acts of 
Thekla” as a picture of the Anti-Christ. 

This antagonism between Peter and Paul, the two 
traditional founders of the leading Church of Rome, 
was for the Catholic Church a sort of skeleton in the 
cupboard, and caused much searching of hearts among 
the orthodox as early as the fourth century. By way 
of setting their misgivings at rest, Jerome advanced 
his famous hypothesis that the dispute with Peter 
related by Paul in the Epistle to Galatians was no more 
than a comedy arranged between the two in order to 
throw Jewish zealots off the scent. In general orthodox 
historians have sought to minimise the importance of 
the matter; they could hardly do otherwise. But Baur 
was not a man to wriggle out of a difficulty. He saw, 
and rightly saw, its importance; and he tried to recon- 
struct the chronological order of the earliest writings 
of the Church on the principle that those in which the 
quarrel is still open and avowed must have preceded 
those which try to glose it over and to pretend that it 
was never serious. In proportion, Baur argued, as the 
antagonism died down and leading men on each side 


drew together in the face of persecution by Jews and 
Romans, and of the disintegrating propaganda of the 
Gnostics, the Catholic Church emerged, a middle party, 
which little by little absorbed the extremes, and whose 
literature was largely inspired by the wish to conceal 
even the scars of wounds which had once bled so freely. 
In the four epistles of Paul above named the quarrel 
is still fresh and actual, and therefore they are the most 
primitive documents we have, and are prior to the year 
7o. So is the Apocalypse, an Ebionite document 
breathing hatred of Paul. The Synoptic Gospels and 
Acts were written in the interests of reconciliation, and 
followed, instead of preceding, the lost gospels of 
Peter, of the Hebrews, of the Ebionites, of the Egyp- 
tians. They are the literary precipitate of oral tradi- 
tion going back in certain particulars to the Apostolic 
age, but, as documents, hardly earlier than the middle 
of the second century. The Gospel of Matthew is the 
earliest of them, and most Ebionite ; then came that of 
Luke, of which the elements took shape under Pauline 
influence. It is an amplification of Marcion’s Gospel. 
Last is Mark’s, a neutral gospel, made up of odds and 
ends from the other two. The rest of the Pauline 
epistles are, all of them, reconciliation documents of 
about the middle of the second century. The book 
called Acts is an irenicon penned to show how har- 
moniously Peter and Paul could work together, and 
what good friends they were. The epistles of Peter were 
literary forgeries designed with the same object, and the 
Fourth Gospel and the epistles of John are later than 160. 

The fault of Baur was that he worked his theory for 
more than it was worth; that he failed to give due 
weight to many other ideas and tendencies which 
equally influenced the development of Church opinion 


and literature; and, lastly, that he set nearly all the 
documents at least fifty years too late. Later research 
has triumphantly proved that Mark is not a compilation 
from Matthew and Luke, but their basis, and that our 
Luke was in Marcion’s hands, and mutilated by him to 
suit his views. Large fragments of the Gospel of 
Peter, and, probably, of that of the Egyptians, have 
been rescued from the tombs and sands of Egypt; and 
it turns out that, even if they were not copied or 
imitated from the Synoptics, they were certainly not 
their sources. Generally speaking, they are more 
modern in their tone and post-Galilean. A more 
thorough examination of the idiom and vocabulary of 
1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon shows that 
these epistles are from the same hand which penned the 
four undisputed ones; and Baur’s greatest disciple, 
Hilgenfeld, has shown this to be the case. One great 
merit, however, must anyhow be ascribed to Baur, that 
of forcing all subsequent investigators to consider the 
documents purely in relation to the age which saw 
their birth, and to explain them from the influences 
which were at work, instead of envisaging them as 
isolated works of detached thinkers and teachers. If a 
book seems to be a forgery, we must at once ask Cuz 
bono—in the interests of what and of whom was it 
forged? If it is admittedly authentic, its place in the 
development of doctrine and opinion and events, the 
phase which it reflects, must still be studied and set 
forth. Historical perspective is all-important, no less 
in relation to the documents of the early Church than 
to those of any other literature. This must ever be the 
most fruitful method of interpretation, and it is a 
hopeful sign that even Latin ecclesiastics are furtively 
beginning to apply it. 


Baur had approached theology through the philo- 
sophy of Schleiermacher and Hegel. “Ohne Philosophie,” 
he wrote, “dlezbt mir die Geschichte ewig tod und stumm.”* 
To Strauss also (born 1808, died 1874) philosophy was 
a first love, and he too dreamed of framing Church 
history in a niche of Hegel’s system of logic. He 
studied at Blaubeuren under Baur, at Maulbronn, and 
in Berlin, and in 1832 becamea teacher in the University 
of Tiibingen, where he found his old master Baur. His 
instinct was to devote himself to philosophical teaching, 
but the authorities obliged him to remain attached to 
the theological faculty, and the result was his Leben 
Jesu, or “ Life of Jesus,” which appeared in 1835. The 
work was a gigantic success. He woke up to find 
himself famous, but an outcast without a future. The 
conservatives denounced him to the educational authori- 
ties, and he was deprived of his modest appointment in 
the university. Barely two or three of his friends had 
the courage to take up the cudgels in his defence. His 
work went through many editions, by no means reprints 
of one another. The third, for example, made some 
concessions to the orthodox standpoint, which he took 
back in the later editions. In 1839 the chair of 
Dogmatic at Zurich was offered him, but there such an 
uproar was raised by pietists that the Swiss authorities 
revoked the appointment, giving him a small pension 
instead. After that he spent a wandering and rather 
unhappy life, turning his pen to profane history and 
literary criticism, and writing among other things a 

valuable monograph on Reimarus. In 1864 he returned 
to theology, and published A Life of Jesus for the 
German People. 

1 “Without philosophy history remains for me ever dead and 


In his preface to this he remarks on the happy 
change which had taken place in public opinion since 
1835, when his enemies complained that he might at 
least have concealed his thoughts from the general 
public by writing in Latin. In fact, the very outcry 
against him, for being pitched in so shrill a key, had 
reached the ears of the multitude, and so drawn the 
attention of thousands to a subject of which they would 
otherwise have remained in ignorance. He closes this 
preface with an acknowledgment of the value of 
Renan’s work, which had appeared in the interim. “A 
book,” he writes, “which, almost before it appeared, 
was condemned by I know not how many bishops, and 
by the Roman Curia itself, must necessarily be a most 
useful book.” 

Strauss made a somewhat ungenerous attack on the 
French nation in 1870, which made him popular for a 
time among his countrymen, but which cannot be 
otherwise regarded than as a stain on a singularly 
noble and upright character. Beside his prose works, 
he wrote many elegant and touching poems. 

Because Strauss summarily eliminated the super- 
natural element, it has been assumed that he turned 
the entire story of Jesus into myth—this by those who 
never read the book they denounced, and will hear 
nothing of a Christ who is not through and through a 
supernatural being. 

The truth is that Strauss understood far better than 
the reactionaries of 1835 the conditions under which 
the gospels took shape, and the influences which 
moulded their narratives. His critics argued that, 
since the first and fourth evangelists were eye-witnesses 
and took part in the miraculous episodes, their narra- 
tives cannot be myths in any sense whatever. Strauss 

Davip F. Srrauss. 


replied that the outside evidence in favour of their 
having been eye-witnesses is slender, and the internal 
evidence mz/Z. In this matter the subsequent develop- 
ment of opinion, even in orthodox Church circles, has 
endorsed Strauss’s position. No one now contends 
that Matthew’s Gospel is other than the work of an 
unknown writer who compiled it out of Mark’s Gospel 
and Q, the common document of Matthew and Luke. 
As to John, Professor Sanday, the last upholder of it, 
sacrifices its historicity when he argues that none but 
an apostle would have taken such liberties with the 
life of his Master; and the Rev. J. M. Thompson,! 
who assuredly voices the opinion of the younger and 
better educated of the English clergy, pronounces this 
gospel to be “not a biography, but a treatise in 
theology.” “Its author,” he goes on to observe, “ would 
be almost as ready to sacrifice historical truth where 
it clashes with his dogmatic purpose as he is (appar- 
ently) anxious to observe it where it illustrates his 

Strauss displayed more insight than Baur when he 
declared that the single generation which elapsed 
between the death of Jesus and the date of the earliest 
gospel was amply long enough time for such mythical 
accretions as we find to gather about the memory of 
Jesus. Messianic ideas of the Old Testament, early 
aspirations of believers, the desire to conform the 
sparse records of his ministry to supposed prophecies 
and to parallel his figure with those of Moses and 
Elijah—these and many other influences. rapidly 
generated in a credulous age and society the Saga-like 
tales of the gospels about his miraculous powers. 

t Jesus According to St. Mark, London, 1909, p. 11. 


These tales Strauss discussed in a chapter entitled 
“Storm, Sea, and Fish Stories.” 

Strauss was the first German writer to discern the 
emptiness for historical purposes of the Fourth Gospel, 
which Schleiermacher had invested with a halo of 
authority, and by which even Renan was deceived. He 
pronounced it to be a work of apologetic Christology, 
composed by a Gnostic who wished to uphold the flesh- 
and-blood reality of Jesus against other Gnostics who 
denied that reality and resolved him into a merely 
phantasmal being. Advanced critics in that age lauded 
this gospel because it contains so little eschatology. 
That single fact, replied Strauss, convicts it of being 
both late and false. 

Jesus [he wrote] in any case expected that he would 
set up the throne of David afresh, and with the help of 
his twelve disciples reign over a liberated people. Yet 
he never set any trust in the swords of human followers 
(Luke xxii. 38, Matt. xxvi. 52), but only in the legions of 
angels, which his heavenly Father would send to his aid 
(Matt. xxvi. 53). Wherever he speaks of his advent in 
Messianic glory, it is with angels and heavenly Hosts 
(z.e., not with human warriors) that he surrounds himself 
(Matt. xvi. 27, xxiv. 30 ff., xxv. 31); before the majesty 
of a Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven the 
Gentiles will bow without any drawing of swords, and 
at the call of the Angel’s trumpet will along with the 
dead risen from their tombs submit themselves for 
judgment to him and his Twelve. But this consumma- 
tion Jesus did not hope to effect by his own will; he left 
it to the heavenly Father, who alone knows the right 
moment at which to bring about the catastrophe (Mark 
xiii. 32), to give him the signal. That, he hoped, would 
save him from any error in supposing that the end was 
reached before due warning was given. Let those who 

would banish this point of view from the background of 


Jesus’s Messianic plan and outlook, merely because it 
seems to turn him into a visionary, only reflect how 
exactly these hopes agreed with the long-cherished 
Messianic ideas of the Jews, and how easily even a 
sensible man, breathing the contemporary atmosphere of 
supernaturalism, and shut up in the narrow circle of 
Jewish nationality, might be drawn over to a belief, 
however superstitious in itself, provided only it embodied 
the national point of view and also contained certain 
elements of truth and grandeur. 

The eschatological aspects of Jesus’s Gospel could 
not be better summed up than in the above ; and equally 
admirable are the remarks which follow on the Last 
Supper :— 

When Jesus ended this feast with the words, Henceforth 
I will not again drink of the fruit of the vine, until I 
drink tt with you new in my Kathers Kingdom, he must 
have anticipated that the Passover would be celebrated 
in the Messianic kingdom with special solemnity. If, 
therefore, he assures his disciples that he will next enjoy 
this annually recurring feast, not in this, but in the next 
age (gon), that shows that he expected this pre-Messianic 
world-order to be removed and the Messianic to take its 
place within the year. 

Here Strauss anticipates Wellhausen and other intel- 
ligent commentators of to-day. With the same firm 
insight he traces the gradual emergence in Jesus of the 
consciousness that he was himself the promised 
Messiah. In Matt. xii. 8 he remarks, here again antici- 
pating the best recent criticism, that the Son of Man 
in the text, “ Zhe Son of Man ts Lord also of the Sabbath,” 
may mean simply Man zn general, but in another class 
of passages, where Jesus speaks of the Son of Man, a 
supernatural person is intended wholly distinct from 
himself, as the Messiah generically. This, for example, 


is the natural interpretation of the passage Matt. x. 23, 
where at the sending forth of the disciples he assures 
them that they will not have completed their tour of the 
Jewish cities before the Son of Man shall come. Here 
surely Jesus speaks of the Messiah as being himself the 
Messiah’s forerunner. In that case this utterance must 
belong to the earliest period of his career, before he recog- 
nised himself to be the Messiah. As Dr. Schweitzer, 
to whom I am indebted for the above remarks, says 
(p. 89), Strauss hardly realised the importance of the 
remark which he here throws out, but it contains the 
kernel of the solution of the problem of the Son of Man 
recently provided by the most acute of German critics, 
Johannes Weiss.* 

Strauss also goes far to explain the genesis of Paul’s 
conception of Jesus as a pre-existent being. Jesus, he 
argues, clearly conceived of his Messianic véle as 
involving this much—namely, that he, the Born of 
Earth, was to be taken up into heaven after he had 
completed his earthly career, and was to return thence 
in glory in order to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on 

Now, in the higher Jewish theology, immediately after 
the age of Jesus, we meet with the idea of a pre-existence 
of the Messiah. The supposition, therefore, lies near at 
hand that the same idea was already current at the time 
when Jesus was becoming known; and that—once he 
apprehended himself as Messiah—he may have appro- 
priated to himself this further trait of Messianic por- 
traiture. The only question is whether Jesus was so 
deeply initiated as Paul in the school-wisdom of his 
age, so as to have borrowed from it this notion. 

1 Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes—i.e., “ Jesus’ Preaching 
of the Kingdom of God.” First edition 1892, second 1900. 


That Jesus expected to come amid clouds and with 
the angelic hosts to usher in his kingdom is, according 
to Strauss, quite certain. The only question is whether 
he expected his own death to intervene, or only thought 
that the glorious moment would surprise him in the 
midst of this life. From Matt. x. 23 and xvi. 28 one 
might infer the latter. But it always remains possible 
that, supposing he later on came to anticipate his 
death as certain, his ideas may have shaped themselves 
by way of a final form into what is expressed in 
Matt. xxvi. 64. 

Strauss’s chief defect was that he did not pay enough 
attention to the relations in which the synoptic gospels 
stand to one another, and his neglect of this problem 
obscured for him many features of the first and third 
gospels. Like Schleiermacher, he believed Mark’s 
gospel to be a mere compilation from the other two, 
and regarded it asa satellite of Matthew’s gospel without 
any light of its own. The many graphic touches which 
distinguish this gospel were, so he argued, Saga-like 
exaggerations of the compiler. His work would have 
gained in clearness and grasp if he had understood that 
Mark’s gospel forms the basis of the other two 
synoptists, and furnishes them with the order in which 
they arrange their incidents. Without this clue a 
critic or commentator is sure to go beating about the 
bush after the manner of an old-fashioned harmonist, 
here laying stress on Matthew’s sequence of events, 
there upon Luke’s; whereas, in point of fact, neither 
of them had any real guide except Mark, from whose 
order of events they only departed in order to pursue 
that of their unassisted imaginations. 

The circumstances of Renan’s life are so well known 
that I need not repeat them. Who has not read that 


most exquisite of autobiographies, the Souvenzrs 
d’Enfance et de Jeunesse, in which he leads us along 
the path of his intellectual emancipation from being the 
inmate of a clerical seminary, first in his native Breton 
village and then in Paris, to becoming the author of 
The Life of Jesus, The Apostles (1866) ,* Antichrist (1873), 
The Gospels (1877), St. Paul (1869), Marcus Aurelius 
(1881). These volumes will continue to be read for 
their glamour of style, no less than for their candour 
and nobility of sentiment; for on-all that he wrote, 
however technical and learned the subject-matter, 
Renan set the stamp of his character and personality. 
But these volumes also impress us by the vast learning 
which lies behind them. German theologians too often 
overwhelm us by their learning, and in reading them 
we cannot see the wood for the trees. But Renan 
never committed this fault. Hardly a page of his 
that does not help us to a clear perspective of the 
period and subject he is handling. He contrasts with 
clumsy but learned writers like Keim, as a graceful 
symmetrical city like Perugia set on a hill amid Italian 
skies contrasts with an English manufacturing city, a 
planless congeries of vulgar abominations framed in 
grime and smoke and dirt. The fanatics chased Renan 
in 1862 from the chair he held of Semitic studies, and 
he was only restored by the French Republic in 1871 ; 
but he was not in the least embittered by the experi- 
ence, and, in spite of their volleys of execration, he 
continued to the end to cherish the kindliest feelings 
towards a clergy he had so narrowly escaped from 

Of the works enumerated The Life of Jesus, though 

t Translated by W. G. Hutchison for the R. P. A., 1905. 



it is the best known, is not the most valuable; for 
when he wrote it Renan was still under the spell of the 
fourth gospel, and inclined to use it as an embodiment 
of genuine traditions unknown to and therefore unre- 
corded by the other three evangelists. Then, again, 
his portraiture of Jesus as a simpering, sentimental 
person, sometimes stooping to tricks, must grate upon 
many who yet are not in the least devout believers. 

There is thus some justification for Schweitzer’s verdict 
that it is waxworks, lyrical and stagey. Renan, how- 
ever, in approaching the study of the gospels, had at 
least the great advantage of being a good Hebrew and 
Talmudic schoiar ; and only want of space forbids me 
to cite many excellent passages inspired by this lore. 
The single one I can give is from Les EZvangzles, p. 97, 
and bears on the date of the Synoptic Gospels :— 

We doubt whether this collection of narratives, 
aphorisms, parables, prophetic citations, can have been 
committed to writing earlier than the death of the 
Aposties and before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is 
towards the year 75 that we conjecturally set the moment 
at which were sketched out the features of that image 
before which eighteen centuries have knelt. Batanéa, 
where the brethren of Jesus lived, and whither the 
remains of the Church of Jerusalem had fled, seems to 
have been the district where this important work was 
accomplished. The language used was that in which 
Jesus’s own words—words that men knew by heart— 
were couched ; that is to say, the Syro-Chaldaic, wrongly 
denominated Hebrew. Jesus’s brethren and the refugee 
Christians from Jerusalem spoke this language, which 
indeed differed little from that of such inhabitants of 
Batanéa as had not adopted Greek. It was in this 
dialect, obscure and devoid of literary culture, that was 
traced the first pencil sketch of the book which has 
charmed so many souls. No doubt, if the Gospel had 


remained a Hebrew or Syriac book, its fortunes would 
soon have been cut short. It was in a Greek dress that 
the Gospel was destined to reach perfection and assume 
the final form in which it has gone round the world. 
Still we must not forget that the Gospel was, to begin 
with, a Syrian book, written in a Semiticlanguage. The 
style of the Gospel, that charming trick of childlike 
narrative which recalls the limpidest pages of the old 
Hebrew Scriptures, pervaded by a sort of ideal ether that 
the ancient people knew not, has in it nothing Hellenic. 
It is based on Hebrew. 

In this volume Renan corrected the error into which 
he had fallen of over-rating the historical value of the 
fourth gospel. His appreciations of the other gospels 
are very just, and he rightly rejects the opinion, which 
still governed most minds, that the second gospel is a 
compilation from the first and third. 


Far back in the nineteenth century the task of intro- 
ducing to the English public in translations the works 
of the more scholarly and open-minded works ot 
German theologians already began, and Strauss’s Lzfe 
of Jesus was twice published in our tongue, first in 
1846, and again in 1865. The earlier translator 
deplores the fact that “no respectable English pub- 
lisher” would attempt the publication of his book 
“from a fear of persecution.” The Anglican clergy, 
much more the Nonconformist, remained untouched by 
the new learning until the last two or three decades of 
that century; and it is a significant fact that the only 
work of its middle time which really threw light on the 
composition of the gospels, or would have done so 
could anyone in theological circles have been induced 
to read it, was the work of a layman, James Smith, of 
Jordanstown, a leading geologist and a F.R.S. In his 
Dissertation on the Origin and Connection of the Gospels 
(Blackwood, 1853) we find an abundance of shrewd 
surmises and conclusions. Thus, @ propos of the 
multiplicity of readings found in MSS.—a multiplicity 
which sorely scandalised the believers in verbal inspira- 
tion, who were puzzled to say which one of ten different 
readings in a single passage was due to the Holy 
Ghost rather than to a copyist—Smith remarks that 
“there is a greater amount of verbal agreement in the 
more modern MSS. than we find in the earliest existing 


ones.” Here is a truth to which critics are only just 
now waking up—viz., that the text was never in any 
degree fixed until it was canonised and consecrated. 
Till then it was more or less in flux. For the rest, 
Smith argued that Luke and Matthew used the Hebrew 
original, of which Mark was the translator, rather than 
that they used our Mark. This was an error, but an 
error in the direction of the truth. It is impossible, 
however, to acquiesce in the view that the agreement 
between Matthew and Mark is translational only, 
except insofar as Mark in rendering his source (as to 
which Smith accepted Papias’s tradition that he was 
interpreter of Peter) made much use of an earlier 
version of the same made by Matthew. Luke, he 
believed, wrote with both Mark and Matthew before 

But Smith’s real achievement was to overthrow the 
old superstition that inspired evangelists could not have 
written at all except in complete independence of one 
another, and without the servile necessity of copying 
common documents. English divines rightly felt that 
the citadel of inspiration was breached if it were once 
proved that the Evangelists copied either one another 
or common documents; and sound criticism could not 
take root among them until this prejudice was dispelled. 
It has practically vanished to-day; but it vanished 
tardily, and divines are now employed in devising 
plasters and bandages to cover the wounds inflicted on 
their faith. It seems strange that nineteenth-century 
divines could not admit what, as James Smith remarks, 
was obvious to the early Fathers; yet so it was. For 
example, Augustine wrote thus of the Evangelists :— 

We do not find that they were minded, each of them, 
to write as if he was ignorant of his fellow who went 



before him, nor that the one left out by ignorance what 
we find another writing.* 

Augustine also believed that Mark had Matthew before 
him, and followed him. 

Even the celebrated Dr. Lardner, in his Azs¢ory of the 
Apostles and Evangelists, was wedded to this hypothesis 
of the mutual independence of the gospels. He and 
others of his age deemed it to be evident from the 
nature and design of the first three gospels that their 
authors had not seen any authentic history of Jesus 
Christ ; and the fact that the Synoptists “have several 
things peculiar to themselves” was held to “show that 
they did not borrow from each other ”’;? yet more “ the 
seeming [mark well the meiosis of the professional 
divine !] contradictions which exist in the first three 
gospels” were adduced as “evidence that the Evan- 
gelists did not write by concert, or after having seen 
each other’s gospels.” : 

Dr. Davidson, a comparatively liberal divine, and one 
who suffered for his liberality, argued in the same way 
in his Zztroduction to the New Testament. Smith, how- 
ever, wrote in answer as follows :— 

There is not a single phenomenon adduced in proof 
that the Evangelists made no use of the works of their 
predecessors, but what may be met with in these modern 
contemporary historians, in cases where we know that 
they did make use of the works of their predecessors. 

This position he proved incontestably by confronting 
in parallel columns narratives of the same incidents 
written by Sir Archibald Alison in his Hzstory of the 
French Revolution, by General Napier, and by Suchet in 

t De Cons. Evang., I., c. i. ; P 
2 So Horne in his now forgotten Jntroduction to the Bible. 


his Memoirs of the war in Spain. Napier was an eye- 
witness, and also used Suchet. Alison used both. To 
the divines of that generation who fell back on the soft 
option of oral tradition, because that alternative was to 
their minds least incompatible with verbal inspiration, 
Smith replied in words which put the matter in a nut- 
shell. He writes (p. xlviii.) :— 

A stereotyped cyclus of oral tradition never did nor ever 
can exist. Even poetry cannot be repeated without 

There is one phenomenon peculiar to compositions 
derived from the same written sources, which may be 
termed the phenomenon of tallying. The writers may 
add matter drawn from other sources, or they leave out 
passages ; but ever and anon they return to the original 
authority, where they will be found to tally with each 
other ; but it is only in such cases that such correspon- 
dences occur. Hence, when they do occur, we are 
warranted in inferring the existence of a written original. 

Mr. W. G. Rushbrooke, at the instance and with the 
assistance of the Rev. Dr. Edwin A. Abbott, Headmaster 
of the City of London School, finally settled the matter 
in a work entitled Synopticon (London, 1880). In’ this 
he arranged in parallel columns the texts of Mark, 
Matthew, and Luke, picking out in red whatever is 
common to all three, and in other distinctive types 
whatever any two of them share in common. The 
originality of Mark was thus demonstrated once for all. 
There are barely half-a-dozen passages which suggest 
that Matthew had access to the ulterior documents used 
by Mark; so complete is his dependence on the latter, 
as he has been transmitted tous. It was not, of course, 

* With the collaboration of another distinguished Cambridge 
scholar. Dr, Hort. 


anew view. Herder had discerned the fact, and the 
German scholar Lachmann had pointed out as early as 
1835, in his Studien und Krittken, that Mark provided 
the mould in which the matter of Matthew and Luke 
was cast. “The diversity of order in the gospel narra- 
tives is,” he wrote, “not so great as appears to many. 
It is greatest if you compare them all with one another, 
or Luke with Matthew; small if you compare Mark 
separately with the other two.” In other words, Mark 
provides the common term between Luke and Matthew. 
The matter is so plain if we glance at a single page of 
the Synopticon that one wonders at anyone ever having 
had any doubts about it. 

And here we are led to reter to the famous contro- 
versy between Bishop Lightfoot and the author of a 
work entitled Supernatural Religion, of which the first 
edition appeared in 1874 anonymously from the pen of 
Mr. Walter R. Cassels. In that work it was argued 
that our Gospels of Matthew and Mark cannot be those 
signified by Papias, whose words, as quoted by Euse- 
bius, run thus :—. 

Mark became the interpreter of Peter, and wrote down 
accurately as much as he (? Mark or Peter) remembered 
(or reminded him of), not, however, in order, of what was 
either said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the 
Lord, nor was one of his followers ; but later on became, 
as I have said, a follower of Peter, who suited his 
teachings to people’s needs, without making an orderly 
array of the Dominical words; so that Mark committed 
no error in thus writing down certain things as he could 
recollect them; for his one concern was to omit nothing 
he heard, and to falsify nothing therein. 

Matthew, however, composed (07 set in order) the 
Logia (or oracles) in the Hebrew dialect, and everyone 
interpreted them as best he could. 


Lightfoot waxed ironical, because the author of 
Supernatural Religion questioned if our Mark were the 
same as the Mark of Papias. But, if Papias’s Matthew 
was quite another document than ours, why not also his 
Mark ?—the more so because his description of Mark as 
a work devoid of chronological order ill suits the Mark 
which stands in our Bibles; for the latter is most 
careful about the order of events, and provides a 
skeleton order for the other two Evangelists. Except 
in so far as they both follow Mark, the two other 
synoptists exhibit no order of events whatever. 

For the rest, Lightfoot proved that his antagonist 
misinterpreted Eusebius’s use of Papias. For where 
the historian merely states that Papias used and quoted 
certain books of the New Testament—like the Johannine 
Epistles— which, as not being accepted by all the 
Churches, were called Antzlegomena, Mr. Cassels over- 
hastily inferred Eusebius to mean that Papias did not 
know of other cognate Scriptures universally received 
in the Eusebian age ; for example, the fourth gospel. 
In the case of generally received books, Eusebius was 
not concerned to inform us whether or not he had found 
them cited in Papias, and therefore in such cases no 
argument can be based on his silence. Papias may or 
may not have had them. We only know for certain 
that he had those of the Antilegomena, which Eusebius 
declares he had. 

The Bishop was also able to pick a few hcles in his 
adversary’s scholarship, and to refute his thesis that our 
Luke is merely a later edition of Marcion’s Gospel. He 
could not, however, touch the chapter on the Authorship 
and Character of the Fourth Gospel, and had nothing to 
oppose to the remarkable opening chapters on Miracles, 
except the usual commonplaces of hazy pietism. In 


critical outlook Lightfoot held no superiority, though 
he was a better scholar and, within the narrow circle of 
his premises, a more careful and accurate worker. 

Not that, on the other hand, the book he criticised has 
not grave shortcomings. In general it underestimates 
the external evidence in favour of the age of the Synoptic 
gospels ; and its author has no clear idea either of the 
relations in which they stand to each other, or of the 
supreme importance of ascertaining those relations. 
correctly. He moved exclusively in the circle of Baur’s 
ideas, and had neglected other German books of equal 
weight, like those of C. H. Weisse and C. G. Wilke, 
published in 1838. The index of the book has no 
reference to the eschatology of the gospels and of 
Paul; and to this important subject it contains few, 
and those few the most meagre, references. In all these 
respects, however, Dr. Lightfoot was as poorly equipped 
as Mr. Cassels. 

Another famous controversy which aroused the Oxford 
and Cambridge of my youth (1880-1890) was that of 
Dean Burgon with the Revisers of the English Bible, 
and especially of the New Testament. This quarrel raged 
around the so-called Received Text, or Textus Receptus. 
Before the year 1633 such a term was unknown ; but in 
that year the Elzevir firm in Leiden and Amsterdam 
issued a slightly revised text of Beza’s New Testament 
(of 1565), which was, in turn, little more than a reprint 
of Stephanus’s or Estienne’s fourth edition of 1551. 
That, in turn, was a reprint of a large edition called the 
Regia, or Royal, which gave Erasmus’s first text with 
variants from fifteen. MSS., and from the Spanish 
Editio Princeps of Alcala. Erasmus’s edition was 
based on half-a-dozen late MSS. Now, an unknown 
scholar who prepared this edition of 1633 wrote in his 

W. J. BuRGON, Dean of Chichester. 


preface the words: “Here, then, you have the text now 
received by all, in which we give nothing altered or 

Altered from what? There was no standard, save 
the earlier editions, and these represented only a score 
or so of the 1,300 cursive MSS. now known to exist, and 
not a single one of the twelve great uncial MSS. of the 
gospels ranging from the fourth to the ninth century. 
During the eighteenth century further editions were 
issued of the New Testament by such scholars as John 
Mill, Wells, Bentley, and Mace in England; by Bengel, 
Wettstein, Semler, Griesbach, and Matthai abroad, who 
continually collated fresh MSS. and ancient versions, 
either adding the new variants below the text or even 
introducing them into the text. In the nineteenth 
century Carl Lachmann (1831) issued at Berlin the first 
really scientific text of the New Testament. He followed 
the earliest MSS., and gave weight to the very ancient 
Latin versions of Africa and Italy. He remarked that an 
editor who confined himself to the most ancient sources 
could find no use for the so-called Received Text; and 
he accordingly relegated the readings of this to the 
obscurity of an appendix. He followed up this edition 
with later ones in 1842 and 1850, expanding each time 
his critical apparatus. 

If Lachmann had been an orthodox divine, he might 
have shrunk from such innovations; but he was primarily 
a classical scholar, concerned with the texts of Homer, 
Lucretius, and other profane authors; and he merely 
brought to the study of the New Testament text the 

! Critical apparatus is the technical term for the tabulated 
textual variants taken from MSS. and added, sometimes with 
conjectural emendations of the editor himself, underneath a 
classical text. 



critical canons and the principles of candour and honesty 
in common vogue among classical philologists. But he 
reaped the reward of unpopularity which is in store for 
all who discover anything that is new or true in the field 
of religion. The pietists had been growling for over a 
century at the number of various readings printed by 
scholars in their editions of the New Testament, and 
cudgelling their brains how to reconcile all these diver- 
sities of text and meaning with the supposed inspiration 
of the book. To such minds Lachmann’s edition, which 
set aside with contempt the entire Zextus Receptus, 
savoured of open blasphemy, and in a hundred keys 
they let him know it. But the world was moving, and 
the new developments of Old Testament criticism 
encouraged students of the New Testament to bolder 
flights. Colenso seemed to suffer for the advancement 
of Hebrew studies only ; but the persecutions he endured 
nerved younger men with honest hearts to undertake 
the study of the New Testament in the same free spirit. 
In Germany Constantine Tischendorf carried on the 
good work of Lachmann, discovering and editing many 
new MSS., and in particular the great uncial of the 
Convent of Sinai, called by scholars Aleph. In England 
Scrivener, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort devoted their 
lives to the accumulation of new material and to the 
preparation of better editions. 

At last, in 1870, the English clergy awoke to the 
fact that the Received Text as given in the old 
authorised version of King James’s translators was no 
longer satisfactory, and the two Houses of Convocation 
appointed a body of revisers to prepare a new English 
Version. This was issued in 1881, and the editors 
state in their preface the reasons which justified its 
appearance. The editions of Stephanus and Beza, and 


the Complutensian Polygiott, from which the authorised 
English version was made, were, they allege, “based 
on manuscripts of late date, few in number, and used 
with little critical skill.” 

This Revised Version of 1881 marks a great advance 
in interpretation insofar as it is based on the earliest 
known MSS., and especially on the great uncials ; and 
also in that, wherever practicable, it adheres to the 
same English equivalent of a Greek word or phrase. 
This uniformity in the rendering of the same words 
enables a student who knows no Greek to trace out 
accurately the triple and double traditions in the texts 
of the gospels. Its defects briefly are, firstly, that, 
owing to the number of the scholars employed in 
revising, and the difficulty of getting them to agree, 
the text often has the patchwork appearance of a com- 
promise ; and, secondly, that, inasmuch as they were 
orthodox and somewhat timid divines, the more 
orthodox of two or more ancient readings or interpre- 
tations is commonly printed in the text, the rival ones 
being consigned to the margin or altogether ignored 
for fear of shocking the weaker brethren. A genuine 
scholar detects on many a page of it the work of rather 
weak-kneed people. 

Nonetheless it was too strong meat for the run of 
the English clergy, who found a spokesman in the Rev. 
William Burgon, a Fellow of Oriel College in Oxford, 
vicar of the University Church, and finally Dean of 
Chichester, an old-fashioned scholar of much learning, 
and a master of mordant wit and incisive language. He 
fell upon his fellow-divines with a fury which provoked 
much amusement among the scoffers, and if his bons mots 
could have been printed in a cheap form and dissemi- 
nated among the crowd, I venture to think they would 


have been more effective than all the lectures of Mr. — 
Bradlaugh and Colonel Ingersoll for the cause that 
those lecturers had at heart. I copy out a few /floscul¢ 
from the good Dean’s articles in the Quarterly Review, 
entitled “The Revision Revised,” and from his Epistle 
of Protest addressed to Bishop Ellicott, who had acted 
as president of the committee of Revisers. 

Drs. Westcott and Hort, of Cambridge, were by far 
the most competent of the Revisers, who as a rule 
deferred, and wisely, to their judgment, taking as their 
standard the Greek text of the New Testament prepared 
by them. Of these scholars, therefore, Burgon writes :— 

The absolute absurdity (I use the word advisedly of 
Westcott and Hort’s New Textual Theory)...... 

In their solemn pages an attentive reader finds himself 
encountered by nothing but a series of unsupported 

Their (so-called) “Theory” is in reality nothing else 
but a weak effort of the imagination. 

Of the Revision itself he writes :— 

it is the most astonishing as well as the most 
calamitous literary blunder of the age...... 

Their (the Revisers’) uncouth phraseology and their 
jerky sentences, their pedantic obscurity and their 
unidiomatic English...... 

The systematic depravation of the underlying Greek is 
nothing else but a poisoning of the River of Life at its 
sacred source. Our Revisers (with the best and purest 
intentions, no doubt) stand convicted of having deliber- 
ately rejected the words of inspiration in every page...... 

Of the five oldest Greek manuscripts on which the 
Revisers relied, called by scholars for sake of reference 
Aleph A BC D, the Dean writes that they 

are among the most corrupt documents extant. Each of 


these codices (Aleph BD) clearly exhibits a fabricated 
text—is the result of arbitrary and reckless recension 


The two most weighty of these codices, Aleph and 
B, he likens to the “ two false witnesses ” of Matt. xxvi. 
60. Of these two I have supplied my readers with fac- 
similes (see pp. 7 and 37). 

But it is con Bishop Ellicott that he empties out the 
vials of his wrath in such terms as the following :— 

You, my Lord Bishop, who have never gone deeply 
into the subject, repose simply on prejudice. Never 
having at any time collated codices Aleph ABCD for 
yourself, you are unable to gainsay a single statement of 
mine by a counter-appeal to facts. Your textual learning 
proves to have been all obtained at secondhand...... 

Did you ever take the trouble to collate a sacred MS.? 
If you ever did, pray with what did you make your 
collation ?...... 

You flout me: you scold me: you lecture me. But I 
do not find that you ever answer me. You reproduce 
the theory of Drs. Westcott and Hort—which I claim to 
have demolished...... Denunciation, my Lord Bishop, is 

Not only have you, on countless occasions, thrust out 
words, clauses, entire sentences, of genuine Scripture, 
but you have been careful that no trace shall survive of 
the fatal injury which you have inflicted. I wonder you 
were not afraid. Can I be wrong in deeming such a 
proceeding in a high degree sinful? Has not the Spirit 
pronounced a tremendous doom against those who do 
such things (Rev. xxii. 19) ? 

‘ The Revisers had admitted among their number a 
learned Unitarian minister, Dr. G. Vance Smith. This, 
writes Burgon, is, “it seems to me, nothing else but an 
insult to our Divine Master and a wrong to the Church.” 
Of the marginal note set by the Revisers against Romans 


ix. 5, he complains that it is “a Socinian gloss gratui- 
tously thrust into the margin of every Englishman’s 
New Testament.” 

Poor Dean Farrar escapes with an expression of con- 
tempt for his “ hysterical remarks.” 

Nevertheless, in his*saner moments Burgon enter- 
tained a very just ideal of textual criticism, and in 
the same volume from which I have made the above 
quotations he writes (p. 125) as follows :— 

The fundamental principles of the science of textual 
criticism are not yet apprehended...... Let a generation of 
students give themselves entirely up to this neglected 
branch of sacred science. Let 500 more copies of the 
Gospels, Acts, and Epistles be diligently collated. Let 
at least 100 of the ancient Lectionaries be very exactly 
collated also. Let the most important versions be edited 
afresh, and let the languages in which these are written 
be for the first time really mastered by Englishmen. 
Above all, let the Fathers be called upon to give up their 
precious secrets. Let their writings be ransacked and 
indexed, and (where needful) let the MSS. of their works 
be diligently inspected, in order that we may know what 
actually zs the evidence which they afford. Only so will 
it ever be possible to obtain a Greek text on which 
absolute reliance may be placed, and which may serve 

as the basis for a satisfactory revision of our Authorised 

It is a curious indication ot the muddle into which 
theological arriére pensée can get otherwise honest men 
that almost in the same breath Burgon could prejudge 
the question at issue and write as follows (Feb, 2x; 
1887) to Lord Cranbrook :— 

You will understand then that, in briet, my object is 
to vindicate the Traditional Text of the New Testament 

against all its past and present assailants, and to estab- 
lish it on such a basis of security that it may be incapable 


of being effectually disturbed any more. 1 propose myself 
to lay down logical principles, and to demonstrate that 
men have been going wrong for the last fifty years, and 
to explain how this has come to pass in every instance, 
and to get them to admit their error. At least, I will 
convince every fair person that the truth is what I say it 
is—viz., that in nine cases out of ten the commonly 
recetved text is the true one. 

There was some ground then for the gibe that 
Burgon’s one aim was to canonise the misprints of a 
sixteenth-century printer. He was, in fact, upholding 
a paradox ; he would not—perhaps could not, so dense 
was the veil of prejudice with which the old theory of 
inspiration covered his eyes—see that prior to the 
collection of the gospels in a canon, about the year 
180, and while they were still circulating singly in 
isolated churches, their text was less fixed and more 
liable to changes, doctrinal and transcriptional, than 
they ever were afterwards ; and that the ultimate text, 
if there ever was one that deserves to be so called, is 
for ever irrecoverable. The veductio ad absurdum of his 
bias for the Received, or rather Vulgar, text was, as 
might be expected, provided by himself. The passage 
is so picturesque as to merit to be cited in its inte- 
grity :— 

I request that the clock of history may be put back 
1,700 years. This is a.D. 183, if you please; and— 
indulge me in the supposition !—you and I are walking 
in Alexandria. We haye reached the house of one 
Clemens, a learned Athenian, who has long been a 
resident here. Let us step into his library—he is from 
home. What a queer place! See, he has been reading 
his Bible, which is open at St. Mark x. Is it not a well- 
used copy? It must be at least fifty or sixty years old. 
Well, but suppose only thirty or forty. It was executed, 


therefore, within fifty years of the death of St. Jokn the 
Evangelist, Come, Jet us transcribe two of the columns 
( ve\des) as faithfully as we possibly can, and be off...... 
We are back in England again, and the clock has been 
put right. Now let us sit down and examine our 
curiosity at leisure......[t proves on inspection to be a 
transcript of the fifteen verses (ver. 17 to ver. 31) which 
relate to the coming of the rich young ruler to our Lord. 

We make @ surprising discovery...... It is impossible to 
produce a fouler exhibition of St. Mark x. 17—31 than is 
contained tn a@ document older than either B. or Aleph— 
tiself the property of one of the most famous of the ante- 
Nicene Fathers......The foulness of a text which must 
have been penned within seventy or eighty years of the 
death of the last of the Evangelists is a matter of fact, 
which must be loyally accepted and made the best of, 

The Revised Version, as anyone will have noticed 
who has compared it with the old authorised texts, 
omits an enormous number of passages, some of which 
were of great beauty and pathos. Accordingly Dean 
Goulburn, Burgon’s friend, partisan, and biographer, 
writes (Zaye of J. W. Burgon, ii. 213) thus — 

Are not these three passages alone—the record of the 
agony, the record of the first saying on the cross, and 
the doxology of the Lord's Prayer—passages of such 
ralue as to make it wrong and cruel to shake the faith 
of ordinary Bible readers in them 2? 

Here is a pragmatist argument indeed. Truth is to 
be sacrificed to efficiency in practical working. In the 
Same temper Canon Liddon had written to Burgon 
lamenting that the Revision had been conducted more 
as if it was a Averary enterprise than a religious one. 
Neither Burgon nor his friends seem to have had any 
idea that, by issuing a translation that is not as exact 
& representation as possible of the oldest and most 
authentic texts procurable, you commit in the field of 


religion the same sort of crime as a forger does in the 
commercial world by uttering base coin or flash bank- 
notes. -No Jesuits were ever more tortuous in their 

In his troduction to the First Three Gospels (Berlin, 
1905, p. 6) J. Wellhausen sums up Burgon’s position 
by saying that the further the manuscript tradition 
stretches back, the worse it becomes. Grey hairs, he 
laconically adds, cannot always save a divine from 
making a fool of himself.t Even admirers of Burgon 
had their misgivings roused by such outbursts as the 
one lL have cited. If water choked them, what had they 
left to drink? If the two most ancient of our uncial 
codices, Vaticanus B and the Sinaitic Aleph, are false 
witnesses against Christ, and if our oldest ascertainable 
texts of the second century excel in “foulness,” then 
what corruptions may not lurk in later texts, time and 
the mechanical errors of scribes being the sole factors in 
change which the orthodox would allow? There is no 
doubt that such verdicts from one so indisputably 
orthodox and learned as the Dean of Chichester helped 
to unsettle the minds of the clergy and educated laymen 
and that they prepared the way for the outspoken 
criticisms of the Encyclopedia Biblica. 

A tendency has long been visible in the Anglican 
Communion to lighten the ship by jettisoning the books 
of Moses; and the most recent results (we write in 
1910) of New Testament textual criticism have still 
further undermined faith. The old bull-dog-like con- 
fidence of Burgon and Liddon is seldom shown to-day. 
Mr. Robert Anderson, one of the few whose robust 
orthodoxy is still proof against any and all reasoning 

® Richtig ist allerdings, dass Alter nicht vor-Thorheit schiitzt. 


in these domains, justly states the position of the Zux — 
Mundi school as follows :— 
The Bible is not infallible, but the Church is infallible, 
and upon the authority of the Church our faith can find 
a sure foundation. But how do we know that the Church 
is to be trusted? The ready answer is, We know it upon 
the authority of the Bible. That is to say, we trust the 
Bible on the authority of the Church, and we trust the 
Church on the authority of the Bible. It is a bad case of 
“the confidence trick ” (Zhe Silence of God, 1898, p. 92). 

It remains to be seen whether in the century on the 
threshold of which we stand the authority of the 
thaumaturgic priest will survive that of the Bible; and 
whether the critics, having finally discredited the New 
Testament, will not turn their bulls’-eyes on to the history 
of the Church and Sacraments. In this task they will 
have a powerful ally in the new sciences of compara- 
tive religion and anthropology, just as they may have a 
relentless enemy in an electorate in which women may 
command a clear majority of votes. It has been said 
that Christianity began with women and will end with 
them. It is certainly the case that they are more 
easily imposed upon by priests than are men, more 
attracted by pomp of vestments, by music, lights, 
incense, auricular confession and magic of sacraments, 
less prone to ask about any doctrine or ceremony 
presented to them under the rubric of faith and religion 
the questions: Is it true? On what evidence does 
it repose? Has it any rational meaning, any historical 
basis ? 

This dissatisfaction with the Bible as a standard ot 
faith is beginning also to be felt in the Latin Com- 
munion; and is really voiced by the distinguished 
Oxford Catholic, Father Joseph Rickaby, whom I have 


already had occasion to cite, in the following 
In the Gospels and Acts we do not possess one tenth of 
the evidence that carried conviction to Dionysius on the 
Areopagus, and to Apollos at Ephesus. We are still 
beset with the old Protestant Article, that everything 
worth a Christian’s knowing was put down in black and 
white once and for all in the pages of the New Testament. 
In the sequel he declares that “the glad tidings” 
which travelled “by word of mouth” from Peter and 
John and Paul to their disciples, and from these 
“through all generations’”’—that these “ have not dried 
up into parchments; they are something over and 
above the Codex Sinazticus.” He admits that “the 
Written narratives of the New Testament are difficult 
to harmonise, and leave strange gaps and lacune”; 
but he is not distressed by that, and, much as “he 
believes in the Word of the Gospel...... still more does 
he believe in the word of the Church.” It is a pity 
that he does not specify in what particulars the Church’s 
unwritten tradition supplements the gaps and lacune 
of the New Testament, or reconciles the many contra- 
dictions of its narratives. We seem to read between 
his lines this, that he is ready to let the critics have 
their way with the written records of his religion, if 
only the Church can be held together in some other 
way, her rites and sacraments guaranteed, and the 
sacerdotalist positions secured. It is probable that 
the Church can provide a canon of lead more pliable 
than the cast-iron rule of the letter. This ecclesiastic, 
we feel, is well on his way to become a modernist as 
far as the Scriptures are concerned. 

™ P, 143 of the volume Jesus or Christ ? London, 1909. 


RECENT encyclicals of Pope Pio X. speak of the 
Modernists as if they formed a close sect; yet on 
closer inspection they are seen to be detached workers 
in various fields—in literature, like Fogazzaro; in 
philosophy and religion, like Father Tyrrell and Baron 
von Hugel; in Hebrew philosophy, like Minocchi; in 
Assyriology, Hebrew, and New Testament exegesis, 
like Alfred Loisy; in Church history, like Albert 
Houtin. All of them good Catholics, and only desirous 
of remaining members of their Church, they were only 
united in their desire to raise its scholarship and 
thinking to a modern critical level. Loisy was born 
1857, and already as a young man made himself a 
name. He held the Chair of Assyriology and Hebrew 
in the Catholic Institute of Paris till 1892, when he was 
deprived, because he was too much of a scholar and a 
gentleman to stoop to the forced explanations and 
artificial combinations of a Vigouroux. He then took 
up the study of the New Testament, but continued to 
lecture at the School of Higher Studies on Biblical 
Exegesis, drawing large audiences, largely composed 
of clerics. These lectures he ceased in March, 1904, at 
the instance of the Pope. In 1903 he followed up his 
little book, The Gospel and the Church, which had given 
much offence, with an ample commentary on the fourth 
gospel, in which he pulverised the old view of its 


apostolic authorship. The Papal Biblical Commis- 
sioners alluded to above were interrogated about 
it, and issued an absurd counterblast. Loisy’s great 
commentary, in two volumes, on the Synoptic gospels 
followed in the spring of 1907, just before a Papal bull 
of major excommunication declared him to be a homo 
uitandus gut ab omnibus vitari debet—“a man to be 
avoided, whom everyone is bound to avoid.” A Latin 
Bishop in Great Britain publishing such a document 
would render himself liable to imprisonment for malicious 
libel. Except, however, that his charwoman gave him 
notice and left, Loisy sustained no harm, for the Pope’s 
spiritual weapons are almost as antiquated as the old 
muskets I have seen in the hands of his Swiss guards. In 
the following year Loisy was chosen Professor of Eccle- 
siastical History in the University of Paris, in succes- 
sion to the late-lamented Jean Réville, the author of 
exhaustive works on the early history of the Episcopate 
and on the fourth gospel. Not content with the magni- 
ficent advertisement of excommunication, the Pope 
supplied another, yet ampler, by issuing in July, 1907, 
an encyclical (beginning Zamentabili sane exitu) in 
which were condemned sixty-five theses drawn, or 
supposed by the Pope and his inquisitors to be drawn, 
from Loisy’s works. Though in these theses Loisy’s 
conclusions are often falsified or exaggerated, they 
are, on the whole, an apt summary of the most recent 
and assured results of criticism ; and their dissemination 
must have damaged the cause of the Modernists about 
as much as a formal condemnation of Euclid’s axioms 
would damage geometricians. The following are some 
of the propositions condemned :— 

15. The gospels, until the canon was defined and 
fixed, were amplified by continual additions and 


corrections. There survived in them, therefore, only 
tenuous and uncertain vestiges of Christ’s teaching. 

16. The narratives of John are not, properly speaking, 
history, but a mystical envisagement of the gospel. The 
discourses in it are theological meditationson the mystery 
of salvation devoid of historical truth. 

21. The Revelation, which forms the object of Catholic 
faith, was not completed with the Apostles. 

22. The dogmas which the Church regards as revealed 
are not truths fallen from heaven, but a sort of interpre- 
tation of religious facts at which the human mind arrived 
by laborious efforts. 

27. The divinity of Jesus Christ cannot be proved 
from the gospels; it is a dogma deduced by the 
Christian conscience from the notion of the Messiah. 

30. In all the gospel texts the name Son of God is 
equivalent only to the title Messtah; it in no way 
signified that Christ was the true and natural son of 

31. The teaching about Christ handed down by Paul, 
John, and the Councils of Nice, Ephesus, and Chalcedon 
is not that which Jesus taught, but only what mee 
had come to think about Jesus. 

32. The natural sense of the gospel texts cannot be 
reconciled with what our theologians teach about the 
consciousness and infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

33. It is evident to anyone not led away by his preju- 
dices either that Jesus taught an error about the 
immediate advent of the Messiah, or that the greater 
part of his teaching as contained in the Synoptic gospels 
is unauthentic. 

34. Criticism cannot attribute to Christ knowledge 
without bounds or limit, except on the hypothesis, 
inconceivable historically and repugnant to modern 


feeling, that Christ as man possessed God’s knowledge, 
and yet was unwilling to communicate a knowledge of 
so many thingss to his disciples and to posterity. 

35. Christ was not from the first conscious of being 
the Messiah. 

37. Faith in Christ’s resurrection was, to begin with, 
less a belief in the fact itself than in his being immortal 
and alive in God’s presence. 

38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is 
not in the gospels, but was originated by Paul alone. 

43. The custom of conferring baptism on infants was 
part of an evolution of discipline which eventually led 
to this sacrament being resolved into two—viz., Baptism 
and Penance. 

45- In Paul’s account of the institution of the 
Eucharist (1 Cor. xi. 23-25) we must not take ie 
thing historically. 

49. As the Christian Supper little by little assumed 
the character of a liturgical action, so those who were 
accustomed to preside at it acquired a sacerdotal 

51. Marriage could become a sacrament of the New 
Law only fairly late in the Church, etc. 

52. It was foreign to the mind of Christ to set up a 
Church as a society which was to endure through long 
ages upon the earth. On the contrary, he imagined 
that the Kingdom of Heaven and the end of the world 
were both equally imminent. 

55. Simon Peter never dreamed of primacy in the 
Church having been conferred on him by Christ. 

36. The promotion of the Roman Church to be head 
of other Churches was due to no arrangements of 
Divine Providence, but purely to political conditions. 

60. Christian teaching was Jewish to begin with, 


though by successive evolutions it afterwards became, . 
first Pauline, then Johannine, and finally Hellenic and 

65. Modern Catholicism can compound with genuine 
science only by transforming itself into a sort of 
undogmatic Christianity—that is, into a broad and 
liberal Protestantism. 

Needless to say, these principles are largely exem- 
plified in the lives and writings of our younger English 
clergy; and Professor Sanday, in his latest work on Chris- 
tologtes, declares that we must modernise, whether we will 
or no. He accordingly argues that the division in 
Jesus between the Divine and Human was not vertical, 
as the Fathers imagined, so that his waking actions 
and thoughts could be apportioned now to one, now to 
the other class. It was rather horizontal, his divine 
consciousness being only subliminal, and all the rest of 
him purely human. So I find that, as M. Jourdain had 
all his life been talking prose without knowing it, I 
have been believing all along in an incarnation which 
Jesus at best shared with his fellow men. But to be 
quite serious : this view hardly does justice to the mind 
and character of Jesus, even in the eyes of those who 
deny that he was in any way unique among men. For 
the subliminal self is no better than a storehouse of past 
experiences and memories, some of them possibly ante- 
natal, of the individual ; and it is chiefly revealed under 
abnormal and diseased cerebral conditions. At best it 
is a stepping-stone of the dead self on which “to rise to 
higher things.” Moral achievements and character 
imply more, and are the work of a creative will 
generating new results that never pre-existed in any 
form; and we enter an zmpasse if we try to explain 
conscious experiences and efforts of will as the mere 


unwinding of a coiled spring, as the unfolding of an 
eternal order already implicit in things. For in the 
spiritual domain the past does not wholly contain the 
future ; and no moral or speculative end is served by 
trying to deduce our lives from ulterior spiritual beings 
or agencies. If all holy thoughts and good counsels 
proceed from a being called God, whence did he derive 
them? Why should they not be as ultimate and 
Original in us, who certainly possess them, as in this 
hypothetically constituted author of them? No doubt on 
such a view the burden of human responsibility becomes 
greater, but it is notinsupportable. The rule, 2x nzhzlo 
nihil fit, holds good only in the phenomenal world of 
matter, and perhaps not absolutely there; and the idea 
that so much of revelation as there was in Jesus, or as 
there is in any of us, must needs flow from some 
ulterior source outside or before us is an illegitimate 
extension of this rule to the spiritual sphere. Further- 
more, we feel that, if Dr. Sanday had not to buttress up 
the dogma of the two natures in Christ, he would not 
venture on these excursions into modern philosophy. 
Now, it is certain that the Fathers of the Church did 
not mean by their formulas what Professor Sanday tries 
to make them mean. What, then, is the use of clinging 
to forms of words which we can no longer take in the 
sense to express which they were devised? And the 
same criticism applies to Dr. Gore’s explanation of 
the incarnation as a kenosis or self-emptying by 
Jesus Christ of his divine nature, as a laying-aside of 
his cosmic v6le and attributes in order to be born a son 
of woman. Dr. Gore himself allows that no Father or 
teacher of the Church, from irenzeus down to his friend 
the late Professor Bright of Oxford, would have 'tolerated 

his explanation. Surely, then, it would be better to 


give up altogether a form of words which he can no 
longer accept in the sense in which they were framed. 

And the same reflection must have crossed the minds 
of many of the readers of Dr. Sanday’s work (already 
cited) on Christologies Ancient and Modern when they 
reached the passage of it in which he crowns a life of 
continuous intellectual growth, of ceaseless endeavour to 
understand others and give them their due, of perpetual 
and sincere, if cautious, acceptance of Truth as she has 
unveiled herself to his eyes, with the declaration that 
he repeats a creed “not as an individual, but as a 
member of the Church.” He does “not feel that he is 
responsible for” the creeds, and “tacitly corrects the 
defects of expression, because he believes that the 
Church would correct them if it could.”” He sums the 
matter up in the words :— 

For the creed as it stands the Church is responsible, 
andonot Liss... I myself regard the creeds, from this most 
individual and personal point of view, as great outstand- 
ing historical monuments of the Faith of the Church. As 
such I cannot but look upon them with veneration...... 
But, at the same time, I cannot forget that the critical 
moments in the composition of the creeds were in the 
fourth and fifth centuries, and that they have never been 
revised or corrected since. 

As we read these words of Dr. Sanday, we realise 
what an advance has taken place in the last thirty 
years, and that the day is not far off when Christian 
records will be frankly treated like any other ancient text, 
and the gospel narratives taken into general history 
to be sifted and criticised according to the same 
methods and in the same impartial temper which we 
bring to the study of all other documents. La vérité est 
en marche. 


[In the following bibliography I confine myself almost entirely 
to works of the last ten years. It is disconcerting to have to name 
so few English books; but, as in earlier decades, so in this, the 
majority of English works bearing on the criticism of the Gospels 
are merely apologetic, and deserve little notice as works of: 

learning.—F. C. C.] 

Abbott, Rev. Edwin A. All his works. 

Bacon, Dr. B. W. The Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate. 
New York, 1910; 4 dols. 

Bacon, Dr. B. W. The Beginnings of Gospel Story. Yale, 
1909 ; IOS. 

Bigg, Canon Ch. Wayside Sketches in Ecclesiastical History. 
1906 ; 7s. 6d. 

Blass, Prof. F. Grammar of New Testament Greek. (Trans- 
lated by Henry St. John Thackeray.) 14s. 

Bousset, Prof. Dr. W. Hauptprobleme der Gnosis. 1907 ; 12s. 

Burkitt, Prof. F.C. Zvangelion da-Mepharreshe. Cambridge, 
1904 3 42s. 

Carpenter, Principal Estlin. Zhe First Three Gospels. 

Charles, Rev. R. H. Eschatology. London, 1899. 

Criticism of the New Testament. St. Margaret’s Lectures. 1902. 

Deissmann, Adolf. Light from the Ancient East. 1910; 155. 

Dobschiitz, E. von. Zhe Apostolic Age. (Translated by 
Pogson.) London, 1910; 2s. 

Drummond, James. Studies tn Christian Doctrine. London, 
1909 ; Ios. €d. 

Encyclopedia Biblica. 4 vols.; 42s. 

Gardner, Prof. Percy. Zhe Growth of Christianity. London, 
1907 3 38. 6d. ’ 

Gardner, Prof. Percy. A Historic View of the New Testament. 
“Gore, Rev. C. H. Dissertations on the Incarnation. London, 
Crow: Dr. C. R. Canon and Text of the New Testament. 
Edinburgh, 1907. 

Gregory, Dr.C.R. Text kritik des Newes Testamentes. Three 
vols. Leipzig, 1902-1909. : 

Gregory, Dr.C.R. Die Griechischen Handschriften des Neues 

Testamentes. Leipzig, 1908. 



Gregory, Dr. C. R. Canon and Text of the New Testament. 
Edinburgh ; 12s. 
Harnack, A. Luke the Physician. (Translated by J. R. 
Wilkinson.) 1907; 6s. 
Harnack, A. Zhe Sayings of Jesus. 1908; 5s. 
Harris, J. Rendell.  Szde-lights on New Testament Research, 
1909 ; 6s. 
OHastcts, James. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 
Hastings, James. A Dictionary of the Bible. 28s. 
Houtin, Albert. Za Question Biblique au XIXe Siécle. Paris, 
1go2. And La Q. B. au XXe Siecle. Paris, 1906. 
The International Critical Commentary. E. & T. Clark, Edin- 
Tower Benjamin. Zizstles of St. Paul. 
Jiilicher, Adolf. Ax Introduction to the New Testament. 
(Translated by J. P. Ward.) London, 1904. 
Knopf, R. Der Text des Neues Testamentes. 1906. 
Lake, Prof. Kirsopp. Zhe Historical Evidence for the Resur- 
rection of Jesus. 19073 58. 
Lake, Prof. Kirsopp. The Text of the New Testament. 1900. 
Kiibel, Johannes. Geschichte des Katholischen Modernismus. 
Tubingen, 1909; 4s. 
Lévy, Albert. David Frédéric Strauss. Paris, IQIO; 5S. 
Lietzmann, Hans. Handbuch zum Neuen Testament. (In this 
series are contained Prof. Dr. Paul Wendland’s History of 
Hellenistic-Roman Culture, and also commentaries on the Gospels 
and Pauline Epistles.) 
Loisy, Alfred. Les Evangiles Synoptiques. 1907; 30 fr. 
Loisy, Alfred. Ze Quatriéme Evangile. Paris, 1903. 
Loisy, Alfred. Zhe Gospel and the Church. (Translated by 
C. Home.) 1908; 3s. 6d. 
Sapo R. W. Zhe Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edinburgh, 
McGiffert, A.C. The Apostles’ Creed. New York, 1902. 
McGiffert, A.C. History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age. 
New York, 1898; r2s. 
Cag a James. The Seat of Authority in Religion. London, 
Moffatt’s Historical New T, estament. 
Montefiore, C. G. The Synoptic Gospels. Two vols.; 18s. 
Moulton, James Hope. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. 
Two vols. Edinburgh, 1906 ; 16s. 
The Picea Testament in the Apostolic Fathers. Oxford, 
1905; 6s. 
Pfleiderer, Dr. Otto. The Early Christian Conception of Christ. 
London, 1905; 3s. 6d. 
Pfleiderer, Dr. Otto. Primitive Christianity. (Translated by 
W. Montgomery.) Two vols.; 21s. 
Pfleiderer, Dr. Otto. The Development of Christianity. 5. 


Preuschen, Ed. Antilegomena. (Greek texts with German 
translation.) Second edition. 1905; 4s. 6d. 

The Programme of Modernism. (Translated from the Italian by 
Rev. A. Leslie Lilley.) 1908; 5s. 

Ramsay, Sir W. M. The Church in the Roman Empire, before 
A.D. 170. 12s. 

Reinach, Salomon. Orpheus. 

Reitzenstein, R. Die Hellenistischen Sat ystorientoligionees 
Berlin, 1910. 

Renan, E. Les Afétres, 1866 ; L’Antechrist, 1873; St. Paul. 

Réville, Jean. Le figs Evangile. Paris, Igol. 

Robinson, Dr. J. A., Dean of Westminster. Ze Study of the 
Gospels. 1903. 

Sabatier, Paul. es ad’ Histoire religieuse contemporaine, Les 
Modernistes. 19093 

Schmiedel, Paul ye " The Johannine Writings. London, 1908. 

Schiirer, Prof. Dr. Emil. History of the Jewish People in the 
Time of Jesus Christ. 

Schweitzer, Dr. A. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. (Trans- 
lated by W. Montgomery.) 1910; tos. 6d. 

Smith, Goldwin. Jn Quest of Light. New York, 1906; 4s. 

Soden,H.von. History of Early Christian Literature. (Trans- 
lated by T. R. Wilkinson.) London, 1906; 5s. 

Spitta, Prof. Dr. Fr. Streitfragen der Geschichte Jesus. 1907; 
6.80 mks. 

Sturt, Henry. The Idea of a Free Church. London, 1909. 

Tyrrell, G. The Church and the Future. 1910; 2s. ‘6d. 

Weizsacker’s Afostolic Age of the Christian Church. Two vols. 

Wellhausen. LZinleitung in die dret ersten Evangelien. Berlin, 


Wendt, Prof. Dr. H.H. Die Lehre Jesu. 1901; 12s. 

Wernle, Dr. Paul. Sources of our Knowledge of the Life of 
Jesus. 1907. 

Wernle, Prof.P. The Beginnings of Christianity. (Translated 
by G. A. Bienenmann.) 1904; 21s. 

Westcott and Hort. Greek Testament. (With Introduction on 
the MSS.) 

Zahn, Th. ELinleitung in das Neue Testament. Two vols. 


ABBOTT, Rev. E. A., his Synop- 
ticon, 118 

Acta Sanctorum, growth of 
legends in, compared with 
the Gospels, 56 

Alford, Dean, on Harmonising 
of Scripture, 18, 24, 27, 49, 
5% 53 

Anderson, Sir Robert, on the 
Lux Mundi, 29 | 

Anderson, Sir Robert, on Sacer- 
dotalistic substitutes for the 
Bible, 132 

Ataraxta, Stoic ideal of, applied 
to Jesus, 58 

Baur, F. C., his Life and Work, 
98 foll. 

Bengel on the Three Witnesses, 

Burgon, Dean of Chichester, 
his attacks on the Revised 
Version of the Gospels, 125 

CATHARS, on New Testament 
miracles, 48 

Chase, Rev. Dr., Bishop of Ely, 
on Matt. xxviii. 19, 76 

Chillingworth, on Popes, 32 

Collins, Anthony, on Prophecy, 
38 foll. 

Conybeare, John, his Reply to 
Tindal, 33 

Creighton, Bishop of London, 95 

Davipson, Dr., on Matt. xxviii. 
19, 75 

Deistic movement, 30 
Diatessaron of Tatian, 66 


Eschatology of Gospels, Strauss 
on, 106 

Eusebian reading 
XXViii. 19, 74 

Evanson on The Dissonance of 
the Evangelists, 87 foll. 

of Matt. 

FARRAR’S Life of Christ, 82; 
on Reimarus, 87 

Farrar, late Dean of Canter- 
bury, 13 

Female suffrage tends to an 
obscurantist régzme, 132 

GIBBON on the TZhree Wit- 
NeSSES, 72 

Gibson, Bishop of London, sup- 
presses Tindal’s works, 34 

Gore, Rev. Ch., on the Kenoszs, 

Gospels, their compilation, 19 

Goulburn, Dean, on Revised 
Version, 130 

Green, J. R., and Stubbs, anec- 
dote of, 34 

Gregory, Dr. C. R., on New 
Testament text, 77 

Greswell’s Harmony of Gospels, 
23) 24 

Grotius on harmonisings ot 
Gospels, 27 

HARNACK, Prof., on Matt. xxviii. 
19, 75 




Herder, J. G., 80 foll. 
Hurd, Bishop of Lichfield, 
favours Evanson, 88 

INSPIRATION of Scripture, how 
regarded by Origen, 9 foll.; 
by the Reformers, 16 foll.; 
by William Whiston, 16; by 
Alford, 18, 20, 25; by Gres- 
well, 23 foll.; by Sir R. 
Anderson, 29; by Dr. San- 
day, 28; by John Locke, 30; 
by Jeremy Taylor, 31 

Irenzeus on the Four Gospels, 
67; on Johannine authorship 
of the Fourth Gospel, 50 

JEROME’s revision of Latin 
Bible, 14 

Jesus, his Deification begins in 
First and Third Gospels, 57 

LACHMANN on priority of Mark, 
119; rejected the Textus Re- 
ceptus, 123 

Lardner on Oral Tradition, 117 

Leo XIII. on the Zhree Wit- 
nesses, 72 

Liddon, Canon, on Book of 
Daniel and Fourth Gospel, 60 

Liddon, Canon, on Revised 
Version, 130 

Lightfoot’s answer to Swper- 
natural Religion, 119 

Locke on Inspiration, 30 

Loisy, Alfred, protected by 
Leo XIII., 74; on dogmatic 
changes in New Testament 
text, 77 

Loisy, excommunicated by Pio 

Luther, on authority of Church 
tradition, 78 

Lux Mundi Sermons, 29 

Mark’s Gospel used by Matthew 
and Luke, 19 foll., 51 

Martin, David, on 1 John v. 7 
and 8, 70 

Martineau, Dr. James, on Matt. 
XXVIli. 19, 75 

Matthew's Gospel the work of 
an unknown compiler, 51; not 
a version of the Hebrew Log7a 
attested by Papias, 59 
eee belief in early Church, 

Modernists, who and what, 134 
and Pio X., 78 

NESTLE, Dr. Eberhard, his edi- 
tion of New Testament, 75, 77 

ORAL tradition in Gospels, 
hypothesis of, rejected by 
James Smith, 115; adopted by 
Lardner and Davidson, 117 

PapaL Encyclicals 
Modernists, 134 foll. 

Papias on Logia, 58, 59; his 
lost Diégésezs, 60 


Papias’s testimony regarding 
Gospels of Matthew and 
Mark, 119 

Pio X., his summary of Modern- 
ist opinions, 135 foll. 

Porson’s work on the Three 
Witnesses, 72 

Priestley, his controversy with 
Horsley, 93; criticises Evan- 
son, 95 

Priscillian’s text of the Three 
Witnesses, 69 

Prophetic Gnosis in New Testa- 
ment, 34 foll. 

REIMARUS, 83 foll. 

Renan’s life and works, 111 foll. 

Revised Version, 124 foll. 

Rickaby, Father Joseph, 
progress of criticism, 49 

Rickaby, Father Joseph, on 
tradition outside the New 
Testament, 133 

Robinson, Dr. Armitage, Dean 
of Westminster, on composi- 
tion of Synoptic Gospels, 51 





foll., 54, 57; on the Fourth 
Gospel, 61 foll. 
Rushbrooke’s Synopticon, 118 

SALMON, Rev. Dr., on Westcott 
and Hort, 68 

Sanday, Professor, on Fourth 
Gospel, 106; on Modernising, 
138 ; on Creeds, 140 

Sandius on 1 John v. 7 and 8, 70 

Schleiermacher on Mark, 110 

Schweitzer, Albert, on Reim- 
arus, 83; his work, Von 
Reimarus zu Wrede, 97 

Seventy disciples, invented by 
Luke, 19 foll. 

Simon’s Histoire Critique, 70 

Smith, James, of Jordanhill, on 
oral tradition, 115 foll. 

Smith, of Jordanhill, 
Gospels, 52 foll. 

Socinians, 30 

Stephen, Leslie, on the Deists, 
39, 47; on Priestley, 94 

Strauss, his Leben Jesu, 103, 1153 
on eschatology of Jesus, 107 

Stubbs, Bishop of Oxford, his 
attitude towards Renan, 34; 
his uncritical attitude, 95 

Supernatural Religion, contro- 
Hee by Dr. Lightfoot, 119 


on the 

TAYLOR, Jeremy, on inspira- 
tion, 31 

Text of Gospels in flux till it — 
was canonised, 116 

Textus Receptus, history of the 
term, 121 foll. 

Thompson, Rev. J. M., 
Fourth Gospel, 106 

Three Witnesses, text of the, 
70 foll. 

Tindal’s Christianity as Old as 
the Creation, 31 

Travis, Archdeacon, 
Three Witnesses, 7% 

Trinitarian falsifications of New 
Testament, 69 foll. 


on the 

VANCE SMITH, Dr. G., assailed 
by Dr. Burgon, 127 

Voltaire and the English Deists, 

Wellhausen on Dean Burgon, 


Westcott and Hort, defects of 
their system of New Testa- 
ment criticism, 68 

Whiston, William, his Harmony, 
16 foll. 

Woolston, Thomas, on _ the 
miracles of the New Testa- 
ment, 41 foll. 

XIMENES, Cardinal, his Greco- 
Latin Bible, 69 



Fas2350 .c61910 = tiasiO 
| Conybeare, F. C. (Frederick Cornwallis) 2 
Line of New Testament criticism / Les 4 =) g D 

Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis, 1856-192). 

History of New Testament criticism, by F. C. C 
<Issued for the Rationalist press association, limitec 
Watts & co., 1910. 

ix, 1), 146 p. incl. front. (port.) illus, (ports., facsims.) | 
Bibliography: p. 141-143. 

1, Bibles NeTe--Criticism, interpretation, etce- 
Te Titles 

Library of Congress 
© 1c. Nov. 24, 1910; A ad int. 892; published ( 
G. P, Putnam’s sons, : New York, N. Y. 



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